Monday 31 August 2015

Jeremy Corbyn 

This Association has declared its full support for Jeremy Corbyn as a candidate for the leadership of the Labour Party Jeremy has always defended Pensioners' rights and has used his standing in the House of Commons to speak up on our behalf. He has demonstrated many times his backing for our demands that Pensioners should receive a pension which ensures they live with dignity and which affords a comfortable life free from anxiety. He backs our campaign, together with that of the Fuel Poverty Group, that the elderly in this country should be able to keep warm and comfortable in the winter months without having to cut down on their outlay for food. We have never asked for extravagant amounts, merely an income which protects us from penury. We are grateful that he has laid out his objectives clearly and without fear or favour. Jeremy always lets his conscience dictate his policies. He has not descended into sniping at his rivals but has insisted upon a campaign which is honourable and upright. We applaud his abhorrence of nuclear weapons and Trident and are pleased to note his opposition to zero hours contracts, student grant cuts, and the cutting of disability benefit together with his promotion for a sensible, decent living wage. He has spoken more clearly than his rivals have on matters of national and local concern. We wish him well. A victory for him is a victory for us.

Thursday 13 November 2014

Pensioners in the Cold

Heat or eat?
The Daily Express in their issue of 12th November gives the Headline:

"One Pensioner dies from cold every 7 minutes" 

and goes on to highlight quotes from Age UK and Dot Gibson of the National Pensioners Convention.

What a disgrace!

However, we do though have some very good allies. The FUEL POVERTY ACTION group work to bring to the public notice the fact that a very large percentage of the elderly can no longer afford to keep their homes warm and eat substantially enough to keep them healthy, able to combat cold and bad weather. They either have to heat or eat. They cannot do both. The group is made up mostly of young people who bravely and generously give their time up to campaign about the unconscionable cornering of the energy market for massive profits, to the detriment of hapless users such as the old, the disabled, invalids and poor families with young babies who need warmth and energy to keep healthy enough to survive. They make several points in their campaign such as:-

  • Challenging your Bill. If your bill looks suspiciously high, it could be wrong. So take regular meter readings or take a photograph of your meter so that you can keep your own record and can use this to challenge high bills. Check all the details on your bill to make sure all the information is correct.
  • Negotiate a prepayment plan. If in debt to them they have to help you come to an energy plan that you can afford. You should not be paying an amount that is causing you greater hardship.Try to negotiate an amount with your energy company for say £3. a week per fuel. They have trust funds which you may be able to access to help pay off the debt. 
  • Resist Prepayment Meters. If you are having a prepayment meter forced on you against your will let the company know you are willing to pay through another method. They cannot force a prepayment meter on you if your household has anyone considered vulnerable, for instance, a disabled person, pensioners, or a household with young children or where a house is a long way from a top-up point. They cannot install a prepayment meter against your will without a warrant from the court. If they have applied for and got a warrant, you can attend court to challenge them.Get in contact with Fuel Poverty Action and they will try and find someone to attend court with you for support. 
  • Supporting each other. If you feel you are battling the companies alone get in touch and they will try and give support on any of the above points. Telephone: 07586 482 157 or email 

If you want to help in a practical way there is a demonstration starting at 11 Charing Cross on 28th November which will proceed to Pall Mall and ultimately to the Institute of Directors to confront Energy UK ending up in Lower Regent Street. Please come to make a good show.

Thursday 6 June 2013

Let Down - Honour, Duty, Obligation, Conscience & Gratitude?

Before making one's comments, it would be useful to remind the reader of the words: honour duty, obligation, conscience and gratitude since each of these either singly or as a group relate to matters the Writer considers pertinent or relevant.

What do the Gurkhas, Wounded Service men, Merchant Seamen, Bomber Command and Air-raid Wardens, besides many others not mentioned here, have in common? You know the answer without having to refer to reference books, newspapers, magazine articles and the like. They all had to fight, or have people fight on their behalf, for decent national recognition in the form of reward or monument.

As a nation we go around preaching to the world about justice and fair play, supposedly marked attributes of this country. Yet when it comes to our own people, there is a disgraceful disregard of the fortunes, plights and well-being of those who have given their all in defence or personal aid to the people of this realm. It's all very well, having military tattoos, remembrance day marches or other general flag-waving when what our Government and others in responsible positions, should be doing is making sure that those who have lost limbs, given up valuable time or taken great risks on our behalf, are justly and wholly rewarded. It is a question of honour, integrity, conscience and last but certainly not least the little matter of gratitude.

I am a pacifist by inclination but I recognise that if someone has gone out on a limb because he is persuaded that we as a nation are at risk and puts his life and literally, his limbs on the line then should I not recognise his sacrifice, his endeavour? I am sure most of the readers will agree that I should, but flag waving will not help a wounded man looking for work or too traumatised to hold a job or lead a normal life.

So when I read of a man who has lost his right arm (or his left for that matter), having to go to the Benefits Department or the Jobs Agency, and reply to stupid questions such as “are you right or left handed?” I see red. I am ashamed that I am British. When ex-service men have now to fight the authorities to accept that they have a genuine problem, it makes a mockery of Remembrance Day and all the other related ceremonies. It is a disgrace that there had to be a campaign for a monument to be erected to mark the bravery that Bomber Command exhibited particularly at a time when this country was on its knees. What is even more reprehensible is that those serving in those operations have now passed on before they could enjoy the honour belatedly bestowed on them. What does that say about our conscience, gratitude, obligations?

Similarly those brave souls on the Arctic Conveys, notwithstanding they did get medals (my own Uncle had about 4), had to wait a long time before they were earmarked as special veterans. Merchant Seamen had a struggle to get decent treatment for once they lost their ship, their pay stopped. Even though they may have been involved in heavy bombardment and were sitting ducks if the destroyers and frigates were unable to come to their aid in time.

The list goes on: miners, wardens all had to wait before they were given any meaningful recognition.
“Blow, blow thou winter wind, thou are not so unkind as man's ingratitude”! 
Now many get the plaudits and laurels they so richly deserve but the dishonour comes with the wait many of them had to endure before an official pat on the back, practical help and acknowledgement of their bravery.

Medals and flags won't do when your wound is hurting because you are freezing cold and cannot hold a job. When you are blind or deaf. Thank goodness we don't shoot so-called traumatised cowards any more. We don't just let them down, we let ourselves down. “Play up, play up and play the game”, they did.

Joan Grant

Saturday 4 May 2013

Universal Benefits?

You don't get something for nothing and this is never more true than the promise of a pension across the board worth £144 per week.

The first hangup is that by the time it is actual fact £144 will probably be worth £90 per week if that. You don't get something for nothing! Governments of any colour have used this ruse so many times, except perhaps the one voted in in 1945.  They really did try to put into effect promises they made on time.

Secondly what does “Universal Benefits” mean.  The fact is this is probably a clever way of demolishing many existing benefits to save the Exchequer a few billion here and there. Anyone with a ha'p'orth of sense knows that doing away with certain benefits means just that.  They will not be replaced by generous replacements.

