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Archive for the ‘Bizarre’ Category

May the lord be with you

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Theresa May is being urged to sack a Labour peer who heads the government’s infrastructure body after he damned David Davis’s negotiating approach and vowed to attempt to reverse Brexit, The Times reported.

[May told to fire Labour peer after Brexit attack, Sam Coates, The Times, 11 Sep 2017]

Lord Adonis, head of the National Infrastructure Commission, declared that “eight-year-olds have a better grasp of the power dynamics” of Brexit than Mr Davis, the secretary of state for exiting the European Union. He also set out his vision to “defeat” Brexit in an article in The Observer yesterday, a position which is incompatible with government policy.

Although the commission he chairs is independent of government, the ferocity of his personal criticism is likely to provoke a review of his position in No 10 and the Treasury.

Lord Adonis accepts that he was largely responsible for creating the “Frankenstein’s monster” system of student finance in England. As transport secretary in Gordon Brown’s government, he initiated electrification of the Great Western main line, without even bothering to establish Network Rail’s ability to deliver it. And of course, he was largely responsible for promulgating the £60 billion white elephant that is HS2.

Theresa May must be pretty desperate, to have him ‘in charge’ of planning national infrastructure.

Ponzi scheme?

Andrew Adonis was ‘largely responsible’ for creating the Frankenstein’s monster of tuition fees


Written by beleben

September 12, 2017 at 9:54 am

Posted in Bizarre, HS2, Politics

Where are the bin women?

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Birmingham’s bin dispute, about the long-overdue modernisation of the refuse collection service, is costing “£40,000 a day”, the Birmingham Mail reported.



Why bin men should receive much more favourable pay and conditions at the expense of other staff, and why the Birmingham refuse collection continues to be an almost(?) wholly male occupation, has never been explained.

But misogynistic labour relations practices have a long history in the municipality, and have cost hundreds of millions of pounds.

'Birmingham council underpaid women for decades',
Anne Perkins, The Guardian

Written by beleben

August 15, 2017 at 10:40 am

Posted in Birmingham, Bizarre

Take pride in snooping

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An extraordinary document was published by HS2 Ltd detailing how they would access and “process personal data” including details of individuals’ sexual orientation, trade union affiliation, criminal record as well as information about their physical and mental health, the Sunday Express reported.

[Rail bosses wanted to spy on sex lives of people who opposed controversial route, Caroline Wheeler, Sunday Express, 20 November 2016]

As part of the company’s Privacy Notice, HS2 said it could collect this information on a number of people, including staff and suppliers but also complainants and litigants, which would include those claiming compensation or objecting to the scheme.
HS2 did not give any indication why it wanted to collect such information, however in the document itself it said one reason was to help create a sense of “pride” in the scheme.
Hours after the Sunday Express contacted HS2 raising concerns about the policy, the document was withdrawn with “immediate effect”.

[…] The document was withdrawn from the Government website where it had been freely accessible.

A spokesman for HS2 said: “We have withdrawn the Privacy Notice with immediate effect. It does not reflect how we handle information.

HS2 privacy notice page on, after the privacy notice had been removed

HS2 privacy notice page on, after the privacy notice had been removed

Written by beleben

November 20, 2016 at 11:03 am

Posted in Bizarre, HS2

The charge of Victoria

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Transport chiefs are looking into charging hundreds of pounds a year to park cars in Birmingham city centre offices, the Birmingham Mail reported. Council transport committee chairman Victoria Quinn said that a levy should be “looked at”.

Birmingham Mail story about a workplace parking levy, 12 Apr 2016

[Parking spaces could cost hundreds of pounds a year under Birmingham workplace parking tax, Neil Elkes, 12 April 2016 ]

Transport officers are studying the impact of the workplace parking levy introduced in Nottingham and looking to see if it could work in Birmingham as a way of reducing traffic and parking congestion.

But they have stressed that they are evidence gathering and that there are currently no plans to introduce one.

The levy has had a mixed reception in Nottingham where it was introduced in 2012 for all businesses with more than ten parking spaces. They are charged £375 a year per car with the revenue, about £9 million last year, invested in new tram lines and bus routes.
Officials are looking at whether there are enough parking spaces in some areas, charges for parking and investment in public transport and cycling to encourage less car use.

