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Rumours of CWGC Budget Cut


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#1 ianw

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Posted 20 February 2011 - 11:42 AM

http://www.mirror.co...15875-22937336/

Such a substantial cut to the CWGC budget would see it have to slash its "front-line services" in its cemeteries world-wide. Difficult to see how many of the cemeteries we know and love could avoid becoming grass and horticulture free zones in the manner of the various CWGC "experimental" cemeteries that we have already commented on.

I suppose we shouldn't be surprised by this sort of news but it has certainly started my Sunday off badly!

#2 Keith Roberts

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Posted 20 February 2011 - 12:00 PM

Its difficult to know whether this is a serious proposal within government, or a leak that has been let loose in the wild to test the water. Either way I think we need to do our best as individuals to resist such a massive cut in a modest budget. I worded that carefully - personally I would oppose any cut, but it may be that many things that we care about will take some financial hits in the context of current policy.

I'll be firing off an email to my MP in a few minutes, and I hope others will do the same.

If this does develop as a proposal, maybe an online petition through the No 10 website is one way forward. if groups like the RBL supported it the sign up could be massive. it worked for the forests.

Keith

#3 John Hartley

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Posted 20 February 2011 - 12:17 PM

Much as any budget cut would be regretted, it's important to keep this in the context of the general level of budget cuts the government is making across all services. CWGC has an annual spend of some 50 million. The reported reduction of 16 million over 4 years, equates to an 10% reduction in the UK's contribution - much less than many other government services (on which many folk depend on a day-to-day basis).

#4 Bardess

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Posted 20 February 2011 - 12:22 PM

With the centenary just around the corner I can't see the beautifully kept gardens going down the gurgler. If they were targeted there would be such a hullabaloo!!! Quite rightly too

#5 Keith Roberts

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Posted 20 February 2011 - 12:32 PM

John

I quite inderstand that we are talking about a cut of approximately 10%, but I am also working at present in the public service, and am conscious that many of the cuts being imposed are heavily front loaded. The Youth Offending team in which I am currently employed is facing a cut of 25% in the first year of the cuts package, allegedly with much smaller reductions to come in future years. If such an approach is applied to CWGC the impact is likely to be dramatic, initially on contracts due for renewal, and then on Commission staff directly employed on cemetery maintenance. I suppose that the long term project to clean and re-engrave headstones could be abandoned, or spread over a much longer period, but the impact would I am sure be seen quickly.

I am also concerned for the living; my son will be back in Afghanistan in September for his third tour, but any significant cut in CWGC resources will still be a fleabite in the context of MOD resources.


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#6 ianw

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Posted 20 February 2011 - 12:38 PM

With the centenary just around the corner I can't see the beautifully kept gardens going down the gurgler. If they were targeted there would be such a hullabaloo!!! Quite rightly too


Unfortunately, I would say that the horticulture and the labour that delivers it would be the first area to suffer cuts.

#7 OpsMajor

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Posted 20 February 2011 - 12:48 PM

I fully accept that there are many areas that are threatened with financial restraints at the moment and everyone will have their own personal axes to grind (don't get me started on caring and disability issues!) but CWGC are maintaining something that is being passed on to future generations. I haven't the skills but surely for the sake of a mouse click some one on the Forum could start an online No 10 petition and if all members signed in there's 40,000 to start with?

Mike



#8 Keith Roberts

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Posted 20 February 2011 - 12:53 PM

Mike

I think the idea of an online petition is a good one, I have pointed out to my MP the likelihood that one will be supported by the RBL as well as smaller organisations, but I think it might be worth waiting a few days, to see what response emerges to the story, which has so far only been carried by one newspaper.


Keith


Edit Just to point out that I am posting here in my capacity as a forum member.

#9 ianw

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Posted 20 February 2011 - 01:06 PM

Yes, an e-petition is a good idea but it would have to be structured in such a way that would allow the maximum number of GWF members to support it. I respect the opinions of members who point out that cuts are affecting all sorts of services that affect people badly.

I don't think that the CWGC should be immune from having to take a critical look at its activities and make economies where possible but it would be disastrous if temporary financial pressures forced it into actions that will permanently change the nature of its cemeteries to the detriment of future generations.

I have no doubt that someone will submit an e-petition on this subject in fairly short order as it will certainly be a controversial subject. Once there is one submitted,I understand that duplication on the same subject is not permitted.Perhaps this properly is the job of the RBL to lead?

#10 John Hartley

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Posted 20 February 2011 - 01:30 PM

Keith

Yes, I agree, if it was to be heavily front-loaded that would potentially be much more damaging than if it was to be spread across four years.

I assume that now the paper has floated the story, there'll be an MoD response. It could prove to be an interesting exercise for the accountants, as well as the diplomats. As I understand things, the costs of the Commission are spread proportionately across the contributor governments. I wonder what the situation is, for the relevent international agreement, if one government unilaterally changes its contribution.

John

#11 Jonathan_nw

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Posted 20 February 2011 - 02:06 PM

Can you still post an online petition to No. 10? I was taking a look at the site the other day and it stated that the e-petitions were being moved to the directgov website. I couldn't find where to register a new one.

Edited by Alan Curragh, 20 February 2011 - 02:08 PM.
Off topic/political comment removed


#12 centurion

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Posted 20 February 2011 - 03:11 PM

I think the sub heading is misleading - the CWGC primarily looks after cemeteries and, yes, they may or may not be threatened depending on how much truth is in the story. The biggest threat to the battlefields (which lying as they do in other countries are not exclusively "ours") is probably still such things as road building, housing and industrial development etc. The current economic woes may actually ease the pressure from these sources.

