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I thought of a new way to update the diary, and a twist on the posting style of Busto aka [ profile] thebustocrookes ...


… so, instead of a ten point random post, here’s what has happened to me over the last few weeks, in an A-Z format. It incorporates previous postings, and if you like it, I will do one as often as I can! I tried making it transport free, but there are a few posts to fill things up! Don’t forget, you can always see my latest transport pictures at and click on “Last” in the bottom-right hand corner. Tell me how you liked that, and I might manage to make it to 26 posts one day!

A is for Addenbrooke’s Hospital, who have cancelled one of C’s appointments for later in the year now twice, in each case moving further down the calendar. The same department also have ran into problems when I tried to change one of my appointments. I tried to change the date, after our plans for August had changed. So, I called, tried twice, eventually got given someone else’s direct number. I called, and got through on 2nd occasion. With a very “how did you get this number” note in her voice, she promised to call me back. As you’ll see under C, it’s already been overtaken by a request to see a dietician – but, being in Hertfordshire, we have the unique situation of being referred to a consultant at Addenbrooke’s, and a dietician who works around from Lister Hospital


B is for Barclays Cycle Hire, as TfL insist we call it. I liked Boris’s comments when it was launched – although these were not included in the press release! He said “I'm so thrilled to be announcing that Barclays Bank, after years of taking extortionate charges from me, is doing an amazing and wonderful thing,” he said. “I think there could not be a better sign of Barclays' commitment to this city, to the environment and to a wonderful means of transport.”


C is for Coeliac Disease. I’m slowly getting used to this being the resolution that I have sought for so long, and am getting used to everything involved. We went to a “Newly Diagnosed” event in Stevington, Bedford, on Thursday evening, which was well worth the time. I’ve got a dieticians appointment coming up later this month.


D is for Depression. I did get really down a few weeks back, but it’s forgotten, because I’ve been fine since.


E is for [ profile] elaine4queen. We went into London yesterday (see P entry below). After lunch, we went out to Bethnal Green, meeting up with Elaine for the first time – and of course, her dog Poppet. We talked, and then we went out with dorg on a walk through Hackney City Farm and adjacent parks, before walking along the Regents Canal path to Cambridge Heath. From there, back to hers briefly, before going home – tired but happy. See all Saturday’s pictures here – including one of the Dundee Arms pub! (I did leave my memory card in the computer, thus meaning a few were taken on the cameras internal memory, and the rest on the Blackberry, which have came out well!)


F is for funding. Got a letter the other day… you remember I went to Charing Cross for one day last Summer, after waiting months and getting two appointments within days of each other? Well… I wanted to use it to get some follow-up assistance, and screenings, etc. They wanted to see the funding before seeing me – not from me, but from the relevant NHS trust. After all, I’d had the policy documents (obtained via Freedom of Information) that said they would… but these letters, for whatever reason, do not include the discussion. Sometimes I just wish they'd get on with it...!


H is for Helpline. Wednesday 30th June was the last day of the current arrangement with the Ormiston Children & Families Trust’s tenure on the helpline – the only one of the original seven from the start on 1st January 2003 – ending. The tender was lost to Partners of Prisoners (POPS) in Manchester… I wasn’t aware that the PFH brand and name cannot be transferred, so, it’s now going to be the Offenders Families Helpline… anyway, we had a fantastic “last Supper” evening, in the adjacent Milton Country Park. We were all given thank-you letters to show appreciation from our own boss, as well as one of the Ormiston directors. I took a few pictures, and you can see those here.


