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Thank you for twelve years of support

Letter of the Week: Coun Hanif Mayet (Lab, Batley East)

Dear Sir,

Many of you will be aware that after some serious deliberation and soul searching I alone came to a decision that my tenure as a councillor for Batley East will come to an end at the time of the next local election in May after 12 years of service.

Even now after all those years words cannot comprehend the joy when I was elected for the first time in 2004 with an overwhelming majority – one of the highest of all the councillors of the borough of Kirklees.

Since then I have fought two more elections, each time increasing the vote and the majority which has been amongst the greatest of my achievements.

During my time in office it has been a tremendous privilege and a huge honour to have met and worked with so many wonderful people, officers and members of the public alike.

I wish to take this opportunity in thanking all those many lovely people who have been part of the journey.

When I first became elected on to the Kirklees Council 12 years ago, the political scene was somewhat different both locally and especially nationally.

Local government is strongly affected by the framework allowed to local councils by those in the House of Commons.

The current financial restraints and austerity measures imposed has made the job of the vast majority of local councillors extremely difficult, with the cuts in budget resulting in loss or reduction of services.

It has therefore been a pleasure that throughout my tenure I have been fortunate to have the support of wonderful officers and colleagues, especially the Batley councillors Mary Harkin, Mahmood Akhtar and Shabir Pandor as well as my Labour group colleagues Mehboob Khan, Ken Smith and Molly Walton.

Beyond my fellow elected colleagues I am also deeply grateful for the support provided by Batley and Spen MP Mr Mike Wood, who I had a fantastic working relationship with for 11 years and more.

But most importantly I will always be grateful and indebted to all my close friends, who I affectionately call my ‘foot soldiers’, for their support and assistance when required, and also to everyone in the Batley East ward who have given me fantastic support.

I may not always have been successful in getting the results I wanted for the ward and its residents, but me and my colleagues have always done our level best in representing the community’s concerns.

Over the coming months there are going to be many challenges that councillors will have to make to balance the council’s books, resulting in inevitable cutbacks to many services.

It is therefore imperative that councillors, working closely with the officers, protect and prioritise services to those who are the most vulnerable in our community – the elderly, the disabled, children and those living in abject poverty.

One of the major issues of concern in the Batley East ward has been over-development and the loss of green space, with plans for even more of the green space being taken over for another housing site.

The picturesque Soothill Cricket Club, where I have spent many happy years playing cricket, is now housing development land and yet there are housing developments in the pipeline for over 400 more houses, which is going to have a massive impact on the infrastructure and other amenities.

It will also affect the green landscape of Soothill.

Lastly, I wish to pay tribute to my own family for allowing me the time to be away on duty at so many unsocial hours.

I am indeed blessed to have a supportive wife in Halima and I would also like to dedicate so much of my successful journey to my late wife Yasmin and my late mum. May God bless them.

In a period where core local government faces uncertainty, I truly wish and pray for the best to all the Kirklees councillors and to my successor for the future ... long live Kirklees Council.


Another hustings event is needed

From: Name and address supplied

Dear Sir,

Kirklees Council is changing, suffering huge government budget cuts and charged with delivering former US health insurance multinational supremo Simon Stevens’ NHS cuts.

It’s now responsible for commissioning mental and sexual health services and keeping people out of hospital, as well as public health (budget not ring fenced) and social care.

Conversations with an ex-Conservative MP led me to believe he thought people who need mental and/ or sexual health services, were ‘undeserving’.

Do all Conservatives agree? Lib Dems, generally, are unaware of their devastating Health and Social Care Act. What about Labour?

We need people who can think for themselves, work for the people who voted for them and equally the vulnerable people who didn’t.

At the hustings for Dewsbury West, in the Salfia Centre we got the measure of all the candidates, except Labour.

Labour’s leaflet was glossy marketing but the product in the packet may not be what is advertised, like the horsemeat scandal.

This election is important. The Labour candidate for Dewsbury West needs to be seen and speak, otherwise how can we know where she stands on the issues?

“All that glitters is not gold.” Dewsbury West Labour, organise another hustings!


So much spin they must be dizzy

From: Catherine Pinder, Gomersal

Dear Sir,

A recent Tory leaflet delivered to Liversedge and Gomersal residents stated that Dewsbury Hospital cuts were down to Gordon Brown.

Back on planet earth, the Tory government has on the one hand been systematically stripping assets from our NHS and selling them off bit by bit to the private sector, aided and abetted by the CCGs, and on the other been trying to batter our overworked junior doctors into an unsafe new contract whilst taking away student bursaries.

I am pleased yet astonished that even local Tory councillors (those who were present) had to vote against the reconfiguration of local services because of the devastating impact of the proposed changes.

I have been an activist in support of our NHS for a number of years and a proud GMB union and Labour Party member and consider it laughable that a Tory candidate should peddle this spin in an attempt to distance themselves from the catastrophic decimation of the NHS carried out by THEIR government.

