Thursday, 31 March 2011

Torbay Bus Routes

I have just come across a new blog on the block. It called Torbay Bus Routes and as you might expect it is all about Vampire hunting in Western Canada. No seriously it full of information about the buses in the Bay. They also do Twitter and Facebook so if you are interested in public transport here in beautiful Devon By the Sea then have a look. There is a link in the side bar on the right.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Cuts, The Arts Council and Our Local Police Force

The Arts Council published it list of benefactors of grants today and several places here in the South West got a nasty shock. That means they didn't get any money. Others got pleasant surprises which means they did get some money. As the Government have told Police Forces all over the country that they must cut spending is it right that a front line service like the police should be facing cut backs while public money is spent on the Arts? Or is support for struggling arts projects and theatres worth while as art is a benefit to the well being of a community.

Here in Devon the local police have been rated the worse force in the country for getting bobbies on the beat. In theory it is possible for a police force to have 20% of it's offices out there walking the streets, or now a days, driving round town. Here we have fallen down to 8.8%. The national average is 12%.

Devon and Cornwall Police say the investigation was flawed because it was done just after a big local derby football match and the student protest when many front line officer were concentrated in one place. Drusilla Sharpling, Her Majesty's Inspector for the Western Region, which covers Devon & Cornwall, stressed it had been a "snapshot" approach aimed at giving an indication of what front line services meant and how resources were deployed in the context of budget cuts.

If we are short of active front line police officers now what will it be like once the budget cuts start to have their effect. Hands up all those who voted for David Cameron.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Libya and Street Lights; Good or Bad?

A couple of story come to mind while looking at recent news stories. The first concerns David Cameron's statement that contact has been make with the people most likely to take over in Libya once the mad Cornel has gone. How does he know these are the right people to be in contact with or is he using the same method a cynic like me would use; i.e. "Who has the most guns". Because this was the problem in Iraq. The group most likely to take over might not be popular with everyone and the group not selected possibly wont do what we do her in democratic Britain which is wait and watch and vote someone else in at the next general election. You've just got to look at Iraq where the people who supported S.Hussain didn't like their new leaders and went on a mass murder spree. Democracy has to come in slowly, here in Britain it took several hundred years between Magna Charta and Votes for All when women finally got the vote in the early part of the last century. If we expect it to happen overnight in Libya then we are expecting the Libyan People to accept it a lot faster than we did here.

The other story is on a lighter note, actually that should be a darker note. Torbay council have decided to switch of street lights in industrial and residential areas from 00:30 (12:30 am) in a bid to save £300 000 and help to save the planet. Reading the story in the Herald Express I noted the comments from other readers were split 50/50 either in favour or against. An increase in crime and the danger of tripping over uneven pavements were the biggest concerns mentioned by those against the idea while those in favour quoted the environment and a reduction in light pollution by those in favour. Reports from places that have all ready switched the lights out suggest the increase in crime doesn't happen. Graffiti artist like to see what they are drawing, ask Banksy, and mugger like to see the a) the only person around is their victim not a possible eye witness or even a rescuer and b) their victim. No good hearing footsteps approaching and stepping out demanding Your money or your life and finding out your intended victim is a bouncer on his way home from a tour of duty at the roughest night club in the area.

Sales of touches should go up in the area which will be good for some local shops.

Before it happens I will go out one night and take a couple of ' before' photos and a couple of 'after' photo once it starts.

PS. Do you live in an area where the lights go out at night? Tell all, has crime gone up, are drunks on the way home from the pub at 1 and 2 in the morning suing the council after falling flat on their faces after tripping, have there been more car crashes on the dark streets of your town? Is it a good idea or what?

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Mayoral candidate: I want to scrap the post of elected mayor for Torbay.

The candidate in question is Gordon Oliver who is standing in the conservative party's interests. He, like many other people believe we don't really need and definitely don't really want an elected mayor. Now I would break a lifetimes aversion to voting Tory if Mr Oliver promised, if elected to do absolutely nothing as elected mayor. Draw no salary, attend no meetings, make no statements, influence no decisions make by the council, make everyone call him Mr Oliver. The last proviso is the problem. Mr Oliver is a councillor at the moment and I am sure that if he stands for the mayor's job he can not also attempt to get re elected as a councillor. Which means he has too much to lose by making the above promises, it would mean he would have no say in the running of the Bay for the next 4 years. He isn't going to do that I don't think.