I is for iPod. Well, I had an iPod touch, and shortly after the original warranty expired, it started having problems with syncing and charing. Well, it was like the internal circuits had gone. Tried to get this replaced by the bank, under the extended warranty that comes with such. £25 excess seemed not too bad, so I tried taking it into the Apple Store at Cambridge’s Grand Arcade. I say tried, but it was the day after the launch of iPhone 4 (when everyone finds the bugs)… After waiting for 20 minutes to see someone, I explained what was wrong. He cut over me three times, trying to second-guess the problem (which doesn’t do much for my confidence!) So, I was then told to book an appointment… from the TV screens, the next one was another 3hours 20mins away, all to book a repair. Decided against waiting, and we stopped in a 2nd hand store in Cambridge, buying a replacement (non-Touch) for little more than the excess, and a lot less than brand new. Well, it didn’t work, and we were about to take it back, when C got it to work on the MacMini... Apple have gone down in my estimation, certainly in their UK Retail business.


N is for National Express. I did have a run-in with a 787 driver on Wednesday after work. He took offence that I tried to pay for a £13.90 fare… with two tenners. I had no more change, I took that straight out the cashpoint. I’d planned to be home earlier, but I was working on some BSOG stuff. Anyway, we'll see what happens.


P is for Pride. As you will see from E above, we went into London yesterday, Saturday. This was the occasion of London Pride 2010, and we helped to set up the LLGS stall. Did a few hours there, then we went for lunch… then see under E for the rest of the day! . (I did leave my memory card in the computer, thus meaning a few were taken on the cameras internal memory, and the rest on the Blackberry, which have came out well!)

S is for syrups. After finding some Monin coffee syrups on holiday, bought a mixed case load via Udal Supplies… Well recommended, and all gluten free!

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This article comes from BorisWatch...

Thames Gateway - The Bridge That Would Not Die
October 23rd, 2009 by Tom

Boris’s big sop to Bexley Council was the canning of the Thames Gateway Bridge, possibly (with the Greenwich Waterfront Transit) the most advanced project scrapped in the big bonfire over the last two years:

Mr Johnson’s official spokesman said: “What we want to do is stop pretending the tooth fairy will come. Some of the plans we just don’t have the money for and the others were never very good ideas anyway.”

So the Bexleyites would no doubt be rather surprised to see this New Civil Engineer on the 15th October:

London mayor Boris Johnson has stunned the transport community by making a policy U-turn on the abandoned Thames Gateway Bridge (TGB) just east of the Blackwall Tunnel [sic - it's a long way east really].

Johnson cancelled the bridge last year, saying he favoured a crossing at Silvertown further to the west. Both engineers and transport lobby groups were highly critical, saying the project had already attracted £200M in Department for Transport PFI credits and that work could have begun within eight months (NCE 13 November 2008).

followed by this on 22nd October:

Mott MacDonald is to lead work to revive the Thames Gateway Bridge (TGB), it was announced last week.

The consultant has won the contract to investigate new crossings of the River Thames between Tower Bridge and the Dartford Crossing following the publication of London mayor Boris Johnson’s transport plan (News last week).

Johnson abandoned the TGB last year, saying he favoured a crossing at Silvertown − now confirmed as a tunnel (NCE 6 November 2008). Last week he resurrected the TGB as a “lower capacity” crossing renamed Gallions Reach. He said that the crossing should initially be a ferry service that could then be upgraded to a “fixed link”.

Mott MacDonald’s study will examine a “new road tunnel and lifting road bridge between North Greenwich and Silvertown, a new vehicle ferry between Gallions Reach and Thamesmead, and a new lower capacity bridge at the former proposed location for the Thames Gateway Bridge,” according to a statement.

The resurrection appears to be in the London Plan, and should therefore be in the MTS too, which I have open here.  Ah, yes, Proposal 39(d):

Consideration of a longer-term fixed link at Gallions Reach to improve connectivity for local traffic, buses, cyclists and to support economic development in this area

So all that’s happened is that Boris has thrown away several million pounds on a scheme that would have created construction jobs during the worst recession on record and greatly enhanced economic prospects in a depressed area of London, and now has to start again, paying even more money to engineering consultants (who are doubtless very grateful) while any resulting bridge is delayed until at least 2020.  Your value for money Mayor at work there, ladies and gentlemen.

