Saturday, 8 December 2018

Oh no here we go again — unless pro-EU MPs take charge!

From The Guardian today:

A pledge to spend the “dividend” secured by staying in the European Union on nationwide regeneration is being drawn up by senior Remain strategists ahead of a possible second referendum. In anticipation of a fresh poll, they are developing plans for a grassroots campaign that will operate without a traditional figurehead.

Good friends dating back to my Young Socialist days in Wembley in the early-1960s, all of whom are still in the Labour Party and voted against Brexit, as did Susan and me, and all are committed Europeans. One’s daughter is now a French citizen with a French husband and family, another has a sister living in Paris the past 40 years and third married a German. All of them oppose a second referendum, believing it will be more damaging than the first. Susan dreads the repetition of the 1st referendum and until a couple of hours ago I hung onto the idea that a 2nd referendum was our best chance to save us from ourselves.

This evening the above article and opening paragraph changed my mind. It speaks for itself and reminds me of the ‘Leave’ bus with its £350million NHS message. To reduce the EU to money reveals a complete lack of understanding of the European ideal that so many of us have spent a lifetime aspiring to.

The European ideal is strong enough to survive Brexit. It is time for MPs to earn their keep and make the decision, then face the voters and for those MPs to be given a clear run (ie. pro-Europe voters unite behind one candidate). I believe such honesty and courage will win enough support to carry the day and see off the Brexiteers.

As I have said in this blog more than once, I have an Irish father and I am proud of the fact despite not knowing him.

The story of four wartime boys from Wembley, Sudbury and Harrow who became friends when they joined the Labour Party as Young Socialists is nothing special. I just wish so many others like us, now in their 70s, looked at their own lives as closely, than perhaps, just perhaps, they might join us in seeing the madness of Brexit and why we have to look beyond ourselves, however hard that might be.

Friday, 7 December 2018

A slovenly indictment or a measure of pressure? — Broxtowe Borough Council's Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) Register

This HMO table has become a holding operation. I’ve decided to compile a new version based on years in chronological order so that Beeston residents can see how HMO registration has (or not!) progressed. The more I see the more I feel the need to map the obvious - that Broxtowe Borough Council has never taken changing housing needs in Beeston seriously and continues to have no policy/strategy.

Regular readers will know this is something I’ve been going on about for a few years now. 

In the meantime I will be back with a Beeston HMO map, a list of anomalies and some concerns I have. In the meantime you might like to examine my 2018 Beeston HMO Table based on the copy of the Register I received earlier this week after submitting a Freedom of Information request (click on the table to enlarge):

For the record ALL Broxtowe’s HMOs are in Beeston, except for one in Nuthall.

One final point for now. I can’t understand for one moment why HMO registrations are so low when all the evidence suggests the total should be much higher. More about this when I add to this post on Sunday/Monday.

Saturday, 1 December 2018

Where do all the cars on Wollaton Road come from, especially Friday and Saturday mornings?

First, a fun pic of sorts of the little wool / knitting shop on Wollaton Road close to The Cricketers pub by the traffic lights at the road's junction with Albion Street.

Today has been Broxtowe Borough Council's 'Small Business Day' and I love the KnitBits Wool shop simple seasonal display. Having been in a few times with Susan I know that the owners are friendly and helpful — which, in my now considerable experience, is typical of Beeston's many fine small shops.

Below is an extract from my 2018 Beeston map showing you where KnitBits is:

This morning was wet, cold and miserable but I still had to go shopping for a few odds and ends. I try to avoid supermarket shopping on Fridays and Saturdays and I can't remember a Saturday when Wollaton Road from Wollaton Crescent down into Beeston has not been a solid line of traffic. Most times I usually beat the cars but today I had an L10 as my marker. It met me as I turned out of the Crescent onto Wollaton Road and only passed me for the last time as I turned onto Albion Street. I took this two pics:

Here the L10 has stopped outside the Thistle Teahouse. In some ways it has to be one of the best ways to begin a visit to Beeston. Off the L10 or L11, a cup of tea or coffee, then a leisurely walk into town.

And here it is again, front view this time, as I overtake it by the Abbey Road / Wollaton Road pedestrian crossing. This poor L10 was trapped in a solid line of traffic the whole time we were together and the driver had yet to negotiate the Station Road / Middle Street traffic lights which, because of the tram, can catch this little bus for ages. I have long been of the view that buses should have priority at traffic lights just like the tram. The L10 rarely leaves Beeston on time and I know this fact well because it is the bus Susan and I use most times we travel into Nottingham and it is rarely on time. The reasons for this are another story for another day.

