Your Letters – Friday June 23, 2017

A new spirit rising in Batley

Letter of the Week: Judith Greenwood, Batley

Dear Sir,

There is a different spirit in the air of Batley this week.

Maybe it comes from the cheerful sight of Batley Station’s pop-up cafe bedecked in bunting, where you could have heard the distant roar of the crowd cheering Batley Bulldogs to an exhilarating victory on Sunday. 

Trying to find the source of this spirit, you might think it is due to the delicious scent of samosas lingering in the marketplace after the town’s first-ever open air Iftar.

Perhaps it’s the echo of the band playing live music in Batley Parish churchyard.

Or does this new spirit simply come from Batley?

Because when Batley gets together to celebrate something, it stays celebrated. 

And the Great Get Together this weekend has left its spirit in town for everyone, in all the new friendships begun and old friendships renewed.

I would like to say thank you to everyone who organised events for this fabulous weekend: it is yet another wonderful legacy of our Jo Cox, always remembered and always in our hearts.


Simple ‘what if’ could have prevented this

From: R Spreadbury, Liversedge

Dear Sir,

The horrendous, pointless loss of life in the Grenfell Tower fire is just an extreme example of a society obsessed with process above the end result, and where common sense goes out of the window.

No doubt when the refurbishment work was submitted for planning, all the relevant boxes were ticked concerning fire and building regulations. 

This is currently the accepted way within any organisation of ensuring that it can’t be blamed if anything goes wrong, thus can’t be sued, and thus keeps the company lawyers happy. 

As long as you have a rigorous procedure all will be okay.

In this procedural model, there is no room for questioning, common sense, innovation, or indeed input from experience or expertise external to the appointed cabal of project, quality, and health and safety managers.

This ‘risk management’ model is also seen throughout most government institutions, from child protection to education, school building to the NHS, all institutions which have failed the public in recent times.

After each tragedy there is always evidence of somebody who has tried to raise concerns, but has found themselves just hitting their head against a brick wall.

Taking Grenfell Tower as a case in point.

Despite all the tick boxes, a simple ‘what if’ risk assessment of the proposed refurbishment work of the residential tower would surely have foreseen this event.

Q: What would happen if the inflammable external cladding was to catch fire?

A: A towering inferno. Perhaps we should install non-combustible cladding and accept the cost hike.

Q: Is it really a good idea to run large-diameter gas pipes up the central core of a building which is also used as an escape route?

A: Probably not.

It’s not just the fire regs which need overhauling. It is the whole way government and council services are procured and overseen, now that all in-house expertise has been pensioned off, and everything is outsourced to the lowest bidder, or the company who can generate the best spin at a presentation.


Such a lovely idea

From: ‘SL’, Mirfield

Dear Sir,

What a lovely surprise when I opened my door last night (Monday June 19) to find someone had left a plant. 

It was from St Mary’s Brownies at Mirfield Parish Church.

It is good that people are still teaching these young people the values of life when so much upsetting news is making the headlines these past weeks.

Thank you to all the leaders.


They had been warned

From: John Appleyard, Liversedge

Dear Sir, 

I am the chairman of my local tenants and residents association and am appalled at the catastrophic fire in Grenfell Tower block in London which has claimed so many lives.

This is a national tragedy and shows that the law around fire safety in buildings is not fit for purpose.

The government have been warned time and time again of the fire risks in blocks of flats like this.

I have written to Alok Sharma, the minister responsible for our building regulations, to ask that this tragedy is never repeated and to ask when he will publish the review of building regulations on fire safety.


Their education is sound

From: Garry Kitchin, Batley

Dear Sir,

I am writing in response to the letter from Mr S Walton, June 16.

It was stated that “If this is the standard of education in our universities, we have no chance of being a world-class economy. I cannot believe that the students of today know nothing of how money is earned to pay for their education.”

I would suggest that this is very wide of the mark and inaccurate.

Since Jeremy Corbyn became Labour leader he has involved eminent economists to assist in the development of economic policy. 

Labour’s economic direction was praised by no less than Joseph Stiglitz, former chief economist of the World Bank, advisor to Bill Clinton and winner of the Nobel Prize for Economics in 2001. 

He wrote an article in the Guardian on  June 7 this year supporting Labour’s anti-austerity position.

The big mistake that many people make is to think government budgets work like a person’s individual budget. 

They don’t. 

When a government spend money to invest in infrastructure and skills, it costs money now, but increases the inflow of money to the government in the future. 

Build a new hospital and the government puts money into companies who hire people. 

They buy goods and services from sub-suppliers. All these companies pay increased tax. The workers who are employed pay additional tax, as well as spending money that boosts other businesses. 

As long as the economy isn’t running at full capacity (which it isn’t) there should be no excessive inflationary pressures.

Austerity does not work, and has damaged the economy. Austerity is long-term economic self-harm. 

If the wise and learned Joseph Stiglitz sees this, and students also see it, I would suggest their education is working perfectly well.

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