Your Letters – Friday December 21, 2018

Public's reaction restored our faith in humanity

Letter of the Week: Royal Voluntary Service Kirklees office

Many in the local community will be aware that the Royal Voluntary Service office in Batley town centre became the victim of a break-in and theft last Thursday (December 13) in the early hours.

The charity has been working tirelessly over the last year, having been commissioned by the Jo Cox Foundation, to develop activity groups across Batley & Spen and a companionship service across Kirklees that are all delivered via our 150+ local volunteers.

A couple of electrical items and over £1,000 were stolen when the office was broken into last week.

This was not only heart-breaking and saddening at this time of the year, but devalued all the hours of hard work that our volunteers and older members that benefitted from the service have contributed.

However, the reaction from the local community restored our faith in humanity.

Two days after this event we were supposed to host a Christmas get together for our older people but there was just one problem, the money we had raised had been stolen.

Thankfully, Morrison’s in Heckmondwike and Tesco Batley and Cleckheaton all donated vouchers so we were able to continue as planned and the event was supported by Birstall Rotary and enjoyed by all.

The community support was boosted again by Karen and Graeme Rayner setting up a GoFundMe page for the Batley Royal Voluntary Service office, which will also be used to pay for the replacement doors to support the trustees of the community building so they can also continue their work without facing financial hardship due to the break-in.

The sense of community support was reaffirmed further by the local GMB branch offering to cover the money for the local volunteer led groups and fundraising money that was stolen.

We would like to thank the local community for their very kind donations and well wishes and would like to give a special mention to our volunteers and members who have not only donated money and prizes but continue to give their time so selflessly to help older people that often feel disconnected from the community around them.

If you would like to learn more about our work please call 01924 446100 or to donate to the page

Greetings from British Legion

From: The committee, Batley British Legion

Batley British Legion extends joyous Christmas greetings to all members, friends and supporters. Remembering it can be a particularly difficult time for those suffering or parted from families and friends by the call of duty and service.

Wishing a happy, peaceful Christmas and joyful New Year to all.

The ground is shifting here

From: Steve Cass, Mirfield

I was shocked to read (Ed Lines Press 23/11/18) that in a recent Mori poll, of those asked, 19 per cent said that they trusted politicians to tell the truth.

Wow! 19 per cent? That many? Of the people I know I can’t think of one who’d be outside the 81 per cent who, to say the least, are unsure about our politicians’ truthfulness.

What a situation we’re in.  Pollyanna politicians treat us as gullible idiots and the Prime Minister confirms it with her phoney Brexit ‘deal’. 

But I’m intrigued. This 19 per cent, I wonder what proportion of it is politicians and their hangers-on?

Ever since I can remember, politicians have been telling us to trust them, that they know best.

They said they were going to create a new and exciting ‘diverse’ society where there’d be ‘rejoicing’ and ‘celebration’ – and Dewsbury is a prime example of where their thinking has led. Little wonder cynicism grows. 

Little wonder Paula Sherriff buries her head in the NHS to avoid the big picture.

Of course Lib blames Lab blames Con, each as anxious as the next to avoid responsibility for the mess that collectively they’ve made of this country; the political class wants to remain close to the EU primarily because it makes it one step removed from accountability and thus a bit safer. 

But it seems to me that for all its (supposed) prescience our political class has got it wrong, again. 

In its desperation to cling to the EU’s apron-strings it appears not to have noticed the ground shifting on the other side of the English Channel. 

The movement on the continent is away from a globalist EU and towards one of a co-operative of sovereign independent patriotic states. 

Would our ‘remainer’ political class really want to belong to such an organisation?

The sentences are the joke

From: Mr AR Roberts, Dewsbury

I read about a retired couple from Liverpool who had cheated the benefits system out of £54,000 for high-living holidays to places such as Barbados and Tenerife. 

They hid the money in a bank registered in the Isle of Man. The man had to do a bit of acting though, claiming he could hardly walk.

The judge gave the wife a six-month suspended jail term but took the husband to the cleaners with a 12-month suspended.

How dare this Merseyside judge treat my fellow citizens in this harsh manner?

