Still ducking som stuff - earlier material is here if anyone is interested
Got some more from Breckland re Barnham Broom http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/barnham_broom_3#incoming-261638
Still ducking som stuff - earlier material is here if anyone is interested
We have just written again to our MP urging him to stop his Government wrecking the NHS. If you care then please do the same. You could use this as a template but using your own words increasdes the power of the message.
David Cameron is barking up the wrong tree if he thinks that in the country there is broad agreement on Andrew Lansley's ill-conceived health Bill. We have been amazed at the level of opposition among people who have never been politically vocal before. We have family members who have never shown any interest in such matters or even politics but who are appalled at the Bill. We have friends who have been similarly silent and are probably Tory supporters and they too are opposed.
These are not people who would write to their MP and so their views will not appear in MPs' postbags - the key medium of opinion that they regard. But they do vote and I would think there are wiser voices in Government who are urging that they turn away from this divisive and intolerant bill.
It is not just the professionals who are against these changes. It is ordinary people and while we would be personally happy to see the Tory party implode over the issue we do not want it to be the National Health Service which is the price that must be paid.
David Cameron needs to rapidly re-consider his party's position. It will not be so hard really - after all they had no mandate for such change, indeed quite the opposite. Perhaps a listening Government could put it all back in the melting pot along with Mr Lansley's head?
This is interesting http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/barnham_broom_3
OK so it hurts to say it, yes. But the Bishops and the Peers seem to understand better than our MPs that the Government is getting it wrong. Easy to find people who want to bash claimants but it is never that easy. And there is always a lumpy mattress factor - press down in one place and something nasty pops up somewhere else. Life is like that.
And as for 'we cannot afford the £9billion to raise tax thresholds to 10K' - don't make me cry. If we had simply collected what was due from Vodafone we would have had nearly that much EVERY year since heaven knows when. And that's just one tax dodger.
Never forget - these are Tories. They may have a need to cut the bills but what they really believe in is making their mates and themselves richer. Poor people end up borrowing expensively; some die young. Who wins? Smug gits like Cameron, Osborne and their cronies. Who wins if the NHS is privatised? Who wants errant husbands to run free while their abandoned single ex-wives scrimp to raise their progeny? Who wants housing benefit people out of city centre houses? Oh guess who! Same smug gits? Its always the poor what gets the blame.
Their time will come but Clegg is just delaying the day.
Just got incensed again at the criminal NHS reforms and wrote to the BBC as follows:
The terrible thing about these reforms is that they are a complete waste of effort and focus at such a difficult time. The NHS is not broken but it is, in the current climate, costing too much. Indeed, as are many Government projects too. They can find money for HS2, Trident, or Afghanistan, or Iraq and even to bail out the banks. But they cannot or will not find either the will or money to help the NHS. What that tells us is that, for failing to give anyone a mandate to govern, we have been awarded a Cabinet of multi-millionaires who care nothing for their people but only for their mates in the multitude of private companies that will be the only winners in this fiasco. If they do not trust doctors to determine clinical matters why should they trust them to determine how to spend our money? It is hard not to see Andrew Lansley as some sort of viper at the bosom of the cabinet who is hellbent on getting his own way regardless of the views of wiser, more experienced counsel. Oh for an opposition worthy of the name!
Here in Norfolk we are delighted by the news that the county council has won match funding from the government to radically improve broadband services in the much deprived rural areas. The county and government will each provide £15m and they have to find a commercial partner to put in a further £30m and develop the project.
To show the potential the county, with huge support from the Eastern Daily Press has launched a registration campaign, on and offline - see it at CLICK.
In Lyng we have our own project which has resulted in NCC coming forward with a proposal to use their library internet service to deliver better broadband by wi-fi to the village. The planning proposal for this has been passed and a timeline is due soon. It will deliver useful speed around 2 meg and may be something of a pilot for other projects. Indeed a not dissimilar set up could well figure as part of the solution when the current campaign brings in partners.
We have 120 plus signed up. But the county campaign needs to do well - it has only 90 days to run. In just over a week it has 4,500 registrations - which may mean less than 40,000 in the period. There are over 200,000 premises in the rural area - it may be 300,000 but figures were hard to rely on. At first it looked like over 55,000 was possible.
That may sound OK but the investment ratio is less brilliant. The partner will get the county and government's £30m but will be expected to put up £30m as well. If we assume even 60,000 customers that means an investment per customer of 60m divided by 60k - I make that £1,000 per customer. Now the commercial partner will have had to find £500 of that and will want their investment back in say 10 years (standard commercial period) which is £50 a year. Interest will be low as of current rates but lets say another £50 per customer p.a. in loan charges etc. It means each customer has to deliver £100 of revenue stream on top of costs and profit. Current prices for the sort of broadband proposed is about £20 a month or £240 a year. You can see where I am going. I think we need more than 55,000 sign-ups by a factor of 50 to 100%? I hope I am wrong but it goes to show what a difficult territory Norfolk is for this sort of project.
