Tram navigating Corner

Unsustainable transport

Much has been written about sustainable transport, I am going to discuss unsustainable transport.

The city of Nottingham has a tram system (I have purposely not used a picture of it). We are told that any forward and progressive city must have a tram system. Apparently it is a sign of prosperity and forward thinking. Essential for success even. 

Definition of Sustainable

Another argument is that it is a green and sustainable method of transport.

Let us discuss the term sustainable. It is most frequently associated with its green credentials, and indeed this is important. However, it is by no means the full picture.

The world of profit and loss

The world that we live in here in the United Kingdom, demands that we have a robust economy. If we want something, it needs to be paid for.

On that basis, to be a sustainable form of transport, the operating organisation must pay attention to its profit and loss account.

The accounts do not necessarily demand a profit (that depends on the type of organisation). It must, however, be able to pay its bills reliably and consistently. In order to do that, their income must at least match its outgoings. Pretty simple. If it does not meet this simple criteria, I would have to suggest that the it is not a sustainable method of transport.

Nottingham Express Transit

Nottingham express transit, the operator of the Nottingham tram system holds many accolades, poor customer service, unreliable and losing a lot of money.

Looking at publicly available accounts for the company (just search on companies house), it is notable that in the last 5 years they have never made a profit. In fact, they have lost 10’s of millions of pounds. How is this sustainable?

Proud of their stupidity

The local council and Nottingham Express Transit have recently put forward proposals to extend the system to neighbouring towns and Cities. Namely Derby and Leicester.

Given that they can’t maintain the existing system, what makes them think they could maintain a much larger one?

Not only this, but Nottingham, Derby and Leicester are already linked with fast and reliable train services as well as express coach services.

I can only conclude that these people are so proud of their stupidity that they want to show it off to the world.

We can’t afford it

Based on the current economic climate along with the fact that the concerned council is nearly bankrupt, I would have to suggest that we can’t afford it. Even if we could, should we?

Is it time to acknowledge that the recent love affair with trams is fundamentally flawed from a financial perspective?

 

Long Dark Winter

Long Dark Winter

News Years Eve 2020. Coronavirus. Pubs closed. Shops Closed. Social contact restricted. It is most assuredly going to be a Long Dark Winter.

I think few would disagree that this winter is going to be hard work. I believe those that already suffer with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) will be joined by many other people.

The conditions are surely set for Mental Health challenges like no other year. There has been much talk about the looming mental health crisis caused by the COVID lockdowns. To use a popular phrase, “I don’t think we’ve seen the peak yet”.

From a personal perspective, I would admit that I have struggled in the last couple of years with the dark, wet weather of January and February. I have dealt with this by booking a holiday or trip for March. A target if you like. Something to look forward to. Again, this winter, that approach is removed. As is the social interaction that the pub brings. Working from home means little interactions there either.

The human being is by nature a social creature. We rely on it. When it’s not there, we notice. We most assuredly miss it.

It is more important than ever that we carry forward the lessons of the past year. The community spirit. The check up phone calls. The caring. The good deeds. looking after each other.

It has probably never been more important than ever to spend time to look after each other.

As well as looking after each other, we must look after and cherish the NHS. This most cherished of British institutions is in the fight of its life to keep us safe and well.

Please use the NHS wisely. Follow the guidelines. Allow them the space to help us. But if you genuinely need help, ask for it.

There are people and organisations out there waiting to help.

  • Family members
  • Friends
  • Your local GP
  • The Samaritans – 116 123
  • Mind – mind.org.uk
Brexit - done

BREXIT

Oven Ready deal is done

So the deal is done. BREXIT is happening with a deal.

Although I initially voted to remain, I believe this is fantastic news.

Not Perfect

Without knowing all the details (I’ll let the experts do that) I am sure that the deal will not be perfect. There will be parts of the agreement that the United Kingdom will not like. Undoubtedly, the European Union will have sections that they wish were not there. This is the nature of such agreements.

The deal will be a compromise. Both sides will have given as little as they can. But a deal it is.

Whilst it could have been done sooner, the deal gives everyone the rules by which we are going to trade. Clarity is always good.

