More elected Mayors will not address north-south divide

The BBC has the article on its website – see link below:-

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-56215352

Well if you’ve stopped by this blog site previously you will probably know that I’m no fan of elected mayors of any type, indeed my view is that they are a backwards step not least because they concentrate powers in the hands of one person and this, together with the related City Regions, ends up with big cities being favoured to the detriment of surrounding towns. And no, of course more elected mayors are not the solution to the north – south divide.

We need serious devolution in England akin to the powers of the devolved nations of Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland because England is far too centralised and the issues of ‘the north’ are always looked at through the eyes of the Westminster-based elite and their officials.

For all bandwagon Burnham’s bluster last summer nothing useful came of it, he has no significant powers and he was ignored. Such will continue to the case until we have proper regional governance across England, preferably without elected mayors.

Fly-Tipping!

The BBC has the article on its website, see link below:-

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-56128314

A subject I’ve blogged about many times before and one that completely exasperates me as the country lanes which I cycle are always having rubbish dumped alongside them. Only last week I found Spurriers Lane/Outlet Lane (Melling/Simonswoood- Merseyside/West lancs) in its depressingly usual state, a state it seems to have been in for more years than I care to recall. And yet the regular fly-tippers don’t ever seem to be brought to book for their acts of environmental ruination, or so it seems to me anyway.

I recall trying to get covert surveillance done of notorious fly-tipping locations back when I was a Sefton Borough councillor but there was always a reason why it could not/would not be done, yet the councils spend huge amounts of money clearing dumped rubbish up. Surely some of that money spent actively trying to catch the fly-tippers and following that through to the publicity that could flow from court cases would help to deter others?

A local authority in Norfolk seems to have taken up covert surveillance successfully (see link below), how about Sefton and Lancashire having a go?:-

www.north-norfolk.gov.uk/news/covert-surveillance-helps-secure-fly-tipping-prosecution/

PM dislikes Scotland because it has power to defy him

Another ridiculous outburst from the PM (see link to BBC article below) but there is within this issue a lost opportunity which Blair found himself unable to resolve.

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-54965585

What should have happened alongside the Scottish and indeed Welsh devolution was and indeed still is the need to set up regional governance in England. By just devolving powers to Scotland and Wales an unbalanced process of governance was set in train. The Tories have in their own way tried to redress this imbalance via their Metro Mayors and City Regions but this has, at least in my view, been pretty much an abject failure, apart that is from it turning Bandwagon Burnham the Manchester Metro Mayor into a Scouse hero.

No, the problem is the utter mess of devolution in England Mr Johnson; you’re looking, as usual, through the wrong end of your telescope.

Power should always be exercised at the lowest practical level of governance commensurate with it being efficient and democratically appropriate. You start with England’s network of Parish/Town Councils working your way up via Borough/Unitary Councils then Regional governance in my case (North West England) and then UK Governance. The object should be to exercise as few powers as possible at UK level. Defence, international relations, national budgets and obviously UK-wide issues come to mind. Everything else gets pushed down as low as possible so that governance is at the most appropriate level. It’s not rocket science for goodness sake……..

Conspiracy Theories & Covid 19

The other day I came across a thread on a community Facebook Page where one of the admins was trying to address what conspiracy theorists had been putting on that page associated with their belief that Covid 19 does not exist or that if it does it’s associated with 5G etc. etc.

I blogged about the relationship between conspiracy theories and 5G back in April of this year and here’s a link back to that posting:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2020/04/24/5g-why-are-some-folk-so-upset-about-it/

And then this fascinating insight into how outlandish conspiracy theories can even destroy a family. It’s a BBC audio recording that’s well worth taking a few minutes to listen to:-

www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-54669239

When you’ve read the BBC website article click on the ‘Trending’ tag at the bottom and this will take you through to the audio only recording.

Sadly, Facebook and other forms of social media are used by conspiracy theorists to try to widen their influence on those who may be taken in by their very odd take on Covid 19 and indeed many other things. My advice? Don’t take things at face value, try to fact check them – that goes for anything any politician tells you too!

Slow map: Mapping Britain’s intercity footpaths

This is a fascinating piece of work (see link below) trying to recreate walking routes which have all but been forgotten

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-54562137

Unless you’re someone who owns Ordnance Survey maps, which detail every public right of way/public footpath, and you know how to read them then even your local footpaths may be all but unknown to you.

I love studying maps, particularly OS maps, and I usually buy one for any place/area we are visiting around the country. My interest will often be to identify safe cycling routes but I used to do a lot of walking before taking up cycling and these maps provide loads of useful information both activities. So what’s the problem, why do such routes need to be redefined?

The problem is that often whilst the vast majority of public footpaths are marked on the ground by finger pointing signs, not all are. Additionally some that are marked don’t make clear where they go to – look at this example:-

In fact this sign is at the end of Millbank Lane on the Maghull/Aughton Sefton/West Lancs boundary and its pointing to a path which leads to Butchers Lane in Aughton but when you walk the shortish distance along the path there are no further signs pointing the best way to anywhere at all.

Now here’s an example which both makes clear where the paths go and how far the destinations are:-

Walking and cycling destinations from within Rimrose Valley Country Park.

Local Borough and District Councils are responsible for public rights of way and some are better at it than others in defining and maintaining them as I’ve found after many years of walking all over the north of England. But what in my view is almost never made clear along these routes/paths is what is the best way from A to B be it Maghull to Town Green or anywhere else. This is probably because the knowledge about footpaths and walking routes was at one time well known in all communities and this information was shared generation to generation as walking to work, shop and school etc. was pretty much the only way to get there. Now in the world where most of us go virtually anywhere in a tin box on wheels the use of these routes has declined and the knowledge about them is in few hands.

I like this project as if it’s successful it will have so many benefits to the environment and indeed our individual health if we regularly walk and cycle short to medium length journeys (subject to us being physically able to of course) instead of jumping into the Audi on the drive. But like the need to make many thousands of miles of safe cycling routes across the country this walking plan will need significant investment in mapping, signage and maintenance and for a society that has only thrown crumbs from the table of motoring towards such things for generations it will be a huge change in transportation policy which politicians will fear to implement because of the all-powerful motorist lobby.

Hydrogen powered train makes UK debute

The BBC has the article on its website – see link below:-

www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/business-54350046

This is a significant and very welcome environmental development in terms of powering trains in the UK and beyond.

Germany already has operating passenger trains using this new to rail power source (see link below from 2018) but great to see UK rail companies working it up too.

www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/sep/17/germany-launches-worlds-first-hydrogen-powered-train