So many will find themselves without help when and where it is most needed. If you don't qualify for certain welfare reforms then it will probably be goodbye to assistance you have relied upon for years.

No Government now, particularly in this time of austerity, is going to throw money around ad lib. So cutting out many benefits and replacing them with a universal benefit is a massive con. You don't get something for nothing. The idea put forth is that it will save time and money to coordinate the benefit system into one efficient whole. It will indeed save lots of administrative fees but lets not kid ourselves, saving working costs is the publicity gimmick; what it will really do and this is the real intent, is cut out many benefits to the disabled, those in need of social care and the unemployed and wait for it, pensioners.

Of course, Tax Credits have been a sleazy way of not raising the pension and kidding the hard up pensioners that they are in effect getting a rise. Of course they weren't, aren't and never will. All that was required was a decent rise in the State Pension; cheaper to administer and ethical but if one can shut up a few by claiming that those on low pensions can claim Tax Credits, its much cheaper in the long run than doing the decent thing and making sure the elderly get what they were promised all their working lives.

So £144 it is and by 2014, you can bet your bottom dollar (if you can afford it) that this magnificent £144 won't be worth £90.

The trouble is many decent honest folk are being taken in by this. This clever ploy has shut up the strident voices calling for a rise and obviates the necessity to keep up the argument.

This is a massive con trick and the Government know it and so would a Labour Government. The fact is the elderly, thanks to sly innuendo, are now regarded as an unworthy burden on society so there won't be a lot fighting our corner.

One can observe similar attitudes relating to our ex-service men. Those with deep and shocking injuries are now having to prove to a commercial company that they are unable to get or find work.

This unscrupulous attitude extends to the civil sector also. The Independent of 25th March 2013 reports of:

an amputee who cannot walk, struggles to talk and is brain damaged has been passed “fit for work” and had his benefits cut under government reforms. His incapacity benefits were cut by £440 a month and [he] has been left with £220 to pay his monthly rent, bills and food. The 50-year-old had received incapacity benefits, now known as employment and support allowances since 1993 when he had a brain tumour. He also had his left leg amputated below the knee in 2004 after contracting deep vein thrombosis.

Notice the change of description of benefit and what is worse, all this was monitored by ATOS, the firm the Government has used to monitor and control benefits.

You didn't vote for ATOS, neither did you vote for Group 4 another Government appointed agency but there they are having a huge influence on our lives concerning matters of need and handicap. These firms are probably “jobs for the boys”- nice little earners. What is even worse than these schemes and plots, for this is what they are, is that they insult our intelligence and that is really unforgivable.

Joan Grant

Thursday 25 April 2013

The Liverpool Care Pathway

It has come to the Writer's notice of a rumour that the NHS has given £30m to the NHS to practice this method of nursing and care. On making enquiries whether this rumour is true, it transpires that this may only be a misunderstanding of the facts.

However it is a fact that the Government has awarded a certain amount to Hospices for palliative care. This is to alleviate the suffering and pain experienced by terminally ill patients. Now the worry is that there is a very fine line between rendering palliative care and practising the Liverpool Care Pathway which requires the withholding of food and water and indeed painkillers where it is deemed that the patient will not, in any case survive.

Palliative care should be rendered to those suffering terminal diseases but this does not mean that those with cancer and similar diseases should be denied food and water and dignified comfort. The Liverpool Care Pathway is it seems, a euphemism for euthanasia which is still a crime, illegal in this country. It leaves patients at the mercy of hospital staff and family. Many suggest that this is O.K. on condition that the family have been informed. This is most unacceptable and dangerous. Many families, it is sad to say, would welcome the enforced departure of their elderly members and the State should recognise this and behave in an ethical and protective way.

The elderly are most vulnerable and The Liverpool Care Pathway is not the way to deal with the problems of the terminally ill elderly who, if we are not careful, will fall victim to the unscrupulous many of whom regard the elderly as an unwelcome burden on society.

More financial attacks to come on pensioners?

The 'Fabian' attack in the Daily Express
THE FABIANS "STRIP OAPS of benefits" According to a report in the Daily Express on the 22nd April 2013 and further comments in the Independent of today (23.4.013) Better Off Pensioners could be taxed and/or means tested on benefits such as Bus Passes and Fuel Allowance and so save the Government millions, the so-called Think Tank of the Fabian Society suggests.

We suggest that there wasn't much thought given to this dangerous idea. Who decides who the "Better Off Pensioners" are and where should the line between the better off and poorer pensioners be drawn?

The Independent following the debate today uses phrases like those on Tax Credits would be deemed the poorer section. Well the Writer does not qualify for Tax Credit or any other supplement to her pension, yet remains struggling to meet fuel bills and Council Tax.

A prime example of misguided designated line is that of the PDSA who will not treat animals belonging to pensioners who do not receive Housing or Council Tax Benefit. There are many people existing just above these mistakenly placed demarcation lines but who are certainly not better off. Someone receiving just over £10,000 per annum cannot be classed as "Better Off" but this silly idea will attack them just the same.

The State Pension in Britain is the lowest in Europe so these "perks" are much needed by the majority of pensioners, most of whom are certainly not "Better Off". The Fabian "Think Tank" had better think again.

Thursday 14 March 2013

Peoples Assembly Against Austerity

On 22nd June this year, there is a People's Assembly to be held at Central Hall Westminster. The theme is against Austerity and the cuts, particularly attacks on benefits, and it is hoped all organisations who are campaigning against cuts will come along and contribute, with comments, suggestions and support in general.

We hope to make this meeting a resounding success with as many people as possible coming along. We welcome students, nurses and service workers, i.e. firemen, postal workers and teachers. The is a great opportunity to speak out and make our voices heard and, more importantly, listened to.

Annual General Meeting Saturday 20th April 2013

To be held at the Somers Town Community Centre, 150 Ossulston Street, Kings Cross NW1 1EE

All are welcome but if you are not affiliated, you will not be able to vote nor propose a motion or resolution nor nominate, you will however, be welcome to raise questions and make suggestions. We welcome ideas and support.

Hope to see you there. The meeting commences at 10.30 with registration at 10.00 a.m.

Monday 18 June 2012





Come to the GLPA Pensioners and Trade Unionists Conference to find some answers.

On Saturday 3rd November 2012 from 10a.m. to 3.30p.m.

Entrance £3 including Buffet Lunch

Speakers: Dr. John Lister - Health Emergency
Prof. Steve Iliffe - Social Care for the Elderly
Karen Jennings - Asst. Gen. Sec. UNISON
Caroline Pigeon - GLA Assembly Member - Transport


Come along and listen to the experts and voice your opinion

Sunday 17 June 2012


The other day the Writer answered her front door to find a chap purporting to represent the charity for Air ambulance. It appeared to be a perfectly genuine enquiry with the chap wearing identification tag and carrying a clipboard.

