SadButMadLad's Blog

Just another blog complaining about anything and everything

Archive for October 2010

Parking should be free

An open question to anyone about having to pay for parking on the road. Why do we have to a pay?

We already pay road tax for the upkeep of roads, even though only a small proportion of it is actually spent on the roads and other transport infrastructure. So why are drivers having to pay another “tax” on top for the privilege of parking on the road.

Paying for parking on private land (eg. NCP) or in public car parks is different. There the charges help to pay for the upkeep of the site and the wages of the parking attendants.

But paying to park on the road? It just does not make sense. The only reason it exists is so that a council can collect money. A tax in effect.

It can’t be to dissuade people from parking otherwise it would be a fine. It can’t be to ensure that drivers only park for as long as they need to and no longer. That would happen only if the person didn’t need to use their car anymore. The whole point about parking on the road is that the person has come to carry out a time limited task of some sort – shopping, visiting the dentist, going to the bank, etc.

Does paying provide any benefit? Does it mean more people can park? Nope, there are only so many parking places. Does it allow the council to use the money to improve the local environment (better roads, better lighting, better signs, etc.)? Nope, it only goes to pay for parking attendants to go around slapping parking fines on drivers.

So why do we have to pay? Because the state tell us we have to pay and invents laws to fine us when we don’t – that why. Can we get the state to change their mind? Nope, because democracy doesn’t work. We don’t vote for our elected officials on the basis of small issues such as this. We vote on tribal lines. So we are effectively stuck with this stupid situation until the revolution comes. Or until an elected official gets off their arse and realises that they should be doing stuff for their community, not for their own political ends.

Removing parking charges would be a huge benefit to local communities. It would increase the footfall in local markets/shops because people would not have to pay £1 minimum (for example) just to spend 5 mins popping into a shop. An increase in business’ profits would mean that more businesses would be attracted to the area, meaning more employment, meaning more stuff to buy and generally making the area more attractive. So parking on the road should be free and parking in public car parks should be free for an initial short period (15 mins) of time.

Going off at a tangent, but that’s one reason why supermarkets are so attractive – they have free parking. How many of you go to a supermarket to buy a few items rather than go to their local market to do the same? Think about why you do it. Do you do it because you can drive and park for free or because the prices are cheaper in the supermarket? Do you still do it when the market is closer?

In my local town, there are currently two supermarkets and a good local market. There are plans to open up two new supermarkets and obviously the traders in the local market are up in arms about it with petitions being filled in. The supermarkets counter by saying that customers can use their car parks for free and do some shopping in the supermarket and some shopping in the local market. A tacit acknowledgement that free parking is one of the main reasons why people use supermarkets. But how many customers will do some of their shopping in a supermarket and then pop to the butcher in the local market. None, because unless the butcher’s prices were very low compared to the supermarket there would be no reason to do so. So the supermarket wins and the local shopkeepers have to go out of business. Some would say this is just standard market driven competition. But is the competition fair? I don’t think so, and not just because of the supermarket’s immense buying power. The supermarkets can control what parking charges are for their shoppers and they make it free to encourage more shoppers to visit. Local shop keepers and markets don’t have the same control about the parking charges in their area so are at a disadvantage straight away.

So to reiterate, parking on the road should be free and parking in public car parks should be free for an initial short period (15 mins) of time.

Written by sbml

October 29, 2010 at 13:50

Funnies #1

Descriptions of Gordon Brown on Amazon’s page for his book – “Beyond the Crash: Overcoming the First Crisis of Globalisation”, or it’s alternative titles of “How to save the world in three easy steps” and “Global economics for dummies”.

Descriptions of Gordon Brown on Amazon

Written by sbml

October 29, 2010 at 10:50

Cell block H for Hospital

Just been watching Watchdog and Fiona Phillips talking about the situation in NHS hospitals with regards TV and telephones at the bedside. Whilst I hate her husband, she has a point about the situation.

