Big Eye, February 24, 2015

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When was the last time you took the London train?

Most of us use it infrequently although my guess is it would be more popular if Dick Turpin hadn’t had some ghostly hand in calculating those eye-watering ticket prices. For something regarded as ‘public’ transport I’m pretty sure that Joe Public doesn’t see it as a service so much as a bit of a trial these days.

Shelling out the small fortune required to take a family of four on a trip to the ‘smoke’ is something you save up for or whack on to

your overburdened credit card ... it isn’t something to be taken lightly which is ironic when you think how heavily the taxman raids your pay cheque every month to support this apparently critical part of our infrastructure.

To cap it all, Labour now regards the railway privatisation as a disaster and has promised to immediately initiate a programme to return it to public control!

We’re used to being mugged by corporations who have bought into utilities which were sold to them for a pittance by a succession of governments to raise desperately needed cash.

We were told that this radical and momentous decision to sell our publicly-owned assets was the right thing to do because “the competitive commercial marketplace drives down prices and the laws of supply and demand will cut our transport costs”. If that hasn’t proved to be the biggest porky you’ve ever heard from politicians.

Anyway, it seems these magnificent price reductions have failed to materialise for thousands of people because the ‘Big 6’ have woven such a web of confusion around their gas and electric tariffs that 95 per cent of us are paying hundreds of pounds more to our supplier than we need to because unless you’ve got a degree in maths it is unlikely that you will be able to easily compare one with another.

As ever, the ministerial numpties who bought into the concept of competing utilities were sucked in by the potentially massive political benefits of cutting our energy bills and sadly their total lack of business acuity has resulted in a shambolic rip-off that’s requiring another tranche of legislation to control the energy companies’ market-rigging.

Who is to blame? It is unfortunate that our method of appointing government ministers is not based on merit or capability but appears to be more to do with the fact that candidates are either, popular, vocal, female or possibly an old school chum and so when these saps are faced with a wily and duplicitous commercial operator they’re totally outclassed.

We’ve seen agriculture ministers unable to differentiate between a heifer and a bullock, privileged public school boys becoming ministers of education and chancellors of the exchequer with barely an A-level in maths making decisions that affect all our lives without so much as a thought for what will happen after the next election .... this would be no way to run a borough council, let alone an entire country. Anyone want to argue?

Well do you? Email or write to Letters, Lynn News, Limes House, Purfleet Street, King’s Lynn PE30 1HL