Give powers back to local

From: Michael Meadowcroft, Honorary Alderman, City of Leeds.

THE argument on elected mayors has surfaced again (Elected mayors ‘key to tech hopes’, The Yorkshire Post, August 14). There is an important constitutional aspect of the debate: if one has an executive mayor one has to have a legislature to maintain the democratic balance. This exists in London but would not exist in Leeds or elsewhere. If an elected mayor is simply grafted on to the present structure it would be a recipe for frustration and stagnation.

The real problem is the loss of powers in local government and this will not be resolved with some electoral sleight of hand.

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In 1948, the Leeds City Council was responsible for gas, electricity, transport, water, St James’s Hospital, most social security, all further and some higher education, ambulance, police and for the fire service.

All of these have been taken away over the past sixty years. Is it any wonder more people of talent and skill do not stand for election?

Amongst many highly effective civic leaders over the decades men such as John Hope Shaw, Sir Charles Wilson, the Rev Charles Jenkinson and Sir Frank Marshall had no need to be elected mayors to accomplish great changes for the benefit of Leeds.

Let us confine the question of elected mayors to the huge issue of the city region and how we have a democratic body for the whole county of Yorkshire.

After all, it has a greater population than Wales or Scotland and just as much identity!

From: Paul Kilroy, Lawnswood.

IN VIEW of the increasing incidence of independent retail businesses closing should not the council in Leeds reconsider its rents and overheads charges?

Many shops are situated in the beautiful arcades and their loss not only deprives visitors and shoppers of an atmosphere and a visually pleasing experience, but the chance to acquire unusual items. Was not the same short-sightedness and greed responsible in part for the disappearance of much of Kirkgate Market?

How about a fund to support concessionary charges for small businesses? One tobacconist, bookshop, café or vintage bric-a-brac shop is an irreplaceable feature in the city landscape, contributing character, charm and charisma. How do we think our own Marks & Spencer, Asda and Burton started?

From: Roy Watson, Hull.

I RECENTLY visited Leeds for some family business and during my visit I got lost in the city.

I accidentally went into a bus lane but corrected myself practically immediately. Imagine my shock when I received a penalty through the post. I wrote to Leeds City Council, explaining my situation and their response was basically “there are clear signs in the area”.

I explained to them that I was a tourist in their city and that it is disgraceful that they want to make quick money out of such visitors. I, for one, will not return.

Help to find
guide dog Tess

From: Mrs S Galloway, Stirrup Close, Ainsty Park, York.

YOU carried an article entitled “Criminals step up thefts of rural gundogs” (The Yorkshire Post, August 14).

On July 23 this year Guide Dog Tess, a black curly coated retriever, went missing in Nairn. Despite intensive searches in the area, it is now feared that she has been taken and could be anywhere in the country.

May I please implore people to search their consciences and think of the implications for both the dog and the owner, who is now virtually housebound. If you have any information about Tess, or know someone who might, please call 0800 6888 409.

Standing up for Wilson

From: Don Burslam, Elm Road, Dewsbury Moor, Dewsbury.

I NOTE with great interest Royal Mail’s inclusion of Harold Wilson in its set of great Prime Ministers – and no Tony Blair.

I am glad his stature has been belatedly recognised. Yorkshire born and bred, he has not fared very well at the hands of historians, but I believe he has been under-rated. It is necessary to consider the context of the era in which a Premier had to operate.

Wilson took over a divided party and restored its credibility with voters. He was faced with intractable problems such as Northern Ireland, Rhodesia and the unions, not to mention the economy. It is doubtful whether these were soluble at the time by anybody, at any rate from the left.

Wilson introduced social reforms and the Open University, which has been a great success, I am confident that with the perspective of history, his solid virtues will be increasingly recognised.


From: Norman Elliott, Church Street, South Cave, Brough.

I NOW have several “free” central heating boilers, “quintuple” glazing, solar panels galore, cash in the bank from innumerable accidents during my eight decades and insurance to cover everything. Now the last straw. Several of the well-known charities which I support are employing telesales staff to ask for more, despite my contributing by standing order.

The next caller may wish they had not called me.