Bill Heine radio phone-in (02). Sample containing about 108940 words speech recorded in leisure context

11 speakers recorded by respondent number C860

PS5VL X m (js, age unknown) unspecified
PS5VM X m (t, age unknown) unspecified
PS5VN X f (j, age unknown) unspecified
PS5VP X m (s, age unknown) unspecified
PS5VR X f (m, age unknown) unspecified
PS5VS X f (l, age unknown) unspecified
PS5VT X m (b, age unknown) unspecified
PS5VU X m (g, age unknown) unspecified
PS5VV X m (jp, age unknown) unspecified
KRLPSUNK (respondent W0000) X u (Unknown speaker, age unknown) other
KRLPSUGP (respondent W000M) X u (Group of unknown speakers, age unknown) other

1 recordings

  1. Tape 139401 recorded on unknown date.


js (PS5VL) [1] And welcome to the lunch time phone in with me John Simpson, and I'm here through till erm one o'clock as you heard.
[2] News headlines at twelve thirty.
[3] We will of course keep you up to date: any development in the Gulf erm during the next erm fifty minutes or so, so stay tuned.
[4] But it's your chance to talk about what's going on; here we are, day two of the Gulf conflict, and erm all the sounds on the first day were very optimistic from an allied point of view, but are we getting too optimistic?
[5] We've heard a lot about the accuracy of the continuing bombardments, but erm anybody who's been in a war will tell you that erm once you're in a war situation, things don't always go the way you expect them to, in fact there has to be an element of luck and erm the accuracy of bombing in particular erm sometimes leaves something to be required.
[6] Now, from reports that have come out of Baghdad, it does sound as though there is a great deal of accuracy on erm the targets, but we don't know yet exactly what's been going on.
[7] So what do you think about the overall situation as it stands at the present time?
[8] And in particular, have you any thoughts on the overnight attack on Israel, the seven missiles which were fired at Israel, what effects do you think this is going to have on the conflict?
[9] And do you expect Israel to attack, and if they do attack, or retaliate, then will this change the whole complexion of the conflict?
[10] Well if you'd erm like to call now the lines are open, I'd like to hear your point of view, your reaction to what's going on; I know a lot of people erm are not in agreement with what's going on.
[11] On the other hand, erm quite a number are supporting the troops that are doing the fighting on our behalf, so it's up to you; it's your comments that we want — Oxford, three double one, one double one, the lines are open and do please call in now.
[12] We'll go straightaway to Freeland and Tom — hello Tom.
t (PS5VM) [14] Hello.
js (PS5VL) [15] And your point please?
t (PS5VM) [16] erm my point is this, and I speak with some authority, I speak Arabic, I'm an ex-colonial policeman in Palestine
js (PS5VL) [17] mhm
t (PS5VM) [18] I saw the plight of the Jews, but I've also served with the Arabs in M I six of the Field Security Service, from Turkey to Libya, and erm I don't like what I see.
[19] The United Nations, years ago, under the same Charter, under the same regulation, told Israel to return to her boundaries.
[20] She flagrantly refused to do so, and I'm not sufficiently a fool, knowing Arabs better than most, that Saddam took advantage of this knowing perfectly well we reneged on helping the Palestine Arabs, deliberately invaded Kuwait so that because he thought he could get away with it.
js (PS5VL) [21] mhm
t (PS5VM) [22] And I believe there's going to be a lot of killings as there have been killings.
[23] You see, when you're an Arab and you fight for your country, you are a terrorist, when you are a Jew, and I'm not anti-Jewish, I'm anti-Zionist, you are a freedom fighter.
[24] We betrayed the Arabs over the Balfa declaration, we betrayed them after they cleared Africa and the Middle East under Lawrence, we betrayed them in the last war when they backed our rear and allowed the ninth army, and I was there, to join the eighth army and get out [...] , and directly the last war was over, we betrayed them again — there's a complete betrayal of the Arabs in the Middle East.
[25] I sympathise with the Jews, they must have a home.
[26] I believe they were given a home with luck and Arab backing, but then they wanted a State which they got, I believe they were entitled to one.
[27] Now they want an empire, and they drove eight hundred thousand people, farmers, small farmers, out of their rightful land, languishing in the Jordan valley in the Dead Sea area, which is one of the hottest places on earth; I've been there and lived there, with no hope of getting back, and the only hope they've got is driving Israel out of their occupied countries.
[28] Now when this is all over, and Saddam has got to be stopped, forcibly stopped, when this is over, I believe that there's got to be no reneging as this country has constantly done with the Arabs; there has got to be a Middle East conference, and the Israelis said ‘yes, we agree to your State, but return to your original frontiers or you will get the same treatment as Saddam has got.’
[29] Thank you.
js (PS5VL) [30] So you're saying then that there is a double standard as far as
t (PS5VM) [31] Exactly, double standards
js (PS5VL) [32] United Nations and the British
t (PS5VM) [33] There always is with the British government.
[34] There was double standards even in Libya against the Arabs, when we betrayed [...] the old Zanussi king and put the pro-Italian Arabs in charge of Libya when oil was found.
js (PS5VL) [35] So we've now obviously got the political will to take action against erm Iraq, do you see them being enough political will following on from this conflict erm I mean we obviously don't know how the course of this conflict is going to go.
[36] But assuming we ... it does come to some sort of settlement ultimately, are you saying then that you still doubt whether there's that political will?
t (PS5VM) [37] I do while there's such a great Jewish lobby that this British ... in America, that this British ... our own government keeps kowtowing to.
js (PS5VL) [38] Right.
[39] Okay, well thank you for your comments, if anybody else wants to join in on that discussion do ring now, three double one, one double one.
[40] Tom from Freeland, who has, as he said, erm some experience because he had erm been in the Middle East for some time, speaks Arabic and erm putting a very strong point there, if you'd like to comment on that or other aspects of the Gulf erm conflict, do ring now, three double one, one double one.
[41] Let's go to Julia — hello Julia.
j (PS5VN) [42] Hello.
js (PS5VL) [43] Whereabouts are you calling from?
j (PS5VN) [44] Headington.
js (PS5VL) [45] Right.
j (PS5VN) [46] I would just like to [...] I know we need to ... the television programmes on about the Gulf and so on, but I've two young children at home, and I find that yesterday was a very long day [laugh] because there was just nothing on for them at all B B C two at four o'clock.
[47] I like to put the television on, as there's usually a very good programme at twelve ten like there is supposedly Rainbow today, but there isn't, which I find very useful for my toddler while I'm getting lunch for the baby, myself and her, so she can sit down for twenty minutes, there can be a few minutes peace, and there's just ... you know it's just not on.
js (PS5VL) [48] So you're cross because
j (PS5VN) [49] I mean I don't like my children watching a lot of television, all right, but, you know, it is useful.
js (PS5VL) [50] You're cross because
j (PS5VN) [51] They've rescheduled
js (PS5VL) [52] There obviously is a lot of coverage about what's going on in the Gulf
j (PS5VN) [53] Yes, I mean they had it on all the channels virtually yesterday
js (PS5VL) [54] Yes, I mean
j (PS5VN) [55] I know there should be, but ... you know.
js (PS5VL) [56] You think there should be more balance?
j (PS5VN) [57] I think there should be, [laugh] yes.
js (PS5VL) [58] Yes, I mean I have to say that if you're, if you're a member of a family and one of your members of the family is out in the Gulf, then you're obviously going to be
j (PS5VN) [59] Glued to it
js (PS5VL) [60] Even more concerned than we ought to be
j (PS5VN) [61] Yes
js (PS5VL) [62] I mean, let's not forget people are in danger of losing lives there.
j (PS5VN) [63] Yes I know, but surely, you know, they could just slot in a couple of like the twenty minute, fifteen minute toddler programmes or something within the day.
js (PS5VL) [64] It's a very delicate question is it not, because, here we are, we're reporting on people who are in conflict, in great danger
j (PS5VN) [65] Oh yes, yes.
js (PS5VL) [66] And it's very difficult to go from that to something which is much lighter.
j (PS5VN) [67] Yes, I know.
js (PS5VL) [68] It's going to offend a lot of people, and it's a problem which I'm sure exercises a lot of minds.
j (PS5VN) [69] Yes, but when you have it on from one o'clock right through till six o'clock in the evening on I T V ... not you know, constantly.
js (PS5VL) [70] And you think that should not happen, there shouldn't be so much coverage.
j (PS5VN) [71] I think there should be as much coverage, but I think there should be a break between it all.
[72] I mean it's not the weather you can take the children out in the afternoon [laugh] is there ... is it?
[73] And I know ... and I know these families have got young children and so on, and surely they too would like a break from it, for the children?
[74] Children are rushing around you know, all day. [laugh] .
js (PS5VL) [75] mhm mhm
j (PS5VN) [76] I mean alright, perhaps some people have got very good children that sit down and will play with a puzzle for half an hour non-stop, you know, beautifully.
js (PS5VL) [77] But a lot of people would say of course that it is of such importance, that we really ought to be up to date with exactly what's going on, after all this is happening on our behalf.
j (PS5VN) [78] Yes, I know, but there's also the radio coverage as well.
js (PS5VL) [79] Yes, but I mean there is the point of course that how, how did mothers cope before we had television, I mean there's
j (PS5VN) [80] Well yes, there is that, but
js (PS5VL) [81] I mean perhaps it's not something there used to doing too much, but is it not possible to get them to amuse themselves?
j (PS5VN) [82] Yes when you've got one screaming and one rushing around, yes.
js (PS5VL) [83] I'm not suggesting for one moment it's easy, but I mean is it possible that, you know erm accepting that this is a major conflict, it does involve all of us whether we like it or not
j (PS5VN) [84] Yes but I mean it is very tiring.
[85] I was absolutely shattered last night
js (PS5VL) [86] mhm
j (PS5VN) [87] Absolutely shattered.
s (PS5VP) [88] Okay, well if anybody else has
j (PS5VN) [89] Like you know I had to think well what the hell am I going to do with her now, you know, and, you know, get her out of this mischief, and out of that mischief and you know, from bashing her baby brother up, and you know.
js (PS5VL) [90] Right, well if anybody else
j (PS5VN) [91] You know, ten minutes peace
js (PS5VL) [92] Has comments on that, we'll take them.
[93] Thanks very much indeed for making that point Julia, that's Julia from Headington.
[94] So if you have erm comments on that, do call Oxford three double one, one double one.
[95] This is the lunch time phone in and my name is John Simpson. [recorded jingle]
js (PS5VL) [96] The Lemon Pipers and Green Tambourine.
[97] The time, twenty one minutes past twelve and it's erm the lunch time phone in with me John Simpson through till one o'clock, don't forget we've got the latest news headlines coming up at half past twelve, and if you want to join in the phone in you can now, Oxford three double one, one double one, the lines are open, there are lines free, so if you want to ring in.
[98] We'll go erm to our next caller very shortly who's just waiting on the line, so if we can go to that caller yet, we can't just for the moment I'm told.
[99] Well, our main subject obviously this morning, a great talking point of course, is the conflict in the Gulf and erm the overnight development of that missile attack on Israel, we're still waiting to hear what erm effects that will have on the Israeli's attitude, will they actually strike back, and if they do strike back and retaliate on Iraq, what effect will that have on the overall conflict?
[100] Will it change the route of the conflict?
[101] If you have thoughts on that or any other aspect of what's going on in the Gulf at the moment, do ring in, three double one, one double one.
[102] I'm told we can now go to our next caller who's Mandy calling from Freeland.
[103] Hello Mandy.
m (PS5VR) [104] Hello, good afternoon erm I'm just ringing in response to the previous caller you had on actually.
[105] I too am a mother at home with a baby
js (PS5VL) [106] mhm
m (PS5VR) [107] But I totally disagree with what she said in that erm yesterday I sat glued to the television most of the day, really to keep myself up to date on what was going on, erm I also have a baby but I managed to keep him occupied as well as take him out for a walk and give him his lunch and what have you.
[108] erm I don't have a relative in the Gulf erm but I ... for my own peace of mind, I wanted to keep up to date with things that were going on erm and also for my husband really, he is at out at work all day and I, you know ... it was nice when he came home from work for me to be able to tell him exactly what went on.
js (PS5VL) [109] Yes, I mean it's really a question as far as you're concerned of keeping abreast of what's going on, I mean after all, it is ... I'm just slightly worried personally that we're ... everybody seems to be very optimistic, and I mean I'm not in a position to judge one way or the other, but erm you know what it's like, you know ... surely you can get too optimistic?
[110] I'm not suggesting the military are, but that's the impression coming off, that you know, all this is going to be easy, but I'm sure it isn't.
m (PS5VR) [111] That's right, it's erm obviously with the developments this morning erm on one of the erm French news reporters having seem some Israeli war planes going off, I mean things are sort of worsening by the minute.
[112] Yesterday things looked pretty hopeful but ... that it wouldn't take too long to get the whole thing sorted out, but I must admit things seem to be escalating and getting a lot worse now.
js (PS5VL) [113] erm Yes, I mean it seems very difficult to keep in touch with exactly what is happening because of the communication blackout, but erm from what we're hearing erm obviously there is still a lot more mileage in this conflict it seems to me.
m (PS5VR) [114] That's right.
[115] I mean that was really my only comment that I just erm heard this lady speaking erm okay she's got two children and it probably is difficult to keep two children occupied without any children's programmes, but like you commented, ‘what did people do before television’, and erm I mean I'm sure erm Rainbow and such, the people who produce those sort of television programmes would understand that keeping the majority of the country erm informed of what was going on was slightly more important than erm having children's programmes on.
[116] I mean I enjoy children's programmes
js (PS5VL) [117] Yes.
m (PS5VR) [118] And the programmes that are on during the day, but erm this sort of thing is slightly more important I feel.
js (PS5VL) [119] Can I ask you, are you at all nervous about what's happening in the Gulf in the sense ... I mean should we actually be there doing what we're doing erm as part of the Allied Force, does that make you nervous?
m (PS5VR) [120] It does erm yes, it does, in fact my husband was out there erm in Tel Aviv on a course about a year ago erm and I ... you know I'm beginning to think I'm ... goodness I'm glad it was last year and not this year.
[121] erm you know, he's possibly seeing things on television, sort of areas that he actually visited.
js (PS5VL) [122] mhm
m (PS5VR) [123] erm I mean as I said before, I don't have relatives out in the Gulf, but I feel immensely for these men that are out there, men and women, and also for the news reporters, I mean nobody's actually said what an awful job it must be for these news reporters and sort of camera crews that are actually erm doing this sort of wonderful job of bringing us back here all this information.
js (PS5VL) [124] mhm Okay, thank you very much for your call Mandy
m (PS5VR) [125] Okay
js (PS5VL) [126] And putting your point of view, I'm going to move on because I've got lots more calls.
[127] That was Mandy from Freeland, let's go to Buckland and Lee — hello Lee.
l (PS5VS) [128] Hello, I am just horrified that a young woman who wanted children presumably, can make such a damn fuss, I really am.
js (PS5VL) [129] It's interesting, you're talking about our first caller who was saying that there was just too much television coverage
l (PS5VS) [130] That's right
js (PS5VL) [131] erm I mean, it's interesting, that's not the only person that's said that to me erm one of the youngsters actually said that to me last night erm sort of complaining again along the same sort of lines, and I said ‘well hang on a minute, you know there are people actually at this moment who are putting their lives on the line and
l (PS5VS) [132] Exactly.
js (PS5VL) [133] And you're sitting here complaining’, and he said ‘ah, yes I hadn't thought of that’.
l (PS5VS) [134] Well, what's wrong with them?
js (PS5VL) [135] Well
l (PS5VS) [136] I'm sorry, I'm sixty eight, I was a WAF in the last war.
js (PS5VL) [137] mhm
l (PS5VS) [138] And quite frankly, you know, a girl to not think of what's going on over there, I find it appalling.
js (PS5VL) [139] But is it ... I mean I'm not old enough to remember the war or
l (PS5VS) [140] Oh aren't you lucky
js (PS5VL) [141] Well, that's probably right erm I can just about remember it and ... you know as a child, and it didn't really sink in, it was some years afterwards before it actually sank in exactly what had been going on
l (PS5VS) [142] True
js (PS5VL) [143] You don't grasp it when you're young, and if you're born, obviously as a lot of the population now are, much younger, and haven't really been either touched or involved in a war, it's very difficult, it's something which we've all seen on television, we've all seen it at the films and you tend if you're not careful, to pick up the glamorous side of it, you don't realise I don't think and in fact I keep saying this — I don't think you can ever realise what it must be like to be in a battle until you've actually been there.
l (PS5VS) [144] No
js (PS5VL) [145] And fortunately most of us haven't.
l (PS5VS) [146] Yes, yes, but you know, it ... well to me, the mind boggles that a young mum can make a fuss over a television programme, it really does.
js (PS5VL) [147] Okay, thank you very much for your comments
l (PS5VS) [148] Right, thank you, goodbye
js (PS5VL) [149] That's Lee from Buckland, thank you for ringing.
[150] Let's move now to Lilian who's calling from Oxford — whereabouts in Oxford are you Lilian?
l (PS5VS) [151] Cowley.
js (PS5VL) [152] Right, what's your point?
l (PS5VS) [153] Well I was agreeing with the erm young mother.
js (PS5VL) [154] Right, go on, why do you agree, why do ... you think that there's too much coverage of the Gulf?
l (PS5VS) [155] Yes, I do because it's on ... as she said it was on continually.
[156] I put my television on to see Blockbusters, which I like.
js (PS5VL) [157] mhm
l (PS5VS) [158] And it was ... it's the same thing over and over and over again.
[159] They're not telling us anything new.
js (PS5VL) [160] Partly because there are communication difficulties, not that the communications don't work, but there are obviously
l (PS5VS) [161] No.
js (PS5VL) [162] Censorship and things like this.
l (PS5VS) [163] But I mean, continual coverage.
js (PS5VL) [164] I think
l (PS5VS) [165] Nothing is happening even with radio programmes, every half an hour.
js (PS5VL) [166] Well we
l (PS5VS) [167] Updates.
js (PS5VL) [168] Yes, I mean we obviously feel that there are people who can't sit and listen or watch continually, and people who do dip in and out, but they still nonetheless want to know exactly what's going on.
[169] I mean particularly so if you're involved in the service, but I don't think it's just restricted to that, I want to know what's going on.
[170] I mean the one fear surely is that this isn't something which is happening on a, I was going to say a small local area, that's perhaps exaggerating but it is in a ... at the moment in a confined locality, we know where it is, it's not actually here and
l (PS5VS) [171] Yes, yes I know
js (PS5VL) [172] I mean shouldn't we be abreast of what's happening because we
l (PS5VS) [173] Well I
js (PS5VL) [174] Want to know if it's spreading, if it's getting worse.
l (PS5VS) [175] I like to listen to the news, but yesterday it just gave me a headache.
[176] I listened, I like to listen to the radio programmes.
js (PS5VL) [177] mhm
l (PS5VS) [178] And I just shut it off, I said I can't take any more, and I'm not a teenager, I'm not a young mum.
[179] I was a teenager in the last war growing up.
js (PS5VL) [180] Yes well I
l (PS5VS) [181] And in my early twenties
js (PS5VL) [182] I did actually quote about one of the youngsters yesterday making the point about you know, it's all on television, there's too much of it, I mean it wasn't actually quite as blatant a comment as that, the point is made was while it's on every channel, all the time
l (PS5VS) [183] Yes, there's no respite at all.
[184] I know I'm sorry for a war having to break out, and the youngsters out there having to risk their lives, I mean God forbid we got another war.
js (PS5VL) [185] But should we then ignore it, or even
l (PS5VS) [186] No
js (PS5VL) [187] Appear to be partially ignoring it
l (PS5VS) [188] There's no need to ignore it, just updates every hour I think is quite sufficient, and let's get back to some other programmes.
js (PS5VL) [189] Okay Lilian thank you very much indeed
l (PS5VS) [190] Thank you
js (PS5VL) [191] For your call, we do have quite a number of callers on the line at the moment, if you could just be patient with us, because the time now is half past twelve. [recorded jingle]
js (PS5VL) [192] And welcome back to the lunch time phone in, I'm John Simpson here now for another twenty eight minutes, and if you want to join in the discussion you can ring on Oxford three double one, one double one.
[193] We are, as you probably gathered if you've been with us, talking about the, the Gulf conflict.
[194] We've been talking about the amount of coverage on television and we do have one or two more callers on the same subject, but if you want to broaden the discussion out to other aspects of what's going on in the Gulf, do feel free.
[195] We'll go then to Milton Keynes and Bertrand, hello Bertrand.
b (PS5VT) [196] Hello John erm firstly I would sympathise with those that erm have been complaining about television programmes, although I erm didn't watch a great deal of television yesterday, I was listening to Radio Oxford actually, but erm from erm Ceefax I noticed that the Neighbours was broadcast twice.
js (PS5VL) [197] mhm So
b (PS5VT) [198] erm That seems to me a little bit odd that that has to be put on twice to the erm exclusion of other programmes.
js (PS5VL) [199] I'm just ... you're just making me think actually because I saw in one of the papers this morning erm a headline, if I can find it, it said something to the effect that — yes here it is, in the Independent, it says ‘TV soaps are first to survive rescheduling’ and it goes on to tell us that the British television schedules as we all know were the first casualties of war in the Gulf except for the nation's daily diet of Australian soap.
[200] So erm yes, I'm just trying to scan down to see exactly what happened, but erm it was actually erm as we all know, a major reorganisation of television schedules.
[201] Are you surprised that it's the soaps that survive?
b (PS5VT) [202] erm Well not really because erm I believe erm that one was erm one of a few that survived at the erm time of the change of the erm Prime Minister.
js (PS5VL) [203] mhm Now why do you think this is?
b (PS5VT) [204] I don't know erm possibly it is something to do with policy, actually that wasn't what I was ... the main thing I was ringing about.
js (PS5VL) [205] Okay, well it's an interesting point anyway.
b (PS5VT) [206] I was erm ringing about the erm absence of the Iraqi airforce.
js (PS5VL) [207] Yes.
b (PS5VT) [208] erm And we've already lost planes in the erm war so far, and we have only a limited number there, while going back to the last world war
js (PS5VL) [209] mhm
b (PS5VT) [210] Planes were being lost and replaced only when the aircraft production was stepped up.
js (PS5VL) [211] Yes.
b (PS5VT) [212] And it takes ... it must take a lot longer to produce a plane like the Tornado and [...] a Spitfire or a Lancaster in erm the days of erm nineteen forty three
js (PS5VL) [213] Well they're certainly more sophisticated
b (PS5VT) [214] After about four years war.
js (PS5VL) [215] Yes, they're more sophisticated now aren't they?
b (PS5VT) [216] Yes they're more sophisticated, and what I'm concerned about is whether we have the right back up to be able to sustain a war erm there ... at present the war is more like a blitzkrieg which the Germans used at the start of the second world war
js (PS5VL) [217] mhm
b (PS5VT) [218] Now with the absence of the Iraqi air force, are they being held back until we have lost sufficient aircraft, and with no back up aircraft, and erm then we will ... our erm airforce and our land forces will be under attack from the Iraqis and the war will be a prolonged war.
js (PS5VL) [219] mhm
b (PS5VT) [220] Because we must remember that Iraq has already had an eight years war and they're used to a war, they used to withstanding a war and it was the only reason that Britain survived in the last world war because it could withstand attack, and wait and wait until they were ready to counter attack.
js (PS5VL) [221] Yes, I mean several points that you've raised, and these are things that I've picked up from the newspapers and I'll make the point, I'm no expert but I ... as I understand it, the allied erm forces have erm substantially greater number of aircraft in the area than the Iraqi airforce had, so that's one point.
[222] So, you know, if you're going to talk in terms of losses, then it does suggest, heaven forbid that the allies have got to lose a tremendous number of aircraft before the equation sort of balances.
b (PS5VT) [223] Yes but erm it's not only losing the aircraft, it's losing the air crews as well
js (PS5VL) [224] Oh absolutely, yes I'm not arguing about that, and as I said, heaven forbid that should happen, erm another point I did pick up from one report was that in the eight years war, and you're quite right, the Iraqis are battle hardened, but the Iranian air force apparently couldn't bomb Iraq to any great consequence except for the first few weeks of the conflict.
[225] There ... I mean there was nothing like the bombing that's been going on, well, at least that's what we're told, the bombing that's been going on over the last twenty four, forty eight hours of Baghdad for instance.
[226] So I think the two don't equate in that respect, I think where they may equate, and again I'm no expert, may equate when it comes to the ground forces
b (PS5VT) [227] Yes
js (PS5VL) [228] I think that's ... is that not the thing that's worrying you, is that the question mark in your mind as well?
b (PS5VT) [229] Well, one thing I think with our attack at present, they're attacking erm selected targets and that, and the Iraqi people are not suffering from that, so they are able to keep going, they're not being damaged themselves.
js (PS5VL) [230] So what are you suggesting, are you suggesting that they should be bombing the general population?
b (PS5VT) [231] No, I'm not suggesting it, but erm I think it's one thing that erm will prolong the war.
js (PS5VL) [232] Well I
b (PS5VT) [233] Because the determination of the people erm is erm still great to erm win their war from their point of view, as a gentleman earlier was saying that erm had erm had Arabic experience.
js (PS5VL) [234] mhm Well I mean this obviously is a decision is it not for the military commanders?
b (PS5VT) [235] Oh of course, yes yes
js (PS5VL) [236] Who can actually fight the war, and I'm just wondering, politically is it going to be a good idea to knowingly, not necessarily aim at the ... general population, but in the process of taking out the targets, extend it to the general population, well what do you think of that?
b (PS5VT) [237] Well of course that was erm supposedly one of the greatest mistakes of the last world war was when the erm the erm German Air Force was switched from attacking the erm Royal Air Force, and Air Force stations and attacking erm the targets in London.
[238] Although there were a great number of casualties in London, the erm will of the people still remained constant to win the war
js (PS5VL) [239] Okay well
b (PS5VT) [240] And it gave the Air Force a chance to regroup.
js (PS5VL) [241] It does at the moment according to the reports, ... everything is aimed at the control and the command network and also and obviously at the military targets, so we'll just have to wait and see
b (PS5VT) [242] Yes ...
js (PS5VL) [243] Thank you for your call
b (PS5VT) [244] Right you are, thank you.
js (PS5VL) [245] Bye bye, that's Bertrand from erm Milton Keynes.
[246] We go to Headington now and George, hello George.
g (PS5VU) [247] Hello.
js (PS5VL) [248] And your point please?
g (PS5VU) [249] Yes, I should like to bring in erm support about the first lady about the ... her child, but actually I've more agreement with the last woman speaker when she was saying there was too much saturation about the Gulf.
[250] I mean I'm speaking as a political animal because I watch all the television, I mean I take my wireless to bed and listen to the ... actually I was listening to the wireless at erm half past eleven when they started it, so I'm not speaking as a person that sort of doesn't watch or listen to the Gulf business, but I think it's erm on too much.
js (PS5VL) [251] You think it's too much but you think there should be coverage nonetheless?
g (PS5VU) [252] Oh it should be covered definitely, I mean I watch ... I mean you've got all the extended programmes, I mean last night I watched the nine o'clock news until ten o'clock and then the one o'clock news at dinner time until two and, and erm various things, I mean I think it's quite enough myself, I mean I'm speaking as an ex-soldier at seventy years old, and I think well I don't think really that people necessarily want to hear it all, even the people who've got people over there.
js (PS5VL) [253] mhm
g (PS5VU) [254] I mean as regards I agree with the woman when she was saying about she wanted to tell her husband about what happens when he comes home from work, but I think [laugh] she won't ... need all those bulletins to tell him what's happening, she can tell him the latest bulletin before he comes in the door, couldn't she?
js (PS5VL) [255] Okay, erm I mean you say about even people who've got members of their family over there, I mean I know that if it was me, I would want to know what was going on.
[256] I can only speak for myself, okay?
g (PS5VU) [257] Yes I know, but I mean you're just speaking of yourself but I mean
js (PS5VL) [258] Yes but I'm saying if I had a member of my family there, I would definitely want to know what was going on.
[259] I ... obviously I ... from what was coming out you probably couldn't work out very much to help you but nonetheless I know that I would want to do that as a person.
g (PS5VU) [260] Yes but I mean it's like the lady said, I mean you get the same thing all the time.
js (PS5VL) [261] Yes, but I ... well yes I mean this is a judgement each of us has to make erm it's a judgement if you've got a member of your family involved in this, then obviously your attitude is going to be totally different from the rest of us that aren't.
[262] But even if we're not involved directly, I mean are you saying then that we perhaps put it to one side, it's happening somewhere else?
g (PS5VU) [263] No, no I'm not saying, I'm just talking about the word saturation.
js (PS5VL) [264] Okay.
g (PS5VU) [265] At the [...] .
js (PS5VL) [266] Right, okay, George thanks for making the point.
g (PS5VU) [267] Bye bye.
js (PS5VL) [268] Okay, bye, that's George from Headington.
[269] I'm going to change subjects now, but if you want to come back to the Gulf, do feel free, the lines are open on three double one, one double one, but I ... in the meantime we'll take a couple of calls on different subjects erm let's go to June from Shillingford, hello June.
j (PS5VN) [270] Hello erm I couldn't get on the line yesterday, so I thought I'd try and ring in today.
[271] It's with the opening ... regarding the opening of the M forty
js (PS5VL) [272] Yes.
j (PS5VN) [273] I understand that there are about five hundred people were actually invited to the ceremony, so obviously this means that about two or three hundred cars were arriving.
[274] I want to know, where did all these people come from then, and why so many?
js (PS5VL) [275] erm I
j (PS5VN) [276] Surely erm they weren't all connected with the M forty, and I expect possibly others whom should have been invited were overlooked.
[277] The main reason, main thing is presuming that there must have been refreshments for all these people, probably ... might have been just a buffet or cup of coffee, or I expect there was probably a lunch laid on, I want to know who footed the bill for the lunch?
js (PS5VL) [278] Right erm
j (PS5VN) [279] I suppose it was the poor tax payer?
js (PS5VL) [280] I can tell you erm from ... although I wasn't actually there
j (PS5VN) [281] mhm
js (PS5VL) [282] I can tell you that in fact erm the erm guests and the members of the press were actually, they actually met at a point in Bicester
j (PS5VN) [283] mhm
js (PS5VL) [284] For a reception there and they actually went by coach to the opening ceremony
j (PS5VN) [...]
js (PS5VL) [285] On the motorway
j (PS5VN) [286] mhm
js (PS5VL) [287] They then ... after the opening they returned to erm the erm theatre in Bicester
j (PS5VN) [288] mhm
js (PS5VL) [289] And I understand that there was a reception which erm in ... as far as I'm aware was actually erm organised and financed by the contractors who were building the motorway.
j (PS5VN) [290] Ah that's not so bad then, I thought perhaps the poor taxpayer was going to have to foot the bill.
js (PS5VL) [291] I ... yes, I mean it did make ... I did actually see a press release erm
j (PS5VN) [292] Oh I didn't see that.
js (PS5VL) [293] Well no you wouldn't but erm I mean we, we obviously do receive press releases
j (PS5VN) [294] Yes
js (PS5VL) [295] To tell us things are happening and certainly on the press release it made erm ... it was there in black and white to say that
j (PS5VN) [296] Oh well that's good enough then, I thought perhaps if the taxpayer had to pay, I wouldn't be very pleased [laugh]
js (PS5VL) [297] I think one or two other people may have the same comment to make if that was the case erm
j (PS5VN) [298] Ah, yes
js (PS5VL) [299] And so as I understand it that's the situation
j (PS5VN) [300] Yes I suppose it's not taxpayer now, what do we call them now — poll, poll tax payers or ... I suppose they are still tax payers though.
js (PS5VL) [301] Yes, it's ... it's either the Community Charge
j (PS5VN) [302] Yes, oh yes, I never thought of that
js (PS5VL) [303] Or more likely it could be erm from your income tax, your inland revenue so it's
j (PS5VN) [304] Yes, yes oh, oh that's alright then, you've cleared one query up in my mind.
[305] Thank you very much indeed
js (PS5VL) [306] Well can I just ask you one quick question?
j (PS5VN) [307] Oh dear, what?
js (PS5VL) [308] Will you be using the M forty now it's open?
j (PS5VN) [309] erm
js (PS5VL) [310] Do you think it's a good thing?
j (PS5VN) [311] Well yes if it's to get to ... from A to B quickly, yes and stop having to go through all the little villages and clutter that up
js (PS5VL) [312] mhm
j (PS5VN) [313] erm I don't personally like motorways, I would ... I'm terrified of the M twenty five, I'd rather go the long way round I'm afraid, but
js (PS5VL) [314] Well fortunately at the moment, the traffic on the M forty, well certainly yesterday was nothing like the M twenty five although it was reasonably busy and there's every expectation it will increase over the coming weeks.
j (PS5VN) [315] Yes, yes I use the M four quite a bit and I suppose I'm so used to that I don't mind it.
js (PS5VL) [316] Okay, thanks very much for the call and raising the question
j (PS5VN) [317] Okay much obliged, thank you, bye.
js (PS5VL) [318] So that was erm June from Shillingford.
[319] We're going to Faringdon now to meet Jean — hello Jean.
j (PS5VN) [320] Hello John, erm could you tell me when the Social Services are being asked to make cuts and charge handicapped people and the elderly two fifty a day to attend day centres, and other departments are being asked to make cuts.
js (PS5VL) [321] mhm
j (PS5VN) [322] How can the Oxfordshire County Council justify spending three hundred and twenty thousand pound to buy Medley boat station in Port Meadow?
js (PS5VL) [323] Ah, good question.
[324] Now first of all let's get our facts absolutely right erm the Social Services department is run by the County Council
j (PS5VN) [325] mhm
js (PS5VL) [326] In fact the Council that have put up the money to buy Medley boat station was in fact the Oxford City Council, so it is actually slightly different
j (PS5VN) [327] Right, yes
js (PS5VL) [328] In as much that erm it comes out of a different purse
j (PS5VN) [329] mhm
js (PS5VL) [330] And if you live in Faringdon then erm presumably you didn't contribute to the money that was spent by the City Council on the Medley boat station.
j (PS5VN) [331] mhm
js (PS5VL) [332] Had you been living in Oxford and asking the same question I think well then it's erm you know, it's obviously a very valid question.
j (PS5VN) [333] Yes well I think so.
js (PS5VL) [334] erm I mean it's a ... surely it's a political decision is it not, I mean there's been a lot of controversy as you ... I'm sure are well aware about the Medley boat station?
j (PS5VN) [335] erm Well I don't know an awful lot about it no.
js (PS5VL) [336] Well it's been a discussion — if we can put it that way that's been going on more or less throughout the nineteen eighties
j (PS5VN) [337] mhm
js (PS5VL) [338] Because the then owner erm in the view of the Council was exceeding the terms of his occupation and he was increasingly encroaching on Port Meadow.
[339] There as you probably know are various groups who feel that they, ought to erm, they ought to take a stand because they felt that Port Meadow actually ... the character of Port Meadow was changing and ultimately the Council I think agreed with them, that something should be done and this was the action that was taken.
j (PS5VN) [340] mhm Yes but surely I mean when the Council has been asked not to overspend.
js (PS5VL) [341] mhm
j (PS5VN) [342] erm How can they justify spending three hundred and twenty thousand pounds?
js (PS5VL) [343] erm is it a question of priorities, is it a political
j (PS5VN) [344] Yes I think it is
js (PS5VL) [345] A ... political priorities?
j (PS5VN) [346] I think it's a question of priorities yes.
js (PS5VL) [347] Okay well I tell you what, look if you'd like to stay on the line, I'm obviously not exactly floundering but I haven't got an answer off pat
j (PS5VN) [348] No, no
js (PS5VL) [349] I didn't make the decision
j (PS5VN) [350] No, no, no.
js (PS5VL) [351] What I can do is bring you someone now on the line who can tell us exactly why that decision was made and exactly why that money was spent in the way it was because we've been joined by Councillor John Power.
[352] erm Mr Power thank you for joining us.
jp (PS5VV) [353] Thank you.
js (PS5VL) [354] Would you like to answer the question, why was it felt necessary to spend three hundred and twenty thousand when other areas of government ... local council expenditure is in dire need of extra cash?
jp (PS5VV) [355] Well the first thing is that the City Council is charged with the defence of common land that ... and Port Meadow is a piece of common land that's been in the possession of the people of Oxford and Oxfordshire and of England for over a thousand years.
[356] And it's our intention that that land should remain for our children's children's children, that's the first point.
[357] And we had a great deal of commercial encroachment that took place on it in quite illegally and unauthorised manner with Medley boat station expanding on to the banks, and the City Council have been working since nineteen seventy four would you believe, to try and end that and restore that land to common land again.
[358] So the council were faced ... were having to take a legal action because there was a whole claims that because the land was so old, nobody knew who technically owned it and it wasn't registered as we owning it until nineteen sixty six, there was legal disputes about that.
[359] And the advice that we got was that if we wanted to establish proper ownership and control of that land again, we would have to seek a High Court action, possibly the House of Lords as well, and that total cost would be in the region of a quarter of a million pounds in legal costs, and we also then stood the, well risk of losing the case as well, so we could have spent two hundred and fifty thousand pounds for nothing.
[360] The council agreed to buy the station for — it's about three hundred and twenty five thousand, but I want to make this point, that it isn't their intention to close the boat station.
[361] It's their intention to leave the boat station there, but as a boat hiring station only, and to let ... rent that to somebody, not to have boat building enterprises, not to have a car park, not to have a chandlery and so on which was put there by the person whose ... who used to own it, and we will recoup all of that money from renting that boat station so it can be run as a boat hiring station again, and from three or four of the moorings that are ... will have been there for a long time, with proper permission.
[362] So in the long run, first of all we saved ourselves an initial risk outlay of a quarter of a million pounds on legal fees, the second thing is that we now have that common land back under control, and within ten years we will recoup all of that money.
js (PS5VL) [363] Okay, let me bring Jean back in, your comments to that then Jean — that's the answer.
j (PS5VN) [364] Well, not an awful lot really [laugh] I mean, you know, you, you can't win, as I say, it just seemed wrong that you know when people ask ... being asked to make cuts and make these charges that that amount of money should be spent on something else
js (PS5VL) [365] But, as Mr Powers just explained erm I mean, the decision was taken on ... in, in view of the fact that it was actually going to save them legal fees
j (PS5VN) [366] Yes
js (PS5VL) [367] And that ultimately they will actually
j (PS5VN) [368] Yes, yes
js (PS5VL) [369] Recoup the money
j (PS5VN) [370] That takes time
js (PS5VL) [371] Does that not satisfy you?
j (PS5VN) [372] Well in a way yes, but erm in another way no, I'm sorry [laugh] okay
js (PS5VL) [373] Okay right
j (PS5VN) [374] Right, thank you, right
js (PS5VL) [375] Okay Jean thank you for raising the point.
[376] John Power if you'd like to stay on the line just a moment, because I've got another gentleman who wants to actually talk about that, it's Les erm calling from Oxford — hello Les.
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [377] Hello John.
js (PS5VL) [378] Would you like to make your point please.
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [379] Well I've heard quite a lot of it so why I should bring the subject up then everyone started talking about it.
js (PS5VL) [380] mhm
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [381] Well it is three hundred and twenty thousand pound that they're paying to this person that should not have been there in the first place, he walked on there, he built places there without planning permission and I think if the council had played their cards right, they could have got him off without paying out this three hundred twenty thousand pound.
[382] They must have got a piggy bank somewhere.
js (PS5VL) [383] So how do you think
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [384] They keep telling us about this poll tax, they've got to cut the staff [...] and then they decide that they're going to give this man this money.
[385] All they could have said to him ‘get off’.
js (PS5VL) [386] Yes but I mean how ... you say if they'd played their cards right, but are you saying just go down there and say to him ‘get off?’
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [387] They should have got the solicitors in and said ‘look you've no rights to have been here, you walked on this common land without any permission at all, you built these places without ... you've got cars park and everything’, and now I listen to the story where the council says they're going to run it etc. etc and etc, well what the people want, they want it cleared up, they want it back to where it was, we don't want somebody running another business out there, this is the idea of getting him off.
js (PS5VL) [388] Okay, well
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [389] To clear it up
js (PS5VL) [390] Okay well hang on just a second then because John Power, Councillor John Power is on the other line, let's bring him back into that.
[391] There you've heard allegations from Les, you should have gone down there and said to him ‘get off.’
jp (PS5VV) [392] Well I agree with that but I want to make a few points first of all, because poll tax was tangled up with this.
[393] May I make the point that this money was committed as part of a contingency fund in the budget before poll tax came in ... right?
[394] So it came out of a budget when we were all ratepayers, it didn't come out of poll tax payers' budgets okay?
[395] It was ... it's a previous budget decision, I want to make that point, it was made before the last budget, and this has been a sort of ... a year of negotiations, that's the first point and
js (PS5VL) [396] Okay, but it ... I mean having said that, it did actually come from the pockets of all the people who are resident in the city
jp (PS5VV) [397] It ... yes, but it's not
js (PS5VL) [398] Yes
jp (PS5VV) [399] Tied up with poll tax, it was done before poll tax was erm ... it's only just been announced because there's been a lot of negotiations going on, but the figure was committed before poll tax came into being — right?
js (PS5VL) [400] Good, yes thanks for clearing that.
jp (PS5VV) [401] That's the first point, the second point is that on the question of planning, yes he did things without planning permission, and we refused those things without planning permission and we sought enforcement notices against him.
[402] He went to appeal, that went to a public enquiry, and the public enquiry upheld his right to do it; the public enquiry was hosted by the department of the environment, so we lost that on planning grounds.
[403] The next case we turned to was the question of ownership of the meadow; I've explained the confusion and the complications about ownership of the meadow because it ... nobody had bothered to register it until nineteen sixty six.
[404] And as the boat station had been there before nineteen sixty six, probably a hundred years before nineteen sixty six, it was then claimed that this person had adverse possession, which in short, is squatter's rights.
[405] And that is what we had to legally challenge in the courts.
[406] On the last point that Les makes, I want to ensure him about this; that when Horton run that boat business, that was a water-based business, it ran on the basis there were floats in the river and you stepped on to the float and you got onto a boat.
[407] It didn't operate from the bank, and it's the intention of the council to turn it back into a water-based boat hiring business so there will be nothing along the bank at all.
js (PS5VL) [408] Les — your last comment?
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [409] Well I would ... the only thing I can say in this is this cash, I know they said they'd get it ... got in the piggy bank before the poll tax, but as they keep shouting about they've got to put the poll tax up, they've got no money, they ... they're putting the staff off and one thing and another.
[410] I think they could have kept that money for that purpose what they want now, not to throw it across there.
js (PS5VL) [411] But it was ... I mean you have to admit erm and I'm ... I'll bring Mr Power in and let him speak for himself, but you have to admit that it ... from what we've just heard, it started in nineteen seventy four, it's been going on a long time.
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [412] Oh yes, I know all that
js (PS5VL) [413] And, and
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [414] I mean I used, I used to go out there picking moon daisies, years ago.
js (PS5VL) [laugh]
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [415] I know all about Port Meadow.
js (PS5VL) [416] Yes, but I mean erm excuse me erm there are a lot of people who have been saying for a long time, the council are dragging their heels and they're not doing anything.
[417] Now they've done something, you're not satisfied.
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [418] Well now, what they've done something which I think if there ... as I said to you in the first place, if they'd have run their cards ... played their cards right, they could have said to that fellow ‘look you've got no rights to be here, we never gave you planning’ ... what's wrong with this planning people, they step here and they step there, there's people do things without planning permission, they do nothing at all about it, if I was to go and stick something up in my front garden, they'd come along and say ‘hey, [...] .’
js (PS5VL) [419] Well
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [420] What is wrong with the planning people?
js (PS5VL) [421] Well, Mr Power?
jp (PS5VV) [422] Well, I mean actually, we wouldn't say that to him if he stuck something up in his front garden, that's the reality; people imagine that we have powers that we don't have.
[423] May I make the point to Les, and it's true, it is not illegal to do things without planning permission
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [...]
jp (PS5VV) [424] It isn't, you can put anything up you like, the only illegality is not applying after you've done it, and when you apply after you've done it, all we can do is consider the planning reasons, not the fact that you did it without permission.
[425] And if we did ... if we were to consider that you ... we'd refuse you on the grounds that it was done without permission, you'd have a perfect legitimate right to appeal above our heads and the Department of the Environment would rule against you ... could rule against us as they did with Mr Crendon
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [...]
jp (PS5VV) [426] And last but not least on these issues of planning which I think is very important, I'm glad to get the opportunity to put this thing over to people; I very much regret the way that planning laws have been weakened so that the local authorities don't have the power they used to have.
[427] We now reach the impossible position where if somebody goes to appeal against us and they win, they can claim costs against us, and we actually have that now, we've got fairly large sums of cost hanging against the council, so if ... I'd like to ask Les to erm ... I'd like to have his support for stronger planning laws, then we could do the things that he says we ought to do.
js (PS5VL) [428] So from what you've just said, you've got to be very careful when you go to enquiry appeal, that you are actually going to win, because otherwise you could end up erm costing even more money on the Community Charge?
jp (PS5VV) [429] Well we lost sixty thousand pounds on the British Rail Station enquiry for example
js (PS5VL) [430] Okay, I think that's erm a good example, thank you very much for joining us this morning.
jp (PS5VV) [431] Thank you John.
js (PS5VL) [432] That's John Power, Councillor John Power as you heard talking there about the Medley boat station.
[433] Thanks also to Les for his point of view on that.
[434] erm Let's go to Ron — hello Ron.
js (PS5VL) [435] Hello John.
js (PS5VL) [436] Where are you calling from?
js (PS5VL) [437] I'm calling from Oxford.
js (PS5VL) [438] Whereabouts?
js (PS5VL) [439] erm In the city.
js (PS5VL) [440] Right, and what's the point you want to raise?
js (PS5VL) [441] Well erm I'm very concerned about the congestion of traffic at the top of erm Morrell Avenue, on the erm junction of the roundabout with Warneford Lane.
[442] Now there are cars parked right the way up and even on to the roundabout, and I think a lot of these erm persons erm with the cars are probably from the Polytechnic.
[443] But the point that I want to make is that there is a bus stop either side of erm ... well, one in Morrell Avenue and one in erm ... just in the junction of Warneford Lane.
js (PS5VL) [444] Yes.
js (PS5VL) [445] Now when the buses pull up there, they've got to double park and it completely blocks the road, I mean you've either got to swing right round the bus on the wrong side of the road and you know you could easily [laugh] run into something coming the other way.
js (PS5VL) [446] mhm
js (PS5VL) [447] And erm the erm ... your view is completely blocked altogether when you're coming up to that roundabout, as you know they come up from erm Southfield Road and Divinity Road which comes up on to that roundabout, and erm I think it's very very dangerous.
js (PS5VL) [448] Yes, well it certainly doesn't sound very satisfactory does it?
js (PS5VL) [449] Well it's not because as I say, they actually park right on to the roundabout.
js (PS5VL) [450] Have you drawn the attention ... this problem to the police?
js (PS5VL) [451] Well I haven't at the moment, but I thought I'd like to air the view first with you.
js (PS5VL) [452] Yes, I'm sure there are lots of people listening who live or even travel through that area
js (PS5VL) [453] That's right
js (PS5VL) [454] So, what I would suggest is that you certainly have a word with the police and draw their attention to it and if anybody listening has parked their car there, do please consider just how safe it is where you're parking and think of other people.
js (PS5VL) [455] Well that is true because as I say, I think it is very very dangerous there.
js (PS5VL) [456] Okay Ron, thank you for raising that
js (PS5VL) [457] Yes, thank you very much John.
js (PS5VL) [458] I'm going to move on because I want to get one more call in and that's Pat from Kidlington — hello Pat.
t (PS5VM) [459] Oh good morning.
[460] Well first of all I want to thank you John for your programme, we really have enjoyed it and we're very sorry this is your last day.
js (PS5VL) [461] Oh, well that's very kind of you [laugh] , you've been checking up haven't you, counting off the days on the calendar.
t (PS5VM) [462] [laugh] Almost that, and I want to say that I have some sympathy for the lady who has children and just couldn't entertain them for the day.
[463] erm I enlisted in the Air Force December thirty nine, and I had six and a half years taken out of my life for helping with the war effort, and hopefully my sons and my grandsons will not have to go into another war.
js (PS5VL) [464] mhm
t (PS5VM) [465] And could I leave you with a poem?
[466] I won't read it all out, but it was given to me before I went into the Air Force.
js (PS5VL) [467] Right, you've got thirty seconds.
t (PS5VM) [468] Right ‘Thou standest on the threshold of days which are unknown, Thou standest at the gate where your path's unmapped and shown, But God himself is with thee, thy Saviour keep a friend, And he will not forsake thee nor leave thee 'till the end, Thou pausest on the threshold, enfolded lies a year, But with God's arms beneath thee, there is no cause to fear.
[469] Though shadowed days or sunlit, what 'ere the year may bring, This fact may be thy comfort, God reigns in everything.
[470] And to all those people who have sons out there, and daughters out there, I say ‘God Bless You All’.
js (PS5VL) [471] Thanks very much indeed Pat, and erm that brings me to the end of the lunch time phone in, in fact, the end of my stint on the lunch time phone in, because on Monday Bill will be back; Bill Heine, so you'll be able to join him just after the twelve o'clock news.
[472] But I've enjoyed being here, I hope you've enjoyed it as much as I have, and I look forward to the next time that I'm sitting in the hot seat; until then, from me, goodbye.


