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Issue 481, 7 May 2002


Moving house isn't always an option

Vicky Cooper

I don't wish to carry on the car parking debate but I feel incensed to reply to the letter by Tony Fox (Reporter 480) that people who have difficulty getting to work by public transport should move. Not everyone is fortunate enough to have this choice. I live in South Manchester and do a 110 mile round trip every day, leaving home by 6am in order to park without a permit. I'd love to move nearer to Leeds, but as I am on a temporary contract (as are so many of the University's employees) and my husband has a permanent job in Manchester, this is not an option. Many people also have to live right out of the city because they can’t afford the expensive house prices within Leeds (without living in the likes of Chapeltown).

This also means living in places that don't always have easy access by public transport. In reply to Nicola Shelton's point (Reporter 480) that subsidised parking entitles drivers to hundreds of pounds of tax-free perks, surely petrol and road tax and insurance duties means that those of us who have to commute by car, pay substantially more taxes than those fortunate enough to have good public transport links. At the AA rate of 37p per mile it costs me £203 per week: would she really deny me subsidised parking?

I would suggest that the University reviews the needs and usage of those who already have permits and reallocates them appropriately. I know of several members of staff who have permits they wouldn't voluntarily give up, but who use them only occasionally.

Priority parking for non-permanent staff

Name supplied

Allison Iredale (Reporter 479) suggests that car parking permits should be allocated to those who live in remote areas.

I suggest that priority be given to those who are in their first year of employment at the University (and may not yet have managed to move to a convenient place) and those who are on fixed-term contracts (and cannot reasonably be expected to uproot their household, disrupt children's education, etc when they may have to move again in the foreseeable future). People with permanent jobs at the University who choose to live remotely come into a very different category, and are perhaps not so deserving of our sympathy or parking places.

If there are then not enough permits left for long-established members of staff, they might like to reflect on the absurdly high number of their colleagues who don't have the security of a permanent contract, and to do what they can to change this.

I don’t have an axe to grind: I'm lucky enough to have a permanent contract and I usually travel by bus.

Open your eyes to the real problem

Richard Roper
Mechanical engineering

I feel I must comment on commuting and parking in the University environs.

Whilst I am very glad that Mr Fox (Reporter 480) has been able to move to a district with good public transport, unfortunately some of us, myself included, do not earn enough money to be able to move house at the drop of a hat.

The issue here is not moving house, it is about having adequate public service provision in ALL areas. In the days of municipal public transport, there was a regular and reliable bus service to all areas of Leeds, and the neighbouring municipalities of Bradford, Halifax, Huddersfield, Wakefield, etc. Those days have long gone, since the deregulation and private tendering wrought upon us by one Margaret Thatcher, who championed private vehicle ownership, and was vehemently opposed to public transport systems.

The extent of services operated today is nowhere near as thorough as it was 30 years ago in outlying districts, since operators are interested in making money, not providing a public service. Until this obvious shortcoming is addressed, the situation will not get better. Privately-owned bus companies such as First Group make vast profits through operating services on the busiest arterial routes, and this profit-driven climate has wrecked public transport provision in this country over the last 20 years, as profits are not being used to support outlying services as they should be.

Those involved in implementing transport strategies in Leeds should open their eyes to the REAL causes of poor public transport provision before implementing knee-jerk reactions and blaming the motorist for every single congestion problem. Until public transport is taken out of the hands of private operators and run as a public service, the situation will get worse, and commuters will be increasingly discouraged in its use.

On yer bike ... with better cycle routes

Mark Hill
Financial services

Why do we focus on the interests of car drivers?  There can be little more done for car drivers except tinkering around the edges.  Even a radical shift in the allocation priorities will have little effect on congestion, car drivers are generally very reluctant to share their vehicles and there is simply no more room to give drivers yet more car parking.

What about devoting some energy and resources to the alternatives instead?  Perhaps the University could make a point of requesting a better cycle route between the station and the University? What about asking the Council for a citywide map of cycle routes, and ensuring each new entrant gets one? Before they ask for a car parking space that is!

We have to make it more attractive for people to leave the car at home, so could we more generally encourage cycling across the campus? Perhaps we could have more designated cycle routes? For a fraction of the cost of policing the parking permits, we could have a series of cycle-friendly routes between the strategic points across the campus, and therefore fewer people wanting to bring cars onto campus in the first place.

Due to congestion on the Letters page, spaces in forthcoming issues will be restricted. Letters on parking or public transport may struggle to find a place, but those on all other issues will be given a preferential permit. Email

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