20 May 2017

Some shocking PAT testing...

I was more than a little disturbed last night, to learn of some dodgy PAT (portable appliance) testing that is currently underway in a major chain of bookmakers across the UK.

I stumbled across this by chance, during a telephone interview after I had been approached (out of the blue) about a PAT testing job. Naturally I declined that job, despite the extra income being potentially very useful right now.

The problem is that I was told that the PAT testing is generally confined to a visual inspection only, because the equipment in the bookmakers cannot be switched off. Put simply, if the equipment looks OK it passes and the appliance doesn't go anywhere near any test equipment.

To my mind, that rather defeats the object of PAT testing. We need to know that the equipment is safe and that can only be ascertained by plugging it in to some test equipment. If you are not going to do that, why bother...?

Even if I accepted that a visual inspection was sufficient (which I don't), there is another problem. If the visual inspection is being done properly, the plug and fuse should be checked carefully. To do that, the equipment needs to be switched off and the plug removed from the socket in the wall. If the equipment is not being switched off, the plug clearly isn't being checked. There could be various hazards inside, due to incorrect wiring or loose connections. It could be incorrectly fused too.

Needless to say, I was not impressed.

However, from what I have discovered at the site where I have been PAT testing myself, it seems that this kind of "stick a pass label on it and hope for the best" approach is a lot more common than you would imagine. Last year, I found some plugs which had clearly not been properly checked before, as if they had been they would have failed instantly.

There seem to be a lot of cowboy firms around at the moment, undercutting each other on PAT testing and not doing the job properly. I am not sure what we can do about that, but if you are looking for PAT testing services it is something to be aware of and look out for.

The cheapest quote is almost certainly not going to do the job properly.

18 May 2017

Why vacancies on Hedge End Town Council should always be contested...

Although the news was not unexpected, this particular tweet from the Lib Dem leader of Eastleigh Borough Council last night was more than a little disappointing.

The reason I say that is Cllr Allingham was rejected by the electorate when all of the Hedge End Town Council seats were last re-contested, in 2015.

It was Hedge End St Johns, the ward where I live, so I remember it well. The long-serving Margaret Allingham finished fourth in that election, with the three candidates (two Conservatives and a Lib Dem) finishing ahead of her being elected as Town Councillors.

As you can imagine, seeing Cllr Allingham pop up now, as the Chair of Hedge End Town Council, just doesn't seem right in the context of that result.

Mind you, she was the Vice Chairman of Hedge End Town Council prior to that election and the defeat torpedoed the Lib Dem's plans to make her Chairman in 2015-16.  One could argue that it is fair that she gets a chance now, but the more important consideration is that if the electorate rejected the Vice Chair of the Town Council in 2015 what is she doing taking on the top job a couple of years later...?

The answer of course, is that one of the Lib Dem Town Councillors in the Hedge End Freegrounds ward resigned at the end of 2015 and Cllr Allingham was re-elected in the subsequent by-election.

As you may recall, the Hedge End Freegrounds ward was not contested in 2015, with the three Lib Dem candidates elected by default as nobody else stood against them. It was therefore a pretty safe seat for the Lib Dems. When one of the new faces stood down, Cllr Allingham duly won the by election by 262 votes to 115, with a turnout of only 23.4%. Although fair, it is hardly a ringing endorsement.

Since then there have been two other resignations on the Town Council, neither of which was contested with the seats filled by co-option. With Labour and the Conservatives apparently having given up contesting these vacancies, the Lib Dems are now able to do what they like without even requiring the formality of a by-election...

So as you can see, there continues to be a problem in Hedge End, which the citizens need to address.

We need to contest every vacancy, but that requires people to come forward and stand against the Lib Dems, who are more than happy to take the seats by default if we don't do that.

Now it so happens that I have just become the Nominating Officer for the Beer, Baccy and Scratchings party (it's a long story). Although I am expecting that party name to change again soon, to something a little more sensible, it means that you don't have to stand as an Independent if you hate the main parties and want to contest any of the local seats. Just talk to me or Ray Hall and you can stand with us instead, thus gaining the advantage of standing for a fully registered political party.

