Archive for the ‘public sector’ Category

It has been proposed that the UK should have a cross party commission to plan for proper infrastructure investment and implementation. The idea seems to be to have an overall plan to ensure the renewal and improvement of infrastructure. In addition plans would be considered for new technology to be used for the benefit of the population and to ensure that the countries infrastructure does not wear out.

It seems that the Victorians were the last people to seriously plan in this way. What a sensible idea one might think. If the countries infrastructure is overseen by a cross party commission general elections would have no effect on the continuity of thinking. No need to start from scratch every four years or so. There will be implications from every election of course but the strategic overview would be in the hands of people who are involved for the long haul. People who could leave a lasting legacy to the future generations.

This sounds too good to be true. That’s because it is. Instead of seeing the grander picture the Tories immediately tried to score petty political points by blaming labour for the current state of the country. Now that may or may not be true, who knows. But is it not better to look forward rather than harking back to Mr Brown, or whoever. What is done is done. Parliament should be able to rise above squabbling about the past and plan to resolve the problems of tomorrow. Mistakes have been made on both sides of the house, they continue to be made on both sides of the house. Is it not better to try and resolve the big issues together?

Children will always want to chant ‘My team is better than yours’ but can this not be saved for the little arguments, not matters that effect the entire population? Of course, such common sense is unlikely to bear fruit. Infrastructure is not sexy, no names to be made just the quiet satisfaction of serving ones country. The Victorians would see this as reward enough but today the only desire appears to be for fame, publicity and as much money as can be garnered in a lifetime.

Put aside petty politics all you servants of the people in Westminster, actually come together and serve the country rather than your own self interest. There is no real difference between your parties just varying shades of grey. Accept this and work for a brighter future for this nation, not the US or any other part of the planet. When this broken land is restored to health then can we hold our head up and help those who are less fortunate than ourselves.

I am not a religious man, but our leaders purport to be. They feel the need to be seen at church and supporting the Christian myth. They should remember the actions of Jesus in the Temple when he confronted the traders and moneylenders. His attitude to wealth would be a lesson for our leaders. They should not forget that charity begins at home.


Following on from my post here:

I have just been informed that the Police Service that I work for, we can no longer say Force due to its negative connotations, saved £22 million by the end of 2011/2012, a term vague by design I believe. Apparently the service will save another 8 million by the end of this financial year. In total the service in this area have to save £50 million by 2015. So from April 2013 until April 2015 the service needs to save a further £20 million.

In order to achieve this it seems that 400 Officers and 450 support staff will have to go.

We are told that the second phase of the operation to save money, yes it has an operational name and a team to match, is not just about saving money. Yes, that’s right, my Chief Constable has said so. Just because he earns £145,000 (November 2011) does not mean that he can treat his constables like idiots. This phase is apparently about modernising, with less money to cost less money at the same time as saving £20 million. But, of course, it is not all about saving money.

The chief opines that by 2015 ‘… we will look and feel like a very different organisation.’ He goes on to say that he cannot describe the plans in detail, probably because the May fairy hasn’t told him what they will be yet.

I CAN envisage our service in 2015. There will be fewer Police Officers. There will be fewer Police Stations. The Police Stations that do exist will be open for fewer hours. There will be less staff to manage ‘front offices’, custody and scene’s of crime officers.

We will modernise. That probably means another set of computer programmes that cost the earth, do not talk to other system’s within this service never mind those with common borders. No maintenance contract being taken out to save money so no updates provided. A change of personal equipment, different baton’s, … again. In all probability Cheaper handcuffs and less training in Home Office Approved Techniques for restraint.

To shed the 400 officers it is likely that the older more experienced officers will be shed because they are expensive, being at the top of the pay scale. The experience will be gone. The officers will, in all likelihood, be shed because they cannot complete the soon to be introduced fitness tests. I can run all day, I cannot complete the ‘shuttle’ run because this requires constant turning and after an active life my knees don’t like the strain. My job does not entail chasing people. I am a detective. Unlike Chief Superintendent Boyd (‘Waking the Dead’) Inspector Frost and many other TV Detectives, in the last 7 years I have not had to run after someone. I have arrested people, interviewed them, investigated serious crime and never once had to break a sweat. Some would say that is what experience does for you.

I joined the Police at a time when they were recruiting more mature people because there were so many youngsters ‘in the job’. Now, as a cost cutting exercise the more mature among us are likely to be targeted for removal. My pension has been worked for. I have paid 11% of my salary into the scheme. As a consequence of the contribution, in the early years, my family suffered financial hardship. Now, if I continue to work until I am 60, which the government will allow me to do, I will be forced to accept reduced benefits for increased contributions.