He wanted to obtain donations for this Charity's lottery which seemed perfectly O.K. However he presented the Writer with a form which required the donee to insert their Bank Account number and Sort Code.

On no account should these details be handed over, no matter how genuine the caller may seem. He was offered money and the alternative of the donee contacting her own bank to make arrangements for a transfer to the Charity's Bank but he refused the suggestion. Again, it seemed perfectly logical that he wished to gain support this way rather than receiving direct cash at the door, or his bank receiving authorisaton from the would-be donee.

No charity should expect any individual to present a stranger with details of their financial affairs so please do not give away your bank details or indeed any other information relating to your finances.

Neither should you hand over details on the telephone, not even to your own Bank for it is becoming a regular con trick for scamps and rogues to listen in. There are now all means and tricks of listening in and if you ever need to disclose your Bank details, they should only ever be given by you in person to your Bank and even your Bank would not request details of your pin number.

So remember: keep your account number, sort code number and pin number to youself alone and NEVER be tempted to write them down on any form presented at your doorstep or requested over the telephone.

There are some wicked people about. You never have to pass this information to anyone at any time unless it is by you in person at your own Bank.

Friday 15 June 2012


It is getting a little tiresome to hear from so-called experts on fiscal studies, of their focus on the elderly and their current benefits. It is so unfair that by these public comments they draw the attention of the remainder of the public to those of us unable to work nor even contribute to the large deficit allegedly inherited by the current Government.
Among other spotlights being brought to bear on the pensioners' so-called benefits are the Freedom Pass enjoyed by London Pensioners, Free Bus Travel by other Pensioners across the country, Free Prescriptions, the Free Television Licence and the Winter Fuel Allowance.
It is quite iniquitous that cuts should be aimed at a class of people unable to hit back either financially or through strikes and marches.
The most callous suggestion is that the Winter Fuel Allowance should come into the category of benefits not really needful, an attitude which has been exacerbated by celebrities and other public figures noisily giving away their allowance in a 'noble' gesture to the country because they say they are not really in need of this allowance. This noisy gesture has put in jeopardy this payment which has been given open handedly with no strings or means testing. Instead of making a grandiose show of their altruism, would it not be better for these noble folk to hand their allowance to Age Concern or Age UK quietly without fuss.
Since the Government may consider that one way of economising would be for the Winter Fuel Payment to be means tested or only given to those applying, would it not be a good idea that from the 1st October to the 31st March all central heating in the House of Commons, the House of Lords (which does have an elderly section of the public by virtue of that House's Members' age), all Council Chambers and all Civil Servant Offices, be turned off.
This would surely make a good saving, set a fine example of public responsibility and provide the sitters with a better perception of what it is like to be really cold and unable to do anything about it usually because of enforced immobility either through health or age. Try being old and cold. There's nothing like experience for greater understanding.
Our fiscal experts should remember that this generation of pensioners have put more into the National Pot than any other section of society because having lived longer, their contributions were greater. One of the betrayals was that having been promised a pension which would be linked to wages or prices, whichever was the higher, a previous Conservative Government under Mrs. Thatcher, broke this promise of a link and the following Labour Government were even more treacherous by not reversing the actions of that previous Tory Government. Pensioners have been let down by both parties and talk of taking away or means testing a heating allowance, is no less a betrayal than the breaking of the Link. It is pernicious to suggest that in these hard times the Pensioners have not had inroads made to their quality of life as others have. That so-called quality is already under attack by rising food prices, heavier utility bills and telephone costs. It is now costly to ring Telephone Directories even before one makes a call.
Leave what little we get alone.

Tuesday 10 April 2012


Pennies matter for many

What a description for an infamous proposal. Any pensioner whose income does not exceed £10,000 should never be taxed. Indeed this unconscionable method of collecting money from the elderly has been in force for too long. A pension is supposed to protect those no longer able to work from penury in their old age. IT IS NOT AND SHOULD NEVER BE A TARGET for tax. To tax the helpless elderly is cowardly, iniquitous and immoral.

Obviously, we are not talking of the Retired Chairman of British Gas and all the other Fred Goodwins who wouldn't miss a spot of tax but of people who spend their lives budgeting, scrimping and saving merely to get along by keeping warm and able to buy a moderate amount of food to keep them well, let alone over-indulgence.

Mr. David Davis said on "Question Time" that the pensioner was, under these proposals, only losing about £63 per year. Where has he been living all this time? The half-year water rate for one person was £81 so Mr. Davis' £63 leaves the householder £9 short. Added to this the rising fuel costs levied in utility bills, the rise in meat and bread prices, not to mention milk, leaves most of the elderly scratching their heads and quite often sick with worry.

Of course £63 to Mr. Davis and his friends equates to one meal at Simpsons or the Savoy, a taxi fare, a bottle of wine and a generous tip so of course, £63 to the likes of Mr. Davis is chicken feed.

We hear today (10th April 2012) that Mr. Osborne is "shocked" to learn that many people only pay about 10% tax. Perhaps he should find out a bit more and get his finger out and if he genuinely is not aware of certain sections of our society only paying 10% tax then he ought to and most certainly should not be Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Monday 6 February 2012


It has been very heart-warming to read that people like Ann Widdecombe and David Jason together with others relatively well off, are contemplating, or already are, giving their fuel allowance to those less well off. They say that they do not need it and to help the country to save, feel it only right that they pass their unwanted benefit to others.

Now this is very noble and one does not wish to sound churlish or ungrateful when coming across these reports in the press.

However, it is very disturbing for the pensioner movement as a whole that these good natured folk are by their decent instincts and generosity putting many of the less well off at risk of becoming subject to means testing, something which the Greater London Pensioners and those of the National Pensioners Convention have always fought against. So one wonders if a little more consideration should have been applied when performing public acts of apparent generosity.

If the Government becomes aware that Winter Fuel Allowance is not needed in some quarters, then they will probably come to the conclusion that this grant should be means tested since it is not required by all.

People a little better off should understand that the Winter Fuel Allowance, the Freedom Pass and Prescriptions are the only items granted to Pensioners not means tested. These are an entitlement given freely into their hands once they attain the age of 60. Part of the criteria of the State Pension campaigners is that grants from the Government should protect the recipients' dignity and means testing certainly does not.

These acts of kindness although well intentioned are backfiring in that they attract attention from a Government already looking to cut expenditure from any direction. Thus to give away a benefit of this nature publicly can in fact be a great disservice to a group of people already treated with contempt by a low pension. The State pensioner by his very dependence on this entitlement (notice we use the word entitlement and NOT benefit), is an illustration of need. Many are already suffering from the cold regardless of the Fuel allowance and do not need the indignity of means testing which will result if people better off decide to openly practice their philanthropy. The bible put it nicely with the phrase: "hide your light under a bush". If you are going to donate your allowance, then for the sake of all those depending on this rare gift from the Government, please do it quietly without drawing attention to the fact. That really would be a noble thing to do.

Sunday 9 October 2011



How will pensioners cope with Con-Dem cuts and policies?