Do please drop me a line if you would like to get involved.

And you can join the conversation here;

10 May 2017

Flag Offence...

Had an amusing discussion on Twitter last night, when I quoted a tweet about taking the EU flag down from public buildings in the UK and said that I found it as offensive as the Nazi swastika...

As you can imagine, that had a few Europhiles and Remain campaigners completely up in arms, I've noticed that they can be very sensitive indeed, to any comparison between the EU and evil empires such as the USSR and the Third Reich, but my tweet also attracted quite a few likes. More than I normally get. Please draw your own conclusions from that...

Somebody even told me that I am not allowed to be offended by the EU flag, overlooking the fact that so many people seem to be offended by the English national flag, the flag of St Georges these days. They can't have it both ways. If people are allowed to be offended by my national flag, I don't see why I am not allowed to be offended by a different one...

The reason I said that the EU flag is offensive is that I don't regard the EU flag as my national flag. Until the EU referendum in 2016, nobody had ever asked me if I wanted to be part of a European superstate or not. The EU was forced upon us, with the politicians of the time refusing to grant a referendum. Without that consent, the EU flag does not have a rightful place on our public buildings.

It is actually every bit as bad as having the Nazi swastika hanging from offices in Whitehall (which thankfully never happened) and the Union Flag flying from buildings in Bombay (as it once did). The EU flag is still a symbol of power & control over the UK, if not the same kind of physical 'occupation' that the Nazi's tried.

In my opinion, the Union flag should be flown widely in the UK and on our Embassies and Consulates overseas, it is our national symbol, but it doesn't really belong anywhere else. Not on a regular basis.

I think the same principle applies to the EU flag.

And the Stars & Stripes

Not to mention the Russian flag and the Chinese flag.

In fact, there is no reason for any nations flag to be flown widely in any other nation...

You can join the discussion here, if you want to....

4 May 2017

How to spoil your ballot paper, in one easy lesson...

Having been to a few election counts myself and been a counting agent on one of them, it is clear that the act of spoiling your ballot paper is not as futile as many people think.

Candidates and agents are shown these papers towards the end of the proceedings, so they get to see what is written on them, and some are accepted as perfectly valid votes. If your intention is clear, your spoilt ballot may still count. It doesn't necessarily have to be an X on the ballot paper either. I have seen O's and wiggly lines accepted, if they are in the right place and the intention is clear.

Best of all, every spoilt ballot paper delays the proceedings, which is the last thing everybody wants at 4am in the morning...

So with the Hampshire County Council elections happening today, and none of the candidates really representing me, that's what I decided to do on this occasion. Spoil my ballot.

What I did was write a few (3-5) words of explanation under the names of the candidates I didn't like, being very careful not to stray into the space reserved for the X. For the candidate that I thought was the lesser of the evils, I drew a cock where the X should go.

So that creates the potential for an argument over that ballot paper tonight, over whether my intention was to vote for UKIP or not.

And if my vote isn't counted, it doesn't actually matter too much.

None of the candidates really represent me anyway.

And they will have had some feedback as to why...

3 May 2017

A Belated Appreciation of Clockwise

I found the 1986 film "Clockwise" on a VHS tape recently, so decided to watch it again.

The first time I saw it was in the cinema in Southport and I thought it was quite good. It subsequently appeared on TV but after several other viewings it wore a bit thin. There then followed a period of perhaps 20 years, where I've not seen this movie at all.

The prospect of watching it again after that length of time didn't really inspire me, but as my DVD player was faulty and this was the only pre-recorded VHS tape that appealed to Heidi, I popped it in to the VHS player and pressed the play button.

I was then pleasantly surprised at how good the script was.

The film started off reasonably normally, with an eccentric but otherwise very successful Headmaster (John Cleese) monitoring the many dubious activities (pupils and staff) in the grounds of his Secondary School. The film then progress through a series of unfortunate but entirely avoidable incidents, leaving a trail of chaos that eventually catches up with the Headmaster in his moment of glory. I thought it was brilliant. This movie really has improved with the passage of time...

