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I AM deeply concerned about how narrow the discussion around the EU referendum has been so far.
A Brexit will have real impacts on many aspects of our lives, and we need to widen the debate beyond immigration and trade.
David Cameron has chosen to focus on welfare payments to immigrants, despite evidence that very few people move to the UK for this reason. Most commentators arguing for either side have focused on narrow economic arguments – whether being in or out is good for trade.
So here’s a few issues avoided so far:
Firstly, what will happen to the many British expats? 800,000 Brits live in Spain alone. They have the automatic right to live there because they are EU citizens. They would lose this right overnight if the UK left the EU. These people – many of whom won’t have a vote in the referendum – could be the most severely affected by the outcome, and we need to find out what the consequences will be.
Secondly, we need to look at the good done by EU investment outside of London. Whilst our own government continues its London-centric approach to funding arts and culture, five world class museums are threatened with closure in Lancashire alone.
The EU invests heavily in museums across the North West, including recent grants for the National Football Museum, the People’s History Museum and the Museum of Science and Industry.
Our own government invests most in London transport, but the EU has invested heavily elsewhere, including in our own Metrolink. I would worry about the future investment in all regions outside of London in a future outside of Europe.
Finally (for this letter!), we need to talk about the big issues which require international co-operation. Co-operating across international boundaries allows us to raise standards and rights without impacting competitiveness. For example, the EU is a beacon to the rest of the world on standards of environmental protection, animal welfare and employment rights.
Andy Hunter-Rossall, Oldham & Saddleworth Green Party (by email)
OLDHAM COUNCIL decided to raise council tax for 2016/17 by 3.6 per cent – a decision forced by a perfect storm of Government cuts and rising costs.
All councils are being affected by major policy shifts that will change how they are financed by the end of this parliament. By that date they will receive no funding from central government, but will be entirely dependent on council tax, business rates and fees and income earned.
This means councils in the north, such as Oldham, are already disadvantaged by a lower tax base. Yet this government is quite willing to bail out councils in the south with £300 million despite the fact they have suffered far lower cuts from central government.
This is in tandem with increasing pressures on council finances from an ageing population; the 2 per cent precept for social care raises less in boroughs such as Oldham than in more prosperous areas.
Employer National Insurance contributions are also increasing in April and in 2017 Oldham Council will begin to pay the new Apprenticeship Levy on larger employers.
Contrary to propaganda from the ruling party, there is no fat left to cut off local government. Services are deteriorating and facilities are now closing across the country and Oldham will not be immune from this.
The local government finance system is a shambles, based on a regressive and out of date council tax system.
The Green Party want to see this replaced with a Land Value Tax with greater powers for councils to set rates locally. The Green Party would also reintroduce a needs based system of funding for local councils.
Without such reforms, councils such as Oldham will suffer continuing cuts to resources and local residents will suffer from diminished services.
Roger Pakeman, Oldham & Saddleworth Green Party, Moorside
THE wanton killing of young ewes is a dreadful indictment for anyone who owns a dog.
Don’t these dog owners who live in this beautiful part of Britain realise that this is lambing time?
If they want to share the joy of newly-born lambs frolicking in our fields keep your dog in a lead!
Meantime I’d urge all those comers-in who waltz round our country lanes with the obligatory dog stuffed in the back of their shiny 4x4s to remember their out of control pets are destroying a farmer’s livelihood and our heritage.
Drystone waller (by email)
Doug, who used to live in Delph but has now moved to Royton, is a keen walker and photographer and frequently visits the area to enjoy the countryside.
He captured this photo of himself, using his camera’s ten-second timer, standing atop the hills overlooking the reservoirs and rolling hills below.
Doug admitted: “I hadn’t even planned a walk but it was such a nice day.”
MANY A colourful sunrise and sunset light up the skies above Saddleworth.
This stunning sight of a stormy sundown was captured in Scouthead by keen photographer Cyril Fogg.
He explained: “The photograph was taken a few weeks ago at the end of a typical winter Pennine deluge.”
I WRITE regarding ‘Stan’s Strange but True’ article in the February issue of the Saddleworth Independent as to what rhymes with organge.
I’ve been reading the book ‘The Richard Matthewman Stories’ by Ian McMillan and Martyn Wiley and I found a part mentioning this.
