Grant Shapps and the Travel Green List

So we all know that the UK’s Transport Secretary Grant Shapps is out of his depth in a bird bath. He did, after all, go on holiday knowing that his department were about to bring in quarantine last July, and that he’d have to fly back early. What a tosser!

And his incompetence and lack of joined-up thinking continue unabated.

India have only just been added to the Red List of countries where you need to isolate in a designated hotel at £1,750 a time because the Tories were trying to negotiate a trade deal. The Indian delegation then came to the UK and reported a number had come down with COVID-19.

At the same time, UK nationals coming back from India were simply taking a 10 day holiday in Istanbul at a fraction of the quarantine cost and then flying in, so adding Turkey to the red list was inevitable.

Last week, a UK representative told the Spanish that the much-heralded Green List would be driven by the science and the Greek and Spanish islands would be reviewed and treated separately. Then yesterday Shapps revealed a truly bizarre list and noted that Spain (on the amber list) included the Balearics and the Canaries, despite the FCDO website still saying this:

“The FCDO advises against all but essential travel to Spain, including the Balearic Islands but excluding the Canary Islands, based on the current assessment of COVID-19 risks.”

Now, the Canaries – and Fuerteventura specifically – have really low infection rates at the moment, yet to return to London with its much, much higher rates will require quarantine.

That Green List?

  • Portugal
  • Israel
  • Singapore
  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • Brunei
  • Iceland
  • Gibraltar
  • Falkland Islands
  • Faroe Islands
  • South Georgia and the Sandwich Islands
  • St Helena, Tristan de Cunha and Ascension Island

So most of those do not allow travel from the UK in the first place. Ah.

Portugal and Gibraltar? A pretty open border with Spain, isn’t there?

South Georgia and the Sandwich Islands? You can only travel there by sea and there is no visitor accommodation.

The Falkland Islands? You can only fly there … via Chile (Red List) with commercial airlines or with the MoD via a refuelling stop in Cape Verde (Red List).

You couldn’t make this stuff up!

Megabyte Data Limited Spam

An email today from marketing@webmailserver.co.uk and/or simong@megabyte-data.email offering to sell me spam lists.

Pity they’re so bad they couldn’t even spell their email disclaimer correctly:

“The informatnion contained in this email is intended only for the individual or entity to whom it is addressed. It may contain privileged and confidential information and if you are not an intended recipient you must not copy, distribute or take any action in reliance on it. If you have received this email in error, please notify us immediately by telephone. Please also destroy and delete the message from your computer.

Any opinions expressed in this message are those of the sender only and do not necessarily represent the views of Megabyte Data Ltd.

Company Number: 12517280

ICO Data Protection: ZA721960″
And does that mean that the company won’t honour any offers “Simon Green” is making?

Ask the Right Question… More Idiocy from Southwark Council

Way back in the mists of time, I wrote a bit about how Southwark Council had decided to make traffic congestion worse on Jamaica Road, SE London by stopping local drivers from using a ‘rat-run’.  Their consultation paper – sent to a tiny minority of extremely localised people – asked a series of heavily biased questions without a “none of the above” option.

Well these fuckwits are at it again: solving a problem that doesn’t actually exist and thereby creating a new one.

They’ve decided that people daring to park on the Western part of Rotherhithe Street – which is a no through road and not exactly busy – are going to be penalised, including all the residents who currently park there.  Their proposals , published at http://www.southwark.gov.uk/info/200140/parking_projects/4039/rotherhithe_parking_zone_study – show only very limited permit parking (at £125 each…) for residents with the rest of the area subject to double yellow lines.

Now there really isn’t an issue with parking on that section of Rotherhithe Street: I walk along it every time I walk to work and there’s plenty of space for parking and no trouble with the road being blocked from the (non-existent) through-traffic by these pesky parkers.

