Your Letters – Friday February 2, 2018

The light is going out in Ravensthorpe

Letter of the Week: Tim Wood, Old Colonial, Mirfield

Just before Christmas one of the last surviving pubs in Ravensthorpe closed its doors. 

The Royal, a locals’ pub and iconic central landmark, became another victim to this small mill town’s struggle with the 21st century’s local changes.

Gone are most of the chapels and churches – that happened some time ago. 

The mills’ decline on the banks of the Calder saw the loss of traditional workforce skills who moved further afield for employment.

An expanding Asian population who, on religious grounds, don’t drink, moved into the area and the pubs dwindling custom would pay the ultimate price and close.

As former licensee of the Bulls Head in Ravensthorpe, I have seen some massive changes to the drinking culture and to the area.

Let’s have another look at the facts; in the late 80s the Beer Orders Act saw most major breweries selling off their own tenanted estates, and large pub-owning companies emerged, such as Enterprise Inns and Park Taverns to name just two.

They then leased out their pubs for as much as they could get, and resold the tenant beer they procured through their own negotiated pricing structure with any brewer willing to supply, often for much more money.

In essence, licensees were given higher rents and higher prices for their ales etc, the operating margins were being squeezed, and it became harder to make any sort of sustainable living wage.

Pubs in the 90s and 2000s were sold, often under the tenant’s feet. I know as the tenant of the Bulls Head that the pub owners at the time, White Rose Inns (before selling out to Park Taverns), had grand designs in selling out to the developers of an industrial estate behind the pub. I actually saw the plans that would see my pub demolished. I, naturally, fought this and the Bulls Head is now the last serving pub in Ravensthorpe.

I think it’s sad that on occasions entrepreneurs have come along to buy a local pub, such as The Royal, and keep it as a pub, only to find they have been outdone in a gazumping sort of way.

I am shocked that the planning committees have not put a brake on pubs being sold for non-pub uses.

Most of the church halls and dance rooms are gone, along with The Old Albion, the Bowling Green Club, Rosie’s Bar (formerly the Bowling Green), Sheridan’s Bar (formerly the Cork and Caterpillar), Ravensthorpe WMC, The Station Hotel, Barclays Club, The New Albion, Ravensthorpe Liberal Club, The Ravensthorpe Hotel, The Royal and, just before the Mirfield border, The Swan – once a hot spot in the 80s and 90s.

In less than two decades the mill town of Ravensthorpe is teetering on the abyss of being unrecognisable in any form of its previous glory, and is now becoming a night-time, neon-lit takeaway town, with not a lot of customers. Social media has not helped the local trend in pubs losing their foothold .

For a thousand years inns, taverns and pubs have been the hub of social networking; for a bit of scandal or gossip, just go down to your local pub for the local soothsayers’ eventide bulletin, or the local gob shiner who always got it gleefully and amusingly wrong.

Nowadays you stop at home, go onto a local social media site on your phone or laptop, open a tin of supermarket finest and dream on.

Pubs are still part of British culture and heritage, and have a massive part to play in community cohesion – meetings, fundraising events, family parties, traditional calendar celebrations, anything from womb to tomb is conducted in pubs.

Where else would you go if you were brought up in the “working masses”?

The answer is obvious, but in some parts of Kirklees the lightbulb has gone out, and I don’t just mean in the pubs.

What is 6% of nothing?

From: Name & address supplied

Yet again we are to pay more in council tax – an increase of six per cent, and I am not surprised.

Let me explain.

Looking at the government website for Dewsbury South to compare council tax bandings, I was amazed to see how many properties have been deleted which, I presume, means they are not paying any council tax to Kirklees.

Writing the many addresses down I decided to investigate them (all within a mile radius), and see why they were exempt.

It is true to say that some of the properties have been demolished to make way for other things, but, many of them had been turned into ‘education centres’.

A man watched me suspiciously as he got out of a car, rang the doorbell and walked into one of the exempt terraced properties.

All of them had once been homes and former public houses, with living accommodation, that would have brought in a revenue to the council at one time.

Just remind me – what is six per cent of nothing?

