Our civil ‘contract’ is broken

Peterborough Telegraph's Man behind the mic column by Paul Stainton, BBC Radio Cambridgeshire host - peterboroughtoday.co.uk
Peterborough Telegraph's Man behind the mic column by Paul Stainton, BBC Radio Cambridgeshire host - peterboroughtoday.co.uk

We all pay our taxes and for that we have a right to expect certain things in return.

We should not have to wait two weeks to see a doctor, when we feel like death warmed up, or be made to wait on a trolley in A&E when one of our legs is hanging off. Our bins should be emptied on a regular basis and our elderly should be treated with the care, respect and attention that they deserve.

The roads didn’t ought to resemble First World War battlefields; playing pot hole lottery with tyres, wheels and suspension, on just about every journey, is common place these days and don’t even get me started on public transport – if you live in a village, Shank’s pony is about as good as it gets.

It seems that this ‘contract’ that we have with those in charge isn’t working very well.

We are paying more and more and getting less and less for our cash.

Then there are the rule changes to this ‘contract’ which are one-sided and seem to occur more frequently these days.

This week it’s pensions. Those of us born between 1970 and 1978 (not me thankfully) will have to wait until they are sixty-eight - an extra year -before they can claim the State Pension.

That’s a full seven years earlier than previously planned! It seems that all the money we are paying into central government and local government coffers in tax, national insurance and council tax isn’t enough and now even our safety cannot be guaranteed!

In an unprecedented step, both the Police and Crime Commissioner, Jason Abelwhite and Cambridgeshire’s top cop, Alec Wood appeared at a briefing to warn that they couldn’t cope.

A huge rise in recorded crime and a dramatic cut in their budget means that they will have to find better ways of working because the current model isn’t sustainable – a euphemism for cuts if every I heard one.

But when the police are screaming for help, who are you gonna call?

I have every sympathy for policemen and women and the rest of our emergency services, who I believe work above and beyond the call of duty, but I don’t want them working long hours or working on their rest days. We need them fresh and vigilant not falling asleep at the wheel.

If I get robbed or attacked in the street I want to ring 999 and be confident that I will get a response, not a recorded message saying, “Your call is important to us, we know you are waiting, please hold on for the next available operator.”

That’s not the deal we signed up to, that is not what we part with our hard earned for. Obviously, the police cannot continue to do more work with less money and fewer people, that is impossible. But it strikes me that something has gone fundamentally wrong with the system.

We have kept our side of the bargain, we haven’t cut our contributions, in fact council tax, national insurance etc. etc. have all steadily risen in recent years, so why have the services we receive deteriorated?

Is it time to renegotiate our ‘contract’ or shall I just call Trading Standards?