Tuesday, 9 February 2016

The Conclusions Are Obvious…

…but then this is Polly Toynbee, so to her, they are anything but:
. This is possession and eviction day at Clerkenwell and Shoreditch county court. Everyone here is in danger of losing their home.
No, in danger of losing their rented or social housing. It’s not the same. But what is the same is the selection of sad cases Polly champions here, which pose more questions than they do answers…
Next comes a grandmother, who cares full time for her 10-year-old grandson and has fallen £3,948 into arrears. She works in Tower Hamlets council’s kitchen – but it’s zero hours with unpredictable income, so sometimes she hasn’t paid the rent.
Why isn’t the child’s mother caring for it (I won’t bother asking about the father)? Isn’t Tower Hamlets a Labour council? Why aren’t you complaining to them, Polly?
A mother has debts after her daughter moved out and she has to pay the bedroom tax: rent takes up 60% of her income.
Why doesn’t she move? Then she won’t be affected by the bedroom tax removal of the subsidy.
Last, a woman comes in walking crookedly and sits rocking violently, trying to explain her mental problems: she has a small son and has only just applied for housing benefit, but if it’s not backdated she’ll lose their home. Looking at her obvious illness, how could a jobcentre have refused her disability pay?
Why does no-one care that an ‘obviously’ mentally-ill woman has charge of a child? Why does Polly assume the jobcentre are all medically qualified to make that judgement?
Universal credit, slowly rolling out now, was supposed to make benefits rise and fall automatically with fluctuating incomes, but it has made tenants less secure: so far 89% of those on universal credit have fallen into arrears, their rent no longer paid direct to landlords.
Now why would the removal of the direct payment cause hardship, if these people were sensible and ensured that their rent was paid on time?
This assault on those too poor to buy simply defies belief. How are they supposed to live?
The answer’s simple; by taking responsibility for their own lives and choices, and not relying on the poor bloody taxpayer to subsidise them.

“No Stunt Work Please, We’re Snowflakes!”

Midland 7/7 hero Paul Dadge has condemned producers of a Hollywood blockbuster for blowing up a bus in London.
He said Sunday’s explosion – for a film starring Jackie Chan and Pierce Brosnan – was “very insensitive” .
Who..?
Mr Dadge was famously pictured as he helped masked victim Davinia Turrell to safety during the atrocity which left 52 people dead.
Oh. Him. Got a taste for publicity now, have we? Nor are you the only one, as we’ll see…
Writing on Twitter, Mr Dadge said: “Would have been VERY easy to inform those involved in 7/7 this was going to happen.
“Other films have been made that have comparisons (that) could be drawn to 7/7, survivors have ALWAYS been informed ahead.
“Very insensitive.
“Also hope London Fire Brigade were being paid to provide fire cover for the film.
Well, yes. That’s usually what happens. Why would this be any different?

There are, of course, plenty of other sensitive souls eager for their 15 minutes:
The father of 7/7 victim Carrie Taylor also hit out over the decision to blow up a bus on Lambeth Bridge for the film The Foreigner, The Mirror reported .
John Taylor said: “You can totally understand why some people would be alarmed seeing this.
“Filming goes on in the city but this seems particularly insensitive. “Obviously the London attacks were ten years ago but if people didn’t know about it then of course they would be concerned.
“When planning this kind of event in the centre of London, with MI5 and MI6 are close by, you can understand that if people didn’t know about it, it certainly would give great concern to some.
“I know a lot of the families, of other victims and survivors, would be upset by this.
“Perhaps it wasn’t thought through as much as it should have been.”
And perhaps it was. So…were all the relevant authorities advised? Yes, it would seem they were:
A Metropolitan Police spokesman said the force was made aware of the incident but refused to comment on whether members of the public were notified.
A spokesman for the Port of London Authority confirmed it was a stunt for a film but again could not confirm what safety processes had been put in place.
Transport for London tweeted a single message on Sunday morning confirming the bridge was closed for filming but again failed to inform Londoners and tourists there would be a huge explosion taking place.
No-one from the London Mayor’s office was available for comment.
Just what were the company supposed to do, take out full pages adverts?

If a film company can’t film a stunt in London, after following all the necessary procedures, then terrorists will have won, won’t they?

Monday, 8 February 2016

This Is Why We Have A Problem With Illegal Immigration…

A footnote to the story of the Mozambique illegal immigrant who fell out of the wheel well of a jet:
A companion who stowed away with Mr Vale managed to survive the journey after being found in a “critical condition” in the plane’s undercarriage.
He is being “cared for in the community” , according the Metropolitan Police, who say they are still trying to establish his identity.
Why is he not held securely at Yarl’s Wood, awaiting deportation?

Curiouser And Curiouser...

Remember that South Park Gardens incident a few days ago?
Two 16 year-old boys charged with multiple counts of rape, sexual assault and carrying a knife in a park have had the cases against them dropped.
A single charge, maybe. Multiple?
One boy faced seven charges, including four counts of rape against 15-year-old girls, carrying a knife, sexual assault and causing actual bodily harm.
At the time he was kept in a youth detention centre.
The other teenager was charged with two counts of rape against a 14-year-old girl and a 15-year-old girl.
Hmmm...
But a Crown Prosecution Service spokeswoman said after new evidence came to light, it decided there was not a realistic prospect of conviction on any of the charges.
The spokesperson said: “This case was charged under the Threshold Test of the Code for Crown Prosecutors.
"Following receipt of further evidence we reviewed the case under the Full Code Test and concluded that there was insufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction on any of the charges.
"We have therefore discontinued the case against both defendants."
Is this also 'an isolated incident'? Should we be 'alarmed' now, Chief Inspector Mark Lawrence?