If the government do not want me to continue being a Police Officer, pay me off. I have already previously blogged about where money can be found. To the good people of England I would say, do you want a Police Service comprised of students, or would you like some experienced people. I appreciate experience does not equate to good, but new does equate to mistakes. Mistakes lead to wrongful convictions and wrongful acquittals.

I am so pleased that in these times of austerity and belt tightening that those at the very top of the tree are leading by example. Most of the ordinary working people in the UK have had pay rises of less than one per cent over the last couple of years, all doing their bit for the shrinking economy. We are all patting ourselves on the back for our selfless sacrifice for the greater good.

Meanwhile, back in Gotham City, the FTSE 100 CEO’s have managed to husband their resources, save on staff salaries, reduce the work force and award themselves an 11% pay increase according to the BBC.

In 2011 their pay rose by half, according to The Guardian

Noe Thr Telegraph reported today that ‘Michael Spencer, the former Tory party co-treasurer who runs broker Icap, got £13.4 million.’ If my maths serves 11% of 13.4 million is

1 474 000

That is the equivalent of about 67 new Police Officers. 69 nurses, and for a worker over 21 being paid the minimum wage of £6.08 per hour for a 40 hour week (12646.40 for 52 weeks work) a further 116 people could be found work. It will not have escaped your attention that Michael Spencer is, presumably, one of Dave’s mates. A believer in the big society. The Politico‘s lament the rising unemployment figures but cannot find a solution.

How about not taking obscene pay rises, perhaps even reducing or foregoing the odd million pound from your salary on top, and using the cash to create some jobs? I wonder how many people would be able to struggle by on £500,000 a month? What would we spend it on, if Mike could manage to get by on this he could donate 7.4 million to job creation. Now, they would say it is but a drop in the ocean, if all the FTSE CEO’s followed suit it would be a substantial pot. Then of course there are all those who do not fall within the FTSE 100 but still earn in excess of £6,000,000 a year.

Come on Dave, big society, who are you trying to kid. All you want is for the poor to sort their own problems out without inconveniently getting in the way, so you and your chums can party.

Mr Clegg, another posh boy who ought to know better given his parties history has been noticeable by his silence on issues of any importance. Some of the money generated could be used to provide free solar energy for the very poorest, investment in alternative technologies to sustain the country through the impending doom of global warming. Even using the money to research new technologies or to build sustainable housing would be better than having it sit in a fat cats bank account.

The UK government under Cameron and Clegg (the silent partner) is increasingly coming under fire for a lack of vision. There is no policy save to repeat the mantra we must improve the economy. Even Tory MP’s are getting in on the mud slinging. A Tory MP states Cameron is remote, doesn’t know the price of a pint of milk and just hangs with the posh kids, I paraphrase. The BBC reported it thus:

‘One of Mr Cameron’s own MPs, Nadine Dorries, has called him an “arrogant posh boy” with “no passion to want to understand the lives of others”.

That was yesterday’s news. Mr Cameron appeared in an interview, looking fresh faced as if he had just had a nap / long lunch with his chums / spent ‘quality time’ with his family. He said he was working very very very hard. My question, at what? At least Tony Blair, Beelzebub to his chume, had the decency to look tired at careworn at times. He at least looked as if he was struggling with problems of state.

It seems the Tories may have successfully driven the London Boroughs into creating a Versailles like atmosphere in the capital. Driving the poor away from the doors of the metaphorical palace because they make the place look untidy, despite the Mayor’s expressed abhorrence at the thought of social cleansing. Of course he is another rich posh kid. More on the latest attempt to ship poor people out of London prior to the olympics can be found here The basic idea seems to be to pay ‘Oh, some chap in the North, flat cap, clogs and whippets y’know the sort’ to take the poverty stricken from the Olympic Borough and rehouse them. Sadly ‘some chap’ turned out to be Gill Brown who saw through the cunning scheme and has told the world, well anyone who reads BBC news.

Of course, if we could find out who now owns most of the private rentals in LB Newham, the Olympic Borough, I suspect we might find a smattering of ‘The Chums of No 10’.

What is worse, no union or an ineffective staff association?

The UK government are tinkering with terms and conditions of public sector workers. I can only comment on conditions in the pigpen I’m afraid but I am sure comments can be applied (or at least the sentiments) across the public sector.

