Your Letters: Friday March 2, 2018

We will work together to keep our library open

Letter of the Week: Natalie Tai, chairperson of Birstall Chamber of Trade 

I write regarding the potential closure of our library in Birstall.

We as a community would be very sad to see it go and feel very strongly about trying our best to save it. 

It is most definitely the hub of the village, with lots of groups gathering there to meet.

It provides a safe haven for older people to sit and pass the time, whilst making them feel part of a growing community and in good company helping them feel less lonely and isolated.

Also, to the mothers of small children who may not have access to the learning and reading facilities the library provides a quiet safe place for them to be allowed to enrich their children’s lives through reading.

They may also feel isolated in the home and can come out to meet new people and use this invaluable facility.

As trader myself I feel I speak for the majority in saying that Birstall library is a key factor in bringing foot fall into the village.

It allows people to pay their bills, council tax and water rates etc, then they inevitably go for a look around the village to complete their daily tasks and pick up a few things from the local shops.

It has never been more important to shop locally in order to keep the communities thriving, providing jobs for local people in these shops and a buzz around the place.

We have worked hard to keep our village looking beautiful thanks to Birstall In Bloom and other groups including the Birstall Chamber of Trade. 

We feel if the library closed it would jeopardise all we have worked for, potentially leaving people isolated, lonely and vulnerable.

We all pay our council tax and business rates and expect that the money is spent wisely!

How can it come to drastic cuts to valuable resources that keep a community thriving to balance the books?

It is not acceptable and we will all work together to keep it open.

Stories with a local link

From: Peter Moreland, Heckmondwike

BBC TV’s Father Brown stories are now watched in 232 countries!

Your readers might be interested to learn that the original stories were written by GK Chesterton, who based the priest detective on his great friend Father John O’Connor, the parish priest at Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Heckmondwike.

Chesterton also wrote two poems about Heckmondwike.

Independent voice for ward

From: Aleks Lukic, Dewsbury Borough Independent Candidate for Dewsbury East

Over the last few weeks I have distributed thousands of surveys in the Dewsbury East ward and so far received over 400 returns. Local residents have highlighted the failures of both the Conservative Government and the Labour Party in Kirklees.

The Labour and Conservative candidates for Dewsbury East have chosen to respond to these damning results with personal attacks against me, many of which are unfounded.

I will be standing for Kirklees Council as a Dewsbury Borough Independent so that I can help to address residents’ concerns, putting the town first rather than political parties.

My home is in Dewsbury, I have a record of supporting local causes in Dewsbury East and I have campaigned for Dewsbury to have its own council.

I also campaigned heavily in Dewsbury East during the EU referendum campaign.

It is the decision of local residents who they would like to elect as their councillor. I know many people have virtually given up on Dewsbury, but I stand ready to serve and if elected I will do my utmost to turn things around.

If anyone else in our district would like my help standing as a local independent at these elections, please do get in touch with me at or 07944 196000 (evenings/weekends).

Think and act positively

From: Jenny Tomlinson Walsh, Friends of Mirfield Library

The Friends of Mirfield Library continue to campaign strongly throughout the library services public consultation period and, with the help of local paint manufacturer PPG Architectural Coatings, we’re facing the future very positively.

Wearing a clean coat of paint as its 2018 ‘battle dress’, Mirfield Library faces the future with a bright, clean community room and a smile.

Some 22 Kirklees libraries are at risk of closure or having their services reduced.

The public consultation period into the provision of library services closes on April 2 – it’s vital that as many Mirfield residents as possible collect a consultation document from the library or go online and make their feelings known.

If we don’t think and act positively to protect our library then we’ll lose it, and with it all the support the library service provides to Mirfield residents.

Thanks to PPG for their community spirit and generosity providing supplies and to the volunteers who gave up their Sundays for painting and have made such a difference.

Survey was not scientific

From: Garry Kitchin, Batley

I write in response to last week’s story about Aleks Lukic’s survey of Dewsbury East.

This was of interest to me as I know Aleks through both of us being around Kirklees local politics over the years. 

While we probably don’t agree on many political issues, Aleks has demonstrated an independent ethic to politics, something that local politics badly needs. 

Aleks is also clear about what he believes and is willing to stand up and be counted. 

Standing as an independent candidate in a General Election is a brave decision.

I am also somewhat a student of psephology, and was interested in how he came to his conclusions, based on his survey.

For a survey to be legitimate it has to be representative of the population it is supposed to represent. 

That means it should include a similar proportion of men, women, people aged 18-24 and other demographic features, that live in the ward. 

It could be weighted politically too, for example ensuring that the voting pattern of those responding matches how Dewsbury East electors actually vote. 

There is no apparent weighting of any kind with this survey.

In addition, the survey asked leading questions, such as “Do you believe that uncontrolled immigration and population growth is putting too much pressure on services in Dewsbury?” 

Any reputable polling organisation would avoid questions written this way.

It’s great to see candidates engaging with their electorate. 

However, if surveys are not performed and analysed correctly, their findings are worthless or even highly misleading. 

As a piece of work to generate much-needed publicity for the forthcoming election, where Aleks will be out-spent and out-gunned by Labour and the Conservatives, he needs all the publicity he can manage. 

However, an unkind word for such media output as this would perhaps be propaganda. 

Of course, all of his rivals in May will do exactly the same.

However, it is near certain that this survey does not represent the views of all of the voters in Dewsbury East. 

