Thursday 10th January 2008

11:54 pm

Brian Paddick need

11:46 pm

Poor Peter Hain - More Labour Sleaze

Gravatar It must be tough, having to do a Minister's job and comply with the law. Really I think not. Apparently the "distraction" Peter Hain's Ministerial duties meant he didn't declare £103,000 of donations to his deputy leadership campaign. Utter nonsense. We're talking about 17 donations here, the value doesn't complicate the reporting process, local party treasurers up an down the country, many of whom have jobs (shock) manage this sort of thing ever month. Secondly, nearly £70k of these donations came after he'd finished 5th in the race, and he had to pick up the phone to rich friends to ...
11:39 pm

Christmas 2007 and New Year 2008.

Gravatar A wonderful break, but back to reality. For those who haven't made a New Year's resolution - here is a practical one to get on with now! When John switched his computer back on he found the hard drive had collapsed (whatever that means), and yes, you've guessed it - it wasn't backed up, so a lot of information has been lost. One of the nice things about Christmas is the time that there is to...
10:58 pm

Community Partnership

Gravatar Off to Longfield School this evening for the North Road Community Partnership. A smaller than usual turnout, which was a shame since we were treated to a visit by not one, not two, not three but four members of Durham Constabulary's finest. Indeed, had they known, the local ne'er do wells could have had the run of the ward. The presence of two police officers and two PCSOs led to an interesting
10:51 pm

An offer from the government too good for any councillor to refuse

Gravatar Malcolm Wicks, the energy minister, was on Newsnight tonight talking about the nuclear issues, and came up with an astonishing statement that almost stopped Jeremy Paxman in his tracks. In response to Paxman's question as to where all the nuclear waste would be stored, Malcolm Wicks replied "We are seeking volunteer communities to come forward and indicate that they would be prepared to become nuclear storage sites" Well, what an offer. I bet there are councillors all across the country tight now writing motions to put before their council's demanding that their area's become a nuclear storage site.
10:40 pm

ITV's Echo Beach is a joke

10:22 pm

Tedious spin

Gravatar James Graham and Jonathan Calder are worth a read on the forthcoming Clegg speech on schools/public services. I agree with James' verdict of "yaaaawn" regarding all the spin about this in the Guardian.
10:14 pm

The Daily Show on the New Hampshire primary

Gravatar After some hard slog on the by-election campaign trail, I enjoyed The Daily Show with Jon Stewart tonight. Yes, he's back without script writers. Seems just as good, if not better. Anyway, Stewart was in good form with his "Indecision 2008" on the New Hampshire primary. It's worth a view - below. He interviewed John Zogby about how the pollsters got it so wrong. I thought Zogby put a brave face
10:08 pm

The Association of European Journalists

Gravatar The UK Section of the Association of European Journalists (AEJ) held its AGM at the London offices of the European Parliament this evening, followed by finger food and drinks at a nearby hostelry. I first joined the AEJ (Belgian Section) way back in 1974, when I was in Brussels for Reuters, and have long savoured [...]
9:53 pm

ITV London mayoral debate: open thread

Gravatar The London mayoral contest is hotting up, and tonight ITV1 broadcasts a debate at 11.05 pm (London only; or Sky channel 993), with Lib Dem contender Brian Paddick, and the Tory and Labour candidates, Boris Johnson and Ken Livingstone. The London Evening Standard previews the debate here, reporting that: Brian Paddick looked and sounded the part. [...]
9:52 pm

Hain must go

Gravatar It was a muddle not a fiddle which did for Henry McLeish's career as Scotland's First Minister. I suspect the same is going to be true for Work and Pensions Secretary Peter Hain. The news that he failed to register with the Electoral Commission donations totalling £103,000 for his failed bid to be deputy leader of the Labour Party is astonishing. When it first emerged that Hain had been having problems with his declarations, it appeared to be an isolated example. I suspect many people thought he was just unlucky and were prepared to let the matter drop. However, he ...
9:50 pm

Transition Bath, Two Tunnels

Gravatar A cluster of subjects todayl The Transition Movement is starting to grow rapidly now with Transition Towns, Cities, Villages and Communities springing up all over the place. Transition is all about life on earth after Peak Oil. Peak Oil is roughly now and transition makes the assumption that society must start adjusting now to a future where oil is scarce and expensive and so we will...
9:50 pm

