YP Letters: Devolution must not cost us diversity

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From: David Schofield, Highfield Drive, Garforth.

WITH regard to Yorkshire devolution, much has been written recently in your columns about the ”Northern Powerhouse” and a “Yorkshire Parliament”, but I feel I must take issue with comments made by Doncaster Mayor Ros Jones and Barnsley Council leader Sir Steve Houghton.

They imply that devolution for the whole of Yorkshire, would make it the “greatest county of them all” (The Yorkshire Post, August 19). As a 68-year-old Yorkshireman born and bred, I and many others believe that Yorkshire already is the greatest of them all.

We are told by the omniscient politicians and business leaders that this is the way forward. However, I am not sure that total devolution is the right answer. One of the things that makes this county great, is its sheer size and diversity.

In Yorkshire, we have Leeds with its thriving commercial and cultural heritage, Bradford and the surrounding area has the heavy woollen industry, Sheffield is famous for its high quality steel industry, North Yorkshire is famous for the Dales and North Yorks Moors national parks, the East Coast has its fishing industry.

On top of all that, there is the massive tourism and farming industries. Diverse, to say the least. So how can a devolved Yorkshire be governed fairly without omnipotent politicians favouring localism? To quote Coun Houghton and Mayor Jones: “As leaders of Doncaster and Barnsley, we have only one objective – to do the best for our towns.”

From: John Finch, Horbury.

I WAS impressed by the number of editorials dealing with the Yorkshire devolution debate (The Yorkshire Post, August 20).

In my opinion, the elected mayor should be based in Leeds as this is the most successful 
of all the city councils in Yorkshire.

Manchester has made it work on this basis. I think it’s time that an agreement is made and to stop all the bickering.

From: Peter Lewis, Giles Street, Netherthong, Holmfirth.

I WAS there on February 5, 2015, when the dynamic political duo, David Cameron and George Osborne, told a Leeds audience that investment in Northern Powerhouse trans-Pennine rail electrification was a top Government infrastructure priority already underway.

Two and half years and two general elections later, let’s hope that the practical common sense will finally prevail.

Perhaps the realisation too that there were, and are, also ‘votes’ in that will finally sway the current incumbents’ embattled Westminster regime to actually implement the right action for a change.

Secretive small print

From: Eamonn Ward, Sheffield Green Party.

YET again we read “Bryan Lodge claims….” This time Sheffield City Council’s cabinet member for the environment – and the trees scandal – says “it could be millions”. Will they share with us the relevant parts of the contract? Only if it suits them. We can’t verify claims. The Press can’t verify claims. Only the Labour Cabinet and Amey will know the small print.

The Streets Ahead contract lasts until 2037. The detail was never debated in the council chamber. Never examined by a scrutiny committee. It was signed in 2012 as massive public service cuts began to bite. Is it wise for contract repayments to increase year on year?

Answers to this and other public questions were needed. No one got the chance to ask.

Council inaccuracies and misinformation have become the norm. They sweep aside Independent Tree Panel views. Ignore viable engineering solutions. Bypass dispute resolution and go straight to court. It’s just about winning now and burying opposition both individually and collectively.

Twenty more years of Streets Ahead. Maybe 19 more years of the Veolia waste contract.

Our council tax funds massive repayments. But with no transparency. No public scrutiny. No democratic accountability.

We must campaign against the council’s tree felling programme. Campaign to open up all Private Finance Initiative (PFI) contracts to public scrutiny. Campaign to oppose privatisation and bring public services back “in house”. Campaign for truth and against “fake news” PR.

Consumer champion Ralph Nader once said: “If you’re not turned onto politics, politics will turn on you.” Don’t sit back and do nothing.

Tax breaks for Eton

From: Barry Geldard, Mytholm, Hebden Bridge.

THIS newspaper recently revealed contrasts in our education system. Charitable status is enjoyed by public schools such as Eton, Harrow, Rugby etc who can claim 80 per cent tax relief on business rates. The example quoted; Eton paying £821,000 over five years as opposed to £4m. State schools, by contrast, pay the full business rate.

Now we learn (The Yorkshire Post, August 21) that the same scam applies to many private hospitals with some enjoying 
a £5m tax break over the next 
five years.

It is no secret that the NHS is in a parlous state financially. This has resulted in ward closures, less staff, operations cancelled and pressure to make compromises throughout the service. An example locally is the proposal to close the A&E department at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary.

Traditionally the Conservative party has ensured ‘nothing but the best’ for their own. Indeed the great Victorian Tory statesman Benjamin Disraeli stated in 1845 that “a Conservative government is an organised hypocrisy”.

However the Labour government was no different. When in a position to do something about the iniquitous situation, they did nothing.