YP Letters: Council failings make the case for Yorkshire devolution

Barnsley MP Dan Jarvis and Northern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry are due to meet for talks on devolution.
Barnsley MP Dan Jarvis and Northern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry are due to meet for talks on devolution.
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From: Peter Wood, Scaftworth Close, Bessacarr, Doncaster.

JAKE Berry, Northern Powerhouse Minister, and Julie Dore, Sheffield City Council leader, both attack Doncaster and Barnsley Councils for supporting a ‘One Yorkshire’ devolution plan instead of the Sheffield City Region option.

In his excellent article (The Yorkshire Post, September 21), Chris Burn identifies the main reason why Ros Jones (Mayor of Doncaster) and Sir Steve Houghton (Barnsley Council leader) had this change of heart. Julie Dore led the successful campaign to bring HS2 to Sheffield City Centre rather than Meadowhall, which was the preferred location of South Yorkshire councils other than Sheffield.

HS2 will now bring little economic benefit to the rest of South Yorkshire and, because the route has been moved eastwards, some places like Mexborough are seeing new properties demolished and many more blighted. Sheffield’s blinkered determination to secure the HS2 station can hardly give Doncaster and Barnsley confidence that a ‘Sheffield City Region’ will benefit the whole of South Yorkshire and so a One Yorkshire devolution option now looks more appealing. As a son of York I care about ensuring prosperity for the whole of Yorkshire and better transport connections are important matters which can only be secured by a ‘One Yorkshire’ body.

As Chris Burn pointed out, Julie Dore may have won the battle to locate the HS2 station in Sheffield city centre but it has turned out to be a “…rather Pyrrhic victory”. Bi-mode trains will leave the HS2 line south of Chesterfield and join the existing line to Sheffield using diesel power for the last stage of the journey. What sort of message will this send to overseas visitors when the world of transport is moving away from petrol and diesel power? I think the lesson to be learned from this episode is that councils acting alone don’t achieve the best results.

From: Dave Hubball, Barwick Road, Garforth.

THE leaders of Leeds City Council should, if they had any decency, resign en masse over their total disrespect for the taxpayers of Leeds.

The list of money-wasting schemes are endless, the re-generation of Kirkgate market (£17m) that the stall holders didn’t want and the public don’t like, turning it into a ghost town.

Tram/trolley bus schemes with nowhere to go. Cycle ways (£35m) that are almost unused and have been dug up before the paint has dried. And now, to top it all, the houses on green belt that we don’t need. The list goes on and on.

The costs of these projects and feasibility studies that have been carried out must run to hundreds of millions of pounds, and things seem to get worse.

Do we want Yorkshire devolution? If LCC are to be involved, we’d be on our “uppers”.

Council leaders, do the decent thing and resign and let “people with an understanding of what works, and does not work, in the real world” (Tom Richmond, The Yorkshire Post, October 7) take over. Leeds city leaders, you couldn’t run a bath.

No need for train guards

From: Michael J Robinson, Berry Brow, Huddersfield.

WITH reference to recent letters about Northern Rail’s strikes about guards on trains, surely many of us are familiar with such transport systems as the London Underground with driver-only trains, and London’s Docklands Light Railway trains which don’t even have a driver.

Claims are made that the second staff member on Northern’s trains is necessary to ensure safety. Rubbish. The safety record of the systems in London is what we all know it to be – pretty near perfect.

Fortunately, responsibility is vested in the Health & Safety Executive to ensure that we are safe on our journeys, not the RMT union’s executive, and the HSE have expressed no concerns about safety on the newly proposed trains. I believe that Northern Rail have said that no jobs will be lost by the changes.

I recently travelled by rail from Berry Brow to Wigan and back. Presumably each train had a guard because the doors opened and closed as we travelled, but I never saw one. At no point during the five hours on any of the five trains involved was I asked to show a ticket or pay for the journey. The only use I had for my pre-purchased tickets was at the station barriers at Wigan and Huddersfield.

It seems the guards’ invisibility on all these trains, and this experience is common on Northern Rail, clearly demonstrated that their customer care or fare revenue protection extended no further than popping out of their cabin at station stops to operate the doors. Drivers can do this just as well.

Pointless end to coal power

From: Peter Hyde, Driffield.

IT is 25 years since the Government of the day arranged the demise of the coal industry. Although I am no supporter of the Scargill mob, I do rather think that Michael Heseltine, and others, were wrong.

We now spend billions on protecting the environment. To what end? Global warming is inevitable. One has only to compare our own country with a few million years ago – it was under ice – and our own puny efforts are dwarfed by the non-compliance of countries like India, and even Germany, who still throw tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere.

Unhealthy for hospitals

From: John D Scatchard, Trafalgar Street, Batley.

ON recent visits to two hospitals, I noticed there were machines selling sweets and fizzy drinks. The rent and / or profit from these machines will go to the hospital trust. Should this be so when there’s an obesity epidemic?