Looking Forward

It is surely now time to look forward. Looking back serves little purpose and will only re-open wounds and damage friendships.

We have a way forward. We have a set of rules. Let us get on with it. Let us now see if those people who suggested we would be better off outside of Europe. There is only one way to find out – to actually do it!

Toxic

The whole topic of BREXIT has been hugely damaging, especially to the political institution. Time is now right to repair the damage, look forward to it and prosper.

There are going to be bumps in the road ahead. I don’t personally believe there is a way to avoid them whilst delivering on the request of the British public. We must be patient. Deal with the issues when they occur in a calm and pragmatic way. We can and will do this.

Accept the decision

For those, like me, who voted to remain, please don’t be bitter. Accept the decision. Embrace the change. Make the most of it. Make it work. Positivity and creativity will help us adapt and succeed.

 

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Scooter for Hire

Yellow scooters

In the town that I call home (Nottingham) we have seen a new transport scheme. Yellow scooters.

On the face of it, these electric scooters may seem an excellent idea. Although I would suspect, not the most reliable!

The concept appears simple. The council dumps 250 of these electric scooters on the streets of the city each morning. If you are walking somewhere, and you see one, you pay by an app on your phone and scoot away.

Green Travel?

Green travel? Perhaps. Although you can’t plan on being able to find one. This means if you aren’t able to walk to where you are going, use the bus!

Due to the fact you can’t rely on finding them, you can’t plan a journey on one. So, for me, that means they are a lazy non-necessity. More than that they need to be collected each night, charged and dumped on the streets again.

Having said that, my gripe is not with the green credentials of these scooters. My gripe is with the users.

My Gripe – The Users

These things are abandoned all over the place. You might expect people to leave them neatly at the side of the pavement. But no, they just get abandoned everywhere. On a recent visit to a hospital I had to move 2 as they were completely blocking the pavement. I must admit to not understanding how people can be so lazy and ignorant.

Then there is the safety aspect especially considering the people that use them.

The company concerned clearly states that it is illegal to use them on the pavement. Yet that is exactly where they are predominantly used. However, if you want an instance of them being used on the road, try this –

Just after 7 in the evening. Dark. Wet. A major traffic island on the cities main ring road. Cue a yellow scooter being driven in the right turn lane approaching the island! Utter madness.

If this scheme continues, people will be injured, perhaps killed.

I consider this to be another one of this councils dubious decisions.

If the COVID pandemic has shown us anything, it is that a certain segment of the general public have no common sense.

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Decision Makers

Dubious Decisions

I have had a recent reason to consider some of the decisions that my local authority have made. It made me look back on a string of Dubious Decisions.

The review and thoughts have been triggered by a recent dubious decision – to hold a Christmas market in a tier 3 city.

The Christmas fair was open for less than 1 full day before it had to be closed to overcrowding and street parties. All this in a city that has been at the top of the Covid tables in the past.

The obvious question; who in their right mind would allow/organise such an event in these circumstances.

As you may expect, we have had the normal platitudes and apologies saying they are sorry. Suggesting they had no way of knowing it would be so popular. Horrified that putting a big fair in the city square would force people closer together.

Whatever the truth, whatever the thought process that led up to the event, the facts are plain. An attraction that was poorly conceived and executed attracted thousands of people. No only that, those people had less room than they should have had. This, in the midst of a global pandemic.

No matter what you think of the pandemic, or even if it is a pandemic, the rules we are asked to follow are clear. So why a Christmas fair?

 

So what other dubious decisions has this same authority made? There are three of very high significance.

Icelandic Bank

If you look back to 2008 when the Icelandic banks were allowed to fail, it came to light that this illustrious local authority had many millions of pounds invested there.

Nottingham Express Transit

Many people think that this is a great example of a modern city. The authority that says to be a successful city, you need a tram. 

My question is simple: Why?

Nottingham has two award winning bus services. These companies have, and continue to, invest heavily in high quality buses. Not only this, they make a profit. 

Nottingham Express transit has proven to be unreliable and is losing millions of pounds a year. How is this a good thing? Who is paying?

