From: Elizabeth Peacock, MP for Batley and Spen 1983-1997.
IS the Northern Powerhouse another boys’ club (The Yorkshire Post, June 1)? This reminded me of the objective of the Westminster Dining Club set up by the late Dame Angela Rumbold and myself to encourage women to enter public life to counter the old boys’ influence in the House of Commons of the 1980s. Has progress been made?
In the case of the House of Commons the answer must be “yes, but slowly”. In 1983 there were only 23 female members with 627 men, so the present 191 female members are progress. Similar progress has been made in local government where we have many more women councillors.
However, there is a barrier which is regularly placed in the way for women wishing to progress in public life which is the tendency to consider that women should not be given public appointments involving technical issues or finance.
This is quite untrue. Women have a long history of handling technical issues; the last living member of the Suffragette Movement, Victoria Liddiard, who I met in 1989, was Britain’s first female optician in the early 1900s.
Women may well be missing from the Powerhouse board not because there are no suitable women available but because those selecting the board, probably men, have no concept of choosing women. This is where the problem occurs. There are women in the North who are as competent as the men, so we should look critically at the selection process ensuring equity for all but without quotas or all- women shortlists. Additionally, job adverts should clearly state that women are encouraged to apply.
Men be warned – you must not complain when we succeed!
Are libraries lost for good?
From: Matthew Smith, Endcliffe Vale Road, Sheffield.
ANOTHER point of interest on the issue of libraries in Sheffield is the leases currently being signed by the council with the voluntary groups, which I understand are options of five and 25 years (The Yorkshire Post, June 3)
Can the council confirm that there are break clauses in these to allow it to restaff and take control of these libraries again should funds be made available to employ the necessary staff?
One would hope that the de-staffing and hiving-off of community libraries to volunteer groups is not simply an attempt to remove yet another service from council control and therefore from public scrutiny and accountability.
It would be good if the cabinet member for the library service could reply on whether such a clause exists, and when the footfall figures from door sensors at community libraries will be published again for us to see.
Mysteries in the Minster
From: Susan Galloway, York.
OVER the years, I have been to many productions of the York Mystery Plays in various locations. While I am a great fan of the plays being performed on wagons, the current performance in York Minster is undoubtedly the most polished and exciting of recent productions.
I urge you to get your skates on and get tickets quickly – the scene for Noah’s Ark is worth the ticket money alone.
Police need our support
From: Mary Wilcock, Horsforth.
I AM increasingly worried that the present trend of police bashing means we shall finish up without any police. They are expected to do some horrendous jobs with very little appreciation from the general public.
There may be some bad eggs among them but I feel they mainly do a job that most of us would be unable to fulfil.
From: Phil Moon, Ilkley.
I WRITE with regard to your Comment “Hip, Hip Hooray” (The Yorkshire Post, June 3) and your remarks about “the marvels of modern science”.
Some 10 years or more ago, and within a space of a few months, I had both my hips replaced. I had to remain in hospital for a week for the first one and four days for the second one. How science has moved on.
A danger behind wheel
From: Tim Mickleburgh, Boulevard Avenue, Grimsby,
I READ with interest the letter from H Marjorie Gill (The Yorkshire Post, June 6) about older drivers. As someone who doesn’t drive and has to rely on buses, I can fully understand why people will want to hold on to their driving licence for as long as possible.
Yet, at the same time, there are those still behind the wheel of a car who clearly are a danger to both themselves and, more importantly, to others. That’s why regular tests or assessments are important, not just incidentally for those 70 and over. I’ve been in cars driven by people of working age who are clearly unfit to drive safely.