London 2012 Olympic Games

Yet more reasons for abandoning London during the Olympic Games have come out this week: reports of a lack of hotel rooms and extortionate pricing for those which are available have been discussed on various news channels.

It’s all about supply and demand, of course.

In this case, demand is high because of both the ‘main’ Olympic Games as well as the Paralympic Games afterwards. As noted on the BBC’s “Democracy Live” website:

 ”Speaking during questions on 9 February 2012, Ms Jowell told MPs of a mother who had been forced to pay £1,000 a night for a specially adapted hotel room in order to take her disabled daughter to the Paralympic Games.

“The same room would cost £375 during the Easter holidays, a 167% increase, Ms Jowell claimed.

“She told MPs that her team’s research found that hotel prices in London during the course of the games were, on average, 315% higher than normal.”

Of course demand will be high from tourists and visitors wanting to watch the Games, but it’s also the supply side that’s being affected. Why? Well it’s down to that great gravy train of excess and privilege known as “the Olympic family”. This is estimated to mean 78,400 people. Yes, 78,400!  Of these, well over 60% aren’t actually athletes or officials:

“National Olympic Committees (NOC) 19,900
Includes:
– Athletes
– Team officials

International Federations (IF) 4,150
Includes:
– Technical officials
– International Federations staff and guests

Media 21,300
Includes:
– Press, photographers, journalists
– Rights holding broadcasters
– Olympic Broadcast Organisation

International Olympic Committee (IOC) 1,650
Includes:
– IOC members
– World AntiDoping Agency
– Court of Arbitration of Sport
– IOC Medical Commission
– IOC staff
– Observers and guests

Marketing partners (sponsors) 31,400
Includes:
– The Olympic Partners and guests
– Marketing Partner Coach Programme (ticketed)

Grand total 78,400″

Wow!

This is the bunch that will be bringing traffic chaos to London with the Olympic Route Network of Olympic Family-only traffic lanes carved out of the already-congested existing road network.  It’s explained nicely here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-16277688

And where are all these Olympic Family members staying? Well maybe in the rooms they’ve block-booked at specially reduced rates:

“Under a deal struck in 2005, Locog booked around 600,000 room nights in London during the course of the games, for Olympic officials, media and others.

“In January, around 120,000 of these rooms were put back on sale to the public after Locog said it no longer needed them.”

Ah! That would explain it! I’m so pleased I won’t be here in London during the Olympics…

Hell Hath No Fury Like a Woman Scorned

…but as always that fury bites both parties. Or so it would appear from today’s news that the Energy Secretary, Chris Huhne and his ex-wife Vicky Pryce will both be charged with perverting the course of justice over claims that she took speeding points on his behalf in 2003.

The whole thing blew up when, following an interview she gave, allegations were made that someone had agreed to take his points for him. This was after the pair had become estranged following his affair.

Maybe saying and doing things out of revenge isn’t such a good idea after all.

Serves them both right!

DVLA Lincoln

The Lincoln office of the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Office have apparently built up a backlog of registrations, etc. Which means that due to their incompetence and inability to cope with what should be planned demand, I cannot get a tax disc or get the personalised registration number for my new car. And that means that I cannot pick up my new car.

So I thought I’d ring them to find out the status. The website for the Lincoln DVLA local office says:

“For enquiries about vehicles: 0300 790 6802 (Textphone minicom users 0300 123 1279).

For enquiries about driving licences: 0300 790 6801 (Textphone minicom users 0300 123 1278).

Please note, all calls are handled initially by our call centre based in Swansea.”

Which would be fine, if DVLA Swansea actually answered their calls. The recorded message I got today says that due to high call demand they cannot answer my call and so it hung up the call.

DVLA Registrations Fail

I’m looking to buy a plonker plate through the DVLA Registrations website. This requires you to set up an account and log in. So this morning I registered on the site which then immediately fell over:

“service unavailable
sorry…

This service is temporarily unavailable. Your last action cannot be completed and details have not been recorded.

If you have not received confirmation of a successful transaction then your application has been cancelled.

Please click the button below to return to the DVLA Personalised Registrations home page.”

And that’s how it remains at present: you can search and view the public site but try and log in…

Independent Safeguarding Authority

Well! Isn’t this a complete waste of time?

