Letter of the Week: David Honeybell, Heckmondwike
In last week’s letters, Jules Preston MBE chose to attack our local MP Mike Wood. When Mike was elected to his position as our MP, I, and every other resident of Batley and Spen, over the age of 18, had a choice of candidates from the political parties to vote for.
But try as I might, I just can’t seem to remember having a vote in the process of who was appointed to the position held by Jules Preston.
And if Mike Wood, who was elected, upsets the people in Batley and Spen, he will lose his seat. If Jules Preston and his cohort Stephen Eames, who were appointed, upset the whole of Mid Yorkshire there is nothing the public can do about it.
The same thing is happening at every hospital trust in the country. Non-elected government puppets are being put into positions of power just to implement government policy.
Puppets only dance when the puppeteer pulls the strings, and they only dance to the puppeteer’s tune.
All the hospital trusts, along with the clinical commissioning groups, again, made up of non-elected members, are pushing the government’s privatisation plans forward at every opportunity.
More and more contracts are being awarded to private health providers. On the surface, both Jules Preston and Stephen Eames, and indeed David Kelly and Chris Dowes, their counterparts at the North Kirklees CCG, are all very approachable people, who listen to comments and suggestions.
The facts though are they listen but don’t take a blind bit of notice. The whole consultation process regarding the future of DDH was an orchestrated sham, played out so as to be seen to comply with the rules, but still a sham.
Jules Preston asked the people of North Kirklees to support the downgrading of our local hospital.
Why would anyone support a plan to take away facilities out of their own area, to a hospital where difficulties are already being experienced in dealing with the number of patients they have now.
What will happen when the restructuring is done I dread to think. We must not give up the struggle, not only for DDH, but for the future of the whole NHS.
Do the right thing – resign
From: Peter Claydon, Dewsbury
It’s clear from Jules Preston’s letter last week that he doesn’t ‘get it’. People I talk to in North Kirklees don’t want to see the A&E, maternity and paediatrics services at Dewsbury & District Hospital run down in order to make service delivery more convenient for consultants and specialists and less convenient for themselves.
And they don’t want to see their local hospital used as a ‘cash cow’ to pay for expensive PFI contracts at locations somewhere to the east, in the general direction of Siberia.
With the information he has at his fingertips, Jules Preston should be able to pose the questions of health professionals that will generate an acute services delivery strategy that meets, rather than ignores, the aspirations and expectations of people in North Kirklees.
If he isn’t prepared to challenge vested interest in the NHS hierarchy and to stand up for his ‘customers’ he should do the honourable thing... resign.
Councillors should leg it
From: Jack Bunn, Hanging Heaton
So, once again, Spring has arrived and with it the usual councillors seeking our votes to vindicate their presence at headquarters at Huddersfield.
They are notable by their absence most of the year, mainly concerned with town centres and anything to do with Huddersfield.
I have three councillors in Dewsbury East, Paul Kane, who does his best for Dewsbury town centre, Eric Firth, who, since he obtained his objective to become Mayor seems to have retired, and, last of all, what can I say? Cathy Scott, who, if she walked down the High Street at Hanging Heaton, I doubt if any of my neighbours would recognise her.
I have studied the situation, and arrived at the conclusion that, again, I must vote for Mark Eastwood. At least he is local born and bred and understands local problems, and although he is not a councillor, he calls to ask if he can help with LOCAL PROBLEMS.
Although I do not agree with Cameron, our Prime Minister, with all he does, I think for local matters, Eastwood is my vote.
I did not see any of our three councillors visiting residents to ask about road problems.
No, they used Kirklees letters of post to do what their legs should have done – and also what did all these letters cost?
Division is the way forward
From: Mark Eastwood (Conservative candidate for Dewsbury East)
After attending last Tuesday’s launch event, I am writing in support of the Kirklees Conservative Group’s election manifesto and policy announcement to split Kirklees into four areas.
This would mean the vast majority of money raised in Dewsbury via council tax and business rates gets spent in Dewsbury as opposed to Huddersfield.
Regardless of political persuasion, the majority of local residents I speak to on the doorstep say they have witnessed the sad decline of Dewsbury over the years, particularly the town centre, while Huddersfield has flourished into a vibrant shopping centre and business hub.
I don’t think it’s any coincidence that the contrast in fortunes between the two towns has occurred under the stewardship of a mainly Huddersfield-focused Kirklees Council.
Under the Conservative proposals, while there would still be a need to fund a much smaller presence in Huddersfield, the majority of decision making would be transferred to Dewsbury and Batley councillors who will prioritise where money is spent, be it on roads, libraries, free town centre parking etc.
