Give me 10 seconds of your time please

I am reliably informed that the cost of keeping the Coastguard Stations that under threat open equates to 15 pence per taxpayer year.

So I thought that I would conduct a quick and dirty straw poll.

Would you pay 15 pence per year to keep them open?

That’s all for today folks, thanks for reading

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MPs get my goat

Well, let’s be honest, there’s not many that get my vote at the moment.

Being relatively new to the area I haven’t had much cause to contact my MP really, but on the occasions that I have he has not exactly filled me with confidence, quelle surprise.

I first wrote to him asking him to support the anticipated debate on Police Pensions after the e-petition passed the 100,000 signature milestone.  His response was some flaccid retort that had every indication of having its origins in the Theresa May Book of Things to Say.  Being a politician, of course he didn’t answer any of my questions, just told me how good Theresa May was and how it was necessary to reform Police Pensions, for the good of all.

My next letter was to ask him to attend yesterday’s debate and support Keith Vaz’s motion on Police Pensions.  His reply indicated that he had a long-standing couldn’t be arsed diary appointment and would not be attending.  In my letter I pointed out to him that Section 2 of the Police Pensions Act should be honoured by government, and not change the legislation to suit, and that any changes to the Police Pension Scheme should only apply to new recruits and not existing members.  Unsurprisingly not a single comment on those two important issues.

But fear not readers, a new era is dawning, retiredandangry has now realised how naive and stupid he is and will take immediate steps to rectify this situation.

I will be the first to admit that I didn’t pay much attention in my history lessons at school, neither the subject nor the teacher enthralled me, but I seem to remember being told that we lived in what they called a Democracy.  I thought I’d understood what that word meant but over time I bacame less confident so I looked it up in the Oxford Dictionary;

Definition of democracy

noun (plural democracies)

[mass noun]

  • a system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives: a system of parliamentary democracy
  • [count noun] a state governed under a system of democracy: a multiparty democracy
  • control of an organization or group by the majority of its members: the intended extension of industrial democracy
  • the practice or principles of social equality: demands for greater democracy

Now I know that the whole population can’t govern, that’s why we elect MPs isn’t it?  They are meant to represent US aren’t they?  Not represent their own self-obsessed, think-tank inspired, profiteering ideals.

You work for us Dave, we pay your salary (and your expenses).  So either I or the government have got the wrong idea of what a democracy is.  No wonder I’ve lost interest in voting for any of this lot.

My third and most recent letter to the Member for DeadBadgerShire was in relation to Coastguard Station Closures and I asked him one question, and one question only “There has been much mention in the press recently concerning the closure of certain Coastguard Stations.

Could you please tell me if you are FOR or AGAINST these closures?”

That was it, my letter in its totality.  I have to admit that it invoked a much more comprehensive response than the question invited.  Much more comprehensive in fact than his response to my letter about Police pensions.  What it didn’t contain of course was an actual answer to the question that I asked him, just a whole load of s***e about how antiquated the Coastguard set-up is and why they need national networking to improve their functionality.  I do hope he doesn’t think about it for too long or he might get the idea that a national Police Force is a good idea.  Mind you that would make the procurement gravy train an easier ride.

In his response he includes the ‘fact’ that Coastguard services have changed little in the last 40 years.  That sounds very similar to this government’s claim that the Police service is the last un-reformed public service to me.

He then goes on to tell me that the current system suffers from a fundamental lack of resilience and an inability to spread workloads across it.  I’ve read this letter 4 or 5 times now, and I’m still not clear what he’s telling me apart from they must be modernised.

He says that the Coastguard Service has changed little over the last 40 years, the truth of that statement is that pay and conditions have changed little over that time frame with only minor inflation adjustments.  They use modern technology and techniques which were unheard of 10 years ago!

In February this year the Coastguard SOS blog included an article about the potential/planned  closure of the Liverpool Coastguard Station.  Liverpool CG Stn is responsible, amongst other places, for the coastline around Blackpool, one of the most popular yet dangerous stretches of coast in the UK.  Tourists stream to Blackpool in their thousands, for a bit of Candy Floss, Chips with Curry Sauce or Gravy, a Kiss Me Quick hat and to play on the sands.