Come to our Conference on Saturday 12th November from 10 a.m. to 4 SOMERS TOWN COMMUNITY CENTRE, 15O OSSULSTON STREET,KINGS CROSS Entrance £3 with Buffet Lunch provided.

Invited Speakers:

STEPHEN BENTON - London Councils and Freedom Pass

Prof. STEVE ILIFFE -Primary Care and Population Health

JAY GINN - Women's Pensions

Invitations have gone out to other prospective speakers including Ken Livingstone.

All welcome. Another year has passed since our last open Conference and still we soldier on. Come along and make your contribution. It is a chance to voice your anxieties,observations and comments, besides proposals affecting the ever increasing number of Pensioners in the UK.

We are told that we are all in this together, something we didn't need reminding of. Fuel poverty will be more widespread and the cost of basic foodstuffs spiralling. The NHS is undergoing significant changes, not all to the benefit of the elderly. We have plenty to speak about so come along and let us hear your voice.

Sunday 12 June 2011

Bowel cancer - know the signs

Some of you may be aware of an organisation called "The Link". This was set up mainly to give the public via affiliated members, an opportunity of raising health issues and obtaining more information about the NHS and attendant matters.  In Havering, we have a very hard-working branch which holds many meetings and is indebted to its secretary Joan Smith.

The last meeting's set of minutes had with its enclosures details of symptoms of bowel cancer and although this is not a pleasant subject, I thought it worth our while to know a little more about it and to be very aware of its effects.  What should be stressed is that if you have any concerns in this regard, please do not ignore them and close your eyes.

It was mentioned that many people do nothing about worrying signs because they are afraid, embarrassed or do not want to waste their GP's time.  Well the answer to this is that embarrassment should never stop anyone from consulting their GP.   He, after all, is used to "bodies" of all sorts and is only interested in their workings.  It is NEVER a waste of time to ask your doctor about any anxieties you may have. He will be only too pleased that you have shown courage in coming forward and by doing so, have probably caught the disease in good time.

Finally, there is the fear, and one's imagination running riot. If you can grit your teeth, pick up the telephone, you are halfway there. Someone at the other end will be only too pleased to make an appointment and put your mind at rest. After all, your fear and discomfort will be so much worse if you ignore any nasty signs so that they become reality. An early diagnosis can put a stop to all this.

Always remember that many cancers are now treatable especially if caught in the early stages, so make that phone call or go along to your doctor's surgery and whatever the outcome, you will get rid of that nasty anxiety of not knowing.

First, you need to know what exactly bowel cancer is. It is a disease of the large bowel (colon) or rectum. It is also sometimes called colorectal or colon cancer. It affects both men and women and is most common in people over 50 years of age.

So here are the important signs to take note of:-
  • Bleeding from the bottom.
  • Persistent changes in the bowel habit such as diarrhoea or loose stools.
  • Severe abdominal pain.
  • A lump in the tummy.
  • Weight loss.
  • Tiredness.
  • Unexplained iron deficiency.
Now it is a known fact that people who read medical books or journals imagine, as a result, that they have all sorts of things wrong with them. However, any of the above should be given serious thought.

Before you become completely depressed, if you think you have bowel cancer symptoms, such as bleeding from the rectum, remember, you may be suffering from a polyps or cyst. If your bowel movements are irregular, you may simply have an irritable bowel. None of these things may be life threatening, but a word with your GP may reveal them to be treatable and if your worst suspicions are confirmed, then you will have caught the trouble early and given yourself a much better chance of a good outcome.

So please pick up the phone and put yourself on the road to knowing exactly what is wrong, if anything, and what the next step will be. You will feel happier to know where you stand and give the medical profession a chance to put things right which is what they all want to do.

Don't waste time grasp the nettle and if necessary, drag someone along with you which may give you the moral courage you need.

Tuesday 29 March 2011


Jeremy Corbyn MP
1st April 2011 is the date and if you want to know more come and join us at Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL. at 2.30 p.m. until 5.30 p.m.
Jeremy Corbyn MP, John Cryer MP, Bob Crow (RMT) Mark Serwotka (PCS) A member of UK Uncut, are speakers and should make this meeting one of particular interest to the older generation.
Here is our chance to put questions, suggest solutions and responses to the recent events not only on the Home Front but also on an International level for, as we know, what happens out there also affects us here in the UK.
This is part of the continuing fight-back against this Con-Dem government in which we as pensioners, must play our part.
We need pensioners, retired trade union members, trade union branches and trades councils' representatives to come along and ensure our success.
As the year progresses and this government pursues its unscrupulous policies of cuts and punitive measures against the vulnerable and needy, we shall find that gatherings of this sort are invaluable weapons to secure some form of security for us all.

Sunday 13 February 2011



Assemble at 11 am. on Victoria Embankment, between Temple Place and Blackfriars, TO MARCH TO A RALLY IN HYDE PARK.

Our chance to say NO to unfair and unnecessary spending cuts which will not affect the rich but will be catastrophic to the poorer section of our society, mainly the disabled, elderly and our youngsters desperately seeking employment.


The CONDEM Government's vicious proposals verging on vindictiveness must be countered at all levels. This MARCH is our chance to demonstrate our anger and take an opportunity to condemn the injustice and unscrupulousness of this Government's punitive measures.

We must take every opportunity to oppose these proposals and now is the time before it is too late.

What we need right now are viable alternatives such as closing tax loopholes, the creation of more jobs and policies to create green growth.

This is a TUC organised event and comes at a time when everything we have worked for is now under threat.

Friday 17 December 2010


Several years ago, this organisation voiced its concern over the Government's plans to dispense with the Pension Book and replace it with cards.

Now the consequences of this inconsiderate move which we feared would follow, have transpired.

Havering Forum for the Over 50's listened to our local representative of the Advocacy Service provided by Age UK (formerly Age Concern), tell us how difficult this move by the Government has made life for many of the elderly living alone and unable to get out. These folk depend on helpers and carers for errands and contact with the outside world and more importantly for someone to collect their pension for them.

The replacement of pension books by cards is totally unfair and distressing to many.

Old Age Pensioners, because of their age, find it difficult and in many cases impossible, to remember Pin Numbers and yet the finance companies vehemently advise against those numbers being passed on to other persons.

Once upon a time a Pensioner could sign a pension book and a relative or carer would visit the Post Office and collect the Pension. Admittedly this method is open to theft or fraud but most people over sixty would be happy to take the risk and be assured that they could receive their weekly or monthly payment.

At present there are no agencies who will co-operate and accept Agents with cards collecting money for pensioners.

So an elderly person, is stuck at home, needing money but with no means of collecting what is rightfully theirs.

We were told that a helper found the only way round this problem was for the Pensioner to make out a cheque for the required amount in favour of the helper who would present this to a Bank, pick up the money and take it back to the Pensioner.

Now this is just as risky but is the only way an old person can be helped out of their predicament.

Now it transpires that there is a move by the Banks to do away with cheques.

