Labour Hijack Outnumbered UKIP Councillors’ Successful Motion
I attended the penultimate Full Council meeting of Sheffield City Council in the Public Gallery and attempted to film proceedings with what turned out to be inadequate camera equipment.
During my interview with Councillor John Booker, I learned that this would be when UKIP’s Councillors in Sheffield would next be allowed to submit a motion. Thanks to Labour gerrymandering, UKIP are only able to submit 1 motion every other month.
The motion they chose to submit was regarding “Charges To Access Services in Hospitals” and was item 5 on the agenda. The motion complained about charges for television and phone facilities on wards and parking charges for patients and staff. If successful, the motion would compel the Council’s Cabinet Member for Health And Social Care to write to the Secretary Of State For Health to demand an end to these excessive charges.
Andrews began her 3-minute oration by pleading for cross-party support and said: “I find it astonishing in this day and age the total injustice of the extortionate charges that are put on patients in our own hospitals.” She opined that “TV and phone aren’t classed as a luxury, but it is a distraction.” She informed the Council that she discovered these unjust charges when her ex-husband was terminally ill and she spoke of patients that could not afford these amenities. A visitor of 1 patient told Andrews that they had spent over £300 on TV, phone and parking charges. “This has got to be unacceptable, particularly at the end of their lives.”
These charges “are non-refundable, even if a patient is moved or goes home.” There is also a minimum £2 levy for patients to withdraw their own money.
She remarked that the service is owned and provided by Hospedia, a private equity company. NHS staff access these facilities for patients who require help, when they should be “spending their precious time and tax-payers’ money doing the job they are paid to do.”
“How can it be right that inmates at Doncaster Prison pay just £1 per week’s worth of viewing compared to £5 minimum denomination for a basic package of telly and phone or £10 including films, internet and phone?”
“Although NHS Hospital Trust doesn’t make any money from the telly and phone packages, they do however make money on car parking charges.” Their profits exceeded £3 million in 2014/15 with very little being reinvested in frontline services.
Staff have to pay an average of £25 per month for parking permits, but still struggle sometimes to find a space and “risk being fined if they can’t manage to nip out at break time to feed the meters.” Staff parking spaces shouldn’t “be a luxury, especially for staff working nights or in rural areas.”
Staff, patients and visitors should not have to cope with “the added stress of unaffordable charges, testing vulnerable people’s pockets. Council, why don’t we take back control as soon as possible? It seems the only people benefitting is Hospedia Ltd.” Pauline’s time was then up, but she received rapturous applause from the chamber.
John Booker seconded the motion with a speech of his own. “The NHS is Britain’s best-loved public service and 1 of the benchmarks of our civilised values” he began. “Successive Labour, coalition and Tory governments have overloaded the NHS with red tape and allowed it to be abused as an international rather than a national health service.”
“These politicians have failed the NHS” with 9 top-down reorganisations in the last 34 years and relentless privatisation. “Tony Blair and Gordon Brown contacted private syndicates of hedge fund managers, bankers and big property developers to design, build and finance new hospitals.” “These syndicates charge interest rates so high you might as well have called the scheme ‘Buy 1 Hospital, Pay for 7.’”
“These Private Finance Initiatives” “financed £11.8 billion worth of new build but will ultimately cost the NHS £79 billion. 75% of the syndicates involved are based offshore, so they don’t even pay UK taxes on these enormous profits. Politicians have allowed the wealthiest in our society to laugh all the way to the bank at the expense of the NHS. We must end the use of PFI contracts in the National Health Service.”
He called for health and social care systems to be fully integrated to allow the NHS to “hold fast to its values while meeting the challenges of the future.” “The welfare of the people and caring for the sick should be in supreme law in this country.” He too was rewarded with applause.
Labour’s Cate McDonald moved an amendment, which was actually a complete rewrite of the whole UKIP motion. This was seconded by Talib Hussain, who said “I support much of what UKIP have tabled in their motion, but it is clear to me that, in reality, when it comes from them” it is purely political manoeuvring. He then accused UKIP of wishing to fully privatise the NHS, which was met with groans of denial.
“You will forgive me if I find it a bit rich to be hearing a UKIP motion which claims to have the NHS’ best interests at heart” he continued. He seems to blame the state of the NHS on anyone but Labour while believing that Labour are its saviour, despite the vital service being crippled by overpopulation largely caused by Labour’s international invitations to settle here unconditionally.
Steve Ayris, of the Lib Dems, moved an amendment which was seconded by Andy Nash. Douglas Johnson, seconded by Robert Murphy, submitted an alteration for the Greens. Pauline Andrews was given the right of reply but, unfortunately, the battery on my father’s unreliable camera was depleted by then, so I am unable to recount what she said.
A vote was taken from the Councillors to decide the outcome of the amendments. The ones moved by the Lib Dems and Greens were negatived, but the Labour amendment was carried.
If you read the minutes of item 5, you will see that the Council’s Labour majority completely altered the whole text of UKIP’s original motion. They made it mention Labour no less than 9 times and even managed to include criticism of UKIP. They have some cheek when it was a UKIP motion!
Allowing UKIP to submit merely 1 motion every 2 months is disgraceful, twisting our solitary motion to serve their own ends is outrageous! It is widely known that Labour, as well as other parties, have stolen our national policies during General Elections – though they have often reneged quickly on these commitments – and the whole Council meeting experience has left me wondering how many more times Labour Councils have hijacked UKIP’s local motions. I suspect it is a frequent occurrence.