Your Letters – Friday April 6, 2018

Tired of the litter – will you sign my petition?

Letter of the Week: R Spreadbury, Liversedge

I would like to share with your readers the type of environment which awaits you if you venture outside and have a walk round the Spen Valley.

I am increasingly appalled and disgusted by the litter strewn over just about every green space. 

I am really sick and tired of living in what has become an environment resembling some sort of impoverished third world country.

This is just not good enough!

Instead of tackling this problem directly, the council have outsourced the problem to a private contractor.

The terms of which, like many of the council’s decisions, are confidential, citing commercial sensitivity as an excuse for non-transparency.

The result of this ‘partnership’? 

‘Litter police’ who fine people for dropping cigarette butts in the town, a random park, or wherever they decide to patrol. 

I assume this is some sort of KPI target which benefits the contractors’ profit margin, but in reality, it makes no meaningful inroads into tackling the wider problem.

In order to try and get some meaningful action from Kirklees Council I have resorted to starting a petition:

In case the leader of the council is not aware of the problem, I suggest readers email him with their own examples. His email address is:

What must visitors think?

From: Howard Ross, via email

I have just returned from a short break in Iceland. I stayed in Reykjavik, a city of over 200,000, travelled to various other parts of the island as well and hardly saw a speck of litter. 

Driving home from the airport the motorway verges were full of rubbish thrown from cars, so I was already feeling at home.

Just driving round Dewsbury the other day it was shocking to see how much is accumulated alongside the approaches to town, whether it be in a bush or just a grass verge. 

There are numerous other grot spots around town and just as your correspondent from Liversedge said in last week’s paper, “people don’t seem to respect either the place they live or are passing through”.

I guess our councillors must go around with blacked-out car windows or with their eyes closed or they would be doing something about this situation. 

Whatever must visitors to this area think?

No response from my MP?

From: P Goldthorpe, Batley

As we are aware it is said that to exist in the world, we have to become digital as this will solve all our problems.

Despite this I strongly believe that if you want answers to a problem, then applying the common touch by writing them down is the way to go.

Or so I thought.

I have twice written to the MP for Batley & Spen regarding a proposed housing development in Batley, once at the House of Commons and once at her constituency address.

I appreciate being an MP and a shadow minister takes up a lot of time, but on both occasions a response has not materialised from the MP for Batley & Spen.

I acknowledge I have objected to the proposed development, but a letter of acknowledgement from the MP would have been courteous, even if there is nothing she can do.

After all there is a lot gained from applying the common touch.

• In response, Ms Brabin said: “My office and I try our utmost to respond to every piece of correspondence we are sent, whatever form it takes, but we do receive a high volume of letters, emails and phone-calls. If you would like to send it again to 286 Gomersal Road, Oxford Road, Gomersal, BD19 4PY I will ensure a response is forthcoming.”

OAPs’ raise is not quite right

From: G Harrison

I have written to The Press once before about pensions, but I am now comparing pensions and the Living Wage.

I hear on the news that once again the minimum wage is going up to £7.83 per hour.

This is good, but when I got a pay rise earlier it was £0.35p. 

Surely this is not quite right. We are the forgotten workers that worked all our lives, only to find that now we have outlived our usefulness we don’t deserve a decent pittance to go out and enjoy what is left of our glorious lives.

The point really is if £7.83 per hour is not enough to live on, how the hell do we do it on £3.75 per hour (just calling a pension a 40-hour week).

We have the same bills, the same food, the same outgoings all together, and also more time to spend our money which means that the money is being circulated as it should be.

A different old man’s shelter

From: D Hirst, Dewsbury

When I was a boy there was an old building in Crow Nest Park known as the ‘old man’s shelter’.

Elderly men could use it free of charge to play dominoes and cards, and no doubt discuss ways they might improve the running of the country.

We now have modern old man’s shelter – it is called the House of Lords.

It has a car park, enjoys top security, is centrally heated and has luxury seating.

The users are not allowed to play cards or dominoes but can take physical exercise, nodding or shaking their heads when asked to agree or disagree on matters which involve some government decisions.

They can even have a nod safe in the knowledge they are in the company of millionaires, rich businessmen, retired ministers and prime ministers.

The icing on the cake is that they are paid on a daily basis if they visit the place. 

In another building, a kindergarten known as the Houses of Parliament, you may hear bleating sounds, not of sheep, but adult men and women.

They jump up and down from their seats as if on trampolines, shouting yay or nay in response to matters under discussion.

Now and then they may be allowed to stand and ask the Prime Minister a question.

It must be a hard life on about a £550 a day salary. My wife, aged 84, suffers with dementia and her state pension is £79 weekly. £15 of that is spent on medical supplies not provided by the NHS.

Another £15 weekly for washing and drying her clothing changed twice daily, due to incontinence, and £25 weekly for community tax.

Finally, I too at 90 years also live in an old man’s shelter – my home. There I can sit in a nice chair and enjoy a nap, happy in the knowledge I am in the company of my princess of a wife of 65 years.