Of course, this (along with a slight relaxation in the London Plan about new roadbuilding) does bring my prediction that Boris would revive part of the Ringways a bit closer, since TGB is a direct descendent of Ringway 2.  I didn’t anticipate he’d kill it off first, then revive it, but who can predict the unpredictable?  Still, Gilligan will be fuming at his creature’s latest betrayal of the sacred cause of doing absolutely nothing to improve London’s transport system.

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OK, so I’ve been running around a little this week, but I was exceptionally tired on Friday and Saturday. I had feelings before of hoping and getting out of the slump, but unfortunately not.

Highlights of the week…
* Getting 82% on TMA02 on Open Uni course M150. This was especially good, as the evening of the deadline saw a number of problems, including me inadvertently destroying the USB drive with the work on it, after I raised my knee into the edge of Caroline’s Mac PowerBook. Then, losing the pictures and formatting from within the document… anyway, as can be seen, a good recovery was made!
* Some good and bad moments. Lack of energy and pain is affecting my mood, as well as other issues. I’ve been trying not to get too badly upset.
* Appointment confirmed with the GIC in west London in little over four weeks time. It did look like it was going to be in the same week as my next genetics appointment, but the latter has been brought forward at my request (she said that they would if they had a cancellation). Thankfully not the same week, but also, it’s the same week at Caroline’s two appointments in the same morning at Addenbrooke’s, the cut-off date for the second CMA for T175, the BABUS AGM, as well as Fathers Day, which I have a gift to parcel up and send off in due course.
* Friday, oh dear. After getting the letter re the GIC appointment, was about ready to go out for the train to Cambridge. No, someone was on the track at London Kings Cross, so everything on the way out was at a standstill. So, I went for the bus… had to get cash, did so, managed to make it around, and it was a unexpected surprise, Stagecoach Trident 17078 on the 26! Took that into Cambridge, then onto work. After work, on the way home, my shoes managed to split at the top (canvas summer type that C somehow didn’t like after all…) and as a result, it came off my foot in the middle of Cambridge Emmanuel Street, with just a few minutes to go before the bus back to Royston. So, limped around to Drummer Street with one shoe on…
* Saturday, almost equal fun. After getting a forwarded election communication that Scottish Labour sent to my old address, asking locals not to vote SNP (not long after they’ve taken control of the City Council), I wondered what chance a Scottish Nationalist would stand if up for election in North Hertfordshire… not me, but just the chances of… anyway, we went out to Cambridge to the Lucky Star buffet followed by the cinema next door, C wanted to watch Angels And Demons, which she had also been reading. More shoe problems… mind you, following the previous day’s incident, purchase of a book on the history of footwear was an inspired purchase (perhaps) at the booksale earlier – along with a large Spanish dictionary, with attached USB drive. We’ll see.
* About to make lunch for the both of us – it is our 26 month anniversary today.
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SNP ends decades of Dundee Labour rule

LABOUR’S NEAR-30-YEAR dominance of council politics in Dundee was ended last night when the SNP took control of the city council.

After having been in power, either individually or in coalition, for almost three decades, Labour found themselves ousted from the administration.

With the help of Lord Provost John Letford, who decided to resign from the Labour group last week and sit as an Independent, the SNP succeeded in taking over the convenerships of the service committees.

Mr Letford remains as lord provost despite his former Labour colleagues attempting to replace him with Councillor Richard McCready.

The bitterness between Mr Letford and the Labour group was underlined by the entire group asking for their dissent to be formally recorded at his continuing as lord provost.

Independent councillor Ian Borthwick will still be depute lord provost, having been nominated for the post by both the SNP and Labour.

That means the previous civic team of Mr Letford and Mr Borthwick will remain, although their working relationship has been placed under severe strain by claims and counter-claims about the lord provost being asked to step aside early to make way for Mr Borthwick—allegedly in return for Mr Letford being proposed for an OBE.