I think it highlights views of the 326 people who responded, who mostly likely would already share the well-known views which Aleks has held for some time.

Aleks is a very intelligent man, so I think when he said “This may not be a scientific study” he surely agrees with me.

Corbyn story was fake news

From: John Appleyard, Liversedge

I was pleased to read Danny Lockwood’s observations in last week’s Press which said ‘Jo’s family’s dignity continues to shine’ and I share his support for the Leadbeater family and the way they conduct themselves in what Kim has called a rollercoaster 20 months.

However, Danny won’t be surprised that I disagree with him over Jeremy Corbyn, a man who led Labour to its best general election result since 1945, he may not be popular with Danny but he and his policies were popular with millions of the electorate.

Corbyn is correct to warn the media about their fake news stories and their undemocratic approach to debate.

There is little freedom of speech in a world where those with most money can shout the loudest through our media institutions.

Government ministers and those deemed ‘respectable’ dominate the news bulletins.

Allegations that Corbyn was a spy are laughable. The same was said of former leader Michael Foot, who successfully sued the newspaper that claimed he was.

There were similar accusations that Bob Geldof’s 1985 Live Aid concert was organised by the Czech secret police. All baloney, it is unacceptable journalism.

The good thing about our local media is that they concentrate on reporting news, unlike some our dwindling national newspapers who try to create news where there isn’t a story.

Politicians need to work together for us

From: Mr G Dennis, Birstall

Having previously raised my concerns about the capability of the current Conservative-led government to negotiate an acceptable phase two post-Brexit trade deal for the UK, I am further dismayed today to witness the latest utterances from Jeremy Corbyn. 

He may be the leader of the Labour Party, but in my opinion he is an ex-trade unionist collaborating with a bunch of extreme left-wing colleagues who are determined to hijack the Conservatives.

He is not alone, the SNP under Nicola Sturgeon continue to undermine the UK government. 

I repeat that the people have voted to leave the EU. For goodness’ sake please stop this senseless political point-scoring and unite as a responsible government that includes all political parties and negotiate a decent deal for the whole of the UK.

Should we change the NHS funding model?

From: Diana Lauder, Wakefield

The latest suggestion to be posed by some MPs, interviewers on radio and TV and journalists, is that we need to consider another way of funding the NHS. 

The mantra is that everything else has changed, so why after 70 years since its introduction by Aneurin Bevan, should the NHS not also be subject to change?

At any moment of difficulty for the NHS, these people take the opportunity to suggest that other countries somehow do it better. The examples most commonly quoted include France, Germany and more recently, Australia. 

These countries all spend considerably more of their GDP and much more per head of population than the UK now does.

The attraction of these other models of healthcare that excites the likes of the Murdoch press is the fact that these countries make extensive use of private providers, paid for through collective health insurance funds. 

Most of the hospitals, like the small private hospitals in England, have fewer beds and deliver a limited range of elective services, leaving all the complex, risky and costly care to the public sector – much like the model Jeremy Hunt is imposing here by default.

In France there are complex systems to reimburse fees paid upfront for treatment.

In Germany workers pay approximately 15 per cent of salary into one of 130 separate insurance funds.

In Australia, government subsidies are used to direct people into private health insurance despite public hospitals being more efficient. 

Critics point out that up to 12 times more healthcare could be delivered in Australia if the private sector subsidies had been spent on expanding public sector care. 

The Australian private sector profits by caring essentially for a working well and relatively young population while those with serious health needs are often unable to afford private insurance cover. They are left instead with access to a much less well-resourced public sector.

Our NHS system, funded through general taxation, has the most efficient and fairest means of raising the necessary money for healthcare.

The problem comes when a government decides to allocate insufficient funding and imposes bureaucratic private market reforms.

These reforms fragment the system and divert the money that should be used for frontline care into shareholder and company profits.

It is costing billions of pounds to run the market, monies having to be spent on management consultants, accountants and lawyers, to name but a few – all an unnecessary waste.

Since its inception in 1948, funding for the NHS has risen by per cent annually. This has been to cover the rise in population, the development of new drugs (including the cost of bringing them to market) and new high technological treatment and diagnostics. 

Since 2010 this annual rise has been capped at just over one per cent, so a three per cent drop year on year in real terms. 

It is not difficult to see that this is actually underfunding. This underfunding has led to the current crisis in our hospitals to the degree that blanket cancellation of elective surgery in January, along with ongoing rationing, has been necessary. 

The effect of this of course is that those who can afford to pay will do, while others have to wait or go without. 

We do not need another system of funding. What we need is for the historic per cent per annum increase to be restored to bring us in line, once again, with that enjoyed by most EU and other wealthy countries, and as we had prior to 2010.

For more information about NHS reforms go to

It weren’t like this in my day...

From: R Spreadbury, Liversedge

When I were a lad in primary school and it snowed, we used to struggle to school just to make slides as long as the playground.

Those that couldn’t or wouldn’t slide avoided them.

Now on the prediction of inclement weather, schools are closed, trains are cancelled just in case, and any accident on a motorway results in it being closed for hours.

I’m sure all this started with the advent of the Health and Safety Act. A prime example of a good idea hijacked. This time by claims lawyers.

So now, all of our industry and institutions spend an inordinate amount of time risk-assessing everything, producing policies, and ensuring there is a robust paper trail, which will hold up in court, to justify every decision and action.

And the powers that be wonder why the UK has an abysmal productivity record. 

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