Letters: A National Care Service must be publicly funded, publicly owned and administered by public servants

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JAMES Elder-Woodward (Letters, February 19) raises concerns about the National Care Service as envisaged by the Independent Review of Adult Social Care – the Feeley Report. A National Care Service (NCS) can be judged by the principles that underlie it. An NCS should be free at the point of use, just as the NHS, and be a publicly funded, public service. The “public” here is represented by democratically-elected members in local authorities, accountable bodies that should receive and allocate funds to communities for their social care.

The objection to the Feeley NCS is that it will create an uneven mishmash of private, public and voluntary providers, receiving contracts from a centrally appointed patronage system run through new organisations, Integrated Joint Boards (IJBs) whose members have no democratic accountability. Health and Social Care Partnerships (HSCPs), the precursors of the new IJBs, also imposed austerity and cutbacks driven from the centre as did local authorities.

An NCS needs public funding; to be a free service like the NHS; and have adequate resources, equitably distributed, as a social investment of taxpayers’ contributions for our shared benefits. An NCS should not give contracts to companies who then charge us for their services. There is every reason to be suspicious of central control of policy and resources when their commissioning and procurement activities may drive towards increased privatisation.

Do we want to be governed by elected local government or by the diktats of ministers instructing agencies that have no accountability to the localities and communities that they are supposed to serve? Which do you consider will ensure that a proper NCS will be a publicly funded service and free to citizens as the NHS?

This is a worry shared by many MSPs. In the parliamentary debate on Feeley, the Conservatives noted “such a service must avoid becoming a centralised monolithic structure”; the LibDems said “the move to a national governance structure causes us significant concerns…social care is not suited to central control”; the Greens said “ Private companies, do not have role at all in this”; Labour said “Feeley leaves the market-based system in place with a bit more regulation”. Cosla has raised concerns about this dangerous linkage between the use of unelected agencies, IJBs, and the marketisation of social care as compared to allocating funds through local authorities. The Common Weal Social Care Group (of which I am a member) has also raised concerns about the connection between centralised control, unelected agencies and the contracting into the private sector.

No one would argue that local authorities have not been subject to austerity and that this has negatively impacted on users of social care services and their human rights, but this is a reason to rectify their funding levels. They have a critical role to play in the creation of an NCS worthy of its name: publicly funded, publicly owned, publicly accountable, administered by public servants accountable to our elected members.

Dr H Lloyd-Richards, St Andrews, on behalf of the Common Weal Social Care Group.

NEW TURBINES EVEN MORE INTRUSIVE

ERG waxes lyrical about the repowering of wind farms (“Net zero on the horizon”, The , February 18), a process by which the turbines are dismantled and replaced with technologically-advanced new turbines. It is true that turbine numbers may be reduced by half using this process, but what ERG fails to mention is that they will be substantially taller with much longer blades to compensate. This does not lessen the visual effect, if anything it dramatically increases it by making the turbines visible over a much greater distance. Taller turbines also need red aviation-safeguarding lights. As the blades pass in front of the lights it causes a strobing effect which causes distraction to road users and is a source of extreme annoyance for wind farm neighbours.

Since the Middleton and Neilston wind farms in East Renfrewshire started operating in 2013, their aviation lights have been the subject of numerous complaints to East Renfrewshire Council and are one of the main reasons for objection to further wind turbine applications in that area.

It was also one of the main topics for discussion at the recent Arecleoch public inquiry in South Ayrshire this month, where the council’s landscape architect stated that she had visited the Neilston area to view the wind farms’ lights and could confirm they were visible from parts of Glasgow at a distance of some 15 kilometres. Whilst new technology is being developed to lessen the effects, it is as yet unproven.

Is this what the future holds? Blinking disembodied red lights resembling an alien invasion, carpeting our country?

Rather than adjusting planning procedures to allow for easier consent, as ERG suggests, applications should undergo greater scrutiny to account for the increased negative impact these monstrosities will have on people, wildlife and the environment.

Aileen Jackson, Uplawmoor.

* THE recent cold snap has caused many problems in Texas, but for some residents they have had an extra financial hit. The cost of electricity was more than 60 times more expensive, leading to energy bills of thousands of dollars for a few days for those who were on smart meters with variable pricing. If we are building renewables then we must also build up our baseload.

Tom Walker, Loanhead.

SUM RANDOM THOUGHTS

THE discovery that people can converse and do maths while dreaming (“People can converse and do maths while dreaming, reveal scientists”, The , February 19), is clearly of scientific interest and worthy of publication, but I have advised my nearest and dearest that the next time I’m dreaming of Jeanie with the light brown hair not to ask if I know how much I spent on golf balls last month or other perceived extravagances.

R Russell Smith, Largs.

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