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The 'little picture' Views of the North.

OVER the past few weeks there have been a number of news items, pleas by the region's MPs and many letters and comments from readers about proposed reductions to public sector services the austerity cuts may cause.

The latest are proposals to close several fire stations and make around 132 firemen redundant.

Many people rightly worry that these cuts may cost lives and that is a perfectly understandable and legitimate concern.

Those charged with managing our public services would have us all believe this is a difficult and complex problem that cannot be easily solved. Well, they would say that wouldn't they. That's because, in my view, the haughty, bureaucratic and inward-looking mindset of public sector management is actually where the problem really lies.

The public sector was established to provide and deliver essential public services. They are funded by taxes and exist to serve the public. However, over time these public services have ballooned into massive and disparate establishments that now view their own organisations as more important than the service they undertake to provide.

No wonder we, the mere proletariat, find it mind-boggling to comprehend the "The Big Picture" when it comes to public services. So don't try, I say!

Instead, I would urge readers to look at "A Little Picture" instead. Try to imagine our essential public services are aeroplanes and our taxes the fuel required to power them.

When aeroplanes get low on fuel, the pilot jettisons all nonessential cargo. Therefore, our Fire, Police and NHS, for example, need to jettison immediately all nonessential expenditure - so, out go the water coolers, the new carpets and furniture.

No more staff bonding weekends in picturesque resorts and no more chauffer-driven cars or bonuses and payoffs for failure. Ditching all that unwanted baggage will buy our fleet a little time, but not enough. So that means we need to ditch nonessential passengers too.

Sorry, but the public sector is not a jobs charity - and right now there is no room on our rapidly descending Jumbo for everyone. We have to make a choice.

So, who do we throw off the plane? Well, we either throw out the firefighters, bobbies, paramedics, nurses and doctors, or the pentwiddlers, diversity officers, social outreach workers, personalisation development managers and all the other hangers-on.

The decision to jettison is difficult, but the choice is not.

We need to dump our superfluous public sector baggage right now or the aeroplanes start falling out of the sky and casualties will begin to mount.

The little picture, so more succinct? ALAN CARTER, Newcastle upon Tyne
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Title Annotation:Letters
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Feb 1, 2014
Words:428
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