Lewes Forum thread

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Poor Norman

On 12 Jul 2010 at 10:04am Clifford wrote:
I see poor old Norman Baker - who depends for many of his votes on commuters - is having to announce that the government will allow rail fares to shoot up. I doubt if he ever expected to be doing that.
On 12 Jul 2010 at 10:42am kevsy wrote:
Nigel has also given up responding to questions posed on his website. Probably too busy cashing in his linen suit for a blue one with pin stripes.... I guess he like the rest of his party are busy making hay while the sun shines while most of his voters are wondering just what they have done.
On 12 Jul 2010 at 11:16am Mystic Mog wrote:
Baker said "no decision" had been taken on rail fares but would not rule out an increase by his department. "The coalition document talks about fair fares. Nobody wants to put rail fares up. But we have got to come up with a package of measures which meets the requirement on the department to play our part in the budget reduction process."
On 12 Jul 2010 at 11:19am Clifford wrote:
That's 'no decision' as in 'We have no plans to increase VAT'.
On 12 Jul 2010 at 12:19pm Dan wrote:
The country got what it deserves - a coalition of self seekers.
On 12 Jul 2010 at 1:37pm Mystic Mog wrote:
OK Clifford + Dan if you are so big and clever, let's have your considered transport policy and how you would impose cost reductions.
On 12 Jul 2010 at 1:46pm Clifford wrote:
Touchy, touchy Mog. Why not take back into public ownership so the subsidies paid by taxpayers don't go straight to shareholders as profits?
On 12 Jul 2010 at 1:59pm Kevsy wrote:
as well as not imposing the immediate cost reductions in the first place, thereby falling in line with the rest of the western world. Instead take a balanced view on economic growth and not hoodwinking the public into thinking crippling cuts are the only way as an excuse to push their own outdated non interventionist ideology.
Almost as written in the Lib Dem manifesto....
On 12 Jul 2010 at 2:07pm supporter wrote:
great idea Clifford would make buying tickets a lot easier.
On 12 Jul 2010 at 2:41pm MC wrote:
I agree that the railways should be taken back into public ownership and take it's place as part of a well thought out and long-term UK integrated transport policy with green policies and reduction in motor car use as key considerations,
However, I remember just how god-awful the train service (as in attitude of its employees) used to be when its staff had jobs for life and would not want that to happen again or have a single all-powerful railway union able to hold the system and us to ransom.
On 12 Jul 2010 at 2:52pm Mystic Mog wrote:
Clifford I have to agree regarding public ownership. This would remove taxpayers paying for a private company's profit.
On 12 Jul 2010 at 3:11pm Dan wrote:
I couldnt care less - my big gas guzzling car takes me everywhere in air con comfort.
On 12 Jul 2010 at 4:14pm Clifford wrote:
MC - 'jobs for life'? I knew someone who was sacked from BR in the old days so that clearly wasn't the case. Talking about 'holding to ransom', isn't that what the privatised rail companies do now? If I want to get a train to London I can travel with Southern and....er... that's it.
On 12 Jul 2010 at 4:46pm not from around here wrote:
Clifford - much as I agree with the idea of properly integrated transport system I'm afraid that public ownership would not achieve an efficiently run rail system and the real cost (by the time you include the cost to the country via subsidy) would be much higher.
Also, I'm afraid I have to agree with MC about the attitude of employees in many public sector positions. I unfortunately experience the level of service supplied by certain public employees in Lewes and it is appalling - they don't care because they feel they can't lose their jobs (which unfortunately is pretty much true).
Private sector is the way to go - nearly always in my view. It's not a question of principle (about the ethics of shareholders making profits) it's a question of the best way to get the job done most efficiently and that means private sector not public ownership.
On 12 Jul 2010 at 5:06pm Clifford wrote:
You'll notice that I didn't criticise shareholders getting their share of the profits. I objected to private businesses being heavily subsidised by the taxpayer and those subsidies then making their way into the pockets of shareholders who, without the subsidy, would not be receiving any profits. Wouldn't you prefer that subsidy to be ploughed into the company to develop its efficiency?
