September 28: Time to pull out stops on Leeds tram vision

Have your say

From: Mark Pennington, Woodland Croft, Horsforth, Leeds.

I WOULD like to make some points about the much-discussed tram or metro proposals for Leeds. Outside a favoured location such as London, such a scheme must represent “the art of the possible”. Manchester had many failed proposals before their tramway was built.

First, street running is extremely expensive to build, and must be confined mainly to city centres, where the benefits are greatest. Second, adoption of existing railway routes gives good value. Third, there should be a focus on developing needy areas (not to include bustling Headingley, I would suggest).

Thus, the best approach would be to adopt the Leeds-Bradford railway line, via New Pudsey. This route is not needed for through running, which can be achieved via Brighouse, and could be given over completely to trams. Simply attaching this to street running in Bradford and Leeds centres, and to St James’, would bring enormous benefits to both cities. Districts served would include Harehills, Mabgate, Wortley, Armley, Bramley, Stanningley, Thornbury, Laisterdyke, and Bowling: all aching for such investment. All but two of these are ignored by existing trains.

Later phases could explore the disused Pudsey Greenside branch, open up industrial land in flat terrain down the Aire, or even extend via Low Moor to Cleckheaton, Heckmondwike and Halifax, if a tram became preferable to a train.

This proposal moves beyond “develop Leeds”, towards Northern Powerhouse: but do our leaders want any such thing?

Union Bill will hit hospitals

From: Sarah Dodsworth, regional director, Royal College of Nursing (Northern).

MUCH of the attention on the proposed Trade Union Bill currently going through Parliament has so far focused on plans to crack down on strike action. But few people join a trade union because they want to go on strike or cause disruption and within this legislation lies a potentially more damaging proposal which could seriously affect our health service.

So-called “facility time” – the paid time-off given to union representatives to carry out their duties – would be limited and monitored under the proposals as part of a simplistic view that this would save money without considering the benefits. This time is used for vital work such as promoting safe working environments, educating staff and helping resolve work-related disputes quickly.

Research carried out for the RCN shows that work completed by trade unions saves hospitals in Yorkshire and the Humber over £6m a year.

Capping the amount of facility time available to union representatives will have a detrimental effect on staff turnover and productivity – something our NHS simply cannot afford. The Bill will not save public sector money. Quite the opposite. Aside from the expense of high staff turnover, undermining union activity could also hit patient safety. This must be avoided at all costs.

Hungry to see more equality

From: Mr A Maddocks, Parkstone Drive, Bradford.

TWO articles attracted my attention (The Yorkshire Post, September 21), The first was regarding speculation that the Government is considering scrapping free school meals brought in by the Tory and Lib Dem coalition. The second just below regarding Queen Margaret’s School in York winning a top prize from Tatler for having the best school food in the country, including seafood from the coast, meat and poultry from the Dales and sometimes hog roasts on the terrace.

Congratulations to Queen Margaret’s for supplying a fantastic service, but let’s not forget the council schools down the road. For some children, the free school meal might be the only meal they get.

David Cameron is on record as saying “we are all in it together”. Of course we are, Dave.

From: Mr J Penn, Hedon, Hull.

STRANGE events are taking place in British politics! Labour is returning to its natural place. To the left, the place it was created for.

The Tories have decided to go further and are about to embrace Communism! They are about to get in to bed with the Chinese and let them build us a new nuclear power station. What would Margaret Thatcher think?

Against grain

From: JM Turner, Knipe Point Drive, Scarborough.

YOUR letters page (The Yorkshire Post, September 23) showed a reader’s picture entitled “Hay baling”. The title was incorrect as the material being baled was straw and not hay. The large machine with men working around it was a threshing machine. Lots of people confuse straw and hay – straw comes from the stem of the corn and hay from dried grass.

Beg to differ

From: Iain Morris, Saltaire.

AFTER repeatedly comparing Yorkshire to Scotland in your newspaper when it comes to devolution, it would seem the greatest county in England is unable to speak with one voice as Scotland did as a country in the last general election.