YP Letters: Trees fiasco is publicity that Sheffield can do without

From: Neil Salmon, North Hampshire.

The tree felling scandal is eroding Sheffield's reputation.

I AM not a Sheffield resident. I live almost 200 miles away in North Hampshire, but I am appalled at what is taking place regarding the felling of the city’s trees.

From what I have read and watched, it would seem that we have another case of an out-of-control contractor (images of G4S and youth offenders institutions come to mind) and a complicit council hiding behind PFI contracts and ‘commercial confidentiality’ clauses.

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Today the first article that comes up on a Google search for ‘Sheffield’ is an article from The Yorkshire Post: “Sheffield tree felling saga: man arrested and woman injured”. Probably not the image of your city that residents or the council would like projected around the globe.

Whatever the rights and wrongs of the felling, there is obviously a serious breakdown in trust between residents, many of whom appear to be elderly, the council, the contractors and the police. Would not the sensible approach to halt the felling until some kind of agreement can be reached? From the videos I have seen, you would presume that South Yorkshire Police would be a little more sensitive to their PR after their recent condemnation regarding their conduct over Hillsborough. Are we really at a stage where the police now give over the streets to corporate vigilantes in hi-vis jackets?

Let’s hope that your city is not applying for any European funding or up for any awards in the near future as no doubt this is the sort of publicity that Sheffield can do without.

We must fight pension cause

From: Richard Burgon, MP for Leeds East, Councillors Kim Groves and Kevin Ritchie, and 23 others.

WE wish to express our dismay at proposed changes to university pensions which mean staff will struggle to plan for a retirement where a reasonable pension payout is assured.

Many staff already suffer the effects of zero-hours contracts and pension changes will cause further insecurity. This degrades the higher education teaching profession and could result in future recruitment and retention difficulties.

The proposed pension changes are based on unduly pessimistic ‘worst-case scenario’ estimates, and shamefully come in addition to employers taking a pensions contribution holiday from 1997 until 2011 at a cost of £1bn. A less risky, more generous pension agreement is affordable.

Whilst regretting the disruption which strike action will cause, we recognise that these pension changes are part of a growing trend to casualise and marketise education.

Education should not be treated as a product to be bought and sold and employee provisions should not be seen as a costly financial burden. This must be halted and we therefore stand in solidarity with striking lecturers.We call on employers to engage in negotiations which do not saddle employees with unpredictable, risky and inadequate pension provision. Furthermore, we call on the vice-chancellor Alan Langlands at University of Leeds to follow the example of vice-chancellors in Newcastle, Durham and elsewhere nationally, in giving personal backing to UCU strike action.

Tackle water firms’ abuses

From: Roger Backhouse, Orchard Road, Upper Poppleton, York.

MICHAEL Gove’s critcisms of water companies are entirely correct but won’t stop the abuses. They’ve employed expensive accountants and lawyers to protect their doings from scrutiny for a long time. It’s a national disgrace that nothing has been done to stop them.

I fear that unless drastic action is taken we’ll see another Minister saying much the same things in 10 years’ time. The companies will make token efforts to address the problems and then find new ways to rip off the public. The only answer is to take these companies back into public ownership with minimal compensation. That way, we can ensure true public accountability. I am old enough to remember when Yorkshire’s councils worked hard to provide good water and sewerage services for their residents. They worked for public benefit, not private profit. Yorkshire’s present water supplies largely stem from the good work they achieved. Why should a bunch of financial manipulators reap the benefits?

Who’s making the changes?

From: Mrs EH Bell, Newland Avenue, Driffield.

I WAS born on March 21, 1930, the first day of spring but now, after all these decades, I am informed by the media that the first day of spring is March 1 as well as being St David’s Day presumably, unless that has also been changed?

These days when, to me, so much seems to change for the worse, and which we are obliged to accept, I never ever imagined that well-established facts could also suddenly be changed. On whose authority?

However, until the day I go to meet my maker, the date I entered the world will, as far as I am concerned, forever remain the first day of spring; prayerfully and hopefully there will be no law against that!

Who do we need landfill?

From: Terry Morrell, Willerby.

RE domestic waste. As usual, the current discussion is centred disposal of our everyday rubbish.

Virtually everything falls into definite categories.

Vegetable; this could be composted.

Metals and glass; all recyclable. More could be done with aluminium.

Hardcore/rubble; all 
suitable to be used for construction, flood banks defences, etc.

Combustibles, paper, plastic, wood, etc; burning in a generating complex could produce hot water, or steam for a power plant.

So why do we need ‘landfill’ sites?