Perhaps I look at this film differently now that I am 20 years older, or is it that modern film/TV comedy only knows how to be rude and offensive, so cannot replicate this Fawlty-esque kind of humour...?

I honestly don't remember hearing a single swear word in Clockwise. That was so refreshing.

Show me another modern comedy that delivers as many laughs without swearing.

I will bet you a cheese sandwich that you can't do so...

21 Apr 2017

Old Skool Demolition

Maths block and Science Labs gone
Roof tiles stripped. Library open to the elements
I have to drive past my old school quite regularly at the moment, so couldn't help noticing that it is in the process of being demolished.

The buildings have been boarded up for the best part of a decade, so the demolition is not entirely unexpected, but it is still very sad to see it happening.

Not so much because I liked my old school. Most of my classmates clearly didn't want to be there and some were quite nasty towards anybody who did. That meant I didn't get on quite as well as my middle school teachers and parents had hoped.

It was also the wrong kind of school for me, tending to turn out apprentices for the local shipyards and factories rather than in preparing pupils for A levels, University and high flying careers in the Civil Service....

With the benefit of hindsight, I was definitely held back by going to Woolston Secondary Schoool, but at least it was local to where I lived. After 5 years of walking well over a mile (with little legs) four times a day to & from the middle school (Mum insisted that I came home for lunch), proximity was the most attractive feature of this particular school. When I had the chance, I put my foot down and insisted that's Woolston Secondary was where I was going. The bus ride into Southampton if I went to King Edward VI School really did not appeal.

The expensive extension is being demolished too...
It is also sad to see this demolition in progress, because the school had a £multi-million extension circa 1990 and that's being demolished too..

It seems such a waste of public money, as the school closed in 2008 with the new part of the building being used for less than 20 years.

Taxpayers money is clearly inconsequential to the local education authorities, and that makes me very angry. Doubly so when I look at the Wikipedia page and see that the history of the old school has been successfully sanitised, so that any hint of criticism of the education authorities and their gross incompetence is avoided.

On a more cheerful note, I recall that the Deputy Headmistress of the school, during the period that I was there, Margaret Harris, won the BBC's Mastermind competition in 1984. "What a pity none of it rubbed off on you", was the reaction of my workmates at the time. Lol. I wished I had never mentioned it..

Sadly, I remember Miss Harris as a fearsome old battleaxe who successfully put the fear of God into everybody even if they hadn't done anything wrong, including most of the teachers, but I dread to think what the school would have been like without her. The Headmaster of the time, Won Bailey, had a speech impediment and wasn't taken too seriously by the pupils...

And then there was the Woolston School Brass Band, of which I was a reluctant and somewhat below par member. Nevertheless, I had some very good times in that group, including a memorable trip to the Loire Valley region of France in 1974, staying in the delightful French town of Chabbanais, where the local school was twinned with Woolston Secondary School.

It wasn't all bad, I suppose...

18 Apr 2017

Snap General Election - 8th June

There has been a big surprise in the UK today, with the Prime Minister announcing that she is going to call an early General Election. I have checked the calendar, it is not April 1st, it does seem to be true. There really will be a General Election on 8th June, subject to the technicality of Parliament approving that in a vote tomorrow.

As the Conservatives have a massive lead in the opinion polls and nobody in their right mind is going to think that UKIP, Labour or the Liberal Democrats are currently fit for office, I can see the thinking behind Theresa May's gamble. If she wins this vote on 8th June, the Brexit bashers and Remoaners will have the rug pulled from underneath them, Theresa May and the Conservatives will have a fresh mandate and we can move forward with the Brexit project. If she is successful, that gives her a full three years after we leave the EU in 2019, to get the UK settled again before the next General Election would be due in 2022.

It is a brave decision, but potentially a very good move if the gamble pays off.

