Opinion: The UK is not working

WalesFor 45% of Scots and for many in the NW, the SW and in Wales (which I refer to as the devolving regions), the UK doesn’t work, and this should matter to a Unionist Party. As a Welshman who was forced, as were my parents, to spend decades working in England the reasons are only too clear.

In England we are quite often subject to xenophobia. And while our local colleagues go for exotic weekend breaks, we have to struggle back home to tend to ailing relatives via a crazy London-centred transport network that means that the quickest route from Penzance or Aberystwyth to Dover or Great Yarmouth is via the M25 or Paddington. The quickest route from Liverpool to Southampton is via the M25. And to get to Paris on the HS2 the whole country will have to stop off in London.

As well paying for the extra miles we are forced to travel, we also have to pay for projects in London to relieve the inevitable congestion.

In West Somerset or Carmarthenshire we are told that we must rely on tourism, but 2/3 of our skies are covered with vapour trails from London Airports, and we get no say about their expansion. Few tourists arriving at London Airports get to the devolving regions (Scotland, Wales and SW or NW England).

The chaotic planning that so distorts the transport network can be seen in almost every government department, and while London manages to get improvements, the rest of us have to put up with infrastructure that was condemned in the 1920s. Is it any wonder that industry does not want to move out of London?

But things are getting worse still. Broadband is used as an excuse to close local branches of national businesses, and yet while London boasts internet speeds of up to 100MB/s, there seem to be no plans to improve on the unreliable 3MB/s that we hope for in the devolving regions. This not helped by poor mobile phone signal; but while we wait for the wonders advertised elsewhere, we have lost all our phone boxes. Our landline phones are installed by a company that doesn’t talk to us, but instead all communications go through competing sales organisations, which reduce costs by economising on customer service. Many pay surcharges for courier services, while expecting to lose postal deliveries.

The devolving regions differ from the rest of the UK in having very low population densities, and this, alone, is often taken as an excuse to treat us as second class citizens; but the reform of constituency boundaries has also made it harder for these areas to have political influence. Parliamentary constituencies now have almost equal numbers of voters, but the geographical area they cover is hugely different.  In the conurbations it is often possible to walk to a constituency office in an afternoon, but voters in the more rural constituencies may have to drive for hours to meet their MP. Whereas urban MPs may be able to visit several of their colleagues’ offices in a day, a rural MP may be lucky to be able to visit one of his colleagues’ offices.

And then there is the fabled “West Lothian Question”, which actually works massively in favour of London, because all MPs spend much of their time living and working in London. When London wants improvements, MPs from the devolving regions will have sympathy for Londoners. But how many London MPs have first-hand experience of the overloaded St Clears’ sewage system, or the closure of the Withybush maternity ward?

But this is not just about the relative rights of different regions; this is about good management of the resources that the UK has. How can we expect to compete internationally if we don’t use all the resources that are available to us, with 10% of the population treated as second class citizens, and the rest crammed into London?

* Huw Jones has been a Liberal since the 1960s, have stuffed envelopes, canvassed and stood as paper candidate for council posts in England and Wales. A trained farm manager, he has spent 25 years in Agricultural Research, and has now retired to a small farm in Carmarthenshire.

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63 Comments

  • Richard Dean 17th Nov '14 - 6:08pm

    Just a little exaggeration I think!

    “2/3 of our skies are covered with vapour trails from London Airport”s – but not where I live in Carmarthenshire!

    “Voters in the more rural constituencies may have to drive for hours to meet their MP” – just 20 minutes for me, longer by bus of course, but the bus is free for an old person like me!

    “10% of the population treated as second class citizens, and the rest crammed into London” – since when was the population of London 90% of the population of the UK?

    Exaggerations like these makes arguments about the real issues less credible.

  • Simon McGrath 17th Nov '14 - 6:10pm

    “As well paying for the extra miles we are forced to travel, we also have to pay for projects in London to relieve the inevitable congestion.”
    Well not really. London and the SE generate large amounts of surplus taxedswhich are sent to the rest of the UK. Which is of course as it should be – the more prosperous parts of the UK should subsidise the less.
    This is a very odd article, difficult to know what the author is actually suggesting happens. How does the fact that many planes land at Heathrow and Gatwick stop tourists going to Wales ? If there was demand more flights would go tor Cardiff airport.

    The author also appears to think that 90% of the UK population lives in London. Very odd.

  • Alex Macfie 17th Nov '14 - 6:20pm

    And to get to Paris on the HS2 the whole country will have to stop off in London.

    Actually to get to Paris by train now you usually have to stop off in London — even if you live in southern Kent where the logical interchange would be Ashford but hardly any international trains stop there.

  • Stephen Harte 17th Nov '14 - 6:41pm

    let’s not do gthe “nationalist rounding up” – 44.6% voted “yes” and so let’s not consign 0.4% who voted No to their camp.

  • Nigel Cheeseman 17th Nov '14 - 6:43pm

    I’m afraid the main thrust of your argument has been lost on me, as I’m too intrigued by your claim that you and your parents were forced to work in England. I am unaware of forced labour camps in England during your lifetime. Even during the Second World War, when there was certainly some requirement to work placed on PoWs, no such burden was placed on citizens of Wales.

  • What a strange article. Apart from the points already made by commenters I doubt that the author was forced to work in England, I suspect it was a choice. I am not sure where my own region (East Anglia) fits into all this but I see no need for a motorway from Great Yarmouth to Aberystwyth if that is what he is suggesting.

  • George Selmer 17th Nov '14 - 8:49pm

    Unlike other commenters, my only “criticism” is that this article doesn’t note the same issues faced west of the Pennines…

  • Huw, while I realise you have exaggerated here and there I do agree with lots of you sentiments. Some may think London subsidises other regions this may be true now however when areas had huge industrial output they sent taxes into London and frankly when manufacturing changed London continued to prosper while almost everywhere else begs for scraps from London.

    Ok London could buy bottles water canisters of fresh air and batteries it should perhaps recall that it needs the entire country not just banking and Canary Wharf

    The reply saying England never had forced Labour, is that true if people in Scotland and Wales had to move for work is this not what happens from the EU now no work at home so come to the UK

    Perhaps the rUK should divorce London and put border control around the capital and the bonus Westminster would be gone as well

    Ok I exaggerate a little as well but I do think people fail to understand the disconnect between London and huge swathes of the rUK

    By the way when was the last time we got asked if we want trident and if we did where it should be located

  • Ian MacFadyen 17th Nov '14 - 9:22pm

    Well said, Huw. Da iawn.

