Your Letters

A family’s thank you to well-wishers

Letter of the Week: From the family of Peter O’Neill – his wife, Mrs Gillian O’Neill, daughters Coun Marielle O’Neill and Mrs Dawn Ronaszeki and son, Mr Sean O’Neill, of Batley 

Dear Sir,

The family of former Batley West councillor Peter O’Neill would like to thank the people of Batley, and of the wider Kirklees area, for their condolences, prayers and support on the death of our beloved husband and father.

We would like to thank everyone who attended the funeral and celebration of Peter’s life.

We calculated that we had more than 350 people of all backgrounds at his funeral at St Mary’s Catholic Church, which is a testament to his years of hard work on behalf of the local community and the respect in which he was held.

Peter would have been pleased that there were so many people there from all walks of life and of different faiths and no faith.

We would like to thank everyone for their support, condolences, cards, and donations. If you would like to donate to his chosen charities in his memory please email marielle.o’neill@

They are three worthy local causes and one worthy cause in Vietnam: Destitute Asylum Seekers (Huddersfield), Kirklees Faiths Forum, St Mary’s Church Roof Appeal and Mai Tam Orphanage (Vietnam).

There is also an online memorial here:


Express train nightmare

From: ‘Dr Beeching’

Dear Sir,

I just wanted to let your readers know that come May 2017, rail services from Huddersfield to Leeds, currently operated by Northern Rail, are to be thwarted by the fact that Trans-Pennine Express wish to run six trains per hour.

The only way to do this is to sacrifice the stopping service to Leeds.

The plan is to stop the express trains at intermediate stations in a skip-stop pattern, which means that one train may stop at Mirfield but not Batley, and another will stop at Ravensthorpe but not Cottingley etc.

This may be good for those travelling to Leeds or Huddersfield, but will be a nightmare for those wanting to go from one station to another.

Plus, huge volumes joining at Mirfield at peak times, would not be accommodated on an already busy express train.

Just imagine if you’re that passenger who can’t get on and the next express does not stop at Batley or your chosen destination!

I thought it best to bring this story to the attention of readers rather than get a huge shock in 2017, in the hope that if it becomes knowledge, someone may get on to councillors and stop this happening.


Baroness’s ‘vanity project’

From: Bill Ducksworth, the Ring O’Feathers Bar

Dear Sir,

I wish our own Sayeeda Warsi, below, would come down to my local and explain to the good ratepayers of the district her latest PR stunt to re-launch her political career once again.

The unelected Mrs Warsi was catapulted to higher office, up the greasy pole system, when the Tory party decided to play its trump ‘ace’ card.

Once the sweet sugar dumpling, so the song goes, of the Conservatives’ new thinking, after Thatcher was back-stabbed out of office, Mrs Warsi did well, a Baroness in record time, but no-one can record what for!

The latest stunt involves getting up enough steam to have a debate about how mosques should be built in this country without minarets – she would “love to see a wonderful, quintessentially English-designed mosque”.

The point is, people locally have been saying this for the last 30 years – why build mosques to an architectural scheme that is out of keeping with local structures? We’re not daft lass and neither are you.

We wouldn’t expect the worshippers at the mosques to remove the minaret domes to make them look like mill chimneys, nor would we expect you to encourage people to Friday prayer wearing flat caps and clogs.

What this is all about, in our opinion, is about you and your own vanity project when you launch the Baroness Warsi Foundation later this year, to promote religious freedom and women’s rights.

I just wonder if you were taught history at school; google Emily Pankhurst and the suffragette movement for starters.

Your idea of religious places fitting in with local heritage has always happened: the Wesleyan chapel on North Road has been a place of Islamic worship for years with architecture still intact.

The White Hart at Thornhill Lees, a centre for Islamic studies, the Station Hotel and the Ravensthorpe Hotel are all madrassas or Islamic institutions.

How much more quintessentially English do you want?

If you are really serious about building integrating into local heritage, let’s start a bit before that, with your idea of religious freedoms for Asian Muslim women.

It would be the quintessential gesture for your foundation to start a debate and movement for banning the burkha.

Your foundation’s launch date is spring this year. Please don’t make it April 1 – the local newspapers always carry far more realistic stories at this time of year.


