Local Government and Public Health

Some of my councillor colleagues told me that they weren’t interested in attending yesterday’s workshop on public health, because ‘it was a county council problem’. The county council are the ones with all the resources and have been involved with public health for the last few years, but that doesn’t mean districts will be able to leave them to it – the game has changed it seems.

The first speaker at Tuesday’s event was from the Strategic Health Authority. According to the programme, after this presentation, ‘Members will better understand the government objectives through the health reform policy…’. Well, I must of missed the bit where that became clear. I now now know how my fellow councillors feel, when I’m trying to explain the technicalities of our planning policy!

What I did understand, was that the current system is fiendishly complicated. It has lots of people with wonderful job titles like, Clinical Commissioning Group Chairman and enough acronyms to fill a a decent sized book. Some of these acronyms describe the various boards, panels, groups, herds, gaggles and flocks, these people attend to wring their hands over issues such as, how fat we are all becoming.

Britain used to be the sick man of Europe, now, apparently, we are the obese man of Europe. Well if the footballers and tennis players can’t do it, at least us fatties are stepping up to the mark to claim first place in something.

The new system, that local government will be wrestling with, appears to be as equally fiendish in its complexity and bewildering terminology. The only difference will be, that instead of the NHS being the ones getting the blame for us all eating, drinking and smoking too much, it will be local government.

A spokeswoman from the Local Government Association then gave us a presentation, promoting the opportunities the new responsibilities will offer local government – opportunites? She told the audience, that local government was extremely keen to take on these new responsibilities, offering confirmation by telling us that, ‘no council had said no thanks, we’ve already got too much on our plates’. Cynic that I am, I suggested that saying no, at a time when local government was being subjected to a form of genocide by central government, would be like turkeys voting for Christmas.

Of course unitary and upper tier (county) councils would say yes please, we can do that. It will help them justify their continued existence. It also gives them a further opportunity to claim that they are essential, whilst district councils are an unneccesary expense that should be scrapped. Maybe they’re right, time will tell and that time could be sooner than many of us think.

Stealing the food from our mouths

Despite having created the name Gambba-Jones in 1992, by combining our family surname and a part of my wife’s grandfather’s family name, it seems we are not alone. As well as Linda, myself and our two grown-up kids, there now appears to be as many as five more in the area – or maybe not.

On Sunday we went out for lunch with five friends. Curiously, when we got to the restaurant a family group, complete with a not particularly adorable baby – very noisy – had arrived shortly before us and claimed to be us. This was done by pointing to our name on the booking sheet and saying, ‘that’s us’. From that point on, or at least until we arrived, they were the Gambba-Jones party. Unfortunately, for the restaurant owner, our arrival and reclaiming of the name did not ring any alarm bells for and the interlopers were not confronted.

Having enjoyed an excellent lunch we asked for the bill, it was at this point the real reason for earlier identity theft was revealed. Apparently, the counterfeit Gambba-Jones’s had, little by little, drifted away leaving their bill unpaid. First the woman left with the baby, claiming it needed changing. This was followed by a further two members of the party going outside, ‘for a smoke’. The remainders then just slipped away, without the staff realising that all of the cuckoos had now flown the nest.

A warning for all those providing services up front and before any payment is received, if you get a customer, or customers, claiming to be each other, check it out!

More changes to the planning system

Released under the relatively innocuous title, ‘Next steps to improve the planning system and support sustainable development’, there are some potential time bombs for those of us in rural areas. Reuse of agricultural buildings, “without the need for planning permission”. I wonder what horror stories that will produce for us to end up enforcing against?

The measures include:

Making it easier to re-use existing agricultural, retail and commercial buildings, such as offices and warehouses, without the need to submit a planning application, supporting small business growth.

A consultation is being published on changes to the Use Classes Order, which determines the flexibility with which such buildings can be re-used.

The consultation also proposes allowing so called ‘meanwhile’ or temporary uses of certain buildings to open up premises to new businesses and to bring redundant buildings back into use, in line with recommendations in the Portas Review.

An increase in the planning fees is welcome, as the service has always been subsidised by the general,fund i.e. all of the district’s taxpayers. However, will any of the increase in fees actually reach the service itself, or will it all end up in the corporate coffers?

Waste & Recycling Services in South Holland – a 60 second survey

Another false start survey from me via Twitter, for the same reasons as the last one – DOH!

These are my questions by the way and nothing to do with anything the district council is currently considering. Thank you in advance for taking the time to complete this 60 second survey.


What’s concerning you? A 60 second survey

I tried this via Twitter, but of course it soon disappears down the list of tweets you’ve received, so let’s try again.  A quick survey to find out what issues are of concern to residents.  For example, are you concerend about council cuts? Thank you in adavance for taking the time to complete it.