Patients trapped in a hospital bed and bored out of their mind are having to pay over the odds just for basic entertainment and communicating with their family and friends. In 2000 Labour in the wisdom decided that rather than the NHS arrange such services for patients the best thing would be to offer it to private companies. That way it would be the patients paying for it rather than the NHS. Plus the NHS can take a percentage of the profits. A very similar situation to the car parking at NHS hospitals – the patient pays for it.

Patients have to pay nearly £3/day for access to the TV and phone access is charged at rates sometimes higher than mobile phones. And the access to the TV is not useful either. Sometimes even just to watch a half hour programme you have to pay for the whole day. Then the quality of the TV can be quite variable with audio sync problems, channels not working, remotes not working, etc. Then when you contact the service provider, at premium rates, they acknowledge the problem but won’t fix it straight away. If you are in hospital for any length of time, the charge builds to extortionate amounts very quickly. Well over £100 just for stays of a week or two. And this is for free tv too, not just for premium channels like Sky.

Phone access is bad too. This has got worse from 2008 when patients could bring in mobile phones into the hospital. This was brought about because of the complaints about the high charges. Because the service providers do not make so much money from the phones, they’ve had to increase their charges. So patients without mobile phones are at a disadvantage. Not exactly what should have happened when mobile phones were allowed. And it’s not because patients can’t afford a phone. There are still occasions when ill-informed nurses stop such access, or when hospitals more concerned about the money they get from the service provider refuse mobile phones in the wards.

Basically Labour made a mistake in 2000 just as the internet was starting and all the digital channels were being created and mobile phones were becoming ten a penny. As is usual, the government set up long contracts with no break clauses. When times changed and there wasn’t much of a market for TV and phone services there was no way to bring the system to a stop. That’s because the “stakeholders”, and no the patients aren’t the stakeholders, had no reason to stop it. The NHS hospitals didn’t want to stop it because they made money from the service. The service providers didn’t want to stop it because they had invested so much money because they were promised the service in perpetuity so spent over the odds on the infrastructure.

Generally if you are in hospital for some time, you are better off buying a smartphone and using the various video on demand services and the internet.

And the real kick in the teeth? Prisoners get their TV for free. Admittedly the don’t get mobile phones for obvious reasons, but they are generally better off than patients in terms of entertainment facilities.

Written by sbml

October 28, 2010 at 22:01

The Emperor

So the Emperor is dead. The Emperor being a 12 year old red deer stag.

All the animal lovers are up in arms about his death. To be honest even though I like animals I’m pretty much meh about it.

There are a number of factors that mean it’s not such a big deal for me.
1) Red deer stags are pretty much past it after 11 years. They no longer have their harem of 20 or so hinds. They peak at around 8 years of age.
2) The Emperor was 12 years old, so he’s had around 8 years to pass on his genes.
3) Red deers need to be culled to keep their numbers down. Yep, they are actually pretty succesful at breeding.
4) A number of young, a number of mature and the ill are culled.
5) It’s legal.
6) The landowner has been paid lots of money for the kill and he can use it to maintain the deer in the future.

Finally, because of the news loads of people are up in arms about it and clamouring for the banning of all hunting. It makes me think that someone has an agenda in highlighting hunting so that they can ban it. I suspect that most of the clamouring is from townies who don’t understand how rural life works and the countryside is not all pretty and nice. Sometimes bad things need to be done to ensure that the nice pretty countryside continues to be nice and pretty.

Written by sbml

October 26, 2010 at 23:11

Attempted murder

Violetta Aylward was an agency nurse who turned off a patient’s ventilator nearly killing him and leaving him brain damaged.

This is known to be true as the act was recorded by a video camera in the patient’s bedroom. The camera was installed because the patient, Jamie Merrett, was concerned about the quality of care that he was receiving from the agency, Ambition 24hours, that was supplying nurses for him. It is not known if this was because of previous care by Violetta Aylward or other nurses supplied by Ambition 24hours.

Only days after the camera was installed, Violetta Aylward turned off his ventilator and then when she realised that mistake she had done tried desperately to switch it back on. She tried for over 20 minutes before paramedics who were called to the house took over and managed to switch the machine back on. However though it was in time to save his life, it wasn’t in time to save his mind. Jamie is now brain damaged due to the actions of Violetta Aylward.

