FURTHER privatisation of the Kirklees Home Care Service is now high on the council’s agenda.
Last Thursday the matter was discussed at a meeting called by Unison at the Huddersfield Methodist Mission.
It seemed reassuring that MP Barry Sheerman attended, but his presentation of pleasantries, sounding like a party political broadcast with the intention of endearing him to those present, contained absolutely no substance.
Then he left the meeting early, he said to attend another meeting, making it impossible to ask him any questions.
It is regrettable that no Kirklees councillor was present to offer support or to be questioned.
Having worked in a Social Services Department for over 40 years until my retirement, I am aware of the valuable service provided by the teamwork and commitment of those employed in local authority home care services, as opposed to weaknesses in so many respects of private sector provision.
It is in the interest of all the service users and their families that every effort should be made to safeguard the service.
Having been a lifelong member of the Labour Party (I resigned following ‘Iraq’), notwithstanding Barry Sheerman’s blaming of the Conservatives in Government for the financial difficulties I, and all of us, can see that the gradual privatisation of the services was fostered during nine years of the Labour Party in government.
Locally it is reported that only the four Green Party Council members have expressed any concern about plans to privatise home care and one has to ask where all the Labour councillors are hiding.
Historically, the Labour Party’s attitude has been that services to vulnerable members of society are provided by the local authority which is directly accountable to the public, the electorate.
The provision of these vital services should not be put up for tender to the lowest bidder and where staff are given minimal training to do what is often a complex task. Also, of course, the conditions of service of many of those in the private sector are abysmal.
The public should be in no doubt that the services will be lost unless members of the public, particularly ‘service users’ and their families, make representation to their councillors prior to the next Council meeting which is to be held on August 24.
Now is the time for action
I WENT to one of the two meetings organised by Kirklees Unison to build a campaign against this local authority’s plans to privatise all home care.
I think Unison has the perfect answer for the council. With an increasing number of people living longer, the number of local authority home care staff should be increased and private sector staff should be brought into the council.
Kirklees Home Care staff are well trained and better paid with better terms and conditions than staff in the private sector. We were told that for every hour worked by an individual member of staff in the private sector, eight pounds goes to the private care agency so the care is more expensive but inevitably of poorer quality with an overworked, underpaid and less well trained private sector staff.
Barry Sheerman attended and spoke at the start of the meeting and although he said he was totally behind the campaign for good quality home care, he said it did not concern him greatly who provided the care, only that the care was guaranteed to be good quality. He would have to say that because it was his party in government who paved the way for this ConDem Government’s onslaught on public services.
Why should the poorest and most vulnerable members of society be expected to help pay for the deficit by accepting poor quality care while at the top the number of billionaires is growing daily?
The truth of it is that the deficit is being used as an excuse to dismantle public services.
Money is found for war and more war. Tax evasion at the top could almost wipe out the deficit. It is a matter of priorities but it is clear that this council, apart from a handful of councillors, will go ahead with these cuts.
We need to get together in our hundreds, sign the Unison petition, take it round your neighbourhood and your workplace, contact your local councillor and MP. Write to the Examiner about your experiences and concerns. Lobby the council on August 24. Increase Kirklees home care and keep it in house.
Contact Kirklees Unison for petitions and more information.
Retired member of Unison
Defence of Civic Society
MARKHAM Weavill (Mailbag, July 11) should really have done his homework before firing off at Huddersfield Civic Society.
The Society’s members are volunteers. They are not ‘guardians of the past’ but ordinary townsfolk who, unlike Mr Weavill, are not blinkered in their approach to the development of our town.
Attendance at one of our meetings or even a look at our website would reveal to him that we spend as much time looking forward as looking back. Did he not see the recent correspondence about the new Kirklees College building?
While the Society constantly campaigns and lobbies the council, that does not mean that we always have its ear. Often far from it. We have, for example, been saying for years that the council needs an overall strategic plan for the town’s future development instead of dealing with things such as the new Tesco store in isolation.
The Society would agree with Mr Weavill that the town has far too many listed buildings. That is not the Society’s fault. We can only work with the materials we have. However, to suggest that many of them be demolished just for the sake of it makes uneconomic sense. These buildings belong to someone. Does he want them deprived of their assets just so that he can have more ‘sheds’ built?
Mr Weavill says that preserving good old buildings will not encourage inward investment. He has obviously not seen, for example, the numerous Starbucks and Wetherspoon’s units around the country. Both of these companies go for just the type of building Mr Weavill would have us demolish.
In conclusion, if Mr Weavill is so concerned about Huddersfield, then why doesn’t he do something about it by joining the Society in its campaigns? Making ill-informed comments in the Press and criticising people who are making a genuine attempt to do something constructive helps no-one.
President, Huddersfield Civic Society
SYDNEY Booth was buried on July 7 at Golcar Parish Church.
After the burial a man whose name I unfortunately did not get showed me a photo of Syd in his boxing days.
My family would like to know more about his days as a boxer and would be delighted if his friend could contact us by writing to Margaret Fleetwood at 4 Daisy Lea Lane, Lindley, Huddersfield, HD3 3JA.
Is that the time?
THOUGHT for today. If the Beckhams’ new baby had arrived 45 minutes later, would they have named it ‘Quart Tate’?
PRICES for petrol last Friday were: Sainsbury’s – 130.9p per litre (no special offer or minimum purchase):
Texaco at Honley – 133.9p per litre;
Co-operative at Honley – 136.9p per litre;
Co-operative at Brockholes – 138.9p per litre.
With the demise of the Walter Green petrol station the people of Holmfirth are being ripped off by The Co-operative on petrol as well as food.
I am sure when Tesco come to revise their plans for a new supermarket in Holmfirth they will get more support from the general public.
Search for role models
THIS week ITV launched a nationwide search to find role models who make a positive difference to their neighbourhoods or communities as part of the Daily Mirror Pride of Britain Awards.
Regional news programmes in England, Wales and Northern Ireland have joined forces to invite viewers to nominate outstanding individuals for the ITV Local Hero Award.
The title will go to an exceptional individual who works tirelessly to improve the lives of those around them, from creating or running charities to campaigning or fundraising.
ITV viewers will be asked to nominate role models who have voluntarily led, supported or saved community projects, tackled anti-social behaviour in their neighbourhoods, played a major part in improving local amenities or have been a driving force in bringing their community together.
Nominations can be made via www.itv.com/prideofbritain and for more information please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The deadline for nominations is Friday, August 12 .
Each of the regional finalists and a guest will be invited to attend the star-studded Daily Mirror Pride of Britain Awards, sponsored by Littlewoods.com, at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London’s Park Lane in October.
The two-hour Pride of Britain Awards show hosted by Carol Vorderman will be screened on ITV1 in the autumn.
Head of Stakeholder Relations, ITV plc