I am not particularly talking about pay, although we are all concerned about being able to earn enough to maintain a certain lifestyle hovering somewhere between what passes as poverty in the UK and getting by. There are so many other issues. Tom Winsor, who was appointed by the current UK Government to review pay and conditions, seems to believe that middle and upper management positions in the service should be open to all. I don’t necessarily have an issue with that, I have always maintained that coppers make lousy managers, they don’t have the skills. However, it is also true that managers make lousy coppers. If the middle and senior posts are managerial, which do not involve any input into day to day Policing then a person with no Policing knowledge would be fine. However, one such middle manager post could be to set tactic’s and policy for the Public Order Unit. Now, regardless of a person’s opinion of the efficacy, proportionality of the Police response to Public Order situations, if your house was being threatened by rioters who would you want in charge? An Officer who has spent some years being trained in such situations or a regional manager from a local retail outlet?

The Police Federation, toothless wonders that they are, have posed the question to local MP’s,

‘Would we parachute captains of industry into the army and have them lead troops into battle without them having an understanding of soldiering? So why does he think it will work in the police service?

The UK Government state they want to attract the right calibre of candidate, while reducing the starting salary by £4000 and requiring higher educational qualifications (three ‘A’ levels). The Federation argue that,

‘This will potentially be the end of a police force reflecting the community that it serves, which goes to the heart of policing in this country as not everyone will be able to reach the required standard. Along with our colleagues, we have all served with officers who have not been academically endowed but who could catch and lock up villains with consummate ease using skill and common sense but not ‘A’ levels. They were known as “thief takers” but people like this will be lost to the service if this recommendation is adopted.

I am not sure that the Police do truly represent the community they serve. I work in a town where there is a large Asian community but there are very few Asian officers. What the Fed say appears to say is that the Police must be truly representative of and reflect the composition of the society in which we function. Nonsense. There are always limits, I cannot see the Police employing a partially sighted driver nor a deaf interviewer. Do the Fed suggest that the blind and deaf are excluded from society? I am sure they do not. That this section of the community is not reflected in the Police Service has not been the death knell of ‘the heart of Policing…’ If the educational standard is set then it is probably for sound reasons, like being able to accurately record in writing (in English?) what has taken place so that the witness can be left alone to get on with their life. My written English leaves much to be desired. I have a degree in Law. Education and good written skills, a basic requirement of the job, do not necessarily go hand in glove. I become increasingly frustrated at the standard of spelling, even more than grammer, wrtiien in Police Statements by officers. Sometimes to the point where I have to re write the statement! This has also lead to a culture of, ‘Can you come to the Police Station to make your statement so I can type it, it needs to be typed for court anyway.’ Yes and PC Brain Cell can use the spell check. So is a requirement for basic educational ability outrageous?

There are many other elements to Winsor, introducing a basic fitness test, removing a competency pay from officers at the top of pay scale which will decrease pension benefits while increasing pensionable benefits for senior officers, officers to work to age 60 an increase of 5 years. Of course a person can only afford to retire at 55 if they have achieved a full 30 years in the job and therefore benefit from a full pension. I was a late starter and need to keep going to 62 in order to achieve a 20 year pension!

The Fed point out that Winsor wants to reduce pay of officers who are restricted in the work they carry out, through sickness or injury. Why anyone would be surprised at this measure is beyond me. The Police are paid more than their equivalent in the forces. At present a soldier stands more chance of being shot, blown up, maimed or killed than any Police Officer. The government have reduced payments to injured soldiers and reclaimed ‘overpaid’ salary issued to KIA troops. In fact, is it wrong to pay a person less for doing a substantially different job? I can see the argument that if an officer is injured at work risking life and limb to protect a member of the community we serve there should be no reduction after all the officer was doing his job and should not be penalised for that. But if the reduced ability is not work related …

The fitness test. A lot has been said about this in the UK media. I have watched overweight officers trying to outrun a 19 year old racing snake, it is not pretty, it is not effective. As a more mature person, OK old git, I do not look on the requirement of a fitness test with horror. The military conduct annual (at least) fitness tests. An age / time allowance is given to those of more advanced years. The only real problem I have is that the army are a physical entity. There is time factored in to the work programme for fitness training. In the Police we are stretched for resources. My shift pattern does not have time in it for training, of whatever kind. There is a Gym at the station where I work, funded by the officers themselves. In the last three years I have been able to get to the gym only infrequently. It is in a room 12′ x 12′ and contains some free weights a rowing machine, cross trainer and running machine with a couple of excercise bikes. If all equipment was being used the officers would suffocate because there is no proper ventilation or natural daylight. If I am required to pass a fitness test, time needs to be allocated by the employer to enable me to train. The Police (and therefore the government) make play of the Police family, indeed when I joined my wife and children were welcomed as individuals into the wider Police family. My shift pattern has changed. I now see my wife for one weekend in 6. She works weekdays, even if I am off I cannot treat this as a weekend as my wife works. I have three evenings a week off at the same time as my wife. I would ask, what is work life balance. I do accept that I am fortunate though. My children are grown so they don’t miss out and I have only got about 5 years to retirement.


