THE kind of money that Kirklees councillors have spent on ‘jaunts’ is hardly scandalous.
Having worked in the public sector all of my life and seen how horrendously bad so many local authorities and other public sector bodies such as housing associations are at wasting taxpayers’ money, I think that the small amounts referred to are a bit of a joke.
I have known a lot of lazy councillors and officers who don’t give a monkeys about wasting public money. It’s seen as ‘their due’.
My experience of meeting and working with both officers and councillors in Kirklees is far from this.
In general, they are a dedicated, serious and hardworking bunch. And as someone who commutes regularly to London from Huddersfield, believe me, Clr Mehboob Khan’s train ticket for £154.58 was cheap! The guy could have gone first class after all!
And why begrudge him £8 for his lunch? Given London prices, it looks like he survived on a latte from Starbucks the entire day!
Maybe we could give ourselves a pat on the back once in a while for not being too badly off in this local authority?
Personally I would like to see less spent on the party conference aspect of it – but in reality £2,500 is hardly a lot of money in the grand scheme of things.
Believe me, I have seen what real waste looks like in councils – and this isn’t it!
While I realise it is tragic that people are losing their jobs during this time of cuts, I don’t think this is really where the news is.
Motorists hit again
THE new year sees more pain at the pumps for drivers with rises in fuel duty and VAT adding around 4p to the cost of a litre of petrol or diesel.
But these increases don’t just hurt the driver and our hard-pressed haulage industry, they produce price rises at the shops for everyone.
Before the General Election, David Cameron complained about how the previous government had hammered drivers with various taxes.
He added that he had to do things very differently and make life easier for families facing sky-high motoring bills. He even indicated that he could help families by cutting fuel taxes when global fuel prices rise.
It is time to take Mr Cameron at his word. The Association of British Drivers calls on the government to scrap above-inflation fuel duty rises set for the next three years and also plans for road pricing for lorries.
I urge readers to contact their MP at the House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA or via www.parliament.uk
Association of British Drivers
Whose world is real?
RICHARD Huddleston complains that he has endured only a 1.5% wage rise in the past six years and suggests that Unison members get into the real world (Mailbag, January 3).
Well, the real world of local government workers has been a pay freeze for the proportion of that time which, with the rise in the cost of living, has amounted to a wage cut.
He complains about the recession in the private industry he works in (without stating what that is) and then seems to relish the prospect of job losses in the public sector without a thought as to the further deterioration of spending power that this will bring about, hitting the private sector.
Job losses, the increase in VAT, tuition fees – none of these measures designed to bail out the bankers – will do anything to improve the lot of ordinary people no matter what sector they work in.
He begrudges his taxes being used on public services but would be the first to complain, I shouldn’t wonder, when many of those services are no longer there. It is government bureaucracy, Trident, directors’ wages, subsidies to the banking system and the war in Afghanistan that is the true leech on the British tax payer. By casting blame on workers in the public sector, Mr Huddleston conveniently lets the real culprits off the hook.
Seeing red at crossing
UNTIL recently, the pelican crossing on Huddersfield Road, close to Stable Court in Holmfirth, would change the traffic lights to red only when the request button was pressed by pedestrians waiting to cross.
However, I have noticed in recent days that the lights will turn red to the traffic at random, irrespective of whether anyone has pressed the button or, indeed, even if there is nobody at the crossing.
I suspect that this hasn’t simply happened by mistake and that someone has taken the decision to bring the traffic to a standstill on a regular basis for no discernible reason.
Can someone explain the logic of this to me?
AT least two questions follow the Examiner report of January 4 on the wonders of solar panel heating.
First, does the technology – like many other gadgets – require maintenance during its working life or will the panels continue to perform at full capacity for at least 15 years without attention?
Second, was it a sweltering Nice in August or a chilly Glaswegian November which provided test results for the company’s sales brochures?
Caring at the end
WE are writing to say a huge thank you to all members and supporters of the Dying Matters Coalition in Huddersfield for their commitment over 2010.
With hundreds of members in the local area and more than 13,800 across England, we are starting to transform our society’s culture of silence around dying, death and bereavement.
During 2010 Dying Matters worked with care homes, hospices, PCTs, funeral and legal service providers, retirement organisations and charities, many older people and community groups, and faith and belief groups to make talking about dying easier.
We have supported communities, schools, older people, GPs and many hard-to-reach groups all over the country to break the taboo around discussing dying well and a good death.
Not talking to anyone or planning properly prevents many people of all ages from having their wishes met and getting the care and support they want at the end of their lives.
Talking about our plans for the future, wills, funerals and where we want to die is a part of having a good life.
Discussing how we want to be cared for and remembered is essential to achieving ‘a good death’, whatever the circumstance, and helps those loved ones that we leave behind.
Our members are discussing their plans openly, reflecting the change in public attitudes that we need to see in and across all communities for success and to make good end of life care for all a priority.
Thank you to all our members for your conviction and commitment and best wishes for the New Year.
Eve Richardson and Hilary Fisher
Chief Executive, National Council for Palliative Care Director Dying Matter Coalition
Town on the map
I AGREE with Steven Pollitt from Huddersfield Town Centre Partnership when he promotes the town. Can’t he do something about making us Huddersfield again instead of Kirklees?
Here on the east side of Huddersfield signs still say ‘Welcome to Kirklees’ not Huddersfield.
Camera car a waste
YOU couldn’t make it up! The government tells us the war against the motorist is over but trust Kirklees councillors with the taxpayers’ money tree at their disposal to approve spending £100,000 on a camera car to catch parkers and an additional staff member who will be paid almost twice the rate that the job’s skills justify.
Along with more stupendous waste written into the Local Transport Plan, they still inhabit a very different planet from the rest of us.
Come on Mr Pickles, get stuck into these spendthrift councils and get their hands out of our pockets for a change.
The camera car will start ‘work’ on April 1 – that says it all really!
I M Hunter