Monday's Letters: Who will serve the interest of regional firms?

From: Dr K Swann, Gomersal, Cleckheaton, West Yorkshire.THE new coalition Government has rung in the changes this month with a flurry of sweeping reforms. In one fell swoop, it began to dismantle some of the previous Labour government's most prized policies and institutions.

Among the most contentious in the cull were the regional development agencies which are to be abolished by March 2012 and replaced with "local enterprise partnerships".

The new partnerships will address local concerns such as housing, employment and supporting start-ups. The weightier responsibilities of the Regional Development Agencies, things like inward investment, venture capital funds, business support and funding for innovation will be taken under ministerial stewardship in Whitehall.

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The RDAs cost 1.4bn a year. A regional growth fund to assist regions hit hardest by public spending cuts, also announced by the Government amounts to 1bn.

Trade associations and business groups reacted warily to the announcement, with widespread warnings that the Government shouldn't "throw the baby out with the bath water". By far the

strongest concern voiced was that smaller local partnerships may lack the impetus of the RDAs and may compete with each other on local issues.

Decisions such as the closure of the RDAs are being made against a far from rosy economic backdrop at a time when terms like "austerity" and "deficit reduction" are de rigueur in Whitehall.

The entire RDA system has either been burnt haphazardly in a bonfire of political vanity or axed in the name of reducing public spending, or perhaps both things have happened.

Regardless, it will be interesting to see if the new structure serves the needs of industry and manufacturing throughout the country as effectively as the one it replaces.

Too much onus is on our prisons

From: Bob Crowther, High Street, Crigglestone, Wakefield.

REPLYING to the column by Stuart Brown QC (Yorkshire Post, July 15), I think that he is following the national media and public attitudes regarding the role of our prison services.

Too much onus is being placed upon our prison system and the staff. Prisons are in place in order to remove convicted felons from the streets, thus protecting the public.

Prisons are not in place in order that the inmates be "re-educated", weaned off drugs and instructed in how to become better, law-abiding citizens.

These facets should have been addressed while on the outside, thus helping to cut down on prison admissions.

Similarly, upon release, the ex-prisoner should receive support and correct mentoring in order to prevent re-offending.

Having visited prisons, it is obvious to see that many of the inmates are in the wrong establishment. That is, drug users and people with mental health problems, who obviously should be in secure re-habilitation centres, not living alongside hardened felons.

It isn't the prisons that "are not working", it is the outside agencies which are failing the system. Until finances and resources are targeted at these agencies, our crime figures and re-offending rates will continue to climb.

From: Mrs P Hanson, South Lane, Netherton, Wakefield, West Yorkshire.

REGARDING the debate on prisons, of course prisoners re-offend because it is so cushy inside.

State of the nation

From: David W Wright, Uppleby, Easingwold, North Yorkshire.

WHAT a mess we are in. The country is broke, overcrowded, over-regulated and in terminal decline and yet we read that "celebrities/entertainers," footballers and public sector bureaucrats are "earning" huge salaries while the Government is quite

rightly having to cut back after the profligate years of Blair and Brown.

The latest example of greed and unjustified expense is the severance pay awarded to the failed ex-Ministers, in addition to the disgracefully high remuneration given to the BBC executives which has already been criticised by Sir Terry Wogan (Yorkshire Post, July 5).

This situation is all too reminiscent of the rise and fall of great empires and civilisations such as Ancient Greece, the Romans, Egypt and more recently the USSR – with the UK next in line along with Greece, Spain, Portugal and Ireland – all to be followed inevitably by the EU itself.

We appear to have learned nothing from past history with our political class seemingly unable or unwilling to influence our growing problems, with Joe Public resigned to TV watching and buck-passing.

Recipe for schools

From: Norma Blakeley, Hopefield Court, East Ardsley, Wakefield.

FURTHER to the letter from Eamonn Ward regarding free school meals (Yorkshire Post, July 10), I also think that every child should have free school meals, with provision made for meals during school holidays. This could perhaps be funded by stopping paying family allowances from when the child starts school.

This would have the effect of making sure every child did have at least one good meal a day. It would encourage some children to attend school so that they would get fed.

