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.

The Bildeston Melon

Scratch a Green and discover what sort of melon they are. Are they red on the inside (closet Socialist) or yellow (closet Liberal).
I’ve always had my doubts about Robert Lindsay, leader of the Greens on Babergh and a County Councillor in Suffolk.
I was not too surprised when Lindsay announced that he would have reduced Council Taxes by increasing car parking charges specifically in Hadleigh and Sudbury.
So far, as expected.
On Monday (21st Feb) the Greens at the Babergh District Council Meeting went further. Cllr Lindsay expanded on the Green ambition that if all parking was taxed appropriately the monies raised and saved could go to subsiding bus services and providing grants and other support to those businesses adversely affected by the parking regime.
So it’s in with more bureaucracy in the guise of serving the people with the additionality of opportunities for waste and corruption in money dispersal matters
So, now we see their true colours. They are not interested in global warming as such but are keen on redistributive taxes. The car parks are to be a money maker.
And what if that’s not enough? Will they advocate (like some councils) taxing parking spaces at work? Will they regard garages at home as facilitating car ownership and therefore taxable?
At District level Robert represents Bildeston and its surrounding area. Bildeston is a large village with just over 1,000 inhabitants. It also has free, maintained parking in its village square. Is this square to be monetised? Is it to be exempt? Do the villagers know Cllr Lindsay’s ambitions?
We should be told, but I don’t think we shall.

Photo © Evelyn Simak (cc-by-sa/2.0)

Darwin Award Nomination

It’s never too late too late to nominate someone for a Darwin Award.
Earlier this month the Sun reported that last May, Lee Williams, a hospital patient in University Hospital of Wales removed his oxygen mask and lit a cigarette.
Thirty eight patients had to be evacuated during the ensuing explosion and fire. A doctor and two nurses were treated for smoke inhalation and shock.
The explosion closed the hospital for two weeks. Damage was assessed at £50,000.
Williams ended up in intensive care and almost died.
Currently our man is enjoying the Queen’s hospitality having received a five year sentence, which hopefully will be long enough to protect the rest of us, whilst he appreciates the dangers and evils of smoking.

An Outbreak of Common Sense

  • Saturday’s Telegraph (5th September) reported that a hair salon owner in Stroud, Gloucestershire, was asked to remove an advert for a “happy” stylist because the word happy “discriminated against people who aren’t happy”.

The Department for Work and Pensions has since apologised, calling it a mistake.
The Telegraph further noted that one could follow woke logic to its ultimate conclusion and ban the advert for discriminating against those who can’t cut hair, or against anyone who doesn’t want a job. So long and broad is the list of “problematic” words that adverts in the future might have to be just a picture of something associated with the position, such as a pair of scissors and a large question mark.
We voted to leave the EU because we thought it discriminated against common sense and whilst you might think that common sense is not so common after all, every now and then someone steps in and corrects the idiocies that abound in local government.
Three cheers for the DWP!

 

Chip Mountain

Earlier this year, Leo Varadkar (Taoiseach of Eire) was reported to have said: “I don’t think the UK has yet come to terms with the fact it’s now a small country. I think the reality of the situation is that the European Union is a union of 27 member states. The UK is only one country”. The EU’s attitude towards Britain has not been lost on other trading nations throughout the world.
One of the side effects of the Covid-19 lockdowns is that restaurants and fast food outlets are not selling as many french fries as previously. Consequently, there is a mountain of 2.6 million tons of frozen EU chips looking for export markets.
The population of New Zealand is less than 10% of the U.K.’s and their farmers are apprehensive that there will be a chip tsunami heading their way. Potato NZ have discussed possible responses with the NZ Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) should there be a flood of EU chips on the NZ market.
In a typical bureaucrat fashion, the Government have responded that they are keeping an eye on the situation and that under WTO rules there needed to be evidence of actual harm or a risk of harm to the industry before an anti-dumping action could be taken.
When I first read of Potato NZ’s action, I thought it was a case of crying before you are hurt. But it is. NZ’s potato growers supply approximately 85% of their domestic market, a large proportion of which is consumed in the hospitality business.
They are quite rightly fearful that EU producers will roll over them like invading tanks.
Meanwhile NZ and the EU are negotiating a free trade agreement. If NZ is to have open borders for EU goods, then the potato growers of N.Z. are not the only ones who should be feeling fearful.

