Pensioners’ rallying cry

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WE WANT better state pensions, homes and healthcare – that was the rallying cry from hundreds of pensioners as they descended on Blackpool.

Elderly residents from across the UK have arrived in the resort for their annual Pensioners’ Parliament, and their message to the Government was clear.

The National Pensioners’ Convention (NPC) event was launched with a march through the streets, and on banners and megaphones the pensioners called for them to be treated better.

Frank Cooper, NPC president, said: “The march is part of the pensioners’ campaign for a decent basic state pension – that’s the main issue, but of course we’re interested in hospital facilities for the elderly and home facilities for the elderly, they are all by-products.

“I think it’s important so many pensioners are here, it’s one of the basics of democracy that you are allowed to demonstrate.”

The three-day conference is being held at the Winter Gardens, and those gathered yesterday said Pensions Minister Steve Webb could expect a tough time when he addresses the delegates today.

Peter Ballantyne, from Milton Keynes Pensioners Association, said: “We’re an itch to the Government and we need to remind them all the time.

“The Pensions Minister is going to be given a harsh time, we’ve got the lowest pensions in Europe and the Government needs to help us, that’s what this is all about.”

And Margaret Moore, who travelled with Chorley Pensioners Association, added: “We’re campaigning for better conditions for pensioners. An awful lot of people who are pensioners live below the poverty line.

“There are people from Devon and Scotland here and I think if we can’t travel from Chorley it’s a poor do, we come every year.”

The agenda over the next couple of days includes discussions on NHS reforms, older people and the Big Society, public transport and age equality.

One of those addressing the conference is Tony Bockman, chairman of the International Consortium of British Pensioners, who is campaigning to stop those moving abroad losing part of the pension or having it frozen.

He said: “It is in the interest of the British public to be made aware of this immoral situation and to be encouraged to lobby their MPs to change it, so that everyone is free to retire wherever they may wish – no restrictions and no frozen pensions.”