So what would happen when Southwark gets its way? Well quite simply all those vehicles will need to park somewhere else nearby and the nearest parking would be the Eastern side of Rotherhithe Street where there are (currently) very few parking restrictions and no resident-only parking spaces whilst still being a busy through road on the C10 bus route. And when all those vehicles park on ‘our’ street, where will we be able to park? Where will all those coaches that park overnight whilst fetching and carrying kids staying at the local YHA now be able to park? After all, Southwark allowed a new housing development to go up where the coaches used to park. Oh and another new development is going up opposite our house with Southwark’s blessing despite all bar one comment (duplicated 40+ times) objecting to it with no parking spaces included within the development because parking’s not a problem!

Now have a look at the questionnaire. See how it asks what times you’d like the restrictions to apply. There isn’t a “Never” option, is there? Ask the right question…

Modern Toss

Bollocks to this!

Ask the Right Question… More Idiocy from Southwark Council

Way back in the mists of time, I wrote a bit about how Southwark Council had decided to make traffic congestion worse on Jamaica Road, SE London by stopping local drivers from using a ‘rat-run’.  Their consultation paper – sent to a tiny minority of extremely localised people – asked a series of heavily biased questions without a “none of the above” option.

Well these fuckwits are at it again: solving a problem that doesn’t actually exist and thereby creating a new one.

They’ve decided that people daring to park on the Western part of Rotherhithe Street – which is a no through road and not exactly busy – are going to be penalised, including all the residents who currently park there.  Their proposals , published at http://www.southwark.gov.uk/info/200140/parking_projects/4039/rotherhithe_parking_zone_study – show only very limited permit parking (at £125 each…) for residents with the rest of the area subject to double yellow lines.

Now there really isn’t an issue with parking on that section of Rotherhithe Street: I walk along it every time I walk to work and there’s plenty of space for parking and no trouble with the road being blocked from the (non-existent) through-traffic by these pesky parkers.

So what would happen when Southwark gets its way? Well quite simply all those vehicles will need to park somewhere else nearby and the nearest parking would be the Eastern side of Rotherhithe Street where there are (currently) very few parking restrictions and no resident-only parking spaces whilst still being a busy through road on the C10 bus route. And when all those vehicles park on ‘our’ street, where will we be able to park? Where will all those coaches that park overnight whilst fetching and carrying kids staying at the local YHA now be able to park? After all, Southwark allowed a new housing development to go up where the coaches used to park. Oh and another new development is going up opposite our house with Southwark’s blessing despite all bar one comment (duplicated 40+ times) objecting to it with no parking spaces included within the development because parking’s not a problem!

Now have a look at the questionnaire. See how it asks what times you’d like the restrictions to apply. There isn’t a “Never” option, is there? Ask the right question…

Modern Toss

Bollocks to this!

City of London 20mph Speed Limit

On 20th July 2014, a blanket speed limit of 20mph was introduced in the City of London:

20mph City of London Limit

20mph City of London Limit

Why did they decide to do that? It was apparently part of their “Road Danger Reduction Plan“. And yet, reading that, it’s not speed that’s the issue with the highest at-risk groups of cyclists, pedestrians and motorcyclists.

Cyclists:

  • “… 84% of casualties are involved in collisions at intersections or junctions. This is in line with the Greater London average.
  • Collisions are more likely to occur in the middle of junctions rather than on their approaches.
  • Failure to see a cyclist appears to be a significant causal factor.
  • The main contributory factors identified in cyclist casualties are “turning right”, “changing lanes”, “opening vehicle doors” and “undertaking of large vehicles turning left across cyclists path”. The last factor being the most significant in KSI casualties.”

Uh-huh. So speed isn’t really at issue at all here and indeed it looks like the main issue is cyclists with a deathwish undertaking – no pun intended – large vehicles.

Motorcyclists and Scooterists:

“…As 72 per cent of motorcyclists were injured due to the actions of other road users, a significant reduction in motorcyclist casualties will only be achieved by addressing the behaviour of other road users, particularly car, taxi, and goods vehicle drivers and by increasing motorcyclists’ awareness of other road users. The most common causes of a motorcyclist being injured are pedestrian lack of attention, motor vehicles turning right across their path, and vehicles U turning.”

I see. So the trouble here is pedestrians and vehicles doing right and U turns, neither of which are speed-related.

Pedestrians:

“Goods vehicles, coaches and buses are disproportionately involved in collisions….

“Pedestrian inattention” has been identified as the main contributory factor for pedestrian casualties.”