  • Richard Dean
    On vapour trails: On a clear day you can usually see 16 decaying vapour trails over St Clears, and almost as many over Minehead in Somerset. In St Clears 1000 peopel (6 aircraft about half 4 engined pass overhead every 10 minutes
    On travel: Journeys to constituency offices in 20 minutes depend on access to good A roads. Many have to travel for 20 mins to reach any A road. And Gov policy is to reduce speed limits on “rural” roads
    All right, I did anticipate the trend a little, but over this financial crisis the nearest new jobs created by the coalition (see their website) were 40 miles away in Swansea, and 500 jobs have just been lost at the Murco refinery in Milford Haven – unless someone else takes over. So 500 people moving east?

    Simon Mcgrath
    When people like me work in the SE why shouldn’t some of our taxes be spent in the devolving regions to support frail relatives we have had to leave behind, or to create jobs for us to return to?
    Flights landing at London airports do not stop people coming to Wales, but they don’t help them to get here either. and the vapour trails do not improve our scenery.

    Alex Macfie
    Ashford is a nice place too – I think that we agree. If trains are meant to be a “greener way to travel” why are the new ones so fast that they never stop to pick up any passengers?

    Stephen Harte
    AS a Liberal and therefore a Unionist, I am not sure that worrying about 0.4% affects the case very much. What worries me is that 45% of a first past the post election is quite enough to elect MPs and change governments. If we believe in the Union, we should try to understand why people vote this way and try to do something about the things that worry them

    Nigel Cheeseman
    We were taught to believe in education, and to get good qualifications, and if necessary to “get on our bikes ” and find a good job. There are few good graduate jobs in what I called the “devolving regions”. Yes we had a choice, but in my Fathers case the choice was move to England as a Doctor or stay in Wales and work in the coal mines
    I had to find people who were emloying Farm Managers, or later Agricultural Researchers.

    Trevor
    See my answer to Nigel about choice. My experience of travelling across the country is that when travelling from Hereford to Grantham on a “normal day and pre booked return ticket, I was left stranded by the railways in Birmingham at midnight on the return. Travellling from Taunton to Thetford for an interview I had to struggle round the tube whose daft map gives no indication that it is often much quicker to walk between stations than to catch yet another train
    Travelling to visit friends and relatives in East Anglia, you are usually recommended to drive via M4, M25, and M11 rather then the shorter and more pleasant Cotswold route. To visit relatives in Bournemouth from South Wales the recommended routes take you east of Chippenham – sometimes as far as Chievelly before turning South. If you go through Bath and Shaftesbury you can find yourself in very narrrow lanes, completely unsuitable for a twin axle caravan, in my experience! This rather explains why the Liverpool Football Coach came to grief on the M25 on the way home from Southampton. And the worst traffic jams I have ever seen were on the M8 between Glasgow and Edinburgh – far worse then anything seen in the first 20 years of the M25. And have you experienced the pot holes on the M62?

    George Selmer
    My “devolved regions” did, in fact include “Scotland, Wales, and the NW and SW of England – so, I hope did include at least some areas West of the Pennines. When I first considered writing it I also included the NE. However they are the only English region that has had the chance to vote on the issue, and they chose to vote against. When I looked for a reason I realised that they have a much higher population density then the rest, and then noticed that most of the Scottish “No” votes are also said to be from the areas with higher population density. And that very much shaped what I decided to attempt to put in 500 words

    Allan
    Thankyou for your support. In an earlier version I listed some of the industries that the “developing regions” lost once London had taken the profits. And when my Father paid taxes for 50 years in England, and I my brothers paid taxes in England for a combined total in excess of 100 years, did we not have a right to expect some of our money to be spent in Wales?
    IN spite of everything, I think that we are probably “better together”, though the idea of turninig the M25 into a moat does seem attractive sometimes!

  • As a fact check, google maps says that the fastest way from Liverpool to Southampton is via the A34, not M25.

    Similarly, the fastest route from Aberystwyth to Great Yarmouth is via the A14, not the M25. Going via the M25 adds an hour to the journey.

    If you draw a straight line from Aberystwyth to Dover is goes through London, so it is not very surprising that the fastest road route is via the M25!

  • Ian
    Diolch

  • Huw,

    So perhaps your father was “forced” to work in England, in the sense that if he wanted to work in Wales as a doctor there were few opportunities. But it works both ways. Think of the thousands of England farm labourers who went to work in the Welsh coal mines during the 1870s because they lost their livelihoods through the agricultural depression. Or what about the people of North Devon who decanted to South Wales at the beginning of the 20th century en masse, a population movement that touched almost every family in that region? Were these migrations a product of choice or of economic necessity?

    Are you seriously arguing that we should have a motorway running from Penzance to Dover? That is a truly horrible prospect. How much of our precious landscape would such a road destroy?

    There are a number of infrastructure projects which I think are long overdue. One is a tunnel to the Isle of Wight. Another is the building of an airport in Thetford Forest, a depopulated locality with minimal heritage or nature conservation value. If we did this, we could close Gatwick and possibly Heathrow as well. The supporting infrastructure would be over the featureless landscapes of Cambridgeshire and the Fens where population is concentrated into towns and large nucleated villages with a lot of empty space in between (quite unlike the Home Counties and the West Country) . You could run the roads through the empty bits and leave the population centres alone. Just a thought.

  • Tim
    I am sure that there are shorter ways to get between Liverpool and Southampton, but nevertheless coach passengers died on what the coach company said was the quickest route, and that was via the M25. If I remember correctly the A34 route is the one that crosses the M4 near Chievely services? While a good road, in parts, it is hardly the motorway that you might have expected to connect two of Britain’s most important ports, is it? (Unless it has been upgraded in the last decade or so.) Try it in heavy rain at night!

    In my experience any route using the M4 (or M5or M6) usually takes 20% longer then predicted from map distances simply due to numbers of vehicles. (Why do so many people have to commute such long distances? Is it good management to employ workers from so far away or to site factories etc so far from where the work force live?)

    In my various examples of recommended routes via Bristol to Bournemouth you will have noticed that I acknowledge that diferent organisations recommend different routes, but that is a symptom of the chaotic transport infrastructure. Unless you want to go to London, there is often no correct or reliable route.

    We can have fun with straight line mapping. DId you know that the nearest deluxe disabled loo from Minehead is only 18 miles away in Cowbridge? The trouble is that straight line mapping programmes forget small obstacles like the Bristol Channel. The actual distance is more like 100 miles. An important diference, I would have thought when you are looking for a loo that you can get into. Most chain retailers tell us that their nearest branch is in North West Devon, which is even further away by road from my home in Carmarthenshire.

