Your Letters – Friday February 23, 2018

Friends are doing a wonderful job

Letter of the Week: Marian and Bob Samme, Birstall

As frequent visitors to Oakwell Hall, we have noticed how much work has been put into the woods and surrounding areas by the Friends of Oakwell Hall.

The improvement over winter has been so noticeable, the woods have been stripped out and cleared and neatly stacked, and many areas have been improved.

You are doing a wonderful job, and we would like to thank you for the effort you have all made. 

It is a beautiful place to visit, and your work is making it a place to enjoy at every time of the year.

Help us save library services

From: Friends of Mirfield Library

An open letter to all residents of Mirfield

A library is not a luxury, it’s a necessity and an essential service for the community, and especially necessary when times, like now, are difficult financially, educationally and socially. 

A library gives a community access to culture, economic information, education and provides essential social contact for everyone, no matter what their age or ability.

There are many reasons why people use and love their library – as the Friends’ logo says: It’s not just about books – learn and grow together.

Some examples:

One young man comes to Mirfield Library because he loves the Lego Club as it helps him interact socially.

An elderly gentleman sits quietly reading the paper – he lives alone and needs the library to combat his loneliness.

A young mum introduces her toddler to the life-long joy of reading and learning.

However, it comes as no surprise that we are here, yet again, struggling to protect our library service.

The Kirklees budget plan clearly states a reduction of £1.9m to happen in 2017/18.

The threat of the loss of our library service is real and it’s important how we, as a community, deal with this threat to our library facility.

Please note, the consultation is just about the library service NOT the library building – this point is important.

At a meeting of the Friends of Mirfield Library the questions and resulting implications of the consultation document were studied in depth.

The document was found to be potentially confusing for members of the public, who had no facts on which to base decisions.

It was agreed by the Friends that there are possible future implications involved with just doing a quick ‘tick in the question box’.

If this ‘tick’ was done without thought or background information, then the implications could result in the loss of Mirfield’s library service.

To provide facts and details to Mirfield residents and so enable them to make an informed decision, the Friends of Mirfield Library will have an ‘information and sign-up’ stall at Mirfield Co-operative from 10.30am onwards on Saturday February 24.

Help, information and advice will be available.

Paper consultation documents are available at Mirfield Library and can be completed online at

Another NHS quango set up

From: Peter Claydon, Dewsbury

NHS England is planning yet another re-organisation of local health services. 

Not satisfied with the financial performance of the GP-led Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) set up as part of the implementation of the Health and Social Care Act 2012, NHS England is now promoting the idea of Integrated Care Systems (ICSs).

The ICS concept is borrowed from the US. It is one more step towards the Americanisation (and privatisation) of healthcare in this country.

At a national level the ICS proposals are being resisted by citizen groups, who have launched two judicial reviews challenging the decision making process ... which has not involved any parliamentary scrutiny of the merits and demerits of ICS arrangements. 

At a local level the ICS ‘footprint’ for our particular patch includes all of West Yorkshire plus the adjoining Harrogate district, an area with a population of some 2.5 million.

So, we’re moving from a position where decisions about how money should be spent here in the North Kirklees area are taken by the North Kirklees CCG to a position where all of the important decisions will be taken at a much more remote level by yet another imposed NHS quango. 

If lessons are to be learnt from what is happening in other parts of the country, the contract for managing our new ICS quango will be let to a private company familiar with the way in which ICS arrangements work in the US. 

Whilst for those of us who worry about the future of the NHS the new ICSs pose a considerable threat, there is perhaps one benefit. 

Could this be an opportunity to sweep away a lot of the bureaucracy currently associated with CCGs and dedicate some of the money saved to improving the Care Closer To Home services that we were promised would pave the way to any downgrading of facilities at Dewsbury and District Hospital?

Why are we in the dark?

From: David Honeybell, Heckmondwike

At recent North Kirklees Clinical Commissioning Group (NKCCG) governing body meetings, the subject of how to attract more members of the public to attend the meetings has been discussed.

I would like to know what the NKCCG actually do to attract more people to attend. 

Do they advertise in the public notices section of The Press? 

Do they send a press release to The Press, with some of the more interesting actions they have taken?

But I wonder, do they really want more observers? Who are the NKCCG accountable to? 

They supposedly work for the residents of North Kirklees, to give them in their words, ‘longer, healthier lives’. So I would assume they are, or should be, accountable to us.

If this is so, why have they made it impossible to ask a question and get an immediate reply?

There are two opportunities to ask questions, and that has not changed, but the subjects of the questions have been altered.

Until the last meeting in 2017, in the first question time any issue of general interest could be raised, either written or verbally.

What a difference this year. 

