CAMPAIGNERS have expressed their dismay at the current state of Mirfield’s former council offices.
The building was closed earlier this month when Kirklees Council sent in a health and safety inspector, who shut down the building claiming £360,000-worth of repairs were needed.
Mirfield Town Council is now meeting elsewhere, while the organisers of Mirfield’s Poppy Appeal and Remembrance parade are currently searching for an alternative site to store their assets.
The premises, built in 1903, had previously housed Kirklees Council offices and space for the GMB union.
Here Mirfield’s Tim Wood, who organises the Remembrance parade, sets out his concerns about the building, how it was allowed to get into its present state and what its closure means for future ceremonial events.
Boarded-up building shows no respect
Letter of the Week: Tim Wood, Combined Services Parades Associates
The untimely closure of the council chambers in Mirfield may have come as a shock to many people living in Mirfield and the surrounding district.
It was closed prematurely due to damp conditions caused chiefly by a lack of long-term maintenance, and the theft of lead from the roofing areas.
The building is now ‘tinned-up’ with aluminium sheets over the windows.
The building looked well before but, in this state, it looks a proper mess; in fact it is sore to the eyes.
My phone has never stopped ringing in recent weeks, with members of the public and veterans, as well as serving soldiers, all expressing concern about the now shabby-looking building.
All of them made a very good point which I may convey to your readers.
Firstly, under the hat of the Combined Services Parades Associates, over the last 20 or so years, we have built up Mirfield’s Remembrance parade to be the largest in the UK outside Whitehall. We are so proud of our achievements.
The parade, as it passes the town’s council chambers, salutes the Union flag on top of the roof once on the way to the memorial service in Ings Grove Park next door, and once on the way back.
It is a proud display of loyalty and pride, and is saluted on behalf of, on this occasion, the Crown and all those who fell.
A flag-raising ceremony was planned for the Queen’s 90th birthday; as was a ceremonial to mark Armed Forces Day and the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme – the worst day in the history of the British Army, when on the first day of the battle, our casualty rate was nearing 60,000 killed or wounded in just one day.
The council chambers next to and bordering onto Ings Grove Park War Memorial is, or was, the seat of the democratically elected town council, the elected body by which Mirfield has a small voice in the vast and cavernous echo chamber of Kirklees Council.
It was our troops, whose names appear on memorials up and down the country, and Commonwealth troops who lay to rest further afield, who fought and gave their lives for our freedom of democracy.
The closure of the town council buildings has shown a scant lack of honour to the sentiment of democracy our troops sent off to war to fight for, right next door, not 100 yards away from the shuttered building, is one of many of our country’s proud memorials.
I cannot think of how many councils in the UK would neglect such a fine building and then act in such a miserable way to show a lack of respect to a location that has achieved national recognition.
To all concerned, and this is not politics, it is about gross dereliction of duty whilst holding public office.
The way in which this whole sorry episode has been handled should not ever happen again, and should be put right straight away.
You have scoffed at us, turned your backs on us, and we will remember you, I can promise you that much.
This letter was written under the auspices of the Combined Services Parade Associates, not the Royal British Legion.
Let’s put this disaster right
From: Keith Walker, Mirfield
As you drive through Mirfield you cannot fail to notice the town council chambers boarded up and looking like something from a third world urban slum.
Next to it is Ings Grove Park and its war memorial; my great uncle’s name is on one of the bronze tablets.
He was blown up at Passchendaele and was being treated for his wounds when his hospital ship hit a mine. He drowned; thus are the horrors of war.
Nearly one hundred years later the freedom of speech, the vote and democracy, trade unions, the later-to-be Welfare state and the NHS have all come about because we are free to choose our own rightful democratic path.
Hitler and Stalin were dictators through and through; we fought the Nazis and then protected Europe against the Soviet threat; once again our troops on the front line of democracy.
I do not know how the building that housed our elected council came into such bad repair that it needed boarding up, but I can only guess there are a lot of people out there making political mileage out of blaming differing factions for it.
What a disaster for all concerned. You are blinded by your own agenda.
Speaking as a veteran, you should be all named and shamed.
