Privatisation – Tory policy. In my young days, Bradford Corporation had its own gasworks and electricity generating plant. Bradford Corporation Waterworks drew supplies from the Nidd valley, a 30-mile aqueduct/pipeline bringing water to the city’s filtration beds.
When Margaret Thatcher privatised the utilities I wrote and accused her of stealing Bradford’s ratepayers’ assets. What had been public services came to be run by private firms. Mrs Thatcher urged all to become shareholders.
But ordinary folk kept clear of the money market, having their savings in the Post Office bank, or in a building society. Some of the utilities are now foreign-owned.
A Tory government privatised the railways. Early railway companies did not compete. They served different areas of the country – Southern Railway, Great Western. Each had its own engineers and locomotive engineering works.
The system was, in a sense, integrated. Using the Bradshaw timetable, a cross-country journey could be planned. Fares were reasonable. In 1942, a return ticket from King’s Cross to Bradford Exchange cost 30 shillings.
It has been said that British Rail could have been a success with more government commitment and better technical management. Continental countries have their national rail networks.
I understand that in Holland, one ticket serves for rail or road travel, with reliable timetabling; a truly integrated transport system.
The rail franchises have brought overcrowding; a shortage of carriages; unreliable timetabling; fares related to the time of the journey, and more expensive than air travel. Shareholders’ profits come before passengers’ convenience.
Royal Mail, once a valued public service dating back to the 1700s, is to be privatised. Labour began the process in obedience to EU Directives enforcing competition.
The coalition is prepared to allow such as Dutch TNT and German DHL to take over our postal service.
Prices will rise. Royal Mail’s one price, universal delivery, will cease. Again shareholders’ profits will take precedence over customers’ needs.
The nation’s forests. The move to privatise them is “political bigotry” according to a member of the Forestry Commission.
The nation’s health. The chairman of the British Medical Association has predicted that private health firms will find it more profitable to focus on simpler treatments, leaving complex operations to the NHS. Profit will come before patient care.
Is there a political party committed to public service rather than private profit?