Your Letters - Friday July 14, 2017

Cutting remarks from reader

Letter of the Week: Ian Fredericks, Batley

Dear Sir,

Am I alone in noticing that swathes of our district’s green spaces appear to have been abandoned by the council, and are now covered by several feet of uncut grass?

Everywhere I drive I see patches that used to be cut by council workmen left to grow unchecked over the summer. 

I remember reading something about a new ‘gold, silver and bronze’ system the officials had brought in, with the gold spaces like our main parks getting regular maintenance and cutting, down to the bronze only being seen to every few months. 

But I think some of the places I drive past haven’t been looked at since last year. 

Perhaps it’s time for local communities to band together and cut the grass themselves, to stop the district from becoming an unappealing, overgrown jungle. I’ll volunteer!

Fair trade needs to continue

From: John Appleyard, Liversedge

Dear Sir,

Batley & Spen was the first constituency in the country to adopt fair trade status, so I’m disappointed to hear that Sainsbury’s, and there are a few stores in our area, is dropping fair trade labelling from its tea in order to use its own system, which could see farmers short-changed.

When we enjoy a fair trade cuppa, we know that people who farm tea in Malaysia, Kenya and Rwanda are getting a fair deal for their hard work and control over funds for vital community services, but this move from Sainsbury’s will change all that and could mean the end of fair trade altogether

Instead of rigorous standards and independent audits, Sainsbury’s will set its own criteria, leaving both shoppers and farmers in the dark over what the new labelling really means.

My thoughts on Prime Ministers

From: Tim Moorhouse, Cleckheaton

Dear Sir,

Politicians delight in telling us that we live in a democracy.

Well, how is it that we have had Prime Ministers who have acted like dictators?

Ted Heath (Con) joined the Common Market knowing that it would become a political union. He also gave away our fishing rights.

Tony Blair (Lab) – as well as the illegal Iraq war, he put out the red carpet for three million immigrants, causing housing problems etc. 

David Cameron (Con) - persuading the nation to stay in the European Union, he said he’d got a good deal from the EU, which he hadn’t.

Theresa May (Con) bypassed the Cabinet and came up with a dreadful manifesto on the advice of two employees. 

In my opinion, the patriotic Prime Ministers we’ve had are Winston Churchill, Clement Atlee and Margaret Thatcher, especially with our ‘battle’ with the EU. 

The least patriotic were Tony Blair, the David Cameron/Nick Clegg coalition and John Major/Gordon Brown - equally as bad! 

Also, I must have saved enough in electricity for a small holiday. How? Because as soon as Emily Thornberry, Tom Watson, Yvette Cooper or Diane Abbott appear on my TV screen, I rapidly switch off!

Real cycling...

From: John Walshaw, Earlsheaton

Dear Sir,

To Danny, and a few more, thinking of taking up cycling but put off by all the propaganda put out by ‘experts’ as to what you need. 

As one who is regarded as not a ‘proper’ cyclist by these elite sportsmen, I go on what they would regard as Moronic Perambulations on my Velocipede in the Countryside – MPVC in short. 

Thus I can assure you there is no need to borrow a coal skuttle to wear upside down on your head, sunglasses costing £50 or even the Lycra gear with everything hanging down and shimmering in the sun. 

You do have to appreciate you are a slow-moving vehicle on the road and handle it as such, allowing more time for manoeuvres than in a car, but the principles are the same.

The bike only needs to be a two litre model, a white ‘un on t’front, a red ‘un on t’back and no ‘on-board command centre’.

The idea is to cycle as far as you are capable, and enjoy it.

If you want to strap a golf club to  the crossbar and carry two balls in your pocket to practice in some some farmer’s field, go for it. 

The world’s your oyster – they even reluctantly allow you to take bikes on trains and planes, sometimes. 

Maybe ‘Ed’ could teach them all

From: Derek Cartwright, Soothill

Dear Sir,

When I was 15, you could leave school, for my dad it was 14! I left at 16! Today, you can leave school on the last Friday in June if you’ll be 16 by the end of the summer holidays. But you must then do one of the following until you’re 18 – stay in full-time education, for example at a college; spend 20 hours or more a week working or volunteering, while in part-time education or training, or start an apprenticeship or traineeship.

I was looking at this the other day in one of my books - Bradford from the Education Act of 1944 decided to erect 13 or 14 multilateral schools each for 1,250 pupils at the age of about 11. 

The aim was to dispense with an entrance examination, but to guide the pupils to train for a career from about the age of 13. Notice that focus, it was to get school leavers into work, not into full-time education which seems to be today’s focus. 

I wonder how many people today are pursuing education at the wrong time, or in unsuitable subjects for them (My first degree was with OU in science and technology – not a good choice, not something I really like, but the area I worked in).

The world is different today than for me, or young ‘Ed’. Too many of my school teachers were not graduates, but had teaching certificates. I am sure some who had those certificates were good teachers and perhaps some graduates’ poor teachers.

I found better teachers after school hours at evening classes, can you do that today?

Looking back, I do not regret leaving school and finding the better teachers, if I had stayed on would better teachers have been available? I do not know, but I don’t think so.

Teaching standards may have improved, I am sure they have, but have they dumbed down the standards so that you can gain passes in school examinations? 

‘Ed’ seems to think so. There is also a good argument that many degrees have had their standards dumbed down!

For my age group, it would have been far more difficult to get to university, but then only about 10 out of a hundred did; today it’s over 40 in a hundred. Who pays? The 60 out of a 100 who do not go to university.

To me, forget the argument about the debt from borrowing money to live on for three years, the question is, have the young made an investment in themselves or have they been conned into wasting money by doing a journalism or theatre degree where there are more graduates than jobs? 

Would they be better leaving school at 16, and getting ‘Ed’ to train them as cub reporters?

At least if ‘Ed’ trained a youngster, they might be able to spell and check copy – too late for me, or to learn to type properly!

Happy birthday gesture to NHS

From: Christine Hyde, Dewsbury

Dear Sir,

On July 5, the 69th anniversary of the beginning of the National Health Service, Dewsbury KONP and North Kirklees NHS Support Group got together on Dewsbury Market with a huge birthday card for people to sign, thanking staff at Dewsbury Hospital for their hard work. 

Members of the public queued up to sign and by 3pm three sides of the card were covered with good wishes and supportive messages.

This was part of an England-wide initiative by many campaign groups to highlight the real challenges faced by front line staff in their day to day work, as well as the top down reorganisation caused by the Sustainability and Transformation Plan and outsourcing services to private companies.

John Francis, who shares his birthday with the NHS, said: “Why are they advertising for managers at six-figure salaries, whose work will dismantle the NHS, and why pay for new signs and advertising in the local hospitals when they don’t want to spend six-figure sums on patients and decide to punish them for their conditions?”

Some people signed a petition to stop the dismantling of the NHS. The groups gave out free newspapers describing the issues the frontline NHS staff and patients face, as well as leaflets, badges and balloons.

At 4.30pm the card, plus birthday cake and candles were taken to the A&E department at Dewsbury Hospital. They were received by paramedics, nurses and doctors on shift at the department at the time and campaigners were mindful to not stay very long.

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