Letters, May 19,2011

DONCASTER, a city. Are the applicants on crack? Have they visited a city recently, any city? Leeds and Sheffield are close. Now these are cities. Check them out.

Don’t cities have interesting things like public toilets, majestic specimen trees, magnificent architecture, libraries with real books, exciting public sculpture, prestigious colleges and universities etc.

Except for the Mansion House, Labour’s municipal vandals destroyed most of what was worth saving in Doncaster in the sixties and seventies and their planning legacy will see the demolition of St James’ leisure centre which has one of the last Turkish baths in Britain.

Apart from the chainsaw massacre of trees at the racecourse, some 2,000 healthy mature urban trees have been felled here in the last seven years as make work for council employees; our tasteless street furniture looks like an explosion in a builders’ merchants, and without the income generated by some specific courses, the Hub, which offers only one third of the courses available at the former Waterdale College, would close.

But Doncaster has its firsts. More former councillors convicted of theft than any other authority; more at risk children (seven) known to social services died here than in any city, it has the most damning report ever written by the Audit Commission since it was set up, and it is the only local authority where the government have had to put in commissioners to run it.

The claim that being a city would of itself bring inward investment is bogus. For years Doncaster has been awash with money from Europe, the lottery and other sources (£57m to the New Deal for Communities) and what have we got to show for it?

Don’t be fooled. The only people to gain if Doncaster becomes a city are council fat cats whose salaries and gold plated pensions are already a crippling burden on taxpayers.

A city? Keep it real. With its well-documented history of corruption and mismanagement, this council couldn’t run a village store.

Dunlop Griffith, Council Watch, Roberts Road, Balby

Editor’s note: What do you think? Is Doncaster’s past a brake on its future? Write to us and we’ll print your views.

Unions should lead by example

AS a re-elected Hatfield town councillor, I was absolutely disgusted to read that Doncaster Council workers are to be balloted on strike action.

I believe this action is being called for purely to disrupt services to the council tax paying public at a time when our town is at an all time low.

Mr Jim Board, Unison branch secretary, says “enough is enough.” I couldn’t agree more Mr Board.

Now is the time to come clean and tell your members what you and your union colleagues receive from the council tax payers of Doncaster.

We, the public, pay your wages, we pay your office space within the Council House. What do we get for it?

A threat that if the council workers, are led to strike action by you Mr Board, the council taxpayer will get zero services.

May I suggest Mr Board, if you are sincere about saving council jobs, ask your union to pay your wages, and the rent for your office space. I am sure the money saved will go some way to safeguard front-line services and jobs.

Lead by example Mr Board. We all have to make sacrifices. Will you?

Mick Glynn, Hatfield town councillor, Doncaster Road, Hatfield

The value of independence

I WOULD like to take this opportunity to thank the electorate of Rossington who gave me their support in the Doncaster and Rossington local elections.

Against the background of political tribalism nationally, the importance of community issues were submerged in a debate between the Conservative/Lib-Dem coalition and Labour parties, and, in addition, the referendum on voting reform.

In such circumstances it was inevitable that candidates standing independently of the major parties would suffer electorally.

In this respect my vote in Rossington was of particular significance by increasing my share of the vote in the Doncaster Borough Council election and topping the poll in the Rossington Parish Council election.

Terry Wilde, Grangefield Avenue, Rossington

People should have to vote

RACHEL Hodson’s age and lack of experience were no obstacle to election to Doncaster Council (Free Press, May 12) as she was the Labour Party’s chosen candidate.

The party machine did what was necessary to get the voters out with the message that ‘a vote for Labour was a vote against the coalition government’ (nothing to do with getting someone to represent the needs of Thorne).

You rightly criticise the appalling turn out at the local elections in your comment column. The turn out in Thorne was just 37 per cent and Rachel, with 42 per cent of the votes cast, was supported by just 16 per cent of those entitled to vote.

Many people I talk to who don’t vote say it is because it is a foregone conclusion and Labour will always win in Doncaster anyway.

Unless they are brave enough to think they can change things and bother to vote Doncaster will languish as a second-rate council for years to come.

Perhaps we need the Australian system with compulsory voting which produces a turn out of over 95 per cent in their elections.

