Your Letters – Friday April 19, 2019

We feel cut off after buses were axed

Letter of the Week: Julia Mitchell, via email

I am writing in support of Sandra Pickles’ and Barbara Schiff’s letters in last week’s edition regarding the withdrawal of some local bus services.

Since the ‘Save the 253’ campaign which was picked up by The Press and featured on social media, I have heard numerous people complaining about the demise of bus services around the Mirfield area. 

Local towns and villages need to be connected, it enhances community spirit, helps people to socialise, shop, attend hospital, clinic and doctors appointments easily, and join groups and sporting activities. 

We don’t all have access to a car, and many can’t afford to pay for regular taxis. 

We keep hearing articles on the news about reducing carbon emissions and doing more to boost public transport in order to get more cars off the roads, but it doesn’t appear to be happening round here. 

In fact, contrary to what Arriva’s Mr Wells says, buses are declining in Mirfield, cutting people off. 

A few years ago we could catch a bus from Mirfield to Halifax, Elland, Wakefield, Cleckheaton, Batley, Gomersal, Birkenshaw, and Bradford. 

Now we have to change, twice, sometimes three times for all these destinations. 

This of course adds time to journeys, especially if one of the connections is late. Arriva say the new 261 service is an improvement. 

How can a bus that only runs to Heckmondwike be an improvement on the 253 which ran from Dewsbury to Bradford? 

I understand that from May the 261 is going to run to Cleckheaton on certain journeys – a welcome improvement but not enough, Arriva! 

There are parts of Mirfield which have no evening or Sunday services. 

The Hub at Heckmondwike, which is where we now have to change buses, is wholly unsuited to the increased amount of buses now stopping there. 

Buses are parking in their wrong spot (because there isn’t room in their allocated stop) and people are missing connections because of this. 

Again, Arriva has agreed that the Hub is not ideal and should be improved, but surely this should have been thought about and corrected before all the changes? 

Recent television and radio programmes have been highlighting how increasing numbers of cars are polluting roads and streets and that more children are suffering from asthma than ever before. 

The answer – more improved public transport systems and fewer cars on the roads. 


No access to services

From: Pat Lister, Mirfield

I would like to add some detail to the letter from Mrs Barbara Schiff last week, which highlights the difficulties now faced by many Mirfield/Roberttown residents.

The Mirfield community includes school-age children, students, workers, as well as many unemployed jobseekers, the retired, disabled and people with limited mobility. Many are reliant on vital bus services to attend education, work, healthcare, social and leisure activities.

Since the withdrawal of the 253 and 221 bus services, we can no longer travel directly by bus to Huddersfield, Leeds, the White Rose Centre, Bradford, Brighouse, Halifax, Dewsbury, Cleckheaton, Batley, Birstall or Wakefield, without walking 0.5- 0.75 miles to bus stops in Roberttown or at Old Bank Road, taking the daytime 261 service to Heckmondwike ‘Hub’ or the 261 to the centre of Mirfield and walking to the railway station (pointless as the 261 arrives at Ings Grove with one minute to connect with rail services).

Without a car or a suitable regular and accessible bus service we cannot access any of the KAL facilities at Spenborough, Batley, Birstall, Dewsbury, Deighton or Huddersfield.

We cannot access many of the U3A group activities in neighbouring towns. Nor can we plan an evening out for a meal, to the pub, theatre or cinema, to a football match, or go to church or shopping on Sunday.

We cannot access hospital appointments at Dewsbury or Pinderfields Hospitals or physio at Cleckheaton Health Centre or to exercise/rehabilitation via PALs referrals at KAL facilities across Kirklees.

Arriva made a business decision to withdraw these bus services, but the services were commissioned and funded by WYCA. 

It was WYCA’s decision not to re-tender the 253 and 221. It was also their responsibility to monitor bus usage and punctuality, evaluate the results of surveys/consultations with bus users (supposedly conducted by Arriva), decide what replacement bus services are now required and allocate subsidies (‘supported funding’) to ensure people living in deprived areas do not suffer from ‘transport poverty’.