[recorded jingle]
j (PS5VN) [473] Hello and welcome to the programme.
[474] Today we'll be talking about all those guarantees that you've seen when you bought your car and when you bought your refrigerator and when you've bought almost anything nowadays, because people are being spoiled for choice on guarantees it seems.
[475] But, what are the problems with guarantees?
[476] Are they really worth the amount of paper that's expended on them?
[477] Well, I'm joined by a few people who can give you some clues on guarantees.
[478] First of all, Roy Hill, whose the Deputy Trading Standards Officer for Oxfordshire County Council, and also John Collinswood, who is from the Mechanical Breakdown Insurance Company in Thame.
[479] Roy, welcome to the programme.
[480] What are some of the major problems with the guarantees that we're offered?
s (PS5VP) [482] I think one of the biggest problems at the moment, Bill, is the hard sell on extended warranties and on secondhand cars.
[483] If you go to buy a secondhand car these days they invariably try to sell you a guarantee or a warranty on it.
[484] You might pay anything from twenty or thirty pounds to two hundred pounds for this guarantee.
[485] When you look at the small print, most of the items that are going to go wrong are excluded, and people get very upset and complain to our department when they can't get it book right.
j (PS5VN) [486] Well, like for instance what about these exclusions clauses.
[487] What do they cover?
s (PS5VP) [488] Well a fairly typical one excludes anything which is faulty as a result of negligence or bad workmanship.
[489] If the crank shaft goes on a car after twenty thousand miles, is it a defect — mechanical defect — covered by the guarantee, or was it faulty workmanship by the person who put it into the car?
[490] And you as the poor customer are going to have to argue the toss as to whether it's a defect or faulty workmanship, so the chances are you won't be able to claim.
[491] We've got a typical example of that at the moment.
[492] Somebody paid a hundred and eighty pounds for an extended warranty on a new vehicle.
[493] The crank shaft thrust washers have gone, admittedly after a fairly high mileage, but he thought it was covered by his guarantee — it isn't.
[494] They're saying it's wear and tear and he'll have to pay himself.
j (PS5VN) [495] But but these guarantees, I mean what are the upsides of them, what are the good points of them?
s (PS5VP) [496] Well I think some of the manufacturers' guarantees, certainly on motor cars, erm are reasonable and you can expect to rely on them and get things put right.
[497] I think the biggest problem is these extended guarantees and the ones that you pay that little bit extra for, thinking you've got extra cover that you wouldn't normally have.
[498] In many cases you are not getting extra cover at all.
j (PS5VN) [499] Well then you're suggesting there's and element of conning going on here?
s (PS5VP) [500] If I was cynical, Bill, I'd say it's a good way of making a bit of extra money, and that was confirmed at a meeting I went to of motor traders the other day.
[501] They thought they really weren't very much, but they were a good selling point.
j (PS5VN) [502] Why are they a good selling point?
[503] Because people have high expectations?
s (PS5VP) [504] I think if you go and buy a secondhand car erm it's often a big investment, two, three, four, five thousand pounds or even more.
[505] If somebody's saying to you do you want our guarantee — it's fifty pounds, or it's a hundred pounds — if you're spending that sort of money you'll probably pay out for it and you'll think you're covered for all sorts of things that might go wrong.
[506] If you take that home and read the small print, you'll find you're probably not covered for the very things that are going to go wrong.
j (PS5VN) [507] mhm Well I'm joined by John Collinswood.
[508] Hello John.
m (PS5VR) [509] Hello.
j (PS5VN) [510] Hello.
[511] Now you're over there with a group in Thame, and it's the Mechanical Breakdown Insurance.
m (PS5VR) [512] That's correct, that's right.
[513] If I can jump in straightaway
j (PS5VN) [514] Indeed.
m (PS5VR) [515] [laugh] I've got a bit of a conflict of interest here straightaway because the actual case that Roy is talking about is actually my brother and I at this moment have been complaining to the Lloyds Policy Unit in respect of erm this particular policy, because the company that was actually trading went into liquidation.
[516] It was fully underwritten by Lloyds and the claim has been unfairly rejected in my personal opinion.
[517] erm I've arranged for an independent assessor to view this vehicle, and the view of that independent assessor is this is a straightforward claim against the insurance company, and I at the moment am pursuing that, so it's a little bit of a conflict of interest that one, but that does give you some background on that particular case.
j (PS5VN) [518] Yes, indeed.
[519] erm well it it seems like there are problems with these kinds of guarantees.
[520] What problems do you find with them?
m (PS5VR) [521] Well I think some of the big problems ... if we can clarify mechanical breakdown insurance.
[522] Now it is actually mechanical breakdown insurance.
[523] It's called warranty and guarantee throughout the trade and throughout the general public, but its correct name is mechanical breakdown insurance.
[524] It is an insurance contract which covers a number of items against mechanical failure.
[525] erm if people don't actually read the policies erm they won't be fully aware of what they're being offered.
[526] It's not erm a carte blanche situation where with anything that goes wrong with the vehicle will be covered by the policy, it is an insurance contract for which specific liabilities are covered.
[527] erm but that's the main point that I would ... I would try and get across.
[528] Obviously, as we've gone along
j (PS5VN) [529] But but hold on, could I jump in there because
m (PS5VR) [530] Yes, certainly.
j (PS5VN) [531] even if people do read these contracts, or these warranties, or these extended service contracts, they might not know what they're buying even if it's read to them, because it's in a particular kind of jargon.
m (PS5VR) [532] Right.
[533] If I can clarify that, our policies ... we've been going since nineteen eighty three, and all our policies are in full print, which are readable.
[534] In fact, we've had a couple of accolades from English reading teachers to the effect that erm the policy is so easy to understand.
[535] We deliberately avoid using insurance jargon at all.
[536] In fact, if you took the trouble to read through the policy you would see it's very understandable.
[537] The other point I would make is that our company policy is that we write to every policy holder when we receive their policy.
[538] We ask them to read the policy, we explain bits in the booklet, we ask them to telephone us if there's anything they're not happy with or they're unsure about and we will clarify that, and also we do give them fourteen days in which to cancel, so if if ... once they've actually got the policy, if they're not happy with it, or they're not happy with the answers that we give, then they're more than happy ... we're more than happy to refund.
s (PS5VP) [539] John, could I just come in there.
j (PS5VN) [540] Roy Hill.
m (PS5VR) [541] Certainly, Roy.
s (PS5VP) [542] Sorry about that.
[543] It's ... just to pick you up on a couple of points.
m (PS5VR) [544] Right.
s (PS5VP) [545] Your policy is not very different to many others.
[546] I mean let me not allege that you're one of the worst, but you say ‘Dear Motorists, erm may we congratulate you on the acquisition of your new vehicle.
[547] We should advise you that we've endeavoured to provide the best possible cover for the most competitive premium.’
[548] Mjc That's right.
s (PS5VP) [549] Then if you run through it, this particular one, Plan Two — maximum liability two hundred pounds.
[550] That's probably a set of tyres or something -it's not a great deal of money in this day and age -but then failure is limited to actual breakage, wear and tear is excluded, it doesn't cover the cost of working materials such as gaskets, if the vehicle has been modified in any way it's excluded, it excludes any personal injury resulting from the breakdown, it covers ... erm the schedule is invalid if you have not covered the servicing aspects on page ten, the servicing aspects on page ten require you within ten days or two hundred and fifty miles of three thousand miles intervals — most cars now are six thousand mile intervals — to have the oil changed, so there's a built-in additional service, and so it goes on.
m (PS5VR) [551] Right.
s (PS5VP) [552] erm in other words, what I'm really saying is, with all these exclusions, what included?
m (PS5VR) [553] Right.
[554] Okay, let's ... let's try and clarify a few points as we go along.
[555] The first thing you ... we do a range of policies and you've picked one of our smaller ones.
[556] We do actually cover up to a thousand pounds parts and labour with a wide range of cover across the board.
[557] That really sort of I mean obviously depending on what you pay ... I mean the policies can vary from twenty five pounds up to four hundred pounds.
[558] Now obviously, depending on the premium that's being paid, depends on a.
[559] the period of cover erm and the amount of payout and obviously the parts that are actually covered.
s (PS5VP) [560] But, John, put yourself in the customer's shoes, and my wife's one of your customers.
[561] She bought a secondhand car and was given this warranty with it.
[562] Now she came away thinking I've got this secondhand car and they've given me a warranty.
[563] We know it's an insurance, but they think it's a warranty.
[564] Now when you read through it, she's not covered for anything.
m (PS5VR) [565] Right.
s (PS5VP) [566] So it's a bit of a sales gimmick, isn't it?
m (PS5VR) [567] erm no I wouldn't agree with that, put it ... has your wife received the letter from us?
s (PS5VP) [568] erm I can't remember now, she bought the car two or three ago.
m (PS5VR) [569] Oh, if it was bought two or three years ago, well I ... well obviously I couldn't say, but obviously they have the option to read the policy at that point.
[570] If your wife is unhappy, now it may well have been that a better policy could have been put on the vehicle.
[571] Now at that point, when she received the letter and read the policy, erm we could have given her a better cover if it applied to that particular vehicle.
s (PS5VP) [572] But my point is the customer doesn't know what they've got.
[573] I mean in the excitement of buying a car you're not going to read the small print, you're not going to read the little bit that says you must have the oil changed every three thousand miles and unless you do it within two hundred and fifty miles of that ... and not only that, you must send evidence of the service by recorded delivery to you.
[574] That's very onerous.
m (PS5VR) [575] Right, let's clarify a point here.
[576] First of all that the Plan Two policy there is for vehicles over five years, sixty thousand miles.
[577] Now our company policy is a vehicle up to the or below five years and sixty thousand miles, we agree on manufacturer's servicing.
[578] It is a contract of insurance and the policy holder does have a part to play by maintaining the vehicle.
[579] Now obviously up to five years, sixty thousand, we agree manufacturers' recommendations.
[580] When you get to vehicles over and above that, we run into problems where people that have
s (PS5VP) [581] Sorry to butt in again, but I don't think that's quite right, because this Plan Two, five years and sixty thousand miles, refers to manufacturer's warranty, which might still be valid, and this supplements it.
[582] So this is not intended for five years old, it actually refers to new vehicles.
m (PS5VR) [583] No, that policy you've got there relates to used vehicles and what I'm saying this that particular policy can be issued on vehicles above five years and sixty thousand miles.
[584] erm Generally, below five years sixty thousand miles, we have policies which give manufacturer's servicing, and obviously erm the policy holder does have a part to play in doing that.
[585] But if I can move on just for a second, erm when you get over and above that, we have problems where people that are purchasing those sort of vehicles cannot afford, with the best will in the world, to take them in to the main agents and have a full service, although they should do, but if you can't afford to do that ... and these are the problems that we had, so we actually changed that.
[586] Instead of manufacturer's servicing it's just an oil change and level check, that's all it is, every three months, three thousand miles, because bearing in mind that these vehicles will be over five years and sixty thousand miles it's less onerous to the customer to have that than to be forced into having a manufacturer service which they probably can't afford.
s (PS5VP) [587] Yes, but what are you actually going to pay out for, John.
[588] I mean everything's excluded as far as I can see.
m (PS5VR) [589] Well I think that's a very unfair statement to make.
[590] You've got the policy in front of you and obviously, as I have said, that is one of our smaller plans anyway.
[591] erm but obviously we do cover the parts that are listed on pages two and three of all of our booklets, and depending on the premium that's paid depends on the coverage issues.
s (PS5VP) [592] You cover the parts listed on pages two and three, which is engine, gearbox, erm differential, prop shaft, brakes, electrical, etc., but that's qualified by the fact that you don't cover any parts which were faulty at the time of purchase, or inherent faults at the time of purchase,
m (PS5VR) [593] Right, let me
s (PS5VP) [594] in other words on the way, and you exclude negligence or bad workmanship.
[595] So if a piston ring breaks, then the chances are it's somebody's negligence along the way and it's not a fault in the ... or mechanical breakdown.
m (PS5VR) [596] erm No, I can't agree with either of those statements in fairness.
[597] What's actually covered on the policy there ... I mean obviously if if you get ... let's take the first point as regards the ... if the vehicle isn't right from the day of purchase, then obviously the redress is with the dealer obviously erm I mean we're all aware of that situation, and obviously the idea of the policy is not to take away the dealer's liability ... the dealer's liability remains, as you would know.
[598] This is to give extra protection over and above that.
s (PS5VP) [599] What's the extra protection it gives?
m (PS5VR) [600] Well obviously if if you ... the normal rule of thumb, as I'm led to believe, is that if you buy a used ... a vehicle from a used car dealer, you're given three months, three thousand miles, in which you can ... you can take complaints back.
[601] Obviously these policies are not for three months, three thousand miles, they are for a much longer period than that, and obviously if people do have problems then that's what we're here for.
s (PS5VP) [602] Yes, but your normal sale of goods rights, John, say that if the vehicle isn't in reasonable condition, bearing in mind it's age, previous history, price paid, then you have a claim under the Sale of Goods Act, so where are you taking us beyond that?
m (PS5VR) [603] Well, as I am saying, that obviously is the liability that the dealer has, because obviously he's sold the goods to the purchaser.
[604] What I'm saying is obviously this is over and above that.
[605] It doesn't supersede that in any way, and obviously if people do run into problems ... I mean normally a major problem in the first three months or three thousand miles is taken back to the dealer anyway.
[606] Over and above that, obviously this is where the advantage to the policy holder comes in because obviously if they get a gearbox problem that's going to cost, say, a hundred and eighty pounds in six months time, they're not going to be able to go back to the dealer and say look I want you to put this right for me, because obviously it is outside the statutory guarantee.
s (PS5VP) [607] But that poor customer, John — I am sorry to keep going back to you on it, I'm just seeking clarification — that poor customer has got to prove to your satisfaction that it's a mechanical breakdown and not a result of what they've done to it or somebody's, at any time, negligence in assembly.
[608] And that's very difficult to do.
m (PS5VR) [609] If we take your point as far as the erm erm breakage of a piston ring is concerned.
[610] If there is a vehicle on risk with us and a piston ring breaks, regardless of the reason we coverage the breakage of a component and therefore we would ... we would cover the cost of the replacement rings and the labour to do so.
s (PS5VP) [611] Yes, I think you're drawing a distinction between what you do in practice and what you're booklet says, so I am talking about the letter of your booklet and what you do in practice might be a lot better.
m (PS5VR) [612] I think you've got to ... you've got to accept that it is a legally binding contract, all of the policies, and I think you have to realise that in any arrangement that you make erm where there is a degree of legality, there has to be parameters put down.
[613] But obviously on those parameters you can't have hard and fast rules for each vehicle.
[614] For example, what might apply erm on a one year old vehicle that's done ten thousand miles, might not apply on a vehicle that's done a hundred thousand miles and is ten years old.
s (PS5VP) [615] I fully accept that, but let me throw it back at you and say you, through your brother, are arguing about the small print on an extended warranty.
m (PS5VR) [616] Not one of ours, I hasten to add.
s (PS5VP) [617] [laugh] I accept that.
m (PS5VR) [laugh]
s (PS5VP) [618] But you've just argued my case for me, haven't you?
m (PS5VR) [619] In what way?
s (PS5VP) [620] In that you've got a difficulty with an extended warranty.
[621] You're arguing the toss over the small print as to whether or not it's covered.
m (PS5VR) [622] It's ... no, no
s (PS5VP) [623] It is a mechanical breakdown.
[624] You've had to go to a specialist engineer in support of your case and to argue your case, and you're still arguing over it.
m (PS5VR) [625] If I can clarify two things there first of all.
[626] This as far as ... this is my personal opinion as far as that claim is concerned, that that is totally and utterly valid.
[627] The fact that the company that sold the policy has gone into liquidation erm claims handlers have been put in who, in my opinion, and it is my personal opinion, are are not necessarily doing the job as well.
[628] What I would say ... this is a very very rare event in effect erm for this to happen erm and normally when the claims handlers do come into a situation like that it's handled perfectly properly.
[629] erm so I don't think it's fair to erm to bring that one in really.
j (PS5VN) [630] Well I'm a bit worried when people are buying these guarantees and someone goes into liquidation, like for instance if you buy an extended warranty then usually dealers tie up with one particular broker specialising in that form of insurance, and ... and if that particular dealer — the car dealer — gets the insurance and it's in his or her name
m (PS5VR) [631] Right.
j (PS5VN) [632] and it's not in the name of the individual, and that car dealer goes into liquidation, then the people — the motorist — are left with a guarantee that is is worthless.
m (PS5VR) [633] I don't understand that because the policies that are sold today are sold between the policy holder and the actual insurance company.
[634] If I can clarify a few points.
[635] erm The Department of Trade and Industry stepped into this business about ten years ago and because there was a situation where there was no re-insurance, but when the company that was actually selling the policy when into liquidation erm there was no redress for the policy holder.
[636] Now all policies are fully underwritten by a Department of Trade approved insurer and that is compulsory on this line of business, so should the ... should the company go erm into liquidation then the insurance company will take over the handling of those claims erm so that really doesn't apply any more.
j (PS5VN) [637] Well here's the Director General of Fair Trading, and this is someone who's had quite a bit of experience on this, Sir Gordon Borey and he says that motorists should ensure that any cover they buy is in the form of an individual insurance policy in their name.
[638] If it is not, and the garage or other body running the extended warranty scheme goes out of business, the warranty will be worth no more than the paper it is written on.
m (PS5VR) [639] I would agree with that, but I can't ... I can't envisage circumstances where dealers are actually using ... if they're insuring their own ... their own mechanical breakdown insurance, then yes obviously, if that company goes into liquidation then obviously they have no redress which is obviously why it's important than anybody buying a vehicle should make sure that it's fully underwritten by a Department of Trade approved insurer.
[640] Now if they ensure that, should the garage go into liquidation, or albeit the warranty company, then they are fully covered by the insurance company.
s (PS5VP) [641] I think the ... sorry, Bill, the erm confusion arises because we're talking about warranties and insurance and most people buying a car, getting extended insurance or one of these insurance schemes, will assume it's warranty, but there's no protection for somebody issuing a warranty going out of business.
[642] There is protection through the insurance companies and Lloyds for covering an insurer who goes out of business.
[643] So there is a difference.
m (PS5VR) [644] erm yes.
[645] I mean obviously the reality is that obviously if you buy a mechanical breakdown insurance from a dealer and the dealer goes into liquidation then obviously that doesn't affect the policy because the policy will still be handled by a company such as ours, and there are a number of companies obviously.
[646] The other point I'm trying to say is that we have to insure with a Department of Trade approved insurer, so that should anything, for any reason, ever happen to ourselves or a company, then the insurance company is still responsible for the claims and will meet them.
j (PS5VN) [647] All right.
[648] I'm joined by Frank on the line.
[649] Do stay with us, John, because I think this man has a good word to say.
l (PS5VS) [650] Hello.
[651] I've got a bouquet for the insurance company of Thame, the mechanical breakdown service.
[652] I'll tell you what happened.
[653] I bought a Volvo estate care from the Oxford Used Car Centre and I had done rather ... quite high mileage which I sort of didn't really look at the mileage when I bought it.
[654] Then there came ... it think it was the gearbox or something went on the gar, you know, because I tow a caravan, and the car just wouldn't pull the caravan, and it was going to cost over a thousand pounds and that like.
[655] I definitely couldn't afford that, so I took it back to the Oxford Used Car Centre and erm what happened, the mechanical breakdown service — now this is where I thought they were very good — they reimbursed me all the money that I'd paid out on those repairs plus they did the repairs and put me a new gearbox in and the car's running perfectly.
[656] Now to me you can't beat a better ... that's one of the best insurance people I've ever been with.
[657] And if they look after a customer like that ... I mean they can't be faulty, can they?
j (PS5VN) [658] Well, what do you say to that, John?
m (PS5VR) [659] Well that's very nice to hear.
[660] I mean obviously since we was established in nineteen eighty three we've gone from strength to strength, and the only way that any company can do that is by offering good service all round.
[661] erm I mean a few of things that I would say, first of all we operate on a freephone system, also we turn claims cheques round the same day, and the name of the game as far as we're concerned is service.
[662] We don't have claim forms.
[663] If people have got a problem, they ring us up and we're here to look after them.
[664] It's a simple as that.
[665] Any company that that isn't in the business of paying claims is not going to be around anyway and I am concerned about the attitude of Roy because it does seem to be extremely one sided.
[666] You can pick fault with anything if you try hard enough, but I do think that the policies that we offer erm are very good and very reasonable.
b (PS5VT) [667] I'm absolutely delighted to hear that, Bill, and I'm glad we've got a satisfied customer.
[668] What we've got is the practice is totally different to what's in the small print in the document.
[669] Could I suggest, John, that you re-word your document to reflect your practices.
[670] If that's what you're doing in practice, say so, don't put all these exclusions in the document because that makes me suspicious and makes me think you're trying to exclude these things.
m (PS5VR) [671] Well, I think if I can clarify small print.
[672] If you look through the wording of that policy, it is all the same print.
[673] There is no small print in the booklet.
[674] I think also if you read it through there's no insurance jargon in there at all, except to say that the policy's underwritten by a Department of Trade approved insurer.
[675] But apart from that it is totally and utterly readable.
[676] We also write to the customers, as I have said.
[677] Anybody that does have query from the outset, we invite them to phone us on our freephone number, clarify any points.
[678] If they're not happy with the insurance to start with, we're quite happy to refund.
j (PS5VN) [679] Well let's listen to another perspective on this one.
[680] Les is on the line.
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [681] Oh, hello.
[682] Well first of all I'd like to erm say that erm the last gentlemen who phoned in is a very lucky driver.
[683] erm I bought a car actually over at Kidlington, and I did not know the amount of premium I was paying.
[684] All I was told is that you're getting twelve months guarantee, but you've got to have a three thousand mile service, and as the gentleman said erm I recorded the deliveries and sent them all back and on the third one, when I took it in I asked if they'd put a new set of points in for me and erm unfortunately when it came out there was no compression at all and because because I ... it was suggested that I dug my heels in a bit and got an independent report and erm basically they told me to get lost because it cost fifty pound to do the report.
[685] Now what happened was originally that I lost compression on pistons three and four and it worked out there was a very thin channel from piston three to four on the head gasket and erm basically it ruined part of the engine and the whole report said that basically I want a new engine.
[686] And all the M S M was offering was erm a maximum of fifty pound and I was a very lucky person to have that.
j (PS5VN) [687] And so basically your complaint is what?
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [688] Well basically if you pay a hundred and sixty pound plus for a premium, you do not expect to get the sort end of the stick.
[689] I don't anyway.
j (PS5VN) [690] Right, well let's put that to John Collinswood.
m (PS5VR) [691] It's very difficult to answer individual cases, but I will do my best on guesswork here.
[692] I would guess that he has one of our Plan Three policies, which does actually have a limited of fifty pounds on the erm head gasket and three hundred pounds on the engine.
[693] Now obviously in ... in a situation where a head gasket goes, there's no problem on that because that's straightforward.
[694] It does sound to me ... was ... there has to have been given a reason as to why the claim was rejected.
[695] Now, if I can say to you if the vehicle was driven on and and on until the engine was damaged with a cylinder head gasket failure, then I would say yes we would repudiate it, because that would be customer negligence.
[696] Now in fairness it wouldn't be our responsibility to to pay for a new engine if the vehicle had been drive on.
[697] But it is guesswork because I don't know the gentlemen concerned and I don't know the full facts.
[698] But I would say that if obviously a head gasket goes on a vehicle and somebody knowing that fact continues to drive the vehicle, yes — and damages their engine — yes I must say we would reject liability.
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [699] So precisely what Mr Hill has already pointed out to you in the discussion which he's had with you.
[700] For what's is worth, as a motorist, I may tell you I'm thirty years standing, and I explained to the people when I phoned your office up, I've had thirty years standing as a driver, I check my oil, I check my water, I lost no compression, no water.
j (PS5VN) [701] Yes, we believe your a good driver, yes, but your point is
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [702] My point is that, in a word, Bill, I mean I would quite honestly I'd refuse to go to a garage where that firm is you know offering the service.
m (PS5VR) [703] I'm in the dark here obviously because I haven't ... I haven't had access to this particular case.
j (PS5VN) [704] Yes, it is very difficult, I know to comment on individual cases.
[705] I respect that.
m (PS5VR) [706] No, I would say that if an independent assessor has been dispatched to ... this is a good point worth bringing through ... in the event of erm a disagreement between ourselves and a policy holder, the policy holder has a number of aspects that they can ... they can approach.
[707] First of all, they are entitled to an independent assessor and they are profession independent assessors such as the A A or the R A C, who can inspect the vehicle, and if erm it's proved that the case is genuine then there is no argument on that.
[708] There is an important point I want to come to, and that is the Office of Fair Trading, in connection with the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, have brought out a code of practice last year, which we fully endorse and are members of, and put on our letterheads, which means that if people are dissatisfied with erm a rejection of a claim, or any other matter come to that, they have the right to write to them and complain and have their case investigated.
[709] erm I don't know whether Roy is aware of that.
s (PS5VP) [710] I am aware of it, and I do know there are many breaches of the code.
[711] I mean some people obviously try to comply with it.
[712] I think, John, I want to come back to the basic one, and that is, as a customer, if you're handed what you think is an extended warranty to cover you for all sorts of things erm then you're very disappointed if you find that most of the things that are going to go wrong with your car are excluded.
[713] That's the fundamental basic issue.
[714] Now if you're saying ‘ah, but we don't exclude them really and that's just the small print’
m (PS5VR) [715] No, I'm not saying that.
[716] I haven't said that at all.
s (PS5VP) [717] Right.
[718] Well that's the problem.
[719] In the excitement of buying a car, and you get this extended warranty, the customers think they're covered and I don't think they are.
m (PS5VR) [720] I think ... I think there is definitely an element of that.
[721] When someone is purchasing a vehicle erm they are told that they have a guarantee or a warranty, in actual fact it's mechanical breakdown insurance.
[722] It is a contract of insurance, it's not an open-ended situation, and, yes, I think that people probably do get carried away with the euphoria of buying the vehicle.
[723] What I would say is that we endeavour to counteract that on the reasons that I've stated, by virtue of the fact that we invite them to read the policy.
[724] We write to them normally within seven days, ask them to read it, clarifying exactly the policy they've got, give them the option to pull out if they should so wish, and in fairness I have got to say that we've been doing that now for the last eighteen months.
[725] In all that time we have actually had two people say yes I would like to cancel, of all the policies that we've actually issues.
s (PS5VP) [726] Well how
m (PS5VR) [727] I think there must be a general acceptance of the insurance.
j (PS5VN) [728] Do you think that when people are buying the insurance that they have much of an idea about their consumer power?
[729] Like, for instance, can they bargain with you to alter any of the exclusion clauses, or do they have to take it as it is and that's that?
m (PS5VR) [730] In general the exclusion clauses that we're talking about are, in general, are fairly reasonable.
[731] As I was saying earlier on, it is a contract ... a legally binding contract, which does lay down the actual contractual position, but as in every business we don't stick rigidly to the lettering of the policy, so erm in practice I think if you take the policy purely as it is erm it probably gives not as good effect of the policy as it actually is.
j (PS5VN) [732] But basically if people are relying on the print in that policy
m (PS5VR) [733] mhm
j (PS5VN) [734] it certainly does give them very little coverage.
m (PS5VR) [735] erm it depends on the policy they've actually issued.
[736] There is a range of policies offered.
j (PS5VN) [737] Well that's another question I wanted to ask you about.
[738] When people are buying, another example of their purchasing power would be to say ‘well, now I want this particular policy and I want to combine it with a power that's available to me in that policy’.
[739] Can they mix policies?
m (PS5VR) [740] No
m (PS5VR) [742] thirty pound policy gives and the cover that a four hundred pound policy gives is totally different.
[743] I would certainly advise anybody to ... to look at the policy, and if they want more cover speak to the dealer that they bought the vehicle from, because it may well be that they could have erm a much, much greater cover which is of more value to them.
s (PS5VP) [744] I've ... I've got your range of one to six here, John, and I'm not ... I must stress I'm not singling you out — I mean your company is fairly typical of what's happening in this area — but the main difference between one and six is that erm two and six is that number two covers for two hundred part ... up to two hundred pounds
j (PS5VN) [745] That includes VAT, doesn't it?
s (PS5VP) [746] number six is up to three hundred.
m (PS5VR) [747] Yes, but if you move on to to that ... to the mainstream of our policies, which is five and six, that covers up to a thousand pounds parts and labour.
s (PS5VP) [748] No, I've got number six in front of me, which is three hundred parts and labour.
m (PS5VR) [749] Yes, we do a range from three hundred to a thousand pound.
s (PS5VP) [750] Oh, I see.
m (PS5VR) [751] As you see it's not
s (PS5VP) [752] And the premium reflects that, does it?
m (PS5VR) [753] Oh, that's right.
[754] I mean obviously erm a thousand pounds parts and labour is obviously a lot more expensive than a three hundred pound parts and labour.
[755] This is a point that I'm making, and I think it is worth the erm the consumers when they are going into buy vehicles to ask is this the best policy that I can have?
[756] Now, obviously if it is a erm an old vehicle then obviously the cover is restricted, but normally if it's below five years or sixty thousand they can obtain up to a thousand pound parts and labour.
s (PS5VP) [757] So your Plan Five covers up to five hundred pounds and additional items like turbo and erm air conditioning and all sorts of things.
m (PS5VR) [758] It also
s (PS5VP) [759] But you've still got all these exclusions in there, John.
[760] They're still there.
m (PS5VR) [761] erm which ones are we talking about now?
s (PS5VP) [762] The ones about the negligence or bad workmanship of any description, any faults with the car at time of sale or inherent faults.
m (PS5VR) [763] Right.
s (PS5VP) [764] Those that have materialized but occur later.
m (PS5VR) [765] Right.
[766] Let's ... let's try and clarify a few of these points.
[767] Obviously the policy is there ... if we can take ... let's try and do them one at a time.
[768] The negligence aspect of it, if somebody is negligent and doesn't, for example, keep the engine oil topped up and they drive their vehicle until the engine seizes, in fairness it's not the insurance company's responsibility to put that right if the customer has been negligent, and I don't think any reasonable person would ask us to do that in that situation.
[769] If I can move on to
s (PS5VP) [770] Can I come back on that.
[771] Supposing a fitter leaves the oil plug out of the car, there's a leak, the oil drains out of it and it causes some damage, but that damage doesn't appear until a thousand/two thousand miles later, are you going to exclude that or cover it?
m (PS5VR) [772] That's a very difficult question to answer.
[773] I mean if if if you've had your vehicle serviced and the sump plug hasn't been put back in, then obviously you've got a perfectly legitimate claim against the person that's done the work.
s (PS5VP) [774] So you're excluding it from your warranty and saying ‘don't bother us, go back to the trader’.
m (PS5VR) [775] Oh, absolutely, I mean when you say a trader we were talking about a repair shop here if we're talking about servicing work and so on.
[776] I mean if a garage leaves the sump plug loose or doesn't erm put it back in, then obviously the ... whoever has done that work, if they are a legitimate erm service department would be more than happy to put that right and would apologise obviously, and the claim would obviously lie with them.
[777] I don't think anybody would expect the insurance company to pick up something of that nature.
[778] That claim would go against the person that's done the service.
s (PS5VP) [779] Right.
[780] Now let's take the situation, John.
[781] I bought a car secondhand.
[782] This has happened to the car at some time in its past, as a result of which the crank shaft's worn, the engine's a bit dodgy, but I buy ... it's not apparent when I buy it, but the engine breaks down after I've bought it and I've paid for this warranty, you're going to come back and say ‘oh, this was a defect inherent in the vehicle before you bought it, excluded by the warranty’.
m (PS5VR) [783] That's right.
[784] Let's clarify that side of it.
[785] First of all, as I say, we only deal through motor traders anyway, and there is this liability that the motor trade have anyway, and obviously if if something like that has happened it's going to occur fairly rapidly, but certainly within three months or three thousand miles, and obviously the owner of the vehicle has a redress to the dealer and obviously if there's one of our policies on it we would probably accept liability on that, although I can't say for definite.
[786] But what I'm saying is that obviously in that situation it would be back to the dealer and the dealer would deal with it.
s (PS5VP) [787] But the chances are as a customer I go back to the dealer and he says ‘ah, you've got a warranty, claim on that’.
m (PS5VR) [788] In the first three months, three thousand miles, that doesn't tend to happen in fairness erm and something like that would come up erm within that time scale, so, yes, I mean they have the right to go back to the dealer and I must admit in my overall view of the motor trade these days they do ... they are trying harder and harder to look after their customers because obviously they're in business like everybody else, they know that their policy holders are covered by the Sale of Goods Act merchantable quality, erm and so they realize that if these things happen then they will endeavour to ... to put the situation right.
[789] If it was a question that this vehicle was in that state when the sold it, then I would think that most of them would put that right themselves.
[790] However, if there was an insurance against it and they could claim against it I'm sure they would.
[791] So I think that really sort of covers that particular point.
[792] I think also on the inherent fault situation, I mean when somebody buys a vehicle the vehicle has to be of a standard obviously and if there are problems there then obviously people appreciate the fact that they can go back and this is really the point of dealing with a reputable dealer from the word go.
s (PS5VP) [793] But if they've got this nice little folder with the warranty on it, they think it's covered, don't they, by the warranty.
m (PS5VR) [794] erm in the last case you mean?
s (PS5VP) [795] Well in any case.
[796] I mean if you buy a secondhand car and you get a warranty with it, you think it's covered by the warranty.
[797] You're saying it's not.
m (PS5VR) [798] No, no I'm not saying that at all.
[799] If you've read the policy obviously it details in the policy exactly what is covered and, as I say, depending on the premium paid depends on the type of cover that they have.
j (PS5VN) [800] Well, what do you think people's expectations are when they come to you?
m (PS5VR) [801] I think in general by virtue of the fact that we go to great lengths to make sure that people fully understand exactly what they have got ... I mean we're not in a ... in a situation where we want people to think that they've got something they haven't, which is why we go to the lengths that we do erm to make sure that people are fully aware of what they've got, and if they're unhappy with what they've got then obviously within the fourteen day period we give them the right to cancel.
[802] But in general I think people accept the fact that with used vehicles erm that, depending on the age and mileage of the vehicle they've got, they accept that obviously they can't have a thousand pound cover on say a hundred thousand mile Sierra for example.
[803] erm the cost of of insuring something like that would make it erm out of play basically.
j (PS5VN) [804] Well could you tell me the number of people who are complaining now about faulty workmanship.
[805] I mean has it gone up recently?
m (PS5VR) [806] Faulty workmanship?
[807] Not as a general rule.
[808] I mean faulty ... faulty workmanship, you're talking really about garages and service work.
[809] There is always arguments as far as service work is concerned erm yes, I mean we do hear of complaints erm and obviously if it's one of our dealers obviously we endeavour to try and resolve any problems if it is one of our dealers.
[810] But I wouldn't say there was an increase in erm problems of that nature.
s (PS5VP) [811] John, can I just put one point here.
[812] What would be a reasonable premium for your Plan Two?
m (PS5VR) [813] erm it's very difficult because the actual prices that we charge are, in fact, trade prices.
[814] We don't, in fact, deal with the general public as such.
[815] We only deal through the trade by virtue of the fact that the vehicles are then covered under the Sale of Goods Act.
s (PS5VP) [816] You must have some idea how much a customer would be expected to pay for it.
[817] Mjc I would say somewhere round about seventy pounds.
s (PS5VP) [818] Seventy pounds, and your maximum claim liability is limited to two hundred.
m (PS5VR) [819] erm on that, but don't forget that does cover the engine, the gearbox, the differential.
[820] There's no limit to the number of claims.
[821] It also covers the starter motor and the break master cylinder, and that is for a full twelve month period.
s (PS5VP) [822] Yes, but it's seventy pounds for a maximum limit on any one claim of two hundred pounds.
m (PS5VR) [823] Yes.
[824] I think, as I have said to you before, I think the Plan Two is one of our smaller policies, and it's unfair to continue to talk of that one.
[825] I mean obviously the ... the more you go up the scale the more competitive it becomes.
j (PS5VN) [826] Yes, but I just want to make a point here.
[827] That two hundred pounds includes VAT as well, does it not?
m (PS5VR) [828] Well that's right, but, as I say, this is one of our smaller policies and we don't, in fairness, do a great number of those.
[829] It is really the Plan Five and Plan Six that that tend to be the bulk of our business, which, as I say, gives up to a thousand pound parts and labour, which is obviously a lot better than two hundred pounds.
s (PS5VP) [830] But you pay the premium for that.
m (PS5VR) [831] Oh yes, there is ... I mean obviously we don't do that for seventy pounds because we couldn't obviously.
s (PS5VP) [832] mhm
j (PS5VN) [833] Yes, about what amount of money would a purchaser expect to pay for that kind of cover?
m (PS5VR) [834] Round about, as a erm a ball park figure, because it does vary on the dealer's claims rate, but you'd be looking at about a hundred and seventy five.
j (PS5VN) [835] A hundred and seventy five pounds?
m (PS5VR) [836] Yes.
[837] But that would give a thousand pound parts and labour, and if you look at the coverage on a Plan Five you'll see that it covers turbo charges, air conditioning, central locking, as well as all the mainstream power train, all the electrics and everything else.
[838] If you look at it you can see it's very, very comprehensive.
j (PS5VN) [839] Yes, you must have many people who don't claim at all on this insurance, they have no need to claim or just decide not to.
m (PS5VR) [840] I think in general cars, the newer vehicles, are becoming more and more reliable.
[841] I think with the advent of the Japanese vehicles erm and the fact that standards are being improved by all the manufacturers generally, that, yes, overall the number of claims overall will reduce.
j (PS5VN) [842] And when people do come up to you and they have problems, about what percentage of those problems do you find you can't help them with?
m (PS5VR) [843] erm it's very difficult, very difficult to answer a question like that.
[844] As an overall thing we probably take about a hundred and fifty phone calls every day from policy holders, and I suppose out of that you ... I suppose you ... people that haven't erm ... have broken down at the side of the road will ring up or something.
[845] There's possibly, oh I don't know, ... there's probably five that have got say punctures or fanbelts gone, or erm service items which we have to say that ... are not covered, but that's a ball park figure.
[846] But it is fairly small.
j (PS5VN) [847] And so the majority of cases you can deal with?
m (PS5VR) [848] In the majority of cases, yes.
[849] As long as it's covered by the policy we're here to assist our customers and obviously that's how we're building our reputation.
j (PS5VN) [850] But you see I find this discussion slightly difficult to deal with because on the one hand you're saying yes, the exclusion clauses in the policy reduce the scope of your liability quite dramatically, and on the other hand you're saying but that's just the words in practice we behave quite differently.
m (PS5VR) [851] No.
[852] I think we've got to take the individuals.
[853] When we're talking about the negligence factor, obviously the insurance doesn't cover the negligence of ... of a repairer, erm any faults inherent at the time of purchase are obviously not our responsibility and I don't think any reasonable person would expect us to cover that because obviously we're ... we're in insurance, we're not taking on risks already, we're taking on a risk of mechanical failure of items after they're sold, not obviously before they're sold.
s (PS5VP) [854] John, could I just come to your brother.
[855] His claim would be excluded by your policy because it was a fault inherent at the time of purchase.
m (PS5VR) [856] In a case like that ... as I have said right from the outset, this is a conflict of interest for me.
[857] I I feel that my brother has been extremely badly treated.
[858] I believe ... I've got to be very careful what I say because I could be subject to legal action, but I think this whole case is appalling.
[859] I can't say any more than that.
[860] I'm endeavouring to resolve this problem.
[861] I've contacted the Lloyds Enquiry Unit and they're dealing with the matter.
[862] It is ... this is a totally disgraceful situation, and I've also explained that to my brother and I am endeavouring to put this situation right, erm but it is a conflict of interests and I don't really know what else I can say.
s (PS5VP) [863] I understand that, but under the wording of your insurance that claim would be invalidated because it was a fault inherent at the time of purchase.
m (PS5VR) [864] erm in that situation I fail to understand how that can necessarily be to be honest, because the vehicle in question has done eighty thousand miles.
[865] Now if that was totally inherent at the time, then I really fail how ... to see how it could have done eighty thousand miles, and I think that may be a point that's put across at the same time.
[866] There has been a failure of the crankshaft thrust washers in this case, and certainly in my view that's exactly what the insurance is there for, and by virtue of the fact that this company isn't honouring it I feel very strongly about and I'm endeavouring to correct that, but I think erm we've gotta be fair that this is a conflict of interest to me.
j (PS5VN) [867] Well, I'd like to go back and talk to you about the exclusion clauses though, and the purchasing power of the people buying these things.
m (PS5VR) [868] Right.
j (PS5VN) [869] Usually a contract is seen as an agreement that is freely entered into by both parties, debating or arguing out the terms at arm's length, but in reality this is a take it or leave it operation, isn't it?
m (PS5VR) [870] erm the policies are offered ... in general most dealers in fairness ... this question of charging for the policy, in the majority of dealers that we've actually got they include it within the ... within the purchase price of the vehicle anyway.
[871] In the majority of cases it is something that is given free of charge.
[872] Now obviously in a case like that there doesn't really need to be a great deal of negotiation because obviously if it's something being given ex gratia then really obviously people really can't be in a position to argue too much.
[873] What I would say, as I have said before, is that there are a range of polices.
[874] If people are unhappy with the policy that they've got, by all means talk to the dealer and say is it possible to have an increased coverage, because in the majority of cases erm that can happen.
[875] They may ask for an extra premium if they're including it ... they may ask for a bit towards it, but they can give a better cover.
[876] So, yes, I think that they ... any prospective purchaser should look at the insurance and just make sure he's getting the very best that he can on his vehicle.
j (PS5VN) [877] Yes, but I think prospective car buyers are currently spoiled for choice with offers of discounts and low cost insurance and all sorts of things.
m (PS5VR) [878] Oh they certainly are at
j (PS5VN) [879] But you ... you say it's included free of charge.
[880] Well I don't think there's anything as free insurance.
[881] I think it comes out somewhere along the line out of the consumer's pocket.
m (PS5VR) [882] Oh, I've no doubt that somewhere down the line these things are ... are built it, but what I'm saying is that the majority of dealers these days are including it within the package and saying look this vehicle comes with it completely because there is such erm a demand for this erm type of insurance.
[883] erm people do look for protection when they're ... when they're buying the second purchase of their lives in most cases.
[884] They do look for protection, and that's really where companies like ours come in.
j (PS5VN) [885] Well we've talked mostly about various difficulties that bona fide complainants in the public have about the insurance company, what about the other way around?
[886] Do you find that sometimes members of the public try it on with the insurance people?
m (PS5VR) [887] It's an enormous problem for us, unfortunately, by by virtue of the fact that we ... we do most of our claims over the telephone.
[888] We are misled time after time after time when people have problems like they're having their vehicle serviced, it's put a claim in for a water pump, and have the cost of their service paid for.
[889] We have horrendous fraudulent situations and I would say as an average week we have about ten of those.
j (PS5VN) [890] Right, well thanks very much John Collinswood.
[891] Over to you, Roy Hill.
s (PS5VP) [892] I think this is a modern syndrome.
[893] It's a good selling point.
[894] If you're selling cars, you've got a guarantee warranty with it, and I think most customers are misled into believing that those guarantees and warranties cover far more than they do in fact.
[895] The advice is read the small print.
j (PS5VN) [896] As always, I suppose.
[897] Many thanks to my two guests — to John Collinswood from Mechanical Management Services Limited in Thame, and to Roy Hill the Deputy Trading Standards Officer for Oxfordshire County Council.
[898] That's it from me, Bill Heine.
[899] Thanks for joining us.
[900] Goodbye. [recorded jingle]


[recorded jingle]
j (PS5VN) [901] Hello and welcome to the programme.
[902] Today I'm joined by four people from Kuwait and we'll be getting the Kuwaiti reaction to the war in the Gulf.
[903] There are three main areas of questions I'd like to put.
[904] First of all, in the Kuwaiti's own view, does it mean to be Kuwaiti?
[905] Who lived in Kuwait before August second and what were the conditions of life.
[906] Secondly, what is the Kuwaiti position on major issues in the region — nationhood, religion, balance of power, balance of wealth, and finally what future role to Kuwaitis aspire to, what sort of peace to they want or expect.
[907] Before turning to these questions, though, I'd like to get some reactions to the current situation, and I might as well put my first question to Jossom.
[908] What do you think is going on in the war Jossom?
[909] I believe you're a member of the Kuwaiti parliament — is that right?
g (PS5VU) [911] Yes, that's correct.
j (PS5VN) [912] And how do you feel the war is going?
g (PS5VU) [913] erm we are concerned because erm perhaps we are getting rather impatient erm and we'd like to see erm the war end as soon as possible with least amount of casualties, and it seems that erm Saddam Hussein is somehow trying to drag this war into a lengthy one by perhaps not retaliating or hiding.
[914] Even though, unfortunately, his army and possibly some civilians might be affected by this, which as human life again which seems to be not of so much importance for him.
j (PS5VN) [915] But erm do you feel that it's ... you have an optimistic sense about the way the war is going?
[916] Are you apprehensive?
g (PS5VU) [917] It's too early to judge really erm we all realize that the might of the international forces in relation to the Iraqui forces is quite different ... is much more.
[918] We are optimistic in the sense that there is a process of liberation going on.
[919] As far as Kuwait is concerned we'd like to see our country free again and this gives us the type of hope we have been wanting for the past six months, and I am sure for the people inside Kuwait — because I was there for about three weeks prior to the ... after the invasion I was there and I had to escape that country.
j (PS5VN) [920] Yes, how did you escape?
g (PS5VU) [921] Through the desert with my family and through the perils of the desert and erm it took us about eight hours to ... to go through the desert, which normally takes two hours, and it was very difficult.
[922] We ran out of water and some other friends ran out of water and we had to help each other and we were getting stuck in the sand and the heat was very high because it was in August and it was around noon time, so erm some people actually turned back erm they couldn't continue, unfortunately; they are friends of ours.
[923] They couldn't continue, so it was quite difficult and we had to avoid the Iraqui army as we did that.
j (PS5VN) [924] Do you now hear from your friends in Kuwait what conditions are like?
g (PS5VU) [925] Well I'd like to have
j (PS5VN) [926] Fareda, would you like to ... Fareda you run and art gallery when you're there in Kuwait.
jp (PS5VV) [927] Yes.
j (PS5VN) [928] Is that art gallery still standing?
jp (PS5VV) [929] I don't think so because it's in the main street called [...] street and I was taken over the first day.
[930] It was looted.
[931] So I don't think so.
j (PS5VN) [932] Yes, right.
jp (PS5VV) [933] We have no access to it anyhow.
j (PS5VN) [934] All right.
[935] You've heard from friends in Kuwait recently?
jp (PS5VV) [936] Yes, I have my husband back there and I have a sister and a brother.
[937] The brother's a doctor and of course he refused to leave.
[938] He has got his own clinic in his house.
[939] erm a sister who sends out wonderful letters and they've been published, and my husband he calls, you know, whenever he can.
j (PS5VN) [940] And how are they bearing up?
[941] I mean what's it like for them day to day living?
jp (PS5VV) [942] My husband puts it very nicely.
[943] He says you have to have erm nerves of steel.
[944] By now they are probably nerves of iron because, you know, you have ... to co-exist with an army like that he has to really take it fairly easy because they can be quite rude and, you know, shove you around get whatever they want and very harmful methods.
[945] So you just have to take it fairly easy, you know, calm down and yes and [...] and everything will go well.
j (PS5VN) [946] And has he seen any particular kinds of treatment of the Kuwaiti people that we've been hearing about?
jp (PS5VV) [947] Yes, of course, erm you know it's very humiliating being under that regime now, but as to whether ... what he's seen exactly he will not talk about it.
[948] He doesn't want to disturb me, but my sister has, yes.
j (PS5VN) [949] What has she said?
jp (PS5VV) [950] Her letters ... what hasn't she said [laugh] ?
[951] She's talked about deaths, rapes, children being taken from homes erm people being shot in front of their parents erm people disappearing from the streets.
[952] erm it's it's ... we've recorded it all in Amnesty International.
j (PS5VN) [953] mhm Well you've told me a bit about what's it's like to be inside Kuwait, what about the Kuwaitis outside Kuwait?
[954] What is life like from them?
[955] Maybe Dehad would like to answer that one.
[956] Welcome to the programme Dehad.
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [957] Hello.
[958] Well obviously the Kuwaitis erm living outside [...] live under a hardship, are living under a tremendous amount of pressure.
[959] As you know, most Kuwaitis, if not all, have families inside Kuwait.
[960] erm most of them haven't heard much from their families, no news at all, for the last six months and it's been very difficult for us.
[961] Our lives are ruined.
[962] Our future is uncertain.
[963] erm that's from a ... that's on a personal basis.
[964] erm at the moment our country is occupied erm the only thing erm holding erm ... holding us through it is hope, hope of turning back and the erm ... the determination our friends, our families inside Kuwait.
j (PS5VN) [965] Yes.
[966] Could you tell me how people outside Kuwait from that country are contributing to the war effort.
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [967] Well erm for instance like myself erm like what we are doing in the association for free Kuwait erm as you know it's erm it's basically ... after August the second, after the invasion a group of private citizens, a group of Kuwaiti citizens, formed this association.
[968] We felt that it is our duty to to inform the people about the situation of Kuwait, about Kuwait in general, it's culture, it's erm ... as a nation, and erm in addition to help the Kuwaiti community erm and at the moment erm we are collecting information erm either on the general situation inside Kuwait City at the moment, or erm generally more information about Kuwait.
j (PS5VN) [969] All right.
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [970] Excuse me.
j (PS5VN) [971] Yes, go ahead.
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [972] In addition to that also erm we have ... we have been in constant contact with the erm Kuwait Red Crescent, which is based now in Bahrain, and we are erm helping to get Kuwaitis in touch with the Kuwait Red Cross in Bahrain, have them trained erm to know first aid basics, donate blood, so on so forth.
j (PS5VN) [973] Well, let's move on to Mohammed, and I should say that I'm identifying each one of the people in the studio by their first names because it would be dangerous to identify them by their surnames.
js (PS5VL) [974] I appreciate it, thank you.
j (PS5VN) [975] Mohammed, what do you think of the Allied tactics, the bombing of bridges and roads and utilities as well as military installations?
[976] Is it necessary?
js (PS5VL) [977] Well I think this war ... the aim of this war is to achieve erm minimum casualty, and by doing what the allied forces are doing by denying the Iraqui forces the logistics such as transportations and communication system is very vital to reduce the power of the enemy and then you can force him to retreat, or you can weaken the army that will result in minimum casualty for the allied forces.
j (PS5VN) [978] But what about the argument that in order to save Kuwait the allies have to destroy it.
[979] I mean where do you draw the line?
[980] What is unacceptable?
js (PS5VL) [981] Well erm destroying erm Kuwait erm it's not an easy thing because erm what the allied forces are doing is erm attacking the important military bases and military installation.
[982] The Kuwait ... the Kuwait cities are designed in such a way that the military installations and erm ... are outside the country, so from the eyewitnesses that we receive that all the bombings are on the outskirts of the city, no damage to Kuwait City or to the civilians inside Kuwait.
j (PS5VN) [983] Well it seems to me that the utilities and the supplies to the Iraqui forces are one of the warm aims.
[984] To destroy them is one of the war aims, and that means that the fabric, the infrastructure, of your cities is being gutted.
js (PS5VL) [985] Well instead of going and destroying utility plants such as power plants and desalination plants, there are actually easier way and a less expensive way to do it is by attacking like sub-stations which erm actually you don't destroy the power plant, you just destroy the erm source where you can distribute electricity to the whole country.
[986] So this is not a major destructive force.
[987] They can do erm damage to a section of the network erm that does not bring about major destruction and with this accurate bombing that we've been seeing this kind of operation is possible.
j (PS5VN) [988] Fareda, I'd like to come back to you because you said that you had quite a bit of information from people currently in Kuwait.
[989] Do you know if there are major aspects of the civilian life blood of their country being ripped out?
jp (PS5VV) [990] I'm sorry, I didn't understand that.
[991] Civilian life
j (PS5VN) [992] Well, different utilities, different roads are being destroyed, bridges, I mean are these things going on?
jp (PS5VV) [993] Within Kuwait?
j (PS5VN) [994] Yes.
jp (PS5VV) [995] The Iraquis did that as of second of August.
[996] I don't think they can take any more, you know they've left nothing there, but now the allies — I don't think there is much, and even if they have they call them surgical, you know, sight bombing
j (PS5VN) [997] mhm
jp (PS5VV) [998] so I don't think they've found anybody.
j (PS5VN) [999] Jossom, do you think that the allies' war aims are to destroy Iraqui military and the Iraqui regime, or to liberate Kuwait?
[1000] What would be the priorities that you would put these war aims?
g (PS5VU) [1001] Actually, they are erm interconnected.
[1002] If you want to liberate Kuwait, which is the aim of the United Nations resolutions, it is to reduce the forces of the invaders, hoping, as my friend Mohammed mentioned, ... hoping that the invaders themselves will see the reasoning behind pulling away and saving their own arm and their own lives.
[1003] So the fact that the liberation of Kuwait is the primary target, then the invaders have used force, therefore force is the counterbalance and what is happening right now is they try to dismantle this war machine and make it ineffective, so it is interconnected.
[1004] Now if, hopefully, the people of Iraqui see that their whole country is now being subjected to such much devastating attacks, hopefully that they would overthrow their regime, because that regime has brought nothing but misery to the people of Iraq and has added to the catalogue of misery of the world.
[1005] If we look into the history of Iraq I don't think anybody can remember in the past twenty years they have contributed anything, neither in the terms of world economy, neither in the world of world peace, or any humanitarian
j (PS5VN) [1006] Well ... well I want to understand more about Kuwait, though, as a result of this programme, and a lot of people don't really know what it means to be Kuwaiti.
[1007] Well who are the Kuwaitis and how do they differ ... and how are they different from the Saudi Arabians and the southern Iraquis?
g (PS5VU) [1008] We have, even though we are Arabs and we are neighbouring countries like Saudi Arabia and the Emirates, but we have our own identity and it is very distinct.
j (PS5VN) [1009] In what does it consist?
g (PS5VU) [1010] First of all Kuwait as a country goes back to seventeen fifty.
[1011] It has always been known as Kuwait, and erm the settlers of Kuwait are Arabs that came from Saudi Arabia and the southern part of Iraq and the southern parts of Iran, and they are settlers there.
[1012] They are merchants and in their life before the oil they were very well known merchants and they had tribesmen in that area.
[1013] And they chose themselves to have the ruling family to be the Al Sabar family.
j (PS5VN) [1014] Yes, but they differ from people in Saudi Arabia or from southern Iraq because of their language, or because of their race, or their religion?
g (PS5VU) [1015] No, no.
j (PS5VN) [1016] What is that characterises the Kuwaiti?
g (PS5VU) [1017] In this respect we have many things in common with them, but with our mental erm structure, our habits of being tradesmen created the Kuwaiti community to be adventurous, to be erm well co-ordinated with each other, to have erm ambitions and to be wise in the use of their resources.
[1018] So if you look as to how Kuwait grew by after the oil it gives a good example how we put the use of the oil to the betterment of mankind.
[1019] In other words, we have a welfare state, we help the international community with our foreign aid, and we are very progressive and we use the most up-to-date erm technology in developing our country and erm we are paying no taxes, and very progressive.
[1020] And we have constitution since nineteen sixty two, which is a democratic constitution, which has been governing our country unlike our neighbours.
j (PS5VN) [1021] Well, yes, I want to find out some ... about the history of Kuwait.
[1022] I mean the defining moments in the Kuwaiti history are what?
[1023] The English have ten sixty six and the Armada and the Swiss have William Tell, well what are the landmarks of Kuwaiti history?
g (PS5VU) [1024] erm If we go back, Kuwait has always been an independent country until the Ottoman Empire was erm threatening that area, and they were ruling the Arab peninsula, which later to be known as Iraq, and when the Kuwaiti people felt the threat of the Ottoman Empire they signed a treaty with the British at that time, and that was in eighteen ninety nine and Iraq was established in nineteen twenty, so we are are ahead of that.
[1025] That is our heritage and that's our identity which we kept, and that's one thing which we are very proud of.
[1026] And in nineteen sixty one, when we got our independence, immediately we had the constitution committee and we wrote our constitution.
j (PS5VN) [1027] Well what about the British role in all this?
[1028] Could Kuwaiti have existed without British protection?
g (PS5VU) [1029] I think it's difficult to say that, but erm we feel that the British protection was very important for the erm sovereignty, for maintaining the external sovereignty of Kuwait, but our internal affairs has always been within the Kuwaiti community.
j (PS5VN) [1030] Well what do you think motivated the British protection of Kuwait?
g (PS5VU) [1031] I believe erm the rulers of Kuwait at the time were very erm wise to to to make such treaty with the British for the protection of their country and the British respected the Kuwait autonomy at the time and this joint erm respect for each other I believe which gave rise to Kuwait to be what it is today.
j (PS5VN) [1032] mhm Do you think it had anything to do with protecting the routes to India?
g (PS5VU) [1033] I doubt it.
[1034] I'm not sure, but Kuwait was a very important ... a very important erm port.
[1035] Yes, we had many trade lines with India and the eastern coast of Africa.
[1036] I believe my friend is shaking her head yes, so we must have been also part of the route [...] .
jp (PS5VV) [1037] Yes because of it's also strategic erm location in addition to what my colleague here, Jossom, has added ... in addition to it it has a strategic erm location as well.
[1038] It's an important port and it connects the east with the west.
[1039] And during the last two centuries, especially when Britain had strong ties with India and the Indian sub-continent and the trade was flourishing on those routes.
[1040] It is an important location.
g (PS5VU) [1041] We had a fleet of about eight hundred ships, [...] that is, in Kuwait, which is erm much more than any other gulf state at the time.
j (PS5VN) [1042] All right.
[1043] Well, before the invasion who lived in Kuwait?
g (PS5VU) [1044] The Kuwaiti population is about one point seven million erm about six to seven hundred thousand of them are the Kuwaiti nationals.
[1045] The rest were ex-patriots.
j (PS5VN) [1046] That's a very large proportion of ex-patriots.
g (PS5VU) [1047] It is, and that is the advantage of Kuwait, and that is one thing which ... which perhaps the world should appreciate, that we were a haven for ex-patriots to come there and make a living and work.
[1048] We had close to four hundred thousand Palestinians, we had almost a hundred and eighty thousand Indians, ninety thousand erm from Bangladesh, about eighty thousand Phillipinos and we had about also seventy five thousand Pakistanis and erm many other erm nationalities.
[1049] I think we have something like a hundred and twenty nationalities living in Kuwait and enjoying the free school, the free hospital.
j (PS5VN) [1050] Well that ... that's wanted to ask.
[1051] Do ... did Kuwaitis pay taxes?
g (PS5VU) [1052] No, nobody paid taxes.
[1053] Not ... everybody in Kuwait was not subjected to tax.
[1054] Of course all the revenues from oil went to the Government, but equally on the other side is the welfare state.
[1055] Nobody paid any kind of tax.
j (PS5VN) [1056] Well what services did you get from the state?
[1057] Do you want to answer that Mohammed or Dehad.
[1058] Mohammed.
js (PS5VL) [1059] Yes.
[1060] The people ... the people who are living in Kuwait, they got all the basic erm services such as electricity and water, which is, you know, water is processed a mechanically processed system, we don't have rivers and we don't have portable water wells erm we process our own water through erm desalination plants located at ... on the gulf.
[1061] The erm ... also the government provided a very sophisticated network of erm of erm sewage systems for the country.
[1062] They provided education, free education, free health services erm one of the modern communication system and ports erm and they ensure job for every Kuwaiti, so you will not find an unemployed Kuwaiti, as soon as he is able to do one job or another the Government provided the training for a large number of Kuwaiti to provide technical works.
j (PS5VN) [1063] What about the ex-patriots, did they pay taxes?
js (PS5VL) [1064] No.
[1065] Nobody pays taxes in Kuwait
j (PS5VN) [1066] Did they get the same services?
js (PS5VL) [1067] and the ex-patriots receive the same services as Kuwaitis.
g (PS5VU) [1068] And even if they transfer money
j (PS5VN) [1069] Jossom.
g (PS5VU) [1070] in and out of Kuwait they never have to ... their only restrictions at any time, never, even if Kuwait had a financial crisis because of the crash of its stock market one expected that people might move their capital outside the country because of it, but there was no restrictions, no control, everybody was free, you could walk in and out of the country
j (PS5VN) [1071] mhm
g (PS5VU) [1072] any part.
j (PS5VN) [1073] Were ... these ex-patriots a part of your workforce and presumably they contribute greatly to the country.
[1074] What happens to them on their retirement from their working life?
g (PS5VU) [1075] erm there is for the Kuwaitis erm ... we just recently started a social security system for the Kuwaitis.
[1076] For the international people there are civil laws, by which they companies have to provide what we call indemnities for the person who works and these indemnities go according to certain formulas, which is known by everybody, and it's in a way protecting them after they leave.
[1077] erm many people came to Kuwait to work for a short term and after a while they realised it's fine so they continued to stay there for a long time, and that is the haven that we were talking about.
[1078] Unfortunately, all the ex-patriots, including the Kuwaiti, lost everything they had after the invasion.
[1079] In other words the Iraqui forces took over the banks, they looted everything.
[1080] Everybody had to leave, almost much poorer than when he came into Kuwait, including ex-patriots.
j (PS5VN) [1081] Well these ex-patriots, I'd like to look at their situation a little bit more carefully.
[1082] Is naturalisation open to them?
g (PS5VU) [1083] Yes, but very restricted erm in other words if you look at the history of Kuwait for the time that we received or we got our independence, we had to start our nationalisation process as an independent country.
[1084] At that time it was more erm easy to get Kuwait nationality, so we have Egyptians, we have Palestinians, we have Indians, we have Pakistanis, Iranians who got Kuwaiti nationality when it all started.
[1085] With time, as it became more lucrative a country for people to come, obviously the country had to be more restrictive about providing the nationality.
[1086] You can apply for it, but it takes a little longer than other places to obtain it.
j (PS5VN) [1087] Yes.
[1088] How long does it take about?
g (PS5VU) [1089] Well, it depends, because there's a committee that is responsible for this and you have to bring many erm recommendation letters and you have to bring a lot of documents and eye witnesses to go by this rule.
j (PS5VN) [1090] Are there quotas?
g (PS5VU) [1091] No, no, there's no such thing as quotas there.
[1092] It is just a matter of how you can build up the Kuwaiti nationality to go along with the growing community in the country and we were just a developing country.
j (PS5VN) [1093] All right.
[1094] Will the state, after liberation, enlarge the definition of Kuwaiti?
g (PS5VU) [1095] Pardon.
[1096] Could you say that again.
j (PS5VN) [1097] Well, after liberation
g (PS5VU) [1098] Yes.
j (PS5VN) [1099] will the state have a more relaxed view to who can be a Kuwaiti?
g (PS5VU) [1100] I am sure the events will have erm an effective signature on the life of Kuwait, yes, it will have.
[1101] However, how it is going to look like is going to depend after when we go back, when the system of government gets organised and then we've got to look into this whole idea of how to live in Kuwait, which I am sure will be open to changes, to modifications, and anything is possible.
j (PS5VN) [1102] All right.
[1103] But my last word on the ex-patriots is can Kuwait survive without a foreign labour force?
g (PS5VU) [1104] No, it cannot.
[1105] I cannot survive.
[1106] Technically it cannot, physically it cannot, because we have such erm large programmes of development that you need the manpower, you need the muscle, and the majority of them have left now and that'll be a new dilemma for Kuwait and it's rebuilding operation to bring back people to help develop with it's own Kuwaiti
j (PS5VN) [1107] Dehad
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [1108] I understand that.
[1109] It's also a dilemma also for their own countries.
[1110] For instance erm the erm ruminations of the ex-patriots towards their homelands, towards their families, had contributed a lot erm for some countries towards their J and P as a percentage for their J and P .
[1111] As a result of the invasion, the Iraqui invasion on August the second, many economies, especially in the third world countries ... developing countries, have been affected a lot by this crisis, not only in terms of erm world trade, the international security, the stability in the world, stability in the international markets and so on so forth, but also with regard to the ruminations from the ex-patriots living in the gulf area in general.
[1112] erm that's another element erm of the dilemma.
[1113] I mean it's not only ... Kuwait as a country has been affected erm with regard to the ex-patriots, also the countries, the home countries of the ex-patriots, have been affected a lot, especially the third world countries.
j (PS5VN) [1114] All right.
[1115] Well, I'd like to move on ... well, before we do that, let's go to Norman.
[1116] Norman is calling from Basingstoke and has a question for you.
[1117] Hello Norman.
t (PS5VM) [1118] Hello Bill.
[1119] Well my question was to be erm would your guests be happy to return to a Kuwait the same as it was before, but having listened I feel somewhat enlightened, although perhaps they'd still like to answer the question in that form.
[1120] But I would like to add what is the political situation there?
[1121] One gets the impression it was an autocracy and not a democracy.
[1122] Have they any feelings about that, plus my other question.
j (PS5VN) [1123] Jossom.
g (PS5VU) [1124] Thank you for your interest in listening to us.
[1125] The Kuwaiti system of government consists of the Emir, which is the ruler, and the constitution which is written by the people of Kuwait in nineteen sixty two.
[1126] In the constitution we have two bodies.
[1127] One is the government, which is the Emir of Kuwait, and his cabinet, which is around fourteen to sixteen ministers.
[1128] They form the government of Kuwait.
[1129] They are the executive body, and the national assembly is the people of the Kuwait, and fifty members are directly elected by the people through the twenty [...] constituencies which we have, and you have here the legislative body, in other words a parliament of fifty members and the government, and they sit together and they run the business of the country like any other parliament, and if you look to the television and see what happens in the House of Commons, it is exactly what happens in Kuwait.
j (PS5VN) [1130] Oh, I hope not [laugh] .
[1131] Can you tell me ... can you tell me
g (PS5VU) [1132] I mean the freedom of talking.
j (PS5VN) [1133] Yes, I understand.
[1134] Yes, Jossom, you've been in parliament over there.
[1135] For how long?
g (PS5VU) [1136] Actually my father was one of the first parliament members of Kuwait, but I became a member only just before the invasion by two months.
t (PS5VM) [1137] Bill.
j (PS5VN) [1138] Yes, Norman.
t (PS5VM) [1139] Does the will of the Kuwaiti parliament transcend the will of the Emir and does parliament carry the day?
j (PS5VN) [1140] Yes, who's got ... in the hierarchy of power, who really is top dog?
g (PS5VU) [1141] It is the people, the parliament actually, because the Emir when he proposes a cabinet the parliament can accept the cabinet, or change, or request it to be changed and even the Prime Minister, which is proposed or nominated by the Emir, the cabinet has to approve him, and together they ... they run the business of the government.
[1142] However, the Emir has the right to dissolve the government temporarily.
[1143] The national assembly, up to only a certain period of time, according to the constitution, and then again the parliament has to come back again into the picture.
t (PS5VM) [1144] And if parliament passes a law
g (PS5VU) [1145] Yes.
t (PS5VM) [1146] can anybody overrule it?
g (PS5VU) [1147] erm only the Emir, and he has to give very erm strict reasons for it and he sends it back to the parliament to look into it again and when it comes back the second time the Emir can pass it.
[1148] But it is
t (PS5VM) [1149] Has he got to pass it?
g (PS5VU) [1150] He can.
[1151] Yes, I think he has to pass it.
[1152] Yes.
[1153] Now that's a very detailed thing regarding the technicality of running the parliament, which I am sorry I cannot right now answer you, but it's covered.
t (PS5VM) [1154] Okay.
[1155] So okay, in general then you'll be quite happy to go back to a ... the Kuwait that you knew?
g (PS5VU) [1156] Let me add here erm I don't want to say that we will duplicate what is happening, but if there's going to be any reform to be done it is open and you can introduce reform into our constitution once you have the parliament back again and the Emir and such reform can be introduced.
[1157] We are considering even the woman to vote hopefully soon.
j (PS5VN) [1158] You mean currently women cannot vote?
g (PS5VU) [1159] Yes, at this moment they do not vote.
[1160] Yes.
j (PS5VN) [1161] Yes, Dehad, you mean the political life of the country is devoid of you're erm ... whatever you have to offer?
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [1162] Well that's right erm but then on the other hand erm there are other avenues in erm the social life of Kuwait ... the political life of Kuwait that I can offer, and I can contribute and as a matter of fact can affect
j (PS5VN) [1163] For instance?
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [1164] Well I could speak from a personal experience.
[1165] When I was a student at Kuwait University we had a lot of lectures, political lectures.
[1166] We had our opinion with regard to the political life in Kuwait.
[1167] There are are lot of things that I erm personally I wasn't in agreement with erm things erm how things ... the government has run things.
j (PS5VN) [1168] Well could you tell me precisely?
jp (PS5VV) [1169] Well there was erm during the eighties, for instance, there was a lot of talk going on about having some changes within the constitution.
[1170] I as a person didn't find that these changes were essential and I stated my opinion in erm in
j (PS5VN) [1171] What were the erm proposed changes?
jp (PS5VV) [1172] At the moment really I can't erm specifically recall them, but the ... I saw the personally, the direction of them, there wasn't ... I didn't agree with erm them, but then there were other erm ... other citizens erm they saw that they were healthy changes.
[1173] This is erm ... this is a kind of positive contribution.
[1174] However, I am looking forward to erm to the new Kuwait, to the Kuwait after liberation, because there were discussion about the erm participation of erm Kuwaiti woman within the political life of Kuwait and erm this was in a conference in October, as I recall, and the Prime Minister, the political leadership of Kuwait, has stated that erm after the liberation of Kuwait erm women will have erm far more erm participation within the political erm life of Kuwait.
j (PS5VN) [1175] Jossom.
g (PS5VU) [1176] At this moment in Kuwait we have three positions of under-secretary, which is the number two position after the minister, who are Kuwaiti women.
[1177] They hold as high positions as that and they run ministries, and I'd like to add that in Kuwait the number of women deans in the Kuwait university is the highest in the world, so the woman is working side-by-side by the man, and we are very proud of them, we always have been, and especially after the invasion when I was in Kuwait on the fourth day the people who went in the streets chanting against the Iraqui invasion were the Kuwaiti women.
[1178] They had pictures of the Emir, the Crown Prince, and the flag of Kuwait, and they said Saddam get out.
[1179] That is how courageous they have been.
j (PS5VN) [1180] mhm And Mohammed.
js (PS5VL) [1181] Well also ... just ... my experience, my own experience with the developments of and the evolution of the policies in Kuwait coming at working at Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research, there were many erm studies conducted at Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research and the other institute, The Social erm Political Institute, and they were ... the main of that was the probe through all these policies and through these institutions we have in Kuwait and try to improve it to a standard that the Kuwaiti people and the neighbouring country can benefit from at that [...] .
j (PS5VN) [1182] Well, Norman, we'll come back to you for a final comment.
t (PS5VM) [1183] Oh, thank you, Bill.
[1184] Yes, it occurs to me to ask is Islam less strict in Kuwait than it is in Saudi Arabia, where, I gather, women are not allowed to drive cars, thieves will have their hands cut off and things like that.
[1185] Are you less severe in Kuwait?
j (PS5VN) [1186] Jossom.
g (PS5VU) [1187] That's putting your question a rather smart way I must say [laugh] .
[1188] No, I don't think it's the same Islam, it is just how you want to go about it erm in Kuwait, and I don't want to say that we prefer our Islam more than what the Saudis do.
[1189] No, I don't mean that.
[1190] In Kuwait it is just that we ... by the way in Kuwait we have two courts, we have the civil courts and we have the Islamic court, and erm Islamic cases go to the Islamic court and otherwise they go to the civil court, except just we ... we accept erm how to live our live in a modern way and keeping up with the times, and it is a tradition that we have adopted in Kuwait, and the fact that it is for women can drive in Kuwait versus those that don't in Saudi Arabia, I don't believe I'd like to put that in the Islamic context, it's just a way of life which we have adopted.
j (PS5VN) [1191] You say there are two kinds of court, Islamic courts and civil courts.
g (PS5VU) [1192] Yes.
j (PS5VN) [1193] Well when there is a criminal case does that got to the Islamic or
g (PS5VU) [1194] Well it depends, if
j (PS5VN) [1195] What cases would go to the Islamic courts?
g (PS5VU) [1196] Usually they go to civil courts, such criminals like stealing or killing, you know things like that.
j (PS5VN) [1197] Yes, what will go to the Islamic one?
g (PS5VU) [1198] You have things like heredity, marriages, divorces, erm some way of life which has to do with Islamic doctrine that you do and some dispute happens, you take it to the Islamic courts and they have religious judges who take it in that context and they go according to the laws of Islam.
j (PS5VN) [1199] Well I'd like to get your reactions to some of the major regional issues.
[1200] When Iraq invaded Iran what was the position of the Kuwaiti government and of the Kuwaiti people.
[1201] Dehad, do you want to answer that one?
[1202] It's a very difficult one, I realise.
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [1203] No, well actually erm as I recall it erm ... well as you remember as well that 1980, 1979/1080, after the revolution in Iran, the situation in the gulf in general was under turmoil.
[1204] There was a lot of things going on erm a lot of uncertainties, political uncertainties, so on so forth
j (PS5VN) [1205] But what was the position of the Kuwaiti government?
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [1206] Well erm it was actually erm trying to erm eliminate erm the erm dangers of the war, to stop the war, because it's not for anyone
j (PS5VN) [1207] So they were neutral?
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [1208] No, well up to a certain extent I am afraid, not all the way.
j (PS5VN) [1209] All right, whom were they supporting?
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [1210] Well there erm ... there were facilities, a lot of facilities given to Iraq, but I might as well add that the erm whole of the erm Middle East, the Arab world, were backing Iraq in that conflict.
[1211] Personally, from a personal view during those years I was erm going for a neutral stance on the conflict because it didn't help any cause and it only hurt and harmed the peoples of both Iraq and Iran.
j (PS5VN) [1212] All right.
[1213] Jossom.
g (PS5VU) [1214] erm in general we must remember that Iran was erm stating very clearly that it was exporting it's revolution and there were statements which came out from the Iraqui ... from the Irani revolutionary committee that they were against the Arab states at the time and that they were very committed towards liberating Israel through Baghdad and such statements was coming, so obviously erm the Arabs had to stick together according to charter of the league of Arab states, which everybody was a member of, and Iraq being subjected to to to war it was natural for the Arabs to give Iraq support.
[1215] Now it didn't mean that you build his war machine, but the Kuwaiti people being so close, or actually bordering, we helped the economy of Baghdad, we helped the economy of the Iraq, and we contributed thirteen billion dollars, just the government alone, to their economy and the people of Kuwait also helped with their own private donation to help the schools, the hospitals, the food, whatever they needed, and the country of Kuwait was erm trying to be, as my friend said, as neutral as possible because there is Irani interest in Kuwait, very great through trade, through Iranis who work in Kuwait, so we had a very difficult position with respect to keeping both parties erm sort of in sight, not lose sight of them from our humanistic point of view, but it was erm difficult to to to avoid being on the side of the Iraqui, mainly because they're neighbours and they're Arabs, and you're part of the league of Arab states, so you can't draw the line and say the government was pro or against, but that was the atmosphere which we were leaving.
j (PS5VN) [1216] All right.
[1217] Fareda, do you think that the people of Kuwait supported Saddam in that war?
jp (PS5VV) [1218] erm I think to defend our interests, to a certain extent, yes, you know we were threatened and erm in that sense only perhaps.
[1219] I don't think that one could have a consensus with that regard, I mean people were split really on that issue erm as I have said, personally I was always against the whole thing, against the war in general between Iraq and Iran because it was devastating for both countries.
j (PS5VN) [1220] Yes.
[1221] Did Kuwaitis actually fight or die in that war?
g (PS5VU) [1222] No, no, there was no military participation of any sort.
[1223] On the contrary, there was attempts to the life of our Emir during the Iraq/Iran war because we were taking relatively ... trying to be neutral there, and there was a bomb attack on him, and he personally survived it, a few others died, and it had to do directly with the Iran/Iraq war.
[1224] We couldn't realise who was doing it, but it was very mixed up, so we were trying to be as neutral as possible, without getting dragged into it directly.
[1225] As my friend say, we did provide them facilities like the Port of Kuwait for the incoming foodstuff and material which Iraqui needed came through our ports and through our roads to their erm to Bahrain to Baghdad.
j (PS5VN) [1226] mhm And Mohammed.
js (PS5VL) [1227] Well I was erm ... I was erm out of the country.
[1228] I was in the United States when the invasion of Iraq ... the invasion of Iraq into Iran, and I saw the whole situation with the aid of erm the United States mass media, so actually erm I had different ideas about erm what is the outcome and what is the results of the erm invasion was, and I took erm throughout the conflict I took an opposing view, because I always viewed the Iraquis as being aggressor and they inflicted damaged to a neighbouring country and erm they had erm no whatsoever rights to do anything like that and we see it again when erm they invaded Kuwait, they have no right at all erm they ... it is just the policy of the governing body of the Iraqui regime.
[1229] They are ... they are aggression forces, that's all.
j (PS5VN) [1230] And another major regional issue is the plight of the Palestinians.
[1231] In Kuwait there are about how many Palestinians?
js (PS5VL) [1232] I mentioned earlier, there are about four hundred thousand.
j (PS5VN) [1233] Four hundred thousands.
js (PS5VL) [1234] Now
j (PS5VN) [1235] That must be one of the largest settlements of Palestinians.
js (PS5VL) [1236] Yes, they are the largest settlements and that proves to the world and proves to everybody how the Palestinians chose Kuwait as a place to live, rather than Iraq or any other state.
j (PS5VN) [1237] But we have reports that Palestinians and other ex-patriots they helped the invading Iraquis and took part in the looting.
[1238] How do you explain that?
g (PS5VU) [1239] It is true, but we cannot generalise.
[1240] We know for sure in Kuwait, being so close to the Palestinians, that the Palestinian leadership does not really represent the Palestinian people, and there is, within the leadership, erm qualms — they don't all agree.
[1241] The people of Palestine in Kuwait generally are people who just want to live and make and living and support their own erm cause, and on the contrary we have many Palestinians who helped the Kuwaitis and protected them during the invasion.
[1242] We know of Palestinians who came from Iraqui with the [...] regime, so these are Palestinians who follow the [...] regime.
[1243] They are equally as brutal as the Saddam Hussein group is.
[1244] Unfortunately, those four hundred thousand Palestinians lost everything in Kuwait, and erm it'll be important to know that for each Palestinian in Kuwait there's at least two or three other Palestinians whom they support outside Kuwait, in other words in Jordan, West Bank and the Gaza strip, so totally the Palestinians who got devastated by this invasion is about one point two million Palestinians.
[1245] They lost, thanks to Saddam Hussein's invasion.
j (PS5VN) [1246] Yes, and Mohammed.
js (PS5VL) [1247] Actually the government and the people of Kuwait did not really stop, erm only providing assistance to the Palestinians who are living in Kuwait.
[1248] It went even beyond its border.
[1249] Kuwait government and the people of Kuwait provided assistance to the Palestinians all over the world, including the Palestinians living in occupied land.
[1250] It provided them with assistance in their education, in their hospitals, actually one of the biggest hospitals in the occupied lands in Palestine, it was funded more than seventy per cent by Kuwaiti governments and their university was also from tuition and the salaries of professors they are all sponsored by the Kuwait government.
g (PS5VU) [1251] I'd like to add that the Palestinian community in Kuwait are quite well to do.
[1252] We have one of the largest contractors are Palestinians.
[1253] We have businessmen, shop keepers, shop owners, professors in the university, teachers and the high level of the technical working class in our government posts are Palestinians, and we grew with them.
[1254] I mean for thirty years we feel like brothers and sisters with them, and it is unfortunate that Saddam Hussein has turned it all now against everybody.
j (PS5VN) [1255] When the Sabbat family is restored to Kuwaiti, what will happen to the remaining Palestinians?
g (PS5VU) [1256] I don't think we'd like to now, under this emotional shock, try to justify what happens between the people ... the community of Kuwait.
[1257] I'd like to be very clear here that emotionally and using emotions now against your intellect, I think it's very dangerous and it is ... we like to avoid this.
[1258] I believe the Kuwaiti people naturally are a peace loving people and we will never forget that erm good nature of us and we will try to capitalise on that and maintain peace and Kuwait become again a country which has to have peaceful causes [...] everybody.
j (PS5VN) [1259] But as member of the national assembly, do you think those Palestinians are those people who fled to India and the Philippines etc. will be allowed back.
g (PS5VU) [1260] As a matter of fact we want them back because first of all they left everything in Kuwait and left.
[1261] They ... they left their own personal belongings and I know from very close friends that those Palestinians who didn't like the invasion they left Kuwait and went back to Jordan, so we hope they come back.
[1262] The Indian community I was in contact with when I was in Delhi, they like to come back to Kuwait.
[1263] We want them back because they are part of our livelihood.
[1264] They helped build Kuwait and they know about Kuwait and we know about them and we trust each other.
[1265] We'd like all of us to come back there.
j (PS5VN) [1266] I'd also I'd like to get your views on the future prospects for peace.
[1267] So I suppose the only answer is to take the unusual step of inviting you back tomorrow, and I hope we can continue the conversation tomorrow.
[1268] But for today, many thanks to Mohammed, to Jossom, to Dehad and to Fareda.
[1269] That's it from me, Bill Heine.
[1270] Thanks for joining us.
[1271] Goodbye. [recorded jingle]


