Bring government to the people

Friday, April 20, 2007

Nurses to strike over pay

The City of London is so invidious! Nurses are unhappy with 2.5% pay rise because average earnings rose by 4%. However it turns out that average earnings EXCLUDING city bonuses rose by 0% - and the nurses are striking because they feel left behind when they aren't actually left behind.
We need to reintroduce the top rate tax band, but this time recognising the real high earners - set it at 70% for earnings over £500,000. Then we need to close loopholes that currently allow very high earners to evade tax, for example by declaring themselves tax exiles. I think in USA if you wish to retain your right to work in USA you have to prove either that you pay ak least as much tax where you live as you would in the states, or pay the extra to USA.
Who's for it?

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Link the airports with rail links - save carbon emissions

How big is UK? Why do we have internal air flights, that seem to spend all their time taking off and landing? It's ridiculous. Even more so, now that you have to arrive at the airport an hour before the flight. Travel time from Newcastle Airport to Heathrow Airport (including early arrival) is 2 hours - and i hate to think how much fuel per passenger, how much carbon dioxide produced?
Build some high speed links between airports. No, not from city to city, from airport to airport. Link the London airports in an outer ring road: run a line up to Leeds-Bradford, on to Newcastle and then Edinburgh and Aberdeen. Suddenly people will be able to fly into Newcastle, take the shuttle (only on the ground) to London, and fly back out in the time it takes to go from one terminal to another in Heathrow,
Surprise surprise, they might just do a bit of business in Newcastle on the way past.
at £12.5million per km (the cost of the line for the French high speed rail links) it would cost around 12.5*500=£6.25bn - that's less than we spent going to Iraq where we weren't even welcome!

£2 billion more spend that could do more good

There are so many people in London that they want to spend £2billion more on expanding the sewerage system - note this in addition to maintenance and normal updates, this is just because of the expansion in the number of people. Oh, and recognising the problem that London has pumped out so much groundwater that ground level is in many places below sea level (hmm where did we see that before - New Orleans???)
Whereas the rest of the country still has capacity.
I can think of a far more sensible solution which would make better use of £2billion

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Stansted Airport Expansion

No, No, No. All that money (where is it now, still around £2billion with contingencies for cost overrun though it will probably overrrun more?)
Spend it on high-speed airport to airport rail links based on the Japanese bullet train - at 300kph it will take little more than an hour to get from Heathrow to Durham Tees Valley, about the same time as from Heathrow Terminal 1 to Terminal 5.

Benefits: relieves the pressure on the London airspace, reduces (to nil) internal flights, makes the North Esst the first port of call for foreign businessmen

Choosing Health and Social Care locally

So htere's a plan for Local Government to work with NHS to choose services that are right for patients.
Right now, local government chooses how to meet our social care needs (which it does with limited central guidance), and NHS chooses our health needs (with a lot of central guidance in the form of national targets etc). The result - as the budget gets squeezed, each side tries to fob chunks of budget onto the other.
Actually this might just work - single point of commissioning, informed by national expertise (Royal Colleges of health professionals, over-arching national targets for population health, etc)

Monday, January 22, 2007

NHS Contracts Negotiated Centrally

The Government is negotiating with a private company to develop new treatment centres in the North West region (Cumbria, Merseyside, etc), which might make existing NHS facilities unviable.
Why does the government have to negotiate these in London? Surely they should be negotiated in the affected region? Perhaps then Netcare would have offices in the region?
I hope that senior Department of Health staff aren't feathering their own nests, negotiating a sweet deal then (having committed the taxpayers' money) switching jobs to Netcare to reward themselves with the same taxpayers' money! It has happened!


Sunday, January 21, 2007

Regional Government

What do other nations do?
USA - state capitals in every state. Washington is just for diplomats and politicians, the business of life is in the state capital
Canada - territory capitals for businesses
Germany - bundestag in every region where the bulk of commerce and industry is devolved (they even have local currencies!)
Spain - strong local regional identity and business loyalty to the region, rather than all concentrated in the capital
Italy - also strongly regionalised
Switzerland - strong regions

Democracy means that government should be near the people, and business should be near the people

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Thursday, January 18, 2007

Legal Aid Scheme

Just how many lawyers and solicitors make most of their income from the Legal Aid scheme? Lots, to judge by the number threatening to leave the profession on yesterday's news!
More people pocketing taxpayers' money. I don't mind recirculating money, but when Japan has a hundred times as many engineers (per head of population) than we do, and we have a hundred times as many lawyers as they do, i think the balance of service is in the wrong place here

BBC Stays in White City

So BBC throws a hissy fit - won't move out of London to Salford because the government won't raise the license fee above the rate of inflation.
The right answer is to let those who want to pay a license fee, pay it; and those who don't pay it have to prove that they don't watch BBC television. With digital TV it should be easy to encode the signal, and it would be fair!
Of course if BBC takes a different view and recirculates its mandatory fees (taxes) into the economy then i have less problem paying

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Runaway Inflation

On top of credit card bills from Christmas and higher energy crises, the forecast rise in interest rates will make the mortgage more expensive too!

I still rejoice that interest rates are lower than they have been for decades. And if your mortgage is too high or you really need to reduce the cost of business, you could always try moving North. There are the usual skills and skills shortages but Northern man has proven time and time again that we learn fast, are reliable and have real attention to detail.

Happy New Year!