Pickles talks his normal rubbish

Bizarre performance from Eric Pickles on BBC TV this morning. Constantly referring to refuse as what sounded like ‘refuge’. Also making an extremely poor pun with the comment, ‘we are treating people like adults and…… not like rubbish’, get it? clever – NOT!

Notice the sudden use of ‘we’ by Pickles in the last bit? Eric Pickles is constantly criticising local government, yet when it’s good news, in his opinion, it suddenly becomes we this and we that. Hypocrisy come so easily to this man, he probably doesn’t even realise he doing it. Actually, on second thoughts, he knows exactly what he’s doing, because he’s all about the soundbite.

Steppingstone Bridge Spalding

Minor progress of sorts on the lighting issue, although sadly no actual light at the end of the tunnel, because it still doesn’t work!  At least I now know that it is a waste of timing asking either Network Rail or LCC to fix it.

I received a letter from LCC today, giving me some information on the situation regarding the lack of a working light on the bridge.  It would seem that, despite being the county council and actually having responsiblity for the footpath that crosses the railway line via this bridge, LCC can’t get any more sense out of Network Rail than the rest of us.  It’s difficult to believe that a company that relies so heavily on public money for its survival, can be so arrogant when it comes to addressing the concerns of members of that public.

Below is a copy of the letter I received today along with one sent to John Hayes MP. 

Bottom line is, if I can find £3,500, the county council is willing to install and maintain lighting on the bridge.  I will now be seeking some support from other Spalding members at the next Spalding Town Forum.  This support could be by tapping in to the ward budgets, or maybe by seeking some help from the Spalding Power Station community fund.  Watch this space.

Labour trying to cash in on Forces good name?

As an ex-serviceman with 38 years service in the RAF, I am of course a service pensioner.  I was therefore very interested to read about the issue of service pension cuts being raised at the Labour Party conference in Liverpool.  Apparently, Labour delegates are very concerned that ex-service personnel are suffering a drop in their pensions because of the government’s decision to change the way rises in benefits are calculated.  The switch from RPI to CPI means that anybody receiving an index linked benefit, such as a public pension, will effectively be taking a cut in income year on year.

I of course have a vested interest in this subject and would be very pleased to see the link with the RPI restored.  However, why has Labour waited until their party conference to make a fuss about this?

Also, why is it only service pensions that they are so concerned about?  What about all the other public servants who are now, or soon will be, on a pension and are receiving a year on year cut in what may be their only source of income?

Could it be that the Labour Party is cynically seeking to cash in on the current high regard the military is enjoying in the public’s eye?  If there were no servicemen and women returning from Afganistan dead, or suffering from horrific and life changing injuries, would this item of even been discussed at the conference, let alone appeared on an agenda?

Equality is important, PC is just plain daft

Having made it taboo to talk of black sheep, black balling, or even black looks, we are now being told that witches hats should be pink and not black!

Also, apparently giving children white paper to use in the classroom, is also to be discouraged, as this too, has the potential to turn our children into racists.  No doubt if we gave the kids black paper and white ink, this would be wrong, because it would be putting white on top of black!  Where does this sort of mumbo jumbo stop?  We’re also told that teachers should lie to pupils when asked what their favourite colour is, by saying brown or black!  So, even if you don’t say that white is your favourite colour, saying it’s blue, could also make the kids racist.

Just as the homosexual community highjacked the word gay, making it wrong to use it in any other way than as decreed by the PC brigade, the colour black has been ring-fenced and claimed as only applicable to one thing – those that have skin that isn’t white, yellow or red.  I’m not going to get into a debate about whether anybody does in fact actually has genuinely black skin.

Having dealt with the witches, I suppose it’s only a matter  of time before the PC brigade turn their attention to the undertakers.  I wonder what colour they will want them to wear instead of black?  White’s no good, according to the PC brigade, that would send the same message as giving kids white paper to write on.  With pink taken by the witches, I supposes they’ll have to make do with a nice shade of purple.

Teenage shelter on the cards

Had a meeting with some local youngsters, a resident and PCSO Paul Coupland on Friday night. The discussions were about providing seating for the kids to use when they are meeting on the open space area at Avignon Road on Wygate Park.

The kids also asked about putting up a fence around the open space to stop footballs going into the road. Although Christine and I understood what they were getting at, we didn’t think it would be possible to provide a fence that would be both effective and acceptable to the residents who live around the open space area. We did however come up with a plan to provide the kids with a teenage shelter that would give them an area to sit together and chat. Richard Knock, our hard working grounds maintenance manager, has agreed to take on the job and get it put in as soon after we have picked the right one for the job.