This move would not only be difficult for pensioners but for the general public. The alternative would be for items to be purchased on line with the use of credit cards.

How many pensioners are able to use computers? How many own one? How many use credit cards? The danger with credit cards is that one can lose one's identity. That is, a crook can access your banking details via a computer and empty your bank account by typing in your bank account numbers, etc. Placing your details on a computer leaves you open to theft.

So it is most unfair and dangerous to expect pensioners to trust helpers with cheques or to use on-line banking.

The weak, elderly and disabled are experiencing deep anxiety and frustration just in order to obtain what is rightfully theirs. It is the Government's responsibility to ensure a pensioner can access their pensions and benefits without fear or obstruction and doing away with Pension Books and forcing the elderly to resort to remembering pin Numbers, the use of cards and on-line banking is creating fear and obstruction in a most unprincipled way.

Monday 18 October 2010


EDM Winter Fuel Allowance.

This is an Early Day Motion to protect our Fuel Allowance, so do please write to your MP and ask him to sign it. Although the Lib Dems promised they would not touch this, it is worth remembering that this Allowance and the Freedom Pass are now at risk since the Coalition appears to feel justified in breaking all promises made prior to the Election under the excuse that they have a massive deficit to deal with. If there had not been a "massive deficit", one wonders what their excuse would be. It looks as though the last Government unwittingly did them a favour!

If they do renege on these promises then one can only conclude that it is the hard-up, the elderly and the disabled who will be the victims or fall guys in this scenario - as ever. Does anything change? Its always the poor that pays isn't it!

Cutting benefits appears to be the first action to be taken to remedy a situation NOT OF THE PENSIONERS MAKING NOR THAT OF THE DISABLED AND NEEDY.

There is currently a petition to try and save the Royal Mail from privatisation. From press reports, it appears to be a done deal. Nevertheless you are asked to sign any petition protecting the Royal Mail, which comes your way.

Rallies, Petitions, EDMs are the only weapons we have to shout our cause unless we get lucky and the National Press jump in. So please come, sign and/or march. In today's political climate we need you and all the support you can give.

Pensioners Conference - 6th November 2010

Now more than ever we must make our anxieties known and shared with the Trades Unions. This is the annual event held at Somers Town Community Centre when we can speak, offer advice to those Union members not yet pensioners and urge them to use their powers to protect the elderly and disabled.

We have a number of speakers and hope to have our old friends from the Unions speak to us.

Our future is not so certain now we have a Government determined to make drastic cuts and so this is a good time to remind you all that the PENSION must NEVER be referred to as a benefit. It is a right and an entitlement which cannot be treated by tinkering and reducing, or worse, means testing. As such right, it can never be lumped together with other benefits making it vulnerable to the callous cuts now contemplated for other benefits.

Benefits may be subject to these cuts but the Pension should be immune to any tricks the Government wishes to perform with it. Make sure you correct anyone who refers to our Pension as a benefit. IT IS NOT.

NPC Rally - 27th October 2010

27th October. This is the date for the NPC Rally and Lobby. MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD!

The programme is:
  • 12 noon Protest at Old Palace Yard which is opposite the House of Commons.
  • 1 p.m. rally at Methodist Central Hall
  • 2 p.m. Lobby of MP's so write to your MP or MPs and see them to tell them about our problems.
Especially how the threatened cuts will affect Pensioners, in particular the Fuel Allowance and any encroachment in the future to the Freedom Pass.


Wednesday 16 June 2010


The most disturbing event which happened during the General Election was the fact that many people were denied their opportunity of recording their vote because the stations closed before those queueing were allowed access.

This has been quietly forgotten but should not be, indeed it is a most serious blunder made by civil servants and Council employees that many, many folk were unable to gain entrance to their local polling station before those stations closed in accordance with the prescribed closing time.

It would appear that the position borders on illegality. If members of this Country have presented themselves for the purpose of voting, then the station closes at the prescribed time before they can vote, something is seriously wrong. This cannot go unchallenged and the Government should now take steps to ensure that such an unjust sitation is never repeated.

Whether or not, people were inside the Station or still lining up outside is immaterial. The duty of the presiding polling authority is to ensure that all those wishing and eligible to vote were able to do so. It was patently not the fault of the voters concerned. They were there, they were able and they were willing to vote and by the way it makes a nonsense of the idea that those not voting should be fined or penalised. If that were the case then there would be several prosecutions awaiting judgement now.

John Cryer lost his seat for Hornchurch at the previous election by just 480 votes. Which party he supported is again, irrelevant. The glaring fact is that those 480 votes could have been those lost by closure of polling stations at the allotted time despite there being several hundred people lining up to gain entrance to a polling booth.

How many marginals may have had a different outcome? The question is not fantastic nor unrealistic and it seems fair comment to claim that true results cannot be construed as such if voters were denied the facility of recording their wishes. In these circumstances a true reflection of the electorate's wishes is just not possible.

It seems a reasonable request that those so denied should be offered a retrospective proxy vote in lieu of that lost by the authorities' mismanagement. It was NOT the fault of those waiting outside and certainly not the fault of those actually in the polling station that they couldn't vote. It is very important that this lapse be addressed and should never happen again. In other countries people are being killed in a struggle to obtain democracy by a free vote and our own history remembers the fight of the suffragettes to get votes for women so to lose this hardwon right over the inefficiency and bad planning by those in charge is not only contemptuously scandalous, it is unlawful. Being able to vote is a fundamental right.
Joan Grant


With the recent elections revealing how uncertain the electorate has been as to who should govern this country of ours, the usual statements about people using their votes come to the fore.

There is a strong feeling that everyone should use their vote, particularly when one considers that there was a time when the ordinary man did not have that privilege and that women too were denied the opportunity of choosing who should rule them until very recently.

Many suggest that those people not bothering to vote should be summonsed or pressured in some other way to use their ballot paper. Given the the circumstances mentioned above, this attitude is understandable but such a draconian measure appears to smack of an attack on the individual's right to remain outside politics for one reason or another.

It would seem a much more fairer idea for the voter to be given a chance to show that he feels there is no-one for whom he could offer his support. To this end perhaps the ballot paper could have a box at the bottom of the list of candidates'names for abstention. This would demonstrate the fact that if there had been a candidate worthy of a vote the abstainer would have elected him or her but that since the voter can see no-one worthy of consideration he displays this fact by abstaining. For instance if the candidates were Hitler, Stalin or Pol Pot, quite clearly a conscientious elector would not favour any one of these. In this case, his cross in the abstention box would show his willingness to attend the polling station and vote but that there was no-one he considered fit to take a representative position in this country.

To summons someone for disinterest or being in a genuine dilemma is not the answer and would involve expensive and useless prosecution but allowing a voter to declare his wish to abstain allows the voter a declaration and carries a clear message to all candidates.

Monday 8 February 2010


On March 12th at St. Pancras Church Hall, Lancing Street opposite Euston Station off Eversholt Street, The Greater London Pensioner Association will be holding a public meeting.