Only in America

Gravatar Another bizarre story from across the pond. This one sounds like something from a sitcom.
9:27 pm

Clegg in the press

Gravatar Hard to escape Nick Clegg in the media today: hes everywhere. Heres a selection An audio interview with The Guardians Jon Dennis following his PMQs debut here - apparently Nick has always enjoyed PMQs. (Perhaps Lynne Featherstone should have a word.) Theres a Q&A with Nick with The Guardians Patrick Barkham here - including why [...]
9:24 pm

New nukes No thanks

Gravatar Today's announcement that the Labour Government wishes to see a new generation of nuclear power stations built in the UK comes as no surprise. Indeed, they have announced their support for nuclear power before, but were forced by the courts to carry out another consultation on the issue as the first was was so flawed. Amazingly enough, their new 'consultation' has reached exactly the same conclusions as their first. But no matter how many times they announce it, it's still the wrong decision. As Chris Huhne said during the leadership election, nuclear power is a technology which has been tried ...
9:09 pm

Get real Alistair Stewart

Gravatar So tonight is the going to be the first television debate between the 3 main candidates for London mayor. I watched a bit the news coverage on the tabloid programme they call London Tonight. After, and sometimes before, the actual reporting the presenters like to have a little chat and add their two pennies worth about all the news stories. Most of the actual news report was dominated between
8:44 pm

Shred your tree this Saturday!

Gravatar You can take your Xmas tree to the South Gloucestershire Community Composting site at Shire Way Community Centre this Saturday (Jan 12th) between 10.00 and 12.00 am. They will shred it for you for a cost of £1, and you get a free bag of wood chips. You can also take ordinary green garden waste there (free) and you can buy some very good compost or logs. You can find out more about the Community Composting Project here.
8:20 pm

Rise of the Robots

Gravatar A friend pointed me at a short story a while ago describing the rise of AI and robotization in two countries, the USA and Australia. In the USA, the robots forced everyone to work in shittier and shittier jobs, finally replacing the automaton-like humans at the bottom with robots, and tossing all of the poor people into, effectively, a prison. In Australia, the robots were harnessed for good - every person was freed from having to work, because each person was awarded enough energy credits to buy enough food, shelter and warmth to live comfortably. Thus, people devoted their time ...
8:20 pm


Gravatar People are moaning about ticket resellers again, to which I have to say: naff off, it's the sodding market at work. If artists wanted to make more money from their tickets then guess what They should charge more in the first place. The problem is that most ticketing systems charge a flat rate to everyone on a first-come first-served basis, whereas there are some people who would be happy to pay more for those tickets, but don't win the time-based lottery, and thus will pay more than the face value of the ticket. This incentivizes people to buy up what ...
8:06 pm

In which league table is Britain level with Russia, China, The USA, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore

Gravatar Unfortunately the league table mentioned in the title is not one that shows economic growth, not life expectancy or even per capita income. No, the sad state of affairs is that the league table that puts Britain level, at the bottom, with those states mentioned in the title of this posting, is the one that list endemic surveillance societies. It comes to something that we are listed alongside Russia, China and the US, which has the abysmal affront to civil liberties called "The Patriot Act". Mr Eugenidies, from whom I found this story write about it really well HERE.
7:20 pm

Where Scotland leads England should follow - Local elections should be important

Gravatar The headline is not just about an English Parliament which I support and would prefer to regional government, but about today's announcement from the Scottish Parliament that Holyrood wants to "decouple" national and local elections. The last three general elections have been held on the same day as County elections in England which has resulted in local election results having far more to do with national issues rather than local ones. In Norfolk, people should be voting for Norfolk County Council based on what they have done and achieved, or because they are voting personally for a particular candidate. However ...
7:12 pm

You dont curb MPs salaries by taking the decision out of their hands

Gravatar Harriet Harman has announced that MPs might lose the right to vote on their own salaries and conditions in the future. She is right in one thing, that the public do not like the fact that MPs vote on their own salaries, but scrapping their right to do it will not give them a [...]
7:12 pm

