February 20 Letters: Why Yorkshire needs its own political voice

From: Professor Paul Salveson, Yorkshire First, Radcliffe Road, Golcar, Huddersfield.

TOM Richmond is right to say that the SNP’s Nicola Sturgeon could have a significant influence on British politics after the General Election (The Yorkshire Post, February 17).

Scotland has done very well out of devolution already, and it is worth asking ourselves – in politically marginalised Yorkshire – why this is? I would suggest that the existence of an increasingly popular Scottish National Party has forced both Labour and Conservative governments to listen and respond to Scottish concerns.

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Whether it is through the not ungenerous Barnett Formula or major devolution of powers, Westminster politicians cannot afford to ignore Scotland.

In contrast, until recently, Yorkshire didn’t have its own political voice. This is despite several senior politicians from both Labour and Conservative parties being MPs for the region.

Yorkshire First was formed less than a year ago and aims to achieve similar powers for Yorkshire which Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and Greater London already enjoy.

After a respectable performance in last year’s European elections, it will be standing several candidates in this year’s General Election.

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With our unfair voting system the odds are stacked against us but we will be offering Yorkshire people a progressive alternative to the London-centric establishment parties. The more votes Yorkshire First and its sister North East Party get, the greater the chance for the needs of the North of England being taken seriously by Westminster.

From: James Bovington, Church Grove, Horsforth, Leeds.

THE Yorkshire Post recently called for ideas to be included in a Manifesto for Yorkshire. For many years I have outlined proposals for a Leeds central area CrossRail tunnel network.

The HS2 scheme and greater government willingness to fund ambitious transport projects means that now is an appropriate time to update the proposals. So here is my contribution to the manifesto:

1. Do not construct New Lane station – use the existing but modernised as necessary – Leeds Station to accommodate HS2 and a possible HS3

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2. Construct a cross city east to west tunnel to accommodate local trains such as Selby to Skipton or York to Halifax, with suburban electrification as required.

3. Tunnel to provide three major underground stations at Eastgate/Quarry Hill, Leeds City Square, Westgate/Wellington Street – should be possible when building it to avoid going under the river/canal

4. Construction to allow future municipal trams to share with regional trains

5. Build into tunnel construction and station design possible future north-south CrossRail linking the university with Southbank.

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6. Construct short chord on HS2 to allow longer distance trains from east/north-east e.g. York and beyond to avoid the line between Leeds and Garforth, allowing high frequency metro services on this line with possible link to Wetherby as integral part of east Leeds housing extension.

Although not part of the Leeds central area, the scheme would also require further local electrification e.g. Calder Valley line – possibly a much more cost-effective measure than construction of a massively expensive tunnel under the Pennines, as would be the re-opening of the Colne - Skipton route. A further priority would be an electrified spur to Leeds Bradford Airport and consideration of a tunnel under the centre of Bradford to link the two rail termini.

Scourge of zero hours

From: Louis Kasatkin, Pinderfields Road, Wakefield.

IT is plainly obvious that in general, the mainstream media and the major political parties are choosing to neglect the burning issue of zero hours contracts. Of all the inhumanity and injustices being visited upon the electorate during this seemingly unending period of government-induced austerity, zero hours contracts and their proliferation – as supported by the major parties – is perhaps the most invidious and discriminatory example of the general inhumanity and injustice destroying our society here in 21st century Britain.

Capitalism, or “the free market” as an economic system, is already moribund and incapable of any meaningful recovery. Thirty million “officially” unemployed across the equally moribund and useless European Union bear daily testimony to that.

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Zero hours contracts, operated by wholly unaccountable private staffing agencies, in collusion with the major employers which they supply with casualised, minimum-waged labour are a blight on society and should not enjoy the protection of the law, let alone the support and indulgence of the trades union and Labour movement.

Puzzle over house sale

From: John H Langley, Rosewood Close, Bridlington.

I WAS drawn to the letter by Mr Peter F Dewhirst (The Yorkshire Post, February 17) regarding the sale of his house about to complete 10 days before Christmas. Having bought many properties over the past 50 years, I do not recall purchasing or disposing of a property without paying or receiving a deposit, normally of 10 per cent.

At no time in his letter does he mention a deposit which I would normally expect to be received by his solicitor. In this case he mentions an agent. It appears to me that one or the other has badly let him down.