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Monthly Archives: February 2013

The less sensitive side of the NHS

The NHS has taken a bit of a beating this week. Hardly surprising given the goings on down south which cost the lives of 1200 people apparently. 1200 people. Is that a high estimate or a low one.

I think from memory the statistics generally quoted is that the NHS manages to kill 30,000 people a year. 30,000. Please bear in mind the frenzy of the righteous when they used to hear that 3,000 people a year were killed in car accidents. I don’t remember the righteous getting even more upset, marching, occupying hospitals, building temporary health camps and throwing bags of paint against the buildings.

My Dad got ill a lot in the two years before he died. Every time he went into hospital he had to be taken off warfarin and he wouldn’t get back out until he was back on the warfarin. This added a week or so to his stay.

He hated it. Bearing in mind that he thought the NHS was a great thing he hated going in to hospital mainly because he was always put in a general ward, which was like a sort of dumping ground. Part of the dumping that took place was that some of the patients had psychiatric problems. He didn’t feel safe in his bed. At times it was impossible to have a conversation. Stuff went missing.

That was bad enough. But some of the staff were, well, unpleasant. My Dad was a joker. He liked a laugh. He spoke to everyone, all the time. I was in one night visiting him and a nurse came to look at his hand, which was painful because of the needle in his vein. She took off the light stretch bandage and looked at the needle and then replaced the tape holding it in place. During this taking place my dad spoke to her. He joked with her about his hand. He asked her a question.

During the whole thing the nurse said nothing. She completely ignored my Dad. Walked off. I can’t think of any reason or excuse that could be considered. She was Scottish so no language problem. Maybe she had been working for hours? That would have been no excuse though.

The NHS probably worked when it was first setup. I don’t doubt that there are many people alive and I better health than would be the case if it didn’t exist but the model is no longer “fit for purpose”.

A elderly relative had to go to the Docs because he had an ear infection. His ear was swollen and it was affecting his face and eye. No problem. He luckily got an appointment with his Doc who was also an ear nose and throat specialist. She said he’d have to go to the ear, nose and throat clinic. Which was in Livingston!

So there is no nose ear and throat treatment available within Edinburgh? That’s a 50 mile trip to get an ear looked at and the trip had to be done twice. At one point it looked as if he’d have to stay in. How could his non-driving wife have visited him? By bus? She’s in her late 70s.

The NHS is about CARE. Medical care obviously but basic care, basic human compassion even. There will be thousands of people working for the NHS who deliver this care and there will be just as many or more who don’t.

We pay for it but like far too many things nowadays we have no contract directly with the point of delivery. A service level agreement should be available to us and the staff should be delivering within the agreed terms.

I’m not naive to think it will happen.

 

It won’t.

 
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Posted by on February 10, 2013 in Health, The NHS

 

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That nice Mr Gove…

That nice Mr Gove got a bit of a kicking in the palace of Westminster. Various thugs had a go at him whilst the cameras were rolling. Apparently Police are going through the footage to identify the assailants but so far they have made little process as the officers watching the videos keep falling asleep.

And who would blame them?

Lets be fair here shall we?

Gove has been trying his best to nudge education away from dumbing down and the “everyone is a winner” mentality, which has been eroding education in the west for years now. That’s not to say that he may have become a bit over-ambitious right enough.

But then consider the opposition.

The exam body in England – are they not interested in driving higher standards of learner/pupil/student knowledge and ability?

Teachers unions – Teachers need someone to protect them but is a union the right type of organisation to do so? Do the teaching unions not want teachers to have a better structure in which to teach a better quality of appropriate content?

Teachers themselves? – Do teachers not want to divest themselves of all the paperwork and tiresome meetings etc. and solely spend their time helping the learner/pupil/student achieve more?

Parents? – Do they want their children to achieve real, worthwhile and needed knowledge and skills, which will allow them to get a great job?

Gove is trying to steer education to deliver all of the above. Okay maybe at times the way he goes about it isn’t ideal but he is trying to push back decades of leftie “everyone is the same” tosh.

Our society is shockingly imbalanced and I didn’t see Labour do anything to address that as their history suggests they should have. In fact they made it worse.

