Councillor’s flip-flop over green belt
Letter of the Week: TW Beattie, Thornhill Lees
It is some two years ago that once again Thornhill Lees made the headlines thanks to allegations of voting fraud.
For nearly 100 years, our political voting system proved to be capable of serving this country, but a politically motivated few thought that they could overcome our democratic process.
Yes to a certain degree they succeeded because an unknown (on the political front) candidate defeated against all odds a councillor who had served this ward for 14 years with honour and distinction.
But the forthcoming election gives us the electorate the opportunity to redress the situation.
The Labour candidate up for re-election is Masood Ahmed, who was a member of the campaign group fighting to preserve our green belt of Thornhill Lees from housing development.
At two public meetings held in the village and with nearly 200 residents present and also in front of the MP for Dewsbury, Simon Reevell, he stated that he totally opposed the proposal to build on our green belt and that the land should be preserved for future generations.
If they go ahead, the infrastructure would be unable to cope. He would object to and fight this proposal.
How deceitful our politicians are, for some months later at the full council meeting to discuss the LDF, he decided to vote for the building on our green belt.
So much for the circular he sent to the residents (and is still circulating).
In this he states: “As your local Labour councillor, I endeavour to work all the year round on the issues that affect you and are a priority for local communities.”
Obviously the plan to build on our green belt is not a priority!
So for the electorate of Thornhill Lees and Thornhill, yes Thornhill, because Kirklees have targeted large areas of green belt in your community for development, may I suggest that before you place your ‘X’ on your ballot paper, think carefully.
Scott’s work there to see
From: S Gostellow, chairman, Dewsbury East Labour Party
The Dewsbury East Labour Party would be grateful for the right to reply to recently published anti-Labour letters from ‘name and address supplied’.
Regarding the ‘local elections should be on local issues,’ criticism of our candidate, Cathy Scott: anyone who knows anything about the real world, would be aware of the beneficial work done locally, and on so many levels, by Cathy.
They would also know of the harm done to so many Dewsbury citizens by this heartless Con/Dem government.
If Conservative candidates really wish to distance themselves from the ‘Old Etonians’ and millionaire bankers currently ruining the decent values of our country, then they should stand as Independents.
Just as in the last General Election, when David Cameron promised that the NHS would be ‘safe with him’, local Conservatives may not always mean what they say.
For example, whilst many still regret the creation of Kirklees, and its consequential impact on the Heavy Woollen district, we are where we are, and the Tories’ well-publicised plan for ‘devolution’ is worse than an electoral gimmick.
Read between the lines! It is, in fact, a recipe for further privatisation, and the closure of vital public services already under pressure from cuts in central government funding.
An election leaflet of the Dewsbury East Conservative candidate even had the gall to criticise Kirklees Labour for the cuts we have been forced into making.
It is, surely, of no surprise that after Coun David Sheard took over as Labour Leader and Kirklees councillors passed a resolution promoting the payment of a ‘living wage’, across the authority, only one party voted against – the Conservatives!
Make no mistake, leopards do not change their spots!
All Tory promises should come with a (Labour) Government health warning!
No surprise at Mayor’s meal
From: Jim Ellis, Ossett
I wrote to the Forum last year to express my surprise that it was the so-called Tory (posh boys) party that had decided to pay something towards the cost of the yearly mayor’s knees-up at the town hall.
And that it was the Labour (live like ten-bob millionaires) party, who decided a trip down the curry house was a better idea than coughing up 25 quid of their own brass.
I predicted at the time that as soon as Coun Ken Smith got his feet under the table it would be back to ‘champagne waterfalls, chocolate fountains and dancing girls bursting out of cakes’, all paid for by the rate-payers.
No surprise then to read Coun Smith’s comments in
The Press that he is merely ‘reinstating normal tradition’ and ‘promoting the dignity and tradition of the office’ in keeping his hands firmly in his pockets when it comes to a night out on the rate payers.
Champagne socialists are back in town.
Parking permit system unfair
From: Mark Eastwood, Conservative candidate for Dewsbury East
Our Labour-run council has introduced a parking permit charge of £30 per car for all residents requiring a permit to park outside their own properties.
Ask yourself, why should hard-working people have to pay for the privilege of parking in front of their own homes, when someone who has their own driveway pays nothing extra?