Buying Greenland

EPSON MFP image

We have returned to England and are in the throes of buying a house. Meanwhile between moving the buying process along and setting up paint samples – alas we have three different kinds of white and I cannot tell the difference – every day seems to bring a different moan or calamity warning about Brexit. But every now and then there is a glimmer of unintended humour to brighten up the day.
One such shaft of brilliance was a letter in Saturday’s Daily Telegraph which could unkindly be sub-headlined “the view from the manse”. Supporting the proposal to buy Greenland the writer gives no thought to the outcomes for the present inhabitants – only to characterize them as requiring (permanent) subsidies and being alcohol addicted.
What these people need is “American investment and can do spirit (which) would enable it to do what Denmark had failed to do:  … up and running”.
It’s a bit like the kettle calling the pot black. One day the Scots will live the life they long for: devoid of subsidy and alcohol, and they will not like it!

Hahoter Hatov השוטר הטוב

If you need a break from Trump, Brexit, Boris, Hunt, Iran and so on I cannot recommend more highly the Israeli police series Hashoter Hatov (Good Cop)  It’s available on Netflix and ticks all the boxes:

  • It’s cross cultural.
  • It’s intellectual (foreign language with subtitles), but occasionally risqué.
  • It’s family centered from the police station to the actual families.
  • It’s only 30 minutes for each episode so you can binge-watch without guilt.
  • The humour and situations range from the real to the bizarre into the surreal but always credible.
  • Finally, it let’s you laugh at other people’s problems without excessive schadenfreude.

It’s my find of the month!

 

Important News You May Have Missed

I have been very quiet on the blogging front. Not because I have nothing to say, but because I have been overwhelmed with the news coming out of Westminster, Washington and North Carolina politics.
This week has seen a lack of progress in the Brexit process. One cabinet minister has resigned (been sacked). There are local government elections in England on Thursday and there is a fear that Brexit frustration will flow into the voting patterns and that very many hard working councillors will be swept away by a possibly ungrateful electorate.
The Mueller Report has been delivered, summarized and published in a redacted format. The Attorney General has appeared before the Senate and as we speak he is resisting appearing before the House of Representatives.
Meanwhile in the real world in East London football, West Ham beat Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 on April 27th. and Leyton Orient have returned to the English Football League having achieved promotion from their non league status.
So, all in all, it’s a great time for East London football and long may the teams prosper.

Chocolate and Lent

It is always important to enjoy the present whilst at the same learning from the past. It is also never too late to think of Lent, Easter and Chocolate.
An article in the Tablet last year reported that Chocolate is “innocent” in the eyes of the Church. Its consumption does not break any religious fast. This was declared in 1662 by Pope Alexander VII.
Admittedly he was only concerned with chocolate beverages. But none the less we are assured that the teaching of the Church cannot change. Of course, as a legalist one cannot add sugar or sugar substitutes – but dark chocolate can be very satisfying.
So enjoy the present and make sure you are stocked and prepared for Lent.
http://www.thetablet.co.uk/columnists/3/9829/chocolate-is-innocent-in-the-eyes-of-the-church-its-consumption-breaks-no-fast
http://www.thetablet.co.uk/author/50/sara-maitland

The Legacy of Josephus Daniels

JJosephus Danielsosephus Daniels was a North Carolinian appointed by President Wilson to be Secretary of the Navy during the First World War. Daniels is famous for many things but particularly he objected to alcohol on ships and ordered that coffee be served instead. The author Garrett Peck in his book “The Great War in America” reports that recruits groused about their “cup of Josephus” which today is referred to as a “Cup of Joe”. (This thought is challenged on the internet – but has an aura of authenticity about it and in any case deserves to be true).