‘I warn you not to be young. I warn you not to fall ill. And I warn you not to grow old’. Over 36 years ago, these words highlighted those who would be hit hardest when a Government allows public services to crumble. Yet, here we are, in a new century, and they could just as easily describe the UK today.
Just this week, the Childhood Trust has reported poverty leaving children so hungry they are forced to scavenge in bins, the UK has lost its measles-free status with patients unable to access GPs, and 1,000 dementia patients a day enter hospital due to the lack of care leaving them malnourished. This is the state of Twenty-First Century Britain, one of the wealthiest countries in the world, where we allow our children and parents to starve and essential public services to collapse, while our Conservative Government remains obsessively-focused on Brexit.
Instead of real action we are presented with smoke and mirrors, with news stories pretending that problems are being dealt with. An announcement of £1.8 billion of new money for NHS trusts turned out to be money they already had, promises of tens of thousands of new police officers which now no longer appears to be a like-for-like replacement of what we’ve lost, and a commitment to put the money back into education which was taken from it and which now appears to focus the greatest investment on the wealthiest parts of the country. Our public services need investment, not press releases. How can we function as a country when we cannot believe a single thing our Government says?
It doesn’t have to be this way. If austerity is over then let’s give our area back the 800 police officers and PCSOs we’ve lost under the Conservatives, so we can tackle crime and antisocial behaviour in Crawley. Lets reinvest in Health, so we can take Crawley’s NHS out of Special Measures and ensure everyone has access to a GP. Let’s give our young people the start in life they deserve again and our senior citizens the dignity we owe them in their old age.
Cllr Peter Lamb
Leader, Crawley Borough Council