So what we need is a candidate for Mayor who will make the above promises and keep them. It would save a hundred thousand pounds a year to get rid of the mayor and let the council run the Bay, which is what they are supposed to do.

PS. It costs £500 deposit to run for mayor which you get back if you get at least 5% of the vote. An volunteers out there with 500 quid to risk losing?

Friday, 25 March 2011

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Water Bills

We down here in the South West got a mention in today's budget. We pay more for our water than anywhere else in the country. If that statement is wrong and you do pay more than us then I really am sorry. Down here we have 30% of the English coast line but have only 3% of the population, quiet what that has to do with high water bills beats me, maybe SW Water have to keep all the beaches clean. Also we are the poorest area with the lowest wages and some of the highest house prices in the land. We, the two of us, pay £414 a year for water. We don't own a water wasting hose pipe nor do we have a dishwasher (that's my job), though we do have a washing machine. We take showers, showers use less water that a bath and try to use as little water as possible. About 52m³ per year. Divide 414 by 52 + 7.69. That means one cubic metre costs £7.69. If you live out side the South West perhaps you could do the same sum with your water bill and let me know what your water cost you.

Anyway the Chancellor is going to make public money available to help bring down the cost of water down here. The sum of £40million has been mentioned (awaits confirmation). Well done Mr Chancellor, thanks very much. I don't suppose you could back date it 15 years. Now I don't expect that nice Mr Osborne is going to sit up all night sticking cheques into envelopes and posting them of to all us hard pressed customers of SW Water. No, he'll just give SW Water £40 million and hope someone at SW Water will sit up all night sticking cheques in envelopes and posting them to all us hard pressed customers of SW Water. So do I. And soon.

PS I have been trying to find out how many house hold SWW deliver to, a wild guess would be about half a million. It that is even vaguely correct we should see our bill come down by £80 per year.

Monday, 21 March 2011

To Vote or Not to Vote?

Today a Torbay Town Hall publication dropped thought the letter box. It comes a few times a year and is full of interesting things such as how to vote at the elections to be held in May. Not which party to vote for I should add, just how to vote. You can walk down to the polling station or you can get some one else to walk down there for you, called a proxy vote or you can register for a postal vote. As our local polling station is in side a Christian church I have decided to register for a postal vote. Here in Torquay we will get 3 voting papers, one for the council, one for the government referendum on a possible change to the voting system and the third on who we want for elected mayor. Personally I don't want anyone for elected mayor. What am I doing voting for a council who are supposed to run the town if the mayor sits there and makes all the important decisions. I have always been brought up with the idea that councils are run by councillors. Mind you I did vote for an elected mayor in the referendum 5 years ago, not because I was in favour of the idea but in the hope that it would be better that having another set of inept councillors pretending to be in charge when all they seemed to be doing is back biting and knocking the opposition without actually doing much for Torbay. The political rallying cry of the last 12 years has been, "Elect us and we will undo all the bad things the last lot did while they were in power." Didn't matter which side was saying it because it ended up with nothing being done once the balance of power changed. Power in council chamber has changed at each election for the last 15 years. Three years one lot then, 3 years the other lot, then all change once again. Probably happen again this time but there is now an added complication. The LibDems are the opposition and could have lost support since Nick Clegg turned his party's manifesto into so much scrap paper and went and sat next to David Cameron up there in London.

Now the magazine also told anyone who is interested who to go about standing for mayor. You just need £500 which you will get back provided you can get 5% of the voters to put their mark next to your name. Even better if you can get 51% of them to vote for you. The present list of candidates, I am sorry to say doesn't present the voters with an obvious front runner. So pick who you want and vote for them. Or don't bother voting at all, that is your democratic right.