Pick up a Penguin

Gravatar I very rarely blog about what's going on in the South-West. However, I've spent the whole week blogging exclusively on Westminster politics and political/social policy. If you live in London you may have already visited this exhibition in the V&A museum in 2005, but if you haven't and you're fascinated with books, history and design don't hesitate to visit The Holbourne Museum in Bath, where 'Seventy Years of Penguin Design' is being displayed until 24th March. Apparently Allen Lane came up with the idea of affordable classics when he was searching for fiction at Exeter train station in Devon and ...
7:09 pm

Refurbishment of Moore Street Toilets to get under way

Gravatar Work will begin week commencing 14 January 2008 on the refurbishment of Moore Street Toilets in Redcar. As part of the scheme, the toilet cubicles will be reduced to 50% of the current number (as this toilet block was constructed before the additional Bandstand Toilets and are never fully occupied). This will help reduce the potential for future vandalism and maintenance costs. The refurbishment work will include improved facilities to meet the current Disability Discrimination Act requirements. It is anticipated that the external disabled facility will be ready for Easter 2008 with a completion target date of April 2008 for ...
6:56 pm

Was it really sensible for the Government to sell off Westinghouse

Gravatar For all those who do not know, Westinghouse are one of the world's leaders in Nuclear Power technology, both as a designer and builder of nuclear reactors and nuclear power stations. And they were British. However, if the government have their way, they won't be for much longer. From 2005 the government was been obsessed with selling Westinghouse, currently part of British Nuclear Fuels Limited (BNFL), of to a foreign owner. The delays and initial announcement that the UK was considering a Nuclear future saw the price of the sell of rise from £555 million to £2.8 billion in only ...
6:55 pm

Increasing voter turnout the democratic way....

Gravatar This really interesting posting from a Clinton activist (thanks to Duncan for having the feed on his website) goes to prove that the most exciting thing about this Us nomination race is the impact that the diversity of the candidates is having on hard to reach or never reached before voters! According to NewHampster out of the 10,000 votes polled where she was campaigning that day 1,000 were registrations on the dayand from her experience of being on the ground these were mainly women. Not women who had switched from Clinton to Obama and back again at the first sight ...
6:37 pm

A big thank you

Gravatar I would like to say a big thank you to all that contributed to the Mayors call to Prayer on 8th February it made it such a wonderful evening. It was also good to hear from the young carers who give so much in their lives. It was a real eye opener to hear about all the good work that the Peggy Dodd centre have been carrying out with people with Alzheimer's and the rest bite that they...
6:17 pm

The era of the flying boats

Gravatar BLDGBLOG has a posting all about a wonderfully eccentric plan for floating runways for flying boats in the middle of the Atlantic that was published in Modern Mechanix in 1936. You will see I have borrowed the illustration that blog reproduces. It reminds me of an item I heard on Radio 4 before Christmas about the Foynes Flying Boat Museum in County Limerick, Ireland. As the museum website says: Foynes, Ireland, became the center of the aviation world from 1939 to 1945. On July 9th 1939, Pan Am's luxury Flying Boat, the "Yankee Clipper" landed at Foynes. This was the ...
6:08 pm

Nuclear future not the answer

Gravatar Today’s announcement by Gordon Brown’s Labour Party to build a new generation of Nuclear Power stations is fundamentally wrong and dangerous. Greenpeace sums up the case against Nuclear power simply: Even if Britain built ten new reactors, nuclear power can only deliver a 4 per cent cut in carbon emissions some time after 2025. Even the Government admits this (Sustainable Development Commission figure). It’s too little too late at too high a price. Most of the gas we use is for heating and hot water and for industrial purposes. Nuclear power cannot replace that energy. And it’s a similar case ...
5:59 pm

Israel: Bush calls for an end to occupation

Gravatar George W Bush has called for an end to Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza strip, as part of a comprehensive peace settlement with the Palestinians. Three times in the past, I've looked at the news and been absolutely bowled over. First was 9/11 - the last major turning point in world history. Second was the destruction of Space Shuttle Columbia, which I'd visited on the launchpad before its final flight. Third was the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, whom I'd seen at the Oxford Union the year before. This evening I am even more bowled over, as ...
5:55 pm

Nick Clegg should have made his education speech during the leadership contest

Gravatar This morning's Guardian told us breathlessly: Nick Clegg will unveil plans to end state interference in schools this week as he moves to bury the Liberal Democrats' traditional approach to public services. In his first keynote speech since becoming party leader, Clegg will challenge many of the party's supporters in teaching and local government by issuing proposals which will "effectively take schools out of state control", according to one official.David Laws, the Lib Dems' schools spokesman, paved the way for changes to the party's approach at its annual conference in September, pledging to inject more choice into the system by ...
5:44 pm

