So much green investment needed

A £5 billion investment programme announced by Conservatives in Government to help the economy grow out of the public health emergency recession might only be enough to fill half the potholes in Britain.
Oh dear! More new roads – just as we should realise that the degree of commuting we came to accept was no longer needed.
Oh dear! A jet-zero aircraft – electric powered airplanes for regional flights – just as we find that Rolls-Royce and others have ditched a recent initiative (“a Rolls-Royce-Airbus collaboration called the E-Fan X, was quietly canned during lockdown“).

A special part of the river Severn, just upsteam of Ironbridge – _we love this place Oh God.; merged with a sewage treatment plant in Notts.
Read the Guardian analysis here

We should be investing in a greener future.
Reduce the amount of clean water lost through broken pipes.
More overflow tanks to capture excess waste water that is instead being allowed to flow into rivers during the more frequent periods of heavy rain.
More anaerobic digestions plants to convert sewage and other waste found in drain water into gas and compost.

Read the Guardian analysis here

The Guardian has reported on just how much waste is being dumped by the water companies into our rivers. In Shropshire, Severn Trent have just been prosecuted for allowing waste water to be tipped into a river (fine £800k).
These incidents are happening more frequently because of the extremes in our climate changed weather systems but there is insufficient political concern and clout to drive green investment that would retain more cleaned water, reduce toxins getting into our rivers and provide gas & compost from waste.

Closing Collin Street to traffic in August

Received a letter to local residents on these plans and you might wonder why carry on with radical change when works to transform Broadmarsh have stopped, question marks hang over city street retail, the opening of the new Nottingham College has slipped to January 2021, more people might be working from home and the earliest any extra new development on the Island site could be is 2022. And then confusing signals have at times been given over the future of bus priority lanes on Carrington Street (only last Saturday), expanding the capacity of the London Road / Queens Road junction and the A453/A52 Clifton Bridge capacity remaining constricted cos of the unexpected and major repairs needed.

Yet the longer term vision for traffic in the city centre and across from and to West Bridgford and the north of the city has been of reduction of traffic since before the construction of the Southern Relief Route – the new Castle Marina Road and the widened Queens Drive / Waterway Street West / Sheriffs Way / Queens Road / London Road – to enable it some 20ish years ago.
A 4 lane “racing track” along Collin Street “cuts off” the railway station from the city centre and we wanted change.
The lower levels of traffic as we come out of the public health emergency actually means this is might be a better time to introduce the change, and I hope the transfer of the nearside inbound lane on Trent Bridge to cyclists will encourage the move to working from home, or commuters using their bikes.

As for some of the confusing signals that have at times come out, I’ve not heard of Queens Road junction being planned for expansion for some time now, and the notion of buses travelling south from out of the city no longer having a direct and prioritised route to the Meadows Way east bus lane seems peculiar at best, kinda running counter to the philosophy of the north of The Meadows (running along Crocus Street and Traffic Street) providing thousands of extra homes and bedrooms for people who will be less reliant on the car.

I wonder if more of NCT’s bus routes might want to explore running around the city? More of the City Council’s services are provided from Loxley House, more of the DWP’s services too; we will be moving the Central Library from Angel Row to Collin Street and Nottingham College will have a new central location off Middle Hill. And the Island site will look to be more active.

Some of NCT’s Orange and Turquoise routes offer a City Loop option from the north, and alongside NCT’s Green services and NCT’s Navy 49 use the Middle Hill / Fletcher Gate / George Street route. It’s great, and serves thousands of residents in the Lace Market and Hockley who don’t own cars.

But the Ice Arena and the Island site are only served by NCT’s Red route and the EcoLink.. Could NCT’s Brown and/or Yellow services be extended to run around the city centre travelling along all of Canal Street before coming back along Bellar Gate / Belward Street / Cranbrook Street and Lower Parliament Street, with the inbound Victoria Centre stop (J1) becoming an interchange for passengers coming in from Mansfield Road (incl. Lime, Purple and Sky Blue) who would then want to reach the south of the city centre, including dropping off much nearer to the railway station?

The quality of mercy is not strained

Never did understand the line. Did strained mean filtered? Or put under pressure. Turns out it means ‘constrained’, or ‘forced’. (Yep, only now have I bothered to check – hence the C grade in O level English Literature.)

I kinda got “the speaker is telling Shylock that mercy must be freely given, and is inviting him to show mercy to the title character.” Our hippy English teacher (twas the ’70s) then pointed out that when they tricked Shylock into giving up his claim, they showed him no mercy at all. Nor does rain often gently fall from the heavens.

