COMMENT: Westwell of Ely by Rosemary Westwell

Ely Standard columnist Rosemary Westwell,

Ely Standard columnist Rosemary Westwell, - Credit: Archant

Insure or not?

It is quite understandable why a couple whose house burnt down recently had cancelled their house insurance during a period of unemployment. With the spiralling costs of insurance these days, it is highly unlikely that unemployment benefit, if you are lucky enough to get it, would cover house and other insurances.

While some companies do pay up immediately, there are many that make you wonder whether it’s worthwhile at all. Many times, when I have tried to claim, the agents at the end of the call centre line have spent their time arguing the point, calling me by the wrong name, asking me to repeat again the whole history of the claim and, it seems, spending all their efforts on trying to get out of giving me any money at all.

You have to be dogged if you are to get anywhere. With some of the claims I have made in the past, I have been horrified by being accused of lying, and by being stalled so much that it seemed highly probable that the company was hoping I would give up the fight. One claim took eighteen months to resolve, and even then it did not cover the costs that I had proved I had had. Choose your insurance company carefully, I say – that is, if you insure at all.

No Nobel prize for engineering?

It was a surprise to me to learn that there is no Nobel Prize for engineering. This knowledge came from reading a report from ex-King’s School Ely student, Lord Browne of Madingley, in his interview with Prince Philip about the subject.

There are Nobel prizes in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature, peace and economic sciences. If there is one for literature, why not other arts: painting, music and dance? Why not for engineering, a subject that is both scientific, creative and designs structures from the smallest to the biggest for the betterment of our lives?

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Fortunately, all is not lost for there is a prize that attempts to fill the gap: The Queen Elizabeth Prize for engineering. You learn something new every day, don’t you?

Wonderful news

The Prime Minister tells us he is going to tackle poverty this year. What wonderful news for I was beginning to wonder if he’d even noticed that we have any poor people.

There are a lot of real poverty-stricken families who are finding it harder and harder to cope as his swingeing cuts bring them down. These cuts do not affect the rich, oh no, they hit the poor and vulnerable directly, but these people have no political sway, they are too busy just trying to survive to spend time and energy arguing.

Also, many, he may not be aware, are too proud to accept the hand-outs they need and that is probably why he doesn’t know about them. So, if he is true to his word, will we see him handing out one of the huge piles of money he seems to have suddenly found lately to our poor?

Is our council tying itself up in knots?

It seems Cambridgeshire County Council will be £11 million pounds worse off than it thought. While some of us might think it’s from muddled thinking, apparently it’s really something to do with central government not giving the council its fair share – not paying extra for employees’ Living Wage and giving more to the big cities than us, if I have understood correctly the mumbo jumbo from the council spokesman.

It then turns out that at last the worm was about to turn and the council was considering writing to the Prime Minister, but then, it ‘chickened out’.

Why? Fortunately we are still a democracy and we don’t behead anyone for saying so yet. If our Prime Minister had the temerity to write to his own county to say he disagreed with the cuts they were making, why can’t our council do the same to the Prime Minister?

Is our council perhaps spending too much time, ticking boxes, trying to take individual landlords to court over too much noise, rather than sorting out its own affairs first?

Flying? – Beware of a new threat

An aircraft from Mumbai in India to London recently had to suddenly cut its flight short and turn back. Breach of security perhaps? I think we all agree that it’s better to be safe than sorry, although the cause in this case was nothing but a possible sighting of a rat – someone’s pet perhaps?