Millions of Ghost Patients

According to the Daily Mail and highlighted by the Taxpayers’ Alliance there are 61.7 million people registered at GP practices in England despite there only being 56.5 million people in the country -meaning there are 5.2 million ghost patients. (Which is around a 10% overcounting).
The ghost patients are costing the country over £800,000 a year. A sum which would support more than a few nurses.
As it is, at the moment the overcounting lets the British Medical Association (the doctors’ trade union) claim that they are overworked simply by looking at the average number of patients per doctor.
The NHS must have its own inspectorate and checking a sample of patients’ names against the electoral register would throw up an instant list of names to be investigated.
It’s not rocket science – but quite often simple solutions are.

Meanwhile on Planet Babergh

Just when you think that lessons gave been learned, you realise that very few people pay attention to history, whether it is recent history or not.
Readers of this blog may recall that on May 3rd 2016 I posted a commentary on the then continuing saga of East House, which Suffolk County Council had handed back to Babergh who didn’t know what to do with it except to evict the tenants and leave it empty. The unfortunate history of East House is that whilst Babergh made up its mind, the market moved on and any rehabilitation/upgrading with a view to selling was rendered uneconomic.
This week’s news is that Babergh District Council are to increase the debt threshold for Babergh Growth Ltd., from £3,7 million to £7m to facilitate cash flow. The company is responsible for the redevelopment of Babergh’s former offices in Corks Lane We can assume that the cash will be flowing all one way for some time to come as the cash holdings of the company were only £61,433 at 31st March 2021.
The development is expected to realise 57 homes. Due to increased costs and impacts from Brexit, the war in Ukraine and inflation, the costs of the scheme have gone up by £680,000 over four years– which begs the question why is there an increase in borrowing powers of £3.3 million.
And now comes the prize-winning comment from the Great Leader of the Rainbow Coalitioned Council (John Ward) “Ultimately the development is still expected to break even or even show a modest profit”
Why are we undertaking a marginal project? You can almost hear echoes of “With a fair wind and a few sunny days, this time next year we could all be millionaires”
It’s time to go back to basics. The economic outlook is not good and the project needs to be reworked to bring the projections back to a reality which will give comfort to the residents that their leaders know what they are doing.

Council Taxes & Precepts: Clarion Call

Often, the best form of defence is to get one’s retaliation in first.
I am aware of at least one council discussing raising their Council Tax impositions without any mention of the needs of their electorate or the effect of the rises upon their residents
We need to tell local councillors at Parish, District and County levels telling them that as residents and tax payers we do not wish to see any increase in the council taxes levied upon our households.
We know that many businesses have suffered in the past nine months, we know that people have been furloughed and are on reduced incomes, we also know that many families relying on casual work whether in the hospitality sector or otherwise have seen their personal finances devastated.
Budget decisions are due next month, but before then we need to tell our Councillors that any increase in the Council Tax this year is unacceptable.
It’s time Councils reviewed their expenditures into three categories: Luxurious, Nice to have and Need to have. The last category getting the first bite of the monies.
For example, the last time I looked, Suffolk had seventeen officers and senior staff responsible for internal and external communications. I have excluded from this number those persons concerned with Customer Services, Web and Digital Transformation. Those seventeen could not all be performing essential tasks relating to the proper stewardship of our monies.
Every council and organisation has its own little pockets of waste and extravagance. Even after years of austerity they can still be rooted out and the monies returned to the tax payer.
A version of this blog was published in the EADT on 26th December 2020

Ils sont nos poissons

It would appear that the French are still not happy with just controlling their half of the English Channel or La Manche, they want all the fish in the sea.
But Macron is no Charles de Gaulle and Boris is no Edward Heath.
On the 21st October we celebrated Trafalgar Day to commemorate the fact that 215 years ago we defeated the French and resolved once and for all who should rule the waves around Great Britain. Macron is no Napoleon either, despite his bluster.
They are our territorial waters and the French should look elsewhere.
Why are my Bremainer counterparts not supporting Macron? If the deal on offer is that good, they should be vocally supporting it and inviting French trawlers to station themselves in Dover or Douvres as they would rename it.
As always, Britain’s difficulties are seen to be France’s opportunities. But, this time around it’s not a case of “No, No Nanette” but “Absolument Non! Mr le President”
A version of this article was published in letter form in the East Anglian Daily Times on October 23rd