Come and join in the Public meeting to debate the issues concerning today's Pensioners


The meeeting commences promptly at 1 p.m. until 3.30
Tea Coffee and biscuites available.

Come along so you know your voice will make a difference, not only to London Pensioners but to Pensioners all over the UK.

Guest Speakers are: Dot Gibson Secretary, National Pensioners Convention and John Lister - Health Emergency

Now is the chance to let those in power and prospective candidates know our grievances, anxieties and expectations. We have been treated shabbily. After ll years of Labour neglect and 18 of Tory disregard, we can at last tell these people what we think, want, look forward to and expect.

Thursday 15 October 2009


According to a letter printed in a Romford free paper, there will be new dispensing regulations from January 2010. Pharmacies, will apparently, be expected to replace a brand drug named on a prescription with one that is cheaper.

According to that correspondent, this is part of the Department of Health's 2009 pharmaceutical regulations scheme agreement.

Again. quoting from this letter, pharmacists will not have to consult the patient or the doctor who wrote the prescription. This, the NHS estimate will save £40m a year.

The correspondent goes on to outline the fact that there are many people for example, who suffer from serious heart conditions and who rely upon their prescribed drug to provide them with some quality of life. Without that drug, their condition would deteriorate.

The correspondent goes on:-"If a pharmacist decides on his own volition to change the prescription drug to one that is cheaper, how will he/she know whether or not it could create serious side effects that could prove detrimental to the patient's well being?"

The writer goes on to state that it is the doctor who should specify the patient's medication, not a pharmacist or a government economist. The government should think again.

We think most pensioners would be most grateful for the report above and agree entirely with the correspondent's fears.

Once again, we are faced with a Government apparently willing to save costs at the likely expense of the patient. This is a feature found in privatization schemes where costs become paramount above the safety and health of the patient.

We thank Mr. Cyril North most sincerely for voicing his very appropriate concerns.

This is a matter of which Pensioners should be made fully aware. The fact that a pensioner's health could be gambled with in this way must be fully recognised and challenged at all levels. A Pensioner's health is more delicate than that of a younger person and is much more vulnerable to change and therefore must not be placed at risk just because the Government wish to cut a few corners. Let the savings be applied elsewhere.

While on the subject of Prescriptions, pensioners may have found that their pharmacist appears to change the manufacturer of their regular pills. For instance blood pressure pills may be provided and coloured pink but the next month's prescription may contain pills of a different colour and size. This happens to the Writer quite often.

We feel that this is a bad practice since some elderly folk are often susceptible to change and become confused by seeing a tablet of a different colour or size.

We believe this practice stems from the fact that the chemist may have different arrangements with different suppliers.

So it is a good idea for patients to watch carefully the boxes and medications they receive from the chemists, and carers should also be wary on their charge's behalf and ensure that the same type of pill and dosage is being proffered.

Friday 7 August 2009

Utilities, Expenses & Scams

This morning a young lady Community Police Officer called on me to discuss safety issues, so I invited her in, having first established she was genuine. Several matters came up and I mentioned my recent interview with ITN regarding British Gas Prices.

She told me that her Grandmother had been very upset over British Gas prices including termination fees. I had never heard of penalties being applied for termination with them. So it seems that if you wish to change your supplier, you should be aware of unforeseen charges.

I rang British Gas and although the advice was a bit more reassuring, there is indeed a cancellation fee for certain tariffs.

These are:- Fixed price Tariff: £70 for gas
................. ...... ......... £30 for electricity.

Price Protection Tariff : these vary between £30 - £45

These are for year 2010 since there is only the December quarter left for 2009 and there is no cancellation fee.

Track and save Tariff for 2010: the cancellation fee is £30 each for Gas or electricity


We are being advised by the Police and other agencies to be very careful before letting anyone in. It is NOT GOOD ENOUGH that they flash an identity tag or badge at you since they could manufacture or get these anywhere.

WHAT YOU NEED TO DO IS TO TELEPHONE YOUR GAS OR ELECTRICITY SUPPLIER and arrange a security word which is specific to you and which you can easily remember. Any caller from the utility concerned must then be able to tell you that word before you let him in.

The utility companies are very helpful in this respect and will happily make this arrangement for you.


At present in the London Borough of Havering we have a scam going on. One of our members happened to be with an elderly friend when there was a knock on the door and these two chaps said they were from the Water Board and practically pushed their way in. It was fortunate that my friend was in the house as she was able to challenge their claim that they were from the Water Board. She told them her son was a builder and had done plumbing and there was no way the Board would check in the way in which they were behaving. One tried to keep her talking while the other tried to get upstairs. It didn't work and they soon cleared off. There was coincidently some building work going on further up the road and it seemed they were trying to use that fact in order to convince the householder of their genuineness. One wonders what would have happened if my friend had not been there. As it was they must have been shocked and dismayed to find the proposed victim had company. I was told that one was Irish and the other had a middle European accent.

So friends be warned.

By the way the nice young lady Community Policeman wanted to take details from me which in the normal way I would have been quite happy to divulge but on my asking, she confirmed my details would go on a computer. Well, no way. Once on a computer it is very hard for you to get them taken off. So do ask what will happen to any information provided. It is quite likely all of us have our details on computers already but I see no reason for us to submit our private information to anyone, even if they are a Community Police Officers.

Be warned.

Monday 20 July 2009


At a recent meeting of the GLPA, we were informed by our Speaker, an Assembly Member of the Greater London Authority, that our information was wrong regarding the reserve power.

In order to clarify matters, we copy below an edited version of a letter received by one of our colleagues from his Member, (representing the London Borough of Brent), Mr. Navin Shah, which summarizes the history and details under which the Pass is and was issued:-

"....The Freedom Pass provides free travel for Londoners over 60. It started as free bus travel in 1973 which was extended to London Underground by the GLC in the 1980s. Following the abolition of the GLC the Freedom Pass became administered by London Councils (previously the Association of London Government), the umbrella organisation for London's 33 local authorities.London Councils is a politically represenative body whose make-up reflects the balance of power between parties across the London Boroughs.Following 2006 local elections London Councils is currently controlled by a conservative administration.

"Following establishment of the Greater London Authority (GLA) and Transport for London (TfL) in 2000 the Act of Parliament stated that TfL would make a contribution alongside the Boroughs. This Act also gave the Mayor the reserve power of arbitration should a stand-off between the Boroughs, or between the boroughs and TfL occur.The purpose of this was to guarantee the Freedom Pass as if one borough wished to opt out, it would not be able to.

"Ken Livingstone used this power repeatedly. Following a particularly fraught round of negotiations in 2007 Conservative members of the London Councils began to lobby against this power and some against the Freedom Pass itself. Cllr. Daniel Moylan (Kensington & Chelsea) accused the Mayor of "using the Freedom Pass as a stealth tax on Londoners" London Councils then lobbied strongly as England and Wales' Concessionary Bus Travel Bill was going through Parliament, sponsoring amendments that would have removed the reserve power codified in the Greater London Authority Act (1999). THE CURRENT MAYOR WHO WAS AN MP AT THE TIME, DID NOT VOTE ON THAT BILL.

