I think I need to explain publically why tomorrow Thursday 3rd May 2012 you are going to turn in your grave, as I your only daughter am going to VOTE LIBERAL DEMOCRAT in the local elections.
You brought me up in a fairly left wing working class household; my roots have always been deeply embedded in the ethos of socialism, unions and the labour party and that’s all thanks to you. And although you wouldn’t have said anything I know you would be deeply hurt even now if I betrayed those guiding principles that you have brought to my life, from childhood to now entering my middle years aged 50 and a grandma. (you would be so proud she is called Melody and has curly hair like me)
But I now have to put those feelings aside, because if you lived where I do dad, you wouldn’t vote labour either. I am very fortunate, I live where I do by choice, and if I decided to could up sticks and move pretty much anywhere I fancied within reason. I have a good job, decent income and only myself to really worry about. I don’t even think as yet I am in what the “labour party” call the “squeezed middle”, I probably spend more a week on coffee and lunch that many families in my area have to exist on in a week. But every day in East End Park in Inner East Leeds I witness poverty, deprivation and despair! And the thing is when I naively voted in the past two local elections for labour candidates it was with the belief and optimism that they would fight for change and improvement, not allow my community to fall further into decline. Oh how I got that one wrong, big style............
You would be pleased to know that I am as you always taught me to be, active in the community in which I live. In the past four years I have attended every local community forum meeting and every Inner East Area Committee. Which is more than any of our current or past councillors can say! And watching and participating in those meetings has opened my eyes wide to the lies and lengths the two existing labour councillors Ron Grahame & Asghar Khan will go to, to keep the labour party happy, toe the party line and not give a toss about their constituents or understand the effect their collective actions will have on the ordinary people of Burmantofts and Richmond Hill.
You were a fireman dad, a Fire Brigades Union member and very proud to be one – so I shall start by explaining why I won’t vote labour because of way Ron and Asghar treated my local fire fighters.
In October 2011 I read the fire authority’s business case for the closure of Gipton and Stanks fire stations resulting in the loss of 24 full time posts and massive cuts in cover and provision. It stank (no pun intended) to high heaven so I got in touch with the Fire Brigades Union and asked their opinion. It was clear that the decisions made by WYFRA were calculated on the basis of reducing costs and not on the saving of lives and property. Cllr Grahame and Khan met with the FBU and by happy accident I attended that meeting. They both swore blind they would oppose the cuts and indeed the labour controlled inner East Area committee vigorously opposed the cuts in provision too. But when D day came – Ron who was a WYFRA member came casually up to the FBU guys, said “ I have been whipped” and didn’t even have the decency to abstain. You might be shocked to hear Dad that the conservatives congratulated COVEN on the thoroughness and quality of their opposition document, but Labour never even said Thank You or Well Done and then the labour controlled authority voted through the closure of 10 stations plus 100 job losses of front line fire fighters, and you as well as me know that it is these blokes who actually do the work saving lives and property and it’s a hard and dirty job.
Actually Dad I did give Ron Grahame the full and frank benefit of my opinion in the foyer of the training school afterwards for which of course I am now paying the price. It’s a topic for another blog but these local politicians and their cronies really sink to some amazingly dirty depths to keep their overrated egos afloat!
So that’s the first reason – the second is planning. My local pub in LS9 – the Spring Close Tavern was subject to a planning application to be knocked down and turned into 13 flats. This would have resulted in a payment by the developer of £22,000 to Leeds City Council of Section 106 money, it’s sort of reparation for lost facilities. Some would call it a financial incentive, I prefer the B word myself but as I am currently subject to an allegation of defamation (I will tell you more about that in the next entry). So 13 flats divided by £22k is £1692 per unit. Just across the road from my local – which fortunately is still standing and serving gin and tonics btw, a property developer has bought a local church and is to be allowed to knock the majority of it down, build 176 flats and can you guess how much 106 money they are to pay............................... NOTHING. This planning application was recently extended by the labour controlled plans panel east and they didn’t even query why no money was requested. By my reckoning labour have lost about £300k for my area.
I go to a fair few plans panels and further up York Road – near Colton Village (v posh) a housing development was rejected because the 106 money offered was insufficient. They wanted £1.7 MILLION for a development of only 86 houses. The developer offered much less and the application was refused. Plans panel east again, labour controlled has the same councillors for both areas – and they treat us so differently – it’s a crime. If you do read this blog take a look a bit further back at how the council sold a beautiful grade 2 listed building to a property developer called Jason Butler for £17,000 when it was worth at least £300,000.
And finally the third reason I am voting liberal tomorrow. And this is the main reason.................. several years ago the liberal /conservative council decided that they needed a solution to getting rid of the city’s waste instead of landfill. It’s not environmentally friendly and cost are going up all the time. By 2010 it was becoming very clear to us that the solution that was going to be chosen as an alternative was incineration. Burning waste is wrong on so many levels and I wont bother you with the technical details but ALL of the COMMUNITY was adamantly against it. Ron Grahame was elected and ousted the liberals on an anti incineration ticket. All of the labour councillors on the inner east were against it. Cllr Graham Hyde even HELPED US SET UP No2 INCINERATOR. And in 2011 Asghar Khan assured us all loudly in both in public and private meetings that he was avidly against incineration as a method of waste disposal. When in 2011 labour took control of the council one of their first tasks was to continue backing incineration, and they have even had the audacity to propose building the monstrosity less than 200 metres from housing and a local park. The liberal councillor RALPH PRYKE proposed a vote to allow a referendum so the citizens of Leeds could have a say in the proposed method of waste disposal – labour voted against this and our two labour councillors did not have the courage to vote against their party and with their constituents. They committed the ultimate act of betrayal and left the council chamber. I like you dad, prefer my politicians with spines.
Ralph Pryke has a spine – he regularly gets insulted and berated in meetings by the labour lot. He even tried to get a scrutiny panel to review the community consultation saying it was inadequate. I attended that and spoke on my communities behalf. What did I get for my trouble? Well Cllr Mick Lyons (labour as you may have guessed by now) is threatening me via a posh London solicitor with legal proceedings for defamation......... see reference above to the depths they will sink to. Labour will ruin my already damaged and poverty ridden community but a local councillor will pursue a local community campaigner via the courts because she basically spoke passionately in her communities defence at a meeting. No members of the public were there, or press – just lots of labour councillors feigning outrage and shock. Actually dad I called myself a community political prostitute in the same sentence and they didn’t even raise an eyebrow.
You will be probably disappointed to read that although being 50 I am still inside that hot headed, bad tempered 23 yr old I was when you died. And (pardon my language) Cllr Lyons can do what the fuck he likes, because even the poorest most deprived member of my community has more idea of what reality is than he does. And if the sad bloke gets his kicks from intimidating middle aged ladies, well bring it on.
Actually dad and I know that you won’t understand a word of this having died when pocket calculators were still the size of house bricks........... but I have a secret. There is one thing politicians are terrified of. It’s called social media......... websites, blogs, twitter, and face book to be precise. It gives power and influence to the masses and it scares them witless. Labour might win Burmantofts and Richmond Hill tomorrow, Cllr Lyons may sue my arse off for every penny I haven’t got, but the price they will pay for their sad and silly ways will be much higher. Seems there is nothing a politician values higher than their reputation. But without votes from people like me - they are nothing.
Anyway - hope you are OK ( wherever you are) , and sorry for not getting in touch sooner. Love to Mum and Paul
Your loving daughter