Wednesday's Letters: Show some true grit to ease the chaos on our road system

IF he had the bottle, Philip Hammond should go the way of Scottish Transport Minister, Stewart Stevenson, who quit after snow caused major road transport disruption in Scotland.

He should have seen it coming to England and Wales but instead he's been telling us to take a shovel, a blanket, a hot flask and do it ourselves.

He protests that the Government cannot be blamed for x cms of snow in y hours. Nobody said they should.

It's not what happens to you in this life – but how you deal with it. Hammond and his colleagues are pleading in the wrong court.

If his department has an overview of the chaos on our roads, why can't he take a leaf out of Wikileaks and disclose on a website all the road-related weather data his department has for the on-line motorist to log onto. Or is this a skill beyond his and his departmental competence?

If City speculators can get up-to-date detail about minor movements in the stock market, why can't his department (and the Tory-led government) provide for the makers and shakers of a possible economic recovery (ie industry and commerce) a reliable road map to take them through the current road chaos?

From: Terry Marston, Acer Court, Lincoln.

From: Terry Duncan, Greame Road, Bridlington, East Yorkshire.

It is time that we took a leaf out of Germany's approach to clearing snow.

In that country, each household and business is required to maintain a clear path to its property, including the boundary pavement. Citizens are liable to a fine if this is not carried out.

For delivery people, paramedics, firemen and so on, life would certainly be helped considerably if this became law in the UK.

And where are all the continental snow blowers that sweep away everything ahead of them in one quick action, instead of the ponderous gritters and ploughs?

From: Adrian Buttree, Ossett, Wakefield.

In the bad winter of 1963, I caught the train from Haigh railway station, it was two minutes late and the station master gave the driver a ticking off. It was warm, comfortable, clean, well-lit and tidy.

It arrived at Wellington Street station three minutes ahead of schedule, and in the evening I caught it back in the same manner. The snow was so high I walked over the top of our house gates.

The local roads were cleared by local farmers with Wakefield Rural District or West Riding supplied snowplough blades to fix to their tractors. Have we really lost the wit and intelligence to think tangentially in this modern age?

Oh and the bins were emptied weekly, on time, on the correct day and the binman carried the bin to the road, not the customer.

From: Dick Lindley, Altofts, Normanton.

WOULD some of the climate change fanatics explain to me and the rest of your readers why it is so cold when they were confidently predicting a warmer man-made climate for the UK with much milder winters?

Could their hidden agenda be the destruction of our comfortable civilised lifestyle with a return to the middle ages?

Furthermore I would like to be in those cosy central-heated offices of the intelligentsia who are peddling this nonsense rather than working in the frozen fields on my farm. Global warming, bring it on. Please.

From: Andrew Mercer, Oxford Road, Guiseley.

IF Leeds Council is incapable of emptying the bins, or gritting the roads, is there any chance of a council tax refund?

Is it me, or have the council's services become even more unreliable in the past six months?

From: T. Scaife, Manor Drive, York.

It's no joke as winter bites leaving a trail of chaos across the nation. As usual, people are left to their own devices because only bus routes are eventually gritted.

The usual lame excuses come from ministers' lips and even mutterings about the Tories' Big Society. But in a time of the people's austerity, what should we expect?

As Christmas approaches, the spirit of Scrooge is spreading faster than an outbreak of swine flu.

Eric Pickles dresses up the cutbacks to councils flashier than a butcher does with the Christmas turkey (Yorkshire Post, December 14). His seasonal message is that we are being well and truly stuffed.

He draws up his sleigh throwing snowballs of bad will to one and all.

As if adjusting stockings over the mantelpiece, he manipulates the percentages that hide the true scale of the cuts.

Do I hear him mutter "Ho, ho, ho and a bottle of rum"? Of course not.

"Ho, ho, ho and what cuts do you want for Christmas from Santa Pickles?"

Think about carers this Christmas

From: Mike Padgham, Chair of the Independent Care Group (York and North Yorkshire), Scarborough.

CAN I, through the columns of your newspaper, urge your readers to remember carers this Christmas?

At this time of year we recognise and appreciate people like the armed forces, emergency services and doctors and nurses for the work they do whilst the rest of us enjoy the Christmas break.

This year we can add in local authority road staff who have performed miracles in the treacherous weather to keep roads open.

But I also want to remember another group of people who, in many cases, will not get the chance of the same Christmas break as others.

Carers, both paid and unpaid, work all year round, in all weathers to ensure that some of the country's older and most vulnerable people get the vital care they need.

For some, a visit by a carer might be the only contact they get with another person during the day or might make the difference between being able to get out of bed and not.