The third voting paper, bet you thought I'd forgot, asks do you want to stick with first past the post (present system) or an Alternative Vote system (used to elect our mayor). If you understand who it works then you are in a position to decide which way to vote on this matter. If you don't, then don't vote for it just because it seems like a good idea or you feel like a change. If you are voting don't just put your cross in the first available space. That isn't the wonderful democracy our government are trying to export round the world, it plain laziness. Think before you vote, otherwise you get the positions you deserve.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Daffodils and Nuclear Power Plants

Thoughts for the Day
 
1) If you are a parent and you take your children to the park to look at the flowers would you be disapointed if someone had got there first and picked then all? Would you ask,"Why didn't someone stop them?"
 
2) Why do people who run nuclear power plants always say "Everything is under control," when they know it isn't. If the Japanesse owners of the plant had said, "Boy, are we in trouble," from day one then maybe we could trust them a bit more. The problem now is that we need to contine to supply the developed world with the energy to run our power hungry life style by either inventing some new way of generating electricity or by building nuclear power plants all over the place. (Though on reflection not in earthquake zones). Torbay isn't in an earthquake zone, we could fit a nuclear power plant on Berry Head no problem, plenty of jobs, but would the people of Devon now believe any assurances that nothing could go wrong. go wrong go wrong. go wrong..............................

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Monday, 14 March 2011

Someone Loves William

The William in question is William of Orange aka William Three, King of England. He was the leader of the last successful invasion of England by a foreigner. Oh I know the history books say that was in 1066 and it was William One in charge but the 3rd William turned up in Brixham in 1688 with 15 thousand heavily armed men and took the English Crown. If that isn't a successful foreign (William was Dutch and so foreign) invasion I don't know what is.

Anyway to commemorate William landing in our very own Brixham there is a statue there on the harbour side. This Statue. To which someone has kindly placed a scarf round his neck. It's been very cold lately. It's almost the right colour as well.

One thing I didn't notice when I took the photo is the label tied to one end of the scarf. I must have a look what is on it next time I get to Brixham.

The other photo is about a forthcoming Walk For Life event. Since I stopped working I have done a lot more walking than I used to and I can now walk at least a mile before having to nip in a near by pub for a sit down and a rest, OK a pint as well. Walking is good for you and this seems like a good idea to meet a few people as well. Hollacombe is on the 12 route between the Gas Works and Preston. If I am not doing anything else I will get along myself.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Trivia from Torquay

A couple of photos from Torquay, trivial stuff when you consider the terrible things going on around the world but anything I might say about Libya and Japan has already been said.

First is Fleet Street, our very own bus infested perdestrianised street. The road surface, put down 22 years ago has lost it's battle with the double deckers. Too many blocks were having to be repaired so the council decided to spend £70 000 and dig the blocks up from the centre of the roadway and replace with red tarmac. The bus stops were left alone, almost cirtainly for a future appointment with the road crew.

The second photo is a little annoying. The Oak Tree is 600 years old and needs some care and attention. Not the kind of attention from the yobs who fixed this sign proclaiming it is Tiverton Squash Club together with the word BOO! and an odd drawing underneath the sign. Now I am sure the Tiverton Squash Club committee didn't pass a motion authorising one or more of their members to travel down to Torquay to hammer nails into this old and venerable tree that has been growing here on Torre Abbey Gardens since Henry IV was a small boy dreaming of how to get his cousin off the throne. At least I hope they didn't.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

The Shape of Things to Come

The government has announced that from some time in 2012 all shops selling tobacco produces will have to hide them from plain sight. This is what it will look like. Imagine some cheerful cheeky young teenager coming into a shop near you and desiring what ever it is hidden behind the doors. He/she is going to be fooled by the doors in to imagining cigarettes don't exist? The hardened smoker, poor addicted sod is going to be put of asking for his favourite brand just because they are behind closed doors? Sure it will work Mr Cameron or just be a pain in the neck for the shop keeper?