Interestingly, it also notes that there are clusters of casualties around the stations where “the City experiences considerable over-crowding of footways, particularly at peak times, with pedestrians stepping onto the carriageway.” So it appears that people stepping off the overcrowded pavements into the path of slower-moving vehicles is the risk here, again rather than speeding. Perhaps investment/improvement into the pedestrian walkways is the key here?

According to the London Evening Standard:

Michael Welbank, speaking on behalf of City of London council, said: “For the City of London to continue its success as an international business hub it is critical that its streets should be safe for all who use them be they commuters, pedestrians, cyclists, drivers, motorcyclists, shoppers or cultural wanderers and dreamers.”

So maybe infrastructure investment might be a better idea, along with enforcement of other legislation and education of pedestrians and cyclists? Or why not simply reintroduce the Locomotive Act 1875, although this would mean fewer speeding fines and less “Being Seen To Be Doing Something”:

"Red Flag" Act

“Red Flag” Act

Fixed Penalty Payments

The other day I was “making good progress” and was stopped by a Suffolk Constabulary PC who gave me a fixed penalty for the offence. We won’t even go to the whole “speed kills” bollocks (even the PC said my driving was exemplary but over the limit).

I was pleased that they’ve moved with the times and allow you to make online payments … or so I thought.

The Payment Slip part of the Fixed Penalty Notice has a “Ticket Number” (as do the other two parts you’re given) and there’s a “Payment Methods” box which includes a 24/7 automated payment 0300 line and a link to http://penaltynotice.direct.gov.uk

So off I went. The first step was to fill in the “Notice Number” box, so I entered the eight digit ticket number there … and got an error message saying “Invalid format for notice number”. The website doesn’t give any guidance – clickable or otherwise – as to what a valid format would be for the notice number. I tried losing the leading two zeros to no avail. Nothing.

So I rang the payment line and was given the message to enter the sixteen digit notice number. What? What sixteen digit notice number?

Eventually I was connected to an operator who told me that the “Notice Number” is actually the combination of the following:

  • three digit “Force Code”
  • two digit “Notice Type”
  • single digit “Source Code”
  • eight digit “Ticket Number”
  • two digit “Penalty Code”

Well how could I have been so stupid as to not know this? It’s obvious, isn’t it? So obvious that nowhere on the Fixed Penalty Notice does it tell you what the “Notice Number” is, nor how to work out what it is. So obvious that the website they point you towards doesn’t tell you what it is. And so obvious that the automated telephone line doesn’t tell you either. Or is it the usual Government ineptitude?

Lloyds TSB Private Banking

How to win friends and influence people … or how to lose your best customers.

My debit card is shortly to run out of validity. I hadn’t received my new one so I rang them the other day to ask where it was.

“Don’t worry,” they said, “they’re usually sent out a fortnight or so before the old one runs out.”

I thought that was fine and I’ve been checking my mail since then. Tonight, however, I get in and there’s a letter from Lloyds TSB dated 13th September – but only received today, 19th – saying that:

“We wanted to tell you that your new Lloyds TSB card is at [my designated branch]. So when you have a chance, please drop in and pick it up…”

Now my branch is a 350 mile round trip away from where I live.

I haven’t been in to that branch for over 20 years.

What sort of fuckwittery leads them to think that I would “have a chance” to “drop in and pick it up”? What’s wrong with simply sending me the card in the usual way?

So I tried to ring them, but no, all their telephone numbers appear to have a fault on the line. Maybe the telephone bills were paid by the TSB part that they’ve just hived off? Maybe the sale of a chunk of the Government’s stake has meant they’re a bit short of cash to pay the bills right now?

So I’m now left with the likelihood that when I’m abroad next week, my present card will run out and I’ll be unable access my money due to their utter incompetence. And they expect me to keep my money in their accounts? Yeah right… Maybe after 36 years with Lloyds, it’s time to find a bank that knows its arse from its elbow.

Onward and Upward

So I’ve covered the Sprint GT’s first service over on its own blog – I just need to start giving it the berries a bit more (although its trip computer must be over-reading…).

