Wednesday, 2 July 2014

No to privatisations ...

My latest article for the Cornish Guardian hits out at the ongoing privatisation of public services across Cornwall and the wider UK. It was as follows:

Even though it was blindingly obvious, it was still quite refreshing – at a recent meeting – to actually see Conservative councillors openly acknowledging that the ongoing cuts from the Conservative-led Government were ideological in nature.

Those local Tories – having to deal with the deepest public spending cuts in living memory – were certainly expressing a different view to their political masters in Westminster who, in 2010, guffawed at the claim by the former shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer Alan Johnson that “the cuts” were what many of them “came into politics for.”

It is certainly my view that the recent economic crisis was caused by an over-heating housing market, the failure to regulate the financial sector, a credit bubble and irresponsible lending.

And yet the Coalition wielded an ideological axe to turn a crisis caused by the private sector into a crisis for public services throughout the United Kingdom, in which they are seeking to fracture the very “public” ethos of service provision.

Make no mistake, the savage cuts of the Coalition are having a devastating impact on local government, the National Health Service, policing and a wide host of public bodies.

More and more council services are being delivered by private companies and our local authorities are increasingly becoming shells of their former selves, unable to provide all of the services that local people should have a right to expect.

Devon and Cornwall Police are cutting more police officers and are reducing the number of enquiry offices that will be open to the public.

And the NHS – the jewel in the crown of public service provision – is seemingly facing endless privatisations.

We have had the recent decision of the Royal Cornwall Hospital Trust to privatise hotel services, such as cleaning, portering and catering, which Rik Evans – who resigned from the Board in protest - described as moving some of the lowest paid staff over to a private company that simply wants to increase its bank balance.

And now we have the Government’s Health and Social Care Act which is forcing local commissioning groups – such as NHS Kernow – to open up their services to private companies. NHS Kernow has already put a series of "non-complex" procedures worth around £75 million out to tender and newspaper reports have stated how this will “let the NHS and private firms battle it out” as to who would provide a range of services.

Speaking for myself – enough is enough. It is time that we all put more pressure on central government to properly fund our services and to end the privatisations that are undermining and fragmenting our public services.

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