Our carers also perform a vital role of making sure that those vulnerable people are safe and well, particularly during bad weather.

That dedication has been tested to the limit during the atrocious weather this winter but carers have battled on to ensure their calls are made.

Often overlooked, I want to thank everyone who works as a carer, whether looking after residents in a care home or providing help to people in their own homes.

You are appreciated, for all that you do, and especially during these holiday periods.

From: Freda Williams, School Lane, Walton, Wakefield.

WAKEFIELD Alzheimer's Society, with the help of volunteers, run very successful monthly 'Forget-me-Not' cafes, at five venues, where patients with dementia and their carers can meet for company and light refreshments.

But, what happens when dementia progresses to the stage where participation in such activities is no longer possible? If adequate care and support is not provided to help their families care for them at home, the outlook is grim. They either move to an underfunded, understaffed NHS ward, or use their life savings to pay for (often untrained) care in a home which is run for profit. There are a few excellent NHS units, but not nearly enough.

I have often heard people say: "I would rather die of cancer than dementia." Cancer patients, quite rightly so, are well-cared for by the NHS. Not so people with dementia, yet both are illnesses, and as such, should be cared for by the NHS.

Curse of a generation

From: Peter R Hyde, Kendale View, Driffield.

Credit cards, in my opinion, are the curse of this generation of 'must have it now' people. We read in the Yorkshire Post that 51 per cent of people find that they are struggling to pay their credit card debt.

As a youngster, I was taught to save for what I wanted and the thrill of having the cash to buy the desired object gave one a sense of achievement.

Many of the toys bought on credit cards will take until next Christmas to pay for and well before then will have been abandoned while the next set of 'must haves' will be advertised.

Tough decisions to tackle crisis

From: Bob Neill MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government.

I WRITE in response to your article 'Leeds City Council 'faces crippling job losses' (Yorkshire Post, December 17). Unfortunately, given the economic mess we inherited, the Government has to make tough, but essential and responsible decisions about how to cut the catastrophic public debt.

We have proposed a fair funding deal for councils which will protect the most vulnerable councils and also council tax payers. We've changed the way government grants are shared out to insulate the poorest areas – targeting resources to where they are needed most.

In fact, on average, councils will only face a 4.4 per cent reduction in spending power next year.

We've also provided enough money so every council in the country can freeze council tax next year without hitting local services.

At the same time, we're overseeing the biggest transfer over power from bureaucrats to councils in a generation – so they will now have unprecedented power, a real say over issues like housing and planning, and much greater control over their own budgets.

CCTV is there for security of the passengers

From: Coun Chris Greaves, Chairman, Metro.

I AM sorry to hear that, unlike most passengers, your correspondent Mr Farmer feels that the CCTV coverage at Metro's bus stations is intrusive (Yorkshire Post, December 16).

The cameras are there, and on many buses and trains, to ensure that passengers can make their journeys and bus station and bus company employees can go about their employment in safety.

Since their installation, the numbers of anti-social incidents at bus stations has dropped.

When consulted, most bus station users tell us the presence of the cameras makes them feel more secure and when we have built new facilities people tell us they want CCTV cameras included.

Similarly the security staff are employed in a preventative role, to discourage anti-social activity and also deal quickly and professionally with any rare incidents that do arise.

I can put Mr Farmer's mind at ease and assure him that they will not be in the least bit interested in his coughs or sneezes.

Can I also reassure him that rather than being a quango unanswerable to its public paymasters, as he suggests, Metro's policies and activities are decided by the West Yorkshire Integrated Transport Authority whose members are elected councillors from the county's five districts and answerable to the local electorate.

Bill that could ease the car park misery

From: Ian Smith, Colston Close, Bradford, West Yorkshire.

JAYNE Dowle's thoughts in her article about car parking (Yorkshire Post, December 16) will be echoed across Leeds, Yorkshire and indeed the country, including by those who have encountered poor customer service at Haworth's infamous car park.

Perhaps Jayne might support Crawley MP, Henry Smith, who presented a motion on November 30 under the Ten Minute Rule Bill – The Consumer Protection (Private Car Parks) Bill.

The proposal that car park owners should be licensed will be debated in Parliament on February 4, 2011.

Many MPs have promised to tackle these issues, but without fruit being borne. Let's hope our respective MPs all support this one.

Picture told a thousand words

From: Keith Jowett, Woodland Rise, Silkstone Common, Barnsley.

Your charming picture of the returning airman and his daughter (Yorkshire Post, December 18) was very much a metaphor for the Christmas season.

Here was the innocent baby entering a world of strife.

In wishing for peace in our seasonal greetings, let us also wish that all our service personnel will soon be able permanently to be united with their loved ones.