"As candidate for Mayor of London,Boris Johnson promised "a new relationship with the boroughs" -and was lobbied strongly by some Conservative politicians in London - including members of the London Assembly to devolve powers to the boroughs. I am(Mr.Shah) of the belief this is a somewhat meaningless request. considering the powers of the Mayor are enshrined in an Act of Parliament. Any substantial devolution would require amendments in parliament.

"The Mayor has only weakened his powers in relation to the Boroughs in one respect- the Freedom Pass reserve Power. In February 2009 HE ANNOUNCED HE WAS AGREEING TO LONDON COUNCILS' WISHES BY PASSING THE POWER OF RESOLVING FREEMOM PASS DISPUTES TO AN INDEPENDENT ARBITER. THIS IS AGAINST THE WISHES OF CENTRAL GOVERNMENT, who have stated the reserve power was designed to ensure the continued existence of the Freedom Pass. While an independent arbiter is a model suitable to industrial relations, the reserve power was given to the Mayor as it was felt such a power should be held by someone with democratic accountability.

"I have discussed the history of the politics of the Freedom Pass before the election of this Mayor as I believe it is also important to note that Boris Johnson appointed Cllr Moylan to the Board of TfL. It is therefore unsurprising Boris Johnson devolved the reserve power away from himself.

"I do not think the chances of negotiations going to the arbiter are reduced by the devolution of this power. As part of the negotiations, London Councils agreed that Transport for London's contribtions could be capped until 2015. Therefore any rise in costs before that date will have to be covered by borough contributions, and so the scope for disagreement is somewhat larger.ONE BOROUGH CAN STILL HOLD THE WHOLE OF LONDON TO RANSOM, AND THE MAYOR NOW CANNOT OVERRIDE THIS PROTEST. It should also be remembered that the Mayor has extended the Freedom Pass for 24 hour usage. While I welcome this move for the benefits it brings, it must be noted this will increase the COST PRESSURES ON BOROUGHS.

"I felt it important to discuss the background to this change as I feel this is not an isolated attempt to alter concessionary travel in London.Nevertheless, this is a matter between the boroughs at London Councils, rather than between London Councils and TfL.

"There has been general agreement at London Councils that a move towards actual usage was favourable and fair. Each authority's contribution has always theoretically been based on usage.The introduction of the Oyster Card system allows London Councils and TfL to gain a more realistic measure of 'usage'.

"There are winners and losers from this new arrangement. Theoretically, boroughs with large elderly populations, and where a large number of the over 60s cannot afford to drive, will see their contributions increase significantly. Boroughs with large elderly populations, but where the over 60s are more reliant on cars are likely to be the winners from the transition to this new arrangement.

"It has been claimed that this will benefit the outer London Boroughs at the expense of the inner. However, the results will be a bit more nuanced than this in that only the outer London Boroughs with a low level of TfL services will benefit, while others with a high level of public transport provision are likely to see increased bills. For example, it is predicted the London Borough of Bromley, which only benefits from bus and tram TfL services, will gain £4.4m through the new arrangement, while Brent will lose £2.5m.The Majority of inner London Boroughs will see increases, e.g. Haringey are set to lose £2.5m. In the long run,costs are likely to rise for all, as we have an ageing population. I consider this a long term threat to the will of boroughs to provide the Freedom Pass, and the benefits the Pass brings to London's over 60 population therefore must not be forgotten.

"While I accept there is an argument where areas with fewer TfL services should pay less, I am concerned at both this fractured approach to transport in London and the effects of the transferred costs to some of the most strained boroughs in London...................................

"I do remain deeply concerned that the Mayor has relinquished his power of guarantee, and the unlikelihood of any future Mayor clamouring it back. The London Labour Party has long been greatly concerned at the appearance of a concerted threat to the Freeom Pass, and it is determined to maintain concessionary travel in Greater London."

We are grateful to Mr. Shah for this detailed information and appreciate how much work has gone into producing it. We hope that if Mr. Shah reads this edited version of his account and advice, he is happy with it. We shall of course be pleased to make any amendments he deems fair.

Monday 13 July 2009


The Headings below were kindly provided by the Pensions Service, a representative of which came along to Havering Retired Persons Association.
It is worth checking with your local Pension Service and/or Age Concern to see whether you can be or are, without prejudice,entitled to any of the above items.


We set out below the symptoms to be looked for and the following actions which should be taken.

THESE ARE PROVIDED FOR US BY THE NHS LINK serving the London Borough of Havering for which we are grateful.

Some of the signs are obviously self evident, nevertheless it is useful to bring these points to Pensioners' attention.

  • feeling faint,
  • dizziness,
  • nausea,
  • headache,
  • rapid heart beat,
  • confusion,
  • vomiting.
If you or someone else have the signs of heat exhaustion take the following actions:-
  • Move out of the sun to a cool shady spot or air conditioned room,
  • Lay the person down on their back and elevate their feet,
  • Slightly loosen or remove clothing,
  • Get the person to drink cold water (NOT ICED) to replace lost fluids,
  • Monitor the person closely and if they show signs of confusion,
  • fainting, or if they have a fever, call 999 to get medical assistance.
To speak to a NHS Direct Health Advisor, CALL 0845 4647


At the recent LOPSG Participants' meeting (Seventh London Older People's Assembly) a suggestion from the Chair was made regarding this payment.

On further enquiry it transpired that many of the better off pensioners may be of the view that this payment should be means tested. The reason for this was that many recipients are now living in Spain and other countries where heating one's home in the winter months is not such a priority because the climate of these countries is such in winter that heating problems are generally precluded.

However, the GLPA is totally opposed to any form of means testing regarding these payments.

If any of the public feel that pensioners are benefiting from a payment which is not utterly necessary because of where they are domiciled, the GLPA believes that the Government can easily redress the situation with the imposition of tax. If an enquiry was put to residents abroad, which is surely ascertained when the Ministry of Pensions despatches or arranges payment, the location of the recipients would indicate whether or not such a payment is necessary. In this case perhaps an adjustment could be made.

The argument was put to the Writer that the Government could save money by withholding payments to residents abroad and this savings would, in turn, be ploughed back into the systems for the benefit of less well-off pensioners.

This idea seems to be pie in the sky, since there has yet to be an instance that any savings the Government makes on Pensioner Benefits is directly put into the system for the benefit of less well off pensioners, and identifiable.

The GLPA remains utterly opposed to means testing of any kind.

The fuel payment is the only benefit which is given to Pensioners without any form of means testing. The Freedom Pass is not completely national so this cannot be said to fall into the category of a non-means tested gratuity.

It smacks of betrayal when other Pensioners invite the Government to means test a benefit. One can only conclude that Pensioners of this mind, must be particularly well off.