The photo wasn't taken in some local shop that has jumped the gun but in a town called Wynyard which you all know is in North West Tasmania. In Australia all shops except tobacconists have to have these doors covering the ciggies, hiding them from possibly tempted eyes and lungs. In the spirit of good jornalisiam I asked two or three shopkeepers what the effect of hiding the tobacco so wonderfully well was having regarding sales. None, was the answer in all of the shops. In one shop the lady behind the counter explained that she had opened the sliding door to serve a customer and failed to shut it as there was a bit of a rush on. Now she has been served with a notice to explain why her cigarettes were not hidden from view at all times after a customer complained to whoever it is you complain to in these matters.

If you look at the photo closely you can see the names of all the brands on sale listed on one of the doors. Defeats the object of the exercise somewhat. Also the Australian government increased the price of cigarettes by about 30% and that hasn't had any effect in reducing the number of cigarettes sold. Personally I believe the best way to reduce the number of smokers is to prevent people smoking in the first place. Get volunteers, people who have smoked for years and are clearly seriously effected by their addiction and send them into every school in the country several times a year. Maybe that will scare young children into never starting when the watch adults cough their lungs up or when climbing stairs have to stop every few steps to get enough oxygen into their lungs to continue. Covering up ciggies in shops hasn't worked in Australia and isn't going to work here.

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Plymouth Argyle

Plymouth Argyle had a couple of results the weekend. Today they beat Sheffield 4 - 2 away and yesterday the club went into Administration. The win away was a good result, their second win in two games and the sure need the points. Going into administration is against Football League rules and they have had 10 points deducted and they could end up going down into division 2 which would put them in an even deeper financial black hole. They owe various people £13 million, a lot of that is to the Tax Man who hasn't been paid. The players and the back room staff haven't been paid recently either but they care about the club, all the tax man cares about is getting his money.

This saga has been going on for a long time with 3 groups of directors all trying to go separate ways to save the club but without any apparent success. The effect of this stalemate appeared to be the club going under and everyone loosing out, except the tax man who gets his slice before everyone else can have their cut of what, if anything, is left. Now the club is in Administration the directors no longer have any say in the running of the club so hopefully some headway might be made to find a buyer.

The problem with this solution which might save the club is that the debt is £13 million but lots of local business are owed money and they are unlikely to get more than a few pence in the pound so a lot of people are going to loose out. I used to work for a company that when into administration 8 months ago. It was closed down a week later and I am still waiting for any sign of money the company owe me.

Still good luck to Plymouth Argyle. Oh yes, Torquay United also won to day two nil.

And finally I had a walk round town today looking for anyone giving away books but never came across a free book. Anyone out there get a free book?

Friday, 4 March 2011

International Space Station and Lib Dems come 6th

Been back over a week now and isn't it cold. I'd missed the news about the By election up in Bradford yesterday but wasn't suprised by the result. I have vote Lib Dem all my voting life but felt and still feel betrayed by the Lib Dem leadership joining the party to the Tory Party just so he (the Leader) could end up 'in power'. (Who is he kidding?) I can not imagine what must be going through land standing Lib Dem MPs' minds when the heard the news, beaten by the BNP into 6tgh place, with just over a thousand votes. A lot of good things are going to have to happen before the next general election, due in 4 years, if there are going to be more than a handfull of Lib Dem MPs left in Parliment in 2015. I'm sure Nick Glegg must be wondering what job he will be able to get as an ex Deputy Prime Minister and ex MP in 2015.
 
Round here we have local elections in May. Every 3 years we get a change in the party controlling the council. At the moment it is Conservative who haven't done anythine well over the last 3 years so it should, if history is anything to go by, be Lib Dem after May in the driving seat but a loud wake up call has gone out, maybe the labour party will be the ones to actually wake up.
 
Watched the International Space Station with the shuttle Discovery docked fly over last night. I tried to get a phote but I used too long an exposure and it ended up a bright line. OK, I know I wouldn't get any detail but I would have looked good. Anyway It will be up there again on Saturday at 18:31 coming from WNW heading ESE more or less directly over head and will be visable for 3 minutes.
 
The other event happening tomorrow is The Big Book Give Away. 1200 books have been delivered to Torquay Library and they will be passed on to 25 brave souls in the Torquay area who will attempt to give away 50 books each to passing strangers to read and hopefully enjoy. I have read 3 or 4 of the books on the list and I am hoping to get one or two I haven't read yet.