Saturday, 16 October 2010

Saturday drive

Am down at Mother in laws. Weather is fine, family party tonight which we're all looking forward to. Mrs S, the girls, sister in law and mother in law have all gone out on a preparatory shopping expedition.

This left me on my tod with the vague idea of going out for a drive, stopping near a deserted beach and taking a stroll along the sand for an hour or two.

Now this would have been a spiffing idea but for one thing; no parking. Well, no free parking at least. Even in the off season, local authorities and the National Trust charge for the privilege of turning off your engine and applying the handbrake within a mile of the coast. They charge like a Rhinoceros with a hangover and a Land Rover fixation. Most places I've been today charge in the region of four to five bucks simply to stop. No facilities. No managed paths, trails, whatever. Yours truly had made the cardinal error of forgetting to take any loose change with him, so, nowhere to stop. After three fruitless hours I went back to base camp.

With regard to parking; what do they need all this parking money for, these cash strapped local authorities? Can't be the roads, there seem to be more potholes and cracked surfaces than ever before. Lines worn out and only the newest speed limit signs looking anywhere near neat. Can't be facilities, there don't seem to be any more public services provided since I last passed this way four years ago. Well, nothing obvious or useful, at any rate. The car parks themselves seem in fairly poor repair, with rutted and cratered surfaces resembling a lunar landscape. Can't be street cleaning. I've not seen sidewalks this grubby since I worked in London and Birmingham several years ago. This in a tourist area? Impressed? Not in the slightest. Yet I'm told a South Western English council chief executive, who is troughing over a hundred grand a year, that's pounds, not dollars, has balked at calls for him to take a ten percent salary cut. Personally, having worked in the public sector, I've always thought Council Chief Execs aren't worth more than two thirds of the salaries they get paid. With things in the state they are, I'd say no-one in the local public sector is worth more than sixty five thousand a year.

If what I've heard is halfway true, Council tax and Business rates are strangling the English private sector. There's an ever decreasing revenue stream as small businesses go under and aren't replaced. They're even spending taxpayer cash on pictures in disused shop fronts. It's supposed to 'stimulate' trade, but if the businesses can't afford to set up shop, what's the point?

How can local authorities justify these huge paypackets? No new services. Poorly maintained, overpriced infrastructure and excessive regulation. I've never seen so many signs saying "Don't". The only new local authority funded items I've seen are the extra signage, and the ever present plague of speed cameras and parking ticket machines. So where's all the money going / gone?

Maybe it's the windmills. Saw lots of them turning quite rapidly today. Stopped our hired car in a nearby layby, expecting to feel quite a stiff breeze when I got out. The air at ground level was quite still, with nary a leaf stirring on nearby trees. Yet here were these big three bladed wind turbines spinning away at what looked like a steady 50rpm. Almost as though they were being kept turning for show. Funny that. Or not, if you're one of the poor bastards stumping up for it all.

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