    Perhaps the Aberystwyth – Dover route was badly chosen, but you would be surprised how many routes go through London. If I want to fly from West Wales to Shannon in Ireland, (a journey I do annualy, though not by air) I would have to travel to Heathrow. Alternatively, using flight comparison websites from here I would have to drive to Bristol and hedge hop to Exeter and then around Northern France before continuing via the Channel Islands to Shannon. It would take two days and cost £2000. (Plus hotel?) Driving to Heathrow and back would cost say £150 and take most of a day. What we actually do is take the overnight ferry at a cost of £300 or so and the gentle drive across Ireland is part of the fun. Friends from the Midlands and East Anglian can drive to Stanstead or Heathrow and half an hour later and £50 lighter arrive at Shannon. But they have to hire cars, or travel with us. (Pity them, with me moaning on about how tough life is, all the time!)

    But to continue the moan, it is not just transport that is chaotic. Like everywhere else in the EU we now have to register our septic tanks, and the Welsh Assembly Septic Tank Register is kept in that good Welsh City of Sheffield (I think!) And there are plenty of other examples. It is not so much that the Government is in London, it is that there seems to be no organised Government.

    .

  • When I worked in the Middle East I noticed a lot of the other British people hailed from Scotland, Northern Ireland and the north of England ie the areas of higher unemployment so Huw count yourself lucky you weren’t forced so far.

  • Simon McGrath 18th Nov '14 - 8:30am

    @Huw “When people like me work in the SE why shouldn’t some of our taxes be spent in the devolving regions to support frail relatives we have had to leave behind, or to create jobs for us to return to?”
    Since i agree that money should be redistributed from london and the SE I don’t understand your point

  • Richard Dean 18th Nov '14 - 8:57am

    Huw,
    I live not far from St.Clears. I’ve rarely seen more than one vapour trail at any one time. I’ve never seen vapour trails “covering 2/3 of our skies” – you might need to go to somewhere near London to get that experience!

    Maybe you should visit Carmarthen some time? They have some big shops there! Tesco, B&Q, PC World, …

  • Manfarang
    I do, I do! But my younger brother works on projects that have been taking him to the Gulf States recently, and he tells me about the uncomfortably high temperatures he has to deal with, and the panicky sprints between areas of shade or oasis of air conditioning. I get uncomfortable on a hot day in UK and have no ambition to go that far south!

  • Simon
    Perhaps I tried to answer too many points too quickly. Glad we agree. Sorry

  • Richard
    Look at the sky again! Perhaps you could check with Air Traffic Control on the numbers of aircraft flying over us. The website http://www.nats.aero/ is a useful gateway to relevant information.

    A lot of National Chain shops have indeed moved to Carmarthen, and resulted in the closure of most of the local shops based in King Street, and an erosion of services in St Clears. But Carmarthen is 10 miles away, which means a 20 mile round trip for us to buy almost everything. We have also lost our Library, our Post Office, and most of our remaining banks are part time and under threat of complete closure. Other local shop owners wish to retire, but cannot sell their shops, and are gradually trimming their offer to match their failing health.

    This is sad as St Clears used to be an important market town, and is the first town that Irish travelers see sign posted as they leave the Pembroke Dock Ferry Port a half hour drive away. And is a signposted focal point from similar distances all over the region. Perhaps the fact that the sign posts still give us so much prominence is another sign of the chaotic management of our infrastructure. But do we really want all the signs to say Carmarthen, Bristol, London? Shouldn’t we be fighting for local communities, whether they be called St Clears, Bromyard, Flegborough, Tregony or Dorny? Quite a lot of us have roots in these small communities, and living and working somewhere else makes our lives harder and makes the lives we leave behind more precarious.

  • Tony Rowan-Wicks 18th Nov '14 - 10:24am

    Good post, Huw. I get it. It is a fact that planning in UK is not based upon the best use of all resources both natural and human. The planners now work on the aspects which the rich want for tomorrow. Not much thought for the future as it doesn’t garner votes. We do know this but are also powerless to change the mindset of the voting public because too many still follow [vote for] the country’s unthinking leadership. You see, power really does corrupt the mind after all.

  • *makes the predictable comment about Yorkshire*

    Nice to see the author actually engaging below the line 🙂

  • If I want to fly from West Wales to Shannon in Ireland, (a journey I do annualy, though not by air) I would have to travel to Heathrow

    And if there were sufficient demand, you can bet Ryanair would run a service between Cardiff and Shannon.

    They already run one from Manchester to Shannon, presumably to cater for demand form the north of England who don’t want to drive all the way to Heathrow.

    So are you saying you want a service from Cardiff to Shannon to be run at a loss? You want airlines to put themselves out of business? And once they go bust, of course, the service will stop and you’ll be back where you were before.

    Of course, if you want to talk about countries where investment, population, the economy, etc, is unevenly concentrated, the UK has nothing on the Republic. Once you’re outside the Pale you may as well be nowhere. You complain about the difficulty you have getting to Shannon? At least you have Cardiff airport, even if it doesn’t fly exactly where you want.

    Try living in Sligo and see how long it takes you to get anywhere!

  • Alex Macfie 18th Nov '14 - 1:18pm

    Huw Jones:

    Ashford is a nice place too … If trains are meant to be a “greener way to travel” why are the new ones so fast that they never stop to pick up any passengers?

    I don’t think you can entirely blame Eurostar’s obsession with speed for this situation (where few passenger trains from London to mainland Europe stop at the main junction station near the Channel). Probably the main reason is the security theatre, and the consequent prohibition on international trains carrying domestic passengers in the UK. Traditional train services pick up and set down passengers all the way en route, so can always maximise their revenue, but this option is not open to cross-Channel passenger trains. Compare with mainland Europe, where international trains use the same platforms as domestic trains, have no special boarding procedures and usually carry domestic passengers in every country they pass through. Therefore it is possible to run both local and long-distance trains across borders; unfortunately between UK and France probably only quasi-airline long-distance trains to and from London will ever be viable under the current security arrangements. The consequence of this lack of ‘local’ cross-Channel passenger train service and the demise of fast ferries is that it is actually more difficult to make a local cross-Channel journey as a foot passenger than it was before Eurostar.

  • Richard Dean 18th Nov '14 - 1:49pm

    Huw,
    Look at the sky now, this minute. How many vapour trails do you see? Are they darkening 2/3 of the sky? I don’t think so!

  • Probably the main reason is the security theatre, and the consequent prohibition on international trains carrying domestic passengers in the UK

    It’s not ‘security theatre’, it’s required because the UK is not in the Schengen zone. There therefore have to be border controls at any point of contact between the UK and the Schengen zone.

  • SIMON BANKS 18th Nov '14 - 2:04pm

    These are issues that need to be debated and the Liberal Democrats should be the best place for the debate.

    I do think Huw’s statement is a bit exaggerated, though. A lot of people in the South-west, Cornwall or rural Wales trade slightly lower incomes, longer ambulance response times or (in places) higher house prices for beautiful scenery, low pollution levels, friendly neighbours, low crime levels and so on.

