Letters to the Mercury - 22 July 2011

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Pensions system is unravelling

I have some sympathy for dedicated public sector workers in their dispute over pensions.

They are not alone – all state pensions are affected.To discover the promises successive governments have made are no more substantial than the “emperor’s new clothes” would cause fury in anyone.

However, striking will not change the fact that state-operated pensions are no more than inherently unstable “ponzi” schemes – illegal in the private sector!

There is no “fund” of money for our future (only a massive debt!), pension payments are made using the contributions of those currently working; this seemed fine but is now unravelling as life spans increase and our economic growth proves to have been an illusion built on debt.

Enrolling ever more workers to pay contributions was never sustainable indefinitely.

These changes to pension terms are inevitable and should have been begun decades ago but cowardly politicians, of all parties, repeatedly ducked the issue.

The private sector has already felt some of this pain (for example, Equitable Life) and Mr Goodyer’s experience shows that very well – of his three attempts only the public-sector pension (taxpayer backed) survives intact (almost).

Mr Wissen raises a good point on tax relief for higher rate taxpayers (more like £20bn though), encouraging pension saving is fine but for those earning more than £150,000 (one per cent of adults) it’s unnecessary.

I would also be interested to hear Nick Boles’ arguments as to why MPs should not receive the same pension terms as other public sector workers?

In the private sector the joke goes this way: A banker, private sector worker and a public sector worker stop for a tea break.

The private sector worker says ‘I’ve made a plate of biscuits to share over tea’, before he could blink, the banker scoops up half the biscuits, the public sector worker lunges for the rest, grabs some, but sends the plate crashing to the floor in ruin. They both turn to the private sector worker saying ‘Shame; there are no biscuits left – you had better pull your finger out and bake more tomorrow’.

If the bankers fail, they are bailed out. If the public sector falls short, the taxpayer plugs the gap. If the private sector fails . . . Let’s not forget who makes the biscuits.

Alan Fuller

Main Street, Careby

Famous for the wrong reasons

Sitting down for coffee with a group of Finns and reading the local newspaper at my hotel in Helsinki, I was somewhat suprised to read about Stamford in it.

Iltalehti, the biggest Finnish evening newspaper read by more than 600,000 people daily, wrote jokingly about the now infamous statue of Michelangelo’s David in a garden in Stamford (first mentioned in the Mercury on June 24) that caused both distress and fear in the people of the town.

The article was written by a columnist who writes about ‘mad things’ happening around the world.

What was embarrassing was that I was subsequently asked whether the people of Stamford really are so prudish and ridiculous.

Susan Scammell

Forge Court,

Market Deeping

Mystified by compensation

In April, 2003, people living close to the village of Barnack, were awarded nearly £1m in compensation for noise disturbance from Harriers based at nearby RAF Wittering.

It absolutely mystifies me why compensation was awarded in the first place and, if it was justified, every resident in Barnack, and I dare say other neighbouring villages, should have been similarly compensated.

The Harriers are no longer, the noise is no more and the sum awarded should be repaid to the MoD. A show of hands please..

Duncan Lingard

Princes Road, Stamford

My fears for education

“Made in Britain” is the tag that we all know will get us out of our current recession.

To achieve that we also need “Engineered, Invented and Designed in Britain”.

Britain has a superb record of product design, technological and scientific achievement; but a damning reputation for failing to exploit our nation’s talent.

This failure stems right from the top, with the perpetuation of a culture that rewards non-productive activity such as banking, but fails to reward wealth creation.

Thus it came as no surprise that the coalition Government has excluded technology and design from recognition under the new English Baccalaureate; but will accept ancient history, biblical Hebrew and Latin.

This failure to advance Britain’s wealth-creating talent follows on from a decision to exclude coursework as widely as possible; thus ignoring that employers need employees who are able to translate theory into practice, and are able to work and deliver throughout the year not just once a year preparing a written report.

I truly now fear for education in this country.

Eric Goodyer

(in a personal capacity)

Reader in Instrument-ation, The Faculty of Technology, DeMontfort University, High Street, Colsterworth

Magnificent efforts

May we through the auspices of your newspaper, thank everyone who helped us raise the magnificent sum of £850 for East Anglia Children’s Hospices at our strawberry tea on Wednesday.

We would especially like to thank our stalwart team of helpers: Ron Tilley, John and Joyce Bird, Tracy Burrows, Marion Pridmore, Joyce Erry, Jane Davies, Mary Green, Anna McDonald, Jo and Bob Bradberry, Norma Walker and Janet Gray.

I am sure that anyone who raises funds for charity knows that it is hard work and without our “team” we would not be able to do it.

We had a wonderful afternoon, attended by about 100 people who brought gifts for the bring and buy and/or for the raffle.

East Anglia Children’s Hospices is a very worth-while cause, as we know from personal experience, since our granddaughter goes there for respite care.

Our daughter would find it very difficult to manage without the break this gives her, so many thanks again to everyone who helped us and to those who supported us by attending the event

Andy and Heather Bird

Radcliffe Close, Stamford

I can’t wait to move away

What do I think to Stamford’s shops?

Well I think it’s good to have some independent shops (most of ours are very expensive) so realistically priced would be better as everyone seems to think everyone who lives here has money to burn.

A lot of our “normal” shops have gone, leaving people having to travel out of Stamford for the most basic of things like school uniforms, cheaper children’s clothes. We have nowhere like Asda or Tesco here, again it involves travelling!

The high street shops we have are only small compared to other places (thank goodness New look has expanded) so most of the time not much choices in sizes as only a small selection.

If you speak to people, they will tell you they take their money elsewhere which is not good but they but have no other choice.

I’m moving away from Stamford and can’t wait as there is nothing in Stamford, shopping wise or activities for kids!

T Cole

Northumberland Avenue, Stamford

Town needs traffic wardens

In the Mercury on July 8 one of your correspondents says that it is pointless to install parking meters in Stamford for the purpose of providing the funding for traffic wardens. However they are to be funded it is fairly clear that Stamford does need traffic wardens.

To realise this one only has to witness the weekend chaos and illegal parking at the Tesco end of High Street.

It seems that no one is policing this situation at the present time, at least not on a regular and consistent basis. Perhaps when a pedestrian suffers injury something will be done. Oakham has traffic wardens and things there seem to be pretty well regulated. Is there insufficient money in the Stamford town coffers to pay for a couple of traffic wardens?

P Fellowes

Warrenne Keep, Stamford