David Gaulke has his influence over the Conservative manifesto.

All the main parties have now set their stools out for the general election in June. The Conservatives started out to simply reinforce the Prime Ministers position with regard the referendum result and attempt to shut up all the dissidents attempting to reverse the public s wish to leave USE. Of course the Labour party have nothing to loose, so embarked on a left wing agenda that under normal circumstances wouldn’t get the time of day whereas the Lib-Dems are still convinced that no good can come of any of it unless the clock is turned back – but not quite as far as Labour. This meant the conservatives simply had to produce something. The ‘highlight’ of the Conservative document and pounced on by the left was the idea that care for the elderly should be paid for by them by putting a charge on their property (apart from £100,000).

As usual this got us thinking about an elderly relative who may need care in the near future and how it would affect him. The simple answer is that it wouldn’t as he had already flogged is property to an Egyptian band in return for a monthly income. More thinking followed and thought about my in-laws who needed to go into care in the 1990s following a stroke by one and dementia. The hospital made the decision that after 6 months a nursing home would be more appropriate for the stroke victim (once they realised the dementia sufferer couldn’t do the caring), so I simply asked them to find somewhere suitable for the pair who had only just celebrated their Golden wedding anniversary. One was allocated a home in Bushey (Hertfordshire) and the other in Lincolnshire. Following surprise that I thought they might do a little better, I was simply handed a pile of leaflets with the comment of ‘you sort it out’ and spotting all had prices per week asked how they were expected to pay. ‘Sell their home’ came the reply so I simply asked will they tell the council or shall I? (they lived in the council (sorry New Town Commission) since it was built).

This is one area where the Conservatives simply live in a different world. The ‘right to buy’ was only a licence to print money for those who had it and I, like many, believed the money would be used to replace those sold in order to maintain the housing stock. All it actually did was get into the general fund of the Treasury with the result they are complaining that not enough houses are being built. Look no further than Mrs Thatchers policies of transferring wealth from the have nots to the haves. In other words the idea was a good one along the lines of the later PFI packages and everyone agrees that that the financial world made and still making a packet out of these small errors!!

Meanwhile back with the housing difficulty, going back further, just after the war housing was a problem, so temporary prefabricated homes where built were needed. Designed for a maximum of 20 years lifespan, many still in use today. Can you see where I’m going??

It will be alright in the end, honest

At least the Labour party have laid out their left wing policies to introduce utopia next month with the rest of us footing the bill. All very laudable, but meanwhile in the real world……………..

At last someone who can make USE decisions has seen the sense of not allowing 27 governments needing to agree to everything at the same time regarding any trade deal with the UK. It just leaves Scotland to also see the light in June and make sure the SNP understand there are other ways of getting what you would like without threats. The Conservatives just need to not lose and everyone else not to win as the one rule about elections and negotiating is that it is easy to lose, and difficult to win!

I suppose unless something really interesting (like another power cut) between now and June 9th, everyone just needs to keep their heads and not be swayed by promises of things getting better, when I will be surprised if the usual ups and downs don’t simply continue no matter what.

See you at the end of the tunnel after you have voted – you won’t forget, will you?

Computers are wonderful slaves, but worse masters!!

The big story rumbling over the weekend was about a ‘virus’ that appeared to cripple files on systems with the perpetrators demanding payment (in bitcoins, whatever they are) to ‘resolve’ the problem. The surprising thing was Microsoft issued a patch almost immediately to protect users which then rise to the use of old operating systems being the cause.

Taken on face value, that seems almost possible but raises the question that if Microsoft didn’t simply abandon users of software that worked only on old operating systems in order to make them upgrade, then security holes in their software would just need filling in. My experience of Microsoft goes back to the time when we were using ‘dial up’ and you could expect your computer to try to contact mother Microsoft for updates most of the time mainly due to their assumption that all computers are left on 24/7, just like theirs are and just simply log on to their network. Of course, this assumption carries on still with the default time to check for updates etc. is 2am!!

Of course this turned out not to be the reason for the dramatic problem as it all boiled down to an old IBM protocol for networking called SMD. The version affected was version 1 at this time although most new devices default to version 2 or higher – hence the apparent random effect.

So the main source was someone downloading software on each affected network (that they shouldn’t have) which in turn ran riot around anything connected and switched on. This does leave older equipment with embedded software that needs to communicate with other equipment (possibly remotely) in order to operate. As an example, frequently scanners in hospitals have to talk to other devices which talk to other bits with a degree of precision that beggars belief. These devices are all matched and to simply talk about replacing the individual bits is unrealistic when the design life can be measured in decades.

Which brings us back to the main source. In our establishment, there is a rule that nothing is opened or run from any outside source unless it passed a vigorous inspection and scan. We learnt this one some time ago when we received an e-mail from a client whose system had been compromised by a local company as we traced the links back to a marketing company that the client had contacted just the once. I should point out this was some 15 years ago and was a minor irritation rather than a problem, but even then it was apparent it was so easy to get caught.

