first smoking…. then what?

Dizzy has already written about the possibility that Government will be introducing a permit that will allow you to smoke if you so choose. Apparently the hope is the form will be that complex it may convince a few people to give up the habit. I assume that means every single veding machine will be scrapped as they won’t be able to read the permit.

I really wonder what will be next. We hear that they want to clamp down on the mis-use of diabled parking badges and also want to get people off incapacity benefit.

I can just see it now. Suddenly they move all offices that deal with these two issues to places that are only accessible by a minimum of two flights of stairs.

They will then write to people and say you must attend an appointment at the said office every year to get a disabled badge or to qualify for the benefit. Those who turn up will be told they don’t qualify as they will be deemed fit enough to climb two flights of stairs. Those who can’t climb two flights of stairs will be told they don’t qualify as they didn’t turn up for the appointment.

Nothing would surprise me anymore.

supermarket sweep

Hmmm, It’s always nice when you are proved right isn’t it. In a former life when I worked in the retail sector one of the big things we banged on about was supermarkets having a localised monopoly. The OFT didn’t want to hear any of it, becuase in my view they didn’t understand how retail worked.

In their view if there was say a Tesco built out of town when OOT development was easier in the 80’s and there was a different supermarket in town, then there was competition. Wrong. OOT and in town are effectively two different markets. In town there are parking charges etc. OOT parking is generally free.

When OOT development was clamped down on, it essentially handed a monopoly to whoever was there. Then the incumbent supermarket moved out of just selling food (which is pretty much all they used to do) to selling CDs clothes, banking products. So the consumer who went OOT were stuck with the 1 supermarket and the planning system mean that no competitors could compete as they couldn’t have a store (or it was very hard to get permission for one). Once that dominance OOT was established what have the supermarkets done? They’ve moved into the town centre market with smaller "convenience" stores. Supermarkets will tell you they have increased choice for consumers, but if that choice is within the four walls of one mega shop you haven’t got much choice at all.

Flying the flag

Hot on the heels of Andrew Rosindells Ten Minute Rule Bill on the subject of flying the Union flag more, Andrew Bridgen Conservative Candidate for North West Leicestershire has flagged up (pun intended) news about using the Cross of St George.

Apparently  Conservative controlled North West Leicestershire district council aims to be the first council in England to decide to fly the cross of St George outside the council offices every day.

Bravo – and lets hope more councils in England follow suit!

i wouldn't bet on who will win this one

Have you heard the latest one?  A gambling addict is suing a bookmaker for letting him gamble. Now I do have sympathy for people with addictions. A friend of my grandad actually committed suicide due to his gambling addiction, so I have an idea of what’s invovled. I wouldn’t want to bet on who wins this case.

Surely we have to ask ourselves where does duty of care end, with regards what gambling establishments should offer their "customers" and where does personal responsibility start?

The case in the news all focuses on Graham Calvert who is suing William Hill for £2 million which he lost on bets after asking the bookmaker not to let him bet again.

My first thought was – well if he won I bet he wouldn’t be moaning now would he. Plus if someone is stupid enough to bet over £300,000 on the Americans to win the Ryder club really doesn’t deserve too much sympathy.

I can understand that the gambling industry should ensure they identify and then do something about problem gamblers, but is it really right for people who lose money to then go out and sue the bookmaker?

Does that mean I can sue WH Smith? Everytime I go in for a paper they try to flog me half price chocolate, and that really doesn’t help me when I am trying to loseweight. Can I blame them for my food addiction? I mean I have to eat – so I can’t avoid the think Im addicted to – food? I have to eat. This guy doesn’t have to bet to live. So mayeb I have a better case than he does.

What about people who are alocoholics? can they sue their local off licence, the local pub, or even the supermarket who could be seen as the supplier of their addiction?

Quite frankly I think it’s a load of tosh. Mr Calvert apparently was earning £30k a month, so he has only himself to blame for blowing such a large amount of money gambling. It is clear that self exclusion doesn’t work, as apparently in Vegas where Casinos have photos of people who ahve self excluded themselves, they see problem gamblers dressing up in disguises to try to get round their self imposed gambling exile to get a fix.

Graham Calvert seems to have identified he had a problem – the problem is he doesn’t seem to have done very much to combat it. If William Hill had banned him from every betting shop you can bet he would have found another way to feed his addiction.

Two thirds there on valentines day

Well the Marathon is under 2 months away now and I am two thirds of the way to my fundraising target.

So those of you who really want to put me through some pain – or indeed those of you just feeling generous. (Look your wife or girlfriend will think much more of you if you donate money to charity than buy bubbly chocolates or flowers honest) please click the sponsor button at the top of the right hand column.

