Councillor Colin Raistrick: Some people have backward looking stance on NHS and climate change

Hipperholme crossroads suffers high air pollution
Hipperholme crossroads suffers high air pollution

In this week's Inside the Council column, Coun Colin Raistrick (Independent, Hipperholme and Lightcliffe) discusses the calls to changes in the NHS and views on climate change.

People don’t like change. It’s a fact. Occasionally, however, something happens which brings the need for change into sharp focus.

A few weeks ago, whilst out riding his bike in the wilds of Northumberland, my elder brother (70) suffered a heart attack. Clutching his chest he rang for an ambulance which ‘blue-lighted’ him (and his bike) to hospital, a forty minute journey.

Not the nearest hospital mind you, but to a hospital that had a specialist heart unit. All the gear, specialist waiting when he arrived. From ringing for help to laid in recovery, stent in place, clot removed, life saved, less than two hours. This is a lesson for all those people railing against the reorganisation of our local health services - specialist units save lives.

All those longing for A and Es in every town, lingering nostalgia for cottage hospitals and stern Matrons, like some sort of Carry On film, are living in the past.

This misguided resistance to change is still evident. As reported in the Echo (June 13) the Government has launched what are called Primary Care Networks, with plans to recruit 20,000 specialist health care workers.

No bad thing surely, but a local NHS action group, ‘Calderdale and Kirklees 999 Call for the NHS’ (snappy name that!) is protesting that this will stop you seeing your own doctor. Honestly some people are never happy. This group should be renamed ‘Call 1999’. Talk about living in the past.

Another backward looking philosophy is the current panic over alleged climate change (remember when it was called global warming- how did that work out?). The way to stop man-made climate change, apparently, is to make everybody miserable and pay more for everything.

Immediately give up your petrol/diesel car and switch to electric, more expensive obviously and billions will have to be spent to provide the charging infrastructure (guess who’ll pay). No flying off to Spain for a couple of weeks, aeroplanes are very polluting and airline fuel needs to be taxed (we’ll pay).

No more cruises, ships are very polluting, so they’ll need taxing. No more gas boilers or gas cookers, we’ll have to switch to hydrogen, more tax. Even though we could solve this problem and supply cheap gas to everyone by fracking (there I’ve said it, fracking).

There ‘ll be no more steaks (yum yum), because cattle emit methane and take up land we could use for more windfarms or growing beans. So, according to the green lobby we should all revert to living like we did in the Dark Ages. Of course, this will never happen because the well off will pay the extra taxes whilst the poorer sections of society will have to live a carless, heatless, lightless, holiday less, bean chewing, meat free existence, sitting on their compostable toilets (all those beans) whilst knitting their own clothing out of organically grown flax.

Sounds exciting, where do I sign?

In local news, Kirklees Council have submitted their Local Plan. They aim to build thousands of houses near the M62 at Brighouse. Pretty similar to Calderdale’s Local Plan for Clifton and Rastrick, don’t you think? Both right or both wrong?

The North/South divide was starkly illustrated in the recent elections for the European Union. London voted Remain but everyone north of Watford Gap voted for a Brexit leaning party. The haves don’t want change, the havenots would welcome some.

I’m unmoved that some of the contenders for the Conservative Party leadership have expressed a commitment to legally binding targets to tackle air pollution. Will this make any difference to places like Hipperholme crossroads?

They must be on drugs if they think so, It’s just words, and meanwhile in the real world, houses are being built, traffic increases and children still choke on their way to school. It’s not a problem in leafy Berkshire, so they don’t care.

Final thought - If populism is such a bad thing, why is it so popular?