I also received a letter about my stepmother’s estate which was a piece of pleasant news and well timed, given I’m planning to buy a house or maybe even my apartment which may soon be up for sale.

Due to a change of plans, I had Saturday free so I decided to get the pushbike out to go for a little spin: maybe 5 or 6 miles on the advice of my Consultant Knee Surgeon and my physiotherapist at the excellent London Bridge Hospital. 11.4 miles later and I’d had a great time, keeping the cadence up and not putting too much effort through the knee. Same thing next week, I think.

GT popped over in the evening, meeting me for dinner at the O2 where we were then due to see Iron Maiden play. An excellent gig! Then over to Waterloo to say goodnight and back home to the apartment.

Up at a reasonable time on Sunday to head up to Norfolk for lunch with the ‘kids’ which was made more difficult by the completely inept road closure arrangements for the Prudential Ride London: every main road out of London to the East was closed despite the official sites claiming they’d be open earlier.

Monday saw more check-ups and blood tests – all fine – and a nice, long phone call as arranged the week before from Humberside Police to explain, as expected and agreed, that they wouldn’t be pressing charges against the psycho ex for her theft and disposal of some of my stuff (“intention to permanently deprive”), but only because it wouldn’t be in the public interest to waste taxpayers’ money on a prosecution: there was the passage of time caused by them, sadly, which they accepted was the case and they knew she would never admit guilt – she never does – and accept a caution, so the options were a full trial or nothing and the thefts were, as I told them, insignificant (I’ve long since replaced the stolen goods with better quality, newer things … a bit like I did with her, I suppose). They suggested I start a private prosecution, which is always an option, but I can’t be arsed to waste any more time on her.

But the good news is that they’ve now got the proof of what she’s really like: a liar and a thief. So that’s the end of that: maybe she’ll stop stalking me one day too?

So it’s onward and upward!

Humberside Police Complaints Procedure

Or “How To Dramatically Reduce the Number of  Complaints We Have to Deal With”.

Humberside Police – locally referred to as “Blunderside Police” – have a section on their website about how complaints against them are handled.  This includes this part:

Complaints can be made either in person at a police station, generally to an Inspector though in exceptional circumstances they can be recorded by a sergeant, or by way of letter, e-mail, fax, telephone or via an outside agency.

If you wish to make a complaint please complete the complaint form. [Link]

That “Link” hyperlink takes you to this Word document and on page 4 of that document it says:

Where to send this form 

For your complaint to be dealt with more quickly please send this form directly to:

Professional Standards Branch
Humberside Police
Police Headquarters
Priory Road
Hull
HU5 5SF

Or via email to: Professional.Standards@humberside.pnn.police.uk

The only problem with that is that the Professional Standards Branch’s e-mail address doesn’t exist:

Delivery has failed to these recipients or groups:
Professional.Standards@humberside.pnn.police.uk
The email address that you entered couldn’t be found. Check the address and try resending the message. If the problem continues, please contact your helpdesk.

What an excellent way of reducing complaints: bounce them back!

Humberside Police Complaints Procedure

Or “How To Dramatically Reduce the Number of  Complaints We Have to Deal With”.

Humberside Police – locally referred to as “Blunderside Police” – have a section on their website about how complaints against them are handled.  This includes this part:

Complaints can be made either in person at a police station, generally to an Inspector though in exceptional circumstances they can be recorded by a sergeant, or by way of letter, e-mail, fax, telephone or via an outside agency.

If you wish to make a complaint please complete the complaint form. [Link]

That “Link” hyperlink takes you to this Word document and on page 4 of that document it says:

Where to send this form 

For your complaint to be dealt with more quickly please send this form directly to:

Professional Standards Branch
Humberside Police
Police Headquarters
Priory Road
Hull
HU5 5SF

Or via email to: Professional.Standards@humberside.pnn.police.uk

The only problem with that is that the Professional Standards Branch’s e-mail address doesn’t exist:

Delivery has failed to these recipients or groups:
Professional.Standards@humberside.pnn.police.uk
The email address that you entered couldn’t be found. Check the address and try resending the message. If the problem continues, please contact your helpdesk.

What an excellent way of reducing complaints: bounce them back!