[recorded jingle]
j (PS5VN) [1272] Hello and welcome to the programme.
[1273] Today we'll be talking about sexual harassment in Oxford colleges.
[1274] A recent survey indicated that most perpetrators, forty two per cent, with women's fellow students, while twelve per cent of the cases involved academic staff.
[1275] But exactly what is sexual harassment.
[1276] One male don in an interview said ‘some people think that sexual harassment is positively desired, that there isn't a problem and that women quite enjoy it’.
[1277] I'm joined by three women who will have views on that, I'm sure.
[1278] First of all, Suzanne Gibson is a law tutor at New College.
[1279] Marianne Talbot is a philosophy don at Pembroke, a Joanna Innes is the senior proctor this year.
[1280] Suzanne Gibson, welcome to the programme.
[1281] What do you think sexual harassment is?
j (PS5VN) [1283] Well I think there's a difficulty here because I think one of the questions is a matter of perspective erm how do you define ... how you define what sexual harassment is is to an extent a factor of your perspective on the question in that I think that tutors who have been thinking about it in recent years, and women tutors, who have taken the lead in it, have tended to think about the implications from the institutional perspective, that is how do tutors behave to their students and in what ways may that affect students' studies and their live in the college.
[1284] I think what's very striking about the report which the students' union have recently published and are circulating around the university, is the extent to which they have tended to define sexual harassment as being as much or at least as much a problem between students, a problem of behaviour between students and a problem of the sort of atmosphere in the colleges in terms of how that affects how peoples lives feel and and how they are ... how their behaviour ... what sort of behaviour is acceptable.
[1285] So I think there are different perspectives which tend to define the issue differently.
j (PS5VN) [1286] But something about your comments worries me a great deal, and that's the fact that many women tutors, you say, have been looking at this issue, but they haven't looked at the major part of the issue, which is from the students' perspectives and the problem that goes on between students.
[1287] They've been focusing on the relationship between staff and students and so why did you focus on what appears to be the short end of the stick, rather than the major problem?
j (PS5VN) [1288] Well I know that my colleague Joanna Innes wants to comment on this, but if I could answer that immediately, I think there is a question about how you define what the major problem is.
[1289] I think the fact that erm only twelve per cent of perceived sexual harassment cases come from tutors isn't to make that a minor problem, because the impact that sexual harassment, coming from tutors, institutional actors as it were, can have on students is phenomenal and you know one can't get too tied up in terms of the amount or the quantity of sexual harassment, I think one has to consider the quality of sexual harassment as well if one can put it that way, and it's by no means a minor problem.
j (PS5VN) [1290] All right, well let's look not just at the quantity, but at the quality.
[1291] Are there any reported rapes between staff and students?
j (PS5VN) [1292] Not as far as I know.
j (PS5VN) [1293] Well are there reported rapes between students?
j (PS5VN) [1294] Well, yes, I think there's a recent report of a rape erm ... I think if you're saying well, you know, a rape is a very, very serious incident of sexual harassment, that's not to be denied, and I think it goes beyond being sexual harassment.
[1295] But there's a whole range of behaviours which one can include in sexual harassment, going from fairly mundane every day things which just grind people down and which grind people down because they happen on a constant basis, to very serious once in a while sorts of behaviours, and to try and categorise them as major or minor doesn't really get us very close to being what the issue is about.
j (PS5VN) [1296] Well how do you see the issue?
[1297] Go ... go ahead.
[1298] Marianne Talbot is a philosophy don at Pembroke College.
s (PS5VP) [1299] I'd like to just bring you back to the first question you asked, which was how do you define sexual harassment.
[1300] I think it's a terribly difficult thing to do, but I'd like to have a go at it in the following way, by saying that somebody is ... a case of sexual harassment has occurred when the behaviour of one person makes another person uncomfortable in such a way that that person, the person who's uncomfortable, becomes overly conscious of their gender or sexual characteristics.
[1301] Now that can happen both ways, but it's very important that one feature of that is that it makes somebody uncomfortable.
[1302] Clearly there's sexual interaction or social interaction between men and women that one person would decide is sexual harassment and another wouldn't.
[1303] One would enjoy the flirting.
[1304] But if it makes somebody uncomfortable and makes them overly conscious of their gender erm and perhaps how they look, then that's what I think is sexual harassment.
j (PS5VN) [1305] But uncomfortableness is a notoriously wide term.
[1306] What do you mean by it?
m (PS5VR) [1307] mhm Well I think it can go from anything, I mean just a vague feeling of suddenly being put off what you're talking about because you've suddenly become conscious of how you're looking.
[1308] I mean that can be both pleasurable, but also make somebody feel uncomfortable.
[1309] I mean I can give you a little example erm I was once trying to add up a series of figures in the middle of an admissions exercise, and one of the other ... one of the men said to me ‘oh, come on, you're far too pretty to do mental arithmetic’ and I completely lost my train of thought, I got rather confused.
[1310] I was able to come back on that and add up the figures perfectly competently, but I can imagine that other people might not have been able to, and
j (PS5VN) [1311] But how do you deal with those
m (PS5VR) [1312] not been efficient in their job.
j (PS5VN) [1313] But those kind of comments are are indicative of the mind of the person making them.
[1314] I mean it's a lovely insight into where they're coming from, who they are, what their priorities are, and I welcome those kinds of comments, because at least then it's out into the open.
m (PS5VR) [1315] You mean you'd like it if I interrupted you when you were doing something
j (PS5VN) [1316] You interrupt me all the time Marianne.
m (PS5VR) [1317] and say ‘Bill, you're so pretty’ [laugh] .
[1318] You can handle it, Bill, but not everyone can.
j (PS5VN) [1319] Let's move on to my next guest [laugh] .
[1320] I don't want to trivialise the programme by saying you're wearing the most extraordinary outfit today, but Joanna Innes is a senior proctor, and you're dressed in a particularly strange way.
l (PS5VS) [1321] Yes, I'm wearing subfusc which is the sort of uniform students of the university always wear when they're taking exams, so it's a familiar sight on the street of Oxford, but I'm also wearing clerical bands, which are a sign of my office.
[1322] The idea is that people on the street could tell at a glance that I'm a proctor, which of course only the more informed of them can [laugh] .
j (PS5VN) [1323] Right, well I didn't mean to put you off your stride.
[1324] Yes, your comments.
l (PS5VS) [1325] Well, perhaps I can say ... pick up on a couple of points in the discussion.
[1326] First of all it's true that the term sexual harassment is used to cover an extraordinarily wide range of forms of behaviour, from behaviour that makes people mildly uncomfortable, to quite violent forms of aggression, and this can be a problem and confuse discussion.
[1327] Two people who think they are disagreeing may, in fact, be talking about different things and wouldn't disagree if they were talking about the same thing, but it's important to recognise that when the university and colleges talk about what they want to do about sexual harassment, they certainly imagine that a range of different forms of response are going to be appropriate to this range of different forms of behaviour, ranging from on the one hand education, encouraging people to think they have a right to protest and answer back, to giving them access to erm people who may mediate and persuade another person who they're not making an impact on that their behaviour is unreasonable, to the most extreme disciplinary procedures against someone who's behaving in a way which is generally thought to be unacceptable and who's not prepared to desist.
[1328] Perhaps the other point I can make is to go back to the question of why women tutors and people in the university generally have emphasised harassment of students by academic staff more than they've emphasised harassment by students of one another, and I think it's not that it was thought that students didn't commonly make each other uncomfortable, but as an issue of principle in terms of whether it's appropriate for university or college authorities to intervene in what many people regard as students' private lives.
[1329] It's quite commonly said that twenty years ago the universities and colleges decided to treat students as adults and leave them to organise their own affairs erm and the argument about what to do in this area isn't an argument about whether it's a serious problem, but about what are appropriate and even effective forms of intervention.
b (PS5VT) [1330] I think ... I think the only thing that I would disagree with there is that I strongly suspect that a lot of tutors in the university, not just women tutors but across the board, really have little idea of the level of sexual harassment that students ... that female students have identified as being problem in the questionnaire.
[1331] Now I'd have to say when I saw the report in the Observer, which was a couple of months ago, the rape in the quad report, my feeling was that this was a national newspaper picking on Oxford because Oxford and sex makes great headlines and it was going to be a good sell, and I felt that it was inappropriate in that sexual harassment is a problem in other campuses.
[1332] Now I have to say that since I've seen a report from the Students' Union and have read it through, I was actually shocked at the level of harassment that that report seemed to indicate.
j (PS5VN) [1333] What did it delineate?
b (PS5VT) [1334] Well, the statistics that you gave earlier for example, that erm was it forty two per cent of students perceive themselves to have been sexually harassed, or I think fifty per cent of students perceive themselves to have been sexually harassed, that is students who answered the questionnaire.
[1335] Now clearly there are, you know, methodological issues here, who replied on the questionnaire and so on, but there are clearly a very large number of replies, a very large number of students up in the, you know, several hundreds, who perceive themselves to be being sexually harassed.
[1336] Now as someone who's taught at other institutions — I've taught at the University of Kent and at Middlesex Polytechnic — I think I was aware of the level of harassment which erm was there in those institutions, there certainly was sexual harassment, it certainly was a problem, but I have to say it didn't seem to me to be the problem that the students have identified it as being in Oxford and I think that's striking and it's something that erm as tutors and as a university we really do have to think about.
j (PS5VN) [1337] Yes, but maybe Oxford's full of of hothouse flowers.
[1338] Maybe these people are defining sexual harassment as things that other people wouldn't define it has.
b (PS5VT) [1339] Well I should think that's extremely unlikely.
[1340] I think if anything it's more likely that what we'll have at Oxford is some extremely tough women, because these are women who have made their way through the educational system and are tough cookies.
[1341] Some of them may well have been to boys' boarding schools and put up with this sort of behaviour
l (PS5VS) [1342] I was going to say
b (PS5VT) [1343] in those places.
l (PS5VS) [1344] I think that's true of the women, but of course an awful lot of our young men erm come from all boys' schools and quite a lot of our young women from all girls' schools, so this is the first time, when they get to Oxford, that they are interacting with each other, on a day-to-day basis I should say, and I think that in itself will ... they are not sure how to act towards each other and there's going to be confusions.
b (PS5VT) [1345] But I think there's a very interesting
l (PS5VS) [1346] some of the confusions are going to be sexually harassing.
j (PS5VN) [1347] I think the question of girls, you know, the is a possibility that there are more girls here from single sex schools is actually very striking because one might say that what those girls are accustomed to is being educated in an empathetic environment.
[1348] They are simply not ... they don't expect the level of sexual tension that they seem to be identifying as a problem in Oxford.
[1349] Now one can say well what are we aiming for in terms of the sexual harassment free environment, and I think that what one would be aiming for is if not the atmosphere of a girls' convent school one's certainly aiming at an environment where women can work and study and interact without the sense of being constantly on display as sexual objects, and, you know, to that extent I don't know if it is the case that a large number of the respondents are saying, you know, ‘I have come from an environment when I haven't had to deal with this before, and I don't expect to have to deal with it’ then we should certainly sit up and take notice of that.
[1350] But I think the other incredibly important thing [laugh] that you said was about the number of boys here from public schools as well and I think that
l (PS5VS) [1351] Or all boys' schools.
j (PS5VN) [1352] tragically ... yes, or all boys' schools ... you know here are young men who have had thousands of pounds spent on their education, and when they arrive in an environment like Oxford they somehow seem to be less capable than other young men of behaving with decency towards the students they are being educated with.
l (PS5VS) [1353] I don't think it's really a question of public schools, except in so far as so many public schools are all boys.
[1354] I think it's single sex boys' schools that are the problem.
[1355] But I think there is ... I mean something that ought to be mentioned ... one of the things that worries me is that there isn't here today a man of the type that I meet every day in Oxford who says ‘sexual harassment?
[1356] Come on, there is no sexual harassment.’
[1357] As the one you quoted at the beginning of the programme.
j (PS5VN) [1358] Yes.
l (PS5VS) [1359] I mean we're talking as if these young women who feel uncomfortable erm are feeling uncomfortable because of something that's objectively in the
j (PS5VN) [1360] Well, I agree with you.
l (PS5VS) [1361] But I wonder some of them are just not used to having boys around.
j (PS5VN) [1362] I regret that there isn't a man here who would uphold the opposite point of view and it's not for want of trying.
[1363] I've rung several of them, and I said ‘well, excuse me sir, but I'd like to talk about sexual harassment in Oxford’ and he said ‘that's not my subject’.
[1364] [laugh] And they were very reticent about ... about coming on a programme and airing their views, especially with three women who could erm do more than hold their own.
[1365] So I suspect that you won't be talking to these kinds of men, or do you get a chance to talk to the men that you perceive are part of the problem.
b (PS5VT) [1366] Oh, I mean I'm sure we all do.
j (PS5VN) [1367] I mean can you bring it out into the open?
b (PS5VT) [1368] I'm sure we do.
j (PS5VN) [1369] No, but do you talk about the problem with them?
b (PS5VT) [1370] Oh, well yes, I do, and I'm sure Susy ... in fact I've heard Susy doing it [laugh] and I don't know about Joanna.
[1371] I mean it
j (PS5VN) [1372] What sort of response do you get from them when you tackle them?
b (PS5VT) [1373] It's terribly difficult trying to get from them any acknowledgements that there could be something wrong about making a complimentary remark to a young woman.
[1374] I mean the thing that they latch onto all the time is that they think it's perfectly reasonable that they should compliment a young woman and so on, and I do see, Bill, that this is a problem because these men have been brought up like this and they think of themselves as being polite and courteous and, you know, a little flirtatious and doing all the things that actually they were taught women like and is rather nice.
j (PS5VN) [1375] I'm just not sure what the difficult is [laugh] .
b (PS5VT) [1376] Well the difficulty is that for somebody ... a confident women who who can play the same game and who who feel powerful ... has a sense of power herself, it probably is fun.
[1377] It's great fun, very enjoyable, but for a young women who's perhaps come up from a convent or an all girls' school and who feels very uncomfortable with this person because he's thirty years older and has power over here, it's not perceived in the same way.
l (PS5VS) [1378] I don't think, though, that we should give the impression
j (PS5VN) [1379] Joanna Innes.
l (PS5VS) [1380] I don't think though we should give the impression that most of the behaviour we're calling sexual harassment takes the form of behaviour that
b (PS5VT) [1381] Is of that type.
[1382] No, quite, quite.
l (PS5VS) [1383] some people might judge acceptable.
[1384] Sometimes what we're talking about is people ... a drunken undergraduate hanging around in college bars
b (PS5VT) [1385] Groping.
l (PS5VS) [1386] or yelling at women who come into the bar in a way that even the same people sober might well agree isn't a very acceptable form of behaviour.
j (PS5VN) [1387] I think the other thing about the response that one gets in the college ... I think there are really two problems here.
[1388] One is do you trust the reply that you get from someone.
[1389] When they say to you ‘oh well, you know, surely you don't mind a little bit of flirtation and so on’ I think very often that's an entirely mendacious reply, that they know perfectly well what you're talking about when you talk about sexual harassment, and in the context of discussions in the SCR or over dinner, they simply don't want to have to deal with it and so they will dismiss it by way of saying ‘well, you know, I'm only being chivalrous, or this is the way I was brought up’.
[1390] But more seriously, I think, underneath that, there is a question of definition and of perspective.
[1391] Now it's one thing to say well, you know, perhaps these are women who take more exception than other women would do, but there comes a point where you have to accept, I think, that there's going to be a shift of perspective, that what women have customarily put up with is no longer what they wish to put up and that I think we ought to be, as it were, acknowledged to have the right or the scope to say we want things to change, and to define or to set out in a process of defining what should be sexual ... appropriate sexual behaviour in future.
[1392] And so there is a problem of definition.
b (PS5VT) [1393] Yes, I'd like to make one point here, we're talking as if erm the only people who can be sexually harassed are women, and of course that's false.
[1394] I mean I've actually ... I tried to persuade a colleague of mine that I could quite easily sexually harass a male student of mine, and the reason I could do that, or the way I could do that, is because I have power over him.
[1395] Harassment is a power game as much as anything else.
j (PS5VN) [1396] How would you harass a male pupil?
b (PS5VT) [1397] Well, if I erm said to one of my students something about that was a very good essay you wrote, in fact I'd like to discuss it a little bit more down at the pub and down at the pub I put my hand on his knee perhaps in making a point about how good his essay was.
[1398] Now would he really feel confident to say ‘I'm sorry, I don't like what you're doing.
[1399] I'm glad you like my essay, but I don't like what you're doing’, or would he think ‘oh dear I've got to put with this or she's going to write a bad report on me’.
[1400] I mean people put up with sexual harassment because of the power imbalance.
[1401] That's why it's so tempting to think that it's always women erm because power is in the hands of men on the whole, especially in this university.
j (PS5VN) [1402] mhm Joanna Innes.
l (PS5VS) [1403] I should be pointed out of the student questionnaire to the ... that the questionnaire was directed only to women, so the figures that have been extracted from that relate to women and in that way give a partial picture of the whole.
j (PS5VN) [1404] Well why was that directed only to women?
[1405] I think that's quite an oversight.
j (PS5VN) [1406] Well I think we can identify a good reason for this.
[1407] I mean I'd ... whilst I'd again accept the validity of Marianne's point that sexual harassment can cut both ways, as it were, I think though there is a sense among women that there is something qualitatively different.
[1408] Firstly that they're more likely to get it, but secondly that that greater likelihood is because women perceive themselves as being constantly dealt with at the ... on the basis that they are sexual objects.
[1409] Now that is a large part of our culture, which in a sense gets sucked into the educational establishment and sucked into teaching relationships, and because it's such a consistent part of the way in which women are seen, I think they perceive it as a greater problem.
[1410] In some senses you know ... when it happens to a male student, he is not ... he doesn't have confirmed for him the sense that he is only a sexual object and that this is yet more of the way in which he is always perceived.
[1411] I think for the male student who is subject to sexual harassment, or who gets the sort of inappropriate approaches that Marianne is talking about, that is unusual, it's out of step with the way in which he perceives himself, and his sense of what he is and who he is in the world.
[1412] So I think there is something qualitatively different when the subject, or perhaps more appropriately the object of sexual harassment are women.
[1413] It's doubly destructive to them.
b (PS5VT) [1414] I think again it's a power thing, though, isn't it?
[1415] Women on the whole ... our culture does leave women feeling a certain sense of powerlessness.
j (PS5VN) [1416] Yes.
b (PS5VT) [1417] And sexual harassment towards a woman does, I think, confirm that in a way, as Suzy says, it doesn't for a man.
j (PS5VN) [1418] Well if you are to have an atmosphere that's free of sexual harassment, then you're talking about an attitudinal change that will reach into many other areas as well, aren't you?
b (PS5VT) [1419] I don't know what sort of areas you had in mind [laugh] .
j (PS5VN) [1420] Well, you're basically talking about power relationships and that goes into almost every aspect of one's life and one's relationship, and I suppose you're asking men to look at themselves differently too.
b (PS5VT) [1421] Oh I think that's absolutely undoubted.
[1422] I mean if it were the case that we got on the way to establishing an appropriate atmosphere in the colleges, one where women felt comfortable and where they felt they could get the most from their educational experience, I think that would have profound impact on people's later lives.
[1423] I think it would affect their marriages, their inter-personal relationships, their co-habitations, the way that they deal with people at work, their sense of who they are in the world and how far they can go in the world, and I think that's what makes the problem so serious because it has very, very long-reaching effects.
[1424] A decent solution will have long-reaching effects, but the problem itself has long-reaching effects too.
j (PS5VN) [1425] But I'm wondering what indications you have that men are prepared to look at themselves in this light.
[1426] Joanna Innes, the senior proctor, you're co-proctor
l (PS5VS) [1427] None of us wanted to answer that [laugh] because none of us think there are any
j (PS5VN) [1428] You're co-proctor is a man.
l (PS5VS) [1429] Yes, he's a very enlightened man, I must say.
[1430] I would have trusted him to be here at this discussion and say much the same things other people here would be saying.
[1431] I mean I think I'd like to comment on the way some of the discussion was going earlier, because although it's true that it's largely men who are seen as creating the problem, there are certainly large numbers of men in positions of authority in the university who are very concerned about it, and who have been led to re-examine their own behaviour, and who now comment on how uncomfortable and constrained they themselves feel.
[1432] That's not something they're complaining about but their level of awareness has shifted in a way which does influence their dealing
j (PS5VN) [1433] I want to understand how constrained they feel.
[1434] Could you elaborate?
l (PS5VS) [1435] Well, they say that remarks that they would feel were friendly remarks directed towards students they stop themselves from saying and examine and think if I say that will I make her feel uncomfortable?
j (PS5VN) [1436] Well like for instance?
l (PS5VS) [1437] Well that they ... any comment on the appearance of a woman they now think erm it's rather difficult to say.
j (PS5VN) [1438] That's a nice dress [laugh] .
l (PS5VS) [1439] Or erm yes, you're looking very well today.
[1440] Even the mildest things can come to seem potentially to have a charge.
j (PS5VN) [1441] Well, but what's the standard by which they should judge their comments.
[1442] Is it that would they make the same kind of comment to one of their male students, like ‘that's a nice jumper you've got on’, something like that?
l (PS5VS) [1443] Well people who've commented on this say that they're now aware that they feel unable to say to women students things they would say to male students.
b (PS5VT) [1444] The trouble is it's all become too conscious, hasn't it?
j (PS5VN) [1445] mhm Sure.
b (PS5VT) [1446] I mean the thing is you want to say ‘oh, you're looking well today’ the minute you think somebody's looking well, but if you've got to
j (PS5VN) [1447] Marianne, you're looking terrific.
b (PS5VT) [1448] Thanks, Bill [laugh] .
[1449] You don't look too bad yourself [laugh] .
j (PS5VN) [1450] But, yes, I think that there is a problem with the way men are becoming much too aware of this issue and maybe that's just ... [people talking] [laugh]
b (PS5VT) [1451] I think we have to accept there's going to be a period of transition.
j (PS5VN) [1452] Well some men ... well you see some men are too aware.
[1453] Would you agree?
l (PS5VS) [1454] Very, very few, and I think those
j (PS5VN) [1455] No, their all in agreement. [laugh]
b (PS5VT) [1456] I think there are perhaps one or two who are very, very aware and are making their own life uncomfortable about it, but I think they're so much in the minority that it's the other lot that we should be worrying about.
j (PS5VN) [1457] I think the old point is anyway you can't make an omelette without breaking eggs.
[1458] I think it's bound to be the case
j (PS5VN) [1459] Well, Okay, what
j (PS5VN) [1460] that as you move into a new form of behaviour
j (PS5VN) [1461] Well how are you going to break these eggs?
j (PS5VN) [1462] Well, I think the first starting point is asking men to be self-aware and if one of the untoward consequences of that self-awareness is self-consciousness, then we'll just have to live with that.
[1463] In twenty years time maybe they won't feel so self-conscious, but I don't think we should lost sight of the point that what they're getting a tiny, tiny sense of is what women, a large number of women, feel all the time.
[1464] Now I'm not saying that two wrongs make a right, and the fact that women have had to put up with this means than men just have to put up with it in their turn.
[1465] I think that one's saying that in order to resolve one problem, their may be unforeseen and, one hopes temporary, minor problems which emerge in consequence of attempting to resolve the first problem.
[1466] But to say ‘well we may run into erm problems which we can't at the moment foresee, or problems which may make life temporarily a little difficult’ I don't think should prevent us from tackling the problem.
j (PS5VN) [1467] Marianne Talbot.
b (PS5VT) [1468] I think Suzy's right, but I think though it's not just the attitude of men we should be looking at, it's also the attitude of women.
[1469] I mean I
j (PS5VN) [1470] Ah, good point.
[1471] That's wanted to bring up, sure.
b (PS5VT) [1472] I mean I would like to see
j (PS5VN) [1473] You're painting this as though it's a male problem exclusively.
b (PS5VT) [1474] Yes.
[1475] No, oh, well no, we're painting it as a female problem exclusively [laugh] , but one that's been
j (PS5VN) [1476] That's been foisted on women by men.
b (PS5VT) [1477] Initiated by men.
j (PS5VN) [1478] Sure, I don't think that's necessarily accurate.
b (PS5VT) [1479] Right, no, I think there's definitely some work that needs to be done on the attitude of women.
[1480] I mean I mentioned earlier the fact that it might be that people perceive sexual harassment, where in fact the behaviour has been perfectly appropriate and it's just that the person perceiving it is unused to it, but I think that's the minority of cases, incidentally.
[1481] erm But I do think that women need to have much more of a sense of their own power, or at least of the fact that they're not as powerless as they think of themselves as being, and so they can say when the tutor puts his hand on their knee or something like that ‘I'm sorry, would you take your hand away, that's not part of our relationship’ or something that just ... so they don't have to feel so bad about it.
j (PS5VN) [1482] Suzanne Gibson, now when Marianne just said that women need to be aware of their own power, there was quite an interesting smile that came over your face there.
j (PS5VN) [1483] [laugh] I'm sorry, I think I've forgotten what I was thinking at the time, erm
j (PS5VN) [1484] I was just wondering what sort of future you wanted to see for women in terms of their awareness of their own power?
j (PS5VN) [1485] Well I think I feel a bit ambivalent on this point because ... and it's quite possible I was smiling because I'm thinking of parts of the report where a huge number of women say that they just deal with this on their own terms, and of course they do.
[1486] They get on with it and they get on with life in the colleges and life may not be wonderful but they deal with it, and in some senses they are exercising what power they have, but what they get fed up with is constantly having to exercise it.
[1487] I mean I think there are two problems here.
[1488] There is a question of powerlessness, on the other hand there is the question that, you know, even if you've got power do you constantly want to be having to police your own bodily boundaries, as it were, and I don't think it is right to ask women to be doing that.
[1489] We have to tackle it in two directions, and I think that education is going to be incredibly important in terms of trying to create a more appropriate atmosphere in the colleges, you know, because at the end of the day that's where people spend an enormous amount of their time.
j (PS5VN) [1490] mhm Joanna Innes, the senior proctor.
l (PS5VS) [1491] Yes, I wanted to emphasise the way some men feel constrain before, not because I want to suggest it's now becoming a problem for men and we should be worrying about them, but because you asked what prospects there were for doing something about it and I think if something's to be done about it, and it's a problem of everyone devising new standards of behaviour, it's very important that quite large numbers of men should be prepared to play a part in trying to work out what these standards should be, and there is quite substantial interest in trying to do that, both at the level of the teaching staff at the university and at the level of the undergraduates.
[1492] I mean this ... at the undergraduate level this is not just an issue which the women students are concerned about.
j (PS5VN) [1493] mhm mhm
l (PS5VS) [1494] I think it's very undesirable that it should be seen as an issue of women versus men, because the chances of getting anywhere are reduced if it's set up in that way.
j (PS5VN) [1495] I think, though, what's very important in that as well is that I know that there are young men in the colleges who are really ashamed of the sort of picture that's increasingly being presented.
[1496] Whether that shame is yet moving them to have an impact on the men who they see perpetrating this sort of behaviour in colleges I don't know, but certainly some of the undergraduates I have spoken to feel very embarrassed that this is the portrait of male behaviour that's being perpetrated.
j (PS5VN) [1497] Part of that picture that's coming out about the behaviour of males in colleges has to do with alcohol.
[1498] How serious is the alcohol factor?
j (PS5VN) [1499] Well I think personally I think it's a very serious problem, but it's something that we were talking earlier on and asking ourselves in what way, you know, the college or university authorities can set about policing undergraduate behaviour.
[1500] I mean if one can use a slightly awkward word like ‘policing’, and I think there is a sense that none of us want to be acting as substitute parents and, you know, policing student behaviour in a way that suggests that they're not yet fully mature.
[1501] The other side of that is that I think a lot of dons are increasingly concerned at the level of alcohol consumption and the sort of behaviour that can emerge as a result of it, ... you know I do sense that many of us think it's a real problem.
[1502] Whether we're any way towards finding a solution towards it that's appropriate
l (PS5VS) [1503] Yes.
j (PS5VN) [1504] Yes.
[1505] Joanna Innes.
l (PS5VS) [1506] And in fact the university's health and safety committee has recently taken this up and is trying to run both some sort of investigation and, I think, and educational programme.
[1507] There's been discussion about whether the problem of alcohol, and most people agree there is a problem, should be tackled primarily educationally or through disciplinary means.
j (PS5VN) [1508] mhm mhm mhm
l (PS5VS) [1509] And I think that the argument has been that on the whole discipline ... the use of discipline simply to punish drinking isn't going to be appropriate, although there may be forms of behaviour produced by excessive drinking that it's appropriate to act against.
b (PS5VT) [1510] Well one of the things
j (PS5VN) [1511] Marianne Talbot.
b (PS5VT) [1512] with alcohol ... I mean alcohol is so much a part of the establishment of Oxford.
[1513] I mean I was shocked the first time [laugh] when I went to
j (PS5VN) [1514] It may be hypocritical of us to police the students [laugh] .
b (PS5VT) [1515] Quite.
[1516] The first freshers' dinner I went to in Oxford — this is where the ... the people who've just come up erm are introduced to college life and so on— erm the amount that's allocated to each student is two sherries before dinner, three or four glasses of wine, different wines, with dinner and then something or other — port — after dinner.
[1517] I mean you're looking there at eight or nine units of alcohol in one evening, and that's the establishment.
[1518] We give them that.
[1519] It's hardly surprising that they then think it's a perfectly normal thing to consume eight or nine, ten units of alcohol a night in the pub at the bar.
j (PS5VN) [1520] I think it's true to say that we give it to them and we also drink it ourselves.
b (PS5VT) [1521] Well, yes.
j (PS5VN) [1522] I mean I think that does ... you know in honesty one has to recognize that alcohol is a very [laugh] major part of Oxford life in some ways, you know for many of us.
[1523] I think the difficulty is, though ... I mean I remember getting blind drunk as a student, and I loved it.
[1524] I mean when you're dealing with alcohol it's not something that we can all agree has no benefits either.
b (PS5VT) [1525] But when you loved it, didn't you ... I mean I know I did when I was a young person first drinking erm I definitely had the feeling that if I was drinking to excess I wasn't doing the right thing, whereas the impression we give in Oxford that drinking to the excess is perfectly acceptable behaviour.
j (PS5VN) [1526] mhm mhm
j (PS5VN) [1527] Suzanne Gibson, you mentioned earlier that you didn't like to use the word ‘policing’.
j (PS5VN) [1528] mhm
j (PS5VN) [1529] Well that article you referred to at the very beginning of the programme in the Observer, the final part of that article went something like this erm ‘this article is not intended to accuse individuals or colleges.
[1530] Most colleges it seems contained people made unhappy by sexual harassment, who find little or no support from the people charged to provide that support.
[1531] It also seems that the University of Oxford should break the tradition of centuries and take responsibility for what its members do to one another’, and I think that's called ‘policing’.
j (PS5VN) [1532] Well, no, I don't agree with you.
[1533] I mean I think that what that article is directing, you know, it's main thrust towards is the importance of providing support and the importance, I think, of providing an avenue whereby people can deal with those sorts of problems.
[1534] Now I think it also is important that we recognize that as a university and as colleges we have a responsibility for the sort of environment, the education environment, that we provide our students, but I think we also have to remember that these students are eighteen years old when they come up, they are twenty one when they graduate, and many of the students are older than that, they are graduate students and they are young adults.
[1535] They are people who are old enough to vote.
[1536] They are people who are old enough to go to war, and I think that there is a difficulty, you know, a major amoral difficulty or ethical difficulty in attempting to continue to treat young people as if they were still living at home and were not young adults but were really children.
[1537] I think it's a very, very difficult line to tread and I think it's one that the university is clearing thinking about.
[1538] I'm not saying that we should ignore
j (PS5VN) [1539] What advice would you give the university?
[1540] I mean where do you think that line should be drawn?
j (PS5VN) [1541] Well for my own part I think that one can educate students as far as possible in terms of what appropriate behaviour is, and I think that you can police students with disciplinary measures when it's absolutely clear that when they know what the inappropriate behaviour is they nevertheless make a choice that they're going to move beyond those boundaries of appropriateness.
[1542] But I think that to allow those two sort of issues to get too inseparable, as it were, to ... so that we simply regard ourselves as being in a position to issue directives about behaviour, which don't acknowledge that these are young people who have to learn to be autonomous, then we get ourselves onto a hiding for nothing.
[1543] I mean personally I think one of the difficulties in the colleges is that they do still have a sense of being at schools, and when you have an atmosphere which is like school you're tacitly given people permission to act as if they were at school, and so we have a ... and that activity may not always be very adult, so we have to find a way of changing the environment of the colleges.
b (PS5VT) [1544] I go back to thinking that the best way of changing the environment of the colleges would be to try and erm ... I mean talking again as if it's boys perpetrating it all the time erm boys will stop doing it if women respond differently.
[1545] I mean at the moment there's an awful lot of pressure on women, I mean social pressure, to respond to flirtations and sexual overtures in a way that doesn't hurt the feelings of the young men, and women of that age
j (PS5VN) [1546] But is that pressure that women are putting on themselves?
b (PS5VT) [1547] are not ... I think it's pressure that society's putting on the women, I think it's pressure that women are putting on themselves, and also that other women put on women and that men put on women.
[1548] So, for example if somebody does reject a young man in a way that erm isn't appropriate in his eyes, he might then go around and start calling her all sorts of names and generally making other men think of her in bad way, and of course no eighteen year old woman wants young men to think badly of her, and so she puts pressure on herself not to reject advances too openly or too obviously or something like that, and the whole cycle starts again, and so ... and I think this is the sort of thing the college just cannot have anything to do with, because that really is going too far, that's interfering with the ... the one thing we could do, perhaps, is talk to the young women and make it clear that they do have the right to reject advances and that what they've got to be concerned about whilst they're at university is they're academic career and making sure that that isn't affected by harassment.
j (PS5VN) [1549] But earlier you were saying that women who come to Oxford are tough cookies.
b (PS5VT) [1550] No, I wasn't saying that, Suzy was [laugh] .
[1551] Some of the women who come here are tough cookies.
j (PS5VN) [1552] mhm
b (PS5VT) [1553] erm But I think that actually there are very few eighteen, nineteen, twenty year old women who are that tough.
j (PS5VN) [1554] mhm
b (PS5VT) [1555] I mean we all care about how other people think of us.
[1556] I mean even at our age we do.
j (PS5VN) [1557] Joanna Innes.
l (PS5VS) [1558] Yes, I wanted to make a point on the disciplinary side, which is as senior proctor the side of things I find myself thinking most about, and this is going back to the question of policing and whether it's appropriate to talk in those terms.
[1559] I'm quite keen to make a distinction between what you might call victimless crimes and crimes with victims, and that it is, it seems to me, we want to move away from an older pattern in which the university had its ideas of how people should behave and tried to make them conform to those ideas, towards a much more complaint activated system of response, so that it's the kind of behaviour find objectionable that the authorities may get drawn into looking at.
[1560] Now the problem with that model of proceeding is that you then end up with ... you can end up with the exploitation of complain procedures for a wide variety of [...] , not all of which you want to countenance, and some of the universities' and colleges' experience of trying to run complaint procedures in connection with sexual harassment has been deciding when to try to cool someone down and when a complaint is someone that should be run along with.
b (PS5VT) [1561] mhm Right.
l (PS5VS) [1562] But I think that's the right beginning to allow these procedures to be complaint activated.
b (PS5VT) [1563] mhm
j (PS5VN) [1564] There's actually a very different ... difficult problem with sexual harassment, which is that erm there are occasions when it looks as if it's going to be difficult for a college not to go ahead, even when the victim has withdrawn her or his complaint.
[1565] For example, I mean, if a tutor, say, has been sexually harassing a young woman, and she puts in a complain of any kind or something like that, and then he puts pressure on her to withdraw that complaint and she does, I mean does the college at that stage stay well okay if she's not going to complain then we won't do anything, thereby letting the harassment go ahead, or does the college say even though she doesn't want to complain we're nevertheless going to go ahead.
j (PS5VN) [1566] Joanna Innes.
l (PS5VS) [1567] Yes.
[1568] I'd distinguish between cases which clearly involve relationships of authority, institutional relationships of authority, from those which involve people whose relationships are social or informal.
[1569] I think in the case of members of staff, the university might well want to say certain sorts of behaviour are inappropriate and we don't countenance them even if the person involved in the end thinks she's prepared to put up with it, or he's prepared to put up with it.
j (PS5VN) [1570] mhm
l (PS5VS) [1571] It's in the case of how we police students that the question about where we draw the line and how far we become engaged are most problematic, I think, and it's in that case really that I'm proposing this distinction.
j (PS5VN) [1572] mhm I think the interesting
j (PS5VN) [1573] Suzanne Gibson.
j (PS5VN) [1574] distinction between attempting to respond on the basis of behaviour, or a response based on whether or not there's a victim, can carry you a certain way, but I was just thinking of some of the discussions we've had in college recently about the sort of behaviour with which we feel uncomfortable, and I have to say that sometimes it would be difficult to identify a given victim or, you know, a group of given victims.
[1575] It's behaviour which is, you know, particularly with alcohol related behaviour which is basically a nuisance
j (PS5VN) [1576] Well for instance, what are you talking about here?
j (PS5VN) [1577] to everybody concerned.
[1578] Well, undergraduates getting very, very drunk and, you know, throwing up and leaving pools of vomit around for staff to clear up the next day erm, you know, one might say well are the college staff the victim of that.
[1579] I don't know, it's difficult to see that one can make erm, you know, a clear connection if one says well, you know, if the undergraduate isn't sick should we sort of put up with them being particularly rowdy or generally rather offensive, and I think that there could perceivably be problems with attempting to identify, you know, a disciplinary effect ... offence rather, as lying within the victims.
j (PS5VN) [1580] But Suzanne, you say that we were talking about this in our college.
[1581] Well, you're at New College, now who's the ‘we’, was that a group of women, or were there men who were
j (PS5VN) [1582] Well I don't think it's just New College which erm you know considers there are problems with student drunkenness, I mean these are conversations
b (PS5VT) [1583] No.
j (PS5VN) [1584] which one would have, I think probably with any don in Oxford at the moment.
[1585] I haven't spoken to anybody who wouldn't say that there is a problem with drunkenness and I mean this is very, very common behaviour and it's alcohol related behaviour.
j (PS5VN) [1586] But you can do things.
[1587] You have bars in college, now what's the control on bars and the closing hours on bars?
[1588] I mean are you restricted to the same closing hours that other bars are outside college premises?
j (PS5VN) [1589] Except under special licence, yes.
b (PS5VT) [1590] mhm
j (PS5VN) [1591] Yes.
l (PS5VS) [1592] I think there are again arguments about what's the most effective way to act here because it's been proposed ... some people have thrown into discussion the idea that college bars might have more restrictive policies, but then it's said actually the most problematic forms of drunkenness are those which involve heavy drinking in private.
b (PS5VT) [1593] mhm
l (PS5VS) [1594] And it's ... in fact drinking in a social context in a bar is in itself a form of ... itself imposes
j (PS5VN) [1595] Control.
l (PS5VS) [1596] some constraints, that's right.
b (PS5VT) [1597] I think in essence ... I mean many of our students are doing nothing different to what students at other universities do when they go and have a private party in their lodgings.
[1598] But I think one of the big differences with Oxford is that a very, very high proportion of students are living in college and so they're behaviour is visible to college.
[1599] Now, you know, behaviour that's visible to college is behaviour which the college starts to think about wanting to regulate in some way.
j (PS5VN) [1600] Well clearly
b (PS5VT) [1601] And I think that's where the problems emerge, that they're not doing anything, I think, quite often different to the sort of behaviour one might find elsewhere, but there's a question of how, as an institution, you regulate the behaviour that's acceptable within your own walls.
j (PS5VN) [1602] Well, we've clearly seen that this is out in the open now and people are going to have to deal with it.
[1603] How do you think in the next year or two Oxford university will develop it's ways of dealing with this?
[1604] Let's start with the senior proctor, Joanna Innes.
[1605] How much longer do you have in office?
l (PS5VS) [1606] erm I only have another month in office.
j (PS5VN) [1607] [laugh] Oh, do you?
[1608] Well, lucky you.
[1609] Yes.
l (PS5VS) [1610] I'm at the moment chairing a university working party on sexual harassment erm and what this working party erm intends to do is to try to survey experience gathered from the operation of codes and the appointment of people in college with a special responsibility for this sort of thing over the past few years, to see what we can learn from experience, so I'd want to reserve judgement at the moment on what this committee might recommend is the best way forwards.
[1611] We need to gather more information about how things have turned out other than people expected when they created these procedures and codes in the first place.
j (PS5VN) [1612] mhm Marianne Talbot.
b (PS5VT) [1613] I really feel rather pessimistic I'm afraid.
[1614] I don't think that things are going to change very much.
[1615] I think that it's a very long term thing and until the attitudes of both men and women and boys and girls at schools who come up here change, and that's going to be a long time
j (PS5VN) [1616] mhm Suzanne Gibson.
j (PS5VN) [1617] Well I think much as I welcome the university proceeding down the road that it is, erm I have a very, very strong feeling that change is going to come from the bottom up, and I think that it'll come from the bottom up in those colleges, like New College, who have got an increasingly large number of women fellows who feel that, you know, there's safety in numbers and we can start to do something about it.
j (PS5VN) [1618] Oh, you consider the women fellows of New College to be the bottom? [laugh]
j (PS5VN) [1619] I think perhaps I'd put that another way, but I do think there's a definite sense in which change is going to come up through the colleges.
j (PS5VN) [1620] Well, many thanks to my three guests discussing sexual harassment in Oxford.
[1621] To Suzanne Gibson, law tutor at New College, to Marianne Talbot a philosophy don at Pembroke and to Joanna Innes the senior proctor.
[1622] That's it from me, Bill Heine.
[1623] Thanks for joining us.
[1624] Goodbye. [recorded jingle]


[recorded jingle]
j (PS5VN) [1625] Hello and welcome to the programme.
[1626] ... worked with people in the Hungerford massacres, and Elizabeth Howell is on the line from London from a London group called Exploring Parenthood, which organizes workshops to help parents in schools cope with children's feelings about the war.
[1627] Elizabeth Howell, welcome to the programme.
g (PS5VU) [1630] Hello, yes.
j (PS5VN) [1631] In the past when wars broke out I don't think there was such a articulated need to deal with children's insecurities and vulnerabilities and problems about the war.
[1632] Why is that need to prevalent now?
g (PS5VU) [1633] Well, we seem to be a society that is very much orientated to crisis management rather than prevention, and perhaps we're very good at recognizing our human needs and our children's needs in terms of their nourishment, their physical and intellectual development, but perhaps not quite so well acquainted with their emotional needs to feel safe and secure with the adults around them being in control and able to handle their lives and the world's situation in a mature and secure way.
j (PS5VN) [1634] Well, but what happened during the Second World War when all these children were undergoing much more traumatic experiences then?
[1635] Were ... were ... would you suggest that they have a lot of unresolved feelings about that, or maybe they had emotional scars because no-one was there to give them the kind of hope that might be available now?
g (PS5VU) [1636] Well there's no question but which ... therapists and people of medical profession have come across cases of people who have indeed been scarred for their whole lives and ... and found it very difficult to ... to maintain trust and relationships and ... and be able to achieve their potential as a result of the sorts of situations that they endured, and perhaps we're more understanding about those sorts of areas of the human need to ... to be able to express anxiety and to feel that to ... to express fears is ... is not something that's going to overwhelm people that are around us, so that adults who are in the care of children, be they teachers, or parents, or child care workers, can allow children to express their feelings so that they don't need to hold on to them and thereby increase the fears that they have.
j (PS5VN) [1637] But some ... well let's go right now to Elizabeth Capewell here in the studio, she's the Director of the Centre for Educational Responses to Disaster.
[1638] How do you ... do you agree with what Elizabeth Howell has just said?
jp (PS5VV) [1639] Yes, I do agree, Bill, and I think another reason why we're more aware of it now is because we've had unfortunately so many disasters in the last oh five/six years and we're increasingly coming to realize that children do also suffer quite severely from post-trauma stress.
[1640] We are only just beginning to realize from research just how much this is so.
j (PS5VN) [1641] Well can you tell us about some of the effects that these traumas have on children.
[1642] How do they suffer?
jp (PS5VV) [1643] I think the research that has been done on the children affected by the Zebrugge ferry disaster and the Jupiter cruise ship sinkings has shown, for instance, that children in secondary schools are actually being affected in their exam performance.
[1644] That's something that people can understand erm they also have had difficulties sleeping erm having flash backs, this kind of thing.
[1645] erm But unfortunately so often adults don't realize how they're affected.
[1646] They're afraid of their fears and they feel that by talking about it the children will actually have more problems, so children, being very aware of the adults' fears, will not talk.
[1647] They're very protective.
j (PS5VN) [1648] Sometimes the grown-ups say ‘well, look, this is just not the type of thing I want my child even to know about.
[1649] I don't want a discussion about this because it's going to engender more problems than it will solve.’
[1650] How do you respond to that one?
[1651] Elizabeth Howell.
g (PS5VU) [1652] Well it's impossible at the moment, with the media coverage and the erm information about war and the situation in the Gulf, not to touch children, however careful the adults around them may be, and it's very important for us as adults to not be so caught up, in our excitement perhaps even, about what's going on and all the razzmatazz that may be attached to the sort of glory of whose ever side they may be on that we forget the extent to which children are very much affected by how they see the adults around them respond to what's going on.
j (PS5VN) [1653] Well, what can be done, then for children.
g (PS5VU) [1654] Well, children can be allowed to express their anxieties verbally and to learn perhaps from the adults' modelling around them that to talk about these things in moderation is perfectly acceptable erm but not to do it to the extent or to allow children to perhaps watch the news coverage to the extent that they become over excited and are not able to contain their own feelings of anxiety about loss and damage and death and separation from parents and significant adults.
[1655] But they are unable to process this and obviously that will be different for children at different stages of their development erm younger children being particularly susceptible to the sort of atmosphere around them, and if they are picking up from the adults around them, be that through the media or within the context of their everyday lives, that there is something dangerous and disturbing going on, then they are obviously going to reflect that unease in their behaviour.
j (PS5VN) [1656] Yes, I'm ... I'm ... Elizabeth Capewell.
jp (PS5VV) [1657] Yes, I think as adults one thing we have to do is actually trust the wisdom of our children to let us know, to give us the cues to when they need to talk or express their fears in some way erm I mean that's our duty not to stop them talking, not to stop them asking questions, but to be aware of when they may have fears.
[1658] Sometimes they don't know how to even ... they may not have the language for communicating feelings.
[1659] We can help them with that, but, you know, I think if we do repress their need to talk, or their need to ask quite factual questions, sometimes, then in the end the damage will be much greater.
[1660] You can see erm one example of this, a striking example, a survivor of Aberfan, she didn't get much help afterwards.
[1661] She wasn't directly involved.
[1662] She saw what was going on from a school bus.
[1663] She had her nervous breakdown two years ago.
[1664] She'd survived 'til then, then things happened.
[1665] She had her nervous breakdown and relived the whole experience, so to her Aberfan lasted ... actually happened two years ago.
[1666] So this is what happens if you do hold things down to that extent.
[1667] Luckily she's been able to come through it.
[1668] She's had help now, but what a pity, you know, then I guess people weren't so aware of what could be done, but what a pity she couldn't have had help at the time.
g (PS5VU) [1669] Yes, I think it's ... just to follow on from that erm about trusting children to ... to give us the sort of clues that we need to be able to respond to, very often they do that in ways that are not directly associated perhaps with the anxiety that's around, so that they may be expressing their anxiety by just generally difficult behaviour or by wetting the bed at night, or maybe being quite disruptive in their play, or provoking other children, and adults who are able to see that sort of behaviour as useful for information for us, so that we can respond appropriately, not out of anger and a erm judgemental sort of response, but in a way that we can support their anxiety by ... by not getting over excited and + and erm responding in a very aggressive way to the very aggression that they're expressing as a result of their anxiety.
j (PS5VN) [1670] Then I would expect that most of your work would be done with the parents of children, rather than children themselves.
g (PS5VU) [1671] Yes, Elizabeth Howell of Exploring Parenthood, certainly that is the case, both with parents and with people like teachers or child care workers, who are in locus parentis for many hours of the day, and our sense is very much that if the adults around children can feel supported and confident that they can acknowledge their own fears and anxieties that they will then be better be able to transmit that measured response to the children in their care and it was very interesting last week, I heard from an educational psychologist in the north of England who said that a group of teachers had asked from several schools to come together to think about the resources that they needed to set in place in order to deal with the children's behaviour, and after the meeting, at which they were able to express their anxieties, they then returned to their various areas and when the psychologist contacted them a couple of days later they said we felt sufficiently supported by knowing that others are struggling with the same issues and that we could acknowledge our concerns about it, that we now feel able to get on with the job of helping the children, and I think that was a very good example of adults finding a way to acknowledge their own anxieties and thereby to increase their effectiveness in dealing with the children that ... in whose care they have.
j (PS5VN) [1672] Yes, but those are a particular kind of grown ups and what about the stiff upper lippers?
g (PS5VU) [1673] Well, even ... even people who perhaps are not so experienced in doing it in their personal lives can be influenced I think, especially when they are relating to children, to perhaps become more sensitive to that and the children in their care.
j (PS5VN) [1674] Yes, Elizabeth Capewell.
jp (PS5VV) [1675] Yes, I think talking about the stiff upper lippers ... I think we have to work with people where they are an if that's where they are at the moment, that's fine.
[1676] The danger is when they're the ones that ... if they're the ones that stop other people sorting out their own feelings and emotions erm and I think in the work that I've done in schools and in other situations following disasters one of the biggest problems has been that those expressing denial or saying that we should be able to cope with this, children are resilient, they don't have these problems, erm they've often stopped people getting the help that they need; often stopped other teachers getting the help that they need.
j (PS5VN) [1677] Well how to they stop people getting help?
jp (PS5VV) [1678] By expressing erm the idea that you should be able to cope, therefore if you can't cope there's something wrong with you.
g (PS5VU) [1679] mhm
j (PS5VN) [1680] Yes, and pouring scorn on the weak people
jp (PS5VV) [1681] Yes.
j (PS5VN) [1682] who say they need help.
jp (PS5VV) [1683] That's right, and I think it's fine
j (PS5VN) [1684] But isn't that a general ethos of the way people live in this country quite often?
jp (PS5VV) [1685] Yes, I think it is.
[1686] I think it's changing.
[1687] I think, you know, in the last few years I've really ... I think it is changing.
[1688] People are talking about emotions more.
[1689] Just looking at the kind of programmes you're getting on television now, erm Sunday evening there's programme about emotions, ‘Okay Two’ isn't it called?
[1690] So it ... I think it is changing.
[1691] I think we still have a very long way to go erm but
j (PS5VN) [1692] I ... I find that well we're dealing here with so many complex things.
[1693] We're dealing with fear, we're dealing with a sense of vulnerability and impotence and how do you teach grown ups to deal with those issues, because a lot of them erm the ... for a lot of them these kinds of questions go to the very centre of who they are, their self image.
jp (PS5VV) [1694] Yes.
j (PS5VN) [1695] Because they consider themselves to be strong, in power, in positions of power and coping well, and then all of a sudden to have something like this war going and carpet bombing going on and the use of chemical weapons and germ warfare.
jp (PS5VV) [1696] mhm
j (PS5VN) [1697] erm I mean it really must make them feel like the world's gone haywire.
jp (PS5VV) [1698] That's right, and I think what has been shown ... if you look at the behaviour of organisations sometimes after a disaster erm those that think in that way actually create even more procedures.
[1699] They try and tighten it up even more, almost in a subconscious way to control a disaster, and we know that things like chaos and disaster they can't be controlled, they can't be wrapped up in that way.
[1700] However, there are things that you can do to help yourself, to help others around you, to actually get some sense of mastery over these, you know, what can be very overwhelming fears.
[1701] We can't get rid of the horror and the fears, but we can do something to increase our competence in dealing with it and facing it, which I think is a healthier way than freezing, flying away from it, or fighting it.
j (PS5VN) [1702] What techniques would you suggest?
jp (PS5VV) [1703] Well I think ... some interesting work has been done in Israel erm, a woman called Dr. Ophraelin erm and she runs a stress prevention centre where she's working right out in the community, which is something, you know, I particularly am interested in, erm empowering people, empowering parents, helping them to recognize their skills, erm just giving them a sense of their own self worth.
[1704] The methods that she uses erm, and I think this needs to be done well before a disaster, unfortunately so often people only react at times like this and I think it's such a pity that they don't do it beforehand, but it's working on basic assertiveness skills, communications skills like giving a language for feelings, erm building up support for each other, plus the creative work — getting things down
j (PS5VN) [1705] Well let me pick you up on assertiveness skills.
jp (PS5VV) [1706] mhm
j (PS5VN) [1707] Now how would you encourage people to refine their assertiveness skills?
jp (PS5VV) [1708] Well obviously the, you know, the easiest way if you like is if they do come on courses, erm not everybody, of course, will go on courses.
[1709] They may not see the value [laugh] until they've been on them.
[1710] Luckily there are more of these around now erm but to me the community approach is having people that are aware enough, teachers for instance erm others that are erm happy with these sort of ways, just helping people ... anybody they meet, just boosting up their confidence, encouraging them to speak, erm giving, you know, praise to each other for a start, rather than putting each other down.
[1711] I think it can be done in a very gentle way erm to empower people in every day life.
j (PS5VN) [1712] mhm Elizabeth Howell, is that along the lines that you deal with grown ups down there at Exploring Parenthood?
g (PS5VU) [1713] Well, certainly we believe that there can be all sorts of erm techniques that can be very useful, like communications skills and assertiveness, but our understanding is also that it is not only about the skills that people have it's also about the understanding behind those skills.
jp (PS5VV) [1714] mhm Yes.
g (PS5VU) [1715] So that erm if we're talking to parents, for example, about being assertive, we know that very often the feelings behind their inability to be assertive need to be addressed first of all and then the skills that they may want to acquire will fit in with erm a different quality erm of where it's emanating from in them as a person.
j (PS5VN) [1716] Well let's talk about where it's emanating from.
[1717] Now a lot of times when people aren't assertive that's because of what — they have certain attitudinal approaches that are ineffective in certain circumstances, or what?
g (PS5VU) [1718] They're sense of self is such that they don't see that they have a self to assert, perhaps, or that they are not valid enough as a person, which obviously must stem erm from their early childhood experiences, and from the adults that surrounded them when they were growing and developing that sense of who they are.
j (PS5VN) [1719] But what do you mean by ‘their sense of who they are is not valid enough’?
[1720] What do you mean by that?
g (PS5VU) [1721] Well if we're continually in contact with people as growing children who don't allow us to express our feelings, or who behave in a way that would seem to deny that those feelings of hate and rage and love in their extremes exist at all, then obviously one doesn't develop a sense of trust in what one perceives from oneself, and that erm on erm an accumulative basis is going to result in a person who doesn't feel terribly confident about the feelings and their awareness that they have.
[1722] That could be erm manifested in an inability to be assertive in an adult ... in adult life.
jp (PS5VV) [1723] mhm
j (PS5VN) [1724] mhm So, all right, so you ... you first of all find out what baggage people are carrying around with them?
g (PS5VU) [1725] Yes, indeed, and ... and at least erm encourage them to explore that in some way.
[1726] It may be through attending a workshop in some context or other.
[1727] It can be through reading.
[1728] It can be in all sorts of ways.
[1729] It may also be through therapy that they're able to explore that erm.
j (PS5VN) [1730] What kind of therapy?
g (PS5VU) [1731] Well there could be a whole range of different therapies that would be appropriate, depending on on the individual needs of the persons involved, erm but certainly in ... in a therapeutic situation erm one is able to establish a relationship with another caring adult that can readdress those erm perhaps foundations in the personality that were not able to develop appropriately in their early childhood.
j (PS5VN) [1732] So in other words, you're really talking about taking the lid off a can of worms here.
[1733] I mean maybe there's an issue about how to cope with war, but that probably is related to fundamental aspects of what a person's all about in their psychological make up.
g (PS5VU) [1734] Well certainly at times of stress erm all sorts of things are revealed and that's one of the reasons why the current situation and the anxiety and level of stress around has resulted in people feeling a whole range of things that perhaps has actually surprised them erm and therefore it's not surprising that children are equally filled with all sorts of the mixed emotions about what's going on.
j (PS5VN) [1735] mhm
g (PS5VU) [1736] Sorry, did you
j (PS5VN) [1737] No, that's all right.
[1738] Elizabeth Capewell.
jp (PS5VV) [1739] Yes, I think I agree with everything that Elizabeth said, and I think this is why erm ... one of the things I very much feel is that it has to start with the schools, as well as at home, of course, when children are young.
[1740] erm and I would like to think that in spite of all the pressures that you have in schools now with National Curriculum and everything else, there will still be space for children to be able to express emotions.
[1741] At the moment they, of course, may be expressing quite strong emotions.
[1742] It would be nice to think that this is allowed, that children are allowed to play out their fears and their feelings erm but I do believe it's when they're young that we need to start building up this self esteem and, you know, giving them permission if you like to talk quite comfortably about emotions.
j (PS5VN) [1743] Well it seems like that's hoping for pie in the sky, though, because there's first of all not enough money, and I don't think that teachers are that good at ... well talking about their own emotions, and I asked the Oxfordshire County Council Education Department to send someone along to this programme, and they said ‘I'm sorry, there's no-one to send’.
b (PS5VT) [1744] mhm
j (PS5VN) [1745] Now they may have their own reasons for that and it may be difficult for them to send someone at this precise moment, but I don't think that they're necessarily geared up to dealing with the sorts of things that you want them to deal with.
[1746] Elizabeth Howell, how serious is this that erm ... it doesn't seem to be such a high priority on the curriculum?
g (PS5VU) [1747] Well I ... I do think that varies and I think there is some excellent practice in many schools with teachers who are both very good at doing this sort of thing and put great value by it erm perhaps in their individual style, rather than as part of the curriculum erm but certainly there does seem to be a lack of awareness, and certainly where it comes to providing the funding for that, to bring into the school curriculum the sort of understanding about human development and erm aspects of emotional life which affect all of us throughout our life experience and affect our ability to perhaps erm enter into erm adult life with the sort of confidence and erm capacity for developing our potential that we would like all of our coming generation to be able to have.
[1748] erm its ... but ... I think to say that it isn't happening in schools is a bit unfair, because I do think it does happen in many schools erm and ... but there's a great deal of work to be done.
j (PS5VN) [1749] Yes, well erm I'm joined now by Frankie Rickford.
[1750] Welcome to the programme Frankie.
[1751] Ffr Hi.
j (PS5VN) [1752] You wrote and article for the Guardian recently called ‘Not in Front of the Children’, and I'd just like to share with people the last two paragraphs.
[1753] You say all the parents I spoke to said they had tried not communicate their own fears to their children, but some felt unable to reassure them convincingly.
[1754] A mother of three said she had tried to comfort her very frightened eight year old son, and this is a quote, ‘he turned round and said ‘but how can everything be all right, mum, people are going to start letting off bombs at each other , aren't they?’
[1755] What can I say, he's seen the news, he reads the paper, how much reality do you show them and how much do you protect them.
[1756] You want to make their lives secure and warm and loving.
[1757] To be honest, I can't bear to think about what might happen myself.’
[1758] You seem to have quite a large sense of pessimism about how to deal with this problem, Frankie.
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [1759] Well, I mean I suppose erm I feel as a parent myself that it's not possible to make tolerable for children a situation which is in fact humanly intolerable.
[1760] erm I find ... I'm not sure that any of us can erm cope with what's going on at the moment in the Gulf without having just ways of distracting ourselves, erm and I think that perhaps might be more of a problem for adults than it is for children, in the sense that erm most of us have access to more information than most children do erm and more information about what death means, and what suffering means, and what pain means, than erm most children who have been brought up in this country.
j (PS5VN) [1761] But you talk about drawing that line between sharing things with them and protecting them.
[1762] Well where would you protect children?
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [1763] Well I mean one of the women I spoke to that I mentioned in that piece felt strongly that schools were laying too much on children in terms of taking responsibility for how the world is, and she erm mentioned in particular erm the kind of ecological issues that lots of schools and teachers are taking up now and erm children are becoming involved in projects for, you know, recycle this that and the other and there's a book, isn't there, ‘The Children's Green Guide’ or something.
[1764] She felt that it wasn't children's job or children's responsibility to look after the world, it was our job, and that it was not fair to make children feel responsible for doing that erm I mean that seems to me to be a legitimate viewpoint and erm but it's one of many and I mean other people may feel that in order to save the planet, or indeed prevent wars in the future, it is important to expose children to the dangers of, you know, the current situation.
j (PS5VN) [1765] Well, Elizabeth Howell.
g (PS5VU) [1766] mhm Yes.
[1767] There is a difference, I think, between making children feel responsible for righting the wrongs [laugh] of the world that we as adults have created, but at the same time to be able to enable them to think constructively as to what they can do.
[1768] I mean it is true that this is adults' business, as it were, and that children are not in a position that they can take the sort of action that is going — certainly in the Gulf situation — to effect a change.
[1769] I think that might be slightly different in terms of the environment, but nonetheless I think there is a way of encouraging children to think about and to be thoughtful about the sorts of choices that we make in life and the effects of our behaviour, without overwhelming them with the sense that it in fact is their responsibility.
j (PS5VN) [1770] But in a sense it is part of their responsibility.
g (PS5VU) [1771] It will be in the future, indeed.
j (PS5VN) [1772] Well it is now in a way, I would suggest.
[1773] I mean starting from the way children go to school in the morning — they expect their parents to take them quite often, and to contribute to pollution.
[1774] Well maybe it would be good if these children took on board that they can do something right now.
[1775] They aren't powerless.
g (PS5VU) [1776] Well I think that is true, perhaps, as I have said, in terms of the ecological situation, but I think to translate that level of expectation to the situation vis-a-vis the Gulf is another matter altogether.
[1777] I mean it's the difference between taking effective action where one can and being able to decide where one can take ... or where one can encourage children to take effective action.
j (PS5VN) [1778] Well how about this?
[1779] I think the children can do things like for instance this letter, I'll read it to you.
[1780] It says ‘Dear President Bush, How are you?
[1781] We are seven, but we think that the war is not necessary.
[1782] We think that the money for the war should be used for homes for the homeless.
[1783] Please, we're scared.
[1784] You may not listen, but give it a thought.’
[1785] From Gina and Hunter, Manhattan Country School.
g (PS5VU) [1786] Yes, I mean that sort of action, of course they can take, and I think you're referring to the letter that was in the article that Suzy Orbath wrote erm a couple of weeks ago in the Guardian.
[1787] Indeed, and to allow them to take that sort of action that they feel allows them, or enables them to express what they're feelings are [laugh] , but to assume that they can take the sort of action that we as adults have not been able to take, i.e. to find different ways and more mature ways of resolving conflicts is putting expectations on children that we as adults haven't been able to achieve ourselves.
j (PS5VN) [1788] mhm Elizabeth Capewell.
jp (PS5VV) [1789] Yes.
[1790] I mean a thought strikes me erm, you know, maybe this is very much to do with the war.
[1791] erm there is criticism that erm we only went into this war because of oil interests.
[1792] We all, most of us, drive cars, you know, in that sense is there some sense of guilt around that in some way we are contributing to the war.
[1793] That's just a though.
[1794] The other thing that I'd like to go back to.
[1795] This idea that protect children, not tell them about what's happening, I mean if anybody can protect them to that extent when even Neighbours is put at a different time on the television, you know, erm that somehow we make them warm and secure by not telling them, to me that is making them dependent and unable maybe to cope later on in their lives.
[1796] I feel that it's about creating the warmth and security at home, in school, wherever they are, from outside to help build up their sense of warmth and security from within, and to enable them to learn how to deal with some of these issues so that they can cope with the difficulties of life when they grow up.
[1797] We can start now.
[1798] It's now overloading them.
[1799] Obviously we don't want to expose them to more than they can take.
[1800] This is where we need to listen to what they're asking and what they need, and give them enough to satisfy them.
[1801] Sometimes as adults ... if a child for instance asks the question ‘what is death’ it is very easy to go into quite a long diatribe about life and death and get really profound, whereas in fact all a child may be wanting to know is how do you know if somebody's dead, how can you tell the difference between somebody being dead and somebody being asleep?
[1802] Often we put more onto it than they're actually wanting to know.
j (PS5VN) [1803] Yes.
[1804] One of the problems I have with what you've all been saying so far is that you've talked about encouraging a sense of warmth and security, well maybe we ought to confront the fact that the world is not a warm and secure place and deal with those kinds of issues, and say ... and put it squarely before children.
g (PS5VU) [1805] Yes.
j (PS5VN) [1806] And say ‘look, part of growing up means that you're going to have to deal with nastiness’
g (PS5VU) [1807] Yes.
j (PS5VN) [1808] ‘and with very awkward choices’
g (PS5VU) [1809] Yes.
j (PS5VN) [1810] ‘and what do you do’.
[1811] What do you think about that?
[1812] Elizabeth Howell.
g (PS5VU) [1813] I think ... I think this war in particular is an example of how complex situations are and it's an opportunity in a way for us to show to our children that there are different views involved here and different positions will be reflected, perhaps, amongst the children and the community in which they live, that we don't all in this country hold perhaps the same view, and even those that have one particular stance have very mixed feelings about it.
[1814] That war may be bad, but this is a just war, or whatever.
[1815] I think it's a very complex situation and we as adults need to ... to show our children that we can ... we can hold onto some sort of measured response within the complexities of what they and we are coming across.
j (PS5VN) [1816] mhm Frankie Rickford, how do you respond to that?
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [1817] erm well I mean I think there's a problem for adults as well as children in that we ... I don't think it's helpful to cover ourselves in guilt about erm what happens to the suffering that other people experience, arguably erm in order to maintain us in the living standards, you know, we've learned to expect, but at the same time I think that the situation in the world is only tolerable to us psychologically because on some level we convince ourselves that erm those people who are starving and those children who are in a hysterically ... trying to keep themselves out of the way of shrapnel and hiding night after night in freezing cold shelters in Baghdad are not really people and not really children in the same way that we're people and our children are children, and don't feel things in the same way.
[1818] I mean I think there's the same problem with children in a sense, I mean, you ... you talking about confronting them with the realities of the world and I suppose I ... perhaps if we ... if we did expose ourselves to the erm to the true meaning of what's going on in the world, we couldn't handle it psychologically without stopping it, without doing something about it.
[1819] I mean I think ... it's bot of a parallel with the business of kind of giving money to charity to ... to help people who haven't got enough to eat.
[1820] I mean, you know, if you see an advert in the paper that tells you that every fifty pence you spend is going to save a child's life by providing it with Diralite or providing it with food that it needs for a money, or something like that, I mean how can you justify keeping any fifty pences at all yourself?
[1821] I mean there's no doubt that in human terms that child needs that fifty pence more than you do, but we don't because I mean there's a level in which we can't because we have to somehow psychologically protect ourselves, and I believe we do do that by convincing ourselves that somehow people out there are not people in the same way that we are.
j (PS5VN) [1822] Well, all right, Frankie, I'd just like to get Tony's view on this.
[1823] Tony, you're joining us from Freeland, and your views.
t (PS5VM) [1824] Well you were just talking about children erm my feeling is that we're all children, there is no division between being a child and an adult and I think that they can accept a whole lot, but there's a whole lot of adults that can't accept the shocks that are happening today and they put them into their subconscious and unfortunately it comes out in so many other ways — it comes over as a neurosis or as a mental disorder at some later date.
j (PS5VN) [1825] Yes, so you believe that there's basically not much difference between a child and a adult?
[1826] Well we're all children.
[1827] It's a recent manifestation that we are children, or there are such things as children.
[1828] A little while ago children were expected to be down in the mines and underneath textile machinery, so they weren't actually treated as children, they were erm wager earners at a very low age, as soon as they could be walking they were doing a job, so I feel that we're all children in fact, there is no great division between being a child and being an adult, and we in fact can't always cope with what's happening and the shocks infect .
[1829] I think a lot of the shocks that we can't cope with just to into the sub-conscious and at some later date we then become neurotic or erm mentally disordered.
j (PS5VN) [1830] All right.
[1831] Well John is on the line, joining us from Witney.
[1832] Hello, John.
g (PS5VU) [1833] Oh, good afternoon, Bill.
j (PS5VN) [1834] Your views.
g (PS5VU) [1835] Well I've brought the subject up before, but I think you've got an ideal two academics there that might be able to answer a question, a very practical one.
j (PS5VN) [1836] Well I'm not sure if I have two academics.
[1837] I have three very articulate women.
[1838] Let's leave it at that.
g (PS5VU) [1839] Leave it at that, yes.
[1840] erm yes.
[1841] In Witney we've got a big industrial estate and on the top of a forty foot pole there is a siren that was put up four years ago.
[1842] We've sent letters to everybody, the Home Office, everywhere, and ... to say why have they put it up in the middle of an estate.
[1843] We have to answer questions to our children as to why we've got a siren that's visible for everybody around, right level with the bedrooms, in the middle of an estate.
[1844] I wonder if your people there could give a better answer than what we could.
j (PS5VN) [1845] Well, all right.
[1846] Thanks very much indeed, John, for your views there.
[1847] erm but do you think that we should treat children any differently from other people?
g (PS5VU) [1848] No, because you can't hide anything from children.
[1849] In fact I was a teacher and in fact I think you learn off children to be quite honest.
j (PS5VN) [1850] mhm All right.
[1851] Elizabeth Capewell here in the studio.
jp (PS5VV) [1852] Yes, I think we have to take any situation like this, not just the major ones like war, but any situation that we come across and use it as a real opportunity for learning, and maybe for adults to be able to do the things that they didn't do when they were children, which is why now we often respond as child in these situations.
[1853] By opportunities for learning that can be at depth, about learning about ourselves, but also the practical things like what do you say to a child whose father's come back mutilated from war erm how do you write a letter to a bereaved person, and I think children ... I mean they are capable of doing this, I've seen it with my own children, with some help they're able to express quite deep emotions, you know, to somebody who's had a bereavement, and if they can learn that now, you know, [laugh] it's going to be a lot easier later on.
j (PS5VN) [1854] But quite often grown-ups don't know how to deal with someone who's lost a partner
jp (PS5VV) [1855] Right, because
j (PS5VN) [1856] lost a relative, so they shy away from they, they just don't go up and do anything.
jp (PS5VV) [1857] That's right.
j (PS5VN) [1858] And so children are learning that behaviour from their parents.
jp (PS5VV) [1859] They learn, ... as Elizabeth said earlier, you know, we're models and children learn more by what we do more than what we preach, so you know we do have to repair what we didn't learn maybe earlier on.
[1860] We have to repair the damage in a way erm but it doesn't mean to say we don't ... not do it with our children now.
[1861] We can do it in very simple ways, as well as the deeper approaches like therapy.
[1862] Fortunately most people don't go to therapy.
j (PS5VN) [1863] Well, you've written in a article, you say by merely acknowledging our feelings we are less likely to pass them on by osmosis to those who are emotionally bound to us.
jp (PS5VV) [1864] Yes.
j (PS5VN) [1865] And I ... I think that's probably central here.
jp (PS5VV) [1866] Yes, I mean that's my believe.
[1867] Yes, and erm ... sorry, carry on.
g (PS5VU) [1868] I would just like to come in there.
j (PS5VN) [1869] Elizabeth Howell.
g (PS5VU) [1870] Yes, with a couple of points.
[1871] Certainly to respond to the gentleman who was suggesting that there's no difference between us as adults and children, certainly there is the child in all adults erm that does respond, perhaps, in a childish way at times, but I would suggest that as adults we hopefully have gotten to a place in ourselves which we are not so much at the mercy of our immediate wishes and wants and feelings that we are able to be more measured in the way that we handle ourselves and our feelings, and therefore in a position to help our children to develop that capacity within themselves as they are growing up erm and erm I've forgotten the other point I was going to make [laugh] just following on from what Elizabeth there in the studio was saying.
j (PS5VN) [1872] Let's go back to Elizabeth here, Elizabeth Capewell.
jp (PS5VV) [1873] Yes, I've just remembered the point I was going to make erm I've certainly felt from Frankie Rickford's article that there was this myth, adults have to get it right, that we have to know the answers.
[1874] We are actually dealing with problems, difficulties, often to which there are no answers, we don't know yet what the answers are, we don't know yet what happens after death, we have different beliefs.
[1875] We can, however, get down with the children and start a process of learning, discovery, which can last a lifetime if you like, finding out what different people believe, finding out how other people cope, maybe by just talking to grandparents who've experienced the war, asking them how they've coped.
[1876] Maybe, you know, finding out what people in Israel, for instance are going through.
[1877] I had a phone call to Israel the other night and somebody who is very experienced in stress prevention, but still she was afraid and just finding out how isolated those kind of, you know, how isolated they're feeling out there, the fear of the chemical warfare, and maybe now I'm able to write to her to reduce some of that isolation.
[1878] Maybe, you know, we can get in touch with other people out there in some way.
[1879] It helps our children to know that they're doing something for those children.
[1880] It will help the children out there and the adults.
j (PS5VN) [1881] Divert children, in a sense, but give them a feeling of power at the same time.
jp (PS5VV) [1882] Yes, I don't think it's just diverting [laugh] , again it's great learning in finding out about what those children are experiencing, learning how to express it
j (PS5VN) [1883] Well I suppose I meant divert them from ... from only a selfish view of fear.
jp (PS5VV) [1884] Oh, well yes, finding out what other people are feeling as well, because that ... that makes it less erm worrying for them.
[1885] I think they're often afraid that they're the only ones feeling that way.
j (PS5VN) [1886] Yes.
jp (PS5VV) [1887] They learn ... they'll be learning that other people react in different ways.
[1888] They can also learn that there are lots of ways that people have of coping with these things, and thereby increasing their, you know, coping strategies — technical term — but their ways of handling things.
j (PS5VN) [1889] Yes, I'm wondering, though, what practical advice people can take away from this programme.
[1890] Elizabeth Howell, what practice advice would you like to leave with people?
g (PS5VU) [1891] erm I ... I think that being able to acknowledge for themselves — the adults — for them to be able to acknowledge to themselves that this is a very stressful time, that erm ... that children may be needing that extra bit of sensitivity erm in terms of how we respond to their behaviour, which may be very erm connected with the general level excitement and ... and stress that I think we as adults are feeling, and certainly that are being picked up from the media.
j (PS5VN) [1892] mhm, but what techniques would you leave with people?
g (PS5VU) [1893] erm I think in terms of techniques is ... is ... is a level of awareness [laugh] really, to be able to respond to children erm with their curiosity and with their erm expressions of anxiety erm in a way that makes it all right for them to be feeling the way they are, and I don't think it's simple as just saying a technique, I think it's ... what we can offer as adults comes from an inner awareness that we have as adults, that we can convey to our children, because it's not just the techniques, or the behaviour, or the words that we use, but it's those feelings behind the words.
j (PS5VN) [1894] mhm All right, and Frankie Rickford, what would you like people to be able to ... to be empowered to do as a result of listening to three women talk about this issue?
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [1895] I don't know if I've got any answers to that really.
[1896] I mean I suppose I agree that erm
j (PS5VN) [1897] But do you have any children?
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [1898] Oh, yes.
[1899] I do, yes.
j (PS5VN) [1900] And how do you cope?
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [1901] Well my children are quite young and I just try to give them as accurate information as I can.
[1902] I mean I'm ... I mean for me the issues is avoiding guilt tripping them, but at the same time erm I want them to know erm that they are real children who are being really affected and hurt and damaged and losing their parents as a result of this war, and that is a hurtful thing to know.
j (PS5VN) [1903] And how do your children respond when you say that?
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [1904] Well, they are interested and they play games around it with their friends.
[1905] I mean I think that's extremely important to allow children to erm you know play things out in the best way that they ... which is in a sense their way of coming to terms with things erm and to answer their questions as honestly as I can and to admit it when I don't know the answers erm and also, I mean in our family we've taken various actions to try to stop the war and we've, you know, taken part in demonstrations and written letters and erm
j (PS5VN) [1906] Has the way that you've dealt with your children's anxieties brought you closer to them?
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [1907] Well I suppose it has in a sense, yes, it's enabled us to both confront the fact that ... that I'm not all knowing and that I'm not all powerful, which I mean was ... because my children, as I say, are still quite young, which is something new for them, I suppose, as well as something new for me.
j (PS5VN) [1908] All right, and Elizabeth Capewell, here in the studio.
jp (PS5VV) [1909] [laugh] I suppose ... well my children would say my answer to everything is to say to them breathe, you know, and erm you know just do very simple relaxation if nothing else, and then that allows you maybe to start looking at other things, but to get to the state where you can begin to look at things without the fears and emotions getting in the way.
[1910] Allowing ... giving them time, I mean maybe this is what we should be, you know, hopefully we'd be doing this anyway, but just using ... what we use in our family anyway to talk ... to, you know, as them questions.
[1911] If they come up with a question maybe just find out what's being it erm not just reaction to a particular behaviour, but asking them how the feeling, you know ... maybe pointing to the bit in their body that's actually feeling butterflies or whatever and trying to help them to express the fears and, more importantly, to make them concrete in terms of play, drawing, or acting it out.
j (PS5VN) [1912] Well many thanks to my three guests.
[1913] To Frankie Rickford, a journalist on the Guardian, to Elizabeth Capewell, director of the Centre for Educational Responses to Disaster, and to Elizabeth Howell from Exploring Parenthood, which organizes workshops to help parents and schools cope with children's feelings about the war.
j (PS5VN) [1914] That's it from me, Bill Heine.
[1915] Thanks for joining us.
[1916] Goodbye. [recorded jingle]