Did the greens make a return to nuclear power inevitiable

Gravatar What do governments do when faced with a crisis Easy. They spend enormous amounts of money. Which is why the enthusiasm with which the environmental movement has talked up the threat posed by human-induced climate change was always likely to lead to the government deciding to back the nuclear option in a big way. Despite Windscale and Chernobyl, the chief argument against nuclear power has never been the safety one but its cost. The huge and unquantifiable sums needed to build and run nuclear plants has meant that they cannot been built without being subsidised with public money - if ...
4:33 pm

Now That's What I Call A Non-Event

Gravatar Certain sections of the press and the blogosphere seem to be under the impression that John Hutton today stood up in Parliament and announced a new generation of nuclear power stations. To borrow the phrase of that great philosopher Wayne Campbell, shuh, as ifFor starters, the statement is utterly meaningless because Greenpeace are going to seek judicial review over the consultation process
4:27 pm

Blair is no Cincinnatus

Gravatar There is a story in ancient Rome of Cincinnatus- the hero who took political power at the specific request of the Senate and then saved the city when it was menaced by the Volscians and the Aequi. The same thing happened again when the city was faced with a revolt by the plebians- the same class as Cincinnatus himself. In each case, when his job was done, he relinquished power and returned to his farm where he lived modestly. I don't think he filled his boots with consultancy jobs which he was not really qualified for and which were offered ...
4:23 pm

6th Anniversary of Guantanamo Bay

Gravatar Tomorrow, the 11 January will mark the 6th anniversary since the US opened Guantanamo. It is still open, with it seems little effort from either the US or the UK Government to close it down. To mark this, Amnesty International is holding a demonstration: Amnesty International is holding a demonstration in central London to mark it. To mark the 6th anniversary we want as many people as possible dressed in Guantánamo-style orange boiler suits (provided by Amnesty), kneeling outside the US Embassy in London. Anyone can attend - please wear warm clothes but avoid bringing a bag with you. We ...
4:21 pm

Ouch, indeed!

Gravatar Having all but called the New Hampshire Primary for Obama, The Independent is suitably contrite today (see 'Hold the front page' and indeed, the entirely appropriate front page.)This may be a good time to check in with a site that we've respected and admired over many years at FreeThink. is a comprehensive guide to polling in the US focusing on votes at a state level, which is after all, where the votes are counted.Of course, like The Independent, relies on the accuracy of opinion pollsters. It was therefore as surprised at the win as anyone. Delving into the ...
4:04 pm

It was Hillary Clinton's tears wot won it!

Gravatar Never in recent years, has so much depended on an (almost) tear. It seems that commentators and the lady herself are giving credit to the moment Mrs Clinton almost broke down when asked how she kept going on the eve of the New Hampshire primary. Apparently it sent droves of undecided women who were wavering towards Barack Obama, straight to the ballot boxes to cast their vote for Hillary. Proof at last, that she was one of us! There's nothing wrong with showing emotion. As someone from a part of the world where the display of emotions is mandatory, I'm ...
4:00 pm

New Hampshire Primary Elections - voting discrepancy issue

Gravatar I have been given the following figures which I have no reason to disbelieve, but have not personally substantiated. They do ask a question even if the answer is nothing to be concerned about. --Total Democratic Votes: 286,139 - Machine vs Hand ( 09 Jan 2008 Hillary Clinton, Diebold Accuvote optical scan: 39.618% Clinton, Hand Counted Paper Ballots: 34.908% Barack Obama, Diebold
3:42 pm

Sign of Our Times

Gravatar Coming back from my Yule vacation I learnt about two sad losses to Wendover. The fire at Brook House and the death of one of the trees on the Manor Waist. An interesting Idea was raises at the Parish Council meeting last Monday: erecting a village sign instead of the Tree. I am not sure why it should come instead of the tree as the costs are not equivalent and there is enough space on the Manor Waist for both. Councillor Prior provided me with a link to the Village Signs Society where examples are displayed. I turned to google ...
3:41 pm

