Review of 2014

It weren’t great.
Politics was described as being in a stale funk last year; and the same source said the most successful in politics are doing it by making people confused.
Alexei Sayle said “not even politics seems to be able to change politics.”

The autumn statement on government finances, tax and spending announced growth of 3.0%; only to reduce the claim to 2.6% two weeks later.
Claims by the Conservative Chair that the deficit has been halved was ahead of itself – it’s only projected to reach that level by 2015/16. The aim was to have no deficit by the next year – this now some time away.

Austerity isn’t working, and yet we’re promised more of it.
What was working – East Coast mainline trains making a profit under public ownership – was sold off; the Royal Mail was sold off for significantly less than its value and firms that promised to be investing sold their shares quickly, including the firm that advised on the price to sell at.
Bright claims elsewhere aren’t matching the feel on the ground. Highest ever number of private sector jobs contrast with the new jobs being on low hours contracts with no security. Subsidy for low wages means the benefits bill is going up with growth – go figure. The effective Meadows Advice Group are doing the same level of work – despite unemployment in Bridge ward falling by 19% (one-fifth). And food banks – 21st century Britain – and we need food banks.
Properties for sale in The Meadows are being snapped up by private landlords who can pay more – explained by low security for working people and the housing benefits regime. More casework this year for dealing with bad practice.
The resultant increased desirability of council housing comes just as the council is seeing through its resolve to demolish the unpopular stacked maisonettes. Nottingham City Homes went through a sticky patch but have changed the local lettings policy in response (a success for a protest group that met weekly for a while).
None of this has been loosened up by the bedroom tax – which was supposed to have made more properties of the right size available. Instead, that, and the expectation of all under 65 to contribute something to their council tax (echoes of the poll tax) have increased the number of debtors going through formal proceedings.
Crime is up and although explicable in part cos of changes in counting methods, responding to challenges on Arkwright Walk were hampered by cuts to youth services.
More cuts in council services are on their way – the implications of cuts coming in April are still not fully understood.
The NHS is also creaking; and this year the Wilford Grove surgery was closed in September without proper consultation.
So –
– jobs market broken;
– public finances worse;
– crime up;
– NHS creaking;
– more cuts to council services on their way;
– housing market broken;
– social security worse;
– an inability even to count the actual unemployed.
And all missing a framework for what genuine progress would mean – a vision, built on values. We could do worse than saying proper jobs, proper rates, proper terms and conditions. Success for all in education. Restore the NHS to the level whereby it didn’t warrant a question in the 2010 prime ministerial debates. As always, tackle the five giant social evils.
Other initiatives and projects have struggled.
An aspiration to run The Embankment pub with a social enterprise looks to have fallen through, in the face of a £500,000 investment bid from a local pub chain.
The expansion of the tram network is delayed, perhaps by six months, as the contractor has struggled, most notably with surprises from underground and utility firms not geared up to get the necessary done fast enough.

So to the good news.
Twenty miles per hour speed limits are being introduced to make the streets more pleasant.
The Victoria Embankment Masterplan is coming to fruition and a Trent Bridge Cricket offer to finance a new cricket pavilion that will be accessible to all and meet modern expectations of the cricket board is under development.
The Community Gardens and in Bloom continue to succeed; and Friends of Meadows Library is building.
The Queens Walk Recreation Ground pavilion is decorated with new mosaics, and
The Meadows Story Poles means The Meadows has more free standing art than the city centre.

We can do better.
Austerity hasn’t worked.
Let’s change direction in 2015.

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