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Boots Corner closed for 6 Months and the consequences for Cheltenham appear very much ‘out of sight, out of mind’

December 28, 2018 2 comments

Boots Corner montage 2

Yes, that’s right. The Boots Corner debacle, the traffic problems It has created for everyone beyond the Planners masterpiece and the now ghost-like roads just a stones throw from the Town Centre have been an evolving problem facing local People and Businesses for 6 Months.

The glad-handing and self-congratulation that we see pouring out in response to every legitimate concern that is tabled, wouldn’t be a problem for anyone outside the Council and the ‘project’ itself, if it weren’t absolutely clear to everyone else that the passage of time and every new thing being added is making the problems worse and worse.

Be in no doubt, the quantitative data that will be used to legitimise this train wreck of a Town Traffic Plan will inevitably support everything that Officers and Councillors say.

What it won’t do is consider any of the qualitative or experiential impacts which are the real consequence for local People, Businesses and frequent visitors or commuters to the Town. Simply because that was never what this vanity project was about.

Out in the real world, Cheltenham’s many passionate Small Business Owners know what does and doesn’t work in the Town Centre. They’ve done the trial and error already, many times over and know intrinsically how footfall and the number of customers who enter through their doors is directly affected and proportional to the cars and traffic that travel past and have direct access and line-of-sight knowledge of who they are and what they are offering to customers.

They possessed this knowledge long before the Boots Corner project got underway and have since increased their level of knowledge and understanding in a very practical way. Information which the arrogance and ‘we know best’ attitude of the controlling Councillors and the Planners both before and since the Scheme was launched has been overlooked.

The only figures and data which now matters to the Council are the number of feet on the High Street. And the answer to the question which should automatically follow this reality simply raises many more questions and a justifiably significant level of concern about what the priorities of Cheltenham’s District Authority now are as opposed to what they should actually be.

Take a walk in the streets behind boots, M&S and John Lewis and only the most unaware of people could walk away from the experience without recognising the physical and atmospheric change to what is still a part of Cheltenham Town Centre.

Whilst the confusing mish-mash of changes to what used to be a straightforward and accessible road system may seem much safer to some faceless bureaucrat in an office somewhere, the strange silence of these roads doesn’t foretell a beneficial change taking place for any of the businesses that cannot afford the significant rents and mortgages of the revamped High Street, forcing them to go beyond.

No, it tells us that the priority in Cheltenham is only big retail business, and that the lifeblood of the town which will always be it’s plethora of Small Businesses is being condemned by both the actions and words of both elected and appointed Public Representatives.

Unpalatable as it may be to idealistic Councillors and influential Officers who have been culturally conditioned to believe that they have no other way to respond, people notice and remember the places that they want to go when they are travelling through the Town in their cars.

Yes we may have a wider, cultural problem with the dependency upon four wheels that there is.

But there is nothing practical in trying to pretend there are not natural laws at work and that human behaviour itself dictates that the lack of foresight and absence of intuitive consideration of what these changes to the Town Centre have already and are set to do, confirms that this Council will only ever deliver on its own ideas, whilst paying scant regard to the consequences of its actions upon others. Namely the very people it exists for and is there to serve.

What is effectively the closure of what used to be the inner ring road is an avoidable blight on a large swathe of Cheltenham Town Centre which will mean existing businesses will fail, new ones will never get the footfall that they need to keep going, and instead of being a destination of business opportunity for the many, this idealistic approach to managing a Town Centre will instead only really be of benefit yet again to the deep pocketed few.

For the people who know and love Cheltenham for the great Town that it already is and has been for a considerably long time, John Lewis and The Brewery are great enhancements for the Town to have. But they should never be interpreted by anybody as being all that Cheltenham is now about.

Changing this Council may be the only way that Cheltenham can now overturn this injustice, as political action is the only way that self-serving Councillors are likely to be pushed to respond to any thoughts, feelings or ideas other than their own.

Are our MP’s sleepwalking us towards Dictatorship?

December 20, 2018 Leave a comment

 

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Brexit has pretty much taken over political life in this Country at the moment and it is set to continue doing for some time.

The most regrettable part of all of it is the division that the whole process has caused. I am sure that if any of us were to stop, stand still for just a moment and reflect upon how we really feel about other people – whether they voted Leave or Remain, as soon as politics is taken out of the equation, we like all of them pretty much the same.

