Reader’s letters - Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The row over Jeremy Clarkson (centre) is a sad reflection on society, according to one reader
The row over Jeremy Clarkson (centre) is a sad reflection on society, according to one reader
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Take care of pension fund

Many people, after long years of hard saving for retirement, are being given the option to now withdraw all their pension money as a lump sum.

Already, finance companies, good and very bad, are recruiting extra staff and preparing attractive, plausible, publicity material. These businesses include many with well known high street branches, with previous large fines of mis-selling several bad financial products to the public.

Even worse are the many fly-by-night, plausible, no-holds-barred fraudsters. They are ready to aggressively pester –by phone, email, posting glossy booklets and cold calling – most older people who might be eligible to obtain an attractive pension lump sum.

Don’t think it will just be the vulnerable , or the greedy who will be robbed of their precious long-term pension savings.

For many years I was one of the first employee trustees at British Aerospace. I met many intelligent staff and managers who, after a home visit by an accredited plausible salesman, were going to leave the company pension scheme to join an insurance company scheme.

It did not take me long to demonstrate that the seeming high figures they had been quoted would be worth less than one third of their BAe pension. All these employees, on retirement, are generally able to draw down a lump sum, but only worth up to one and a half times their annual salary.

Too many workers who had saved this money during long service had, within weeks, blown it on something extravagant or on an unrealistically high investment scam.

George Osborne has rushed this pension lump sum idea in, just before the election, far too quickly and without the necessary safeguards to protect people from the mis-sellers and the fraudsters.

Osborne could, and should, have made employees current pension funds, with advice from the Financial Services Authority, responsible for checking those wishing to draw down their pension pot, to ensure they were transferring their money to a reputable company.

If a person did not want this good financial advice, they would have to sign to say so. Many experts fear millions of people could now quickly spend, or be mis-sold, or conned out of what was their lifetime’s pension monthly payments.

Please be fully aware many of these people, whose pension pot quickly disappears, will fall back on to state benefits for the rest of their life, at a high cost to the rest of us taxpayers.

Peter Ward, former major pension fund director, author of best selling pensions advice book, Fulwood

Top Gear storm a sad reflection

I’ve always found Jeremy Clarkson entertaining and informative in a particularly British way. His documentary on a fated Arctic Convoy in the Second World War was excellent.

He should just stay away from cars.

However, the Steakgate affair has revealed a certain mentality in British society. This explains the huge level of support he has received.

The macho culture of cars, or more accurately, men and cars (with female hangers-on) with its indulgent sense of entitlement. There is a close correlation with football culture here, too. Cars are like gods in our motor transport crowded island.

Unfortunately, it can’t go on like this forever, You might think it will, but it won’t.

No doubt with a shrewd eye on the Top Gear viewer election vote, David Cameron waded in. “I’m sure this can be sorted out,” he blithely says.

Typically, the hapless victim in all this, who thoughtfully provided some food for the drunken latecomers, is harangued. You’ve got it; support the bully, persecute the victim.

Mr J Roberts, via email

Making a Good Samaritan sad

A few weeks I was travelling on the 10.34 train from Morecambe to Lancaster. A lady sat near me tried to pay her fare with a card (she had no cash) but the conductor would not accept it, telling her she should have purchased a ticket at the ticket office before boarding the train, then said she would have to get off at Bare Lane.

At this point I lent the lady £5 to pay for her ticket. I told her she could drop of the money at an office I’m based at in Morecambe (848 on Pedder Street) she said thank you and she would drop it off for me.

But to date ‘nothing’ so I will think twice before helping someone else in the same situation, shame really.

Ivan Harrison, Morecambe

Help hunt for historical facts

Garstang Historical Society is supporting historian Paul Smith with his research for a book on the 19 servicemen whose names appear on the First World War plaque on Garstang and Bonds War Memorial, Park Hill Road.

Work on the book is almost complete, but some questions about the memorial itself remain unanswered.

What was the date the Great War plaque was put into place on its original site above the entrance to the Market Hall, Market Place, Garstang?

We think the answer may be November 1926, but lack specific evidence for that date.

Also, does any reader know the date the current war memorial (incorporating the First World War plaque, as well as the Second World War plaque) was constructed / dedicated on Park Hill Road in the grounds of the then Oddfellows Hall?

We think the answer may be November 1952, but again, we lack documentary evidence.

It is hoped Paul Smith’s book, “Garstang’s Great War Heroes”, will be published this spring.

We hope, finance permitting, to give a copy to every pupil in the four schools in Garstang and Bonds/Bowgreave.

The publication fund remains open.

Any reader who can help with answers or pointers regarding the memorial date queries (or who would like to contribute to the publication fund) should contact Anthony Coppin on 01995 605824 or Paul Smith on 01524 793549.

Anthony Coppin, Garstang World War One project(c/o Garstang Historical Society)