Robin Hood Energy

This particular decision was ultra dubious. The authority decided to create their own energy company. They claimed they could cut consumers bills and be more efficient. It was seen as a model for others to follow.

So what happened? It went bust. Leaving people without power contracts and massive debts.

Dubious Decisions

So this authority has made some shocking errors. Yet many of the people concerned are still around. 

How do we prevent these events from happening again? What can the public do yo hold these people to account?

The answer is seemingly that there is nothing that we can do. The apparent incompetence remains, or so it seems. The people of the city unable to do anything.

Normal?

Are errors of judgement on this scale widespread? Do other local authorities do a better job? If this is limited to this particular authority, why is there nothing we can do?

Personally, I do not know how to investigate such things. From an external point of view, it seems very much that these are Dubious decisions. Decisions that the public ultimately pay for. I for one find it very troubling that such dubious decisions happen with such frequency.

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Grumpy Child

Hope for me yet

I write this blog as a sometimes grumpy old man. Sometimes as a thoughtful old man. I do this because I so often feel that way. However, I witnessed something a few weeks ago which made me think there is hope for me yet.

It’s true, I am not as bad as I thought when compared to others!

The event that I will describe, was a local one. Very local to me. An example of people growing old disgracefully.

Most people are aware of the measure IQ. A simple number that indicates your level of intelligence. Your IQ is established early in your life and generally stays the same throughout your life.

Most people are not aware of the measure EQ. This is your emotional intelligence.

Your emotional intelligence grows steadily until the the age of 40-45. After this, your emotional intelligence slowly drops. With effort, you can maintain it at a higher level for a few years, but not many.

Once your Emotional Intelligence (EQ) starts to fall, you know that your actions may upset other people. The further it falls, the less you care.

I am early on this downward curve!

The event that I witnessed was on the local bus service. The number 18.

The bus links a large residential area with the local town and the nearby city. It is very popular with the elderly.

On this particular day, the bus was busy. The average age of the passengers was well over 70.

As the bus rounded a corner, a delivery lorry was trying to manoeuvre into position so that the crew could make a delivery. As it did this, it was momentarily blocking the road. A very common occurrence. A minute or 2 of patience and all is good.

The thing that struck me was the vitriol, anger and abuse that the elderly passengers let forth.

Some of the comments that were shouted up and down the bus are not repeatable on this blog. However in summary, they questioned the drivers intelligence. His common sense was called into question along with accusations of being selfish, uncaring and stupid. 

As the lorry got into the space, the bus was able to squeeze past. The man in the seat in front of me did no more than lean across to the window and provide a gesture to the driver of the lorry. 

The gesture was followed by a proud announcement to all the passengers on the bus saying “Thats the international gesture for D**khead” he announced.

I was initially annoyed and angry about the behaviour of the older generation.

Why so angry? why so aggressive. It delayed the journey by just 1 or 2 minutes. The bus driver was calm. I was calm. We were probably the only 2 with a timetable to keep.

I soon calmed down. The events had given me an idea for a blog post!

It also made me realise that there is still hope for me yet. I don’t want to be those people.

If you ever think you don’t care about if your actions will upset others, please please think about your actions. It just takes a moment of pause to consider your actions rather than your reactions.

There is hope for me yet!

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Photo by Ryan Franco on Unsplash

 

Vaccine

Why say no to vaccines?

The first vaccine has been approved by the UK regulators. Good news? I personally think it’s great, however some disagree. So I ask, Why say no to vaccines?

Before I start, I would like to say thank you and congratulations to the scientists that have done such amazing work. So often the human race relies on science to get us out of problems. It seems it is about to do so again. Thank you!

So why say no to a vaccine? I find it difficult to comprehend and understand this attitude. Much thought and research has gone into my thoughts and reasoning. Please allow me to put forward some answers that I have come up with. To what I consider bizarre statements.

It can’t be safe, it’s only taken 10 months. Other vaccines have taken years.

