I intend to continue, as I did in my Journal column, to look, as far as possible on the bright side of life, but that will not stop me from criticising stupidities, like the progressive closure of the Tyrrell Hospital. I also intend not to favour one political party over another, although I will criticise individual policies, if I feel like it.
I believe that we live in one of the most beautiful parts of Britain and in one of the best little towns in the region. Of course, the town is not without problems, but there are some lovely people here – look at Facebook and see how often lost valuables are returned – and there is a great sense of community. I also believe that, after many years in the doldrums, Ilfracombe is finally set for a revival.
What is a child’s life worth? £1? £10? £250,000? Well Devon County Council have decided that it is not worth £250,000. That is the amount they will save by scraping lollipop patrols. In the context of the whole budget, the saving is trivial – it is the equivalent of the cost of a couple of moderately senior bureaucrats. What do they say we can do if we want to keep the patrols? Get the schools to pay! This is the same stupid, blinkered, beggar your neighbour thinking that leads the NHS to try to pass problems to social services or the police. One national organisation has to save money, so they identify something they can pass to another national organisation, and, at the end of the day, who suffers? We do. Or, in this case, our children or grandchildren. I know we have to live within our means. I know that central government has cut the amount it sends to local government, but surely savings could be made elsewhere.
Cut bureaucracy. Cut civil servants. Cut red tape. But don’t cut services which may mean life or death to people in our community.
Apparently the Met Office is going on strike for more pay. The BBC reports “The Prospect union says the Met Office should be able to match private sector pay rates and needs to pay women more to address gender inequalities.” Well, if there are genuine gender inequalities, of course, they should be addressed. Maybe the men are overpaid! As for matching the private sector, if employees feel that they would be better off there, they should try to find jobs in the private sector. On a more general note, for those in employment, the last few years must have been good. Mortgage rates have been the lowest I have ever known, and, again for the first time in my lifetime, inflation has hovered around zero or even gone negative. All of this means that, even without a pay rise, those in employment are significantly better off. To ask for more money from the public purse when cuts are being made all around is surely taking the mickey!
Finally, Mr William Shatner. I gather that this now elderly gentleman once had dreams of being an actor. Sad how youthful ambition is dashed by the icy cold water of reality. However, he and I obviously have something in common, apart from senility. Judging by the frequency with which he refers to our lovely town, Mr Shatner, like me, must love Ilfracombe. However, unlike me, he must be looking at it through lust-tinted spectacles, since he once suggested in a television programme that the town is full of prostitutes and now is suggesting that our forthcoming film festival is to be held in a brothel. Mr Shatner, please, go easy on the Viagra – you could do yourself a nasty injury if you overdose. However, although we might not be able to offer you all the prostitutes you crave, there is much else to enjoy in the town, and a rest might do you good, so, please feel free to visit. You would be made very welcome.
I hope you enjoyed this. By all means reply, if you wish, but please no personal abuse and try to avoid bad language.
* The late Sir David Frost.