Perhaps a return to exam only assessment is too much of a step. That’s not because I think it should never happen. It’s more like I would like each learner/pupil/student to be taught to “learn in a way that allows them to make the most of themselves. It’s ludicrous that our children go to school and the system is the same for almost them all.

They are individuals. They are precious because of this. Our greatest steps in achieving new ways of doing things come from individuals who go and look and try and succeed. Teams rarely achieve this if ever. Sporting teams sometimes do but only because the team and the back up staff is full of individuals, all of whom have to step up to the mark every time they perform.

Mr Gove should be applauded and encouraged and questions should be asked of other governmental ministers as to why they are not trying to get their departments to achieve significant change which would benefit us all.

 
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Posted by on February 9, 2013 in Education, Family, Politics

 

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Those burgers are “neigh” good…

Another day another “horse meat in the food chain” story.

This time it seems that “Findus” have been selling beef burgers, which are 100% horse meat. In the UK this seems to be more of a challenge since horse meat isn’t generally eaten here.

Think horse and you think of a flat course racing horse or a Clydesdale or a pony that your daughter has/wants/must have or else. Frolicking probably comes into it. Jumping. Pulling a plough. That mental dressage thing. Very small men and ladies wearing unfeasibly tight trousers and incredibly loud shirts whilst carry a small whip.

We don’t think of horses as being bred for their meat. In the UK they have been promoted above mere food chain status, rightly or wrongly. The fact that thousands of horses a year are sent overseas from the UK for slaughter for food isn’t mentioned.

I’m not altogether sure if I’d eat horse although I may/probably already have.

I’m sure that the present sets of circumstances were inevitable. Mainly because horse meat is cheaper than beef from cattle and the like and if a supplier was under pressure financially they might slip in the odd bit here or there to increase their profit margin. Organised crime might go the whole hog and sell horse meat as beef from cattle making a lot of money in the process.

But the food chain tracks each and every carcass does it not? Foot and mouth and all that stuff? It has to be done. The UK and EU governments say so. Very true but those who wish to get around the system always will with no regard to anything other than their profit.

The greens are of course secretly delighted. Vegans and vegetarians are now entitled to adopt a smug pose. What do you mean they already do? Had any soya recently? Do the veggies really know what’s in soya? It’s the most unnatural foodstuff ever apart from pot noodles, that cheesy macaroni stuff and mashed potatoes that come out of a packet as dust.

Horse meat hasn’t or won’t kill anyone unless it’s not been handled correctly. Will the crims do a better job of maintaining the quality of meat and avoid contamination?

Look no further than the drug trade. The quality is all over the place. Very pure at times and it kills people and it gets cut with anything handy lying about and it kills more people.

The vast majority of the time though, the quality is near enough right. How do I know? I’ve never had any drugs in my life apart from what a Doctor prescribed for me but I can still recognise the quality of the illegal drugs sold.

It’s very simple. Supply and demand. Fags are going the same route too. Basically if you want to sell illegal drugs or imported tax free fags they have to be of a good quality enjoyable to use without any downside and not be of a standard which will kill the user or smoker.

They have to do this because they want to sell more of their product. Killing or ticking their customers off because the drug/fag (soon to be joined with alcohol, fizzy juice, chocolate bars, Frosties etc.) isn’t “right” means they will go elsewhere. Profits grown down.

Swapping beef for horse meat gives the crims a bigger profit. They won’t stop.

Think on though, this might just be the start of the event. The starter is in position and the horses are at the start line.

If it isn’t horse meat that they are selling instead of beef what else could they potentially swap instead? Mince would be a good target. You could scrunch up pretty much anything and put in it mince. Butchers have been doing that for years.

What a jolly note to finish on.

 

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Charity “Dons”

Stay with me for a few paragraphs would you please…

I quite enjoyed the original “Godfather” film. Probably the most memorable quote was “I’ll make him an offer he can’t refuse”. It was said a few times in the film and of course backed up by “additional incentives” to ensure the “offer” was acceptable to the recipient. I’m sure you’ll remember the horse’s head in the bed scene?

The Godfather was about the mafia. They had “business interests” which kept money coming in on a regular basis. If you had a factory, shop, bar etc. in their area of control then a couple of nice gentlemen would maybe visit you and suggest that you should consider providing a tribute in cash to the local “Don”. (No connection whatsoever to anyone from Aberdeen obviously). Declining to do so might result in an increase in accidents in your premises, a nice simple protection racket then.

