Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Over 68m Views and I Never Saw this Before?

I was just moved to tears watching this ...

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

New (Temporary) Roundabout

Attended site this morning 07:45 to 08:15. Traffic moving much more freely. Made observations and will pass them onto Highways.

LINKS:  Site Plan | Morrisons store plans and associated works scheme | S106 and Planning Permissions | Planning Documents at CBC

Monday, 29 October 2012

New Roundabout in Town: I Still Want A Shared Space Scheme

As part of the planning permissions for Morrisons new store in Houghton Regis a new roundabout was installed at a main junction today.  I'm glad the lights have gone. I'm happy the roundabout is back. But I still need to work on the powers that be to get them to accept "Shared Space".



Sunday, 28 October 2012

Busway Route Too Narrow for Wheelchairs


The footpaths around the bus stops in Houghton Regis have had their kerbs raised and footpaths relaid to make it easier for the elderly and people in wheelchairs to gain access to the buses without a ramp.  We won't know if this will always be possible because it's likely that on occasion wheels will get stuck in the gap.  In any case this particular path in my ward, in Parkside Drive, would be too narrow to get a wheelchair along.

The capital costs of the busway scheme are around £90million, (DfT £80m, local councils and private sector funding about £10m [reference]). The busway will run between Houghton Regis and Luton town centre and is due to open next Spring. Watch out for the spin. There'll be plenty of over-bearing, gushing, ministerial and council officials making announcements.

The government gave the go ahead for this project hours before the Spending Review announcement was made to review all capital projects. Echoes of "Yes Minister" in my head.  In the region there is no popular support for the concrete busway and many commentators have said as much. As much as it is a lame duck, that skirts around the edges of housing estates with very few bus stops, I am committed to promoting it, because if it's not promoted and used local Councils are going to have very high annual maintenance bills for it, with little coming back in to balance the books.

It would have been far more prudent, in my view, to have spent the DfT money on the A5-M1 link road (recently approved) and the Woodside Connection, a new arterial route proposed to take traffic from Dunstable to a new M1 motorway junction 11a (and supply local roads in a major new housing development).

The A5-M1 link road will cost between £156m and £212m. In part this is being financed by £45 million from the private sector and £5 million from Central Bedfordshire Council. The Woodside Connection is going to cost some £45m, and I don't think anyone seriously knows how they're going to pay for it, yet.

Of this private sector finance, the cost is, of course, bound to be loaded back onto the cost of the 7,000 new homes the developers want to build, and the way I see that is that it will mean less cash available for new community facilities like doctors surgeries, community halls, churches, sporting facilities.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

How to Claim £10 a Minute From Cold Calling Time Wasters

Man charged PPI cold calling firm £10 a minute for wasting his time, And Won!

Parking on Double Yellows - Accident Brewing

It so winds me up that drivers continue to flout the double yellow lines in Dolphin Drive, Houghton Regis.
After I took this picture, this driver told me, "I only stopped to buy some cups of tea. You need to get a life."

Well, it's not me that needs to get a life. It's him that needs to save a life.

I'm sure he did just stop to get some tea. And I'm sure he was only a few minutes. But after he's driven off, some other yo-yo is guaranteed to park up there, too, within 10 minutes, to "only get a loaf of bread", or "only get a newspaper." And before you know it the area is occupied by vehicles all day long.

The double yellows are down there to keep the road safe throughout the day. The obstruction caused could easily lead to a driver overtaking said parked up vehicle, and  making error and an accident on the blind corner will occur. 

Worse, it could be an emergency vehicle obstructed from making progress to attending a local house. Seconds lost towards saving someone's life, or someone's home from going up in smoke. Still, chummy here can always fall back on his excuse,  "I only stopped to buy some cups of tea".

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Apple iPad Price - It's All Supply and Demand

What's that saying? Never look a gift horse in the mouth?

To Apple the buying public are sheep. The buying sheep demand the iPad mini. The buying sheep will pay for it. Apple will supply it, and sell out. That's why  the iPad mini will cost $329.  And it doesn't matter that the Amazon’s Kindle Fire is half the price, or that the Nexus 7 is also way cheaper!

Me? I don't buy Coca Cola, like all the "sheep". I'm quite happy with the Cola versions in places like Lidl and Aldi. In my view equal products, doing the same thing, only one happens to be the market leader and costs a darn sight more than the others. For the same reason I won't be buying an iPad mini. 

So good luck to Apple. When there is cash for the grabbing why bother looking the sheep in the mouth?

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

My X-Factor Verdict 2012

I've always enjoyed watching the UK's X Factor, but some reason this year I'm finding the US version has far more real talent. As to the UK, I have  previously had reasonable success at selecting the end finalists, so I'm having another stab at it this year, despite my reservations.

I couldn't sit through all the chit-chat, so I didn't watch it live. I just watched the "singing" on "replay", and made the following comments before hearing the actual judges comments. So who's going to win X-Factor 2012? Well, I put them in the order I think they might end up in in week one; the predicted finishing number is in brackets. If no number, then I just don't rate them for top places at this time, and they could go out at any time before the final live show.

(1) Jahmene Douglas - From the 1st time I saw this guy I thought, "another Neil Sedaka", even if he doesn't play the piano! Commands the stage. Great notes. I wouldn't be surprised if he wins it this year. Sensational. Fabulous.
Week 2: He seemed nervous, on edge, uncomfortable. not a great performance.

