Thursday, November 08, 2007

Not impressed - sculpture?

Call me old fashioned but I am not impressed with this sculpture which was unveiled in Trafalgar Square yesterday on the fourth plinth. How this fits in to Trafalgar Square's environment is just beyond me. More details can be found here at the Fourth Plinth Website.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Dave Bassett replaces Gus Poyet

Leeds have moved quickly to appoint a new assistant manager following Gus Poyet's move to Spurs. In comes Dave Bassett who has worked with Dennis Wise at previous clubs so hopefully this a shrewd move. According to the BBC Leeds are also looking to make a further appointment to the first team coaching staff within the next week.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Rubbish tax is rubbish - maybe

The report in yesterdays Guardian stating that the Government has cleared up the rubbish tax confusion did not to my mind clear up the confusion

In the article itself it seemed that there were two very different steers emerging depending on which line you read. On the one hand "a Defra document published on the official Whitehall website revealed that the climate change bill would allow local authorities to charge for waste in a bid to boost recycling" and on the other "paper versions given to reporters and MPs stated that the bill would only give local councils the power to run pilot schemes to encourage recycling"

These two different slants would seem to propose very different ways of going about things.

The first implies that households will be charged for the amount of rubbish they throw away. This would seem to be on the basis that the amount of non recyclable rubbish can be weighed and a bill can be issued. I am absolutely convinced that this method will not be a great success and will in all likelihood lead to two unwanted outcomes - an increase in the amount of rubbish fly tipped or taken directly to the local municipal site and an increase in neighbour disputes caused by people putting their rubbish into other peoples bins.

The second implies some kind of scheme whereby those who recycle through kerbside collection facilities gain some kind of reward which is offset by those who refuse to use such facilities receiving some kind of charge. This seems to be a more positive way to go about things but we have to ensure that every household has the facilities to recycle and I suspect the administration of such schemes will be relatively expensive and open to challenge. If someone does not put out any recyclables then presumably their normal bins will need to be checked to see whether or not their waste contains recyclables. This may also prove unpopular as the thought of the local authority rooting through peoples bins may not go down very well.

If implemented sensibly by local authorities this may help, if not do not be surprised to see the amount of fly tipping on the increase

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Personal advisers on commuting!

Apparently the government in the form of Ruth Kelly is planning "a big increase in access to 'personal travel plans' after trials showed huge decreases in car travel for only a few million pounds of public spending. Under the scheme, households and other organisations are offered personal advice, including a home visit, during which an expert analyses what journeys are made by car and how some could be replaced by other means."

As an aim this is to be lauded although I somehow doubt the cost effectiveness and long term benefit of such a scheme without a real focus on and investment in tow other key factors.

Firstly money needs to be invested in good, clean, regular and reliable public transport. The example which I gave a month ago of our local station at Aldermaston is a good one. As I said then "On a Sunday as the trains wend their merry way from Newbury To Reading and back again try guessing how many trains stop at Aldermaston. Yes you guessed it a grand total of zero. Slow trains go up and down and stop elsewhere but not here." Just how much extra would it cost to get these trains to stop? Very little I suspect.

Secondly I suspect that a far greater return on investment could be achieved through working with employers to see how technology to could be best used to enable a significant number of employees to work from home for part or all of the week. Personal experience would seem to indicate that the worst times to travel on the motorway network in this country are Monday morning, Friday afternoon and Sunday evening. At least two of these three could be addressed through and increase in home working.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Into the playoff places

Leeds are now sixth in the table after just thirteen games of the season and a mere four points off the top spot. Next weeks away trip to Carlisle should be interesting given the current state of the League Table although if Forest beat Oldham we could be back in seventh by then.

Today's Guardian had a great piece on Saturdays 4-2 demolition of Millwall.

The old adage of the home crowd being a 12th man does not do justice to
Leeds United's vehement support - 13th, 14th and 15th men should be added to
that cliche. This was Leeds' sixth home win out of seven, lifting them into the
play-off positions, and it is difficult to see how any team from League One will
emerge from this intimidating venue with three points

The attendance of 30,319 was the highest in the Football League this season
and the fourth highest in the country on Saturday, and it took the average at
Elland Road to over 27,000 - more than any Championship club and 6,000 more than Leeds themselves registered in the higher division last season. Only two other
teams in League One have an average attendance that stretches to five

They may remain in denial over what happened last season and during the
summer - the tickets for Saturday's match said Football League Championship, the
"Real League Table" printed in the matchday programme has Leeds top of League
One by some distance, and No15 in the squad is listed as "Football League" - but
the points penalty is unlikely to matter at the end of the season.
I certainly hope they are right!

The full article can be found under the headline "Leeds's baying Colosseum revels in ruthless mauling of the Lions"

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

My vote goes to Nick Clegg

So why am I backing Nick Clegg?
Well I suspect that this will be a two horse race with an extreme outside chance that it might just become a one horse race! I assumed that Steve Webb would also stand but he has now thrown his weight behind Nick Clegg.

Last time I gave my second preference to Chris Huhne and unlike previous leadership elections where there has always been one candidate (usually the winner) whom I would not give a preference to at all I would not have a problem if Chris was elected.

I don't believe that there are huge differences between the two likely candidates and I guess I reserve the right to change my mind if some really significant policy differences emerge.

For me the critical question is which of the two is more likely to be able to engage with and communicate to the electorate at large as opposed to just to friendly Liberal Democrat audiences? Who is most likely to speak in plain language? Who is most likely to understand the every day common issues which affect millions of people? Who is most likely to understand the issues which frustrate people and where we need to identify (and communicate) common sense (a particular bug bear of this blog at the moment) policies for the future.

Given that this is the critical issue for me there is only one answer - Nick Clegg.