Needless to say, all the other parties will now be trying to pull the rug from underneath the Government and Brexit, so I am afraid that we are in for a delightful few weeks of political squabbling.

And lets not forget that David Cameron gambled on winning the EU referendum last year, and lost.

Meanwhile, the local elections on 4th May have suddenly taken on a much greater significance. They will be seen as a dry run for the General Election a month later. I expect the turnout in the local elections to be higher than might otherwise have been the case and candidates who thought they were in safe local seats to have more of a fight on their hands...

We live in interesting times.

17 Apr 2017

Classic Scrabble Victory

This doesn't happen very often, but I managed to win at Scrabble last night.

My victory was entirely due to putting down two letters, which gave me a score of 180.

The UN that I played made UNFROZEN, which happened to span two triple word scores, with a double letter score on the O too.

The rather ordinary looking basic score of 20 tripled up to 60 and when I tripled it for a second time I had an amazing score of 180 for just two letters.

I couldn't have done any better if I had been playing darts.

Heidi's face was a picture, but she wasn't quite rendered speechless....

If only I could do this every time I played.

15 Apr 2017

Lucky Escape

I think I might have had a lucky escape recently, as a care service job that I enquired about fell through.

All I initially did, was respond to a large advertisement in Hedge End Post Office's window, where Amberley Care were looking for carers. No experience required, full training provided. You know the kind of thing.

The point of my phone call was to ask if they were interested in male carers. It seems that they were and they damned near bit my arm off. I could have gone for an "interview" the same afternoon, if I was up for it, but as I needed a shower, shave, shirt, shoes and something else beginning with 'sh' I decided to leave it until the following morning.

It was probably the easiest interview I have ever had. From the outset, I had the distinct impression that they had already decided to take me on, subject to references and DBS checks of course. It seems that male carers are like hens teeth round here. It was agreed that once the initial OK from the DBS check had been received, I would start shadowing. After a few such shadow shifts, which were unpaid, we would all see what we thought of me being a male carer and take it from there.

Which is basically what happened. Within a week, I was shadowing the Senior Carer on some lunchtime calls.

Although I had been depressed overnight, at the thought of having to downgrade from what I had been previously doing, litter picking, the care service job looked straightforward enough and the clients all seemed nice enough when I met them. I was also very pleased that the personal care element was said to be strictly limited, as most clients don't want a male carer doing that kind of thing.

So it could have worked out quite well. I might even have enjoyed doing that kind of work, except that when I asked the Senior Carer about some of the terms and conditions that went with the job, I discovered that I wasn't going to be paid for time spent travelling between clients.

That meant that if travelling between client A and client B, I could potentially be stuck in traffic caused by (for example) problems on the M27 or by an event at the Rose Bowl and I would most likely struggle to park if the congestion was that bad. Then, once I overcame that little problem, I would potentially have to wait for a few minutes whilst the client got up out of her armchair to press the button on the door entry system which would let me into the building. Once inside the clients flat, the 15 minute call started in earnest, for which I would earn the princely sum of £2. Less tax and National Insurance...

Stuff that, I thought, thinking back to the large 4x4 on the driveway of the executive house where Amberley Care is based, and feeling thoroughly exploited...

Realising that a disaffected carer is not likely to be a good carer, I decided not to do the job unless I was completely happy with it. I therefore asked to see a draft contract of employment, before doing any more shadowing, so I could check that I had understood correctly. I didn't want to do any more shadowing until I was completely happy with the terms and conditions, as I didn't think it was fair on the clients...

Needless to say I am still waiting for sight of that draft contract and I haven't done any more shadowing.

I saw the problem coming there there, I think, and successfully avoided another exploitative situation. I have had too many of those, over the years, and am wise to them now...

The only positive thing to come out of this, is that I have now been DBS checked. Showing that to be all clear was a useful exercise.

So what do I try next, I wonder...?

I really do feel like one of the Mr Men some days, when I am trying to find a suitable job...

And like one of these alternatives, if I am rejected too often...

