Sunday, September 19, 2021

Planning for disaster?

Is Michael Gove going to row back on the Government’s plans to concrete over the countryside? He should do if he wants the Conservatives to win the next election.

The disco-dancing, nerdy new Secretary of State for Everything Important to Re-election has supposedly been told to do something to stop property developers decimating this green and pleasant land.

First off, he’ll have to abandon the Tories’ proposals to deny locals any say in what happens in their back yard and drop the idea that local councils are ordered to build X-thousand new homes whether they like it or not.

Sadly, even if the Government does trim its sails a bit and refuse to provide a blank cheque for property developers, not much will change because the planning system itself is in the hands of bureaucrats who will ensure it cannot change.

The local authority ‘experts’, the planning lawyers, the civil service command-and-control policy and the developers themselves will ensure nothing really puts the brakes on a rotten and corrupt system.

Yes, we need more homes (though we need fewer of them now most EU migrants have gone back home again). Yes, they need to be affordable for young people. And yes, they might as well be as environmentally-friendly as possible.

This can be achieved by re-purposing redundant town centres, unwanted office blocks and abandoned factories. It’s just a bit harder for the developers to do that and there may be a little less money to be made.

But the alternative of ploughing up the Green Belt is worse. And if Mr Gove does not realise that then he need only remember the Chesham and Amersham by-election when the seat was won by the Liberal Democrats with 57 per cent of the vote on a swing from the Conservatives of 25 per cent.


Monday, July 26, 2021

Sky rugby - the cliché of the Titans

 An idiot’s guide to commentating on the Lions tour if you work for Sky TV. All you need to do is repeat these meaningless and increasingly irritating phrases at irregular intervals throughout each game:

1.      The get-go
2.      Asking questions
3.      Set down markers
4.      Hard yards
5.      Worth the admission fee alone (especially when the stadium is empty)
6.      Hard-wired into the Springbok DNA
7.      Nobody said it was going to be easy
8.      Carry/carries
9.      Moving through the gears
10.  Grab the game by the scruff of the neck
11.  Sensing the scent of blood
12.  Half-time oranges
13.  It’s not rocket science
14.  Asking more questions
15.  The next score is absolutely crucial
16.  The game was always go to the wire (sic)
17.  His go-to man
18.  Arm-wrestle
19.  Questions being asked (again)
20.  Game of two halves
And here’s one comment almost worth the admission fee alone:
‘He’s absolutely hoofed that into the Sheriff of Carmarthen’s honker.’

Friday, November 20, 2020

God save the village green

 I've made a new video about my book 'Close of Play' to the tune of the Kinks' 'Village Green Preservation Society' because it seemed appropriate.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Developers - coming to a village near you

Just had an email titled: 'UK Planning Laws Have Changed - Find The Best Opportunities Before Anyone Else!'

It's promoting some free webinar promising:

The new PD rights present a £100bn opportunity for property developers in the UK!
Find The Best Opportunities Before Anyone Else!
The fastest way to find the most profitable opportunities is by using ourrecently launched and most powerful platform to date, Nimbus Maps ELITE+
I've got no idea who Nimbus Maps ELITE+ are or what they do but you have been warned... new housing estates are coming to a cricket ground near you.

PS Maybe this is the reason why I am suddenly on a property mailing list:

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Britain under martial law

When he announced his new, repressive measures aimed at frightening us into submission, Boris Johnson thanked the first ministers of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland for their ‘collaboration’.

This is a significant word. ‘Collaborator’ has an infamous ring to it. Mostly it brings to mind Vichy France and the Governments of other countries willing to work with the Nazis during World War Two.

And I suspect, without meaning to, Boris Johnson was subliminally thinking of Nazi totalitarianism when he imposed his latest nationwide lockdown, promising bigger fines for misdemeanours and threatening to call in the army to police the streets.

It won’t be long before your average shopping centre looks like Belfast in the 1970s with armoured cars on street corners and soldiers toting machine guns glaring with hostility at every passer-by (not to mention probably shooting on the spot anyone who dares to chat with an acquaintance let alone fails to wear a face mask).

To what purpose this novel coronavirus clampdown? To save us from ourselves, of course. We’ve been eating out to help out; we’ve been down the pub; we’ve even taken a brief holiday, probably in this country and certainly after self-isolating before, during and afterwards.

But it seems the supposed ‘rule of six’ imposed only a week ago was, within days, apparently ‘not working’, at least according to the demented statistic-peddlers Boris put before the nation to scare the children.

Chris Whitty and his sidekick Sir Patrick Vallance, the Tweedledee and Tweedledum of the coronavirus pandemic, displayed a bogus graph claiming that, without drastic action, the spread of the virus would double every seven days. By mid-October, the total would reach 50,000, they claimed.

They did admit this graph and its scary number was ‘not a prediction’. But it was misleading, dangerous and irresponsible for them to concentrate on a nonsensical statistic which, if we were to give them any credit, could be seen as a ‘worst-case scenario’.

Sadly, throughout this pandemic, the first casualty has been the truth. Nobody is prepared to admit they really do not know what might happen in any given situation. They bandy about numbers like the 50,000 - or, more terrifying still, the 500,000 originally doomed to die unless lockdown was imposed in March - without real evidence to support their claims.

Yet the health doom-mongers and their captive politicians, led by Mr Johnson who is half the man he used to be, are allowed to run wild.

They have been so successful in terrifying us all that, in some polls at least, a majority of the population even now thinks the Government has not gone far enough in protecting us.

We have a Government determined to sacrifice everything on the altar of the pandemic. The economy is shot to pieces. Much of it will never recover. Shops, pubs, clubs, restaurants, theatres, airlines, even football clubs - some of them will never re-open. Any business or pastime where people get together and socialise is doomed to decay and, in many cases, death.

Meanwhile the National Health Service has abandoned the idea of caring for the nation’s health. You can’t see a GP. You can’t get a flu jab if you’re under 65. You daren’t bother A&E. You can’t get early warning of cancer or many other fatal diseases.

Hideously, you are now much more likely to die at home of some treatable but ignored condition than you are to catch, let alone die from, coronavirus.

In one week earlier this month, according to the Office for National Statistics, one of the less untrustworthy sources of numbers, 99 people died of Covid-19 while a needless 830 died at home of other causes.

The virus panic, not the pandemic itself, is killing us and killing our economy and hardly a voice is raised to question what’s going on let alone protest.

Take, as a small example, the 10pm curfew on pubs. Even the Government itself admits there is no evidence this will do any good, reduce the rate of infection or save a single life. Yet we accept the decision with scarcely a murmur.

The totalitarian imposition of what is almost martial law across the United Kingdom - thanks to the ‘collaboration’ of the First Ministers - is taking place with the supine, unquestioning acquiescence of our politicians.

The long list of Government failings - from the shortage of PPE at the outset to the collapse of the virus testing system under Dido Harding, the staggeringly inept wife of a Tory MP who was at university with David Cameron - makes it impossible to believe a word they tell us any more.

We cannot believe what we are told. We watch with incredulity at the imposition of curfews, house-arrest, swingeing fines and a new authoritarianism we have been browbeaten into believing is for our own good.

We need fewer collaborators. We must question every statement and assertion. We must trust nobody in any position of power. They are lying to us.