Saturday, 19 February 2011

If Westminster, why not Richmond?

Letter to The Editor, Richmond & Twickenham Times

Dear Sir

Cutbacks in council services have to be expected – EU statisticians report that British standards of living are 25% higher than the EU average, the Germans much less at 16% and the French at 13%. Doubtless Richmond’s vulnerable will be affected – its people with a learning disability just as much as dementia sufferers, as Ron Franklyn’s letter pointed out last week.

But if the vulnerable and their family carers are the first to feel the full brunt of the cutbacks, they should have to hand the evidence that “no stone is being left unturned in looking for savings’ to use Ron Franklyn’s quotation from Councillor Geoffrey Samuel. Too many of Richmond’s stones appear unturned!!

This week, however, at long last, comes the news that Westminster City Council’s chief executive is taking an 18% pay cut, and its director of human resources is claiming that “senior pay should be frozen for the foreseeable future as an absolute minimum.’ Those same steps were set out in your letter pages of April last year when Richmond Council was urged to follow Ireland’s example cutting public pay and pensions by 5% for the lowest and up to 20% for the highest.” And pensions have a higher priority than pay, as its Finance Director must realise, with the Centre for Policy Studies pointing out that “ a fiscal calamity” over civil service final salary pensions must be averted and that the total unfunded UK public sector pensions liability is estimated at £1.18 trillion, or £47,500 per household. What is Richmond’s liability?

Further may this oldie (beyond the ‘prime of his senility’) be allowed one more comment? Like many others in Richmond, my home has cost me nothing – indeed I have made a profit – and I enjoy a final salary pension; neither of these will be available to my grandchildren. Over and above my taxes I would be happy to make a contribution - to university education almost as much as the vulnerable – and so would many others in this community. This is a ball that needs putting into play and Richmond might be among the first to do so, with the church perhaps giving a helping hand.

Yours sincerely

Francis King


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