We often hear politicians talking about how concerned they are with notions of fairness. The only trouble is the reality doesn’t seem to live up to the hype very often.
Is it fair, for example, that rail passengers are having to pay more for travel on a line that continues to creak under the strain of a demand that efforts to respond to remain desperately slow?
Is it fair residents are being asked to pay significantly more in council tax at a time when Norfolk county councillors feel able to raise their own allowances, regardless of where the money comes from?
And is it fair, also, that the system of compensating victims of crime for their ordeals is so slow that some may not get what they should in their lifetime?
I get quite grumpy at times and one of the things that tends to bring it on the most is when bad things happen to decent people.
I particularly recall feeling this about three years ago when I first met the late Ann Banyard and her family, after she had been badly injured when she was knocked to the ground by a fleeing shoplifter in Lynn’s town centre.
Happily, I was in court the day her assailant was sent to prison. Far less happily, I was in our office when I discovered recently that Ann had died. When talking to her family, as I did several times in the wake of the incident, I learned that Ann had never received compensation for the injuries she suffered that day. Another injustice to add to the ones they are continuing to endure.
They are mourning the loss of a loved one, at a relatively young age, having had to see her cope with the lasting after-effects of a petty criminal’s inconsideration. They had to wait for their day in court, after the same petty criminal chose to flee this country following his initial arrest and had to be extradited back here when he was finally detained in Germany before finally facing justice. And now, they find themselves having to fight for the compensation that Ann should have received while she was alive. Where’s the justice in that?
If Ann’s family are being treated unfairly, then I fear it’s highly likely others are too and that’s why I was delighted when Sir Henry Bellingham raised Ann’s case at Prime Minister’s Questions last week.
Not for us as a paper, but for Ann’s family and others in a similar position. Maybe, just maybe, we can bring about positive change by highlighting the issue.
This is not about the idea that where there’s blame there’s a claim. It’s about fairness and justice.