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Generation ‘Waaaaaaahhhhhh!’

The ‘Guardian’ mounts its High Horse of Dudgeon on behalf of ‘generation rent’:
… tenants are hit with increasingly ridiculous demands for cash to secure properties in a highly competitive housing market. Now, in a development that not even the most imaginative scriptwriter could have foreseen, tenants in parts of London are being asked to pay £10 to have a friend to stay over, while others claim they are being charged to cook or to wash clothes in their own home. Even before they get to the point of moving in, the same tenants are being charged more than £100 just to see a list of properties.
If that sounds bizarre and disturbing, don’t worry! It is.

But it can easily be avoided by not being a lazy, ignorant modern student with an entitlement chip on their shoulder the size of a plank:
Traditional letting agents are not allowed to charge tenants for registering or seeing a list of properties if they charge the landlord too, but companies such as EasyLets UK, Spacelet and Flatland are “relocation” or “appointment-making agents”. Instead of receiving payment from the landlords whose homes they market, they charge would-be tenants upfront fees.
And why would anyone even half-way sensible use one of these companies?

Well, let’s ask one of those migrants we are deemed to need so much over here, them being so smart, and all:
University graduate Gloria Orphanidou, from Cyprus, has been trying to find a cheap room to rent in the capital since December. She paid West End “relocation agent” EasyLets £110 to find accommodation within her £500-a-month budget after seeing properties listed by the agents on Rightmove. She was told bills were included in the advertised rents but, when she approached the landlords on the list, one told her she would be charged a fee every time she cooked a meal or did her laundry.
“The other two were properties living with landlords, where I was not allowed to have any visitors unless I paid them £10 every time someone came to see me,” she said.
If at this point you’re crying with laughter, well, reader, you are not alone!

Anyone with an ounce of self-respect would have knuckled down and done the hard work of searching themselves, not paid a company to do it for them, and then complained when they were ripped off!
Orphanidou returned to EasyLets to complain that all the rooms she had been shown were unsuitable, but she was refused a refund of the £110 fee.
“I felt so stupid and angry at myself. I am broke enough as it is, with just enough money to pay rent for a cheap room, and I had wasted £110 on an agent who clearly doesn’t care and won’t help me find a house,” she said.
Feeling stupid and angry at yourself is the correct emotion to have. You are, after all, entirely to blame. I’m not sure why you think wailing to the ‘Guardian’ is going to help either your flat search or your future job prospects, though.

“No! Not Us! We’re Special!”

Sir Stephen Bubb (CEO of Acevo, the charity leaders’ network) is not happy:
Just as the Government faces criticism for proposing to limit Freedom of Information (FoI) requests to Whitehall departments and other state agencies, it now wants to extend the Act to charities – all 165,290 of them.
So..?
Most of these organisations are led by volunteers. They range from household names such as the British Legion and Barnado’s to the local bowls club. The justification for this move is that charities receive taxpayers’ money in some shape or form, either to provide services or to fix the church roof.
Then if they receive it, they should be accountable for it.

The answer, of course, would be to not receive it. You know, be a real charity.
Charity leaders welcome transparency and support the public’s right to know how their money is spent; and on the face of it, this proposal would appear to strengthen that right.
But I bet there’s a ‘Oh, but you’d be wrong!’ looming…
Yet dig a little deeper and it is evident that this measure would actually undermine FoI. It is, in truth, a rather crude tactic to divert attention from the central issue.
Oh, really?
The concern is that the review is in reality an attempt to dilute FoI and so spare the Government from scrutiny. And one is compelled to view the proposal to extend FoI to voluntary organisations in this context – as a strong-arming measure to defuse the criticism of the real dilution of openness that is threatened by this review.
Hmmm, seems like a less-than-cunning plan to me.
Only 6 per cent of all government expenditure with independent organisations makes its way to the charitable sector. Most of the rest goes to large companies and higher education institutions. Not only would this extension of FoI to the charity sector be minuscule, therefore, it would also be capricious. Charities are already regulated by the Charity Commission. Do they need more rules?
Well, given the huge increase in complaints about charities over the last few years, then yes.
Do we really want our charity leaders and our volunteers spending their time fielding all manner of FoI requests, let alone having to appoint the staff to do it?
Well, I suppose it beats having them spending their time in John Lewis
The Government needs to work with charities and commercial organisations to get this right.
Really? With you as their appointed spokesman, I suppose?
As charities we could discuss with the Charity Commission how best to make data available on the use of public funds. This would recognise the importance of the principles behind FoI while at the same time being sensitive to the extent to which the burden of red tape weighs heavily on voluntary bodies.
Yes, I can’t see anything wrong with consulting the fox on the eventual design of the future henhouse…

Friday, 5 February 2016

Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett Is On Track For ‘Line Of The Year’…

…for this comment in her CiF column on public conveniences:
I write as someone whose disabled brother recently defecated in the bushes outside Tesco.
I mean, what, exactly, does one say to that? Other than to wonder at the 'Guardian's' need to hire people unable to cope with modern life...