Clown Aid

The Government is proposing a temporary cut in overseas aid. It should be seen not as a problem caused by our Covid difficulties but as an opportunity to reconsider our aid priorities. Aid should perhaps be focussed on poverty relief, education, governance and sustainability.
The current system is fraught with waste and abuse.
It is reported that the EU have been ‘acting like clowns’ after splurging £23million of overseas aid on more than 400 circus related acts. The British contribution to these bread and circuses was £3million.
The money was spent between 2014 and 2019.
The circus grants included £182,000 teaching tightrope-walking in Belgium, Ireland and Romania. Two troupes in Palestine got £138,000 in 2016 to help “foster unity and diversity”. Another in Ethiopia got £280,000 the same year, using some for a new big top.
Britain’s circuses received £721,000 which may have been for touring overseas rather than U.K. based education and entertainment.
The revelations have prompted circus jokes such as from German MEP Nicolaus Fest: “Many of my colleagues act like clowns, but I never thought they would actually fund the circus”.
“Taxpayers deserve better than to have their hard-earned money squandered on such extravagant comedy.”
And that is the tragedy. It cannot be too difficult for better uses to be found for the monies – either as aid promoting self-sufficiency or as benefits in our own territories where we have asylum seekers and our own people who need to be levelled up.

1944 And All That

My brother and I tend to meet up two or three times a year to have a decent lunch and catch up on the events in our lives and those of our nearest and dearest.
Recently we lunched at the Royal Oak in Stambridge, Essex. We were discussing family history and wondered whether our parents would have been proud of us had they not died over seventy years ago. Our conclusion was that they would have been proud of us – particularly as we were enjoying hors d’oeuvres of pigeon’s breast with black pudding accompanied by a French Cabernet Sauvignon.
This conversation came back to me when I came across the attached photograph of West Ham Bus Garage in the aftermath of its bombing on 30th July 1944.Which was the same evening that a stray (!) bomb hit our house causing my brother and me (who were in a Morrison Shelter) to become orphans.
You do not have to be a fan of Dad’s Army to reflect on what would have happened had Great Britain lost the war. We would have become a colony of the Third Reich and our assets and resources would have been transferred to the centre on an ongoing basis – since the purpose of colonies is to produce wealth for the centre and not absorb the resources of the empire.
Flash forward seventy odd years and what do we have? We have assets and resources being transferred from Great Britain to the centre (now in Brussels) on an ongoing basis with very little influence on how they are managed and spent.
All of a sudden I see Brexit in a different light.

It Takes a Queen

The Wall Street JournalHalf Farthing 1843 on October 6th carried a review by Judith Flanders of the book “Behind the Throne” by Adrian Tinniswood.
The review contained a fairly detailed report on the royal employees/servants. Queen Elizabeth for example has 1,200 people looking after her and her households.
Medals are given for long service in lieu of what are known to be extremely poor salaries. The royal households of previous centuries did little better. Under Queen Victoria, reforms to a chaotic private Buckingham Palace lowered the wages of the maids by almost two-thirds, to as low as £12 a year, while leaving unchanged the salary of the queen’s hereditary grand falconer (a position held by an aristocrat) at £1,200 per annum. Never mind that the she had no falcons, nor any intention of ever acquiring them.
At this point I have to express a personal interest in this story. My great grandmother worked in Queen Victoria’s Windsor Castle laundry. I suspect that the wages were less than a £1 a month and I can understand why it was not a long term career path nor a stepping stone on to greater things.
With such arbitrary penny pinching it is no wonder the Royals feared the revolutions which swept Europe and the United States in the late eighteenth century.
And perhaps the wonder is how the Royal Family managed to survive and prosper to the present day with such attitudes.