As regular readers will know, I have been blogging about the Brexit process pretty much non-stop for a number of weeks now.

I make no apology for continuing to hold the genuine conviction that the best future for the UK and all of it’s People will be experienced as a Sovereign Nation and standing independent of Europe on our own.

I also understand why people have and do reach other conclusions too and accept that if I held precisely the same experience of life and the understanding that they do, my views would almost certainly be the very same.

The reason for being here and writing today however isn’t about Brexit itself, but about the issues for democracy upon which the Brexit process has become embroiled and underpinned. Issues which are actually not new, but have been forced into daylight by the behaviour of our Politicians over the European Referendum, the ongoing debate over what will happen after 29th March 2019, and what now seems like the eternity in between.

Whilst hiding in plain sight, Politics in the UK has been broken for a very long time.

In fact, the downward spiral has been in play since at least the 1980’s when Margaret Thatcher was PM, and has probably been in motion since long before that time.

People become Politicians in this Country for as many worthy but also non-worthy reasons. But the way that the Political System now works, with a near-monopoly status of a triumvirate of Political Parties holding sway over the gain or loss of Parliamentary Seats, it is the people at the top of the Parties themselves which now hold the real power over Policy in this Country, and not each and every MP working collectively, as it always should be.

The system corrupts entrants just as soon as they have been elected. They are greeted with the choice of becoming subservient to the will of the politicians who lead them if they want to progress, thereby selling out all thought of genuine representation of the people who elected them.

It has simply become a numbers game. Those who lead the Parties are in charge of everything that we do and it is a majority-sum game which itself gives the lie to the idea that we are now living in a genuine democracy.

In simple terms, those who can win the Party, run the Country.

All good until the point that a major decision is tossed back to the Electorate in the form of a Referendum, bucking the long-term trend of autocracy running our Parliament in all but name. Bewildering for those who have become complacent with their place within a broken system that feeds itself on ensuring that the status quo is fully maintained.

In a system that has increasingly worked because there has been a top to bottom absence of genuine leadership skill, the moment arrived in 2016 when the UK suddenly required real leadership. But no real leadership was actually there. There was no good leader available and ready to lead.

Be under no illusion, the crisis that we are all experiencing now began in earnest the very moment that an MP who represents all that is wrong with this broken system found herself achieving the dream of making it into No.10.

From that point the decisions were only ever going to be about maintaining the ‘existing’ system. For that to happen, everything that came after had to be favourable to what we now call ‘Remain’.

Yet under the cloud of considerable democratic intervention which was the European Referendum, the writing was from that point on the wall.

Whilst what appears to have been blunder after blunder and opportunity missed after opportunity missed seems to easy for this Parliament to blame upon the People’s decision to instruct the Government to deliver Brexit, the truth is much darker. It may now be the real reason why the UK could instead of capitalising fully from Brexit as it should have done, inadvertently be about to experience what will feel like a considerable fall.

The sickness and condition of British Politics exists because the political classes at all levels of Government are now made up in the majority by very ambitious people who put self-interest, furthering their own opportunities and being seen to have ‘glory’ before any recognition of what their positions and responsibilities were created for.

In Parliament, Members at all levels are now putting their own aims first, being disingenuous in painting themselves as the equivalent as the shining knights riding to the UK’s rescue from an out-of-control Brexit, when the cause of the very problems they are telling us they are equipped to solve are of their own making, not of the People who Elected them, despite the proposition of a second referendum which is by the very nature of this action, the clear Statement that we are now being told.

That Parliament tossed this decision affecting all our futures out to the Public and now plans to rescind upon the obligation to them which then followed, using whatever method that it can, has simply removed all value from the democratic process.

In an already politically disenfranchised Country, this is now making tangible the foundations upon which an alternative to this disrespectful treatment of the Public en masse could very realistically stand.

Now before you get carried away and think I’m simply setting up the suggestion that a Corbyn-led Government is now imminent, whilst that in some respects could be true, its manifestation because of everything that is happening, could actually be a catalyst to something much more profound, which sweeps away the corrupt and pyrrhic forms of democracy that we are used to, including the political parties as we know them, and opens up a very different kind of door.