Brexit figures in spotlight 

From: Steve Oliver, Heckmondwike

It was a bit puzzling to read R Spreadbury’s reasoning for his “incomprehensible referendum result” by blaming the social media and also stating that the young predominately voted Remain. 

He seems to have sprinkled some fairy-dust onto his views (myths) about the statistics surrounding the referendum and I would like to sprinkle some truth-dust facts onto his views.

Firstly, only 43% of the young voters went to vote, which means that more than half (57%) couldn’t be bothered. 

Of those that did vote, it was three to one in favour of Remain.

Secondly, in contrast, 75% of the ‘old’ voters went to vote and they voted 13 to one in favour of Leave.

You may see a statistic that says that 61% of males and 80% of females in the 18-24 age-group voted Remain .... but beware, it refers to the votes cast (from the only 43% who voted) but NOT from the total electorate – a useful ‘ghost’ statistic for the Remoaners.

These figures seem to say that most of the young couldn’t be bothered to get off their backsides for just 30-40 minutes in order to vote, but preferred to stay glued to their various hand-held electronic devices which Mr Spreadbury says are their domain (QED).

It also proves that we, the old voters, broke off from posting pictures of grandkids and dogs in order to go to vote. 

In England, only one region, London, voted to Remain; all the other English regions voted to Leave.

The Brexit vote wasn’t inflated, it was simply inflicted, by a vote, on the losers which is always the case in a democracy. 

The life of a frugal landlord

From: Tim Wood, Old Colonial, Mirfeld

A few weeks ago I wrote in your Forum section regarding the demise of the pubs in Ravensthorpe.

Since then, many people have asked me if pubs in Mirfield will survive as they are, well into the future.

Mirfield is a prime example of changing trends. In recent years Mirfield has lost some of its pubs; The Freemasons, The Volunteers, Wasps Nest and the Black Bull which was slap-bang in the middle of Mirfield. The Three Nuns is now a Miller & Carter steakhouse.

Pubs in Mirfield have changed hands many times for various reasons, which mirrors what is largely happening in the rest of the UK.

Mirfield has very little industry to support its growing population, most of which travel outside the town’s boundaries to work in Leeds, Manchester, Bradford or Wakefield, and with the advent of the London train, Mirfield has become a dormitory or commuter town. Just witness the gridlock during rush hour.

The drinks industry, in order to survive in pubs, has developed a strategy of constant change, so things don’t become staid or boring.

Back in the 80s and early 90s it became popular to drink foreign branded beers, such as Budweiser, straight from the neck, eagerly supported by the frugal landlords because it saved on washing up, and was frowned upon by the older generation because it ‘looked slovenly’.

Then came Mexican beer, with discerning drinkers wanting wedges of lime inserted in the neck of the bottle.

This fad didn’t catch on too well round here as limes were four times the price of lemons at the time.

The frugal local landlord, who honed his miserly skills on a monasterial level, started charging 20p for a wedge of lime, so the discerning trendy drinkers were gradually weened off their trendy tipple.

The next trend along was the alcopop, followed by the vodka revolution.

Glasnost in a glass, vodka bars opening up all over, and more spirit company reps calling on pubs offering the latest in triple-filtered refreshment.

After the liver-crippling vodka revolution came the trend in bottled ciders, all over ice which, as most economy-conscious landlords will point out, is expensive to produce with your own ice machine and expensive to buy.

I don’t know how this trend started, but during the last recession all the cash-strapped champagne charlies started drinking prosecco.

It still looked like the French fizz from Reims – the cork went pop but it was only half a groat per case.

Whilst the Prosecco boom was taking place the rum manufacturers did their best to increase their market share; white, golden, dark, spiced and flavoured with all manner of herbal tropical infusions. There are thousands of rums of all strengths.

The next trend, and still current, is the Great Gin Grab, various companies claiming unique botanicals in their distillations.

I even have one gin on my bar that is distilled using Kalahari truffles. I swear to God it’s true, and it’s very popular indeed. 

Alongside this the number of differing tonics and flavoured additives you can buy to enhance a G&T are truly mind-boggling.

So, the drinks industry is calling the shots, quite literally.

But, can your local pub cope? Well, my view is yes but, above all, don’t try and be all things to all people.

Do your best at what you do best. Good company and good food and drink are still winners.

There is one quiet revolution in the drinks industry that has been sensationalised by the PR agencies of the mighty distillers.

It has been coming along at a stealthy pace for the last few decades, and I say stealthy pace, because the supporters of it can’t run, well not in a straight line anyway, and that’s proper hand-pulled traditional cask ale.

There are more styles, colours, flavours, tasting notes and even food pairing guides.

The frugal, price-conscious landlords across the district are doing quite nicely with their own trend-setting quests, but mine’s a proper pint every time, not with a cherry in it, but a real pie next to it. Cheers!

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