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Saturday, 20 September 2014

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The haves and the have nots

SIR – I was left speechless (like, I suspect, many of your readers) when I caught your coverage on the cost to the UK taxpayer of bringing in a handful of workers over from America for what the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority regard as “little demonstrable benefit” (“£44m cost of nuclear experts”, The Whitehaven News, November 15).

But there is also a less obvious impact. Hosting the nuclear industry in Copeland has a distortive effect on the local economy and the social fabric of our communities. It creates a community of the haves and the have nots.

Extreme wealth inequality acts to divide families, neighbours and work colleagues alike. It acts to reduce life expectancy, educational attainment social mobility and trust whilst leading to greater infant mortality, crime, teenage births, obesity, mental illness, drug and alcohol abuse.

The revelation that many NMP middle managers are awarded packages of around £400,000 per person per annum, while many of us struggle to get by on benefits or a minimum wage, is an act of reckless irresponsibility and one that flies in the face of all that we value here in Copeland and expect of a responsible business.

The situation might have been more tolerable if NMP had fulfilled its mission to deliver a world-class decommissioning programme so as to attract new nuclear missions and the prospect of prosperity for all. But in this regard they have singularly failed.

In an unprecedented move, the Public Accounts Committee is to sit outside of London and here in West Cumbria on Monday to consider whether the NDA and its contractors have delivered good value from the public purse. I suspect in Copeland the universal view of the public would be a resounding no.

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