The figures don’t lie

From: Derek Cartwright, Batley

On January 12, David Honeybell wrote a letter concerning the NHS, but linked my name to his subject.

He further spun that we must not forget the 1980s. This seems to be how these Labour supporters work. 

I think all the political parties are out of date and too many politicians do not tell the truth. Oh heck, do any tell the whole truth?

My letter was not about the 1980s but The Press edited out what I thought was the key paragraph. 

This was that paragraph, as with the political spin concerning the 1980s we tend to forget that the coal industry was in decline almost throughout the 20th century.

In 1950 the mining industry produced 205 million tonnes, employed 690,000 in 901 collieries; which compared with 1960 when it produced 186 million tonnes, employed 602,000 in 698 collieries; and then in 1971 it produced 135 million tonnes, employed 287,000 in 292 collieries and finally with in 1981-2 producing 108 million tonnes, employing 218,000 in 200 collieries.

As I stated Labour, to me, want to re-write history. As Mr Honeybell stated: “I would trust Labour supporters’ knowledge 100 per cent.” Would you, based on how they spin. What have my comments, or the above got to do with the NHS?

Then note I was writing essentially of before the 1980s!

If they cannot be trusted to look correctly at the number of mines, what can they be trusted on?

Not a diplomat or statesman

From: Robert Cowan, Sandal

Now that Donald Trump has been in office for a year as the 45th President of the USA, it is an appropriate time to assess some of the pros and cons of his political reign so far. 

In doing so, it seems necessary to acknowledge that on the home front he has presided over a growing economy, with falling unemployment and a subsequent rise in the stock market. 

But if Trump has applied his business acumen to boost the economy, he has also demonstrated beyond any doubt that, as French President Macron recently put it, he is not a ‘classical politician’.

His constant, often puerile tweeting, his use of disgusting terminology to refer to certain African countries, his countless diplomatic ‘faux pas’ and above all his claims to have access to a bigger nuclear button than North Korea’s Kim Jong Un should give us cause for real concern.

I am equally appalled however, by his dreadful record on environmental issues.

The US ‘Environmental Defense Fund’ has criticised him heavily for reversing the Obama-era restriction against dumping mining waste into waterways. 

Furthermore, not only did he withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord signed in 2016, but also he was responsible for cutting his country’s Environmental Protection Agency’s annual budget, revoking the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, and overturning rules limiting methane gas pollution from oil and gas production.

Is it any wonder then that US carbon dioxide emissions are almost 15 million metric tons higher than a year ago?

Donald Trump may be many things to many people, but he is neither a diplomat nor a statesman, and he is certainly no friend to Mother Earth which sustains us all.

Water under the bridge

From: D Hirst, Dewsbury

In November 2016, I received an offer by post to insure me for any water leaks, drain blockages etc.

A charge of £6 for coverage of 12 months seemed too good to miss, so I took out a policy.

The paperwork they provided made me believe the company was part of Yorkshire Water.

In November 2017 I received a reminder as my new policy was due and the paperwork needed my signature: The new amount was £180.

I rang the company to cancel the intended policy and was told it could be reduced to £120, but I still cancelled.

Late December 2017, two letters came through my letterbox, both were from the aforementioned company.

One letter bore my name and address, the second letter was addressed to the occupant.

My letter was for a policy now £60, the other letter was for a similar policy, but for £12.

Needless to say, the thought of any future dealings are ‘water under the bridge’.

System has failed her

From: David Honeybell, Heckmondwike

In last week’s Press, (26/01/18) you carried a story regarding an out-of-work single parent, Emma-Jayne Best, who lived with her seven-year-old son.

She lost her teaching job in mid-December and has had no wage since then. Although she had paid income tax and National Insurance contributions all her working life, she was told she would have to wait two months before her Universal Credit was paid, and she was turned down for a hardship loan.

Is it only people who have worked and paid into the system that are treated like this?

Heckmondwike is full of young Eastern European families, all well dressed, and the men aren’t at work, and nearly all the women are either full of wind or pregnant.

I don’t know Ms Best’s personal circumstances, is she a widow or is there another reason why the little boy’s father doesn’t help with his upbringing?

