Observer Comment: Assisted suicide - families deserve a proper political debate

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THE story of Peter Owen is a heart-breaking one.

Something is wrong when such a proud, intelligent and loved man has to resort to ending his life in such a violent way.

His daughter has spoken out in support of assisted suicide, saying sick people should have the right to die on their own terms rather than face months, if not years, of slow and painful deterioration.

It is a difficult subject to argue conclusively either way. Each set of personal circumstances are unique and what is the right decision for some may not be right for others.

What is clear though is that it is time our politicians began seriously debating the subject rather than leaving it up to the media to highlight tragic cases like Mr Owen’s.

The support he received from his family, friends, and staff at the care home where he lived would have been priceless.

He was lucky in the sense he had a family around him who could debate the subject so rationally rather than offer an immediate knee-jerk reaction to what must have been a harrowing realisation that their father no longer wanted to live.

Whether you agree with assisted suicide or not, the very least people like Mr Owen and their families deserve is a proper political debate and the chance to have their voices heard.

The issue is not going away and people facing this dilemma should not be left with no choice but to end their lives alone and in pain.

WHEN the council’s proposed budget came out, few here at the Observer thought the decision to introduce parking charges at the Hastings Country Park would cause such a stir.

How wrong we were - with 2,000 people signing the petition against the plan it was the main talking point at this week’s cabinet budget meeting.

It just goes to show how hard it is for the council to find the savings they must make.

The parking charges have been brought in so the park’s budget doesn’t get cut.

Would the campaigners prefer that to have happened? If not what should have been reduced?

The council should be commended for a budget that seeks to protect the most vulnerable - nobody wants to play services off against each other but tough times call for tough choices.

It is encouraging that in cutting the community partnership funding the pots that help the homeless, the debt-ridden and victims of domestic violence have been spared the worst.

At Wednesday’s meeting (page three) Cllr Peter Pragnell said: “We must deal with what is - not what we would like to be.”

Wise words indeed - the vast majority of the public are bored to tears with the punch and judy blame game being played out between the Tories and Labour. This town needs solutions, and quick, and it would be nice to think next Monday’s full council meeting might rise above petty political point-scoring. Save the grandstanding for the next election - we’ll make our minds up then.

WITH Arrow FM no longer broadcasting from Hastings this year’s month-long Hastings Rock showcase is more important than ever.

Staffed completely by volunteers, the radio show provides a perfect platform for local bands to get their music heard and has become a popular annual event.

However, without local talent Hastings Rock has no show. So if you are in a local band, get in touch (see how on page 26) and show the rest of 1066 Country how good you are.