The privatisation of the National Health Service will be a very backward step with dire consequences. welcome to Edwardian Britain, a hundred years on.

The SKWAWKBOX

grim_reapernhs

It’s been announced this afternoon that Monitor, the regulatory body for NHS Trusts, has begun the process of putting Mid Staffs NHS Foundation Trust (MSFT) into administration. Once this process is approved, which may only take a couple of weeks, the administrators of the Trust will have 150 days to come up with proposals from a range of options including the complete closure of the Trust. One option that is not included, however, is the continuation of MSFT in its current form.

Reports on the decision focus on the Trust’s financial struggles and Monitor‘s statement that MSNHS needs to cut costs by 7% in order to be financially viable.

Sounds like a serious situation, doesn’t it? But as its Annual Report almost a year ago showed, Mid Staffs was already embarked on a Cost Improvement Programme (CIP) to save 6-7% a year – and had achieved…

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Reducing the € 45 billion health cost of air pollution from lorries — European Environment Agency (EEA)

Another report from the European Environmental Agency highlighting the health costs of exhaust from diesel goods vehicles.  Manchester is one of the areas highlighted by the report, as having a serious problem with diesel exhausts.  This will be exasperated by Manchester City Council’s decision to expand Manchester Airports freight terminal.  In fact the Aviation white-paper did not mention expanding freight terminals but, of the need to improve port and rail terminals to handle freight.  The matter will be worsen for the people of South Manchester by the council’s plans to also build the Stockport to South Manchester by-pass.  This is to be built despite the fact there is already an existing motorway connection from the airport and Stockport.  Richard Leese, leader of Labour controlled Manchester City Council, was claimed he wanted to turn Manchester into another Barcelona.  It could get his wish, as Manchester is not far behind Barcelona on diesel exhaust pollution.

Reducing the € 45 billion health cost of air pollution from lorries — European Environment Agency (EEA).

The UK has continually dragged its feet on implementing EU environmental and employment legislation. It is normally implemented in a ‘watered down’ form, employing the cheapest techniques instead of ‘Best Available Technology’. Also, it is reliant on self-regulation (like the banks and look where that got us) and an arms length regulators who only act after a major incident. As long as a process can not be directly identified as being a problem, it is allowed to continue, as opposed to taking a precautionary approach. The UK is still the Dirty Man of Europe.

Inside track

Porthcurno beach and turquoise sea, Cornwall UK.This is a guest post by Caroline Jackson, former MEP and chairman of the European Parliament environment committee from 1999-2004.

“We need to examine whether the balance is right in so many areas where the European Union has legislated, including on the environment, social affairs and crime”

Thus said David Cameron in his recent “key speech” on Europe – and he sent an immediate shudder through the ranks of British environmentalists. What did he mean? Which bits of EU environmental policy is Britain going to raise in Brussels (when Owen Paterson has stopped worrying about horse/beef burgers)? What are the chances of getting anything changed anyway in existing legislation which it has been a pain to negotiate? Given that reform is needed in the EU approach to legislation (as I believe it is) is he going for the right targets?

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EUobserver.com / Social Affairs / Tuberculosis – an old plague comes back stronger

With the Conservative continuing with Labour’s dismantling of the National Health Service, the UK could see TB returning and it reaching epidemic proportions.  We are an intensely populated island, which would make an ideal breeding ground for this disease spread rapidly and over-power the resources of the NHS.

EUobserver.com / Social Affairs / Tuberculosis – an old plague comes back stronger.

How the British Public is bank-rolling the energy companies

Someone posted this article from the Morning Star, a paper I rarely read has it is normally full of left-wing rhetoric and ‘pie-in-the-sky’ thinking.  But this article does lay out the backward approach by the UK Government, Labour and Conservative.  The former Labour Government attack the Stern Review, even having some of it changed to support Blair’s nuclear ambitions.  At the end of the article, the author shows how a progressive and economically sound country has dealt with the energy situation:

The great energy stitch-up

Friday 22 February 2013
by Alan Simpson
 
 
 

What a grubby little energy market we have constructed in Britain.

As Alistair Buchanan, the head of Ofgem, warns of looming gas and electricity price rises, it is worth a brief look at the politics behind what is going on. It boils down to energy companies “gaming” the energy market and government incompetence hanging the public out to dry. Plus ca change.

I began to warn about the great energy stitch-up shortly after Ofgem produced its electricity capacity assessment in October last year.

At that point Ofgem was concerned that Britain’s “capacity margins” – the safety net surplus of electricity supply over peak demand needs – would fall in 2015-16 to somewhere around 5 per cent. At the moment, the margin is closer to 15 per cent.