Party reform commission: party publishes more detail

Gravatar Terms of reference, questions to answer, how to submit your views and more - over on the party website.
3:06 pm

Is Mark Pack right

Gravatar Mark Pack has been defending the common line that there was a late swing to Hillary Clinton after the wet eyes incident in the comments to my New Hampshire posting. Now I am not sure there are figures to back what he says. However, I think he and the pundits are half right. Look back at the polls a couple of months back and you will see Hilalry well ahead. Then it slipped away. Then it came back.
3:04 pm

Where are they now Peter Hain, blasphemy law

Gravatar The Guardian today brings two updates on stories previously covered by Liberal Democrat Voice: 1. Peter Hain’s little problem with undeclared donations has now hit £100,000: “It is understood that there are almost 20 donations that his team failed to declare, in breach of the rules for party political elections. The scale of the under-reporting - more [...]
3:04 pm

Looking down the barrel of a gun in Northenden

Gravatar On Monday I had noticed an article in the MEN that three locations in Wythenshawe and Northenden had suffered an armed robbery, Tescos being the location of the Northenden site. On Tuesday night I went along to Northenden Civic Society, as I usually do, and asked the PCSO there what was being done to combat gun crime. His response was surprising as it was disappointing. He told us that Gun Crime in Northenden "isn't too bad". If we had the odd raid every other year or so, perhaps we could say we're not suffering from a gun crime wave, but ...
2:00 pm


Gravatar With nuclear in the news today, readers might be interested in this statement from Steve Webb. The Lib Dems also have an email list to keep people informed about our anti-nuclear campaigns. And don’t forget our screensaver - available here.
1:55 pm

Current reading

Gravatar I have a very bad habit of reading several books at the same time. My new resolution is to try and have only two on the go at once, one which I can just pick up and read in bed the other I need to think about a bit more. Generally this will be fiction [...]
1:50 pm

A whinger writes

Gravatar Congratulations to Indesit and Barclays I am not beyond a whinge (stop sniggering at the back). Over the past 17 years of my 25 years I have banked with Barclays the only thing that has stopped me moving my account has been inertia. However, when I said a few days ago that I didn't expect to get my defrauded money back quickly I was not expecting such quick service. OK, I don't have the money
1:49 pm

The power decision

Gravatar Well there it is, the die is cast the decision made and in the public domain all that is left is securing the funding and Wales will have two more power stations. No don't get me wrong I don't mean nuclear stations I mean the plans of Mr Tomlinson of Holt and Mr Pugh of Churchstoke to turn their large supplies of cow dung into electricity. Neither scheme is very big in itself Mr Tomlinson only
1:47 pm

Free markets and their discontents (or Adam Smith versus Tim Farron)

Gravatar This Saturday Im bound for the Liberal Democrat Manifesto conference at the LSE, and as part of my preparation I have been trying to read Reinventing the State, edited by Duncan Brack, Richard Grayson and David Howarth, which was billed last autumn as a sort of riposte to the Orange Book. I have to confess to finding such things heavy-going. Collections of essays by practicing politicians are rarely an exciting read, usually pulling their punches. Although the Orange Book was spun (and counter-spun) as a statement of intent by those wishing to move the party to the right, it was ...
1:21 pm

Stop The War Coalition nominated for Channel 4 News Most Influential Political Figures

Gravatar The Stop the War Coalition has been nominated and shortlisted for the highly prestigious Channel 4 News award for most influential political figures of the decade.
1:12 pm

First Scotrail mess up yet again!

Gravatar Really not feeling right with the world today and it's all because of other people. yesterday I had a wasted day waiting in the house for a heating engineer who neither appeared nor had the common courtesy to contact me and let me know he wasn't going to arrive. This morning I had to stand on a wet and windy railway platform waiting over an hour and ten minutes for a train to Glasgow. I can understand and appreciate that trains can break down and that points can fail and many other good reasons for trains to be cancelled or ...
1:03 pm

Tesco and the Green Points Mystery

Gravatar Now I'm all Tesco trying to encourage its customers recycling or using reusable bags by offering green points on their loyalty card scheme. However, I'm sure I'm not alone in constantly having to traipse over to the customer service desk after making my purchases to get these points added on to the scheme because my cashier/s have not added them on at the point of sale. Now I'm not exactly
12:51 pm