Tony Brookes, Windyridge, Fieldside, Thorne

Bid for city status is great

BIDDING to become a city is great news, it really shows the transformation of Doncaster in the last 50 years. The time of mining and industry is over.

After years of revolutionising the town to become a home of business and enterprise, this could be the final step the borough needs.

With network, road and rail links to rival any area of the UK, not to mention the size of our borough, calling Doncaster a town is like calling Europe a country.

The Lakeside shopping outlet, Doncaster Dome, Robin Hood Airport, The Frenchgate, Doncaster Interchange, the new Hub college, Doncaster Minster, the Mansion House and many more venues of history and entertainment.

The endless list of Doncaster’s tourist attractions is evident of how much desire this borough has for growth.

Let’s stop being that town near Sheffield. We have the potential to be as well-known as Sheffield. We have the potential to be a centre of business growth. We have the potential of a great tourist experience. We have the potential to be a great city. Let’s back the bid.

Lee Croft, Mayfield Avenue, Stainforth

Councillors need to work together

EVER since Peter Davies was democratically elected, the Labour councillors have selfishly opposed everything he has done.

The people of Doncaster elected them to work together, putting political differences aside; surely that is not too much to ask of all sides of the political spectrum in these difficult times.

They are having ideas above our status as a town, in wanting to become a city. The old adage “When all the nobodys become somebodys, then inevitably all the somebodys will become nobodys.”

Enid Eborall, Grasmere Road, Carcroft

National politics are bad for us

ONCE again the local elections have produced good results along national party lines for Labour and Conservatives.

This is bad news for local democracy because the successful councillors will only follow the dictates of Westminster rather than the wishes of their local community.

It would be wonderful if the Independent candidates along with those from the community group and English Democrats could agree to field just one person to challenge the Big Two.

May I suggest it be called the ‘Local Alternative party’ and hope that it will fight hard to serve the people in Doncaster regardless of national politics.

H Santiuste, Coningsburgh Road, Edenthorpe

Skellow sign is up . . finally!

I WROTE to you about a year ago asking why Skellow had no welcoming signs as you enter the village. Well now at long last I see we have got two. Yippee, and a big thank you to whom it may concern. At last we are on the map

Sue Dunnill, Cross Hill Court, Skellow

Why weren’t all results printed?

CAN you explain why the local election results were not printed in the Free Press?

I am fortunate in that I was able to look at the results on your website but several neighbours and friends complained that they were unable to find out the results in their ward.

It is a basic democratic right for people to know who they have elected to serve them and the local newspaper is the place people expect to see that.

I suspect a lot of people will be upset - especially as you seem to have plenty of space to devote to all the other things happening in Doncaster such as the no doubt doomed city status campaign.

I look forward to seeing you print the results in full in this week’s paper, or at the very least an explanation.

Mrs G Collins, Braithwell

From the editor’s chair - Page 18

Be careful what you wish for

IF Coun Mick Glynn reads this he may regret asking for more Freeview letters. Obviously maths is not his strong point when calculating the cost of the DFP in old money, 75 pence equates to 15 shillings, not 17/6.

Does this answer some questions about Doncaster’s finances?

B Newbold, School Walk, Old Edlington

Labour’s made mayor look good

AS a member of UKIP I have no particular regard for our elected mayor, Mr Davies, but I wonder just how statesman-like the Labour party has now made him appear?

Last week Mrs Holland, the Labour group leader in Doncaster, bemoaned the fact that to date Mr Davies has filled his cabinet with Tories, Lib Dems and Independents.

She wondered whether he would offer her party any cabinet posts, to reflect the fact that Labour now has a comfortable majority of councillors.

Mr Davies duly offered her group two cabinet seats, which she promptly rejected, as she didn’t want her party to be tainted by right wing policies. I think Nick Clegg has much to answer for.

Mrs Holland is now going to set up a shadow cabinet to hold Mr Davies to account.

Flim flam! As Mrs Holland knows well, in an elected mayoral and cabinet system it doesn’t matter how many councillors she controls, other than in setting the rate of council tax, councillors outside the cabinet have no control over policy.

A missed opportunity?

Mick Andrews, Thorne Road