They're fighting to save services
Letter of the week: Wendy Senior, Dewsbury
Since the General Election in May this year we have had Paula Sherriff, Labour MP for Dewsbury, and also Jo Cox, Labour MP for Batley.
I have met both young women who are full-time MPs and are doing everything they can to help this dreadfully deprived area.
I met Jo Cox at Batley Cricket Club with the 38 Degrees group a couple of weeks ago.
Jo told us she had been out with a Cleckheaton doctor for the day, and had also done a shift at Dewsbury Hospital and had met Stephen Eames, chief executive of the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, where she explained to him the difficulties which the rise in parking charges were having on people. I know Paula has been doing the same.
I look back at the last five years where I spent nearly every first Saturday of the month asking Simon Reevell MP to stop the downgrade of Dewsbury Hospital. He would not agree.
I know there were more people asking him the same question, Simon told everyone to leave it to the clinicians; he did nothing to stop the downgrade.
Mid Yorkshire Hospital Trust will have to make savings; it worries me they will not be making them at Pinderfields or Pontefract, the PFI hospitals, they will come from Dewsbury Hospital.
My husband refused to go to Pinderfields for an eye appointment, though he had to wait three months to see a consultant at Dewsbury Hospital; there was also an hour’s delay for appointment times.
I wonder how this affects parking charges?
If more people refuse to go to Pinderfields and ask for appointments at Dewsbury we may be able to keep more services there.
We are going to have lots of houses built in this area, so surely we need a good hospital in Dewsbury to serve them.
Your council needs you, pt 2
From: Derek Cartwright, Soothill Batley
The argument that questions whether 458 houses should be built in Soothill is part of the same argument about the other houses in the new Kirklees Local Plan, where they want you to comment from early November.
You might be thinking it is too difficult, but I think you can still make a difference.
Here I just want to point out the one issue I have been writing about for over a decade. This is the simple, fundamental flaw that keeps going through the plans.
So it’s wake-up time for Labour councillors and those lazy ones who don’t read council reports.
The trouble with the plans and employment figures is that there are more than one set. The simple ones we can all look at were in local libraries.
I’ll just state a couple of figures from them. In 2002 151,995 were employed in Kirklees, on last year’s sheet it was 145,700 – so employment was down.
This is the complicated bit. In the old plan, the council did not use, or even refer to their Fact Sheet figures (and still don’t!) – our council used something called the Regional Econometric Model.
And to make things worse, in 2011 they used percentages to look at current and future employment.
There were three figures on page 22 that I want to point out – a current, 2011 figure of 22%, an REM forecast for 2026 of 15% and Kirklees assumption of 22%.
Using the Fact Sheets in 2002 it was 25% in manufacturing and last year 16%. I have seen evidence to show this figure is projected to fall.
It is even more complicated because if we look at the Census figures and jobs we see in 2001 151,964 and 2011 166,934 ... the difference is largely down to the number of people who commute to work.
In 2011, Kirklees ignored what was happening in employment, they looked at the population projections (which they had been underestimating) and then stated they need more 37,533 jobs by 2028 for its population projection.
To me this is the flaw in the plan! The council states what it would like to happen, not what the evidence is showing.
Let’s turn to where we are ... the September 2014 Kirklees Demographic Analysis and Forecasts report still uses a ‘jobs-led REM’ employment figure for Yorkshire and the region, and here the population growth is linked to various jobs growth figures, 10,375 from 2013 to 2031, or 18,262, or then 22,125 jobs.
Then if Kirklees cannot generate jobs or even more people do not commute out of the area than simply its population figures cannot be supported based on its evidence. Do you believe based on what we are seeing around us? Has Kirklees being creating jobs over the past 10 years, will current trends in employment in Kirklees continue, and will so many people come to live in Kirklees to commute out of Kirklees?
Yet there is more when you look at the wage level of Kirklees workers! I state that Labour in Kirklees are ‘employment deniers’!