He also had the cheek to say they had ‘defrauded the public purse’.

How dare he?

Poor souls. They should have taken him to court for upsetting them!

PS: This is a spoof, but the facts of the case are absolutely true.

Shame on our supermarkets

From: Adele Latham, Withernsea

In view of the homeless crisis, and the fact that, I believe, many people are struggling to make ends meet due to the introduction of the new Universal Credit system, I find it totally unacceptable, and disgusting, that greedy supermarkets see fit to bombard TV viewers with their Christmas ads showing tables literally groaning with all manner of food, most of which goes to waste!

Surely they could showcase their produce in a more appealing, and meaningful manner.

Shame on all of them!

Will the NHS be as secretive?

From: Christine Hyde, Dewsbury

The North Kirklees Clinical Commissioning Group engagement event in Batley Town Hall last Wednesday featured few members of the public, most attendees being from a ‘provider’ charity or organisation.

The CCG was asked by the big NHS bosses to ‘engage’ on how the public wants the NHS to share its individual patient data, ready for the roll-out of the majority of the ‘Transformation’ money awarded to the West Yorkshire Footprint ICS.

Data is very valuable. I value mine greatly. I am very cautious about the NHS ‘electronic’ patient record.

Why? Some downsides. It is hackable. I may not want to be a politician in the future, but some younger people may develop that ambition.

Enemies will have the opportunity to hack medical records to find out about the treatment someone had for an indiscretion when young, the donation to a reproductive clinic, their offspring from the donation making them vulnerable to blackmail etc.

Insurance companies and prospective employers may buy hacked data and use it to refuse insurance, market products, or deny the chance of a job. 

Sharing between agencies which are there to ‘help’, eg a community provider, private company, home care company, charity providing material help, opens up more risk of unauthorised sharing by employees needing extra cash.

People ‘helping’ can sign you up for something without your consent, by the touch of a finger on a screen.

How do surgeries know to stop your repeat prescriptions of newly-prescribed drugs without you knowing, without trawling through patient records?

In future, this will be as easy as the click of a mouse for a whole hub-style practice of 30,000 to 50,000 people.

Do we want to trust our doctor-patient relationship to computer algorithms which always have a bias inbuilt by the programmer and the risk of data slurping? Are we sure the computer is right?

Do we want our data shared with pharmaceutical companies looking for cures? Personally, I don’t. 

Banks don’t tell you how much they lose to hacking each year, but it is billions. Will the NHS be as secretive?

Foolish to equate prices

From: Steve Oliver, Heckmondwike

Sky News has reported the item about the toll-charges on the Severn Bridge now being abolished.

The report quoted: “When it was opened in 1966, the charge was two shillings and six pence (2s/6d) which is equivalent today of 12 and a half pence”!

WRONG. Don’t news editors and reporters know about inflation and the consequential constant gradual loss of value with fixed amounts of money?

Today you would need about £2.50 to purchase what cost 2s/6d in 1966. It was a further five years before decimalisation changed it to 12.5p in 1971, when it had devalued by a further 17 per cent, so you needed about 14p (or 2s/9d) to get the same value as 1966.

BBC’s ‘Flog-it’ valuer made the same mistake with a Beatles concert-ticket from 1965 priced at 10 shillings and six pence (10s/6d). 

He said to the lady: “That’s about 52p today, imagine getting a Beatles ticket for just 52p.” Same mistake – today’s equivalent price is about £11.

When I left my first job in 1968, my annual wage was £738 – it is foolish to equate it to today’s value of £738. 

Today it would be about £12,500 per annum; not one of the better wages, then or now.

Thoughts at Christmas

From: A Press reader

Don’t try to lay the ‘ghosts’ of Christmas past. Recollections of those Yuletide celebrations in the company of those passed on may cast a shadow over our joyful, sometimes fretful, festive time but this is not a time for mourning.

Whoever be the ‘God’ to which we pray, he sends, amid the traditions of the present giving, over eating, excess drinking, day, a message we should not ignore – or dismiss – before we look at the promise of a new age dawning.