It’s been weird. Dancing around strangers during walks at a distance; and taking offence, or causing upset, if either party gets it wrong. It’s not really that we worry about passing the disease on; it’s that someone is not joining in with the campaign to not spread the disease. And we can get mightily righteous about it. Impressive that people have so overwhelmingly joined in with the campaign; but I have had to report situations to the Police this week.

When not talking about strangers of course, we are perhaps more inclined to understand people who have made exceptions. Even if the Govt’s lockdown has come in the form of INSTRUCTIONS

So where next now we know important people haven’t followed instructions. Important people who follow that mantra – “never complain, never explain”.
“He should resign!”
“He should be sacked:”.
(Bit of an issue here – has no-one else never been a staff rep trying to defend a colleague who’s got it wrong at work?)
But I do think an apology is in order. Through an interview, a long one. One where the same points get made in a different way for a long time so the apologies have to be repeated. Maybe using that actor who played the daughter from the Outnumbered family; or Philomena Cunk.

And remember, he’s not the messiah – he’s just a very ….

Postscript: written one day on …
Having wanted to be wary of condemning Cummings outright, a number of points have come up since that make the situation even more frustrating –
– that Cabinet members have cited defence of the child as the proper thing to do; as if other members of the public haven’t made a different decision in similar circumstances;
– that Cummings’ wife, a journalist, had already written a diary of events that clashes with No. 10’s explanation;
– that No.10 has denied that Durham Police had spoken to Cummings and his family, when Cummings’ father had acknowledged that the Police had;
– that Cummings has been accused since of being in County Durham on 3 separate occasions after returning to London;
– that Cummings developed the notion of caring so little for the elitism of the establishment, yet has behaved in an elitist way.
And the original article didn’t make enough about how the actions undermine the enforcers of the lockdown.

Seems unlikely that Boris Johnson will allow Cummings to leave his post; like calling upon Emu to get rid of Rod Hull.

More interested in wildlife

Plenty of news coverage yesterday for the claim that the lockdown has made us more interested in wildlife.
Well, kinda.  
And yes, I’ve wanted to know that what I had seen was a Dunnock, and then a baby Robin, and then a Black and Brown Pigeon.  
But the regular walks has also meant that we’ve come to follow families –
– 4 pairs of coots; one of which had 6 chicks from which 3 have made it so far;
– 2 pairs of moorhens; one whose nest appears to have been destroyed (appears); one with 2 chicks of which one has made it so far;
– 3 pairs of Canada geese in particular, whose families are known to us as “2and6”, “3and5” and the latest – “2and7”: so far all the young have made it;
– 3 pairs of swans; one of which had 4 cygnets hatch on Monday and who went on their first swim yesterday; 

Great Tit; a bit blurred.

– and finally – 
– a great tit whose been feeding her chicks in a nest (a special place that we found); but was not there today cos she was out with at least 3 others – which we are assuming are the fledged chicks.  
Nice; just nice.

Planet of the Humans

Released on Youtube by Michael Moore of the 50th Earth Day, this very critical film against much of the modern environmental movement is welcomed by the Guardian reviewer as a “contrarian eco-doc“, but heavily attacked by others such as “Films for Action” and “The Energy Mix“.
I too, am critical, but found some of the stories very salutary.

An American mirror array in a desert to heat water that now lies in tatters, having wrecked acres of desert surface (which nowadays we know does have a distinctive eco-system).
Concerts put on for green causes that (despite claims) doesn’t have the power to run the whole event and relies on the un-green grid for top-up and back-up power.
Materials to create solar panels (they’re not made from glass) and batteries for cars draw heavily on mineral mining too.
Electric cars often rely on coal-powered power stations.
Wind farms that do indeed have a lifetime and can end up idle, rotting and ugly.
That burning bio-mass releases CO2 and some of the woods and forests being cleared are special environments, which one scene at the end shows, provides homes for Orang-Utans.
Some of the firms involved in the new green sectors have been the big players in the dirty or grey sectors.

It is worth reading the articles that are critical of the film highlighted above.
Off the top criticisms I’d make include –
– the documentary does not explore ground source heat pumping; or anaerobic digestion; or waste incineration;
– waste incineration often sees metal extraction for re-cycling and ranks higher in the pyramid than burial; and it adds value despite needing to be under-written by gas or wood-chip burning at source; and heating devices running off the grid in the homes;
– people need to be supplied with comfort (heating and cooling), and a first step for this should be the design of the buildings they live in or use; and planning and location is key to reducing travel; (agglomeration);
– not all natural; gas comes from grand extraction and not all bio-mass fuels are based on burning; check out Nottingham City Transport’s use of cell-cracking technology.