I note the ongoing efforts of Jo Cox MP and Paula Sherrif MP in questioning the rationale behind local decisions at Westminster and locally.

I and others in 38 Degrees, the GMB Union and KONP will continue to campaign and hold local trusts and the department of health to account for what would be devastating consequences if they proceeded with this unsafe reconfiguration of services.

The local Tories have been deafeningly silent.

It is time local Tories took responsibility for what THEIR government has done and show some guts if they do not agree with it, rather than spinning out of control in order to excuse and justify their Tory government’s anti-public sector, profit-driven actions which have left our NHS in general and our local hospital in particular in such a sorry state.

Austerity in all its guises is an ideological choice, not an economic necessity, and don’t let the Tories call it anything else.


Sorry Obama, we were conned 

From: Mr Smithson, Dewsbury

Dear Sir,

Re President Obama’s ‘stay in the EU’ message.

I have been voting for over 60 years, when Britain was Great Britain, with a reputation for quality goods, which were in demand by many independent nations, not just Commonwealth countries. They were pleased to sell us their own produce as the need for sterling was essential to them.

Back in the 1970s the resistance to our entry was enormous, and finally we were ‘allowed’ to join – with great reluctance by many countries.

But, what did we join? A Common Market – Yes, we were conned, as we are now part of a European dictatorship who are unable to balance their own books!

If a union of South American countries approached Obama with a view to a merger (similar to the EU), and hinted he would be last in the queue, his reply would be unprintable.

In the UK we cannot even deport foreign criminals back to their domicile (EU rules), but in the USA you are deported when your green card expires, if you are out of employment – we should take this action rather than be dictated to by the EU!

No Mr Obama, you stick to your dollar and we’ll remain independent on trade with a great number of independent countries who will still happily trade with us.


Benefits outweigh risks of leaving

From: Kamran Hussain, chair of Yorkshire and Humber Lib Dems Policy & EU Referendum Campaign

Dear Sir,

Here in Yorkshire and the Humber, like the rest of Britain, we see many benefits of our continued relationship with Europe.

The EU is Britain's largest market. British exports to the EU accounted for £229 billion in 2014.

Here in Yorkshire and the Humber, we exported £8.4 billion worth of goods to the EU in 2014, which equates to 49 per cent of the total goods exported.

In the last five years, there have been 157 investment projects from the EU in Yorkshire and The Humber, creating or protecting almost 12,000 jobs.

And we have companies like Santander and Haribo investing in the Yorkshire and Humber region.

Nationally, many independent studies have shown that over three million jobs in Britain are linked to Britain’s trade with Europe.

HM Treasury has broken down the figures into regions and as a result, here in the Yorkshire and the Humber region, 250,000 jobs are linked to the trade with the EU.

With such investment from the EU, we believe that Britain is stronger, safer and better off in Europe than out on its own.

We risk our prosperity, threaten our safety and diminish our influence in the world.

The benefits clearly outweigh the risks. I therefore urge the residents of Yorkshire and the Humber to make the right decision on June 23 2016. Thank you.


Another reason for us to leave the EU...

From: Colin Walshaw, Scholes

Dear Sir,

Thank you very much President Obama, you have given us another excellent reason to leave the EU!

We will go to the back of the queue and have to wait five to 10 years to be allowed to renegotiate treaties like TTIP and TISA with the USA, excellent news for campaigners against these measures.

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and the Trade in Services Agreement are measures, the details of which are discussed in secret, and only big corporations have special access to its terms.

Their aim is to cover half of the global GDP, this is a geopolitical strategy against the BRICS countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – in other words the emerging nations that most pose a threat to the USA.

TTIP will give unbridled access by pharmaceutical and private health providers to our and Europe’s health services and limit the availability of affordable generic medicines.

It is also a legal regime to bypass domestic courts, evade environmental protections (GM foods, beef containing growth hormones and US safety standards), and allow the US to sue any company or organisation which limits or restricts its ability to infiltrate these institutions.

The USA absorbs 18 per cent of all British exports, whereas only seven per cent of German and eight per cent of the French exports.

US exports to the UK are €$52.2billion per year. This is without any formal treaty with the EU. In 2009, 53 per cent by value of UK exports went outside of the EU, Germany’s share was only 37 per cent, France’s 36 per cent.

Under half by value of British worldwide exports go to the EU, almost two thirds of German and French exports worldwide go to other EU countries.

British exports of goods, services and income transfers to countries outside the EU are growing almost 40 per cent faster than those to the EU, which are now in steady decline.

Of course the EU and USA and big corporations want us to stay in.

Although we have little say in the workings of the EU legislation we are seen by all parties as a stalking horse to secure agreement on TTIP etc.

The junior doctors should be more worried about TTIP and the privatisation of our NHS than their spat with Jeremy Hunt. I would rather fight our own Government on TTIP than the faceless EU commissioners.

Thanks again Mr President, I trust we can still remain buddies with your successor after Independence Day.