[recorded jingle]
j (PS5VN) [1917] Hello and welcome to the programme.
[1918] Today we'll be talking about the big budget decision of yesterday, when the Oxfordshire County Council met to agree on a budget that will affect all of us here, especially people in the education services and the social services.
[1919] The budget was basically an agreement between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats, and the Labour group didn't seem to get much of a look in at all.
[1920] Well, I'll be joined later on in the programme by David Waldon, the leader of the Conservatives, but right now Eva Barnes, the Deputy Leader of the Labour group is with me, and John Cochrane from the Liberal Democrats is here.
[1921] First of all, many people have been asking me on this programme in the past what credentials you people on the Council have for setting a budget.
[1922] You're dealing with millions of pounds, you're dealing with very important parts of peoples lives here in terms of services.
[1923] What credentials do you have to decide how those millions of pounds should be spent?
[1924] What makes you something special?
[1925] John Cochrane.
m (PS5VR) [1927] I don't think we're anything special.
[1928] I think we're ordinary people who take the budget decisions very much with the advice of the officers.
[1929] The officers will set out what they feel would be an appropriate ... what they feel may be an appropriate budget and we will look at those figures and we'll decide where certain elements of expenditure should be increased and where they should be reduced.
[1930] We basically are not special people, although some of us do have special skills.
[1931] I mean, for instance within the Liberal Democrat group we have got an expert mathematician.
[1932] He is extremely useful to us in that role.
[1933] I am a qualified chartered accountant.
[1934] I run my own business.
[1935] I have ... was for many years the national chairman of the Association of Independent Businesses.
[1936] I have negotiated with government on a number of business issues, so I think I have certain special skills to bring in, but they're not necessarily the skills of someone used to dealing with huge budgets, because my company is quite small.
j (PS5VN) [1937] Yes.
[1938] Let me take you up on one or two of those points.
[1939] You say you're an accountant, well a lot of people consider accountants to be tickers, those people who check other people's facts and figures, and secondly you presented what the County Councillors do as more or less a rubber stamping of what the officers put before them.
[1940] Is that the case?
m (PS5VR) [1941] No, I said the officers will produce figures which we will then very, very closely examine.
[1942] When erm the Liberal Democrats made the Council into political balance in nineteen eighty five, we asked the officers for what was called needs of the service statements.
[1943] That is an analysis by the officers of what additional funds they felt was needed for them to fulfil their statutory duties.
[1944] It is the basis of those reports that have become an annual feature of the budget making process.
[1945] On the basis of those reports we either accept or reject and very, very much question.
j (PS5VN) [1946] When you first started on the Council, and how long ago was that?
m (PS5VR) [1947] Nineteen eighty five.
j (PS5VN) [1948] Yes, six short years ago when you started on the Council.
[1949] It must have been quite a shock for you all of a sudden to be dealing with millions of pounds on the budget.
[1950] How did you come to grips with that?
m (PS5VR) [1951] Simply by doing the paperwork, by analyzing the figures, because my background is one of analysis, and coming to sometimes political decisions and sometimes unpleasant political decisions.
[1952] But that's what one learnt.
[1953] As a Councillor one learnt the art of politics really, as a young Councillor certainly.
j (PS5VN) [1954] mhm Well, Eva Barnes, what special credentials do you have to bandy around figures that are millions of pounds.
js (PS5VL) [1955] Well I think and probably the rest of the Labour group operate in a rather different way from the way that's just been outlined.
[1956] We don't see ourselves as special people and we don't see ourselves as having specific financial credentials, although some members of our group, not myself, may have those, but we try by listening to the people who've elected us and listening to in general comments that are made from outside the council, which is a terribly closed body.
[1957] We try to formulate policies that'll meet the needs of the people who speak to us and then we use officers, not to make necessarily proposals on policies, but to help us to work out the financial ways of achieving those policies, so that's almost the other way round from the way that John outlined.
j (PS5VN) [1958] mhm When you first started, though, Eva Barnes, you're the deputy leader of the Labour group now, you've been on the Council for how long?
js (PS5VL) [1959] Same length of time as John, eighty five was my first election.
j (PS5VN) [1960] Yes.
[1961] How did you cope with dealing with these massive figures when you first started?
[1962] I mean didn't they overwhelm you a bit?
t (PS5VM) [1963] Well, yes they do overwhelm you until you start associating them with services that are provided by that finance with the people whose lives are affected by them, and erm you break them down and obviously all councillors, I think, have areas of special interest and so you become much more familiar with particular areas of the Council's expenditure erm rather than necessarily being very, very precisely informed about every single area.
[1964] But as I say, officers are there not to propose ... not to propose policy, but officers are there to do the sums.
[1965] Nobody expects councillors to be able to do sums involving three hundred and fifteen or fourteen million erm without professional help, just like any business would expect to use professional help for that.
j (PS5VN) [1966] Well another question — it's been put several times on this programme — it's something like this — Councillors have just been considering cuts in budgets that will affect the voters.
[1967] Have they considered cutting their own attendance allowances at the meetings?
[1968] Let's put that first to David Walden.
[1969] Welcome to the programme, David, the leader of the Conservatives.
j (PS5VN) [1970] Thank you, Bill.
[1971] erm yes, we have considered that erm I seem to remember there was a recommendation to that effect in one of the group's proposals.
j (PS5VN) [1972] Well was that part of your agreement yesterday with the Liberal Democrats.
j (PS5VN) [1973] No, it didn't form part of it and erm if it were to be done it would be having, shall we say, a political impact, but the sums are of such a nature that they are of no significance in the context of the budget as a whole.
[1974] It would be a gesture, I think, by Councillors of recognition that hardship is erm perhaps being endured and that they should share in it, but it would be no more than a gesture.
j (PS5VN) [1975] But you decided against making that gesture.
j (PS5VN) [1976] We didn't really consider it seriously.
j (PS5VN) [1977] Why?
j (PS5VN) [1978] We did not ... we think ... I think we thought it would be seen merely as a gesture.
[1979] I would have no effect at all on the kind of figures and the size of figures that we were considering, and, having been seen as a gesture, it would be really pointless to make it.
j (PS5VN) [1980] That's one way of looking at it.
[1981] John Cochrane, your views on this.
m (PS5VR) [1982] Certainly it didn't feature in the budget that we put forward.
[1983] I ... the sums involved
j (PS5VN) [1984] And that was the budget that was, in an amended form, agreed with a Conservative budget in an amended form, for the whole County Council.
[1985] So it was a Conservative coalition with the Liberal Democrats that pushed the budget through.
[1986] So your views on this one are terribly important.
m (PS5VR) [1987] Certainly.
[1988] And I think I'd echo what David Walden said.
[1989] The reason why a cut in members' allowances was not in our budget is I think we didn't consider it and we didn't consider it because the figures involved are so small that it wasn't a matter which was, as I say, worthy of financial comment, although I accept it has a political dimension.
[1990] Although I would also say that I don't suppose there are very many Councillors that don't actually, at the end of the day, being a Councillor is costing them a lot of money and those members' allowances are very, very small and they certainly in my case nowhere near cover the cost of being a County Councillor.
j (PS5VN) [1991] I suppose some people who are in receipt of social benefits might say their benefits are very, very small, come nowhere near covering the true cost to them and their families are having to foot the bill for a lot of what's done, and sometimes, when maybe their allowances are cut by a little bit, they might think ‘erm well perhaps if the Oxfordshire County Councillors had cut a little bit of their attendance allowances maybe I could have little bit more’.
[1992] What do you say to them?
[1993] David Waldon.
j (PS5VN) [1994] I think erm you've got to say that it is not easy to find people to give the commitment to local government work these days and I think a partial remuneration of the expense that they incur is a very reasonable thing for the public to have to meet.
[1995] erm there was a time, for instance, when we had members of parliament who were gentlemen of means, perhaps, and who did not need to draw salaries, erm and it was erm perhaps a gentleman amateur job, but it's all changed totally now and now we recognise that erm to be a national politician is a career and erm it is a career which is perhaps rewarded at the going rate.
[1996] erm local government, and I regret this, is probably going that way in that the demands upon Councillors are getting more and more, and for various reasons it is getting more and more difficult to find now in local government what I would call the amateur who ... who I think predominated in it, certainly outside the cities, up to nineteen seventy four.
j (PS5VN) [1997] Right, well Eva Barnes, you're the deputy leader of the Labour group.
[1998] Now, did the Labour group ... what was your position on proposing cuts and the attendance allowances for the Councillors?
js (PS5VL) [1999] Yes, our group did produce ... did propose cuts.
[2000] We felt quite strongly that although it was a gesture, I don't think it was a political gesture, I think it was a gesture that we as Councillors wanted to make so that we personally would suffer some of the reductions in erm finance that we were going to impose on other people.
[2001] We did decide that we should reduce the money that is received by Councillors, and so they were proposals that were made along with other proposals about reductions in members' services.
[2002] I do think it's very easy to say that sums of money are not financially significant.
[2003] We had some very, very moving speeches yesterday, as we had had at previous meetings, which made it quite clear that a few pounds were vital and crucial to people's lives, so we thought it was a a gesture that was worth making, and I have to say that probably our group also includes people on, as members, as Councillors, who are themselves on income support, so it was a move which wasn't without it's personal difficulties for us either.
j (PS5VN) [2004] But your ... your proposal was not accepted and the budget went through with no cuts to the benefits or the remuneration for the Councillors.
js (PS5VL) [2005] That's right.
j (PS5VN) [2006] Right.
[2007] Well let's talk about precisely what happened at that meeting yesterday.
[2008] There was a coalition, some would call it a cuts coalition, between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats, to produce a budget.
[2009] What is in that budget, who will be helped by that budget, and who will be hurt by it?
[2010] Let's first go to David Waldon because I think that you ... you command the support of the largest group on the erm Oxfordshire County Council and I suspect that the budget had a great deal to do with your views.
j (PS5VN) [2011] Yes.
[2012] erm our main objective ... if I could start with education, which is erm the erm predominant service provided by the County, we were concerned to protect the delegated budgets to schools, particularly the primary and the secondary schools.
[2013] We see the future of the education service depending upon local financial management, and erm, as I have said, we were very keen to protect the delegated budgets which erm by and large we erm have succeeded in doing.
[2014] We could not avoid, we felt, erm a small part of the fixed cost to the primary schools being cut, but that was offset by a provision for additional staffing in the primary sector, which we identify as an important item.
[2015] So we had to ... as far as all the schools and colleges were concerned erm there was a previous Council agreement that erm increments, that is the progression of Council employees through their salary scales, that had to be funded from what we call base budgets this year, so the budgets of the ... the delegated budgets of schools had to erm bear that cost along with everybody else.
j (PS5VN) [2016] What does that mean in practice?
j (PS5VN) [2017] That meant in practise, I speak in the primary sector I think there's five hundred and forty six thousand of the delegated budget taken out, and I will have to — if you will allow me a minute
j (PS5VN) [2018] Yes, they're sitting here with tomes in front of them.
j (PS5VN) [2019] I'm afraid I've brought the wrong one [laugh] .
j (PS5VN) [2020] Well
j (PS5VN) [2021] But it will do for answering this.
js (PS5VL) [2022] Perhaps you could adopt ours on this occasion.
[2023] I will offer it up to you.
j (PS5VN) [2024] It was a similar figure in fact in the erm secondary sector.
[2025] There were erm, let us be honest, erm other what we would call non-core parts of the education budget, which were cut or reduced.
j (PS5VN) [2026] For instance?
j (PS5VN) [2027] For instance erm we reduced, and this was common to all groups, ... we reduced the amount provided for in-service training for teachers.
[2028] That is the training they do whilst they are basically on the job.
[2029] We considered that was one that could be afforded.
j (PS5VN) [2030] And what else?
j (PS5VN) [2031] erm and erm
j (PS5VN) [2032] I think this is going to be a
j (PS5VN) [2033] There is a lot of paper to wade through.
[2034] Savings erm from reduced costs in the school meals sector.
j (PS5VN) [2035] What ... what will happen to the school meals sector?
j (PS5VN) [2036] Well they ... they will continue, but there will be an adjustment now to the charging of the school meals, because the joint budget did provide for another two hundred and fifty five thousand income for that reason, and erm the savings
j (PS5VN) [2037] Does that mean children will ... will ... what will it mean for children?
js (PS5VL) [2038] Another ten pence a meal.
j (PS5VN) [2039] It will mean ... yes, about that.
j (PS5VN) [2040] Children will have to pay about ten pence extra?
j (PS5VN) [2041] Those that take up the service, and of course we all know in the school meals service that the take up figures are very low.
[2042] Library recharges was reduced, that is the recharging from the Council's library service for the service that they provide to the schools.
[2043] That has been cut.
[2044] And really one ... one goes on.
[2045] There are a whole list of erm I would call non-core items, which erm were previously included in the education service department which will now not happen.
j (PS5VN) [2046] Like for instance?
[2047] What about social ... psychiatric social work?
j (PS5VN) [2048] Psychiatric ... they have erm not been ... there were proposals originally from the Conservative group to discontinue that service, but as part of the erm negotiations that took place that was withdrawn, but there is a, I think, a ten thousand pound efficiency cut to be made in the P S W service, so it is not being cut, but erm the sum is being reduced, and it will be self-financing out of efficiency measures.
j (PS5VN) [2049] mhm Well that's in general what happened with the ... the education service.
[2050] Now I understand you will have cuts in the nursery school budget.
[2051] How much?
js (PS5VL) [2052] Yes, a hundred and fourteen thousand I think.
j (PS5VN) [2053] Yes.
js (PS5VL) [2054] Plus a certain amount for increments of about a hundred and twenty thousand.
j (PS5VN) [2055] Yes.
[2056] The increments ... that's right.
j (PS5VN) [2057] What will this mean to the nursery school.
m (PS5VR) [2058] Well I think the hundred and fourteen thousand
j (PS5VN) [2059] John Cochrane from the Liberal Democrats.
m (PS5VR) [2060] the hundred and fourteen thousand saving is actually expenditure that hasn't ... that we can't make this year.
[2061] It's part of the capping programme which we just can't make this year, and I think that's erm that's that saving.
[2062] It's not being carried forward to future years.
[2063] It's a once and for all saving.
[2064] erm it's unfortunate, but our
j (PS5VN) [2065] But what will this mean in terms of people on the ground.
[2066] You see I would like to see people at the end of this programme to have some idea, not just of fancy figures in the air, but of practical effects that will affect them on the ground.
m (PS5VR) [2067] Well I don't think that cut will make any effect at all, because the money wasn't going to be spent anyway.
js (PS5VL) [2068] Except that since it's not longer in the budget it's not available for future spending.
[2069] It could have been carried over and plans which are embryonic now could have been implemented with it.
[2070] I think, Bill, really you ... far be it for me to try and teach you your job, but you ought to have perhaps gone back a little bit and wondered why we were all in this position, because you have us in year after year talking about budgets that are made and budgets which improve services, and ... and we need to be absolutely clear that this budget does not improve services at all, that this budget does very severe damage to services, that the budget that has gone through the Council identifies nearly eight million pounds taken off service provision erm and that cannot be done under the Conservatives by making erm a budget with the Liberal Democrats have proved that it can't be done, in spite of their previous comments, without pain to services.
j (PS5VN) [2071] Well that's what I'm trying to establish
js (PS5VL) [2072] That's the background that we're against.
j (PS5VN) [2073] right now.
[2074] I want to know what has happened and then we can criticise it, but I first want to be clear
js (PS5VL) [2075] Right.
[2076] mhm
j (PS5VN) [2077] of what's happened.
[2078] Now you've set a budget which is below the level of ... at which the Oxfordshire County Council would be rate capped, or Poll Tax capped.
j (PS5VN) [2079] Very marginally below that.
j (PS5VN) [2080] How much below?
j (PS5VN) [2081] Five hundred thousand below that.
j (PS5VN) [2082] Five hundred thousand below that.
j (PS5VN) [2083] Yeah.
j (PS5VN) [2084] Why?
[2085] Why are you cut ... establishing a budget below the ... that capping level?
j (PS5VN) [2086] Well we now go into the political debate erm Bill.
[2087] We have in the Conservative group always taken the view that Oxfordshire has erm contributed to its own problems to a very great extend by going, in its projected spending for this year, beyond the level set by the Secretary of State for capping.
[2088] Could I perhaps go on and erm pick up what Eva Barnes was saying erm a minute ago
j (PS5VN) [2089] Well I'd like an answer to this questions because I think it's fairly fundamental.
[2090] I ... you see you're not exceeding what the government is establishing as your target level, you're falling short of that, and that means that some people will not get services that they would get if you had gone up to the level.
j (PS5VN) [2091] It isn't a target level.
[2092] The target level is standard spending assessment of two hundred and ninety nine million.
[2093] The capped level, or whatever we like to call it, is the criteria that has been established by the Secretary of State, and he has said it is five per cent beyond the standard spending level and he says if Councils spend beyond that then he is liable to introduce his capping legislation and
j (PS5VN) [2094] But you can spend up to that level with impunity.
[2095] Why didn't you?
j (PS5VN) [2096] Well, you don't whether you can or whether you can't.
[2097] I mean it's not [people talking]
m (PS5VR) [2098] I think that's being, you know, that's correct.
[2099] If we spend up to what you described as a capping level, then I'm absolutely convinced we will not be capped.
[2100] What we don't know is how much above the capping level we might be able to spend because we don't yet know what are called the deminimus provisions.
[2101] We just don't know those.
[2102] There may be none.
[2103] Last year there were some, so the Liberal Democrats took the view that we could only properly set a budget at the capping level and that is a level at which we set our budget and it was a level at which we set our budget back in December and right through to this date.
[2104] We had to, of course, make a one million pound reduction following the S S A ... the final S S A announcement which Heseltine made about three weeks ago, but we were always at the capping limit, and I think
j (PS5VN) [2105] But you've agreed to a budget that is less than the capping level.
[2106] Why?
m (PS5VR) [2107] Why?
[2108] Because we offered our budget up to negotiation to both the political parties, over the last eight weeks.
[2109] Now I regret to say that the only political party that actually entered into negotiations on this occasion was the Conservative Party.
[2110] The Labour Party did not enter into negotiations.
[2111] Now that's unusual, because for the last five or six budgets have always been Labour/Liberal Democrat budgets.
[2112] On this occasion they did not come to us and say right we want to negotiate, although several times we went to them and said please, here's our budget, you know, our budget is now ready, we want to negotiate.
j (PS5VN) [2113] So from your point of view you were forced into bed with the Tories, but why are you spending less than the capping level?
m (PS5VR) [2114] Because at the end of the day, at the end of the negotiations, we were left with the two choices ... either the ... our budget reduced by half a million, which is point one six per cent— right — that budget or the Labour budget.
[2115] Those were the choices, and if we dissect the Labour budget I think you'll see that we were quite proper in deciding that for all its faults, and I mean this is not a budget that any of us in that chamber, you see, certainly no Liberal Democrat, wanted to even put forward at all.
[2116] It was a budget that severely cut services to vulnerable people.
[2117] We didn't want to do that.
[2118] We weren't elected to do that.
[2119] We are working within a straight jacket imposed by central government, but our choice was that budget, for all its faults in totality, for the fact that it was half a million less than it could be, and the budget put forward by the Labour party who had totally refused to negotiate on their budget, and therefore we ought to look at that budget in detail to see what was on offer, because it wasn't very pretty.
j (PS5VN) [2120] It isn't quite wrong, Bill, for it to be said that Councils should be spending up to their capped level.
[2121] erm the capped level is an arbitrary level, taken by the Secretary of State, beyond which he will restrain expenditure in the interests of protecting the charge payer.
[2122] Others can make a judgement that you should be spending less than that, and in fact the first budget we presented yesterday was at the level of three hundred and eleven point five million, which is further below the capped level.
js (PS5VL) [2123] Yes, there have been some comments made
j (PS5VN) [2124] Eva Barnes, for Labour.
js (PS5VL) [2125] which I do need to respond to.
[2126] I'd like to speak first of all about what John was saying about negotiations and then subsequently about spending up to charge capping level.
[2127] erm I, as the Deputy Leader of the Labour group have had no approach of any sort in any form from any member of the Liberal Democrat group.
[2128] I understand, and it has always been our position, that we have between policy and resources and the Council meeting been willing to listen to proposals.
[2129] However, we have made it quite clear that there are certain erm issues erm which we stand very firm on, and we were not interested in erm moving on issues like charging frail elderly people and physically handicapped people for the already fairly sparse services that they received, so we put that, if you like, as a no-go area.
[2130] However, though, there were many areas that we would have been happy to listen to proposals about.
[2131] What I think we had, and not me personally, as I say I had no proposals, but what I think some members of our group may have had was statements about what the Liberal Democrats were prepared to do, so there hasn't been a negotiation, but it certainly hasn't been a rejection of listening on our part erm.
[2132] The thing has gone on in a different way from previous years, and the outcome, as you've observed, although the Liberal Democrats initially proposed spending at capping, they have gone down by half a million pounds.
[2133] And if I could put that half a million pounds in context, as I tried to do in an amendment in Council yesterday evening, that is almost exactly the increase in charging for people going to day care facilities.
[2134] We are now charging frail elderly people, physically and mentally handicapped people to go to the day car facilities that they so value and so need.
[2135] It is equivalent to that plus erm the reduction for indiscretionary awards enabling young people to obtain training and education, plus also erm the reduction in erm access to higher education for people who are educationally disadvantaged.
[2136] erm charging also ... it would include also that half a million pounds charging increased ... charging severely increased charges for home help care.
[2137] I put that as an amendment, not reiterating the entire Labour budget, but I asked the Liberal Democrats, who purport to want to erm provide that sort of service to vulnerable people could they not accept that extra half a million pounds as an amendment, and two out of the group abstained, the rest of them voted against that as an amendment.
j (PS5VN) [2138] Well let's put that to the Liberal Democrat member here, John Cochrane.
[2139] I ... I observe that the Liberal Democrats have made a complete U turn in their previous adherence to providing a steady stream of services to the people of Oxford, and by setting for a budget below the capping level you are taking out of funds available to people things that don't necessarily have to be taken out.
m (PS5VR) [2140] Well first let me say erm in answer to a question you put some time ago, what is it ... what is in this budget for the people of Oxfordshire, and all you got from both Councillor Waldon and Councillor Barnes was a list of the cuts.
[2141] There are actually some improvements.
[2142] If you look at the social service budget, we are actually putting into effect the new Children's Act legislation, which was absent from the Labour budget entirely.
[2143] We are working towards the implementation of the new Community Care White Paper, work which was totally absent from the Labour Party budget, and that was one of the reasons why we couldn't accept the Labour Party budget.
[2144] There are areas of activity where we will be producing improved services, and so we ... I think in this very difficult time we have managed to maintain our erm adherence to the principle that wherever it is possible we will improve and increase the services to the people of Oxfordshire.
[2145] Now you legitimately say why this five hundred pound cut?
[2146] Well the answer lies in the twelve hours of negotiation that took place yesterday.
[2147] We were negotiating
j (PS5VN) [2148] It's a five hundred pound cut?
js (PS5VL) [2149] Five hundred thousand.
m (PS5VR) [2150] Five hundred thousand.
j (PS5VN) [2151] Five hundred thousand pounds.
m (PS5VR) [2152] Yes, five hundred thousand.
j (PS5VN) [2153] That's good.
js (PS5VL) [2154] You were probably right to ask what qualifications Councillors had to make budgets like this.
m (PS5VR) [2155] We were negotiating with the erm Conservative group and during that period of negotiation we shifted their budget up by two and a half million pounds.
[2156] We then came up against a stop, and as I said a moment ago, our choice was between that budget, as negotiated, and the Labour budget, and I've just shown you one hole in that budget.
[2157] I could show you some more.
js (PS5VL) [2158] Yes, it's very interesting that, isn't it?
[2159] There was an amendment
j (PS5VN) [2160] Eva Barnes for Labour.
js (PS5VL) [2161] proposed erm and that point the Liberal Democrats went off with the Tories.
[2162] I actually said erm after the erm proposal by Sheila Terry ‘well, can we know what it's about.
[2163] Maybe we would want to listen to these proposals.’
[2164] I was told that all I needed to know was the total spend and that was it.
[2165] There was no offer at all at that point of our participating ... our possible participation in the discussion.
j (PS5VN) [2166] mhm David Waldon [...] for the Conservatives.
j (PS5VN) [2167] Yes, I did in fact erm whilst ... when we were going through the education proposals erm I did list reductions as John has mentioned, but I did also include the extra valuation for primary staffing that erm has ... went into our budget and the Liberal Democrats and I think Labour's originally, which is now included in the combined Council budget.
[2168] But I'd like to comment on what erm also John said about the new duties in the social services relative to the Children's Bill and care in the community.
[2169] Now Labour have, in fact, under provided, I think, by about five hundred thousand for those provisions, which will have to be done.
[2170] And erm I think it's a little bit of creative accountancy on their part in saying that and in fact putting that five hundred thousand elsewhere, and also they have erm done a further piece of creative accountancy in that the provision for pay and price increases they have reduced by one point five million, and the combined budget reduces it by half that figure.
[2171] So there is another seven hundred and fifty thousand which, if you add to the five hundred thousand, is one point two five million, which erm Labour, I think, by a measure of erm creative accountancy, have said that they will provide additional services for.
js (PS5VL) [2172] Yes, I ... creative accountancy obviously is a word that it's easy to bandy about.
[2173] We'd never produce budgets without erm having thoroughly discussed them with the Treasurer and saying to the Treasurer's Department of the County Council, which is a very conservative department I have to say (with a small c); it's not given to wild flurries of excitement and imagination.
[2174] We'd discuss our budget and say ‘are you able to support this as a viable budget?’.
[2175] That has been said and again I went to see the Treasurer's Department this morning and have been assured that ours is a viable budget.
[2176] erm on the social services issue, yes, indeed, we have chosen not to provide for additional statutory duties that the government has imposed on us with no erm accompanying finance.
[2177] Our attitude, and I think it's a totally principled and right one, is that we already have services which are statutory services which we do not provide adequately.
[2178] Our business is to ensure that what we are doing now is done properly, not to take on board new activities and try and finance them at the expense of groups which are already suffering very poor, or at least inadequate services.
j (PS5VN) [2179] Well I want to hear how this will affect people out there, the voters.
[2180] I want to know who's going to win on this budget and who's going to lose.
js (PS5VL) [2181] Well nobody's going to win.
j (PS5VN) [2182] All right.
[2183] Who's going to get to hurt most?
j (PS5VN) [2184] Can I ... + can I make ... I wanted to make general point earlier.
j (PS5VN) [2185] Yes, but this is ... this is a general point and I think that's what the people listening want to hear.
j (PS5VN) [2186] Well I wanted to say that erm since nineteen eighty five and constant November nineteen ninety prices, erm the Council, by members' decisions, have erm put in another thirty nine million of additional service provision.
[2187] Yesterday we took out I think it was erm seven million plus a little bit out of that additional service provision, so we have put in thirty two million since its nineteen eighty five base in services throughout all departments.
[2188] Now education has ... of that thirty nine million the Education Department benefited by about eighteen million, and we took, I think it was erm four million out yesterday, we will be back to a net gain of fourteen million on education and social services have benefited since eighty five by about to the tune of nine million and ... or eight point six million, and we took about four hundred thousand out of that yesterday.
j (PS5VN) [2189] But David
j (PS5VN) [2190] So let's look at this in a ... we tend to
j (PS5VN) [2191] But David with ... with respect ... but David I can just see people's eyes glazed over right now.
j (PS5VN) [2192] Well maybe they do, but we take this ... we always take this as a year on year situation and you've got to do a longer term comparison if you're going to get the true effect of the services
js (PS5VL) [2193] If you compare what most people earn ... what most people earned six years ago with what they earn now, they would expect that earning to have increased, so you'd expect the budget to increase.
j (PS5VN) [2194] But I want to know how this is going to affect people in the streets.
m (PS5VR) [2195] I'll tell you a number of [...] and facts.
[2196] Let's get down to brass tacks.
j (PS5VN) [2197] All right.
[2198] John Cochrane.
m (PS5VR) [2199] I mean the erm pupil/teacher ration in primary schools will be marginally affected adversely.
j (PS5VN) [2200] Now how ... what does that mean?
js (PS5VL) [2201] That means fewer teachers for our children.
m (PS5VR) [2202] Fewer teachers for our children.
j (PS5VN) [2203] Does that mean thirty five children to a classroom, say, or what?
m (PS5VR) [2204] Oh no, you'll probably going up by less than ... on average less than one child per class, but the trend is going the wrong way.
[2205] You will find fewer new books in your libraries because we've cut the library budget by seventy five thousand pounds.
[2206] You will find that there will be one less old person's home, but that
j (PS5VN) [2207] Which one?
m (PS5VR) [2208] That has not yet been put through.
j (PS5VN) [2209] To be decided.
m (PS5VR) [2210] That's to be decided.
[2211] But erm on the other hand we do actually have empty spaces in our old people's homes, so whilst you will have people who may have to move a bit, we're not actually reducing the number of occupied beds in the whole old person's home sector
js (PS5VL) [2212] Yes.
[2213] Remember we're talking about people who are eighty or ninety moving a bit.
[2214] You have to have that in context as well.
m (PS5VR) [2215] Oh certainly, certainly.
[2216] But we have saved the elderly person's strategic in the Vale of the White Horse, in its entirety, which is well worth having saved.
[2217] I mean in other words we'll now have a proper strategy the Vale of the White Horse, which was always an area of the county where the County Council services to the elderly was poorer than elsewhere.
[2218] But can I come back to David Waldon's point about this thirty nine million?
j (PS5VN) [2219] Well ... well I want to know where are some of the other cuts going to hurt.
[2220] What about
js (PS5VL) [2221] Well a quarter of the special needs advisory teachers will no longer be there.
[2222] They're the teachers that help in schools, in primary schools particularly, but in schools where teachers ... where children have special learning needs.
[2223] A quarter of them will no longer exist in the budget.
j (PS5VN) [2224] Well what's going to happen when these twenty five per cent leave?
js (PS5VL) [2225] Well I didn't propose that cut, so I'm not able to say.
j (PS5VN) [2226] What will be the effect of this. [people talking]
j (PS5VN) [2227] Well we ... yes, this applies to primary schools only.
[2228] It erm doesn't apply to secondary schools or [people talking]
j (PS5VN) [2229] All right, let's talk about primary schools.
[2230] What will be the effect.
j (PS5VN) [2231] We believe ultimately that there is a case for the further development of budget in this case, and for the schools themselves to decide the levels of erm special needs advisers that they will want.
[2232] But we still believe that even with this twenty five per cent lessening that there will be a sufficiency in the headquarters of the Education Department for advice to be given as is needed by the primary schools for the special needs.
j (PS5VN) [2233] So you think that this twenty five per cent was fat on the bone and wasn't needed before?
j (PS5VN) [2234] I'm not saying that, but I still think it is still ... a tolerable service will be provided.
js (PS5VL) [2235] mhm It's interesting, because the two schools ... I'm ... I'm the governor, as all County Councillors are, of schools, and of two primary schools, and the special needs advisory teachers were the things that were at the top of the list to be saved by both my schools.
j (PS5VN) [2236] Which schools were they?
js (PS5VL) [2237] St. Barnabas School in Jericho, and West Oxford Primary School.
[2238] erm the work that they do erm is absolutely vital.
[2239] It's a resource erm that is needed in order to provide children with a whole variety of learning problems with specialized teaching, with specialized education, and we think in the Labour group that it is a tragedy that those needs are not going to be recognised.
m (PS5VR) [2240] I'd like to come in
j (PS5VN) [2241] John Cochrane from the Liberal Democrats.
m (PS5VR) [2242] just come in there because we've found the response to the SNAS service was a little patchy.
[2243] There were some people, some schools, who said ‘yes, it's absolutely vital, we just could not get on without it at all’ and there were others who were questioning whether that was money spent the best way for special needs.
[2244] erm certainly the message coming back to us when we went out to consultation on this was not absolutely one hundred per cent by everybody in education that this was a service which had to be ... had to have no cuts whatever. [people talking]
j (PS5VN) [2245] Yes, I don't think you'll ever get unanimity on something like this.
js (PS5VL) [2246] Certainly five per cent.
m (PS5VR) [2247] No, no, but these ... these ... this was the answers by the professional in the field, not about the answers from the general populace.
[2248] We're talking about the answers from the professionals in the field.
j (PS5VN) [2249] What about teachers' salaries?
[2250] Let's move on just a bit.
[2251] Any optimism there for teachers' salaries to go up?
j (PS5VN) [2252] Well they ... they are provided for erm.
[2253] The agreement has now been reached and erm that is provided for in the amount the Council has for pay and price increases, and when we ... yesterday the Council agreed to cash limit it's inflationary provision that was exclusive of teachers' and lecturers' pay, so that is secured, the cost is secured.
j (PS5VN) [2254] Yes.
[2255] Let's look at erm funding for sixth forms.
[2256] Will there be cuts there?
[2257] John Cochrane from the Liberal Democrats, any views on that one?
m (PS5VR) [2258] I think
j (PS5VN) [2259] They're going back to their big tomes here.
js (PS5VL) [2260] Yes.
m (PS5VR) [2261] I'm sorry, it is difficult to keep all these things entirely in one's mind erm
js (PS5VL) [2262] It's particularly difficult for those of us who didn't negotiate this budget, who now have to try and find what
m (PS5VR) [2263] Fixed costs for
js (PS5VL) [2264] Sixth forms have removed
m (PS5VR) [2265] for sixth forms has been ... are being ... are reduced.
j (PS5VN) [2266] Yes.
js (PS5VL) [2267] Yes.
m (PS5VR) [2268] That is right.
j (PS5VN) [2269] Well what will that mean to the sixth forms then?
j (PS5VN) [2270] That means that there will be less fixed costs.
[2271] In other words, if you have a sixth form in a school you get so much ... so many thousands of pounds because you've got a sixth form.
j (PS5VN) [2272] Yes.
j (PS5VN) [2273] And so many pounds for each sixth former you have.
j (PS5VN) [2274] Right.
j (PS5VN) [2275] We are reducing the fixed cost element, not the pupil element.
[2276] The fixed cost element.
j (PS5VN) [2277] What will this mean in terms of provision for people?
j (PS5VN) [2278] It will mean that there will be a reduction in the amount of money that that school will have to run its sixth form, just as there is a reduction in the amount of money that a primary school is going to have to run its school.
js (PS5VL) [2279] So you may have a poorer selection of subjects on offer.
[2280] You may have less up to date books.
j (PS5VN) [2281] So it will go that far.
[2282] It might even limit the amount of subjects on offer?
j (PS5VN) [2283] For those forms ... for those schools that have sixth forms, yes, but there are other ways of providing sixth form education within the County.
[2284] For instance, the Henley College provides a sixth form education in that part of the county.
[2285] That isn't affected by this particular cut and erm there is
js (PS5VL) [2286] Yes, that is not the whole county, of course.
j (PS5VN) [2287] but there is that level and kind of education provided in the other Colleges of Further Education, and likewise it would not affect them either, so I don't think we're talking about necessarily a major part of the sixth form provision in the county.
js (PS5VL) [2288] Oh, we're talking about sixth forms, Bill, and we're talking about all schools which have sixth forms and you're conscious that there are rather a lot of schools with sixth forms in the county and who will feel that it is a significant change.
j (PS5VN) [2289] Well what about the teachers, the effect on the teachers in these sixth forms.
[2290] I mean what about their morale.
[2291] What will this do to that?
j (PS5VN) [2292] Well I can't say that everybody's going to be dancing in the streets, those who are teachers in the sixth forms in the schools that will be affected, but I think again you've got to have a look at the overall and longer term provision of these things.
[2293] There's ... it will still enable them to provide a tolerable service, and when it is a question of assessing priorities in any kind of cash limitation exercise you've got to look at your priorities.
[2294] We believe that in education we have retained the core provision for the education service and we have to look at what we will call the peripheral areas to to see where savings and reductions have to be made.
js (PS5VL) [2295] It really is incredible that we talk about sixth form education, the education of our young people between sixteen and nineteen, as a peripheral area.
m (PS5VR) [2296] Well it may be incredible, Eva, but in your own budget you have removed ... you reduced the fixed cost element by fifty percent for sixth forms.
js (PS5VL) [2297] By fifty percent, but I certainly wouldn't be ... I certainly wouldn't be referring to them as a peripheral area.
m (PS5VR) [2298] Discontinue ... discontinue fixed costs for sixth forms.
js (PS5VL) [2299] I certainly wouldn't refer to them as a peripheral area, that was
m (PS5VR) [2300] Well then why do you reduce it?
j (PS5VN) [2301] The fixed cost provision is not the major part of the funding of the sixth form, there are other parts of it.
j (PS5VN) [2302] mhm Well let's talk about
js (PS5VL) [2303] Okay, let's ... John said why did I reduce it and you haven't, I have to say, really explained to people why we are doing what we are doing now, why we aren't here discussing why there's another half million in the budget.
[2304] Why are we discussing why there's — eight million is it?— out of the budget provision, something like that.
[2305] We really do need to look at the Bill
j (PS5VN) [2306] All right.
js (PS5VL) [2307] because it must be incomprehensible to people who are already paying very high Poll Taxes.
j (PS5VN) [2308] All right.
[2309] Why?
js (PS5VL) [2310] Well, it's because the Poll Tax is designed and the whole load of legislation that goes along with it, to increase the burden of erm payment on local Poll Tax payers.
[2311] There's been a shift over the last six years from government funded ... government grant supported provision to Poll Tax ratepayer provision of these services.
j (PS5VN) [2312] mhm
js (PS5VL) [2313] And this is exactly what we're actually experiencing now, and this is why people in Oxfordshire are going to pay more money for poorer services.
[2314] It is direct consequence of the imposition of the Poll Tax.
m (PS5VR) [2315] Not entirely.
j (PS5VN) [2316] John Cochrane, from the Liberal Democrats.
m (PS5VR) [2317] Not entirely that because it is also to do with the mechanism by which government grant is distributed.
m (PS5VR) [2318] Government grant is distributed through a mechanism which is now called the standard spending assessment, an awful word, or phrase, but it is absolutely vital, and if you look at the standard spending assessment given to this county the government is saying we ought to be able to provide all the services for a total cost of eight hundred and seventy nine pounds per charge payer.
[2319] Now if you look at the figure for, say, Westminster, which is a London Borough much in the news in these matters, you will see that the government is saying that they can have a standard spending assessment of seventeen hundred and twenty seven pounds per charge payer.
[2320] Now let's translate that into reality.
[2321] It means if we had that spending assessment and our costs, instead of the listeners getting a bill for four hundred pounds in their letterbox in May they would get a cheque for over five hundred pounds.
[2322] That is the extent of the distortion in the government, the way the government issues the grant money.
[2323] We get virtually no grant per charge payer, about a hundred and thirty pounds, Westminster gets very nearly a thousand pounds per charge payer.
[2324] More than we spend entirely.
js (PS5VL) [2325] mhm
m (PS5VR) [2326] So I think we ought to go back to what David Waldon said earlier on, which was about the thirty nine million pound increase in the budget since nineteen eighty five.
[2327] Why was it increased?
[2328] It was because in eighty five we had the lowest spending per household of any county in the country.
[2329] When I got elected I got elected because the erm roads in this county were in a six hundred year repair cycle.
[2330] I got elected because the teacher/pupil ratio
j (PS5VN) [2331] Well they still are, it seems.
js (PS5VL) [2332] Rather less because we've just taken some money out of the budget.
m (PS5VR) [2333] I got elected because the primary teacher/pupil ratio was the worst in the country.
j (PS5VN) [2334] And it's going to get worse still.
m (PS5VR) [2335] No, because over the last six years we've actually gone from bottom of the pile to tenth from bottom.
[2336] Still nowhere near what
j (PS5VN) [2337] And now we're heading back down?
m (PS5VR) [2338] Now we're doing a little bit of reversion and it is much regret ... by God for five years I have negotiated budgets with the Labour group against intense opposition to Conservatives and central government to improve the services in Oxfordshire.
[2339] What I've had to do this year, or what I've chosen to do this year
js (PS5VL) [2340] Yes, thank you.
m (PS5VR) [2341] was to come to an agreement with the Conservative group because in my view that budget was better than the one put forward by the Labour.
j (PS5VN) [2342] All right.
[2343] I want to look at new charges for home care and day care and transportation services for disabled people.
[2344] David Waldon.
j (PS5VN) [2345] Yes, erm these always cause erm adverse comment and erm I
j (PS5VN) [2346] Not without reason.
j (PS5VN) [2347] take the view that erm they are put up by the Council from time to time for various reasons.
[2348] They were put up yesterday because of the problems with the Social Services Department, one of which of course was it's previous overspend.
[2349] erm I cannot deny that erm they will not be received at all well by those that have to pay them.
j (PS5VN) [2350] But what will it mean to the people?
j (PS5VN) [2351] Well, they'll have to pay more.
j (PS5VN) [2352] And what if they can't afford that?
j (PS5VN) [2353] We
j (PS5VN) [2354] It will mean a reduction in services.
j (PS5VN) [2355] Well will it?
[2356] Everybody says that's what's going to happen, but erm when it's been done in the past I've not had any figures produced that indicate that the service provision has had to fall off because of increased charges.
[2357] I hope it won't happen in this case.
js (PS5VL) [2358] One of the qualifications for being a Tory is that you can make comments like ‘adverse comment’ about a cut of this sort erm and remember that you have heard representations of the strongest sort from very well documented people who are going to be affected by these cuts.
[2359] Perhaps, Bill, I could help you by using the example that Sharon Mace, on of erm the physically handicapped people who came to lobby Council yesterday, used.
[2360] She said that the increased charges to her, and she is totally immobile, except as I understand it from being able to move her head, the increased charges to her would be thirty seven per cent of her total weekly income of eighty pounds.
[2361] That just puts it a little bit in context.
[2362] No wonder you get adverse comments about that.
m (PS5VR) [2363] I think we ought to
j (PS5VN) [2364] John Cochrane from the Liberal Democrats.
m (PS5VR) [2365] yes, I mean, in contra-distinction to that, first of all a number of these increased charges, like fifty p for a journey to a day centre, they are standard practice in other counties.
[2366] I mean it is not as if we've suddenly gone to totally new territory.
[2367] They are standard practice.
[2368] Secondly, the Director of Social Services has got the authority to waive any of these charges where it causes financial hardship and the whole mechanism has been put in place to inform people that this waiving ... waiver process is in place and to allow them to apply for waiving of those charges.
[2369] And let's think about it, there are many people in this county who receive home help service, for instance, who could well afford to pay these charges, and we in the Liberal Democrats see that we can augment the service with the income we get from these charges.
[2370] Otherwise
js (PS5VL) [2371] People on attendance allowance?
m (PS5VR) [2372] No.
js (PS5VL) [2373] Well you are increasing the charges.
m (PS5VR) [2374] People who get attendance allowance get that allowance to pay for attendance, and home help is attendance.
j (PS5VN) [2375] All right John Cochrane, we don't have much time.
[2376] Are you optimistic that erm people will perceive the services under this budget as better than they've had last year, or worse?
m (PS5VR) [2377] Oh, the services undoubtedly are going to be less.
[2378] I hope they won't be worse in quality, although they might be less in quantity.
j (PS5VN) [2379] mhm And David Waldon.
j (PS5VN) [2380] No, they're not going to be better, except in those isolated cases where the service provision has been produced.
[2381] erm in education I am confident that erm schools and colleges will operate their delegated budgets very successfully and erm I think they will do so without detriment to the Education Service.
j (PS5VN) [2382] And erm
j (PS5VN) [2383] I think we've fairly applied the funds available to
js (PS5VL) [2384] Yes, I
j (PS5VN) [2385] the Council service.
j (PS5VN) [2386] Eva Barnes, from Labour.
js (PS5VL) [2387] I think the services will be worse.
[2388] They will be worse for frail, elderly people, for physically and mentally disabled people, and I think people will also be asking the Tory and Liberal Democrat groups why they went for half a million pounds less than they need have done in service provision.
j (PS5VN) [2389] Well on that note we'll have to draw this one to a close, but I think the debate will run quite a bit.
[2390] David Waldon, many thanks.
[2391] David Waldon from the Conservatives.
[2392] Thanks to Eva Barnes, Deputy Leader of Labour and to John Cochrane from the Liberal Democrats.
[2393] That's it from me, Bill Heine.
[2394] Thanks for joining us.
[2395] Goodbye. [recorded jingle]


