CRITICISING senior officers of our somewhat unwieldy metropolitan authority is not quite fair, as their situation is not really of their own making.
In 1974 many thinking people in Huddersfield could not understand why our reasonably well-run Borough Council should be drawn into that monolithic undertaking which was (literally) for want of a better name to become Kirklees.
Officers headed by the Town Clerk, the Borough Treasurer and the Medical Officer of Health seemed to be sound men who ran their departments well, knew their employees and were approachable by both councillors and ratepayers.
The new situation meant that these chaps – and all heads of departments – faced a dilemma. Lord Maud and Edward Heath’s new plan meant they were all going to lose their jobs.
What to do? The older and long-serving officers very sensibly took the money and retired. Some of them had never even been to Batley or Dewsbury unless they were followers of Fartown, never mind run their affairs. They also realised that even with a tripling of salary they could not cope with the massive increase in responsibilities which would ensue.
The younger chaps, many with families, had a bigger problem and simply had to apply for these new wonder jobs.
Experience didn’t come into it as no one anywhere had had experience of jobs of this magnitude before and obviously there was no one to teach them.
The salaries, however, were huge and it was interesting to see some of them jockeying for position. Of course, this was happening all over the country and many bright young executives just had to take this leap into the dark.
Now comes the crunch. A higher salary and more employees doesn’t suddenly make a more experienced executive in one fell swoop and, as far as I can see, there’s no one yet about with the experience to teach them.
Unfortunately, we can’t turn the clock back so we of this generation will just have to live with the fact that these guys and their female counterparts are doing their best and, in time, there will evolve people who are steeped in the mysteries of running such huge undertakings. It won’t happen overnight!
Going the extra mile
I WOULD like to express a huge thank-you to the very kind female police officer who helped me after I had a bad fall on the traffic island in Huddersfield town centre near the old Co-op building.
She took me to hospital and stayed with me until my friend arrived after collecting my car, which took about half an hour.
This lady went the extra mile for me, beyond the call of duty. At the time I was not in a fit state to ask her name and number, but I hope she will see this letter and know my grateful appreciation.
Mr Sheerman’s views
HUDDERSFIELD MP Barry Sheerman may have voiced his views on motorcyclists in the Commons in his official capacity as a Labour MP.
But I say again they are exactly that, his views. As are his views on a number of things, including fox hunting with dogs.
More for women
KATHLEEN Etches (Mailbag, April 14) says ‘Joanna Lumley for Prime Minister!’
She may be interested to read what Ms Lumley thinks of politicians. “While lobbying Gordon Brown for the Gurkha campaign, I gained a new insight into the MPs’ world. Their life is much harder than mine – you have to work like a dog and you get more blame than credit.
‘There were some calls for me to enter politics, but I’d never stand for office. I’m too old and I don’t have the stamina.’’ (Daily Mail, March 1).
Nice to hear such a positive view of political life. I have other top women I would like to see in a gender-balanced cabinet. They would include Polly Toynbee, Shami Chakrabarti (Director of Liberty), Ann Pettifor (New Economics Foundation) and, of course, our own Debbie Abrahams.
Of course, with all political parties again failing to achieve a fair proportion of parliamentary seats for women (Conservatives and Liberal Democrats less than a quarter, Labour a little better at about 30%) my fantasy cabinet is a little way off.
Vice-chair Holme Valley South Labour Party
I CAST my eye over the plans for the new sports centre on display at the Galpharm, and very impressive they look too. However, this is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to design and build an exceptional sporting venue that befits our glorious town.
It begs the question. Why are we not having a 50m swimming pool? We have numerous 25m pools around the district and, while they provide an invaluable facility, I and most other serious swimmers regard them as half-sized.
Since the regrettable loss of Cambridge Road Baths with its superb 33yd pool, Huddersfield has lacked a ‘proper’ swimming pool.
Why not announce to the world that we are serious about our sport by proudly building a full, competition-sized pool which would be the envy of the north?
Remarkably, the centre piece of the proposed building seems to be a fun-splash watery theme park, complete with plastic sharks, bubble machines and log flumes. Great fun I’m sure, but hardly ‘sport’.
Looking to the future
I’M replying to your correspondent Jason (Mailbag, April 12) who thinks the only reason to rebuild a pub on Castle Hill would be to make a profit from this historic place.
He later goes on to suggest that the cost of the development would not be financially viable.
So which is it that worries him? Let me remind him that the developers are prepared to spend a great deal of money on the project and, that being the case are, in my opinion, entitled to make a profit.
We all know that a pub has stood there for 200 years, serving the needs of visitors to the hill and was a welcome source of refreshment used by a wide range of people.
Pubs can and do serve coffee for those who require it. They are not there exclusively for those who might prefer a beer or a meal.
I have not forgotten the circumstances in which the original pub was knocked down – but that should not be a reason for people to take such a vindictive attitude towards a group of people who now seem to be offering a very acceptable solution.
I must say I was not aware of the support of local religious groups, but perhaps they are, as one would expect, ready to forgive past mistakes and look to the future.
So, the alternative is a small coffee shop, is it? I can’t imagine any great enthusiasm from anyone to make that kind of investment and, as for a council-run visitor centre, I cannot see the council wanting to provide the staff to keep it open when most of the time it would most likely be unused.
Are these ideas really credible options?
Finally, he questions the increased security on the Hill. This, I believe, would certainly be the case especially in regard to some of the less savoury activities reported there in recent times.
I raised this in a letter to the Examiner some time ago and again when I spoke at the planning meeting.
It was not part of a ‘lame attempt by the developers to get their own way’. Indeed, I have no connection with the developers except that I, like many others in the town, wish to see the pub restored once again to the Hill as we all remember it.
Chopping down trees
WHAT a handsome photograph of the Queensgate Market you published on its 40th anniversary!
I have always admired the panels of carved, sandblasted ceramic material which decorate the Queensgate side of the building.
They are in excellent textural contrast with the plain smooth stone and black glass of the rest of the building.
What a pity that Kirklees has allowed tall trees to grow up in front and obscure these iconic panels. Could they not be removed and low bushes planted instead?
No TVs please!
A LEADING train operator announces plans to fit TV screens in all its coaches (Daily Mirror, April 15).
What? When I go on a train journey I like to sit back and enjoy the scenery. I don’t want to be distracted by sad people playing with Ipods, laptops and mobile phones, much less TVs and leaking headphones.
Stick ‘em all on a coach and lock the doors!