This argument is easily and logically answered. As a result of the global pandemic :-

  • The scientific community has had access to virtually unlimited funding around the world. A situation that does not normally occur.
  • Every available scientist and resource that was required, was made available.
  • Co-operation and information sharing has happened on a global scale.
  • The virus has been rampant meaning the trials were easier to complete.
  • There has been great co-operation between scientists, drug companies, and regulators.

All this put together in an unprecedented fashion, linked with a bit of luck has made this achievement possible.

I don’t know what’s in it, therefore I am not having it in my body.

Really! Do the people that say these things understand everything that they put in their body? I strongly suspect not!

Have they never eaten at a restaurant? Have they never had a burger at a fair? Are they all scientists and understand the drugs and vaccinations that they have likely had throughout their lives?

I have a feeling they don’t. This alone makes it a ridiculous argument.

No one can know everything. You have to have trust that the appropriate experts know what they are doing. If you didn’t have this faith then you would likely need to live naked and in a field! I bet these people take holidays and fly on aircraft. Do they know sufficient to make and fly or plane or do they trust the experts? Do they trust the builder of the house they live in? The water company that supplies their water?

The government is trying to track us.

So firstly, what makes these people so Interesting out of a population of 66,000,000 in the uk?

If we get over that question, then there are simpler ways for the government to track them. If they drive a car, they can be tracked by number plate cameras. Perhaps they make purchase in a shop and use a card payment? Perhaps they do a google search on their destination before they go. More than that, what’s the betting they have a mobile phone of some description.

In other words, even if governments were efficient enough and creative enough to fake a global pandemic so they could inject everyone, why would they when there are ways already in play?

I’m not taking it, we don’t know if there are any long term effects.

Now the statement about not knowing of any long term effects is perhaps a valid one. However, how do we find out if everyone adopts this attitude?

As I have said in previous blogs, life is about risk. You take a risk getting up in the morning. Stepping g outside your house is a risk. Eating food is a risk. If we never take risks, we may as well live in the field naked (oh hang on, that’s probably risky as well!)

We all take risks on a daily basis. Probably more than we actually realise. Life is a risk management game.

I do not suggest that you blindly place your faith in others. After all, it is your body and your life. Do your research if you like (please acknowledge you are probably not an epidemiologist). Ultimately the question must be, am I at more risk if I don’t take it. My opinion (for what it’s worth) is, yes you are more at risk. Not only that, you can potentially put others at risk.

You should also consider, that if no one ever took these risks, we probably would not have the medicines and medical knowledge that helps so many of the population on a daily basis. Have these people never taken a paracetamol? Antibiotics?

Grow up and get over yourself.

For all those using the above arguments and others, I say, ‘Get over yourself’.

Life is a risk. It is however less risky if we all work at it together. Spreading doubt and conspiracy theories is not helpful at a time of national crisis.

We all want our lives to go back to normal. We can achieve that. However, to do so, we need to work together and move forward. Nothing was ever achieved without risk.

References

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Elizabeth Tower

Government Satisfaction?

Recent Surveys have suggested that the countries satisfaction with the way the government has been handling the Coronavirus pandemic is poor. Is this a good measure of Government Satisfaction?

This is not just the country of England, but also Scotland.

The Great British media

Many of these statements have, surprise surprise, come from the media and media surveys. 

My challenge, is are they being controversial with their questions? Are they specifically designed to court discussion and disagreement? Or are they trying to divide us?

You could suggest that I am doing the very same thing with this blog post. To a degree I am, but my thoughts are more with the understanding the truth. To get past what I call “lies, damn lies and statistics”.

 

Not the question. Not the time

I would consider the dissatisfaction statement as dubious.

I actually believe that the question should read “Are you tired of Coronavirus restrictions?”

I would be stunned if anyone replied “No” to such a question.

People being tired of of restrictions, will likely want to kick out at the people imposing those restrictions. This is just normal human nature.

 

Mistakes have been made

Don’t get me wrong, the leaders have made mistakes (at least in my opinion). Would this statement be true if another colour of government was in place? Again, in my opinion, the answer would still be Yes, they have.

Government at all levels and all countries have undoubtedly struggled. There is no rule book or guidelines for this. The government departments and advisors have also been error prone.

How much more?