This is my simple objection to the plan: I don’t believe the employment growth figures. The evidence from Kirklees’ Fact Sheets, part of the evidence, does not support it!
From: Michael Hutchinson, Mirfield
The Press should not be looking for someone to “blame” for calling for by-elections to Mirfield Town Council.
I did not do so because I respect the democratic rights of whoever did call for them.
To criticise anyone for exercising their right to call for a by-election is to undermine democracy.
It was wrong last week to place inverted commas around The Press’s headline about blame because it gave the misleading impression that I or Mirfield Labour Party had used that word. We had not done so. Local Conservatives may be playing a blame game but we are not and they are wrong to do so.
Coun Martyn Bolt says he believes in democracy but then immediately undermines the worth of that statement by talking about cost.
He appears to want it both ways at once. Either he values democracy and is ready to meet the cost of it or he is not.
The Association of Local Councils has a booklet, a copy of which should have been given to every town councillor in which it is clear that the association favours election over co-option.
Election is clearly more democratic and it strengthens the link between a councillor and the electorate.
If blame is a local factor it clearly attaches to the Conservatives because they have been keen to observe the letter of the rules but not their spirit but that is different from exercising one’s rights.
Perhaps they are only talking about blame as a smokescreen to hide their failure to make proper budgetary provision for the electoral process.
Or maybe they are seizing any stick with which to beat others in the hope that the electorate will not notice that it amounts to a contempt for democracy.
Policy should be reversed
From: John Appleyard, Liversedge
In response to Michael Heseltine, the former Tory Deputy Prime Minister, can I say it is never a good time to lose your job in the steel industry or any other place of employment as he asserted over the weekend.
This is the same Michael Heseltine who in 1981 supported a government that appointed an American banker Ian MacGregor as chairman and chief executive of British Steel, with the result that thousands of steel workers lost their jobs.
In 1983 MacGregor, with Heseltine’s support, was made chairman of British Coal. Rumours of 50 pit closures were denied by Margaret Thatcher, who said there were no plans at all to close any pits.
We now know the truth and the coal industry has been decimated. This attack on British industry was followed by the privatisation of British Telecom, Cable and Wireless, British Airways and the British Airport Authority, British Gas, British Steel, England and Wales water companies and electricity. If it was British, the Tories sold it.
The Tories pushed unemployment to over three million, it was a deliberate economic policy, just as today with a Tory government they have an ideological commitment of austerity towards those on low pay and benefits. This policy is not a necessity and should be reversed.
Hedgehogs and heroes
From: Alison Matthews, Batley
Just two quick reminders for this time of the year.
1. Please check bonfires before lighting them for lovely hedgehogs. Sleepy ones may have made them into a hibernation home for the winter.
2. Please remember the millions of fallen animals of war as well as their human counterparts this Remembrance Sunday. Wear a purple poppy along with the red – available from Animal Aid (www.animalaid.org.uk), The Old Chapel, Bradford Street, Tonbridge, Kent, TN9 1AW. Tel: 01732 364546.
From: Ruth Yates, Gomersal
Hedgehog numbers are declining in this country due to loss of habitat, as many of us cover our gardens with stone flags or decking and hedges are cut down to make larger fields.
Insecticides and slug pellets are beings used to protect precious garden plants, but these will also kill a hedgehog which may eat them.
At this time of year, hedgehog are beginning to hibernate and spend the winter months sleeping.
They are in danger of curling up in bonfire materials, believing it to be a ready-made nest.
Many hedgehogs will perish, as they may not wake up in time to escape from the fire.
Please, if you are having a fire, try to stack the materials for burning in one place, moving it to where the fire will be just a short time before lighting. This should ensure that no hedgehogs lose their lives unnecessarily.
To find out more about helping hedgehogs, look at the British Hedgehog Preservation Society website; www.britishhedgehogs.org.uk or telephone 01584 890801.
You can also contact BHPS to find a local carer if you discover a sick or injured hog.
So remember, remember hedgehogs in November! Thank you.