A few little gems gleaned from the GOS's leisure reading recently ...
Bank Holidays? Not for the likes of you, scum ...
In the arrogant fashion we have come to expect from local councils, Barnet Council rewrote the calendar this year. They decided that since Boxing Day fell on a Saturday, they were going to ignore it. Fifty-seven innocent motorists, not realising their masters in the Town Hall had abrogated to themselves near-Godlike powers over us mere mortals, were fined £60 for parking offences because they thought it was still a Bank Holiday.
Motorways? Not for the likes of you, scum ...
You remember motorways? You know, those fast, safe roads that got us from A to B so much more quickly? Those fine, broad highways where because everyone was going in the same direction and there are no nasty road junctions we can safely drive at 70 or even 80mph, and where there's a full-length refuge if you're in trouble, called "the hard shoulder".
The government thinks that's far too good for the likes of us poor white trash, so they're stealthily doing away with them. We face permanent 60mph speed limits on up to 250 miles of the motorway network under a little-known government scheme for the introduction of 'controlled motorways' - which is government-speak for "not a motorway at all". To be rolled out over the next five years, controlled motorway speed limits could be pushed down to 50mph and 40mph at the busiest times of the day, according to government documents.
The scheme will deploy an enormous array of new technology (including average speed cameras and sensors buried in the road surface) and will usually be introduced alongside 'hard shoulder' running, where the hard shoulder is used as a fourth lane.
The DfT's initial plans for these not-motorways are ambitious, covering the whole of the M25, stretches of the M40, M3, M4 and M23, as well as most of the roads around Birmingham. The M1 into Yorkshire and the M6 between Birmingham and Manchester are earmarked, as is the Manchester ring road and M6 north of Preston.
Parking at work? Not for the likes of you, scum ...
Another local council that thinks it can do anything it damn-well pleases is Nottingham. Their "workplace parking levy" should be introduced on 1 October 2011 though charges will not come into force until April 2012. The council has approved the timetable following a decision that the introduction of the levy should be put back from April 2010 by two years because of the current economic climate. How generous of them.
The levy will start at £253 (index-linked to account for inflation between now and then) for each workplace parking space, rising to over £300 by 2015. The charge applies to employers with more than ten parking spaces. The levy is expected to raise about £14m a year but implementation is by no means certain as the local Chamber of Commerce is hoping to persuade the Conservatives to rescind the scheme if they win power in the General Election. Failing that, the Chamber may resort to a judicial review of the Secretary of State's decision to confirm the order.
So ... the car belongs to you. The parking space belongs to your employers, who are happy for you to use it. The roads you drive on to get there have paid for many times over by the Council Tax, Income Tax, Road Fund Licence and fuel duty you have been paying all your adult life. So just what is the justification for allowing Nottingham Council to charge for workplace parking? It's not their car, it's not their land, it's not any of their bloody business.
An opinion, Mr.Plod? What the f*ck do you know?
Yet another piece of council arrogance from Oxfordshire County Council. They plan to overrule police concerns that 22 proposed speed limit reductions on the county's rural road network are inappropriate. Councillors plan to reduce limits on about 60 stretches of road, whatever the police say. After all, to rephrase an old saying, you don't keep a guard dog and take any notice when it barks. Er ... no, that doesn't work, does it? ...
An opinion? Not for the likes of you, proletarian scum ...
The number of British people who are sceptical about climate change is rising, according to a recent poll for the BBC (for Christ's sake, BBC, we could have told you that months ago, and charged nothing for the privilege. Don't you ever listen to anyone but yourselves?).
The Populus poll of 1001 adults found 25% did not think global warming was happening, an increase of 10% since a similar poll was conducted in November. The percentage of respondents who said climate change was a reality had fallen from 83% in November 2009 to 75% in January 2010. And only 26% of those asked believed climate change was happening and "now established as largely man-made". In November 2009, a similar poll by Populus - commissioned by the Times - showed that 41% agreed that climate change is happening and it is largely the result of human activities.
"It is very unusual indeed to see such a dramatic shift in opinion in such a short period," Populus managing director Michael Simmonds commented. "The British public are sceptical about man's contribution to climate change - and becoming more so," he added. "More people are now doubters than firm believers."
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs' (Defra) chief scientific adviser, Professor Bob Watson, said: "The fact that there has been a very significant drop in the number of people that believe that we humans are changing the Earth's climate is serious. Action is urgently needed. We need the public to understand that climate change is serious so they will change their habits and help us move towards a low carbon economy."
Professor Watson evidently agrees with Bertolt Brecht that "When government doesn't agree with the people, it's time to change the people".
You might care to browse through an excellent website called The Green Agenda. These are three quotes from its front page ...
"It doesn't matter what is true, it only matters what people believe is true" - Paul Watson, co-founder of Greenpeace
"Unless we announce disasters no one will listen"- Sir John Houghton, first chairman of IPCC
"The only way to get our society to truly change is to frighten people with the possibility of a catastrophe"- emeritus professor Daniel Botkin
If you can't win, there's no harm in having a coherent policy ...
In its magazine "On The Road" this month the Association of British Drivers were looking at the transport policies of the main political parties. Here's a summary of UKIP's policy ...