3 Apr 2017

Hedge End Town Council, Annual Parish Assembly 2017

As my niece had been nominated for the Town Council's "Young Persons Serving The Community Award", I decided to go to the Annual Parish Assembly in Hedge End this evening.

This was the first time I had been to any kind of Town Council meeting in nearly two years, having decided that with a handful of Tories elected to the Town Council in 2015, the dynamics were now better than the 20-1 majority that the Lib Dems held previously. Quite frankly, I was happy to let them all get on with it, pleased to retire from the position of (usually) being the only member of the public in the public gallery ..

In case you don't know, the Annual Parish Assembly is a meeting where the public are invited to listen to reports from the Chairman of the Parish Council, the District and and Borough Councillors and from the leaders of any other groups that the council gives significant funding to. There is also a chance for members of the public to ask questions....!

In Hedge End at least, the Parish Assembly is not usually very well attended, with maybe 50 people attending this year out of a population of over 21,000. And many of that pathetically small audience were the Councillors themselves and their partners, or the friends and family of the people who are up for some kind of award. Even worse, about half of the winners in the "Best Cultivated Allotment" awards didn't turn up, causing the Town Clerk a certain amount of embarrassment as he announced their achievement. I was wondering why we all bothered, but this meeting is actually a legal requirement. The law requires it to be held every year. For historical reasons I presume...?

If that wasn't depressing enough, I thought the meeting got off to a very bad start, with the Chairman of the Town Council having a personal rant at the audience over the misuse of the Ambulance services. When he eventually moved on to his formal report, in his capacity of Chairman of the Town Council, I thought it was a little better. He highlighted some of the ongoing problems, difficulty upgrading the paddling pool for instance, and although the outlook was generally optimistic in tone, it wasn't as rose-tinted as some reports that I have heard previously.

Particularly pleasing to me was the report that the location of the Xmas lights switch-on had been changed, to reduce traffic safety concerns. I remember expressing exactly those concerns in a "Culture and Community" meeting previously and although I didn't get anywhere at the time, it seems that things did change a couple of years later, after the obstinate Cllr Bloom resigned from the council and the chair of that committee changed. That tells me that it is worth making these comments at Council meetings, but I should expect to play the longer game rather than achieve instant results.

For once, the reports from the Borough and County Councillors were quite interesting. Both seemed to adopt the same kind of tone that had been set by the Chairman, not shying away from the difficulties, but generally optimistic without being rose-tinted. They were not too long either this year, which is always a bonus...!

The financial Report was interesting, revealing that the Town Council is now digging it's own graves. I had heard that idea proposed a few years ago and was pleased to see that it had now come to fruition, with the purchase of some additional equipment to allow the Town Council's groundsmen to dig holes in the local cemetery. It saves the expense of having to get contractors in to do that, so it is a sensible change (in my opinion), helping to keep our Council Tax down in the long term..

There were surprisingly few reports from the local organisations, with the Hub (Youth Services) and Kings Community Church being the only two of any significance.

The Serving the Community Awards were a little more interesting than usual this year, as there was some family interest. I was slightly surprised to learn that were only two nominations in each of the categories. I would have expected a few more than that, from a population of 21,000. Did the Town Council have to drum up a few nominations I wonder..? They don't exactly seem to have been inundated with them and (apart from my niece) the nominees would all have been well known to the Council ...?

Anyway, the adult winner was a lady who maintains raised flower beds for the Council. Deservedly so, as those beds are much better kept than they used to be. The junior winner was a teenager who has been doing some good work at the Hub (Youth Services). My niece was runner up and was given a really nice certificate in a frame. There will not be too many youngsters getting one of those, and it is a real achievement. Something to be proud of.

Inevitably, I couldn't restrain myself from asking a question when the opportunity arose. What more can the Town Council do, to advise the public when ad-hoc vacancies occur and encourage them to put themselves forward as Councillors..? Having put the Chairman of the Town Council on the spot, my question was batted across to the Town Clerk, who competently fielded it by referring to various technicalities and the fact that the Town Council is only required to do a limited range of things. Which they do. Not entirely satisfied with that, I suggested putting a flyer in the Hedge End Gazette and I think I got a commitment from the Chairman Cllr Paul Carnell and Cllr Jerry Hall to raise the subject in a future Town Council meeting.

