Your Letters

Too many brass necks...
Letter of the Week: Tim Conolly, Mirfield
Dear Sir,
I am sure that every honest, Godfearing, insured vehicle driver with a valid licence will have had a great degree of satisfaction with the victory of the physiotherapist Lee Robinson over an apparently scheming taxi driver who was making extraordinary claims for compensation – both vehicular and personal injury – following a trivial traffic accident.
Everyone in West Yorkshire will either have been scammed or have a close friend or relative who has been scammed in this way.
The only thing missing from the taxi driver’s claim were all the other family members, all of whom had whiplash as well.
No wonder he had no comment as he left court. No press reports say so, but I presume this case was brought by one of the modern scourges of Britain, a claims management company who purchased the ‘rights’ to the case for a referral fee.
While this case provides some satisfaction, it very adequately illustrates several other issues. First let us remind ourselves that everyone with car insurance pays at least £40 extra per year to protect the insurance companies who routinely pay out on what are thought to be bogus claims for whiplash, so this is not a victimless activity – everyone with valid insurance is a victim.
Mr Robinson’s insurers wanted to settle as the claimant apparently had receipts for car repairs and medical costs. The issuers of these receipts need to be checked out to ascertain whether their receipts were issued in good faith. 
It would also be my contention that the £5,000 in legal fees now confronting this claimant are totally inadequate and the police should take the whole matter further on whatever grounds are appropriate.
According to press reports this was the fourth time the same taxi driver has made similar claims – a rather bad accident record. Is he safe to drive at all? Should his licence be revoked until such time as he successfully passes a driving test?
According to the insurance industry Keighley, Bradford and Dewsbury have the worst record for claims of this sort. Perhaps the taxi driver could help the authorities in their efforts to find out why this is.
What do these towns have in common? Is it too many people with weak necks or too many people with brass neck?
The Association of British Insurers have said: “It is absolutely critical that Britain’s whiplash epidemic is tackled once and for all.
“We are baffled though that the House of Commons Transport Committee has again called for the transparency of referral fee arrangements of insurers.
“Referral fees should be banned altogether and not made more transparent, and that ban should apply to all organisations receiving them, not just insurers.” Quite so – but given that this is a matter before our windbag Parliamentarians to resolve do not expect any progress soon.
But if you see an accident, volunteer yourself as a witness and be sure to count the number of people in each vehicle involved in any collision.

Sack popinjays in NHS scandals
From: Jack Bunn, Hanging Heaton
Dear Sir,
Just when I thought I had seen it all, along came another cockup by our highlypaid and underworked ‘think tank’ officials, who are supposed to run this country of ours.
I am talking about Pontefract Infirmary’s new building, which cannot fully open because it is six doctors short.
What has happened to those medical students who have passed out to be doctors – where have they vanished to?
One of my brothersinlaw was in Pontefract, and when it closed he was moved to Leeds Infirmary because there weren’t any beds at Pinderfields.
My sister, who cannot drive, had to pay £29 in taxi fares to visit every day, and she is a pensioner.
Isn’t it time somebody got hold of the reins in this country and sorted all these jumpedup popinjays in secure jobs and sent them down the road to sign on at the Dole Office, instead of giving them a slap on the wrist and seconding them to another highly paid position for them to make another cockup?
After all, we built those huge viaducts at Ribbleshead with little more than wheelbarrows, picks and shovels and, of course, those in charge all had a book and a pencil and they didn’t have a centrallyheated office with the heat turned fully up!

Hot under collar at council waste
From: Pauline Couch, via email
(In response to last week’s question asking what you would cut from the Kirklees budget)
Dear Sir,
My suggestion of an economy that Kirklees could make without anyone losing their jobs is to reduce the temperature in their offices and public buildings by one or two degrees.
A small saving, but over the whole of these buildings it would add up .
As a ratepayer I find it galling to walk in to, say, the library and be met with a heatwave when I cannot afford to heat my own house and yet am paying through my rates for this extravagant heating.
Any saving is better than job losses and closures which is counterproductive to the general economy.

Axe Mayor – then fine him for litter
From: ‘Mr Vigilant’ by email
Dear Sir,
So you want to save money? Can I suggest that the ridiculous and meaningless post of Mayor of Kirklees be axed forthwith.
This is nothing more than a backscratching exercise for the old boys and old girls.
It has long been a civic nonentity and was rendered a social and political blight when former Mayor Karam Hussain and other prominent Muslims roundly insulted outgoing Mayor Jean Calvert, as detailed in Danny Lockwood’s new book.
If you have not had your eyes opened by that courageous piece of journalism you are missing a trick.
Eric Firth has ridden the jolly wagon for the past year – well at least we’ve seen him out and about in his ridiculous costume I suppose.
It’s more than you can say in his supposed role as a working ward councillor, except of course like the rest of them when it’s his turn to be reelected.
Tens of thousands could be saved at a stroke by axing the Mayor and noone would miss them for a minute.
And if someone wants to make money instead of saving it at Kirklees they could even prosecute and fine Coun Firth.
Almost nine months after the last local election when he won three more years on the gravy train, Coun Firth’s tatty and worn posters are still littering town centre lampposts.
I thought this was illegal and they had to be taken down within weeks, or is that another privilege of his position?

