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Town is being left behind by everyone

Letter of the Week: John Sheen, Dewsbury

Dear Sir,

Dewsbury, whilst being one of the top 10 areas of deprivation in the country, continues to be forgotten by most of the agencies responsible for its growing population.

You only have to visit Crow Nest Park museum to reflect on Dewsbury’s amazing and prestigious history.

As a County Borough, up until the 1970s, we saw a thriving and vibrant economy. However, in spite of valiant efforts by many local councillors and less from numerous members of parliament, we’ve seen a serious deterioration of the town in all aspects.

From a retail perspective we’ve lost many of the town’s jewels, including M&S, Bickers, J&Bs and Duffitt & Brear to name but a few. Instead, we see around 25 per cent of retail premises left empty.

We’ve lost the county court and indeed the magistrates court to Huddersfield.  The police station is on limited hours and detainees are now transported to Huddersfield.

Arriva have withdrawn some services (202/203) from picking up in the town centre so the elderly, infirm and disabled must make their way to a busy bus station.

Even OUR hospital has lost the fight to maintain a service required for the 21st century and will be substantially downgraded over the next 2-3 years.

We even saw our MP work against the 33,000 passionate people who signed a protest petition. He was equally supported by around 48 Kirklees councillors speaking up when it was too late.

The final insult comes from First Trans-Pennine trains who now say, from May, anyone wishing to travel to Manchester airport must make their way to Huddersfield or change at Manchester Piccadilly.

Dewsbury deserves better. We’re becoming isolated to say the least and very much a forgotten outpost of the Kirklees authority, especially when you see a £100,000 grant go to Meltham, a suburb of Huddersfield with a bank balance of well over £600,000.

In contrast to Dewsbury I was in Huddersfield recently and the town is absolutely buzzing. Restaurants, cafes, shops aplenty including a shopping mall soon to be extended and not forgetting their university. A truly enlightening experience.

Equally, Wakefield’s investments include the Hepworth Gallery, Ridings Centre, and more recently Trinity shopping complex.

They’ve also just opened a brand-new railway station at Westgate and are spending millions more upgrading Wakefield’s second station at Kirkgate.

The flowers in central Dewsbury look beautiful but the town needs a critical injection of hard cash to turn some of these negatives into a town to be proud of.

If we can’t break away from Kirklees they must wake up to this disconnection of our town before it’s too late.

NHS changing

From: Stephen Bird, via email 

Dear Sir,

The changes to A&E are part of a national change: London has four major trauma units, Yorkshire will have three – Leeds, Hull and Sheffield.

The major units serve a population of around two million, taking the most serious cases. Each major unit works with several trauma units and many more district hospitals.

Wakefield itself will be a minor trauma unit.

These days the important factor is how quickly the well-equipped paramedics get to an injured person, and then the time to the relevant specialist – not the time to A&E.

I recommend everyone read ‘God Bless the NHS’ by Roger Taylor. His group spotted how bad Stafford Hospital was from its stats – despite it getting full marks from tick box-mad Labour!

Reading up on some truths

From: Malcolm Brooke, Dewsbury

Dear Sir,

Whilst reading a well-known broadsheet, I was struck by two articles, one of which highlighted research published in the American Heart Association regarding the fact that every minute counts when giving a clot-busting drug to stroke patients, with the message ‘save a minute, save a day of disability-free life’.

We were told that the downgrading of A&E at Dewsbury was in the best interests of the patient but when I pointed out at one of their consultation meetings that my life was saved by that same clot-busting drug being administered quickly at Dewsbury within about 15-20 minutes of suffering massive embolisms and collapsing, they could only respond with the usual mantra that patients would be better off going to Pinderfields.

The second article was by Lord Neuberger, president of the Supreme Court, who said people should be free to offend others.

Freedom only to speak inoffensively is a freedom not worth having.

It seems to me that we live in a society that not only tries to curtail people’s opinions but then consistently throws a deaf ear when those opinions are uncomfortable.

Long may The Press continue to challenge our elected leaders and provide a voice for the local community.

‘R’ slur is now meaningless

From: Name and Address Supplied

Dear Sir,

You say that the ‘R slur still hurts’ (Ed Lines, March 14) – does it really? Hurt, that is?

I’d have thought that in certain circumstances you might get annoyed by it, maybe even at times it tempts you to swing a right hook, but try as I might I just can’t imagine you sobbing yourself to sleep because someone’s thrown the ‘R word’ in your direction.

Surely by now the ‘racist’ slur has gone the way of the cry of wolf.

Over the years it’s been used so often and in so many different ways it’s lost its impact; today it’s nothing more than an insult that loony liberals and lefties use when they’re in danger of losing the argument.

