At last, somebody puts in print my own thoughts exactly

Copied from Sunday Telegraph 31 Dec 2017

Let those filling up drunk tanks pick up the tab by Daniel Hannan

Shakespeare, and most likely Falstaff – played above by Sir Antony Sher – would recognise modern-day attitudes to public drinking CREDIT: ROBBIE JACK/CORBIS
The announcement that “drunk tanks” may be rolled out across the UK has prompted amused headlines around the world. I’m afraid we have something of a global reputation when it comes to alcohol abuse. “This heavy-headed revel east and west makes us traduced and tax’d of other nations,” as the poet says. “They clepe us drunkards”.
In our own day, as in Shakespeare’s, we display an unusual attitude to inebriation. In most countries, being drunk in public is disgraceful. The notion that young Brits boast about how hammered they got the night before is met with incredulity in much of Europe.
But here’s the thing. Contrary to the impression you’d get from this week’s headlines – or, indeed, any headlines over the past decade – boozing is becoming less of a problem in the UK. Take any measure you like – binge drinking, overall consumption, alcohol-related crimes. All are in decline.
Why? Partly because, in November 2005, we ended the rule that forced pubs to stop serving at 11pm. It was controversial at the time. The tabloids prophesied societal collapse. The Daily Mail warned against “unbridled hedonism, with all the ghastly consequences that will follow.” The Sun foresaw a “swarm of drunken youngsters.” The Royal College of Physicians predicted “more excess and binge drinking, especially among young people.”
In the event, the opposite happened. Binge drinking among 16 to 24-year- olds sank from 29 to 18 per cent. Overall alcohol sales declined by 17 per cent. Alcohol-related hospital admissions fell sharply. It turned out that forcing drinkers to beat the bell, racing to get a final pint in at last orders, was not a sensible way to discourage consumption. Giving people more responsibility, on the other hand, encouraged them to behave more responsibly.
I suspect the creation of innumerable virtual universes over the past decade has also played its part. Although parents complain about how much time their children spend on screens, that is time that previous generations often spent on more directly harmful addictions. The rise of online gaming and social media has probably also played a part in the reduction of teen pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases – two other developments that bear little relation to popular worries.
The increased use of police facilities or dedicated buses as places where drunks can dry out should be seen for what it is. Not as a response to some new epidemic of crapulous misbehaviour, but as a sensible way of ensuring that A & E facilities are there for the genuinely ill and injured. Being drunk, after all, is not a disease, but a consequence of choices. It is quite wrong to load the cost onto the taxpayer. The people filling the drunk tanks should be presented with the bill for their stay after they sober up.
The Englishman may, as Shakespeare put it, drink with facility the Dane dead drunk, and sweat not to overthrow the Almain. The least he can do is pick up his tab.

This reply belongs in the toilet

Having tried numerous times to log in to the newspaper website, so that I can respond to this letter, I’ve given up and resorted to my blog page. Although very few, if any, will read this compared to the letters page of the local paper, it will at least get it off of my chest and if nothing else, this website does let me log-in!

In truth, Mr Turps letter is so lacking in substance and so full of bile, it’s almost impossible to come up with a newspaper response, that isn’t equally bile ridden. However, as this is my blog and I can say pretty much what I like, bile ridden included, so here goes.

From the outset, I really didn’t get the, ‘the most stupid replies’ bit. Clearly this gentleman started off unhappy with my response and went on to build up a head of steam to the point of becoming slightly irrational in his arguments.

He offered some clearly insincere regret, for the verbal and sometimes physical abuse the staff suffer, by saying, “which, if true, is very regrettable”. He then goes to display a clear lack of understanding of what the problem is, by claiming that it’s all about ‘the management’ and finishes by telling me to ‘get out of the way’. Out of the way of what, to allow what to happen exactly?.

If it’s about anything, other than the totally unacceptable behaviour of a minority of users, it’s about closer supervision of the task and that will always be a major challenge with such a small street cleansing team, that is trying its best.

In conclusion, Mr Turps’s letter is, “One of the most stupid replies I’ve ever read!”.

Any chance UKIP can deliver anything locally?

I thought it might be useful to repeat the article below, copied from a Lincolnshire Echo online article. Obviously, all those who voted UKIP last Thursday, either didn’t read this sort of information, or they simply didn’t care enough about the issues referred to, compared to the national ones being pursued by UKIP. I’m not seeking to criticise those who voted UKIP, but rather use it to emphasise the anger and frustration with David Cameron’s policies, I experienced from people, whilst out campaigning.