Red House vital to our schoolchildren
From: Mrs A Tyas, ‘Red House Enthusiast’, via email
Dear Sir,
It has been suggested by Kirklees Council that due to cutbacks in spending there is a possibility that Red House Museum may have to close, an action which I feel is totally unacceptable.
Red House has educated, entertained and delighted the people of Spen Valley and the surrounding areas for many years with an imaginative and original range of activities, events and exhibitions.
Not only does this lovely house hold a unique place in history, being immortalised in Charlotte Bronte’s novel Shirley, but also in the local history of the area.
History at Red House is bought to life and enthusiastically presented to every generation of visitor by dedicated staff who make sure the displays and buildings are looked after for the benefit of us all, it respects the past and welcomes the future, should it be allowed to have one.
Whilst we all realise that Kirklees Council are looking to make cuts and are having to make difficult decisions, I would urge them to reconsider this closure, Red House should be allowed to stay open for the benefit enjoyment and education of future generations. Where else are local schoolchildren going to get to see history of this type first hand?
To borrow a phrase, “Red House is exclusively for everyone” and I beg everyone to come out in support of it and ask the Council to look again with better eyes.

• Editor’s Note: On Tuesday evening Kirklees Council’s cabinet effectively dropped plans to close Red House, but entry charges are set to be introduced.

Council can cut from within
From: Gordon E Glazebrook, Dewsbury
Dear Sir,
Re your article in last week’s edition concerning where we think cuts should be made.
Your councillors (more of them in another letter!) vote for spending millions on decorating town halls, supporting fringe groups, more money on renovating two arcades in Dewsbury, which will lead to increased rents and more empty shops!
Is this what you voted for?
When councils are supposed to be cutting budgets, they should get their priorities right and look at cutting within their own (so called) organisation.
Money is wasted all the time – logic and common sense does not prevail within Kirklees Council – build more council offices in the town to create more jobs for the boys, close museums, cut waste collections, don’t repair roads etc.
Over the last few years all services have been cut whilst employment within the council has increased, council employees using their vehicles to get to and from home (Royal Mail allow the same thing), and I quite often see KMC vehicles driving around during the day but no sign of doing any work!
Road and pavement cleaning has disappeared except for the town centre whilst we in the outskirts are knee deep in litter. With the exception of Savile Road, every road is in need of repair.
Wakefield Road, Bradford Road, Leeds Road, Halifax Road (where there has been a pothole for 18 months 17” x 12” x 4” deep and numerous sunken manholes).
Kirklees Council should be looking at staffing levels and which posts are not necessary.
From page 8
Less councillors would save, and stop spending huge amounts on “tarting” the place up.
I would have Red House Museum open (part of our heritage) rather than an ornate ceiling in the Town Hall!
Yes, let’s have cuts – within the council itself!

It’s our money being wasted
From: Alan Carcas, Liversedge
Dear Sir,
So the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust is £20 million in debt – again! What do these people do with OUR money?
Have they forgotten, for we haven’t, that back in 2005 the same Trust were £30 million in debt, supposedly carried forward in 2004 when some jobsworth decided to create the MidYorkshire Hospitals Trust.
Then stepped forward their fairy godmother in the guise of Shahid Malik, who produced £30 million out of a hat, OUR hat once again, just in time to help him win the 2005 General Election.
In seven short years the MidYorkshire Trust has managed to overspend it’s budget to the tune of some £50 million. Do they think the stuff grows on trees?
And the Labour party, amongst others, complain that the Coalition government is trying too hard and, too fast, to cut government expenditure. That’s code for spending OUR money.
You don’t need many situations like the Mid Yorkshire Trust to justify the government’s approach, and God help us, there are 66 NHS Trusts in a similar situation, most because of Gordon Brown’s addiction to spending OUR money through Private Finance Initiatives (PFI) to keep the spending off his balance sheet. If a private businessman did that he would finish up in jail, and rightly so.
So where are Brown and Blair today? Both coining it, travelling the world telling anybody who wants to listen how wonderful they are, and there are plenty it seems who are prepared to pay to be fooled once again – and Brown is still in Parliament, when he bothers to turn up.
Recently Fred the Shred has lost his knighthood and Stephen Hester has been pilloried for being successful in getting Brown’s chestnuts out of the fire at RBS. Their only real mistake? To trust politicians like Brown and Blair. But then, there were a lot of us like that weren’t there?

Kane is able, not Iqbal
From: Peter Vertigan, Dewsbury
Dear Sir,
I attended the area committee this week and was concerned about the behaviour of some of the councillors, one in particular.
The meeting was held to discuss the regeneration of the town and some feedback from Coun Kane.
He and officers seem to be doing a decent job of what they are doing under poor economic circumstances and I credit them with the work they have been doing on informing the community on the changes to benefits.
What concerned me was the total negativity of Coun Iqbal – does he think he can criticise all the time and not offer any solutions?
Was he not a cabinet member of the council recently? What has he done for the good of the town centre in his time on the council?
Throwing stones and criticism is easy; actions speak louder than words Coun Iqbal.

Dog mess is a disgrace
From: Name and address supplied
Dear Sir,
I was pleased to read Kirklees is banning dog owners from taking their pets on to school playing fields and children’s play areas. But it’s a pity the ban wasn’t extended to all playing fields.
Almost every morning on my way to work I see owners ‘exercising’ their dogs on the Battyeford playing fields. At the idyllic Hopton Mills cricket field one of the polite notices asking people not to ‘exercise’ their dogs on the playing surface has recently been ripped down and cast in the bushes.
I remember when my children played junior football, before matches there was the necessary ‘dog poo’ search before kickoff. My grandson plays rugby and it’s the same situation now.
What on earth makes dog owners think it’s acceptable for their dogs to do their business on playing fields haven’t they got any respect?
I know a lot of dog owners do make an effort to pick up what their dogs leave behind but (as all dog owners know, and I own a dog myself) that is not always possible! Sports pitches are for people not for dogs. Dog owners, have a bit of respect.

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