But she shouldn’t have to wait for her payment what ever the reason is. If she qualifies for payment she should be paid.

What I find difficult to understand, is how a teacher can become penniless in such a short time? Has she never heard of saving for a rainy day?

If the government adverts are to be believed, there must be a shortage of teachers, as they are offering £26,000 to train for the profession.

No waiting, and care was exemplary

From: Mr J Pickup, via email

Having been unfortunate enough for the 111 service to send me to Dewsbury A&E at 4am on December 24, I can only praise the staff, I was attended to without having to wait even ONE minute.

My wife was also referred to Dewsbury A&E by her GP on January 10 but she was unlucky, she had to wait almost 10 (yes TEN) minutes before being attended to, this being at 11am. 

Again the treatment and care given by the staff was exemplary.

We both expected to have lengthy waits, if the stories spread by the media are to be believed.

Some time ago at a previous visit I was attended to without a wait, having arrived before 9am and finding the waiting room all but deserted.

But on leaving shortly before 10am the waiting room was full almost to bursting.

I am not suggesting though that this had anything to do with the fact that bus passes start at 9.30am.

Tradesmen are losing out to the thieves

From: John Appleyard, Liversedge

Self-employed people have to purchase their own tools for the trades they have chosen, but sadly there is a rising increase in tool theft from their vans.

The replacement of these tools can cost thousands of pounds, and in some cases insurance companies have six weeks to settle any claims, which is a burden to the victim of the crime.

Not everyone can empty their vans at night and not everyone has insurance cover.

This type of crime is classed as petty crime, but the tradesmen and women have paid thousands of pounds for their tools with hard graft.

Victims of this crime are calling for more severe punishments, and I have written to my MP Tracy Brabin to express my concerns on their behalf.

Bloated Beeb should behave impartially

From: Graham Thorne, Batley

How wonderful to see the BBC under scrutiny this week in respect of its inequitable and excessive pay rates.

Over the past few years we’ve seen the subversive organisation gradually expanding its role as the ‘unofficial opposition’, attacking ministers, policies and anything to do with British success, usually based on suggestion, rumour or supposition.

They do a wonderful job of talking down our country at a time when we should be bringing out all our positives to ensure the most successful exit from the EU that is possible.

To hear the self-justification attempts of people like Norman Smith rings hollow indeed.

The most recent annoying practice which they seem to have developed, however, is shouting trite and loaded questions at ministers from a distance in Downing Street or similar, then doing their best to draw negative inferences from the lack of reply.

They sound like a load of costermongers bawling out their wares from a horse and cart and come across as unprofessional and highly undignified – certainly not worth the excessive salaries which we are now learning about.

It’s time they started behaving like impartial professionals, in the same way that most of our local news reporting is carried out.

Service industry needs migrant workers

From: R Spreadbury, Liversedge

In the interests of balanced reporting, here is another narrative which is worth exploring concerning the shenanigans at the Dorchester the other night.

That of the London ‘service’ industry being, in the most part, supported by immigrant workers.

Without cheap immigrant workers, who are accustomed to poorer living and workplace standards, and less sophisticated behaviour and treatment, the whole infrastructure which supports this self-serving city state will crumble.

Hence the never-ending Remain cry from our metropolitan elite and their sycophantic supporters, which, to my continued amazement, includes the Labour Party.

MPs take note – the people voted to leave

From: Colin Walshaw, Scholes

Hope you are all happy with this.

The House of Commons has voted by a majority of 29 to give a third reading to the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill, which will repeal the 1972 legislation that took us into the then European Economic Community and end the primacy of EU law in the UK.

Some 324 MPs voted for the Bill (326 if you include the two tellers), including 310 Conservatives, four Labour MPs, 10 DUP MPs and two Independents.

I am sure those of you who voted to leave the EU will be happy to know how your elected MPs voted in the withdrawal Bill.

The 243 Labour MPs who voted AGAINST the bill included Tracy Brabin, Paula Sherriff, Mary Creagh and Stephanie Peacock.

Len Gardner in his excellent letter in The Press, ‘Don’t worry just leave’ on 8-12-17 hit the nail on the head. 