[recorded jingle]
j (PS5VN) [2396] Hello and welcome to the programme.
[2397] Today we'll be talking about the Social Services Department of Oxfordshire County Council, and I'm joined by the Director of Social Services, that's Ian White.
[2398] Well, Ian, welcome to the programme.
[2399] Yesterday the ... it wasn't yesterday, it was earlier on this week, the County Councillors set a new budget for Oxfordshire and they made ten million pounds worth of cuts.
[2400] How did the Social Services segment fare in those cuts?
s (PS5VP) [2402] Well I think, Bill, if I was to try and sum it up I'd say that the Social Services settlement was the best of a bad job.
[2403] erm once the government announced their capping limits later on ... late last year, the County Council knew it was in trouble and back in December the Social Services Committee faced cuts of something like three and a half million.
[2404] Well, on Tuesday of this week erm the settlement erm gave us what is in effect erm a balanced budget — a lot of money in, a lot of money out.
[2405] In other words, we've been funding from within our own budget new developments that'll come on stream next year and it's a very complicated budget and it contains some quite erm controversial erm subjects, which no doubt we'll go through in a minute, but overall erm, given the total financial situation, I'm a relieved man today.
j (PS5VN) [2406] Well why are you a relieved man, because a lot of people will be a lot worse off.
s (PS5VP) [2407] Well to do that, Bill, I need to take you erm through the detail of the budget.
[2408] Way back in December, when we were first rehearsing erm the problems erm we were facing a hundred and seventy compulsory redundancies, the closure of an adult training centre, the closure of an elderly persons' home, erm the closure of a hostel and a whole range of other quite draconian measures.
[2409] We are one and a half million pounds better off from that, and the compulsory redundancy problem has gone erm I'd have to explain the list to you, though, to give a proper context, and maybe that's what I should
j (PS5VN) [2410] Yes, let's start right now.
[2411] Go right down.
s (PS5VP) [2412] Well, in simple terms, erm we have to find from a range of measures two million pounds, which will then be ploughed back in to improving other aspects of services, and the big things on this list, and some of the most controversial, are the following.
[2413] Firstly the charges.
[2414] They've received a lot of publicity erm and a lot of angst erm and they're quite complicated, so I'll go through them carefully.
[2415] The first thing we're doing is the County Council's going to introduce a charge for people who attend Day Centres.
[2416] Though ... that will be a charge for elderly people attending Day Centres for elderly people, mentally handicapped people erm disabled people and so on.
[2417] The charge will be two pounds a day, which will include their meal, for which they already pay erm I think it's ninety p at the moment, so effectively it's an increase of a pound and ten p.
j (PS5VN) [2418] But they'll also have to pay fifty p for transportation?
s (PS5VP) [2419] The next charge is fifty p return journey for those people who we transport in and out of our centres.
j (PS5VN) [2420] Yes, so in effect these people will be paying two fifty per day.
s (PS5VP) [2421] Yes, some of them.
j (PS5VN) [2422] Yes, and someone rang up earlier on in the programme and she said ‘Well, I have two children.
[2423] They are both mentally handicapped.
[2424] I am now going to have to pay five pounds per day for these children’.
[2425] It's quite incredible.
[2426] I mean where is she going to get that money?
s (PS5VP) [2427] Well this is where the problem of levying charges does become controversial.
[2428] I'd make a number of points.
[2429] Firstly, nobody, but nobody would want to levy charges until it was a last resort, but if the alternative to levying those charges were perhaps that we had to cut the staffing levels in those adult training centres, then you get a different answer to the question, and I had a meeting about four weeks ago with the heads of some of our centres who've been asking parents and carers that question.
[2430] What would you rather have — a charge or a general thinning out of staffing levels — and almost unanimously it was ‘We'd rather pay a reasonable charge’.
[2431] That's point number one.
[2432] Now point number two is a general charge of this kind will affect different families in widely differing ways, and quite clearly there will be some families who can well afford to pay that charge, and there will be other people who cannot, and maybe the case that you were quoting me is an example of that.
j (PS5VN) [2433] And there'll be a lot of families in the middle, where they're not sure whether they fall in one category or the other, but they dislike having to take their cap in hand and go ask for another subsidy.
s (PS5VP) [2434] Right.
[2435] These are very emotional things, very difficult things to debate coolly.
[2436] People will feel very strongly about them, but I would say the following.
[2437] The charge that we're introducing for day care in Oxfordshire has already been introduced elsewhere in the country.
[2438] Now you may say ‘so what’, but at least other people with mentally handicapped people attending day centres elsewhere in the country have become used to paying this.
[2439] Secondly, controversially, most of the people who attend our centres receive attendance allowances.
[2440] A lot receive mobility allowances.
[2441] And whatever you think, and however controversial this is, there is a line of argument that says that is a valid charge against those specific allowances that you receive erm from Social Security.
[2442] But the big thing I've got to say
j (PS5VN) [2443] Well what is that argument?
s (PS5VP) [2444] Well the argument is that if you receive ... say a mobility allowance, and if we are laying on transport to get you to a Day Centre and back, maybe five days a week, then the argument is that that's a fair levy against that allowance.
[2445] The charge that we're making will in no way gobble up the whole of that allowance, by any stretch of the imagination, but I can imagine people out there now reaching for their phones and probably going to disagree with me.
[2446] But before they do, perhaps I can say the most important thing, which is that the charges that we're introducing are going to be underpinned with what we call a waiver scheme.
[2447] A waiver scheme allows individual families to get in touch with me and to tell me if the levying of the charge will erm ... will mean particular financial hardship for them, and we've had experience of this.
[2448] erm last year we introduced a Home Care charge, based on attendance allowance, and a number of families of elderly people got in touch with me and they're were obviously particular reasons why the charge couldn't be fairly levied to them.
[2449] They might have been using the whole of the attendance allowance erm to pay for carers, outside of the care that we provided, erm or a member of the family might have given up work to look after another member of the family.
[2450] So quite clearly individual family situations will change, and I'd like to use this opportunity to get the message across to everybody who's listening that when we introduce the charges you'll all get a letter, and the letter will say also that there is a waiver scheme, and the procedure you should go through to be considered for that.
[2451] I can't say that we'll approve every one, but obviously we know that if you introduce a general charge there will be people for whom you do not want it to affect unfairly.
m (PS5VR) [2452] What will be your criterion?
s (PS5VP) [2453] Well
m (PS5VR) [2454] For deciding who is exempt and who has to pay.
s (PS5VP) [2455] I mean to a certain extent I have just said them.
[2456] People who, quite obviously when they get in touch with us, there are special financial circumstances.
[2457] You could make up some theoretical examples.
[2458] You could have a family of maybe erm an older carer with a mentally handicapped son or daughter who receives various allowances, but whom the total income for that family is such that it is so low because of special circumstances, maybe the mother has to have special heating, or special diets, or whatever, as to be logical that we waive some or all of the charge.
[2459] erm it may very well be that certain family situations, such as the example I gave you example earlier — somebody may have given up work to look after a dependent.
j (PS5VN) [2460] mhm
s (PS5VP) [2461] And in that sense it would be obviously grossly unfair.
j (PS5VN) [2462] Because what I'd like to do is give people a view as to how they can best formulate their letters to you to get the right kind of reply from you.
s (PS5VP) [2463] I can't give a set of specific criteria.
j (PS5VN) [2464] Sure.
s (PS5VP) [2465] Because there are thousands of people with thousands of different life circumstances.
j (PS5VN) [2466] But the general principles are
s (PS5VP) [2467] But the general principles are particular financial hardship, cases for.
j (PS5VN) [2468] mhm
s (PS5VP) [2469] Particular social circumstances, family circumstances, exceptional family circumstances.
[2470] Tell me about them.
[2471] Those sorts of things.
j (PS5VN) [2472] All right.
s (PS5VP) [2473] Whilst we're talking about charges, of course, I do need to talk about the Home Care charge, don't I?
j (PS5VN) [2474] Yes, indeed, so
s (PS5VP) [2475] Because that's also going to be erm a controversial one.
[2476] erm the Home Care charge is, in fact, quite complicated.
[2477] Just to take listeners through it carefully, erm excuse me, firstly people on income support only will still get the Home Care service free, and that's something like seventy per cent of the recipients of the Home Help Service will still continue to get the service free.
[2478] But for people who are on income support and receive the attendance allowance, their charge will go up from four forty five to seven fifty.
[2479] And for people who are not on income support, in other words they have means higher than that, but who do receive attendance allowance, their charge will go up from eight ninety at the moment to fifteen pounds.
[2480] And again there will be the same erm circumstances that I have just been describing for other people applying here.
[2481] We've just finished the first round of waivers for people receiving the Home Care Service, and the criteria that I was giving you reflected those, and so when you get your letter, if you feel that you've got particular financial problems or particular family situations we should take into account, erm then do get in touch with us and we'll process it and we'll set out a procedure for you in the letter that we send.
j (PS5VN) [2482] All right.
[2483] Well, I'm just wondering, I'd like to get some view of what percentage of people to whom you will levy these charges, what per cent of those people will probably be exempt?
s (PS5VP) [2484] That's right.
[2485] I need to break it down.
[2486] I think the proportion of people who we give waivers to on these special grounds will be still a very small proportion.
j (PS5VN) [2487] mhm
s (PS5VP) [2488] But our estimates obviously assume a certain waiver level.
j (PS5VN) [2489] Yes.
[2490] What level was that?
s (PS5VP) [2491] [laugh] .
[2492] My accountant isn't sitting here on my shoulder, and I'd have to ask her, Bill, but it's certainly ... we don't assume a hundred per cent take up for the purposes of estimating like this.
[2493] erm secondly, the Home Care charge, a lot of people will still receive the service free, people on income support only.
[2494] I would say for people attending Day Centres, the majority of people will end up paying the charge, or a reduced level of charge, because it's not all or nothing, we can waive part of the charge as well.
[2495] erm I mean the object of the exercise, difficult as though it is to say, is to get income, and the reason we need the income is to protect the baseline of the services.
[2496] We've got demand for Home Care coming out of our ears.
[2497] What doesn't show in these Council papers is that in my budget next year I've got another three hundred thousand pounds worth of Home Care service growth, so if I get two hundred thousand from income from the Home Care, the Council is still putting in more than it's receiving, if you see what I mean.
[2498] Every penny of income we get gets ploughed back into erm the service, and it is a way of protecting the service, given the awful financial situation erm that the County Council face this year.
j (PS5VN) [2499] All right, but let me stop you for a moment, there.
[2500] I'm sure people wonder what about the administration.
[2501] What about your offices?
[2502] What are you doing there?
s (PS5VP) [2503] Right.
[2504] Last time I was on this programme I think we had the same conversation, didn't we?
[2505] Towards the end of last year we finished a review of all our management costs and our structure costs and, as a consequence, have saved a quarter of a million pounds in our administration.
[2506] That's before this budget actually started.
[2507] It's reduced the number of supervisors and managers in the system.
[2508] It's reduced the pay rates ... the overall pay rates that we pay them.
[2509] We've made it a slimmer, and hopefully erm more cost effective, structure.
[2510] A quarter of a million was taken off erm before we got into this budget cycle.
[2511] Obviously we are sensitive to the point that erm it would be wrong to have a heavy bureaucracy and all the rest of it when you're having to hit front line services.
[2512] I believe we are a forty million pound organisation.
[2513] A forty million pound organisation needs proper management, and therefore you do have costs on top of it, and they are proper costs.
[2514] You wouldn't think of running Ford or ICI or whatever without a proper management.
[2515] You wouldn't want, for example, the heads of our elderly people's homes to be sat in their offices pushing paper when they should be managing the home.
[2516] You'd expect us to employ a clerk to do that.
[2517] So not all administration equals bad, not all management equals bad.
[2518] The other thing I'd say is that the budget settlement that we've got introduces a further hundred thousand of investment in new technology, and this is part of our push to making us more efficient in the way we manage our budgets and all the rest of it.
[2519] But I do agree that people out there must keep wondering how do they know that we are as, as it were, as slim as we can be.
j (PS5VN) [2520] Yes, and they have to take your word from it.
s (PS5VP) [2521] Well they can also compare our costs with other authorities if they were so interested.
[2522] I mean there are measures of comparison that exist which show that.
j (PS5VN) [2523] Well right now you're involved in a conference.
s (PS5VP) [2524] Yes, that's a staff one.
j (PS5VN) [2525] It's a staff conference.
[2526] It's a two day ... it's a residential
s (PS5VP) [2527] Partly.
j (PS5VN) [2528] Partly.
[2529] And it's at the Moat House.
s (PS5VP) [2530] It is.
j (PS5VN) [2531] That's a very posh, exclusive, expensive place to hold a conference.
s (PS5VP) [2532] Right.
j (PS5VN) [2533] Who's footing the bill?
s (PS5VP) [2534] The Department of Health.
[2535] We get a specific grant, sorry for the jargon, we get a specific grant from the Department of Health for all sorts of aspects of the management of our department and training our staff and so on.
[2536] It's about three hundred and fifty thousand a year.
[2537] We've just ... as I've just said, we've just finished reorganising our department.
[2538] We've got a brand new management team coming into place on the first of April.
[2539] We have to do some pre-planning with those people, so that they know what their jobs are, how the systems are going to work, what the priorities are.
[2540] You say about the Moat House being expensive, well it might be expensive to you or I as an individual, but when you're negotiating conference rates in the area it is actually cheap and very suitable.
[2541] It's centrally located.
[2542] We are near our offices.
[2543] We've got good communications.
[2544] We're not out of touch, etc.
[2545] It's ... we're very conscious that erm the costs that we've incurred we need to keep strapped down to a minimum, but we have to manage a forty million pound organisation and you cannot do this on the back of an envelope.
j (PS5VN) [2546] All right.
[2547] Good.
s (PS5VP) [2548] To plough on with some of the other negative aspects of the budget, I've talked about the charges.
[2549] We're putting in a hundred thousand of savings from our children's review.
[2550] That's the plans that we've had for our children's services, but I'll come on to back to that in a minute.
[2551] We're taking a hundred and fifty odd thousand out from a budget we have for additional staffing, and we're also taking
j (PS5VN) [2552] Now what does that mean?
s (PS5VP) [2553] Well, let me finish.
[2554] We're also taking another four hundred thousand out of budgets that we had for planned improvements in staffing as well.
[2555] Now what this means is we won't be able to improve the staffing levels in homes that we'd planned, four hundred thousand pounds worth of that, and that is sad, but at least it's not throwing people out of work and reducing the current staffing levels.
j (PS5VN) [2556] But what does this means for the homes in particular?
s (PS5VP) [2557] What it means for the homes is that they're going to have to take a ... what we've been doing over the last two or three years is gradually improving the staffing levels in our elderly people's homes, because the dependency levels in those homes are getting very high.
j (PS5VN) [2558] Well what's the average erm age of admission, about eighty seven?
s (PS5VP) [2559] Average age of admission eighty five.
j (PS5VN) [2560] Eighty five?
s (PS5VP) [2561] A hundred per cent of admissions physically disabled.
j (PS5VN) [2562] mhm
s (PS5VP) [2563] One in three and rising mentally disabled.
[2564] So, quite clearly we're not dealing now with a population that's ambulant and so on.
[2565] They need help getting up, going to bed, going to the loo, bathing, blah blah blah.
j (PS5VN) [2566] And when you have that context where these people need help more and more and yet you're not going to be able to supply it, isn't that almost criminal?
s (PS5VP) [2567] I mean that's a loaded word.
[2568] I ... erm
j (PS5VN) [2569] Well but ... but somebody may need help and they ... I mean if somebody slips and falls.
s (PS5VP) [2570] There's minimum standards and there's target standards, isn't there?
j (PS5VN) [2571] Yes.
s (PS5VP) [2572] Our staffing levels are at a proper minimum standard.
[2573] We can cover rotas.
[2574] We have two night people on at night.
[2575] We have enough people to make sure that the basic safety and care of the residents of our homes are covered.
j (PS5VN) [2576] You say that today, but it's a fluid situation.
[2577] People are getting more dependent as time goes by.
s (PS5VP) [2578] You could be repeating the arguments I make endlessly in Council, Bill.
[2579] What our staffing levels don't allow us to do is for the care assistants to have the time they would like just to spend talking to elderly people, talking them write letters, get in touch with their relatives.
[2580] That sort of thing.
j (PS5VN) [2581] So, basically, you're saying that there are these cuts and that's going to mean the quality of life in the homes is going to go downhill.
s (PS5VP) [2582] Yes, but not, I would hasten to add, dramatically fast.
[2583] I mean, I am not playing with words when I say this, but it won't improve as fast as we would have liked it to do because of the financial situation.
[2584] There are other things on the list erm we're taking a hundred thousand out of our budget to buy places for mentally handicapped people out of county.
j (PS5VN) [2585] Well now what does that mean?
s (PS5VP) [2586] Now what that means is that we have what we call an agency budget.
[2587] We pay for people to go and live in for ever.
[2588] Provision made by other agencies, Guide Post Trusts, for example, MENCAP Homes and so on and so forth .
[2589] We shan't be able to do as much as we would like.
[2590] We have a budget — I think it's about a million pounds in total on this — it's a hundred thousand, so it's one in ten over any one year less that we'll be able to care for in this way.
[2591] Now the biggest minus on the list is the closure of an elderly person's home.
[2592] That will be in Oxford.
[2593] It'll save us a hundred thousand in the first year.
j (PS5VN) [2594] It will be in Oxford City?
s (PS5VP) [2595] In the City of Oxford, yes.
j (PS5VN) [2596] Yes.
s (PS5VP) [2597] erm and that is the only item on the list which will require us to close something that we're doing at the moment.
j (PS5VN) [2598] It will save you how much?
s (PS5VP) [2599] A hundred thousand in the first year and three hundred thousand in the second and subsequent years.
j (PS5VN) [2600] mhm
s (PS5VP) [2601] Because obviously we can't close it just like that.
[2602] It'll ... we have to run it down slowly over the course of the year.
j (PS5VN) [2603] Yes.
[2604] How will you decide which home to pick on.
s (PS5VP) [2605] Right.
[2606] We have, as you'd imagine, a lot of data about our homes for elderly people — their occupancy rates, their location, the viability of moving residents and so on.
[2607] The process that we'll go through is firstly I, now the Council's made this decision, will speak to the three Social Services Committee spokespersons about which home looks the most logical, and obviously I know which that one is in my own mind.
[2608] Secondly, if they accept those arguments, then before anything becomes public I then need to embark on a process of consultation with the residents themselves and with their relatives and with their staff, so that we can explain it carefully to them — what it'll involve, the time scale, what their options are going to be, how we'll go through this process and all the rest of it, all the ins and outs, and then I shall have to then go formally to a special meeting of the Social Services Committee, probably in April, to say that I've carried out this consultation, that this is my recommendation as to the home the Council should choose, and if they agree that then we move into implementation.
j (PS5VN) [2609] And they would be highly likely to rubber stamp your suggestion at that state?
s (PS5VP) [2610] I mean rubber stamp's again an emotive word.
[2611] I mean it would be hopefully,.
[2612] so far as any decision is logical, this would be a logical decision.
j (PS5VN) [2613] Right, but the way you're describing the process it seems ... I get an image of someone gently putting his hand on the collar
s (PS5VP) [laugh]
j (PS5VN) [2614] and very firmly tightening the grip, without allowing the person to say I don't like this hand there, I don't like what you're doing.
[2615] You see, if you were to make it public now, you would empower those people who might be the victims of this cut to articulate their views and to lobby and to be part of this process, rather than just passive participants.
s (PS5VP) [2616] I think the process that I've just explained would allow that anyway, because what I would do, if I just go back over it again, supposing for argument's sake by the end of February we've agreed which one we think it's going to be, we then ... I then go to the home.
[2617] My staff meet every resident.
[2618] We write to all their relatives, as in early March.
j (PS5VN) [2619] But basically you're telling them that it's almost an accomplished fact and erm they probably don't have too much room for manoeuvre.
s (PS5VP) [2620] To a certain extent that's true.
[2621] Absolutely.
[2622] The Council has decided to close an elderly person's home.
[2623] From that moment in time they will have the opportunity to express their views to Councillors, to myself, to my staff.
[2624] We will, when we go to committee in April, say all this.
[2625] We'll report all this to the Council.
[2626] You're dead right, closing down a service of this kind is controversial and very difficult and has to be handled very sensitively.
j (PS5VN) [2627] Well, sensitively is one way of putting it.
[2628] I think erm effectively and with a powerful hand is another way of doing it.
[2629] Now how about ... there was another place that was due to be closed down.
[2630] That was the Blenheim Road
s (PS5VP) [2631] Yes.
j (PS5VN) [2632] establishment in Kidlington.
s (PS5VP) [2633] That's it.
j (PS5VN) [2634] And that was a Day Centre.
s (PS5VP) [2635] That was a Day Centre for erm mentally handicapped people, and that's got a reprieve.
j (PS5VN) [2636] Yes.
[2637] Now why did it get a reprieve?
[2638] Because the name was put in the Press early, before any irrevocable decisions had been made, and people there at that centre got their act together.
[2639] They did an excellent job of lobbying.
[2640] I was quite impressed by what they did.
[2641] I'm sure a lot of Councillors were gob-smacked, and what happened is that Councillors were caught on the hop.
[2642] They had to make policy on the hoof and they reprieved that place.
[2643] And I think that's a wonderful example of people actually having power over the decisions.
s (PS5VP) [2644] I mean if I could make a general point.
[2645] Firstly, I was ... I too was, if I can use the expression, gob-smacked at the strength of feeling that was expressed at the Social Services Committee and subsequently at the Policy Services Committee as well.
[2646] Social Services ... the world of Social Services don't have as strong a lobby as the Education lobby, or the Environment lobby, nationally or traditionally, and in a way I think the awfulness of the situation got people to the point of saying enough's enough, and that was to me very healthy, absolutely healthy.
[2647] That's the power of living in a democracy.
j (PS5VN) [2648] Yes, to you it was healthy.
[2649] Yesterday I had three Councillors here in the studio.
[2650] We were talking about budget decisions and after the microphones closed at the end of the programme they commented about that home in Blenheim Road in Kidlington, and to them it wasn't healthy.
[2651] They didn't like that one bit.
[2652] And they said we're not naming the home for the elderly that will probably be closed.
[2653] We're not doing that on purpose because we don't want a repeat of what happened over there in the Blenheim Road, where people actually had power.
s (PS5VP) [2654] Well, if they said that erm
j (PS5VN) [2655] Oh, that was confidential.
[2656] Oh yes, I wouldn't tell anybody.
s (PS5VP) [2657] Of course not!
j (PS5VN) [2658] It's between you and me.
s (PS5VP) [2659] [laugh] .
[2660] These things are very difficult, very sensitive.
[2661] I can't say any more than that.
[2662] I mean I am a mere officer who advises the Council, Bill, as you know.
[2663] [laugh] . I hardly dare say this in this context, but if we ... well now the Council has taken a decision to close this elderly person's home, there is actually a logic to it, which I'd like to talk about.
j (PS5VN) [2664] All right, have a go.
s (PS5VP) [2665] We have been, over the last few months, looking at the distribution of our services for elderly people across the county.
[2666] If you live in Oxford, in the City area of Oxford, you have a far higher chance of getting a home help, getting a place in an elderly person's home, getting a meals on wheels, than anywhere else in the county, and between the different areas of the county there are vast differences in that.
[2667] Our elderly strategy is moving towards trying to equalize, or even out, those big differences of accessibility, because if you live in Wantage, and I live in Oxford, say, we have a totally unequal access to Social Services for elderly people.
j (PS5VN) [2668] Well how did that develop?
s (PS5VP) [2669] It's because over the last twenty odd years of investment in Social Services erm differential investment decisions were made, blah blah blah.
[2670] It's grown up like topsy, and what we're trying to do is to equalize that.
[2671] Now what we haven't got to yet in this programme is what's going back into the budget.
j (PS5VN) [2672] Yes, but I still want to stay on this equalizing thing.
s (PS5VP) [2673] Well, yes, that's all right.
[2674] I'll answer that.
j (PS5VN) [2675] Equalize down, or equalize up.
s (PS5VP) [2676] Well, wait a minute.
[2677] What we're doing ... what isn't ... what we haven't talked about yet is that this budget protects our investment in increasing services in the Vale of White Horse, which will be Home Care services, Occupational Therapy services, Day Care services.
[2678] The biggest difference in contrast on my equalization argument is between the City and between the Vale, and so whilst again it might be controversial, there is a logic, with our backs to the wall admittedly, of saying right well we'll close this home in order to protect money that we've got lined up to come on stream next year.
[2679] Point one.
[2680] Point number two — in our homes in the City we are carrying vacancies.
[2681] Now you might think that's incredible, but we are.
j (PS5VN) [2682] How many?
s (PS5VP) [2683] More than the closure of a forty bedded home.
[2684] So we will be able to locate the residents of whichever home we choose within a very tight geographical area, giving them choices as to where they go.
[2685] If they want to take the opportunity to erm move to Newcastle, to be near their relatives, they'll have that choice as well, and it's ... if we have to make difficult choices of this kind, then it's more — I'm sorry to keep using the word logical, but it is — it's logical to choose this one than to choose one of the remoter homes in the county that serves a local populace where there is no alternative.
[2686] So, I know it's a sensitive thing this elderly person's home, but I would argue that underpinning it is a logic.
[2687] a) We've got enough places in the City and we can relocate people carefully and sensitively, and secondly
j (PS5VN) [2688] These are people with an average age of about eighty five?
s (PS5VP) [2689] Absolutely.
j (PS5VN) [2690] And increasingly dependent and probably quite erm accustomed to the way their life is running in the home.
s (PS5VP) [2691] Yes to all those, but don't think also that we're not able to construct a process which does that sensitively, because we've got experience of doing that.
[2692] Just aside, we're upgrading one of our elderly people's homes elsewhere in the county and we've had to empty the home and move the people to an empty home for six months.
j (PS5VN) [2693] Yes, that's Stirling's over in Wantage, and you're moving them to Shillingford for six months.
s (PS5VP) [2694] Shillingford for six months.
[2695] And we were really worried, you know, what that would do.
[2696] My staff tell me that the elderly people have sort of taken to it like a duck to water almost.
[2697] It's a change in their life.
[2698] It's something to plan for, etc.
[2699] So, whilst I wouldn't want to over estimate or under estimate the problem, I think we've got to keep a balance in that.
[2700] Could I tell your listeners a little bit about the good news that's in the budget, because we've talked ... we've focused on the minuses so far, but there's a lot of plusses as well.
j (PS5VN) [2701] All right, but before you go onto the plusses, let's talk to Janet.
[2702] Hello Janet.
j (PS5VN) [2703] Hello Bill.
j (PS5VN) [2704] Calling from Chinnor.
j (PS5VN) [2705] Yes.
j (PS5VN) [2706] Your views.
j (PS5VN) [2707] Hello, Ian.
s (PS5VP) [2708] Hello.
j (PS5VN) [2709] I was just wondering, would you have imposed these very high home care charges if you'd not been forced to by the cuts imposed by the Poll Tax capping.
s (PS5VP) [2710] Well, firstly the decision's the Councils, obviously, not mine personally, erm there would be less pressure certainly to do that erm because, as I've said earlier, the charges will allow us to protect the Home Care Service.
[2711] erm I mean that's what I would say.
[2712] It would then depend on the financial scenario.
[2713] If the Council was getting loads of growth in its budget it might not need to increase its charges.
[2714] If we were in a zero growth situation and we still had all this demand, maybe we would have introduced the charges.
j (PS5VN) [2715] But you wouldn't have done it quite ... you would have thought about whether you did it, whereas the moment you've been forced to do it because of the cuts that have been forced upon us by the Poll Tax capping.
s (PS5VP) [2716] Oh absolutely.
j (PS5VN) [2717] Yes.
[2718] Okay [laugh] .
[2719] That answered that, didn't it?
j (PS5VN) [2720] Is that ... that's your only question?
j (PS5VN) [2721] mhm Thanks Bill.
j (PS5VN) [2722] Certainly.
[2723] You got off the hook very easily there, Ian.
s (PS5VP) [2724] That's a change on your programme, Bill [laugh] .
j (PS5VN) [2725] Now go on to the plus points.
s (PS5VP) [2726] Well, I mean the point to make about this budget is I've just told you about two million pounds worth of minuses, let me tell you about two million pounds of pluses that are going in.
[2727] Firstly, I've just said, our budget protects what we call our Vale strategy, which is an improvement in services for elderly people in the Vale.
[2728] It'll mean more Day Care, more Home Care, more Occupational Therapy, for people in an area of the county who get far less levels of service than elsewhere in the county.
[2729] That's good news.
[2730] Secondly, I get another dollop of money, if I can put it like this, for Home Care right across the county.
[2731] erm and as I said earlier, the income will by no means cover that new growth.
[2732] Thirdly, we implementing this year the Children Act.
[2733] Now in October of this year this is the biggest piece of legislative change in child care law for a generation and it'll shift the whole emphasis of child care services, not just children in care, but support to families in all sorts of situations, from an old out of date system to one very much where the emphasis is on the County Council erm supporting families and their children.
[2734] It'll involve us developing visiting schemes, under eight services, helping families in different ways, improving services for disabled children, developing family centres, and a new specific — this'll ... might amuse you this — a new specific responsibility for us to inspect and register the care practices of private schools in the County, and Oxfordshire has got the biggest number of those in the whole country.
[2735] We have to register them.
[2736] erm I don't know if you remember the Esther Rantzen programme, I think three months ago, where they uncovered all sorts of misdeeds at a school in ... I think it was Cuckham Grange or somewhere in Berkshire.
[2737] Well this is very much responsibilities placed on us to ensure that the care practices in residential schools, boarding schools, are up to scratch.
[2738] So we've got a whole heap, as it were
j (PS5VN) [2739] Can of worms.
s (PS5VP) [2740] Well a can of worms, or a heap of possibilities, whichever way that you want to put it, but the Children Act in total ... we are going to spend something like another four hundred thousand in nineteen ninety one, in the new financial year, which is good news.
j (PS5VN) [2741] But, forgive me, that just seems like it's a drop in the bucket.
s (PS5VP) [2742] Well it's a drop in the bucket in one sense, but it's on top of what we're already doing with our Children's Services, which are very good quality services now in the County.
[2743] And it's a step.
[2744] The following year that doubles up, and so on and so on.
[2745] The second thing we're doing is we've ... we are going to attract a lot of money from what we call a specific grant for mentally ill.
[2746] We will have new money coming into the county, specifically targeted by the government, which we will spend on homeless mentally ill people, Day Care, developing an even ... a much better social work service for people across the county.
[2747] Our mental illness services are the real Cinderella services in the county, and by the county putting ninety thousand into its budget it attracts and quarter of a million of new development.
[2748] So that's good news.
[2749] We've also got to implement the famous Community Care Act, which implies that we've got to set up an inspection unit of all our own services.
[2750] We've got to set up a proper complaints procedure, so that people know how to complain about Social Services, although I doubt very much whether anybody would ever want to complain about Oxfordshire's Social Services, and so on.
[2751] And that's money we have to spend, and it ... in a way that was a controversial decision because members of the Council were genuinely concerned about spending money on what might be seen to be central services, when they were having to face not improving staffing in elderly persons' homes.
[2752] So we're going to keep ... we're going to try and keep our costs on this obviously stripped down to an absolute minimum.
[2753] But there are new regulations which we have to bring in.
j (PS5VN) [2754] Well you obviously welcome all of these regulations, and this added burden on your services, but isn't that going to stretch your already over-stretched services too much?
s (PS5VP) [2755] Again, it
j (PS5VN) [2756] Why look at new
s (PS5VP) [2757] mhm
j (PS5VN) [2758] things to do when you can't even do the old things as well as you want to and as well as you should be doing?
s (PS5VP) [2759] Whether we like it or not, I don't have a choice.
[2760] On the fourteenth of October the Children Act comes into force.
[2761] From that day Social Workers in Oxfordshire will be appearing in Court.
[2762] The Court will have menus of orders they can dish out.
[2763] We will have to, by law, respond to them, but you can't see the Children Act outside of the context of what we're already doing with our other Children's Services, as you know from previous discussions we've had and from keeping track in the papers, over the last eighteen months we've been recruiting more foster carers, reducing the number of children's homes, developing preventative services rather than receiving children into care.
[2764] The number of children in care in Oxfordshire is falling.
[2765] It's bottomed out now, but it's fallen by about fifty or sixty in the last eight months.
[2766] And we've generally been moving already with our big investment that we've already got in Child Care, let's not forget that, towards this philosophy of ... that's enshrined in the Children Act, which is building up parental responsibility and encouraging and supporting parents containing their own children, rather than being forced to give them up.
j (PS5VN) [2767] Yes, but it's that support
s (PS5VP) [2768] Yes.
j (PS5VN) [2769] that is so crucial here.
s (PS5VP) [2770] Absolutely.
j (PS5VN) [2771] Do you feel that you're giving the parents the kind of support that they require?
s (PS5VP) [2772] I think the general answer is yes.
[2773] I think we have great erm in certain areas of the county we've got real tight problems.
[2774] I mean, for example, in one area of the county we've still got major vacancies with our Social Workers because it's a typically problematic recruitment area.
j (PS5VN) [2775] Where's that?
s (PS5VP) [2776] In the north of the county.
[2777] erm and we've taken ... we've made moves to try and improve that, improving staffing, improving pay rates, blah blah blah.
[2778] But there will always be pockets at any one time where we can't give as an equally good service as we would like.
[2779] Similarly, the City area has far more family centres than the rural areas.
[2780] So in terms of equality of access to service, just like I was talking about with elderly people, people with families don't have an equality of access and what we're trying to do is build up in those other areas those services.
[2781] A good example — National Children's Homes, a big national voluntary organisation, expert in family centres, opening a centre in Abingdon, bringing new money into the county, not just county money, in partnership with us.
[2782] Ditto the development in Didcot.
[2783] erm we're putting money into developing new centres in Witney, erm Bicester and Banbury.
[2784] So what we have [laugh] , if I can paint it like this, is a development programme which doesn't just rely on Oxfordshire Social Services putting cash into it, because there are, if we manage this process properly, other people who we can encourage to bring money into Oxfordshire, but the key thing that'll only do it is if they're confident that they're dealing with a competent organization and somebody that they trust and they have some form of credibility.
j (PS5VN) [2785] And someone who won't overspend his budget.
s (PS5VP) [2786] I've never been known to overspend my budget, Bill [laugh] .
j (PS5VN) [2787] We're joined on the line by Lou.
[2788] Good afternoon, Lou.
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [2789] Good afternoon, Bill.
j (PS5VN) [2790] Calling from Kidlington.
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [2791] That's right.
j (PS5VN) [2792] Yes, your views.
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [2793] Bill, I have been receiving home help, for which I'm very grateful, a good service, but I paid four pound forty five a week for somebody to come in and just wash and dress my wife in the morning.
[2794] That ... since January I now I have to put two stamps on a week, which makes it eight ninety a week, right?
[2795] Does ... did I hear rightly that that's now going up to fifteen pound a week?
s (PS5VP) [2796] If I can answer that, Bill.
[2797] It rather depends on the gentleman's personal financial circumstances, and I wouldn't want to rehearse those on the air.
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [2798] All right.
s (PS5VP) [2799] But if I can just reiterate the criteria.
[2800] If you're not on income support or housing benefit
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [2801] mhm
s (PS5VP) [2802] but if you get attendance allowance
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [2803] Which I am.
s (PS5VP) [2804] then it goes up from eight ninety to fifteen pounds.
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [2805] mhm
s (PS5VP) [2806] And I think that's probably what you were saying.
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [2807] That's what I was saying ... I didn't know whether I'd heard correctly you see.
j (PS5VN) [2808] All right.
[2809] Glad to help you out.
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [2810] Thank you.
j (PS5VN) [2811] Certainly, Lou.
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [2812] Bye.
j (PS5VN) [2813] Bye.
[2814] A caller phoned in to say that she couldn't get past her local doctor when she wanted a home help, and he said ‘Well you're coping well enough’.
[2815] So what could she have done to have got around him?
s (PS5VP) [2816] By ringing up your local Social Services Department office.
[2817] We have offices — they are in the phone books — scattered all over the county, local offices.
[2818] Each one of those has a Home Care organiser.
[2819] erm you can ring those, our Home Care organisers up, and they will advise you whether or not you are likely to get a Home Care and what other help might be available as well.
[2820] That's the way to do it.
j (PS5VN) [2821] All right.
[2822] I just want to give my view on the budget.
[2823] It seems like you got ... there's a logic, there are arguments behind what you're doing, and you're equalising things certainly, but I suppose what comes to mind is this phrase to rob Peter to pay Paul, and it must be very difficult to explain to the people in the old folks home when it's being closed, I'm sorry, you're doing this so that somebody else in a different part of the country will have a better quality of life.
s (PS5VP) [2824] It's impossible to answer that questions, Bill, really.
[2825] Everybody knows — including I think members of the Council from all three political groups — everybody knows that we've got increasing numbers of elderly people, we've got increasing numbers of disabled and mentally ill people in the community, and if there is one service, and I know there are others, but if there is one service that needs constant new growth it's Social Services, and that's not me empire building or anything like that, that's me simply saying in straight managerial terms there are forces which require us to increase the Social Services budget.
[2826] If we can't, then we find ourselves in situations like we are now.
[2827] At least, the way I look at it trying to be ever the optimist, is that this is the least worst option.
[2828] We've balanced out.
[2829] You may say we've robbed Peter to pay Paul, and there's some truth in that, but we haven't at the end of the day gone further than that.
[2830] Remember the County Council has had to find ten million, and to a certain extent, therefore, Social Services has been protected by the County Council acknowledging what you've just said, the pressures on it and the importance of its services.
j (PS5VN) [2831] What's the morale like among your staff now?
s (PS5VP) [2832] I think there will be a huge sigh of relief that the axe that had hung over people's heads from December through 'til now has gone.
[2833] That's, I think, number one.
[2834] Secondly, I think they'll reflect in their own ways the sort of thing I've said.
[2835] If this year we have to stabilize in this way, do these things, then that's not a bad achievement [laugh] compared with what we set out with three months ago.
[2836] erm there are positives in this, as I've tried to stress today.
[2837] There's new developments going to come on stream this year.
[2838] They're good.
[2839] There are some controversial things, which we shall handle as sensitively as we can, monitor carefully, and we'll keep our fingers crossed that next year's financial settlement will allow us to go forward again.
j (PS5VN) [2840] How do you feel about managing the system here in Oxford.
[2841] It's got lots of problems and not enough money, and you probably have high hopes for what you wanted to do when you got here.
[2842] Do you look at all this as a pain, or a possibility erm?
s (PS5VP) [2843] I think Oxfordshire's a brilliant place, and I'm not just saying that because we're on the air.
[2844] We have, in the two years I've been here, we have got a depth of talent in our staff that's hard to believe.
[2845] They really are superb people.
[2846] They work far beyond their contracts, without any asking or saying.
[2847] The Council, I think, are backing Social Services.
[2848] They know what the problems are and they are prepared to take the controversial and difficult decisions.
[2849] I'd rather work in a place like that, where we can face problems and move them on and develop things carefully, than to work in some places in the country where things are so far off agenda, as it were, as to be impossible.
[2850] And I know colleague directors in the country who are green with envy at some of the things that we've been able to do even in these difficult times.
j (PS5VN) [2851] So you're optimistic?
s (PS5VP) [2852] I am.
[2853] I'm a basic optimist anyway.
[2854] I am optimistic now that we've got a stable base for the next year, and I'm always optimistic for the year after!
j (PS5VN) [2855] Ian White, Director of Social Services, thanks for joining us.
[2856] Goodbye. [recorded jingle]


[recorded jingle]
j (PS5VN) [2857] Hello and welcome to the programme.
[2858] Today we'll be talking about the tale of a man who lives in a churchyard.
[2859] That's right, there's someone here in Oxford who now and then lives in the churchyard of Saints Mary and John Church in the Cowley Road.
[2860] Well what responsibility does the church have for down and outs and should the vicar try to get rid of this man in the churchyard, or should the vicar invite him into the vicarage.
[2861] Well my guest today will have views on those issues.
[2862] Reverend Martin Flatman is the vicar of Saints Mary and John Church in the Cowley Road.
[2863] Pauline Dungate has been working in the church for quite a few years, and she knows the man who lives in the cemetery from time to time.
[2864] And Reverend David Brian is the curate at Christ Church at Abingdon, but he used to work in Saints Mary and John Church area.
[2865] Sister Jenny runs The Porch, that's a drop in centre for the homeless in the Cowley Road area, and Lesley Dewhurst is from the Elmore Group — that's a group that helps ‘difficult to place people'.
[2866] Well more about that later, but first the tale of the man who lives in the cemetery.
[2867] Martin Flatman, welcome to the programme.
[2868] Ah, he doesn't live in the cemetery, he lives in the churchyard, doesn't he?
l (PS5VS) [2870] Yes, I know, well you know, you can't help it, your a bit foreign aren't you?
j (PS5VN) [2871] Yes.
l (PS5VS) [2872] That's the problem with you.
[2873] But he does, he lives in the churchyard, and he has done on and off, as you say, for a few years, and he's been a bit of a ... most of the time he's perfectly all right because he keeps himself to himself.
[2874] He obviously doesn't like erm living anywhere else, and erm he's really very harmless, but the problem is that he erm frightens people erm simply by being there.
[2875] He's behind the bushes, or he sits in the church itself when it's cold, and I don't blame him because it's been pretty cold the last, you know, few weeks.
[2876] erm but erm it's terribly difficult to balance, you know, one's care for someone like that, and other people like that, with the needs of people who want to use the church to pray in and the churchyard to visit graves etc. etc.
j (PS5VN) [2877] Well people have rung into this programme saying that they've been put off visiting graves because this man is there.
l (PS5VS) [2878] Yes.
j (PS5VN) [2879] What do you say about that?
l (PS5VS) [2880] What I say about it is that if they are put off they should phone the police.
[2881] That's what I tell them to do, because there isn't much more I can do.
[2882] You can't actually order somebody out of a churchyard unless they are drinking.
[2883] That's illegal, but anything else erm it's very difficult to order them out, particularly if they defy you and say ‘No, I'm going to stay’.
[2884] You can tell them to go, but if they refuse to go there isn't much you can do.
[2885] They've got squatters rights.
j (PS5VN) [2886] Interesting one.
[2887] Well, you've recently put a phone in the church.
[2888] Why?
l (PS5VS) [2889] Well precisely for that reason, that not only this particular person, but lots of other people at times cause trouble, and I'm not always there erm and Pauline, who's next to me, who you'll probably talk to in a minute — she's over eighty, she'll kill me for telling you that [laugh] because she doesn't look it, she only looks about forty, but — erm she stuck in there and people are frightened and erm worried about her, and the fact is that erm there's no other way of calling the police than having a phone.
[2890] So now we've got a phone.
[2891] It was put in today, and hopefully, if we do have trouble, we can then contact the police much more quickly.
j (PS5VN) [2892] How long has this man been living in the churchyard?
l (PS5VS) [2893] Oh, four or five years.
j (PS5VN) [2894] Four or five years?
l (PS5VS) [2895] Yes, yes.
j (PS5VN) [2896] Is this
b (PS5VT) [2897] I've been there four, and he was there a year before, so it's five years.
l (PS5VS) [2898] Five years.
[2899] There you are, you see.
j (PS5VN) [2900] Yes.
[2901] Is ... does he live there off and on, or
l (PS5VS) [2902] Most of the time he's there.
j (PS5VN) [2903] Well, Pauline, now how long have you been there?
b (PS5VT) [2904] I've been working in the sextry for four years and he's been there all that time.
[2905] erm at first he wasn't too bad, but he's just recently erm [laugh] ... he just resents everything that's said.
[2906] If you're nice to him — I won't use the language over the air (because you'd be shut down) that he uses to me — however nice you are to him it doesn't make a bit of difference.
[2907] He's aggressive.
[2908] He wouldn't touch anybody, I don't think, but his verbal abuse is out of this world, you know, whenever you ... and the thing is that he will persist in sitting in the church smoking his head off.
[2909] Everybody that comes in — you can imagine the reaction — and you ask him not to do it and his language is appalling, and he goes on doing it.
[2910] People don't like coming into a cigarette-filled church.
[2911] They object to it.
[2912] And apart from that he looks ... he hates people coming into church.
[2913] He glares and glares and them and there are two people
j (PS5VN) [2914] Oh, he hates people coming into church?
g (PS5VU) [2915] Oh yes, because he thinks he's got perfect right to be there and nobody else.
j (PS5VN) [2916] And so he glares them when they come in?
[2917] Like, for instance, ‘What do you think you're doing’
g (PS5VU) [2918] Oh yes.
j (PS5VN) [2919] ‘in my territory?’
g (PS5VU) [2920] Oh yes.
j (PS5VN) [2921] Oh.
g (PS5VU) [2922] The thing is that two people this morning came to do their grave.
[2923] One is a very gentle lady, much too timid really, but she said ‘Is he here?’, so I said ‘Not at the moment’.
[2924] ‘Oh, I'm not coming in if he's there, because I'm really frightened.
[2925] That's why I bring my husband.’
[2926] So I said ‘Well, there's no need to be frightened of him, he wouldn't touch you’, but you see then somebody was talking to me on the phone last night and said the same thing ‘We don't come any more to say prayers as we go through the churchyard because we're frightened’.
[2927] This shouldn't be.
j (PS5VN) [2928] mhm You've got to know this man.
g (PS5VU) [2929] Oh, very well indeed.
[2930] I've had lots and lots of talks to him.
[2931] He doesn't talk to me much now because I'm afraid I've been the one who's been tipping him out of the church when he's smoking.
j (PS5VN) [2932] How do you tip him out when he's got a lot of ash on him?
jp (PS5VV) [2933] Well I tell him he must go, and if he doesn't I just open the door wide to let the cigarette smell out and erm course then he ... as I say, I can't tell you what he calls me, but erm
j (PS5VN) [2934] But you do the trick and get him out?
jp (PS5VV) [2935] Oh yes, oh yes.
j (PS5VN) [2936] Yes.
[2937] Not a shrinking violet at all!
[2938] Well, so what have you found out about this man.
[2939] I mean, what's he like?
jp (PS5VV) [2940] Pardon.
j (PS5VN) [2941] What ... what's he like?
[2942] I mean erm, do you know much about him?
jp (PS5VV) [2943] Well, he's talked to me
j (PS5VN) [2944] Why is he there, why does he want to be there?
jp (PS5VV) [2945] He's talked to me from time to time.
[2946] When I first got to know him he was in a very bad state and he ... he really was.
[2947] He was shivering.
[2948] He was cold and hungry and what have you.
[2949] He told me that he'd got a good home, or he'd had a good home, and he just ... I said why don't you live there?
[2950] Because they won't have me any more.
[2951] Well he told me several other things, which perhaps I better not disclose
j (PS5VN) [2952] Yes, quite.
[2953] Don't betray any ... any secrets.
jp (PS5VV) [2954] any secrets on the air.
[2955] He did tell me some other things about himself.
[2956] erm but he is ... he's a loner.
[2957] He doesn't like people.
[2958] He doesn't like noise.
j (PS5VN) [2959] mhm
jp (PS5VV) [2960] He even complains in the mornings in summer
j (PS5VN) [2961] Of the church bells?
jp (PS5VV) [2962] about the birds, you know, because they make too much noise.
j (PS5VN) [2963] [laugh] The birds, yes, well.
jp (PS5VV) [2964] Yes, but you see this is just to give you some idea of his mentality.
j (PS5VN) [2965] Yes.
jp (PS5VV) [2966] But erm lately he has got a lot worse.
j (PS5VN) [2967] Yes.
[2968] Well if he were to have complained about the church bells he would have had my sympathy, but I ... I think he's got my sympathy anyway.
[2969] Does he have your sympathy?
[2970] Reverend
jp (PS5VV) [2971] Yes, up to a point he has got our sympathy.
j (PS5VN) [2972] mhm Well, David Brian, now you're a doctor and a reverend and your the curate at Christ Church in Abingdon, but you spent some time over there in Saints Mary and John Church.
[2973] Isn't this an example of precisely the kind of person that Christ said ‘Go out, find, and help bring into your bed’?
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [2974] I think that actually raises the question very well, actually, Bill.
[2975] I think that this particular man is erm something of a challenge to us.
[2976] It's a symbolic embarrassment to have man in a graveyard outside a church, not getting any sanctuary, especially when you consider not only that background you've mentioned, Jesus himself actually said that he had nowhere to lay his head.
[2977] So here we are, you know, our leader was someone who was homeless for times during his ministry and he belonged to a people who said their god was the father of the fatherless and the protector of widows, and god who gives the desolate a home to dwell in.
[2978] I'm quoting there from Psalm 68.
[2979] So I think we are here facing an acute symbolic questions erm but if somebody's choosing to want to live that kind of live it's a very difficult thing to deal with.
[2980] erm it's ... it reminds me of the kind of embarrassments that we experience on a number of levels actually.
[2981] The church is trying to do something, but I think having people like this man in a graveyard raises the question of whether we're actually doing enough.
[2982] For example, I was very embarrassed a few years ago when all his hoo-ha came out about this erm bishop who was getting this marvellous mansion in the country, and I thought to myself I'm not totally sure whether this is right.
j (PS5VN) [2983] But that ... that was a local
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [2984] Yes it was, and it was [laugh] and I don't want
j (PS5VN) [2985] bishop and a local house.
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [2986] Absolutely.
[2987] It was
j (PS5VN) [2988] With a stable, if I recall.
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [2989] You've got it.
j (PS5VN) [2990] And erm a swimming bath.
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [2991] Absolutely.
[2992] And to be really frank, one has to say when those kind of things come out in the open one has to say has the church got its priorities right?
[2993] I can also think of another example of a house and erm I want to be careful here because my ... they're friends, who are also very sensitive about this, but they've had their house refurbished in the middle of Oxford.
[2994] It's a vicar's house, and thousands and thousands of pounds were spent and one wonders, you know, really whether this was the right moment, you know, the piquant moment to be doing this when we have in our streets men and women who erm are in desperate need.
[2995] erm but on the other side, I do think I want to say this afternoon that erm the church is trying to do something.
[2996] The Gate House project's about to open up in the middle of town, which is a drop in centre, sponsored by city centre churches.
[2997] erm it's going to be in the Northgate Hall and erm members of the churches from the city centre are going to staff that between five and seven for those who've nowhere to stay between those hours.
[2998] There's also a diocesan council for the social work initiative taking place on the Cowley Road, a drop in centre for single mums, and it's hoped that's going to be extended to erm hostel arrangements.
[2999] So the things are happening, and you'll be talking in a moment to Jenny and the work she does at All Saints Convent.
[3000] They are individual initiatives, but I still feel inside myself, my conscience is saying we could do more.
[3001] We could do more, and this is a very symbolic challenge.
[3002] And it's particularly, I think, acute in the parish of Saint Mary's and Saint John's because the vicarage has been empty for two years and erm ... they built a new house, it was more ... it was cheaper to build a new house than to do the old one up, but there it's been sat, empty for two years, and erm they've been trying to find a buyer.
[3003] We need to find people to buy these places so that we can sort of balance the books, but one wonders, you know, couldn't something have been done with that empty building for two years while there are folk in the area with nowhere to live.
[3004] I really do wonder.
[3005] Anyway, back to you.
j (PS5VN) [3006] Well, no, not to me.
[3007] Let's go over the Sister Jenny.
[3008] Welcome to the programme.
[3009] Your involved with The Porch.
[3010] Now exactly what is The Porch, and where is it?
js (PS5VL) [3011] The Porch is a drop in centre for the homeless.
[3012] It's open every morning and every evening erm and we give hot drinks and sandwiches to anyone who comes.
j (PS5VN) [3013] And that's in Saint Mary's Road, isn't it?
js (PS5VL) [3014] Yes, it's in a building attached to the wall of the Convent, so that it's ... people can walk in off the street directly into The Porch.
[3015] But it's a very small building.
[3016] We can only have sixteen people at any one time.
j (PS5VN) [3017] And do you allow people to sleep there all night?
js (PS5VL) [3018] No, it's simply a refreshment centre, twice a day, but we have no overnight accommodation.
j (PS5VN) [3019] About how many people use that centre?
js (PS5VL) [3020] About a hundred people a day.
j (PS5VN) [3021] One hundred people a day come there?
js (PS5VL) [3022] About that.
[3023] erm it's difficult to be sure.
[3024] Some people use it morning and evening.
j (PS5VN) [3025] Yes.
js (PS5VL) [3026] So we have about forty people in the morning and about sixty people in the evening.
j (PS5VN) [3027] erm do you know how many homeless people there are in Oxford?
[3028] I've heard a figure of about five hundred and I just wondered if that rings a bell as being reasonable with you?
js (PS5VL) [3029] I would have thought that it was at least five hundred, because there are so many hidden homeless who are sleeping on people's floors.
[3030] I think quite a lot of the students are sleeping on friend's floors and they're not ever counted amongst the statistics.
[3031] But nobody keeps statistics, so nobody really knows.
j (PS5VN) [3032] Yes.
[3033] I suppose we're talking about people who ... people ... other people ... the people who are paying the Poll Tax just don't really care that much about.
[3034] Do you think that's an accurate description?
js (PS5VL) [3035] I think there's a lot of ignorance.
[3036] erm and I also think that a lot of people are struggling with their own lives and they haven't got time to worry about other people.
[3037] Once people are made aware of the problems, they usually help in some way.
j (PS5VN) [3038] You see I'm ... I'm not at all convinced to that.
[3039] I think that's a charitable explanation, and I would like to feel that, but I'd ... I think that there's enough information out there.
[3040] I think we don't have any more excuses to hide behind, like this man who is there in the churchyard.
[3041] I mean he's right there, and he's a challenge, but how are people responding to him.
[3042] I think by and large they're probably running away and don't want to have much to do with him and they don't like these people, probably, who use your drop in centre because they might smell a little bit and they might be down at heel and they're not really people who are going to contribute much to the lives of those other people who are trying to get on and make things better for themselves.
[3043] I think we're dealing here with people who are seen by the majority to be liabilities, and the majority don't want to touch and have anything to do ... we're dealing with modern day lepers.
js (PS5VL) [3044] mhm Yes, I think that's very true.
[3045] erm it does take a lot of effort to move over to meeting them as individual people, and once you've understood that they are individual people and you get to know their interests and get to know your common humanity, then that's the point where you want to get on and do something more, but it's very difficult to recognise the common humanity, and a lot of
j (PS5VN) [3046] Why is it ... why is it difficult?
js (PS5VL) [3047] Because people are so angry, they're frustrated with the system and their anger gets in the way and it frightens people.
[3048] The majority of people who come in are angry because they can't get anywhere.
[3049] It doesn't matter how hard they try, the system knocks them down.
[3050] You know, they might just get up a little way and then some bureaucracy knocks them down again and they're back where they started.
j (PS5VN) [3051] Without betraying any secrets, or identifying any particular people, can you give us general cases that would illustrate this?
[3052] I mean what happens with some of those people when they try to get on their feet?
[3053] They are knocked down again?
js (PS5VL) [3054] Well, they can go for a job, for example, and because they have no address they can't get the job, because they are not reliable.
[3055] Even if they do get a job on a scheme, it's very, very difficult if you're sleeping in different places every night, or in a hostel, to get to the job on time.
[3056] You don't have anywhere to wash your clothes or even yourself sometimes, so you're dirty and your clothes are dirty and [laugh] you're not eating properly so you're more liable to illness and this sort of thing, so that you're not likely to keep a job even if you get it, and you can't get accommodation without a deposit, and so you need several hundred pounds in order to get accommodation.
[3057] Housing benefit is very, very difficult to get erm and again it's paid in arrears, and landlords won't wait for that, so you can't get accommodation erm and you just sort of go down and down with discouragement really.
j (PS5VN) [3058] And how do these people express their anger to you?
js (PS5VL) [3059] Verbally [laugh] usually [laugh] .
j (PS5VN) [3060] Do they ever get violent?
js (PS5VL) [3061] Yes.
j (PS5VN) [3062] What happens then?
js (PS5VL) [3063] Well, they have a fight erm they very rarely attack us, but they very frequently fight amongst themselves, and it's usually over something that's happened previously, but a few stupid words can just spark something that could be ignored if everything else was all right, but it ... an insult on top of hundreds of insults will just tip them over.
j (PS5VN) [3064] mhm Well, I'm also joined by Lesley Dewhurst.
[3065] Now, Lesley, you're from the Elmore Support Group.
[3066] I didn't even know that existed.
[3067] What is it?
[3068] What does it do?
t (PS5VM) [3069] We're an independent organization.
[3070] We've been around now for two and a half years erm we work as support workers, I suppose, like erm community workers or social workers in some contexts.
[3071] We work with people who have fallen through the existing nets of provision erm generally because their problems are so multiple that no particular one agency can deal with them.
[3072] For example, somebody might erm be homeless, but no hostel in town will take them on because perhaps they have a mental illness or a drug problem, or perhaps they are in trouble with the courts erm we can return to that hostel with the person saying ‘Don't worry about these other problems, just fill in the bits you can, the accommodation, and we'll sort out the other bits’.
[3073] Meanwhile, we'll be trotting them along to probation or a solicitor or whatever and getting that side of things dealt with, etc. etc., so we try to stitch together some sorts of packages for people who otherwise fall through.
j (PS5VN) [3074] So you're scraping the bottom of the barrel?
t (PS5VM) [3075] [laugh] That's a ... in some ways a very unkind way of putting it, but yes.
j (PS5VN) [3076] mhm And what sort of anger do you find from these people?
t (PS5VM) [3077] Immense.
[3078] The same sorts of things that Sister Jenny was talking about.
[3079] erm on ... the problems of getting a job, for instance, erm in Oxford, because there is such an inequality between the erm rents that landlords will charge people on benefit and the rents which anybody on a low paid job could actually afford to pay.
[3080] It is impossible, in many ways, for somebody who is erm on benefit and living in independent accommodation with a private landlord ... often it's impossible for them to get a job and then cover their rent, so they can't get a job.
[3081] It's as simple as that.
j (PS5VN) [3082] It seems like it's a pit that people slide into.
[3083] Are more people falling into that pit?
[3084] Is it enlarging?
t (PS5VM) [3085] erm yes, it is.
[3086] The erm help available is in many ways decreasing erm I'm afraid we have to drag politics into it sooner or later, but central government funding, or lack of it, erm to my mind lies at the bottom of many of these problems.
j (PS5VN) [3087] Like for instance.
[3088] Where do you think that more money needs to be spent? erm well, the government are in the process of launching a massive new initiative called Care in the Community erm I'm afraid a lot of people working in my neck of the woods find this rather ... well not amusing, but erm [laugh] it's slightly hysterically amusing, because the amount of money that would be needed to fund the projects that are identified as being necessary is enormous, and the government is in no way going to be putting up that sort of funds erm so it comes down to money, and particularly in this community care area.
j (PS5VN) [3089] But I think if you had all the money that you needed there would still be a problem of the public's attitude.
t (PS5VM) [3090] Yes, towards — we're getting back towards our original man in the graveyard — yes, I mean I'd like to say that you're saying particularly to Reverend Flatman what should he or his parishioners be doing to help this man — it's not as easy as saying that somebody individually should be offering him a room in their house because his problems are far more manifold and deep seated than that.
l (PS5VS) [3091] Could I interrupt
j (PS5VN) [3092] Yes, Martin Flatman.
l (PS5VS) [3093] Indeed, we have tried to offer him accommodation erm to help him, to offer him a deposit erm for a room.
[3094] We've tried all sorts of things erm and we've erm sort of erm included erm Lesley's Elmore Support Team has come and talked to him and tried to support him as well, so over the years we have done all sorts of things to try and support him, as I have to try and support all sorts of people.
[3095] I mean we support The Porch financially and with people going to work there precisely for the same reason.
[3096] And then of course I, like many vicars, have, you know, literally hundreds of people with different problems coming to the door.
[3097] I don't know how many of them are genuine, or how many of them are not genuine, and I have to deal with them over and over again.
[3098] I mean I had two yesterday erm and it goes on and on and on and erm I just feel that erm it's unfair of anybody to say that the church isn't doing anything.
[3099] I think I would go along with Lesley and say that there comes a point where erm government initiatives need to be taken.
[3100] We need to be dealing with the whole thing as a community, as a society.
t (PS5VM) [3101] But can I come back in there a bit.
[3102] I think it's
j (PS5VN) [3103] Lesley Dewhurst.
t (PS5VM) [3104] it's a terrible mistake just to say that the government's fault and they should give us more money.
j (PS5VN) [3105] mhm
t (PS5VM) [3106] Of course, erm there's a lot more individual responsibility is needed than that, but it's too simplistic to say that ... that erm ... to smile upon these people who have problems would solve everything erm but erm to make it your own responsibility to ... to find out more and to find out the ways in which you can help I think is very important and is everybody's responsibility.
j (PS5VN) [3107] Can I interrupt here?
j (PS5VN) [3108] Sure.
j (PS5VN) [3109] You talk about getting work ... you talk about getting work and all that sort of thing erm we've offered John, at one point, that if he did a bit of clearing up in the churchyard erm that he would be given a small amount of money.
[3110] ‘How much?’
[3111] I said ‘Well it won't be a lot.’
[3112] ‘Well, I shall want five quid a day if I do it.’
[3113] I said ‘Well, I'm sorry, you won't get it, but wouldn't it be helpful if you did that’.
[3114] No, he will not.
[3115] He'll come from The Porch, he brings his paper bags, his cups that he has for his drinks, and he'll leave them there.
[3116] ‘John, will you move them?’
[3117] ‘Why should I?’
[3118] And you go and move them after him.
[3119] You know, it's all very well to put the blame on everybody else, but you try and try and try.
[3120] You bend over backwards.
[3121] The vicar's tried I don't know how many times to talk to him, offer him this and that, but he won't have it.
l (PS5VS) [3122] I think, Bill, Pauline's expressing the frustration that we feel, that as David was saying earlier, as Christians we feel particularly that we are called to serve people like this in great trouble, and yet sometimes you think, you know, however many times I try erm there seems to be many people for whom erm all my effort gets nowhere, and I feel that things are getting worse in society and one feels more and more helpless and hopeless, and therefore there's a kind of frustration erm that builds up here erm
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [3123] That's right.
l (PS5VS) [3124] about the whole problem and what to do about it.
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [3125] Yeah, I'd just like to chip in, Bill, if I might.
j (PS5VN) [3126] Yes.
[3127] David Brian, curate at Christ Church in Abingdon.
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [3128] I think there's dangers in some of the things you're saying.
[3129] You may be kind of blackmailing people to perhaps indiscriminately offer hospitality.
[3130] I am particularly conscious of students in Oxford.
[3131] When I worked at St. Aldate's we had a lot of these sort of characters on the edge of things, and erm they used to play very much upon the students' consciences and I think ... I'm just concerned that, you know, there aren't people out there listening who will open their homes up indiscriminately.
[3132] It's quite a brave thing to invite somebody like this into your home.
[3133] For example, there was a chap I knew who was in Simon House and the rules of the house are that you've got to stay off the drink, and unfortunately he had a slip and went back on it.
[3134] Now I took him into my home, it was an extremely costly thing to do, and eventually we got him into the Chiltern Clinic.
[3135] Now I was a trained worker, and it was still very demanding, and it was quite a costly commitment for my wife and my two children, so I think we're ... I think one's got to be very careful.
[3136] I think yes there may well be an apathy and one should challenge that, but we don't want people to be unwise with their love and compassion.
[3137] There are people out there who've got problems that are bigger than the average household can deal with and erm I think, therefore, we're looking for more institutionalized forms of help and folks like this particular character — I almost said his name — almost need to be made to accept that kind of help.
[3138] erm unfortunately, it might sound extremely erm severe, but I can think of a number of people I've met in my experience as a pastor who really and frankly could not help themselves and need to be treated almost like children again and made to receive help, and there are quite number of those sort of characters, unfortunately, on the streets of Oxford.
[3139] But they're not the only ones, by the way, I'm also concerned about the fact that more and more young people seem to be in this syndrome and I've a feeling that that comes down not just to government things, but also to the problems in the family as a whole.
[3140] Children leaving home because they've been abused physically or sexually erm or verbally erm the breakdown in the quality of family life has also got something to do with all this business and that has got to be addressed as well, and money won't change that.
[3141] There has got to to be some genuine changes in our erm willingness to work hard at our family life and not to give in easily at the challenges that so often break our homes up.
j (PS5VN) [3142] Yeah, well Lesley Dewhurst, do you think that people should be forced into behaving in certain ways?
t (PS5VM) [3143] I've got a lot of respect for the Mental Health Act of 1983.
[3144] I think when you're talking about forcing people into doing things erm I think you're getting into the bounds of that sort of ... The Mental Health Act area
j (PS5VN) [3145] Yes.
t (PS5VM) [3146] erm I have had to do in my work quite a lot of work coming up against that act, so to speak.
[3147] People I have worked with I've identified as having problems that I can see some sort solution to in terms, for instance, of hospital treatment erm at times I've been unable to erm to do that because the Act is very difficult to work round erm and in retrospect I'm very
j (PS5VN) [3148] ‘By being difficult to work around’— what do you mean?
t (PS5VM) [3149] You can't actually force somebody to accept treatment unless they fall into certain categories erm and those categories are very small erm
j (PS5VN) [3150] So you would like them larger?
t (PS5VM) [3151] No, what I'm saying is erm that having looked at each individual case that I've sometimes felt frustrated about, I've been glad that they aren't larger for the sake of coming down to human rights.
[3152] For if they were larger it would be quite frightening, I think, the implications.
j (PS5VN) [3153] Yes, indeed.
t (PS5VM) [3154] The basic guidelines is erm if somebody is a danger to themselves or other people then perhaps there is some way of helping them with an enforced medication or hospital treatment.
[3155] Now that's quite difficult to apply, and quite rightly so I feel.
j (PS5VN) [3156] But, but, but I think that the Reverend David Brian was saying something a little bit erm more direct and more overarching than dealing only with those people that you're talking about, weren't you, David?
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [3157] Well, yes, I mean I can remember having a friend in Oxford who was schizophrenic and to be quite frank he needed to be certified and we could not get him to go to the doctors, and when he did he told sufficient stories that the doctor home with eye drops because he was seeing things.
[3158] I mean that was frustrating, and I just felt totally helpless.
[3159] I take on board everything that Lesley said, but I still feel in my heart that there are times when you're dealing with people who just need to be treated almost like a child again for a while and maybe ... maybe it's a good place where the legislation leaves it, better than going to a sort of situation where healthy people might get pushed into asylums or whatever, but somehow I'm not totally happy with where we are.
j (PS5VN) [3160] mhm Well I just want to look at you people now.
[3161] We've talked about the man in the cemetery, the graveyard, and we've talked about other people coming into the drop in centre and their sense of anger, but what about your sense of anger?
[3162] How about you, Lesley Dewhurst, you're working with these people who are difficult to place.
[3163] I mean it's extremely frustrating for you.
[3164] What does this bring up in your feelings?
[3165] I mean are you kicking out at what you see are the injustices, at the government, or at people who are responding, in your view, wrongly and inappropriately?
[3166] I mean how do you contain your feelings on this?
t (PS5VM) [3167] I often don't. erm and in some ways coming on a programme like this, or finding other ways to make your views be heard is erm I think very important in a way which me and my colleagues try to do something about the anger that we're feeling.
[3168] erm there ... it is very difficult, all the cases we work with are fairly miscellaneous, so therefore have very individual problems, you know, that are different every time, so the anger is going to be different, but we come down to a lot of fundamental erm similarities erm often to do with bureaucracy and structures erm which people just don't fit into, you can't force people to fit into boxes.
j (PS5VN) [3169] mhm And Sister Jenny.
[3170] How about ... all the work you do must bring you right up against a lot of raw emotion.
[3171] What about your own emotion?
js (PS5VL) [3172] Yes, I feel very anxious and very frustrated a lot of the time.
[3173] I mean we're just giving a little bit of temporary relief in a situation which just seems to be getting worse and worse.
[3174] erm I think like David, and Lesley ... well I mean I think like everyone here, that it is the general attitudes of society that you don't stick with problems and work them through, that family life is breaking up.
[3175] We see an incredible number of young people, and it worries me immensely that these are people at sixteen who've been chucked out of their homes, and they are being pushed down by bureaucracy, that they are being penalised for leaving home at sixteen when it is not their own fault, it is the fault of ... well it is the result of family breakdown that they are being pushed out.
[3176] erm I would like to plug a book — I hope this is allowed [laugh] — but I've got something called ‘The Other Oxford Story, Young Homelessness’.
[3177] It's produced by Oxford Housing Aid, and it's available from them for two pounds.
[3178] This breaks down very clearly indeed what the problems are of young people.
[3179] It's easy to look at these young hooligans on the street, as they are perceived by so many, without understanding why they are like it, and I think it would help everyone to understand, and maybe we could have some action to work towards supplying the need for these youngsters, because I belief if something could be done for them when they're sixteen and just starting out on this erm sort of sub-culture life that they get into so quickly, if people could give them maximum help at this stage then they could grow into being responsible erm satisfied adults.
[3180] You know, they are very talented many of them.
[3181] They have many gifts and all they want is people to encourage them.
[3182] It's an indictment on our society that The Porch is regarded as their home, and we're only open for five hours a day, and yet they regard us as their family, and what we the servers are for them is the parents that they lack.
l (PS5VS) [3183] You could say that with almost everybody who comes
j (PS5VN) [3184] Martin Flatman.
l (PS5VS) [3185] with trouble.
[3186] I mean I have a lot of people come to the vicarage and the churchyard, particularly people who have got alcohol problems.
[3187] What amazes me is how often they'll say to me ‘Thank you very much for treating me like a human being’ because however drunk they are in the churchyard I always believe that you're much more likely to get somewhere with somebody if you are polite and kind to them and treat them like a real human being, and you can get into all sorts of fascinating [laugh] conversations with these people [laugh] even when they are fairly drunk, because actually they are real human beings, they aren't awful people.
[3188] They are usually not actually very frightening once you get to know them.
[3189] They're people who are pathetic, who are sad, who have had an awful lot of knocks in life and I often think that one of the things that everybody in society could do is actually talk to them a bit more [laugh] .
[3190] It can be sometimes very difficult and frustrating, and there are really difficult people, but there are a lot of people who are dismissed and ... and not treated as humans at all.
j (PS5VN) [3191] Can I interrupt here?
j (PS5VN) [3192] Yes, indeed.
[3193] That's erm Pauline.
j (PS5VN) [3194] Just one little point.
[3195] When I see them in the church I always talk to them and I said ‘Look have you got bottles?’ and sometimes they'll say yes and sometimes they'll say no.
[3196] But there were five of them there one day in the porch and when they saw me they gathered up their bottles and began to go, except one.
[3197] So I say erm ‘Hey, what about you?’, so he said ‘I want to go into the church and pray and ask to be forgiven’.
[3198] So I said ‘Yes, well you do that.
[3199] No, not with your bag, I'll take that with your bottles.’
[3200] ‘You won't lose it, will you?’
[3201] I said ‘No’.
[3202] So I watched him.
[3203] He went down [...] .
[3204] He crossed himself.
[3205] He said his prayers, as it seemed quite genuinely, right out loud.
[3206] He came back.
[3207] He said ‘I feel better now.
[3208] Can I have my bag back?’
[3209] I said ‘Yes, go on off with it’, and off he went.
[3210] erm a couple of weeks ago two came in and I said ‘Oh, I was just going to lock up the screen’.
[3211] ‘Oh, be an angel and let us come in.’
[3212] I said ‘All right’.
[3213] So they came in and erm I didn't take much notice.
[3214] I was working and all of a sudden and one ... the woman began to sing Rock of Ages in a loud voice and then the man joined in and I sort of thought ... I heard sort of and I thought oh, they've got a bottle which they've taken out of their pockets which they were passing from side to side.
[3215] So I said ‘Now, come off it now, you said you hadn't got any bottles’.
[3216] ‘Oh, we're just having a slurp.’
[3217] Then they went on, so I said ‘Look I think it's time you went now’ [laugh] .
[3218] ‘Oh, you're an angel.’
[3219] But if you talk to them nicely you can ... which we mostly do.
[3220] Just now and again when they do get, you know, just past you, you just have to say now look go or else I'm going to call the police, and they go.
[3221] But mostly you can get round it, and I quite enjoy having a got with them [laugh] .
j (PS5VN) [3222] Well, David Brian, what sort of erm emotions does this ... these experiences dredge up in you?
[3223] I mean is it a sense of anger?
[3224] How do you keep going?
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [3225] Well at times I feel like erm you're dealing with things that are just totally beyond you and you feel as if you're sinking and feel totally helpless.
[3226] Yes, I do feel angry.
[3227] erm I don't think our culture is the worst that's ever been and I think there's a tendency sometimes to try to sort of overstate that.
[3228] I think if you go back a hundred years the problems in British culture were much worse, but nonetheless I do think there's a tremendous arrogance around in modern so-called civilized Britain, and particularly when they talk about the ancient civilization of Israel, I just think that they were a far more humane nation than we are.
[3229] erm it's very interesting that in the Old Testament there's no legislation about homelessness at all, which indicates it wasn't a problem, and I suspect that this was for two reasons.
[3230] One because the nation was sort of a people who had seen themselves homeless from these start and God had given them a home so they took special care of sojourners and aliens, and secondly, I think, because they had an enlightened attitude towards debt.
[3231] erm debt was something ... debt is a major cause of homelessness and I think it will be increasingly so, especially as folk find it very hard to either pay their rents or mortgages.
[3232] In Israel if you got in debt you made yourself a voluntary slave for six years to the person you owed money to, a form of community service, and then you were set free after six years and your debts cancelled and you were given a new start in life.
[3233] Now, there are a lot of aspects of Israelite society [laugh] I wouldn't identify with, like stoning delinquents, but that is an aspect I think we could learn from, and I do think that the extended family is something I miss, I yearn for.
[3234] I've come from a village background actually, and homelessness wasn't a major problem in our villages because a lot of these sorts of characters somehow were adopted by the community.
[3235] Someone would either find them a caravan in the garden and ... or a flat or something, but there was a sense in which the community made sure that that kind of person was at least taken care of.
[3236] Maybe they did overdrink and so on and so forth, but nevertheless there was always a shelter.
[3237] It seems that the City, with more of it actually, copies with it less, but I think that concept of the extended family is something I yearn for.
[3238] I feel angry that that's missing.
j (PS5VN) [3239] Well I want to move on now to a caller.
[3240] Hello, Patricia.
t (PS5VM) [3241] Hello.
j (PS5VN) [3242] You're calling from Chipping Norton?
t (PS5VM) [3243] That's right, yes.
j (PS5VN) [3244] Your views.
t (PS5VM) [3245] erm it was the lady that talked earlier, and evidently in church thou shalt not smoke.
[3246] It just amazed me.
[3247] I don't know if you realize the temperatures there have been, anywhere.
[3248] I work in Chipping Norton at the Presbytery and erm it just amazed me that she could tell someone not to smoke.
[3249] Anyone that's travelling, and I prefer to call them travellers rather than tramps or anything else, but anywhere they can creep in that's great, I think.
j (PS5VN) [3250] So you think that it would be inappropriate to say look this is a particular place set aside, a lot of people will use this and they don't want to come in here ... the majority don't want to come in and breathe cigarette smoke, so don't smoke.
[3251] You think that's wrong?
t (PS5VM) [3252] Did Jesus Christ ever say thou shalt not smoke?
j (PS5VN) [3253] Well, I don't know if Marlborough tobacco was around in the time of Jesus Christ, but erm I think if Jesus Christ had the second coming today one of the first things he would condemn is this week that is the cause of death and destruction throughout the world, and if he wouldn't condemn that I would certainly be a bit dismayed.
t (PS5VM) [3254] Yeah, well that's terrific, but when people have not got anything, they've got no money, they've got not family, they've chosen to cut theirselves off, where do they creep in?
j (PS5VN) [3255] Well it's a good question.
[3256] Martin Flatman.
l (PS5VS) [3257] Well, they can come in to the church, as many of them do, erm and I just say to them well, you know, do you respect this place and fine, it's a place where ... we don't chuck anybody out who comes into church for all sorts of reasons during the day when the church is open, you know, people come in, and there are many people like the ones we've been talking about, who are in desperate need, and we just ask them to respect certain fairly mild rules ... they can always go out in the churchyard and smoke, but in the building itself we say no smoking and no drinking.
t (PS5VM) [3258] Oh I see, yes, that's terrific.
l (PS5VS) [3259] You don't like that?
t (PS5VM) [3260] No, I don't.
[3261] I don't know how to get through to people like that, I really don't.
[3262] I mean the chap ... it's from a personal experience
l (PS5VS) [3263] If you were to come down the Cowley Road — I invite you to come down and and come and see the situation, because, you know, if I said okay anyone can smoke or drink in the church or churchyard in Saint Mary and John, the building would be full, not full literally, but we'd have people all day in there smoking and drinking and there would be nowhere quiet for people to pray.
[3264] But the same kind of people, very often, who are in trouble, are the ones who want somewhere quiet and peaceful where they can be alone with God and they can pray, and so in a sense it's not a matter of turn them out of the church, it's a matter of ... of encouraging them to use the church building in particular ways.
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [3265] But it's also true, is it not, Martin, that
t (PS5VM) [3266] You make the rules up?
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [3267] Excuse me.
[3268] erm I think it's also true to say that if they came on Sunday and turned into the church hall for coffee and tea, they can smoke in there.
l (PS5VS) [3269] Oh yeah.
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [3270] So I don't think that we're turning them away, I think it's just in church that it's probably not the most appropriate place to have lots of smoke.
t (PS5VM) [3271] I've seen it at closed hand.
[3272] I've seen a chap turned out on the road last Friday.
[3273] I worried to death about him.
[3274] I was friends with him for a week and he was very eloquent.
[3275] He was evidently very well educated, and he was just turned out on the road, and I don't know where he is now.
j (PS5VN) [3276] Well, I think you're ... you're putting your finger on the issue that we brought up at the very beginning about this man in the churchyard.
[3277] He's ... in a sense living there is in indictment of an attitude and the love and the care that the church and a society that proclaims to be civilized has for itself, and I think we'll have to leave it there.
[3278] But thanks very much indeed, Patricia from Chipping Norton, and also thanks to my guests; the Reverend Martin Flatman, the vicar at Saints Mary and John Church in the Cowley Road; to Pauline Dungate ... well, I don't know how to describe you except as a wonderful woman; Reverend David Brian, the curate at Christ Church in Abingdon; Sister Jenny, who runs The Porch, a drop in centre for the homeless in the Cowley Road area; and Lesley Dewhurst from the support group Elmore.
[3279] That's it from me, Bill Heine.
[3280] Thanks for joining us.
[3281] Goodbye. [recorded jingle]