Knowing how unhappy people are with what’s going on nationally and adding this to the local issues that have resulted from the EU’s open door policy, it’s hardly surprising that UKIP did so well, whilst making little or no effort. Despite all the assurances that politicians offer when confronted by the public on an issue, be it letters, petitions, or even protest marches, the only time they ever seem to really act, is when they get caned at the ballot box. Is it any wonder then that, despite being asked to only vote on local issues in local elections, voters take the only course of action that seems to work, the protest vote?

Conservative candidates used the track record of the Conservative controlled county council, on LOCAL issues, as the basis for their campaigning – naively it would now seem, at least in this part of Lincolnshire. Meanwhile, nationally, UKIP were attacking David Cameron’s more unpopular policies, many of them easy targets: *An EU referendum, but only if you vote him back in 2015. *Control of immigration (but not from within the EU). *Ring fencing the overseas aid budget and even increasing it, despite almost every other budget being cut and further cuts to come. *Pushing gay marriage through, even when it wasn’t in the Party’s General Election manifesto.

This allowed local UKIP candidates to jump on the national issues bandwagon, whilst doing virtually nothing locally, apart from promise to fill every pothole in Lincolnshire, but without saying where they would get the money from. Speaking to people in the Spalding South Division after the election, it seems that only myself and the incumbent Independent candidate, bothered to communicate with the vast majority of them in any way. It would seem that the winning UKIP candidate simply sat back and relied on the national campaign to do his work for him.

More locally, people are angry and frustrated by the results of being members of the EU and the high levels of East European migrant workers in South Lincolnshire, that has resulted from this. UKIP have ruthlessly exploited these concerns, but have not made clear how they would change things – because, in reality, they can’t.

Fortunately, the Conservatives are still the largest party on the county council and will now be seeking an alliance with one of the smaller grouping, in order to form a controlling group. I’m pretty sure this will not be UKIP. I sincerely hope, for the sake of the residents they now represent, the UKIP councillors stick to addressing local issues and seeking local solutions. However, the alternative is more likely. That they will waste everybody’s time, by acting as local mouthpieces for UKIP’s national agenda.

Tough choices lie ahead for councillors – Thursday, April 25, 2013

THE Lincolnshire County Council elections are just days away – and the new intake will have to contend with a whole raft of difficult issues. From crumbling roads and care provision to the future of libraries and coping with cuts, the situation will be complex. Here, we examine the key areas…

There is one subject which hits the headlines time and time again – in Lincolnshire and that is roads. From calls for new ones to the need to repair old ones, Our transport network is rarely out of the news. And incoming councillors at County Hall will pick up the baton on two ongoing, key subjects: the eastern bypass and potholes. It has been suggested that work on the eagerly-anticipated eastern bypass could begin in 2014, but the multi-million pound scheme still needs the nod from central government.
A number of county councillors have raised concerns over whether the building of the much-needed relief road will ever happen. Residents will hope inevitably be hoping that the new council will forge ahead with the project as a priority.
In addition, members will inherit the on-going pothole repair project.
Our roads are among the very worst in the country and it was revealed last summer that 80 per cent of highways were in need of repair. The county council received £6 million for essential road maintenance in Lincolnshire in December 2012. The Department for Transport gave the local authority the extra funding to be spent over the next two years on renewing, repairing and extending the life of roads across the county. Our next council will need to quickly prioritise road repairs because, as welcome as the money is, it will not go that far in such a vast county as Lincolnshire.

Of all the new council’s responsibilities, its Plans for social services will inevitably evoke the most garner huge attention. When they take to their seats in the council chamber, the new members assume responsibility for thousands of the most vulnerable adults and children in our county.
Yet with that role comes the constraints of an ever-decreasing budget and an ever-increasing demand for services.
Earlier this year, the Echo reported how children’s services face significant financial challenges, despite saving more than £22 million since 2011. Further savings of £3.9 million will need to be made by 2015. This comes after central Government announced a reduction to the Early Intervention Grant and the Local Authority Central Spend Equivalent Grant following school conversions to academy status. In addition, the way in which care for vulnerable adults is organised cannot be sustained, according to a report by finance bosses.
Despite making predicted savings of £9.5 million in 2012/13, further significant savings must be made. Council cash bosses said that ‘a complete transformation is required’.
The council introduced a personal budget system for buying care in its last term. While this was generally welcomed by users of children’s services, it proved unpopular with the families of some vulnerable adults. The new members will need to make brave decisions about how they balance the need for robust support services with reductions in funding.