Say ‘no’ to devo deception

From: Christine Hyde, Dewsbury

Dear Sir,

A Good Governance Institute representative was at the extraordinary meeting of the North Kirklees Clinical Commissioning Group governing body on Wednesday, January 20.

Now that the Health and Social Care Act has removed health provision from democratic control, the representative was there to give ‘corporate legitimacy’ to discussions on appointing a replacement person for the chief accountable officer, who leaves at the end of March.

The representative made the recommendation that the North Kirklees CCG should appoint an interim person jointly with the local authority.

This was a shock. It was clear she had not spoken to patients. I do not know of any authority less trusted amongst the public in North Kirklees than the LA, with its history of plunder and closures.

While the CCG did not wholeheartedly accept the recommendation, it is an indication of the ‘direction of travel’ towards the devolution of control of health services to a ‘council’.

Say ‘no’ to devo deception. Say ‘yes’ to the NHS Bill, to return health services to Parliamentary democratic control.

It is an outrage that dentistry in Dewsbury is now provided by a third world charity. Yet we cannot vote out NHS England, who are responsible for this shameful outcome.

Nor will we be able to influence the health spend in a devolved West Yorkshire. NHS England have already set up the structures to prevent it.


All welcome in our churches

From: June Nimmons, Liversedge

Dear Sir,

I read your paper with interest for the first time last Friday, when it was put through my letter box – and would say it won’t be the last time!

I found the articles all of interest, but on reading the article on page 5 re ‘British First activists’, I was a little concerned at the misconception given by the councillor when he said, and I quote, “There was a feeling... because of the entrance being a bit like a church, in that you would need to be invited.”

This may have been a wrong turn of phrase but, as a practicing Anglican, I found this a little disturbing as everyone is welcome in our churches without having to be invited.


‘Full house’ at health centre

From: Mrs BM Senior, Mirfield

Dear Sir,

On reading the letter in The Press recently, about Mirfield Health Centre, I did agree with some of the points, but she is not the only one who may have had to wait outside at 7.30am; I have also stood outside at 8.15am, for when they open at 8.30am, to get an appointment – and I got one, even though I had to go home and return later.

They now start at 8am.

They have a full team of doctors and nurse practitioners and, with one lady retiring in March, there will be a further three additional staff.

You can now have ECGs and scans done at the health centre, instead of going to Dewsbury, Pontefract or Pinderfields – that in itself is a bonus.

We also have blood nurses and nurses for other needs, and there are five people answering the phones; it may, on occasions, take a while for the phones to be answered but, at least, there is someone at the end of them.

We all have our grumbles about the health service, who doesn’t? We are not the only health service at Mirfield to experience problems regarding  appointments – Ravensthorpe, Dewsbury and Heckmondwike also have the same problems.

My friend at Dewsbury couldn’t get an appointment for four weeks due to a shortage of GPs; we are lucky to have a ‘full house’ at Mirfield, and Dr Pieske and partners have all worked very hard for the people of Mirfield.

If people can’t make their appointment, please ring and let them know – they can pass the appointment to someone else.


Open door cue to leave the EU

From: Graham Turner, Gomersal

Dear Sir,

While the ‘Emley EU voter’ (last week’s Forum) only pays £17 to the EU from their tax contribution, the rest of the country’s taxpayers contribute £350m a week to the EU.

The EU do an excellent job providing funding for projects all around the country, but let’s not kid ourselves, it comes from the money we pay in.

One of my main concerns over our membership of the EU is the open door policy, over which we have no control.

According to the Office for National Statistics, 636,000 immigrants arrived in Britain in the year to June 2015, while 300,000 emigrants left the UK over the same period, leaving 336,000 net migration in that year.

In the past, it was 25,000 to 50,000 a year, which we managed ok; it has now become unmanageable.

Time to leave the EU.


Hospitals blow for Kirklees

From: Name & address supplied

Dear Sir,

Letter to Jo Cox

As MP for Batley and Spen, with regard to the loss of A&E and consultant-led maternity care from Dewsbury Hospital, are you also aware that Huddersfield is also due to lose its A&E services and their consultant-led maternity care has already been moved to Calderdale?

Is it seriously acceptable for the whole of Kirklees to have no consultant-led maternity care and A&E services?

How many other local authorities have been downgraded in this way, and how many people have died due to these dangerous changes?

