Category Archives: NewsWatch

West Lancashire Residents Urged To Be More Vigilant

No new coronavirus deaths have been reported in West Lancashire today. 59 new cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in Lancashire in today’s figures from Public Health England. West Lancashire has one new case of infection and the rate of infection here is 672.8 per 100,000 of the population.

Residents in West Lancashire are being urged to be more vigilant and follow government advice as the number of Covid cases rise to a level that may mean more lockdown and intervention measures in the borough.

Yesterday the West Lancashire cases totalled 768 (+1) with 671.9 cases per 100,000 residents. Councillor Ian Moran, the Leader of West Lancashire Borough Council told us “This is a critical time for the whole of West Lancashire. We need everyone to play their part, it is really important you and your family know and are still following the safety advice especially where you need to wear a face covering, to keep washing your hands and keep a safe distance”.

And the Chief Operating Officer, Jacqui Sinnott–Lacey, added “Other areas within the North West including areas as close to the borough as Preston [Preston: 1,284 (+3), 897.1 per 100,000] have needed to implement local lockdown measures and we really need to keep West Lancashire moving. None of us want a local lockdown to be introduced so we all need to work together to prevent this. We are working closely with our partners across the whole of Lancashire but most of all we need everyone to remember Covid has not gone away and they need to follow the safety advice”.

Current guidance is that you should wear a face covering in enclosed spaces such as on public transport and in shops including shopping malls. You should arrange a test if you have any other the symptoms no matter how mild.

These simple steps along with regularly washing and sanitising hands and giving each other enough space to social distance can help prevent infection and further cases.

The Moral Duty That Is Missing

Is Boris Johnson the last person who should talk about it being a moral duty to reopen schools? His moral code is hardly a lesson for anyone. Bestowing an un-deserved barony on his brother? Can anyone now have one for a brother?

Turning to the not so free TV licence fiasco, which Johnson, via his office, describes as the “wrong decision”, who is more despicable over this tawdry attack on elderly and disabled people, him or the BBC? Or is it both?

And shock horror, it seems that in Tory heartland seats there are signs of unrest. In 110 Tory seats at least 85% of over 75s households will pay up or be criminalised, something Boris Johnson said wouldn’t happen. Where IS the de-criminalisation Act? Means testing of the elderly for a broadcasting tax, recipients of the lowest state pension in Europe, is apparently to become policy. Yet it is the government that sets and controls the pension credit levels.

Now wait for the collective whinging of Tory MP,s and the collective joy of Labour MPs who couldn’t be bothered to set the over 75s policy in law when in power, but will play this for all it is worth.

The United Utilities Fat Cats Annual Report

United Utilities supplies water to 7 million customers in North West England, including the Lake District. They leak an incredible 439.2 million litres of water through broken pipes every day! That’s enough to fill 175 Olympic swimming pools, according to research. But they can’t, or won’t stop flooding and raw sewage in some roads in Burscough.

The CEO Steve Mogford  earned [was paid] £2,269,000 in 2019. Shareholders received profits of £1.2bn between 2013-2017, the highest in the industry, but he can’t or won’t stop flooding and raw sewage in some roads in Burscough. He might be termed part-time, as he is also the senior independent director of G4S PLC for which he received and retained an annual fee of £78,500.

Deferred Bonus Plan awards made in the year ended 31 March 2019, Steve Mogford received Conditional Shares as a 50% bonus, 47,057, worth £359,000.

From Crewe to Carlisle, UUs offices and water and wastewater treatment works span the North West of England. “We gather our water from a range of different sources, but predominantly from our reservoirs in the Pennines and the Lake District. We extract water from Lake Vyrnwy in Wales for customers in Merseyside and Cheshire, while the rest is taken from the River Dee, boreholes and streams.

“We own and manage over 56,000 hectares of land, making us the largest corporate landowner in England. The taxes we pay help fund vital public services nationally as well as directly contributing to the north west communities we serve. Our total contribution to public finances for 2020 was around £250 million and this is the typical amount paid by United Utilities each and every year”…but we can’t or won’t stop flooding and raw sewage in some roads in Burscough.