Labour claim to be the party of the working class, yet by levying this unfair tax on parking, they are penalising the people who can least afford it. Surely that cannot be right?
Kirklees Conservatives offered an alternative to this parking tax by proposing a cut in the amount of money the council uses to subsidise trade union activities, but Kirklees Labour rejected this idea.
It’s a clear signal that the unions are more of a priority to Labour Party councillors than the hardship suffered by local residents living near Dewsbury town centre.
I am pleased that the Kirklees Conservatives have announced that if they gain control of the council at the local elections on May 22, they would reverse the parking permit charges so unfairly introduced by Labour. Please consider this when placing your vote next week.
The real face of politics
From: Stephen Crossley, Hanging Heaton
Don’t like to say I told you so, but here they come, jogging our memories into when they last did something constructive for their wards.
It’s like the picture quiz in the pub, the last one you don’t know the answer to, the face rings a bell but you don’t know the name.
Cathy Scott entered the ring last week, riding into town like Queen Boadicea.
Her letter last week indicated that although you never see me, I am still around. She claims in her letter that one of her big achievements is to be in the front of the re- (or de-) generation of our town centre.
Sorry, if that’s the best of your record, I am glad you did not comment on the worse side of it.
In your letter you claim how your stand on Chidswell was by far the best for the people. All you did was to vote for slightly less houses than the other mob.
You still didn’t say how our schools and roads would be altered to cope for the extra rise in population.
In your letter you claimed that all those that criticise you are Conservatives. I am not a Tory boy, as are a lot of others that criticise you.
In general regarding the election, it’s nice to see there’s going be the friendliest, cleanest election of all time.
I am not holding my breath.
Not until postal voting has been ruled out in this area will it ever be fair. It’s a shame that the Labour people had to bring in their leader when he got his job by a single card cast on behalf of thousands.
Like I said before, it’s come around to election time and we have not forgotten how a lot of councillors have betrayed the people that put their trust in them.
Labour snouts back in trough
From: Pat Crisp, ‘community rights activist’, Batley
I would like to congratulate Coun Martyn Bolt on the fine job he’s done as mayor.
I am sure we all have lost confidence in Coun Ken Smith, our new mayor due to him spending our money on a civic dinner. Our councillors get enough of our money in expenses. More than most of us earn in a year.
£25 would feed someone for a week and lots of people are depending on food banks now, which some of our councillors have set up. It would look bad if these councillors got their dinner paid by rate payers.
We all know which party is throwing our money away.
Trust cuts are a whitewash
From: David Honeybell, Heckmondwike
Your story last week regarding the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust saving £750,000 by axing four senior posts was quite encouraging.
I was hopeful it was the start of a cull of more of the obscenely over-paid board members.
But sadly they are to be replaced by someone with the grand title of ‘director of patient and staff engagement’.
Apparently, the new post holder’s main responsibility will be to speak up for the staff and patients in the boardroom.
I wonder how much of the £750,000 savings will be lost in paying for the new post.
The trust’s chief executive, Stephen Eames, says the changes come as a result of the recent staff survey, which he described as a real wake-up call. But the trust already employ someone, well trained, and more than capable of doing just what this job entails.
The Unison convener would be the ideal person to inform the trust board members exactly what the problems are.
He knows first-hand how the staff are treated. He is well aware that down-banding already low-paid staff creates bad feeling rather than harmony. And by inviting him to the board meetings for his input, rather than appointing an expensive new board member, the money saved could be used to stop the low-paid downbanding.
The party you can believe
From: Tony Kelsall, Green Party candidate, Dewsbury East
After a near fatal accident in September 1994 when I was knocked off my bike by a car near where I then lived in Thornton Cleveleys near Blackpool, I received a letter from Tony Blair, then leader of the Labour Party of which I was a member, wishing me a speedy recovery as I lay in a coma in hospital in Preston.
I was later transferred by my family to Pinderfields hospital in Wakefield (nearer to my family home) where I spent 11 months in total being supported by dedicated medical staff, at a time when, as now, the Tory Government was starving the NHS of much-needed resources.
The relevance of this to the forthcoming elections is that at no point did I make a personal plea for charitable donations to enable me to receive treatment to help me recover from the effects of brain damage.
