Saturday' Letters: Falling snow is no excuse for failing refuse collections

LET'S face it, the snow is no excuse for failing refuse collections. Our problems started on November 1. I phoned Leeds City Council Environmental Services on November 3 and 4.

There was no snow, just no service. Nothing happened, not until I contacted our city councillor. Soon our dustbins were emptied, but that should not be necessary.

Since then, our black bins have been emptied but not our green bins. Once again it was not the snow which interfered with the collection. How do I know?

Here is a scenario for you.

I saw the green wheelie bins being emptied on our street. Quickly I went outside and caught one of the men in our front garden and asked him if he would empty our green bins in our flats, to which he replied: "I don't know anything about flats. I'm only on this run for the day."

I said: "Well you are here, and our bins need emptying."

He replied: "Wagon's gone."

It is now seven weeks since our green bins have been emptied! Did someone mention council tax?

From: JS Dodd, Shawdene, Burton Crescent, Leeds.

From: FI Spencer, Birchwood Mount, Shadwell, Leeds.

THE question is whether Leeds City Council will give a refund on our council tax bill in Andrew Mercer's letter (Yorkshire Post, December 22) because of lack of road gritting and weeks of missed bin collections causing inconvenience to thousands of Leeds residents.

It would be a nice gesture but I think the top managers responsible will need our tax to give themselves a big bonus for a job well done.

From: Mrs Jacqueline Staples, St Philips Road, Norwich, Norfolk.

ON a recent trip to Leeds I was astounded to be told that Leeds City Council does not and will not grit the area outside private schools.

Do the parents of children at private schools not pay council tax?

Does the fact that children at private schools help to relieve pressure on our hard-pressed and overworked education system not register with the council?

Shame on you Leeds City Council for your mean-minded attitude.

From: Brian Skelton, Rawdon, Leeds.

THE unions were blamed when the rubbish first piled up in the streets of Leeds. Yet the unions are not to blame for the snow – and the council's inability to fulfil a basic duty that is a key element of the council tax.

It leads me to conclude that the council's management is to blame. Furthermore, I also expected better from Tom Riordan, the former chief executive of Yorkshire Forward who is now running the authority.

Yet I see his council has had to send out letters explaining the ad hoc nature of deliveries, presumably because he knew the binmen could not deliver these letters to homes and save the council a few bob in postage.

Other comparable cities manage a perfectly adequate refuse service and in all weathers. Why is Leeds the exception?

Involvement has increased passion

From: John Turner, Chairman, Beverley Fairtrade Group.

YOU carried an opinion column recently by Nick Hayns, from the Institute of Economic Affairs, entitled "Bitter Truth about Fair Trade versus free trade". I have been an active supporter of Fairtrade for nearly 20 years, and have become more passionate about it as I have become more involved.

The main focus for Fairtrade is the small farmers or producers who live in the poorest countries of the world. Many of them lack basic public amenities like a locally available supply of clean water.

Many struggle to provide for their families because of low income which is often unreliable.

They are vulnerable to fluctuations in market prices, as well as exploitation locally and internationally. Many own only a small piece of land which means they have no power, no control, no voice to negotiate with.

They are vulnerable and exposed to the power of global companies. They often have no say in the decisions which can affect their livelihoods, their progress, their future.

Many of them have had little or no formal education and therefore do not know much about the world outside their local community or have lacked the opportunity to develop any business skills.

The Free Trade model does not help such people who cannot compete with companies and products which are heavily subsidised, and who have a history of being disregarded or exploited. Working with, and through dedicated Fairtrade organisations, has transformed life and opportunities for some of these people.

For some, it has meant the start of a long-term supportive relationship, which has helped them with product design, access to markets, access to training in business skills, credit if needed and has helped many develop a sense of self worth and dignity. It has also helped them develop and improve their agricultural methods and skills.

Many small farmers have been organised into small co-operatives where they can share ideas and experiences.

It also encourages them to be involved in decision making from which many have traditionally been excluded.

The Fairtrade premium is a very helpful amount of extra income which is negotiated locally.

Collectively it can add up to a substantial amount which an elected group decide to spend on a project which will be beneficial to many in their local community. Many have chosen to dig a bore hole to provide a supply of fresh clean water, saving them time spent in walking miles for it previously, and improving their health substantially. Some have spent it on additions to or improvements to local schools.

Several mainstream UK companies like Cadbury's and Tate & Lyle have committed to operating on Fairtrade terms because of growing public demand and awareness. Fairtrade is here to stay and flourish.

It's more than just a feel good factor which is driving this. It is justice and compassion to make the world a fairer place.

Families frozen out

From: Mrs VM Willie, Gold Tops, Newport, South Wales.

OUR daughter lives in York and, like her neighbours, has been without water since December 20, 2010.

The response from Yorkshire Water was unhelpful with comments of "Your heating is not high enough" even though the house thermostat is set at a minimum of 15 degrees centigrade day and night; the other comment was "there is nothing we can do".