In todays world we probably still have a modicum of that sort of thing but we don’t really believe it’s that bad. Nonetheless things are happening and to all intents and purposes they look a lot worse than anything that the godfather did.

Lets start with the Brent Spar, which was to be submerged in the ocean. An organisation thought that wasn’t a good idea and used all the muscle that they could muster to ensure it was disposed off as they saw fit. In the end the disposal was more polluting than the submerging but let’s not allow a great PR exercise get in the way of the facts.

Then we had the recent Starbucks saga. They weren’t paying their taxes apparently.  People should boycott the shops, don’t buy from Starbucks was the cry of the day.

The shops are franchises and most of the people who thought the boycotting was a good idea didn’t know what that meant. It would just be so much corporate bunkum and who cares anyway. Well the people who owned the franchises minded, they minded a great deal.

You see they paid their taxes and they paid the taxes of the people they employed, They also paid for the on going franchise and for the supplies they had to buy. Starbucks, the holding company, paid their taxes too. They just didn’t pay them in the UK. They did this because the EU ruled that companies could pay their corporation tax in any country in the EU.

Some EU countries immediately reduced their corporation tax to attract these large organisations, Starbucks being one of many. Ireland was one of the countries to reduce their corporation tax.

The coalition managed to create quite a furore to the extent that Starbucks had to do a deal to pay some tax in the UK. The UK made them an offer they couldn’t refuse you see.

There are other examples of this. An organisation is picked out and then a third party (Don) starts to complain about something they are doing which is normally fully legitimate. They then threaten to interrupt their business through bad publicity and stop people spending with the chosen business.

The business then tries to work out a deal. Perhaps they could provide funding for a project for the “Don”. Nothing wrong or illegal with that is there? Or maybe they should provide funds on a longer-term basis for other stuff? Cue lots of handshaking etc.

Did you notice the sudden upswing in charities advertising after Christmas?

Have you noticed the latest advert from one of these environmental charities. Apparently in their world polar bears are a threatened species. Canada doesn’t think so, based on their science and experience over decades, which doesn’t actually count at all however. Expect a turnaround from them soon on that one. Perhaps that nice chap Obama might ask them to help revisit their position?

The environmental charity advert shows a polar bear and a couple of cubs frolicking in the snow and ice flow. They are having fun but they are endangered. The ice is melting (no it’s not actually and even if it did it wouldn’t affect them).

Then along comes a special moment. The end part shows a can of Coke resplendent in its red and white corporate colours with some polar bears added to it. They aren’t there because Coke has suddenly started selling a version of Coke, which is polar bear, flavoured? Of course not.

They are helping the environmental charity protect the poor polar bears by providing cash to them from each can purchased. It’s a shame. Polar bear numbers have gone from a few thousand to over 20,000 and counting.

That sounds like the polar bears need a lot of support does it not?

Don’t worry. The “Don” is on the case.

 

 

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New model army available soon

I am dismayed at the news that British troops are being sent to Mali. The loan of two aircraft and aircrews was a step too far for me never mind troops being used. I can’t say that I have much confidence that a UK involvement will not grow and grow.

There is a bright light on the horizon though. Thank goodness.

We actually have a force in the UK that could form a very robust military force, which we could feel happy to deploy and we wouldn’t mind too much about any casualties.

Let me introduce their leader, the main man who has already gained vital and very useful military experience. Ladies and gentlemen please welcome our new leader of all things military, Prince Harry of the House of Windsor. Yes, that’s right. I actually saw him on the TV news discussing how he’d personally shot people who were, obviously shooting at him or at least some of his mates anyway.

He has led an impeccable life. He is a model for us all to follow. His exploits in the military speak for themselves, he has more medals than Chris Hoy although his thighs are significantly smaller. He took Las Vegas by storm and stood it on it’s head. He personally invented the new liberating phrase – “What happens in Vegas doesn’t stay in Vegas it gets plastered all over the papers, TV and the internet”.

Oh yes he is the man. He doesn’t go along with convention. He is brave enough to expose bodily parts ,which the rest of us mere mortals keep hidden and he’s comfortable knowing that his aging Grandmother saw them too. What a guy. Just what a guy.