To finish today’s blog off I’m going to nick a bit of that website;

There has been an approximate 1 or 2 drowning(s) in the sea each year on the Fylde coast, the most significant tragedy was on 5th January, 1983, when a visitor drowned after going into the sea to rescue his dog. In an attempt to save the man, three Police Officers also drowned. This disaster resulted in stricter guidelines for all Police Officers called to any coastal incident, and highlighted the need for properly equipped specialist rescue teams to be on the scene in the shortest of possible times. There is also a worrying trend of people coming to the coast to take their own lives; three known in recent years, according to the Coroner.

We are an island with great seaside towns and fantastic, varied coastline that millions of people enjoy each year. Can we afford to close 50% of the Coastguard Regional Rescue Centres? There are many ways to make our shores safer; accidents do happen and it is immoral to reduce the chances of survival, for what is a very small cost-saving in closing Coastguard stations and their vital local knowledge.

The real impact here is on the families and communities affected by tragic deaths of this kind.

Closures put all 999 services at risk because the loss of local knowledge will mean more are deployed to find casualties. … if police get there first .. they maybe tempted to effect rescue.  Also the council set up a public protection committee but have failed to keep it focused and cannot give any statistics on local coastal incidents or drowning.  They have been challenged  publicly with FOI request but they remain unconcerned about local coastal safety.

Her Majesty’s Coastguard Service apparently  costs £35 million to operate  = £1.16 per taxpayer per year.    To close 50% of the Coastguard Stations would attract an estimated saving of £4.6 million = 15 pence per taxpayer per year.

I’m a UK Taxpayer and I vote to pay my 15 pence, are you listening Dave?

The Hon Member for DeadBadgerShire has written to me again

Once it became known that Keith Vaz MP had secured a Parliamentary debate for tomorrow (28th November) in relation to proposed changes to the Police Pension Scheme, I, like many others I suspect, wrote to my MP and asked him to support to the motion.

Now this MP has always been very good at responding to my letters, e-mails etc so I anticipated that this would be no different.

Yet again his secretary asked me for my address in order that he may respond and I waited anxiously and excitedly for the postperson to arrive.  Well today the postperson duly arrived with not one but two letters addressed to me from the House of Commons.  With mounting anticipation I tore open the envelopes and devoured the contents.  Both letters were from my MP.  Both letters were written on the same date.  Both letters were posted on the same date, but no, both letters could not be placed in the same envelope and save on postage costs.

One of the letters was about an entirely different subject, but then I saw his reply to my questions regarding the debate on Police Pensions.  My excitement and nervousness mounted in equal measure. I gingerly unfolded the letter and read the contents several times, to ensure that I had understood them correctly.

It is fair to say that I was so moved by this letter that a little tear formed in the corner of my eye and rolled, unchecked, down my cheek.  I was so moved that I thought I would immediately share the news with you all, so here it is, reproduced below, a faithful copy of that wonderful, momentous letter from the Hon Member for DeadBadgerShire;

Letter from Hon Member for DeadBadgerShire

I’m sure that having read it you will all share my excitement and confidence that a just outcome will be reached tomorrow.

What do you call a Police Authority without a Chief Exec?

Well, apparently the answer is a Police and Crime Commissioner.

I have to admit that I got caught napping a little bit by this one.  I have been scratching my poor old swede and pulling the sad remains of my hair out for weeks trying to work out how on earth a PCC was going to take on all the responsibilities of a fully fledged Police Authority.

I presume that the staff who do all the work have been retained and will be TUPE’d across to the PCC’s office.  That leaves the Members of the Police Authority.  Would I be right in thinking that they and the Chief Exec are all gone?  Replaced by the solitary PCC?

PCC’s salary?  I’ve heard various estimates of salary for elected PCCs but this document here shows the proposed salary for PCCs by area, between £65,000 and £100,000 per annum.  That certainly seems to be a financial saving on what some of the Chief Execs were being paid, but not very much in the greater scheme of things.

Now these futile elections have cost the country between £75 and £100 million, to organise a shambles.  £75 million would have paid the salaries of nearly 2,150 constables for a year.  £100 million would have paid for closer to 3,000 constables for a year.

I have been reliably informed that these PCCs will have a team and a crime panel behind them, so they will be a bit like a Police Authority really.

So this very much begs the question “Why?”

Possible answers include

  • To make policing more localised and accountable
  • To save money
  • To identify a scapegoat rather than central government when it all goes belly up, and it might
  • Any other reason you can think of.