[recorded jingle]
j (PS5VN) [3282] Hello and welcome to the programme.
[3283] Today we'll be looking at gipsy sites in the Oxfordshire area.
[3284] We know that there's one gipsy site around Wheatley that has been approved by the Oxfordshire County Council and that now awaits the comment of the South Oxfordshire District Councillors.
[3285] Also, there are three sites that have been put up for public consultation by the Gipsy Working Party and that's Rockhill Farm at Chipping Norton, the airfield at Chiltern near Burford, and Standlake.
[3286] Well perhaps you have points of view on these.
[3287] I'd like to hear your views if you'd like to share them with me.
[3288] The number to ring is Oxford three one one one one one.
[3289] But right now I'm joined by three City ... County Councillors.
[3290] Bob Morgan is from the Liberal Democrats.
[3291] Peter Audley Miller is from the Conservatives, and Margaret McKenzie is from the Labour side.
[3292] They're all on the Gipsy Working Party and speak for their different groups on the County Council about these issues of gipsy sites.
[3293] John Hunt is with me.
[3294] He's from the Chipping Norton anti-gipsy campaign, and I'll also be talking with Henry from Standlake about his views on gipsies out there in that village.
[3295] But first of all the general overview of this issue of gipsies.
[3296] Bob Morgan, why is it that whenever the word gipsy comes up there's so much antagonism and interest?
[3297] Why do people seem to be so anti-gipsy to start out with?
s (PS5VP) [3299] I don't know, Bill, the major problem that we do find is that the gipsies produce the most emotive response of any matter which we talk about on the County Council.
[3300] erm I think it's really encouraged by the fact that the erm gipsy sites which one sees around the County at the present moment because there is very little control over them, are most unsightly and do considerable damage to the countryside, and people do not wish this to happen in their own area.
j (PS5VN) [3301] Well are you suggesting that the gipsies are their own worst enemies when it comes to advertising their cause.
s (PS5VP) [3302] Oh, I think without a doubt they are.
[3303] I think that they are erm unfortunately erm affected by any event which happens in an area in which they happen to be.
[3304] They are very often blamed.
[3305] When they are quite innocent of certain events they are unfortunately blamed by the public in those areas, and they are seen as damaging the countryside and they are seen ... also they do not encourage the matter when you envisage the fact that they have these erm, for instance, animals — the dogs around their sites which are not noted for their behaviour, and there are many aspects of their behaviour which upset people around.
[3306] But the major problem is that the sites which we have at the present moment are not controlled, and if we could get proper sites, properly managed, I think you would find that the whole erm picture of a gipsy site in an area would be much better received by the public than it is at the present.
j (PS5VN) [3307] Well Peter Audley Miller, how do you think the public responds to the word gipsy?
[3308] I mean for instance is gipsy a very helpful word.
[3309] What does it mean?
[3310] How many groups of people are being labelled by this one word?
m (PS5VR) [3311] Well I think it's either the experience that people have suffered or prejudice, but erm what really infuriates people I think is the fact that when you talk about gipsies you're no longer talking about the romantic idea of a gipsy caravan, a red gipsy caravan with a horse and little children and dark-eyed girls, the erm conception is all wrong.
[3312] The travellers now are roughly in three groups.
[3313] There are the real Romanies, who are no menace to anybody.
[3314] There are then the tinkers, who normally come from Ireland and who are engaged in business on a large scale, whether its tarmacking, or metal business, or dealing in furniture and antiques, and the third group who are the drop outs of society who have decided to move around all the time and they don't care where they move from one place to another however much they inconvenience anybody else.
[3315] The real Romanies are no problem, and they could be settled quite easily.
[3316] The tinkers are a major problem, but I think it could be solved quite easily and the authority is not prepared to do it.
j (PS5VN) [3317] What, you think that the issue of siting ... of having a gipsy site can be solved quite easily.
m (PS5VR) [3318] I think it can be solved quite easily.
j (PS5VN) [3319] Well before you go on the explain how you think it can be solved, I have a problem from what you've already said.
[3320] You see, you're dividing these people into three different groups.
[3321] Now some of those groups, or one of them at least, is ... is I think you're saying a very friendly and sociable group and doesn't present many social problems.
[3322] But what happens if a site gets known as a place where the troublemakers are likely to aim for?
[3323] Then you've got a real hot spot on your hands, don't you?
m (PS5VR) [3324] Well I don't think that with the Romanies there is a problem, because they're
j (PS5VN) [3325] Right, yes.
m (PS5VR) [3326] in very tiny groups.
j (PS5VN) [3327] So let's put them aside.
[3328] So maybe ... maybe there could be a gipsy site where the Romanies wouldn't dare set foot, and it would be lots of other people who would be causing lots of problems.
m (PS5VR) [3329] Yes.
[3330] Well normally they don't mix.
j (PS5VN) [3331] So
m (PS5VR) [3332] So the matter doesn't arise.
[3333] The Romanies stick to themselves in their own little groups.
j (PS5VN) [3334] Oh, I'm not suggesting that these groups, if they come together and mix will cause problems, I'm suggesting that if there is only one kind of person that's attracted to a particular site and that type of person happens to be socially irresponsible, then ... then you're ... it's a recipe for disaster, isn't it?
m (PS5VR) [3335] Well then you've got to depend on the wardening of the site.
j (PS5VN) [3336] Yes, well all right.
[3337] How do you think the whole issue can be solved?
m (PS5VR) [3338] Well I don't happen to believe in public authority sites.
[3339] I think it's absolutely scandalous the local authority can use government money to the extent of nearly half a million pounds to provide a site for about sixteen caravans, and I don't think it's at all necessary.
[3340] And if you look at what has happened in Oxfordshire to date the figures actually prove that.
[3341] erm most of the sites, and there are quite a large number of sites in Oxfordshire, are privately owned or have been privately subscribed.
j (PS5VN) [3342] And are they working well?
m (PS5VR) [3343] And they are working.
[3344] They cause no great problem to anybody, and what ought to happen is that the gipsies and certainly the tinkers ought to be encouraged to buy sites and develop them and police them themselves.
[3345] They've done it quite successfully at Wendlebury.
[3346] They've done it at Cherwell.
[3347] They've done it in the Vale.
[3348] And
j (PS5VN) [3349] Well they've certainly tried to make a few private sites out of public car parks in the Vale, I know that much.
[3350] What do you say about that?
m (PS5VR) [3351] Well [laugh] that's just enforcing ... just merely a question of enforcing the law.
[3352] But if you turned round and said to them all right with the consent of the people and with the consent of the Planning Authority we will authorize a site, we would get on and provide it, and they wouldn't spend four hundred thousand pounds of the taxpayers money in doing it, and it doesn't stop there because having spent the four hundred thousand pounds you've then got to provide the wardening of the site and the constant maintenance, which is a drain.
[3353] We don't do it for any other section of society, and these people are not poor.
[3354] They are quite capable of paying for the resource they want and they want to provide it, but they're just not allowed to do it.
j (PS5VN) [3355] Well, let's move on the Margaret McKenzie.
[3356] Welcome to the programme.
[3357] You
l (PS5VS) [3358] Thank you.
[3359] I wondered if I was going to get a word in edgeways some time.
j (PS5VN) [3360] [laugh] You're from the Labour group.
[3361] I'd like to get your response to what the Conservative, Peter Audley Miller, has had to say.
l (PS5VS) [3362] I want to go back to your original question that you asked Bob Morgan, because you were asking him erm why there was a reaction to a gipsy site.
j (PS5VN) [3363] All right.
l (PS5VS) [3364] And it does seem to me that erm the minute you suggest to a Parish Council who has already complained about illegal encampments on roadsides and laybys that there is a good site in their patch, there is an immediate reaction, and I am thoroughly convinced that this reaction is based on a fear that is actually based on ignorance, and that we have to remember that travellers of any description — and I don't categorise them like Peter does — travellers of any description are human beings.
[3365] If I treat you decently, Bill, you will actually treat me quite nicely.
[3366] If I spit and scream at you, you are entitled to react, aren't you?
[3367] And that's what happens with gipsies.
[3368] If they are treated as though they were not quite like other human beings erm then they behave not quite like human beings.
[3369] We actually have a responsibility to two lots of people that Peter defined.
[3370] erm the old-fashioned Romany gipsy, about whom we all have romantic ideas that are well out of date, to tinkers whether they are Irish or Scots.
[3371] We have no responsibility for what he called the hippy drop outs, who call themselves new age travellers.
[3372] We do not have to provide sites for them, but we may have to very shortly because they themselves are going to the High Court to seek legal definition of their status and their due.
[3373] erm Peter is not right about the Vale and the sites that are provided in the Vale.
[3374] There are two public sites in the Vale, one that has been at East Challow since the year dot and people have forgotten actually exist.
[3375] There's another public site at Hinksey Hill, which is very new, where they've settled well, and there is about to be a private site out at Frilford, and that site will allow the Vale to be designated and that means that people who are encamped illegally in laybys and bridleways and grass verges can be moved on much more quickly than they can at the moment erm and if we're not careful they'll all be moving into West Oxfordshire.
j (PS5VN) [3376] Why will they all be moving over there?
l (PS5VS) [3377] Because the City is designated, erm Cherwell District is designated, South Oxford is on the verge of being designated, like the Vale, and the only undesignated district in the county will be West Oxfordshire.
[3378] On top of that, the other County Councils surrounding us are, if they're not wholly designated, the district immediately on our boundaries will be designated before the end of the year.
j (PS5VN) [3379] And the distinction between a designated are and one that is not designated rests on what?
l (PS5VS) [3380] If you are a designated area you have virtually instant powers of moving illegal encampments on.
[3381] If you are not a designated area, then you have to go through the due process of Court Orders and notices and move out in twenty eight days or something, you know, it's a long, expensive process, which does not have to take place when a district is designated.
j (PS5VN) [3382] mhm Right, well I'm also joined by John Hunt from Chipping Norton.
[3383] John Hunt, welcome to the programme.
b (PS5VT) [3384] Thank you, Bill.
j (PS5VN) [3385] You're not a Councillor, you're just an ordinary man in the street, but you've had some ... well some run-ins, as it were, with some problems up there in Chipping Norton.
[3386] Could you tell us about that.
b (PS5VT) [3387] That's perfectly true, Bill.
[3388] Now let me just correct you on your introduction originally.
[3389] We're not anti-gipsy as such in Chipping Norton.
[3390] We're anti the proposed Rockhill site.
[3391] Now, just over two years ago, when it was first mooted that the Rockhill site would become a permanent gipsy site, we did then erm conduct erm interviews in the town, and we interviewed something like two and a half thousand people, of which ninety five per cent said that they were against a site in that particular place.
[3392] We also gave other reasons at the time, erm principally the road, because the access fronting onto the A forty four there by the proposed site, there'd been a number of accidents and during the consultation period there were actually two people killed bang opposite the proposed entrance to that site at Swingswang.
[3393] Well let's forget about that, let's forget about the two thousand odd people who've said no, let's forget about the fact that there were these accidents in that road, because no we've got the M forty the A forty four — well the A thirty four as it was — has been relieved of a lot of traffic and from a point of view from the Gipsy Working Party Committee they may well feel that they are even more entitled to go ahead with this site.
[3394] Now I don't agree with that, and I'll tell you why.
[3395] Because something has come to my mind only during the past few days, when I learnt that the Gipsy Working Party by five votes to four had recommended that the Rockhill site go forward for consultation.
[3396] Now let's look at Chipping Norton overall.
[3397] It's not going to stand still forever.
[3398] Now since we first looked into this erm Rockhill site over two years ago, two things have happened.
[3399] Firstly, we've had a feasibility study on ... as to what should happen to Chipping Norton, and it has been proposed that it should develop eastwards and this would embrace the land which is owned by the County Council, being the former ... being the existing County Council smallholdings at Fowler's Barn and Tank Farm, and also the William Fowler allotments, and it's suggested that a relief road and ring road will run from the A three six one Burford Road to link up with the A forty four somewhere not far removed from Swingswang.
[3400] Now that is bang opposite where they're proposing to put this Rockhill site.
[3401] Also, the land which stretches back to Rockhill Farm from Swingswang on the opposite side of that road is all part and parcel of the County Council smallholdings, and only two fields away they sold off a piece of land a few years ago which has now been developed on to the frontage of the Banbury Road, which is in fact the Cromwell Business Park.
[3402] So there you have this hi-tech industry coming into Chipping Norton.
[3403] You have the County Council sitting on an absolute goldmine as far as that land's concerned.
[3404] Now no level headed business man in his right senses would recommend that they dispose of any part of it for a temporary, permanent gipsy site or whatever you like to call it.
j (PS5VN) [3405] mhm
b (PS5VT) [3406] That land is extremely valuable, and what's more I would suggest that the three people here at the table with me go back to the Property Committee, to which they belong.
l (PS5VS) [3407] No I don't.
b (PS5VT) [3408] Right, correction, one lady doesn't, but those who do go back to the Property Committee and I would say that erm if this were to happen, and the County Council were to make it a permanent site in that particular position, we could lay a charge of gross negligence, or even mis-appropriation of assets.
s (PS5VP) [3409] There's a moral issue here as well.
m (PS5VR) [3410] Well, Bob
j (PS5VN) [3411] That's Peter Audley Miller, go ahead.
m (PS5VR) [3412] There's a moral issue.
[3413] I sit in two different capacities.
[3414] One as a member of the Gipsy Working Party and another as the spokesman for property.
[3415] The County Council owns smallholdings.
[3416] Now any normal landlord, faced with the imposition of a site on one of his tenant farms, would do his utmost to resist it.
j (PS5VN) [3417] Why?
m (PS5VR) [3418] Because it disturbs the far.
[3419] Naturally it disturbs the farm.
j (PS5VN) [3420] And because it is socially undesirable?
s (PS5VP) [3421] That's nonsense.
m (PS5VR) [3422] No, not because
s (PS5VP) [3423] Peter, come on.
m (PS5VR) [3424] I'm sorry, things do not go together.
[3425] Here in Chipping Norton we've told the farmer to diversify.
[3426] We've got him breeding pheasants and partridges and now we're proposing a gipsy site.
[3427] I just don't think the two things match, but over and above that it's totally unnecessary and nobody would put a gipsy site on one of the nicest avenues leading into a town.
[3428] Merely providing the site will involve the destruction of two trees, which are part of the avenue, but that doesn't matter to the County Council because erm they're not responsible, they can override a tree preservation order and I think this just is morally wrong.
s (PS5VP) [3429] What, to take two trees away when you're dealing with people?
m (PS5VR) [3430] When they're part of an avenue.
s (PS5VP) [3431] Oh, come off it.
m (PS5VR) [3432] The reason the County Council has picked on Tank Farm is purely because it owns it and it's the easiest way out.
s (PS5VP) [3433] No, that's absolutely wrong.
l (PS5VS) [3434] You're getting [people talking]
m (PS5VR) [3435] There are thousands of acres
s (PS5VP) [3436] We've picked on Tank Farm for the simple reason
l (PS5VS) [3437] I thought we'd picked on Rockhill Farm.
m (PS5VR) [3438] On Rockhill Farm.
s (PS5VP) [3439] On Rockhill Farm because the land has already been ... the farmer has already been compensated by the addition of extra land so that we can easily accommodate a gipsy site in that particular spot.
[3440] To talk about it being at the entrance to an avenue to Chipping Norton is a gross exaggeration.
[3441] There is a road going forward past some very attractive trees.
l (PS5VS) [3442] Have you finished?
m (PS5VR) [3443] No.
s (PS5VP) [3444] You are putting two trees ahead of people
l (PS5VS) [3445] Because I'm going to finish them.
s (PS5VP) [3446] ... and you've got an absolute useless argument.
[3447] You know what really worries me about this is that early on you said that tinkers deal in antiques, and I'm beginning to wonder whether you, as antique dealer, have got a somewhat of an interest in this matter and maybe we should be taking care of you as a possible tenant of one of our sites, but this ... this is a typical example of all the thin, unreasonable excuses being put up to a party that's trying to deal with something.
[3448] To talk about the potential of a land ... of a road bypass around [...] and it's affecting it is ... I don't know how far into the future that's planned, but believe me it's way, way in the future and I doubt very much if that's going to happen at all.
[3449] What you're doing is setting up a resistance here for a perfectly adequate site in an area where we desperately need a site for people, and what you offer us as a compensation, something in the future in terms of a bypass and two trees coming down, and on the basis of that we're supposed to stop the whole deal.
l (PS5VS) [3450] This bypass is a piece of excruciatingly new information.
[3451] You approach Chipping Norton along this road, a straight road that goes into Chipping Norton.
[3452] It is a pleasant road that has got trees on either side, I will admit that, but I cannot allow anybody to say the loss of two trees, which will be replaced somewhere else, is of greater importance than he decent habitation of a group of human beings
m (PS5VR) [3453] That is not what I'm saying.
l (PS5VS) [3454] who are at the moment living in laybys and car parks, without water, without electricity and, in some cases, without waste disposal.
[3455] Now I can understand that feelings of the people of Chipping Norton.
[3456] I can understand the feelings of any community that ... when it's suggested there should be a gipsy site.
[3457] I go back to what I say in the beginning.
[3458] It is actually fear based on ignorance that gipsies are human beings.
[3459] That this is a big paddock, and in the bottom of the right hand corner, if you stand on the road looking at it, there is a triangle of land that is tucked away, that you can hardly see from the roadside, that in my opinion is sufficiently secluded and sufficiently near to other services to allow us to go out to consultation.
[3460] It's after the consultation has taken place that we will make a decision, and we will be listening during that consultation to what all the people of Chipping Norton say.
[3461] I hope that in the time of the consultation they actually begin to take on board the fact that we're talking about human beings.
j (PS5VN) [3462] Yes.
l (PS5VS) [3463] The other thing is we had a lengthy meeting with the District Council a couple of days before the Gipsy Working Party.
[3464] Somebody made some suggestion that this was prime development land.
[3465] The District Council said nothing about bypasses and they actually pooh-poohed that this piece of ground would be developed because of it's value as an entrance to Chipping Norton.
b (PS5VT) [3466] Tell me, Margaret
j (PS5VN) [3467] John Hunt from Chipping Norton.
b (PS5VT) [3468] once you've got these gipsies on your permanent site, are they going to be liable to the Community Charge?
l (PS5VS) [3469] Yes, they will be.
b (PS5VT) [3470] They are?
l (PS5VS) [3471] They will pay their Poll Tax, they'll pay for their electricity, they'll pay for their water, they'll pay for the sewage disposal and, what is more, they will pay rent.
b (PS5VT) [3472] So what sort of rent were they paying prior to the introduction of the Community Charge under the old rating system?
l (PS5VS) [3473] They're not paying anything at the moment on laybys.
b (PS5VT) [3474] No, these who are on permanent sites elsewhere.
[3475] I'm talking of Kent, Sussex
l (PS5VS) [3476] They were paying rent and rates.
b (PS5VT) [3477] Any idea how much ... any idea how much that was?
l (PS5VS) [3478] Don't ask me to pluck figures out of the air, but it was a reasonable rent, and they were paying for the rates, and their electricity, and their water supply, and their sewage disposal, on permanent sites.
b (PS5VT) [3479] Yes, but
l (PS5VS) [3480] They actually pay a much as any other human being does, given the standard of the property.
b (PS5VT) [3481] Fair enough.
m (PS5VR) [3482] Bill, can we look at the record
j (PS5VN) [3483] Peter Audley Miller from the Conservative side.
m (PS5VR) [3484] the record of the County Council.
[3485] There was a public enquiry recently, and I've got the Inspector's report here, and in his report he says the Council claims to have adopted a positive approach towards gipsy site provision, but in my judgement there is no tangible evidence whatsoever of this.
[3486] Now I go on the tell you on sites, Oxford City now, Cherwell eighty five private sites, public authority sites now.
[3487] West Oxford, thirty three private sites, sixteen pitches
l (PS5VS) [3488] You're talking about pitches, aren't you, not sites?
m (PS5VR) [3489] thirty three private pitches, possible sixteen provision by the County Council.
[3490] S O D C twenty one private sites.
[3491] West Oxon, twenty three private sites, ten unauthorized sites.
[3492] In actual fact, the County Council has only provided the Heyford site to date.
[3493] It's in the process of providing one at Benson, and it only provided the Heyford site because it had done a deal with the City Council over land and that
l (PS5VS) [3494] Are you talking about Heyford or Hinksey?
m (PS5VR) [3495] Hinksey Hill.
l (PS5VS) [3496] Because Heyford's a long way from Hinksey.
m (PS5VR) [3497] Well, Hinksey Hill.
[3498] The Hinksey Hill site.
[3499] That was only provided in exchange, which left the City with no caravan site at all.
[3500] In other words, I've totted it up, there are at least two hundred and twenty private sites
l (PS5VS) [3501] Pitches.
m (PS5VR) [3502] pitches within the county and there are sixteen at the moment provided by the Local Authority.
l (PS5VS) [3503] No, there are a lot more than sixteen.
m (PS5VR) [3504] No, there are not.
[3505] They never provided any ... Sandford they took over, Challow they took over, were private sites, they were provided by the private, and in Cherwell certainly they were all provided by private.
s (PS5VP) [3506] But that's hardly surprising, Peter.
[3507] When your party was in power they barely provided one pitch in the whole of the county
m (PS5VR) [3508] I'm sorry
s (PS5VP) [3509] in twenty odd years virtually.
m (PS5VR) [3510] we believe in
s (PS5VP) [3511] you're talking round and you've suddenly become a convert to the private site because it's the only way that you can find that your party can oppose the establishment of proper and properly managed gipsy sites in Oxfordshire.
[3512] You fought and fought against the introduction.
[3513] You and your group have fought against the introduction, and what's happened now?
[3514] We've now got Warwickshire, Northamptonshire, applying for designation.
[3515] We've got Buckinghamshire with designation.
[3516] We've got Wiltshire with designation.
[3517] The only county on our border without it is Gloucestershire and we've got one, two, or three areas of our ... three of our districts, of which two are just poised to get designation, and you're now beginning to scream and you and your group are beginning to scream about West Oxfordshire and its a situation that you have contributed to.
[3518] I can remember ... I've been on this Gipsy Working Party since you lost control of this Council for the last five years and you've fought tooth and nail all the way down the line to resist every gipsy site that came in ... you've used every manoeuvre that you could possibly do to resist it.
m (PS5VR) [3519] All I can say
l (PS5VS) [3520] I think we've got
s (PS5VP) [3521] And we have done something about it, grasped the mettle, and I believe that in a short while we're going to solve this problem, and it won't be thanks to you and the Conservative Party.
l (PS5VS) [3522] I think the public ... I think the public
j (PS5VN) [3523] Margaret McKenzie.
l (PS5VS) [3524] has got to remember that a duty was put upon the County Councils of Great Britain in nineteen sixty eight to provide sites for gipsies, and here were are in nineteen ninety one — that's damn near thirty years further on, and we're still looking for sites to get the county designated.
[3525] Counties are designated all over the south.
[3526] I have gipies coming up from Somerset into my county division because they have been moved on because Somerset is designated.
[3527] Now Somerset is a long way away, but the first stopping place that they can find where they will be left undisturbed for a few days is in the Vale, and very shortly the Vale will be designated, so they'll have to travel even further into west Oxford, which is going to be, if we're not careful, the only undesignated district in the whole of the south of England, and I wouldn't want to be a resident of west Oxford in these circumstances.
[3528] Peter must not talk about erm the provision that has been made.
[3529] He must not imply that the Conservative group have been working actively hard and long and finding sites.
[3530] I was last on the County Council between nineteen eighty one and nineteen eighty five, and I was on the Gipsy Working Party at that time, and nothing happened except scandalous public meetings where officers were, were allowed to be crucified by Conservative chairpersons and not a site appeared, public or private.
j (PS5VN) [3531] mhm
s (PS5VP) [3532] I'm fascinated by the political innuendo, but it still doesn't make sense.
l (PS5VS) [3533] It's not innuendo, it's fact.
m (PS5VR) [3534] The only sites that have been provided in the last six years is one at Hinksey Hill, nothing else.
[3535] There is one underway at Benson, five pitches.
[3536] The sites that have been provided have been provided by local private enterprise.
s (PS5VP) [3537] There is one underway at Wheatley.
[3538] It's already been through the planning department, our planning department.
[3539] It has our full approval.
[3540] It has been submitted to the South Oxfordshire District Council full planning committee and has been approved, and it is now going down to the South Oxfordshire District Committee, but I don't quite why it's going [people talking]
s (PS5VP) [3541] after it's already been approved by planning, but it's with the sub-committee and one anticipates that today, when they're meeting that sub-committee will come back and will inform us that South Oxfordshire are in support of this.
[3542] Are you going to say now that you're not in support of Wheatley?
m (PS5VR) [3543] Most certainly I'm not.
[3544] I think the behaviour of the County Council
s (PS5VP) [3545] You've been encouraging it up to now, on a few occasions up to now.
m (PS5VR) [3546] No, I haven't, I think the
s (PS5VP) [3547] This is typical of the behaviour of your group, Peter.
j (PS5VN) [3548] Peter Audley Miller.
m (PS5VR) [3549] I think the County Council's behaviour over the Wheatley site is positively immoral.
[3550] They have used that site themselves, without planning permission, for something like twenty years.
[3551] They've allowed other industrial sites on it, without planning permission.
[3552] They have positively refused to take enforcement order.
[3553] They are not even taking enforcement order now.
[3554] They've got it suspended.
s (PS5VP) [3555] Well have they withdrawn one of their submissions to South Oxfordshire that they've tried to claim that they were using it over the last twelve years and it has now been withdrawn because they know very well that their claim to South Oxfordshire cannot be justified about the use.
l (PS5VS) [3556] I don't think the internal wranglings erm of, of members of the County Council are actually of any great interest to members of the public.
j (PS5VN) [3557] Well, I'm not so sure about that.
[3558] Some people might find this quite fascinating.
[3559] I do.
[3560] Henry's on the line.
[3561] Hello, Henry.
g (PS5VU) [3562] Well I find this erm internal wrangling fascinating.
[3563] These two guys are meant to be on a Gipsy Working Party, finding somewhere for the gipsies to live, and all they can do is argue about it.
[3564] erm I mean it's erm incredible.
[3565] These people are being told they can't have anywhere to live because two trees are going to be cut down, which is a real shame.
[3566] I mean this is ... that is
j (PS5VN) [3567] Yes.
[3568] Henry, you live in Standlake?
g (PS5VU) [3569] Yes.
j (PS5VN) [3570] Now Standlake is one of the sites that is now out for consultation.
g (PS5VU) [3571] Yes.
[3572] This is right.
[3573] This is correct.
j (PS5VN) [3574] What are your views on that?
g (PS5VU) [3575] Well, I'm quite happy for gipsies to come and live here.
[3576] There's been a lot of people in the village signing a petition and erm shouting about, but these people are going to come and, as the lady has said, they are going to pay for their erm rent, they're going to pay their Poll Tax, they're going to be obliged by the law to pay their Poll Tax.
[3577] They won't be able to just move on because their permanent pitches, what they call permanent pitches which I'm not sure exactly what it is, but that is what they're called, so presumably I mean they're not going to be able to move on all of a sudden.
[3578] These sites are going to be warden run with proper sanitation and all the rest of it, so I don't see any problem at all.
[3579] I don't see any problem with these people coming to live here at all.
l (PS5VS) [3580] Well [...] again, Henry.
j (PS5VN) [3581] Well all right.
[3582] I think that John Hunt has a word from Chipping Norton.
b (PS5VT) [3583] Yes, bill, can I come back to Chipping Norton because that's, that's who I'm really interested in as you know.
[3584] erm Peter over the road there's trying to keep it away from Wheatley erm and we're not quite happy about what's going on in Chipping Norton.
[3585] Now both the West Oxfordshire District Council and the Chipping Norton Parish Council erm voted overwhelmingly against this proposed scheme, and the fact that they've put these recommendations to the County Council erm ... can I ask the three County Councillors present erm ... it means nothing at all from your point of view?
l (PS5VS) [3586] Oh yes it does.
[3587] I mean ... what you have to remember is that we have not made a decision about Rockhill Farm.
[3588] I don't know about these two men, but I have used my best judgement on Rockhill Farm.
[3589] The original site right at the entrance of Swingswang Lane was highly unsuitable.
[3590] I don't think the proposed new site is unsuitable.
[3591] erm I voted for it to go out to consultation, but I haven't yet voted that it will be a site, and I will take the representations of everybody into consideration before I make up my mind.
[3592] That's what's called democracy.
[3593] I don't see that we're doing anybody any harm, any damage, any anything, by simply saying we'll go out and consult the people of Chipping Norton about this new site that we found at Rockhill.
[3594] That's all we're doing.
m (PS5VR) [3595] Let's talk about consultation.
j (PS5VN) [3596] Peter Audley Miller from the Conservatives.
m (PS5VR) [3597] And let's talk about the Wheatley site.
[3598] The Wheatley site actually fulfils the criteria of the Gipsy Working Party.
l (PS5VS) [3599] You're quite right.
m (PS5VR) [3600] I'm not arguing about that at all, but the people of Wheatley have a right to the same protection that everybody else has under the planning axe.
[3601] Now what has happened here is that on the previous public enquiry over the Tetsworth site, Tetsworth, Great Milton and various other Parish Councils have the defence of producing sites which they think are appropriate or better than their own site, and they mentioned Wheatley.
[3602] The Inspector took this up and when he resolved the enquiry on Tetsworth and said it wasn't a suitable site, he said look again at Wheatley.
[3603] Now what has happened?
[3604] Because the County Council realize now that they're a little bit in advance of everybody and because the District Council feel that they can get designation by supporting this and not voting against it, the chances are that Wheatley is going to be totally deprived of a public enquiry, which practically every other site is guaranteed.
[3605] The only way we can get a public enquiry into this site is if the land owner resists the actual purchase and the enquiry is into the compulsory purchase order.
[3606] Now I think that is unjust.
[3607] I think there should be a public enquiry and everybody should be able to be represented and put their own views.
j (PS5VN) [3608] Well a lot of people have very strong feelings about the Wheatley issue, what about Shilton, that's another designated site.
[3609] Brenda, you live in Shilton, what are your views?
jp (PS5VV) [3610] Well actually I live just outside Shilton. erm they keep saying that it's Shilton airfield, actually it's not on the airfield at all— as you will know, Mr. Hayworth's got planning permission for a golf course on the airfield — it's Scrubs Lane, Shilton, and actually they've already ... the Council have already turned down two applications for caravan sites there anyway erm because it's unsuitable and yet they think that they ... you know that it's going to be suitable for gipsies to live down there.
[3611] I don't know what the Councillors think about that [laugh] .
j (PS5VN) [3612] Well let's get Bob Morgan's response.
[3613] Bob Morgan from the Liberal Democrats.
s (PS5VP) [3614] Well I don't fully ... I don't think we turned down this particular site in the Shilton area before.
jp (PS5VV) [3615] erm actually I don't mean for a gipsy site ... it's sort of two people have applied to have ordinary caravans there, like holiday caravans, etc.
s (PS5VP) [3616] Oh.
jp (PS5VV) [3617] And it's been turned down twice.
s (PS5VP) [3618] Yes, but unfortunately it's a different set of rules as regards the planning applications made by people for erm either caravans for residential purposes or for leisure purposes as those which were directed to use when we are judging a gipsy site erm as such.
[3619] The erm gipies do have a dispensation under the planning laws to have their sites and their pitches located in areas where you would not be able to normally get residential erm planning applications approved.
jp (PS5VV) [3620] The sites were actually turned down on highways, not erm, you know, any other reason.
m (PS5VR) [3621] I can understand that.
jp (PS5VV) [3622] Because the road wasn't suitable.
s (PS5VP) [3623] mhm
m (PS5VR) [3624] The Shilton dip is pretty horrifying.
jp (PS5VV) [3625] And where they have to come out onto the road before the Shilton dip, where they actually come from Scrubs Lane onto the road, it's on a right angle bend and, you know, we've had several mishaps down there.
s (PS5VP) [3626] There have been three accidents this year on the Shilton dip, but there are ... it's a long time since there has been an accident.
m (PS5VR) [3627] And there's no accident record at all in the ... of coming out where this site is.
jp (PS5VV) [3628] No, because they are not reported.
[3629] They are minor ones.
j (PS5VN) [3630] Yes, that's the point, Bob.
jp (PS5VV) [3631] If you get more ... if you get all these ... I mean let's be honest that they're going to have lorries etc.
[3632] We know that most of them they're not actually gipsies, they're scrap dealers, and they've all got lorries etc.
[3633] If we're going to have those in and out there then you are going to get accidents.
l (PS5VS) [3634] The people who
j (PS5VN) [3635] Margaret Mackenzie from Labour.
l (PS5VS) [3636] If Shilton is actually approved as a gipsy site, the people who will be going in there are the people who are at the moment living on the laybys and on the green lanes in the surrounding countryside.
[3637] I think, personally, the site itself is fine because it's well away from anywhere.
[3638] It's not going to bother anybody.
[3639] I know that the County Surveyor has reservations about the access.
[3640] I have reservations myself about the access at Shilton dip, but I would suggest to the County Surveyor that if Shilton dip is dangerous for a potential site of gipsies, then it's just as dangerous for the people who live in Shilton right now.
[3641] It's a horrifying entrance to a rather nice village.
[3642] And the site on the airfield is well, well away from the village and none of you will actually see it.
jp (PS5VV) [3643] I beg to differ [laugh] .
[3644] I mean my house is actually right next to it and also the people that live at Shilton Edge Farm erm and you can see it from the airfield or the Kencot Road.
[3645] It stands out like a sore thumb.
l (PS5VS) [3646] Yes, but it will be well screened and, and there will be planting round it and it'll be well fenced.
[3647] I mean there is ... it's not right up against somebody else's house.
j (PS5VN) [3648] Yes, but I want to know, Brenda, are you really concerned about the fact that you'll see it, or the fact that these people that you don't particularly like are going to be living near you.
jp (PS5VV) [3649] Actually it's about the way they carry on.
[3650] They say that they're going to move them from laybys, then haven't got lorries, etc.
l (PS5VS) [3651] I didn't say they hadn't got lorries.
jp (PS5VV) [3652] There's four families living down the bottom of Carterton, they've got pick-ups, they've got lorries, they've got their caravans, they've got piles of cars there that they're ripping to pieces, they've got dogs.
[3653] I mean it's all right to say if you're nice to them they'll be nice to you erm it should come the other way round, that they should sort of respect other people's property.
s (PS5VP) [3654] But, Brenda, can I interrupt?
j (PS5VN) [3655] Bob Morgan from the Liberal Democrats.
s (PS5VP) [3656] Can I interrupt and say at the moment that there's a vast difference between a site which is set up indiscriminately on some layby somewhere with no direction or control and no facilities there, and the sort of the thing that we're talking about.
[3657] We're talking about taking a site, laying out pitches in there, providing all the normal amenities — water, drainage, etc. and so on, electricity — and managing it.
[3658] And these people will pay a rent for it and they will pay all the proper taxes and they will be effectively staying with the rules which are imposed on other people.
[3659] And it will be a managed site.
[3660] They will
j (PS5VN) [3661] Yes, Brenda, what do you
s (PS5VP) [3662] not be able to have these sort of faults available.
j (PS5VN) [3663] Brenda, what do you say to the argument that having these sites is basically a means of roping people into the system?
[3664] Is that a good or a bad thing?
jp (PS5VV) [3665] Well they're not going to.
[3666] I mean you get people like that, they're not going onto a site and pay out money, it's just ridiculous.
j (PS5VN) [3667] Well, all right, let's get Tom's views on this.
[3668] Hello, Tom.
t (PS5VM) [3669] Hello, Bill.
j (PS5VN) [3670] Your views?
t (PS5VM) [3671] Well I've known gipies ever since I was a young lad many years ago.
[3672] They used to come out every summer to Southmoor, where I lived, to pick the hops and work on the local market garden and erm I agree with whoever said if you treat them right they'll treat you right.
[3673] I had some very good friends amongst the gipsies. erm but there are not many about now.
[3674] Most of them have moved into houses, you know, and become like us.
j (PS5VN) [3675] Well I think that's one of the issues.
[3676] A caller rang in and wanted to know if gipsies are travellers why do they need a permanent site.
[3677] Surely they'll no longer be travellers then.
t (PS5VM) [3678] They don't like to stay in one place, I don't think.
j (PS5VN) [3679] mhm
t (PS5VM) [3680] They are travellers as such.
[3681] But the gentleman that said there are three categories, like travellers, gipsies and drop outs, he was right.
[3682] That was a good point.
m (PS5VR) [3683] Bill, the
j (PS5VN) [3684] Yes, Peter Audley Miller.
m (PS5VR) [3685] The problem is just how you actually erm go about solving it.
[3686] It's really simple.
[3687] The ordinary gipsies are no problem at all.
[3688] I know in south Oxfordshire the landowners would be only too willing to provide odd sites for odd romanies.
[3689] They are no bother to anybody.
[3690] When it comes to commercial sites it's entirely different business, because what you're in essence doing is setting up a business park.
[3691] You're setting up a place for people to live and conduct their business, and the people most able to do that are the gipsies themselves.
[3692] They've done it very successfully in Cherwell, no cost to the ratepayer, no cost to the government, functioning perfectly well, no trouble to anybody because they're all the same type of people.
[3693] All they need is the planning permission and certainly the landowners will sell them the land, and if we put in stringent rules and regulations then we could control it properly.
[3694] If the government thinks that they're going to solve the problem by just lashing out four hundred thousand pounds for sixteen pitches, then they are certainly mistaken, because the mere fact of these people's business, whether they're in scrap, whether they're dealing in furniture, means that they must be on the move all the time.
[3695] They lead a totally different life and we're trying to provide a resource for people that don't want that resource.
j (PS5VN) [3696] mhm Margaret Mackenzie.
l (PS5VS) [3697] The gipsies who are on the laybys and the verges of west Oxfordshire are people who wish to stay living in caravans.
[3698] They do not necessarily wish to travel every day of the week.
[3699] They may like, like the rest of the country, to go off and have their holidays occasionally, but they would like a permanent place on which their caravan can rest.
[3700] I mean in my own village we have erm
j (PS5VN) [3701] Which is, which village?
l (PS5VS) [3702] Sutton Courtenay.
j (PS5VN) [3703] Sutton Courtenay.
l (PS5VS) [3704] We have several families who are of gipsy descent, whom we forget are gipsies because they are like the rest of us, but there are still gipsies who do not wish to live in houses.
j (PS5VN) [3705] Susan's on the line.
[3706] Hello, Susan.
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [3707] Hello.
j (PS5VN) [3708] You want to talk about Standlake as well?
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [3709] Yes, I'm a resident of Standlake and erm my husband was on the working party for Standlake when this was last proposed.
[3710] This site
j (PS5VN) [3711] Well, wait a minute.
[3712] Do you mean that the, the
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [3713] There was a, an anti-gipsy feeling here in the village which was ninety five per cent of the village and erm
j (PS5VN) [3714] That was about four years ago?
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [3715] Four years, yes.
[3716] Now
j (PS5VN) [3717] When Standlake was proposed as a possible site then?
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [3718] That's right.
j (PS5VN) [3719] Yes.
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [3720] And we've been all though this before.
[3721] I feel it's taxpayers money being wasted yet again, because they're just going over the same ground.
[3722] That site was turned down four years ago on environmental grounds.
[3723] Nothing has changed.
[3724] BBont are very interested in it, because there is natural fauna and flora there and the other thing that I think needs to be brought up is the site they are proposing is next door to a leisure park.
[3725] Now Standlake has more or less, through the Council, been designated as a leisure area.
[3726] We have lakes with boating
j (PS5VN) [3727] Yes, it's very nice out there.
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [3728] Yes, now I cannot see the logic of allowing all this leisure to catch people to come into Standlake for leisure and they put a gipsy site next door to a residential — well, no, not residential, it's a holiday park.
j (PS5VN) [3729] All right, thanks very much.
[3730] Let's now go to erm Jack.
[3731] Hello, Jack.
g (PS5VU) [3732] Hello.
j (PS5VN) [3733] Calling from Shilton.
g (PS5VU) [3734] Yes.
[3735] Well that site they're proposing is over my private road.
j (PS5VN) [3736] Oh yes.
g (PS5VU) [3737] And you see there's no permanent fence to the fields and so therefore I could put gates up at that road if I wanted to, but the Council has never consulted me about going to look at it, or going over my road.
j (PS5VN) [3738] mhm
l (PS5VS) [3739] We're going out to consultation on Shilton any day now.
[3740] You can't start making approaches to landowners and other people who live round about until the decision has been made by the working party whether to go out for consultation or not.
[3741] Any minute now, Jack, you will be, you will be consulted by the County Council.
[3742] If we find that we have no right of access over that road, that puts paid to Shilton.
[3743] We may negotiate access over that road with you.
m (PS5VR) [3744] Going back to both Standlake and erm Wheatley
j (PS5VN) [3745] Peter Audley Miller.
m (PS5VR) [3746] The County Council I full well remember some four years ago made a decision that once a site had been in peril, once a decision was made it shouldn't be brought back into the arena again.
j (PS5VN) [3747] Ah, but we're finding that this, in fact, happening several times.
[3748] I'm sorry we can't finish this one up.
[3749] It will run and run, and I'm sure we'll have more programmes on it, but many thanks to my guests; to Bob Morgan from the Liberal Democrats; to Peter Audley Miller from the Conservatives; to Margaret Mackenzie from the Labour Group on their Gipsy Working Party; and to John Hunt from the Chipping Norton group about the gipsies.
[3750] That's it from me, Bill Heine.
[3751] Thanks very much for keeping us company.
[3752] Goodbye. [recorded jingle]