I have just seen on the BBC website that the UK government is to investigate the possibility of private funding initiatives for of our road system.

I can see it now, The B&Q Barnstaple By-Pass, Tesco Telford Toll Road ( a speciality being their BOGOFF on roadkill).

Can a world rapidly advancing toward, if we havn’t already arrived at, peak oil seriously be contemplating more roads? Part of the proposal is to look at using hard shoulders to increase capacity on the roads. What a brilliant idea! Of course it takes little account of the needs of the emergency services. If there is a blockage caused by an accident how will fire and ambulance get to the scene? Mr Cameron obviously thinks that Bruce Willis will lend us his Fifth Element Taxi Cab to hover over the crash site.

The government made great play of green politics. They even made a great thing about the fact that the PM rides a bike. Well frankly Boris Johnson, whilst being a buffoon, does seem to take more interest in green initiatives. He has introduced the Boris Bike in London and appears to love buses (according to Mock the Week anyway).

Cameron’s buddies will be put in the position, presumably, of being able to buy a slice of the Toll revenue’s generated by privately funded roads. The only green spin-off may be that road travel becomes more expensive than rail travel making the train a more economical choice.

Our country is blighted by huge swathes of tarmac and concrete already. Our wildlife, upon which directly or indirectly, we all depend is being decimated. Is the answer really to have our road network extended by the hedge fund managers who, it appears to me, only have their own pockets in mind when ‘managing’.

What this country needs is not more profit for Cameron’s sycophants but an integrated transport policy. A policy that makes best use of what is here already. Canals can play a part as can the road and rail network. Long distance gas guzzling journeys need to be reduced. Public Transport, trains buses, bicycle’s in towns and trams need to be made more extensive, connecting, efficient and economic. There was a report in the recent past about more airports or runway capacity for the UK. That could be privately funded for all I care. I don’t fly, that is an environmental choice.

What does Cameron propose we do with all the roads when no-one can afford fuel anymore? Lay astro turf on then so he and his Eton chums can play cricket?

I was minding my own business, driving home through Englands green and pleasant land after a hard day’s detecting when an item sallied forth from the steam driven wireless in my car. It stopped me in my tracks. I mean I listen to radio 4 because it is aimed at those with a high persona IQ, people who have made their way in life, the upwardly mobile or recently arrived. The erudite, the truly well informed … and people like me.

The person being interviewed tried to say:

a) the 50p tax rate for those earning more than £100,000 per annum had not had the effect of driving people away from the UK (good)

b) The 50p tax rate really didn’t generate much income for the government (OK so why worry when the government do or do not get rid of it?)

c) The mooted mansion tax for people living in homes worth more than £2,000,000 would cause hardship because they were asset rich and cash poor (presumably they are then worse off than the rest of us who are asset poor and cash poor then)

d) The suggestion of revising the taxation rules to prevent people like Wayne Rooney only paying tax at 24% because of some wrinkle enabling him to say he is a corporation was a bad idea because there weren’t many people like him (1 I bet Wayne didn’t come up with the idea he was a corporation, 2 one of the interviewers pals probably made a packet suggesting to Wayne he should be a corporation or was it coconut? 3 The interviewer obviously knows nothing about footballers, moto gp stars, jockey’s, rugby players, tennis players (you get the idea my readers being all the things attributed to radio 4 listeners and much else)

When a Conservative MP suggested that perhaps the idea of government ought to be to ensure tax liability was paid in full by those entitled and those on a minimum wage for a full working week ought not to be taxed at all, the screams could be heard from Chelsea to Westminster.

I believe it is time the rich were taxed fairly. By that I mean we should all share equally in the hardship. The first speaker seemed to say that if you had loads of land, property, expensive wine or art then that should not be classed as wealth as it was not in instant readies.  However, if you live in a flat bought from the council and work in a dead end job at minimum wage you were better off and should pay.

Who does he think he was talking to, a 3 year old from some distant land who had no grasp of the English language?