The subject of day centres has been a sore point for thousands across Lincolnshire for almost two years now. Lincolnshire County Council decided to close the 31 authority-led centres in the county in 2011. But joint petitions, with more than 8,000 signatures opposing the plans, saw the council changes its mind and give the centres two years of support, starting in March, 2012. But it has been announced seven day centres are already set to close.
While the authority desperately searches for ways of saving millions of pounds from its budget, there remains a fundamental need for quality services for adults with physical and learning disabilities. The closure of some day centres has caused uproar in some places, among users and politicians. Inevitably, there will be hundreds of families across the county who wait with baited breath to see how the new council will progress on this highly controversial subject.

While doctors, nurses and 999 teams are at the coalface of the NHS in Lincolnshire, elected county councillors actually play a crucial behind-the-scenes role.
One major job of the new councillors will be to act as a watchdog, calling into account decisions by health bosses and scrutinising standards of care. There are currently two significant issues which the incoming council will inevitably face. Firstly is a controversial drive by our ambulance service, EMAS, to restructure where crews are based, reducing the amount of stations in Lincolnshire.
The council had grave concerns about the plans during its last term and had even muted the idea of a new Lincolnshire-only service. This issue is likely to return to the fore at some point after the election.
Secondly, the new council will have to deal with the fall-out from the public inquiry, which named and shamed Lincolnshire hospitals for its high death rates.
The elected members will have a responsibility to scrutinise the local NHS and make sure we are receiving the best possible services as since April 1 local authorities have a new statutory duty to take steps to improve the health of those in our communities.

The age of austerity has seen councils make cuts across the board.
Lincolnshire County Council has already taken £25m from its financial reserves over two years to cover some of the funding cuts imposed central government. Changes to grants and funding from the Government are unlikely to improve the situation and leisure and recreation could be one area which suffers particularly badly going forward – as it is often seen less vital than social care, fire and transport where cuts could put lives at risk. In the past three years, grants to leisure and recreation facilities have been cut from scores of sites in Lincolnshire.

The age of austerity has seen councils make cuts across the board. Lincolnshire County Council has already taken £25m from its financial reserves over two years to cover some of the funding cuts imposed central government.
Changes to grants and funding from the Government are unlikely to improve the situation and leisure and recreation could be one area which suffers particularly badly going forward – as it is often seen less vital than social care, fire and transport where cuts could put lives at risk.
In the past three years, grants to leisure and recreation facilities have been cut from scores of sites in Lincolnshire.

For many of us, libraries are a perfect venue to unwind and learn.
But as the country looks for ways to trim the national deficit, libraries become a prime target – not least because user numbers are falling. More than £2 million was cut from the library service in Lincolnshire last year and more could follow.
The future of mobile libraries are under threat and book loans to schools have been abolished.
Lincolnshire County Council has been involved in community efforts to save local libraries, such as the one on Saxilby which has moved from its previous dedicated library building to the village social club. More funding for libraries is unlikely to be made available in the next term of the council.

The future of rubbish tips was a huge talking point in 2012 and could well be on the agenda for Lincolnshire’s new county councillors.
As the council’s budget shrinks, councillors could find themselves discussing the possibility of tip closures. Following strong petitions last year, recycling centres in Whisby and Leadenham were saved from the axe. But opening hours at Lincolnshire’s 13 rubbish tips were trimmed as a result.
Meanwhile, there has been much controversy around the county’s reported £110 million “energy-from-waste” plant in North Hykeham.

The county council is the Fire Authority and has responsibility for the efficient provision of Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue. Perhaps the biggest challenge will be managing major cuts in Government funding. According to a report published last month, The Local Government Association estimates that by 2017/18 fire authorities across the country will have £600 million less in the coffers. It claims services will have 30 per cent less to spend in 2017/18 than now.

Time for CPE to broaden its horizons?

untitled-1Now that the county council has taken over the regulation of on street parking, law and order has been restored to our town centre, with shoppers and visitors finding it easier to stop to make a quick visit to a local shop or office.

The Civil Parking Enforcement (CPE) officers now know where the hot spots are and are able to target these to great effect. One might even suggest that few of these offences take place before 8.45, or between 2.30 and 3 pm on any given day. Given their effectiveness at restoring order to the ‘wild west’ that was Spalding town centre, I wonder if the powers that be would consider widening the remit of CPE in order to restore some order to the streets around our schools?

