Poverty and excess
It is the best times,it is the worst times.
When Charles Dickens wrote his Tale of Two Cities, he saw a world divided by poverty and excess.
But even his alcoholic anti-hero Sydney Carton isn’t a scratch on today’s super-rich soaks.
I was disgusted to read that last week in Mayfair, two oil magnates fought a “full-on Champagne war”.
Stunned witnesses described the competing capitalists ordering “more and more”bubbly.
Their contest for the biggest bill totalled £131,000, or a decade on the minimum wage, in just one night.
For many minimum wage workers the war seems permanent and the enemy is want.
At the same time last week, the Red Cross announced plans for emergency hunger relief in Britain.
Better known for work in the war torn Third World, the charity has not distributed food here since World War Two. More than half a million rely on food banks for meals, many are in employment.
According to a report, the “Bollygarchs” bought so much booze that a third went untouched only to be poured away at the end of the night.
The vast majority of working class people are faced with the “heat or eat” dilemma, many of us have been forced into fuel poverty by rising prices, job destruction and welfare cuts.
While we scrimp and struggle, the elite parasites down Dom Perignon in exclusive hideaways.
Under capitalism, based on exploitation, they have plenty to celebrate.
Private firms are syphoning off tens of billions from the NHS shackled to crippling, decades long PFI contracts.
Since 2009, wholesale energy prices have increased by the same measly amount as net household income.
Yet dual fuel charges have exploded by eight times as much!
And last week’s unpopular sell-off of Royal Mail could pay for more than one new helipad.
Day one saw traders make an instant 38 per cent profit.
Meanwhile, posties face ongoing attacks on pay, pensions and conditions.
Dickens’ masterpiece ended with the French Revolution.
That event showed how the poor people booted out their oppressors.
Today we again need to put a stop to this “them and us” society, one which is run for the needs of all and not the profits of the few.
Road crossing hazard
The response from Park Ward councillor Gillian Campbell about a resident’s claim that an accident is waiting to happen on Poulton Road, Blackpool,suggests somebody has their head in the sand (Gazette, October 18).
Coun Campbell says that she had only heard of the road safety concerns of a customer at Cunliffes Londis Garage when she met her regarding a petition the previous day.
The bottom line is that Blackpool Council, officers and elected members alike, should have realised that by allowing the conversion of an old garage workshop into an “open all hours” shop, residents on the Grange Park housing estate would be tempted to cross the road to use it.
As the big supermarket chains continue their move into what was once the domain of the individually-owned corner shop, many petrol stations are also seeing the potential of going beyond just selling fuel to motorists and are chasing the cash from local residents.
Did nobody in the town hall envisage a potential road safety issue?
Coun Campbell says: “We will certainly look into the query for a solution.”
I wish her luck. There is already the safety of traffic signal-controlled crossings a short distance away in either direction.
But the shoppers in question seem more than happy to place themselves in danger by insisting on crossing busy Poulton Road in front of the garage, which, remember, was originally put there there for the convenience of motorists not pedestrians.
Name and address supplied
Child neglect campaign
I am writing to encourage readers to support a campaign to change the law on child neglect.
My name is Tina Renton, and I unfortunately know the devastating effects neglect can have on children.
That is why I am supporting Action for Children to update the 80-year-old law on child neglect.
The current law on child neglect doesn’t cover emotional neglect, which can be hugely damaging.
And the criminal law creates confusion and stops police officers and social workers from working together to protect children.
Child neglect should be a priority for everyone, which is why I am asking people to contact their MP to sign a joint letter, backing this campaign to prevent child neglect.
To find out how to do this, readers can visit actionforchildren.org.uk/changeneglectlaw for more information.
Action for Children supporter Author of ‘You Can’t Hide’