British Gas website speaks the truth!

A while ago we had a real issue with British Gas who seemed incapable of sending someone to mend our boiler.

Twice we had a booking and twice they failed to turn up. The third day we had off someone turned up and on the fourth seperate day we sat in waiting they finally did what we had paid them.

We complained the first time they didn’t come and they said sorry and I think sent £10 (which when you pay a flat £155 for one fault isn’t that over generous). The second time they didn’t come we moaned – but their attitude now is – what do you want? – you’ve had your boiler mended. What I really want to know is why you can’t actually get someone to come out on a day (not a time slot) they say they will come! Or if they can’t come – why they can’t tell you.

You could of course complain on their website, but then when you hit send you get told:- A System Error has occured. Please try again.

Funny – I think that descibes how their company seems to work (or not) at the moment.

Marathon Madness

I know I said never again, but I really am a fool sometimes. I’ve just been given a place in the 2008 London Marathon. That means that next April I will be pounding the streets of London for the third time in my life.

Now you lot don’t have to go through the pain I will. And trust me the last time I did it, I felt the pain. I won’t tell you where I had to put surgical white spirit after I’d finished!!

So given you won’t be suffering, perhaps you would care to dig deep and give a donation to help support all the work the people at St John Ambulance do.

To make it easier there’s even a website allowing you to do just that which you can find by clicking this link.

I’d like to raise £2,000 for them so any amount big or small will be really appreciated. And remember – if you’re a taxpayer click the giftaid box and the charity gets an extra 28%!

Only in America?

I stumbled across the website recently which features stories on a variety of topics, including politics etc.

This one caught my eye and made me think only in America! Two workers at a car dealership apparently pestered their boss (who was under financial pressure) that much for a raise that he eventually snapped and allegedly shot them to death.

Good grief! Maybe something to thin about if you are thinking of asking your boss for a raise first thing on a Monday morning!

the council and the fake statue

This story amused me, about how someone knocked up a fake Egyptian statue in there shed in 3 weeks, but surely it begs the question as to why Bolton Council were in the market for an Egyptian statue in the first place?


Disabled badges

Now I am all for parking badges for people with disabilities. Indeed my father in law who has to be in hospital 3 days out of every 7 has one, and indeed needs one.

One thing that really really annoys me is the seemingly flagrant abuse of the disabled parking badge which seems to get worse and worse.

Only yesterday I walke past a florist, and the delivery van – with the Interflora logo had a disabled parking badge – allowing it to park in the disabled parking bay outside of the shop. I have to say that this isn’t the first time I’ve seen it.

Now I don’t want to be as grumpy as Dizzy Thinks, and I could be completely misreading the situation. The delivery person may well have some form of disability meaning they quite rightly deserve the parking badge. Alternatively could it be another case of someone using a badge for their own  convenience rather than what the disabled parking badge scheme is really for?

pmqs 14 November 2007

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inflation smokescreen

For the past few years, I’ve been amazed at how little is made of the fact that Gordon Brown changed the rate inflation is measured from the Retail Price Index to the Consumer Prices Index. We know why he did it of course, and that was to make his target easier to attain whilst ramping up public spending. The problem is we now have an inflation figure that no one trusts and bears no relation to the costs people are facing.
Today the rate went to 2.1%. Now when I think of living costs, there is food which has been ramped up, fuel which means motoring and heating costs have been ramped up by double digit percentages and nothing going down in price. The idea of 2.1% is a joke. Much more realistic is the 4.2% RPI index which is what employers have to use the pay settlements (because the unions would destroy them for using the CPI).
So what is the point of the CPI? No one believes it, and it is hiding the real problem of inflation in the economy at a time of economic slowdown. If Gordon Brown was interested in candid Government, he would scrap it and allow the bank to deal with the proper inflation rate which is overshooting its target by 2%. Much of which is being caused by fuel, of which the Government is taking 76% in duty and VAT and which it added 2.7 pence last month.
The Government needs to work with the Bank of England to sort out these problems before they escalate, and getting rid of unrealistic measures like the CPI would be a start. However, after Northern Rock, can anyone have confidence that they can work together?


Even legal drugs cause problems

The use of drug treatments for children diagnosed with ADHD has proved controversial within the medical community for many years.  Parents often see Ritalin and Concerta, two of the more popular ADHD treatments, as cause for hope that their child’s behaviour can finally be brought under control.  Today’s news that drug treatments are no more effective than therapy will come as a shock to many parents and doctors in the UK and should hopefully bring about a major rethink in how this disorder is dealt with.  In fact, the author of the original study supporting the use of drugs to treat ADHD has said that "there’s no indication that medication’s better than nothing in the long run", which is a truly astounding comment.
It doesn’t take a medical genius to appreciate that giving children a daily dose of strong medication when their brains and bodies are still developing puts them at risk for developing serious side effects, and in the case of ADHD drugs children have poorer growth rates and do not physically develop in the same way as other children.  Society’s obsession with prescribing drugs to children and adults for a range of disorders such as ADHD and depression is a dangerous habit and opens up problems with dependence and tolerance rather than treating the root causes of these problems.  Perhaps today’s report will be the wake-up call that doctors and patients so desperately need.


Remembrance Sunday

Remembrance Sunday in Newark after the crowds had left.

Pick a Number, Any Number

The Home Affairs and Justice debate on Tuesday’s Queens Speech was dominated by Government proposals to “seek consensus” on increasing the maximum period of pre-charge detention for terrorist suspects. Yet such a consensus will be difficult, if not impossible, to come by. Yesterday, Members of the House from all corners and sides questioned the fuzzy thinking behind Jacqui Smith’s proposals.

The Shadow Home Secretary reminded us that “our freedom was bought at a very high price. We on this side will not give that freedom away without very good reason indeed.”   So, is there good reason? What is the basis for the planned extension of pre-charge detention? One might expect that the police have been experiencing great difficulty in compiling sufficient evidence to charge terrorist suspects within 28 days. But the Home Secretary admits that there has not been once case where they have been up against the wire. The basis for extension is that, due to “trends of increasing complexity” the Home Secretary can imagine a circumstance where the police might need more than 28 days. There are whole rafts of circumstances I can imagine on a great range of topics, but should we legislate on wholly hypothetical situations?  

With no evidence on which to base more draconian measures, how would the Home Secretary like to go about this extension? Will the Government repeat the tactics of 2005 by seeking a very high figure in order to get a compromise extension somewhere in the middle? Why is the figure of 56 days being bandied around by Government Ministers? What’s the basis for it? Because it’s 28 multiplied by two and it sounds nice? Sir Ian Blair (he of the “if you’ve got the power to remove me, go ahead” attitude to public service) thinks the right amount of time we should detain potentially innocent people should be “somewhere between 50 and 90 days”.

What fantastically useless advice!   So, pick a figure. 90? 77? 56? 49? Whatever the Government decide, this issue is, for good reason, going to dominate the political scene for some time…