Slight draw back? There’s only him. He doesn’t have a gang as such. His brother is far too busy thinking up baby names, worrying about his disappearing hair and what his sister-in-law is going to do next. Not to worry though because, you’ll be surprised to know, I have another plan for you. Oh yes.

We have had another hidden military asset being hidden in full view for many, many years. They have all the answers, they don’t mind going outwith of the rules and they really like wars and shooting and stuff. They number three in their composition. They are our beloved politicians at all levels, the civil service, councils and the establishment and the ladies and gentlemen of the press and media in general. In reserve we will also have the Greens, climate scientists, medical experts, mouthy slebs and the terminally offended.

Harry is at this very moment arranging transport to get them all off to Afghanistan, Mali, Syria… you name the trouble spot, they will be there. They will be equipped in the same manner of our present military who will be home from all conflicts within days. They will have to buy a lot of their own kit and pay for their own care and rehabilitation as is the case presently for existing military. This will pose no problem for our mighty new fighting machine.

You’ll be wondering what will happen if some of them bruise a knee or split a nail etc. Well they’ll be so busy beating all our (well theirs really) enemies that they won’t have time for the niceties of personal grooming etc.

Of course some may succumb to injuries received in the field of battle. Some will, alas , not make it home whilst still alive. Yes I know it’s shocking but that’s war is it not? They are keen on war, they are keen to make people do what they think they should and they have never been shy about coming forward and saying how wonderful they are.

What happens when they start to get killed? Easy. They have already thought of that. Into a box, onto a huge aeroplane and then taken to Brize Norton and slipped out the back gate. Their funerals will be very quiet affairs. No need for TV coverage.

If only…

 
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Posted by on February 7, 2013 in BBC, General, Justice, Politics

 

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What a gay day.

Call me Dave is the man. He’s succeeded in ways that no Conservative ever has. He’s managed to be further left than Labour, allowed the tail (libdems) to wag the dog and increasingly pandering to more and more minority groups.

If you listen carefully for a moment you will be able to hear a large number of Conservatives spinning in their graves. Dave has gone and done it. He’s managed to get his Gay Marriage Bill over the first hurdle.

It looked like there would be a revolt but the revolting party whips soon sorted out those who were following a dangerous path voting against the gay marriage bill. If the rebels hadn’t they might have been out on their ear before the next election. Some brave souls did rebel, but it was too little too late.

The BBC has made much of it being the Tories who voted “no” in larger numbers than the other parties. Really? And this is a surprise to the BBC?

Dave says there are safeguards in the Bill, which will mean that any religious group can decline from providing gay marriage ceremonies.  I wonder how that will go over the years? Who will be the first to challenge this in a court?

Wee Eck and Nippy will be smarting this morning. They said they’d do it and Dave beat them to it. Oh dear. Never mind they can always push harder for the 50P minimum pricing for alcohol. Or they could get on doing real stuff that will actually help our country.

I don’t know about you but I’m a fairly tolerant person. I can’t say I’m interested at all in how gay people live their lives etc. As long as they do what they do and they don’t impinge into anyone else’s life that’s fine by me. I feel the same about all minority groups.

Whether pandering to minorities is a good thing or not, it doesn’t seem very democratic. Here’s a bill put forward which wasn’t in ANY of the parties manifestos but has been given priority to be implemented.

Of course if this bill or any bill based on minority wants was to affect me then things would be different. If this bill means that “Husband” and “Wife” are no longer used in the marriage ceremonies or on the paperwork, I’d be a bit ticked.

What are the gay community going to push for now?

I bet they come up with something and it will be soon.

 
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Posted by on February 6, 2013 in BBC, Politics

 

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Huhne the loon will, go doon.

I take no pleasure from Chris Huhne facing a prison sentence (despite the title of this blog}. I’d much have preferred that he got his comeuppance at the ballot box and quickly. That isn’t going to happen now.

When he was Energy Secretary in the collation government he pursued global warming and climate change policies with absolute vigour. He’s been described as a “political heavy weight” and he certainly pushed his agenda with complete disregard for any message but his own, regardless of the affects they had on the people of the UK.

