In the cold light of day…

The constitutional shenanigans of the last few days, stemming from Boris Johnson’s determination to avoid parliamentary scrutiny of his Brexit strategy, have overshadowed scrutiny of last week’s Spending Review (SR) announcement. The SR is meant to set firm expenditure limits for government departments and to state clearly what we should get for that spending. Introduced […]

Bin there, done that, get real!

Who could argue with the twin objectives of minimising waste and maximising re-cycling of what remains? But the government’s proposals to require one national prescriptive approach – not just a strategy, but also the detailed arrangements – to recycling and waste management are simply unwise. It’s a completely unnecessary, and counter-productive, burden on councils and […]

Planning disagreements

Every so often, there is a local media story about a planning issue. Typically, it is about someone – an individual or a company – having submitted an application for planning permission and other local residents or businesses objecting to the proposal. When the matter is particularly controversial, all sorts of comments are made and […]

No more roaming free?

No more roaming free? Those who can remember back more than two years may remember how the telecoms companies just ripped us off when we travelled abroad. Many were the stories of people who returned from their holidays to discover mobile phone bills bigger than the cost of the holiday itself. Allegedly, this was because […]

When the lights go out

Thirty years ago, the supply and distribution of UK electricity was privatised, three years’ after the same had happened to gas services. Since then, with considerable restructuring and consolidation, the dominant energy companies – the ‘big six’: Centrica plc (British Gas), EDF Energy, E.ON, SSE, Scottish Power and Npower – now all supply gas as […]

High Court says “No”

Whereas most people, across the political spectrum, have little problem with the principles behind, and the overall objectives for, Universal Credit, there is also almost universal contempt for the way in which the successive Conservative governments have sought to implement it. There are two basic problems. The first is that, for a range of historical […]

Too little, too late, never safe

Too little, too late, never safe Today’s newspapers report that, for the first time ever, the average waiting-time to see a GP has exceeded 15 days. It is nine years since David Cameron asserted “The NHS is safe under the Conservatives” – probably the sickest (sic) political joke this century. That ‘Conservative safety’ has resulted […]

Concerned? You ought to be.

It doesn’t matter whether you are an arch-Brexiteer, a firm Remainer, still uncertain, or just bored with the whole Brexit thing, I am – and you ought to be – really very concerned about the UK’s future. Whatever your views of the issues, the harsh reality is that ‘we are now where we are’, and […]

Potential and diversion

People of my generation can look back to a time when a complex matrix of formal and informal systems sought to provide appropriate support and interventions to keep teenagers on the straight and narrow. As well as parents, families and friends, there were many voluntary organisations welcoming and recruiting young people into a wide range […]

Diversionary tactics

All the media attention is on the Conservative Leadership election and, de facto, the selection of the next Prime Minister by some 150,000 Conservative Party members. Jeremy Hunt is calling on Boris Johnson to stop hiding from public sight, arguing, correctly, that he ought to answer questions about his policies. Put to one side the […]