It is an obvious fact that the Leeds City Council is well into the red, financially.

Some months ago I put my ‘green’ bin out, containing some grass cuttings, and a small amount of clean wood shavings. On the wagon coming to empty the container, the driver looked inside, he put the lid down and drove off. When I contacted the office of the council, I was informed by the head person, that the reason for my bin not being emptied by the driver was because the wood shavings could have contaminated the grass cuttings. It just beggars belief.

As I thought afterwards, how can the Leeds Council justify the collection of very small amounts of grass, etc. from near on every household in the whole of the Leeds area. The cost of the very expensive wagons alone. Together with the cost of servicing, fuel, insurance, etc, and the wages of the drivers. As with most gardeners, I keep my grass cuttings for compost, the other bits (hedge trimmings) if a large amount, still have to be burnt or taken to a refuse disposal plant.

Can the council prove that this system is cost- effective? May be the council is controlled by other factors, the requirements of Europe?

The majority of householders have only a small garden patch. The amount collected must be minimum from most of the house-properties.

Also, over the past years I have worked in the Otley, Guiseley and Yeadon cemeteries. I have reported on the fact that some of the heavy grass-cutting machines have damaged a number of grave headstones, etc, also of the sad state they were getting into, well overgrown shrubbery etc. But recently I have found a vast improvement, damaged graves have been straightened up, the grass and shrubbery well cut back and now overall an improvement. Thank you.

M Copsey

Whackhouse Lane, Yeadon

How to register a protest vote against the Establishment

Last week’s letter from David Dews, the UKIP Parliamentary candidate for North West Leeds, agrees with me that our political system is undemocratic. This is an issue often raised by emerging parties but rarely by the big three because the system is loaded in their favour. Even the Liberal Democrats have gone cold on reform.

Mr Dews echoes what the public knows. We do not live in a democracy as the banking crisis revealed but are in the grip of Establishment capitalists. All the voter can do is change the name but not the policy of government. Policy is decided by moneymen, based on inequality, conflict and greed. In a word, capitalism.

But Mr Dews is right. We must vote, but not necessarily in the way he hopes. He is also right in referring to the Swiss model of referendums. Something I have done myself many times before. So what can we do? Abstain? No. This is dismissed as apathy rather than a protest. Voting for minor parties? Maybe, but this risks letting in extremists using patriotic sounding names and whose polices are based on prejudice. The choice should be between capitalism and socialism but since most parties are capitalists, socialist alternatives are limited. But they do exist for those prepared to search through the curtains of propaganda that obscure their existence.

The only way to register a protest is to submit a spoiled vote by stating “none of the above”. This will be counted and cannot be ignored or explained away as apathy.

So those who are of the opinion that all parties are equally untrustworthy do not give up in despair. A “none of the above” vote can and should be used to protest at what is a rotten, corrupt and discredited system, run by bureaucrats for the benefit of capitalists.

Malcolm Naylor

Grange View, Otley

Menston Hall: Council can do what it likes

Now the plans for the refurbishment of Menston Hall have been passed, and now awaiting the £3,000,000 grant towards the rest, I would like to make a few comments.

As a resident awaiting to return on completion, I would like to say along with 15 other residents who have been re-housed on health and safety grounds that the three consultation meetings we attended early last year were of no value whatsoever as we would have preferred some affordable one-bedroom flats for returning residents who are on low incomes.

The plans are for 30 flats (two-bedroomed), 17 in the rebuild (all part ownership), eight two-bedroomed in the hall, pictured, for sale and then only five flats in the new-build to the east of the Hall to rent to the over-55s. The rebuild itself will be a three-storey building whereas the one that it is replacing was only two-storey. Planning for this extra storey should not have been passed.

Concerning lawns to the front, 31 car parking bays are planned with very little area left for delivering and contractor vehicles. The exit and access is also limited to one vehicle. None of this was discussed at the consultation meetings.

The new-build is on the site of the Canadian red aak which was planted six years ago with a tree preservation order on it. This was to replace the stump of the original oak which has historical connections to the village as Oliver Cromwell sat under that oak before the Battle of Marston Moor. Also part of this project requires the felling of 12 mature trees.

Councillor Peter Finley said at a forum meeting it would give younger people a foot on the property ladder. With only two-bedroom apartments being built there will be no hope for younger people as they will not be able to afford to buy even under the part ownership scheme. It seems to me, and to many other ordinary folk, that councils and builders can do what they like, ignoring the rules and regulations that the rest of us have to abide by.

