Tuesday, 28 February 2012

When a sister ship is not a sister ship

A  headline this week in't popular media is 'Sister ship' of Costa Concordia as a result of a fire in  engine room was in difficulty at sea.

Whilst maybe for the media it's an useful tag to justify what otherwise would be a non story - a ship as sea looses power due to fire, it is nevertheless poor journalism.

According to Wikipedia a sister ship is a ship of the same class as, or of virtually identical design to, another ship. Such vessels share a near-identical hull and superstructure layout, similar displacement, and roughly comparable features and equipment.

The 'Costa Concordia' seen above, which tragically ran aground off the coast of Italy on 13 January 2012, was first launched 2 September 2005. Which incidentally begs the question how could a ship just over 6 years old in today's GPS world manage such a tragic manoeuvre?

This week the cruise ship 'Costa Allegra' as seen above lost power due a fire in in engine room. The 'Costa Allegra' was launched 29 April 1969. Which means this April she is 43 years old.

Call me pedantic, but to say that a ship 42 years old is a sister ship of a 6 year old ship is rather stupid. You may say it's not important, but for me it's basic journalism, and if they cant get that even right whom are we to trust......

.....or do they really think we are fools?

Friday, 24 February 2012

Spike Milligan - still dead but not forgotten.

Next Monday it'll be 10 years since the death of Spike Milligan. The comic genius and father of modern comedy, left behind a large catalogue of poems, books, tv and radio programmes. Sadly, some tv shows have been lost for ever, but we can still enjoy 'The Goon Show', the 'light entertainment programme' that is still broadcast on Radio 4 extra. This Saturday they will broadcast a 3 hour special as a tribute to the genius that was Spike Milligan.

The above clip; which you can download for free from the official Goon Show website, is called "What time is it Eccles"

I leave you with one of Spike's funny poems for children from poemsforchildren.org


Said Hamlet to Ophelia,
I'll draw a sketch of thee,
What kind of pencil shall I use?
2B or not 2B?

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Ynys Môn council tax - some context.

The Commissioners, whom manage Cyngor Ynys Môn on behalf of Carl Sargeant; Minister for Social Justice & Local Government, and the shadow executive have agreed to recommend to the full council that the council element of the Council Tax should next financial year increase by 4.5% (or less than a £1 each week for average Band D).

The final decision will be made by the Full Council 3 March 2011.

But before we start jumping up and down I think it's worth putting this in some sort of context.

Click on image to enlarge

This financial year (2010-2011) as can be seen from the above chart (showing average Band D rates for Wales) from the Welsh Assembly, Cyngor Ynys Môn had a council tax well below the national average, and the 5th lowest council tax in Wales.

We also need to look back at previous increases in council tax.

Then there are specific concerns that Cyngor Ynys Môn need to address:
  1. The need to find efficiency savings of £10 million over the next few years
  2. The need to improve the corporate center of the council
  3. Previous under investment in education on the island
  4. Local concerns such as a desire to keep swimming pools open as well as local conveniences.
  5. A reduced revenue support grant.
And you can't forget that the Commissioners are here to sort out the mess left by years of political discourse and political infighting.

If we want good council services we need to pay for them, and sometimes that means paying more. It seems for the next few years as the Council gets to grip with previous overspends and poor leadership Council tax may need to raise year on year.

You could argue that the Welsh Assembly should pay for these increases through the revenue support grant, but then again the Welsh Assembly itself has less monies to spend and other priorities. We are in an age of austerity after all.

I find it strange that some in the Welsh Conservatives complain that in Wales we spend less per child on education than England, but when it's proposed too increase spending on education on the island they complain again.

Ynys Môn Conservatives it seems, think the proposed increase in the council element of the Council tax is far too high, preferring instead maybe greater cuts to the Councils' budget, making more Council workers jobless and the of closing swimming baths. As Conservative Cllr Goronwy Parry once famously said the children can always learn to swim in the sea.

It's a fine balancing act, Cyngor Ynys Môn percentage increase in the council element of the Council Tax may be highest in Wales (you cannot compare with England they have a different revenue grant system), but I for one think the Commissioners have got it right. 

And the Council tax will still be below the national average.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Topographical survey of A5025 well advanced.

A question regularly asked by many on the island is how much of the A5025 will Horizon improve as part of the Wylfa B development.

For those of you who regularly travel on the A5025 between Valley and Wylfa may have recently noticed  luminous orange tape at regular intervals, say on hedges or on gateposts. They are there to quickly identify the locations of survey stations.

It seems Horizon are carrying out a topographical survey of the A5205, or key sections at least. And how do I know it's Horizon, because one of the vans assisting the survey firm has a sign saying they are from Horizon -'simples'.

No doubt any major improvements proposed for the A5025; as part of Wylfa B, will form part of  a detailed planning application when submitted.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Ynys Môn Planning Policy - now set by size of mob?

This Wednesday between 200 and 300 protesters stood in the cold outside the Council Offices to voice their concerns about wind turbines, an anaerobic digestion plant at Mona and also proposed biomass plant at Peboc, Llangefni - how many where present  from each group we may never know.

According to some "The large turnout on a weekday furthermore proves that Ynys Môn residents are far more concerned about wind turbines than they are about Wylfa B."

Or in other words it's claimed Ynys Môn residents are more concerned about the erection of 'monstrous and industrial' wind turbines than they are about Wylfa B (supposedly therefore not monstrous or industrial)

So its planning policy decided by size of mob, that draw out the greater support on a weekday, including those that can afford to take time off from work.

Currently the Council is consulting on its Supplementary Planning Guidance - Onshore wind energy. The consultation ends 10 February 2012.

This will replace and build upon the Supplementary Planning Guidance Wind Energy Development (1994)

The statutory planning guidance with greatest weight currently on the island is the Local Plan, and the policy on renewable energy is:

Renewable Energy.

45. Renewable energy projects will be permitted where it can be clearly demonstrated that there will not be any unacceptable impact on

i.   Landscape character.
ii.  Sites of international, national, or local importance for nature conservation.
iii. Species which are of nature conservation importance.
iv. The standard of amenity enjoyed by the resident and tourist population.
vi. Essential public services and communications.

All arrived at by due process, but does the above matter ? - no because up to 300 people turned up on a weekday, we need to set aside everything else and bow to the pressure of the greatest mob.

Now putting aside the arguments about wind turbines, ask yourself this question, would you as a potential investor thinking of starting up a new venture on the island (the island that likes to say 'No')  really do so, if you knew that all it would take is for little more than 300 people to turn up outside the Council Office at Llangefni to scupper your plans and any monies you may have already spent in conducting surveys, environmental impact assessments etc, etc....I think not.

In 2010 the electorate on Ynys Môn was 49,721 therefore the number of protesters who turned out on Wednesday opposed to wind turbines, anaerobic digestion plants and biomass plants was only 0.6% of the electorate.

Remember, that's the new target 300 people, that's all you now need to allegedly change council policy and make some Councillors jump.

Here is a potential future call to the Council "So what do you think of my idea for investment in the island."

Council official replies "Hold on there is a big angry mob outside, I don't think they like the idea."