MP’s Notebook: fan power, e-scooters and cemeteries

Well that didn’t last long, did it? Announced one evening with a surprising lack of advocates, the proposed European Super League dominated the news but collapsed within 48 hours in the face of a universally hostile reaction.

It was a great victory for the voice of football fans and for the traditions of the game which are, after all, about playing matches and progressing in a cup competition or getting promoted according to how your team does.

Leeds United fans need no reminding in recent years of what this can mean, but it made it all the sweeter when the club regained its place in the Premier League. It was great to see the banner outside Elland Road on the night of the Liverpool game which said it all – “Fans before Finance”.

There is no doubt that the prime motivation behind this totally misguided plan was money and I am profoundly relieved it’s been defeated, but we need to be honest about the position that the beautiful game has now got itself into.

To be a successful top flight club these days you need a lot of money to buy players and pay them huge salaries. Long gone are the days when England’s only World Cup winning captain Bobby Moore started his professional football career earning just £12 a week.

Merchandising, stadium naming rights and television income have all made a huge difference, but there are those who fear that football finances are in danger of becoming a bubble which could at some point burst. So, here’s to sensible moderation in place of the greed that the ill-fated European Super League plan represented.

I attended a briefing recently about e-scooters organised by the Guide Dogs Association. They are concerned about the trials that are taking place in parts of the country at the moment where scooters can be rented.

The problems that blind and partially sighted people have encountered include bikes being inconsiderately parked and e-scooters using pavements which is just plain dangerous.

It is very disconcerting when one of these shoots past you as you walk along having had no idea there was one coming up behind you. I was astonished to discover that 300,000 of these scooters are estimated to be in private ownership even though it is currently illegal, apart from those that are part of the trials, to drive any e-scooter on the public highway.

It seems likely that the Government is going to change the law to allow them to be used, but there ought to be some very clear conditions including a complete ban on driving on pavements, a limit to the speed they can go and ensuring that they make a warning noise to alert other road users and that those who drive one are competent to do so. Blind and partially sighted people, as well as the frail and elderly, have enough obstacles to navigate as they make their way around without inconsiderately-driven e-scooters adding to them.

As well as containing the remains of the dearly departed of many centuries, Leeds’ cemeteries also tell stories about their lives and deaths. During a recent afternoon stroll, we walked around both Holbeck and Beeston cemeteries, admiring the monuments and the beautiful inscriptions, the plants and the wildlife and the wonderful views over the city.

I remember one gravestone in Holbeck cemetery on which was recorded the names of several babies and infants who had died long before their time; a painful reminder of the conditions in which people lived and the lack of healthcare and vaccinations. Beeston Cemetery has a memorial to the terrible accident at Park Pit which claimed three lives in 1902; another reminder that at one time Beeston had a number of coal mines. Congratulations to the Holbeck and Beeston Cemeteries Friends Group that does so much to help look after these two special places that preserve this important part of our heritage.

At long last Highways England have finally repainted the new noise barrier alongside Parnaby Road. I took them to task in a previous column over the bright green colour they had chosen that was so unpopular with residents. It’s now been replaced with olive green and I hope that before long real vegetation starts to grow there.

 

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