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Reunions – North West


north west area”

Report From Frank Loftus 4th January 2018

There were a number of late cancellations for the lunch on Thursday 4th January 2018 but there were still about 70 members taking their seats. Frank Loftus, the Organiser, spoke about his disappointment at having to cancel the October lunch, and expressed his appreciation for the understanding shown, by those who signed up and paid. He welcomed the guests, Chief Constable Paul Crowther and Chris Wellburn (RPMI), who were to speak after the lunch, and also Nobby Goodband from the BTP Federation. Frank acknowledged the tremendous professionalism, the bravery, the courage and the humanity shown by Officers and PCSO’s, in Manchester and London, at the scenes of some of the most horrific atrocities committed by terrorists. He spoke about how proud he and his retired colleagues were of all the BTP personnel who reacted to these events, and congratulated the Chief Constable for being in command of such outstanding men and women.

Frank then advised the members that Mick Owen, a regular attendee at our lunches, sent his apologies and good wishes to everyone. He has contracted Prostrate Cancer, is currently receiving treatment and, as John Harrison added, remains quite positive and had not lost his sense of humour. Since the last meeting in April, four members of our group, Alan Farquharson, Tom Burkhill, Tom Baker and Walter Xerri, together with a former North West Officer, Jeannie Wilson, had passed away, and the members were invited to stand in silent tribute to them. Frank advised the Chief that he had received messages and letters from family members of the deceased stating how proud they were to see the Force represented with an officer in uniform as well as bearer parties and the Force flag draping the coffin. He thanked the Chief and the senior officers for making this possible and trusted that, where families of deceased members make a request, their wishes are acceded to.

After lunch Frank invited the Chief Constable, Paul Crowther to address the members. The Chief opened by thanking everyone for the invitation and stated how pleased he is to attend such events having recently been to two other gatherings of retired personnel in London. He then spoke at length about the events of 2017 and how proud he was of his officers and staff for their performance during and after the terrorist attacks in both Manchester and London. He said that when he read the accounts submitted by the officers, about what they encountered and what they did, the hairs on the back of his neck stood up. He made no apology for being emotional at the time and said he felt quite choked recalling the accounts. He spoke in particular about visiting Wayne Marques in hospital and how, after tackling the terrorists at London Bridge Station, and being stabbed and seriously injured, he was sorry he couldn’t do more to stop them. This feeling of helplessness, added the Chief, was felt by a number of those attending these incidents, in that they felt guilty at not being able to do more. He added that some officers have been publicly acknowledged already, and that he was attending another awards ceremony the following day at the Manchester Town Hall, where he will be honouring those Police and Rail Staff who attended the Manchester Arena after the bomb was detonated.

The Chief then spoke of the challenges facing the Force saying that although the budget has been agreed in accordance with the rise of inflation, there is still a commitment on him to make a £30m saving over the coming year. He added that recruitment was continuing and there are more people joining our Force as transferees than those leaving to join other Forces. He spoke with pride about the specialist work undertaken by our Officers in body-retrievement, adding that besides the expert team being used at the Manchester Arena and London Bridge scenes, they were also involved in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower Fire. Money is being spent on new equipment and in particular new IT equipment. He went on to say that we live in a very different world today where policing has changed out of all recognition to what many of us in retirement experienced when we were working. (The Chief Constable said so much more than I have recounted here, as witnessed by those attending the lunch, but I feel I have included enough for you to get the gist of his address. One lasting sense I got having listened to him was how passionate he was about the Force and how proud he is of the people who work in BTP). He briefly mentioned the Scotland issue saying that the matter is more complicated than what those urging the merger had anticipated. He added that he and his Senior Team were cooperating with ensuring the best result is achieved for our Officers in Scotland, but there is still so much more to be done with the operational policing affect on the railway on both sides of the border. A couple of our members questioned him (a) about the situation regarding the ‘Infrastructure Force’ that seemed on the cards, to which he said was still in the mind of the now Prime Minister but on the back burner, and (b) the lack of Senior Officers fronting the media response, especially during the events in London and Manchester, to which he replied that although there were occasions when he and his Senior Officers did speak to the media the general public only see Police Officers and are not interested which Force they represent.

Frank then invited Chris Wellburn to address the meeting and he began by thanking everyone for the invitation and how much he always enjoyed being with us all. Chris spoke in depth about the changes that affect those still contributing to the pension schemes and how the age of state pension will rise to 69 and will be brought forward ten years, not that this would affect those present. He added that the recent vacancies on the Railway Pensions committee have been filled and that we in BTP are well served by our representatives, Martyn Ripley and |Peter Holden, with Gary Towse also being one of the Trustees. Chris did have other issues to which he referred but the main topic which was of utmost interest to those present was the fact that our pension and the State Pension will rise by 3% in April this year. He added that the rise in the FTSE has seen a rise in the value of most of the pension funds and some will be in surplus at the next actuary report. However he does not feel there will be enough of a surplus to see any distribution as seen many years past.

Far more than is written above was contained in the contributions by our speakers and our membesr. This is often the case and it is difficult to précis everything said on the day. The way to get to know all that is said is for you to join us and listen first hand to our speakers who always have interesting information about the Job and Pensions to tell us about..

Alison Jones then gave a vote of thanks to Frank for all the work he puts into organising the lunches to which he said that he would not be able to do it without the great assistance given him by Joanne Wild who ensures that all the invitations are sent out. Frank added that he wished Joanne would join us so that the appreciation of us all could be shown to her personally. The raffle raised £245.00 and special thanks were given to Ginger Ablard selling the tickets. There were five prizes drawn for, that were provided out of funds or donated by the members.

The next lunch to be held at the Liverpool Adelphi Hotel will be on Thursday 12th April 2018 and the cost will remain at £10.00 per head. If you want to join us, please contact me - Frank Loftus using details to be found in the current members directory