    I’m surprised he thinks Welsh people in England face xenophobia. I’m part Welsh and have good Welsh friends and that isn’t the impression I get. Stereotyping, yes, and that of course extends to stereotyping Scousers, Essex women and so on. A few years back I was in Wales when England was in some football finals, Wales wasn’t and it had just hit the headlines in Wales that a North Wales police chief had advised England supporters in Wales not to display flags and banners because it might provoke trouble. All the comment I heard about this was anger at the police chief and feeling that he’d let Wales down. In discussion, in a pub, I asked if there would be any problem about Wales supporters in England displaying their colours if Wales was in the finals and England wasn’t. “Of course there wouldn’t be!” was the reply.

  • Tim Leunig 17th Nov ’14 – 10:45pm

    Tim, you are checking the wrong facts. The fastest way from Liverpool to Southampton is to fly direct from one to the other.
    Unless of course you are such a devotee of a ludicrously expanded “hub” Heathrow that you think all UK flights must go via London Heathrow.

  • Huw,

    I appreciate that you are clearly bothered by something, I can’t really get what the real problem is beside a general dislike of “London” perhaps you could expand more specifically.

    Personally, I think you are blaming the wrong “culprit” as other have identified the spending is greater on infrastructure in London but this is where most of the tax revenue is raised, and project assessment would generate the greatest “value add.”

    Personally I think there is a case to be made for significant infrastructure investment in a couple of northern clusters what once they pass a critical mass would see a significant economic benefit resulting in the greater “value add” that currently can’t be shown but that would be difficult to justify on current UK evidence and one or two infrastructure projects (which is how we currently discuss these things) would not be sufficient and to a certain extent justifying it would be a leap in to the dark.

    Unfortunately for your complaint about how Great Yarmouth Carmarthenshire are remote will not be fixed by that either. Urbanisation has created increased economic welfare to those who migrate to urban areas and that is the nature of human development we benefit from clustering. Cardiff will offer more opportunity than St Davids.

  • Allan

    “when areas had huge industrial output they sent taxes into London”

    Errr, if you mean that when there was a large manufacturing base generating profit to be taxed, the administration of the collection and spending of that taxation was in London, then yes to a certain extent.

    If you are suggesting that they were sent to London to be locked in a big vault marked “for Londoners” then clearly not. I don’t see the point you are trying to make.

    “The reply saying England never had forced Labour, is that true if people in Scotland and Wales had to move for work is this not what happens from the EU now no work at home so come to the UK”

    No it is not forced labour. To suggest this is equivalent is insulting to those who suffer forced labour. The place I work (and therefore live) and the place I would chose to live if I could live anywhere are different but to suggest that their being different is equivalent is “forced labour” is ridiculous. We all make trade-offs in our decisions in life the need for those trade-offs is not equivalent to someone compelling you to do it.

  • Great points made. Too many I think to intelligently answer every one.
    However – I am surprised to see the xenophobia point last so long without comment – but it has been raised now so…
    It was something remembered from school days mainly – which in my mind I had put down to stereotyping and feeble attempts at humour. I had decided to leave it out, but the thought that if nothing else a statement like that would provoke a protest . When I attempt to raise points about the system of Government, the touchy responses of those defending the historic movement of wealth to London, and the reluctance to invest now in the regions that used to create it seems to bring back memories of 1960s schooling!
    But in writing this piece I wanted to move the argument about devolution away from the subsidiary points about the pound and defence etc – the smoke screen that Better Together put up to take people’s attention away from the real unhappiness that caused people to want independence.
    And while some base the idea of independence on historical characters like Bonnie Prince Charlie or Owain Glyndwr, most people in the devolving regions also know the history of what happened (both militarily and constitutionaly) immediately after that sort of independence effort, and dont want that inflicted on them again. The reason for the existence of the SNP and Plaid is that people see the decline of their communities, and an increasing gap between Government Statements and the reality that they see around them. The Government says that the economy is improving, but if you live west of Cardiff or North of Hull the economy is back where it was in 2007 when ordinary people stopped spending money on luxuries – fully twelve months before the Government noticed.
    I have given all sorts of examples of how this decline is apparent, and of the irritations that affect peoples’ lives in the “devolving regions”. You can take them seriously or not, but if you ignore them only two things can follow. One is that the areas of low population density will seek devolution or independence and try to improve things themselves (probably by taking business from what is left of the Kingdom) or they will continue into decline and depression that may infect adjoining regions.
    Start adressing the issues, and the Kingdom can be properly united again, and we can go on to greater things.

    TRains
    HS1 might not stop because of security issues, but they do not affect HS2 which will not reach any national boundary (not even Scotland) as currently planned. And how does the extension to Leeds, designed to create an “urban hub” benefit the (nearly) half of the United kingdom which is nort of Leeds? Or are we still in Jack de Manio country with the North starting at Watford Gap (126 miles from Southampton and 600 miles to John o Groats) and the West starting at Swindon (138 miles to SouthEnd 238 miles to Penzance)
    In any case there has never been much security for any port that does not have an international ferry. If a small boat comes into the Solent and reports its presence it is simply told to tie up in the customs dock at Portsmouth and wait for an hour. Someone may check that it is there but that is all. And in numerous ferry trips through Dover, Southampton, or the Welsh Ferry ports we have never had more then a number plate check. Why are trains diferent?
    Trains pass 50 yds from our house at 75 miles an hour, go straight through our station, and while a few stop 7 miles away (in the wrong direction) the nearest proper station is 10 miles away.If I have to drive to the train why use it?

    Richard – Vapour trails
    You are right. Today has been an unusually quiet day. Not sure if the wind, or air traffic control has moved the route away ( as happens periodically. All that means is thay they are flying over someone else, – probably Haverfordwest, or Swansea) but they will be back tomorrow, or the next day. Just as I was panicking that I might have been feeding you false information the sun caught an airliner through the haze. So some are flying over us today) I also note that there has been a very high haze most of the day which sometimes obscures them. But for anyone who is suffering from a jet fuel deficit the RAF have been going full throttle at 500 ft.

  • In any case there has never been much security for any port that does not have an international ferry

    The Eurostar is, in terms of people crossing borders, the equivalent of an international ferry. It makes sense that it would have the same border controls.

    And in numerous ferry trips through Dover, Southampton, or the Welsh Ferry ports we have never had more then a number plate check

    I don’t think you did in fact travel through Dover without having to stop at border control and present your passport.

    Trains pass 50 yds from our house at 75 miles an hour, go straight through our station, and while a few stop 7 miles away (in the wrong direction) the nearest proper station is 10 miles away.If I have to drive to the train why use it?

