First published in The Felixstowe Flyer, April 2021.

NHS workers deserve more than 1%
We cam out to clap for our NHS. It showed how much we value our doctors and nurses and all who work for our NHS. However, when the Prime Minister said a 1% pay rise for NHS staff was all the Tory Government could afford, this is actually a real-terms pay cut making them £841 a year worse off. Keir Starmer, Labour leader, said “When I clapped for carers, I meant it. Boris clapped for carers than shut the door in their face at the first opportunity.” Keir pointed out that NHS staff had been budgeted a 2.1% rise in a long-term plan – so it’s not just a pay cut, it’s a broken promise.

Is it fair?
Michael Rosen, the poet and children’s book writer, is one of the best known Covid survivors. He is calling for a massive injection of cash into the NHS and also Social Care. He said the intensive care [unit] where he was treated for 48 days had more than twice the number of patients that could reasonably be cared for. He says he knows £33bn sounds a lot – but when £22bn has been wasted on the completely ineffective Covid ‘Test and Trace’, it seems very reasonable. Keir Starmer has pointed out that ex-No 10 aide Dominic Cummings was given a £45,000 pay rise; the PM has enjoyed a reputed £200,000 makeover of his grace-and-favour flat, and £2.6m has been spent on a new media studio in Downing Street. It’s said that charity begins at home – but the Prime Minister is taking it a bit too literally!

Government contracts not awarded openly
The High Court has ruled “that, in a substantial number of cases, the Secretary of State for Health [Matt Hancock] breached his legal obligation to publish Contract Award Notices within 30 days of the award of contracts.” This ruling is very important. “The Secretary of State spent vast quantities of public money on pandemic-related procurements such as Test and Trace and PPE during 2020. The public were entitled to see who this money was going to, what it was being spent on and how the relevant contracts were awarded.” The Judge commented that Government could have been open but tried to defend the case and racked up over £200,000 in legal costs. The Good Law Project that brought the case said there has been an obscene waste of public money. It was only because of their challenge that these matters came to light.

Damaging our seas
Labour shares Sir David Attenborough’s concerns about damage to the seas. We are all aware of problems with plastic litter on our Felixstowe beach. However, Sir David comments also on oceans having reached their hottest temperatures ever in 2020. He explains that this is because all the extra heat coming from greenhouse gases ultimately ends up in the oceans. The oceans control the Earth’s weather. Warming oceans are creating more powerful storms. While some areas become wetter with storms and flooding, other areas are becoming drier with heatwaves and droughts. February’s week of snow and ice was once the norm for every winter.

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