If this was coupled with children helping to grow food at school as part of their curriculum, it would also help them to understand where the food comes from.

It would also provide a subject at which the less academically-minded children could excel and, therefore, improve their self-esteem. If the meals were cooked in school, again perhaps the older children could help and it would provide jobs for some of the parents (both my mother and sister worked for several years in the school meals kitchen).

A new kind of service

From: Malcolm Naylor, Grange View, Otley.

LAST week, we saw two highly significant announcements on consecutive days that are manifestations of the same problem.

The appalling bureaucracy, lack of communication and co-ordination that infests the NHS and social care systems.

First, there was the report from the Nuffield Foundation on the massive increases in emergency hospital admissions costing an additional 11bn a year attributed to non-existent community care and nurses failing to talk to each other. I can personally vouch for this.

Secondly, the coalition Government has announced transferring funds and responsibility from invisible and unaccountable bureaucrats in PCTs to GPs who actually know the patient and their needs.

The problem is a lack of a systems approach and bringing together health and social care into a single National Health and Care Service. Health and care are so interrelated it is absurd to separate them as we do at present.

So please can we now cut the bureaucracy and form a National Health and Care Service free and universally available to all. And don't say it's not affordable. If we can give aid to nuclear powers, spend billions on Trident and wage war, we can afford to care for the sick and elderly.

Effort and goodwill could improve bus services

From: Ray Wilkes, Tower Road, Shipley.

THE new survey of bus passengers in West Yorkshire by Passenger Focus revealing that 91 per cent are satisfied with their bus journey accords with my experience as a regular and frequent bus user. As Metro chairman Coun Chris Greaves says, the survey is a testament to the way that working together produces results.

Buses carry twice as many people as trains every day and if all those people went by car instead our cities would be gridlocked. As countries like China and India industrialise, fuel costs will continue to escalate and in a more competitive world we cannot afford the inefficiencies caused by congestion. Buses will become increasingly important, especially in cities.

Yet our buses are still often held up in busy traffic and they would become much more reliable and efficient with more bus priority.

This would in turn improve frequencies and reliability further and cut Metro's support bill.

Brighton's buses came ahead in the same survey, where a long history of partnership and bus priority has led to much better evening and Sunday frequencies as well as night services. Brighton Council pays very little in the way of supported services.

Just a little more effort and goodwill by all parties could achieve the same for Leeds and Bradford, standing these cities in good stead in an increasingly tough world.

Capitalism has had its heyday

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

WITH the perspective of some 200 years since the start of the Industrial Revolution, it is possible to determine some trends in the capitalist system.

At the outset it had a sound structure based on a solid manufacturing base. In time though it has been gradually undermined by the creation of "paper" fortunes acquired through increasingly wild speculation, market manipulation and outright criminality. To this day no-one has succeeded in reining in or damping down a boom once it has got well under way and then the inevitable happens.

As to Keynesianism, the weakness in artificially stimulating the economy is that in time it becomes less and less competitive and unions stronger and stronger.

Eventually you run up against "stagflation" where productivity becomes stagnant but inflation increases. Evidently Keynes did not foresee this but as an eminent economist, he could and should have done.

I am afraid that the capitalist system has seen its best days.

Exercising our memories

From: Ken Holmes, Cliffe Common, Selby, North Yorkshire.

IT'S a scream a minute, scientists from the University of California, are now telling us that exercise and a regular intake of tea and/or coffee will help to stave off and combat dementia of men and women aged 76 or over.

I take more exercise than most people of my age and sup more coffee than most people of any age.

I can well remember things that took place more than 70 years ago, but yet can't remember things that happened last week. If that isn't dementia, then I don't know what is.

North is left out in the cold

From: Richard Billups, East Avenue, Rawmarsh, Rotherham.

YOUR Comment Special implored the Government not to abandon Yorkshire for the south east (Yorkshire Post, July 10).

You should have thought of this when you advocated people to vote Conservative.

Anyone living north of the Watford Gap is forgotten. It's

the way of the Tories to promise the Midlands and North everything before an election and break every promise afterwards.

The only good thing this time is that we can look forward to seeing Nick Clegg voted out at the next General Election for his skulduggery in joining the Cameron-led Government.