I looked on the Yorkshire Water website and compared it with the Dwr Cymru/Welsh Water who are our suppliers in this part of Wales – www.dwrcymru. com.

Yorkshire Water say they are coping with 300 leaks in the region and are supporting "vulnerable people" by supplying them with bottled water.

Welsh Water identify the areas where the leaks and/or frozen mains or supply pipes are causing low pressure or no water supply.

In addition they are supplying emergency water bowsers and identifying the address where they are available for those with no water supply at this time.

Scotland is apparently sending aid to those in Ireland without water and much was being made by medical staff of the need of water to ensure basic personal hygiene (Yorkshire Post, December 30).

I suggest that Yorkshire Water should follow the example of Welsh Water and supply emergency bowsers in those areas where the water supply is unavailable because of leaks and/or frozen mains or supply pipes. At least each affected household will have access to a supply of water to ensure minimum essential needs are met.

Give us some light relief

From; John G Davies, Alma Terrace, East Morton, Keighley.

WhiLE agreeing with Barbara Harrison's response (Yorkshire Post, December 18) that "lighting used for security is, unfortunately, not a luxury", I would seriously question whether it is necessary to floodlight the whole area for 18 hours a day, at this time of year.

Sensors are readily available that could reduce the need for lighting to a few minutes a day.

I would suggest that we should all be examining our energy usage and to find ways of reducing it, in the broader interests of sustainability and equity.

Near me, at a house entrance, is a model Viking lighthouse with a red lamp glowing; the whole is lit by a floodlight. This is to do with show, not security. I can point out other examples.

Is it fair that people who can afford the current high fuel charges, use fuel for ostentation and "security", thereby pushing the price beyond those who live in "fuel poverty" and cannot afford to keep themselves warm?

Perhaps Barbara Harrison might do a "Norman Tebbit" and suggest that the "fuel poor" get on their bikes and head for warmer climes. At least the cycling would keep them warm.

Too much tolerance can be a problem too

From: Mrs Jennifer Hunter, Farfield Avenue, Knaresborough.

I HAVE been analysing recent events and have observed various levels of discord, disharmony and disunity.

We now live in a country where there is tolerance for some groups and overt intolerance regarding others. During the previous government's lengthy reign, over 4,000 new pieces of legislation were enacted and implemented.

A notable example of one divisive piece of legislation was the blanket smoking ban in public places which came into force on July 1, 2007. Whether or not people approve of or enjoy smoking tobacco, this legislation has caused a lot of arguments and brought disharmony to many people inside and outside social environments.

Formerly it was advisable to steer clear of the themes of religion and politics while socialising. Today, on the other hand, it is very difficult to go anywhere without being confronted with political issues and their influence.

Political correctness, health and safety issues and legislative changes remain at the forefront of people's minds and these present a barrier to people enjoying themselves in harmony.

The forthcoming Royal Wedding may, temporarily, brighten the gloom and I wish the happy couple all the very best for the future.

It may deflect public attention from less pleasant circumstances which are being experienced by very many people such as the threat of unemployment.

However, the problems which will be over-shadowed by this ray of nuptial sunshine will continue to exist.

In order to achieve a truly united nation, there needs to be moderation and balance with respect to tolerance. Too much tolerance as well as lack of tolerance can lead to friction and fragmentation amongst social groups.

I'd rather pay for day centres

From: Stephen Nichols, Leyburn Avenue, Lightcliffe, Halifax.

I READ with interest Grace Hammond's recent article regarding the "Harrier Jet flying into the history books" and I also saw the same on several BBC news programmes.

I also saw recently a group of handicapped people peacefully protesting about the closure of their day centre in Leeds due to the Government's cutbacks.

I have no idea whatsoever what the cost to the general public was for the Harriers. Neither do I know the cost of running a handicapped day centre for a year.

What I do know is that, given the choice, I would rather have my money spent on keeping open the day centre than seeing 16 Harriers flying over Lincolnshire for two hours.

Yorkshire's early hero

From: Dick Lane, Trinity Court, York.

WHILE celebrating the victory at the Melbourne Cricket Ground of the England team and the considerable contribution made by Tim Bresnan in ensuring this win (Yorkshire Post, December 30), it is worth recalling that the first captain of Yorkshire County Cricket Club had been made an honorary member of the Melbourne Cricket Club in 1861.

The All England Eleven touring team triumphed in Australia, notably beating the 22 men in the New South Wales team by 19 runs on February 1, 1862.

Roger Iddison was appointed and then captained Yorkshire from 1863 for a number of years.

Exit lines

From: Edwin Bateman, Penrith, Cumbria.

AN undertaking by the coalition to repeal Edward Heath's European Communities Act in order to exit the EU will allow the Government off the hook and save the annual cost to the UK of EU membership – an average cost of about 2,000 for each UK citizen. Why not?