I fear for school leaders and their pupils
Letter of the Week: John Broadhead, Batley
I have been a governor of local schools for more than 10 years and in that time I have seen many changes in education, some good and some not so good.
It seems that every Secretary of State for Education wants to set their personal imprint on our schools, but the recent statement that all schools will be forced to become academies takes change to an entirely new level.
The government diktat set out in its Education White Paper has the potential to cause enormous damage to schools.
Schools are already having to implement radical changes to the National Curriculum and to assessment and testing which will take years to bed in.
Despite the government’s claims to the contrary, schools face squeezed budgets, difficulties in recruiting qualified teachers and low morale in the workplace.
The implementation of a full-scale academy programme, as well as other major changes in the White Paper, will be a difficult, expensive and bureaucratic exercise which will detract from the essential day-to-day running of schools.
None of this was spelled out in the Conservative Party manifesto and it is interesting to note that several Conservative-run councils are now protesting about the proposed changes.
Perhaps worst of all is the complete disregard for local democracy.
Local authorities are not perfect in their administration of schools but the unelected multi academy trusts which will be tasked with running our schools have little or no local accountability.
I fear for the hard-pressed school leaders who will have to carry the can for this policy and for those children whose education will be put at risk and whose parents’ views will be given scant regard.
From: Dudley James, Dewsbury
Can I, through your paper, say thank you to Coun Paul Kane (the present Mayor) for organising and attending the veterans’ event at Hanging Heaton Cricket Club recently.
It was a wonderful evening with great entertainment and food (except for the custard?).
We all enjoyed ourselves, and Coun Kane made us all welcome.
There aren’t enough thank-yous given out, but I just thought I had to put words to paper and show our appreciation.
Thank you must also go to the entertainers and the club, especially Peter the steward, who was very hospitable.
Thanks again Coun Kane, and keep up the hard work.
Put it in the bin – simple
From: John Appleyard, Liversedge
Near where I live, a woman can be seen most mornings picking up litter and disposing of it in a bin before she calls at the shop.
I thought of this lady when I was listening to BBC Radio Four’s ‘Costing the Earth’ programme and the issue of litter.
The Keep Britain Tidy group, which has been in existence for over 60 years, is very much aware that more waste is being generated and disposed in an era of fast food, eating on the go, disposable cups and cans.
Keep Britain Tidy believes that the Government should be raising awareness of the problems with litter.
Speakers on the programme noted how clean things were in Switzerland, where they have teams of litter ambassadors talking to people which has led to much reduction in litter.
In the mid-1980s there was concern in the state of Texas of the amount of rubbish being thrown out of cars – they came out with the slogan ‘don’t mess with Texas’ and reduced litter on Texas highways by 70 per cent.
In the UK some local authorities have introduced on the spot fines for the dropping of cigarettes in the street.
The simple message for all of us is to take our rubbish home or dispose of it in the appropriate bins that are provided around areas where we live.
Treated with indifference
From: David Honeybell, Heckmondwike
Is anyone in the world truly safe?
And I don’t mean safe from the various terrorist groups who are trying to wreak havoc and bring an end to the world in the name of religion.
I make no apology for once again raising one of most emotive subjects – that of abortion/euthanasia.
In Ontario, Canada, seminars are being held to instruct doctors in the most effective drugs to use to kill elderly patients who have different medical conditions.
What is the world coming to when a wealthy country like Canada can seek to kill rather than support its old, weak and vulnerable citizens?
It’s both frightening and sad that they should promote and encourage the practice of early death, rather than invest in research to find cures for, or ways to reduce the symptoms of chronic conditions.
Then at the same time as the elderly, the disabled or anyone perceived to be a burden on society are being coerced into accepting their fate of an early death.
At the other end of the spectrum, the unborn child faces not only the threat of abortion, but along comes a group of doctors who are advocating that women who are carrying a disabled or handicapped baby, and have taken the traumatic decision to have an abortion, should be persuaded to go full term with the pregnancy, so the child’s organs could be harvested and used in transplants.
What kind of world do we live in?
For a woman to take the horrendous decision to abort her baby must be difficult enough, but to have to deliver the child knowing it will be only used as spare parts doesn’t bear thinking about.
If life before birth and life before natural death can be treated with such indifference, we are all targets for the culture of death.
Health system transforming
From: Christine Hyde, Dewsbury
On Wednesday March 16 Kirklees Council voted unanimously to take the N out of the NHS by voting for their ‘health plan’.
It is part of the ‘West Yorkshire’ footprint, which has 11 CCGs and a population of 2.5m people.
The plan – imposed by NHS England with no consultation and no impact assessment, no risk assessment or reference to anything other than reduction in spend – is to be done by council managers in a ludicrously short timescale and finished by June.
The NHS-funded profit-making companies running the Commissioning Support Unit will ‘help’. They know what other companies want.
No matter that the representative of the Local Authorities Association told the Health Select Committee: “It feels wrong for councils to implement the Five-Year Forward View.”
Paula Sherriff MP missed this particular part of the Health Select Committee meeting, but I went.
In my opinion, this huge top-down re-dis-organisation of health services in Kirklees, makes Jo Cox MP and Paula Sherriff MP’s excuse for not turning up at the NHS Bill debate on March 11 more than a bit tame.