Des Res with Mod Cons

In 1967 Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe produced an inventory of life-changing events known as the Social Readjustment Rating Scale (SRRS) which, surprisingly, ranked the act of moving home as the 28th most stressful life change. I am surprised at the ranking and can only presume that time has moved on and that moving home has moved up the scale.
My professional life is realty and last June there were 90,553 of us in North Carolina, so there is great pressure to get everything right when one’s own home goes on sale.
All of which is a roundabout way of blogging that our house at 5316 Coronado Dr., Raleigh 27609 is on the market at $620,000.
The house is a real gem and is in move in condition. We have been very caring of the property and have meticulously updated it as necessary. The upgrades include the kitchen, the appliances, the kitchen cabinetry and porcelain tiles in the kitchen and bathrooms. There are walk-in showers (one double with a frameless enclosure). All full bathrooms have luxury showerheads. There is beautiful hardwood flooring throughout,
Other features include:
Dual zoned HVAC system,
freshly painted exterior,
attached garage,
detached wired storage building and a
well landscaped, fenced yard,
paver patio.
The house shows well and the photographs if anything understate its attractiveness.
In short it is a des.res. with updtd mod cons, twenty minutes from the airport and downtown.
It’s well worth a look and full details are can be found by clicking 0n 5316 Coronado Dr 180215. The photographs can be seen on https://raleigh.weichert.com/74909934/
Please feel free to call or email me with any queries.
Better still, please buy the house from us or refer it to your friends who might find it just the home they are looking for.

Property Designer Trends

My clients and customers know that I have little time for real estate decorating fads imposed willy-nilly on peoples’ houses without regard to the unique selling points of the property to be sold. Of course, houses and apartments need to be clean, uncluttered and welcoming. But are you selling into a lifestyle or are you selling a commodity where it needs to stand out on a value for money basis?
This weekend my reading included an article in the London Sunday Times espousing the philosophy of Ellie Rees, creative director of Brickworks, an estate agency based in north London. Her views on property decoration include “You need to think about the demographic of the person who’s likely to buy your property, and make it as appealing as possible to them. It’s not about being neutral. It’s about being quite bold and stylish, but knowing what that style should be. How grown-up? How family? How couply?”
Photography is key to getting buyers to book viewings.
“It’s that ‘property porn’ thing we have become so culturally obsessed with. Great photos mean more people click on the property on the internet, which means you’ll get more viewings and, hopefully, the best possible selling price.”
The full article can be found on https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/before-and-after-home-staging-an-insiders-guide-to-selling-your-property-tgxmgkfcr
At Weichert I have access to professionals who have their feet planted firmly on the ground. I can put you in touch with decorators and photographers whatever the real estate need.

Winterizing the Home

With winter here, it’s never too late to start thinking of ways to keep the home toasty all season long. As the temperature drops below freezing, here is a short list of things you can do to protect your home from the winter’s chill and stop your energy bills from ballooning beyond your budget.
Is it Drafty in Here?
“Improving your home’s insulation and sealing air leaks are the fastest and most cost-effective ways to reduce energy waste and make the most of your energy dollars,” according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
One of the easiest things you can do to prevent air leaks is to place a draft snake at the base of your doors. You can buy one premade or make your own by simply rolling up a towel. Wrapping your windows is also an effective way to stop leaks. All it takes is some heavy-duty clear plastic, which you can buy at your local home improvement store, and a hair dryer.
Is your Furnace in Shape?
While it doesn’t have to run a marathon, it’s important that your heating system is in shape for the long haul of winter. Schedule a tune-up before the temperatures drop and replace your filter once a month.
While you’re thinking furnace, think AC as well. Shut off the air conditioning water valve to prevent excess water from collecting in the equipment.
What about the plumbing?
If you live in a cold climate, your plumbing could be at risk to freeze and thaw (perhaps more than once) during the winter, which can cause pipes to burst.
Weatherproofing your plumbing is always a good idea. To do so, turn off the water supply to outdoor spigots, sprinkler systems, swamp coolers and AC units then drain them. If your AC or swamp cooler has components outside, make sure to cover them.
Have a pleasant winter
This advice comes from 2-10 HBW which offers the industry’s most comprehensive coverage for homeowners.