So I will have to go along to that meeting and join in the discussion, It will be just like the old days...

Meeting over, the best was yet to come, with various Councillors happy to chat to me as old friends. I really appreciated that, more than they realised perhaps, and that for me was the most valuable part of the evening. In particular, Cllr Dan Clarke was particularly generous with his time.

But I won't report all that we discussed here. Just that it was a really enjoyable chat with a local Councillor on topics of the day, national and local.

31 Mar 2017

Article 50 Triggered

Dear Don, we're leaving, Up yours, Theresa....
I am delighted to see that the UK Government has triggered Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which formally starts the process of withdrawing the UK from the EU.

All we had previously was the 2016 EU referendum result, where the British electorate made it clear to the UK Government that they wanted to leave the EU. No more no less.

Sensibly perhaps, that referendum was advisory rather than legally binding. That created some doubt about whether Brexit would actually happen and the pro-EU losers tried very hard to stop it. Mostly out of self-interest, so far as I can see...

However, after the inevitable political shenanigans and a lot of bitterness and division in the UK, it appears that the Mother of all Parliaments has been wise enough to follow the direction that has been set by it's people. For better or worse.

This is the first time a UK Government has ever had to follow the direction that was set in a referendum that it lost, a direction that it didn't really want to pursue. Despite the best efforts of the "remoaners", democracy seems to be working here, which is good, but nobody really knows quite how Brexit will work out in practice. It is one of those things that will gradually take shape over the next couple of years and beyond, as detailed decisions are taken and implemented.

The UK is also the first country to go down this route, so we are venturing into uncharted territory. As the EU is a monstrous bureacratic nightmare, with unelected leaders, a flawed vision of Europe and little real accountability, I doubt that we will be the last. Unless it can reform, the EU's days really are numbered...

Although it has taken 9 months to get to this stage, a period which has been far too long for some, it means that the UK will be leaving the EU shortly before the next round of EU elections are due. That optimal timing means we don't have to go through the charade of electing MEP's again. I can't begin to tell you how pleased I am about that. Only the main parties can afford to contest the EU regions properly. Independents and minor parties are squeezed out, due to the logistics and the costs that are involved.

The 9 month delay has also given the Government some time to think about what to do next and get the right people into the right posts. It gives me confidence that we are in safe hands at the moment, with Theresa May currently doing an excellent job as Prime Minister. Triggering Article 50 on 24th June last year would clearly not have been the right thing to do, as we were not prepared for what happens next.  

With Article 50 triggered on 29th March, a simple process of our Ambassador handing a letter to the President of the European Council (no stamp needed), the Brexit negotiations start here.

Whatever you think of the idea, that's the route we are now headed. The UK will be leaving the EU.

Like all change, it is a great opportunity.

And we all have a responsibility to make the best of it now.

27 Mar 2017

Exit carefully...

Couldn't help noticing another dodgy sign this morning, in the car park at Southampton Central Railway Station.

Although a Sherman tank would easily overcome the problem, I have no idea how they expect me to drive my car through that gap..

24 Mar 2017

A big surprise at Shirley pond

With time on my hands today, I decided to explore a corner of Southampton that I've not investigated before. It has only taken me half a century, but I have finally discovered Shirley pond.

And look what I found...

Yes, a weed-ridden pond with some ducks and a football floating in the middle.

Of course, it is still early in the year and the pond is not at it's best yet.

Other vantage points suggest that it will be well worth visiting again in a couple of months time. It is potentially a very nice afternoon out, especially if I also stop off at the neighbouring public house for a half of lager shandy in the beer garden.

That particular pub is named The Ice House, which is most unusual for a pub name. It indicated that there is some interesting history to be discovered here.

And indeed there was.