Nurse Violetta Aylward was suspended in Janurary 2009 when the incident happened. It is assumed that she is still suspended to this day (October 2010). Why she was not arrested on attempted murder charges is anyone’s guess. The evidence is on the video. The fact that paramedics managed to save Jamie’s life is beside the point. Violeta was the prime causes of the accident that led to Jamie being starved of oxygen for over 20 minutes. Were the police involved at any stage?

The family of Jamie Merrett still have not received a proper apology for the poor quality of care since the incident. They are now effectively forced to take legal action themselves since no one has admitted resposinbility or liability. The agency that employed her are not guilty of murder, but they are guilty of misadministration and lax procedural rules for not checking that the nurses they supplied had the requiste training. They aren’t a small fly by night agency either. They are a massive national agency listed in the top 250 recruitment agencies by International Recruitment and have been around since 1996.

The NHS Wiltshite Primary Care Trust has said “We have put in place a series of actions to ensure that such an event will not occur again either for this patient or others.” Why didn’t they do this when Jamie wrote to them before the camera was installed about the lack of care. Why does it take a tragedy for an organisation to change or update their procedures. It shouldn’t need this trigger. What it does show is that the organisation is not bothered about the care of it’s patients. All they are bothered about is following their procedures and if anything happens to say “I just followed the rules”. Just the same excuses brought forth by those involved in the “Baby P” scandal.

The Merritt family’s case is highlighted in a BBC Inside Out West & Inside Out South programme.

Written by sbml

October 25, 2010 at 14:05

Motorway madness

Just been driving along the M62. Why do the information signs say such thing like it’s 6mins to the next junction which is 6miles away. What’s the point?

Telling you that there is an accident up ahead is useful. Telling you that a junction up ahead is closed is useful. Telling you that there are delays and long queues ahead is useful. Telling you that the road is clear is not useful. It’s just putting text on the sign because the sign is there. Probably on the basis that they’ve paid so many hundreds of thousands for each sign (and that’s probably true) that they have to maximise it’s use on the basis of the number of message displayed.

And then there are the other signs that indicate speed restrictions or lane closures. Why do they show speed restrictions for a number of signs and and then you start to wonder where the accident/problem is which is causing it. Then you see the end of restriction sign with no sign of any problems at all. Is anyone monitoring the motorway with their umpteen number of CCTVs? Or are they watching Eastenders on their monitors instead? I vaguely remember someone saying that these signs always carrying on indicating a problem well past the existence of the problem because it requires a motorway cop to actually turn them off on site, or something along those lines. Crazy because the longer the signs indicate a problem when there isn’t one the more it sounds like crying wolf. Eventually drivers won’t believe the signs and then you’re back at the situation where the signs might as well not exist.

Written by sbml

October 23, 2010 at 23:52

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Tagged with , ,

Marriage != Civil Partnership

Bit of an old issue (2008) but I need to up my post count so I may as well comment on anything and everything as my blog byline says.

This is about Lillian Ladele who was a registrar in Islington and who refused to carry out a civil registration because it was against her religion/beliefs. She was subsequently sacked and then took the council to the employment tribunal and won on the basis that she was discriminated against.

Firstly, civil partnerships are not marriages. Civil partnerships are a legal creation to allow people to take advantage of tax benefits offered by the state. Marriages are a purely religious event which are recognised by the state. So to refuse to perform a legal act because of your religious beliefs shows you to be a bigoted and narrow minded person, especially when the legal act has no religious connotations.

Secondly, what about the beliefs of the gay people who want to have a civil partnership in Islington. They would be offended if they had to rearrange their ceremony if Ms Lillian Ladele refused to perform for them.

So which offence trumps the other. Do religious rights come first before sexual rights. Or do sexual rights come first.

Why don’t we just remove all such offending situations from the law. If you are offended then feel happy because it also means that you can say what you think even if offends someone else. If you felt that you could never say or do something because someone “might” be offended you would always be looking over your back and you would always err on the side of caution. Is that freedom? Nope.

The “!=” in the title means does not equal in computer speak.

Written by sbml

October 23, 2010 at 16:48