ONE of the area's most experienced former NUM officials, Willie Clarke, is urging former miners in the Cowdenbeath-Lochgelly area to back the Coalfields Communities Campaign's bid to get the Government to share part of the miners' pension scheme surpluses to improve benefits.

The CCC reported that nearly £330m per year is being transferred out of the miners pension schemes to the Treasury.

In the last issue of their Pensions Campaign Update the CCC said: "The Treasury did nicely out of the miners' pension funds in the good times.

"Now that the harder times have arrived CCC calls on the Government to leave its cash in the funds for the benefit of retired miners.

"That view still stands, but CCC has something to add, if the Trustees have no extra money to improve benefits, why does it not do it directly with some of its own windfall cash.

"Three suggestions to consider are firstly, a Christmas bonus for coal pensioners; secondly extend eligibility for payments to miners on low pensions; and thirdly, restore the Serious Ill Health Scheme in the Miners Pension Scheme."

Willie Clarke said: "I would be good if former miners added their support to the Coalfields Communities Campaign's bid to have increased benefits for Miners Pension holders.

"Why not contact your MP or write to the Department of Trade and Industry to get the message across."