Rural communities and the elderly ‘easier targets for cuts’
Published at 11:05, Thursday, 02 August 2012
SIR – We try to recycle as much of our refuse as possible. Little food waste is placed in our bin as it either goes to the chickens or dogs. Vegetable matter is composted and paper or cardboard is either composted, used as fuel or recycled.
This means our waste output is low compared to the majority of our less rural neighbours. We find that the majority of our neighbours who live on lonnings or on farms have a similar lifestyle.
We understand that the council has various targets with regard to the amount of refuse, and especially plastic, that goes into landfill. Since the council has adopted the use of an open mesh-sided vehicle for refuse collection, we are having to bag all rubbish. This means more plastic, not less, goes into landfill. This can only increase if we have to store rubbish and then transport it in our cars to put refuse in a bin somewhere on the main road.
Increasingly, rural communities are told to diversify and that tourism is a way of bringing money back into the community. With the advent of large unsightly bins on the roadside and the associated rubbish that collects around them, we are impacting on the visual pleasure for tourists walking, cycling or driving through our relatively unspoilt country lanes.
We should send our councillors on a fact-finding mission “down south” in the spring, so that they can compare our wildflower filled hedgerows to the barren, rubbish strewn verges of the councils they seem to look up to.
I cannot see the residents in Whitehaven accepting an industrial type bin at the end of each cul-de-sac, which is a comparable situation.
According to the council’s presentation and illustrations, it would make more sense to have large bins at the end of dead-end roads in towns for both safety reasons and for the fact it will affect more bins and thus save more money. Allegedly lonning dwellers form only 0.02 per cent of the council’s household collections.
It would appear that lonning dwellers, the elderly and less-abled, are an easier target in this round of proposed cuts to our services as we are the minority and don’t have the voice of those living in the towns.
I would much rather see a reduction in the cost of management and consultancy fees than a cut in frontline services, but somehow I can’t see that happening, can you? Did the manager that sent out the wrong refuse collection information to householders only to have to reprint it and send it out again by post at a cost of thousands get penalised? I doubt it!
SIR – I read with interest Coun Yvonne Clarkson’s comments (The Whitehaven News, July 26) in response to possible changes in waste collections, where she stated that people in rural areas “often pay higher council taxes”... Do you really need it spelling out? People who live in large houses are in a higher council tax band, nothing to do with being in a rural area. House value dictates council tax, not location.
Coun Clarkson would do better to aim her criticisms to the Government which is forcing these changes and no doubt many more, through the cuts to local authorities.
What about those people who will lose out when the council tax cuts kick in? What about the people who will lose out when the housing benefits cuts kick in?
For tenants with one extra bedroom, they will have to pay an increase of 14 per cent of their rent, two extra bedrooms and they will have to pay an increase of 25 per cent of existing rent. Under 25s will have no benefit!
With the introduction of universal credit electronically, it is appalling that people will be expected to notify a death via a computer.
These are considerable changes that will affect the most vulnerable in our communities, where people will be overwhelmed at the choices they will have to make. What are their options? Pay the increased rent at the expense of less food in their cupboards?
All of a sudden Coun Clarkson’s comments about people having to take their wheelie bins to the end of their private roads rather pale into insignificance. Misplaced criticism, Coun Clarkson – take your buck and land it on this coalition government’s desk, not that of our local authority!
Ms Eileen WEIR
Queen Street, Whitehaven
SIR – Coun Allan Holiday and Copeland Council show their complete lack of understanding for the needs of the taxpaying public in the Copeland area.
Why was the government’s offer of a cash subsidy to return to weekly refuse collection (which was the majority of the public’s preferred choice) not put to a public vote or consultation? This was purely for selfish political reasons with no thoughts of the cost and disruption to the people of Copeland.
With the extra government funding there would be no need to reduce the bin collections and deny the public their basic rights.
It would be interesting to find out the cost of the private consultant who came up with this penny-pinching scheme, because it definitely wasn’t anybody employed by Copeland Council who can’t think without employing a private consultant.
Whatever happened to the caring and thoughtful councillors who represented Copeland and the people years ago, like Hanlon, Walker, Devlin, Coyles, Denver? These were people whose sole aim was to truly represent the wishes of the public and they did it with dignity and conviction which I personally can’t find in today’s Copeland Council.
Copeland councillors, under the leadership of Coun Woodburn, have failed the people time and time again – Asda, sports ground and World Cup, transport hub bus station, new bypass, West Cumberland Hospital, elected mayors, Tesco... every one of these projects cost a vast amount of money which was wasted on private consultants without any public consultation or participation and now they can’t even deliver a basic refuse service.
The people of Copeland have a chance to make the council listen at the next council elections. A council that treats the public with indifference and irreverence does not deserve to represent the people of Copeland.
West Lane, Flimby
SIR – What is the purpose of Copeland Council? Is it being run as Coun Woodburn’s and the Labour Party’s own little fiefdom?
If we have to save money because they have mismanaged things to this extent, then perhaps they should all go, and instead elect a council which does not represent any political party, but instead wishes to work for the good, betterment, and wishes of the population.
Had this council, under Coun Woodburn, been prudent, by among other things not wasting money on so called road improvements on the hospital side of Mirehouse (and instead done the bit that really needed doing at the shops); not going on “bonding” days off at expensive venues; and had Coun Woodburn not commissioned expensive studies into various projects when surely there are already present among us qualified people who can do it less expensively.
I won’t go on, but I recall President Truman of the USA had a sign on his desk which said “the buck stops here.” I suggest Coun Woodburn gets the same on her office door, instead of finding excuses.
Since time immemorial it has been a well known fact that the human race creates rubbish and waste. We pay a proportion of our council tax to deal with it – so deal with it, Coun Woodburn, instead of continually reducing our services to pay for the foregoing and overseas trips to study the nuclear industry.
