More Traffic Mismanagement from Southwark

Jamaica Road in SE London can be a bit of a nightmare at peak times: what is a dual carriageway both ways was transformed a few years back to be a permanent bus lane on each carriageway (with stupid bus lane signs that tell you’re not allowed in them Monday to Sunday at any time … i.e. simply at no time) and just one lane of other traffic each way.

Couple this with width restrictions at the Rotherhithe Tunnel and you’ve guaranteed traffic chaos.

Now some of us locals know of a rat run that allow us to get closer to the roundabout, albeit we’re still messed up by the last section of bus lane, and this works to relieve congestion on the main red route.

But no. Southwark Council know better: they’ve now introduced a one-way flow on the main/only through street which means anyone trying the rat run will now have to try pulling out into Jamaica Road twice (and no doubt there will be many blocking the bus lanes accordingly) and then back into the minor side roads. This was introduced via public consultation that only local residents would have known about. Certainly I don’t remember their useless newsletter making any mention of it.

Absolutely ridiculous and yet another waste of my tax money. What a bunch of idiots!

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!

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…

MPs’ Expenses: The Solution

MPs need to represent their constituencies. They should therefore live in the areas they represent. To be an MP, they then need to be in the Commons and because of all the chit-chat they tend to work extended hours (when they’re actually there…), so I accept that MPs should also live in London when they need to be in the House.

Now all the hoo-hah has been about what they claim for in terms of mortgage interest, repairs, etc. There is a recession on and that’s affecting the construction industry and also the amount of office space going begging. So bearing in mind the 646 need to be going to the same place from time to time, why not simply build or convert a block into 646 flats plus security near to the Houses of Parliament and give each MP a room whilst they’re MPs. Think Premier Inn stylee. That way the daily travel exes come down. No worries about pisstaking. Security is less of an issue as they’re all within a security cordon. When the MP stands down or is replaced, he gives up the room and his replacement moves in.

In the meantime, he gets a comfortable room with decent bed, TV to keep up to date, desk and power to catch up out of hours, cleaners can come in daily as and when, etc. And the public gets to keep a tight rein on expenses. No frills and not too much like a room in a monastery either. You could also add a ground floor with office space for meeting rooms they could book.

What’s the problem?

I Fought The Law

So then. Not a lot of good press for the boys in blue recently.

Despite being stopped from delivering an Unlawful Killing verdict, the jury in the Jean Charles de Menezes inquest chose not to believe the evidence from the police – none of whom are being charged with anything, by the way – that they had shouted warnings before shooting an innocent man, choosing instead to believe the evidence of all the other passengers who heard and saw the whole things and were unanimous in saying that no such warning was given by anyone. So an Open Verdict was the ‘best’ they were allowed to reach.

That they may have lied about it to protect themselves when taken with the appallingly incompetent way in which the whole thing was mishandled is a pretty big indictment on how the police see themselves as being well above the laws they are supposed to enforce.

Of course, it always looks bad when people like Police minister Vernon Coaker has to apologise for telling Parliament that 70 officers were injured dealing with protests at Kingsnorth power station. Why?

“According to information obtained by the Liberal Democrats, Kent Police officers and staff suffered only 12 reportable injuries, four of which involved direct contact with another person.

“The Lib Dems said the eight other injuries included being “stung on finger by possible wasp”, “officer injured sitting in car” and “officer succumbed to sun and heat”.

“Kent Police confirmed that 12 officers were required to retire from duty because of their injuries.”

But of course the reports of all those “injuries” was used to justify the heavy-handed policing and stop and search tactics employed by the police.

On which subject, I should add that I saw on the local BBC News that plans were in place for people to be stopped and searched for drugs and knives when boarding Thames dinner cruise boats this Christmas: we’ll see, because one of the places they mentioned such searches would be taking place is where I’ll be going this week.

I suppose it makes a change for them to stop and search a white, middle-aged professional. A few weeks back, I was travelling through Leytonstone tube station where a large police presence were carrying out a stop and search on black males whilst I walked straight through. Maybe a white, middle-aged professional type in a suit and carrying a laptop case isn’t likely to be committing a crime?

Or perhaps they do. But on a much, much larger scale…

More Erosion of Civil Liberties

I can’t recall who it was who said that the time to bring in oppressive legislation to clamp down on individuals’ civil liberties was when there was any fear and uncertainty of the kind that the Government continues to spread as part of the so-called War on Terror (itself started in response to US foreign policy and their illegal invasion of Iraq, which we decided to join in as the 51st State…).

We are already one of the most watched countries in the world, in terms of CCTV cameras per capita, so perhaps the news that “Ministers are to consider plans for a database of electronic information holding details of every phone call and e-mail sent in the UK” shouldn’t really come as any surprise.

Whilst they’re more than welcome to plough through the Spam I receive – more than 1,300 yesterday alone – and take action against the spammers, they can fuck right off if they think I’d be happy for some shiny-suited, job-protected twat in some local authority or agency to be able to read my private messages to friends and family.

