‘Prime material for recycling’

IN A TOTALLY predictable manner, we had in the County Times both Philip Circus (‘Another point of view’ - which never actually is, but repeating right-wing turgid stuff) and Gary Shipton (with his new indulgent weekly job application to be the next MP for Horsham) criticising the teachers’ action.

When my wife retired from teaching, the pension fund actuaries advised that the majority of teachers, hitherto, had not drawn their pension beyond three years.

To my knowledge, there has not been - in eight years - a substantial improvement to that grisly figure.

The current proposal that the retirement age will be 67 in the future begs the question of what proportion of teachers will actually draw a pension - and for how long!

Also, the Teachers Pension Fund is affordable, as confirmed by the National Audit Office, the Public Accounts Committee and Lord Hutton himself. The ignorance level of this fact is not surprising, given the utterances of Messrs Circus and Shipton.

Equally, the proposed diktat that teachers’ contributions should be increased by 50 per cent is not that it will bolster the fund itself - but be solely used by the Treasury for its own purposes. To do so is probably illegal and reminiscent of the Maxwell debacle.

Another point arises. Francis Maude, as the Cabinet Member responsible for negotiations, is the least qualified to do so - even more so after his disastrous performance on the Radio 4 Today programme.

He, in opposition, rubbished the NHS at every opportunity and, in contrast, never ever criticised West Sussex Tory County Council for losing £14m of taxpayers’ money in the Iceland fiasco or for having a child protection department rated as poor as Haringey’s because of the lack of proper county council funding.

Hypocrisy, made flesh, is never a credible sight and as soon as he is removed from the negotiations the better.

As for Messrs Circus and Shipton - their predictable utterances will, no doubt, continue to be prime material for recycling - but precious little else.

RAY BATTERSBY

Amberley Road, Horsham