#13 NigelS

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Posted 20 February 2011 - 03:22 PM

The Parliamentary All-parties War Heritage Group Here (The Group consists of Members from both Houses and exists to promote and support the protection, conservation and interpretation of war graves, war memorials and battlefield sites.), which is given as having over 90 members, might (?) prove useful (Peter Doyle and Peter Barton are co-secretaries, so it is not without expert advisers). It is interesting to note, from the last set of minutes published, that Hill 60 was at least discussed at its last meeting, even if it was not possible for it to influence matters; Potential UK cut backs to CWGC funding (if there is any truth to the matter) is, one would hope, a topic which a group, with published objectives as given above, ought to become very vociferous on.

The website gives an an email contact link to the Chairman (Lord Faulkner)

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#14 ianw

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Posted 20 February 2011 - 03:27 PM

I think the sub heading is misleading


I deliberately added the "?" to the sub-heading to encourage this sort of debate.

Of course I accept that there are many other physical threats to the battlefields but given the battlefield position of many of our war cemeteries, if anything were to occur to drastically change their current appearance and nature, this would be damaging to our continuing consideration of the battlefields. Certainly if visiting the cemeteries is made less atractive,this would represent a threat to the battlefields, in my opinion.

Thanks NigelS for the War Heritage Group contact details. I have sent a note to Lord F.

#15 Keith Roberts

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Posted 20 February 2011 - 04:51 PM

Just a brief further thought based on my own current experience as a public employee and as a former civil servant.

The report talks about "mandarins", no Chinese plot, but senior civil servants. The whole subject might not yet have reached ministers, who are far more likely to put a "political" eye on the issue. That is why I think there is some point at this stage in contacting individual MP's as it is still possible that the idea might be kicked into the long grass. There is after all the agreement about proportions of funding, which presumably means that other governments would also be required to cut their contributions. That could become a seriously sensitive topic in some countries, not least Australia after the great publicity drawn by the Fromelles discoveries. The negotiations could also be long drawn out with several countries participating.

There does seem to be a government policy to implement the cuts in a manner that is not spread evenly over four years, but that is heavily front loaded. if ministers do adopt this proposal, there is a serious risk that the CWGC might well have to find as much as 8-10m in the first year, and the later in the financial year cuts are implemented, the more dramatic they have to be, to achieve a specific cash figure. That is simple maths unfortunately.

I do think that the on-line petition idea should be held back at present, as there is clearly as yet NOT a government policy. If enough people contact MP's, and the cross party committee is an excellent idea, the whole thing might still be dropped. At the moment there would be no political "face" to lose if ministers decide not to take up the idea.


Keith

#16 Ian C

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Posted 20 February 2011 - 06:58 PM

I would agree that we need to keep on eye on this, but I do wonder about the accuracy of what they say they have seen in these reports, after all in what report did they see the figure of 23,000 graves being looked after by the CWGC?

#17 Terry_Reeves

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Posted 20 February 2011 - 07:45 PM

Interesting. Could I ask what influence this forum thinks they have over national issues, particularly when we are informed that they are, at the moment, just rumours?

TR

#18 DavidB

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Posted 20 February 2011 - 09:48 PM

I would like to think that other members of the Commonwealth who help to fund CWGC would wish to have a say if any budget cut was imposed on the organization. As the UK is the largest contributor
a cut of 10 percent could have implications on whether they would take up the slack or cut the amount they contribute by a similar amount. I presume there is an agreement on what percentage of
the budget they have to pay so any cut by UK would change that percentage somewhat.

#19 Bardess

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Posted 20 February 2011 - 09:58 PM

Good point David

#20 ianw

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Posted 20 February 2011 - 10:05 PM

Yes, UK would have to involve the other nations in any discussions on the CWGC budget. Perhaps it is time to look again at the apportionment of costs. The former Empire countries are now mature and powerful countries with similar economies. Perhaps they can come to the assistance of the old mother country again - this time with hard cash!

#21 John Hartley

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Posted 20 February 2011 - 10:06 PM

I presume there is an agreement on what percentage of
the budget they have to pay

There is - see my post #10.

#22 DavidB

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Posted 20 February 2011 - 10:13 PM

John,
Please excuse my bleary eyed pre breakfast blues. Just missed post 10. :P

#23 Bardess

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Posted 20 February 2011 - 10:14 PM

Perhaps they can come to the assistance of the old mother country again - this time with hard cash!


Spit it out, Ian, what are you trying to say?

#24 ianw

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Posted 20 February 2011 - 10:19 PM

Spit it out, Ian, what are you trying to say?


"Bung us a few dollars, Blue. We're on our uppers".

Seriously though, the UK gave £300 million in aid to India last year - India which has an economy growing at 10% a year (UK economy growing at 5% a decade if we are lucky!) Even Aus is growing at 3% to 4% a year. So you've got the money!

Makes you think.

#25 4thGordons

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Posted 21 February 2011 - 05:05 AM

I have long opposed the prohibition on discussion of "contemporary politics" as I feel it is an artificial distinction, somewhat arbitrarily enforced. I oppose putative cuts to the CWGC, I also oppose numerous other cuts.

I do not see why this thread, with exhortations to contact local MPs and comments upon policy decisions of local govtand foreign aid etc does not contravene the prohibition on contemporary politics as reflected in current forum rules.

I will be happy to hear that it does not, and hope that equal leniency will be applied to threads that pop up occasionally.
Chris