New thinking needed over town centres

From: Derek Gibson, Dewsbury.

sarah Freeman’s article (Yorkshire Post, February 15) on the plight of our high streets will strike a chord with many. It was interesting to see the contrasting reactions to the Local Data Co figures.

A council chief, unsurprisingly quoting statistics and maintaining a “steady as she goes” approach, and an architect advocating a new approach, reviewing what assets (and liabilities) town centres possess in relation to how we may wish to use them in the future.

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Hindsight suggests that the problem would appear to predate the present financial crisis. Now that so much of our money is spent in supermarkets, retail parks and the internet, it is worth pointing out that these are not new phenomena.

This renders questionable recent schemes to build more shopping centres in some towns, the Barnsley and Dewsbury schemes spring to mind. Fortunately the money ran out some time ago so it looks like Dewsbury has escaped desecration for now.

A view towards Barnsley town centre from the railway station platforms show how it has been scarred by several whizz-bang schemes over recent decades and it appears the council wish to continue in this fashion.

The assertion in Wikipedia that Barnsley centre “has become less aesthetically pleasing over time” looks as if it will remain valid for the foreseeable future. Meanwhile, in Batley a very large supermarket development has all but killed the town centre. Watch out Penistone.

Clearly a new approach is needed to the way we use our town centres. The current top down approach to planning looks very much like yesterday’s way. New and smaller voices are needed. An examination of the role and purpose of our town centres should be sought if we are to retain their unique identities.

Clean up litter on railway

From: Jeffersen Gledhill, Station Approach, Headingley, Leeds.

I AM pleased to read that Bill Bryson has now turned the focus of his attention on litter-strewn railways and hope that he is successful in his campaign (Yorkshire Post, February 15).

As a Kirkstall resident and daily commuter between Headingley and Leeds, I am disgusted by the amount of litter surrounding the platforms (and station as a whole) in Headingley.

While bins are emptied, it is unclear whether this is by Network Rail or prevailing winds, as the rubbish scattered around the tracks and boundaries seems to be growing unabated. It would appear a priority to cut back trees but empty bottles and cans are left untouched. It is about time that Network Rail and train operators generally started to take their responsibilities for cleanliness to both local residents and passengers seriously.

The same can also be said for those commuters responsible for littering in the first place, obviously.

BBC biased after fee cut

From: Alan Chapman, Beck Lane, Bingley.

THE BBC had acquired, perhaps by self-assumption, a reputation for impeccable political neutrality, however this is now blatantly shattered.

Ever since the previous wasteful Labour government was removed from office, and Gordon Brown departed 10 Downing Street, the Corporation has subtly shown favour to the defeated political party.

I noted this bias particularly after the coalition Government concluded the deal to freeze the licence fee for five years, which equated until 2015 that their budget reduction would be 16 per cent.

The way BBC news has craftily become slanted against the Government; examples would be reports on the reduction of constituencies, tuition fees, jobs reduced in the bloated public sector, and the small VAT rise. They perpetually emphasise the quotations of vested interests to produce adverse comment.

I became so annoyed with the BBC that four months ago I started viewing commercial TV stations to watch the news, and a more balanced presentation ensued. The comparison clearly exposes the BBC bias towards its deposed socialist political friends, or should I say comrades?

Plans for NHS are nonsense

From: Peter Vallow, Ashbourne Avenue, Cleckheaton.

I AM very surprised at the Government’s NHS proposals.

I retired from General Practice some years ago. At that time I was seeing 80 patients on each working day (it was rather like being on the big dipper and being unable to get off).

In addition, there were staff payments, and general expenses in running the practice to be attended to. By the end of a working day, I was tired out.

To take on responsibility for hospital work would have meant neglecting patients, something a GP is not prepared to do. We are in it to help, not to ignore.

I think the Government’s proposals are a nonsense, and completely unworkable. I feel it only fair to warn at this stage.

Vital test for Cameron

From: G Ambler-Shaw, Carleton Drive, Boston Spa, Wetherby.

PARLIAMENT and the people have spoken, and now is an ideal opportunity for the Prime Minister to repudiate the discredited European Court of Human Rights.

This would test his fibre as the leader of the nation which has already been severely shorn of its sovereignty, under the yoke of “big brother Brussels” since Britain was shamefully deceived by the Heath government into joining the then European Common Market (ostensibly for trading purposes only) some 40 years ago, which developed into a highly political and authoritarian regime.

It was an age that also saw the disastrous re-organisation of local government, which turned into the juggernauts of metropolitan councils, and the re-drawing of many ancient county boundaries and the introduction of new names and designations at the whim of the planners’ pen: all at huge cost to the public.

Black times indeed for the country.