Yes, the self-interest in Parliament has now reached such levels, that consensus is possible no more.

And this means that if groups of MP’s cannot work together in the majority to take the decisions that each and every one of them was elected for, thereby making the Parties they represent completely defunct, we must surely be in the position where the responsibility will fall on an individual to break the deadlock. Not only with Brexit, but with just about every policy where lack of consensus has led to damaging forms of compromise which never hurt the people making the decisions, but make life very difficult for the people they never consider, at cost to everyone and everything and a whole lot more besides.

We can only hope that if it happens, this will not become the UK’s Trump moment.

But if our MP’s continue with this unbridled attack on the little that is left of our democracy, they will soon have zero legitimacy and not be left in the position to decide.

History tells us that such an option manifested could be quite chilling.

But if such a thing as a worthy dictator existed, compared to the current shower in the majority sitting across Parliament giving the lie to our democracy as it currently stands, it is quite possible that the People of this Country might not actually mind.

If our Politicians think it idealistic to deliver Brexit properly, they must also believe democracy impractical and therefore wrong

December 19, 2018 Leave a comment

It’s difficult to laugh about anything going on in Westminster at the moment. Politicians are so far into their own bubble, they are screwing up everything they touch whilst being completely oblivious to the fact that what they are doing is wrong.

Yet looking closer and observing the pantomime nature of the he said, she said, you said, I am, no I am, you are and no, that’s you, it soon becomes clear that there is certainly comedy in the baseless nature of the name calling, which is being used as the only form of distraction that our MP’s can grasp to, to keep out of sight what is actually going on.

Of course, we live in times where words can be manipulated and used for all sorts of purposes, often deliberately because they have different meanings to different people. It means that a word can be used correctly or incorrectly and the interpretation of the listener or reader will automatically be wrong.

One word that has entered the Brexit lexicon as a term which is being wantonly abused is idealism and therefore to be idealistic.

In the Brexit sense, the term idealism is being splashed about everywhere as a way to criticise the thinking of others, rather than being used as an opposite of being practical and the area of meaning to where it should actually belong.

When any of us have our minds set on a certain route or destination, it is easy to interpret our own thoughts as being practical and therefore cast out all others, labeling them as impractical and idealistic, with the inference that we are right and they are wrong.

Yes, it’s easy to do on both sides of the Brexit debate, whether you are a Leaver or a Remainer too.

That is if you have lost or failed to identify the factual reality of what the EU Referendum delivered, when the choice of whether or not we would Leave the EU was passed over to the Public to decide.

The overriding and inescapable truth that came from that democratically attained decision was that the UK must Leave the EU and Leave it properly.

It wasn’t then passed back to MP’s to then fight over as if that decision were in fact ’50 shades of Brexit’ and therefore not important as a destination, but rather only a series of different routes over which to fight and ultimately divide.

When a decision has been taken and given democratically by the People to Politicians through a plebiscite, the only practical option available is to deliver it and to do so properly, no matter what steps or unpalatable actions must be enacted in order to achieve that which they have been instructed to do.

The dangerously impractical, idealistic or quixotic response to that democratic choice is to attempt to reinterpret it and to do so knowingly, when the decision was clear, you know that you might have a different idea, but the choice has been made and the decision is no longer yours to decide.

To call or label a proper Brexit idealistic, may play to the suggestion that there is strength and therefore practicality in sticking to we already know. But clinging to comfort zones and what we already know is a choice and just another idea that itself became idealistic the very moment that the practical choice of the British People was recorded and defined.

If the outcome the People Voted for is to be delivered through Brexit, the UK must actually step off before it can touch down

December 19, 2018 Leave a comment

The infamous scene from the Film Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade where Jones (Harrison Ford) steps off in a leap of faith and finds footing on a bridge that had not appeared to be there

 

‘What could possibly happen next?’ is a phrase which is now used by Politicians as an indirect threat and way to create fear, rather than respecting and stepping up to the responsibilities which most of them covet, but would never understand even if they were theirs to own.

The complete shit shower, clusterfuck or whatever else you might feel the most appropriate way to describe the Brexit process, particularly in recent weeks is a complete mess that was avoidable from the outset, and must therefore in many ways be recognised as being there by choice.