Don’t put sleeping hogs at risk

From: Ruth Yates, Gomersal

Dear Sir,

It is coming up to that time of the year again. What do I mean? Hedgehog Awareness Week, which runs from May 1-7.

Hedgehog numbers are falling and so they need all the help they can get. This year the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS is highlighting the dangers posed to hogs by cutting machinery, in particular garden strimmers.

Hedgehogs have been scalped or lost a leg because of these pieces of equipment. Please check long grass before using any cutting machinery to ensure you are not putting a sleeping hog at risk.

Most people seem to know now, but please do not give bread and milk to hedgehogs. They love the taste of milk but are lactose intolerant and will get severe abdominal pain and ‘the runs’ if they drink much milk.

The hog will become dehydrated and die a very painful death if not rescued.

Hedgehogs are a protected species but Oliver Colvile, MP for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport, is seeking to get more protection for them.

He is concerned about their loss of habitat, wanting to see walls and fences replaced by hedges where possible.

There are many other issues surrounding protecting the future of hedgehogs. You can sign a petition online at https://petition.parliament. uk/petitions/121264.

So far, 27,000 people have signed on line but 100,000 signatures are needed by August 11. Please sign up if you possibly can.

I shall be at Little Gomersal May Day Fair at the Wheatsheaf Pub on May 2 from 1pm-4pm.

Here you can meet Gus, a real live hog who was very poorly when found last September, but is now fully recovered and will be released shortly. You can sign the petition at the fair. There will be many other stalls – cakes, plants, books, a raffle and a local brass band.

So why not come along and meet the hog and get more advice on helping this iconic creature and treat yourself to some of the other attractions at the same time.


KAAS – what a shame

From: Adele Latham, Soothill

Dear Sir,

I accompanied my brother to the last meeting of KAAS, (Kirklees Alchohol Advisory Service), held at Batley Salvation Army this week, which due to a lack of funding has now ended.

There were around 20 people there, each with their own story, but each one of them either having suffered, or suffering, from alcohol abuse, some accompanied by partners or family members whose lives have been touched by the addiction.

They were all genuinely nice people trying to get their lives back on track, meeting with like-minded people, and able to discuss openly their problems and, indeed aspirations and hopes.

What a real shame this vital service has ended.

Norman Macleod the co-ordinator has such warmth and understanding, and is clearly trusted and respected, and I wish him and all I met at the meeting every success.


Media owners have had it all their own way

From: ‘Emley EU Voter’, via email

Dear Sir,

I would like to respond to the writings of Danny Lockwood in last week’s Press.

So Mr Lockwood’s daughter, to her credit, wants to know both sides of the In or Out Euro question.

Well she won’t get a fair view from her father’s column. I have yet to read a balanced report in his column about the EU.

Might I suggest that she reads Richard Corbett’s newsletter on the internet? He is after all our local Euro MP. In the blog, he answers fairly the stories from our 80 per cent anti-EU British press. The answers are very revealing.

We are told that we have a free press in this country. What an illusion!

Just five press barons control all but 20 per cent of our papers.

Who are these unelected press barons, whose papers slowly brainwash their readers?

If you rely on one paper for your news, then ideas will be planted in your mind that influence your views. This is especially true of the In-Out question.

For years the News of the World, until it was closed following the phone-hacking scandal, and also the Sun and Times have been pumping out anti-European Union tales for a long time.

Who owns these papers? None other than Rupert Murdoch, the billionaire magnate who also owns Sky TV. Does he live here? Is he a UK resident? No, he is a US citizen. He owns best part of 25 per cent of our dailies.

Yet in the US foreigners are are not allowed to own US media outlets. Not so here.

Then who is on his payroll? Michael Gove, a leading Outer used to write for the Times.

Boris Johnson writes articles for The Sun. Gove’s wife Sarah Vine, writes for that other anti-Euro tabloid, the Daily Mail.

Then Boris Johnson reputedly gets £250,000 a year for writing for that other anti-Euro paper, The Telegraph.

That is in addition to his salaries as Mayor of London (full-time job?) and an MP (full-time job?). Talk about wheels within wheels!

Yet the Outers complain when friends of this country warn us of the dangers of leaving. Why don’t they ask Vladimir Putin to support their Out campaign? He will be very pleased if we are foolish enough to come out.

The government was right to send details to our voters about the In or Out question to try to give a fair picture against the anti-Euro press. The Outers have had it all their own way for years.

So what should Miss Lockwood read for a fair  and balanced view of the In-Out question? Might I suggest The Mirror, the I or the New Day and in the broadsheet press The Guardian or Sunday Observer.

If she wants to know who owns the UK tabloids and their backgrounds, read Private Eye. She will be amazed.


Ludicrous system for drones in the UK

From: John Appleyard, Liversedge

Dear Sir,

As if airline pilots haven’t enough to contend with we now have an increasing number of idiots shining lasers in their eyes whilst in flight.

Now we hear of a drone hitting a British Airways plane with 132 passengers and crew on board.

Detectives are unlikely to catch the operator of the drone because there is no registration system for users in the UK.


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