He has obviously upset many people, not least his ex-wife and son Peter, in particular. I would have thought time in prison, albeit a cushy one, would be a dawdle for him.  His sons dislike of him, however may be a much heavier burden to deal with.

His ex-wife still has to stand trial for the points fiasco. I wonder what her punishment will be? Can the judge be lenient? From the reporting so far it does look like she will suffer anything thrown at her whilst enjoying that old adage “revenge is sweet”.

There’s another old adage “Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves”.

Maybe Confucius would settle for one in this case.

 

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What is the BBC for?

The other nights Countryfile for example.

Not long into the programme Tom Heap, one of the presenters was talking to a local farmer.  Apparently the weather was so wet he couldn’t put his cattle out onto the land he had. He summed up how bad things were by saying “what we need is a drought”. Tom Heap didn’t bat an eyelid at that.

Later on in the show the weatherman, who usually delivers the weather forecast for the following week was asked to explain why we are getting this really wet and cold weather? Yes you’ve guessed it he suggested that the Gulf Stream wasn’t behaving as it normally does, which may be down to “climate change”. The Gulf Stream is higher up the globe or lower down the globe so we are getting wet and cold weather.

The drought quote is incredible. Twelve months ago we were being told that a water pipe ban would have to go on for a year or more. Now we don’t need a water pipe ban we need a drought. Tom Heap is great at heaping doom and gloom on pretty much every piece he does. He doesn’t come out and say it but it’s all down to you and me using energy, driving cars, over consuming etc.

Whether the Gulf Stream is doing what it should or not is really wide of the mark anyway. I think there maybe a clue as to why our weather is colder or wetter or windier this year and over the past few years. The sun has been “quieter” over the last few years and since it’s the sole provider of heat/energy to the earth then it’s likely that there is a connection. It may well get worse but it may well get better. Who knows? Mystic Meg has the same chance as the “climate scientists” that’s for sure.

No one knows. No one knows what the weather is going to be like in 5-7 days time, far less in a few weeks, months or years. Weather is semi chaotic and as such it will do what it wants and all we can do is watch and react.

I’ve no doubt that the farmer was pretty ticked by the weather and also frustrated that the weather people couldn’t really help him at all. I’m sure he’s probably signed up to climate change/global warming. He may well contemplate throwing up a number of windmills, which will bring him in a shed load of cash for some time to come.

Weather changes from year to year. Farmers have always had to cope with whatever happens. Maybe they get used to warmer and less weather in the 1990s and haven’t been able to be as flexible as they used to be when it’s wet and colder?

IT will always be down to climate change as far as the BBC is concerned, however. It is one of their main mantras.

And we can’t do anything about it apart from switching off or watching other channels but we pay for the BBC. Doh!

 

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David Cameron, world statesman in waiting

Call me Dave is a pretty clever and talented man. He’s been demonstrating this recently as I’m sure you will have noticed.

Exhibit one.

Dave addressed a class of Liberian children. I don’t know if they could speak English but I doubt they would have understood one way or another. A photo opportunity more than anything else? World statesman in the making? Snigger.

Exhibit two.

Dave gives away more of the money that the UK doesn’t have to Libya this time. Good move Dave. How long will it be before some of the Libyan rebels who are now the government there construct a Muslim state with Sharia Law? Democracy? Equality?

Exhibit three.

Dave is upsetting his own party members at a tremendous rate. He must feel very proud of that. The main issue is the gay marriage legislation or the legislation to provide tax reductions for married couples. Dave feels that the gay marriage thing is more important.

Exhibit four.

Dave finally gave his EU speech. It’s all about the future. It’s not about now. Vote for Dave at the next election and he will deliver a YES/NO referendum. Wait a minute has he not promised something very similar two and bit years ago? Is this the canvassing started for the 2015 elections is it? Maybe a previous Dave?

Exhibit five.

Dave has had some of his chums tell us all about how horrible life would be if the UK left the EU. It’s remarkable that that the unionists say the same stuff to Scotland, doom and gloom, frighten people and keep the status quo.

Exhibit six.

I definitely heard Dave say that the Coalition had reduced the debt by 25%. It kind of looks like Dave doesn’t know the difference between the budget deficit and UK debt? Either he doesn’t and he’s a fool or he does and he’s misleading people?

Exhibit seven.