Whether proactive, reactive, strategic or emotionally based, every decision on the part of the Politicians who have brought us to this point has not been based on delivering a proper Brexit as the outcome. To do so would have necessitated that every tie-in with the EU was broken BEFORE a relationship based on the UK being sovereign and independent could be discussed, implemented and yes, remade.

As I have written before, the problem with the plan for Brexit, is that Brexit has become all about having a plan.

Even now, as ‘contingency’ planning has been announced for the ‘no-deal Brexit’, the Political piggies, feasting at their Westminster trough are still enslaved to the idea that there can be no way forward without there being an agreed plan. And they advocate this, even though it has now been clear for a significant period of time that this same self-interest dictates that one will not be found which a majority will agree upon.

Until this past 7 days, there appeared to still be a group in Parliament that was ready and able to break this mould. But now even those who have until now been the advocates of a clean, proper, no-deal or WTO Brexit, have demonstrated that even they believe it is not possible to take the UK forward into new and unchartered territory without having some kind of plan.

Whilst fear drives everything in this world in some form or to a certain degree, we have the right to expect that the Politicians we have elected possess the leadership skills and wherewithal to look their own fears in the eye and step forward, knowing that they are representatives of the people, and that the challenges they must face are on behalf of others and therefore a much bigger cause.

Yet they don’t. And now racked with fear or the obsession of keeping what they believe to be control, even the Brexiteer contingent of the Conservative Party is obsessed with clinging to this out of control wreckage, from which the UK must now positively step away from, before it can find its footing and again touch down.

Call it a leap of faith or whatever you might like.

Opportunity by its vary nature is unpredictable.

Even when you can plan, those plans will only ever take you so far.

And when you have many decision makers in the mix who all advocate a different direction which without fail they will insist is the best, it is time to forget planning and deal with each and every thing as it comes along.

Yes, there are many who say ‘you have to have a plan when you are in government’. This is a myth and one that is as self-prophesying as it is destructive and as it is misleading.

It is a myth based on fear and the idea that there is safety in avoiding change.

Governments have, do and will succeed well by embracing uncertainty and making it work as they go.

This is the approach that must now be adopted, rather than indulging false premises based on the idea that finding consensus between decision makers will only ever be the first step.

It is a fallacy that such actions must be carried out before we have embraced and began working with the huge range of opportunities that will come from Brexit, just as soon as we step off and accept that things have already changed in the UK, that we must go forward and that things will not ever be the same again.

Tube Drivers earning £100K+ is outrageous. But privatising the Underground would reduce value, redirect that money to deep pockets and cost the Public much more besides

December 18, 2018 Leave a comment

The stranglehold that the Unions have on Transport for London has long since been questionable. But questionable and acceptable are two very different things.

With some Tube Drivers now reportedly earning six figures and potentially more, the point has definitely been reached where it has become clear that their ability to command salaries that completely dwarf comparative roles on other networks has simply gone too far.

There is no need to list roles and the salaries of other ‘public’ occupations that show how disproportionate this giveaway is.

Roles that in some cases require many years of academic study and then on-the-job experience to reach a level of employment and positions which encapsulate significantly more responsibility, comparatively unlimited hours and are even then paid perhaps some 25% less.

There is no question that there is specific value to a Tube Driver’s role.

But the financial value placed upon it must be proportionate and reflective of the industry as a whole. Not open to suggestion at any time at the whim of Unions, simply because of the near monopoly status that the Underground in London has. A monopoly status that is clearly being used as a weapon against the Public that own the service, by those the Public have only ever employed to serve it.

Yet running away from the cause of the problem will only cause many more problems in itself.

Privatisation is now being voiced as a solution because it appears to be a quick-fix solution to all the challenges that the Public Sector has.

The problem is that private interests will always prioritise profit above public service.

So when a system there to benefit the Public like the Tube should be thriving, in private hands you would inevitably see it go into serious decline.

The cold, hard, unpopular and politically unpalatable reality is that the unspoken solution to solving problems like these are buried within employment and industrial laws. Laws which were put in place to benefit some without thought for the consequences for others, often so that some politician at some point some where has been able to guarantee that they would gain re-lection once more.

Much of the damaging legislation that has allowed this travesty to unfold, falls at the door of the influence and drip-drip-drip of legislation from Europe.