Our sexist monarchy

Gravatar Well - I've referred to the Equality Commission the demotion in the line of succession to our throne of Lady Louise (daughter to Prince Edward) in favour of her newborn brother. It may not be the nuts and bolts of discrimination against women in terms of equal pay (appalling - 144,000 cases waiting for tribunal), rape conviction rates, funding for carers and so on - but it is completely unacceptable. In this day and age that a female can simply be pushed out of line by a later male addition to the Royal Family belongs in the Ark. In fact ...
12:24 pm

Nuclear is not the answer - Steve Guy

Gravatar I am saddened but not surprised by the announcement today that the government is going to back more nuclear power stations for Britain. We in the Liberal Democrats believe that this is a flawed decision based on a sham consultation. Last year, we set out our research which showed that we could achieve a 94% reduction in carbon emissions without resorting to nuclear power. Nuclear leaves a legacy of dangerous waste that our descendants will have to deal with for generations to come. Not only that, but we believe that the focus will be diverted from developing better and cheaper ...
12:07 pm

Best ever GCSE results again this year

Gravatar Redcar & Cleveland has once again achieved its best-ever GCSE success rate. 52.9 per cent of students achieved A*-C grades in any subject and the schools' best performance for students passing five A*-G grades, with a 91 per cent success. Last year's figure, also a best ever, was 50.6%. The 2007 results of the Borough's pupils at 11 secondary schools, achieving five A*-C grades, with 2005 and 2006 in brackets, are: Bydales, Marske 53 (05 - 48, 06 - 57), Eston Park 58 (05 - 44, 06 - 46), Freebrough 38 (05 - 29, 06 - 28), Gillbrook 30 (05 ...
11:44 am


Gravatar The House of Commons earlier this week corrected the annual figure for funding MPs' final salary pension schemes has increased from £7.8m to £20.5m. That's a big error to make. In the face of Gordon Brown's attempts to shave costs wherever he can, including driving local government increasingly to the wall, there seems a 'quick win' which would net the government quite a major saving in the long term. Why not bump MPs' incomes up to around £80,000 and then make them all self employed. This may seem an excessive rise but it would reflect professional pay for equivalent jobs ...
11:29 am

America blunders in: expect british casualties

Gravatar The US president says a peace treay between Israel and the Palestinians can be agreed by the end of his time in office. Thats great news. There are just one or two minor things to resolve. Details, you understand Will all the Israeli settlements built on occupied land since 1967 be removed or handed over to Palestinian control Will the entirety of occupied east Jerusalem be returned to Palestine to become the capital of this new state, subject to the right of Jews to worship at the Wailing Wall being confirmed Will the new Palestinian state be given control over ...
11:27 am

Yesterday's PMQs

Gravatar I was in a meeting yesterday and missed PMQs. If you want to watch it you can see the Windows Media Player version here the Real Player version here or the mp3 podcast here on the 10 Downing Street website. I have just watched it. Good solid performance by Nick. Confident. A good choice of subject that is important to normal people, not just the Westminster bubble. And I do prefer the positioning
11:20 am

Government block action on Graffiti and Boy Racers

Gravatar With the government tabling 200 amendments to the Criminal Justice Bill it blew out of the water the cross party amendment about graffiti and any chances of dealing with Boy Racers. I cannot think that any of the government amendments will have the same merit, but it meant that the cross party attempt to deal with the issue of graffiti was halted. We have decided to continue pressing for this,
11:14 am

Blog readership and not a lot of altruistic bottle..

Gravatar Apparently there has been 45 views of my blog so far this week but nary a single comment (yes, it is in the dictionary - look it up!) go on, don't be shy - let me know whether you love me, hate me, ar...
11:10 am

Singapore buys a bit of British democratic history

Gravatar Apropos of nothing in particular, this little snippet of news... The government of Singapore has built up a 3 per cent stake in British Land, the FTSE 100 property group that has seen its market value dive with the rest of the UK property sector. ...prompted me to mention something that many might not know and that I discovered while researching the history of things that could loosely be linked to community land trusts or mutual housing schemes that I am working on elsewhere. British Land plc is the successor of something called the National Freehold Land Society, which was ...
10:57 am