    So how closely-spaced do you think train stations should be? If the stations are walking-distance apart, and the train stops at every one, then journeys of any distance will take days. And if they are all request stops timetabling becomes impossible as journey times will be completely unpredictable.

    Not to mention the fact that I suspect only a small proportion of the country is even within 10 miles of a railway line.

    I mean, what exactly is it you’re asking for? A personal train stop no more than a hundred yards from your front door? Because it’s want of that that seems to be your main complaint. And I’m sorry, that’s not caused by living out in the sticks, that’s just an effect of how railways, geography, and Euclidean space work.

  • Richard
    Airliners – They are back (if they were ever away) I’ve just heard an airliner going over. Cant see the lights, so I suspect that they have been above cloud all day, and that the cloud is moving up as the sun sets. Cloud above them is now reflecting the sound down to us, but has not thinned enough below them to let the light penetrate. These high cloud conditions are a disaster when I am trying to show visitors around, as the jet roar (even from 30,000ft – that’s only about 6.5miles) ) can drown bird song.

  • Richard
    The cloud has lifted. Just watched two airliners pass “head on”, one at 30,000 and one at 35,000 ft (in theory!)

  • Alex Macfie 18th Nov '14 - 9:11pm

    Dav: Eurostar is more like an airline than a ferry. But regardless, the pre-Schengen practice for cross-border passenger trains in mainland Europe was for border checks to be done on the train while it was crossing the border on the move. Also they carried domestic passengers in every country they passed through, and these were not subjected to any border checks. This was the case even with trains that crossed the Iron Curtain. I don’t see why cross-Channel passenger trains can’t be worked the same way; it would make their operation much more flexible and efficient than it is actually.

  • Huw – my routes came from google’s fastest road route, not the shortest one. You said that they were via the M25, but they are not. I struggle to see how the fact that your sceptic tank is registered in Sheffield means that London somehow has it in for Wales. My car is registered with DVLA who (I think) are in Swansea. I don’t think it would really help anyone were Welsh sceptic tanks to be registered in Swansea, and English cars in Sheffield.

  • Richard Dean 18th Nov '14 - 10:10pm

    Huw,
    Come of it! A jet doesn’t roar for a listener 6.5 miles away! Its sound intensity at that distance is well below a whisper!

  • Simon Banks
    people from the SE trade their advantages for beautiful scenery in the “devolving regions”
    but the longer they remain the more they notice the relative disparity
    in services and living standards. Many return to the SE.

    Psi
    The problem wit the “Northern CLusters” is that they are only Northern when viewed from the
    SE. Leeds is still 493 miles south of John O Groats and only about 260 miles North of Southampton.
    By that count the proposed Northern Clusters are actually Southern clusters.

    On the subject of “forced labour” I explained that for many professions
    the choice is between continuing your profession in the SE or
    taking whatever is going in Wales. I could not afford to come back to Wales until I could
    afford to create my own job. THis is not forced in the sense of Labour Camps, but simply reflects the lack of
    opportunity that people in the devolving regions have.

    Tim Leunig (and others)
    It is not my case that London has it in for any region.
    What I said was that it is important to try to understand why people wanted independence
    and I gave various examples including transport infrastructure
    to illustrate why people might feel that their region was left behind.
    What is worrying is that, increasingly, technical advances to infrastructure give relatively
    large advnatages to high population areas, and political changes make it increasingly dificult
    for people in sparsely populated areas to do anything about it.

    The Sceptic tank issue is just another irritation. Wales is supposed to be “devolved”, but on any issue
    it is not clear whether Wales or England is responsible. It is often
    difficult to find out what should be happening, let alone do anything about it. Officials
    in Wales often do not know where (which city)to get DEFRA forms from, and yet DEFRA governs much of Welsh
    farming. (After appealing to the local assembly member I had to get the Minister himself to get me forms, having failed to get them through “official channels” for years. It cost me a lot of money.)

    M25 As I said diferent organisations recommend diferent routes. Sometimes computer route finders
    give diferent routes in response to the same request. And diferent classes of vehicle need
    diferent routes. Sat Nav often leads people into dificult situations. We could argue about the
    fine details forever, but that does not alter the fact that the transport system is London
    orientated and has been since the Romans created the first trunk roads. Most motorways are London centred
    THis makes it dificult for people wanting to move between regional centres. And makes it particulalrly dificult
    for people in devolving regions where distances between regional centres are much greater

    Dav
    On railways I would not suggest that every train stops at every station, or even that all customers of the railway companies make the first (or last) part of their journey by train. (They used to run “railway buses”)But it seems daft for trains to rush through the middle of villages and never ever stop there, and then for government officials to suggest that the world would be a better place if more people travelled by train. If you live in a village with no public transport you have no choice but to invest in your own transport, especially once the local shops have closed.If you have to drive to a station, why pay to park your car all day, and pay a lot more for a railway ticket, if you could more easily drive to your destination?
    Reducing emissions is everyones’ ideal, but many are constrained by their income. Their choic is either to travel by
    train or car, if the train (or reliable bus or affordable taxi) doesnt stop within walking distance (at a suitable time,) then the choice is made for them.
    UK railways are technically rather old fashioned (e.g. The newest vehicles on our line are based on 20 year old designs, some designs (eg Pacers and Sprinters) are slight updates of over 40 years old designs.), and there are plenty of ways in which they could draw in more passengers if they had the incentive to invest. (Singapore – high population density – has run driverless trains at 15 second intervals for years – the same people (Westinghouse ) who built the signaling system there did the same for the relatively sedate Bedford to St Pancras line. The Maglev magnetic flotation and traction system was invented by Professor Laithwait at Cranfield, Passenger trains havent needed a mile to accelerate and decelerate for years. We have the talent and skills, but just dont use them. But simply proper integration of road and rail transport, and a willingness to serve potential customers could make a big diference especially with a fairly sedate rural stopping services.

  • Sorry folks. (Or you might be relieved to know) that I will be away for 24 hours. I will be ready to continue on Thursday though!

  • the pre-Schengen practice for cross-border passenger trains in mainland Europe was for border checks to be done on the train while it was crossing the border on the move. Also they carried domestic passengers in every country they passed through, and these were not subjected to any border checks. This was the case even with trains that crossed the Iron Curtain. I don’t see why cross-Channel passenger trains can’t be worked the same way

    Presumably, because the Eurostar spends about half an hour crossing the channel and has a capacity of 558 passengers. Assuming an average of 30 seconds to check a passport and move on to the next one, that means it would take between 30 and 40 border officials per train to operate as you suggest.

    Which is not really practical, is it?

  • But it seems daft for trains to rush through the middle of villages and never ever stop there

    It seems perfectly sensible actually, if at most one or two people would ever be boarding or alighting while delaying everybody else for two or three minutes (which adds up over a long journey).