Another issue is that all the talk is about starting to deliver broadband of 2 meg and more in 2013 but the BDUK bid is realistic - it says the project's success should be reviewed in late 2015 - and that means the project will either end around then or be running down. Which means huge numbers of people signing up now won't see any result until sometime in 2015.
Third item of interest is that in the case studies on the Say Yes site is one of the many schools which have superfast broadband - Reepham. Now this service is delivered by fibre to the premises (FTTP) laid in with EU and other public money as part of the EU's education project. It is barred from use for commercial purposes because of these EU rules - which the UK notably obeys to the letter; others do not. In any event the reality is that huge fibre pipes already criss cross the county providing multi-meg services to the desktops of students who go home and cannot even do their homework on line because of the poor service from BT. Surely this hugely expensive/valuable network should be turned to advantage as part of the BDUK project and hugely reducing overall costs in the process. At Reepham school this fat pipe runs to within 100 metres of Reepham exchange which is yet to be fibre enabled. See Samknows at http://www.samknows.com/broadband/exchange/EAREE
Published in Eastern Daily Press 23/12/11:
We all need to write to our MPs about the the welfare reform bill and urgently. Most of us know about the dangerous changes proposed to welfare for the disabled but a less well publicised attack is being launched against lone parents. And this one is clearly driven by a bizarre desire to protect errant husbands from paying for their promiscuity and philandering. We accept a few of these abandoned parents are men but the vast majority are women.
The incredible idea is to charge the resident parent (you know, the one caring for the children) for the Child Support Agency action in chasing the absent one for money (that's the one who did a runner). The proposal is £100 if the abandoned parent is in work, and £50 if on benefits, thus taking back the benefit! And this could be repeated every time the philandering partner runs off again or just changes bank accounts.
This is pretty immoral but it gets worse - even lone parents who were the victims of domestic violence will pay. Their upfront fee is waived, but they would still have to pay a percentage – 12% is on the table – of their maintenance payments back to the government. Why? How is that reasonable?
So right now, write to your MP. Remind them that the CSA is actually charged with helping lone parents by getting errant fathers to pay for their children rather than us taxpayers. They are not there to take money out of the childrens' mouths.
We have recently heard that another 'free' school is being set up nearby - this time over the border in Suffolk at Brandon. The details are the usual - county alleges school not doing well, wants to close. Up pop some Michael Gove clones who say: give it to us, we'll run it...
Today we heard the contract to actually manage the school has been awarded. The £21m task goes to a Swedish firm which already runs some free schools in Sweden. This then is their qualification - that in a foreign land where these schools are not actually doing very well but where their principal task as stated on their web site (http://engelska.se/en) is to teach the English language is considered the best suited to run an all-ability, non-selective (for now) 11-16 range school in leafy Brandon, Suffolk.
Well, maybe and I am assured lots of hard work was put in to ensure a fair and proper selection under EU rules (heard of them I am sure - they sent the huge train contract from UK Bombardier, Derby to Germany).
But here's a thing. If you go to the link below you will see something interesting happening a few months back. Odd that, don't you think?http://engelska.se/articles/ies-invited-meet-senior-uk-government-officials
Being me I took this up with the leader of the Brandon school group. Web site is http://www.sabreseducationaltrust.com/
My main point with him is about this particular scheme and process. Here's a flavour of what I said, after explaining my background as reason for interest:
...I am antipathetic towards 'private' I admit. I see too much privilege and for all the claimed efficiencies private school parents seem always to be coughing up more cash than just the fees...
But OK your free school will be part of the education system, albeit at a pretty long arm's length. The current pledge is for no selection. But you will allow me a worry that this is now with this team of governance and under this government, so far as that is any guarantee. And yes Brandon's Middle School was due to close for reasons which are frankly unclear - it was rated good as recently as 2003! But you plan an 11-16 school so you will compete for children at the lower end which changes the dynamics.
I will admit to worries about Mr Gove, too. For me he has too much of Sir Keith Joseph about him. Not quite the beloved Anne's something of the night either but if he wore a black shirt it would not surprise me. I nearly jest. But I do not see him as a champion of ordinary kids needs.
Now to the democracy problem. As I said, I have an open mind about the principle of the free school (oh for a better name!) but not about the process. IF I had seen a clear public campaign, an open contest to choose candidates for the 'management team' I would have less to say. In Brandon or in Norwich. But I have searched and can find nothing that matches that. I have searched too on the names (of your team) and only three seem to have a public profile so far. Yourself of course, John Hodges and Alicia Rickards-Ottevanger who I see is at the school but is mostly the Twitter and Facebook person. In Norwich the new principle is a disaffected mum who was head teacher at another school!
But that would be OK if when I get to the web site I am quickly informed who these people are, what is the skill set that makes them suitable and at least a guide as to how they came to 'power' - for that is what they have in the public perception. I want to ask where they were in the fight to improve existing schools? Or have they just popped out of the woodwork because Gove rattled it?