On 12 Jul 2010 at 5:13pm Annette Curtin-Twitcher wrote:
Fares have got to come down imo. I did a 600 mile round trip in my car at the end of last week. It would only have been £12 cheaper by rail, and when you add on the taxi fares at the other end, that would have wiped out any saving.
It's crazy when it's cheaper for a lone traveller to do that sort of distnce by car than by rail.
On 12 Jul 2010 at 5:14pm not from around here wrote:
Yes I would but in the real world.. without the shareholders the company would not exist. If dividends are not paid to shareholders then they don't invest in the company.
What I'm saying is it does not matter how much profit a shareholder makes as long as the company is more efficient than a publicly run one is. The railways need public subsidy anyway but without the private investment of the shareholders the public subsidy would be even higher so I think the private/public arrangement with the railways is the best that can be achieved.
On 12 Jul 2010 at 6:46pm Ken Wood wrote:
The total amount paid in fares by rail passengers has doubled since privatisation to more than £5 billion a year. But the total subsidy has risen even faster, reaching 6.3 billion last year, four times what British Rail received in a typical year. (Source: The Times). Bring back a publicly owned railway!
On 12 Jul 2010 at 6:48pm Clifford wrote:
I don't understand 'without the shareholders the company would not exist'. BR existed perfectly well before the absurd 'let's break it all up' privatisation of the 1990s without shareholders. It belonged to us. The Tory government sold it off cheaply, as it always did when it gave our property away.
On 12 Jul 2010 at 7:18pm supporter wrote:
I use trainline.com and save a fortune of my tickets.
I travel from Lewes to Gloucester for £24 return by booking in advance.
Could not do that in petrol.
On 12 Jul 2010 at 7:35pm Boris wrote:
Great idea, lets nationalise the railways again that would reduce rail fares wouldn't it. While were there lets re open the mines, that would make the country really rich .
On 12 Jul 2010 at 8:56pm TeDeum wrote:
That was an interesting and insightful comment Boris. Thank you. I feel so much the richer and better informed now.
On 12 Jul 2010 at 8:57pm catlin wrote:
I had always seen the privatisation of the railways as a bit of spite from John Major. But now I discover it was done as a result of an EU directive.
On 12 Jul 2010 at 9:54pm Clifford wrote:
Supporter - trainline charge a fee don't they? You can get the fare cheaper if you go direct to the train operating co's website.
On 12 Jul 2010 at 11:35pm Brixtonbelle wrote:
NFRH - you said " employees in many public sector positions. I unfortunately experience the level of service supplied by certain public employees in Lewes and it is appalling - they don't care because they feel they can't lose their jobs (which unfortunately is pretty much true)." Care to elaborate which specific services ?
I found service in both public and private sector varies enormously - but the worse service I have ever received is overwhelmingly from low-paid poorly-trained people in private employ - cafes, service stations, cinemas, call centres - generally rude, misinformed, slovenly or unwilling to help. The worst I've experienced in the public sector was an officious receptionist at a London school and an unhelpful petty bureaucrat at County hall (E Sussex).
The best service I have ever received is from my bank - first direct - and from the brilliant staff at two different hospitals - one inner London, one rural.
On 13 Jul 2010 at 8:30am supporter wrote:
yes Clifford you are quite right saved the £2 fee by going to fgw website.
On 13 Jul 2010 at 8:38am Annette Curtin-Twitcher wrote:
The biggest problem with the private sector offering public servces isn't one of cost or quality, imo, but cherry picking.
The private sector will only ever be interested in doing what is easy and profitable, so hernia operations by the dozen while more complex and less rewarding areas of medical care are neglected, busy transport routes will be well served at the expense of rural areas and they'll all rush to deliver the post in big cities while not giving a toss about people on the Orkneys getting (or sending) any letters. I think that creates a fundamental unfairness.
As for service, the worst level of service and competence I have ever encountered has been at PC World and Vision Express (the latter must be among the most inaptly named companies ever - they took 5 months to produce my last pair of glasses). They both make the rude lady on the LDC switchboard seem like an exemplar of good customer care.
On 13 Jul 2010 at 8:46am jrsussex wrote:
I believe in privatisation but have always argued that there were two industries that should have remained in public ownership. The supply of water and public transport. Water simply for the obvious reason that without it the world and all in it cannot survive. It is wrong that the private sector can make massive profits from a product so essential to life.
