Tame power of parish councils

From: Joan Lawrence, Slates Lane, Ilkley.

AS a taxpayer in another of the small towns in Kris Hopkins’ constituency referred to in his article (Yorkshire Post, March 23), I would like to say how much I applaud his efforts to focus on the little known issue of parish taxes. But rather than concentrate on the marginal issue of precept increases he should widen his remit to consider value for money on the spending as a whole.

For example, in my parish, the council set aside approximately 50 per cent of the precept for grants to not-for-profit organisations or to be spent on councillor-instigated projects (2011-12 annual budget plans) .

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There is no strategic planning behind the spending and no attempt is made to maximise the economic, sporting or social benefits to the community.

Decisions are made that are inconsistent and are not based on the council’s own limited criteria. The council routinely does not publish reasons for anomalous decisions and voting is almost always unanimous in support of its leaders. The outcome is that year after year a very limited number of the same organisations receive the majority of the funding.

The process of submitting objections to such practices is fiendishly difficult and enormously time consuming. I am strongly of the opinion that the current system cannot be effectively monitored or enforced within the complex and archaic system that exists. Until the electorate can be certain that they are receiving value for money in the whole budget, it seems to be a luxury to worry about the size of the increase as Kris proposes.

Taxpayers are capable to making rational personal decisions about support for non-profit making organisations within their own communities. Let’s remove the power from Parish Councils to raise money for these purposes.

The good old days of snow

From: Terry Duncan, Greame Road, Bridlington, East Yorkshire.

I HAVE never watched or read so much rubbish about the snow causing reported chaos on the British roads. All right, I am more than 70-years-old. I recall 1947, the late 1950s, the early 1960s.

On each occasion the stalwart Brits overcame the problems. There were power cuts as electricity cables were felled by heavy ice. But, there were no gas shortages, because the men attending the coke-filled gasworks kept us warm. And, in every community, where owners of cars and lorries did not have chains around their wheels, farmers arrived with horse-drawn ploughs to get through to the abandoned.

Those were the days when we survived, when no schools were closed down. Because in those days we scraped our way to work and school, as did our teachers, unlike the softies we have today.

Quality of life that counts

From: Maureen Hunt, Woolley, near Wakefield.

THERE are many of us who will share Stuart Thorn’s view, which he expresses in his letter (Yorkshire Post, March 15), that as we become more elderly we may feel that we have outlived our youthfulness and become “a drain on society’s resources”. Nor do we wish to be a nuisance and a burden on our family and friends.

It is also true that “many of us....would be happy to relinquish our right to life for a pain-free end”. It is not death we fear, but the manner of our dying. To this end, it would be helpful to our relatives and medical staff if we made a living will containing our wishes, whatever they may be. Surely, it must be one of our human rights to have control over our own lives, not to be in a position where we are dependent upon the will of others. As Mr Thorn states, “it is quality of life, not quantity” which matters.

He is certainly not alone in his opinion.

Benefits of
the bus pass

From: V Baker, Jarvis Walk, Robin Hood, Wakefield.

REGARDING the continuing debate regarding the pensioner’s bus pass, I was diagnosed with throat cancer some two-and-a-half years ago. Firstly I had to undergo extensive dental treatment at Leeds Dental Hospital. There are very little parking facilities at this hospital so I was very grateful for the bus that stops right outside the main doors.

Then I underwent seven weeks of radiotherapy at the Bexley wing at Jimmys. Parking is the big problem here, so it was easier for my wife and I to hop on the bus, and get a bus in Leeds right up to the front door.

On one of our trips the bus driver grinned at me and said: “Pensioners free day out is it?”

“No,” I replied. “I’m going for cancer treatment, I’d much rather be sat at home, nice and warn, watching telly.” That knocked the grin off his face. Also, I read somewhere, that its estimated that the free buss pass system may remove a million cars a day from our roads, more on a sunny weekend, now that must be good for the environment.