Freethinkeruk’s Weblog

UK Political weblog

Archive for the category “Local Government”

New London Planning Authority

A report out today in The Times shows that there is a new and additional planning authority in London.

This authority is non other than Prince Charles, the unelected, unqualified, spokesperson for architectural Luddites. Yes, his power and influence now means that developers of major projects run their plans past Charlie before proceeding with planning applications to the democratically elected Councils and the Planning Officers. If this is what he can do now just think what he could do as a King!

Decisions must be made by those that we elect to act on our behalf and not made behind closed doors by people with power simply by dint of birth.

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A Man With A Plan

David Cameron gave his speech to the party faithful yesterday and although it was a pretty downbeat message it also sent a shiver down my spine. Aligning himself with Margaret Thatcher he sees himself in her shoes (tight fit?) over social change as she was over economic change.

Rembering as I do, the horrors and destruction that Thatcher wrought among our nation, it strikes almost terror in my heart even thinking what she, in the guise of Cameron, could do to the social fabric of our society. He said that he was ‘a man with a plan, but what plan? Precious little detail emerged apart from the obvious Tory tax cuts for corporations and inheritance tax along with a two year freeze, in some instances, on council taxes, which can only lead to more cuts in services. Stung by Gordon Brown as a ‘novice’ it was indeed as a novice he appeared.

Although I am disillusioned somewhat by Gordon Brown and New Labour, yesterdays speech served to make me realise what the alternative would be and in that light G.B. & N.L. don’t seem so bad.

Housing Mania Continues

There is a saying that “if you do what you have always done, you will get what you have always got”.

It seems that the Government hasn’t noticed that we are in a financial mess brought about in the main by our borrowing money mostly to buy houses that we can’t afford. So what do they do? They make it easier to buy homes and build up more debt. The mind boggles, well mine does anyway.

House prices on average have fallen by around 10% over the last year. If you bought a house in the expectation that it’s value would increase above inflation indefinitely you’re in trouble or could be. If you bought your house as a home to live in then apart from a likely rise in the mortgage rate, you’re OK. Housing values falling back to a more realistic level is a good thing bringing some sanity back into the market. Today’s announcements of stopping Stamp Duty for twelve months, interest free loans for five years on new houses will indeed stimulate in some degree the building industry and the housing market. It will also reinvigorate the rise in house prices and back on the treadmill we go. In addition ‘rescuing’ defaulting home buyers by local authorities part buying their homes and renting that part back to them only serves to trap the occupants in debt.

Yes people need homes and yes, the building industry needs stimulation particularly as so many other industries depend on it’s activity. The huge sums of money that Government is about spend is a short term, short sighted, fix and will, in the long term be largley wasted. This money should be spent by building homes for rent (see) and thus adding the same stimulation to the builders, providing homes and thereby avoiding yet another debt spiral resulting in yet another ‘credit crunch.’

Wind Turbines

At a public meeting called by the Parish Council in Davidstow, Cornwall, recently, there was overwhelming opposition to a proposal to erect 20 wind turbines on a brown field site on Bodmin Moor. In fact only one person out of the 150 people present spoke in favour of the project.

These turbines would produce enough electricity for 9,000 homes and reduce carbon emissions by about 30,000 tonnes. Apparently the main cause for concern expressed at the meeting was the possible effect on wildlife. How short sighted can people get? Reducing carbon emissions and thus slowing and hopefully, eventually reducing global warming must surely be of greater benefit to wildlife. Animals and birds quickly learn to adapt to changes in their landscape. For example we’re all used to seeing birds sitting on overhead power lines, they do not sit astride or alongside the insulators and risk electrocuting themselves, do they? There was a time when Britain, indeed, Europe, was practically wall to wall windmills and water wheels for grinding corn and other industrial uses. The wildlife simply adapted so why should albeit modern designed turbines be any more of a threat. They may be bigger but they don’t turn appreciably faster than the old windmills.

What these NIMBYS and Luddites fail to appreciate is that if we fail in our attempts to supply electricity through renewable means then the Government will be only too  happy to provide nuclear power stations instead. How about one of those on Bodmin Moor.

Wind Turbines

At a public meeting called by the Parish Council in Davidstow, Cornwall, yesterday there was overwhelming opposition to a proposal to erect 20 wind turbines on a brown field site on Bodmin Moor. In fact only one person spoke in favour out of 150 people present.
These turbines would generate enough electricity for 9,000 homes and stop the emission of about 30,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year. Apparently the main cause for concern was the possible effect on wildlife.

How short sighted can people get? Reducing carbon emissions thus helping to slow and hopefully eventually turning back global warming must surely be beneficial to wildlife.  Animals and birds quickly learn to adapt to changes in their landscape. For example we’re all used to seeing birds sitting on power lines, they do not sit astride or alongside the insulators and electrocute themselves do they?

There was a time when Britain was practically wall to wall windmills for corn grinding and industrial use and the wildlife simply adapted so why should modern designed wind turbines be any more of a threat. They may be bigger but they don’t turn appreciably faster.

What these nimbys and Luddites fail to grasp is, that if we fail in our efforts to supply electricity through renewable means then the Government will be most happy to provide nuclear power stations instead. How about one of those on Bodmin Moor?

Council Workers Strike

Local Authority workers are out on strike and HM Coastguard are working to rule until the 18th July and who can blame them? The only thing that surprises me is that it has taken them so long to do it.

Consistently paid at low rates they have seen their earnings fall ever further behind private sector employees. Now faced with ever increasing costs of living notably of course, food and fuel not mention that they also pay Council Tax like the rest of us, which rise inexorably as central government expects more to be done for less. They also must see CEOs on salaries equal to that of the Prime Minister together with a car and fuel allowance.

The Coast Guard is particularly dear to my heart and do a fantastic, professional job 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, always on hand to save lives at sea and around the coastline. Their salary is around £14000 and therefore not much different I would think, to unemployment benefit.

All these people work for us, the public, we are their employers and as such we have a responsibility to treat them fairly. The very least we can do is support them in anyway that we can and let our MPs know how we feel.

Planning Consent

For no obvious reason I’ve been thinking about local planning in regard to individual applications. At the present time if someone wishes to add an extension to their home or put a log cabin in their garden for one of their children or Granny to live in then they have to go through an expensive and time consuming process. The same applies even if they wish to erect a wind generator or, as I understand it, a flag pole.

What if a form was freely available upon which details of the proposal together with a reasonable sketch could be put. The proposer could then take it round to anyone who may be affected by way of view, possible noise etc and sign that they have objections. Assuming no objections then permission is automatic subject of course to adherence to any building construction regulations. If there was even one objection then the local council would make the final decision.

If this was adopted it would speed up the whole process, save residents money, help make neighbourhood connections (admittedly generate a row here and there) and remove claims of favouritism by councillors and be more democratic.

Local government costs

It was reported in my local paper that a disabled woman applied to the Council for a designated parking space outside her home. Her request was initially turned down on the grounds of cost at £3000. It was admitted that most of the cost was for administration!

Now, by designated parking space we are talking some yellow rubberised paint and a guy to paint it on. Let’s go wild and say £100 for the paint and £100 for the guy, that leaves £2800 for admin. I wont say anymore because like you, I suspect, I’m speechless.

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