March 10 Letters: Hindsight is easy on rail line closures

From: Michael J Robinson, Berry Brow, Huddersfield

IN your Editorial (The Yorkshire Post, March 6) headlined Irony of Beeching, your leader writer, with 20/20 hindsight, referring to the closure 50 years ago of what were identified at the time as loss-making branch railway lines as “the most short-sighted decision in the history of the country’s railways”. Your editorial goes on to wail that if only Dr Beeching “and his Tory acolytes” could have recognised the potential of the Grosmont North Yorks Moors route, “Yorkshire’s countryside communities might not be so bereft of public transport”.

The editorial does not tell us how much these small branch lines were losing in 1965. As I understand it, Dr Beeching was given a brief to cut out the loss-making lines, and he did the job he’d been given working within the criteria laid down for him. As I walk along the road to collect The Yorkshire Post, there are 32 houses on one side of the road.

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If your perspicacious leader writer could have told Dr Beeching and his “Tory acolytes” that in 50 years’ time 23 of these would have their front gardens paved for car parking, as just about every household would be running two and three cars each, then their brief to Dr Beeching might well have been different.

Where was your leader writer when the Ministry of Transport needed to know that trains could be run with just a driver and a conductor along lines with unstaffed stations, instead of the nine staff on a photo I have of Thongsbridge station, for example? Thongsbridge! Nine!

Heaven knows how many staffed Holmfirth and Brockholes, but how valuable that branch line would be now in taking cars off the roads around Huddersfield.

An end to justice for all?

From: Diane Parker, Partner and Head of Personal Injury, Atherton Godfrey Solicitors, Hall Gate, Doncaster.

COURT fees are set to increase significantly this week.

Some years ago, court fees rose sharply because the Government said the court system should be self-funding and paid for by the users, rather than the taxpayers in general.

Fair enough, you might say.

I have read commentary that suggests that the aim has been achieved, and that civil courts, following a round of closures and staff reductions as a result of the Government’s “austerity measures” do now cover their own running costs from the fees they generate. So, is the new round of increases in line with inflation to ensure that courts continue to be self-funding?

Consider this: A claim valued at £20,000 currently attracts a court issue fee of £610. From March 9, the fee will rise to £1,000; a £390 increase or 64 per cent extra.

So, let’s say you’re a small business and a customer owes you £20,000. Do you sue? Well, you’ve got to find £1,000 up front and then there are extra fees to find once you’ve got judgement, to send in the bailiffs or petition for bankruptcy.

And what if the sums are larger? Say, £150,000. Currently the court issue fee is £1,315. From March 9, you’ll have to pay £7,500; an increase of 470 per cent, to attempt to recover your money through the courts.

In the summer of 2013, fees were introduced for the first time in Employment Tribunals. Since then claims presented have fallen by up to 80 per cent. The unions representing the workers affected by the change have brought legal action and been unsuccessful, making any challenge to the increase in county court fees almost certainly doomed to failure.

This year sees the 800th anniversary of the signing of Magna Carta, which laid the foundations for making the English legal system one of the most widely adopted and widely respected worldwide. It enshrined the right of the common man to have access to justice, a right that is shortly to become theoretical rather than practical.

Emmerdale’s sad decline

From: David Mitchell, Whitehall Grove, Lincoln.

IT is not often that someone from your much-derided neighbours here in Lincolnshire has the opportunity to score points. Such a chance has been given to us by the appalling decline in the TV soap opera Emmerdale, synonymous with all that is Yorkshire and enjoyed by many (myself included) for many years.

The programme is now a pale shadow of its former entertainment. Laughable and insulting plot lines, very badly written, poor, poor production values, strewn with errors, and obviously badly directed and under-rehearsed acting. As it is broadcast before the watershed there should be an investigation into the crude, suggestive and puerile trash that is being promoted.

It would be very interesting to read if any of The Yorkshire Post readers agree with me.

Forgotten atrocities

From: John Copperthwaite, Orchard Court, Headingley.

WHY all this fuss and concern about IS terrorists destroying 3,000 plus years old statues and artefacts in Iraq, which the Press have been only too keen to highlight in recent weeks?

China has been engaged in such activities for over 60 years, destroying over six thousand of Tibet’s monasteries and countless ancient manuscripts and artefacts.

The international Press have chosen to remain silent and the world community has firmly turned its back on Tibet.

Hypocrisy beyond belief.