The Bus Plan and Transport Strategy of WYCA states their intention ‘to reduce spend on procuring bus services from £19m in 2017/18 to £15.8m by 2021’.

It also states ‘a target of 25 per cent growth in bus passenger journeys by 2027’.

So I have concluded that it has always been WYCA’s cunning plan to change our bus services and divert passengers through the Heckmondwike Hub or to Mirfield town centre so that every Mirfield passenger now has to take two or more journeys to travel to their ultimate destination (enabling WYCA to achieve their journey targets very quickly and reduce their budgetry spend).

Concerns and questions posed directly to Arriva and latterly to WYCA (and with added pressure from our local councillors and MPs) have failed to get a response.

We have been fobbed off by Arriva who are obviously not interested in running bus services that are not commercially viable, and by WYCA, who say they have fulfilled their legal requirement to provide ‘supported services’ for schools (a 263x twice a day, in term time) and provide a link to extend the 261 service from Heckmondwike to Cleckheaton via the 278; and are examining revised service timetables from May for the 261 (we fear it will still be unlikely to run after 6.35pm Mon-Sat).

I fear that these proposals will not satisfy the essential needs of our now isolated community.

WYCA do have money to provide a supported bus network, and an obligation to improve connectivity and reduce deprivation in local communities.

So where has the money gone that should be providing a regular, reliable bus service for the socially-excluded, transport-deprived and stranded passengers of Mirfield?


Travel used to be a pleasure

From: Mrs E Walker, Mirfield

Having read other letters of complaint regarding the withdrawal of the 253 and 221 buses, I present my views. 

I have attended meetings, added my name to a petition, written to the appropriate people and now a letter to The Press.

I need Dewsbury, as do many more in our area, for banks, my chiropodist, dentist, Dewsbury Town Hall lunchtime concerts and favourite supermarkets.

I am in my 80s, have osteoperosis and need a walking stick. I used to walk to Old Bank if I missed the 253 but now find it very difficult and just about impossible to walk back up.

We were told to use Heckmondwike. Last Saturday I decided to go to Wakefield and return to Heckmondwike to catch the bus home. I had 40 minutes to wait and it was very cold. I struggled to find a cafe open and I couldn’t make it to Morrison’s, so had to wait in a very cold, uncomfortable bus shelter just to get home.

It used to be a pleasure to meet friends old and new on these easy journeys, but the pleasures are all slipping away.


Celebration and thought

From: Peter Moreland, Heckmondwike

Christians everywhere this week re-enact the events of Holy Week, starting with the mass of the Lord’s Supper on Maundy Thursday followed by the solemn commemoration of his Passion on Good Friday. On Saturday we have the Easter Vigil Mass and on Sunday celebrate that Jesus has risen.

This is a powerful witness by the Christian faith of the crucifixion and the glorious resurrection – a time for celebration after the fasting and penitence of Lent.


A real boost for morale

From: Judith Greenwood, on behalf of Batley Cemetery Support Group

The volunteers of Batley Cemetery Support Group would like to thank Batley and Birstall Civic Society for their kind words on page 12 of The Press, April 12, 2019. 

BCSG co-operates closely with Bereavement Services and other departments of Kirklees Council to maintain Batley Cemetery as a place of peace and tranquillity. 

It is a very welcome boost to the morale of the group and the council’s teams to know that people are comforted by the daffodil planting and the air of respect which we aim to achieve. 

We welcome anyone who would like to join our litter picking and gardening teams, please email batleycemetery @live.co.uk for details of our ongoing projects.


Delays are nothing new

From: Name and Address Supplied

Very sad to read of the delays at Dewsbury Crematorium, but unfortunately this is nothing new. 

A year ago my sister’s funeral, at Dewsbury crem, took over three weeks and like Mr Wigmore’s experience, she also had a closed coffin. 

At the time I emailed Tracy Brabin and asked why cremations take so long to arrange, unsurprisingly I was fobbed off with the excuse that it was the death registration process that contributed to the delays. 

I was told urgent appointments can be arranged for faith reasons. 

