Government should never have shirked its responsibilities TV licence responsibilities - Mike Hill MP

Given all that is going on in national politics, I want to make it absolutely clear that I am completely against the BBC’s decision to only provide free TV licences to pensioners aged 75 and over if they are in receipt of pensions credit.

Tuesday, 11th June 2019, 12:31 pm
Updated Saturday, 15th June 2019, 11:25 am

I mention national politics because it was a disgrace in the first place that the obligation to provide this entitlement was transferred by the Government to the BBC in the knowledge that the broadcaster had to make budget cuts.

The television is not only a lifeline to many pensioners and a window on the outside world but it’s also often the only voice they hear all day.

The Government should never have shirked its responsibilities over the provision of free TV licences for older people especially as it truly is a pension-related entitlement.

For many pensioners the hypocrisy of a Government proudly praising the sacrifices of those involved in the D-Day landings one day and robbing them of this important benefit the next will not go unnoticed.

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The threats to the triple lock on pensions and free bus passes, in the last election, show that for the Government our pensioners and their hard-earned entitlements firmly remain in the firing line; little wonder that the reaction from constituents has been one of anger.

Turning to the constituency, I came across a fabulous response to the readers letter of the week in the Hartlepool Mail asking “Where is the love for Hartlepool?”, which, although confused about who exactly is in charge of the council now, talks about focussing away from “vanity projects’ in favour of bringing back schemes like the old New Deal Community Wardens”.

It’s a fair observation to those who don’t know that local government capital budget allocations have never been interchangeable and cannot be used for anything other than capital projects like regeneration but for ordinary folk it’s a point many would agree with.

The response I refer to was by Adrian Paul who said: “This coastal town of Hartlepool, measured against other coastal towns around the country, is in a very strong position to lead in a new kind of coastal town.

“Many are still stuck in the Victorian era and haven’t moved on with the times. Hartlepool is in such a strong position to lead the way and become an affluent town.”

I couldn’t agree more, which is why I’m about to launch an all Party Parliamentary Group on Coastal Communities to champion the cause of seaside places like ours which have been neglected and left behind for far too long in favour of the big towns and cities.

Adrian is right. Hartlepool does have plenty of potential and plenty of people love coming here.

People from far and wide love to visit our town; we are a warm and welcoming place and people and, as Adrian infers, let’s build on our pride and ambition and yes, begin to think outside the box so that great things can happen.