So, as I see it we have spent between £75 and £100 million pounds to swap an unelected Chief Executive for an elected Police and Crime Commissioner.

Will it really make a tangible difference?  Probably not.

Did the great British public understand what was happening?  Definitely not.

Has it all been worth it?  Almost certainly not.

I genuinely hope that something good and positive arises from the ashes of local Police Authorities, but I won’t be lying awake at night waiting for it.

A Whole New Meaning to the Daily Nazi

This news caught my attention this morning, who on earth does Cameron think he is?

The right to legally challenge government policies will be limited to help bolster the economy, PM David Cameron is expected to say later.

Mr Cameron will tell business leaders this is so “people think twice about time-wasting” to delay developments.

He will call for wartime thinking when “rules were circumvented”.

In a speech to the CBI in London on Monday, Mr Cameron will say the country is in the “economic equivalent of war” and needs the “same spirit.”The prime minister is expected to say the legal right to a judicial review of decisions, including major infrastructure projects, will be scaled back, insisting: “We urgently need to get a grip on this”.

He will draw an analogy with how the country responded to fighting Hitler.

“When this country was at war in the 40s, Whitehall underwent a revolution.

“Normal rules were circumvented. Convention was thrown out. As one historian put it, everything was thrown at ‘the overriding purpose’ of beating Hitler.

“Well, this country is in the economic equivalent of war today – and we need the same spirit. We need to forget about crossing every ‘t’ and dotting every ‘i’ – and we need to throw everything we’ve got at winning in this global race.”

Apart from the fact that his whole approach does not seem very democratic to me, it would be laughable if it was so damn offensive.  We are told that he will draw an analogy with fighting Hitler.  He’s behaving more like Hitler himself himself than those fighting him.  He seems to approve of circumventing rules, isn’t that what the French do?  And if he can’t circumvent the rules the he will change them, viz a viz the pensions scenario.

If Cameron thinks that he is leading a democracy, I need a new dictionary.

via BBC News – PM to crackdown on ‘time-wasting’ appeals.

Olympic fiasco firm G4S loses contract to run Yorkshire prison

THE firm at the centre of the Olympics security shambles recently lost its contract to run a jail in Yorkshire and failed to win any further prison contracts it was bidding for, the Ministry of Justice has said.

G4S, which failed to provide enough guards for the London 2012 games, will stop running the Wolds prison in East Yorkshire and it will return to the public sector from next year.

The Wolds prison, a category C training prison holding up to 395 men, has been run by G4S since it opened in 1992.

But it will return to the public sector at the end of the current contract in July 2013, the MoJ said.

G4S shares were down 5% after the announcement.

Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said the Government’s decision to hand over prisons to the private sector was “a mistake of Olympic proportions”.

She also called for details of how the bidding process is being decided to be made public.

“The Government will seek to deflect criticism of its prison privatisation programme by excluding G4S from the next stage of the bidding process, but the principle of awarding lucrative contracts to private companies running prisons on the cheap remains unchallenged,” Ms Crook said.

Something as important as taking away someone’s freedom should only be done by the state, answerable to taxpayers, rather than by international private security firms, answerable only to their shareholders.”

She went on: “Running prisons for profit also means these multinationals cash in on others’ misery, making more money out of increased levels of crime and a greater number of people being held in overcrowded cells.

Private firms are often much better at winning contracts than delivering the goods, but the criteria for these decisions have not been made public.

“This is concerning, as the Department for Transport’s bungling of the West Coast Main Line contract only came to light after Virgin Trains took legal action.”

Ms Crook added: “I am writing to the chief executive of the National Offender Management Service (Noms) to request the details of how the bidding process is being decided.”

Any further prison sell-offs should be stopped and an independent review is urgently required, the Public and Commercial Services union said.

Mark Serwotka, its general secretary, said: “The privatisation of our prison service ought to be a national scandal and that this has happened without any public debate is shameful.

It is morally reprehensible that companies are profiting from locking people up and we urgently need an independent review to look at the impact on our communities, staff and prisoners.”

 

I had never considered this angle before, and whilst I fully accept and understand that G4S (other private companies are also available) are not responsible for the decision-making process as to whether an individual is incarcerated or not, the moral question as to whether it is right to make huge profits out of peoples’ deprivation of liberty is, I think, a valid one.  I was rather sad to note that their profits had fallen by 5% as a result of losing this contract though, not.

