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View from across the channel

I spent the last week travelling down to Lisbon from Bilbao and then back up through France. I did this on my BMW K1300s. I had to speak at a Conference nr Lisbon and I thought why not take the bike rather than fly.
Firstly, can someone explain that why it is that in Spain, Portugal and France, diesel is significantly cheaper than 95 petrol whilst in the UK the differential is the other way. There must be an element of profiteering gong on in this country.
Secondly, the sheer scale of road building that has recently gone on in Spain,Portugal and France and indeed continues to go on is staggering. Coming up from Dax, there was 40 miles of continuous work going on. In Spain, major new highways continue to be built. This shows that there is an understanding of the benefit of public works and that there are politicians who are able to get things done.
Thirdly, in Lisbon where I had to have a new rear tyre fixed at the main BMW dealership – it wa heaving with servicing and new sales in the car side of the dealership. However, interestingly they refused to take payment in any other form but cash. This shows German faith in the short term future of the Euro!
Whilst waiting, I visited the waterfront in glorious sunshine. New developments with many new apartments for sale and half the cafes that had only recently opened, now closed and boarded up
In all the trip I had not the slightest problem getting a hotel room, although half the price in Iberia than they were in France.
Finally, if you want some really spectacular motorcycling, head for the mountains in the middle of Portugal

Yet again Migration numbers have been shown to have been seriously underestimated

The ONS has reported that it failed to count an estimated 350,000 migrants in the decade to 2011 because it focused on interviewing passengers at principal airports rather than regional airports where many immigrants from Eastern Europe were arriving – Unbelievable, and surely any statistician worth his salt should have factored this in.

Significantly, revisions also show that net migration in the years from 1997-2010 was 3.8m. That is the difference between those leaving he country and coming here.

In other words every year during that period a population the size of Nottingham was being created, for 13 years in succession.

Is it any wonder that we have a housing crisis and a housing bubble in London. We need to be building houses on a truly vast scale to house this net migration, never mind to replace existing stock and an increasing birth rate.

It is about time we had some honesty, and politicians of all sides explained to the public just how they are going to do this.


Joined Up Government are we any nearer getting there?

The Government, quite rightly, is trying to clamp down on the growing claim culture within the UK. The Dept. for Justice is working with Insurance Companies on areas such as whiplash.

Yesterday, My wife badly twisted her ankle and went to the local A+E. There she was given a booklet on how to ease the pain and improve recovery. This was clearly branded as an NHS publication. The back page of this was given over to a full page advert for a claims solicitor. “If you’ve been injured in an accident, call our FREE helpline for legal advice on making a claim” Should the NHS seriously be encouraging it’s patients and the public to use these companies?

There is growing outrage over the cost of parking at NHS hospitals. Have we now sunk so low that we have to get these companies to sponsor official publications?



The Bank of England at last wakes up to the threat of house price rises – too late as ever

As with gauging the strength of the recovery, the Bank of England, is always at least two steps behind when it comes to understanding what is going on in the housing market in London and the South East.
Fuelled by the ludicrous “help to buy scheme” and vast quantities of cheap money that has nowhere to go, prices are sky rocketing.
As an example my daughter is looking to buy her first place in London. £250k for a one bedroom flat in Streatham (just reflect on that). She had a call from the agent on Friday saying there was one available. She said she would go round the next day. “Too late there are 10 people viewing this afternoon”. This has the smell of 1987 when I was similarly looking, and we know what followed that.
Look at the growth figures that are coming out from the Business Groups.
The UK economy is powering ahead based on housing and consumer expenditure. The Bank of England has first to recognise this and then think about how it is going to slow this down without a catastrophic impact.

Why HS2 is needed – now and not in the distant future

Another day and more problems on the West Coast. Signalling problems in Staffordshire mean yet more cancellations and delays. This is not a rare occurrence and you are left with the unmistakable conclusion is that this is a rail line operating on the absolute edge.
Despite the billions that were spent the system monotonously falls over.
Sticking plasters cannot do the job.
We simply have to build more capacity, delivered by capable engineers and by operators that are customer focused.

Immigration and the impact on British Jobs – a side issue

The @BBCNewsnight story on the specific impact on of immigration on British Jobs is a relevant issue but there are other equally pressing concerns. “Whether for every additional 100 immigrants 23 British workers would not be employed” or whether it is less, what we do know is that there are 917,000 young British unemployed. The priority for a cohesive society has to be to get them into work, and fast.

More importantly, we also know for a fact is that there was net migration into this country last year of 212,000 – or put it another way a city the size of Northampton or Norwich was created.

Where are these people to live? We cannot build enough homes to house or already rapidly growing population and added to this the growth of population is focused on London and the South East. The result is a housing price bubble in the south East that shows no sign of cooling. Great for those who already own houses, but what about our children.

So when senior politicians say that putting “any target on migration is totally impractical, cannot be delivered and would do great damage to the economy” are they really thinking through the implications of this?

The wider debate as increasingly being articulated by Nigel Farage, is just what sort sort of country and society do we want?

It has to be more than economic efficiency. It can be of little surprise that the economy continues to grow when migration and population is growing at such a pace. But at what cost?

What we need is a real debate on what sort of future we want for this country. How do WE want to see it in 25 years, rather than just being at the mercy of a globalised market.

Population Growth and Housing

Interesting figures from the House of Commons library indicate that over the next decade migrants will be responsible for 629,000 new households. A total of 1.8m people have come to Britain since 2004, with net migration peaking at 250,000 in 2010.
More significantly this growth will be a contributor to a projected 2.2 million additional households in the decade to 2021. The fact that we are incapable of building houses on anything like the scale required to house these households or even to have any decent public debate on the implications of this growth, means that prices will just keep on rising particularly in London and the South East, where people want to live because that is where the jobs are.
We are sleep walking into a monumental problem that will face our children. Meanwhile politicians discuss the really important issues like criminalising the drinking of alcohol during pregnancy.

The Floods and Climate Change denial

Surely the issue is not about denial, but whether we can do anything to reverse the extreme weather. This is a global issue and the UK has only a minute percentage of the World’s population. This population, like that of the UK continues to grow. They will all demand access to energy which cannot be provided on the scale needed by carbon neutral sources.
So rather than a sterile debate as to whether we are or are not climate change sceptics, surely the way forward is to try and plan and manage.
We should accept that these extremes will continue and on the basis of this develop our response, not least in terms of land use planning.
Do we really believe that we as a nation, with our own exploding population can do anything remotely meaningful to reverse these weather extremes? The last thing we need at the present time is gesture politics.


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