A critical examination of County and Borough arrangements for the next financial year!
By the time you read this we should know the worst about our Council Tax for 2004! How sad it is that the population of the Great Britain in general and those of us in West Norfolk in particular should await this annual announcement with such fear and trepidation. We know that the Council needs to raise funds to provide vital services, but do they really need to demand the same high level of contributions from us all regardless of our income or status? Moreover, do you think the quality of the services provided justify the charges made? The average council tax in England has risen on average by 70% since 1997 when this present government was elected; just how many more increases can people withstand? Perhaps this is a topic that that we can develop in the Village Pump?
As most of you will have read in the Press or heard on Radio Norfolk, significant changes are planned in the arrangements for the provision of health when the new GP Contract is introduced later this year. One such change will be that our local Surgeries will only in future provide medical care from 8 am until 6.30pm. The new contract excludes home visits outside these hours, at weekends and on Bank and Public holidays; out of hours cover and the provision of enhanced services will in future be provided by Primary Care Organisations (PCO's) such the A&E in The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, NHS Direct and other health care agencies. The aim of the new arrangements is to reduce practice workloads without a detrimental effect on patient care. I think we all want to see our doctor's working less hours and it can only benefit us their patients if they have some time to themselves for rest and recreation.
I'm sure that like me you are completely confused by the un-seasonal weather of late. We have birds mating in the garden and spring flowers pushing their heads above ground much earlier than usual. One unwelcome outcome of this unseasonable warmth has been the growth in the rat population. A couple of weeks ago, Maureen was talking on the telephone when she caught sight of a movement on our garden wall. Thinking at first that we were receiving a visit from our local squirrel community she watched with eager anticipation for its return. She didn't have long to wait; but it was no squirrel. Instead it was a large sleek female rat, climbing the wall to steal chunks of the fat balls we had hung out for the birds. While we watched the rat made six trips to its new found larder before returning to what turned out to be a nest in some timber in next doors yard. Over the next few days we had exploratory visits from some baby rats confirming that we had indeed acquired a breeding community. Fortunately, in West Norfolk, rat control services are provided free of charge by the Borough Council. Our neighbours had a remarkably quick response and, to date, we have had no further rat visitations. Interestingly, the escalating rat problem was discussed on Radio Norfolk this week when the diseases carried by rats were outlined and the increase in discarded fast food was identified as a significant influence on the population growth. What did surprise me, however, was the news that pigeons carry even more diseases than rats! Perhaps the banning of pigeons from Trafalgar Square was not such a bad thing after all!
Maybe readers have their own wild life stories they could share with the rest of us?