Although we blew them out on the fence, we were able to give the kids an update on the open space that will be coming forward as part of the next Kier development site, along with the Taylor Wimpey site that has recently been submitted as a reserved matters planning application. This area will be big enough for people to kick a football around with upsetting residents and without balls going into peoples’ gardens every 5 minutes. We also hope to be able to provide a set of goal posts and, eventually, an area of play equipment suitable for the older kids.

Complainers have lost the plot

A somewhat bizarre story from Cardiff today, where apparently a speed camera is doing too good of a job, because the camera has only caught one driver in a year.

Am I missing something here? Aren’t speed cameras supposed to discourage drivers from speeding in the first place and not be used as a way of raising cash from them?

It strikes that those criticising this low hit rate have lost the plot and that instead of complaining about it, they should be celebrating the fact that there’s at least one speed camera in the country that is actually doing what it was designed for – discouraging speeding drivers. I can think of many villages in South Holland and many residents in my ward who would love to have such problem to complain about.

A failed Facebook posting


Interestingly, this anti-NPPF story coincides with the release of a briefing note on the Conservative Councillors’ Association website, that is intended to give Conservative councillors ammunition to defend the NPPF.
The CCA’s attempt to defend the indefensible, is ill judged to say the least. Trotting out the same junk as the ministers who spend much time beating up local government, on a site designed to support those involved iis local government, is at best ill conceived and at worst arrogant.
Whoever decided to do this, obviously has no experience the way planning works at the grassroots level that councillors have to deal with everyday, or how much more difficult the NPPF could make the job.

No win, no fee, no scruples

Watching weekend TV has me returning to one of my favourite hobby horses – no win, no fee lawyers. Today’s trigger is particularly galling, as it involves somebody who has built a reputation on helping the needy fight the system and over the last 25+ years, has become the champion of children through a telephone help line called Childline. Even worse is the cynical use of the same format Esther Rantzen used in her highly successful TV show, That’s Life.

Esther Rantzen is now the ‘front-woman’ for a personal injury claims company, in other words, a bunch of no win, no fee lawyers. There are several other household names fronting TV ads for these ambulance chasers, but none has quite the gravitas of somebody who has a national reputation as a champion of exploited consumers and abused children.

My message to Esther Rantzen CBE is simple. Please find a different way of earning a crust Esther, preferably one that doesn’t ruthlessly exploit your good name with the public and thereby bring in to question your scruples.

Developers say it’s not their fault

The link below is to the PAS website and continues the debate started by RIBA, on the issue of the shoebox homes we now provide in this country.

There is a very revealing comment from a building industry bigwig at the end of the article. Side stepping completely the accusation that his industry is indeed shoe horning families in to smaller and smaller dwellings at ever increasing prices, he points the finger at – you’ve guessed it, the planning system and then land availability followed by viability. What a sad reflection that is on the priorities of those who are supposed to be providing good quality homes for the British people.

As long as greedy landowners, who have done nothing other than get their piece of land designated as suitable for development via the planning system, are allowed to make millions from what was worth only thousands and developers willing to pay throughout the nose, we are always going to have this problem.

Given that government keeps telling us there’s virtually no land left for building on, now would be a perfect time to set in process a price control mechanism, combined with a minimum size and build quality standard for all future housing to follow. Indeed, if landowners tried to strangle off the supply in the hope that a change of government would see a return to the old ways of maximum price for minimum efforts, an updated version of the compulsory purchase process could be introduced to allow councils to acquire the land needed at a sensible price. I can just hear all the capitalist turning in their graves!


Lack of truth, or just a lack of understanding?

There’s an interesting convergence emerging in the amongst all the claims and counter-claims surrounding the NPPF consultation. The coming together is in respect of the comments made by John Howell, self-confessed author of the Tories Open Source Planning document and those made by the likes of Pickles and Clark, about what the term sustainable development actually means and how it came into being.

John Howell claims that the presumption in favour term was never meant to refer to individual planning applications, but only to development plans. The problem is, the NPPF refers to plans and decision making in the same sentence over and over again, lending a lie to John Howell’s claims.

Where the convergence comes, is in the claims being made, the latest in a speech today by Eric Pickles, that the presumption in favour of development has always been in the planning regulations in some form. However, dig down and you find that the presumption that has existed in the regulations, actually referred to land that had already been zoned, or identified as suitable for development. Put another way, it is land that is allocated, as in a local plan site allocations map.

So John Howell is right in that respect, the presumption was supposed to be all about plan making, not about individual applications. The problem seems to be, that those responsible for the NPPF, the so called wide ranging expert group, appear to have bastardised the presumption term into the catchall statement that is now causing us all so much angst.