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Leave us alone Dewsbury Moor tells top MP

A TOP politician's visit to Dewsbury Moor has been slammed as little more than a publicity stunt.

Community stalwart Julie Bushby said Pensions Secretary James Purnell's high-profile tour of the Moorside area was simply raking up the Karen Matthews scandal.

"We are being used for politics," said Julie. "Leave Dewsbury Moor alone."

In front of national media, at the Schoolcroft Tenants and Residents' Association base, he unveiled a scheme to dock the benefits of alcoholics if they refuse to take up offered treatment.

The announcement got huge media coverage this week with numerous references made about the Shannon Matthews case.

Tuesday's visit was billed as a platform for Mr Purnell to announce welfare reforms and counter suggestions that Dewsbury Moor is a benefits hotbed.

He rubbished comments by Tory leader David Cameron that jailed mum Karen was "an example of a broken society and that everyone on benefits could turn into someone like her".

And he jibed at Mr Cameron for not visiting the estate as he had said he would.

But Julie says the Tory leader still intends to come to Moorside. "His PA has told me the visit has only been delayed because of the death of Mr Cameron's son," she said. "It is a definite, but it will be in secret."

As Mr Purnell met community members at the Schoolcroft TRA flat in School Avenue, Julie challenged him to put young people into the Army if they did not find work after six months on the dole.

Neither the pensions secretary nor Dewsbury MP Shahid Malik who was hosting the visit, gave a direct answer.

"They just laughed," said Julie. "But it didn't bother me. I had said my piece."

But she was angry at repeated references to Shannon Matthews. "Why keep bringing her into it? Four times in one conversation she was mentioned," she said. "This was not about Karen and Shannon Matthews.

"Purnell's visit didn't achieve anything. He never answered a question directly. It didn't impress me."

Julie said she was asked to pose for photographs with Mr Purnell and Mr Malik, but refused. "It was just a publicity stunt," she said.

Mr Purnell spoke with residents about crime, alcoholism, drugs, diet, nutrition and the regeneration of Dewsbury.

The visit started at the SureStart centre in Heckmondwike Road and also included a Jobcentre Plus.

Mr Purnell said Moorside showed "the best of neighbourliness" during the hunt for Shannon.

"Dewsbury has had a lot of bad press. I wanted to hear from the people themselves what the real issues are and how we could help," he said.

"This is a good community. It is vital to realise there is more to Dewsbury than Karen Matthews. Some people do evil things and it is irrelevant whether they are on benefits or not."

Mr Purnell vowed the government would not give up on Dewsbury.

Kathleen Andrews, chairman of Schoolcroft TRA, felt the visit went well. She said. "People were very honest with him and asked some good questions. We told him we are not all like Karen Matthews."

 
 
 

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