Your ‘elected’ representatives don’t think you are smart enough to make important decisions about your future and your opinions just do not matter, they know different.

Be careful what you wish (vote) for. You are now amongst the elite thinkers of the world, the intelligentsia, including our all-knowing students with their notions of the bright new sunlit uplands of a socialist Britain, still under the influence of the EU. 

These students, with probable average ages of between 18 and 22, were around 11 and 15 years old when the outgoing Treasury Secretary Liam Byrne left a note saying “There’s no money left”. 

I bet they don’t remember that. Even their parents were probably only children in the catastrophic 1970s under a Labour government; I bet they don’t remember that. 

Rarely if ever has a Labour government left a surplus after leaving government. 

Anyone who has taken the trouble to look into the workings and finances of the EU will know how insular and corrupt it is, nonewithstanding the fact that its accounts have not been signed off by the accountants for over 20 years. 

Hence their desperation to hold on to our money by being downright objectionable and obstructive regarding trade and relations.

Britons never, never, never, shall be slaves.

‘Don’t worry just leave’, use WTO rules. We voted. Out now, end of.

People forget what’s happening to NHS

From: Christine Hyde, Dewsbury

Last week a doctor, working in the NHS for 10 years, told a packed meeting that the “humanity is being squeezed out of the NHS”.

The humanity is being squeezed out of people in general it seems, when I hear locals talk. 

They forget that human beings are, well, human! They forget the Government since 2010 has consistently de-funded and restructured the health service to be all about ‘contracting’.

They forget about hundreds of millions spent on ongoing failed IT projects, NHS England, NHS Improvement regulator the CQC, Health Education England, management consultancy companies and the England-wide propping up of councils with NHS funds. 

They forget about rotten PFI deals, the huge hike in pharmaceutical costs which the Health Secretary might have prevented if minded, the outrageous cost of ‘contracting’ to each and every organisation within the NHS and the local services run by for-profit companies.

They forget the ridiculous farce of market rents for property the NHS (we) used to own, now ‘stolen’.

The proposed policy for ACOs, to be consulted on this spring, is likely to be the last nail in the coffin of comprehensive healthcare for all.

There are people paid six-figure salaries to tell you otherwise, but no patients are to blame for the ills of the health service, whoever they are.

It could be you.

Dewsbury has suffered years of neglect

From: Stephen Crossley, Hanging Heaton

It seems electioneering has begun early in our noble town.

Our MP’s decision to finally put aside trying to reverse the will of the British people and fight to make Dewsbury vibrant again comes as a welcome surprise, it’s a shame its taken her all these years.

It’s going to take a long time, Rome was not built in a day.

Well, Paula, Dewsbury did not get to this state in days. 

Ever since we joined Kirklees, our town has suffered years of under-investment by mainly Labour politicians. 

Instead of supporting Dewsbury we have had our councillors back Kirklees councillors to plough millions into Huddersfield, for what? 

Projects like a ski slope, a brand-new shopping centre, millions planned for a revamp to the train station and a  scheme to build a relief road, for what?

To get traffic quicker into Huddersfield.

The latest scam is a Monopoly board. On it is Emley Moor, a vibrant town centre and railway station. 

You don’t go to jail, you go to Dewsbury.

What will you find there? One of the best arcades in the region, covered in pigeon droppings and shops empty due to inflationary rents. Even the pigeons are substandard.

Of course we have our flagship Pioneer House. A scheme which has taken longer to complete than any of the pyramids. 

However one councillor says it’s a niche, and every town needs a niche.

Well, we had a niche, they called it Dewsbury Market. One of the best in Yorkshire, coaches came from miles around. 

Once again millions of pounds are being promised. More Monopoly money.

On top of this our council tax is going up and we all need to pay. I’ve said it before and will say it again. Let all areas pay their way and not just a certain few.

So Paula, it’s no good after all this time coming out all guns blazing. It’s partly on your watch that we got like this. It’s too late for your wonder-woman assault.

You didn’t allow us to be put on the difficult pile, you allowed us to be put on the invisible one. 

Here is to vibrancy.

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