HASTINGS’ service infrastructure continues to be undermined and with it many people’s lives.
Three recent events - the threatened closure of Mount Denys and Pine Hill; the proposed laying off of 30 staff by William Parker Academy (ARK) at what was William Parker Sports College; and the impact on Hastings’ postal service - represent a worrying
trend for our community.
First is the impact of increasing unemployment on families involved and Hastings’ economy at large. Those that are redeployed will most likely face reductions in earnings and diminished job security.
Second is the impact on the quality of these vital services when the profit motive drives decision-making. For example, closures at Mount Denys and Pine Hills represent a loss of vital public services, which were rigorously monitored, to a care-for-profit private business.
Will the provision of expert and compassionate care find itself incompatible with the goal of maximising profit?
Third is the undemocratic nature of these decisions that arebound to affect the lives of many local people. Take the case of the ARK, laying off many staff so early in its existence.
Where is the accountability? Do we look to the trustees of ARK in order to assess the economic and educational justification? In the past, this was the job of our elected county councillors.
A common thread is that our health care, education and post office services are now being seen as commodities - things to be bought and sold. Yet these are public goods that we all rely upon both in terms of availability and quality.
Some essential services cannot simultaneously do their job for the community and be profitable. Additionally, privatisation necessarily takes such services outside local democratic influence.
We need both to make the people who take decisions sit and listen, and support our town with a clear message: our services should not be for sale.
J P LINGARD