Friday, January 28, 2011

Happy Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day

Apparently Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day is celebrated on the last Monday of January. And why not?

Invitation to Ambulance Service Consultation

This is a message on behalf of South Central Ambulance Service NHS Trust.

You are invited to a Foundation Trust consulation meeting on Monday 31st Janaury at: Newbury Rugby Club, Monks Lane, Newbury, RG14 7RW. The doors open at 2pm and the meeting starts at 2.30pm.

Attendees will see displays of what the trust does, can meet the team and hear how they can help shape our service into the future by becoming a member of the Trust.

With your help and the help of your family and friends we will be able to develop services that are more sensitive to the needs of our patients. Help us to deliver local improvements in patient care and to strengthen our links with local communities in addition to the contractual arrangements we have with our commissioners.

Anyone resident in our area and aged over 14 years can become a member of our Trust and have their say on how we may provide services in the future to benefit you, your family, friends, colleagues and your local community.

Alternatively, telephone 01869 365000, Email or register on line at

Thursday, January 27, 2011


It’s exasperating, if not particularly surprising, that the decision to scrap the EMA (Education Maintenance Allowance) descended into petty jostling for electoral advantage against all common sense.

Labour made an attempt (that they no doubt hope will appear as a principled and progressive stand) to save an initiative that has been much touted as helping young people from low household income families to stay on at school or college after 16.

And principled it might have been, if the circumstances were only so. Campaigners appear to be blithely unaware that the EMA has also been a pretty unsavoury conduit for shovelling tax payers’ money into the pockets of the spoiled offspring of the idle rich. By rights the Labour Party should have been baying for its root and branch reform.

Surely not? Isn't it a lovely progressive incentive to keep kids at school?

Well it would be if it was as it seemed. And it is great for families that genuinely need it. The rub lies in the way that money was awarded to the undeserving rich according to the champagne socialist way under which the scheme chose to determine ‘household income’.

To qualify for EMA it is only the income of the household in which the young person lives most of the time that counts. So if Mum and Dad have separated and the young person lives mostly with Mum, it is only Mum’s household income that counts (or vice versa obviously). So Dad could be a hedge fund manager sitting on squillions of ill-gotten gains, and yet his wealth is ignored for the purposes of the EMA. Not only that but when calculating Mum’s household income “maintenance received from a former partner” is specifically excluded.

So we have a situation whereby kids from the wealthiest and most privileged of backgrounds are in receipt of the full EMA even though their actual household income might be tens of thousands a month - so long as the householder doesn't work! The scheme saw affluent – even filthy rich - families living in mansions claiming the full £30 a week.

It’s plainly wrong. And surely anyone can see that reform was required.

But Labour won't say so, since that would be to admit that it was their cock up. The Conservatives aren’t pointing this out, because there aren’t many Tory votes in reminding the comfortable that they have been milking the system of money they didn’t actually need. The Lib Dems are silent, having been thrown a bone called 'enhanced discretionary learner support' which will never emerge since anything vaguely helpful would have already been marshalled in support of the coalition policy to scrap EMA at the time.

So as I say, exasperating but unsurprising. This is perhaps the right time and a good reason to be Apolitical.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Fire extinguisher-throwing student protestor jailed

Fire extinguisher-throwing student protestor jailed

What in heaven's name is the purpose in jailing 18 year old Edward Woollard for 32 months? Thirty two months - that's two years and 8 months - for lobbing a fire extinguisher on a demo. He's hurt no-one.

Commander Bob Broadhurst the Metropolitan Police Service's head of public order said:
"This sentence is a significant period of imprisonment for a young man with no previous convictions. It will have a significant impact on his life and his future."
Too bloody right it will! How to alienate an otherwise nice kid for a lifetime? Surely a week in the cells would have been enough put the fear of God into him?

Where is the sense in locking him up for so long? He's hardly a danger to the public. His mum even got him to fess up...she won't do that again! Neither will many other nice right thinking parents.

Compare this with people in so called positions of trust, such as "at least seven-and-a-half years in jail before being considered for parole" for Stephen Mitchell, the policeman, who raped and sexually assaulted vulnerable women while on duty. Or dishonest MP, David Chaytor who gets 18 months for thieving more than £20,000 from the taxpayer.

What a topsy turvey world we live in...