[recorded jingle]
j (PS5VN) [3753] Hello and welcome to today's programme.
[3754] This is John Simpson.
[3755] I'm sitting in for Bill Heine, who's off for today.
[3756] Our subject is the holiday business.
[3757] In recent weeks there have been reports that the travel/holiday business has been in disarray.
[3758] The recession biting into the money into your pocket has reduced future bookings, and you just add to that the fears of terrorist action linked to the Gulf war and then the recent bomb blasts and the mortar attack in London.
[3759] They've all combined to paint a rather bleak picture as far as tourists are concerned.
[3760] But is it as bad as it sounds?
[3761] Well during this programme I'll be talking with a number of people who are involved in the industry who have their fingers on the pulse of what is commonly known as the tourist industry.
[3762] They'll give us an up to date assessment of what's been happening, what's being done to reduce the effects of the factors I've just mentioned and, more importantly, how the industry is changing in tune with the changing demand, or lack of it.
[3763] With me in the studio is Stan Bowes, who's the Head of Marketing for the Thames and Chilterns Tourist Board, and Stan can obviously talk about what's happening in this immediate area, but first of all I'll go to the telephone because waiting to talk to us is Michael Medleycote, who's the Chief Executive of the British Tourist Authority.
[3764] Mr Medleycote, welcome to the programme.
js (PS5VL) [3766] Thank you, John, very much.
js (PS5VL) [3767] I think I'm right in saying that this week the government announced that an extra one point six million pounds was being made available for yourselves and the English Tourist Board to, in an sense, overcome some of the projects, some of the problems that you've been facing.
js (PS5VL) [3768] It is indeed.
[3769] That really goes into two halves.
[3770] The English Tourist Board's half of that erm is designed to persuade us, to persuade the British that erm [...] is the year that we should discover Britain, this is the year that we should stay at home and take our holidays in the view of everything that's happened, and in view of prices overseas.
[3771] The other half is for B T A, which is my organization, erm which promotes Britain overseas as a tourism destination, and is designed to erm provide reassurance to the overseas consumer, through a high level marketing campaign.
[3772] We should be able to approach the two million pound mark overseas, I think, with a special campaign that Britain is affordable and that travel is safe.
js (PS5VL) [3773] How can you go about convincing people that it is a good place, it is affordable and, as you rightly say, that travel — that's the most important thing — that travel is safe.
js (PS5VL) [3774] Well, there are two jobs to be done.
[3775] erm the first job is one of reassurance.
[3776] Obviously, after a major international disturbance of this kind, people are concerned about the airways, and the reality of course is that it's erm a damn sight more dangerous to cross the M forty than it is to cross the Atlantic.
[3777] erm and we have to persuade people, really through the medium of, of P R; through good editorials, through the world's press and T V erm that it's safe and then, through the medium of advertising — which is why we've got a lot of extra money — we have to persuade the world that it's affordable.
[3778] The pound has been very strong recently, particularly in the United States, where they've got a weak dollar, and we have to put over the message that there are tremendous deals to be had erm both in air fares and when you get here in terms of hotel rates erm and in terms of prices of food and so forth.
js (PS5VL) [3779] How much of a recession is the tourist industry facing?
[3780] I mean do you have figures to show that bookings are reduced on previous years?
js (PS5VL) [3781] Well the recession that the tourist industry faces is really ... it's sharing it with the world.
[3782] I mean the erm, the effects of the recession in North America, the great fear of lay offs amongst white collar workers in North America erm began to show itself towards the end of last year, and indeed major corporations were reducing their business travel by cutting back on their travel budgets erm and that was beginning to come through by October/November last year in erm reduced long haul travel.
[3783] And of course that become overlayed by the Gulf situation, but there are clear signs now that the recession has bottomed out but that we're on the way up again and of course as far as erm terrorism and war is concerned, memories are pretty short.
[3784] People's priorities are pretty hot when it comes to holidays and to vacations, and indeed when it comes to business travel, and I think we can expect to see people coming back pretty quickly.
js (PS5VL) [3785] But of course if you're looking at the American market, I mean the opportunities if you're in the States are tremendous, so we do face a lot of competition.
[3786] There are lot of other destinations.
js (PS5VL) [3787] Tremendous competition.
[3788] erm and erm of course a lot of prime destinations are right on America's doorstep.
[3789] Apart from the fact that they have an enormous erm range of domestic attractions and destinations, everywhere from the Pacific north west to Florida and California, the Caribbean is on their doorstep, Hawaii is on their doorstep, Bermuda.
[3790] So we really do have to fight fiercely, and to do that, of course, erm one of the things that we do I think most effectively is to bring waves of foreign journalists here to write about how beautiful erm Britain is and indeed into your area, into the Oxford area, erm we've got the Canadian T V crew coming next week, who'll be filming and erm making erm documentary films for Canadian T V, which should be screened fairly quickly.
[3791] We've got French journalists coming in, into the Thames Valley area, and indeed a Japanese group of journalists coming in erm the week after next.
[3792] Oddly by erm, I'm happy to say, even Gulf journalists coming back.
[3793] We've got a group of journalists, twelve journalists, from Dubai in Bath today and erm some, a wave of journalists coming in from Saudi a little later in the month, so everything's happening and there's a erm tremendous amount of activity going on to restimulate the market.
js (PS5VL) [3794] I'm just sitting wondering whether the ... in light of the problems we've had in the Gulf, there's no doubt about it the strengthening of the relationship between this country and the States is certainly there for all of us to see, so do you think that'll have a spin off in terms of people wanting to come here and visit us?
js (PS5VL) [3795] In marketing terms it's a tremendous card to play erm our marketing line in the States was always ‘we speak your language, a common heritage, a common culture erm almost a common language’ and erm the special relationship really exits at a time like this to a very marked degree, and we shall be playing that for all it's worth, certainly.
js (PS5VL) [3796] So we can expect this summer, in your view we can expect to see as many tourists from overseas as we normally do.
[3797] Would you hope to do that?
js (PS5VL) [3798] Well if you look backwards erm at nineteen eighty six which, although we didn't have war in nineteen eighty six we had a series of horrendous events.
[3799] We had Chernobyl, we had a series of hijackings, we had outrages at Athens Airport, we had the U S raid on Libya by bombers based in Britain erm and everybody then erm turned the corners of their mouths down and forecast the end of tourism, that doom is nigh, and what actually happened was that erm by the end of nineteen eighty six we were four point three per cent down in terms of numbers on a record nineteen eighty five.
[3800] Now, we didn't have a recession in nineteen eighty six, but I would suggest that augers rather better than the mongers of gloom and doom would have us believe for nineteen ninety one.
js (PS5VL) [3801] Well, I have to say, I mean it is a fairly gloomy picture, is it not, with the recession and then the Gulf war, which we said ... both of those ... there are signs ... well certainly the war, we hope, is over.
[3802] The recession — it looks as though there is a glimmer of light, but I was on the continent a couple of three weeks ago when the mortar attack took place at Number Ten and the reaction of people I met ... I mean it was much more marked there than it was here, or seemed to be.
js (PS5VL) [3803] Well can you imagine a more perfect picture story for a newspaper to carry than that?
[3804] I mean it was superb.
[3805] There was a man, totally unconnected with the event I think, running away from a flaming van in Horseguards Parade erm and it was a wonderful picture opportunity for the world's press to carry, but I do think that memories are short from this.
[3806] We shouldn't understate the effect, but I do think that memories are fairly short.
[3807] After all, the world, sadly, has grown rather inured to this kind of outrage.
js (PS5VL) [3808] I know some people listening to this in this area might say well do we need so many tourists.
[3809] Could you just remind us of what it actually means to the economy of this country.
js (PS5VL) [3810] Well tourism is now a quarter of all our invisible exports erm overseas tourism erm earned in nineteen ninety erm for us nine and an half billion pounds.
[3811] That's nine thousand five hundred million pounds, which is about four per cent of our gross domestic product.
[3812] erm it employs a million and a half people in full time jobs, or full time equivalents.
[3813] It really is very close to being Britain's number one industry, and will be the world's largest industry by the end of this decade and to turn our backs on it, or to be half-hearted about it, erm is, I would suggest, foolish.
[3814] It's a matter, I think, of managing it properly, of making sure that we minimise any kind of deleterious effect on the environment, that we manage it in such a way that is tolerable and beneficial to ourselves, to our communities wherever we live.
js (PS5VL) [3815] Michael Medleycote, thank you very much indeed for joining us.
js (PS5VL) [3816] Your very welcome.
[3817] Nice to talk to you.
js (PS5VL) [3818] That's Michael Medleycote, who's the Chief Executive of the British Tourist Authority and responsible, as you heard him say, for encouraging people to come and visit this country.
[3819] Very important, but you might well say ‘well, what do we do with them once they're here and, more importantly, what about those of us who live here?’.
[3820] I'll be talking in a few moments time about aviation travel and the risks and, indeed, the trends that are being reflected at the present time, but erm before we move to that let's just think about those of us who perhaps have decided we won't go abroad.
[3821] Perhaps we decided the risks are too great.
[3822] With me here in the studio is Stan Bowes, who is the Head of Marketing for the Thames and Chilterns Tourist Board.
[3823] Stan, as we've just been hearing from Michael Medleycote, there's a new initiative from the British Tourist Authority.
[3824] The same thing, I think, applies to the English Tourist Board with the other eight hundred thousand pounds extra cash made available by the government.
[3825] How's that going to be used?
t (PS5VM) [3826] This is quite right, John.
[3827] Yes, we are ... the Tourist Boards, the National Tourist Boards which include Scotland and Ireland (northern Ireland) and Wales have combined together, and we are going to combine together to produce a high profile advertising and marketing campaign to encourage millions of holidaymakers to make nineteen ninety one the summer to explore Britain erm and in a concentrated peak period from the twenty third of March to the twenty eighth of April over eighty five per cent of the U K's adult population will be continuously exposed to the message ‘Britain's Great’, and I think they will hear it on radio, they will see it on T V, there will large colour supplements and four page advertisements in every popular national newspaper from the Sunday Times to the Sun.
[3828] What we have, of course, is a great product erm, let's ask our people to explore Britain this year.
[3829] It's got to be their best choice erm it is closer to home, with no worries about overseas travel erm plus the backing of every major Tourist Board means they're guaranteed quality.
[3830] They've got inspected and graded accommodation.
[3831] They've got activities.
[3832] They've got entertainments.
[3833] It's all here, so why not spend that holiday at home this year and give a boost to our much needed travel industry and tourism industry in this country?
js (PS5VL) [3834] Do you actually ... do you personally expect to see many more people staying at home?
[3835] I mean I know that's what your aim is, but are you confident that's what's going to happen?
t (PS5VM) [3836] Yes, I do.
[3837] There was a trend last year when more people erm stayed at home.
[3838] I think the industry itself has got it's act together in terms of pricing.
[3839] There's the often quoted comparison with our compatriots overseas that it's cheaper to go overseas than stay at home, but I think, you know, with the range of accommodation, with the range of holidays now available in this country, I think the industry itself is competing very well and that the ... more and more people who find that they haven't yet discovered Britain will do so this year.
js (PS5VL) [3840] Because I think there has been a trend, has there not, in recent years where people tend to take a main holiday perhaps on the continent and then have a second holiday in this country.
t (PS5VM) [3841] This has been the most fastest growing part of the holiday taking in this country over the past two or three years and I'm hoping it will continue and so does our industry — in other words the hotels and accommodation, the tourist attractions — all are hoping, you know, that people are going to continue to do this erm and I think this may apply to certain sectors of the community erm and we just hope that that will grow.
js (PS5VL) [3842] Okay, well we'll come back to that, if I may, in a moment, because I just want to move on again to another guest, who is waiting to talk to us on the telephone, and that is Lindsay McNeill, who is the Aviation Reporters for Travel News.
[3843] Lindsay, welcome to the programme.
j (PS5VN) [3844] Thank you.
js (PS5VL) [3845] We've been talking to Michael Medleycote from the British Tourist Authority, and one of the points I was making to him was with the recession and also the Gulf war people are very concerned, a) there's the cost of flying, but also they're concerned of course about security.
[3846] Is it actually safe to fly?
[3847] Could you just give me an impression of what's happened in the aviation industry over the past few weeks, because I think I am right in saying that the number of people flying actually has been drastically reduced.
j (PS5VN) [3848] It has indeed, yes.
[3849] I mean just out of Heathrow and Gatwick I think traffic has dropped by about twenty per cent over the erm past two weeks, but that's now beginning to pick up again.
js (PS5VL) [3850] And how quickly is it coming back?
j (PS5VN) [3851] It seems to be coming back fairly swiftly actually, and airlines are quite confident now that erm they will see traffic growth once again of round about five per cent
js (PS5VL) [3852] Now I have a figure in front of me which came from the International Air Transport Association who say that in January something in the order of sixteen flights were cancelled, and airlines lost more than five hundred million pounds in revenue, of which three hundred million was lost by European airlines.
[3853] It does seem to me when you start losing money of that sort it's going to have some major impact on the industry.
j (PS5VN) [3854] Yes, it is a fact, but what airlines have been forced to do now is cut their costs, reshape, look at where they were losing money, and perhaps that's a positive thing.
[3855] They'll be in a better shape now for the future.
js (PS5VL) [3856] As far as holidaymakers ... I'm thinking now more of people taking package holidays overseas, is there going to be a big impact this coming year?
j (PS5VN) [3857] Yes, well fortunately this whole Gulf thing seems to have died down ... will be dying down just at the right time.
[3858] Operators have got another couple of weeks in which to take decisions on capacity for the summer, so they might not cut back as much as they erm, they might have done had the war still been ongoing, so we should still have plenty of holidays available this summer.
js (PS5VL) [3859] And prices?
j (PS5VN) [3860] erm it's difficult to say, but erm again that's something they're looking at over the next couple of weeks, but perhaps along last year's lines — they shouldn't really be any higher than last year.
js (PS5VL) [3861] And the other fear, of course, was that the cost of fuel is going to go out literally through the roof, if you'll excuse the pun, erm that doesn't seem to have happened, so again presumably they ... the tour operators will be able to hold prices, certainly as far as the flights are concerned?
j (PS5VN) [3862] They should be able to hold prices and they certainly shouldn't got up by as much as they thought they might have to put them up.
js (PS5VL) [3863] Now I know ... as I was saying a few moments ago, I travelled to the continent just recently, and I know we had to pay a surcharge on the flight.
[3864] Is there any sign that that actually is going to be reduced, the necessity for doing that?
j (PS5VN) [3865] Yes, there is.
[3866] As the fuel prices come down they shouldn't have to surcharge, but again that's something they'll be looking at over the next couple of weeks.
js (PS5VL) [3867] So things are still, as far as your concerned, still very fluid?
j (PS5VN) [3868] Yes, certainly, yes.
js (PS5VL) [3869] Okay.
[3870] Thank you very much.
[3871] Is it a confident future that you're looking at?
j (PS5VN) [3872] Certainly more confident now than it was a few days ago [laugh] .
js (PS5VL) [3873] But I gather quite a few people in the industry have actually lost their jobs, have they not, and been laid off?
j (PS5VN) [3874] They have.
[3875] There have been a number of redundancies, which were unavoidable because erm of the operators' loss of business.
js (PS5VL) [3876] Mhm.
[3877] Okay.
[3878] Thank you very much for joining us.
j (PS5VN) [3879] Thank you.
js (PS5VL) [3880] That's Lindsay McNeill, who's the aviation reporter for Travel News and, as you heard, things are coming back.
[3881] erm if people are restored to confidence, feel that they are able to travel, that of course reduces the number of people who are going to stay in this country and have their holidays here, and Stan, if I can come back to you, I mean we ... it is almost arguing against the point that you were making a few moments ago that, you know, you want people to stay in this country.
[3882] I mean obviously if people are frightened to fly the potential market for you is that much greater.
t (PS5VM) [3883] Yes, I'm not denying, you know, that people do go abroad for their holidays
js (PS5VL) [3884] Of course.
t (PS5VM) [3885] and a few million of them do.
[3886] erm what this gives us an opportunity to do is to further exploit and promote erm the English, or the sort of British holiday, and this is why we are sort of working on the theme ‘Britain's great’, because a lot of people have yet to discover various parts of Britain and there are all sorts of holidays, you know, across Britain, from Land's End to County Antrim, from Loch Ness to London Town.
[3887] Every kind of holiday that there is — traditional beach holidays, action breaks, coach tours, boating trips, and more, plus attractions from mountain zoos to city museums, and a complete spectrum of quality accommodation from modern camping sites to luxury hotels.
[3888] I think, you know, the erm the Tourist Boards have taken the industry by the scruff of the neck and said look you must have standards, you must have quality, and you must be price competitive.
[3889] And on all those issues I think the industry itself has pulled itself up and through the National Tourist Boards we are going to promote it very hard indeed over the four week period.
js (PS5VL) [3890] Yes, in fact I was just looking at a figure, a four million pound campaign in total is going to be launched, is it not, to persuade Britons to take holidays in their own country.
[3891] It was actually launched yesterday.
[3892] I think you were there with erm William Davis, who's the Chairman of the English Tourist Board, so he was sort of launching this yesterday.
[3893] You were there, but now you and other representatives from the other local Tourist Boards have got to go out and spread the message.
t (PS5VM) [3894] That's very true and they have a ... the industry itself, you know, now has to pick itself up and say right we, you know, and it's very easy to talk oneself into recession and January and February, normally fairly dull months anyway, we are now, on March the first, Saint David's Day, at the brink of a season which could be one of the best seasons they ever have.
js (PS5VL) [3895] I suppose you could argue, it's a rather crass argument, but you could argue if we're going to have a war probably January's the best time to have it from your point of view.
t (PS5VM) [3896] Absolutely right, and Lindsay said the same, you know, because there is sufficient time for the tour operators to get their act together now and promote the holidays, and given the British tradition, you know, we ... they will take their holiday, I'm pretty sure.
[3897] There will be some erm later bookings.
[3898] There will be some reservations erm but erm I'm pretty certain the erm the English habit of taking a holiday erm will still, you know, be very useful for this time of year and for the whole of the season.
js (PS5VL) [3899] Now Michael Medleycote was rather upbeat.
[3900] I mean he was saying look we're going to go out and we're going to market Britain to the overseas visitors and they do bring a lot of money into this country, but I mean are we really going to get back to the levels that we've seen in recent years?
[3901] Do you think that perhaps this is going to be difficult and, if we don't get back to those levels, then presumably you have to encourage local British people to, to make up the leeway so speak, because if you don't it means hotels, restaurants, all kinds of businesses, could be in difficulty.
t (PS5VM) [3902] Yes, we do obviously erm in this particular region erm depend a great deal on the overseas visitor erm but I think Michael also made a very good point in relation to the comradeship which has emerged through the war erm and I think this was erm further identified by some representatives we sent out erm on the part of the local regional boards, in other words London, South East, Southern, East Anglia.
[3903] We've just done a fortnight in the States promoting this region erm to the agents of the erm people who, you know, really book holidays, and one of the things that emerged more than ever was this comradeship, you know, we are together in this erm and what a great country you've got over there.
[3904] This means, you know, that that message is getting across erm to the erm people in the States.
[3905] The States give us a very high percentage of visitors to this particular region.
[3906] erm I mean the highest percentage of overseas visitors to this country are from America, and people, you know, like Paul Duffy at Blenheim Palace, you know, depend a great deal on the American visitor.
[3907] erm and that's and industry that, you know, we need to support locally.
[3908] erm and I'm pretty certain they will come.
[3909] The one problem, obviously, is the exchange rate erm and one can't deny that that is a problem, but erm hopefully we'll be able to overcome that and the visitor numbers will at least equal last year, that's the best we can hope for.
js (PS5VL) [3910] And it's not just the businesses that are obviously involved with the tourist industry, because after all visitors do spend money.
[3911] They go into the local shops.
[3912] I mean I know there's always an argument, especially here in Oxford, that people just come, look round the colleges and they're gone again, but having said that some of them must spend some money.
[3913] I would guess quite a bit of money goes into the local economy.
t (PS5VM) [3914] Statistics show, you know, that the highest percentage of the spend of the overseas visitor goes on shopping.
js (PS5VL) [3915] Yes.
t (PS5VM) [3916] So, yes.
[3917] There's an undeniable fact that that is so and that will obviously benefit the economy if they come and they will feel a draught if they don't come.
[3918] erm so they can't deny that.
[3919] But what the industry itself — that's the hotels and the erm attractions — now have got to combine with us because we can't do this for nothing, you know, they will get erm [...] from us, all our members, to the fact that they can buy media space at fifty per cent off.
[3920] That's what in, in, in ground terms it means and we hope they will respond.
[3921] They will put their product before the public and say look come and stay at our hotel, come and place your caravan in our camping site and that's what we're after.
js (PS5VL) [3922] I mean that's what marketing is all about.
[3923] I was reading an article only in the last couple of days where it was talking about not particularly tourism, it was talking about a business that was in difficulty, and it said, you know, do you actually make people redundant, you do you stop advertising and you know the bottom line is you've got to keep advertising because if you don't tell people you're there nobody's going to come and buy your product, whatever it is, and you're going to disappear anyway.
t (PS5VM) [3924] Absolutely.
js (PS5VL) [3925] But it's a hard graft, isn't it.
[3926] I mean between actually losing people, at the same time spending what is quite a lot of money on advertising.
t (PS5VM) [3927] Yes, yes, but erm it means that whatever part of the tourist industry anybody's in erm now is the opportunity to benefit from erm the British Tourist Board's initiative and promote their own individual business erm featuring them in this erm massive advertising campaign, erm incorporating all the media, erm and benefit.
[3928] They couldn't have a better time to do it.
js (PS5VL) [3929] Okay, we'll come back and pick up with you again, if we may, in a few moments time, but I wanted to change tack once more and go back to the telephones, and waiting to talk to us now is Alan Spong, he's a director of Lunn Poly, one of the country's leading travel agents.
[3930] Alan, thank you for joining us.
s (PS5VP) [3931] Hello.
[3932] Hello, John.
js (PS5VL) [3933] Right, first of all let's ask you, what sort of market are you in?
[3934] What sort of customers do you deal with?
s (PS5VP) [3935] Well we're travel retailers and primarily dealing with overseas holidays and erm with five hundred shops round the country we're the number one retailer.
js (PS5VL) [3936] Mhm.
s (PS5VP) [3937] And erm Lunn Poly sells the holiday products of all the major tour operators and airlines, cruise lines, etc.
js (PS5VL) [3938] Right, so what's the situation as you sit at your desk at this point in time?
[3939] Is it, is it a fairly confident outlook, or are you thinking well it could be better?
s (PS5VP) [3940] Well, business can always be better, but in the last two or three days we've really become quite excited about things.
[3941] erm we have seen a gradual recovery in the last ten days.
[3942] Every day we monitor bookings with our tour operators and our own figures.
[3943] The last ten days gradually it has been coming back since the really trough period in late January with the war and the snow, etc., and in fact this week erm we're expecting this week to probably do double the level of bookings that we did last week, and that's on overseas holidays for summer and winter.
[3944] We would be expecting to double last week's figures, because it's picked up so dramatically in the last couple of days.
js (PS5VL) [3945] Mhm.
[3946] I've got a figure here which erm is generally erm ... it quotes most package holiday operators report bookings down by up to eighty per cent since the outbreak of war in January.
[3947] So what you're saying, that may have been a true figure perhaps two or three days ago, but it actually is changing day by day.
s (PS5VP) [3948] I mean that is not the cumulative situation.
[3949] That is probably the worst one day figure which happened, as I say, combination of war and the snow, when the shops were pretty well closed off, and yes we certainly saw figures that, on a day for day basis to last year, they were seventy five per cent down, but cumulative I mean the position's much better than that erm nowhere near that sort of figure, and erm we are very confident that the summer market for overseas holidays will recover steadily and we'd be very surprised if, by the end of September, we're more than five or six per cent down on summer holiday bookings compared to last year, and we're confident enough to have brought back our campaigns and our advertising starts this week, and we've even been confident enough to announce to our staff that their annual salary review will take place on the first of April as scheduled.
js (PS5VL) [3950] So I think that does underline your confidence.
s (PS5VP) [3951] Very much so.
js (PS5VL) [3952] What about destinations?
[3953] Are people fighting shy of certain parts of the world?
s (PS5VP) [3954] Well obviously the last few weeks the eastern Mediterranean has been hit very badly erm but even as from yesterday places like Cyprus are starting to come back very quickly.
[3955] I mean Cyprus has been one of the major growth destinations in the last year or so and erm people stopped going there from the day war broke out.
[3956] Already people who cancelled in January and February are back in our shops booking to go within the next two or three weeks.
[3957] So there is a strong recovery, mainly, I guess, western Mediterranean has held up strongly, Spain, the Spanish Islands, Canaries, America.
[3958] I mean one in seven of our bookings now are long haul holidays, and a large percentage of those will be going to America, and again the exchange rate from the pound to the dollar helps us there.
[3959] erm it's probably sort of fifteen per cent better than it was last year.
js (PS5VL) [3960] So that's got to be a good thing, isn't it?
s (PS5VP) [3961] Well for people going to the States it's a good time to go.
js (PS5VL) [3962] [laugh] I think you've almost convinced me.
[3963] I think I'll be on the next plane, but erm what about prices because that, again looking from the point of view of the recession, people have been a bit hard pressed for cash.
[3964] I know the interest rates are coming down, but erm there's still a little way to go on that.
s (PS5VP) [3965] Yes.
[3966] I mean holiday prices were, were sort of scheduled to go up this year compared to last year's, probably sort of eight, nine, ten per cent.
[3967] erm we don't expect to see a great change in that.
[3968] Our average holiday price is holding up very well.
[3969] erm we're not expecting to see a huge amount of discounting in the summer months, so erm ... because the capacity that was on the market this year is going to very much match the demand from customers
js (PS5VL) [3970] Mhm.
s (PS5VP) [3971] so that there won't be a lot of dumping, as it's called, and there won't be that number of last minute bargains so, you know, I think this is why people are coming in very quickly now to book while the main summer dates are still available.
js (PS5VL) [3972] And the capacity is there to handle whatever comes?
s (PS5VP) [3973] Oh yes, there's plenty of aircraft and there's plenty of hotels out there, I can tell you [laugh] .
js (PS5VL) [3974] [laugh] .
[3975] Yes, in fact I suggest the problem is ... could be the other way round — if you don't get your bookings, of course, you could have over capacity.
s (PS5VP) [3976] Well, yes, though I think tour operators had a very sensible capacity level this year.
[3977] I mean no-one was very bullish right from the outset because of problems of previous years, so everyone set a sensible target for ninety one, and erm I think most of them are fairly confident, as I said earlier, that the market may be five per cent down but not much more than that.
js (PS5VL) [3978] Now, Alan, do you get involved at all with holidays in this country?
s (PS5VP) [3979] Yes, I would say probably Lunn Poly is the largest retailer of U K holidays for the erm domestic residence.
[3980] Obviously we don't deal with incoming, but holidays for the U K residents, yes that's a fairly major part of our business, and certainly has been pretty successful in recent weeks.
[3981] I mean every year we have a campaign from about the middle of January to the end of February where we promote British holidays through our shop windows, and in fact I was just totting up our advertising spend in the last four or five weeks and I would say we have spent almost a hundred thousand pounds on partner advertising for Lunn Poly — book your holiday at Lunn Poly for U K holidays.
[3982] I guess that's fairly unusual, because travel agents in the past haven't spent money saying you can book a holiday at your travel agent, but erm we've had a pretty high spend and backed up by window point of serve , so we have messages in our shop windows that you can buy a British holiday at Lunn Poly.
js (PS5VL) [3983] Are the bookings, though, reflected ... is there a surge in bookings?
[3984] You see I've got with me in the studio here Stan Bowes, who's the head of marketing for the Thames and Chilterns Tourist Board, and Stan has just been explaining to us that there is this campaign to encourage people to take holidays in this country.
[3985] Are you seeing that reflected already?
s (PS5VP) [3986] Oh, certainly, yes, I mean I keep a record here — I'm turning over my figures which shows my weekly intakes of U K holidays this year against last year.
[3987] I mean I've only got some figures here up to the twenty fourth of February, and in that particular week we sold about thirteen and a half thousand U K holidays, as against the week last year of about five and a half, so we've obviously seen a fairly major growth in U K holidays, but, as I said, we spent about a hundred thousand pounds on promotion, so we're very pleased with the uptake of business coming in.
[3988] But that is quite impressive figures for us, I mean we've never seen that sort of volumes of figures before, but erm over the last year or two I mean tour operators have worked far more closely with travel agents in promoting U K products.
js (PS5VL) [3989] Mhm, Mhm.
[3990] So it's very important that if we don't get erm visitors coming into the country from overseas that we perhaps erm help the industry, the industry helps itself indeed by giving and providing holidays for people from this country.
s (PS5VP) [3991] Well I think so, yes.
[3992] I mean operators have made big steps and big investments in the last two or three years in upgrading facilities on whether their holiday centres, you know, cottages, boats, centre parcs, that type of thing, and that is good quality business and erm it's certainly coming in to us.
js (PS5VL) [3993] Okay, thank you very much indeed for joining us.
s (PS5VP) [3994] Okay, thanks, John.
js (PS5VL) [3995] That's Alan Spong, who's a director of Lunn Poly, one of the leading travel agents in this country.
[3996] Let's then just turn our attention to the facilities in this country, the sort of things ... you've heard Stan saying here in the studio that there's a lot to offer in this country, lot's of different kinds of scenery, lot's of different types of attractions, but let's just take a look at the sort of facilities that are available in this country.
[3997] Do they actually meet up to what we want?
[3998] Are they improving?
[3999] Well waiting to talk to us on the telephone now is Rupert Lancaster, who's the managing director of Foders U K.
[4000] They, of course, publish the Foders travel guides.
[4001] Rupert, thank you for joining us. erm what is the situation as far as you're concerned in this country?
[4002] Do we have erm the sort of facilities that visitors expect?
m (PS5VR) [4003] I think it depends a little bit where the visitors are coming from.
[4004] Certainly as far as Americans are concerned, a lot of our hotels don't come up to the standards of service that they are used to, and certainly they don't think they're value for money.
[4005] I mean when our researchers were doing our London Guide for nineteen ninety one, they did actually make that point that erm they reckoned that things were overpriced in London.
js (PS5VL) [4006] So what can we do to perhaps erm reduce the prices of these things.
[4007] I mean is it going to be a case that market values are actually going to work to our advantage?
[4008] I'm talking now as a consumer.
m (PS5VR) [4009] It could be.
[4010] I also think that erm it's up to erm us — I mean if you think of us as a whole travel industry — to really take a look at what we are providing and compare it with what is provided in other countries; the standards of service, how long do you have to wait for a meal when you're sitting down to eat in a restaurant, what are people used to in France and Germany and the USA?
[4011] I mean I know from my own personal experience that if you come ... fly from New York to London and you eat a meal in a restaurant or in a hotel in New York and then the next day you eat one in London, you do find that the services is much slower, for example.
[4012] It is a sort of ... it seems like almost a national characteristic, and after a while you get used to it again, but it is ... that is something which really does strike Americans when they come here.
js (PS5VL) [4013] And it also is true that the cost is different.
[4014] I'm thinking now in terms of hotel rooms and the availability of hotel rooms and motels.
[4015] It is different from country to country, and I sometimes feel ... I mean I'm not sure whether I'm being unfair to our industry here, but it does seem to me that perhaps we haven't quite got our act together yet, we're going in the right direction, but we haven't quite got there.
m (PS5VR) [4016] I think it's certainly true and I think it ... one shouldn't be too doom and gloom about it.
[4017] I think the way that we're much more open
l (PS5VS) [4018] Mhm.
m (PS5VR) [4019] and interested in what other countries are doing is a great step forward.
[4020] I think that erm even something as basic as motorway service areas have improved over the past few years, and this is simply my own personal experience, not particularly Fodors .
[4021] I still think there's a long way to go and there's a very, very variable standard if you take motorway service areas.
[4022] I would personally like to see more erm sort of grading of erm ... more, more ... higher standards being set by the sort of head offices of people who own things like chains of motorway service areas, not catering for the lowest common denominator, but aiming to really have an absolutely top quality service, cleanliness, everything, in all parts of their business.
js (PS5VL) [4023] That's going to take some time to achieve, is it not?
m (PS5VR) [4024] I should think it probably would, but I don't think that's any reason for not starting it and for not seeing it as a major goal, because after all erm the travel market, as we've heard, is extremely competitive erm people really do vote with their feet and if we don't then people won't come here, and now we really have got a fight on our hands to encourage people to come here, particularly from North America.
js (PS5VL) [4025] Can I just ask you, in the past few weeks we've all heard, and in fact I've cited some figures in this programme, that, you know, people have been staying away.
[4026] The hotels, particularly in London, have found that their occupancy rates have dropped remarkably.
[4027] Do you think that's having an effect on the industry?
[4028] Is the industry having to sort of look at itself and say ‘hey, we've got to do something because if we don't we won't be here’?
m (PS5VR) [4029] I think it must do that.
[4030] I think the danger is, though, that what will happen is that hotels will shed staff
js (PS5VL) [4031] Mhm.
m (PS5VR) [4032] as a way of cutting back their overheads, which is a quite natural thing to do.
js (PS5VL) [4033] Mhm.
m (PS5VR) [4034] Then when things get better they might not be so keen to take them on again, which again will affect service.
[4035] I think that is a danger.
[4036] erm I also think that people will use the fact that people are staying away, or have stayed away, because of the Gulf as a sort of excuse for people not coming and not really get down to the roots of maybe, you know, why aren't people, why don't people want to stay in British hotels, why don't people want to stay in London Hotels?
js (PS5VL) [4037] okay.
[4038] Can I just bring in my other guest who's here in the studio.
[4039] That's Stan Bowes, who's head of the marketing for Thames and Chilterns Tourist Board.
[4040] Stan, have you any observations to make on, on the way that the industry — I'm thinking now of hotels particularly — how they're responding to what is, after all, seems to be a changing market.
t (PS5VM) [4041] I think the hotels in this region have erm done an excellent job.
[4042] They have worked on the basis of service, and certainly the hoteliers I know erm and their American visitors erm have a strong and excellent relationship because they do provide the service.
[4043] I can't speak for London hotels, but basically in this region we have a fair number of esteemed country house hotels, as well as the inner town hotels, and all of them offer a service at a very competitive price, and perhaps this is something we should encourage — the American visitor to stay out of London erm and come and stay in London's country, as we call ourselves, round the Thames and Chilterns.
js (PS5VL) [4044] Yes, because if you do meet people who come to this area they ... particularly if they spend a week or ten days in London first, I mean I've had people say to me, you know, golly it's totally different, and it is.
t (PS5VM) [4045] Yes, and erm that's the aim of our campaign, to encourage people, and overseas visitors as well, to stay
js (PS5VL) [4046] Was I
t (PS5VM) [4047] in this part of the world.
js (PS5VL) [4048] Was I then being unfair when I said that, you know, in my view, we still haven't totally got our act together, there's still room for improvement, and the thing is, you see, people are travelling to other countries.
[4049] As we were hearing from Rupert just now, you know, you start ... if you travel to the States and spend two or three weeks wandering around there, you get an impression of the travel industry as a consumer, and you come back and go to a hotel here and you find that it seems a bit more expensive, or perhaps the meals aren't quite so good, or, as Rupert pointed out, the service isn't quite so good.
[4050] Now it's obviously going to vary from establishment to establishment, but do you feel that we perhaps still have some way to go?
t (PS5VM) [4051] Yes.
[4052] It, you know, the remarks one makes are sort of on a generalization basis, and obviously one speaks from sometimes one's own personal experience.
[4053] erm yes, I mean you can't deny the fact that one should always try and work towards achieving higher standards and the comparisons between different hotels erm are obvious, because one personally ... one's personal experience is bound to come into play.
[4054] erm yes, we, we have problems in this country in relation to cleanliness and erm litter free areas and various other factors, but in genuine terms our English hotel still stands up well in comparison with our European and American colleagues.
js (PS5VL) [4055] Now the reason I ask you these questions, of course, is not you personally, but the Tourist Board is responsible for a grading scheme which is available for us, the consumers, to help us pick the right hotel for our needs.
t (PS5VM) [4056] Exactly, and we are encouraged that more and more hoteliers are taking advantage of this particular scheme, because it is a good scheme.
[4057] It does give them the opportunity to provide the facilities, and on top of that ... on top of classification we now have grading, where every aspect of that hotel's operation is examined and inspected and they are giving erm the classification as well as the grading, which could be highly commended or commended, and to give you some idea, out of the hotels in this region, you know, very, very few so far have reached the highly commended accolade, and those that do are well worth it, you know.
[4058] Take for instance Hartwell House in Aylesbury, erm a perfect example of a highly commended hotel, well worth it, and this is the type of standards that the Americans want.
js (PS5VL) [4059] Now when you do this sort of assessment do you take into consideration the amount of money I have to pay to go and stay a night at a place like this?
[4060] Does that come into the classification?
t (PS5VM) [4061] Yes, because the inspector who goes has to pay that price.
js (PS5VL) [4062] So that's all
t (PS5VM) [4063] He goes completely incognito.
js (PS5VL) [4064] And that's one of the factors.
t (PS5VM) [4065] He has to pay that price.
[4066] We have to pay the hotel fee, because the hotel doesn't know that he is an inspector, or she is an inspector.
js (PS5VL) [4067] Mhm.
[4068] okay, so Rupert, if I can come back to you, I mean do you think then that we're doing enough to, to make these improvements?
[4069] We're just hearing what Stan's been saying about the way the Tourist Boards are erm classifying hotels and trying to assist us, the consumer, I mean how do you view it?
[4070] You're a professional, after all.
m (PS5VR) [4071] I think it's absolutely the right way to go, and I think that one of the things that the English Tourist Boards are doing, which is quite right, is to make people more aware of their classification and grading schemes.
[4072] There's no point having this fancy scheme if people don't know it and also trust it.
[4073] I would like to see them actually promote the fact that it's very much an independent assessment.
js (PS5VL) [4074] Mhm.
m (PS5VR) [4075] erm because after all there's not point in having these gradings and stars and whatever if people don't a) know about them and b) trust them to be independent.
js (PS5VL) [4076] Yes, so it's all a step in the right direction?
m (PS5VR) [4077] Absolutely that, yes.
js (PS5VL) [4078] What about these service stations, though, we we're ... I'll just bring Stan back in.
[4079] I know you don't actually have anything to do with service stations, is that correct, as a Tourist Board?
t (PS5VM) [4080] Well, we've recently erm been involved in the Travel Lodge exercise, which obviously is a budget priced operation which is run by Trust House Forte, and there I think the company itself is establishing very good standards because the occupancy rate of the Travel Lodges is so high, you know, that other hoteliers are quite jealous of it.
[4081] So that means the consumer is voting with their feet and saying this is good, it's a good service, and that is also attached to the motorway services stations, so there is indication that improvements are rapidly coming erm into being, which is good news, good news.
js (PS5VL) [4082] Rupert, if I could just finally ask you, do you then see prospects as being fairly rosy for this summer in this country?
m (PS5VR) [4083] I think a lot will depend on how quickly we can all encourage North American tourists to come to Britain.
[4084] I think certainly in London that's absolutely crucial to the financial health of London tourist.
[4085] As far as Europeans are concerned, they'll undoubtedly come here, as we are going to be travelling to France and Germany and Italy and wherever, but I think it's getting the North American tourists convinced that it's going to be okay here, they're going to get a value for money holiday.
[4086] I think that's the crucial thing.
js (PS5VL) [4087] Well thank you very much indeed for joining us.
m (PS5VR) [4088] Pleasure.
js (PS5VL) [4089] That's Rupert Lancaster, who's the managing director of Fodors U K.
[4090] They, of course, publish the Fodors travel guides, and Stan was sitting here nodding his head in agreement with that.
[4091] The American market is oh so important?
t (PS5VM) [4092] Yes, I mean it's not the whole of the market, admittedly, and we are still encouraging our own countrymen to take a holiday in this country erm but if one's blunt about it, yes, it's erm a large sector of the market and one that is, one we've got to get back to come up to last year's levels.
js (PS5VL) [4093] Yes, so the potential in the States, of course, is enormous.
[4094] The population there ... somebody once quoted me a figure of, I think it was four per cent of the American nation have passports.
t (PS5VM) [4095] That's about it, yes.
js (PS5VL) [4096] I mean that's frightening isn't it?
t (PS5VM) [4097] It's incredible, yes.
js (PS5VL) [4098] I mean if you go down Cornmarket in a normal summer, you can hardly hear anything but erm American voices, so it just shows that there is a vast potential there, but it's getting them here.
[4099] Can I just, as we come to towards the end of the programme, as you this.
[4100] I mean here we are, we've been talking about taking holidays in this area, and I imagine that much of the work that you do as a local Tourist Board is not actually directly aimed at people who live in this area.
[4101] After all, most of us who live here know what there is to see in the area.
[4102] You're presumably looking at people in other parts of the country?
t (PS5VM) [4103] Oh yes, yes, because a lot of the people who live in this area obviously erm visit other parts of the country, Scotland and Wales.
[4104] We have a tremendous population here that have not discovered what's on their doorstep.
[4105] There are people in Oxford who've never been to Windsor.
[4106] Equally, there are people in Windsor who've never been to Oxford.
[4107] And look at the heritage Oxford has got, and look at what Windsor has to offer, just to quote two examples.
[4108] There's the River Thames — how many of our local people have ever taken a holiday on the River Thames? erm and we have many hire boats down there which offer a very good holiday at a very good price.
[4109] erm and given the right weather, there is no better place to be than in the Thames and Chilterns.
js (PS5VL) [4110] It sounds as though we perhaps are blind to the things that are on our own doorstep, which I think is something we tend to accept.
t (PS5VM) [4111] Yes, that's very true.
[4112] People who have been encouraged to visit something, or somewhere, or some place, when they've done so say ‘well, I've lived here, you know, X number of years and this is the first time I've been here’ and they are so pleased.
js (PS5VL) [4113] I suppose that comments like that are music to your ears?
t (PS5VM) [4114] Indeed.
js (PS5VL) [4115] Well, Stan Bowes, thank you very much indeed for joining me this afternoon — Stan Bowes, head of marketing for Thames and Chilterns Tourist Board ... and helping with this look at the tourist industry.
[4116] That's just about it for today's programme.
[4117] On Monday Bill Heine will be here at this time, so why not join him then?
[4118] From me, John Simpson, goodbye. [recorded jingle]


[recorded jingle]
j (PS5VN) [4119] Hello and welcome to the programme.
[4120] Today we'll talk about the Oxford City Council and look at how well it's run, or how well it's not run.
[4121] I'm joined by Phyllis Starkey, she's the leader of the Oxford City Council, the leader of the Labour Group, and Michael Wright is from the Liberal Democrats, and Queenie Warley is a former mayor and she's from the Conservative benches.
[4122] Well, Phyllis Starkey, welcome to the programme.
[4123] I'm ... I'd like to know what it's like running Oxford City Council when, and I'm sure you think you're doing an good job and many people probably do think you're a good job, but there are lots of issues that need discussing.
[4124] For instance, the housing repairs — a lot of people complain about what a shoddy job is being done about housing repairs.
[4125] The rental on council houses has gone up quite considerably, people are worried about that.
[4126] A lot of people wonder whether there is a traffic policy in Oxford.
[4127] People know there is no tourism policy, and the number of personnel has doubled over the last years, but are we getting better services?
[4128] Over to you, Phyllis Starkey, leader of the Labour group on Oxford City Council.
b (PS5VT) [4130] Well, I don't imagine that you want me to answer all those questions immediately, otherwise nobody else, I think, would get a look in.
[4131] So erm I imagine they'll come up during the course of the programme.
[4132] I mean you ask what it's like erm being a member of the majority Labour group, being the leader of the City Council, it's extremely hard work, it's an enormous responsibility, and on many occasions it's extremely frustrating because the amount of freedom that the City Council has to decide its policy and decide its spending priorities is reducing all the time.
[4133] Central Government has taken more and more control of what local councils can do, and in particular has control of the amount of money that local councils can spend erm more and more over the years.
[4134] So, it's hard work, it's frustrating, it's a challenge, and occasionally it's very satisfying and good fun.
j (PS5VN) [4135] But I should think part of that good fun would be able to devise means of grabbing power back from Central Government when they're taking it away from you.
[4136] Have you been very successful at that?
b (PS5VT) [4137] Well I think in common with most local authorities we've been playing a sort of cat and mouse game with Central Government over the last ten years, where we have attempted to continue to deliver the services that we believe we've been elected to deliver, and Central Government has been trying to close off what it would see as loopholes and gain control of us and stop us doing what it doesn't want us to do, but of course it's a rather unequal struggle and the cat and mouse analogy is quite a good one in that Central Government has all the power and is able to erm take control of us to the extent now that the budget that both the City and the County Council have set for the coming year has effectively been set by Central Government.
[4138] Central Government has decided how much money should be spent by the City and County Councils and all that we as Councillors have been able to do is to decide, within that limit, how the money is allocated.
j (PS5VN) [4139] Yes.
[4140] I'm just wondering if you're over egging the pudding there.
[4141] It can't be that bad, surely?
[4142] Queenie Warley.
g (PS5VU) [4143] Ah, well, yes, Phyllis blames it all to Central Government.
[4144] I wonder very much what situation Oxford City would be in if we hadn't got a Central Government.
[4145] They have introduced legislation which has been a guideline to the spending of the City Council under Labour control.
j (PS5VN) [4146] Well do you think that the City Council is spending in an irrational and unreasonable way, currently and for the last ten years?
g (PS5VU) [4147] For the last ten years the spending of the City Council has risen beyond belief.
[4148] You spoke of personnel at the beginning; the number of staff on the City Council in the last ten years has doubled.
[4149] erm I could mention the recreation budget, because I think you talked about recreation; in about nineteen eighty the recreation budget was a million and a half, it's now six and a half million plus.
[4150] And I think we've got to remember that a local authority is not funded from money that grows on trees, it is funded by the electorate and we, as Councillors, have a duty to that electorate to spend the money wisely.
j (PS5VN) [4151] Well if the Conservatives got in would you cut back the money allocated to recreation and would you cut back on the recreation services?
g (PS5VU) [4152] We would have to look very carefully at this.
[4153] I think our ploy on erm recreation would be to bring in private operators.
[4154] The present ruling group have introduced some nice facilities.
[4155] They've put in a ice rink, a very nice international standard Temple Cowley Pools and many other things, leisure centres and so on.
j (PS5VN) [4156] Yes, Phyllis Starkey, the leader of the Labour group, is grinning like the Cheshire Cat.
g (PS5VU) [4157] Oh, she's got all the answers up her sleeve I expect, but that has caused tremendous debt charges, which, at the moment, have to be paid, and whether we could find a private operator to take them on or not I don't know, but private operators operate throughout the country and in many other of the districts within the county of Oxfordshire, and they operate efficiently and do just as good a job as the City Council are doing in the present situation.
j (PS5VN) [4158] So one of your responses would be to bring in the privatization card and put a lot of this out to tender?
g (PS5VU) [4159] Indeed.
j (PS5VN) [4160] Yes.
[4161] Phyllis Starkey.
b (PS5VT) [4162] Well, I mean I think that Queenie is trying to avoid the real question.
[4163] I mean the question that has to be faced is that when you talk about cutting the costs in local government you also have to talk about the services which councils deliver, and you can't get something for nothing.
[4164] When Queenie talks about the increased expenditure on recreation from nineteen eighty to now, that's quite right, there has been a huge increase in spending, and that's because the Labour Council was committed to improving recreation facilities in the City, and it didn't continue the appalling record that the Conservative administration had had before of virtually no recreational facilities, it invested in recreation facilities — you listed them yourself — and of course those facilities have to be paid for and on ... when we have stood for election we've always made it clear that we want to provide quality services, but of course that they have to be paid for, and so the second point that you then made was that, you know, our budget's gone up beyond belief, well I mean this year it's being cut by two million pounds, last year it was a standstill budget, and erm that has been done at a time when in fact Central Government has been transferring responsibilities from Central Government onto Local Government without increasing, indeed at the same time decreasing the amount of Central Government grant that's gone to local councils.
[4165] And the issue of privatization is a complete red herring.
[4166] The debt charges on the recreation facilities, for example, would remain, whoever was running them and there is absolutely no possibility that private contractors would actually take over the debt charges.
[4167] All that they would be tendering for would be to actually run the facility, and there's no reason to suppose that a private contractor can do that any more cheaply, if they deliver the same quality of service, as the Local Authority can do, so it wouldn't actually save money, all it would do would mean that control of the level of service that was being delivered at those facilities was lost from the Council to a private contractor.
j (PS5VN) [4168] Well, I'm also joined by Michael Wright from the Liberal Democrats.
[4169] Michael, if the Liberal Democrats gained control of Oxford City Council what changes would they make in the way things are operating now?
jp (PS5VV) [4170] Well I have to say straight away that I've erm worked on a Council with the Labour Party in opposition with us, and now with the Labour Party in Government with us ... with us a very small group, and I have to say it's much preferable to have the Labour Party in power than to have the Conservative Party in power as far as we're concerned, because at local level the sort of things that we want to do — providing better services, caring of people, all those sort of things — we don't disagree.
[4171] We disagree quite strongly at national level and international level, but locally we don't.
[4172] If we did take control of the Council I think we would try and decentralize much more than is being done at the moment.
[4173] I don't just mean decentralizing the housing by having it in area offices.
[4174] I don't just mean the sort of things that Walsal Council have done of decentralizing Social Services and that sort of thing.
[4175] I mean actually decentralizing the power, by having groups of Ward Councillors, on an area basis, actually having the power decentralized to them and having open meetings in various parts of the City where you've got the nine or twelve Councillors from three or four wards who'd actually have a lot of power delegated to them, and so we would try and put power downwards.
[4176] I think that would be one thing we would do.
j (PS5VN) [4177] What powers would you delegate on that level?
jp (PS5VV) [4178] Well I erm I'm basing it on the Tower Hamlets model.
[4179] Now, of course Tower Hamlets is a unitary authority and Oxford County ... and Oxford City is not.
[4180] Tower Hamlets found that they could not decentralize Social Services, for example, because of the statutory requirement to have a Social Services Committee, but everything else they've erm within the overall Council policy, which is decided by all the Councillors, they've decentralized a great deal of the powers down to these local groups of Councillors, and where the Labour control the areas they control these local Councils, and where the Liberal Democrats control them they control them, and I think it's working very well.
[4181] There were an awful lot of teething troubles in the first year or so, but it is working very well.
[4182] The other thing, I think, erm I do appreciate that Phyllis has got a terrible problem running the Council with the constraints imposed on her by Central Government, and by and large I think they do it very well, as I have said.
[4183] But there are certain things, as I have suggested and other people have suggested, on which we haven't got a response from the group, the Labour Group, when we have made these suggestions, and I would be more open, I think, to suggestions and ideas from other groups than the Labour Party are at the moment.
j (PS5VN) [4184] Well what sort of suggestions would you like to see put in operation?
jp (PS5VV) [4185] Well there's one which I did make; erm we have a dreadful housing situation in Oxford, and I don't think Phyllis and I would disagree that it's appalling and erm a lot of it's outside our control.
[4186] It's to do with the Government housing policy at national level, but there are certain things we can do, and I remember about two and a half years ago I arranged for a group of people to come and give a seminar to the Housing Committee.
[4187] We had the Walter Segal Trust, we had the Lightmoor Project and various other projects who had actually built their own houses.
[4188] And we then took the Housing Committee down to Lambeth to see the benefits of what they had done.
[4189] We then went on to Sydenham and Lewisham and looked that, and erm the general feeling was the Walter Segal houses were not of a sufficiently high standard to be satisfactory for people on our housing waiting list.
[4190] Well I was involved with these professionally, and they are a very high standard, and it's certainly not going to solve our housing problem.
[4191] But the people who built them — the thirty or forty people possibly at the most in Oxford who built those houses — it would solve their problems and it would give them a completely new slant on life to have built their own houses.
[4192] I think ideas like that have not been readily acceptable by the Labour Group and
j (PS5VN) [4193] Well it sounds like a creative alternative.
[4194] Why haven't you taken that one up, Phyllis.
b (PS5VT) [4195] Well in fact we have discussed it erm and we have seriously considered it.
[4196] erm from my recollection the main problem with it is for the most part, I think, these self-build projects, where they've been erm pursued in other places, have used land which was not otherwise utilizable, and that's the way that they've actually reduced the price of the finished house.
[4197] Now in Oxford erm we actually don't have any land like that, and the problem was that, even if we had self-build houses on the land which is available at the moment, on which we want to build council houses but we haven't got the money to build council houses, if we were to allow self- build to go ahead on those sites because of the value of the land then the sorts of people who would actually be able to afford them would not be people on low incomes, or even sort of low to medium incomes, they would actually be people who were fairly well off and therefore not the people that we would want to be directing our resources at.
[4198] So we did consider it.
[4199] It wasn't, you know, rejected out of hand.
[4200] We are grateful for imaginative erm ideas that come up anywhere in the Council and we do consider them, but on reflection this seemed not one that was worth pursuing in Oxford.
j (PS5VN) [4201] Mhm.
[4202] Queenie Warley.
g (PS5VU) [4203] Thank you, Bill.
[4204] Yes, well, we do have a housing crisis, there is no doubt about that, but to say that it's government created is just another ploy of the Labour Group and the Liberal Democrats who, as Michael has said, are usually incohesion; that is why we are a small group of ten on Council fighting probably about thirty five.
[4205] The Government has always attempted to increase the choice in housing.
[4206] You can't concentrate exclusively on council house provision.
[4207] You can't force tenants to live under a local monopoly, because consumers want choice.
[4208] They prefer to live in an integrated situation.
[4209] Now erm I think Michael said he would go for decentralization and we know this is what has already started in our Housing Department.
[4210] We have five decentralized offices dotted around the City, which are all very well.
[4211] They probably do improve the services to the people on the estates; they do hurry along their repairs, which I think you mentioned at first, Bill, but we've still retained a central department.
[4212] I think the Conservatives would consider disbanding that, you don't need that as well.
[4213] Our ... in joining in this theme, in the first instance, we clearly stated that the number of staff employed to do this should be the same, but you've now got five erm outside Housing Departments, all with ten staff and still ten in central, or even more maybe.
[4214] So I think erm, you know, that's got to be disbanded.
[4215] We do feel that erm as a City Councillor we should be enabling people to find the homes of their choice.
j (PS5VN) [4216] Michael Wright.
jp (PS5VV) [4217] Well I must come back.
[4218] You know people want choice in housing.
[4219] How right she is, but they don't have any choice.
[4220] The sixty people we have every night in the night shelter have no choice at all and nor to the five and a half thousand families on our housing waiting list.
[4221] They have no choice at all, and we are in a most dreadful situation and government policy only has one choice and that's you buy, and if you can't afford to buy, and at the moment only thirty five per cent of families in Oxford can afford to buy on the current wage levels and the current house prices, the other sixty five per cent have no choice whatsoever, so you know you're talking nonsense to say we want consumer choice in housing.
[4222] We haven't got it.
j (PS5VN) [4223] Phyllis Starkey.
b (PS5VT) [4224] Yes, I mean I agree absolutely with what Michael says and I want to extend it.
[4225] I think that really the Conservative line that they put forward on housing is totally indefensible.
[4226] The facts of the matter in Oxford are that there is an enormous housing crisis and that affects people at all levels.
[4227] It's basically because there is a chronic shortage of housing in all sectors, and in particular obviously we are concerned with people who erm are on relatively low incomes and who are quite unable to become owner occupiers.
j (PS5VN) [4228] Yes, yet you've increased their rent at council houses by quite a considerable amount.
[4229] You're so concerned about them, yet you increase their rent?
[4230] Something doesn't add up.
b (PS5VT) [4231] Well, what doesn't add up is the Government's policy on housing.
[4232] The Government has changed policy on housing to try to effectively force tenants out of council housing.
[4233] They've done it by an alteration in the way local government finance works, so that the cost of providing new council housing and the cost of maintaining existing council housing has to be met entirely from the rent paid by existing council tenants, and erm a certain amount of Government subsidy.
[4234] And although the City Council has managed over the years to old council house rents down, I think for three years there was absolutely no rent increase and then only about a nine per cent increase, although we've managed to hold council house rents down until
j (PS5VN) [4235] And this year the rent is what.
b (PS5VT) [4236] this year
j (PS5VN) [4237] What is the rent increase this year?
b (PS5VT) [4238] The rent increase this year is an average of seven pounds a week.
[4239] The Labour
j (PS5VN) [4240] What's the per cent?
b (PS5VT) [4241] It's thirty nine per cent.
[4242] That is absolutely appalling and it is a direct result of central government policy in reducing the level of grant which has come to support housing in Oxford City.
[4243] The rate of Government grant erm to council housing is based on the notional value of that housing, so it's based on the idea that we could actually get rid of all our tenants and sell all our council housing on the open market.
[4244] Now, in fact, of course, under the government's right to buy legislation the value of the housing is reduced by the discounts that our tenants have.
[4245] I mean in fact when it's sold to tenants it's sold at erm a fraction of it's real value.
[4246] In any case, the logic of the government's case is to say that if you are a person on low income, dependent on council housing, and you happen to live in area like Oxford, which has extremely high land values, then you should pay a very high rent, and they assume that they will pay that high rent and they reduce the grant to the housing fund erm on those lines, with the consequence that the Council had no choice but to put the rents up.
[4247] In fact initially the erm ... if we'd followed Government guidelines exactly, the rents would have had to have gone up by even more, by about twelve pounds a week, but because erm we were able to erm manage the finances erm more carefully, we were able to reduce that increase to seven pounds a week, but none of the Labour Councillors would say that that increase is acceptable.
[4248] We didn't want to have to put forward an increase so ... that was as high as that.
[4249] We tried every way to reduce the increase and it's entirely a result of Government policy.
j (PS5VN) [4250] Queenie Warley, from the Conservatives.
g (PS5VU) [4251] Thank you, Bill.
[4252] Well, the point is erm Phyllis and her group knew very well that the Government had decreed the housing revenue account should balance.
[4253] It had decreed that many years ago, and if they had taken the appropriate rent rises in steps and phased them in, this sudden large rise, which is causing hardship, would not have happened.
[4254] I think it is very sad they've had to do it that way.
[4255] At the actual erm meeting which put this into practice the Conservatives suggested a phased in method, some now and some later, and this would have relieved a certain amount of hardship.
[4256] We know at the moment we're under boundary changes.
[4257] We know we're taking in some erm five hundred more council houses, and we know that the rents of those, as they come in, are considerably higher than those of our own, and the rent rise they will have to suffer will be very little in comparison with the one that the City Council is putting off.
j (PS5VN) [4258] Mhm.
[4259] Michael Wright from the Liberal Democrats.
jp (PS5VV) [4260] I'm erm ... I've been working in low cost housing, housing charities, for a very long time, with Shelter and various other charities like that, and I never cease to be amazed that the Conservative Group, here or nationally, are hostile to subsidies for council housing, because the subsidy which goes to owner-occupiers, through mortgage tax relief, is very much greater than the subsidy that goes to council housing and there's nothing we as a Council can do about this, but I do hope that in due course we will get a fair system of subsidising houses for everybody, so that wealthy people on high incomes who are getting a big subsidy on their housing through their tax relief, erm are not getting more than people on low incomes living in council houses.
[4261] We've got to get a much better system of subsidising housing for everybody, so that those in real need get a bigger share of the cake than the people who are living in very big houses, with very big incomes, and getting tax relief at the higher rate.
[4262] I think it's a most disgraceful system quite honestly, and my own party, and the Liberal Party before that, have been campaigning for years to get a fairer system, but there's nothing we as a Council can do about this unfortunately.
j (PS5VN) [4263] Phyllis Starkey, you've mentioned earlier that this will cause hardship to people, this huge rent rise of thirty nine per cent.
[4264] What are you doing for those people who are at their wits end?
[4265] They can't afford it.
[4266] I mean what sort of lifeline are you throwing out to those people, because there are a lot of people in that category, they just don't know where to turn, everything's going up and now with this huge rise they are almost on the street.
b (PS5VT) [4267] Right.
[4268] Well, I mean, of course we recognise the difficulty that many tenants will have ... will face in meeting this rent increase.
j (PS5VN) [4269] But what are you doing about it?
b (PS5VT) [4270] And, well we're doing what we've always done in relation to erm tenants and erm rent arrears, we basically pursue a sympathetic policy erm for tenants who are facing real financial hardship in paying their rents.
j (PS5VN) [4271] What does that mean?
b (PS5VT) [4272] Which means that we talk to them about a reasonable rate at which they can pay their rent.
[4273] We make sure that they have proper benefit advice, so that if there are any benefits that they're entitled to that they get those benefits.
[4274] We make sure ... and many of our tenants, of course, are in receipt of housing benefit, those on the lowest incomes, and for them housing benefit will meet most, if not all, of the increase, but there are many tenants who don't get housing benefit who will have to pay the increase themselves.
[4275] We counsel people if they are in debt to other organisations as well as ourselves we offer money advice to help them to manage their debts so that they pay off all the debts at
j (PS5VN) [4276] Do you have a money adviser, is that one of your staff members?
b (PS5VT) [4277] We do have a money adviser erm specifically who works with erm tenants who are in rent arrears and who gives them advice on handling their financial problems.
[4278] We do also, as a Council, fund various grant aid money advice centres through the City, which also provide that sort of advice, not just council tenants.
j (PS5VN) [4279] Then it seems like there's an overlap of the same sort of service.
[4280] Why don't you save a bit of money by firing that debt advisor in the Council and funnel all them to the debt advice bureau outside in the regular way?
b (PS5VT) [4281] Well there isn't actually [laugh] ... regrettably there is so much personal debt within the City, and the problem is rising to such an extent that all the bodies that provide money advice, including for example the Citizens' Advice Bureau, which we also fund, are overwhelmed by the numbers of people coming to them.
[4282] There is absolutely no question that there are kind of money advice people in the City sitting around with nothing to do, quite the contrary, so I mean it's not a duplication, erm and of course we make sure that we ... that all the people involved in money advice within the City, whether funded directly or indirectly by the City Council, work with each other and co-operate with each other and form a network.
[4283] I mean can I just return to what Queenie Warley said about the rents, because basically what she said was the conservative view on council house rents was that yes they had to go up because the Government decreed they had to go up, that they would have put them up earlier so people would have been paying more for longer, and the phasing that they're suggesting now what she didn't point out is that under the Conservative proposal people would finish up paying even higher rents than they will have to pay this year.
j (PS5VN) [4284] Michael Wright.
jp (PS5VV) [4285] Yes, erm I think there's one thing which erm the general public don't realise about council house rents and housing benefit, since we've got this ring fence round the housing account the housing benefit which is paid to our tenants who are on low incomes is, in fact, paid by the other tenants.
[4286] Now that seems to be quite scandalous.
[4287] We can't pay for that out of the general population in the City of Oxford, we've got to take it out of the people who live in council houses and are paying rent and this seems to me a most iniquitous way of erm financing our people on how incomes.
j (PS5VN) [4288] Queenie Warley from the Conservatives.
g (PS5VU) [4289] Don't let's frighten people and think they're going to be thrown out on the street because they can't pay their rent.
[4290] There are such things as rent rebates, which is subsidised by the Government.
[4291] There are grants by the Government to housing associations, and there are houses around.
[4292] Admitted in the south we don't have sufficient.
[4293] Go to the north and there are plenty.
j (PS5VN) [4294] Well
b (PS5VT) [4295] Is Queenie Warley suggesting that our council tenants should decamp up to the north of England?
j (PS5VN) [4296] Yes.
g (PS5VU) [4297] I didn't say that at all.
[4298] I just erm put the north/south divide as an example.
[4299] They can't go up there, we've got to do the best we possibly can, and the Government is doing all it possibly can to help by providing subsidies for housing associations by providing ninety five per cent of the rent rebates which this City Council gives, so on and so forth.
b (PS5VT) [4300] Well, I'm sorry, even Conservatives don't agree with what Mrs. Warley has said.
[4301] You may remember a few months before Christmas, I think, that the five District Councils in Oxford County joined together to say that they felt that Government housing policy was failing to deal with the growing housing crisis in Oxfordshire.
[4302] Only one of those five Councils is Labour controlled, the other four are Conservative, or indeed one of them's Independent because the West Oxfordshire Councillors left the Tory Party because they were so disgusted with the Tory Government's housing policy.
[4303] Most Conservatives admit that Government housing policy is a nightmare and a nonsense and is failing to meet the needs of people for decent affordable housing.
j (PS5VN) [4304] Well let's talk, let's talk a little bit about the personnel that you've got on the City Council now and the kinds of services in general that you're providing.
[4305] You ... Queenie Warley mentioned earlier that the number of personnel has gone up by what, a hundred per cent?
g (PS5VU) [4306] Well, yes, it's doubled I would say, Bill.
[4307] In nineteen eighty I think it was five hundred and twenty, and at the moment it is about a thousand and two.
[4308] And you mentioned, or Phyllis mentioned, erm a money project officer, and you said that's a dual role erm ask any housewife, she'll tell you how to manage your affairs, you don't need a money project officer.
j (PS5VN) [4309] Well, wait a minute, I think maybe you do need a money adviser because I know what you're doing with some of your money, you're subsidising your staff meals through the County Council canteen.
b (PS5VT) [4310] No, no.
[4311] That's the County Council.
j (PS5VN) [4312] Yes.
b (PS5VT) [4313] The City Council doesn't have a canteen.
j (PS5VN) [4314] Yes, it's the County Council canteen, but the City Council is putting in money to subsidize it.
[4315] How much?
b (PS5VT) [4316] As far as I know it's not putting in any money at all.
j (PS5VN) [4317] Ah, well, all right, but we're
b (PS5VT) [4318] And anyway I think that's really a red herring.
g (PS5VU) [4319] I would need to check that, yes, but it's fact.
[4320] The County Council has a canteen.
[4321] Yes it's subsidized.
[4322] I believe it to be subsidized by the County Council, because I think
j (PS5VN) [4323] Of course it is, sure.
[4324] It is also subsidized by the City.
g (PS5VU) [4325] We must get the situation straight that the County Council is the ruling authority, we are only a subsidiary as a county and we get our problems on our traffic and our highways as we are only agents to the County Council, and the County Council control the education of Social Services.
j (PS5VN) [4326] What groups out of all those people working on the City Council, what people would you cut their jobs of?
g (PS5VU) [4327] Well, we've got a problem on personnel and I think erm the Conservatives would certainly look at it if they got into control.
[4328] We would erm take out all superfluous posts and we'd have to find out what they were.
j (PS5VN) [4329] Yes, but what does that mean?
g (PS5VU) [4330] You want some examples? okay, you shall have some examples.
[4331] I've talked about the erm money project officer, I'll talk about the service review officer.
[4332] erm some little while ago we employed a service review officer.
[4333] What has he done?
[4334] He's talked about all the various departments, he's erm used up half a ton of paper and erm I think was the job of the chief officers and the managers of the department.
[4335] Information technology, I thought, was supposed to save posts.
[4336] This is frequently said.
[4337] We've added on.
[4338] In our Information Technology Department we've now got thirty two posts.
[4339] This is totally unnecessary.
[4340] We talk about equal opportunities, we all believe in equal opportunities.
[4341] It is right and proper that everyone should have the same opportunity, but this can be controlled by one officer in my belief.
[4342] When you've got a staff of a thousand you don't need everybody going around.
[4343] There are six, two in one department and four in another, I believe it is. erm if you look at erm the way our departments are dotted all over the City, on expensive leases in fact, we've taken property after property to accommodate our staff and they all need cleaners, so on and so forth.
[4344] We certainly look into all these things.
j (PS5VN) [4345] Michael Wright.
jp (PS5VV) [4346] Well I'm certain that if you looked at every post in the City we could certainly save one or two, I don't think anyone would deny that, but the sort of cases that Queenie's just been talking about, I think she's talking absolute nonsense.
[4347] Having these money advice officers does save us money, it reduces our rent arrears on our housing revenue account.
[4348] It reduces a great deal of pain and hardship amongst the people who live in the City, and that is money well spent.
[4349] I think an example which came up in the Health and Environmental Protection Committee recently, did we really want an AIDS Advice Officer?
[4350] If one person is prevented getting AIDS by this officer, we've paid for that person for two years, and I think practically every one of these posts that Queenie takes great offence at is producing a useful end product, and the other point is that Government legislation year after year after year puts more responsibilities on the City Council, the new Environmental Protection Act is a good example.
[4351] We've got to clean our streets to a higher standard more quickly.
[4352] That requires more people to carry out the Conservative Government Acts of Parliament, and we are bound to employ more people to do that.
j (PS5VN) [4353] Yes, I have one question, speaking of the AIDS Officer, I know that the previous AIDS Officer left her post about a week ago.
[4354] Is there another one in place?
b (PS5VT) [4355] I know that the post has been advertised.
[4356] I'm not sure whether it's been filled.
j (PS5VN) [4357] Ah, so it's quite likely vacant right now.
[4358] Phyllis Starkey, your views.
b (PS5VT) [4359] Well, I mean when erm Queenie was eventually pushed into producing the Tory hit list it really was extremely unimpressive.
[4360] Can I say that as part of the budget discussions, this year and last year, the labour group went over all the services that the City Council provides with a fine tooth comb and argued out the case for all the spending that we then put forward in our budget.
[4361] We have a vetting panel which looks at all the vacancies that arise within the City Council, and decides whether it really is necessary to fill the job, or whether we can actually erm reorganize things and deliver the service with fewer people, so we are very conscious of the need to make sure that
j (PS5VN) [4362] Ken.
[4363] Ken.
b (PS5VT) [4364] the City Council's remains as efficient as possible, and erm most ... all the posts that we have at present, we believe are necessary, but we do continue to monitor them and see whether it is necessary to continue to employ all the people that we are employing at the moment.
[4365] erm when Queenie talks about the increase in number of people employed by the City Council you cannot deliver more services with fewer people.
[4366] One of the biggest increases, of course, has occurred in the Treasurer's Department with the advent of the Poll Tax.
[4367] erm sixty eight extra staff we had to take on in order to implement the Poll Tax compared with the implementation of the rates.
[4368] Now she wouldn't seriously suggest that we shouldn't take on those sixty eight people, that we should just say ‘oh well, we'll just manage the Poll Tax somehow anyhow with fewer people than are necessary’.
[4369] We have to take on the people that are necessary to deliver the services.
j (PS5VN) [4370] All right.
[4371] Queenie Warley.
g (PS5VU) [4372] We agreed the sixty eight posts to start off the Poll Tax.
[4373] We had to, obviously, but the Poll Tax is now all on this modern technology and it doesn't need nearly as many staff, and Phyllis will remember in her budget that they did put savings in the Treasurer's Department for that very reason.
[4374] erm Michael cited an AIDS Officer, I would say that AIDS is the job of the Health Authority.
[4375] The Health Authority do erm provide funds for the AIDS post anyway, but it is their job entirely.
[4376] It is a health matter.
[4377] It is not a matter for a local authority, and Michael talks about employing the Money Project Officer to erm get in rent arrears and so on; this is the job of the officers who we pay large sums of money to, it is not the job to have someone special to do it, and in any case that would be peanuts compared with his salary.
[4378] If you think the average salary of officer posts on the City Council are twenty thousand pounds, the fact that you've got to pay their superannuation, insurance, provide them with desk space and all the necessary support, it's a terrific sum to employ a person.
[4379] We, the Conservatives, would consider, where necessary, using consultants — pay them the once off to do the job and then the officers, who are highly qualified and highly paid, would be there to do the job, and that's what we employ them for.
j (PS5VN) [4380] Well that seems like it makes a bit of sense.
[4381] Phyllis Starkey, what do you ... how do you respond?
b (PS5VT) [4382] Well it doesn't really.
[4383] What you use consultants for is when you have a one off task that it would be uneconomic to employ a member of staff to do because it would be finished in six months and then you'd be left with a surplus member of staff.
[4384] Any organization which erm had a policy of employing consultants to carry out its core activities would be frankly mad, because consultants cost more than your own staff, always.
[4385] You only use them when you have a special one off task and the City Council does use consultants where it is appropriate.
[4386] But if we want to delivery good, high quality services, we have to employ the right number of people to do it, and Queenie is just, you know, talking well near nonsense.
[4387] I mean to say that, you know, every ... the average cost of a post is twenty thousand, therefore every post costs twenty thousand, is of course rubbish.
[4388] We employ the people to do the jobs that need to be done within the Council.
[4389] We look very carefully at any new posts that we create, and we constantly look to see whether there are posts that we can get rid of erm and we have, in fact, shed a great many posts erm over the last year erm and we are constantly reviewing the efficiency of our service delivery.
[4390] But as well as cost, you must always look at quality.
[4391] If we are to continue to deliver quality services, and indeed if we are to increase the quality, which is what we want to do, you cannot do that on a shoe string.
[4392] You have to employ sufficient people to be able to deliver the service that people expect.
j (PS5VN) [4393] All right.
[4394] What about twinning, do you think that that's of such a high priority that when council houses need repairs that those repairs should be put down on the ladder and said ‘I'm sorry, we can't deal with that because part of the money that we could allocate to council house repairs is being used for twinning and things like that’?
b (PS5VT) [4395] Well that's not a real question.
[4396] As we explained at the beginning erm spending on housing is completely and absolutely separate from all the rest of the Council's spending, so that
j (PS5VN) [4397] Even the repairs?
b (PS5VT) [4398] Yes, repairs as well.
[4399] When you're arguing about the money to be spend on repairs, and for example the reason why we've had to get strict budgetary control on the amount of money which is being spent on repairs, is because that money all comes out of tenants' rents, and it's basically a balance — if we want to increase the erm numbers and the standard of repairs that we offer as a landlord, then it has to be met by a further increase in rents, and we think we've got the balance about right at the moment.
[4400] erm if you're asking about the twinning off erm compared with spending on recreation, or on erm environmental health or something, well yes, of course, we do have to make choices.
[4401] erm and the amount of money that's spent on twinning is in fact extremely small.
[4402] erm I think that the amount is justified, erm I don't think it would be justified to increase spending on twinning by any large amount.
[4403] I mean basically when we look at the range of council services, then you have to take decisions about the balance of spending between different priorities.
j (PS5VN) [4404] Yes, well Michael Wright, I think you want to come in there for just a second.
jp (PS5VV) [4405] Yes, I don't want to talk on twinning.
[4406] As Phyllis says, it doesn't cost a great deal and Oxford has a reputation — students come from all over the world to Oxford.
[4407] Oxfam was founded here.
[4408] Oxford has a erm reputation of being internationally minded, and I would like to spend much more on twinning if we were allowed to, to have proper link with Lyon where we're actually funding projects in Lyon and links with other cities in the Third World, and I believe that if we are going to try and cut that out we're being very, very narrow minded indeed.
j (PS5VN) [4409] Mhm.
[4410] I want to move on.
[4411] Queenie Warley, just one last word on this.
g (PS5VU) [4412] Well, yes, on twinning.
[4413] Twinning is, I think, a very important matter in our city.
[4414] We learn from it.
[4415] I, as the Lord Mayor, twinned with Grenoble.
[4416] I went to Grenoble and discovered they had a small project on the outskirts, which had been a piece of wasteland; they ploughed it all down, replanned it, had a complete new housing estate, hotel, the lot, in less than five years, where the City Council would be thinking about which bit of land to use, what to put there, how to do it, and ten years later they might think about producing a plan, and ten years after that (that's twenty years on) something would appear.
[4417] So there is things to be learnt from twinning.
[4418] We don't spend a tremendous amount on it.
j (PS5VN) [4419] Well what do you learn
b (PS5VT) [4420] The thing to learn from twinning in Grenoble, of course, is the huge amounts of Government and regional funds which are poured into local government in Grenoble and the size of the budget that Grenoble City Council has compared with us.
[4421] The twinning budget on Grenoble City Council is more than a million pounds [laugh] .
g (PS5VU) [4422] They've got eleven twins.
b (PS5VT) [4423] And the total budget of Oxford City Council is about fifty million.
[4424] erm I mean it's interesting the lessons that Queenie learnt — the lesson that I learnt from French local government is that erm the French believe in local government, and they put their money where their mouth is.
[4425] The British Government doesn't believe in local government.
[4426] It starves it of funds and then it complains when we can't deliver the services that the expect.
g (PS5VU) [4427] They believe in
j (PS5VN) [4428] Yes, well, I believe in traffic management, and I'm wondering if the Oxford City Council believes in traffic management and also tourism policy.
[4429] Those are the two other issues that I want to get on to in the last part of the programme.
[4430] But what is happening about traffic management in Oxford?
[4431] The City Centre is a mess.
[4432] Everyone knows that.
[4433] What's being done about that.
[4434] We know that the Park and Ride situation, while it's got a lot going for it, is almost a thieves paradise.
[4435] So many cars are being lost from the Park and Ride, they're being broken into.
[4436] People are afraid to use those Park erm Rides.
[4437] It's quite disturbing.
[4438] And also I'd like to talk about Magdalen Road and Howard Street and the problems that you've had there.
[4439] And you've put a lot of flower pots up and down Magdalen Road, well apparently those flower pots and the changes you've made there, some of them very ill-advised, are costing about a hundred thousand pounds.
[4440] I think you've got a lot to answer for.
[4441] Do you believe in traffic management in this City?
[4442] Let's hear that one.
[4443] Phyllis Starkey, leader of the Labour Group.
b (PS5VT) [4444] Well first of all, can I actually correct some of the gross prejudices and inaccuracies that you've just sent out across the air, which are, frankly, extremely unhelpful.
[4445] It is quite wrong to suggest that Park and Ride has an enormous crime record.
[4446] It does not at all.
[4447] Yes, there have been.
[4448] Yes there have been
j (PS5VN) [4449] No, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, you're not listening to the complaints of people, I am.
b (PS5VT) [4450] Yes there have been some problems and the City Council
j (PS5VN) [4451] Some problems?
b (PS5VT) [4452] has responded to those by, for example, over this year there has been closed circuit television at one of the Park and Rides — I think it's Thornhill — in consultation with the Police, and the Police have told us that that has reduced the number of crimes that have occurred and we have put
j (PS5VN) [4453] Phyllis, this year, this year
b (PS5VT) [4454] into our budget for this year to put that in all the other Park and Ride car parks.
[4455] You should not put about something that's not true.
j (PS5VN) [4456] Phyllis, this year, tell me, tell me, tell me how many crimes have been committed at the Park and Rides?
b (PS5VT) [4457] Well I don't know the number off the top of my head, but I do know
j (PS5VN) [4458] But you say that the number's gone down.
[4459] I want to get some feel of how serious it is.
b (PS5VT) [4460] Yes, okay, well look if you'd actually asked me before we started, I could have actually found the number.
[4461] I'm afraid
j (PS5VN) [4462] Well this is a rather
b (PS5VT) [4463] encyclopaedic though my knowledge is
j (PS5VN) [4464] Well.
b (PS5VT) [4465] it doesn't actually extend to having all those numbers off the top of my head.
[4466] What I'm saying to you is that you are
j (PS5VN) [4467] Just give me a general ball park figure.
b (PS5VT) [4468] misrepresenting the situation, and by so doing you scare people unnecessarily and you actually make the situation worse.
j (PS5VN) [4469] I think people are already
b (PS5VT) [4470] and it's irresponsible of you.
j (PS5VN) [4471] People are already quite frightened.
b (PS5VT) [4472] Secondly, well I, you know
j (PS5VN) [4473] I don't think your words have reassured them at all.
b (PS5VT) [4474] Well, I am quite willing to find out from the City Council Officers after this programme what the numbers are, if that's the issue you want explored, and we'll come back to you with the precise details.
[4475] I just don't have it off the top of my head, but I am telling you
j (PS5VN) [4476] Are you aware that this is a significant problem?
b (PS5VT) [4477] that it has reduced over the last year at Thornhill and I do know that we have agreed in our budget for this coming year to put in closed circuit television at all four Park and Ride car parks, which presumably will reduce it at the others as well.
[4478] And of course we've always had closed circuit television at the underground car park in Gloucester Green, and I had it from the words of another Conservative Councillor, Councillor Ann Spokes, that she always uses Gloucester Green car park because it is so safe and so secure.
[4479] So, you know, I just point out that.
[4480] Now on the other issues you were saying
j (PS5VN) [4481] You are aware that there is a problem, though, at the Park and Ride.
b (PS5VT) [4482] Of course there's a problem, that's why we've responded to it.
[4483] I am just saying
j (PS5VN) [4484] Good.
b (PS5VT) [4485] that you have represented it out of all proportion to what it is, and you have frightened people unnecessarily.
j (PS5VN) [4486] Well, we'll listen to what people have to say tomorrow on the phone in.
[4487] Queenie Warley, you want to come in there.
g (PS5VU) [4488] In this instance, Bill, yes there is a problem.
[4489] Yes, we've got to educate the public that crime must go down, and certainly we've put in closed circuit televisions and tried to fence off wherever possible.
[4490] erm I think perhaps we were on erm traffic management generally, you mentioned Howard Street and Magdalen Street, which you all know ... you know has always been a bone of contention amongst the Conservatives erm they spent two hundred thousand on it and they now want another two hundred and fifty thousand to make it permanent, and so on and so forth.
[4491] And there are places all over the City.
[4492] The City is difficult, you can only shift this traffic management from one place to another and do the best you can in each area, and there are cheaper ways of doing it, not erm three hundred thousand at a time.
[4493] There are such things as double yellow lines and erm one could put in erm humps, I suppose, to calm traffic and so on and erm I think Phyllis always says ‘well, we do the best for everybody in the community’.
[4494] I would state my own area; we've put residents' parking into the south and the east and the west, but the north, as yet, has not come into it and erm traffic management is carefully monitored and erm developers that come have to provide certain amounts towards management within the area and there have been developments within North Oxford and there has been money available, and we've not seen any of it yet, and we would, on certain occasions, like to know why.
[4495] We think there is a case
j (PS5VN) [4496] Well haven't you asked that question?
[4497] What answers do you get.
b (PS5VT) [4498] Well the answer is that residents' parking was offered in North Oxford I think about ten years ago, when it got to the top of the City's priority list.
[4499] There was a public meeting, and the residents said we don't want it.
g (PS5VU) [4500] The public meeting was held in August when the majority of people were away, I'm afraid, Bill.
[4501] That was one of those things.
[4502] They portray the fact that, yes, they come into public consultation — yes the do, not always at the right time.
[4503] But things have changed since then.
[4504] I said, there's loads of building going on and we have had money to do this and it's jolly well time.
[4505] Actually, residents' parking is coming under review.
[4506] The Officers are about to do a new review, and a the moment all costs of erm residents' parking is borne centrally, and we the Conservatives think that if erm there was a charge on permits to cover the cost it would give a change to other areas of the City, and the majority of people would be prepared erm to pay, and I think this is coming up in the Officer's Review.
[4507] I hope it is.
j (PS5VN) [4508] Michael Wright from the Liberal Democrats.
jp (PS5VV) [4509] Well, I'm erm ... I think one of the places where I do part company from the Labour Party is I don't think they give enough priority to getting the traffic out of Oxford.
[4510] I'm very impressed indeed by the Oxford Preservation Trust study and I would have a
j (PS5VN) [4511] What did that study reveal?
jp (PS5VV) [4512] Well a number of things.
[4513] I've mentioned a few of them.
[4514] I would have a carrot and stick approach.
[4515] The carrot would be much better Park and Ride, which is what they are talking about.
[4516] Now what the Labour Group are doing is super, but it doesn't go far enough.
[4517] We don't just need closed circuit T V, we need lighting on all the Park and Ride sites, we need proper heated warm, clean waiting rooms, supervised with a person with a glass window, who can see what's happening there, who has all the monitoring screens and can look at the closed circuit T V and what's happening all round the car park.
[4518] That all costs money, and erm there are various ways we could suggest of raising that money, but that needs to be done.
[4519] Once you've done that, you can then start taking really strong action about keeping traffic out of the City, because you've got the alternative.
[4520] You must get the alternative there first, and we haven't got it at the moment.
[4521] I think we should look at parking spaces, because in the past we've felt that if the universities and colleges have parking spaces we let them bring the traffic in the City.
[4522] That is absolutely disastrous.
[4523] We get the whole thing seized up for an hour and a half in the morning and an hour and a half in the evening.
[4524] We have to tax those parking spaces, make them use the Park and Drive, but we've got to get the carrot there first and the carrot is a much better operated Park and Drive.
[4525] I know they're moving towards it.
[4526] I would want to move much more quickly towards it.
j (PS5VN) [4527] What are you doing about the City Centre, Phyllis Starkey?
b (PS5VT) [4528] Well, I mean
j (PS5VN) [4529] Traffic there is a mess.
b (PS5VT) [4530] I mean I think everybody would agree with that.
[4531] erm there is [laugh] basically, as you know, and as Queenie [...] at the beginning, it is actually the County Council who is the highway authority and we are their agent.
[4532] The City and the County Councils have looked very seriously at the erm traffic study that the Oxford Preservation Trust commissioned, and they are working on it and working on ways of implementing it within the City centre.
j (PS5VN) [4533] Like, for instance, chapter and verse here.
b (PS5VT) [4534] Well [laugh] the proposals are being worked up, so there aren't actual firm detailed proposals at the moment.
j (PS5VN) [4535] But what
g (PS5VU) [4536] George Street.
b (PS5VT) [4537] But they would be on the lines ... they would be on ... there are erm measures being taken at the moment
j (PS5VN) [4538] Well what do you mean George Street?
[4539] Phyllis.
b (PS5VT) [4540] To reduce through traffic in George Street.
[4541] I was just going to deal with that one.
[4542] There are measures being taken to reduce the amount of through traffic in George Street, which will benefit the pedestrians in that street.
j (PS5VN) [4543] What sort of measures?
b (PS5VT) [4544] erm basically I think it's a no entry from Broad Street except to buses and erm other public transport and cycles.
[4545] So to stop it being a through route, because it's not part ... it's not a necessary route for private cars to go down, and it is, of course, extremely important because the entrance to the bus station is off that route.
[4546] erm I think that the way in which I hope the City and County will move forward is step by step.
[4547] There is always a great temptation erm to say ‘well the City centre is such a complicated area, we should try and get absolutely everything right before we move forward’ and that I think is a recipe for endless delay, because it's so complicated, it's really difficult to get everything right.
[4548] I believe that we should move forward step by step.
[4549] The George Street measures are a first step.
[4550] We should then move to do things about, for example, Turl Street and erm Cornmarket itself and gradually move on that way towards improving the City centre for pedestrians.
g (PS5VU) [4551] The George Street scheme put forward by the Labour Group's a crazy scheme really.
[4552] It closes off the street half way and you know George Street is a commercial street erm delivery lorries will go up and not know where to turn round and come back or what entrance or exit they can use, and also because traffic can't use it it will simply put a terrific amount on another of the main streets, namely Beaumont Street.
[4553] So I don't think the George Street solution that they're trying to work up is a solution at all.
[4554] I know it's difficult, I know the City is highly congested and we can't plough down beautiful buildings in order to make better roads and so on, and that isn't what we want to do.
[4555] We want to use the Park and Ride.
[4556] We want to encourage people to use the Park and Ride.
[4557] That is part of the balanced transport policy which was, I believe, brought out in about nineteen seventy three and has been reviewed erm all the time, all along.
[4558] It is, of course, limiting congestion and growth and encouraging public transport and improving the environmental conditions generally on both main roads and residential streets.
[4559] And also one must bear in mind we've got to maintain the commercial life of the City.
j (PS5VN) [4560] Well, I'm sure everyone would agree with you on that one.
[4561] There's a lot more to discuss on this one.
[4562] I'm sorry that our time is up, but many thanks to my three guests today; to Phyllis Starkey, the leader of the Labour Group on Oxford City Council; to Michael Wright, from the Liberal Democrat benches; and from Queenie Warley from the Conservatives.
[4563] That's it from me, Bill Heine.
[4564] Thanks for joining us.
[4565] Goodbye. [recorded jingle]