As last night’s special meeting began, Mr Borthwick sought to have it adjourned for 48 hours to enable the parties to discuss forming an administration involving all of them.

He said he had never been so concerned about the economic future of the city in his 46 years of public service, a view he was sure was shared by thousands of families in Dundee—and the problems facing the city required the maximum effort by all the council’s political groups.

“There is talent in every group in the council and the question is how best we can harness that talent,” Mr Borthwick said.

Tory group leader Rod Wallace seconded Mr Borthwick, saying that it made sense to utilise the talents in the council to help the city weather the crisis.

He urged all sides to put aside their differences and party dogma so “the book can be ripped up and let’s start afresh.”

Mr Wallace said the idea of all parties having a role in the administration was not new and had been backed by the SNP in 2003.

In ensuring that no party had an overall majority on the council, he said, the electorate had indicated they did not want to see one party dominant and they should all work together.

SNP group leader Ken Guild moved the meeting should not be deferred and should continue as planned, as nothing useful could come out of such an adjournment.

He said that he and his colleagues had consulted with groups and individuals on the council in recent weeks with a view to taking over the administration.

They had a strong, unified team and postponing the meeting would simply delay the smooth changeover from one administration to the next.

Labour group leader Kevin Keenan said that, although he had previously said he was against an all-party administration be- cause of the lack of scrutiny it would involve, he was now prepared to support Mr Borthwick’s motion.

It was right to discuss it with council officers to see how it could be made to work.

Liberal Democrat group leader Fraser Macpherson also supported Mr Borthwick, saying the issue of scrutiny was the only problem he could see and he felt it could be satisfactorily resolved, as it has been elsewhere.

Mr Letford said the idea put forward by Mr Borthwick was a commendable one and was something he had been arguing for “over the last four or five years.”

It had been rejected by his then Labour colleagues and he was told it would not work as there had to be opposition and scrutiny.

Mr Borthwick’s motion was defeated 15 to 14, when the lord provost and the SNP’s 14 members voted against it.

The council then considered the SNP’s motion to take the administration, at which point Mr Letford vacated the chair to chief executive Alex Stephen.

Mr Guild moved a list of names as service committee conveners and deputy conveners, plus nominees to be council representatives on a variety of other bodies.

Mr Guild will become policy and resources committee convener—a post traditionally held by the leader of the administration. Education goes to Liz Fordyce; housing, Dundee Contract Services and environmental services to Jimmy Black; social work and health to Jim Barrie; and leisure, arts and communities to Bob Duncan.

A new committee, the city economic development committee, is to take over the merged functions of the planning and transport and economic development committees and the SNP proposed Will Dawson as convener.

Mr Wallace was proposed as convener of the development quality and licensing committees, and Mr Letford and Mr Borthwick as lord provost and depute.

Mr Keenan put forward alternative names for the posts, including Councillor McCready for lord provost and Mr Borthwick as depute, but was defeated by 15-10 when Mr Letford again voted with the SNP and the Conservatives and Mr Borthwick decided to abstain.

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Don't pay rail fines, says Ken Livingstone (who travelled without a ticket)

KEN LIVINGSTONE, who once led a crusade against fare dodgers, has called on ticket cheats to refuse to pay fines after being let off a £20 penalty.


In a rant about "rip-off" charges, the former London mayor who spearheaded a "zero tolerance" campaign against passengers travelling without a valid ticket, said people were being victimised to boost train firms' coffers.

His criticism comes after he failed to pay a £7.50 single fare from Paddington to Slough but escaped the automatic fine for the offence after appealing to First Great Western platform staff.

He said he had not been trying to dodge paying and insisted he was the victim of the train company's "disgraceful record" of making its ticketing system deliberately difficult for passengers to use.

He said he had planned to buy a ticket before boarding but didn't have time because Tube service delays meant he arrived at Paddington two minutes before his train departed.