So can I plead for some better material on the web site, both in Who we are; why we care; how we get to be here. Ditto in the FAQs which sadly are more of the Answers to the questions we WANT you to ask than FAQs. And then a really strong set of commitments to what the school will be about - as yet it is a bit woolly in my view.
I think you may find that passing the contract to Sweden will be an error in public reaction terms. I think many will say free schools are NOT working well in Sweden (or the US frankly) so we don't want their failed solutions here. In fact there is a swell of opinion (mois aussi) that says Gove has landed us with a failed solution; others say it is a solution to a different problem anyway. Others will see a cultural difference that may be unhelpful or even unhealthy.
Finally I really do think the free school movement needs to ensure that there is a highly acceptable overseeing body to whom parents will be able to appeal, against whose standards the school will be measured; and which ensures public money is being used wisely and that parents are not being unfairly asked to pick up the bill for building 'privilege schools' out of the process. And to ensure the goals and commitments do not drift with new people.
I shall be delighted to hear yours or any one else's comments.<<
As a great radio communicator would have said: If you have been, thanks for listening....
Have been in a bit of a battle with the local daily, the Eastern Daily Press. They have taken up a position in favour of an energy from waste incinerator to be sited at Kings Lynn. It will handle 200,00 plus tons of waste and generate electricity for 35,000 homes.
The technology is in use all over the world but its possible impact on health via toxic output is untested. They use clean burn technologies but no one really knows.It will save a lot of money on expensive landfill.
It is to be sited at Kings Lynn just to the south west of the town. Which means any output blows staright over the town.
It is also about 45 miles east of us and we are near the centre of Norfolk. But it is therefore about 90 miles from the far west end of the county. It is a lot closer to Peterborough than Norwich.
I am unsure of the technology and unaffected by the possible pollution. But I think it is a bad location and in the wrong part of the county. It will generate thousands of lorry journeys across the county, and all empty on the return. Dangerous and polluting.
The contract is a PFI and we all know how good they are (not) for the public. But worse in this case the County are the planning authority but if they refuse it they will have to stump up £20 million compensation for their already appointed technology partners and preferred bidder.
And on top of all that the 25 year contract requires that NCC provide 175,000 tons minimum of waste every year. But their recycling plans mean this may be difficult or even impossible to achieve. The contract is a burn or pay deal - which means they6 will have to pay the value of everfy ton they fail to provide. They say they will use commercial waste to fill the gap, as if commercial waste producers, knowing about the penalty, will hand it over free!
The total plan is very weak. If they had sited it on one of our disused airfields (like Coltishall) it could have been in the middle of the county and, like one in Suffolk, more or less in open country. And on a site al,ready 'brown' and with at least reasonable access.
But the cute problem is that the EDP has hitched its saddle to the plan - even though 65,000 people in west Norfolk voted against it. As the controversy gets hotter I reckon thye editor is getting shakier! He has rather let the lead councillor Bill Borrett get away with editorial murder, hence my beef.
In the end I fear it will go through and I fear it will cost the taxpayers a great deal - either we fail our recycling commitments and get punished by Westminster or we buy in waste to fill a gap we made ourselves. Daft!
But the good news is - its Tory plan so either way they get the blame.
Today, yet another rural broadband solution has popped up with little warning. This one is on page 13 of the EDP and has Norfolk Rural Community Council ( seehttp://www.norfolkrcc.org.uk/wiki/index.php/About) as part of the project.It is a wireless network solution from a company called ThinkingWISP (seehttp://www.thinkingwisp.co.uk/) and is also backed by Anglian Farmers ( seehttp://www.angliafarmers.co.uk/content/home.asp).It is similar to the solution we have been developing for Lyng, using a wireless transmission from Norwich Airport to a mast at Marsham, north west of the city. It is planned to serve an area around from Erpingham in the north to Drayton,south and from Reepham west to Colitishall east.
Service will be between 3.5Mbs and 13 with data limits between 10 and unlimited. Prices are from £15.99 a month to a business plus service at £50.99. Subscribers will need a suitable antenna and installation as per our set up (no costs is indicated) and the service is encrypted and asynchronous. So it has more potential than ours.
Its sudden appearance without previously showing on the radar is similar to the diocesan project called WIspire. This denies any criticism of a backward looking church by taking a fat fibre pipe to a church at Spixworth (north of Norwich) and then developing a fully meshed wireless network using church spires. It gives ley lines a whole new meaning!
What gets me is that these projects seem to have deliberately kept under wraps. Yet the young CEO of the NRCC says they have 500 expressions of interest already. They got £37,000 funding from Defra and the EU.
I strongly believe that this piecemeal process, of which we seem to be an unwilling part, is not in the best interests of the community at large. Any one of these projects could go under leaving hundreds back at square one - or, worse not connected at all even to BT.