Mogford said “Always operating in the best interests of customers is at the very heart of our operations and this is reflected in our best ever customer satisfaction scores. We have taken the lead in transforming how the sector supports customers, particularly those in vulnerable circumstances, and have delivered more for customers whilst reducing bills by 10 per cent in real terms since 2010″.

We doubt the veracity of the claims made about customer satisfaction and transforming how the sector supports customers, Not in Burscough anyway!

“Earning” The BBC Get Out Of Bed Bonus

While the BBC is under fire for its hiring of 800 Crapita agents to target over 75s for its TV tax, we are reminded of how the BBC pays £5,000 bonus to some staff just for getting up early! The BBC forks out £21million annually in “unpredictability payments” for unsocial work hours!

Did you ever hear about essential front line nurses, doctors, emergency services, fire-fighters, being paid extra to get up early?

A couple of years ago Tory MP Andrew Bridgen exposed the payments of these perks unavailable to anyone else in public or private sector

For many of us, getting up early for work is just an unpleasant fact of life. But if you’re lucky enough to be a journalist on the BBC you are entitled to an extra £5,000 a year just to get out of bed. The broadcaster, which was embroiled in a bitter row over equal pay, is forking out an astonishing £21 million on ‘unpredictability payments’ for working unsocial hours at short notice.

This applies to programmes such as Today on Radio 4, which requires staff to be in well before its 6am start. Critics say the generous bonus payments would not be tolerated in the private sector and are further proof that the BBC is out of step with its audience. Tory MP Andrew Bridgen said “The BBC is offering perks and privileges that are unavailable to anyone else in the public or private sector. Hard-pushed doctors and nurses have to work all hours, and if work needs to be done in the private sector it has to be done irrespective of the time of day.

“The problem is that the BBC does not live in a commercial world and it does not have to because it is totally funded by £4 billion of taxpayers’ money”.

The BBC confirmed that 4,507 staff received the unpredictability payments, known as UPAs. A total of 1,194 employees claim UPA1, which is worth £2,732 a year. UPA2, worth £5,462, is claimed by 3,313 employees.

One former employee, who asked not to be named, said the system of extra payments was open to abuse. He said managers sometimes used them to top up salaries, and employees were paid even if they didn’t work anti-social hours. He said “We used to call them payments for getting out of bed. It was ridiculous”.

The news is embarrassing for the Corporation, which is still trying to defend the sky-high salaries it pays to some stars. John O’Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said ‘This shows the BBC has still not got a grip on its bloated and byzantine payment systems. Licence-fee payers want their money to be spent responsibly, not given out in opaque payments like this.

“People who go the extra mile in the public sector should be rewarded through merit-based remuneration, but these unpredictability payments seem open to abuse”.

It was revealed that the ‘early morning’ payments are just one in a series of lucrative perks enjoyed by Corporation staff. The BBC also spends £343,266 a year on private healthcare for 189 senior managers. That may strike some viewers as ironic given how enthusiastically the BBC promotes the NHS in programmes such as Call The Midwife and Casualty.

Last year the BBC also spent £33,000 on first-class rail fare for managers despite claiming that economy tickets were normal. A spokesman said ‘It’s impossible to broadcast 24 hours a day, seven days a week without employing people to work through the nights, and sometimes shifts change at short notice.

It’s only public money!

County Covid-19 Testers Recruitment Campaign Begins

Would you enjoy shoving swab sticks up peoples’ noses or down their throats and being paid for doing it?

Lancashire County Council is recruiting people to help with its Covid-19 test and trace programme. It is looking for Community Swabbers to carry out the tests and for Community Testing Support officers to log the results and to carry out admin functions.