  • people from the SE trade their advantages for beautiful scenery in the “devolving regions” but the longer they remain the more they notice the relative disparity in services and living standards. Many return to the SE

    But isn’t this a good thing: that there exist areas with different trade-offs so that people can move to wherever they reckon the trade-offs are best for them?

    Some might value scenery over services, and they will live in the region; some will value services over scenery and return to the south-east.

    Is it not good to give people the choice?

  • On the subject of “forced labour” I explained that for many professions the choice is between continuing your profession in the SE or taking whatever is going in Wales

    Yes, this is how life works. You make choices based on what you value more. In this case, career versus location.

    (And it’s not always the case that this mean going to the south-east (though it often is); someone wanting a career in the petrochemical industry but who wants to live in Kent might well find they cannot both live where they wish and continue their chosen career, too).

  • Malcolm Todd 19th Nov '14 - 11:19am

    Dav
    “Presumably, because the Eurostar spends about half an hour crossing the channel and has a capacity of 558 passengers. Assuming an average of 30 seconds to check a passport and move on to the next one, that means it would take between 30 and 40 border officials per train to operate as you suggest. ”

    I think your maths has gone a bit oogly there. On your assumptions, a single official could check 60 passports during the journey, which means 10 officials would be able to handle a full train. Probably still impractical, but let’s try to get the numbers right!

    In every other respect, I agree with your posts above, I think. I really can’t work out what Huw thinks we need to do for him. People make trade-offs. I’m sure I could have had a more impressive career and earned more if I had chosen to stay in London. I lived there for about a year when I had just left school and I didn’t like it so I left. When I applied to join the civil service, back in the 1980s, they only had vacancies in London and the South, but I had made my home in the Midlands and decided that was more important to me than a government career. What’s the problem? Eat your cake or have it.

  • Huw

    “The problem wit the “Northern CLusters” is that they are only Northern when viewed from the
    SE”

    Well the UK government is proposing the clusters in the North of England which given that is it is called the North of England it not an unreasonable description to call them “Northern Clusters.”

    Equally if the SNP would actually focus on governing rather than simply seeing everything through the lens of what helps tactically towards independence they could come up with a plan for a central belt cluster. There is the beginnings of reasonable infrastructure but it would need to have a coherent plan which I see no prospect of that yet.

    But to apply your logic even the most northerly point of the cluster would still be over 200 miles from John O’Groats therefore not qualifying it to be considered northern. The point is that even with a central belt cluster Aberdeen and Inverness would lose out (and possible to a certain extent Dundee) it is the nature of how economies work that urban areas will have greater economic benefits than remote areas. I certainly would like to see clusters between Swansea-Cardiff-Bristol-Bath and the Scottish Central Belt but more remote areas (like St Clears) will still not suddenly benefit.

    Even if those clusters were to be planned, it would take the first cluster to be completed to demonstrate the benefits, and then moving on to the next we are unlikely to see all at once.

  • Alex Macfie 19th Nov '14 - 5:34pm

    @Dav: If mainland European cross-border trains used to manage on-train border checks, there is no reason in principle why Anglo-French trains should not. The time between the two stops either side of a land border may well be a lot shorter than that between the Channel Tunnel stops.
    Also: A Eurostar train may be able to seat 558 passengers, but that does not mean that every train is carrying that many passengers. If the train is running non-stop from London to France, then the border checks can start when the train has left St Pancras. Finally why should all passenger trains that run through the Channel Tunnel have to be that long? Yes I know why they are — it’s due to the safety regulations — but I cannot see any good reason these to be so gold-plated. The first passenger train to run through the CT was a rather ordinary 3-car commuter-type train (I know because it’s still in use on the National Rail network with the plaque saying when it ran there). I see no reason in principle why these trains should not be allowed to run regularly through it, when similar train sets run through other longer European rail tunnels. A frequent Cross-Channel stopping service with short train sets would easily allow for on-train border checks in the time allowed between Ashford and Calais.
    And yes, I know I’m arguing for stuff that is under the current framework next-to-impossible. But that is exactly the problem: the way cross-Channel trains are regulated is not sensible and should be re-examined. It is a good idea to think outside the box at all possibilities and not assume that this flawed framework (a bizarre design by committee) is set in stone.

  • Alex Macfie 19th Nov '14 - 5:41pm

    Generally on fast lines with small population centres along the route you have fast trains that whiz through the villages, and slow trains that serve them (usually on parallel track, or maybe on passing loops). One should not interfere with the other.
    There are some population centres on main lines that have no station when probably they ought to, with some (not all) of the trains running through them stopping there. Wantage, Wooton Bassett and Bath are some examples going west from Swindon to Bath. I do not think one should be so flippant as to dismiss suggestions of having stations in such places, when it is possible to arrange things to serve both long-distance and local traffic on the same rail lines.

  • Alex Macfie 19th Nov '14 - 5:42pm

    I mean Box, not Bath!

  • If mainland European cross-border trains used to manage on-train border checks, there is no reason in principle why Anglo-French trains should not.

    Except that they were presumably slower, and shorter.

    If the train is running non-stop from London to France, then the border checks can start when the train has left St Pancras

    I thought the whole point was to enable the train to not run non-stop from London to France, but to stop along the way!

  • @Dav: My point is that there is no inherent technical reason why all passenger trains that run through the Channel Tunnel have to be as long as they are: it is purely for political reasons, and these ought to be changed.
    Also I said “IF the train is running non-stop”, because most main lines have alternating fast and stopping services; for example, East Coast Trains alternate trains that run non-stop from Kings X to York with trains that stop at all major stations all the way to York or Leeds. I thought I had made that clear, that there could be both types, so I can only conclude that you are deliberately misinterpreting me.

  • Also trains do not run particularly fast through the Channel Tunnel (unlike on the High Speed lines on either side); I believe the maximum speed is about 160km/h.

  • My point is that there is no inherent technical reason why all passenger trains that run through the Channel Tunnel have to be as long as they are: it is purely for political reasons, and these ought to be changed

    I assumed it was for economic reasons; surely for a given volume of passengers wishing to use the tunnel each day (depending on the season), it would be more efficient to run fewer longer trains rather than more shorter trains?

    Also I said “IF the train is running non-stop”, because most main lines have alternating fast and stopping services; for example, East Coast Trains alternate trains that run non-stop from Kings X to York with trains that stop at all major stations all the way to York or Leeds. I thought I had made that clear, that there could be both types, so I can only conclude that you are deliberately misinterpreting me

    The whole point if this bit of the discussion is to explain why there can’t be stopping services which stop between London and France.

