Suffering from imaginary illness

When I read your lead story in last week’s Wigan Observer, it reminded me of the days when I worked for British Coal at Parkside.

We had a man there who was paid “work or play” and he used to have two weeks off every year because as he said “he was entitled to it”. He would ring in sick with some untraceable complaint and spend the time doing things at home. As long as the present system of self certification is in place, you will find it being abused. It would be interesting to see what imaginary illnesses have been conjured up by the council employees who are guilty of spending the ratepayers’ money on bogus sick days,

Fred Foster,

Bold Street,

Wigan.

Get rid of the sick leave staff

With regard to your lead story in last week’s Wigan Observer, “£4m shock sick pay figures” and how 653 employees have been on sick leave from Wigan Council for a very long time.

If the town is being run well without these people, surely we don’t need them and their jobs can be wiped out, therefore saving thousands of pounds.

It will not need to make cuts elsewhere, if the top brass can’t see this, then they are useless as well.

A Wilson,

address supplied.

Minority disrupt TUC protest

The activities of a disproportionately small number of people on the TUC demonstration of March 26, and the disproportionately large amount of media attention given to them should not divert attention from the significance and message of the demonstration.

Somewhere between half a million and a million people turned out to voice their opposition to the Con Dem government policy of wholesale attacks on public services and to support an alternative.

An opinion poll conducted in advance of the demonstrations showed 52% support for its aims. Policies combining strengthening public services and introducing fair taxation make far more sense than the current ones, that are designed solely to benefit the bankers and financiers that landed us in this economic mess in the first place. Why should ordinary working people have to pay for the bankers’ short-sightedness and greed?

Incidentally, the activities of the minority of anarchists in London are not entirely without precedent, as the following quotation illustrates: “We got drunk, trashed the Ritz and then went down Piccadilly to loot a few items from Fortnums”. This taken from London Mayor Boris Johnson’s autobiography in reference to the Bullingdon Club 1986!

Roger Bannister

UNISON member, (personal capacity).

Comparison with Mother Teresa

With regards to the March 26 demonstration in London against this Government’s spending cuts, I for one was delighted with the turn-out of an estimated 400,000 people.

It was a heart-warming show of solidarity and an emphatic message to the Government that people are opposed to these ruthless and, in my opinion, totally unnecessary sanctions.

I am no politician but hopefully I possess a brain that enables me to form the opinion that this present Government is deliberately set on dividing the people.

I have little doubt that some cuts may have to be made in certain areas, but to my mind this present regime is deliberately creating a have and have-not society.

Why don’t the Government punish the bankers and big business instead of inflicting misery and poverty on the average person?

The Thatcher years were bad enough but this lot will make her look like Mother Teresa.

The Tory party is and always will be an anti-working class party and I hope there are further protests ahead to ram home the message that those who care dearly about our beloved NHS and other vital institutions and services will not accept these draconian measures without a prolonged fight against them.

E Green,

Bradshaw Street,

Whelley.

Debate over parish council

This letter is about the up and coming Shevington Parish Elections.

In Mr Ted Unwin’s letter last week he begs people to save the Parish Council. He also says if you vote for me and the other Shevington Independents candidates then we will close the Parish Council down. We believe that it is not up to anyone EXCEPT the public of Shevington as a whole to decide if they want to continue with a Parish Council or not. If we are elected and hold control of the Parish Council, we will hold a referendum for the residents of Shevington so they can decide if they want to have this quango that has never been asked for, or not. This year the public has control.

With the exception of the by-election, in which I was successful on a referendum ticket, there has not been a parish election for decades. This year will now be the first for years where the residents will have a choice and Labour chameleons cannot simply co-opt one of their cronies on to this quango.

A vote for the Shevington Independents is a vote for the people to decide on a referendum, pure and simple, and the Labour scare tactics will not wash with the public.

They want their voice to be heard and the time has come and people like Mr Unwin know and realise this and go for begging tactics. If the Parish Council was an effective body that had worked for the residents of Shevington over the years they would not need to resort to these kinds of tactics.

Coun Gareth Fairhurst.

Judge council on its results

I would like to respond to a couple of letters that have appeared in the past two editions of The Observer concerning The Sunday Times Best Public Sector Places to Work.

On March 22, L White bemoans the fact that Wigan Council does not feature in the ‘100 list of Best Places to Work’. Your correspondent is absolutely right: the authority does not feature in this list. Very few local authorities do. The reason is a simple one: applications to be included in this list come at a price and the council would have had to pay a fee to enter which is in excess of £2,000. We would have also had to divert valuable staff time and resources in putting a bid together. Is this really what the public of Wigan wants the council doing during these difficult economic times?

A week later in a letter entitled ‘Council has a lot to answer for’, the anonymous ‘Angry Patriot’ responds to L White’s letter. Only in this version the list has mysteriously transformed into a ranking of the top 100 councils! Clearly false and very misleading to the casual reader. There is no league table of council performance, Sunday Times or otherwise, however under the now defunct Audit Commission inspection regime Wigan was consistently identified as a four-star ‘excellent’ council with sound financial management.

It would be a positive step if correspondents took a little time to check the facts before firing off a letter to the local paper. Misinformation of this type does little to inform any debate about the work of the council.

Like other authorities across the country Wigan is facing difficult financial times and our staff continue to do an admirable job in the face of ever-increasing pressure. We employ a lot of local people and many local residents depend upon us.

In conclusion, Wigan Council does not feel it necessary or justifiable to spend thousands of pounds worth of tax-payers’ money to appear on a list that attempts to prove our credentials as an employer. We would prefer that our staff members and the wider public judged us on our results.

Coun Chris Ready,

Wigan Council Cabinet