Monday, January 31, 2011

“Savage Coots”?

The 2010 Spending Review says, “Even after these spending cuts, total public spending (Total Managed Expenditure) in 2014-15 will be higher in real terms than in 2008-09. At 41 per cent of GDP, this will be around the same level of public spending as in 2006-07. Spending on public services in 2014-15 will be higher than 2006-07 levels in real terms.”

Thank you Mark Wadsworth.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

UDI for CU

Under the Labour government, the universities were prodded, poked and cajoled by ministers who were more concerned with diversity than academic rigour.

Under the Coalition, we have a debate at Cambridge University triggered by the ministerial plans to raise tuition fees.

Universities like Cambridge are world-class and they need world class funding.
One of the great counterfactual debates is what would have happened to higher education had the Tories won the 1997 General Election (it was not going to happen, not even a leader who had the compassion and integrity of Mother Theresa or charisma of Tony Blair could have finessed that one for blues). The plan was to use the money from the sale of the 3G to endow higher education bodies, taking the funding out of the hands of the state and put it under the control of the institutions themselves. Independence.

Getting institutions off the drip-feed of government grants is a good thing. Like cocaine addicts, their ruling bodies turn to ministers for the next cash high and a dependency culture takes hold. If you want other examples, there are NGO’s and charities complaining about government cuts because they have lost sight that role is to raise money from the public – not to take public money from the state. Similarly, business models that rely on government grants for the long term are also living off the fickle hands of ministers and their civil servants.

So where to now?

Reading the debate raging in Cambridge, this looks like a chance for those on left and right of the political spectrum to agree that extended government intervention in higher education is not a good thing; the universities need greater autonomy and, if necessary, complete independence from the state. Of course this is something that only the very successful universities can contemplate – they have the alumni and potential cash pots to make it happen – but it would be a good thing. Bring it on.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Job Creation

A useful point made on the Fullfact website is that, “over the past year, the number of private sector jobs have actually grown by the exact same proportion as there have been losses in the public sector: 1.3 per cent.”

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Our Transport Future - Not

The Congestion Charge taliban are at it again, this time with the website on Our Transport Future.

The "charge and spend" philosophy at its heart, and the spy-technology at its centre are two wrongs which certainly don't add up to a right. I would give them full marks for not censoring the comments section which pretty much make all the points that one needs to.

The gaping hole in the county's transport policy is the A14. Many councillors voted for the Guided Bus because they were told by the government that if there was no bus then there would be no upgrade. To paraphrase Brutus, not that they loved the Guided Bus, but they wanted the A14 more. And they got nothing.

If they want to be radical, why not call for a new A14 lane for high occupancy vehicles funded under the private finance initiative/ppp?

Photo Opps Oops

The resignation of the Irish Prime Minster as his party's leader produced one of those pictures that photo-journalists (and viewers) love but politicians hate. This one probably happened because there was no advance work done... or the advance staff just stopped caring. See here for the story.

Friday, January 21, 2011

A14 Again...

From the BBC

21 January 2011 13:59
Tanker spill causes A14 closure in CambridgeshireThe A14 in Cambridgeshire is expected to be closed in both directions for up to seven hours because a tanker is leaking its load of ethanol.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Wine Tasting with the Tories

On February 10th there will the wine tasting at St Edmund's College. The College Wine Steward will guide a tasting of classic wines from the College cellars. A limited number of bottles tasted will be available for purchase.

See here for more details.

"Good luck, and glug glug."

Friday, January 14, 2011

A14 Again...

From the BBC today, "Rush-hour crashes cause delays on A14 and A1307"

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

No to AV Campaign Launches Website

The website can can accessed here

Elizabeth Hughes - Labour Councillor

Elizabeth Hughes was an active Labour councillor for King's Hedges. I missed the news of her death last month and want to put this right.

No political party has the monopoly on wisdom, honesty or hard work: there are cads among the Conservatives and good souls to be found in the ranks of socialists. Elizabeth was one of those councillors who could see beyond party labels and with whom one to pass a cheery moment during an election count or on campaign. She brought her good name into local politics and left with it intact. It is a legacy that others should aspire to.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

For Sale

Time to move on means that a Hotpoint TS12 Dryer (with condenser if needed)is yours for £20.00 - come and get it!

Graco pushchair, in fetching pink, is also yours for £15.00.


Garbage in, Garbage out...

"Police forces' failure to record information on the Police National Computer (PNC) has contributed to more than one million crime records not being held on the system, has learned"

Monday, January 10, 2011

King James Bible on Radio 4

A feast of English on the radio. Selections from the Authorised Version of the Bible, as commissioned by King James I/VI, were broadcast on Sunday and are now available as podcasts. I listened while doing the household chores and was struck by the beauty of the language and surprised happily by the number of times common phrases we use today came out of this 400 year old publication. Enjoy.

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Blair Blarney on Parking

The Cambridge News reported the parking planning rule changes brought in by the new government to which the Lib Dem responsible, "told the News it was unlikely the current stated hierarchy of road users – which puts pedestrians, cyclists and public transport ahead of private motorists – would change."

A classic Blair tactic - Tony, to be clear - in not answering the question but offering a few words on one that was not asked. Nobody was suggesting the hierarchy would change; unless humans develop body armour we will always be vulnerable to vehicles.

We want to know whether the Lib Dems on the City Council will now support developments where a realistic car usage level is included or if they will continue to put their fingers in their ears and try to 'la la' the messy verges and crammed, chaotic parking associated with the new schemes, like their CB1 plan.

However, it should also be noted that the County Council fielded an officer from its less than glorious transportation department - the ones who were behind the push for congestion charging - who was quoted talking about parking charges, and not about the planning changes.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Common Sense Plans for Parking

Conservative Home reports, "Ministers are today removing national planning restrictions put in place in 2001 that required councils to limit the number of parking spaces allowed in new residential developments and set high parking charges to encourage the use of alternative modes of transport,"


Cambridge is blighted by developments that do not have enough parking. The net result - places that looks like "Ed's Hot Car Lot" - is the consequence of reality bumping into the eco-zealotry of our own City Council and their sympathisers in the County Council's inglorious transportation department.

I hope the elected members of the latter will note: "these rules unfairly penalised drivers, led to over-zealous parking enforcement, and increased unsightly on-street parking."

A Cautionary Tale of Protectionism

How protectionism fails states, as told in a Wall Street Journal editorial...

In 2005, at the behest of America's monopoly magnesium producer—U.S. Magnesium of Utah—the Commerce Department imposed antidumping duties on magnesium from Russia and magnesium alloy from Russia and China. Five years later magnesium alloy is in short supply in the U.S., leading to much higher prices than in the rest of the world and a crisis for die casters, alloy producers and recyclers... If the goal was to destroy a U.S. manufacturing industry, you couldn't have come up with a better plan. The North American Die Casters Association says some 1,875 direct jobs and 8,000 supporting jobs have been lost since the 2005 antidumping orders took effect. U.S. magnesium alloy producers have also been stung by duties because they've been priced out of the market and recyclers can't find scrap.

More here.