YEP Letters: October 18

The grounds of Temple Newsam House, Leeds.
The grounds of Temple Newsam House, Leeds.
Have your say

Check out today’s YEP letters

All year transport to heritage sites

Alex Gillies, Leeds 14

Two ladies visiting from Australia asked me for directions to Temple Newsam House. As we were only at the top of Halton Hill, I explained it was roughly a mile and I invited them to join me on my walk.

They were really good company and told me they had been at Kirkstall Abbey and visited the Museum there. I informed them Lord Darnley was born at Tempsy and they reeled off history that I’d long forgotten, even the Italian’s name that with others had him done in.

The moral of this story is that transport to Temple Newsam ceases in September and to be the European City of Culture everything should be 24/7, 52 weeks a year.

Fancy new buildings, riverside walks around Leeds city centre is not going to help the extra 3,000 hotel spaces the council hopes to provide if no public transport to all Leeds heritage sites is available.

Council has to abide by planning law

Coun Richard Lewis, Ward Member for Pudsey & Executive Member for Regeneration, Transport and Planning, Leeds City Council

Following the comments by Stuart Andrew MP on the issue of planning targets for Leeds in his recent article (YEP, October 10), there are a few points I’d like to make.

Leeds City Council doesn’t make the rules in planning law. We’ve had to abide by the National Planning Policy Framework since 2011, the product of the Coalition Government which he was part of. As Stuart praises the Campaign to Protect Rural England in his piece, it’s worth looking at what that organisation has to say about the impact of the NPPF:

‘Our evidence suggests that the NPPF is being used to impose unnecessary greenfield developments in the teeth of local opposition. Brownfield sites are being overlooked in favour of building on green fields that are easier for developers.’ Tory Leader Andrew Carter commented last year that has ‘one fatal flaw…it hands delivery of houses to a handful of housing builders’.

Andrew Carter is quite right in this. The Catch 22 logic of the NPPF is that when housebuilders don’t deliver a council’s housing target – usually one that those very builders argued was too small in the first place – they appeal against planning decisions on the basis that the local authority can’t show it has a five year supply of housing land, so more sites get released.

Stuart writes that the Labour-run council turned down an offer by the government inspector to work with them on these (housing) targets because independent forecasts were far lower than the figures that the council had used. This is, not to put too fine a point on it, untrue. In fact, the inspector took the opposite view!

But what Stuart is really not saying is the reality that Leeds City Council had to demonstrate to a government inspector in a public inquiry that it was meeting objectively assessed housing need according to government guidance. That guidance specifically stated that the council could not rely on looking at past trends which would have led to a lower housing target. The Government inspector then approved the council’s housing target. While we’re at it, let’s not forget that Stuart’s government would not let Leeds have a planning policy where brownfield land was built on before green sites.

I’d like to make Stuart an offer. You say you’ve ‘campaigned hard’ against our housing plans, but you’ve never raised your concerns with me on the many occasions we’ve met in the two years when I’ve been responsible for planning, nor have you asked for a meeting.

Why don’t you come in to see me and I’ll take you through the ways in which your government ensures that planning does not work in the interests of Leeds and its citizens.

Leeds needs central metro

James Bovington,Leeds 18

Concentration of all rail services at a revamped and much improved Leeds station is not the best way of promoting rail as the principal means of relieving this city’s gridlocked roads.

Given that a new chord will allow HS2 trains to use lengthened but existing platforms, a better use of the available funds would be a twin track city centre tunnel allowing direct rail access to underground stations at key points such as Leeds Town Hall and Leeds Eastgate in addition to City Square. Indeed the metro tunnel could also serve the new city South Bank developments directly. The new north south platforms at Neville Street would then not be needed.

That said I remain dubious about the whole philosophy of HS2 which involves spending vast sums of money for really quite small journey time gains which can only benefit a really small number of frequent travellers or bring very occasional benefits to less regular travellers.

What is needed is a system which brings daily benefits to the whole of the community and that is a metro system akin to what they have on Tyneside and Merseyside and is epitomised by the new London Crossrail. Leeds needs its own Crossrail. And we need £ 100m for the Skipton Colne link, not £56bn for HS2. So you don’t even need to go to continental Europe to see efficient public transport. It exists in England. Liverpool, Newcastle, London. Cities to emulate, although Zurich is a pretty good model too. Plus Zurich isn’t in the EU so it must be doing something right. Actually the excellent municipal public transport systems in most EU countries was what made me strongly pro-European in the first place. Excellent transport systems improving the status and environment of cities in a way that our leaver transport secretary Chris Grayling could never grasp.

Thank you NHS

Richard Saberton, Horbury

Having spent the last 11 months in hospital I would like to publicly thank the doctors and nurses in the ICUs at both Leeds General Infirmary and Pinderfields Hospital for their hard work and dedication in saving me. I would also like to thank Mr Raza and the staff in the Pinderfields Spinal Unit who have helped me reach the level of independence, albeit in a wheelchair, that I currently enjoy. Special thanks should also go to the excellent Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy teams and especially Fiona who stopped me falling on my face more times than enough when bravado and over confidence far out stripped my ability. Thank you all very much.Our NHS is something that we will all, at some time or another, need to call on and we should cherish and nurture it. The staff I encountered during my stay were invariably hardworking, dedicated and cheerful despite being overworked and constantly under pressure. Whilst any organisation should be able to step up and deal with an emergency, when it becomes the norm then that is when management has failed. You cannot just continue to ask your staff to do more and more with less and less.