News reports at the time trumpeted fears of “the lights going out” in 2015. This was mainly Horlicks, and wasn’t what Ofgem was saying. All it meant was that, on current policy assumptions, Britain’s electricity safety margin could drop to the same levels that other parts of Europe currently work on.

However, if Britain installs more renewables the margin improves. If we insulated the homes of the fuel poor it would do the same. Ditto if we built new interconnectors or energy storage systems. But the most intriguing Ofgem reference was to gas supplies.

“Some of the most difficult issues to form a firm view on are whether new gas-fired generation will be built over the next four years [and] whether new gas stations (CCGTs) that have been taken out of operation (‘mothballed’) will return…”

Ofgem isn’t allowed to speculate about reasons, but as soon as you lifted the lid on this you could see what was going on. Energy companies were starting to “game” the market. Existing gas plants, and permissions to build new ones, were being put on hold.

You might not convince the public about this, but the argument given by power companies was that British energy prices were too low to keep gas stations running.

My view was that we were being set up for an artificial crisis, and that this would come much earlier than 2015. That is where we are today.

Britain has some 11GW of older, mainly coal, power stations that will be closing by 2016, because they will not meet new European emissions standards.

Companies not intending to clean up their power stations were all given coal quotas for production up to that date.

This was where energy companies saw the space for an enormous scam. Use up your coal quotas as fast as you can, mothball gas plants, and you have a ready-made energy crisis that the government has to throw money at.

To make the scam all the easier, the government decided to bring its own confusion to the party.

The Energy Bill currently going through Parliament must be the worst energy Bill I have seen in the last 20 years.

It is a shambles from start to finish, Britain’s equivalent of the Maginot Line – a hulking great monster of a Bill that will do nothing for Britain’s energy security, will cost the public a (not so) small fortune, and will be completely unsuited for the energy future the world is already moving into.

The Energy Bill will be completely rewritten long before it is implemented. But in the midst of its policy confusion, energy companies spotted the scope for some lucrative profiteering.

The Bill includes a “capacity mechanism” that will pay energy companies to have back-up plant to supply electricity when demand threatens to outstrip supply.

Energy companies want these payments to be as handsome as possible. Mothballing gas plants helped to remind ministers that generous subsidies will be needed to avoid an energy/political crisis they might wish to avoid.

The government will dutifully oblige and the public will (grumpily) pay up. But it will do nothing to break the extortion racket that is Britain’s current energy market.

Worse still, it will push the number of British households living in fuel poverty up towards the nine million mark long before 2020.

Those who argue that this is a loveless coalition government may draw comfort from the mutuality in their pursuit of follies.

“Climate deniers” in the Treasury continue to throw money at fossil fuels, while “financial reality deniers” in the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) do the same with nuclear.

For two parties devoted to market liberalism, this Bill could be the biggest act of corporate socialism in my lifetime – redistribution from the many to the futile.

Ofgem’s warnings are not to be scoffed at. DECC has often looked incapable of negotiating an unconditional surrender, and its discussions with the nuclear industry are not going well.

It looks as though new nuclear will need a price guarantee of twice (three times?) today’s wholesale price of electricity, for 40 years.

Ministers do not even bother to ask why their preferred source of energy requires subsidies of so much, for so long. Even less do they question the spiralling cost trajectory that new nuclear is on.

For the public, the cost will be paid in bills, other choices – and lives.

For less than the cost of a single new nuclear power station, Britain could take seven million households out of fuel poverty.

For less than the cost of the bribes that we will pay for reopening mothballed gas power stations we could have a renewable energy programme that would deliver sustainability, and a decentralised system of generation, and distribution that would turn a cartel into an energy democracy.

As it stands, hundreds of thousands of the fuel poor will die in this decade, waiting for energy that will not arrive until the next.

Millions more will face rising fuel bills for energy set to become less and less affordable, while better choices slide off the table.

This is not a programme, it’s a road crash. The only sources of energy with genuinely falling cost curves are all being sidelined.

The only technologies able to democratise the energy sector are being squeezed out of the market. And the delusions of the past are all set to blight the future.

In the face of the Ofgem warnings, fossil fuel addicts are already clamouring to keep the old, polluting power stations running. Sod the planet, just prop up the past. It’s the price, we will be told, for keeping the economy going.

In addressing Britain’s great energy stitch-up, I’ve tried to hold off on comparisons with choices being made in Germany. But let me finish on this note. The biggest indictment, the most cruel comparison, is to look at what the Germans have been doing.

The Germans understand the future in a way that we don’t. Smart technologies will drive their future energy systems far more than power stations.

Markets will sell non-consumption (energy saving) more enthusiastically than new energy consumption. And lower carbon emissions will be seen as the engine of economic prosperity, not its enemy.

Just look at what this has meant for Germany over the last decade.

