The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain
Week commencing 9th March 2018


by Daphne Liddle

THE SEVERE cold weather last week, with heavy snow and temperatures below freezing, exposed serious weaknesses in the infrastructure of this country because of continued cuts in public spending that left vulnerable people freezing to death, others without warmth, water, food, electricity or transport. And it cost the economy £billions. The most severely affected were the homeless. On any given night last autumn, 4,751 people were recorded sleeping on the streets — a figure that has more than doubled since 2010.

At least 10 deaths so far have been attributed to the cold weather, but the true death toll is likely to take longer to emerge because of the increase in strokes and heart attacks linked to cold weather.

The total death toll is likely to be above 2,000 as the bodies of elderly and disabled people who died in their homes from hypothermia are discovered.

The cold weather payments that helped pensioners and other vulnerable people meet extra heating costs during long periods of below freezing temperatures have been cut. According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) the number of people who have died in cold homes in Britain might reach 100 per day this winter.r.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that an overall proportion of 30 per cent of excess winter deaths are because of cold homes. Respiratory and cardiovascular illnesses are exacerbated by cold conditions, especially amongst the elderly. Indoor temperatures of less than 12°C (53F) are likely to cause health risks,

Local authority workers — refuse collectors, parks and recreation staff, traffic department staff — who would previously have turned out as a small army to clear and grit roads and paths, have shrunk to a handful. Now only main roads get cleared. But it is the snow and treacherous ice on the side streets and pavements that leave the elderly and vulnerable unable to reach their local shops or bus route

Of those who do try to venture out, their chances of landing up in already overcrowded Accident and Emergency units are very high. And even those who are young and fit can fall victim to slippery ice and broken bones. All this would be avoidable if there were enough people to clear the pavements, as there once were.

The effects on transport have affected millions. Schools are closed because teachers could not get in, meaning that parents must stay at home. Throughout the country shops, offices, factories and services were being staffed by a tiny few who could get to work. Many simply closed up..

Just about every train company in the country announced cuts to services and some stopped altogether. But the RMT has pointed out that these train companies have a vested interest in failing to run trains in bad weather because they can claim compensation from the Government-owned Network Rail

Before privatisation the tracks and the trains were run by the same publicly owned body, British Rail. During bad weather trains would be run all night to prevent snow settling on the tracks. And there were stand-by diesel engines to rescue electric trains halted by snow on the power-carrying tracks.ring the Syrian people and supporting the remnants of the ISIS militia. The Syrian government said that the US-led coalition’s only goal is to prolong the crisis and undermine Syria’s sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity.

Thousands of homes and workplaces have been affected by disruption to water and electricity supplies. In both cases, two decades ago when they were first privatised these companies were allowed to raise prices to consumers at above inflation rates in order to repair the infrastructures — and they did and still do take full advantage.

But as soon as we get bad weather the very expensive new infrastructures collapse. We get broken mains water pipes, adding flooding to the other problems, as the freeze melts, and water shortages.

Around 12,000 properties are without water in the London and Thames Valley area after extreme weather hit the region, and Thames Water has asked households to limit the amount they are using.

And thousands more have been stranded without electricity for many days. The extreme weather was likely to have the biggest impact on the construction industry, which experts said could lose up to £2 billion over the three worst days, as sub-zero temperatures forced building workers to down tools. According to a report in the Telegraph, the big freeze was costing this country over £1 billion per day in total

So, all the savings the Tories hoped to make by the cuts are quickly eaten up by the extra costs of coping with extreme cold weather. They gambled on climate change meaning no more seriously cold weather and they got it wrong. But it’s our homes and our lives they were gambling with.old">