Looking at this page on Sotonpedia, I see that the pub is built over a large pit, which was used to store ice that was collected in winter. That ice was subsequently used, throughout the year, to keep produce fresh, prior to refrigerators.

Presumably, some of the the ice might have been collected from Shirley Pond...?

If so, I hope it was a bit cleaner in those days. One also wonders if Victorian diners at the Clarence Hotel on Southampton High Street ever found Newts and Tadpoles in their salad...?

But best of all perhaps, was the unexpected discovery of some large blocks of concrete, with a flat top pyramid shape.

I hadn't expected to see anything like this, but I knew instantly what they were.

They are "Dragons teeth", a WWII tank trap.

Whilst this obstacle wouldn't have stopped the Wehrmacht completely, this is one small part of the intricate web of defences that were built to slow down the Nazis if they had landed on the South coast of England in 1940.

I was delighted to have found this site and amazed that the concrete still appears to be in pretty good condition, despite the passage of time and the vegetation that has grown over and around them.

I wonder what else there is to discover here...?

Maybe nothing, but there are certainly plenty of other sites around Southampton, some accessible many not, which have WWII heritage.

I really must try to do this kind of thing more often...

22 Mar 2017

A Parking Conundrum...

Two thoughts occurred to me, when trying to park my car at Wickes in Hedge End this afternoon.

1. How do our dozy town planners and the developers expect that parking space to be used for it's intended purpose....?

2. Why isn't the bulk material placed there, instead of occupying the neighbouring two spaces...?

Answers on a postcard please, to....

20 Mar 2017

Bring back the Poll Tax

My Council Tax bill arrived today, with the expected hyper-inflationary increase. I now have to work for 13 hours at £8 an hour every month, just too keep the Council and assorted hangers-on happy.

This led me to ponder the unfairness of the existing system, which sees single occupancy households bearing a disproportionate share of the Council Tax burden, despite the 25% discount that single people get. If there are three or more adults, households don't pay any extra, despite the extra demand for public services that is created by that household.

I can't help thinking that the much hated Poll Tax, introduced by Margaret Thatcher's Conservative Government in 1990, was actually a much fairer system, as everybody of working age in the household was required to contribute towards local Government funding. Larger households, with three or more adults, thus paid more than they do now and property values were irrelevant...

It is a great pity that John Major bottled it when he took over in 1992, and replaced the Poll Tax with the ill-considered and unfair system of local authority funding that we have now.

It would have been much better to have persevered with the Poll Tax, perhaps giving Local Authorities a lot more funding from Central Government, in order to soften the blow to the households that were hardest hit.

Can we try it again please, but do it right this time...?

As a first step, which doesn't require a complete upheaval of the existing system, perhaps we could add 25% to the Council Tax for every extra adult in the household, where there are more than two...?

18 Mar 2017

Don't be negative about negative people...

I am afraid I must admit that I have been accused of being a negative person on more than one occasion.

Naturally I don't consider myself to be negative, just a pragmatic realist who is blessed with common sense and foresight.

I would argue that history has shown me to be correct more often than not. It may take a little time, but the blind optimists and their rose-tinted spectacles (if that isn't a contradiction in terms) usually end up shrugging their shoulders and saying "that couldn't be foreseen" whilst I'm sat here thinking "I told you so"...

After many years of this kind of bashing, I am now acutely aware that the accusations of "negativity" are just a trick that some people pull in order to subjugate others into accepting their own line of thinking. By the time they're proven to be wrong, it is usually far too late to do anything about it.

I've seen local politicians do this in Council meetings. It also happens in the workplace a lot. Sadly, I've seen members of my my own family do it too.

As you may know, negativity-bashing is commonplace across social media, so this meme rather appealed to me when I spotted it recently. I thought it was a refreshing change which hit the nail on the head...

Time for a clear out

Every so often, I review my blogging activities and clear out some of the older posts.

This evening is one of those occasions, though I have been unusually ruthless and removed everything prior to this post. I deleted my secondary blogs too, as I only have time to maintain and develop this one now.

In future, The Complete Works of TGR Worzel really will include everything that I write about...