Monday's Letters: Supermarket menace to a rural market town

From: Coun Paul Andrews, Great Habton, York. THE article by Philip Davies MP (Yorkshire Post, March 23) on supermarkets shows the Conservative Party in its worst light. The Tories used to be the party of the countryside. No longer: they are only interested in big business and the super- rich. Any tears they shed for small businesses are crocodile tears – they don't really care.

The article assumes that supermarkets operate within a free market, but no market can be truly free if it is dominated by the monopoly power of just four operators.

The power of the supermarkets is such that they can determine the prices of the products they buy. As a result, thousands of dairy farmers have to work 24/7 on an hourly rate less than that of a part-time student stacking supermarket shelves. Supermarkets have pushed our farmers to the brink of bankruptcy.

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In the short term, they seem to provide cheap goods and employment. In the long term, they destroy more jobs than they create, because they are less labour-intensive than ordinary shops, and they are ruining their suppliers, while making huge corporate profits.

Our future depends on a stable farming industry. We can do without cars, televisions, computers, books, washing machines and all other conveniences, but the one thing we cannot do without is food.

Nobody is going to want to go into farming if they cannot make a reasonable return on their investment. We leave our farmers and our other producers to the mercy of the supermarkets at our peril. So supermarkets require far greater regulation than ever before – in the national interest.

In Ryedale, the Tory-led council is determined to inundate Malton with supermarkets. They have been advised that up until 2021, there is only capacity for 2,164 square metres of new convenience sales space. Yet they have just produced a draft document which describes a proposed 20,400 sq m of new retail sales space as "committed or allocated".

At least 5,000 sq m of this is for "convenience retail", ie, supermarkets.

This is their "baseline" for our new local plan. If it goes ahead, it will destroy Malton as we now know it, with its town centre of traditional small businesses.

It is an absolute and utter disgrace.

Transport needs joined up thinking

From: George Jennings, Horsforth, Leeds.

I WAS interested to learn that almost alone of major cities, Leeds has decided that the solution to its congestion problems is a trolleybus system. (Yorkshire Post, March 23).

Unfortunately, trolleybuses will not attract sufficient numbers of motorists away from their cars to affect congestion, and cannot carry sufficient traffic to do so. Of course, we have been here before. In March 2001, a few months before a General Election, the funding for the Supertram scheme was announced, only to be cancelled in November 2005, once the election was safely out of the way.

I am sure that residents of Leeds will be pleased to hear that on March 19, funding was approved for a tramway through Birmingham city centre, a proposal that has been around almost as long.

Let's hope sensible counsels prevail, the trolleybus routes are not built, Leeds avoids the mistake made in the 1950s and investment is allowed in a real rapid transit system.

From: William Skinner, Woodlands, Beverley, East Yorkshire.

With reference to E Fullerton's letter about railway crossings (Yorkshire Post, March 22), the writer evidently does not use the railways very often, judging by the comment, "a relatively small number of travellers who wish to visit the relatively small number of locations north of Beverley".

My wife and I regularly visit our daughter in Leeds, using the railways, travelling from Beverley. Invariably, the trains are full and there is always a rush to claim a seat.

Indeed, a frequent complaint has been to the fact that there are never enough carriages.

I personally do not have any great problem with railway crossings, accepting them for what they are, a necessary part of our current transport system.

Perhaps the writer ought to be grateful for people like us who use the trains. At the very least, we are shortening the queue at the relevant crossings!

A properly financed integrated transport system has to be a must for the future; the alternative is gridlock.

Computer says 'no'

From: Duncan Anderson, Mill Lane, East Halton, Immingham.

I don't suppose I'm the first person to have suffered from this dominatrix spinster, a matriarchal aunt whose main phrases are "You can't do that", "You're not allowed to do this" and "Don't even consider doing what you've just suggested".

I am of cause talking about the IT departments in most companies.

I've come to the conclusion that most of the IT wizards are good at putting plugs back in to sockets, but anything technical, like allowing you to do your job more efficiently, forget it.

You must remember, the company has standards, procedures and protocols that must be adhered to at all cost. After all, who had the crazy belief that computers were installed to allow employees to be more effective, to get more done and help create greater income for the company with less outlay?

Unfortunately, most IT managers and directors are only interested in unifying systems, compatibility and sub-net mask protocols.

They forget that they have a duty to manage their staff/ employees and to serve the company though making sure that the IT system is usable by the most humble of data-inputters. Can I suggest an improvement? An employee wants an improvement, this gets approved by their line manager and this is then implemented. Simple.

Has anybody else had these problems?