The question I want to ask right now is 'Do Broxtowe and Nottinghamshire councils know where all the cars pouring into Beeston via Wollaton Road come from, especially on Saturdays?

I ask because with modern number plate reading technology it should be easy enough to plot where all these vehicles come from and if, as I suspect, this is mostly local traffic, why can't we have a more frequent bus service along Wollaton Road to reduce the need for car use?

On wet, cold, miserable days like today I understand why folk use their cars, but if we want people to get the bus habit then you have to provide high frequency daily bus services throughout the Beeston area. Once upon a time Wollaton Road and Dennis Avenue both had frequent bus routes and lost them for reasons not to do with lack of use. Again another story for another day. Right now I want to flag up the need for a traffic survey mapping where all the Wollaton Road traffic comes from, then for new or revised bus routes to be introduced which take account of where road users actually live.

Finally, consider this fact. If it wasn't for Nottingham City Council Wollaton Road and Dennis Avenue wouldn't have the limited Monday–Saturday daytime buses they presently enjoy — another good reason why I'm a fan of Beeston joining with Nottingham and not the county should the Conservatives retain control of Broxtowe come next May's borough council elections and support the borough becoming part of a unitary county council.

And as I walked back home up Wollaton Road, having done my shopping, this L11 was sitting in traffic waiting to have its photograph taken. It was already close to mid-day and running late. It had come all the way from Arnold and kept good time only to end up late because of all the cars on Wollaton Road.

The tram was created to serve a network of long-stay car parks around Nottingham for the benefit of drivers and their passengers (if they have any) whilst those who rely on buses are left standing in the rain and wind waiting for buses made late by other road users. There is something wrong with a logic that says it was worth spending hundreds of millions on a tram when the same money could have created a low fare, high frequency 24/7 bus network across our conurbation to the advantage of all. We have the tram, so we should make the best use of it we can. The same people who argued for the tram argue for HS2 and the arguments are as spurious now as they were then.

In the meantime bus routes are axed and services reduced. Next week a story from 1947 when the old Beeston and Stapleford Urban District Council was busy complaining about bus services in Beeston and along Wollaton Road among others.

Friday, 30 November 2018

Anna Soubry cannot be faulted on her Brexit stance

Anna Soubry’s email newsletter contains the following statement on Brexit. Since Brexit she has been consistent and adopted a position which can reasonably be described as ‘cross party’. I re-publish here with no further comment:

Hello again,
Well there’s certainly a lot going on! I was tempted to keep this week's email newsletter Brexit free but it would be irresponsible to ignore the most important decision we have taken since the Second World War. In short, Parliament will begin a five day debate on Tuesday and then vote the week after on whether to accept the Prime Minister’s Brexit “deal”. I will not be voting for it but will be supporting a cross party amendment which rejects Theresa May’s “deal”, ensures we will only leave the EU with a good deal in place  (so it rejects a “no deal’ Brexit) and keeps Parliament at the heart of what happens next.
As you know, I believe the best deal is the one we currently have with the EU - it’s unique, cannot be replicated if we leave and has served us well.
However, I have argued that if we leave the EU we should retain our membership (in effect) of the single market and the customs union, the so called 'Norway plus' model. I’ve made that case and voted for it for the last two years. Whichever Brexit “deal” Parliament settles on, it should be returned to the people so you can have the final say now we know what Brexit looks like. Three things are for sure; firstly, whichever way you do it, Brexit will make us poorer; secondly, people are entitled to change their minds and; finally, young people who will be most affected have a right to a say over their future.

Thursday, 29 November 2018

Council tax exemptions and HMO updates for 2018 coming soon

In early-January at the latest I expect to post data relating to council tax exempt properties and HMOs  in and around Beeston, as I did for 2017. See link here.

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Vanity vanity, oh vanity and a grandson taking on a different political foe makes us proud

To start with, a few words about Curtis Cooper Howard, our 19 year old grandson.

He's the one wearing the Labour Party rosette in the company of other members of Aberystwyth University Labour Students and, to his left, Christina Rees, the Labour MP for Neath, celebrating his selection as the Labour Party candidate for North ward on Aberystwyth Council in a forthcoming by-election.

He's  learning to press the flesh a bit younger than me (I was 25 when I first stood and won a seat on Birmingham City Council). It's going to be a tougher fight for Curtis, as the Party left it to the Liberals and Plaid Cymru to fight it out last year with the latter taking all three seats. This time, thanks to the students, there's going to be a fight.