The English tutor at Richard’s college is setting the class a task before the Christmas holidays to find a rhyme for orange. Richard thinks of ‘door hinge’ and adds “it was a bit of a cheat, particularly because around our way they say ‘dour inge’ as he is from Barnsley.
I guess it depends on how you say ‘door hinge’ but it just seemed of interest after reading Stan’s article.
John Corner, Uppermill (by letter)
WHILE I understand the trauma and distress of having a small business ransacked by thieves, surely some responsibility for protecting property lies with the owners themselves?
Immediately anything happens in Saddleworth (by the way it happens everywhere else too) they all start screeching for the police.
Face the facts: we haven’t got enough police and there is little chance we may get anymore.
Invest in proper safeguards including CCTV, lighting and the sincere hope the neighbours who live near your business will have enough sense to at least dial 101 for assistance should there be a break-in. But don’t hold your breath on the latter.
Batman, Grotton (by email)
IT CAN not have been easy for Councillor Lesley Brown to go against the prevailing view of her fellow Parish Councillors and keep a sense of proportion about Cllr Mike Buckley’s conviction.
I applaud her courage. It was right and proper for him to be taken to court and sentenced when he was found to be guilty but there seems to be a determined effort to punish him still further.
I know people feel very strongly about this issue but I suspect there has crept in a measure of social media bullying, which is quite ugly.
I have no doubt Cllr Buckley would not have been re-elected to the Parish Council next time round so surely it would have been better for people to make their views known in an election, rather than by other means. That would have been a more telling response and a better indication of public feelings on the matter.
Incidentally, I was disappointed to see Councillor Brown described initially as “grandmother of two” as if this was the most important thing about her!
It’s as bad as describing all over 65’s as pensioners as though they have no other function but to draw their pensions!
More than a pensioner, Greenfield (by email)
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IT BEARS saying that Councillor Lesley Brown showed courage in standing by her friend Mike Buckley when Saddleworth Parish Council, otherwise unanimously, removed him from all its committees.
Personal loyalty is one thing; trying to dismiss his offences as trivial is another and it calls into question Cllr Brown’s fitness to remain in office. Child exploitation, sexual or otherwise, is never trivial.
“Mike looked at nude photographs but that‘s all he has done”, she says. No! The point is: he paid internet criminals for them. These people maltreat, abuse and exploit young boys and girls for profit. Some never really recover. Without those who pay, these people’s predatory and harmful trade would be at an end.
When Cllr Brown says dismissively, “The internet is full of pornography”, she seems to see it as all the same, abstract and far away. It isn’t: for one, child pornography can never be with consent. And how close does an abused child need to be before he comes into focus?
These boys were (presumably) Canadian, but what if they were English? Or Saddleworth youngsters? Would Ms Brown still be complacent if they were her family?
It shouldn’t matter. Every one of those pictures is of a real child and I, for one, expect our elected representatives to protect children unreservedly.
Last month, Dr RS Scott suggested Mike Buckley should resign and see whether he is re-elected. I agree and suggest that Lesley Brown should do the same.
Lynne Thompson, Delph (by email)
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Cllr Lesley Brown, as a grandmother, would you feel the same if Cllr Buckley downloaded and paid for naked pictures of your grandchildren?
Would you still be saying things such as “it has been blown out of proportion” and “he looked at the photographs, but that is all he has done”?
I highly doubt you would have that opinion.
So because you don’t know or can’t see the children being abused personally, you find downloading child abuse, not pornography, acceptable and are happy to work with Cllr Buckley? If your answer to this is yes, then you are as dilussional as your counterpart.
I was fully supportive of the recent online petition and back the decision of Saddleworth Parish Council to remove all association with Cllr Buckley. He is a disgrace and should have immediately resigned.
I am in contact with the Borough Solicitor Paul Entwistle, as we do feel he has broken The Code of Conduct and I am hoping that I will soon see his resignation in the public domain. For now, we must continue to protest at his clear lack of empathy, remorse and his clear delusional thoughts that the people of Dobcross would want him representing us.
I am aware you will probably ignore this and not answer the key question, which is if this were your grandchildren, would you be so keen to have a coffee with the person who PAID to see them abused?
Holly Wood, Saddleworth (by email)