Put it right; we pay our council tax in Mirfield, just as everyone else is expected to do.
Let’s have a bit back, just for once. It’s called give and take, not take and take. How disrespectful.
Democracy is being eroded
From: R Hardy, Mirfield
I have to agree somewhat with Mr Robinson’s letter in last week’s Press regarding the demise of Mirfield’s town council building, which has a history of neglect for years.
The fact that it borders onto the war memorial in the local park is even more worrying.
No respect has been shown as to what the building stands for, or the memorial in the park.
There is a council election looming in coming weeks, and I can predict that there will be all manner of political mileage made out of this total lack of sense and respect.
We all know of budget cuts throughout the councils in the land, and that we are all getting less for our hard-earned monies.
The pot is running dry and cannot be filled by our pockets alone. Most people I have spoken to say that our taxes should be spent in our towns and cities and not in developing the EU.
The people coming into our country have not significantly contributed to our pot, but they are an obvious drain on it, hence the cuts.
We cannot think anything other than our democracy and sovereignty is being seriously eroded, and so is our civic infrastructure.
What has happened in Mirfield is the worst case of mismanagement by all parties concerned, and will only add fuel to the fire of the ‘Say No to Europe’ campaign.
Labour leader Corbyn is an advocate for staying in Europe, perhaps he could shed some light on this sorry episode, because if this matter hits the national press and media, someone has a massive amount of explaining to do.
In the meantime, Coun Sheard and his cabinet seem to be doing a grand job for cash-strapped UKIP.
I think on the basis of what I have seen in Mirfield alone, I can form a good enough opinion to vote against my Labour roots.
Sorry, a vote is a vote. How many more are now beginning to think like us?
Well done everyone
From: Coun Paul Kane, Mayor of Kirklees
I have just returned from an event and feel compelled to write to thank all involved in putting on what was a fantastic show – ‘Batley does Opera’.
Everyone was brilliant, the kids, the performers and the impromptu opera singer Andrew Marsden.
Batley showed itself in such a wonderful light with the amount of people who came to see the show, ALL were a credit to Batley.
I would like to thank Opera North and Creative Scene for putting on the event, the professional performers and the brilliant amateur performers (who actually showed themselves as professionals).
This performance must have inspired some of these young people to go on and take up opera as a vocation and inspire the audience to go see more opera. Well done everyone.
Loophole needs to be closed
From: John Appleyard, Liversedge
There didn’t seem much opposition in Parliament to the Chancellor’s plans for a sugar tax on soft drinks, however there is much opposition from Labour and others to the call for all schools to be made into academies.
A major concern is the standard of food for children who attend academies.
Some academies are exempt from signing up to strict school food standards which ensure children are eating healthy dinners.
Around a million youngsters attending schools in England have yet to be signed up to tough rules introduced in January last year.
These standards put restrictions on sugary, fried and fatty foods to help ensure pupils eat a healthy diet and apply to all council-run schools.
The Government should close the loophole which exempts academies from strict food standards.
NHS is out of public control
From: Christine Hyde, Dewsbury
Paula Sherriff MP was lucky enough to secure an adjournment debate slot in Parliament, on March 21 at 10pm to talk about the problems at Dewsbury Hospital.
She praised the front line staff for their tireless comittment to do the best they could in extremely difficult circumstances.
As the debate progressed, Paula expressed her view that the reconfiguration of services should not be hastened to downgrade Dewsbury Hospital A&E, while Mid Yorkshire was still not stabilised with regard to staffing levels.
As an answer, Ben Gummer MP (Con) said that he had no power to interfere in transformation, nor did the Health Secretary.
Both Paula Sherriff MP and Jo Cox MP heard him say that.
What better proof that the health service is now out of democratic control and that both those MPs should have been at the March 11 National Health Service Bill debate to help the discussions at that time.
Barry Sheerman MP was not there at the adjournment debate on March 21.
Perhaps someone should let him know what Ben Gummer said. Huddersfield deserves the truth.
Think about the horses
From: Alison Matthews via email
The Cheltenham Festival this year claimed the lives of seven lovely horses.