It has been embraced by previous Prime Ministers thinking only about their own positions whilst selling out efficiency and the realistic end-user costing of services directed at the Public, whilst propagating the myth that ideas have more value than practical reality to the People they were elected to represent.

Legislation brought into being and implemented under the pretence that it will improve some lives, is through its indirect but nonetheless disproportionately massive impact upon all others, one of the biggest contributors to the struggle that many people on low incomes now face, as well as a whole lot more.

To solve wholly avoidable problems like these and many more besides, we need the ability to set our own rules completely and have politicians in power who are prepared to use the responsibility they have been given to take decisions which may appear wrong to a noisy few, but address genuine need as a part of the many wider issues that the UK has. The purpose most rational people believe that Representatives of the People are elected for.

Leaving without a ‘so-called deal’ or on WTO Terms with minimum fuss could have easily been achieved. The chaos we are experiencing instead is the bastard child of those obsessed with Remain

December 17, 2018 Leave a comment

img_2235As myth would have it, the last 30 months have actually been Brexit, rather than a process of chaos instigated completely at the hands of those obsessed by their wish to ‘Remain’.

We haven’t left the EU yet, and will never do so if the undemocratic and self-obsessed proponents on this full-scale assault on democracy should ever get their way.

On 23rd June 2016, in a Referendum which would never have needed to be called if Politicians had not already stepped way beyond their Common Market mandate, the People instructed our Political Classes that the UK must be sovereign and a completely independent Nation State once more.

The decision was clear. It wasn’t open to interpretation. There wasn’t an invitation for the malevolence of politicians to explore how they could flip the whole thing over, tie us in further and get us back to a situation that only suits the self interested and power hungry once more.

And with over two years available for the wheels of government to ensure the smoothest transition as part of the Leaving process, it was only the interference and attempts to override the will of the people which has created all of the problems we are now experiencing with the wholly poisonous irony that its creators are now attempting to use this chaos as an excuse to convince us all that we should Remain.

The problem is that the process of Brexit is not the act of Leaving the EU itself.

Had the energies of all our Politicians been focused upon what they should have been doing these past 30 months, the Country would be a matter of weeks away from the most promising of jumping-off points, rather than having the land of opportunity painted as a canvas of chaos in the forlorn hope that they can manipulate everyone into keeping everything that works only for them in place, under the suggestion that everything will just be the same.

Things will never be the same again. And if we now Leave the EU without the organisation and preemptive steps being taken that were always available but never taken seriously by those who’s strategy has always been to ensure that we Remain, it is these same people who will be responsible for all the problems that follow and exist from now until then.

Whatever the outcome of the coming days and weeks, the decision of the British People must be upheld.

For democracy to survive, the result of the vote cannot be superseded, and certainly not for the nefarious purposes of the few who believe that they somehow know better than the people, and that they have a right at any cost to ensure that in their eyes, the UK is forced to Remain.

The UK will get to where it is supposed to be going.

The UK’s departure from the EU can only ever be delayed.

And for the sake of our UK’s democracy, we can only hope that these ridiculously selfish people have an epiphany, get over themselves and start considering their true obligations which for the sake of clarity are to deliver upon the real People’s Vote to Leave and not attempt to create one for Remain.

A Referendum upon a Referendum is one Referendum too far

December 17, 2018 Leave a comment

img_2233Last Wednesday evening, the Conservative Party lost, or rather surrendered collective responsibility for its own direction on Brexit.

With it, democracy in the UK may have been served a terminal blow.

Whilst we now know that the latest stage of Britain’s political chaos began when the present incumbent of No.10 first boomed out ‘Brexit means Brexit’ and meant no such thing, this has been a much longer process. One delivered by Political Parties of all colours and shielded from open view by our own trust and reverence for politicians being massively misused, taken for granted and abused.

Yet a watershed moment arrived when that contempt for the people went too far.

Our politicians miscalculated the response that would come back in the form of a decision on policy which they tossed out to us on the pretence that there was a decision that was itself simply too big for elected representatives to take themselves.

They did not get the result that they were expecting and had complacently assumed was coming when the Vote for the UK to Leave the European Union was won.

Not only did these self-aggrandised leaders not like it. Many of them have and continue to do everything that they can to frustrate the will of the people.

