National, regional and local government need to act!
Predictably my Common-Sense Manifesto in the last issue resulted in a huge response, most of it supportive. Since then we have heard George Osborne’s spending review, announcing another £11.5 billion pounds worth of cuts, but instead of surreptitiously closing local amenities our politicians at every level (including councillors) should be cutting out the huge sums of money they waste both on themselves and their pet projects.
We do not need them to duplicate the private sector. We need and want good schools, excellent healthcare, our roads maintained and the basic services provided by the state, no more and no less. The Corwen/Llangollen Partnership of which I was a member fought and gained 10 free car parking spaces for the local medical centre, but what happened next typifies the huge waste of money and resources that councils of all colours seem to indulge in. You or I would have erected one sign in the centre with arrows left and right stating that these 10 spaces were free to patients visiting the doctors, but not Denbighshire County Council, they erected 10 posts with 10 signs.
I didn’t go to public school and only had what was once called a State Secondary School, but I learnt the common sense that most citizens did and part of that was to look at every job to see if a cheaper or simple solution to any problem was feasible. I grew up during the war rationing with the same ‘make do and mend’ mentality that my generation and those previously thought was normal. Back then we concentrated on the necessities of life and, apart from a mortgage, most people did not have access to credit. There were no social services or benefits. State services were there to provide the basic services like water, electricity and road maintenance. In no way am I calling for a halt to progress, providing we receive either improved services or through greater efficiency lower rates and taxes.
We now live in an age where I cannot ask an employee to change a light bulb unless they have had ladder training or pick up a box without manual handling training. I don’t remember us requiring special training for everyday issues. Most of us survived and didn’t stand in a bucket of water when fitting an electrical plug as it was just common sense!
Wherever I drive, I am amazed at the plethora of signage. Why do we need pre-warning signs for speed limits? I know the simple rule that the more white paint there is on the road the more careful you should be but is there really a need for so many warning and informational signs? Surely we just risk distracting drivers? I know if a vehicle has sirens and blue flashing lights that it is an emergency and I should pull over. I simply do not need a back-to-front ‘ambulance’ sign for my rear-view mirror!
I do not want to be given 12 automated options when some council office deigns to answer the phone. I want a human being who can direct me to the right person. Is it a sign of age that makes one start to question what is happening around you?
Health and Safety is the scourge of any small business. Environmental Health is the nightmare of supermarkets and hotels that they target because officers know they will get cooperation, whereas a back street curry house serving cat and dog will be a nightmare to deal with so they avoid them. Is it that I am growing more cynical with every passing year or are our beloved civil servants (who are not often civil and certainly do not display a servile manner) getting carried away with the minutiae of the law rather than the spirit in which it was drafted?
How is it that we are unable to deport a convicted Somali rapist, yet can do so with an Australian citizen whose only crime was to protest during the Annual Boat Race? (Which incidentally I find boring as only Oxford or Cambridge ever win it!) Why does someone who is a drug addict get a council home and benefits while not working? If you haven’t seen the excellent comedy series The Big Job you need to watch it as it looks uncannily like a true reflection of what goes on much as Yes Minister did.
Well, at least I have an outlet for my personal views and I hope, at least in part, they reflect those of the millions of other hard-working people out there including you.
Just like the word ‘love’, the word ‘friend’ is much abused. Get yourself on Facebook and you can accumulate hundreds of ‘friends’, most of whom you have never met and would dislike if you ever did! Just as we loosely use the word ‘love’ – I love that song, I love a suntan, I love my mum, I love my partner, I love my dog etc, all definitions cannot be equal and in fact trivialise the word.
I have often been asked: ‘How do you know when you are in love?’ and the answer is... you just know. All too often we jump into relationships and during the first few months confuse infatuation and sexual desire with love, it is only after the initial adrenaline rush that you truly know. A good question to ask is: ‘Am I a lot happier when in the company of this person than when I am not?’ All too often people find out that the answer is ‘No’, however due to being tied by joint financial obligations or children, the answer has come far too late.
The Great Bank Robbery
Bank executives gambled with our money in the pursuit of huge rewards. They lost their bets and billions of pounds of our money – and they have been awarded huge bonuses again. Everyone is asking how could such an unjust outcome be allowed. By our editor Stephanie Booth
In the USA, lenders found a clever wheeze. They gave mortgages to vast numbers of poor people with very small repayments (many did not bother reading through reams of terms and conditions) but found after the first three years the repayments increased dramatically and they could not repay them. At the same time, these lenders sold the mortgages wrapped up with other assets (called Consolidated Debt Obligations) onto big banks including UK ones. Our banks did not know what was in these debt packages, but what they did know was they were buying them at a great discount.
In every survey the majority of UK citizens want more daylight in the evening rather than in the morning – all but Scottish farmers that is. Now Scotland wants independence (which is absolutely fi ne) but can’t we leave them with GMT and we move in line with our continental neighbours?
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