Mayor’s response on transport, student housing, internet use, diabetes, disabled using rail transport, pub closures, northern economy

Coun Andrew Kay, current Lancaster Mayor
Coun Andrew Kay, current Lancaster Mayor

Readers’ letters, September 6

Mayor’s response to transport cost concerns

The recent debate about the cost of mayoral cars is an important one and as the current mayor I hope to be able to provide a unique insight.

Although the current arrangements under which a mayoral car is provided were taken well before my time, and which the mayor cannot influence, I agree that where possible they should travel to events under their own steam.

Since becoming mayor I have made my own way to events on many occasions and will continue to do so. However, there are times where this may not be possible.

Although I myself live close to Lancaster City Centre and public transport and cycle networks, this is not always the case. We are a rural district and many past mayors have lived in the countryside far from the main towns.

Rural bus services, as we know, can be few and far between and cycle networks less so, and without an official car this could make it difficult to attend events which run late into the evening due to the prospect of not being able to return home.

The same is true in reverse – events can be held in our district’s many rural villages and without official transport this would make attendance problematic.

Event organisers may request the mayor’s regalia and mayor’s chains – which need to be transported securely - and a car and driver are also needed for logistical reasons.

For example, they may be required to be dropped off at a certain location and the car then moved off to a designated parking space. In these circumstances it is not possible for the mayor to drive themselves.

Since becoming mayor I’ve developed a unique appreciation for just how much hard work was undertaken by my predecessors.

Every year the position of mayor promotes and supports local businesses and raises thousands of pounds for local charities.

Without official transport this may not be possible, although I do agree that to keep costs down the mayor needs to travel under their own steam if at all possible.

Coun Andrew Kay, Mayor of Lancaster

Can we stop student housing?

According to the Lancaster Guardian (planning applications, August 30), more student rooms are planned for the city centre, this time in Dalton Square.

Earlier this year, Private Eye’s architecture correspondent singled out Lancaster as a place being ruined by the rush to build student accommodation, much of which looks dreadful.

The plans listed in the Guardian are for a six storey block in Dalton Square. Anyone walking through the square will see the disastrous visual effect of a six storey block. It will dominate the square in a most unpleasant way.

Is it too late to stop this? We already have the ugly yellow block that hovers over the old bus garage on Caton Road.

Added to this, the huge student block being built on the same road will dominate the entry to the city centre.

I’ve no objection to student housing as such because I think the students liven up the city, but I don’t think we want any more ugly new buildings looming over us in Dalton Square.

Michael Pidd, Address supplied

We don’t all go on web

When are firms going to realise that not everyone owns a computer or, more importantly, wants to go ‘on the web’.

I am so sick of hearing the words “go to www etc” and this is after pressing one, two, three to get this final instruction and 
probably having held on the line for ages.

Nowadays you can only be certain of a human voice when it is a scam call.

Edna Levi, Email address supplied

Causes of diabetes

Yet again calls are being made for something to be done to stop the rise in Type 2 diabetes.

The cause of most such cases is pure and simple – the inability of people to control their intake of unhealthy food. Surely educational messages should concentrate on this line of prevention rather than expecting food manufacturers or the Government to do something?

We are all largely responsible for our own health and it is about time we took that on board.

Hilary Andrews, Email address supplied

Disabled using rail transport

All summer we have been hearing about the problems faced by passengers using, or should I say trying to use, Northern Rail since the new, seeming unworkable, time table was introduced.

These problems are serious, there is no argument about that. They are causing extreme inconvenience for everyone who uses the so called service. However, disabled people are being hit especially hard.

Northern Rail has never been a disabled friendly company, in spite of what their disabled policy may say.

The carriages they use, in our area, are often old and uncomfortable, with little or no space for wheelchair users.

The on board toilets on many trains are totally unsuitable for a disabled person to use, they are much too small.

Many of our local stations are unstaffed, or only staffed at busy times, therefore there is no one to ask for assistance.

If the company gets its way and we do end up with driver-only operated trains, many disabled people will not be able to travel by rail at all.

Often trains are being replaced by inaccessible replacement buses. This is hard on the general travelling public, so imagine what it is like for those with hearing or visual difficulties, mobility problems or mental health issues.

Many disabled people are unable to drive because of their disability. Others are losing their mobility cars after being assessed as not disabled enough to need one. As there are cases on record of double amputees being refused a car, this is difficult to understand.

However, for whatever reason, people with disabilities are often dependent on public transport and public transport should be able to accommodate their needs.

The Government is putting more of our money into private rail companies than they did when the railways were nationalised. Our railways should be taken back into public ownership as soon as possible.

Jean Withers, Address supplied

Pub closures

It was very disappointing to read the latest figures showing that the pub industry is still struggling to survive, with 18 closing their doors for the last time in Britain every week. Sadly this decline has been ongoing for a long time now and the North West is the hardest hit area, along with the South East.

The Campaign of Real Ale (Camra) has revealed that there were 476 closures nationally in the first six months of this year, 13 more than the previous half year.

The Government could help ease this situation as one third of the cost of a pint is made up of various taxes but there is little evidence that they are going to do so.

The combination of high beer duty, VAT and rising business rates is crippling the industry and killing off the traditional boozer.

And, at the same time, booze in supermarkets and off-licences is comparatively cheap, encouraging people to drink at home.

The Government urgently needs to reduce the beer duty and VAT so the food and drink industry can compete with those shopping outlets.

Pubs are at the heart of communities, urban and rural, up and down this land, and a cynical observer might think that the Government – of whatever hue – is happy for the places where people gather to chew the fat should vanish.

Paul Nuttall, North West MEP, UK Independence Party

Northern economy

Northern Powerhouse Minister, Jake Berry MP, needs to know that our region of the North West is seriously fighting for funding. Along the Cumbria/Lancashire border there are three projects that would bring significant economic benefit to the Morecambe Bay Region.

The three key projects are: The Northern Tidal Power Gateway project, The Heysham 3 Nuclear Power Plant and the fantastic proposals for an ‘Eden of the North’.

These three projects require the combined influence of Lancashire and Cumbria LEPs. They are without doubt ambitious and would deliver high value economic and social impacts to the Morecambe Bay Economic Region, so merge Cumbria and Lancashire LEPs.

The Government is currently calling for a fundamental review of LEPs as they move forward with the Industry Strategy for the UK and the associated Local Industrial Strategies which will support these initiatives.

Where Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) are deemed too small and do not reflect true Functioning Economic Areas then Government is calling for mergers on a bigger footprint, something that can sit equally at the table with Greater Manchester and the Liverpool City Region.

The functionality of such a partnership is compelling. Advanced Manufacturing in the Defence Industry has such a strong base in South Cumbria and in Central Lancashire.

The University of Lancaster, University of Central Lancashire, The University of Cumbria and the Colleges of further Education are already working together and support businesses across Cumbria and Lancashire.

Coun Graham Vincent, Portfolio Holder for Economy and Assets, South Lakeland District Council