[recorded jingle]
j (PS5VN) [4566] Hello and welcome to the programme.
[4567] Today we'll be looking at John Major's first one hundred days in office.
[4568] We have a Prime Minister with un-Thatcherlike understatement, and wily pragmatism and body language of the friendly bank manager next door, or so says an article in today's Guardian.
[4569] They also go on to say that his Norwegian charisma is just right for the nineties, an aura of realistic, if lowered, expectations.
[4570] Well, what do you think of John Major?
[4571] How about his comment about trying to create a classless society, when one of his first acts as Premier was to create a new hereditary baronetcy for Dennis Thatcher.
[4572] Is this a man of much more style than substance, and what test would you use to determine whether he's had a good hundred days or a bad hundred days?
[4573] Well I'm joined by Marianne Talbot.
[4574] She's a feminist, also a philosophy don at Pembroke College, and a member of the Three Hundred Group, a group determined to get three hundred women in Parliament by the year two thousand.
[4575] And also Dr. Terry Clarke.
[4576] Terry Clarke is the Treasurer of the Henley constituency.
[4577] He's also a member, on the Conservative side, on the Oxfordshire County Council.
[4578] Terry Clarke, welcome to the programme.
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [4580] Thank you.
j (PS5VN) [4581] How would ... what test would you use to determine whether or not John Major has had a good first one hundred days?
[4582] What would you look at?
[4583] What are your priorities when you try to assess someone in that period of time.
[4584] I know it's very short — it started in the Roosevelt era when people looked at his first one hundred days.
[4585] The whole idea of judging by one hundred days was resurrected in the Kennedy time and people applied that to Wilson and to Heath and to Margaret Thatcher, and maybe it's just a media hype, but I think it does give us some view and I think we need more of a view on this man, because a lot of people are saying will the real John Major please stand up.
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [4586] Yes, as you rightly say, it's not possible to judge anyone in erm a hundred days.
[4587] I think one is largely on judging people in the hands of the media, looking at it from an ordinary party member I think it's the air he gives, whether it's an air of confidence ... competence and perhaps and air of confidence, the way he handles himself in the House of Commons, the things that he actually says, because within that time you're not able, in fact, to have achieved much erm parliamentary wise, one very much has to judge a person by what he has.
[4588] He's been lucky of course, in that respect, in that he has had something to occupy himself over the last few months as far as the Gulf war is concerned, and in that respect, of course , I think ... I don't ... I think it would be very difficult to fault him.
j (PS5VN) [4589] In ... with reference to what he's done on the international stage, or with reference to the war only?
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [4590] No, with reference to all, all bits of it, including the international erm stage and including the war side of it.
[4591] You can't separate the two because of the nature of the dispute.
j (PS5VN) [4592] Well how do you think he is distinguished from Mrs Thatcher in his approach to Europe?
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [4593] erm well we haven't really had time yet to see his approach erm to Europe.
[4594] I happen to have been a keen supporter of the way ... of Margaret Thatcher's attitude to Europe, highly sceptical.
[4595] erm I think that perhaps John Major might be a little more friendly, although I believe his views are similar, his approach may be different.
j (PS5VN) [4596] Well that brings us back to the idea that he may be a man of style, rather than substance, in terms of differentiating himself from Mrs Thatcher.
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [4597] It's too early to say.
[4598] I, with my knowledge of him before that in his previous offices, I would say that he was very much a man of substance.
[4599] You only have to look at his background.
[4600] You don't get from where he came to where he is now without having some degree of substance.
j (PS5VN) [4601] I'm just wondering, though, if that substance is distinct and different from the substance of the Thatcher years.
[4602] I think that's what people are trying to look for, the differences.
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [4603] Well I mean they are very contrasting characters.
[4604] erm Mrs ... Margaret Thatcher was a one off erm she was Prime Minister for eleven
j (PS5VN) [4605] Can you confirm that?
[4606] You're absolutely certain she was a one off?
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [4607] Well, in that she's the first woman Prime Minister, she's the longest serving Prime Minister of erm in this century.
[4608] In that respect, up to now, she's a one off [laugh] .
j (PS5VN) [4609] Right.
[4610] So you think it's unlikely that we'll have another Margaret Thatcher?
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [4611] I think that erm certainly in the next erm ... in the immediate future I should be very surprised if we have another Margaret Thatcher.
[4612] We may have another woman prime Minister, but [laugh] not necessarily another Margaret Thatcher.
j (PS5VN) [4613] Well if we have another woman Prime Minister in the near future that woman would have to rise, in the Conservative Party at least, from a position outside the Cabinet, because there are no women in the cabinet.
[4614] Marianne Talbot, you're a philosophy don at Pembroke College, a feminist and member of the Three Hundred Group, which wants to get three hundred women into Parliament by the year two thousand, what do you think of John Major's treatment of women so far?
b (PS5VT) [4615] erm I'm note sure I like the way you've put the question actually ‘treatment of women’.
[4616] I know nothing about his treatment of women; erm all I know about is that he chose not to elect a woman to the cabinet.
j (PS5VN) [4617] Well couldn't that be described as
b (PS5VT) [4618] Or select a women for the cabinet.
j (PS5VN) [4619] as treatment of women.
[4620] That doesn't say
b (PS5VT) [4621] Well, no, I think
j (PS5VN) [4622] something more than just erm he's picked the best people for the job.
b (PS5VT) [4623] I think one has to be very careful here.
[4624] erm I'm not someone who's for, for example, erm positive discrimination where that means choosing a woman when there's a better man erm and I think that erm although some feminists do, certainly it's not a necessary condition of being a feminist, and I certainly don't, and I think that if John Major erm sincerely looked at all the women who could have been in his cabinet, and sincerely judged their abilities erm compared to the men who were available, erm and decided that the women weren't ready, then I think that's, that's a possible position.
[4625] I mean I don't think that he should be castigated for not having women ... just because he hasn't got a woman.
j (PS5VN) [4626] That's a possible position
b (PS5VT) [4627] If, I mean, yes, that's a possible position.
j (PS5VN) [4628] A probable description of the way he went about it?
b (PS5VT) [4629] Well erm
j (PS5VN) [4630] Are you prepared to accuse him of insincerity?
b (PS5VT) [4631] I'm, no, I'm prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt for the moment.
[4632] I think we'll wait and see.
j (PS5VN) [4633] What's the doubt?
[4634] What's the doubt that you're giving him the benefit of?
b (PS5VT) [4635] The doubt is that he perhaps didn't take into consideration of the women who are available.
[4636] I mean people like Linda Chalker and erm so on.
[4637] erm that's the doubt and that doubt is going to be either borne out or shown to be wrong by the rest of John Major's incumbents, so at the moment I'll certainly give him the benefit of the doubt.
j (PS5VN) [4638] All right.
[4639] And Terry Clarke, could
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [4640] Yes, could I come back on that.
[4641] Yes, I mean I think erm some of us were a bit disappointed perhaps that he didn't erm find erm a woman to put into his cabinet.
[4642] I think there are one or two
j (PS5VN) [4643] What, you were disappointed in the quality of the women?
[4644] Or in the quality of
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [4645] No, I, I was disappointed that he didn't erm put a women in his cabinet.
[4646] erm we had mention of
j (PS5VN) [4647] One woman, tokenism.
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [4648] Well this is the thing that worries me a little bit, but can I say
b (PS5VT) [4649] That worries me too.
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [4650] that two of his chief advisers at Number Ten Downing Street appointed recently, one is Sarah Hogg, the wife of Douglas Hogg, who is a writer on economics in The Journalist, and the other is Judith Chaplin, who was his adviser in the Treasury.
[4651] She left when she got adopted as Conservative candidate for Newbury, so he is not without erm competent female advice, and some would say perhaps they have more power than the ... having a woman colleague in the cabinet.
b (PS5VT) [4652] Yes.
j (PS5VN) [4653] Why would you suggest that, I'm curious.
[4654] I want to pick you up there.
[4655] Why would you say that?
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [4656] More power of influencing the Prime Minister.
[4657] I mean politicians pay a great heed to the people they erm seek advice from.
[4658] In fact one of the criticisms of erm Margaret Thatcher, not that I go along with it, but sometimes she listens more to her political advisers than her cabinet colleagues.
[4659] One thinks of Alan Walters and erm Professor Brian Griffiths.
b (PS5VT) [4660] Although this is true, I think there is a bit of a worry about that.
[4661] I mean the thing is the economic advisers, the Prime Minister's advisers, are behind the scenes.
[4662] They are not known to people.
[4663] And I think that there is a very strong argument erm for getting women in the cabinet on the basis that if women are seen to be in the cabinet they are seen as competent, they're seen as excellent politicians, and that's why I go for a form of positive discrimination, which is that if you've got two people who are equally well qualified, and if erm Mr Major decided that a man and a women were equally well qualified, then I think he should have chosen the woman erm
j (PS5VN) [4664] Well there's an argument to
b (PS5VT) [4665] that's what
j (PS5VN) [4666] say that women have been discriminated against for so long that they just haven't had the opportunities to rise up through the ranks, and if they are ever going to achieve the kind of representation that they ought to achieve just by the sheer numbers that the represent in the population, apart from the quality, and there are a lot of people who would say that women are probably rather superior erm to a lot of men at an equal level
b (PS5VT) [4667] Well I think that's a sexist thing to say, actually, saying that men are superior
j (PS5VN) [4668] No, no, no, hold on.
[4669] No, just wait a minute, no.
[4670] When they rise to an equal level, like for instance if I have a choice between going to a woman doctor and a man doctor and they're both on the GP list, I will choose the woman, because the woman has had to fight tooth and nail, probably, and work much harder, to get at an equal level with the man, so I would suspect that I'm getting value for ... and quality there by going for the woman.
b (PS5VT) [4671] Well I think that ... when I said that I think that given a man and a woman of equal qualifications I was assuming that that had been taken into account.
[4672] I mean at the moment of choice you're faced with a set of people, including, let's say, one man and one woman, who on paper match each other and who perhaps, even if you've adjusted for a possibility of the woman's having to fight and so on, they're equal on paper.
[4673] I then think positive discrimination
j (PS5VN) [4674] How do you adjust for that?
b (PS5VT) [4675] is justified.
[4676] Well, by taking into account things like she's had to struggle and so on, and if her qualifications are actually as good then maybe she's had to work harder.
[4677] All the things you've just said.
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [4678] Could I
j (PS5VN) [4679] Terry Clarke.
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [4680] I think the basic problem is erm it goes back further than that and it comes down to the organisation that my colleague here belongs to.
[4681] The trouble is, of course, that there aren't enough women in the house to choose from.
b (PS5VT) [4682] Well, quite.
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [4683] And if we had more women and this ... the fault here lies with, in all parties, with constituency selection committees
b (PS5VT) [4684] Yes.
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [4685] where, as I think many people would say, most of the discrimination against them often comes from women themselves
b (PS5VT) [4686] Well I think, yes.
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [4687] or what one might call the old, old fashioned conservative women [laugh] .
b (PS5VT) [4688] I agree with everything you've said until you got to the last bit.
[4689] It's true that some women are not keen on erm electing women, but then some men probably are keen on electing women.
[4690] I mean I think that erm you're quite right, the biggest stopping point for women is the erm selection committee, but that's exactly what the Three Hundred group is working for.
[4691] It's erm, for those of you who don't know what it is, it's an all-party organization.
[4692] We welcome people from every party, it doesn't really matter which party, or even if they belong to no party, who are just committed to seeing a representative representation, seeing more women in there, because women in this country, just as a matter of fact, have a rather different experience from most men, and if you're making a decision then you want there the people who have had a wide range of experience, who can bring that experience to bear on making the decision.
[4693] That's why we want more women in, not because the population is fifty two per cent female, because there are a lot of children in the population.
[4694] Most people don't think that children should be represented in Parliament by children.
[4695] I mean realize that would be a very bad analogy with women, but nevertheless I think just the analogy on numbers is not a good enough argument for women.
j (PS5VN) [4696] Well it does seem that women are most unrepresented, and I for one would recommend positive discrimination.
[4697] I see nothing wrong with that.
[4698] What's the argument against it?
b (PS5VT) [4699] Well I think the argument's
j (PS5VN) [4700] Do you think it's
b (PS5VT) [4701] Yes, I think argument against it is why should we take somebody of less quality than somebody who's available?
[4702] No, I think the population of Britain deserves to be represented by the best, and I don't care whether that best is a man or a woman
j (PS5VN) [4703] But then you have
b (PS5VT) [4704] as long as he or she is the best.
j (PS5VN) [4705] But you'll most likely have what we have now, then, a self-selecting coterie
b (PS5VT) [4706] Right, but
j (PS5VN) [4707] Of the best, who happen to be all men.
b (PS5VT) [4708] Yes, but there are ... no, we don't
j (PS5VN) [4709] And maybe it's time we punctured
b (PS5VT) [4710] They are self selecting, and what we've got to puncture is not the erm idea that the best goes forward, which is what you're suggesting, erm but the idea of this self-selecting bit, it's quite true that it tends to be men who put themselves forward for selection and election, and women don't.
[4711] Well the Three Hundred group is committed to trying to change that.
[4712] We're involved in letting people know about how few women there are, getting them to think about why there are so few women, training them — we have training sessions in assertiveness, public speaking — we help women get places in council, all sorts of different councils, and in national government.
j (PS5VN) [4713] Do you have
b (PS5VT) [4714] And on the public bodies.
j (PS5VN) [4715] any indication that John Major is sympathetic to your aims in the Three Hundred group?
b (PS5VT) [4716] He's actually stated that he ... we have letter in which he states that he erm the Three Hundred group has his full support.
j (PS5VN) [4717] Yes, what's he doing about his words then?
[4718] Any actions that are speaking louder than his words?
b (PS5VT) [4719] Well one thing he didn't do was put a woman in the cabinet, and, as I have said, that's something we've got an eye on, obviously.
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [4720] I think it worth
j (PS5VN) [4721] It sounds ominous there Marianne.
b (PS5VT) [laugh]
j (PS5VN) [4722] Yes.
[4723] Terry Clarke.
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [4724] I think it worth pointing out that of course erm when Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister for a brief time I think Lady Young was Leader of the House of Lords in her cabinet, but apart from that there was never another women cabinet minister during her time as leader, so
b (PS5VT) [4725] But it's an interesting thing that you think that because there's a woman Prime Minister she should choose women.
[4726] I mean there's no reason ... because we haven't got men's issues, because all issues are men's issues, nobody expects a male Prime Minister to go for any particular issue, but why should we expect a woman Prime Minister to go particularly for certain issues?
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [4727] No I wasn't saying that
b (PS5VT) [4728] Women are as different as men.
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [4729] I was just saying that in that respect there's not really much between John Major and Margaret Thatcher
b (PS5VT) [4730] No
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [4731] because she didn't erm wasn't particularly selective of women [laugh] .
b (PS5VT) [4732] Agreed.
[4733] Yes.
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [4734] in her cabinet.
j (PS5VN) [4735] I should think probably Mrs. Thatcher would send a letter to the Three Hundred group saying that she supported your aims, didn't she?
b (PS5VT) [4736] Well, yes, she did indeed.
j (PS5VN) [4737] Well then there's no distinction
b (PS5VT) [4738] She did more than that, though, Bill
j (PS5VN) [4739] Ah, well.
b (PS5VT) [4740] actually, she did say that erm she sent back every short list that didn't have a woman's name on it.
[4741] She did that latterly.
[4742] erm John Major hasn't yet done that, but the poor chap's only been in office a hundred days, I mean this is a hundred days today.
[4743] That's what this programme is about, and in that time ... I mean I think, I was thinking actually as Terry was speaking, erm you said that it was not clear that you can judge somebody on a hundred days, and I must say I agree with that, and I think at the moment in the last hundred days we've been at war and it's impossible to judge a new Prime Minister, who's come into office in the ... right at the beginning of what potentially could have been a very nasty war.
[4744] I don't think we've seen anything of what John Major erm is likely to do yet.
[4745] We can't really get a feel for the man at the moment, except as a personality, and that is coming across through the media as Terry points out, various aspects of his personality.
[4746] And even there it's actually quite difficult because of course it's so tempting at the moment just to compare him to Mrs. Thatcher.
[4747] We don't see him in his own right.
j (PS5VN) [4748] You've raised two issues that I wanted to talk about, that's the Mrs. Thatcher card and also the media manipulation.
[4749] Do you ... it's amazing when he stops at a Happy Eater to have a fry-up, that there happens to be television cameras and the world's press there.
[4750] erm when he eats and ice cream cornet outside the House of Commons there happens to be everybody around.
[4751] I mean he's erm he's got them working for him, doesn't he?
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [4752] I seem to remember, Bill, way back in 1979 during the election campaign, Margaret Thatcher had a small calf pressed upon her, which she stood holding in a field in East Anglia or something, so I mean it's not just erm John Major.
[4753] All leading politicians, whether they're Labour, Conservative, Liberal Democrats, they all have the media working for them because that's the way politics is these days.
b (PS5VT) [4754] And it's the way the media is these days too.
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [4755] These days too, yes.
b (PS5VT) [4756] I mean they set up their own photo opportunities at every opportunity, as we all know.
j (PS5VN) [4757] Yes, but particularly with reference to John Major, I think he's had an amazing honeymoon and people are prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt as you were about his quote treatment of women unquote, and I suspect that the media have been particularly sympathetic and wearing kid gloves with him, and I find that the role of the media is to probe and to pry and to
b (PS5VT) [4758] Yes, well, but not in war, Bill.
j (PS5VN) [4759] Ah.
b (PS5VT) [4760] I mean that's what I mean about this hundred days, we've been at war, and I think the job of the press, I mean is not
j (PS5VN) [4761] Is to support and to build up and to bolster the Prime Minister?
b (PS5VT) [4762] One of it's aims, I think
j (PS5VN) [4763] I think that's not
b (PS5VT) [4764] no, no, no, I certainly wouldn't put it that way erm but certainly in times of war one of the jobs of the press, I think, is to erm keep and eye on the morale of the country and that sort of thing erm
j (PS5VN) [4765] Oh, so you think that the whole appreciation of John Major, the whole perception of him has been knocked sideways by the press's need
b (PS5VT) [4766] Yes, I do.
[4767] I think that the press has felt a need to represent John Major as a man ... as a leader to whom we can all look ... in whose care we can all feel safe and all that sort of thing, because the media feels pressure to keep the morale of the country up in war time.
j (PS5VN) [4768] Well then following your argument
b (PS5VT) [4769] And so we have ... and it's now that the war's over, we'll now see the press pressing and probing and trying to erm undermine John Major in the way they've erm
j (PS5VN) [4770] But following your argument that would indicate that the image we have now is a concocted one made up by the press to a large extent.
b (PS5VT) [4771] To a large extent I think it is, Bill, but then I think our image of most politicians is a concocted one, made up by the press.
[4772] I mean if we look at ... I mean the woman's erm the portrayal of female politicians I think is a very good case in point.
[4773] I mean when you think of erm the way that, say, Mrs. Currie has been portrayed, Mrs. Thatcher indeed, I think an awful lot of that was filtered through the eyes of the press.
[4774] I mean I've never met Mrs. Thatcher, the only thing I know about her ... the only facts I have about her I've got through the press.
j (PS5VN) [4775] Mhm.
[4776] Well, yes, Terry Clarke.
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [4777] Yes, I erm I have met her on one or two occasions and erm the press image is
j (PS5VN) [4778] Oh, excuse me, I'm just wondering what does one do when one meets the Prime Minister?
[4779] Does one say yes Ma'am, or
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [4780] No, no, you erm ... she's a very friendly, kindly person, easy to talk to.
[4781] In fact I sat next to her at a lunch in Abingdon a few years ago, and erm this image one got of her of not being a listener is totally untrue erm every time she turned to me it was to listen to what I had to say.
[4782] The reason why I didn't get much of a word in edgeways was because my lady chairman on the other side of her wouldn't let [laugh] ... kept attracting her attention, so I erm ... there is to a lot extent a false image.
[4783] I'm not saying it's all false, but the media does highlight certain erm public aspects of people.
[4784] I'm not criticising.
[4785] That's what, in many ways, what they're for.
[4786] I mean, for instance, I haven't much sympathy with Edwina Currie because I think erm any false image ... because she is a very media orientated person and erm
b (PS5VT) [4787] Yes, but
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [4788] like a lot of these politicians they exploit the media as much as the media exploit them.
b (PS5VT) [4789] Yes, but I think the interesting thing in this case is you had a woman who you might ... went against her own interests I think.
[4790] I mean she was warning the population that there's erm salmonella in eggs, and I ... her party is actually traditionally in the interests of the farmers and things, and she took the interests of the population first and she was absolutely hauled through the hedges by the press.
[4791] I don't understand it at all.
[4792] I mean that's the sort of thing ... if the press decides that somebody's not a good thing, then that person is not a good thing and almost nothing he or she can do can change it.
j (PS5VN) [4793] So what we're picking over on the plate now is not so much John Major, but the treatment of the press [people talking]
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [4794] Can I make a point on this
j (PS5VN) [4795] Terry Clarke.
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [4796] because this is the way one of the great successors of the previous government, leading up to nineteen eighty seven, Margaret Thatcher was getting a very bad press at a time.
[4797] She then appointed two people, one was Edwina Currie as a Junior Minister, and the other was Norman Tebbit as Party Chairman, who are both media people.
[4798] The press immediately took the heat off Margaret Thatcher, went for Norman Tebbit and went for Edwina Currie, and I think that was a part of the success in the build up to the last election, because at a time when the pressure really was on the Prime Minister, like it was a couple of ... when ... in the last few months of Margaret Thatcher's leadership, that's what happened.
[4799] That's my interpretation of it, anyway.
j (PS5VN) [4800] Marianne Talbot.
b (PS5VT) [4801] Yes.
[4802] Can I say, Bill, it's very interesting that in a programme erm which is supposed to be talking about John Major we've in fact discussion erm getting women into Parliament, we've discussed Margaret Thatcher a lot, we've discussed the press portrayal of all politicians, and in fact we've hardly mentioned John Major.
[4803] And I think that this is actually a very interesting thing.
[4804] John Major does seem to be somebody who — it's very difficult to tell whether this is intrinsically, or just in comparison with Margaret Thatcher — is rather colourless.
[4805] He doesn't, I mean he's a very nice chap, I think everyone would agree with that, erm but the question is
j (PS5VN) [4806] No, not everyone.
b (PS5VT) [4807] Well most people would agree with that.
j (PS5VN) [4808] Well all right.
[4809] This is one person who can't be quoted, but apparently this had to do with the description of John Major during that leadership crisis.
[4810] Apparently he promised not to attack Douglas Hurd personally, but then quotes stitched him up and hung him out to dry over the classlessness thing.
[4811] Hurd ended up by saying he went to Eton on a scholarship.
[4812] And then when he'd won he offered Heseltine the had of friendship and promptly he gave him the Poll Tax, which will finish him for ever.
[4813] Classic Major exercises.
[4814] No-one would object, but it was quite ruthless.
[4815] Maybe he's not quite so nice.
b (PS5VT) [4816] Well actually I feel a lot happier [laugh] if you say that, because ... can I ... actually one of the first questions you asked, which I never got a chance to answer, though Terry did, was which ... what sort of criteria one would use to say that a Prime Minister's good and erm I was sort of thinking of that as Terry was answering and I think the thing I came up with is you want somebody who represents, or is sensitive to at least, a very wide swathe of views across the population, but also someone who's intelligent and caring enough to take into account the minority views, and you want somebody who's aim is to make most of the people happy most of the time, sort of thing, erm but who's also prepared to take unpopular steps erm if he believes it's necessary.
[4817] But then I thought actually all this adds up to what you want is someone you feel safe with, someone you feel is going to look after the country and its people well, and I thought is Major somebody I feel safe with, and I thought well in some ways because I don't think he's going to turn round and do anything nasty to me, but on the other hand erm I wonder — I'm going back to your question — is he a man of substance?
[4818] Is he somebody you can rely on in a crisis?
[4819] And I don't think the Gulf war is a test of that.
j (PS5VN) [4820] Well what about the economy?
[4821] The economy certainly is a test of that
b (PS5VT) [4822] Now that is going to be a test.
j (PS5VN) [4823] Now wait a minute.
[4824] It's not going to be a test, it has been a test.
[4825] He was a Chancellor.
[4826] I mean this recession, he's not the teflon Prime Minister.
[4827] He can't say that it won't stick to him.
[4828] It certainly has stuck already, because he partially manufactured it, didn't he as the Chancellor?
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [4829] Yes, can I come in here.
[4830] Of course
j (PS5VN) [4831] Terry Clarke.
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [4832] this is probably the test of the next hundred days.
b (PS5VT) [4833] Yes.
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [4834] This is where you will see the erm substance of John Major.
[4835] I think he erm ... to be Prime Minister, you do have to have a strand of ruthlessness
b (PS5VT) [4836] Mhm.
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [4837] and I think he probably has got that, but if you can come out with all those qualities and still be regarded as mister nice guy erm and at the moment he comes across as mister nice guy.
[4838] I think I'm sort of rather reminded of when somebody said that Ronald Regan was going to stand for erm President.
[4839] Someone said for President, no, Jimmy Stewart for President, but Ronnie Regan as best friend.
[4840] erm you know, that's erm the sort of image, but, erm you know, I think at the moment he comes across as mister nice guy and erm I think that's a very good quality if he's got the substance, which I think he has, beneath that.
j (PS5VN) [4841] Marianne Talbot.
b (PS5VT) [4842] Well one of the things that I think has been very striking about John Major, and unfortunately again I'm comparing him with Mrs. Thatcher, but it's very difficult not to, thank goodness she wasn't around during the Gulf war — that's my feeling — because I don't think I could have borne the idea of erm any more rejoice and up an atom and things like that.
[4843] I think the war was a very sad, necessary step, and to take it further by rejoicing is not a good thing.
[4844] And I'm very unhappy about John Major's acceptance of the idea of a victory parade.
[4845] That worries me a bit, and yet having
j (PS5VN) [4846] Why, why does that worry you?
b (PS5VT) [4847] Well because I think a thanksgiving service for victory and for praying for those who've died on both sides, I think that's perfectly reasonable, but a victory parade, goodness a hundred thousand Iraquis died.
[4848] Ours died only in tens.
[4849] I think it's quite improper.
[4850] It's like the school big boy who's beaten up a first year and
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [4851] Could I
j (PS5VN) [4852] Well what do you think. [people talking]
j (PS5VN) [4853] I want to ask her about this issue.
[4854] What do you think that this says about John Major, the fact that he wants a victory parade?
b (PS5VT) [4855] Well again, the doubt comes into it.
[4856] Is he the sort that he actually wants one, or has he bowed to the advisers that he's got from the War Office and so on who say the soldiers need it?
[4857] I mean I can see that a lot of people ... I mean I think that we should thank our men and women who were in the Gulf, of course we should, erm I'm questioning only the way that we've chosen to do it, by a victory parade.
[4858] I think that's rather tasteless in the circumstances
j (PS5VN) [4859] And I'm questioning you about what you think this says about John Major, and you're coming back and saying well I don't know because how can we
b (PS5VT) [4860] Well I don't know, because I don't
j (PS5VN) [4861] distinguish where the king's advisors are saying something?
b (PS5VT) [4862] With Mrs. Thatcher you never got the feeling that she was being advised against her wishes, with John Major I'm not so sure that's true.
[4863] I think ... I mean I got the impression on several occasions that he's actually quite nervous in the post.
[4864] I mean goodness he would be inhuman if he wasn't erm and I don't yet feel safe that he's his own man.
j (PS5VN) [4865] Ah, now we're getting a little bit toward the meat here.
[4866] Let's go to Terry Clarke.
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [4867] Well could I ... I mean this is of course one of the criticisms that one had to bear about Mrs. Thatcher about erm they say he's not his own man, that to me indicates that he may be taking advice.
[4868] On the question of the parade, I think one's got to realize that in fact a service erm ... to the soldiers a parade is a part of, you know, a part of the service.
[4869] One has Remembrance Parades, I don't think there'll be anything gung ho about this.
[4870] And if I might just come in on this thing that's always thrown up against Mrs. Thatcher about her rejoice, she said rejoice when South Georgia had been retaken and the rejoice was because it appeared to have been done without any casualties — that was what she was rejoicing for, not the victory erm
j (PS5VN) [4871] Well I wouldn't want to put words in Mrs. Thatcher's mouth, now if you're man enough to do that go ahead.
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [4872] [laugh] .
[4873] No that, that, that, this is ... erm this irritates me.
[4874] Not ... I'm not blaming Marianne, but she's sort of picked up things from the media and the media have said oh rejoice attitude, but that particular rejoice was because there were no casualties
b (PS5VT) [4875] okay, I take it back
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [4876] at that particular occasion.
b (PS5VT) [4877] about that rejoice, but you must admit there is a gung ho attitude of Mrs. Thatcher
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [4878] Oh yes, I mean I think she would have erm handled this very differently, but very well, but she's not there, so, you know, let's say that John
j (PS5VN) [4879] Well now wait a minute
b (PS5VT) [4880] Now I've been much happier not to have Mrs. Thatcher around.
j (PS5VN) [4881] Well, that's an interesting one.
[4882] You say she's not there, but is that actually the case?
[4883] Do we know she's not there?
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [4884] Oh, I ... there's one thing
j (PS5VN) [4885] He's her boy.
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [4886] Yes, but Mrs., Mrs. Thatcher is a very clever and very shrewd politician.
[4887] It would be more than
j (PS5VN) [4888] She's also a party politician
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [4889] No, she is a very staunch, and always has been, member of the Conservative Party, and she would not erm upset the party at this present time by being seen as the person driving behind
j (PS5VN) [4890] Well exactly.
[4891] I couldn't have phrased it better.
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [4892] She has kept out.
j (PS5VN) [4893] She wouldn't want to be seen.
[4894] That's precisely the point.
[4895] Thank you very much.
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [4896] No, I suspect that erm the ... we have a very high class media these days.
[4897] They would soon have picked it up had she been erm sending secret messages telling him what to do, and it is a John Major cabinet.
[4898] It is a different cabinet.
[4899] It is a different style.
[4900] erm we're starting again and there is no evidence, and I am sure that Margaret Thatcher isn't having any input at the moment.
j (PS5VN) [4901] Right, so you think that Margaret Thatcher, having been Prime Minister for over a decade and having nominated her heir apparent, and having left in erm a rather tearful manner and being pushed out, you think that she said ‘right, from now on it's hands off’?
b (PS5VT) [4902] He didn't say that, Bill.
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [4903] No, I didn't say that.
[4904] She is entitled to make any contribution as a Member of Parliament, and should John Major want to seek advice I'm sure he would, but I don't ... I am certain in my own mind that that hasn't happened at the moment.
[4905] She's been trying to adjust herself
b (PS5VT) [4906] It's
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [4907] to a backbench politician's view.
[4908] All
b (PS5VT) [4909] It's interesting though
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [4910] Yes.
b (PS5VT) [4911] that she actually has officially erm the Prime Minister's political adviser briefs her on events in the war, or has been briefing her.
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [4912] That's a matter of courtesy.
b (PS5VT) [4913] That's ... well, I was going to say it's difficult to know whether that ... is that the Prime
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [4914] That's a matter of courtesy.
b (PS5VT) [4915] Is ex-Prime Minister Heath also briefed?
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [4916] I would ... well, I think certainly immediate predecessors.
j (PS5VN) [4917] [laugh] .
[4918] Nice point.
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [4919] But certainly I think ... I mean during the Falklands war Margaret Thatcher was briefing opposition leaders and other senior politicians as to what was going on.
[4920] This is a courtesy in British politics.
[4921] That does tend to happen.
b (PS5VT) [4922] I understand that actually Mr Kinnock wasn't being brief this time.
[4923] In fact Mrs. Thatcher was the only one.
[4924] Mr Kinnock and erm Paddy Ashdown had to actually go into the Commons to
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [4925] You know who the first person who knocked on Mrs. Thatcher's door in the House of Commons at the start of the Falklands War, or when it was being planned, it was Harold Macmillan, offering any advice, you know, if she could use his advice, and the one bit of advice he gave her was appoint a small War Cabinet to deal with it, and she took that advice.
j (PS5VN) [4926] Yes, Marianne.
b (PS5VT) [4927] Well actually, if you have more to say on this topic fine, I was actually going to change it slightly to discuss his apparent classlessness.
j (PS5VN) [4928] Now, that's what I wanted to go to as well.
b (PS5VT) [4929] Ah, well we think alike Bill.
j (PS5VN) [4930] We do indeed, Marianne.
[4931] That's a dangerous combination.
b (PS5VT) [4932] [laugh] .
[4933] Before we erm before I came out today I was actually talking to some of the staff at Pembroke College and mindful of coming on her I thought I'd just ask them what they thought
j (PS5VN) [4934] Wait a minute, by the staff do you mean the scouts, or do you mean
b (PS5VT) [4935] Yes, I mean the scouts.
j (PS5VN) [4936] Ah, well yes, I wonder how I caught that?
[4937] Yes.
[4938] Go ahead.
b (PS5VT) [4939] [laugh] Well anyway erm they ... it was interesting, they all seemed rather positive and the reason they were positive is because they perceive him as classless, as somebody who's actually come up the hard way, who's experienced the down side of life and who's nevertheless, through hard work and perseverance and so on, triumphed over that, and actually reached the highest post in the land, and erm they seemed to feel that there was a erm ... that this was a good thing, that somebody who's had experience of erm the less privileged side of life, somebody who, and I quote ‘wasn't born with a silver spoon in is mouth, and didn't got to public school and that sort of thing knows more about what's life for the average person’ and I agree with that.
[4940] I think that is actually something that I like about him, the fact that he left school early, that he did actually have to struggle.
[4941] He's a self-made man and that sort of thing.
j (PS5VN) [4942] Well he has an army of people sleeping rough in London, and if this the cold
b (PS5VT) [4943] Well he's inherited an army of people sleeping rough.
j (PS5VN) [4944] But he could have done something quite dramatic and significant there.
[4945] What has he done?
[4946] How has he shown that this man, who's come up from poverty, understands poverty and is prepared to do something about it.
[4947] I don't think he's shown much, do you?
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [4948] Well, can we get back to the basic thing about classlessness.
[4949] I mean this isn't a new thing, this is one of the basic erm Tory virtues that I was erm brought up with.
[4950] It hasn't started with John Major.
[4951] It's based on
j (PS5VN) [4952] Wait, wait, wait, let me understand you.
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [4953] It's based on the equality of opportunity we talk about, that it should, no matter what your background, erm where you come from, as Marianne rightly says, you are able to get right to the top.
[4954] Margaret Thatcher was one of the greatest supporters of a classless society, not just ... I'm not just talking about the silver spoon in one's mouth, it's the ... sometimes the stainless steel spoons of the middle class that erm that is a lot of the trouble, and no-one took on the establishments of the professional bodies erm and who have been over the years had a great deal of privilege in this country more than Margaret Thatcher [laugh] .
j (PS5VN) [4955] I'd like to understand what you're saying.
[4956] You're saying that Margaret Thatcher, Lady Margaret Thatcher, wife of Sir Dennis, Baronet, is a great believer in the classless society?
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [4957] Yes.
[4958] Yes the classless society, no matter what background you come from you should have the ability to get to the top.
j (PS5VN) [4959] Well why didn't she put that into practice by well refusing
b (PS5VT) [4960] Bill, you've got to distinguish things here.
[4961] I mean class ... one doesn't become a different class because one's
j (PS5VN) [4962] Has a title.
b (PS5VT) [4963] made a Lady, or made ... I mean she was given that title, or actually I'm dead against the fact it was her husband who was given the title, erm but to abstract away from that at the moment, somebody who's been in public service all their lives and who's devoted much of their life to the cause of the people, I mean I realize that an awful lot of people would think that Margaret Thatcher hasn't done that, but let's say that, for the sake of the argument, that at least that's what she intended for the time being
j (PS5VN) [4964] Yes.
b (PS5VT) [4965] erm She's been given a reward, if you like.
[4966] Now a reward in terms of status, by being given a word to put in front of her name.
j (PS5VN) [4967] Well is status
b (PS5VT) [4968] This is not a change of class, this is just a reward.
j (PS5VN) [4969] What do you mean by class.
[4970] Let's get back to basics.
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [4971] Well I was going to ask you that, what you meant by class.
[4972] I mean it ... going back to the days I think it was Professor Jode, it depends what you mean by class.
[4973] I mean you came out with a wonderful statement when you were advertising this programme.
[4974] You talk about the classless society and then his next step is to make Dennis Thatcher a Baronet, that, if I may say, is a media non-sequitur if ever I ... if ever I heard it.
[4975] Honours are one thing, and it's not necessarily to do with class, because any one of any class can get on
b (PS5VT) [4976] Yes.
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [4977] You may agree with honours or not, we've done this programme a few year ago, Bill [laugh] , but classless is erm, as I understand it, is to give anyone in this country erm the opportunity to get to the top.
[4978] I mean dammit, there are people in the House of Lords who started life far worse off than John Major, I am sure, so, you know, what do you mean by class?
j (PS5VN) [4979] Well I suppose it has something to do with people's expectations of themselves.
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [4980] Yes, that's right, yes.
j (PS5VN) [4981] Their erm ... this lovely word called breeding.
b (PS5VT) [4982] Is it not
j (PS5VN) [4983] It has to do with the way you speak, the way you erm where you went to school, what connections you have, what values you hold.
b (PS5VT) [4984] Yes, but one ... I mean one of the things that I think is often smuggled in to discussions of class is value judgements erm along the lines of one class is better than another.
[4985] I've always thought of class in the following way — I think that, that class is broadly, or used to be broadly, ways in which people live.
[4986] There are different ways of living a life, different erm cultures, different interests, different likes and dislikes, and on the whole the class that you came from would be an indication of what sort of things you were likely to enjoy, say, of what sort of things you were likely to think were proper, were improper, and this sort of thing.
j (PS5VN) [4987] You would suggest, then, that there's the Beethoven class and the Mozart class?
b (PS5VT) [4988] Yes, something like that, but again you're importing a value judgement here
j (PS5VN) [4989] And a Madonna class?
b (PS5VT) [4990] Yes, I don't see ... but it doesn't seem to me that there's anything intrinsically better about Beethoven than Madonna.
[4991] I prefer Beethoven, actually I'm not sure I do prefer Beethoven, but had you said Bach I would have preferred that, but I don't see that that ... I mean you're implying that that makes me better, or at least makes me think I'm better than somebody who likes Madonna, and that I don't agree with.
j (PS5VN) [4992] I like to think there's a qualitative difference between Bach and Madonna.
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [4993] Bill, could I come back to a quotation by another former Tory Prime Minister in the nineteen sixties, erm they were ragging old Douglas Hume unmercifully, the Labour Party did, when he was made Prime Minister, and, you know, erm all's fair in politics, and Harold Wilson, I think, made the comment that the democracy of this country had ground to a halt with the appointment of the fourteenth earl, and Douglas Hume, in his sort of very self-deprecating way and his very modest way, says ‘well, you know, I suppose if one were to ask, he's probably the fourteenth Mr Wilson’.
[4994] Now, you know, that is the sort of attitude ... we've made this class thing.
[4995] It's grown up over the years erm in fact I don't think it counts as much, nearly as much now, as it used to.
[4996] I mean look at myself, my father was a doctor, his father was a schoolteacher, so the way one used to look at things, that immediately when I was born put me in the middle class erm bracket.
[4997] Now I don't think that is erm should be important any more.
[4998] It should be on ability, on what you make of yourself, as you say.
[4999] I think class in that respect is erm ... is not as important as it used to be, and quite right too.
b (PS5VT) [5000] The barriers have been broken down.
[5001] One can move erm between classes.
j (PS5VN) [5002] Well erm
b (PS5VT) [5003] I think one of the ... it's interesting, when I was in Australia
j (PS5VN) [5004] I'm not so sure a lot of people sleeping rough on the streets
b (PS5VT) [5005] I felt
j (PS5VN) [5006] of London would agree with you.
b (PS5VT) [5007] in as ... ah, well, yes, that's an interesting thing actually because it's not clear that the people sleeping on the streets in London belong to any class.
[5008] erm I mean
j (PS5VN) [5009] Oh, we'll just put those people outside the equation?
b (PS5VT) [5010] Yes, but don't say it as if I'm doing that.
[5011] I'm saying as a matter of fact they are outside the equation, and that's what's wrong, because they're certainly not upper class, they're not middle class, but nor are they working class, are they?
[5012] I mean they're not working, that's the problem.
[5013] They aren't able to get jobs, they're unable to care for themselves, they're unable to erm find homes for themselves.
[5014] They don't belong in any class and therefore they're cut out from society.
[5015] They have no place, no means of helping themselves.
j (PS5VN) [5016] Well let's talk about this.
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [5017] Could I make
j (PS5VN) [5018] Terry Clarke.
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [5019] a comment about that.
[5020] erm yes, erm it's very sad that there are people, and something should be done about it, but if you were to have a society, a perfect society, where there was no need for people to sleep out rough, or to sleep rough, you would still find some people who would sleep rough.
b (PS5VT) [5021] Yes, but ... [people talking]
b (PS5VT) [5022] On the assumption that not everyone's choosing it
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [5023] No, but you can, you can build any amount of hostels you like that could accommodate all, all the people that there are, but you would still find a proportion of those who don't want to come into the system, so, you know
b (PS5VT) [5024] Well, even if that's true, though, Terry, I mean what we're interested in is those who are sleeping out there who don't choose to.
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [5025] Oh yes, I think one's got
b (PS5VT) [5026] And there seem to be a lot of those.
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [5027] Something must ... I would hope that something will be done about those who erm want to
j (PS5VN) [5028] Well so would I.
[5029] We all would, but the question is is John Major the man to grasp that mettle?
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [5030] I think John Major will grasp the mettle.
j (PS5VN) [5031] Why?
b (PS5VT) [5032] Why? [laugh]
j (PS5VN) [5033] Yes.
b (PS5VT) [5034] Because he's a caring man [laugh] .
[5035] erm he'll have to eventually.
[5036] I mean I do think that this is ... we haven't yet, I go back to the claim I made before that in the hundred days since he's been Prime Minister his concentration has been taken up by the Gulf war, obviously.
[5037] He's now ... we're now going to face the test of John Major in the next hundred days.
j (PS5VN) [5038] Maybe John Major
b (PS5VT) [5039] Now we're going to see what he does for the economy, what he does for the underclass, and so on
j (PS5VN) [5040] Well maybe John Major is a
b (PS5VT) [5041] and what he's like in himself.
j (PS5VN) [5042] reactive kind of person, in which he ... things are happening to him, like for instance he's quite famous because of the war.
[5043] That was something that was foisted upon him.
[5044] He erm was, well his profile was raised in public consciousness by this mortar attack on him.
[5045] erm and ... but what is he striding out there in front of people saying this is where I see the vision for the country leading us.
b (PS5VT) [5046] I think he might ... maybe he doesn't do it like that, maybe he does it by saying it by God bless at the end of his broadcast, or appearing in the Gulf with a polo necked jumper.
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [5047] Yes, but
b (PS5VT) [5048] I mean I think that's nice.
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [5049] But can I say something erm, Bill, we're at the end of a Parliament erm John Major
j (PS5VN) [5050] Another year to go, there could be
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [5051] Yes, but John Major has come in late.
[5052] As Marianne said, we've got ... we've had the war.
[5053] I suspect that we will find that John Major is both pro-active and reaction, because in the next few months erm up to some time before June nineteen ninety two, there has to be a manifesto produced for the next election, and I think it's in that you will probably see the pro-active side of John Major and his colleagues.
[5054] It's not a one man show.
[5055] He is just, I suppose, primus inter pares, as a Prime Minister, and erm that's ... it is, as we've both said, the next hundred days or so that you will probably see the real John Major.
j (PS5VN) [5056] Yes, we all know that he prefers consensus rather than confrontation and I suppose maybe because he has that kind of style he might be just what the doctor ordered for the nineties.
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [5057] He may be.
[5058] He may be not.
[5059] We don't know, but erm we do live in a confrontational parliamentary system.
[5060] I believe that John Major, if the erm situation demanded, could be as confrontational as the next person is, but
b (PS5VT) [5061] I tell you one thing
j (PS5VN) [5062] Do you remember old Edwina Currie saying in an interview, she was talking about John Major and she said ‘oh, don't worry about John Major, he can hold his own, he's as tough as old boots’.
b (PS5VT) [5063] Yes, oh well I'm glad to hear that.
[5064] One thing I
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [5065] Can I, can I, yes I was going to tell you a story
j (PS5VN) [5066] Probably
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [5067] about John Major
j (PS5VN) [5068] Briefly.
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [5069] that he was at a meeting where Margaret Thatcher was speaking, and he erm made a comment about what the people in his constituency perceived about something, and she got up and said ‘now that's totally wrong’.
[5070] He said ‘I didn't say it was right’ he said, ‘I said that is what they perceived’and he turned to the person next to him afterwards, he says ‘well, that's finished me for any promotion ... a job for promotion’.
[5071] That was when he was a backbencher, but it didn't [laugh] .
b (PS5VT) [5072] Well that's a story about Mrs. Thatcher, isn't it?
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [5073] Yes.
b (PS5VT) [5074] I'd just like to say one of the things that I feel very sad about, Bill, is when I see the line up of all the people in the ... the heads of state, or things like that, I no longer see a dress, I no longer see a hat, and I still haven't got used to the Prime Minister ‘he’.
[5075] I don't know whether I can take a male Prime Minister seriously, Bill. [laugh]
j (PS5VN) [5076] Marianne
Unknown speaker (KRLPSUNK) [5077] I wouldn't disagree with that [laugh] .
j (PS5VN) [5078] [laugh] Marianne Talbot that's quite unfair, I think.
[5079] But we've been asking during this programme will the real John Major please stand up.
[5080] Well, as John Major would say, you'll have to wait and see if I may say so.
[5081] Well, that's it from me and many thanks to my guests here in the studio.
[5082] To Marianne Talbot, a philosophy don, and someone who's involved with the Three Hundred group, that's a group trying to get three hundred women into Parliament by the year two thousand, and also special thanks to Dr. Terry Clarke, the Conservative Constituency Party Treasurer from the Henley group.
[5083] Thanks for joining us.
[5084] Goodbye. [recorded jingle]


[recorded jingle]
j (PS5VN) [5085] Hello and welcome to the programme.
[5086] Today is International Women's Day.
[5087] Well who needs it and why is it necessary to have an international women's day and has there been any progress in the women's movement.
[5088] I'm joined by four women who can talk about these issues: Ann Mobbs, Theresa Smith, Brenda Thornton and Barbara Bryant.
[5089] Well, let's start with Ann Mobbs.
[5090] Ann, in the twenty one years of the women's movement has there been any real progress for women?
js (PS5VL) [5092] Well you have to think, International Women's Day has been going for just about a hundred years.
[5093] It started off erm women's struggles in Chicago.
[5094] Garment workers, who were paid really bad wages and had a strike and struggled for union recognition, and I think that's the thing that women have gone on doing over the years.
[5095] It's not twenty one years I don't think we're talking about.
[5096] It's a very long struggle for decent wages erm recognition at work, the same kind of jobs that men have erm it's interesting the results of the Guardian survey yesterday, ten thousand replies they had, and there were a tiny percentage of women that earned over thirty thousand, so you could see that many, many of the job tops are still in the hands of men.
j (PS5VN) [5097] Well you say that International Women's Day has been going on for some time, but here in Britain what's known as the Women's Movement has been in operation now for about, what, twenty one/twenty two years, something like that.
[5098] It's really come to the fore and has been seen as a political force for a much shorter time than, say, a hundred years, and I am wonder if, in that short time, because that's how we can judge things, I mean presumably you were aware of the way women were treated before the Women's Movement started raising it's profile, and you're aware of the way things are now, do you see much change?
js (PS5VL) [5099] Well obviously there is change and one of the things that we've been doing for International Women's celebrations during March, because we're having a whole month of activities, is
j (PS5VN) [5100] Ah, it's
js (PS5VL) [5101] looking at women pioneers
j (PS5VN) [5102] Yes.
js (PS5VL) [5103] and it's absolutely fascinating that women weren't allowed to join the erm Architects' Institute, the Dental Association, and so on, and there was a sort of big surge forward at the end of the last century, and I think there's been a big surge forward in the last twenty years or so really.
j (PS5VN) [5104] Well, but right now women aren't allowed to join certain organizations, do you know which ones?
[5105] I mean how about, how about, say, for instance, the Rotary?
[5106] Are women welcome there with open arms?
js (PS5VL) [5107] Well I've never tried [laugh] , but I don't know about the CRU clubs.
[5108] I mean there was a big battle to get women into the Working Men's Clubs, because they could only come in as men's guests.
j (PS5VN) [5109] Well and so what's the present status on that?
js (PS5VL) [5110] I don't know.
j (PS5VN) [5111] Yes.
[5112] I mean I think that there still are quite a few areas that are off limits for women, but in those areas where women have gained admittance, have they gained acceptance?
[5113] In other words are they there as a form of tokenism? erm do they get to real positions of power, like for instance, Ann, you work where?
js (PS5VL) [5114] I work in the City Council.
j (PS5VN) [5115] Right, under what department?
js (PS5VL) [5116] The Recreation Services.
j (PS5VN) [5117] Now there must be various tiers in that department, and various levels of ... well what floor do you work on?
js (PS5VL) [5118] I work on the second floor [laugh] .
j (PS5VN) [5119] Mhm.
js (PS5VL) [5120] And on the fourth floor the management work, and I have to say they are all men, that's true.
[5121] And if you look at the departments erm in the City and the County, it's largely men who are in the most powerful positions in terms of policy making.
[5122] I know that in the county there is a new erm Chief Education Officer erm
j (PS5VN) [5123] Jo Stephenson ... Jo Stephens happens to be a woman.
js (PS5VL) [5124] Yes, that's right.
j (PS5VN) [5125] The first time that there's been a woman in that post.
js (PS5VL) [5126] That's right.
j (PS5VN) [5127] But she probably is the only Chief Officer who's a woman.
js (PS5VL) [5128] I think that's true, yes.
j (PS5VN) [5129] Right.