Use funds released from leaving the EU on select new bypasses, road improvements, safety and widening schemes
Oppose EUís Galileo satellite 'spy in the sky' technology programme for road pricing
Require new insurance discs to be displayed on windscreens to tackle over 1 million uninsured drivers
End the 'highway robbery' of unfair fines on motorists by returning to first principles on car parking (to keep traffic moving not be a tax generator) and make speed cameras democratically accountable, removing them where they serve no use
Remove the £15 surcharge for compensation to victims of crime from minor motoring offences
Consult on raising the motorway speed limit to 80mph
Legislate to introduce a crime of Vehicular Manslaughter, for those whose excessively dangerous driving makes death on the road a near certainty
Support measures to improve motorcycle safety whilst supporting its freedoms
Oppose EU proposals for daytime lights for all vehicles as dangerous
Support a high quality, fast, reliable, affordable and extensive rail network
On the other hand, the Green party would ...
Invest an extra £30bn in rail, bus, cycle and pedestrian transport improvements
Return Britain's rail and underground networks to public ownership
Introduce trams & light rail into more cities
Make using public transport cheaper than private motoring
Reflect the huge hidden costs of road transport in progressively increased fuel taxes
Introduce a maximum speed limit of 55mph on motorways and trunk roads, 40mph on rural roads and 20mph in residential areas
Extend, where appropriate, congestion charges and road-pricing schemes
Encourage walking and cycling
Hmm, all very interesting ...
It'd be a damn sight more interesting if either of these sad outfits stood a cat's chance in hell of coming to power. All very easy conjuring up populist ideas when there's no danger of being required to put them into practice. Incidentally, UKIP's offering was written in the worst English of any of the parties. On the other hand, the Green Party made the least sense: "Reflect the huge hidden costs of road transport in progressively increased fuel taxes" - what the f*ck does that mean? Most of the huge cost of road transport IS taxes!
Electric car b*ll*cks
Paul Withrington from Transport Watch writes ...
How can anybody think that the electric car is the solution to any problem? The belief that it will emit 40% less carbon than conventional vehicles is based on the Arup/Cenex report with the natty title "Investigation into the Scope for the Transport Sector to Switch to Electric Vehicles and Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles", dated October 2008.
Unfortunately its conclusions depend on the wild claims of manufacturers, rather than upon sensible tests. Not surprisingly the gap between those claims and the anecdotal performance of the vehicles is so large as to beggar belief:
An electric car provided to a journalist for tests was alleged to have a 70-mile range. The journalist decided to be safe and planned a 50-mile trip only to find the specially prepared car failed at 37 miles.
A user of a G-Wiz found that the battery expired after two years and three months, instead of after the hoped-for five years.
Jeremy Clarkson found that the Tesla ran out of power after 55 miles on his test track, rather than after the 220 miles claimed by the manufacturer.
An electric Ford Transit-sized van provided to a manufacturer, who wants to remain anonymous, was alleged to have a range of 100 miles. The manufacturer found that on the level, and with no load, the vehicle managed 60 miles but that on hills in Wales it managed just six (yes, six!).
Adverse weather conditions are said to reduce battery performance by 40% to 50%.
Furthermore, section six of the Arup/Cenex paper 'demonstrates' that the cost of running an electric vehicle will be less than that for an internal combustion-powered vehicle. However, the costs assigned to petrol and diesel include tax, so exaggerating the economy of the electric vehicle by a factor of at least three. Against that background we regard the paper, a paper upon which national policy hangs, as worthless.
What better illustration do we need of the poor quality of the advice given to Government and of the naivety of those who receive it?
Those inflated rail fares
You know how we complain bitterly about the exorbitant fares charged by modern railway companies?
Thanks to an editorial in "Steam World" I can tell you that in 1840 a second-class railway ticket from Chippenham to Bath would have cost two shillings. That's the equivalent of £9.60 at modern prices. What is the actual fare in 2010?
£4.90, roughly half the 1840 cost.
If you go even further back to 1795 when there were no trains and long-distance travel was by stage coach, it cost £5 10s to travel from Edinburgh to London. The journey took two and a half days and overnight accommodation was included in the fare, which in today's money was about £500.
Today's rail journey takes under five hours and costs £135.
Not quite sure what that proves. I'm fairly sure it does NOT prove that today's fares are reasonable. Perhaps it just goes to show that if we think we're being fleeced today, we'd have been fleeced even more in the past.
The GOS says: While we're on the subject of railways, just a thought about these rail strikes.
All my life I've been OK with the idea of strikes. It's always seemed to me that the decision not to go to work has to be one of the few great freedoms we can exercise - provided we are prepared not to get paid for it, of course. There's no such thing as a free lunch.
But I understand that next week rail staff are withdrawing their labour only between 6 and 10 in the morning, and again between 6 and 10 at night. If that's true, it stinks. That's not just exercising your democratic right to stay in bed of a morning. That's deliberately targeting innocent travellers who have done nothing to you, causing them absolutely the most inconvenience that you can - while still presumably drawing a full day's pay since 10 in the morning until 6 in the evening is 8 hours.
No doubt somebody who knows can write in and correct me if I've understood it wrong, but on the face of it that's vicious, calculating, cynical and unprincipled.
either on this site or on the World Wide Web.
Copyright © 2010 The GOS