His good mate and one trick pony chancellor, the esteemed George Osbourne, says there will be no change in fiscal policy. Dave likes giving our hard earned cash away to “poor third world countries”. But we’ve been doing this for years and years and years Dave with little to show for it.

Exhibit eight.

Dave has an eye on the next election or I should say winning the next election. This seems pretty ludicrous right now. It looks increasingly like his own grass roots supporters are turning away in droves.

Exhibit nine.

Dave is increasing the number of troops heading to Mali. Just for training purposes of course. No combat missions will be carried out. How long will it be before the body bags start coming into Brize Norton to be sneaked out the back gate? Any chance that the insurgents might use the same tactics in Mali as they have been doing in Afghanistan? IEDs? Shootings by insurgents dressed as Mali trainees?

Exhibit ten.

Daves father in law works as an advisor to William Hague and is about to take up a post helping to sell Kuwaits oil for them? Cronyism writ large maybe?

Things wouldn’t be so bad if there was a viable alternative. There is you say? What that Labour chap Milliband? Get real. He’s actually managed to position him and his party to the right of the Conservatives. Not to mention that he seems to have little in the way of policies and not a lot of experience and skill within his party to draw on.

No matter. Dave can rely on Nick Clegg and his adhesive (like those labels that are so stubborn to come off something you bought and it takes ages, a lot of bad language and several attempts for you to scrap it off) members of the current coalition to support him. Nick said only last week that they are looking for ways for the coalition to remain following the next election. I don’t think Dave will be too excited about that although come the time they will do another deal to stay in power of they have to.

Power is all.

Yawn!

 
 

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Where’s the payback Splashback?

The deal is that an under performing asset is to be sold off for £1.5 million pounds and significant overhead savings totalling another £4 million over the next twenty years in subsidies. This is written into Edinburgh Council operational plans with £1 million of the proceeds of the sale going towards the renovation of the Commonwealth Pool.

Yes I’m still banging on about Waterworld in Leith. The leisure pool has been closed for a year now and the Splashback group have had support to form an offer and build a realistic business plan. Last week saw this going to The Councillors who were evaluating the bid which has been dragging on for at least a year so far. The bid has made little progress although a business plan has been completed which doesn’t address any of the issues required to demonstrate that the group could successfully operate a challenging business.

Challenging. Yes. There’s a simple way of evaluating the success of any business. Does it make a profit? Not a huge profit just enough to build a rainy day fall back fund, continue to invest in the plant and machinery which needs to be maintained and replaced and use some of the profit to further support the growth of the business. Simple.

Except it isn’t. It’s even harder when you are planning to operate a leisure pool. Why? Well how many private facilities which are not subsidised, such as Waterworld, have you seen on your travels? Well none, none that are privately owned. There may be smaller facilities, which are a bit similar, but none of the scale of Waterworld. Why? Very simple. It is almost impossible to operate such a facility and get customers to pay enough to break even never mind make a profit.

Gym and hotel pools? An amount of money is added to the membership fees or to the room rates to cover the cost of gyms and pools etc. If they don’t make money they are gone. Simple.

Council run gyms, sports facilities, athletic stadiums, pools etc. never make money. They are subsidised. All council tax payers subsidise these facilities and the people who use them.

I’m not going to discus the pros and cons of subsidising. I’m certain that Splashback will be seeking as many subsidies as they possibly can get. Where will these subsidies come from? Take a wild guess? From taxpayers. Either directly from government or via various part government funded charities.

You think I am misleading you? The Councillors decided at the meeting last week, against the advice if their officers, that Splashback should be given £100,000 and twelve months to fully develop their plan. If the plan is good they will be given £350,000 over three years to “help” run Waterworld. So that’s almost half a million pounds of taxpayers money.

But it doesn’t end there. Oh no. Remember the £1 million, which was earmarked to go towards the upgrade of the Commonwealth pool? Obviously that won’t be forthcoming. No problem though. The council will borrow a million to meet the shortfall. Now when I say that the council will borrow the money that’s not true. The Edinburgh taxpayers will be the ones borrowing the money and they will also pay all of the instalments including the interest.

The only question I have is WHY?

 
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Posted by on February 3, 2013 in Charities, Edinburgh, Politics

 

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