Saturday, 26 February 2011

South West Water Price Increases

On my extensive travels through Europe and also some in America is appears that it is common practice for visitors to be required to pay local taxes for each nights' stay.
Much of the high cost of water in the South West is due to the cost of improving the water quality so that the region is more attractive to visitors. While some commentators are suggesting that the cost of our water is spread to other regions in the UK I would content that a "local tax" or surcharge should be payable by each visitor per night in the South West region.
Typically there are over 60 million visitor nights spent here each year and if one pound per night surcharge was placed on each visitor who enjoys our amenities then the increase in water charges could be  kept to less than 3% instead of 5.1% which then keeps the increase below the inflation figure. 

Joby and Intellectual Property Rights

Some time ago I purchased a camera and received 2 flexible tripods, one in a box. As I did not require both I tried to sell one on eBay. After a few days I had an email from eBay to inform me that the item had been withdrawn as there was an issue concerning "intellectual property rights".
Apparently Joby, who are responsible for the Gorilla Pod, took exception to the fact that I was selling a cheap  imitation of their product and to ensure this does not happen they appear to troll the internet looking for people infringing their "intellectual property rights".
I could understand this if I was selling hundreds and importing fakes from China, but it is incredibly high handed to deal with a private seller selling one item. When I pointed this out to Joby through Sandro Fulgheri, one of their European representatives, I was informed that if I had a problem with this action I could contact the companies  lawyers.
This appears to be typical of American attitudes and indicative of their business methods. As a result I will never buy Joby products even if they were superb.
It is time people fought back against American standards which are unacceptable to most Europeans.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Plymouth Civic Centre

Yet another instance of a very small unelected group determining how much Council tax we are going to pay. How, in a democratic society, can a small group of academic architects,( English Heritage ) who are partially funded already by us tax payers, be permitted to designate a building as "listed".
This is based on a matter of opinion by an extremely small group of people and they should absolutely not have this power.

Friday, 11 February 2011

Plymouth Airport

Time for a change here also

For several weeks I have read and listened to so much rhetoric and jingoism about Plymouth City Airport and the "devastating" effect on the loss of the Gatwick Flights.
If the figures were properly analysed it would be evident that the flights are indeed used by a very small number of regulars.
I fly in or out of the UK about 40 times per year and all my final destinations are a minimum of 45 minutes from the airport of landing and in one case three and a half hours.
If all the wasted effort and discussion about the need for Plymouth Airport had been diverted to improving Exeter I would be delighted to have a 45 min drive to the airport and be able to fly to hubs such as Vienna, Paris and Geneva.
Currently I take a train to London Heathrow ( as most of my flights go from there ) and I can checkin within 4 hours of boarding the train in Plymouth. I have not yet missed a flight since I started using the train, whereby I not only missed several when flying from Plymouth but was sometimes dumped off at Bristol or Newquay at the end of 10 hours travel. At least I know I can get home at a reasonable time on the train.
So come on Plymouth - Chamber of Commerce, Councillors and all other vociferous parties and kill of this Airport in favour of something much more viable and more useful to the community as a whole.   

The Misuse of perfomance indicators.

Here is an example of the ridiculous  use  of Key Performance Indicators ( KPI's ) .The local bus operator was granted a licence and one of the terms of this licence was that they should reach a specific percentage of "on time" measures which specified how many minutes early or late the bus would be at a timed stop.
Unfortunately at certain times of the day,  as we all know, the traffic is  heavier than others, particularly when wet, so buses are invariably running late.
Now it is obvious that the tedious necessity of stopping to pick up passengers is likely to slow the progress of the buses and so they would not meet the target times as defined.
Therefore the genius management devised a way round this by allowing the drivers to change the destination board to "Sorry - Out of Service - Drop Down Only" so that they would not be inconvenienced by having to pickup these troublesome passengers.
The logical extension of this amazing solution to keeping up their target figures is that fewer people take the buses and more take to their cars. This will increase the amount of traffic so that more and more buses will be late etc,
Maybe we customers would prefer our buses to run on time rather than pick us up in the cold and the wet thereby delaying the progress of the bus. So perhaps, dear fellow traveller, when you see your late bus drawing near your stop, please think of others and wave it hurriedly past, happy in the knowledge that when it comes around the second or third time it will actually be on time.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Food sharing

To begin with I would like to encourage you all to follow what is being done in many locations, but to escalate it to a greater size and range. I am talking about food sharing. I am not asking people to dip into their pockets, but to organize themselves in such a way that thousand of others can benefit.
In the next few years there is likely to be much more hardship for all, but particularly those who will lose their jobs and it is possible to ease the burden on those without cost.
Many supermarkets have offers that are "buy one get one free". The suggestion is that all shoppers take up all these options whether they need the second item or not. If all of these offers where taken up and any ubwanted surplus was given to local food banks this would greatly increase the amount of food available.