Technology doesn't control crime, people do

Gravatar reports that an ambitious IT scheme to integrate prison and probation records has been pared down after costs soared from an original estimate of £234m to £512m. What is the cost of employing a probation officer these days - perhaps £30,000 p.a. £510m would pay for 1,700 at that rate for ten years. It is not the lack of technology which is failing the probation service; it is the shortage of dedicated staff. People make sure that probation is being observed, that job placements are fulfilled and that problems are attended to, not IT systems. It reminds me of ...
10:56 am

Indian Cookery

Gravatar Would you like to impress your friends with your culinary expertise Redcar & Cleveland Council's Adult Education Department have an Indian Cookery course (10 weeks) commencing Tuesday 8 January 2008, 6.00-8.00 pm at Redcar Education Development Centre, Corporation Road. For more information about the course or fees please ring 01642 490409.
10:52 am

Liberal Democrats v Conservatives: the battle in the blogosphere

Gravatar It is probably fair to say that the advent of Nick Clegg, the new leader of the Liberal Democrats, has not been greeted with unalloyed joy by our Conservative opponents. Indeed, it would hardly be wrong to say that the past few weeks has seen some "pretty robust" debate between Conservative and Liberal Democrat bloggers. Even the Queen Mum of blogging, the generally genial Iain Dale seems to have been featuring as many stories as he can to try to show Liberal Democrats in as poor a light as possible. Neither, to be fair, has the traffic been all one ...
10:51 am

From Super Soakers to Efficient Solar Energy

Gravatar Slashdot points us at the guy who invented the Super Soaker water gun and his latest technological progress - 60% efficient solar energy. Of course, this could be a dead end, but it could be a breakthrough. It is however another example of how technology is helping us tackle environmental problems. Cheap solar energy would also solve [...]
10:50 am

Realpolitik 9: Opposition Question Time

Gravatar In the first Realpolitik podcast of 2008, with Richard and myself: The first two US primaries are over. The Guardian gets it right in New Hampshire, and The Independent gets it so wrong. Nick Clegg utterly fails to cock up at his first PMQs (or should that be OQs) as a Times poll puts Cameron still ahead. We [...]
10:31 am

Farm Saved & Mass Park Sell Off Halted - all in a day’s work

Gravatar What a day. Today was judgment day for Hartcliffe Farm where we went along to the Council's Executive and appealed for the grant to the farm not to be slashed. After coverage from the Western Daily Pr...
10:12 am

More learning from Barack Obama

Gravatar Barack Obamas abilities as a storyteller and their relevance to business leaders are noted by John Gapper in todays Financial Times. Mr Gapper notes that business leaders must convince shareholders, managers and employees that their companies can and should change. He says that Mr Obama, of all the presidential candidates, is the one from whom chief executives can draw the clearest lessons about leadership. Mr Gapper discusses a number of Senator Obamas attributes and then says: . . . he is a wonderful storyteller. This sounds like a second-degree talent, something it might be nice to have but is not ...
10:11 am

Richardson pulls out of race to be President

Gravatar The governor of New Mexico Bill Richardson (D) has decided to withdraw from the race to be president. the decision comes after he got just under 2% in the Iowa caucus and under 5% in the New Hampshire primary, which took place on tuesday, both of which meant he came an overal 4th out of the democratic candidates. Richardson will remain the governor of New Mexico, a post he was elected to twice with great ease, but will be forced to leave office in 2010, due to term limits on the office. Before becoming governor Richardson had been a member ...
10:11 am

A new start for Georgia

Gravatar Despite the continuing pressure from Russia, Georgia has been able to hold presidential elections that have been generally recognised as free and fair. The incumbent, Mikheil Saakashvili, has been able to hold on to office, with about 52% of the vote. It is a slap in the face to Russia, which is the only country that has refused to recognise the elections as free and fair. Despite the intimidation, subversion and occasional violence, Russia has not been able to achieve its goal of undermining the independent minded Mr. Saakashvili and replacing him with someone more compliant to Russian wishes. When ...
9:49 am

Radiohead experiment success

Gravatar Whilst sales may not be huge at the moment compared with their previous albums, getting to number one in the charts with an album you first gave away for whatever someone wanted to pay for it must be counted a success. It'll be interesting to see how this affects the way the music industry promotes stuff in future, if it changes anything at all: Radiohead have topped the US album charts with the physical release of In Rainbows, originally sold via the internet for a price chosen by fans. The album sold 122,000 copies during its first week, displacing soul ...
9:40 am

