Don’t believe everything you hear – and check it!

Express and Echo today, article on Exmouth seafront campaign, quote from Swire:

“Councillor Moulding assured me that under the plans, there will be a number of free facilities for the people of Exmouth and new attractions for younger people.”

Er, that number could be ONE Mr Swire – and note the construction of the sentence means that the facilities for younger people may well not be free!

Could we have clarification, Councillor Moulding? It seems plans are well advanced so you should have something less vague to tell us.

Is austerity really worth the price we all pay?

We see the devastating effect of flood prevention and relief cuts in the north of England and, closer to home, the effect of flooding on the school at Tipton St John yesterday – denied new buildings even though it floods frequently – which Claire Wright illustrates so movingly here:

http://www.claire-wright.org/index.php/post/tipton_st_john_school_floods_yet_again_as_devon_county_council_advises_agai

Yes, we have to live within our means. But which of us lucky home owners has a mortgage – which, given that we pay back around twice the purchase value of our homes over 25 years – could be said to be very much living beyond our means. We buy cars and pay for them (with interest) if we are not rich enough to pay cash. Why? Because we want secure roofs over our heads and many of us (given our poor and worsening public transport links) must have cars to go to jobs to pay for those roofs.

Surely, when it is the education of our children we should similarly expect them to have a decent, secure roof – and floors and walls – as they learn.

Austerity for some but not for others … and our children suffer in so many ways.

One post office box, two mobiles, an 0300 number and a “promise” ….

This page of last week’s Sidmouth Herald is SO entertaining!

image

Swire says we shouldn’t be worried that devolution deals are being done behind closed doors and that power is being devolved from politicians in Whitehall.

But he neglects to say that it is being devolved to … er … a bunch of anonymous, unelected businessmen in … er … well, they have a post office box number in Exeter, two mobile phone numbers and an 0300 numbers on their contact us webpage:

http://www.heartofswlep.co.uk/contact-us

so they could be anywhere!  Running their businesses, perhaps …..

and as a bonus we get a” Buy one, get one free” offer from Diviani promising us those missing relocation documents (the ones he was ordered to produce last May) ” soon”. Was the “Sale, amazing offers” advert a coincidence or a subliminal message to us all?

BOGOF indeed.

Nine housebuilding companies are sitting on at least 615,000 agreed planning permissions

“Britain’s biggest housebuilders possess enough land to create more than 600,000 new homes, an analysis by the Guardian has found, raising questions about whether they are doing enough to solve the housing crisis facing Britain.

The nine housebuilders in the FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 hold 615,152 housing plots in their landbank, according to financial disclosures. This is four times the total number of homes built in Britain in the past year.

Berkeley, Barratt, Persimmon and Taylor Wimpey – the four biggest companies in the industry – account for more than 450,000 of the plots. They are also sitting on £947m of cash and declared or issued more than £1.5bn in payouts to shareholders in 2015.

Shelter said the figures showed how dysfunctional the housing market has become. Toby Lloyd, head of policy for the housing charity, said: “Developers do need a pipeline of future sites – but when housebuilding is still stubbornly low and landbanks are this large it is a signal of how dysfunctional our housebuilding system is….

… The land held by housebuilders includes sites they own and sites that they have an contractual option to build on. Some housebuilders do not publicly disclose all the land they control, meaning their total landbank could be even bigger. For example, Bellway does not report land that has not got planning permission for house construction, while Persimmon says it controls 18,000 acres of “strategic land” on top of more than 90,000 plots that already have planning permission.

http://gu.com/p/4fbdn

1985: NHS privatisation would be good as it would stop staff resting

“David Willetts also sent a memo to Margaret Thatcher in 1985]about the benefits of private healthcare compared to the NHS.

In one section about whether the private sector should be brought in to run a psychiatric hospital, he explained:

“The hospital is run cost-effectively. Only one in 20 patients gets a tray meal: the rest go to one canteen which is shared with the staff.

“The building avoids ‘staff traps’ – private areas where staff can take a rest.”

Independent online today

Compare with:

“A Freedom of Information request reveals how peers are so unhappy with their 8 eateries they’ve been sending handwritten complaints to Parliament.

Peers can buy confit halibut for £15, “prawn and lobster meat folded into Avugar caviar” for £10, or a full roast dinner for £9.50.

A restaurant in central London would charge £25 for a similar halibut dish, while prawn and lobster with caviar could rack up around £30 and a roast dinner could set you back £18.

One complaint was from a very angry member of the Lords left waiting 30 minutes for a sandwich in the Bishop’s Bar.

He was so dissatisfied he wrote a letter to Lord Sewell, Chairman of the Committees at the House of Lords – one of several revealed after the information request by MailOnline.

He wrote in the letter, dated 26 November 2014: “For the second time in two weeks I waited over half an hour for a sandwich in the Bishops Bar.

On the first occasion, a chef who did not seem to be doing anything was present and today it was just chaotic.”

Another complaint was from a Lord who was “very disappointed” because his creme brulee wasn’t very cheesy – and a worker put a pat of butter in his soup, which he found “a bit odd”.

He said the “supreme of Hake” dish was “awful” and too plain, saying:” The Hake was completely unadorned, with a hard crust on top.”

He claimed that he requested something to make the dish more bearable, but was handed more pats of butter.

This particular Lord says he will no longer be able to entertain guests there unless the food improves.

The Head of Catering services Tim Lamming, said he read the peer’s complaint “with dismay” and said: “I must apologise most sincerely for the dip in standards and I will investigate the issues you have raised.”

Further upset has been caused by the fact that peers can now no longer select a second vegetable with their dish.

One peer complained that there was a lack of variation in the vegetables served, saying: “Cabbage, broccoli, sprouts and spinach have almost vanished completely in favour of root vegetables.”

This week with the roast meat we have had in succession carrots, parsnip and celeriac, so that with roast potatoes there is a considerable excess of carbohydrates.”

Other bugbears were that wine per glass had increased by 30p, the yoghurt is too heavy and staff need to smile more often.

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/house-lords-members-complain-awful-5933933

No wonder the government wants to curtail Freedom of Information!