I regarded it as the duty of the state to which I had paid tax and insurance contributions to provide members of society with the support they need if they have the misfortune to experience something like this.
I left the Labour party 11 years ago when I realised they were only ‘the lesser of two evils’ when compared to the Tories as they expanded the involvement of the private sector in the NHS begun by Mrs Thatcher in 1988.
I voted for the Liberals in 2010 believing them to be ‘left of Labour’ but soon realised this was a bigger mistake.
We are now left with a situation where hospital trusts are driven to become more and more like private companies – following the changes to the law brought in by the Coalition virtually all hospital and health services are put out to tender and around 80% of contracts go to profit-seeking firms like Virgin Healthcare.
It is little wonder that services like the A&E at Dewsbury face being downgraded – what IS astonishing are the attempts by the Tories and Lib Dems to claim to defend our local health services against the effects of their own national policies.
Polling day coincides with another vote being taken by the Local Medical Committees Conference in York on whether to ask to charge between £10 and £25 per visit to your GP.
If you care about the NHS and don’t want us to go backwards a century in healthcare, ask yourself which parties really care about people’s health, and which are simply interested in helping big business make a fast buck.
Pick Khizar for Westminster
From Safiq Ali Patel, Dewsbury
The excitement of the local and Euro elections is brewing and no doubt the next 12 months will be full of thrills and spills as the General Election approaches us.
I know it’s been said before but I’ll say it again – Dewsbury Conservative Association should choose Khizar Iqbal to represent Dewsbury at Westminster.
Khizar Iqbal has over 20 years of expertise in politics and is from our locality and knows the area well.
I believe Khizar Iqbal would have an invigorating impact on Dewsbury which under its current leaders and stakeholders is at its death knell.
I hope this letter will go some way towards selecting Khizar Iqbal as the right candidate for Dewsbury. And I hope the Tory powerful will sensibly choose Khizar Iqbal.
Dewsbury needs a lot of work and I fear our current MP Simon Reevell hasn’t a clue about how deadly and desperate things have become in Dewsbury. We need change. I believe Khizar Iqbal to be the right candidate for the General Election of 2015.
I think the Conservatives should put their faith in Khizar and recognise him as the natural local choice.
Head in sand over fraud
From: Name & address supplied
I read the story you ran on the Conservative candidates for the Dewsbury wards and their ‘keep it clean’ pledge following previous allegations of postal vote fraud and voter intimidation.
The initiative should be applauded and everyone involved should be willing and able to sign the pledge.
Only by this kind of initiative can the process of starting to rebuild public confidence in the electoral system in Dewsbury begin.
I was therefore dismayed but not in the least bit surprised at the response from both the police and Kirklees Council and their refusal to sign the pledge.
In the case of the police, I suspect that the public long gave up on having any confidence in them following their attitude to postal vote fraud and voter intimidation in the past.
The chief executive of Kirklees Council, Mr Lythgo must live on another planet.
In fact, it seems that the leadership of Kirklees Council are so obsessed with political correctness, pandering to the whims of minorities and cultural sensitivities than they do about the integrity of the ballot.
Mr Lythgo claims to have seen no evidence of such activities in the past.
It has been alleged for many years that postal vote fraud and voter intimidation in parts of Dewsbury have been widespread.
There have been endless reports of such incidents and evidence given to the authorities which have been reported in the newspapers every election year since the late 1990s – but the authorities have consistently failed to act.
Indeed in the 2012 elections the police reluctantly opted to issue three cautions instead of prosecuting the culprits. Police cautions are not issued unless there is evidence of wrongdoing.
Mr Lythgo should ask himself why it is that the independent electoral watchdog, the Electoral Commission felt it necessary to place Kirklees Council on a watch list?
If they target Kirklees Council for special measures then surely something is not quite right?
Kirklees Council and the police cannot be taken seriously on this matter.
If the Electoral Commission have any sense at all, they will next year, insist on taking control of the entire General Election operation in Dewsbury, overseeing everything from voter registration to postal voting, from working the polling stations to the counting of the votes.
We need election observers with video camera technology being deployed at key polling stations with the aim of ensuring free and fair elections and exposing once and for all the abject failure and overall weakness and indifference of the police and Kirklees Council to deal decisively with those responsible for violating our democracy over many years.
