A controversial view of Batley’s future
Letter of the Week: Roger Storer, Mirfield
I read with interest the letter from Caroline Rhodes, who lives in South Yorkshire, defending how great Batley is and how much better it could become.
Let’s get real here. I have lived, worked and played in and around Batley for the best part of 40 years.
It was a dump then. It is a dump now. Its bygone era was not in 1970 but 1870.
A few million pounds here or there won’t change the basic facts that there is simply no reason for investment for businesses and no reason for very affluent people, students or artists (all of whom are the catalysts for change) would want to come when there are better places to live.
Ms Rhodes talks about how excellent local historian and resident Malcolm Haigh is and how Batley used to be the home of a thriving textile industry.
But Mr Haigh is just that. A local historian for local people.
And a once-thriving textile industry is just that.
All of it is looking to a treasured past rather than a glittering future that will never come.
Perhaps Ms Rhodes in her heart of hearts knows that Batley is a dismal pit of a town.
After all, why else would she be writing a letter about how great the town is when she lives 22 miles away?
Protesters mis-read report
From: Coun Paul Kane (Lab, Dewsbury East)
Can I firstly say that I agree totally with the concerns raised last week by the protesters about the changes to planning committees, in which they deduced from the report that only one speaker would be allowed to speak on planning applications.
Once again I have to say to them that they have mis-read the report. I find their approach either incompetent or politically biased, as the report actually says that the preferred option is five speakers on both sides.
At a recent planning committee I praised the objectors at Kitson Hill for their excellent level of questioning and debate and the fact they had put together a justifiable case against the application.
I can assure them and others that I also put up a case when supporting the need for five speakers when I too gave evidence to the working party.
Planning is always subjective and can be emotional for people living adjacent contentious applications, but all planning committees want to hear the effects of these applications from both sides of the argument, in order to make judgements which are fair and compliant with regulations.
We complain but don’t act
From: Derek Cartwright, Woodkirk, Batley
We keep reading in the paper that people don’t like the council; indeed many of us don’t like the government, or really any of the governments in the recent past.
There are comments that people don’t like the cuts, yet they fail, in some cases, to realise that the last Labour government spent taxes that eventually failed to materialise. The Labour government left the coffers empty with current spending greater than the tax revenue.
Indeed on top of that long-term borrowing is at a record high.
Locally, there is insufficient money to pay for essential services, there has to be cuts.
The council has failed to address this issue for over five years. The Government has failed to sufficiently make deep enough cuts, possibly due to it being a coalition.
Though I suspect that no politician really wants to cut what government does.
People are complaining, but did this show itself in the local election results? No, I don’t think one ward changed party hands. Then in the last national election the Conservative Party only gained the votes of 23% of the electorate, and Labour a derisory 19%, so no party has a peoples’ mandate to do anything.
Listening to politicians you’d think they have a right to do anything.
Locally the council has failed, but they get re-elected, and I would not be surprised if Labour got elected next time, even though they made a pig’s mess of everything.
One local failed prominent politician got promoted to a London job, another got ‘promoted’ to the House of Lords.
Failure in politics gets reward.
To me, nothing shows the duplicity of politicians more than what happens on local development, be it the old UDP or now on the Local Plan. Here’s the current timescale:
1) Autumn 2014. We will be asking for views on the development needs identified for Kirklees and the distribution of development across the area.
2) Early-mid 2015. We will be putting together a draft plan for formal consultation.
The plan will identify housing and employment targets and locations for development in the light of emerging evidence and early engagement.
3) Late summer 2015. We will be asking for your views on the Preferred Option Plan over a six-week period.
4) Autumn 2015-spring 2016. We will be considering your comments, gathering further evidence where required and redrafting the Preferred Options Plan.
5) Summer 2016. We will ask for your views on whether the revised Local Plan meets the Government’s tests of soundness.
6) Late 2016. We will be submitting the Local Plan to the Secretary of State to be examined.
7) Late 2017. This is when we expect to adopt the Local Plan
Now come on regular readers, what’s wrong with the above?
Okay, there’s a lot wrong. On the one hand it probably means what the council wants to do, they will do. But we expect that!
