Police will be forced to act if neighbours complain

RESIDENTS are to be given the power to force police to tackle anti-social behaviour and end the “horror stories” of communities blighted by nuisance neighbours, the Home Secretary will say today.
Theresa May will say that if five households complain about a repeated nuisance, the police and local authorities will be under a duty to investigate and devise a plan of action within a fortnight.

By Tom Whitehead Daily Telegraph 30 Jan 12

Whilst I applaud any proposal to require police and councils to take more seriously the issue of anti-social behaviour, there is a glaring loophole in these proposals. Not for the first time, a well meaning, but urban centric policy has completely ignored the rural dimension. Whilst it might be a no-brainer that a bunch of persistent yobs, will upset at least five separate households in a residential area, the same cannot be said for thousands of rural households. Drive around anywhere outside of our main towns and villages and you will see isolated homes, remote from any neighbour, let alone four others.

This new policy is very welcome, but like so many government policies in recent years, needs to be given far more thought and go through the apparently now forgotten process called ‘rural proofing’. The alternative, is numerous rural houses and hamlets of less that five houses, left to the mercies of the yobs driven out of urban areas by this new policy.

Who uses the word diddling these days??

‘Paying cash in hand is ‘diddling the country’, says HMRC’s Dave Hartnett’. I had to read this headline twice to make sure I hadn’t miss read the word diddling.

Diddling is the sort of word I would expect some cutesy 40 something female journalist to use when writing about the book keeper for the local WI being caught fiddling the petty cash. Mr Hartnett might be really good at counting beans, but his use of words indicates somebody seriously out of touch with the real world.

Trying to convince us that tackling the black economy (apologies to the PC Brigade for using a time honoured term), in the same week the boss of HSBC is given a £963,000 bonus for not being as crap as his predecessors and the Daily Telegraph prints a table of how HMG spends (squanders) our money, is a perfect piece of convergence. As such, it is certain to make Mr Dave ‘diddling’ Hartnett look like an even bigger plonker than he already does.

The Lords are clearly out of touch

I personally resent the efforts being made by certain parties in the House of Lords, to derail the proposal to cap the maximum level of benefits that can be claimed. Not because I resent people getting the money they need to live a descent life, but because of the suggestion that those who claim benefits somehow deserve a better standard of living than those who get their money by working. How can anybody argue the opposite, even a well-heeled, out of touch member of the House of Lords?

What is bad news and really does cause me concern, is that people will be required to give up their homes because they can no longer afford the rent. How have we got into a position whereby people are forced to chose between living and working in a city centre and only working in that city centre? Pricing the working classes out of city centres is called gentrification – a nice sounding name for such an uncivilised process.

Healthy residents bonus for town halls

Andrew Lansley, the Heath Secretary, will today announce the restoration of the link between councils and improving public health. Councils had historically been responsible for public health, until the NHS was reorganised in 1974. £5.2 billion for this will be ringfenced and councils will earn funding based upon how well they improve aspects such as air pollution, tooth decay and truancy. Daily Telegraph – 23/01/12.

It seems that, whatever the politics of the government, the policy of making local government beg for funding lives on. No doubt many councils will jump at the chance to grab this money, even though it is unlikely to be without both strings and a time limit on the funding offered. The strings can be coped with, but the funding time limit is the killer, as having put a service in place, especially one local taxpayers value, withdrawing a service comes with serious political fallout.

Of course county councils won’t be looking at the longer term fund issues when bidding for this cash because they will only see it as further justification for their continued existence. Their reason for ensuring that they take on as much work as possible, is to do with the increasing discussions that are taking place on the future of two tier local government. I’ve little doubt that this debate will become more and more heated as budgets shrink and the fight for survival becomes more and more desperate.

Myth that Britain cannot ban EU doctors, says commisioner

From an item in today’s Daily Telegraph, it would appear that somebody has, at last, called the bluff of those who love to trot out EU rules as being to blame for their own failings. The EU is big enough pain in the backside to us, without making things up.

“Britain is free to ban foreign doctors from working in this country if they do not speak adequate English or there are concerns over their medical ability, an EU Commissioner insists today.
It is a myth, he says, that Brussels rules are putting Britons at risk and the authorities in this country should be scrutinising potential employees to ensure they are suitable to work in the NHS.”

No win no fee earns H&S a bad press again!

The BBC’s One Show was taking a cheap shot last week, with an item on an ex WWII RAF Spitfire pilot. Apparently, the old boy wasn’t allowed to get in to a Spitfire that had been restored by a group of volunteers. The reason given for the prohibition was of course given as ‘health and safety concerns’, which of course was greeted by derisory comments from the one Show presenters, similar to those made in national newspapers earlier in the week.

Interestingly, the film clip they showed was edited to show the OAP first standing next to the cockpit and then, as if by magic, sitting in the aircraft. No doubt climbing in to the aircraft for the 90+ year old pensioner was not as quick or slick as the producer would of liked and no doubt had some potential health and safety implications, they didn’t want shown on early evening TV.

Trivialising health and safety concerns in this way, does nobody any good and completely ignores the aircraft owners genuine reasons for refusing the ex-RAF pilot’s request – the fear of being sued by a no win, no fee lawyer. Had this old gentleman come a cropper, either climbing in or climbing out of the Spitfire, do you think either he or his relative would of accepted it as just one of those things? Or would they have been on the phone to the first no win, no fee lawyer they found in the phone book? Even if they hadn’t initiated the legal action, there’s every possibility one of the numerous ambulance chasing firms, that advertise daily on day time TV, would probably have been on the phone to them!

As long as the no win, no fee legal system remains unchanged, people will continue to respond in this way to what would otherwise be a very straightforward request.

Shortfall of 450,000 primary school places

Figures have revealed that the English school system will need to provide more than 450,000 primary school places by September 2015. The LGA responded by calling for better forecasting methods for future demand to identify where the big increases are likely over five to 10 years.

This is particularly relevant for us in Spalding Wygate, given the county council’s proposal to extend extend Spalding Primary School. Shouldn’t the county council show more foresight and actually build the new school on Wygate Park rather than just extend an existing school that is already too big for its available parking area?