We have all seen others using company computers for personal use and expect system administrators to clamp down on unauthorised activity. The larger the company/network, the more restrictions will need to be put in place otherwise get in stocks of pen and paper and copier toner!!

Remember, garbage in, garbage out

No wander people ask directions!!

The Wanlip parish meeting took place on Friday last (12th), and it seems that they really don’t like change, a bit like me really, so most of the meeting was concerned with boundary changes and making sure we don’t get swamped by 800+ homes proposed in the ward. They are proposed across the A46, so the general feeling was to reduce the ward size to the current village (hamlet) size as the development is expected on agricultural land nearer to Rothley and also resist any idea of joining with Birstall Parish Council or a talked about (by others) joining with Syston across the river.

Wanlip is just big enough now to form a parish council as we have just over 153 residents whereas 150 is the minimum number. The meeting voted to remain as a ‘meeting’ rather than ‘upgrade’ to a Parish status with the advantages and disadvantages that would bring. I suspect that may well upset our neighbours at Birstall Parish.

It also seems that County are carrying out traffic counts in the village possibly to install traffic calming like ‘hump& bumps’, pinch points, parking spaces along the road or simply make it more difficult to find from the ends. The existing signage off the A46 is a real mystery as if you come from the Syston direction, this is what is presented:

Not possible!


Actual Junction via Google earth Seven Trent water is to the right of photo!

The Google Earth image on the right shows the slip road from the A46 if you are travelling west from Syston towards the M1. The sign on the left is the sign as you approach the junction. Severn Trent Water on to the right hand side of the articulated lorry in the right image. Vehicles appear to have no-where else to go, apart from through Wanlip!

Perhaps I’ll have a look at the political world next time!

I knew the French didn’t like us, and USE admit they are broke without us!

Now I’m starting to get cross. Our third power cut recently has meant I’ve had to go round and reset clocks and timers as well as assorted computer equipment which shut down to protect themselves yet again!

Those of you suffering from moles may like to know that (crossed fingers) ours have not been seen since we found some solar powered devices you simply stick into the lawn and it beeps and vibrates to warn any moles that it’s around and don’t get in it’s way. Now about the rabbits!!!!!

Meanwhile over the water in USE land the truth is starting to be exposed. The French have just elected a centre party leader who is in favour of USE and threatening to make life difficult for us to actually leave. Then the USE president actually admits that Use might well go broke if the UK leave without giving them some compensation. Then the USE lawyers are admitting that they couldn’t make us pay anything anyway – without actually saying we give them more than we get back, so by leaving they might have to justify any financial demands which as the accounts have never been audited and passed as accurate might prove a little embarrassing.

The final results in the local elections on Thursday show that both UKIP and Labour are in trouble, the Lib-Dems in a middling state and the rest are simply treading water. The really annoying thing is that there is not real alternative to the Conservatives in next months general election is we are to have any chance of getting a satisfactory ‘leaving pack’ in May 2019. We are going to get lottsa of promises from all the parties between now and June 8th and without an effective opposition to curtail the more extreme ideas, then the losers are really going to have to get their act together in the next 5 years. In this lot we have to include UKIP and starting now to get them organised as I wasn’t even aware they had a candidate in the County elections here so what chance for June 8th?? They need to be organised rather than going their own way and ignoring the four million who voted for them in 2015 as they must still be around and leaving USE isn’t over until ‘the fat lady sings’ as they say.

And here are the results – beaten into 4 place (out of 4)

Most of the election results all over the country are in and it looks like the Conservatives are gaining local authority seats from most parties but mainly UKIP and the Greens, so the great British public are linking leaving USE with any opportunity for vote at the moment. Even locally, Derby has returned to the Conservative fold and gaining seats from labour in Councils they already hold. Nearer home, Iain has retained his seat on the County Council and the one that really matters, Birstall and Wanlip ward on the Borough, the Conservatives changed just the representative by electing a Birstall Parish Councillor. This was the one I gave you a chance to change and surprisingly 69 of you did vote for me rather than one of the major parties. Even more remarkable is that I don’t even know 68 residents as I’ve only been here a year and been backwards and forwards to hospital most of the time (I was OK before we moved here!!).

Anyway, thank you to all had some faith in experience over party and if you think we ought to have another go in 2019, then I really will need help over the next 2 years to make an impression by delivering a newsletter and raising the Independent profile. Leave a comment and I’ll get back to you or just keep coming back to this blog and get others to support me as without support you won’t get another chance to vote for me and have someone with fresh ideas to represent you.

As an idea of the uphill struggle we face, the turnout was 35.1% (about average) and out of 5360 electors, 69 voted for me, 425 for Labour, 603 for Lib-Dems and 772 for Conservative. Mind you, around 10% for a newcomer who had limited time and money to produce, print and deliver to only about 15% of households, I’m not complaining.

Normal service resumes soon!

Voting, traffic and planners

By now you will all have been and voted and got that task out of the way.

