Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Archive - Column written for Doncaster Free Press

Column written for Doncaster Free Press (February, 2011)

(unedited text below)

Numbers and statistics - funny things, really.

Florence Nightingale’s greatest achievement was actually her statistical work in the aftermath of the Crimean war, figuring out trends and publicising the vast number of avoidable deaths through lack of cleanliness. Thousands, perhaps millions of lives were subsequently saved through the power of statistics.

So yes, numbers are important and I’m a bit of a numbers geek. And so it was that this week I found myself on the communities and local government website (http://www.communities.gov.uk) examining the spreadsheet showing proposed funding settlements for councils throughout the UK. Well, it’s a hobby!

Doncaster’s there of course, with an 8.9% funding drop - nearly a tenth in old money. Quite a reduction, especially when you turn arbitrary figures into real jobs and service cuts affecting all our lives.

But I suppose we’ve all been told that cuts are needed and the burden has to be shared. And although it may seem a bit odd that we’re joint highest in terms of cuts when we’re in one of the poorest parts of the country, I guess we can’t expect to escape unscathed.

At least we’re all sharing…oh hang on, what’s this. Richmond Upon Thames has escaped with cuts of less than 1%.

That’ll be the Richmond Upon Thames with local MPs of Zac Goldsmith and Vince Cable. That’ll be Richmond Upon Thames, home of some of the most affluent areas of the country. Encompassing Richmond Park, Kew Gardens and Hampton Court. That’ll be Richmond Upon Thames that gets away with a less than 1 % cut, whilst Doncaster, desperately in need of funds and with sadly well-reported social problems has to bear the burden of a near 9% cut.

Still, at least we’re all sharing fairly in these cuts.

Like I said, funny things numbers.

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