Managing to avoid cuts

From: Dr Robert Heys, Bar Lane, Ripponden, Sowerby Bridge, Halifax.

WITH reference to your disturbing report: "Hospitals targeted in 1bn savings squeeze" and "Yorkshire health chiefs forced into huge changes" (Yorkshire Post, March 20). Since 1995, the Department of Health statistics published by the British Medical Association this year show that the number of senior NHS managers has risen by 91 per cent, more than double the 35 per cent increase in the number of doctors and nurses, while spending on "management consultants" is now estimated as upwards of 300m a year and rising.

Clearly a prime requirement for savings on the cost of hospitals is a sharp reduction in the numbers and remuneration of senior management. Unfortunately, it seems unlikely that this will be a priority for Yorkshire health chiefs.

Exercise was the secret ingredient in our diet

From: David T Craggs, Sand-Le-Mere, Tunstall, East Yorkshire.

IN the mid-1950s, I and many young people who lived on Wakefield's huge Eastmoor estate had, by today's health standards, an appalling diet. We ate fish and chips most weeks, sometimes twice. Home-made loaves of bread, cakes and pies were in plentiful supply, and a thick slice of bread and dripping or butter often formed a supper.

Breakfast was a generous plate of cereal with sugar and full cream milk. Drinks were sugar-loaded lemonade and dandelion-and-burdock, and we purchased sweets and chocolate whenever we had the money to do so.

By contrast, green vegetables, apart from peas, were rare, cabbage and sprouts being hated as much then as they apparently are by today's children. Fruit was usually out of a tin, this being preferred to the fresh varieties.

In spite of this sugar and fat- loaded diet, a fat child was a rare sight, and the word "obese" was unknown in the area. On the other hand, the word "skinny" was often used to describe very thin children. The question is – why? The answer can be summed up in one word – exercise.

We played out from morning till night if we got the chance, often roaming several miles from home. On weekdays, we walked at least a mile to school, and many of us went home at lunchtime, thus making four journeys in the day.

We never rode in a car (there was only one in our street) and rarely travelled by bus. Our legs were our main travel aid, whether to walk on or to propel our bikes. We had a "swing rec" close by (We later discovered that "rec" was short for "recreation" rather than describing the poor state of the swings). This, being a place where the estate's young people congregated to meet their friends, was frequented daily.

Within a stone's throw of our homes was the huge King George V playing field (still there) where, throughout the summer months, mammoth games of touch-and-pass, where the age range of its participants probably covered 10 years, were played most evenings.

During the winter months, sometimes in freezing weather, we played rugby on the estate's large grass verges, illuminated by the street lamps.

So, when Sir Liam Donaldson, the country's chief medical officer, tells us that exercise is the key to a long and healthy life, all those people of my age who experienced a childhood like mine, are entitled to say, "Tell us something new."

Disgust over MPs for sale

From: Len Fincham, Warrels Road, Bramley, Leeds.

THANKS for an excellent "Comment" (Yorkshire Post, March 22) regarding MPs who sell themselves for cash. You have certainly not wasted words.

I am disgusted that these servants of the people elect to improve their income by offering their governmental knowledge for money. I can understand them selling their memoirs after they have left Parliament, but certainly not before!

The trouble is, the public will not wish to vote in the coming election and this will let the minor independent parties into power, a very serious disaster if it happens.

I ask all to vote for a change away from this appalling, incompetent, sleazy Government and let some fresh air in.

The stench from greedy self-interest has been in Whitehall too long, but we must let others attempt to restore our faith in our own democracy.

Generation gap

From: Suzie Watts, The Boulevard, Leeds

The average age of an MP is 50.6 years with the youngest, Chloe Smith, being 27. There are a total of 646 MPs and, interestingly, 519 of those are male.

England has a population of just over 60 million, according to the Office of Statistics.

It is concerning that we have an older generation attempting to solve problems of younger generations. We need more younger people representing this country.

The number of representatives in comparison to our large population will never portray democracy in a fair manner when it works

out at around 93,000 people to one MP.

Gloomy outlook

From: Ruthven Urquhart, Cottingham, East Yorkshire.

IN the light of the Met Office's high risk forecast for "the hottest summer ever," dare anyone offer to buy our almost new (yet virtually unused) barbecue?

We are considering a long holiday in Iceland – to get away from it all!

Mark of respect

From: Ryan Johnson, Burley Road, Leeds.

THE visit to Afghanistan by Prince Charles (Yorkshire Post, March 26) was an honourable way of showing our respect for the astounding things that our troops have done for us.