  • Over 400,000 jobs have been created in their renewable energy sector in the last five years.
  • The German renewables market will be worth €2,200 billion by 2020.
  • German solar prices have already fallen so much that they are equal to the price of purchasing power from the electricity grid.
  • The avoided cost of fossil fuel imports will be worth €22 billion by 2020.
  • Renewable energy investment increases German GDP by over €20 billion per year
  • German national debt will be €180 billion lower, in 2030, than it would be without their climate protection measures, and
  • The German economy will create a surplus of €0.34 for every reduced tonne of CO2 it delivers.

If there is a difference between patching up the planet and stitching up the public, this is it. Britain may not get the message, but we will certainly pick up the bill.

  • Alan Simpson was Labour MP for Nottingham South from 1992 to 2010.

The real value of trees

From

The i-Tree app has been used by many cities to calculate the monetary value of urban trees.
“The values take into account energy savings from shade, impact on the city’s air and water, and the boost in property values associated with leafy neighbors.”
KTGAC has also been told, by an ecologist, that under the CAVATs valuation scheme, each of the ‘unsuitable’ trees Trafford plan to fell on Greenfield/ Trevor/ Delamer are worth around £50-60,000. Let’s hope the council start to listen to the people who want to keep the trees before they score this huge own-goal.
Thanks to Jayne Dillon for this link. 

Help raise funds to help restore a part of Manchester’s heritage. We have been informed the Crossley’s Boy Club, on Ashton Old Road, Lower Openshawe is to be demolished by the council shortly.

SaveAncoatsDispensary

Save Ancoats Dispensary Campaign group are holding a Fundraising Quiz Night from 6pm this Sunday at The Shamrock pub, Bengal St, Ancoats M4 6AQ.

Monacle Dave will be our Quizmaster on the night, entry will be £2 per person with a maximum of four persons per team.

There will be a super raffle, attractive gifts available to purchase and plenty of time to enjoy a nice tipple and friendly natter.

All are very welcome to come along – don’t worry if you’re not already part of a team this will easily be arranged on the night .

All proceeds to the Save Ancoats Dispensary Campaign Fund

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Council’s ‘Recent’ U-Turn on Park Plans Were Already in Place as Far Back as August 2011

Manchester City Council make decisions without any consultation with local communities.  When they announce their plans, they then state they will have a consultation about their plans, which were decided months earlier.  They are not going to change what they have already planned to do and have already engaged contractors to carry out the work.  The council is so dishonest with its dealing with local communities, I cannot understand any company with a reputation deals with them.  Is it a case of  ‘profits before people’?

Council’s ‘Recent’ U-Turn on Park Plans Were Already in Place as Far Back as August 2011.

Alexandra Park lakeside vigil

On Sunday 17th February 2013, a number of people came to the lakeside between 17:30 and 19:00 hrs to attend a vigil for the Ecocide taking place at Alexandra Park.  There were some members of Save Ancoats Dispensary vigil in attendance as well, having walked from Ancoats.  Most people there understood the irreparable damage being done to the local environment and biodiversity.  One young female had spotted a bat that very night.  Manchester City Council had never carried out an Environmental Impact Assessment and had only carried out a cursory ecological assessment.  If they had done so, they would of realised that their plans contravened their own policies and national policies towards the environment and biodiversity.   And it is mind-boggling that the Heritage Lottery Fund, decided to fund this project, even though it is destroying what the Victorians had set out to do.  They have proved themselves to be another ‘not-fit-for-purpose’ quango.  And  councillor Nigel Murphy had told me that the tree removal was necessary because the Park was unsafe at night.  Not long ago, I emailed with residents living on the boundary of Barrack Street Park, were concerned about the lack of lighting at night.  They felt unsafe crossing the park at night to visit neighbours.  Nigel Murphy, replied saying there was no money for lighting on the park.  And yet millions are being wasted on this ecocide on Alexandra Park.  Image

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George Osborne is not a ‘fit person’ to be in charge of an empty shopping trolley in an empty car-park!

The SKWAWKBOX

The papers are awash today with leaked ‘rumours’ that George Osborne is planning to ‘give’ shares in state-owned banking group RBS worth up to £400 to every voter shortly before the next general election.

It’s obvious to anyone with a couple of brain-cells to rub together that this is the most crass, blatant attempt imaginable to buy popularity by bribing the electorate. What might be slightly less obvious to some is that – if it goes ahead – the government will be using our own money to attempt to buy our votes, to enrich private investors massively in the process, all while dodging a political ‘bullet’.

Killing 3 birds with one stone, you might say. A big, fat stone with ‘Typical Tory Scam‘ written all over it in big, bold letters. Except, as usual with this lot, it’s not so much a stone as a lump…

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