If all the many meanings and usages of this word racism are condensed, it amounts to nothing more than a recognition of the inherent differences in the races of mankind.

I suppose that’s why the equality brigade are so against it – it rubbishes their egalitarianism at a stroke.

NHS in danger from the USA 

From: Christabel Hopesmith, North Kirklees NHS Support Group, Dewsbury

Dear Sir,

Have you heard David Cameron speaking about the free trade agreement being negotiated amongst the G8 nations?

He says it will be good for business and so it will – multi-national business. He says ‘everything is on the table’, including the NHS. The Government acts for City of London-based trans-national financial service firms here and in Brussels.

Now the NHS has been harmonised with the US health system by the Health and Social Care Act 2012 bringing competitive tendering into all areas of the NHS, the door has been opened to private trans-national health service providers.

Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) now runs a hospital in London. When TTIP is signed, corporations will have internationally-agreed rights to challenge any moves to make the NHS ‘preferred provider.’

They can sue the government! Yet MEPs and MPs are woefully unaware of the implications. Write to your MP and MEP now demanding to ‘Keep the NHS Exempt from US/EU Free Trade agreements’.

Sign the petition

We need to fight for what is ours. These agreements can not be reversed. Write and find a computer, before the library closes.

Sign today.

Surely hospital has some room

From: David Jewitt, Overthorpe

Dear Sir,

It’s amazing to read across your paper today to see that firstly the Mid Yorkshire Trust will invest £20m in the ‘new’ hospital whilst downgrading our vital and valuable A&E services, and to see on the opposite page that volunteers are trying to save the heritage of the hospital with valuable artefacts being kept in storage for over 20 years, as there’s no room to display them.

May I suggest that those who made that decision take a trip to Leeds General Infirmary or St James’s Hospital in Leeds, where the history of both these hospitals adorn the many corridors and entrances.

Is it beyond the realms of possibility to do the same at Dewsbury where we have an odd print on the walls and large parts left bare?

Money pot query

From: John D Scatchard, Batley

Dear Sir,

Could Stephen Eames inform us, is the £20,000,000 ‘investment’ in DDH money they already have or money they are going to borrow?

Can we find the cash to fight on?

From: Wendy Senior, Save Our Local Hospital Services

Dear Sir,

Oh well, we tried our best. The Save Our Local Hospital Services group worked really hard to save our Dewsbury hospital services, going to trust and CCG meetings, where we were treated with arrogance from Stephen Eames, Dr Kelly and their teams.

We have also met MP Simon Reevell at his Dewsbury Saturday market stall, where he has been adamant he knew best. “Trust the clinicians,” he told us.

Let’s face it, if I was being paid the same amount of money every member of the trust and CCG members are being given, I might do the same myself, but I couldn’t.

I would have the closure of our services on my conscience, but this lot haven’t got one.

The way Stephen Eames and trust members spoke to the Wakefield councillor,  chair of the scrutiny panel Betty Rhodes at Wakefield County Hall, when she gave the decision that the consultation to downgrade Dewsbury Hospital services was not safe, was appalling.

What can we do now? We could go to a judicial review which will cost a lot of money. We could win this as the downgrading is not safe, people will die through these decisions.

Dewsbury people paid for Dewsbury infirmary to be built and run years ago, so I’m sure we could pay for the review – £10,000 to get started.

We need local councillors to pull their fingers out and stop the closure of Dewsbury Hospital.

The consultation was a sham, the trust made their decision before the consultation started.

It affects us all

From: Coun Vivien Lees-Hamilton (Con, Mirfield)

Dear Sir,

Myself and my colleagues may not have attended the protest on the steps of Dewsbury Town Hall in regards the downgrading of DDH but we have been proactive.

We have held three public meetings at the Town Council, with Stephen Eames and his colleagues in attendance.

This has given the members of the public the opportunity first-hand to not only put their views across to the chief executive for Mid Yorks but to question the decision makers first-hand.

All the councillors in attendance expressed their concerns to the board members. Mine were personally based on my experiences at DDH and also what the nursing staff and clinicians at DDH have told me.

The board of the Mid Yorks trust did get off lightly and when they were asked what plan B was if the public consultation did not go their way, they replied “we do not have one but if you don’t like it you have the choice to use another hospital”. This is the cavalier attitude of the board at Mid Yorks trust.

I know that the board have made the wrong decisions, myself and my colleagues have held them to account. We have sent our concerns to Jeremy Hunt and received his reply.

We have not played party politics with this issue but have tried to proactively influence the boards decision and to change their minds on this decision.

It affects us all, me included.

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