The Government’s new Vetting & Barring Scheme comes into effect next year. As a Youth Football Coach, I will have to register with the Independent Safeguarding Authority or face a £5,000 fine. This is over and above my current CRB-checked status (x2 so far…).

So this has to be A Good Thing, doesn’t it, as it will no doubt protect the boys I coach. Well … no, not according to the ISA themselves:

Q21. What does being ‘ISA-registered’ mean?
• ISA-registered means:
- No information is held that demonstrates the person poses a risk of harm to
children or vulnerable adults.
- A person’s registration status is continuously monitored and if any new
information such as a relevant caution or conviction, or information from
employers comes to light, the ISA is informed, they will re-assess the
person’s potential risk to vulnerable groups and they may chose to bar the
individual.
• ISA-registered does not mean:
- That someone is “safe” or has been “cleared to work”
- That the ISA has scrutinised all information held on them, not least because
new information may be coming in all the time.

Q21. What does being ‘ISA-registered’ mean?

• ISA-registered means:

- No information is held that demonstrates the person poses a risk of harm to children or vulnerable adults.

- A person’s registration status is continuously monitored and if any new information such as a relevant caution or conviction, or information from employers comes to light, the ISA is informed, they will re-assess the person’s potential risk to vulnerable groups and they may chose to bar the individual.

• ISA-registered does not mean:

- That someone is “safe” or has been “cleared to work”

- That the ISA has scrutinised all information held on them, not least because new information may be coming in all the time.

[emphasis added]

So yet another complete and utter waste of time from yet another quango, especially as this new ISA Registration will not be replacing CRB checks!

UK Border Agency

Entering the UK via Humberside Airport (or how to piss off 200+ UK citizens) with the capable assistance of the UK Border Agency.

I recently travelled through Humberside Airport on holiday. This is not a busy airport: they say they are:

“…a key national and international gateway to Northern and Eastern England, connecting over half a million passengers to 30 destinations every year.”

On the day I returned to the UK, they were handling roughly one incoming flight per hour. Which was just as well, as it took the UK Border Agency over an hour to actually allow me back into the country along with all the other pissed-off passengers on the charter flight.

The UKBA say:

“With tougher checks now in place at the border you may have to wait a little longer to get into the United Kingdom, especially at peak times. We use scanners to ensure that passports, visas and other official documents are genuine. Our officers are trained to detect forgeries and check that people have the right to enter the United Kingdom.

“An officer will check your passport and give you permission to stay, if you need it. We aim to see you within 45 minutes.

“If you are a national of the EU or EEA, you can use the separate EEA/EU channel, where we will usually check your passport or national identity card more quickly.”

ORLY?

Well at Humberside there’s one channel for non-EU travellers and there’s the main bit. The two numpties on duty when I came through looked as though they were on day release from an old folks’ home and clearly relished the opportunity to have a chat with each and every passenger. Presumably these two are what the UKBA refer to as “scanners” because they didn’t actually use any equipment other than their reading glasses and mouths… So after an hour’s queuing, I finally got through their vigorous entry procedures. Just as well it’s not like this at the UK airports I usually travel through on business…

Met. Police and the Tamil Protests

According to the BBC News website, the Metropolitan Police says it has spent almost £8M monitoring the Tamil protest at Parliament Square – this was up to 19 May 2009. According to the TV news tonight, the cost is now £9M and this is being used as the basis for reviewing allowing peaceful protests.

ORLY?

So it cost £8M for 43 days. Or £186,000 a day. For what?

Looking more closely at the report, they claim that:

“About half of the total spent policing the demonstration – £3.72 million – was from additional policing costs, including overtime, the Met said.”

So that’s  £86,500 a day on overtime. Nice litttle earner, eh? I mean, how many policemen are on duty there every day? 100? 200? That’s a lot of overtime or a disproportionate number of policemen.

And that leaves a balance of £100,000 a day for … er … um … doughnuts? Bacon rolls? Who knows? The policemen are already employed, the vans are already bought and will just be parked up there most of the day. So what – precisely – is this claimed additional expenditure on? Mind you, when they closed off Weston Street after a stabbing for a day or two, one of the few police vehicles on the scene was a Met. Police burger van. I kid you not!

Sounds like bollocks to me…