    That reason being, spelt out:

    1. there have to be border controls between Schengen and non-Schengen countries.
    2. France is a Schengen country, the UK is not.
    3. Therefore there have to be border controls.
    4. Once the border checks have been none, nobody can enter or leave the train (otherwise the checks would have to start all over again).
    5. The checks must therefore be done either before the passengers board the train at the last stop before the border, or on the train after it departs the last stop before the border.
    6. It would be uneconomic (require too many border officials, even if that is 10 rather than 40 because I got the maths wrong) to do the checks while the train was passing under the channel.
    7. It is most efficient (requires fewest staff) to do the checks airport-style in a single location, before the train departs.
    8. Therefore the train cannot stop between London and the channel.

    Is that clear now?

  • So Royal Mail wish to suspend Unversal Delivery?
    Now how does that help the “devolving regions” (Scotland, Wales, the SW and NW of England)?
    These are areas of low population density, where a larger proportion of the population live in “remote” homes and communities, and are more likely to lose the services of their local postman/lady.
    Many communities in Scotland, and many smaller British Island Communites already have to pay extra for delivery by courier.
    If it happens, the suspension of universal delivery will be yet another nail in the coffin of the UNITED Kingdom

  • Huw

    “So Royal Mail wish to suspend Unversal Delivery”

    Well they shouldn’t be allowed. I can’t imagine it is anyone’s interest to let them.

  • Dav
    1) pre Schengen security at Dover – this is not really an issue for the devolving regions. In answer
    to a point on HS2, I simply pointed out the disparity between the emphasis on security at some ports and others
    I suppose that this illustrates another aspect of the inconsistency of Government
    2) But if the trains that rush through villages where there has been a long running campaign for the reinstatement
    of the local station, and those trains are empty, and the operating companies are complaining about lack of revenue…..
    Well, do I need to say anything else?
    But, if a mainline is reclassified as a branch ( as has happened to much of the network in the devolved regions), should it not be run as a branch line with many stopping trains and act as a feeder for a mainline. It used to be the case that lines could either be branches or a mainline. But modern advances in signalling and vehicle design make it much easier to run expresses and stopping trains on the same track The problem seems to be that there is not the will to provide a modern service.
    The plans for HS2 (which seems possibly, apart from rather vague and late plans for Crewe, to benefit only the already high population areas) and seem to suggest that 600 people from London will all wish to travel to Birmingham (Crewe, Manchester, Leeds etc) every hour, and 600 people will wish to make the return journey every hour. Given that, hopefully, when people get off the train their seats will be reoccupied by passengers wishing to go onto the next stop, that means that during a working day 4,800 extra people will arrive at these stations. Do the plans for HS2 include the extra taxis, hotel rooms, meals, public services etc that these people are going to need? Or is it assumed that they will all simply desert the previous trains, and that there will be no extra people? From a business point of view,do you plan for 4,800 extra people, or no change, or something in the middle. And from a local authority point of view how to you deal with disapointed travellers if the business calculation is wrong? 4,800 people may not be much of a problem in London, but if things go wrong could be much more serious in smaller towns. If the majority of HS2 passengers are deserters from existing services, what do you do with the old routes? Will they be run down and
    turned into branch lines or is there going to be a campaign to increase commuting, rather then to move industry to where people live? I know that the old lines suffer from lack of capacity at the moment, but the trains are running full, so revenue should be adequate. If HS2 takes too many passengers revenue on the old lines will fall, and what happens then? Will lower revenue really improve the service?
    3) “But isn’t this a good thing: that there exist areas with different trade-offs so that people can move to wherever they reckon the trade-offs are best for them?”
    The choice is only for rich people from high population density areas, who can afford to move to the devolving regions. For the people who already live in the devolving regions all they see is the gradual removal of Commercial and Government service, a scarcity of employment, and the need to travel ever increasing distances to services that are considered essential in other areas of the country. In the end there is only one choice for existing residents of devolving regions and that is to move out, leaving the elderly and frail to fend for themselves. (Social and Health care is available, but as in other areas there is a trend to pay carers very low wages, often for “contact time” only,
    so carers who can barely afford a car have to travel, in some cases over a hundred miles a day, paying for fuel from minimum wage earned only when they arrive. They are often held up in traffic and are met by clients who are, to say the least, often disapointed by their delayed arrival, and have to be dealt with in a rush, by the carer who must be at the next appointment on time.) When carers are able to use public transport they are often hit by service reductions, as they often have to travel on non rush hour services.
    4) Forced labour. Great example about the petrochemical workers.
    They wont be moving from Kent to Milford Haven, though, because we have just lost one of our refineries. The diference is that even if the Milford Haven workers choose to use existing skills in a different industry and commute,
    they will have to commute for example to Port Talbot over 70 miles, a journey that will take 90 minutes by road (or Llanelli 53.6 miles and 1 hour 24 minutes. Some people from this area are reportedly aready commuting 120 miles to Bristol 2 hours and 7 minutes on a very good day.
    Not sure how far refinery workers would have to commute from the BG at Isle of Grain because every time I try to look for equivalent jobs in Kent I get hundreds of jobs.
    But yes, people do make a choice. But in the devolving regions a much higher proportion have to move out, and they have to move much further on average then in the high density population areas. The bigger the proportion who move, the fewer fit and active people remain at home, so the harder it is to create improvements, and we get into a viscuous circle of decline.

    Malcom Todd
    You chose to move from the Midlands (a high population density area) to London and back again. I dont know how long ago that you made these moves but I would guess that in both areas you recieved a full range of public and private services to your home, and could probably get most of the other things that you needed to support your life style from within 10 miles mainly accesible by public transport. Alright, I have also spent some time
    living and working in North and West of Hereford and have relatives living in rural Leicestershire, so I know that the “Midlands” are quite divers.

    All I am trying to do is to explain why people feel that the UK does not work for them. The areas where devolution, or worse, are a prospect are areas of low population density. People in these areas suffer specific problems of their own, such as placing an economic value on essential services while keeping then accessible (and often safe) in areas of low population density. They also suffer creeping disadvantages from relative political isolation, and the uneven introduction of new technologies.

    I am not asking for specific solutions to these problems. I am just trying to bring this problem to your attention. I hope that there are cleverer people then me who will be able to provide solutions. (I dont think that there can ever be a single solution to complex problems) However, I think that it is logical that if people in the “devolving regions” continue to feel disadvantaged, and that the UK Government is not capable of improving the situation, then they might wish to have a go at doing something themselves. (As has happened in Scotland and to a lesser extent in Wales)

    The recent privatisation of Royal Mail, which must have seemed logical to the people who made that decision, will have a disproportionate affect in the devolving regions. As yesterday’s miserable whining from Royal Mail management (they knew the situation before taking on the privatisation) illustrates, private companies have dificulties delivering in rural areas, and “please, sir please take these nasty people who live in the country away from us”. We knew this was going to happen, the private couriers were already charging more in many post code areas. This is just another example of things that make some people ask what the point of the United Kingdom is.