In a Rage over LDF ‘betrayal’
From: Chickenley RAGE group members
Like most hard-working families we have had no personal benefits whatsoever, no refurbishments, no new fencing or solar panels under Labour rule in Chickenley.
And let’s not forget that not one but all three local Labour councillors refused to help over 200 of their constituents, against proposed building in Chickenley.
In fact one actually gave evidence against us, costing you the taxpayer £66k.
Do they sleep soundly wondering when the bulldozers are coming?
Mark Eastwood, however, helped us before becoming elected and Simon Reevell came to our homes to offer continued support.
Mark agrees that this last open space should be kept for the community and will be backing us all the way, as he is with Chidswell and the ridiculous home parking charges for some Dewsbury residents.
Why not go to YOUR local community centre and make a change.
You only have to look at the state of Dewsbury to see what achievements Labour have made in their many years of office...
No Tory, just had enough
From: Mr Newlove, Dewsbury
Re Coun Scott’s letter in The Press, May 9.
Let me say that I am not, quote, a Tory activist, and that the letter published Friday May 2, under my name, was written by myself, without any prompting or input from anyone else, and was my own observation on what was happening at the time, and what had happened previously.
In fact, I think Coun Scott should be thanking me for reminding her that she was taking part in an election, as the day my letter was published a leaflet was posted by her, through my door, and on the Sunday a poster appeared on the lamppost outside my house – but she has not yet knocked on my door.
Whilst prepared to accept Coun Scott’s claims that she campaigned hard against the downgrading of Dewsbury District Hospital, the fact remains that it was unsuccessful. The ‘regeneration of Dewsbury town centre’ – what regeneration?
The Labour plans for LDF, another failure; the list of Labour failures could go on and on, which is why I maintain that Kirklees needs fresh ideas, leadership and initiatives which, I am afraid, Labour is unable to supply.
Finally, let me assure Coun Scott that I am not, by nature, a Tory voter, and that in all my 70-odd years I have voted Conservative on probably only five or six occasions, but the record and behaviour of the Labour Party, both locally and nationally, over various issues, have left me feeling enough is enough.
Eating words over numbers
From: Name and address supplied
I write to comment on letters from Harry Drake of Hanging Heaton and Coun Cathy Scott.
At the extraordinary meeting at Huddersfield Town Hall on November 23 2011, which debated the adoption of the LDF Core Strategy, the Labour Party put forward plans to develop 250 houses at Chidswell, unfortunately that figure was increased to 500.
So I fail to comprehend how Coun Scott persuaded the council to reduce the number of houses allocated to Chidswell.
Coun Scott and Mr Drake comment on the possibility of an increase in housing at Chidswell to a possible 5,000.
Perhaps Coun Scott could provide The Press with a more detailed appraisal as to where these houses are to be built.
Having read the Church Commissioners’ plans for Chidswell, the worst-case scenario would be 1,800 houses and 35ha of industrial units over a 15-year period dependent on demand.
Mr Drake’s opening sentence of ‘never believe a word these Tories put in writing’ might have to be eaten.
From: Christine Hyde, chairman of North Kirklees NHS Support Group
Reports in the national press earlier this month reveal that at the heart of Government there is confusion and concern over the merits of the NHS’s Care Closer to Home plan.
The Cabinet Office has concluded that there isn’t clear-cut evidence to show that developing services to keep people out of hospital will be a cheaper and more cost-effective alternative to maintaining and extending existing, well established, patterns of hospital based care.
For months, through last year’s Meeting the Challenge consultations, the general public in North Kirklees were promised that Care Closer to Home would be the way forward and that Care Closer to Home services would be built up before the financially troubled Mid Yorkshire Hospital Trust was allowed to take an axe to A&E, maternity and paediatric services at Dewsbury and District Hospital.
Now that Care Closer to Home has been revealed to be something other than an evidence-based evolutionary step for NHS services in North Kirklees and other parts of the country (it is just the latest in a succession of fashionable ideas that have promoted by health professionals) isn’t it time for the North Kirklees Clinical Commissioning Group and the Mid Yorkshire Hospital Trust to admit that they have got it wrong and to, forthwith, abandon their ill-conceived strategy to downgrade Dewsbury and District Hospital?