Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Blair Lane closed on M4 motorway

I'm pleased to note that the Bus/Taxi's only lane on the final stretch of the M4 motorway into London has been closed by the new government here in the UK, the road space will be released to normal road users. It earned the name the Blair Lane when the police used it illegally to give Tony Blair's motorcade priority over other users; classic politburo government. It was in effect a monument to the Nu Labour style of management. "We know we cannot really justify the reduction in road availability, but our ideas are the correct ones. We will fine you if you have the temerity to break our rules."

We have enough problems here in Edinburgh with the trams, but in London it is a lot worse with the bus lanes. The local transport authority (Transport For London) have got it in their mind that more people will be forced into buses if they can slow down the speed of other legitimate road users. To achieve this TfL  have hijacked a major proportion of the road system in London and declared it to be "Bus Lanes". Motorists who stray into the bus lanes will be fined heavily by operators of an expensive CCTV based enforcement system.

So the idea is "Reduce road capacity to reduce traffic congestion". It is a totally crackers idea! Insane!

The hours of enforcement of the bus lanes designated by TfL appear to be unrelated to the actual usage of the bus lanes. These bus lanes can lay unused for 99% of the day while motorists suffer delay and queues in the unclaimed areas of road. The other crazy decision of TfL is to project bus stop bays out into the road, thus forcing the traffic to build up behind the bus as it loads passengers. In the good old days the bus would pull into a bus stop and avoid delaying the traffic.

I ask who are the guardians of the public interest when it comes to the arbitrary and authoritarian decisions of the bloated Transport for London?

Friday, 12 November 2010

Excess spending in the NHS

The UK National Health Service is one of the largest employers in the world in terms of number of employees. It has an enormous wages bill. It is also quite inefficient, part of the reason for that is that it is almost impossible to fire someone from the NHS. The process of industrial tribunals is unfairly and heavily biased toward the employee. Decisions are made by the tribunal panel with no responsibility for the additional cost to the public purse (i.e. you and me; the tax payers). I've come across the case where a candidate lied at the recruitment interview about his availability to work shift hours. The specific question was asked at the job interview by the the recruitment interviewers "Do you understand the hours of employment? Is there any reason why you cannot work those hours?"
When the new employee arrived he announced, within two days, that he could not work the shift pattern. He requested that the shifts should be changed to meet his personal family needs.The hours changes could not be met without imposing additional burden on the existing team. After consultation with the local HR department it was decided the man should be dismissed because he could not meet the contractual conditions (which he'd agreed to at the interview). 
The man called in the union and the case was taken to Industrial Tribunal. The tribunal chairman ruled that because the hours had not been explicitly laid out in the job advertisement (it had stated "shift work"), even though they'd been explained in interview, that they found in favour of the employee. So the local Primary Care Trust is landed with a bill for a "compensation payment", plus expenses from both sides and the cost of agency staff to cover the gap created by this liar. Subsequent off the record enquiries revealed that the person concerned had an appalling reputation in his previous job, but of course that was not reflected by the references provided by his previous NHS employer.
It is small wonder the NHS administration is over-cautious about removing failing or dishonest employees.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Where has the student money gone?

I've just been reading the latest news on university fees for students in the UK. The present government is to allow university fees to rise to £9000 a year per student. The government will then allow students to borrow money (interest paying loan) to pay this education tax. 
When I was of university age the situation  in the UK was an absence of course fees and a grant for living expenses. Students from non-rich families could go to university without incurring a mountain of debt for themselves or their parents. In the near future students will now accumulate a debt of close to £70,000 to attend university for a degree if living costs are taken into account. Surely in my day the would be student would have to study hard to gain good qualifications (which I didn't, my own fault) in order to gain entry to university, but at least everyone had the opportunity to go to university if they were academically up to scratch.
My big question is: "What has happened to the money?" Why are University fees so high and why has government funding of university students dried up? Have the government reduced the proportion on GDP once dedicated to educating our students?  Are the University professors and establishment paying themselves so much that they pricing themselves out of the market?
I foresee students taking advantage of Internet distance learning University Degrees from places like India, where academic standards are high and costs are much lower. Why should students direct their tax payments to the costly inefficient UK Universities?

I'm really surprised that students are not out on the streets in revolt. Can they trust the politicians anyway?