Women in labour, without access to a car, are not going to be able to afford taxi fares to other hospitals way out of the area from where they live, and they are not deemed suitable to have an ambulance.

I couldn’t have afforded a £30-£40 fare to Pinderfields from Cleckheaton as I was considered high risk following a c-section first time around, and many taxi drivers are not happy to take women in labour, due to the obvious risks, and also damage to the car from amniotic fluid, and possibly blood.

My daughter has recently seen our GP, who stated that if her symptoms got worse she must go to A&E immediately; without access to a car, yes, I can get a taxi to Dewsbury, but I can’t afford a taxi to Pinderfields and would have to wait for the hospital bus from Dewsbury District Hospital if we were told to go to Pinderfields.

I was rushed to Pinderfields for kidney problems a few years ago after these services were moved there from Dewsbury, and I had no visitors as it was not only too far to travel, but a very awkward location to get to by public transport.


The hearse and the coughing...

From: John Walshaw, Earlsheaton

Dear Sir,

Obviously the corn is growing as winter draws on!

I was told this story many years ago by an old chap who worked at Dewsbury Cemetery.

Long before they used motor cars and still used horses, it could be rather hazardous, to say the least, driving a horse-drawn hearse up and down the local hills.

On this particular day, wind and rain was making it a rather thankless task, not least because the horseman had a very bad cold and wasn’t really concentrating.

The noise he was making with his hacking was unsettling the horse and the final straw came when a tree at the side of the road fell in front of them as they were going down Webster Hill.

With that, the horse bolted and he fell off, to leave the contraption bouncing and rocking and swaying down the hill.

At that time there were some shops at the side, including a chemist’s, and the chap, quick-thinking, despite all the commotion and his cold, dashed in and shouted, “Can you give me something to stop my coughing?”

I was assured this was a true story – honest!


Rumours of my death are greatly exaggerated...

From: Tim Wood, ‘Young’ Colonial, Mirfield

Dear Sir,

Have you ever had one of those weekends that start off great and then end up not quite like what you ever expected?

Last Friday I had a bit of a runny nose and a dry, tickly cough, nothing too serious; a quick powder and a hot toddy soon got it going away.

The pub was busy and the beer launch for Britain’s latest brewery, ‘Mill Valley’ at Liversedge, was progressing rather well.

At about 9.30pm a steady stream of customers, whom I haven’t seen for a while, called in, bought a drink and 20 minutes later got up, bid me goodnight and left the premises.

From 10.30pm onwards the ’phone never stopped ringing; I answered in my usual cheery voice and it was mainly people asking if I was open tomorrow for food, or was I closing for the weekend.

Strange, I thought, lots of enquiries for weekend food.

After closing on Friday, the ’phone rang a couple more times, again people making enquiries about the availability of food.

Saturday morning I answered the ’phone to random parties, all making faltering enquiries for vacancies, but no confirmed bookings; a bit odd, I thought.

Just a bit after 2pm, Jimmy Walker, our carpet fitter, arrived and looked shocked to see me. He said, “did you know everyone in Mirfield’s got you ‘boxed up’?”.

“What?” I said. The penny hadn’t dropped.

“There’s a strong rumour going around that you’re dead!”

Then the penny dropped! All the discreet phone calls, fleeting visits by goodwill gloaters, and the rest.

I don’t know how the rumour started but it carried on all weekend; I had expired on three separate days, to three different fates: on Friday, I was out walking the dog and fell in the canal and drowned; on Saturday I had collapsed sweeping the pub car park; and on Saturday night I had one too many and fell head-first down the cellar steps (it’s a roll-in cellar, by the way).

Sunday was a great day, with people coming in just to see if the rumour was true.

I don’t know whether they expected to find me laid out on the long saddle with 50 pence pieces over my eyes, or what, but they kept coming, bless ’em.

It is quite a sobering thought being known to be a bucket-kicker but clearly still pulling pints.

One of the lads rang me up and said he’d heard I’d got tickets for the next David Bowie concert!

The crack and the banter continued all weekend, and the origins of the rumour remain shrouded and muffled by the licensed trade’s jungle drums.

Yes, it is true that one of my chums has tried to arrange a wake for me this Saturday night – and I hope I will be back behind my own bar.

So for now, it’s business as usual... by the way, have you tried our pies? You’ll never get better.

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