Yesterday I got to wondering about just how planners make the sort of mistakes that mere mortals like us wonder just why it happens. I was walking around the village (as you do) thinking just how, the bus struggles along the narrow roads such as Windmill Avenue and Stonehill Avenue, particularly near the post office, where cars do their best to block the road just on the corner. I noticed that the roads are about 16 foot wide and mainly date from between the wars. My strange trail of thought then went to the property we sold to a nice family who expressed their wish to live in our bungalow due to it’s location near to his sons new school and his own business in the local industrial estate. All seemed logical as he lived in in the next town along the valley.

Imagine my surprise, when my old neighbour called to say that he had applied to replace our bungalow with a pair of 4 bedroomed houses. I wonder why I didn’t think of that!! Anyway, he managed to get permission so I had a look to see how he got over the obvious obstacles. The new properties are 1.8m (6ft) higher than any nearby homes but apparently that’s OK as the site is slightly higher than the road so no one will notice – that’s planning logic! It gets better though. 4 bedroom properties have to have a minimum of 3 parking spaces and there is only room for two spaces per 4 bedroomed house – remember the two homes are on the same footprint as the single bungalow – so the solution is obvious. As highways made no objection then the other parking spaces are on the public highway.

The road bis 16 foot wide and on a bus route. The average turning circle of todays cars is about 30 foot, so will need 15 foot to get out of the drive and along the road. It only needs a vehicle to be parked opposite and you cannot move (this we experienced at first hand) stir in that any parked vehicle is obstructing the highway (illegal in itself) you really do have to wonder who is to blame for all the traffic problems, it seems the local planners have a lot to answer for. Talking about which, whilst delivering my election leaflets for you to recycle (I didn’t spend a lot, so don’t be too concerned) I was asked what I would do about the A6/ Greengate Lane/ Sibson Road junction to which I replied that the problem is the missing bit of duel carriageway and that needs County input and I suspect that as the A6 is a trunk road the decision would have to be made by the Highways Authority.

You are lucky that the new County Councillors will be Conservative and will be able to pressure the government to resolve this problem – or more likely not! I will be slightly upset if too many of you vote for me and it was not on my list of things to do this year, but when the sitting Borough councillor takes her bat and ball home, it was a golden opportunity to wind you all up.

Tomorrow is another day!

May Day bank holiday

Today, it took just a minute for the 27 members of USE remaining to decide that three basic questions have to be decided before even making any progress on any other matters.

This will make for a very long 2 years before we have to walk away. The three initial items are:

  • The Irish border question must be solved.

  • The rights of existing USE citizens must be preserved.

  • All ‘debts’ must be settled

The prime minister has already stated that the first two are already agreed to, as the Irish border question has already been addressed by stating that no border controls are visualised as well as reciprocal arrangements are expected to be agreed for USE citizens.

However, the question of any debt payments should be interesting as the accounts of USE have yet to be agreed or signed off and as they have never been agreed, it could easily take all of the two years allowed for all negotiations to agree just the three ‘prerequisites’ without getting any further, so 2019 should be an interesting year.

Changing the subject slightly, the government has been convincing the general public that DAB radio is the answer to all broadcasting including coverage, clarity, high quality and as regular readers are aware, is actually nothing of the sort – outside London, I expect. The biggest problem is the low bit rate compared with overseas. As an example, we in sitting in a field just north of Birmingham and the FM signal is great. Even smooth radio is in stereo but the DAB signal bit rate if half that of mp3 (say 128bps) and less than Freeview (192 bps) at only 80 bps and in mono. Then it gets worse, gold is only on DAB or mw. We all know that DAB radio goes through batteries like they cost nothing, so the alternative is mw. Have you tried mw these days? Even in a field at least a mile from the nearest habitation, the interference makes it useless to listen to. I hope they have asked for their money back!

In our real world, we are competing at Catton Park (again) with the dogs, in the usual bank holiday chilly and damp weather – but we are in a caravan unlike some who are under canvas! This bank holiday competition is smaller than the Easter one (which was cold and wet) and the next one at the end of May. So only 2 holidays this month, I suppose if Mr Corbyn gets his way, we could have even more crammed into a short period – assuming the ‘May day’ one (introduced by a certain Mr Blair) remains. Of course, Bank holidays do not have to be on Mondays as that is only to help businesses in the days of six and a half day trading with a half day off during the week, whereas now, seven day trading is the norm!

By the time bank holiday Monday arrived, so had the wet rain and yet still some hardy fools were walking rings and getting ready to run their dogs even though there is no sign of the rain giving up. At least one competitor must have looked out and decided they had had enough and hitched up and drove off into the clouds – remember that many come quite a distance, so could easily have 3 or 4 hours towing in front of them.

Locally, don’t forget to vote for a Borough Councillor on Thursday as the Borough is important as it’s responsible for local services and planning (only applies for Birstall & Wanlip ward due to resignation of sitting Conservative – so you could have me instead!). The County Council is also up for grabs on the same day and they have a more overall view and responsibility such as highways, waste disposal, emergency services, social care and transport generally. In case you didn’t notice, Birstall Road speed bumps have been refurbished (blame the County for this one, so that’s another month gone!!