Typical school safety zone

Typical school safety zone

As any highway’s officer or traffic cop will tell you, Spalding isn’t unique when it comes to stories of bad behaviour by car driving parents on streets around our local schools. Until now, the police have been the only ones with the powers to deal with these miscreants. Given the lack of police resources, the likelihood of a cry of, ‘you’re nicked!’, being heard outside of any school gate, is virtually nil. However, with the advent of CPE, we now have the potential to address this problem, thereby reducing the misery suffered by residents living in the streets surrounding our schools.

yellow-zig-zag-lines Most of our schools now have yellow zigzag lines on the road outside their front entrance. Whilst this seems to do the job of keeping these areas clear at the required times, it also has the knock on effect of pushing bad parking behaviour into surrounding streets.

images 4I’m not suggesting that we should now be scarring every side street, around every school, with double yellow lines – as well as being an eyesore, that would make life even more difficult for residents. However, I do believe that it should be possible to make effective use of CPE to enforce some of the existing rules on the parking of vehicles on the public highway. Parking across a driveway where there’s a dropped kerb is an offence, as is parking with 10mts of a junction in most instances.

Once a few tickets have been issued outside of a number of schools and over a period of time, word will soon get around that the parking enforcers have widened their horizons and that it’s time for car driving parents to start behaving themselves.

Modified car enthusiasts bite back

Several responses to my post on the fallout following the modified car meeting, none of them very happy with my comments. One of them, was a well balanced and passionate plea for a better understanding of those who genuinely enjoy modifying their cars.

Another took the time to criticise my poor grammar, but offered little else. The third one suggested that I should have, or is it of?, been criticising the police for allowing the meeting to go ahead.

Having stirred up these enthusiasts, I suppose I should at least apologise for some of my more sweeping statements and also for classifying them all universally as boy and girl racers. However, I hope they will in turn accept that they were bound to stir up a s**t storm of protest by doing what they did in the first place – taking over a town centre car park without any form of permission.

I was going to suggest that if this had been a rally for mobility scooter enthusiasts, the response would have been very different. However, thinking about the bad behaviour of many of these people on our streets and footpaths, I’m not so sure. So let’s use mothers showing off their baby buggies as the example. Whilst the owners of the car park may have been slightly miffed at the uninvited takeover, the general public would probably have responded by saying, what’s the harm?

Unfortunately for the modified car enthusiasts, they come with a significant amount of baggage when it comes to public perception. Not least the belief of non-enthusiasts, such as myself, that they are all boy and girl racers at heart. Right or wrong, the simple act of congregating in a town centre location, to display the most obvious badge of the boy and girl racer fraternity – the soup-up motor car – was always going to create a negative response from the general population.

Can I therefore suggest that in future, if modified car enthusiasts don’t want to be pilloried in the local press again and see all the good stuff they do for charity ignored, they don’t takeover town centre car parks without notice. Also, if the local press is to be believed, it would also appear that a lot of litter was left behind, a particular bug-bear of mine and something that definitely winds me up.

It would also be nice if they could convince the less socially responsible boy and girl racer element of the modified car enthusiast brigade, to stop peeing off the rest of us!

Modified car rally – the acceptable face of boy and girl racers?

Outrage at car park takeover by modified car meet, followed by outrage at biased and unfair treatment of modified car owners meet in local press!

Those outraged modified car owners seem to have conveniently forgotten that they didn’t have any sort of permission to takeover the private car park they invaded for their meeting. They’ve also ignored the fact that those people who are unhappy about this coming together, we’re not really expressing their unhappiness at the car park takeover, but much more about the anti-social behaviour they have experienced involving modified car drivers – generally known as boy racers and more recently, girl racers.

I would also of been very interested to see how many of these vehicles were sporting the illegal number plates so many of these car drivers seem to treasure – or is that yet another illegal act they consider to be okay?

If these car enthusiasts really want to improve their reputation with the general population and not continue to be seen as anti-social yobs, then I suggest they clean up their act and encourage the bad eggs amongst their ranks to stop wheel spinning and speeding around our local streets and car parks at any opportunity they get.

If there are any modified car drivers reading this and muttering about the many being condemned by the behaviour of the few – tough. If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck and paddles about in water, then it’s probably a duck!

P.S. – While you’re at it, see if you can get our local Royal Mail van drivers to act more responsibly when driving around our local streets

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.