THERE is a saying “life is a lottery”.

Well, I think this is certainly true with regards to crime and punishment.

Reading Court in Brief (April 8), I have visions of the magistrates holding a lucky dip bag containing counters of various fines and punishments and making them fit the crime.

How else can anyone explain a man dropping a cigarette being fined £50 with £200 costs and £15 victim surcharge?

And what IS that? Who is the victim here – the cigarette?

Then, further down the list, we find a motorist driving without insurance, correct licence, MOT and failing to produce documents.

A dip into the lucky bag results in a fine of £50, with £100 costs and yet again the puzzling £15 victim surcharge – a difference of £165 in favour of the motorist.

Will someone tell me the last time a dropped cigarette in the road caused life threatening injuries or death to another person?

Now tell me how often an uninsured, unlicensed driver caused death by their actions? The occasions are numerous.

If a motorist cannot afford to pay for all the legal rights to drive, he or she should not be on the roads at all.

Do the magistrates think that, after the paltry fines given, the offender will go out and spend hundreds of pounds on getting the correct licences etc?

I may be cynical, but I would say they would carry on as before.



No change in Army life

IN 1951, I was called up for National Service.

When I joined my regiment everyone was complaining about rifles that jammed, radio sets that didn’t work properly, shells that didn’t go off when they should and vehicles that broke down in anything less than near perfect conditions.

The officers complained about the lack of money, whilst smiling and saying: “Still mustn’t grumble – carry on chaps.” The lads said: “What a flipping Army this is!”

I left after my two years, but later re-enlisted to an Army where everybody complained about rifles, radio sets, non-exploding shells and vehicles that broke down.

The officers still complained about the lack of money, saying: “Still, mustn’t grumble – carry on chaps.” and the lads said: “What a flipping Army this is!”

Last night, 58 years after I started my National Service and 40 years after I completed regular service, I watched a programme on Afghanistan – and guess what?

Everybody was complaining about weapons equipment and vehicles that broke down in anything but near perfect conditions and the officers were complaining about the lack of funding, while giving wry smiles and saying: “Still mustn't grumble – carry on chaps.”

Let’s make it law that in any armed conflict, politicians who make wars must serve in fighting regiments.

If they’re too old for combat, they can clean barrack rooms, peel spuds and fix weapons, radio sets, non-exploding bombs and vehicles that break down in anything less than near perfect conditions.

What a flipping Army ours is!


Wilsden, West Yorkshire

Face the consequences

SOME people make sweeping statements as if they were facts and rarely are they challenged.

One such person is Mr Crines, who says: “We are being asked to endure cutbacks at HRI in education and in council services.”

Yet he does not name what these cutbacks are. Does he know of any school which has had a cash cut or of any teachers losing their jobs?

Certainly, at the school where I help with the children’s reading, they have just recruited more staff.

As for the NHS, only a few weeks ago we all had their newspaper delivered which very clearly stated that they had received a 5% increase this year, which amounts to a few million pounds more.

Either Mr Crines is not interested in the facts or is only happy when he is moaning.

No doubt the council services he refers to at the Civic Centre are the automation of council tax payments and quite rightly so, when many transactions are already electronic, or done by direct debit or standing order.

If the public change their payment habits, then the council has to follow suit.

After all, isn’t this the same argument about post offices, with those doing the most shouting often being the very ones who have their pensions or benefits paid into bank accounts rather than PO accounts or use email instead of posting letters.

Fewer transactions at the counters, whether they be within the council or the PO, mean fewer staff which in turn means fewer buildings.

No doubt those who buy cheap beer at the supermarket or boxes of it at the duty free shop, are the same ones who moan when the local pubs close down.

Surely we should be sensible enough to realise that when we vote with our feet, those actions have consequences, albeit unintended ones.



Wrong Easter message?

ON a short walk on Easter Sunday, I was astounded to find the smashed and grubby remains of dozens of hard boiled eggs littering a local park.

In this day and age, is it really ethical or sensible to teach young children – the remnants of whose egg rolling exploits I presume these to be – that it is OK to waste food?

Starving people in the Third World would not understand such wanton waste and I certainly could not explain or justify it to them.

I wonder if the parents of the youngsters concerned would themselves feel able so to do?



Well done New Mill MVC

I PERUSE the Examiner carefully every day, but even so I occasionally miss items.

So, I might just have missed this – on Sunday April 5, I travelled to Elsecar Heritage Centre to listen to New Mill Male Voice Choir take part in a competition, which was part of the Don Valley Festival.

They had not taken part in such a competition previously and knew they were up against strong competition from Saddleworth MVC, who had won five times before.

It was a superb concert with a varied programme of male voice items and marvellous playing by Strata Brass band, which has some very skilled soloists.

The best bit about the evening, however, was that New Mill won, with the adjudicator saying they were outstanding.



MP’s Post Office delight

YOUR article on Dewsbury and Mirfield MP Shahid Malik’s role in helping to save post office services at Shelley stated that he had become the only MP in the country to successfully fight two branch closures, following the restoration of services at the village hall.

To avoid any confusion, it ought to be made clear that Shahid already held that unique distinction, having overturned closure notices on Savile Town and Thornhill Edge branches in Dewsbury, following substantial submissions to Post Office Ltd.

More than 200 Shelley residents responded to his survey of last month, each helping to inform his submission to Post Office Ltd.

Needless to say, he’s delighted that Shelley will once again enjoy all the benefits of a Post Office thanks to the groundswell of support he received from local people.


Office of Shahid Malik MP

Kirklees on ‘wrong map’

FOR years I have looked for the name Kirklees on my road map.

Well, Kirklees has finally found itself on a map of England. I am sorry to say that the map which it finds itself on is the map of ‘job blackspots’.

In the age old tradition of how many out of 10, we find ourselves placed at number eight on this unenviable list.

So, what to do about this? Well, Mr Brown and our local councillors seem to think it a good idea to build tens of thousands of houses in areas where once all you heard was birds twittering or the sound of leather on willow.

I mention this sound, as Hall Bower is one area where they intend to build – the cricket club and rugby fields will be concreted over and the sports facilities moved.

My question is, where are they to be moved to and how can the name Hall Bower go with these clubs when they move to another area?

How can our local infrastructure cope with such numbers? Schools, doctors, dentists, public services, transport and jobs?

Yes, many people may work in Leeds, Bradford, Halifax or Manchester, but please tell me how our road network can manage these extra thousands of motorists?

Gordon Brown has deemed we have these new estates and our council is going along with it.

To my mind, it is about time we said, ‘No more’, these people work for us.

We cannot keep up this rate of building. Where does it end?

We need to stop now before it is too late. The area needs jobs, not semi and detached houses.

Please is there someone out there, someone who is listening?