A new birth gave us the name of this special feast so what better time to start our lives afresh, tackle the problems in which we are enmeshed, and banish the unwanted guest – that ‘black dog’ beast – who drives our mood down to the depths.

Instead, reach out to those ‘ghosts’ of far-off days. 

Then, when we think of Christmas’ gone and of those with whom we chose to share now scarce remembered joys, we may recall just how they helped shape our ways – and be thankful for the timeless gifts they left.

Got the world at our feet

From: Peter Sykes, Batley

Having a meal on ‘No Deal’ terms? Having explained how the EU’s Withdrawal Agreement would work financially a couple of weeks ago, this keyboard, having writ, moves on. 

The broadcasting of ‘No Deal’ is unravelling round the edges and being exposed as ‘trading under World Trade Organisation rules’, ie a deal with the world as a starter for 10.

May-induced uncertainty ends and no £39billion borrowed. Result! 

I’d like, however, to offer an adaptation of something seen elsewhere (not on BBC, C4 or Sky, obviously) as a self-teach, practical demonstration of how scary and difficult having to do business with non-EU companies under WTO rules can be. 

Around 50-60 per cent of the UK’s trade is already done that way, as is some 90 per cent of the world’s trade, apparently. 

But, I digress. Just grab your iPhone, Huawei or Samsung and Google ‘WTO’ but, for goodness sake, don’t search on ‘EU bureaucrats pay rises’; you’d be embarassed for the poverty-stricken dears and the Joseph Rowntree Trust are already on the case. 

Perhaps your device came from Amazon, just like your Nike trainers, but don’t even think about the technology driving it as mentioning Israel gets what’s known as the Labour Party all of a dither, and the country’s had more than enough of that. 

Please ignore the extra costs, ie the EU tariff and EU VAT. 

After your searching, relax with your Playstation or if, like me, you’re old fashioned, wind up the Dell or Lenovo laptop and order supper of McDs or KFC, paying by Mastercard or Visa, with Liberty Global (UK branded as Virgin Media) as internet provider, perhaps? 

Preferring sea food, visit the UK Parliament shop to collect your Scottish haddock caught, processed and exported by a Dutch or Spanish company, but opening times are very erratic as few staff have experience of actually running the proverbial whelk stall.

No deal is just our own deal

From: Colin Walshaw, Scholes, Cleckheaton

Are we at last seeing the end of Theresa May’s disastrous and worthless ‘withdrawal agreement’ and heading towards not having a deal with the EU?

If so, we should refrain from calling it “no deal” but naming it “our own deal”, in which we invite all nations to trade with us on fair trade, low or no tariff basis, and thus freeing up places like Africa that are shackled by punitive EU CAP tariffs on many of their mainly foodstuff products. 

Any comprehensive economic and trade agreement deal (CETA), would radically reduce prices of imported goods. 

Any tariffs imposed on us by the EU will have been minimised by the already 15 per cent drop in sterling since the referendum and maybe a further drop as a result of us leaving. 

However we will be £39billion better off, less maybe 2-3 billion which we really do owe.

Any opposition to such an arrangement should be careful of what they wish for, particularly the Labour Party.

The neglect of Labour’s Eurosceptic tradition shows the party has left its erstwhile working class supporters behind in favour of metropolis-centred supporters. 

They should recall the voices of true Labourites in the form of Ernest Bevin, Clement Attlee, Hugh Gaitskill and our own Harold Wilson. 

Even Michael Foot and Tony Benn advocated leaving the Common Market without a referendum, which subsequently featured in an election manifesto. 

All Labour MPs should be careful in their opposition to delivering on what the people voted for, that is to leave the influence of unelected commissioners and regain our sovereignty.

Comments from Huddersfield Labour MP Barry Sheerman, claiming “better educated people” voted Remain, do little to endear.

Shame on anyone claiming not to have understood what they were voting for, don’t forget David Cameron’s leaflet saying the result would be binding, and Theresa May’s famous “No deal is better than a bad deal”.

Well if her withdrawal agreement (which is not in fact a deal), is voted down, then Parliament will have judged it a ‘bad deal’, the alternative is, you guessed it.

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