It’s none of your business!

And this piece by AC Grayling in the Guardian pretty much sums up my thoughts about those who trot out the trite “if you’ve done nothing wrong…” nonsense, although far more eloquently than I could.

Blatant Discrimination

I belong to a minority sector for whom discrimination is an everyday fact of life. The fact is that that discrimination is so blatant and unapologetic and is institutional discrimination but despite that, the media make little or no comment upon it.

It’s not racial discrimination. It’s not religious discrimination. It’s not sexual discrimination. No, I’m sorry to confess it’s far worse than that. It’s because I ride a motorbike.

The most recent example of this prejudice and discrimination comes from those well known haters of all things motorcycling – a Welsh police force. Their latest anti-motorcycle act is to effectively ban the annual Welsh National Motorcycle Show because:

“Dyfed-Powys Police are of the view that there is a significant risk of violence at this year’s Welsh motorcycle show.”

I see.

Surely on that basis the police should be cancelling all football matches? After all, as we saw with the UEFA Cup Final match in Manchester, there is more than a significant risk of violence with football matches. But amazingly, they are never cancelled. I wonder why? Could it be that the perception – reinforced by the police, Government and the media – that motorcyclists are all troublemakers and lawless?

After all, the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee stated that:

“Motorcyclists are particularly liable to evade road tax. Nearly 40% of motorcycles are now unlicensed.

“If the DVLA’s motorcycle enforcement regime is not to be a complete laughing stock, then the agency and the department must make the most of new powers to enforce VED on public roads.”

They must also “strongly consider more severe measures such as impounding unlicensed motorcycles”, he said, adding: “Large parts of the biking community are cocking a snook at the law.”

Of course, that was completely inaccurate, and for once the MPs were forced to apologise when it was revealed that that was complete bollocks.

Is it any wonder we feel like criminals when we are treated like criminals and discriminated against?

Speeding

On the same subject, I was pondering about speeding today: a lovely day, a wide dual-carriageway that had opened up to three lanes, the fairly light traffic moving well, etc.

The traffic was flowing well at speeds of between 50 and 100mph, I’d guess, with no bunching, lots of space being left, etc. Nice and safe.

And then we came across a rare sight on our roads these days: a marked Volvo estate doing slightly under 70mph. All the alert drivers slowed down to 70mph and for the few miles until the police car turned off, it was horrible. The previously free-flowing road was now snarled up with everyone keeping to the limit and thus taking much longer to overake the slower moving commercial vehicles which in turn was causing longer queues of traffic and further bunching. It was clearly a far more dangerous place to be with so many other vehicles in a smaller area than they otherwise would be taking up.

But of course, that wasn’t the point, was it? Forget good driving: everyone was having to simply obey an arbitrary limit set in 1965 when the average family car was hard pressed to hit 70mph and even more hard pressed to slow down from that speed. Ridiculous!

The Trouble with Speed Cameras…

So after people decided that the “scameras” were being located for maximum revenue potential rather than to actually save lives – pouring scorn on the pathetic “safety camera” doublespeak that our illustrious leaders and the NGOs indulge in to restrict us – regulations were introduced to require speed cameras to be brightly painted, be visible from 60m (200ft), and be sited only where there was a history of road accidents. Of course the scamera vans flouted these guidelines no doubt to be seen to be doing something about this scourge (sarcasm intended).

It was only by chance that I happened upon an article in the Motoring section of today’s Daily Telegraph which reveals an about turn by the Department for Transport and that those regulations are now merely guidelines. So we can now expect these little Hitlers to be concealing scameras all over the place to provide as much justification as possible for these useless wankers to keep their overpaid and unnecessary jobs.

Their true intentions are revealed by this telling quote from Lee Murphy, speed camera manager for Cheshire:

“If the rules weren’t compulsory, we could use cameras to tackle emerging trends rather than waiting for the minimum number of collisions.”

In other words, “forget the justification for speed cameras being that they are positioned to assist road safety, it’s all about the money!”

Council Tax

So according to our Council Tax Demand Notice 2007/2008 from South Norfolk District Council, our council tax bill will rise this year by 4.8% despite all the new housing stock in the area that will obviously be adding to the local taxation income.

4.8% despite inflation being higher than targetted but still only 2.8%.

But as is always the case in our area, the stand-out percentage increase comes from Norfolk Police Authority who will be increasing our tax bill by 6.9%. Yes, every year it seems this bunch of jokers demand – and receive – increases at far more than the rate of inflation. Why? I can only assume it’s mismanagement of their funds. After all, their wonderful PFI-financed Norfolk Constabulary Headquarters (complete with inadequate parking…) involved a land swap with the contractors so that the 12 (I think) locations in and around Norwich were given to the developers as part of this fabulous money-saving scheme. Except we’ve had to endure rises well above inflation which were sometimes blamed on premises costs…