The government’s proposed massive rebuilding programme doesn’t make much sense to me for a number of reasons. Have you, recently, tried to get a plumber, an electrician, a painter or a builder to do a small of even a big job for you? So, in my innocence, I wonder from where the government is producing this army of tradesmen, whether it really has the accommodation to put them up if they are coming from abroad, and what this influx of foreigners is going to do to our racial tensions, which even now are presenting problems for the police.
I don’t know what it’s like where you live, but building has been stopped, here in areas of Northern Ireland, because the infrastructure, the drainage and sewerage, are inadequate to cater for the building that has already been achieved, without aggravating the situation. We also have a freshwater problem, as you probably do, where at times of drought we get a hosepipe ban, and all sorts of other inconveniences. I wonder if these factors have been evaluated on a regional basis, so that the sites chosen are not going to aggravate already parlous situations. I’d take a bet!
We then come to the flood plain proposals, on whether building on the flood plains is a sound idea or not, on which the Housing Minister, Yvette Cooper, seems to change her mind regularly,. One of the caveats that she uses it is that it would be good provided that the flood defences are adequate. I would like to draw her attention to the fact that it will take many years to provide adequate sea defences, as the sea has a considerable force, which takes careful design and different remedies for different conditions, all of which slow down the process. I would also point out that global warming, something which we have found recently to be unpredictable in its results, will inevitably be another factor for design considerations. Sea revetments, from retaining walls, through steel sheet piling, to rip rap, being built within tidal conditions, will consequently increase the timescale and costs. The engineers will be designing for a minimum of a hundred years, as they did in the past, but this time they will have to include a greater factor of safety. In my humble opinion I believe that this factor alone precludes the consideration of building on flood plains as part of the government’s current massive plan, because of cost and time.
Another strange statement this week, really left me open-mouthed. Chief Constable Peter Fahy, of the Cheshire Constabulary, proposed that as a result of unacceptable behaviour by young people, as a result, in turn, of the excessive drinking of alcohol, that the age at which young people were permitted to drink in public places should be increased to 21. When you consider we are sending men of 18 to the Middle East to get killed, and we put men of 17 behind the wheel of a car, which in the wrong hands can be a lethal weapon, his proposal does not strike me as rational thought, If you are a regular reader of this blog you would realise I have been urging, over the last year, repeatedly, that recreation and recreational areas are provided for the young and the teenager to stop the gang culture and give them something interesting and healthy to do, as I enjoyed in Balham, in London in the 20s and 30s. Then parental control and example were routine, something difficult to reinstitute, but essential, even if criminal proceedings are required to institute it.
Yet another strange statement. George Osborne of the Conservative front bench, is suggesting that inheritance tax is abolished. I come from a middle-class background that was often insolvent, and have never risen to great wealth, but I am comfortably off. Even as a young man I thought it was criminal the way in which the landed gentry, if several of them in succession died successively, lost everything that had been built up over the years through swingeing inheritance tax.
As a great-grandfather, joint owner of his house, for which the value has been going through the roof in recent years, I feel that the current system of inheritance tax is totally unfair to those who are merely pensioners and moderate wage earners, still wishing to provide for their descendants, especially now with the housing ladder being so inaccessible. The suggestion that the first home should be exempt from inheritance tax would seem to be a much better halfway house than the full Monty that Osborne is proposing. Let’s face it, money has to come from somewhere, and instead of thinking of ways of hiding the excessive sums the government seems to need today, I feel it would be better that the whole taxation system is revised so that it is transparent, we can see what we have to pay, not have it partially slipped out from behind our back.