As I always do, I read Rev Dr Stephen Bradberry’s Weekend Thoughts column (“You are the weakest link”) with great interest in last week’s Courier.
I believe he has touched on a key point in the decline of our society by pointing out that we are positively encouraged to judge other people, their talents and their personalities. “Coldly and with little sympathy or compassion they are rejected – they are just not good enough”, he says. The main issue is that judging other people has somehow become entertainment. Why should we worry about our own sad little lives when we can criticise and reject people who have done what we are too scared to do by at least having the bottle to stand up and try? Who can we destroy next? Which fragile talent can we crush in its infancy? Who can we reject to make ourselves feel a little bit better about our lives instead of doing what we should do – go out and make life better for everybody? Do the people at the St Augustine’s Centre judge the asylum seekers who are washed up at their door by a harsh, uncaring system? Do the people at the Ebeneezer Food Support Drop-In refuse to feed the people with “chaotic lifestyles” unless they pull themselves together and meet some random criteria which “proves” them worthy of help? How choosy are the Street Angels who help dozens of distressed and drunk revellers each weekend? Where does it say that we must only help those who “deserve” it or who meet our standards? When the Pharisees saw Jesus eating with tax collectors and sinners, he told them “Those who are healthy don’t need physicians, but those who are sick do” (Matthew 9:12). Everyone has the potential to do good, everyone can make the world just a little bit better. We can’t do everything, but we can do something. If only we could break out of this destructive judgement cycle. If only we could take the broken, the rejected, the weak and the poor and say to them, “Forget what society thinks of you. We love you and between us we can bring out your talents, polish them and send them out into the world to do good”. Forget those who try to judge you. As Mother Theresa of Calcutta said, “It was never between you and them anyway”. There is only one judge that counts, and only one judgement that counts; and that will come when each and every one of us gets to stand before Jesus Christ and tell him how our walk through His Creation went. You won’t want to hear this so come closer and I’ll whisper it. The number of times you voted in the X Factor probably won’t come up in that particular conversation. But the number of times you stopped judging people, got off your backside and simply went out to help them just might. Please don’t think I’m putting Simon Cowell forward as a candidate for the anti-Christ. I just believe it’s time we all stopped sitting back in judgement and actually did something worthy of being judged.
Conway Billington (Anglican Reader)
St John The Evangelist, Warley
They’ve a right to feel let down
I was elected to represent the people of Warley ward on Calderdale Council in a by-election last July. During that campaign candidates from all parties pledged their support on leaflets to introducing new 20mph zones within the ward. The good news was a 20mph scheme for Warley Town had already been agreed with Highways Officers at Calderdale Council following a period of consultation with residents. Once elected I made enquiries as to when this scheme was going to go ahead, and I was subsequently informed by the Highways Department it was only weeks away from being installed. A few months later there was no sign of the work being done, so again I chased this point up with officers. I was now being informed a decision had been taken to review the scheme.Neither myself as an elected representative or members of the local community were given the opportunity to participate in this review. It now emerges a decision has been made to cancel the scheme. People in Warley Town are right to feel let down by Calderdale Council. The Council had a moral duty to stick by its decision to go ahead with the scheme once it had communicated this to local people. The u-turn the Council has made of this 20mph scheme in Warley Town has damaged people’s trust in the democratic process. Councillor Barry Collin’s the Labour member with responsibility for the Highway’s department belongs to a party that electioneered on the promise of supporting 20mph schemes within the ward, only to then precede over a department that had broken its promises to local people.
Coun James Baker
Come here to see state of litter
Regarding your headline Friday, March 1st on fines for littering, may we suggest that some of these Council Officers are despatched to Savile Park playing fields as they are left in a disgusting state every weekend with energy drink bottles and sock ties disgarded at the side of the pitches. The clubs involved could then be approached to clean up their act. At the same time they could visit Albert Promenade as we have had enough of picking up take away cartons, drink cans and other rubbish left by people who park there in an evening and throw their litter from their cars rather than putting it in the bins provided. The Council do regularly empty the bins but seem oblivious to the rubbish left on the floor.
T & L Eastwood
Savile Park, Halifax
School must continue to improve
I have been quite rightly quoted in the past as being very sceptical of the DfE’s rush to convert Calder High into a sponsored academy. Apart from being totally unnecessary it is contrary to the wishes of management, staff, governors, pupils and parents; particularly as any sponsor determined by the DfE is likely to be some large group based outside Calderdale. Many of your readers will be aware that the school has been not without its problems in recent times and the fact that it was classed as ‘inadequate’ by OFSTED is the trigger [excuse?] for the DfE to intervene and begin the academisation process. During this time I and Calderdale’s Education officers have supported the school in many ways, not least in relation to brokering the support of The Brooksbank schools and an interim Head. Part of this support also involved improving the relationship with, and involvement of, parents and pupils in this process. To that end I have been in touch with parent groups and attended a number of their meetings over the last few months. This package of support would appear to have begun to have the desired affect with an improved atmosphere and relationships within the school. At a recent meeting with parents at Hebden Bridge Town Hall, I made it clear that we supported parents in their fight against forced academisation but that, to a significant extent, our hands were tied because of the ‘inadequate’ category. Given that situation we were continuing to support and encourage the school with the hope of it coming out of a category whilst we worked on ‘Plan B’ in case the DfE won the argument which I think was a prudent approach. Readers may also be aware that at a recent OFSTED the school was judged to ‘require improvement’ which is a step up from ‘inadequate’ and should take them out of the forced academy ‘danger zone’. However, as I write, the authority have not yet received the formal letter confirming this judgement so it is not official until we do. Being positive, if / when the improvement is confirmed then the options are much more positive and local, so June Eaton, her group and all interested parties can relax a little and we can all work together to develop the right way forward for Calder High. Clearly there is still some way to go as I am sure that none of us are happy with ’inadequate’ and if there is no improvement when OFSTED return then we will be right back where we started. The support from Brooksbank and the interim Head, combined with the efforts of staff, governors, pupils and parents has been terrific and begun turning things around. We all need to maintain this process and direction of travel for the good of our young people in the Upper Valley. I have every confidence that this will be the case.
Coun Ashley Evans
Pay union rates for work done
The article from Councillor Colin Stout (Courier, March 1) partly reflected my own views regarding unemployed people (not “the unemployed”) a good start Councillor! More importantly there is in this article a note that there is a lot of work which could and should be carried out by unemployed people for proper union rate wages and NOT benefits which ideally would be abolished apart from short term emergencies as was originally envisaged. The stigma of carrying out work “beneath our dignity” needs removing as work is honourable according to the Bible. Surely, work paid for by the state would be a better benefit for all, particularly the soul-destroying visit to Job Centre Plus in the hope of finding a job that doesn’t exist, and the sooner those in power realise this the more likely endemic problems could begin to be properly tackled.
Nightmare for mums with prams
I agree with K Cassell about the dog poo (Your Say, February 22). I live in Boothtown and the walk to town is terrible. There are quite a few young mothers with prams and small children here so manoeuvring those to get into town must be a nightmare. We have just been down town and there is a new dollop. Talk about ‘Tiptoe through the Tulips’, it’s now ‘Tiptoe through the Dog Poo’.