They seem to be happy to transform ours to the US system of health service provision with its exorbitant costs to taxpayers, who fund 64 per cent of US healthcare, its inequalities and denials of treatment. Are you?
I’m voting a resounding No
From: John Sheen, Dewsbury
After 40 years of transition from joining a free trade Common Market or the EEC (European Economic Community) to being a virtual puppet in a European superstate we now have a wonderful opportunity to remove the handcuffs of subservience from this failed European project on June 23.
We’ve seen political power controlled by unelected commissioners in Brussels whose very ‘raison d’etre’ is a desire to rule Europe without any democratic constraints.
Successive UK governments have been party to this systematic betrayal of the British people by signing away our sovereignty through numerous and questionable treaties.
Nothing beyond our shores should be allowed to over rule our sovereignty and democracy, yet, whilst our laws and our justice system are created by an elected British parliament, the European Court of Justice has precedence over our Supreme Court.
Staying on the justice theme, criminal convictions for EU migrants have increased by over 40 per cent during the past five years.
Over 700 offences every week.
The freedom of movement EU policy has allowed free access to Britain for Europes criminals with little possibility of deportation.
The events in Cologne, Sweden, Norway and the Netherlands during the new year celebrations were an appalling vision of depravity and could easily have been replicated in Great Britain.
Our future security will depend on the ability to control our own borders.
Major General Julian Thompson, a hero of the Falklands War, supported by many other high ranking military personnel, completely dispels the myth that EU membership makes us safer.
On the contrary, we’ve seen the tragic events in Paris and Brussels which brought a realisation of just how vulnerable we are.
The Shengen Treaty, which Britain did not sign up to, created open borders for all member states and has resulted in mass migration of biblical proportions.
Ronald Noble, the ex-head of Interpol, said the introduction of the Schengen policy was like waving a welcoming flag to terrorists. Sheer insanity. Yet another error of judgement by EU officials.
Add this to the failing Euro, the declining EU trading bloc and their inevitable drive to fast-track Turkey into the EU.
A country that borders Iraq and Syria would springboard terrorists into Europe with impunity.
Bosnia has also applied for membership and other countries for consideration are Serbia, Albania, Kosovo, Ukraine and Montenegro.
It may take several years but a positive decision would allow an additional 150,000,000 of the poorest people on the planet access to our already overcrowded country.
Our infrastructure is unfit for purpose. Our NHS, schools and housing stocks are in a critical position, yet many of our misguided politicians want to remain within the constraints of this highly expensive club that only tolerates us because of our massive financial contribution and because we are one of the EU’s biggest markets, providing them with a surplus of around £80 billion per annum.
Weighing up the pros and cons, I want Britain to be great and free again for my children’s and grandchildren’s future prosperity.
I’m voting a resounding NO in the forthcoming referendum.
Lions led by donkeys
From: SJ Hall, Huddersfield
Lions led by donkeys, as one German general remarked early on in the First World War.
Our boys over the decades were sent off to war. Many of them never returned, their names are engraved onto headstones and memorials throughout Britain, France, Belgium and more distant shores.
We will not forget their sacrifice for the price of freedom and democracy.
As an organiser of the West Yorkshire Veterans Association, I have been sincerely touched and moved by what has happened just down the road from my home in Huddersfield.
The boarding-up of your council chambers in Mirfield, and the departure of its democratically-elected council has left us all chilled, and has angered the vast majority of our associates.
Mirfield war memorial, 100 yards away and in view of the chambers, is home to one of our nation’s most attended Remebrance services, second only to London’s Whitehall parade.
How sorry we all are to see such an unfortunate issue unfold.
To allow such a fine public building to fall into disrepair, and the lack of foresight as to what this area stands for, is nothing short of a national disgrace.
There are thousands of us throughout Kirklees, veterans of National Service, conscriptions and many more families who have lost loved ones throughout the long decades of warfare. We have a vote coming up soon, and it will be used.
As for the Kirklees cabinet? Lions led by donkeys.
From: M Walker, Mirfield
Some time, not long ago, Gordon Brown sold off the bulk of Britain’s gold reserves when gold was at its lowest price.
Following on in similar fashion, I think the Kirklees Council cabinet are seeking to do similar to the Mirfield council chambers; let the building get run down due to lack of maintenance and then flog it off quite cheap.
So, who are the winners and losers in all this?
If you maintain your home, keep up to its windows, roof, pointing etc, the price over the years will increase, and you will have a profit on your property far exceeding the cost of ongoing repairs.
Most people throughout Kirklees would probably agree.
So, let’s have a good look at this scenario. We all pay council tax to Kirklees (well, a lot of us do), so we would expect council property to be kept up to as a tangible asset for the future.
Very serious questions, should be asked over the management of our public assets.
We are the losers; the town council and the Labour cabinet will all claim the moral high ground and find a way to blame each other for cutbacks and lack of funding.
Both parties will find a way to do very little to remedy the situation where the building is put back into profitable use and, possibly, rented out to the public.
That process would involve a little bit of what you’ve paid for (work), and a bit of extra brainpower, if that’s possible.