Bereaved families should not have to wait beyond two weeks at the most for a funeral. I can’t believe more deaths occur than they did 20 years ago, both my parents’ funerals were held within a week of their death.


New party missed a trick

From: Name and Address Supplied

Having watched the launch of the new political party on  Betraying British Citizens television (fewer advert breaks), whilst agreeing with the statements by Nigel Farage, I believe the party has missed a vital opportunity.

What I believe they should have concentrated on is the local council elections and called themselves The Political Reformation Party.

When planting a new shoot, it is best to fertilise the soil and root out the contamination to encourage the new growth to flourish!


Did you know about meeting?

From: Christine Hyde, Dewsbury

On Monday April 15, Leeds Healthwatch held a public meeting in the Howland Centre Dewsbury to discuss NHS England’s Long Term Plan for the NHS.

Did you know?

I wasn’t invited, and I don’t believe what Quango NHS England says. Why? When Dewsbury Hospital A&E was in the frame, the clinical commissioning group said that their plans in line with NHS England’s diktat, would result in 30 per cent fewer attendances in A&E. 

In actual fact, according to Mid Yorkshire Hospitals’ board papers, attendance in Dewsbury A&E has increased by 50 per cent over the last two years. 

When Healthwatch peddles the NHS England line, that up to 500,000 lives could be saved by prevention strategies, are they talking about additional lives?

Or do these just offset the lives lost to those long ambulance journeys to ‘specialist’ ‘in network’ hospitals too late to treat the sepsis or asthma patient? 

Or those for whom a hospital bed is available too late because private patients in Foundation Trust hospitals took them up first? (part of the long-term plan is to leave between 44 to 70 A&E hospitals for England and utilise the 49 per cent income Foundation Trusts are allowed from private patients).

This plan is to cut £200m from the West Yorkshire NHS spend by 2019 and radically changes patients’ relationships with their GP. 

The law states that NHS England should ask you, the public, to get involved with planning changed services.

If they do not do that adequately, the public could launch a judicial review in North Kirklees. 

There are those who couldn’t care less, but fight for your children’s health services. 

Get in touch at www.northkirkleesnhssupportgroup.org.uk.


Inference on Snow is wrong

From: Kath Stead, liversedge

I felt compelled to respond to Alec Suchi in The Press,  April 12.

I consider myself to be an intelligent, politically-aware person who could not understand Alec’s perception of the observational comment made by Jon Snow on Channel Four news recently.

I watch said news programme on a regular basis and applaud Jon Snow’s ability, despite his age, to continue to report on current affairs in a professional manner.

I feel that Alec read what he wanted to read into the comment made.

My perception on the comment was that Jon Snow was merely ‘telling it like it is’ and could be forgiven for not observing ‘political correctness’.

I think anyone who is not familiar with Jon’s style of reporting could interpret, quite wrongly, a distainful/ sneering manner.


Interesting times!

From: Alec Suchi, Bradford

The world of Progressive politics appears to be embroiled in profound difficulties. 

Firstly traditional feminists like Germain Greer and Martina Navratilova have been accused of being “transphobic” by questioning whether men can actually become women. They have both been heavily criticised for intolerance.

Secondly, in schools of mostly Muslim pupils in parts of Birmingham and Manchester, parents have opposed the introduction of LGBT issues together with a non traditional presentation of family life involving same-sex couples.

Had the schools involved been largely attended by white Christian pupils any resultant protests by parents would have been condemned by the LGBT community as a manifestation of intolerance and bigotry and the full weight of the law would have been deployed to enforce compliance.

Yet prominent promoters of gay rights such as Owen Jones have remained curiously silent while the events in Manchester and Birmingham unfold.

Jones takes every opportunity to dismiss contemporary society as inherently racist and intolerant and present Muslims as victims of prejudice and discrimination.

Yet he appears reluctant to condemn Muslims for their apparent intolerance as regards same sex relationships.

‘Progressives’ like Jones find themselves in a difficulty entirely of their own making as they have promoted Muslim rights as a means of undermining traditional society, but now find that this same group are themselves opposed to a Liberal-left agenda.

We live in interesting times!

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