The coming week is likely to be a grim one in the run up to peace on earth and goodwill to all men. Our cabinet on Walsall council are about to unleash a programme of cuts to public services that will make the programme of cuts enforced by our coalition government seem like civic responsibility. Now would be a good time for a skiing trip to Klosters.
The government is about to announce a further 10 per cent cut to council grants, a further 5 per cent cut to the police grant, the Highways Maintenance Formula, the fund that repairs pot holes, will disappear, as will funding for the repair of school buildings and the Independent Living Fund, designed to offer people with disabilities some level of dignity will go as well. Eric Pickles expects local authorities to provide more for less but our silent axemen in Walsall will provide less and less and less. Vodafone and Sir Philip Green still haven’t paid their taxes.
Not to be outdone in this outpouring of “fairness”, Walsall cabinet intend to close libraries, make people redundant and reduce front line services. The timing is quite deliberate and indicates just how out of touch both local and national government are when it comes to judging the mood of the nation. They hope that by getting the bad news out of the way before Christmas, we greedy consumers will have forgotten about it by Boxing Day. Sadly, the images of nice, white, middle-class undergraduates engaging in acts of vandalism are likely to be repeated and they may be joined by others who suffer the results of needless and ideological cuts. At least the students who were kettled, beaten and criminalised had a cause unlike David Cameron who, as a privileged undergraduate engaged in acts of vandalism simply because he could.
There is one cut, though, that will dominate the headlines and be the talk of the slopes and apres-ski lodges. The number of Coastguard stations will be reduced from 19 to eight with only three operating around the clock. 250 jobs will go and the search and rescue operation will be “outsourced” to an American-French consortium. Currently, Prince William flies a Royal Navy Sea King helicopter for the Coastguard and may find himself facing redundancy.
So, we are all in this together but it is unlikely that the boy William is about to start attacking posh cars on Regent Street. There are others, however, that might. The Home Secretary is considering deploying water canon. Ding dong merrily on high.