Friday 12 June 2009


The Daily Express on Thursday 11th June gave a report that MIDDLE-CLASS pensioners should be taxed on their winter fuel allowance or even banned from claiming it altogether, MPs allegedly said on the 10th June. (Read the article here).

Isn't this typical? We have a banking crisis in which the Bankers, the very people responsible for the catastrophe, received millions of pounds in pay-offs. Worse, the Banks were bailed out to the tune of not, millions friends, not billions friends, but in some cases trillions of pounds.

Yet when we asked for the link with earnings to be restored, we were told that it was not affordable.

It is clear that the money was there and very affordable but not for the Pensioners.

It is MPs who have milked their own system (65% of them at least) in getting benefits by the most, in many cases, fraudulent means and yet MPs now say middle-class pensioners should be taxed on their fuel allowance. Perhaps our memories are at fault here, so forgive us for observing that it was the middle-class pensioners (the better off of the elderly in the UK) who had their pension funds raided or penalised by the Inland Revenue new tax laws.

It is the same old story, when in trouble hit the old. The old cannot hit back. The old cannot riot or protest very easily. IT IS TODAY'S OLD who have paid more than any other section of society. By virtue of their age it follows they have paid over a longer period and therefore have contributed more than any other section of our society. They have also fought and endured two world wars but this is of no account.

The fact that this nasty idea is levelled at the perhaps better off pensioner is totally irrelevant. Middle-class Pensioners feel the cold just like any other and have to pay for it.

It is an iniquitous idea, this of taxing the elderly and shows a total lack of honour but should we expect anything else from a house of representatives who fiddle and claim for non-existent mortgages, pornographic films and duck ponds. They have no real conception of the word. It is greed, pure greed, which appears to reign in the House of Commons. Honour does not come into it.

Wednesday 22 April 2009

Jack Jones

Today is a very sad one for Pensioners nationwide. Last night, 21st April, this genuine and honest man passed away to what we hope will be a peaceful rest.

Jack Jones was a prime mover in the Pensioner movement and played a major role in the inception of the National Pensioners Convention. We are proud to say that Jack was a patron of this Association, the Greater London Pensioners Association.

His life was a dedication to the working man but more than this it was a dedication interwoven with compassion and decency and these qualities manifested, notably when taking up the issues and plight of Britain's pensioners.

He never stinted to use his voice and reputation on our behalf, although, like many great men, his innate honesty and uprightness often worked against him.

We understand he refused entry to the House of Lords because he wanted to keep his feet on the ground. He nevertheless maintained his goodwill and efforts and even though old age was making it more and more difficult, he still attended our rallies and marches when his failing health allowed. He supported us, he inspired us, he was a living example of what a public figure should be

So we thank this cheerful man who was our figurehead at all times. In the words of the song, which were his perennial wave of goodbye to us whenever we met, he kept right on to the end of the road.

We are sure there will be a light waiting for you. Farewell, Jack.

Sunday 19 April 2009

The Freedom Pass

A great number of voices have been raised over this Pass and the great fear was that Boris Johnson would do something to jeopardise its existence. Instead he has extended it to 24 hours, 7 days a week and we have in this blog advertised our gratitude and thanks. If our fears were unfounded then we are the first to admit it.

However, it appears to be a little known fact that Mr. Johnson has dropped the reserve scheme.

Most campaigning pensioners are aware that if certain Councils drop out of the Scheme, namely Westminster, Barnet, Bromley and possibly Havering, then the scheme will collapse and the Pass will be no more. This situation has been an ever-constant worry to the watchdog Pensioners. But our buffer to despair was the existence of the Reserve Power which, incidentally, last year was under threat from certain Lib Dem Lords.

Should the scheme collapse in this way, then Ken Livingstone had the reserve power brought into being so that a Pass of sorts could be substituted. It would not be so comprehensive and indeed may only cover bus routes, but it was a safety net for Pensioners.

One of the contributors to this blog was told that the scheme was based on usage because of the expense and we do not pretend to understand the ins and outs of this answer. What we do understand is that if finance is the pivotal point of the Pass's existence, then it certainly (in the present day financial crisis), is in jeopardy. It comes down as ever, to money.

The Pensioners get precious little but the Freedom Pass is their jewel in their somewhat tawdry crown.

The Pass enables movement, and thus averts dementia, boredom and depression. It enables pensioners to shop and spend, and their money is real cash, not airy-fairy credit card exchange, the very things which contributed to the current crisis and bankruptcy. So the pensioners moving about are the very folk who encourage commerce and keep the towns and boroughs alive and afloat.

So please all you good people out there get in touch with your Greater London Assembly Councillor, your local Councillors and your MP's voicing your concerns that should there be any chance of the scheme collapsing a RESERVE scheme WILL BE PUT IN PLACE to protect the one thing which is a breath of life to us, keeps us healthy and by so doing prevents us becoming a burden on the NHS.

Mr. Johnson please take note.

A footnote: We have been told that the sum allocated to Councils to assist them in their contributions to the Bus Pass is not ring-fenced and so (if this assertion is true) are able to raid it for their own purposes, not necessarily connected to Pensioners' travel. Correct us if we are wrong please.

Margaret Haywood

The registration of nurses is a condition which protects patients and ensures that only nurses registered by the Nursing and Midwifery Council are allowed to practise. This condition guarantees a safe and reliable nursing profession.

The existence of this Council is to our great benefit and prevents the employment of unqualified and charlatan nurses who, without this safeguard, could otherwise endanger the health, and indeed the life, of those vulnerable and sick; particularly post operative patients and those in critical conditions.

However, in the case of Margaret Haywood whose recent actions of whistleblowing and allowing a TV programme, namely Panorama, to film the dire conditions of apparent neglect of elderly patients in care homes, it would appear that the Council has acted AGAINST the interests of those whom it should be protecting.

There is a fine line here between someone breaking a disciplinary code out of mischievousness, neglect or malice, and one flouting the rules because their conscience and concern for those patients in their care demand that they do so. Margaret Haywood quite clearly had the welfare and well-being of her patients at heart and it was a brave action on her part to put her own job at risk.

Technically, she may have been wrong, and, in the view of the Council, guilty of misconduct but surely this is a case where a discretionary and compassionate caution should have been applied.

How many people must suffer and in the case of the elderly sick, in fear and loneliness before anyone raises a hand to help them.

The Council have displayed a great lack of intelligence in their unrelenting attitude. Hamfistedness is a term which springs to mind. This is one instance where the Council should have initiated some investigation so that the well-being of patients is paramount; where a liberal and benevolent conclusion should have been reached, not solely governed by the code which was in place originally to protect those unable to protect themselves.

Margaret Haywood deserves to be reinstated and the Council will be doing themselves a great favour by acting to redress the great wrong they have committed. Patients must come first not codes, in this case thoroughly misapplied.

Next Meeting

Our next meeting is at Camden Town Hall on Friday 3st July 2009 2009. Our
May meeting was due to hear a representative from TFL. Do come along, listen and air your views. See you then. See our latest item on the Freedom Pass.