ON behalf of Leeds for Europe, I write to express our dismay at the news that, because of Brexit, Leeds will not be eligible to become the European Capital of Culture in 2023.
We have no doubt that had this bid been allowed to proceed then Leeds would have had an excellent chance of being awarded the honour of being the UK’s next host city.
This is a particularly cruel blow given that Leeds voted to Remain in the EU in the referendum of June 2016. Yet this may just be the start of the suffering for our city and its people as the Brexit process picks up momentum.
During and since the EU referendum, people who attempted to point out the many downsides of Brexit were accused of scaremongering and exaggeration. Now that our Government is dragging us down the path towards the exit door from the European Union, it is becoming apparent that, if anything, the warnings about Brexit have been understated.
In the Budget, the Chancellor announced that forecasts of the UK’s economic growth have been downgraded for the foreseeable future, making the UK the poorest performing major economy in the world, having been, until the 2016 referendum, one of the best. Wages are now not expected to return to 2008 levels until 2025 at the earliest.
In the same Budget, the Government announced that it is setting aside a staggering £3bn to pay for the costs of implementing Brexit – more than it was able to allocate to funding the NHS. That is £3bn spent on recruiting civil servants, building lorry parks, installing new IT systems and setting up new bureaucracy to handle tasks previously carried out within the EU.
That is £3bn which we are paying for through our taxes and which will not be available to spend on our schools, hospitals, police or armed forces. What a waste.
It is not too late to change our minds about Brexit. Leeds for Europe is campaigning for a referendum to be held once the full implications of Brexit are known. Surely, in any walk of life, if something isn’t working you stop doing it before it is too late?
Transports of no delight
From: Bob Watson, Baildon.
MIKE Priestley (The Yorkshire Post, November 21) is quite right to bemoan the dreadful overcrowding on the 17.26 Leeds to Skipton train, a situation sadly mirrored time and again on sundry routes in and out of Leeds.
Whilst Northern has added a 17.40 train to follow that 17.26, it is surely obvious that even more services are needed, or ones with six carriages instead of four.
Perhaps Northern could be asked how such overcrowding is to be dealt with in the not too distant future?
On the subject of HS2, Mike has rather grasped the wrong end of the stick. That project is not about trimming a bit of time off journeys.
Whilst that may be a welcome benefit, the main one by far is the very necessary increased capacity and additional journeys/routes that will be available once HS2 is completed.
From: ME Wright, Harrogate.
“THE Government has also pledged £337m to buy new stock for the Tyne and Wear Metro” (The Yorkshire Post, November 25).
Back in 2002, a Westminster “pledge” – or some such – confidently emboldened Leeds to spend £40m on works in City Square and Hunslet as the first stages of a three-line tram network.
Chancellor Alistair Darling, made it plain that pledging does not necessarily lead to the writing of a cheque. He was, at the same time, more sanguine and generous with his native Edinburgh.
I hope our Geordie Northern partners are not similarly disabused and misled by the latest pledge.
Signing up to taxing morals
From: Geoff Wilson, Forest Crescent, Harrogate.
I HAVE been on holiday for the last two weeks and was obliged to watch the BBC World Service for any news of the UK during that period. What seemed to be important was what was revealed by the ‘Paradise Papers’.
There was of course the usual disclaimer that, while the beneficiaries of these offshore schemes were doing nothing illegal, the implication was that they were doing something immoral in avoiding paying tax.
I do not believe that the beneficiaries of these schemes have the necessary understanding of the tax laws and accounting procedures to appreciate the implications.
Perhaps the solution is to get the beneficiaries who wish to take part in tax avoidance measures to sign a document saying they understand the implications of what they are doing.
Licence bikes to end abuse
From: A Hague, Bellbrooke Grove, Harehills, Leeds.
I NOTICED this week that cycle reflectors go bright when car headlights strike them, but that most cyclists without lights also have no reflectors or reflective clothing. They don’t use batteries so cost is minimal, so these offenders need a heavy fine to wake them up.
As there’s no chance of the police doing this, why not have special wardens to do it? Motorists pay road tax and deserve respect on dangerous roads. All road users need licensing, and abusers punishing.