After creating a completely avoidable mess and continuing attempts to frighten everyone else into to the spurious admission that their decision to Leave was wrong, then propagating the myth that there is no better option available for a secure future for our Country than the one they have created, they are now advocating a second referendum to try and fix the problem. The blatant inference being that it was the decision and not their own obfuscation and failure at every turn to implement a proper Brexit since the Referendum that is fundamentally wrong.

The simple truth is that the decision of the British People to Leave the EU called the bluff of the political class.

Members of this self-serving non-representative culture have and still believe that they have the natural right and authority – once elected – to manipulate anything and everything to suit what they want, what serves their own purposes and everything else required to ensure that they get their own way.

The narrative that suggests the decision of the People went the way that it did because Leavers didn’t understand what they were voting for isn’t just a lie. It also demonstrates a complete misunderstanding and contempt by many of our MP’s for their own position and responsibilities. They operate contrary to what the purpose of an elected representative of the People is actually there for.

Yes, most of the Electorate didn’t understand the detail or rather the minutae of what they were voting for in the EU Referendum.

But it is not the Electors who are supposed to understand the detail of any Policy.

It is the Elected themselves who have sought and as the direct result of their Election to Office been given the responsibility to deal with the details, thereby accepting their obligation to deliver upon the direction they have been given by the people though a legitimate plebiscite.

By Parliament voting by a considerable majority to give the decision on our Membership of Europe to the People through a plebiscite, MP’s surrendered any right to dictate the direction and end result of the choice that was made.

MPs also obligated themselves to then do whatever would be necessary with the detail that they should all clearly understand, to execute our departure from Europe. Not with the bells and whistles and ties ins that work for them. But with the result that was intended, which was and remains very clear. That is to Leave and not be restricted by any form of tie to the European Union anymore.

To now seek to overturn the original and democratic decision of the people demonstrates either that those advocating it are wholly unworthy to hold public office.

They have already failed to do what they were told by the People to do.

What is more, they have done and continue to do everything they can to frustrate the process and with it, the Will of the People. And now, believing that their game of bluff, counter bluff and pretending that they have done everything that they were supposed to do has began to pay off, they wish to deliver the final insult to the Electorate that gave each and every one of them their position of responsibility, by making the clearest statement possible that it is only the People and not they who have ever done anything wrong.

The problem is that as with most things that our Politicians have been doing for so very long, they have completely misread the People. They have underestimated the ability of people outside of the Westminster bubble to accurately perceive what they are up to. To still think that by simply telling People whatever they decide the truth should be, the People will simply believe.

The Electorate has been tired of Politicians and their behaviour for a very long time. But the nature of our current political system and the monopoly of the Triumvirate of Political Parties which has existed over a period of decades has meant that Tribalism itself has played the most significant role in Elections.

This has left very few Electors in marginal Constituencies to place a Vote that will really decide who gets the opportunity to lead us. It’s little more than a choice from the same-old same-olds, rather than being given the option of new blood that might make a difference and bring legitimacy back to our democracy. Fundamentally, it’s simply a case of leaving the corrupted apparatus of Party Politics to decide.

This is a story of the Politicians own making.

But there is now a future for politics, because politics is going to be reclaimed by the People.

Politics will be prized from the hands of the Political Parties who have boundaries and collective views which are set against, rather than in the best interests of the People – The same People who innocently Elected this shower of MPs. MPs who have self interest at their core and no longer possess a mandate to hold Office because their own purpose and the will of the People is not in any way aligned.

If MPs continue with this travesty and push a referendum upon a referendum back to the people, it will not be the result of that referendum upon which the future of the Conservative, Labour or Liberal Democrat Parties will be defined.

For within every Election that follows a Referendum which will give the lie to the existence of a respect for democracy within our sick political system, there will no longer be a choice which follows the direction of the Political Parties as we now know them.

When the choice comes to appointing the representatives of the people, it will from then onwards be set between electing Politicians who represent only themselves, and electing Politicians who represent us all.

A Referendum upon a Referendum without having first delivered the instruction from the former, questions the legitimacy of the latter, simply because it questions what the first was actually for.

This is the act that could kill off democracy in the UK once and for all.

image thanks to unknown

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