Now only written questions on specific agenda items can be asked, and these have to be submitted on the Monday prior to the Wednesday meeting.

The second question time is for anything arising from the agenda.

Last year they could be verbal, now they are to be written and put in a box. They will be answered within three weeks.

What are the CCG afraid of? You are working for us, so keep us informed. 

Answer our questions on the day they are asked, or is there some reason we, the public, have to be kept both in the dark and in our place?

Aid isn’t all altruistic

From: John Appleyard, Liversedge

It appears that the Oxfam scandal has opened up a debate about foreign aid, and some people on the right wing of the political spectrum are opposing giving money to countries that have suffered under imperialism.

Foreign aid comes with strings attached, we don’t give owt for nowt, and locks those countries into depending on the west, such as demands for privatisation or help with military forces in war zones.

Afghanistan is the biggest recipient of foreign aid, a country that has been destroyed by western occupation.

The most explicit form of exploitation is ‘tied aid’ which forces poor countries to buy products from western governments.

The jubilee debt campaign of 2000 was set up to call for banks and multinationals to stop taking profits out of Africa, and that all debt should be cancelled.

All welcome to join in with our fundraising

From: Tim Wood, MRV, Old Colonial, Mirfield

This coming Saturday, February 24, Mirfield Rifle Volunteers will be launching their new fundraising year with entertainment and a raffle, starting at 8.30pm. 

Blues band Justified will be providing the fundraising entertainment.

There is no door charge, and the raffle is optional; there are some great prizes to be won.

Last year’s fundraising efforts saw local and military charities, as well as the We Love Manchester Emergency Fund, being better off thanks to the generosity of those who supported the fundraising efforts.

Approximately £5,000 was raised last year.

We look forward to seeing new faces on Saturday; anyone can join our ranks and take part in our social and fundraising events.

Change will be hard on gun issue

From: R Spreadbury, Liversedge

You only need an inaccurate manually-loaded six-shooter for self defence, not an AK47. 

You only need a bolt-action sniper rifle for hunting.

You only need a trial by a judge in camera.

You only need a blackout on any details and the social media profiles of the perpetrator.

But seeing as how the Yankee dollar, and the right to make money, takes precedence over life, then this will never happen. 

And the US, like the rest of the world, will just have to put up with the collateral damage.

Give God a Google, he’s always there!

From: Peter Moreland, Heckmondwike

In today’s secular society everything from supermarket shopping to clothing, holidays and state-of-the-art material possessions are just a tap away on the internet.

People are becoming very insular and apathetic, with no need to go out for anything apart from work.

We live in a disposable world where if something is broken we get the latest model rather than repair it.

Are people really happy, though? Is there something missing from their lives?

Want some good news? Check in on God, who is and always has had 24/7 instant access, always available for one-to-one chats and is a great listener.

Why not google him and get to know him better.

Health optimisation rules are scrapped

From: Christine Hyde, Dewsbury

At the governing body meeting of the North Kirklees and Greater Huddersfield CCGs at Dewsbury Town Hall on February 14, it was announced that due to opposition the rigid rule called Health Optimisation, preventing people who smoked or were obese receiving elective operations until they stopped smoking for six months or had lost a percentage of their body weight, was to be scrapped.

Paula Sherriff MP, in a Westminster debate which was mentioned, had noted the enormity of the postcode lottery the measure had created, particularly on the border with Wakefield whose CCG did not introduce the policy. 

It was also opposed by clinicians in the hospitals. At the meeting deprivation between North Kirklees, which has more than Greater Huddersfield, was clearly stated but a GP from Huddersfield said he wanted “disappointment” mentioned in the minutes, because the policy was to address health inequality. It was not. 

If an obese person or smoker had the requisite £10,000 or whatever it cost, there would be a surgeon to perform their operation and the NHS would pick up any problems afterwards. 

It highlighted wealth inequalities. Watch out for more NHS doublespeak in the future. On the level of health, GPs can still talk to their patients about the advisability of losing weight and stopping smoking.

Community singing was such a key part

From: Name and address supplied

The recent article in your ‘People and Places’ column about Dewsbury’s Eddie Waring, and his TV commentary of the 1968 Rugby League Challenge Cup final, was followed a few days later by a TV story with film of the event and interviews with some of those taking part.

For anyone watching that final, whether on TV or live at Wembley, this iconic event was truly unforgettable and it had me digging out the programme from the game and the accompanying community songsheet.

The community singing was an integral part of cup final day back in the 60s, a tradition which actually began more than 90 years ago, and everyone was handed a songsheet on entering the ground.

Looking at my old songsheet and the match programme really brought back memories of the most remarkable cup final in rugby league history and it was made all the more remarkable for Eddie Waring’s inimitable input.

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