Opinion – The Guardian view on UK national priorities: flood defence and overseas aid are not alternatives | Editorial | Opinion | The Guardian – John Gelmini

Unlike Dr Alf and in this instance the Guardian, I see no “savage cuts” to public services, just the illusion that it is happening.

We have 43, English County Councils, 8 Scottish ones, 6 in Wales and 6 in Northern Ireland plus Unitary Authorities, Metropolitan Borough Councils and Districts, Boroughs and Mid County Councils, City Councils and the 6 London Boroughs. In all, there are 3,500 councils with tax collecting powers and worker productivity in all of them averages just 32%. Purchasing and supply chain management are, for the most part, useless and Council Chiefs pay themselves huge salaries irrespective of performance.

The NHS employs more people than anyone else in Europe, surpassed in size by only the Indian State Railway System and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army. Yet despite this, it delivers worse health care outcomes than any other Western European country outside of Greece.

The Police are bloated and inefficient, fail to identify suspects in 50% of cases, deliberately under report crime and according to no lesser a person than Lord Stevens of Kirkwhelpington, a former Metropolitan Police Commissioner,”The police have been fiddling figures for years.”

Flood defences have proved inadequate because money that should have been spent on roads, bridges and infrastructure has not been and there has been no full and forensic accounting to establish what money was sent to these local authorities, what they spent and what the money bought. As with the Somerset levels last year we now discover that the Environment Agency has not been dredging rivers or building up Embankments in preparation for anything but has been relying on Met Office forecasts even though it knew that Tesco PLC and the BBC have fired them for delivering woefully inaccurate weather forecasts. It has over the years been allowing the building to take place on flood plains but has also failed to endorse or encourage ICF/Systems building which would have allowed building on flood plains without the risks of flooding associated with conventional construction.

Far from “savage cuts” we are getting deck chairs rearranged on the Titanic with no meaningful reform.
Money spent on State Aid is separate from these issues and merits a separate discussion and action.

John Gelmini

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