Reporter 450, 3 April 2000


Why chuck it out?

Barry Holroyd
Medical Teaching Centre

Some months ago, I had a letter published in the Reporter about recycling computing equipment. Since then, on several occasions, I have noticed equipment discarded in skips.

Assuming this to be repeated across the campus, we are clearly contributing to the between 50 and 60 thousand tons of discarded computing equipment buried in holes in the ground each year in this country.

My earlier letter mentioned the local authority-supported scheme here in Leeds, which collects redundant equipment without charge, and where possible, either restores it to working condition, for sale at low cost to the general public, or uses specialist firms for recovery of components.

This scheme is Roseville Enterprises, at 65 Roundhay Road, telephone 214 3144.

Alternatively, Tools For Schools, telephone 02076 891990 or email computers@ tfs.org.uk will collect redundant computing equipment free of charge, and after refurbishment, give the equipment a new lease of life in schools throughout the country.

I encourage colleagues to use these recycling and restoration initiatives, and wonder whether the University could provide a central collection point, for redundant computing equipment waiting to be collected by either organisation.

Orwell was there

Jonathan Partington
School of Mathematics

Contrary to your item in Reporter 449, asserting that Middlesbrough is not mentioned in British fiction, there are references to it in George Orwell’s Keep the Aspidistra Flying, for example: "In Middlesbrough the unemployed huddle in frowzy beds, bread and marg and milkless tea in their bellies."

Just in case anyone’s interested...

Let inquiry decide

Robert Sladdin
Director of Estates

Having examined the various plans and objections myself in regard to the proposed opencast coal site near Bretton Hall I beg to disagree with Mr Birch.

The proposal will not only have a visual impact but will also increase the traffic on the local roads, generate dust and dirt and also damage the environment.

Considering the substantial investment that both Bretton Hall and Sculpture Park have and are making in the area they had little option but to object to this proposal which will have a substantial impact on their site. The local authority (Kirklees) took account of the large number of objections to the proposal when they decided to reject the planning application in October.

Cobex has now appealed against this decision and an inspector appointed by the Secretary of State will hold an inquiry in March and review all the evidence and objections.

To my mind, this process is fair and transparent and whilst respecting Mr Birch’s right to express his somewhat biased view, feel that the inspector is perhaps better placed to decide on this issue.

Food for thought

Dr Neil Kad
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

I’m sure this has been an oft-mentioned issue (it certainly is between myself and many of my colleagues) - but I feel that it is necessary to bring up the question of food. It is sad that this very basic item has become such a bone of contention. I don’t feel that I am out on a limb when I suggest that both the quality and price of the food we receive is below par.

I really have no problems with the locations of the food outlets and the staff there, but in order to get decent food it is necessary to leave campus and go into town (or to Theo’s at the Parkinson steps). It seems to me that a ‘you can’t have your cake and eat it’ scenario has built up with the clear monopoly of the catering service flexing its muscle and keeping prices very high.

Anyone who has tried the ciabatta sandwiches will know that these are ciabatta in name only and the often paltry fillings would only partially dent the appetite of a Peruvian tree frog. Food in an academic institution must be subsidised (or non-profit), since most people work hard for little reward.

Something should be done about this, but I feel that as with any profiteering organisation, contributions to University coffers will outweigh any protestation from customers.

We pay our way

Vic Rogers-Gentile
School of Textile Industries

If John Illingworth (Reporter 448) truly believes in democracy (subject to his party whip), he should be aware, after 20 years as a Labour councillor, that the millions of motorists are the majority in England, and their financial contribution to this country’s economic wellbeing through purchasing cars, paying car taxes, vehicle licences, petrol (80 percent tax to the Government revenues), parking charges, council tax (subsidising local public transport without using it) etc, is very substantial. Their interests therefore should come before the minority of public transport users.

If there was to be a substantial reduction in car use, local and national government revenues would suffer. Dr Illingworth must know that in the last resort, financial issues determine policies. Let the local authority provide clean, frequent, reliable and cheap public transport first (not "jam tomorrow, inconvenience today"), and allow for the big increase of buses that will be required as hordes of car users change their mode of transport. All this will have to be paid for. Why not more on the council tax (see if we can beat the three-times-inflation increase being proposed around the country!)?

Of course pollution and greenhouse gases are caused by cars. But also by heavy goods vehicles, diesel trains, nuclear power, chemical industries, cutting the rain forests, pesticides, and even cows! The car driver is an easy target. The main problem in Leeds is basically congestion, because the rate of expansion of transport was greater than anticipated and therefore planning went wrong. I doubt that a mass exodus from car driving to Leeds will take place, unless excellent public transport is produced first.

It is no joke standing in a rain-lashed vandalised bus shelter for a bus that is late, or being told regularly that the train you want is now running 40 minutes late. It is this sort of experience that has driven thousands, including myself, to have a car.

Having bought our cars (three for Mr Prescott, I read recently) we are expected to leave them at home and use alternatives. The car is here to stay - so get on with it, John, before we vote you out at the next election!

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