Its easy and all for a very good cause!

And have a great Valentines day.

Ministry for stating the bleeding obvious

(A copy of a recent blogpost I have written for

 Why do some people have the propensity to state nothing but the bleeding obvious? You know, like when you go into a shop soaking to the bone from a downpour and someone tells you it’s raining outside.

The Government often appears to be the prime offender in this area. It wouldn’t surprise me if following the next cabinet reshuffle there will be a new Ministry for stating the bleeding obvious created.

The latest offender seems to be a report on the floods of last year. Apparently Sir Michael Pitt, the chap leading the Government’s review into the flooding , "told a meeting of the LGA that preparations and warning for surface flooding were not in place."

Hmmm – now did we really need a Government review to tell us that. Maybe the fact that a whole shopping centre 5 minutes walk from my house got completely flooded would show that; or perhaps the fire engine which got stranded trying to rescue motorists in Chesterfield was a good indication that preparations for surface flooding weren’t in place (and that was just in my town).

Why does it always take things to go wrong? Councils cut back and cut back the amount they spend on gritting our roads during mild years and then 1 inch of snow means our whole road network grinds to a halt. Then there is a review which tells us we need to have gritters out more.

I can’t remember the last time I saw any drains in Chesterfield being cleaned or cleared, and god knows if any of the UK’s rivers and streams have been cleared of debris.

Maybe this contributed to the fact that surface water had nowhere to go but into people’s flats, shopping centres and pretty much anywhere but where it should have gone – namely down the drains.

If a Government review is going to suggest stopping building on floodplains, ensuring our drains and rivers are cleared, and ensuring we have more adequate emergency plans in place then I can save them the time and money of the review and come to a conlclusion which states the bleeding obvious right now.

Compliance administrator

This advertisement made me smile. Can’t think why. I wonder if anyone from Mr Hain’s campaign team would be advised to apply? Probably not.

Expenses scandal?

Just under 8 months ago I raised the issue of MPs using their allowances for accommodation. Suddenly everyone is interested in it now. Now just what did the PM and Chancellor claim for? No 10 and 11? Their constituency homes? I wonder.



MP expenses bore

I really am getting bored with all this talk of MP’s expenses. The press have the bit between their teeth and unless there’s a royal scandal or a war, we can look forward to it continuing for a while yet. What amazes me is we’ve known MP’s abuse their expenses for years. Instances such as Margaret Beckett claiming £19,722 in 2002/2003 for a London housing allowance when she owns a house in her Derbyshire constituency which is free of mortgage, had a grace and favour flat in Admiralty House, funded by the taxpayer, and rented out her Westminster house. This has been widely known for years but no one’s really concerned themselves,
Suddenly Derek Conway is caught red handed and the press are portraying every MP as a crook. There is a reason why they do this, and a pretty easy solution to ending it as an issue.
Firstly there is the reason. Sixty thousand pounds isn’t really enough money to attract a decent calibre of MP. You either end up with incompetents, or people of independent wealth who can afford to pursue a parliamentary career.
Secondly there is the solution. Get rid of the housing and additional costs allowances and bung the wages up to £100k a year to end the fiddling. Have a historical guide for travel expenses and postage costs and make MP’s who go over this justify their expenses or pay for it themselves, and of course scrap the communications allowance.
In addition to this, reduce the number of MP’s. Bumping a constituency up to 95000-100000 over the next decade should be on the agenda. That way MP’s will have a workload which will mean they couldn’t cope without a proper staff, and the cost of Government will be going down. If we pursue a localism agenda, there will be less for them to do anyway.
I wonder if the speakers three wise men who are investigating this will have the guts to do this though!

When in Rome

Now how does the famous phrase go… When in Rome?

I remember when I lived in America as a child for three years how we learnt about a different culture. That meant standing up every day in class and paying respect (but not actually partaking) when all my class mates pledged allegiance to the flag.

We didn’t ask for different rules because we were from a different but albeit still Western culture.

Yet the Archbishop of Canterbury believes there is a case for changing the law of the land here in the UK so that certain groups feel something more in common with the legal system.

Roger Helmer, the MEP for the East Midlands has written a thoughtful piece which you can read here, however I found an interesting little gem in the comments which is a quote from former Australian PM John Howard:-

“Most Australians believe in God. This is not some Christian, right wing, political push, but a fact, because Christian men and women, on Christian principles, founded this nation, and this is clearly documented. It is certainly appropriate to display it on the walls of our schools. If God offends you, then I suggest you consider another part of the world as your new home, because God is part of our culture.’ We will accept your beliefs, and will not question why. All we ask is that you accept ours, and live in harmony and peaceful enjoyment with us.”

I have to say I agree with those sentiments.