He says his only claim to fame is having spoken to Mrs Cable about the weather when her husband Vince visited Aberystwyth. This isn’t quite true. During Brexit he appeared on TV questioning politicians and has upset the Momentum establishment in his part of Wales, being selected in spite of Momentum members who tried to stop it happening.

I can't claim he got his politics from us, but when we are together we talk little else. He is far more reasoned than me but we do share a belief that you shouldn't be tribal; that you should listen to others and be suspicious of leaders.

Susan and I are very proud of Curtis and will let you know how he gets on. I'm just hoping the by-election takes place whilst the students are at the university.

As for myself, a few weeks ago I had a Nottingham City Transport '35 History Bus' named after me. It came as a surprise. I was told I am the 26th person to ever have a NCT bus named after them. It beats any state 'gong' and has a duration of 5–8 years if I'm lucky. So out there, somewhere in Nottingham, there is a 35 bus plying its route between Bulwell and the city centre bearing my name.

The 35 History Bus is something I've spent the last five years promoting and, to date, NCT have given several local groups a 35 for a day so that I could lead a guided tour. Come Bluebell time in May I'm hoping to work with NCT to provide a special service of some kind between Bilborough Village and Strelley Church making it easier to reach Oldmoor Wood and the bluebells, with donations going to the Woodland trust, who own the wood. Watch out for more details nearer the time...

Saturday, 24 November 2018

May’s betrayal of Gibraltar is reason enough to say no to her Brexit deal

A very short post. News that Gibraltar has been betrayed by May should make it impossible for any MP worth the name to support her Brexit deal.

May is a nasty person. The roots of the Windrush generation expulsions and the inhumane and racist treatment of many innocent, good, people  can be traced back to her time as Home Secretary. The racist nationalistic Home Office we have to endure is a May legacy. 

Is any  EU Brexit deal worth betraying Gibraltar?  The answer has to be NO! If I was in Scotland right now I would calling for another independence vote. May cannot be trusted.

Post-Brexit there is now every chance that South American countries will unite behind Argentina and demand that the Falklands are ceded to Argentina as part of any trade deal. The world will be queuing up to take advantage of us. Spain have got the first bite and, make no mistake, there are plenty of others waiting to have their pound of flesh.

Spain has a string of  enclaves on the coast of North Africa and it complains about Gibraltar!

It is said that she is going to appeal to the ‘British people over the head of Parliament. By her actions she has betrayed all of us, not just Gibraltar.

With any luck this will be the attempt which forces her from office and enough of us will unite to say ‘enough is enough’ and that this Brexit madness is brought to an end! The trouble with this take is that the Leave voters I know haven’t changed their minds and blame Europe - not May - for the mess.   A few might have backed off had they foreseen the mess we’re now in but they do not imagine for one moment the outcome would have been any better had Corbyn been in charge. Right now Parliament might fairly be described as a rest home for headless chickens. Still Corbyn waits... need one say more.

For the record I supported the Falklands intervention after Argentina’s invasion in 1982 because I believe in the right of self-determination both nationally and locally. I stand by the same rights for Gibraltar and the constituent parts of the British Isles.

I was born during World War Two and I believe we have to be part of the European Union because history and our own liberty depends on it.

I should also declare I am 58% Irish and 42% English. I was born in Devon to an unmarried English mother. I believe in a federal Ireland like I believe in a federal Britain and Europe, and if I ever have a passport again I would like it to be a European Union passport.

My father was Irish, my step-father Scottish and my children are 25% Welsh. I have a 100% Irish half-brother and half-Scottish half-sisters. My surname could have been one of four and, for a while, it was changed, but I changed it back again at 13 or thereabouts. If asked where I’m from I usually say Wembley - a very global local place name. Giving that answer to someone recently they came back ‘But you’re English, right?’ and I answered ‘Yes’. I could when aged 3 have been adopted by the parents of my favourite aunt (by marriage) and stayed in Grantown-on-Spey. On reflection I would have liked that but I can’t imagine  life without Susan so I like to think we would have found one another somehow. As for Ireland my affinity to the Irish has been with me all my life, even though it was not until a DNA test in 2016 the link was confirmed and it was not until last year I found out the name of my father, thanks to someone I didn’t know posting a DNA result which gave us a close family link.

At the end of the day I am an islander with a love of the sea and glad that Europe is close at hand - just like Beeston High Road is a short walk away. In all this I consider myself blessed.