Leslie N Thornton

Mount Pleasant, Addingham

Saving energy and protecting our food

In common with most people in the Leeds North-West constituency, I have just received a newsletter by post from Diana Wallis, Lib-Dem Euro MP. I cannot complain about her keeping in touch: had I been elected as Green Party MEP last June I had planned to keep in regular touch with the electors in a similar way – although on a more regular basis I hope.

The newsletter does require some comment. The funding of a new coal-fired power station is welcomed because it will be linked to carbon capture and storage. One has to ask – if the experimental technology does not work will the power station still be employed? Would the £170 million being provided in subsidy if used for insulation of houses have saved the amount of energy the new station will produce – as well as providing more jobs, and putting money in the pockets of many more people? This would be of especial value linked to bringing VAT rating of conversion of houses in line with VAT on new build.

One little snippet is headed ‘Pesticide crackdown’. One of the more useful EU initiatives has been a crackdown on pesticides that are harmful or potentially harmful to us, either in use, or in the food chain. It is important to recognise that the Lib-Dems in Yorkshire are opposing these restrictions, and working to ensure that these dangerous and potentially dangerous poisons stay in our environment, and on our food.

Martin Hemingway

Green Party PPC, Leeds North West

Do you really want to vote for hunters?

David Cameron has hunted foxes and reportedly enjoys blasting birds to bits – perhaps indicative of his true character. Repeal of the Hunting Act was his first firm policy commitment, though most Conservative voters oppose this.

His Shadow Environment Minister, Nick Herbert, is a former keen hare hunter and high-up in the Countryside Alliance, itself primarily concerned with promoting bloodsports.

The Tory party has received millions in funding from hunt supporters. Many hunters have been recruited to campaign, in plain clothes, for the party in anti-hunt candidates’ constituencies.

A ban on hunting wild mammals with dogs for ‘sport’, long resisted by a tiny minority of powerful people, finally came after opinion polls had, for decades, shown it to be the will of the vast majority.

Some hunts continue to flout the spirit and letter of the law. The Act needs strengthening, but its repeal would re-legalise the barbaric chasing and killing of hares, deer and foxes with dogs for ‘sport’.

Against scientific evidence, the Conservatives also plan a mass cull of badgers.

Your decent and compassionate readers will not want these cruel and unjustifiable things to happen. Their votes can help ensure they don’t.

Alan Kirby

Protect Our Wild Animals

Sign up for CSV’s environment volunteering campaign

As an ambassador of the UK’s leading volunteering and training charity I know the invaluable role of volunteers in this country and the benefits to volunteers themselves in getting involved in community projects.

Did you know that this year across the UK thousands of people will be giving up their time to: create urban community allotments, clear up local grot-spots, spruce up community gardens or protect endangered wildlife like bats, bees and butterflies?

The UN have proclaimed 2010 the International Year of Biodiversity. A great way to 'go green' and participate in biodiversity projects is by signing up with CSV’s environmental volunteering campaign CSV Action Earth, supported by Morrisons.

Action Earth and Morrisons are funding £50 grants available now for people who have an idea that will improve their local environment – it will help to get a project up and running and could pay for tools, seeds or even hot soup for cold volunteers.

Last year volunteers improved land equivalent to the size of 80 football pitches, and planted 45,000 shrubs, seeds and plants. Let’s make this year another chart topping success!

To sign up or get more information call CSV on 0121 328 7455 or visit to find the nearest registered activity to you.

Pete Waterman

CSV Action Earth

Labour candidate is ready for the next step

With a general election fast approaching I hope our little town of Otley decides to vote for Judith Blake, the Labour candidate. Judith has been a staunch Labour Party councillor for some time and I think she is ready for the next step.

On election day if all Labour supporters in Leeds North West go down to the polling stations and vote for Judith I’m quietly confident she will be our next MP.

Joe McHugh

Fairfax Flats, Otley

Gardening woes

As a keen gardener, I am most annoyed that the Government intends to ban the plant food mephedrone because a handful of people are claimed to have suffered ill health or death after misusing it as a drug of intoxication.

Will I become a criminal if I stock up on it before the ban? Or will my azaleas have to suffer because of a nanny state attitude towards the lack of self control of a few selfish drug-taking individuals who will stop at nothing to alter their state of consciousness?

John Eoin Douglas