Headlines from a bleak-looking future
Letter of the Week: Name and address supplied
So at last, the ‘social and economic barriers to progress’ in North Kirklees are to be “fixed”! Wow!
How is this to be done? Build factories! Build houses! Thousands of them!
That’s it. Job done – except that it won’t be, because this really isn’t progress at all, it is quite simply an on-going disaster.
Now bear with me for a moment … it’s sometime in the mid-1980s. I’m taking a poetry lesson with my class of 12-13-year-olds. We’re reading one about a school trip. But this outing isn’t to the seaside or to some historical site. This class is going to see a rabbit. No ordinary rabbit, the very last rabbit. In the very last field … it went down well.
The children were fascinated, several seemed amused. Maybe I smiled a bit. I am not smiling now…
You see, what’s happening here, in our tiny microcosm of Kirklees is only a reflection of what is happening on a global scale at an ever-increasing rate.
The terrifying genie of over-population is well clear of his bottle now, and there’s no controlling him (I mean, you don’t really believe that our world leaders will somehow, suddenly, come to their senses and face the reality that, if civilisation is to survive, human beings can no longer be permitted to simply breed like rabbits? No chance. Forget that).
I now visualise you reading on with bated breath, to absorb my amazing solutions. You will read in vain.
Having survived on this planet for some eight decades I can confirm that, by and large, the 60s, 70s and 80s were the golden decades.
Why? Because the population was reasonably balanced! The social services, transport, hospitals, roads etc could cope.
Now we are sliding, faster and faster, into chaos. At one time I might have added “but not in my lifetime!”. Now I’m not so sure.
I wonder whether The Press will still be around in, say, 2031? Assuming so, here are a few headlines:
“Water shortage: long queues at new standpipes in Spen Valley”;
“Hospital waiting lists now over four years”;
“New 10-lane motorway now inadequate”;
“Many of school’s teaching marquees flattened in storm”;
“Excursion this Saturday; see real fields, flowers, trees on site near Mirfield! (to be developed next month) departs 10am”;
“No Pennine Hills now without turbines”;
“Power cuts here to stay”;
I can think of many more. I reckon you can too, or perhaps as you read this letter, you find yourself shaking your head in disbelief and faintly smiling?
But I am not smiling…
No need to sell off assets
From: Paul Holmes, Branch Secretary, Kirklees Unison
Your readers will have seen the letters over recent days about selling off Bradley Park Golf Course in Huddersfield (the only municipal golf course in Kirklees) and the proposal to ‘give away’ the majority of libraries to voluntary sector/community groups.
The last five years have been horrific for local government.
Everyone understands how much the government is cutting back on local government expenditure and how much pressure there is on local councillors to cut/reduce public services.
It is becoming increasingly obvious that the government sees the main functions of local authorities are to:
• Sell public assets (particularly the selling of land and buildings);
• Make public and private land available for private development both in land sales and with planning permissions;
• Re-direct local government money to private companies.
This has led to the transfer of local authority money/ assets/land from the public sector to the private sector.
That is the real reason behind the government’s austerity threat to councils.
The election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour Party leader actively puts on the agenda the fact that austerity is not an economic necessity, it is a political objective of the government.
However, Kirklees Council will not endear itself to the public, nor to its employees, by its increased co-operation with the closure of public services and the selling of public assets.
Kirklees residents will just get more cynical. You can only sell something once – councils up and down the country have also been transferring assets to voluntary/ community groups.
But ‘work’ is not voluntary. Someone has to clean the toilets, tackle anti-social behaviour, attend a workplace at night on “call-out” etc.
Some 59 per cent of those eligible to vote in the Labour Party leadership election voted for Jeremy Corbyn – more than three times the vote for any other candidate.
They didn’t vote for the closure of libraries, the reduction of services and the selling of council assets/land.
We really do need to change the agenda. Jeremy Corbyn has set a lead nationally. Who is going to give us a lead locally?
Constantly shutting services, austerity budgets and selling land/assets leads to demoralisation amongst the public and employees.
We need a more positive argument in favour of public services. Public services are a necessity for the majority of the public not a luxury.
The vast majority of the British public do not want to return to the pre-war austerity days of charity, poverty and no hope.
Much deserved tribute
From: David Blakeley, Ravensthorpe
I recently attended the funeral of one of my colleagues, Mr Phillip Brooke.
I have never seen the amount of people that attended! Phil was a character, one you don't meet every day.
He was a credit to his family and certainly a credit to his workmates and people he met throughout his life.
People were there to pay tribute to him, and it was much deserved.
All the people who knew Phil will miss him – a top man.