Public transport because if you really want to be taken seriously concerning the future of this planet and reduce drastically the level of vehicle use then low cost, frequent transport and is the way forward. If that were achieved then draconian ways in which to reduce vehicle use (road tolls, increased fuel duty etc) could be introduced. With regard to the current subsidies paid to the rail companies that is wrong in my opinion. You cannot be a private company if you can only exist by relying on taxpayers money each year, it is simply not right. I personally would quite happily pay a small tax increase if it gave me low cost travel and if vehicle fuel costs were also increased a little those that use the roads most would be the ones to pay most.
I do not want to pay more for my petrol but we have to be realistic if we are to offer a better, affordable transport system and which will assist in solving some of the climate problems. A relatively low across the board tax would enable this type of proposal to become a reality.
On 13 Jul 2010 at 2:17pm not from around here wrote:
Hi Brixtonbelle, you make fair points about poor service offered by many private sector staff BUT the big difference is that you can go elsewhere as a consumer/customer and if that business does not want to lose your custom they can get rid of poorly performing staff (or train them to offer a better service)
That is often not the case with public sector workers where often you don't have a choice of alternative services and people rarely (very, very, rarely) lose their jobs regardless of how incompetent they are.
Would I care to elaborate on which Lewes services I have had trouble with? Hmm, well as this forum is anonymous.. some Lewes Town Council employees. Some of them, even the ones quite near the top of the tree behave in a way that simply would not be tolerated if they were in the private sector - and what's worse, poor performance by some employees is defended by their seniors.
That's been my direct local experience I'm afraid. However, I don't think Lewes is unique in this - it's a mentality that seems to infect most local authority depts in most places.
On 14 Jul 2010 at 11:55am Clifford wrote:
Not from round here - what choice would you say there is between the major banks or the major internet providers? Being able to choose between private companies doesn't necessarily mean there is a real choice.
On 14 Jul 2010 at 11:40pm Bartleby wrote:
not from around here - I too have personal knowledge of public sector employees who are simply incapable and who would certainly be sacked were they employed in the private sector. It is hugely frustrating and more could certainly be done to change this culture of acceptance by their superiors.
However, I don't think this proves your point that the public sector is more efficient. For one thing, as above, there isn't always any meaningful choice for the consumer. The state is selling off monopolies in the case of rail franchises. For another, many public sector workers will work for lower pay and with greater dilligence out of a sense of civic/collective duty. There is still a sense of public service, and an economic value that goes with it, which Conservative idealogy simply fails to recognise and indeed does its best to destroy.
I think there is an excellent local example of the kind of service the private sector can offer - our friends from the NCP.
On 15 Jul 2010 at 12:55pm Brixtonbelle wrote:
As someone who works for large corporation, I can tell you idiocy, inefficiency, incompetence and massive bureaucracy ARE NOT exclusive to the public sector.
On 15 Jul 2010 at 1:46pm Old Cynic wrote:
Sadly BB you are right - having worked in both private healthcare and the NHS Ive met an equal share of thick lazy people - the only difference being they tended to get paid less in the NHS.
On 15 Jul 2010 at 5:31pm Annette Curtin-Twitcher wrote:
I spent 3 hours today trying to sort out someone's benefits, which have gone to cock because they have moved house and one idiot employee gave them incorrect information.
Without exception, all the people I spoke to were helpful and sympathetic, and apologetic for the erroneous info that had been given out. Despite rules and regs being against getting the bod any money this side of the weekend, they were flexible and with a bit of creative thinking managed to find a way round things so that a payment can be made tomorrow.
I was incredibly impressed, even after waiting over 40 minutes to get through on 2 occasions.
I had a similar experience trying to sort something with BT earlier today. After 5 phone calls, 2 to overseas call centres and 2 to numbers BT had given me that were nothing to do with the problem I was trying to sort out, I got nowhere, leaving a vulnerable person with no phone line and therefore no lifeline alarm any time soon. I may as well have spent the 90 minutes banging my head against a brick wall for all the good it did anyone.
One public sector organisation, one private, but only the public sector delivered the goods for me today.

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