Wednesday, 24 October 2012

License the sex trade

I have no idea what criminalising this woman achieves beyond selling more newspapers. Is it an alliance between prosecuting agencies and publishing groups that I should be worried about?
"Mr Recorder Winn told her: “That is an offence which causes enormous distress and upset to those unfortunate enough to have to live beside them................But Recorder Winn said he accepted Loftus, from Rochdale Street, Wallsend, had never corrupted or threatened any of the women working in her brothels". So evidence the "enormous distress" and license the sex trade so that it takes place where neighbours consent and are not offended. I would be fine with that.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

The Chief Whip Resigns

I was sorry to hear that Chief Whip has resigned. This is something that was blown out of all proportion presumably because vested interests mercilessly refused to let go. The man said something he should not have done, what really does not interest me. He offered an apology. The police service feel they deserve respect. They do, so do Government ministers and if is the police service who have pressed this beyond what I call reasonable, then the ones who are not showing respect in my book are the police. What must have been one of the most easily recognisable of ministers was cycling, that most down to earth of activities yet he loses his job for the "plebian" word. It is crackers. Has no-one heard of letting things go. It is also exactly why people like me, very conscious of not wanting to be on a pedestal do not seek public office.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Local Authorities Run the East Coast?

At times it seems as if any idea is worth trying. Look through here since September 2010 and you will see I am much exercised by a debate about who runs local trains in the North East (Heaton depot's work) after 2014 and how is a strong rail management team in Newcastle created. This is built on the thought that developing our network (re-opening Peterlee, Blyth and Tyne, Leamside, electrifying the Newcastle & Carlisle) all these crawl along. And that is without saying Belford or Loftus.

Things have moved on a bit this summer but in strange directions. Much of the media references I build up at Northumbria Rail Franchise Lobby Group. An illustration of what I pick up is That's the local authorities wondering if they could take over the East Coast Main Line and keep it in public hands. The only trouble there is that the City Of Edinburgh's record on its tram project is no recommendation to anything. In the north east there are now about three threads at once.Nexus in Tyne & Wear denies that trains exist and only wants an argument about running buses. The Goverment had a consultation over the summer about decentralising local trains. From York to Manchester the authorities plan to make a bid to so do. The north east if its joins that will be bottom of the heap. Another consultation started on the future refranchise of the East Coast Main Line. This opens the idea that they should take over our local services. That is not the end of the world although the Newcastle and North East area would still have to fight its corner. Then the whole franchise system is in turmoil over the Virgin fiasco. This I think leads to this story about the local authorities planning to act.

What I think is needed is an informed debate in the North East. A day's public seminar for politicians, users and the industry. It would have Nick Brown whose constituency contains the key depot to all this: Heaton. It could have Heidi Mottram now CEO of Northumbrian Water but who ran Northern Rail. She should have some ideas about what we should do and is active in the North East LEP. That and ANEC Association of North East Councils could be the hosts. Edward Twiddy where are you? I have put all this to ANEC and got a polite put down. Who thinks it will be a good idea for a new local trains franchise to come upon the North East without even a day's debate?

Friday, 12 October 2012

NEXUS forgets the train

Another instalment in the Quality Bus Contract debate. I am very disillusioned with Nexus. 1) there is the threat of higher fares. 2) Nexus' own knowledge of public transport is lamentable "Tobyn Hughes, Nexus director of customer services, said: “A Quality Contracts Scheme would give local people a straightforward and simple system of fares across bus, Metro and ferry, benefiting everyone who uses public transport". EVERYONE, does no-one use Network Rail trains in Tyne & Wear? The ones Nexus cannot be bothered to organise a debate on their imminent future with a new franchise due. This is not leadership.  The photo shows one of the services Nexus does not want to acknowledge. On the Newcastle Carlisle line between Newcastle and Wylam there are five stations including Wylam. The Nexus boundary runs under the platform this train has called at yet Nexus refuse to bring it into their fare structure. What is this organisation about?

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Virgin takes the flag over the West Coast Main Line

As a wise use of taxpayer's money, the UK rail franchise process is now beyond sense: the midnight announcement that the Virgin franchise for WCML kafuffle would not go to judicial review and they would start all over again. Direct implications here in the Tyne Valley. We had little clear idea of what is to happen to our local line in 2014. We now have even less idea beyond the likelihood that where we are will drift on. Those who believe the franchise system should be abandoned and the railways "quietly" brought back inside the public house will be greatly heartened if as they have been saying for a long time "you cannot achieve value for money this way".