Three were on Tuesday – The Govaness, Rezorbi and Pont Alexandre, Wednesday – NoMoreHeroes, Thursday – Niceonefrankie and Friday – Long Dog and Montdragon.
They deserve to be named as they aren’t just a number.
Fifty-two horses have died at Cheltenham since the year 2000. How can this be allowed to happen? Animal Aid, who campaign for change in the horse racing industry, say: “The horses, who are supposedly cherished by the world of racing, are merely disposable commodities, as we have seen this week.”
Four hundred horses die in UK racing each year. An estimated 38 per cent of these die during or just after a race (the others in the days and weeks that follow).
Nearly 20,000 horses are bred in Britain every year to find winners. Those not good enough are sold for slaughter.
The Grand National is next, a terrible gruelling race that has claimed the lives of many horses over the years and seems designed to cause injury and worse.
Anyone who cares for horses should not watch them race or place a bet.
Instead of the glory of the one who wins, think it could easily be that one who is out of sight, tragically suffering under the tarpaulin (used to cover up the poor animal).
It is unbelievable that such events are allowed to happen in the age when we should know better.
So many EU myths that need to be debunked
From: Colin Walshaw, Scholes, Cleckheaton
Over the last few weeks, statements have been made in the media which are wrong in many essentials concerning the EU. I should like to try and debunk a few myths, if I may.
Myth: Being in the EU safeguards jobs.
Fact: Over one million UK jobs have been lost since we joined the EU, including whole industries wiped out such as ship and train building, chemicals, textiles, mining, steel production and chocolate making while others like fishing and farming have suffered badly under EU regulations.
Myth: Three to four million jobs depend on being in the EU.
Fact: No. They depend on trade with the EU, which will not suffer. It would be against EU and World Trade Organisation rules to enter into a trade war just because we left. Any such action would be illegal and worse for them as over five million jobs in France, Germany and elsewhere depend on trade with us. They sell us £8.1 billion a month more than we do them.
Myth: We are too small to compete alone outside the EU.
Fact: Greenland, the only nation so far to leave the EU and which has a smaller population than Cheltenham, trades around the globe with its own seat in the World Trade Organisation. Under the Treaty of Rome we cannot make our own trade deals, Greenland can.
Myth: Large companies will leave/not come to the UK if we leave the EU.
Fact: Eleven major companies have said they will stay even if we leave the EU and already three, including Boeing aircraft, have said they want to come here regardless of whether we go or stay.
In or out makes no difference to attracting international companies.
Myth: We have influence in the EU.
Fact: Yes, but very little. We have lost 40 out of the last 40 times we tried to stop deals/agreements damaging to the UK. Cameron asked for little and got even less. If they had respect for the UK they would at least listen, 27 countries will never agree to fundamental changes. We have only 8.9 per cent of the vote in the ineffectual EU Parliament. The power is with the 28 unelected commissioners.
Myth: It takes a long time to make a deal with another country, seven years in the case of Canada for example.
Fact: It is being in the EU which causes these delays; outside the EU via the WTO we could make deals in weeks or quicker.
Myth: Being in the EU safeguards wages.
Fact: “Outside the EU wages would rise”. A quote from Lord Rose, leader of the group trying to keep us in called ‘Britain Stronger in Europe’. Wage compression, caused by being in the EU, has seen many workers not have a wage increase in years.
Myth: We need to be in the EU for police co-operation.
Fact: Interpol covers 190 nations around the globe including those in the EU and fully co-operate with each other. We do not need a separate EU police force. “Half of the European Union’s police and security forces do not cooperate with the other half”. A quote from Holger Muench, head of the German police force. A good example was Tuesday in Brussels.
Myth: We could not go abroad if we leave the EU.
Fact: Why? We did for centuries before the EU was formed. International tourism is worth billions of pounds per year and will not be stopped. Is it likely that Spain, Portugal and France will not want British tourists? The UK is outside the Schengen Area so nothing will change.
This just scrapes the surface of the myths the ‘Project Fear’ side love to spread, but it would take a page or more to debunk them completely. We have nothing to lose, and much to gain, by voting ‘Leave’ on June 23.