These will be paid positions and the work will take place at test sites across the county. The successful applicants will get full training. Because they will come into contact with people displaying Covid-19 symptoms, full personal protective equipment will be provided.
County Councillor Shaun Turner, cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said “We need to recruit around 150 people as quickly as possible so that we can continue to offer testing around the county. If we don’t have enough people to do this, some sites may have to close so it’s vital that as many people as possible come forward.

“These are temporary, but paid positions. You’ll be given all the training you need as well as PPE to ensure you are safe while carrying out this vital frontline work. We’re looking for people who have the skills to do this work in a community test site. If you’re interested, visit our website to find out more”.

The Community Swabbers will need to correctly and safely administer nasal or throat swab tests. Testing Support Officers will need to be able to use Microsoft Excel. Applicants will need to be able to get to the test sites and be aware of the current Covid-19 government guidelines.

These roles will need a Disclosure and Barring Service check which the County will arrange for you. For more information, visit: https://www.lancashire.gov.uk/jobs/testers/

The Misfortunes Facing Serco

The misfortunes facing Serco are of their own making. Lower profits, the self-inflicted disastrous Beacon Park Golf Course landfill/royalties saga, reminded me of past indiscretions.

At the time, Serco was in partnership with Gatso, of hated speed camera fame, and signs appeared about the Serco piggy banks.

Tom Riall was head of the Serco Government Division, which oversaw 5,000 Gatso Cameras. But in May 2009 he got a six month ban for doing 103mph in a 70mph limit on the A14 in Newmarket, Suffolk.

Speaking from his six-bed home in Ufton Nervet, Berks, Mr Riall said “No comment”. The boss of Britain’s biggest speed camera firm then faced calls to resign after he was banned. Riall was with his wife and three teenage children when he was pulled over.

In court Riall said a ban would cause him exceptional hardship because he would have to use savings set aside for his children’s school fees to employ drivers to take him to meetings. But magistrates dismissed the £150,000-a-year boss’s argument and gave him six penalty points. With seven points for two previous offences, this took him above the 12 needed for a six-month ban.

Road safety groups demanded he resign for his ‘extraordinarily reckless’ act. Jay Calascione of RoadPeace said “What example is he setting for his own children?’ And David Williams of the Guild of Experienced Motorists added “He should consider his position”.

Serco once led the Government-backed campaign “Safe Drive Stay Alive”. And Riall went on to receive a second driving ban or using his mobile on the M4. He got a six-month ban and £2,500 fine by Reading JPs for the offence near Langley, Berks. A Thames Valley Police spokesman said “We want to set an example and show people why they shouldn’t be on their phone whilst driving”.

Mr Riall no longer works for Serco.

Stupid Enough To Be True

The waste of public money by public authorities is epitomised by Lancashire County Council in a bizarre public notice in The Champion.

The LCC and other local authorities publish “Notices of Making Road traffic Regulations Act 1984”. We council tax payers foot the bills for those publications in the press. The worst case you might ever see is on page 27 of the Champion. It is entirely full of small font typecast and relates to various traffic regulations in Burnley, Chorley, Hyndburn, Lancaster, Pendle, Preston, Ribble Valley, South Ribble, West Lancashire and Wyre.

It then lists every single road at the various locations. Advertising is costly, and this West Lancashire Champion page will be repeated and paid for, through council tax, 10 times in the various other local area publications.

As though that isn’t enough, there are 2 individual Notices for West Lancashire on page 26, relating to Blindmans Lane Ormskirk and Crabtree Lane Burscough, both on behalf of BT.

Perhaps it is time for the arcane “Notices of Making Road traffic Regulations Act 1984” to be made redundant? And save the odd jobsworth job costs too!

West Lancashire Coronavirus News

There were no new coronavirus deaths recorded in West Lancashire today.

Although Lancashire has recorded a further 72 new cases of coronavirus infections today, with spikes in both the East and Central county, figures for West Lancashire, which includes Skelmersdale, Ormskirk and Burscough, have been revised, with cases dropping by one to 763. This is usually due to a previous error in the data issued by Public Health England.