Opinon: Lib Dems promise houses - and deliver

Gravatar In 2007, two key milestones were marked in the Vale of White Horse District Council. First, we celebrated the completion of the 1500th affordable home built in the district since the Liberal Democrats took control in 1995. We also celebrated winning a fourth term in office with a thumping majority. Those in [...]
9:16 am

Say NO to Nuclear Power Stations

Gravatar Today’s announcement by Gordon Brown’s Labour Party to build a new generation of Nuclear Power stations is fundamentally wrong and dangerous. Greenpeace sums up the case against Nuclear power simply: Even if Britain built ten new reactors, nuclear power can only deliver a 4 per cent cut in carbon emissions some time after 2025. Even the Government admits this (Sustainable Development Commission figure). It’s too little too late at too high a price. Most of the gas we use is for heating and hot water and for industrial purposes. Nuclear power cannot replace that energy. And it’s a similar case ...
8:51 am

Welcome to Neil

Gravatar Welcome to the blogosphere to my good friend Neil Stockley, who has now started his own blog. Neil is a very keen observer and commentator on (and in the case of the Lib Dems, participant in!) what political parties need to do in order to win as is very clear already from his first few posts. He seriously knows what he is talking about on political analysis, and his blog definitely goes straight on to my “must read” list!
8:33 am

Executive Committee 9 January 2008

Gravatar Last night was the meetings of Bury Council’s Executive Committee. This is the meeting that brings together the eight portfolio members from the ruling Conservative Party, together with the two opposition party leaders including me from the Lib Dems. The main issues of interest were: Choice Based Letting The Council agreed to extend “Choice based lettings” from 50% of its “council house” stock to 100%. We very much welcome this move to allow greater choice for tenants of the council (6 Town Housing). Partnership with the PCT The Committee received a paper outlining how it is going to work more closely ...
8:01 am

Ticket Reselling

Gravatar I've just been watching a BBC Breakfast package about this issue of reseling tickets for music and sporting events with a "vox pop" where most of the respondents were saying things like reselling is "not fair, because we can no longer afford it".   Well this may not be a populist line to take but I'm sorry, that's tough! Nobody is entitled to attend such an event as of right. What if your preferred art-form is Impressionist art. Are politicians supposed to limit the price at which Sotheby's can sell a Renoir so that every household can afford one No, ...
7:32 am

Things go from bad to worse for Hain

Gravatar This morning's Guardian reveals that Peter Hain may well have in excess of £100,000 in undeclared donations still to report to the Electoral Commission. The paper understands that there are almost 20 donations that his team failed to declare, in breach of the rules for party political elections. This means that Hain spent around £200,000 on his fifth-placed Deputy Leadership campaign, well in excess of the other candidates and twice as much as the successful Harriet Harman. It is difficult to understand how such an oversight could have occurred. The scale of the non-declaration suggests not so much chaos within ...
7:01 am

An election is coming!

Gravatar Mark Twain once said; If we would learn what the human race really is at bottom, we need only observe it in election times. Was he right Watching events unfold in Pakistan and Kenya youd probably be inclined to say he was! However it's not always like that. Take these American presidential elections. Like em or loath em, you just can't help watching em! Having said that, this time round, whilst I freely admit to watching it, Im not really following it closely enough to be able to comment one way or the other. So, instead of me rambling on ...
1:43 am

Nick Clegg: Its beat up an activist day!

Gravatar Oh dear, oh dear, and he was doing so well: Nick Clegg will unveil plans to end state interference in schools this week as he moves to bury the Liberal Democrats’ traditional approach to public services. In his first keynote speech since becoming party leader, Clegg will challenge many of the party’s supporters in teaching and local government by issuing proposals which will “effectively take schools out of state control”, according to one official. David Laws, the Lib Dems’ schools spokesman, paved the way for changes to the party’s approach at its annual conference in September, pledging to inject more ...
12:59 am

Power to the Meeple!

Gravatar I have to admit, I saw this picture of a proposed Energy Island in the Guardian on Monday and my first thought was “what happens if they roll a 7” {Energy Island} Share This

Previous days:

Wednesday 9th January 2008, Tuesday 8th January 2008, Monday 7th January 2008, Sunday 6th January 2008, Saturday 5th January 2008, Friday 4th January 2008