Reporter 399, 17 March 1997
Dr Oliver Phillips
School of Geography
What an extraordinary letter from Alastair Lumsden ("Drivers should be subsidised")! Can he be serious?
He argues that drivers whose commuting trip is shorter than the non-driving alternative should be subsidised because the time saved is spent doing University work. The corollary is that those of us who spend time on a train or bus and manage to catch up on reading should be paid too! This line of thinking is pretty specious - where we choose to live in relation to our workplace is (largely) a voluntary choice.
Not one of the letters in Reporter 397 makes a coherent argument for subsidising car drivers en masse as is currently done. The University should take a leadership role and charge employees who choose to park within the campus at least the going commercial rate for a city site. A public interest argument can be made for charging more than this, since the environmental, social, and safety costs of car commuting are not properly internalised by the market.
Department of Fine Art
It seems that many University staff feel that a cheap car parking space should be a perk of the job. Why? Unless they have to use a car during the week for making specific out-of-town visits as part of their working agenda then why should the University be bothering itself with parking provision? There is an alternative for getting to work - it is called public transport. The more people making use of the bus and rail services the better and cheaper those services might eventually become.
If staff choose to live beyond the reaches of the public transport system then they should be prepared to pay a reasonable price for parking when they daily drive their polluting vehicles into and through the inner city areas where the rest of us reside.
There are of course others much closer to home who should also be targeted for insisting daily on driving to work rather than taking a five-minute, stress-free saunter across Woodhouse Moor - they know who they are!
Nuffield Institute for Health
It seems that the Institute for Transport Studies' attempt to initiate reasoned debate on parking policy in the University has sparked the usual primitive backlash from the motoring fraternity.
Vic Rogers would happily concrete over the "mouldering tombstones and weeds" of St George's Fields at the earliest opportunity (this presumably being an environmental improvement), and Alastair Lumsden would like to turn the Institute of Transport into a multi-storey car park, and no doubt encase the staff thereof in the fabric of the building at the same time.
If this is the best piece of earth science he can offer, perhaps we should demolish the Department of Earth Sciences and turn it into a nature reserve.
As for "name supplied", they take the opportunity to launch a hate campaign against cyclists, who they complain "squeeze through the smallest gap" (like worms?) on the inside of queues of traffic. Well, what does s/he expect cyclists to do when the smallest gap is the only space left on the road by hundreds of single occupancy cars? Yes, "name supplied", you may be about to cause a revolution, but in the absence of reasoned debate that may be the best way forward!
Dr John Rowe
Department of Earth Sciences
How refreshing to hear the voice of reason put forward by, amongst others, Vic Rogers and "name supplied’" in Reporter 397. To suggest concreting over the only green areas which remain on our campus is a masterstroke; not only will more people be able to drive to the University but there will be no more "hard to shift" mud stains on my trousers during the winter months.
I look forward to the day when the perfection of nuclear fusion removes the need for plants and their photosynthetic by-products all together. One day we will all walk towards the concrete sunset in our nuclear utopia. So come on Physics Department - get your finger out!
Dr Alan Bullock
Department of Italian
Professor Turner's suggestion that "the non-issuing of telephone numbers and home addresses should be official University policy" would surely cause more problems than provide solutions.
Of course we are all vulnerable, but that does not prevent lots of us from being listed in the BT phone book, accessible to all those "off their trolleys" who can read or are sufficiently compos to dial 192. Or does he also think we should all be obliged to go ex-directory as part of "official University policy"?
To prohibit a priori direct contact with a member of staff whose number is unknown and who happens to be off campus would in most cases simply waste valuable time, and could, in an emergency, be dangerous. Furthermore if the undoubted vulnerability of students as well as staff is seen as sufficient reason to withhold all extra-departmental contact with the former as well as the latter how are we going to get in touch with persistent absentees, who we are required to call to account? Or students who are in Leeds during the vacation and require information about next year's work? And what about phone numbers and addresses outside Leeds? Should these also be off-limits? And what about e-mail? As a general rule avenues of communication should surely be kept open rather than closed in a university environment?
[Main news stories | University home page | Events]