The policy to devolve power to Dewsbury and Batley would also make these councillors more accountable for the decisions they make in the area, which can only be a good thing for local democracy and would give people real choice at election time based on their performance, not just on their political affiliation.
Like me, I’m sure a lot of people would rather have Kirklees abolished completely and for Dewsbury to once again become an independent borough, however, I believe these proposals are a major step in the right direction.
From: Tony Martin, by email
I am contacting you with reference to the photograph of the Savile Town Juniors Rugby League team.
The lad on the right of the front row is my father Bryan Martin. He would have been 12 or 13 at this time which probably explains why he is just about the smallest in the team.
I thought at first that it might not be him, as the family moved from Dewsbury to London just before the war and he was in fact evacuated to Wales in 1940. I have, however, been able to confirm that the family were back in Savile Town by 1942, so it all fits.
He went on to play for the YMCA until he was 16 but as far as I know did not continue beyond that. He died in 2007.
My daughter told me last week’s edition has identified him. It’s made me happy to delve again into his past. Many thanks.
Pressure on absent owners
From: ‘Saffir’, by email
It was disturbing to learn from Paul Kane’s letter to The Press last week that 80% of landlords of Dewsbury Town Centre buildings are absent.
If the vital owners are absent it will be hard to contact them and let them know their participation is required in the development and regeneration of Dewsbury town centre.
As a stepping stone can the council not adopt the buildings in Dewsbury and hold them in a trust while making sure rents go towards maintenance?
The council can put onto paper that it is not stealing the building but putting them into a trust in the interest of maintaining buildings and giving longer life to the ailing Dewsbury town centre.
Having said all of this Asda and Sainsbury’s are booming these days. Perhaps there is scope too for a rigorous council-led study into the decline and a feasibility study as to what type of trades and shops might give Dewsbury a lifeline in the future.
No one wants these changes
From: Paula Sherriff (Labour PPC, Dewsbury and Mirfield)
No one would deny the Trust Jules Preston chairs is under enormous financial pressure, but it is abundantly clear that the decision to significantly downgrade Dewsbury Hospital is not in the best interests of the residents of Dewsbury and surrounding communities.
Removing 69% of the in-patient beds, reducing A&E capacity by 40%, closing numerous wards and taking away maternity choices for 2,500 women a year will be a huge blow to a town which already has higher-than-average health inequalities and high infant mortality.
Furthermore, there is clear evidence Pinderfields Hospital is unable to cope with the existing patient flow, with the doors having been literally closed on 146 occasions over the last two years due to over capacity.
As Mr Preston will no doubt be aware, we are waiting to understand the full implications of the downgrades to neighbouring hospitals which will undoubtedly put pressure on services which are already struggling to cope.
We have still not seen any firm commitment or concrete plans regarding the Care Closer to Home proposals and remain very concerned that the proposals tabled will adversely affect patient care.
As a previous employee of the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust I am yet to speak to a member of staff who believes that these plans will benefit patients. In fact, a significant number of staff whom I have spoken with believe these plans are very dangerous.
Front line clinicians are against these proposals. Morale within the organisation is at an all-time low, as demonstrated by the recent staff survey.
We would like to see a solution which works for everyone, but these changes will cost lives. We will keep making the argument against them and will stand up for the best interests of local people.
Why you’re not trusted Jules
From: Wendy Senior, Dewsbury
In reply to Jules Preston, Dewsbury people would like to work with you but we do not believe this is the best way for our hospital to go.
Downgrading the A&E department and closing the intensive care ward and high dependency unit is not safe for patients. How can operations go ahead without these service available?
There is a new children’s assessment unit being built at DDH with no overnight beds available. This plan is not safe for children.
You are planning to demolish the Bronte Tower’s maternity unit, leaving us with six beds, taking away 34.
This decision affects both high and low risk ladies in pregnancy. I know from working in a maternity unit you cannot predict this in advance.
Can you imagine Mr Preston how Dewsbury people feel after their relatives, maybe years ago, paid for these services by building their own hospital and providing the money to run it?
To add to this just look at the condition of our town centre. I walked down The Arcade last week and there were only two shops open.
Meanwhile, the Pioneer House situation is still on going after years of promises. Dewsbury people are fed up of downgrades. We have lost trust in Kirklees Council over buildings in our area and with the hospital trust and clinical commissioning group over privatisation of our services.
Perhaps this answers your question about why we don’t feel safe leaving it to you and your board.