Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Social Cleansing

"The longest suicide note in history" it may have been, but Labour's 1983 manifesto could also have been the last one to give any prospect of hope for a major part of the country's sense of well-being. I don't mean a feeling of safety from being overwhelmed by the Communist Bloc - the electorate took good note of that particular bogeyman and "rescued" us from him. I mean the very homes and society we exist in.

A while back I actually had a professional reason for listening to a 1983 Party Election Broadcast with Roy Hattersley et al trying to convince the Britain of 1983 to vote Labour. The party of the time was apparently unelectable, something to do with being peacenicks, pwned by the unions and being led by a man who wore a donkey jacket. One of their promises - we can of course only take this with the same kind of credence we would give to a modern party's pre-election promises, on, say, tuition fees - was to stimulate the economy, increase and ease societal tensions by commencing a programme of building new and better housing.

For various reasons then, they didn't get in. Thatcher did something clever and got people to buy the houses they lived in, making those that could speculators and capitalists in their own small way. She sold us shares in our utilities and suddenly many more people gave a toss about shares and property prices, jealous of the neighbours and lured into the kind of greed and speculation that the rich have always been able to afford.

Then, in a virtuous circle, the local authorities used this money in turn to build more and better-quality social and high-density housing, thus ensuring a future of shared stakeholding and civic pride in stable communities of mixed-income citizens.

Except they didn't. The f-----g w-----s. F--k knows what they pissed it all away on. New town halls and offices, certainly. But surely even that doesn't account for anywhere near what the windfall must've been. Who knows, maybe they weren't allowed to ring-fence it for housing. Maybe their budgets from central Govt. were reduced by the amount of money they got for selling their houses.

Upshot is, of course, that thanks to the Tories, the local authorities, New Labour (who to their infernal shame completely ignored this problem F-----G A-------S) and whoever else, there is not now, and there's not much of a plan for, such a building programme, which is now overdue by almost 2 generations (definitely 2 generations of the kind of over-fertile and pro-ceptive lower-social spectrum dwellers who ironically make such an overwhelming demand on such resources). In fact there is to be an anti-stimulus of a kind not seen since just before the 1920's depression.

Now, having been utterly ignored by the party supposed to represent or at least respect their interests (f-----g Labour f---s), and in the current "situation", those who rely on social and community-oriented housing have no-one as their champion, apart from, wait for it, The London Evening Standard.

Two articles today illustrate the diabolical and infernal situation we find ourselves in. The first is piece of sheer audacity and unwitting tragi-comedy, coming from a politician grounded in a history of local authority mindlessness of the kind that ended up killing Victoria Climbie and Peter Connelly. She's afraid of London turning into a middle-class ghetto. Lest we forget, she was a councillor in Islington for a decade. She was also a higher-ranking member of the governing party for the recent decade. You really couldn't make this up.

The second article is a bit late, as the process has been in effect for years already, but at least it's there in print. It makes the grim point with less tragic irony than Hodge can provide that any kind of "community" or "society" that remains in London will, unless a drastic turnabout occurs, be "cleansed" of its poor, who in turn will be shipped out to new bleak and spiritless ghettoes of their own, of rabbit-hutch and pebble-dashed ignomony. The people whose ancestors got the arse-end of the blitz or the empire, who were given meagre resources to share as newcomers arrived and who have been thoroughly unserved by all authorities, will now be exiled from the places to which they at least gave some kind of personality and spirit. They are being replaced, for as long as the current mileu exists, by more and more people whose only shared attribute is a rough correlation between their bank accounts. Welcome to the non-community.

F-----G C---S. Damn them all to hell.

Friday, 15 October 2010

I had a reply from my MP about Cycling and Cycling England ...

He said:
"Dear Tim Lennon,

Thank you for your email. I am an advocate of green transport, particularly
cycling. I don't yet know that Cycling England is to be closed, but
regardless, I accept that the Government will have to do many unpopular
things in the coming months, and for good reason.

But the Government takes cycling seriously. For example, to assist increased
provision of cycle training in England, the Department for Transport has
awarded grants of over £6 million in 2010-11 for "Bikeability" training.

The Government has also committed to providing £5 million to schools through
School Sports Partnerships in England to provide further Bikeability
opportunities. A further £500,000 has been made available in 2010-11 to
provide bursary grants for new instructors to help meet the increased demand
for Bikeability training. Schemes such as CyclingCity, CyclingTowns,
Skyride and 3 Feet Please are also proving successful locally and are
helping to promote cycling as a viable transport alternative.

The Government will be reviewing all spending throughout its Comprehensive
spending review, due to be published on October 20. Cycling England will be
considered throughout the review, alongside all Government expenditure

Best wishes,

Zac Goldsmith"

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Letter to my MP re Cycling England

Email: timlennon@mac.com

Thursday 14 October 2010

Dear Mr.Goldsmith,

I'm writing on seeing that Cycling England is due to be cut in the
'bonfire of the quangos'. As per our previous discussion, this seems to
indicate that actually the Government has no real interest in
maintaining a national body, national standards, or national programmes
for cycling.

Cycling England is responsible for successes like the Bikeability
course and even the DoT's number suggest it is excellent value for
money (http://www.savecyclingengland.org/).

It's really hard for me to see how abolishing this very cheap body
(around £200k, apparently) is going to provide any value whatsoever for
our country, and I'd appreciate it if you would pursue the ministers
involved to understand just how they think devolving CE's role to local
authorities is in any way going to provide the same value or presence
that Cycling England has.

If you need more data or info to support discussion with them, please
don't hesitate to get back to me.

Yours sincerely,

Tim Lennon.

Monday, 4 October 2010

In response to TfL's call for feedback on the cycling superhighways and the year of cycling

Dear Mr. Jardine,

I'm writing to briefly provide some feedback on the cycling superhighways.

I live in Richmond, and thus have no immediate access to the highways, but I have followed extensive debate, videos and articles about them.

The general points I'd like to make are as follows:
1. None of the highways appears to comprise of a mandatory zone - i.e. one which may nto be used by bicycles, meaning that cyclists must still constantly assert their road position / rights. This is not, to my mind, a good way to encourage new cyclists.
2. None of the highways appears to provide a single unbroken route. They are regularly broken for parking, turns, and other car-centric road design. Once again, this is no way to encourage novices to get on their bikes.
3. All of the routes seem based on shared infrastructure - cyclists are expected to mix it up with cars as equals, when this clearly isn't the case.
4. I've seen no evidence that there is a link between the very low plans to increase cycling in London, and the volume of cycling traffic on the highways: in other words, do we have any conception that the highways will deal with a quadrupling of cycling traffic?

To be honest, I'm generally disappointed at the failure to consider independent infrastructure for cycling, and I'm disappointed that the overall goal (1.5m journeys) is so unambitious.


Tim Lennon.