Parking cars “in” Birmingham city centre offices could prove a bit of a challenge. How would drivers get their cars through revolving entrance doors, or into lifts, for example? But if transport officers are looking to see if the Nottingham scheme has “reduced congestion”, they might well be advised to take some powerful microscopes with them.

The Nottingham scheme applies to parking spaces throughout the city — not just in the city centre — but raises “£9 million” a year. How does workplace parking space revenue compare with the cost of the transport infrastructure it is supposed to fund?

The capital cost of just one of Centro’s pet schemes — a tram line to Birmingham Airport — is about £500 million. Once built, there would be an annual operating deficit to cover.

As well as generating only trivial sums, workplace parking charging has no decongestion logic. For reasons unknown, Centro funds free public car parking at West Midlands rail stations. So, presumably, there could be a situation where a parking space for the station’s ticket office clerk attracted a workplace charge, but the adjacent public parking space was ‘free’.

Who would ultimately pay the levy? Neither Birmingham councillors nor Centro’s own staff appear to be keen on paying for parking. Councillors have their own free parking in the city centre, and Centro staff “revolted” when management tried to introduce charges at Centro House. To keep the peace, when a parking charge was finally agreed, it was set well below the rate charged at public city centre car parks, and all proceeds go to the staff association.

Written by beleben

April 12, 2016 at 11:19 am

Posted in Birmingham, Bizarre

Wake up boo, forget HS2

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On 29 February, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation stated that ten of “the UK’s top twelve struggling cities” are in the north of England. According to Volterra’s Paul Ormerod, chancellor George Osborne should “forget HS2”; the ‘Northern powerhouse’ can only be rescued by investing in human capital.

Paul Ormerod: 'Forget HS2', City A.M., 2 March 2016

In his City A.M. column (2 March), Mr Ormerod made reference to the views of “extremely distinguished professor” Mike Batty on the likely inefficacy of infrastructure such as HS2.

Paul Ormerod: 'Forget HS2: Only radical education reform will rescue the Northern Powerhouse', extract, City A.M., 2 March 2016

But the production of reports extolling the virtues of HS2 seems to have been Volterra’s bread and butter for the last few years. Clients from the HS2/HS3 blob have included the Core Cities group, Liverpool city council, Sheffield City Region, Stoke-on-Trent council, and the Department for Transport.

Paul Ormerod: 'A wake-up call for the Department of Transport: do the proper sums, HS2 is worth it', 23 May 2013 (as published in City A.M. on 22 May 2013)

In his 22 May 2013 column for City A.M., Mr Ormerod had said that connections from HS2 would give the North “dynamic potential”.

Something of a volte-face, then.

Volterra on David Begg's (now-defunct) Campaign for High Speed Rail website: 'Say yes to HS2, Create 1 million jobs'

Written by beleben

March 2, 2016 at 9:33 pm

The spend at Wood End

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How prudently is public money used on the railway? Wood End station, between Birmingham and Stratford upon Avon on the North Warwick line, has seen a programme of ‘improvements’ carried out, including the removal of the old footbridge between the platforms.

Signs at the unmanned Wood End station,  North Warwick line, summer 2015

Signs at the unmanned Wood End station, North Warwick line, summer 2015

Platform 2, for trains to Birmingham, now has decking on part of its length to allow easier boarding, with a sign advising wheelchair users to wait at the decked-out location. The sign even has its own pole, presumably because its weight would be too much for the adjacent luminaire. 😂

Platform 2 at Wood End station,  North Warwick line, summer 2015

Platform 2 at Wood End station, North Warwick line

But how exactly would wheelchair users get down to the platform? There are 56 steps, and no ramp.

Steps at Wood End station,  North Warwick line, summer 2015

Why were the old steps and bridge removed at Wood End station?

Was Rupert Walker involved? And if not, why not?

Written by beleben

September 14, 2015 at 12:49 pm

Posted in Bizarre

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If in doubt, strike it out

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Extracts from Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council’s response to a freedom of information request about improving the Calder Valley rail line:

What do they know, Calderdale metropolitan borough council freedom of information response, extract from redacted Calder Valley line enhancement strategy

What do they know, extract from FOI response, redacted Calder Valley line enhancement strategy

Written by beleben

May 1, 2015 at 11:58 am

Posted in Bizarre

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