Judy Terry is a marketing professional and a former local councillor in Suffolk.
Trust in our leaders is being eroded by some politicians and public sector chiefs, including the new NHS England Chief Executive, with policy U-turns, and deploying apocalyptic language, lies, and threats of huge fines, to force ‘ordinary people’ to do their bidding. ‘Climate emergency’, ‘health crisis’, ’14 times the number of people with Covid in hospital than we saw this time last year’… in attempts to generate fear.
Instead of encouraging compliance, people simply switch off in frustration – and growing anger – as it becomes ever more apparent that there is one rule for the ‘elite’ and another for the rest of us. Truth is at the heart of trust.
And what impact are war-torn countries having on the global environment, with bombs destroying people’s lives and homes? Surely there should be a greater focus on the West engaging with these areas to help resolve the misery and restore peace, reducing environmental damage?
Meanwhile, how many of us knew there is potential for mining on our own doorstep?
Cornwall evidently has significant potential for lithium, as well as other metals for ‘clean growth’: tin, copper, cobalt and tungsten, used in batteries. The UK’s new Critical Minerals Expert Committee is a key element of the government’s Net Zero strategy. It advises the government on investment decisions, ensuring it has a reliable supply of critical minerals and metals, with a detailed strategy to be published next year. We can only hope there will be a full evaluation of the environmental impact, and appropriate consultation on any proposals.
Few people can deny that we face serious environmental issues. But, instead of attempting to scare us all, whilst massaging the elite’s and politicians’ egos as they pontificate, and UK taxpayers pick up the (£1 billion?) bill for hosting and policing 30,000 delegates and campaigners, our leaders should tell the truth about the challenges. Not least, where our energy will come from in future; it is not just domestic properties, but industry – including food and brewing – which rely on gas and electricity.
They should also remember that the UK is a democracy, not a dictatorship; the vast majority of people are law abiding, caring and responsible. They are not ignorant – although some of the government’s diktats in the last couple of years appear to overlook their intelligence – and have the right to use that intelligence to make their own decisions, provided this doesn’t compromise other people’s safety.
And what impact are all these changes going to have on pensions? Pensions rely on workers’ contributions and on the performance of their investments, including fossil fuels, although those for public sector employees are heavily subsidised by taxpayers, who will also pay to meet the costs of upgrading public sector housing and offices, as well as vehicles, to comply with the government’s net zero deadlines.
With inflation continuing to rise, and tax at its highest level for 70 years, there is a limit to what ‘ordinary people’ will accept – or can afford.
Grants to the wealthy, who can afford an electric car and have the space to install a recharging point or replace their boiler with something less efficient is not the solution. Demanding that all new housing developments incorporate these facilities, will increase building costs (and house prices) and may even delay delivering much-needed new homes if equipment and skills are unavailable.
There doesn’t appear to be any firm, deliverable, strategies to meet the environmental targets, except to ban everything.
Financial pressures have been exacerbated by shortages and the unexpected rise in energy prices, and petrol, as well as food, but council tax rises next year could bring some people’s budgets to breaking point, so it is essential that they play their part in prioritising how local authorities spend public monies.
According to an audit report, the pandemic cost Conservative-run Suffolk County Council £72 million, with some government grants to support business. So, recognising current financial pressures on ‘ordinary people’ and the value of mutual trust between the council and the county’s taxpayers, it has launched a consultation on prioritising future expenditure. Cllr. Rout, the Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance & the Environment. says:
“We will have the option to raise council tax by two per cent and the Adult Social Care Precept by two per cent, whilst continuing to respond to the challenges of Covid, global supply chain issues and climate change. We ask residents for their thoughts on helping prioritise funding for services in the coming financial year, alongside meeting the continuing costs of statutory care services.
“With rising costs and increasing service demand year on year, the finances at our disposal have to be carefully planned to continue to achieve a balanced budget in extremely challenging circumstances.
The council’s priorities are:
- To promote & support health and wellbeing;
- To strengthen the local economy;
- To protect and enhance the environment;
- To provide value for money for local taxpayers
Currently, 75p in every £1 supports Adult Care (costing £271 million each year), Children’s Services and Public Health; the remaining 25p covers other vital services, including Fire & Rescue, road maintenance, waste services, and libraries.
Cllr. Rout added that having saved hundreds of millions of pounds in the last decade through careful financial planning, “we are absolutely committed to providing the best services, so I want to understand what residents want us to focus on with the budget left after covering our statutory care duties”. He said:
“I’m encouraged by the Chancellor’s announcing new grant funding of £4.8 billion for local authorities over the next three years and we wait to see how much comes to Suffolk.”
Honesty is indeed the best policy, because ignorance is not bliss!!