I WOULD like to thank all those Ashbrow residents who voted for me on May 3 and I congratulate Clr Ken Smith on his victory.
Having said that, I must also agree with a number of recent letter writers that, at about one third, the turnout was disappointingly low throughout Kirklees.
The perceived wisdom is that all politicians should do more to connect with their constituents, especially at a local level.
However, with many losing candidates (myself included) standing on a ‘save the local green belt and infrastructure’ platform it is difficult to see just how such connections can be established.
The simple fact is that some two thirds of Kirklees voters were not sufficiently motivated to cast their votes. This is dangerous for our democracy.
So what do we do about it if so many people are seemingly not interested in local issues? Several correspondents have called for mandatory voting with fines for absentees.
I disagree with this on the simple grounds that I believe that our democracy is about freedom – and that we should have the freedom not to participate in elections.
In these days of computerised record-keeping, perhaps we should consider a ‘use it or lose it’ policy instead.
Under such a scheme it would be possible to hold that a voter who has failed to vote at two consecutive elections be suspended from voting at the third.
We could perhaps go further and enact that any voter serving two such suspensions must reapply to be entered on the electoral roll.
At least in this way we protect the freedom not to vote while providing the motivation for those who value their vote to actually use it.
Thanks for support
I WOULD like to thank all the people of the Kirkburton ward who voted for me in the past and present for the last 13 years.
I have enjoyed and got a lot of satisfaction from the position.
I have always tried to do what was best for our area and retain its rural character.
Thanks once again to you all.
Missing vital question
THE article in Thursday’s Examiner about the consultation which is to begin at Denby Dale Library next week might have given readers the wrong impression.
They might think they are to be consulted about the proposal to remove paid staff and run the library entirely with volunteers, but this is not the case.
Judging by the questions asked in the consultations in other libraries, this consultation assumes that library users agree with the proposal and only ‘consults’ them about whether or not they are willing to be volunteers.
Most people want to know what they are volunteering for.
Unfortunately, such description of duties and responsibilities has not yet been forthcoming.
It is not always wise to say ‘yes’ before you know what you are agreeing to.
The one central question missing from the consultation is: ‘Do you agree with the council’s proposal to replace paid staff with volunteers?’
Without asking this how can the council know if its proposal is acceptable?
However, all may not be lost as the Friends of Denby Dale Library have been asking just that question of people in Denby Dale and district and now have more than 800 signatures on a petition clearly stating that: ‘We the undersigned are opposed to the proposal by Kirklees Council to hand over the running of Denby Dale Library entirely to volunteers and withdraw the paid staff.’
In view of the number of people who are against the council’s proposal to run the library entirely with volunteers, one would expect that they would be consulting on possible alternatives, not asking for volunteers.
Valley free thinkers
AS a newly-elected councillor I read with interest S Carver of Shepley’s letter (Examiner, May 11) about ‘free thinking’.
I fully agree with his statement that “free thinking is what we do well in this country” but can’t go along with his stereotype of all politicians being self-serving careerists who, by implication, haven’t got an independent thought in their heads.
I’ve known politicians of all parties who are creative and radical in their thinking, though we don’t have a monopoly of it.
Here in the Colne Valley we’ve got the ‘Free University of Slawit’ which meets every month to discuss a wide range of issues in a friendly, informal and non-partisan way.
It’s open to everyone and we even get the odd politician.
The next meeting is on Tuesday, May 15, in the Commercial, Slaithwaite, at 8pm and is on the theme of education.
It would be great to have an expanding network of similar groups in communities across Kirklees. They are easy to set up and cost nothing.
In October we are organising a Festival Of Free Thinking throughout the Colne Valley and we hope every section of the community, including politicians of all shades, will join in.
More details on this and the Free University of Slawit from myself at firstname.lastname@example.org
Clr Paul Salveson
Free-thinking Labour councillor for Golcar ward
HAS anyone else noticed – how could you not do – the huge amount of orange safety barriers that have appeared around Huddersfield lately on Manchester Road at Thornton Lodge,Wakefield Road and Leeds Road to name but a few.
They have even appeared around the trees on Buxton Road.
I wonder, are the orange barrier manufacturers getting into the spirit of the Olympics by putting 2012 barriers up around Huddersfield?
Or is the answer more simple and the highways department, perhaps having lost their depot due to spending cuts, are now storing the orange barriers on and around the streets of town? Makes you wonder.
LINDA Whitwam’s reference to William Penn in her article ‘We pass through once’ prompts reflection on how we might all do good things to build a better world.
The Quaker Penn was expelled from Oxford for an ‘excess of Protestantism.’
He acquired radical ideas as a student at Saumur in France and went on to create ‘the holy experiment’ of Pennsylvania on land granted to his father by Charles II.
Quakers ran Pennsylvania successfully for a number of years, trying to discern God’s will in reaching political decisions.
They struggled when their pacifist views prevented them undertaking military service. Elements of Penn’s political thinking can be found later in the constitutions of the USA and post-revolutionary France.
Today we would find Penn a stern critic. In 1669 he wrote: “Personal pride ... leads people to a fond (=foolish) value of their persons.
“Their folly would diminish if they could spare but half their time to think of God that they do in washing, perfuming, painting and dressing their bodies. What aggravates the evil is that the pride of one might comfortably supply the needs of 10.’’
It’s a familiar theme. For all their plainness, some of the Quakers may have been in his thoughts.
It is said the Quakers went to Pennsylvania to do good. Some of them did very well indeed. Should we give our shower gel money to charity? Worth considering.