Loads more to be said from the documentary and in critique of it.
The documentary is a missed opportunity to convey what can be done and reflects badly on Michael Moore and those associated with it (both for inaccuracy and missing the bigger story) But it does provide a few jolts to make you think a bit more.

The faux Churchillian stuff gets in the way

ALASTAIR CAMPBELL. @campbellclaret
“He’s gone from straining every sinew yesterday to moving every mountain today. Please stick to fact and detail and cut the cliches and rhetoric? People just want to be told what is happening, what it means, and what they should do. The faux Churchillian stuff gets in the way.”
On the Health Secretary’s Friday evening briefing.
Dear, oh dear.
Spokesperson statements and language.
In trouble as soon as they use adjectives and metaphors.
And part of a trick that covers up for the confusion on testing.
Plus the nonsense regarding green shoots.
“Perhaps the end of the beginning ” and “Some chicken, some neck” are next.
“The Battle of China is over”?
Or even, “I have nothing to give but my dry cough, fevered sweat and headaches.”

Part of the problem is talking about this being a war. It’s not. It’s a challenge, a project with milestones to come and takes to be delivered. Something to brief people on and to educate people about. It’s why the science and medical officers often seem better (except when they try to do green shoots stuff too).
The public schoolboy exhortations positively irritate.
Nor should we thank anyone for the lines about “we’ll get through this”. Cos it’s true. irrespective; there will be a time when it won’t be this bad. It’s in the nature of previous pandemics.
Nor is it easy to emote for individuals you don’t know, can’t know.

Rather –
– know your own sorrow when things are bad and personal, and know how those more gravely affected must be feeling; and
– say, we will learn from this, and never again must we tolerate poor practice and lack of preparation.

Complying with the new rules

People walking along the watersides were following the new rules; Meadows play equipment was not being used; and London Road on a Tuesday at 5:15pm was near empty.

Walkers by the river and the canal are clearly respecting social distancing.
Play equipment was not being used.
The dentist’s receptionist was working via an intercom.
Traffic on London Road was very very light at 5:15.

Various streets have established their own small networks of neighbouring, using things like WhatsApp.

The Bridgeway shopping centre Chemists has a sign up advising people what to do.
Shopping was “one out, one in” at the Co-op who are also advertising a delivery service. Customers were waiting outside and apart from each other.

One Stop Shop, the chemists, the hairdressers and the Post Office share information on using notices on their shutters (as of 24th March, 5p.m.

No doubt there are people not following the the guidance, and that non-compliance might be most associated with expectation of some groups of workers and some locations more than others.
– – –
But I think it’s pretty clear that the vast majority are trying to follow the rules.

I remain concerned about journalists’ continued use of vox pops, including attacks on politicians (e.g. BBC 6 o’clock news).

Working through the crisis in systematic way

Across our neighbourhoods, or (in this 21st Century, I might more accurately say) extended networks, all kinds of people are making all kinds of arrangements to support each other when we are ill, or isolated, or socially distancing.
At times like these, people will be getting on with getting on.
And where they can’t, they will be looking to the NHS or the council or their social landlord or the emergency services to do what is necessary.
Including reporting neighbours who thought it was fun to have a street party yesterday to the Police.

Now as an elected representative, I feel this urge to do something more; and that people might expect it of me.
But the reality is people need a structured, organised and (dare I say it) a properly financed set of services to assist.
So I won’t be putting out any special leaflets to say I can help as an individual. Cos the systems should provide and I expect that of them.
Part of this is cos I don’t want to confuse any organised systems and messages.
And part of this is cos I might be carrying the virus and not know it.

What I can, should and do do is report failings in the systems set up to help.
I am going to expect that people know that I do that already.
Cos this ain’t the time to be trying to fix, or even make, reputations.

Meanwhile, my main political criticisms are –
1. if we are “at war”, all available capacity should be mobilised for a purpose through our public services; people no longer selling holidays, or serving in shops or on public transport, could be commissioned to help the public services; and others could be mobilised to keep their immediate neighbourhood looking neat (not litter or waste, obviously, but grass cutting and weeding);
2. councils should be told publicly that they are to receive finance to provide more capacity;
3. the economic packages should be emphasising funding people and consumer demand rather than financing businesses.

Planning committee – March 2020

New council housing on the former Eastglade school site, and challenges about how to boost its environmental features further.
New social housing by TumTum Housing Association of Woodborough Road, at the site of the former Woodborough pub site.
A homeless hostel by Framework on the site of the Mechanics Arms on Alfred Street North – with repeated assurances that the hostel would be continuously and well managed.