If you are anything like me, you are now utterly sick and tired of the restrictions. You want your life back. Freedoms returned. 

However, let’s be honest with ourselves. It is extremely unlikely that we would be very far from where we are now whoever was in charge. 

This is a virus. Nature perhaps fighting back. The challenge the leaders face is one of nature v economy.

Difficult Judgements

There are no right and wrong answers, only finely balanced judgements.

They do say that if you never make a decision in your life, you will never make an incorrect one. This is an undeniable truth.

I, for one, am extremely grateful that I am not having to make these judgements and decisions.

So having said all of that, let’s revisit the question. Is the question about satisfaction on the pandemic handling really fair? I would suggest to you it is not.

You may be unhappy with the restrictions. It is likely you are frustrated. We all are.

Just remember, no one has had to make these precise judgements before. I would never attack the leaders whilst I believe they are trying to do the right thing.

It is still not time to resume politics in its true form until this pandemic is over.

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Eagle and Tun

What Price For Progress

If we want new, Old has to give way – What price for progress?

Much has been said about the new rail line, HS2. It is a controversial project with many people in support and many against. So I ask – What price for progress?

For me, I don’t think it is needed. A new station will eventually be built just a few miles away from my abode, but it will be of little benefit to myself. Partly because the reduction in time onboard the train will be eaten up by the increased journey time at both ends. However, that is my personal view for what it is worth and not actually related to the blog!

We need to accept that some of the project at least will be built. My musings on here today are more about the cost of the project. 

When I say cost, I do not refer to money (it is blatantly obvious that no one knows how much it will cost). I refer to the other costs. The landscape, the noise and most of all, the loss of two great pubs (1 is reported as being a mistake!). 

We only have so much space in our cities, so whenever we want something new, something old usually has to give way. 

For HS2, much has been demolished.

In Birmingham, a pub called the Eagle and Tun has been demolished to make way for the new Curzon street station.

Whilst you woulnever call this an upmarket pub, it had a rich heritage.

Inside the Eagle and TunIt first welcomed drinkers during the reign of Queen Victoria and is famous for appearing on the cover of UB40’s ‘Best of’ album as well as being used in the video for the track Red Red Wine.

In august of 2019, Ed Sheeran also shot a music video in the pub.

The pub itself had real age and character about it. It closed in 2008 but was rescued by the last landlord and restored using his own money.

Red brick architecture with large windows outside. Inside there were original glazed tiles on the walls, traditional bench seating and a large bar.

Above the bar on shelves were dusty musical instruments.

I was lucky enough to visit the Eagle on Tun shortly before it closed its doors for good in early January 2020. Even in its death knell, the beer was well kept.

Bree Louise

At the other end of the line, the Bree Louise near Euston station was forced to close. The pub, named after the owners daughter who died at the age of 12, was a multi award winning boozer.

A firm favourite amongst locals and known as Euston’s best kept secret known for its great ale, lack of football, no fruit machines and no music. It was a real gem for real ale drinkers and craft lovers alike. It was a real London pub.

Whilst many pubs are closing, it is notable that such historic pubs serving great beer and with a rich history are often thriving.

There will be without doubt other business and architecture casualties in the building of this new rail line.

I think it is fair to say, that the arguments and the business case for such a rail line are dubious at best. The costs in financial terms are incredible and likely to rise. The benefits only for a few in order to shave a few minutes from their journey.

The real cost

The cost however to the country’s landscape, heritage and architecture is immense.

I am not certain why we feel the need to flatten such places and put up in their place glass monstrosities.

To elaborate further on the destruction and loss, my research tells me the following is a list of the countries losses –

  • 900 Homes
  • 1,000 businesses
  • 27 Community facilities
  • 60 Irreplaceable ancient woodlands
  • Estimated 2,380 jobs lost permanently (claimed that 2,340 will be created)

Additionally, HS2 state that

  • 58 million tons of landfill waste will be created
  • 9 rivers will need to be diverted

Will we have anything for visitors to see?

It makes me wonder what the future holds for the country. People travel from a-far to experience our heritage and culture. Let’s hope we can keep some for them to see.

So, What price for progress?

References

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