Olympic fiasco firm G4S loses contract to run Yorkshire prison – Main Section – Yorkshire Post.

I For One Have Had Enough

Forgive me but I’m going to have a rant.

Just about every form of Emergency Service (and others) that I can think of is being faced with cutbacks.

Pay Freezes are not uncommon.

Only today it was announced that about 1,000 Civil Servants in Micahel Gove’s department (Education) face the risk of redundancy, that’s apparently a QUARTER of the workforce.  The DfE is having to make savings of 50% (£296 Million) by 2015/2016.  I feel sorry for the Civil Servants in question in the same way that I would feel sorry for anybody facing redundancy, but then my mind started to wander (nothing new there then) and I had me a few thoughts.

a)  With all of these cutbacks in our public services are we going to get reductions in our Council Tax and Income Tax?  I can see the answer to that being a big fat no, but think about it for a minute.  Part of our Council Tax goes directly to pay for your local Police.  If there’s less of them, they don’t need as much money from us.  Inflation through the back door.  They can’t use the argument that we need to keep Council Tax at the same level to fund the shortfall, because that is what the Force’s budgetary savings are having to do.

b)  With all of these people being made redundant, what is Dave going to do with the unemployment figures?  The way the unemployment figures are massaged already leaves me dazed and confused.  The headline today was

UK unemployment falls to 2.51 million, ONS says

The unemployment total is now 110,000 lower than for the July-September quarter last year, the ONS said.

Well that’s very good, I’m all in favour of less unemployment.  But then I noticed this little sentence hidden in there;

“But the ONS said that the claimant count rose by 10,100 last month to 1.58 million, the highest since July.”

So does this mean that are nearly 1 million people unemployed who are not claiming?  How does that work?  If this statistic means anything at all it shows an INCREASE.

Part-time employment increased by 49,000 to 8.1 million, close to a record high,  the ONS also said that the jobless rate among 16 to 24-year-olds was still 963,000. This figure includes 315,000 unemployed young people in full-time education.  How does that work?  Unemployed whilst in Full Time Education?

Shadow work and pensions secretary Liam Byrne said “Today’s figures showed another very sharp increase in long-term unemployment, heading up now towards the million mark. That’s a third of [the total number of] people out of work, so it’s a huge issue.

So it’s not all roses is it?  Once again we are being bamboozled.

And finally, to upset my afternoon cup of coffee and Countdown I found this, old news but was probably hidden;

MPs’ pay could climb by 40 per cent to £92,000 under pensions review

So the Police, NHS and others have suffered pay freezes for a minimum of 2 years.  Thousands face redundancy all over the public sector.

This hair-brained scheme has been born out of a review of their remuneration by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa), the watchdog set up after the expenses scandal three years ago.  Now it’s more difficult for politicians to fiddle their expenses they seem about to get a 40% pay rise.  Hasn’t Dave told them we’re still in a period of AUSTERITY?

“At the moment, MPs’ annual salary is approximately 2.5 to 2.9 times national annual average earnings, depending on which measure is used.”

Its review said suggestions for the appropriate multiplier for calculating salaries had ranged “from 1.5 to 4 times national average earnings”.

On the basis that the current average pay is £23,000 a year, four times that amount would produce a pay packet of around £92,000 for MPs.

The watchdog signalled it did not back proposals for regionalising pay, depending on which constituencies politicians represented, pointing out that “most MPs live and work in London for a large part of the week when Parliament is sitting”.  Regional pay is good enough for the plebs but not for the toffs apparently.

It also rejected the notion of basing remuneration on performance or time served in the Commons and suggested a link to earnings before entering parliament would “disadvantage some candidates”.

It highlighted the idea of having two salary levels – one for the dozens of MPs who hold second jobs and another for those who give up extra work – but did not reach a conclusion on its merits.

BRILLIANT

But there is some good news, MPs salaries are being limited a 1% increase this year.  Tell that to everyone with a Pay Freeze, they’ll understand Dave.

Then there’s pensions.  Their pension contributions are apparently being increased to 12%.  Fine Dave, that’s OK, you can tell the thousands of public servants who are having their pension contributions raised to a higher level than that.

One last thought;

Dave – NEVER tell us again that we are all in this together.