Ryeview – November 2004

Reduction in public services is simply not on

John Clark writes…

First published: November 2004 – Gazette & Herald

Have you ever needed a phone box? You may not be able to use one in the future. The reason given for closing BT public phone boxes is that they are not profitable. British Telecom is not ‘allowed’ to subsidise their ‘existence’ using profit from domestic telephone lines. They are not ‘allowed’ to run them at a loss.

Why does the law apply to some organisations and not others? The Royal Mail clearly makes a loss on its rural deliveries compared with deliveries in a large town. A supermarket reduces the price of ‘loss leaders’. If my memory is correct tins of beans could be bought for 1p each. The sale of cornflakes was ‘cross subsidising’ the sale of baked beans. Milk is sold from a farm to a wholesaler. In some cases that milk is then sold for liquid, in others for dried milk. The first is profitable; the second is definitely not. Then just to compound the problem some of the dried milk is treated to an export subsidy and then dumped overseas. Even the House of Commons Select Committee was unable to sort out the mess. Farmers are paid less than the cost of production; milk is bought at the same price whatever its destination. All this appears to be legal. Maybe because this time big business is on the ‘other side’.

Ryedale is heading for a ridiculous situation. In the 1930’s public telephones were available for those who needed them. More than half a century later ‘we’ the people of Ryedale in many villages will have no public telephone service. The reasons being BT cannot make a profit and there is “no duty to supply a service”.

I recently attended a meeting where the Scarborough, Whitby and Ryedale Primary Care Trust gave Ryedale District Council the figures for National Health dentists in Ryedale. The ‘good news’ was that there were potentially 3,200 new spaces for people to register with the NHS dentists in Ryedale. The number of people in Ryedale registered with an NHS dentist is 18,000. That is 36% of the population. My understanding is that about 60% of the population would like to be registered with an NHS dentist. The bad news is that 24% are not registered – 12,000 people in Ryedale without an NHS dentist. What has gone wrong? Why are we not training dentists just for the NHS? Dentistry was moved into the public domain – the NHS. They have been allowed to creep back to the private profit world. There is a very simple solution. All newly trained dentists should have to work in the NHS. When everyone has access to an NHS dentist then some of these could do some private work. In 1990 a dental school was closed – others should be opened. We cannot afford the ‘luxury’ of profit being made out of people’s health – or in this case lack of health.

All the above questions apply nationwide. However they have a bigger impact on rural areas like Ryedale. There are more people to use the services in a large town. Postal services in towns have more letters to deliver and the distances between addresses are minute compared with Ryedale. Public transport (privately owned!) can make a profit in the big towns but does not provide a service to our villages. The railways had their branch lines removed. Driving the whole of Britain’s economy ‘for profit’ would mean that Ryedale has an even further reduction in ‘public services’. You can help by checking if your telephone box is threatened with closure. If it is contact your Parish/Town council, R.D.C. and B.T. Let them all know that we are opposed to the reduction of our public services in Ryedale.

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