In case you think I should have stood for the council instead of moaning, I was asked, and gave it serious consideration before deciding I am a bit too abrasive to be conducive to good government and I don’t suffer fools gladly, and am not a fan of political party management. (You need go no further than Westminster to see why.)
Mr Pat CAPSTICK
Low Moresby, Whitehaven
COUN Elaine Woodburn, Copeland Borough Council leader, and Coun Allan Holliday, portfolio holder for environment and sustainability, respond:
“We understand the strength of feeling these possible changes have engendered. We, too, find them difficult and, let’s be clear, we do not want to make them. However, we did warn that the government’s budget cuts would bring unpalatable decisions – and this is merely one of them.
“This is a consultation and we want to hear everyone’s views before any changes are implemented. But it is also important that people understand where Copeland’s budget comes from and how we spend it. For example, Copeland Borough Council does not carry out road improvements, at Mirehouse or elsewhere – that is a county council function. Similarly, “recent trips to study the nuclear industry” are not funded by Copeland Council.
“From the total council tax we collect from you, Copeland retains just 11.5 per cent from each council tax payer. This is clearly not enough to cover all the services we provide. We rely on our government grant to deliver services and this has been slashed by 30 per cent. We have been asked to save £4.5million and that is why these, and other, changes, are being suggested.
“To the person who suggests management costs should be reduced instead, we would point out that we have already made cuts of £1.8million from back-office savings, efficiencies and management costs, and are still looking at any areas where savings could possibly be made.
“The government’s ‘cash offer’ referred to by one of your readers – to return to weekly bin collections – was not turned down for political reasons, but because it was a one-off payment. We would then have had to find around £400,000 a year to continue it. This is why the majority of councils in the UK chose not to take up the offer.
“We’d like to make the point that any person who has physical difficulties would not, should these suggested proposals go ahead, be left without help. We will of course make sure that those who need help with their rubbish collection get it.
“We do understand people’s feelings, and none of the savings we’ve had to make have been pleasant. But because of the severity of cuts from central government, this may be only the beginning. Ahead are government cuts to council tax benefit and to housing benefit, to name just a couple. We will do our utmost to manage our remaining budget for the best possible outcomes for Copeland residents.
“Please be mindful we are only making the cuts Government are imposing upon us. And judging by the letters they are, very cleverly, ensuring the local authority gets the blame.”
SIR – In response to Mr Southward’s letter (“Can’t we help our youngsters by paying them to clean our town?”, The Whitehaven News, July 26), can I just correct his statement and clarify that neither Copeland Borough Council or Cumbria County Council receive any community benefits from the Low Level Waste Repository.
The money I think he was referring to is the Copeland Community Fund and this is allocated by a funding board, not the council.
There is the opportunity for environmental schemes to receive funding from the fund but it is reliant on community organisations coming forward.
It is easier to criticise from a distance than do anything, but if Mr Southward is that keen that he puts pen to paper then maybe he would be interested in helping with such a project? The areas coming into Egremont have vastly improved and helping to instil pride in the town comes from people shouting about all the good things we have to offer – a lesson Mr Southward could well learn from.
Coun Elaine WOODBURN
Egremont North Ward
SIR – I have been a supporter of right of centre politics for many years but have now reached the stage where I despair of there ever coming to power in this country a political party which can successfully address most of the problems besetting (once) Great Britain.
In the main, apart from the disastrous state of the economy inherited – but not improved – by this present and failing Coalition Government, there is the nightmare scenario of unhindered immigration. Also, we now operate a legal system which must be the laughing stock of those countries which inherited our once efficient, fair and effective judicial system – Canada, Australia, New Zealand and other parts of the long-gone British Empire (not failing to mention the United States of America).
The interpretations of our laws by unelected and incompetent European Union judges often ignore our centuries-old laws. These judgements are often perverse and noticeably anti-British.
The former are just two of the multitude of social problems we are now facing. The education system is churning out vast numbers of semi-literate, innumerate school-leavers, with classroom discipline reportedly at an all-time low. There are increasing levels of crimes of violence and the rights of victims are often disregarded in favour of those of the criminal. Convicted persons, even those who have committed serious offences, are let off with derisory levels of punishment. Many state-appointed judges and magistrates appear to be either incompetent or witless, or both, and possess a minimum of understanding of how the law of this land should be applied.
We are governed, in the main, by people with little or no experience of either commerce or industry but who have been reared in an atmosphere of old school-tie politics, as bag-carriers for ministers, or as aides, aspiring to be Parliamentary Private Secretaries in order to gain the first rung on the promotion ladder to high office.
With few exceptions, their experience of the world often extends only to the country-house atmosphere pervading their social lives. Yet we, the general public, are expected to respect the decisions they make on our behalf, these often being crass in the extreme and frequently against Britain’s best interests anyway.
From where – and when – will a Winston Churchill clone appear to save this country?
SIR – Last November I had a mini-stroke and spent three days in West Cumberland Hospital, in A&E and Patterdale ward.
On July 9, I had a hip replacement operation and spent three days again in WCH, this time on Kirkstone Ward.
On both occasions the care and consideration I received was wonderful. I was kept comfortable and free from pain on both occasions, and the staff – from cleaners to consultants – were cheerful and helpful. The operating team were a friendly bunch and my aftercare was excellent.
The food in hospital was delicious and nourishing. My care at home before the operation and after returning from hospital has been great. I couldn’t have received better care if I were the Queen Mother or paying thousands of pounds. So God bless the NHS in general and WCH and Seascale Health Centre in particular.
Coniston Avenue, Seascale
Published by http://www.whitehavennews.co.uk
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