    Psi
    I can not speak for the SNP. I am a Liberal, not a Nationalist. But the creation of a central belt cluster would simply repeat the mistakes of previous United Kingdom Governments. We are a United Kingdom, not a rag bag of distinct clusters, and the rest. If there was to be a central belt cluster, as you say, the rest of the country would be at a disadvantage. – my examples included places like Newton Stewart, Oban, Kyle of Lochalsh, etc. Plenty more like that!

    The problem is that whatever you do to improve the competitiveness of parts of the country, will have a depressing affect on other parts, and low population density areas are particularly vulnerable. (There are plenty of “ghost villages” to prove the point.)

    What we should be doing is to find ways of improving the lot of the whole country. If that cant be done, then the consequence is that the competitive parts must carry the un-competetive parts. But the uncompetitive parts do provide vital services, agriculture, tourism, forestry, water supply, power generation etc., and the UK needs the communities that help provide these services to thrive, not continue to wither away.

    But why should National Grid employees (for example) who play a vital role in keeping urban factories running contiue to live in communities with no mains gas or sewage, slow and unreliable broadband, patchy mobile phone, and no mail deliveries. Why should they have to travel ever increasing distances to take their children to school, or to access medical services, or food shops? And as their living costs continually increase why should their pay be the same as or less then their urban colleagues whose costs (housing excluded!!) are so much less.

    You could of course close down local teams, but local knowledge is very important if you find yourself mending a broken power line in a storm in the middle of the night, and there is a bull in the middle of the field. (Do you contact the land owner, who may be a celebrity travelling across the Atlantic, the estate manager, who may be 10 miles away, or the stockman in the village. Who is named on the form the power company sent you, on the day that broadband worked? Or should you drive 50 miles to the nearest office (that still has power) and spend an hour unearthing the main database. Meanwhile how many man-years are lost in the stalled factories, and injuries caused by the
    blacked out traffic lights?) The economic wellbeing of the devolving regions is important. They can’t just be abandoned.

    Alex Macfie
    Good examples of missing stations from the Bath line. More modern signalling systems and lighter vehicles (which allow stopping trains to accelerate and decelerate more quickly) make it possible (with careful management) for express and stopping trains to operate on the same track in other countries. Why not here? Don’t we have careful managers any more?
    Actually, I am quite sure that we do, it is just that we dont trust them any more. Perhaps we should, or at least put them in management structures where they are able to make the right decisions, instead of meeting arbitrary targets, and fearing penalties for not meeting targets that seemed desirable ,to someone, ten years ago.

  • Dav
    In point 3 to you above I notice the inconsistency of my saying that the choice is only for those who move from the prosperous high density areas to the scenic low density areas, and then saying that for the residents of low density areas there is only one choice and that is to move out,
    What I meant to do was to illustrate the diference in the terms of the choice. For the very rich moving to a low density area it will be a positive choice, but for the less rich moving the other way, it is often an act of desperation. They lose their families, their communities, (in modern jargon, their “support network”) and have to accept life in a bedsit, and often very low grade jobs. Low pay means that it is dificult to keep in touch with friends and relatives. It is also worth mentioning that the children of people who have moved to low density areas (even after university graduation), may also struggle to find work. Family wealth does not necessarily help very much, in areas with low density populations, if they want to be constructively occupied.

  • While the Royal Mail is still whinging about Universal Delivery, I have just spoken to one of our brave parcel couriers, who works from a distant depot, and has to carry a Blackberry with him, that has an app that can find a post code, list all the adresses in the post code area (full 6 character postcode) and then act as a sat- nav to the specific address listed. the problem is that, to work, the Blackberry needs a mobile phone signal, and to get that he needs to carry 4 mobile phones to cover all the networks that might work here.
    Our house, like many others here, is nearly a mile (by road) from the centre of our post code, and on a diferent branch of the lane. There are 6 other houses on our branch of the lane with the same problem. Attemping to change the post code gets you into all sorts of problems with credit rating agencies. Their system , from long and bitter experience, cant cope.
    THis shows the value of the local post man who knows his/her round.
    If Universal Delivery goes, then reliable delivery goes, unless the post code system is considerably reorganised and mobile phone signal improved.
    Otherwise people in rural areas will have to collect deliveries from wherever Royal Mail decides it can afford to deliver to. Rural people will be forced to own vehicles that are capable of doing the job.
    What happens to frail, disabled and elderly people who do not drive, and may need regular supplies of medical equipment (e.g. specialist batteries etc)?
    This situation is potentially another nail in the coffin of the United Kingdom.

  • Richard Dean 26th Nov '14 - 1:44pm

    Huw,
    Are you still trying to flog this dead horse? The “brave” courier is actually as “lazy” one, because it is perfectly possible to search for the postcode back at the depot, which has fast internet and mobile connectivity. And in what sense does the courier “have to” carry devices – they’re hardly heavy burdens! And why would you want to change your postcode anyway? That won’t solve the problem of living off a beaten track.

  • Richard, you’d be surprised how many couriers manage to lose us. It seems that not many depots have the facilities you refer to, or if they do, they do not remind their staff to use them. The only reliable couriers are those who deliver here regularly.

  • And another threat to rural communities, with the possible increase in charges for landline telephones.

  • What we have to decide is: do we want the United Kingdom to remain united?

    If the provision of services and facilities is to be based on purely economic arguments then the areas that currently have low population densities will become totally depopulated. The police will be withdrawn, and the areas will be left to those who benefit from being out of view from justice. This is extreme, but the concept of a “failed state” is topical, at the moment.

    The alternative is to ensure that this does not happen. the depopulated regions supply food, power and leisure opportunities to the rest of the country, and could provide much more. We need to improve economic decision making, and the constitution to prevent further depopulation and to bring these regions back into the UK.. AT the moment the changes are all going the other way.

  • Tory MP: we have no need to attract ‘dog-end voters in the outlying regions’ Mark Garnier, Conservative MP for Wyre Forest, caught on tape making comments at the Institute of Economic Affairs thinktank
    http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/dec/02/tory-mp-mark-garnier-we-have-no-need-attract-dog-end-voters-outlying-regions
    What he actually said : –
    “We need to be giving a much clearer message to them that they don’t have to worry about politicians mucking around with tax rates in order to try and attract a few dog-end voters in the outlying regions of the country.

    Mark Garnier might be a “maverick MP” no doubt shortly to join UKIP, but he did say it.

  • To be fair Mr Garnier did apologise for the words used, and the offence given.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-30296754
    Though there was not much sign of apology for the idea that voters in outlying regions were less important then the tax rates for businesses in the SE and Midlands of England.

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