Council staff must be held to account

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From: Malcolm Balmforth, Keighley, West Yorkshire.

THE time has come to make council managers and professional staff responsible for their irresponsibility.

It is time we stopped allowing the blanket use of the term “a Bradford Council blunder” when it comes to mistakes that are costing the ratepayers millions of pounds and when it will, in this case, also have an effect on our environment forever.

For too long individuals have been allowed to hold on to jobs irrespective of their effectiveness; this practice should not be allowed to continue. For instance, no one has been found to be responsible for the blunders that effectively left Bradford Council without any land earmarked to meet housing needs.

This bungle led to an influx of legal challenges that has allowed and is still allowing developers to (on appeal) obtain planning permission to build on our precious countryside.

In such austere times, where there are job cuts across the council and where compulsory redundancies are imminent, surely, there should be some mechanism to carry out “healthy” cuts? Let’s stop this unaccountability.

NHS’s high standards

From: Philip Cabuzet, Street Lane, Moortown, Leeds.

THE NHS is often rebuked for indifference and poor treatment of patients. I would like to share with your readers my very favourable experience at Harrogate General Hospital.

This contradicts a very negative general consensus of opinion.

Recently, I was admitted to the Swaledale ward at the above hospital for a hip replacement operation.

I cannot sufficiently praise the high standard of care and meticulous attention to detail I received both prior to and during my stay at this hospital.

Before admission, the consultant and his registrar explained to me what the operation entailed and then showed me a DVD and clearly pointed out how I could maximise the success of what I was going through.

Following admission, I was visited by the anaesthetist and the various options open to me were discussed so I could make the right choice.

I was also again visited and reassured by the surgeon and his registrar.

I appreciated the help and advice from therapists who spent time with all the patients on the ward to ensure that recovery would be speedy and without serious issue. The ward was kept clean and the food was well up to standard.

These are just a few examples of what even the most discerning of patients would consider a high calibre of care from a dedicated and professional team.

Check power firms’ claims

From: Jim Ellison, Ripon.

I RECENTLY received a telephone call from one of the big power companies in which they stated they could save me money on my gas and electric (Jonathan Reed, Yorkshire Post, December 9).

They said there would be a saving of £71, plus a discount of £60, if I stayed with them 12 months (£131 per year).

The only way they would confirm details, including the unit rates, was for me to enter into an initial 28-day contract with their company.

I was further informed that if they did not hear from me within 14 days they would proceed to approach my current supplier to switch supply.

I was suspicious at this type of salesmanship, but wanted a copy of the unit rates so that I could check for myself against my annual consumption.

The result of this check was that I would not be saving £131, but rather if I changed I would be paying £306 more per year, after their discount.

I share this experience only to warn people to check for themselves rather than accept what these companies tell them.

Rare sounds of nightingale

From: Alan Precious, Rossett Garth, Harrogate.

I WAS interested to read Nicholas Rhea’s recent article about the nightingale at Byland Abbey.

I have twice heard the nightingale in Yorkshire. The first time was at Kirkbymoorside in, as far as I can now place it, the period: 1949-52.

The bird was singing in the woods at the northern edge of the town, just off the Gillamoor Road. Many people came to listen to it. I recall standing next to two older men and hearing one say to the other that he thought a very good blackbird could be nearly as good as the nightingale.

My second hearing of the nightingale was at Lawnswood school in Leeds in approximately 1962. I was waiting in the car park there to pick up my friend who was attending an evening function. The car park, relatively empty, was surrounded, almost, by tall trees.

The rarity of the nightingale in this country, as well as its night time singing help to make it one of our most interesting birds. But your readers will also know of the Greek myth in which Procne and Philomel, the daughters of Pandion, King of Athens, were changed into a swallow and a nightingale to enable them to escape from Procne’s murderous husband, Tereus.

Both the swallow and the nightingale leave our northern clime at the end of summer. Edith Sitwell, in one of her poems, regrets their departure in the line “Gone is the sweet swallow, gone Philomel”.