Letters to the Fenland Citizen editor: April 14, 2021
What has happened to Wisbech?
I am writing this letter to say how much Wisbech has changed.
I parked my car in St Augustine’s car park and there was rubbish all over the place, people drinking alcohol in the street.
As I walked into Market Place, there was also rubbish all over the place.
The town looks so dirty and run down, with people drinking alcohol and parking their cars anywhere they like.
What’s happened to the police they were promising us?
I won’t be going to Wisbech any more. From now on I will do my shopping in King’s Lynn.
Page to help you buy British
I would like to bring to the notice of Fenland Citizen readers a Facebook page called Buy British.
Before people start an outcry about xenophobia, racism and the like, please read about the motivation for the page and then think of joining.
You may have read recently about British cheesemakers having a hard time exporting into the EU because of the new regulations in force. Just the other day they were a news item because people in the UK had taken to buying their cheese, thus compensating for the loss of many sales into Europe. Sales to the US had also increased.
In other news, Cornish fisherman were finding that people in the UK were buying their shellfish so also compensating for the new restrictions.
People on the Buy British Facebook page want more of this.
The main thrust of the Facebook page initiative is to boost the British economy, supporting British industry, farmers and local producers in the hope that it would lead to three things: local producers getting a better income; educating shoppers and staff to what is on offer in their local area; encouraging big suppliers to reconsider their business model a) when it comes to animal welfare and b) where they source materials for their products, and where they make their products.
People post details of all sorts of products that are made in the UK – really made – not just labelled as such, and not exclusively made by British people.
Hopefully after reading this letter people will check the Facebook page to find out how they can help British producers both local and national to build the economy and see off the harm done by the pandemic and the overzealous interpretation of the new regulations in the new relationship with the EU.
It’s time to nationalise employment agencies
The incredible story of Lithuanian-born Ricardas Puisys, who disappeared from Wisbech in 2015, was revealed in an episode of Channel 4’s 24 Hours in Custody on April 5.
The programme’s team followed Cambridgeshire’s Major Crime Unit as they investigated what they believed was his murder until a breakthrough in 2019 led officers, headed by Superintendent Adam Gallop, to re-evaluate the case.
Ricardas was eventually found alive and well. The programme shows him emerging from his hiding place – a makeshift lean-to attached to a dilapidated shed in woods.
The programme explains how Ricardas had travelled to this country with the help of a friend but had got caught up with people who exploited him.
They took his passport, driving licence and bank card, and escorted him to collect his wages, taking a cut, and accused him of owing money.
The plunder of Eastern European countries after the collapse of the Soviet Union meant the extreme casualisation of labour in order to attract investment.
This entails very low levels of security and pay for workers (some countries have no minimum wage).
When these workers arrive in Britain, they are naturally much more willing to take jobs with little security and poor conditions and wages.
Even though jobs in Britain are exploitative, they are better than what is on offer back at home.
Some employment agencies prey on vulnerable migrant workers and make no effort to hide this.
They make billions every year and play no productive role.
Trade unions should lead a campaign to nationalise them as part of a programme to recruit migrant and other casualised workers, demanding the right to union membership and active participation with facilities time without victimisation for all workers.
The Ricardas Puisys case shows that it is time to nationalise all employment agencies.
The future of policing protests
The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill is almost 300 pages long, yet was made available for scrutiny only a week before debate opened in parliament.
Two days later, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) published its plans for the future of policing protests.
The report outlines a “need to develop” covert intelligence gathering methods and an increased use of facial recognition technology, despite a court of appeal ruling that its use breached privacy rights and broke equality law. Previous exposure of ‘spy cops’ scandals have shown us that peaceful, law abiding campaigners are not safe from this invasion, and there is no guarantee Keep Our NHS Public members and its supporters would be safe from police surveillance. It also supports expanding stop and search “to prevent serious disruption caused by protests”.
This is partly a response to recent effective environmentalist actions but it is essential to note that attendees at Keep Our NHS Public events could be subjected to stop and search if this legislation is enforced.
We are acutely aware of the disproportionate impact of stop and search on black and Asian people and have serious concerns about the impact increasing the threat of harassment at protests may have on our supporters.
The Government does not anticipate that the new ‘Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill’ will actually reduce crime.
The Home Secretary has tried to sell it by saying it will see sexual offenders face longer sentences and new crimes will be added to the statute book.
However, the fact that the police would be given new powers to tackle non-violent protests that are deemed likely to have a “a significant disruptive effect on the public or on access to Parliament”, including setting conditions on the duration of protests, maximum noise levels and location, was not highlighted.
Keep Our NHS Public held a vigil for the members of the public and health and social care professionals who had lost their lives in the COVID-19 pandemic last summer outside Downing Street.
Will actions like these be criminalised in future? In fact, there is little in the bill to protect women, more than 1.6 million of whom experienced domestic abuse in the year ending March 2019 in England and Wales while only a tiny minority of those who committed the assaults were charged.
Meanwhile, the budget to the Ministry of Justice (‘working to protect and advance the principles of justice’) has been cut by around 25%, and the Ministry is currently setting its sights on how it might curb pesky judicial reviews.
Incongruously, and as an example of the ongoing damage to a statue such as that of Bristol slave owner Edward Colston, could attract a custodial sentence of 10 years, twice as long as one for rape.
This alone proves our fears the bill seeks to protect property over people, which is an anathema to people like us who fight for an accessible health system in the UK.
The DWP has acted so badly
The Department of Work and Pensions has admitted to Dr Jamie Redman and Professor Letcher at the Hallam University in Sheffield that they have deliberately inflicted ‘psychological harm’ on disabled and emotionally vulnerable disabled welfare claimants, to hit internal departmental productivity targets to reduce the welfare budget.
The system is based on the works of Polish sociologist Zygmund Bauman, who described how “beureocracies can produce psycho-social factors that can lead to ordinary people committing suicide”.
This includes rejecting a claim for no medical justified reason, reducing an entitlement, antagonism and sanctions, just to get the claimant to give up and clear off’.
Recently the DWP admitted that since 2016 it has unlawfully applied new work-related assessment criteria that had not been made statute in law. Consequently, thousands of people have unlawfuly lost their benefit entitlements, rented homes, mobility vehicles etc, become homeless or have even committed suicide.