Have you noticed what’s now missing? The previous plan got kicked out because it went before an independent inspector who saw it was ill-conceived and not evidence based, and without proper consultation.
Yes, they are getting round that hurdle; there will be no independent inspector stage.
As people don’t vote, they will not object at the right time.
Some might write to the paper, though I suspect most who write, do vote.
So late 2017 is when I think spades will go in the ground to build houses in North Kirklees because the silent majority did nowt, or they are in favour.
We won’t see his like again
From: Robert Cowan, Sandal
Danny Lockwood was so right in his ‘Ed Lines’ column last week to compare some of our present day politicians unfavourably with that great former statesman Sir Winston Churchill whose vision, strength and determination saw Britain through some of the darkest days of World War Two, galvanising a nation into action that helped to change the course of 20th century history for the better.
His refusal to capitulate or to consider defeat, surrender or compromise in the face of Nazi aggression despite frequently overwhelming odds should be a model of reaction for politicians today facing intractable national and international problems.
But who on the political stage in this country today displays anything like the inspirational oratory that was such a hallmark of Churchill?
Which British Prime Minister since Churchill left office has proved equal to his boundless energy, leadership qualities and statesmanship?
It is also worth remembering that although a politician first and foremost, Churchill was also an accomplished artist and prolific writer whose weighty tomes brought him incidentally the award of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1953.
A man for all seasons, indeed!
Yes, it’s no doubt unrealistic to expect another Churchill in our midst, but looking ahead to the outcome of the General Election next year certainly does not inspire me with great confidence for the future of our country, considering the clear shortcomings of all the main political parties and their leaders.
Whether the victor emerges as David Cameron, Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg, or their successors, or a coalition formed by them, I do not believe that we can expect to see again any semblance of the unswerving Churchillian spirit that contributed so significantly to putting the great into Great Britain.
No future for young folk
From: Arthur Roberts, Dewsbury
What a difference the end of the school holidays makes, with swarms of kids around (that’s all you can call it), and their parents frantically picking them up in their cars, rather than walking half a mile or so.
There will obviously not be enough worthwhile jobs for them all, with over 800,000 of 16- to 24-year-olds out of work.
Some are destined to spend their lives on the dole, or we could finish up like China and India as we come even more over-populated, with people working in giant factories for peanuts, producing clothing, shoes and socks, and a load of cheap and nasty plastic toys as the cost of transport from the east goes sky-high.
Labour could be paid back
From: Craig Westwood, Cleckheaton
So the Queen has held crunch talks with the Prime Minister amid her growing fears that Scotland will break away from the UK.
I don’t recall any emergency meetings with Blair and Brown when their plans were to flood the country with immigrants.
In fact, one Queen’s speech years ago seemed to be inviting people from anywhere in the world to our shores.
She should have refused to recite Labour Party propaganda, which was even at the time against the vast majority of people’s wishes.
The reason Gordon Brown has crawled out of the woodwork is because he fears the loss of the 41 Scottish Labour MPs; after all he put Scotland and his beloved Labour Party above the concerns of British workers.
What goes around, comes around! He was the one who planned mass immigration in an attempt to keep Labour in forever with their votes, so now there’s a chance he could be paid back.
Bus misery for Mirfield
From: Harold Laycock, Mirfield
Recent essential major flood alleviation work carried out in the Old Bank/Sunnybank area of Mirfield has caused major disruption and inconvenience to the lives of local residents.
Old Bank Road was closed for several weeks and Lower Sunnybank Avenue is still closed, leading to the diversion of buses.
Residents, many of them elderly, had to walk a considerable distance to the nearest bus stop and return laden with shopping.
There has been nothing but praise from the majority of local residents regarding the conduct of the contract which has been carried out with due diligence and professionalism.
The major concern has been with the conduct of West Yorkshire Metro, who showed a total disregard for the local community by failing to provide adequate information regarding bus timetables and diversions prior to commencement, and by failing to provide a convenient shuttle bus service to transport people to a convenient bus stop.
When I telephoned West Yorkshire Metro regarding the problem, I was informed that a shuttle service would only be provided if the main contractor provided the finance.
I find this strange as several years ago when major drainage works were carried out in Dunbottle Lane, Mirfield, a shuttle service was provided during the period of the road closure.