Posted tagged ‘WLLG’

In defence of Eric Pickles (no, really this time)

March 8, 2012

Our very own cover boy; two days in just one week

Two days ago a guest poster hinted at a defence of Eric Pickles but after flashing us a little piece of leg gave us an equally valid but slightly less Pickles-defending post about the way some critics of Mr Pickles choose to attack him for reasons not connected to his policies.

After a quick editorial meeting at WLLG towers we decided that one of us should write a proper defence of Mr Pickles. At first I thought it would be a challenge but to be honest there is much about Mr Pickles to admire.

Let’s start with the obvious:

If you accept the Conservative’s overarching philosophy which says that the country is bust and we need to do everything we can to cut public spending and thus the deficit then Mr Pickles has been a consistent presence. Whereas other cabinet ministers have caved into the pressures of their departments Mr Pickles has been steadfast in cutting the budgets of both the DCLG and the wider local government sector.

However, that is not to say that Mr Pickles has been a single minded budget cutter. Where there are issues which he feels are important to local voters the Secretary of State has been a consistent defender of his pre-election policies. Thus, we have seen two years of council tax freezes and money set aside for weekly bin collections. Like it or not Mr Pickles has identified issues which he thinks justified his party’s election and has delivered on them.

It hasn’t just been pet causes Mr Pickles has found money for. Yes, the budget cuts faced by local authorities have been tough but many of those in areas with tough budget cuts have talked about the dampening grant being a real life-saver. Not something the Secretary of State would crow about but it has made a real difference.

So what about those issues not related to the budget of local authorities?

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Today I strike

November 30, 2011

because...

Today I will be standing on a picket line.

But why?

Instead of giving you the Union line, or trying to make sense of what the media and politicians are saying, I thought I would give you the reasons of one simple local government officer as to why I’m striking.  This isn’t the view of the whole Local Government workforce, it isn’t even the views of all the WLLG crew, but it is why I’ll be outside my office and not in it.

So my reasons:

Pensions    

A while back a colleague put forward an argument that the difficulty with this strike from a Local Government point of view is that our scheme is noticeably different to the other public sectors schemes.  They are right.  Importantly our scheme is funded.  Though this isn’t a reason not to strike.

The pension negotiations have been going on between Government and the Unions for about a year.

Both sides seem to have recognised that the LGPS scheme should be dealt with differently.  However, like the other schemes we will be affected by these proposals.  Though I haven’t made my mind up about career salary average based pensions, it is clear we will have to pay more.  But really this isn’t the issue for me.  I’m of an age where 65 seems a long way away; I’ve kind of accepted that by the time I reach that age my pension will change due to politics, economics and population.

The issue instead for me is the stance the Government seems to be taking.

The constant message from them seems to be that the public sector is lazy, expensive and crippling the country.  The Government seemed to start these pension negotiations on the attack (changing, with little consultation, our pension increase linked to the CPI instead of the RPI).  Negotiations have been going on for a year and little has changed (alright there are two parties in any negotiations, but you see the point?).  This doesn’t feel like they want to change our pensions because of Lord Hutton’s report or the economy, it feels, to me at least, more like an attack on both our pensions and pay.

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