AM I mistaken or did Kirklees Council like to be known as the ‘caring’ council?

I see no evidence of that in recent months. First we have all the proposed cuts to day care services and now we have the scaling down of the new sports centre which will eliminate the bowls facility.

Both these measures will affect mainly the senior citizens and disabled in our community.

How caring is that?

The problem is that the ward councillors are not listening to the people who elected them to office.

To give them the benefit of the doubt, maybe they have a problem with their hearing. Failing that they should remember when they are looking for our support in the forthcoming elections they may find we have become hard of hearing too!



Tarnished vision

LAST week I received a 25-page glossy booklet entitled ‘A vision for our lives – Kirklees carers’ vision and strategy 2010-2015’.

I quote from it: “Carers to be equal citizens, to have a life outside of their caring role, be recognised and respected as expert partners in care and receive appropriate support to enable them to stay mentally and physically well.’’

I also received this week news that a small team of staff consisting of two part-time members and two full-time members are to lose their jobs very soon as part of the proposed cutbacks.

I suspect their combined annual salaries amount to little more than the annual cost of maintaining the fountain in St George’s Square.

I understand this team was formed in 2006 – the year my disabled son moved through transition to access Adult Services. I was fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time to receive help and support from these people who have the knowledge of the ‘ins and outs’ of the complicated and sometimes frustrating issues relating to getting the voice of carers heard in Kirklees and also informing us what services are out there for us to access.

Subsequently I and a cohort of other carers were invited to join a carers’ subgroup chaired by one of the staff in this team who invited members from various departments of Kirklees to meet face-to-face with us. We were given the opportunity to discuss how things could be changed to make our caring roles easier.

We were just beginning to think that things were moving in the right direction, that our voice was being heard and that finally we were heading towards achieving the mission statement quoted at the beginning of my letter.

Now, with their demise, this achievement, along with their wealth of knowledge and expertise to see us through the maze, will be lost forever and we, as carers, will be back to square one.

Yet another blow for carers in Kirklees as we wait with bated breath to see the effects of the proposed cuts in care provision which are yet to be announced after all the 11,000 vulnerable people have been reassessed.

Sue Pickles

Parent/Carer, Kirkheaton

The nuclear dilemma

OUR hearts must go out to the Japanese people after the devastating recent earthquake.

It makes one feel very humble to consider the problems we have in this country pale into significance compared to a disaster on such a scale.

If it is any consolation, Japan is a highly advanced country with very many well educated young people so is better placed than many other countries to deal with the aftermath it has left, but it brings into question the whole concept of nuclear energy development and the risks involved.

Humanity cannot control the forces of nature.

Anthony Smith


Dangers of drink

I READ the March 10 letter ‘Helping Hand’ concerning alcohol abuse with interest. I went through the same thing myself years ago.

Back in the 1970s I was a heavy drinker. I would get drunk daily, have pints in my lunchtime at work, then drink heavily at night.

I would be able to drink most of my friends under the table, but one day I noticed my skin was turning yellow. I wasn’t eating much so I visited my GP, the late Dr Brown at Fartown.

Dr Brown told me I had hepatitis jaundice and if I did not stop I would die.

I was scared out of my wits. At 27, I was too young to die. It was hard but I won the battle with booze.

I slipped back briefly in the 1980s but stopped.

On the rare occasion I drink now it’s two pints and no more.

People should realise that drink not only destroys your life but that of the people around you.



Animal theme

ANIMAL Aid is launching its third nationwide Youth Art and Poetry Competition and is inviting all young people between the ages of 11 and 16 to take part.

This year’s theme – is it right to eat animals? – is bound to stimulate debate and inspire some exciting pieces of art and passionate poems.

The deadline for submissions is May 27 and the winning entries will be displayed at a London award ceremony where the winners will be given their prizes by TV presenter Wendy Turner-Webster.

All entries should be clearly marked on the back with the entrants’ name, age and address and sent to: Art and Poetry Competition, Animal Aid, The Old Chapel, Bradford Street, Tonbridge, Kent, TN9 1AW. For more information see or phone 01732 364546.

Kelly Slade

Competition Organiser, Animal Aid

Racquet troubles

On the Examiner’s report headed Kicking Up A Racquet (March 15), it is true the managers of Huddersfield Sports Centre have, indeed, promised all sorts of ‘compromises and concessions’ over the level of noise that interferes with safe and enjoyable badminton there on Monday evenings.

In doing so they neatly side-step the complaint of the players that these promises are just not implemented.ŠŠ

Kirklees Active Leisure seems both unable and unwilling to limit intrusive noise and, instead, prefers to threaten exclusion of those who ask them to do as they say.

Two recent examples illustrate their approach only too well.

KAL reluctantly produced a policy document that set a peak noise limit of 85 decibels. The most recent measures (on January 20) show that actual levels exceed 96 decibels.

