‘This isn’t just about the pensioners of today’

Pensioners march through Blackpool town centre to mark the start of the Pensioners Parliament at the Winter Gardens
Pensioners march through Blackpool town centre to mark the start of the Pensioners Parliament at the Winter Gardens
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Banner-wielding ‘grey voters’ marched through Blackpool yesterday to mark the launch of the annual Pensioners Parliament.

Hundreds of delegates from as far afield as London, Dundee and Nottingham are in town for the three-day gathering at the Winter Gardens.

Pensioners march through Blackpool town centre to mark the start of the Pensioners Parliament at the Winter Gardens

Pensioners march through Blackpool town centre to mark the start of the Pensioners Parliament at the Winter Gardens

One banner which proclaimed ‘Campaigning for Dignity and Respect in Retirement’ summed up the feelings of campaigners.

Pensions, public transport and health services are among the issues which will be in the spotlight.

Dot Gibson, general secretary of the National Pensioners Convention (NPC), said:” We have now got a new government and they have made it absolutely clear they are going to carry on cutting services, and lots of these will be services which affect older people.

“They keep telling us pensioners are not hard done by but we have one of the lowest pensions in Europe.

Pensioners march through Blackpool town centre to mark the start of the Pensioners Parliament at the Winter Gardens.  Pictured is Rosemary Russell.

Pensioners march through Blackpool town centre to mark the start of the Pensioners Parliament at the Winter Gardens. Pictured is Rosemary Russell.

“The National Pensioners Convention looks after not just today’s pensioners but tomorrow’s, and in the future people are going to have to work a lot longer before they can claim their pensions.”

Public transport is one of the main issues on the agenda at the parliament which includes speakers, workshops and social events.

Terry Pearce, 76, of the Thames Valley branch of the NPC, said; “One of the biggest campaigns is public transport, especially buses.

“In a lot of areas, councils are cutting subsidies to buses and that in turn leads to routes being cut which is terrible for pensioners who can find themselves isolated if they can’t get out and about.”

Pensioners march through Blackpool town centre to mark the start of the Pensioners Parliament at the Winter Gardens.  Pictured is Terry Hutt.

Pensioners march through Blackpool town centre to mark the start of the Pensioners Parliament at the Winter Gardens. Pictured is Terry Hutt.

The value of people’s state pensions is also a major concern to many.

Prime minister David Cameron has pledged to a ‘triple lock’ system which ensures the state pension goes up by whichever is higher – inflation, wages or 2.5 per cent.

But Margaret Moore, 68, of the Chorley Pensioners Association, said they wanted pensions to be linked to the retail price index rather than the consumer price index which is calculated on a different basis.

She said: “We are worse off now than if we had never had the triple lock because David Cameron changed it so pensions are linked to the consumer price index rather than the retail price index.”

Pensioners march through Blackpool town centre to mark the start of the Pensioners Parliament at the Winter Gardens

Pensioners march through Blackpool town centre to mark the start of the Pensioners Parliament at the Winter Gardens

Speakers on the first day of the conference were due to include Natalie Bennett, leader of the Green Party and TUC General Secretary Paul Nowak.

Workshops and discussions will cover issues ranging from tackling digital exclusion, to a meeting hosted by the Alzheimer’s Society.

Pensioners march through Blackpool town centre to mark the start of the Pensioners Parliament at the Winter Gardens.  Pictured are the Chorley Pensioners Association.

Pensioners march through Blackpool town centre to mark the start of the Pensioners Parliament at the Winter Gardens. Pictured are the Chorley Pensioners Association.

Pensioners march through Blackpool town centre to mark the start of the Pensioners Parliament at the Winter Gardens.  Pictured is Lily Lowe.

Pensioners march through Blackpool town centre to mark the start of the Pensioners Parliament at the Winter Gardens. Pictured is Lily Lowe.