(2) Melanie Masson - Sensational. Raucous singer. BRILLIANT.
Week 2: I really didn't enjoy the song choice. And she was eliminated in Week 2! That's not right. I blame Gary for the poor song choice.

(3) Ella Henderson - a beautiful rendition of Gary Barlow's song. I always feel intimidated by the circumference of her lips!
Week 2: Singing Minnie Ripperton's song that I love. Afraid I prefer Minnie's version because Ella was all over the place in this performance, but very commendable for her age.

(4) Lucy Spraggan - fantastic niche singer song writer. The experience on the show can only boost her inevitable solo career to come.
Week 2: Always surprises me with her ability to compete from behind her own guitar. A huge and obvious future star.

From here on picking out where the rest will finish becomes difficult. So in order of appearance,

James Arthur has strength in his voice.
Week 2: Accomplished performance. I feel his pain.

District 3 are not for me. Thumbs down.
Week 2: A big song that might need more than three to sing it properly?

MK1 bring youth and energy to the stage.
Week 2: Don't like the male English voice on this Michael Jackson song. They're going out?

Christopher Maloney has a nice voice, and could easily be singing in the West End. He could dive in future shows, or rise to the challenge. One to watch.
Week 2: Very strong singer. Sings like Meatloaf!

Union J - vocally I thought this group were weak.
Week 2: I fell asleep watching them!

Jade Ellis - sounds a bit nasal. She's not going to win.
Week 2: Very stylish. Fantastic. Magical. Atmospheric.

Rylan Clark - Embarrassing. He'll get the gay vote, but not the singing vote.
Week 2: He's not a singer. He's a game/chat show host, and the tye of game/chat show I'd want to watch. 

Kye Sones - I've heard it all before. Doesn't grab me.
Week 2: Too much fire in the stage presentation!

Carolynne Poole - As much as I've been personally rooting for her in the run-up, I thought for this live show that this song was weak, and not a good song for the show; needless to say she was knocked out on Sunday of Week 1 when the judges put the verdict into voters tie-breaker.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Richard Kemp: Why there will never again be a Tory Government

This is a conversation Richard Kemp has had recently with a Tory councillor.

RK:      Why is the Tory Party obsessed with gay marriage and Europe?

Tory:    Yes no-one really cares about these things outside the Party

RK:      So where do you stand on these issues?

Tory:    I’m in favour of Europe and gay marriage!

RK:      Aren’t you in the wrong Party?

Tory:    MMMMM!!

Continue Reading

Monday, 8 October 2012

Why This Labour Poster Irks Me

Labour (their web site) are upset by the cuts in expenditure drawing on "Table 1.9 NHS Total Departmental Expenditure Limits in real terms" (pdf file)
2010-11 £104,353m
2011-12 £104,333m

But what they don't point out (presumably because of their bias) is "Table 1.5 NHS Administration Costs"
2010-11 £5,471m
2011-12 £3,551m

Surely the drop in admin costs is something to be applauded, not ridiculed?

(Finally, here's a thought for poster makers: make them Facebook Page Picture Size: 850 X 315px)

Clegg: No Deal Done to Cut Benefits

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Traffic Chaos Tonight!

I have just spoken to Jason from Amey, who is running the operation to resurface Parkside Drive, Houghton Regis.

The works started this morning and will continue over the next four days. The times are 08:00 to 18:00.
The area to be resurfaced is from Windsor Drive junction to Westminster Gardens.
Through traffic is being barred from Parkside Drive, although local road access is possible.

Windsor Drive and Parkside Drive is used by traffic as an alternative rush hour route to using Park Road North and Sundon Road.
Because of the hours of operation of this resurfacing, this alternative route will be unavailable.
This will mean that for Thursday and Friday evenings there will be double the amount of traffic converging from Park Road North onto the Chequers roundabout, Houghton Regis.
I don't want to sound alarmist, but this is going to have significant impact all down Poynters Road and beyond. 

Therefore, traffic aiming for Tithe Farm and Parkside estates would do better by trying to reroute their homeward journeys, either via Luton or Junction 12 of the M1.

I have enquired as to why off-peak resurfacing is not being done. I have been told that that would cost another 25% on the budget, so is unaffordable.
I have enquired about the use of one way traffic and traffic lights. I have been told that would endanger workmen and equipment, and if equipment is damaged would cost the operation even more.
I have enquired as to the temporary potential opening of the bus link. I have been told that would not be possible as alternative routes must be on same grade routes, shrubbery would need to be cut back, graffiti removed from the road surface as to leave it would make the surface slippery, and to do all that work for short term gain would be inappropriate.

Please don't blame the messenger!

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Labour Say Llib Dems Do

Labour say they'll do  ... but Lib Dems in Government are already doing!

No 1: Setting up a business bank.
No 2: Boosting the number of apprenticeships.
No 3: Separating retail and investment banking.
No 4: Boosting house building.

What next?

Houghton Regis Heritage

Last week was the first meeting to see who was interested in a heritage group for the town. 8 of us turned out, and we have lots of ideas and suggestions. Next meeting on Friday. I've put this web site together:

I've just whiled away more precious moments of my life compiling away some of the news stories I previously posted to the News Desk Facebook Page.
Did you miss the news this week? Here's a chance to catch up with some of the items reported on our Facebook Page -

Fairer Taxes For Minimum Wage Earners

Monday, 1 October 2012