On being requested to stick toŠtheir own limit, KAL’s initial response was to deny that the noise was excessive, but they also admitted not having taken any readings themselves.

This was followed by threats from the Sports Centre’s manager to exclude anyone else who took a reading in future, despite this having been a welcomed and established practice for nearly two years.

Secondly, whenever we question the commitment of KAL to badminton, managers appear indignant that anyone could possibly think it is less than 100% when they do all they can to promote the sport.

Currently, though, this ‘support’ does not even extend as far as including badminton in its ‘Find An Activity’ lists on KAL’sŠwebsite.

In KAL’s case, the experience of local badminton players is that inaction speaks louder than words.

Keith Webb


Costly information

BARRY Gibson’s paean to the Freedom of Information Act this week really missed the point.

ŠRightly, Barry has been able to use the Act to unearth some ‘scandal’ at Kirklees Council, telling us last week about the interim Director of Finance at the council who had the nerve to claim for legitimate expenses while working away from her own home for a couple of months.

Yes, of course it is of interest to your readers (judging by the subsequent correspondence) but it hardly goes to the heart of the issue.

Surely, a better question to have asked would have been about how the council assessed the value it derived from employing an interim director ? Was it worth spending £20,000 or thereabouts on an expert who helped the Council to reduce its budget by £83m (roughly 4,000 times the sum it cost to employ her)?

How was the interim director chosen? What made her the right choice rather than another candidate, internal or external? How could she so quickly absorb the immense amount of detail required to have sufficient understanding of the council’s finances to be able to offer useful advice to councillors faced with the toughest spending decisions of their political lives?

I have no idea if this temporary director was effective but I do have the right to know whether those who commissioned her think they got value for money and how they measured this.

The Coalition Government, taking the same view as Barry Gibson, has introduced a scheme to make it easy for local people to obtain any information from their council on all spending over £500.

We must assume there’s an army of armchair auditors out there eagerly waiting Što pick over the number of biscuits consumed by greedy council officers or the amount of staples used in the parks department.

I think their efforts might be put to better use by asking probing questions about the issues that really make a difference in the way our hard-pressed public servants continue to do their best to produce the services we expect them to deliver, year in year out.

It is to be hoped that the people charged with managing the hundreds of millions spent on local services are able to focus on the business of managing unnecessary cuts in services, ensuring the minimum damage is inflicted on those who deserve better, than having to deal with trivialŠFreedom of Information requests.

William Bradshaw


Doomed to fail?

I AM grateful to Alan Brooke for his courteous reply to my reminder that he was part of the baggage that Arthur Scargill accumulated during his short political career (Mailbag, March 17).

Political journeyman though Alan is, not once have ever questioned his commitment to the socialist cause and it’s rather a pity that someone so dedicated cannot lift his head above the parapet and see a broader, changing picture.

Since he left the Socialist Labour Party, Alan seems to have mellowed somewhat and, in fairness, carries the torch for displaced and oppressed individuals.

However, questioning Gaddafi’s support for the miners seems to be a smokescreen as well, I suppose, as were the fundraising Irish sectarian fights in The Libya Palace Hotel in Tripoli during the 1970s IRA troubles and Gaddafi’s sheltering of another despot, Idi Amin at the Zanzour Tourist complex outside Tripoli.

Just as the opportunity to rid ourselves of the Libyan leader arises, the socialist countries – as well as the European Union and the United States – seem have dragged their heels until it now seems too late to take real action.

Normal citizens of Libya have been trying for years to introduce change and the latest uprising now seems doomed to failure.



Flying lessons

I AM pleased to hear there is scepticism in Parliament about David Cameron’s enthusiasm for a No Fly Zone in Libya.

The only people to deal with Gaddafi’s monstrous regime are the anti-Gaddafi forces themselves.

Outside intervention would play into Gaddafi’s hands and would amount to an abandonment of the struggle for a genuine democracy in Libya.

Why is it that all the emphasis is being put on the strategy of No Fly Zones? If the West is cautious I doubt it is out of respect for the Libya’s sovereignty – more like they are aware how easy it would be to get drawn into a wider conflict as has happened with Afghanistan and Iraq.

This is a huge danger and could lead to much greater bloodshed and would have the effect of undermining the uprising by the ordinary people in Libya.

If the Western powers were genuinely concerned about the plight of the anti-Gaddafi forces, they would by now have recognised the new government, sent an ambassador and would have sent all the assets frozen and seized from the Gaddafi regime to the new government, giving them chance to obtain the arms they so desperately need.

For a fuller understanding about why there should be no intervention by the Western powers in Libya and why the strategy of No Fly Zones would be disastrous, please read The National Stop the War Coalition’s statement.

June Jones

Huddersfield Stop the War Coalition