As the train was crowded the ticket inspector hadn't reached his carriage by the time he arrived in Slough so he went to the barrier and told staff he needed to buy a ticket.

In a letter to the Daily Mail he said: "No passenger who has been victimised by First Great Western should pay their £20 rip-off.

"The rail operator, First Great Western, has a disgraceful record of making its ticketing service difficult for passengers in order to maximise its income from fines.

"Five years ago I offered the company enough money to install new ticket barriers that would allow their system to be compatible with London's Oyster card system.

"First Great Western refused to do this because it would dramatically reduce income from their £20 penalty charge regime."

As mayor, Mr Livingstone said he would show no mercy to fare dodgers but the 63-year-old today denied double-standards. "While I was mayor we pursued people who dodged paying their fare but tried to avoid fining people who had made a genuine mistake," he added.

A spokesman for First Great Western said it was confused by Mr Livingstone's criticisms. "We don't know where Mr Livingstone is coming from," he said. "We are sure that Mr Livingstone will agree with us that it's in the interests of the travelling public, and the taxpayers who help fund our railways, that passengers buy a ticket before they travel and that rail operators have systems in place to prevent and penalise fare evasion."

During Mr Livingstone's mayoral term there were a number of complaints from passengers who had been fined for fare-dodging.

In one case Rachel McKenzie, a secretary of a London archbishop, was taken to court for mistakenly falling 20p short on a bendy bus. She was unaware that she had insufficient funds on her pass and when a ticket inspector did a spot check, she discovered she had just 70p on it - rather than the 90p then needed for the journey.

Her case echoed that of University of East London student Ashley Williams, 20, who was given a criminal record for travelling one stop on a bus without a valid ticket.

Fare dodgers are believed to cost the travel industry £210 million a year in lost revenue on London commuter routes. London Underground loses £25 million.

A spokesman for the Association of Train Operating Companies said: "The rules are simple. You are required to have a ticket for the journey you are making. If you do not then you are liable to pay a penalty.

"Having said that, people manning the ticket barrier, as in Mr Livingstone's case, take the appropriate response if they believe the mistake is genuine."

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Provost pulls plug on Labour

LORD PROVOST John Letford has resigned from the Labour group on Dundee City Council, effectively scuppering any lingering chance that his former colleagues can retain power.

It now looks certain the SNP will be able to take over the administration at a special council meeting next Monday.

Labour appear to have all but thrown in the towel with administration leader Kevin Keenan issuing a statement accepting it now “looks very likely” that the SNP will form an administration.

Mr Keenan has suggested that Mr Letford should be stripped of the position of lord provost and replaced by depute lord provost and Independent councillor Ian Borthwick.

However, that does not appear to be on the agenda as SNP leader Ken Guild said his group would be proposing that Mr Letford and Mr Borthwick both retain their present posts.

Mr Letford said he had formally resigned from the Labour group yesterday with immediate effect and would sit as an Independent on the council.

He said he would be voting with the SNP at next week’s meeting, which is expected to result in the nationalists taking control of the council.

“My initial inclination had been to abstain in the vote but, after discussing it with members of my family, I intend to take part in the vote,” he said. “My family are fully behind me and believe I should take a stand.”

Mr Letford said there had been disagreements between himself and the Labour group dating back to the last administration before the elections in 2007.

He said he intended that the details of those disagreements would remain private unless the Labour group chose to highlight them.

“Because of the agenda for March 30 (the special meeting of the council), I have to describe one of the major disagreements that was part of the many reasons I resigned.

“I have been trying to persuade my ex-colleagues for nearly two years to recognise the fact that, in the interests of the city and fair play, Dundee City Council committee conveners should be compiled from all parties,” he said.

Mr Letford said that was “more than self-evident” when the SNP, as the largest single party on the council with 13 members, had been excluded from any role in the administration. The situation had been made worse since the SNP increased to 14 members—almost half the 29-member council— by winning the Maryfield by-election earlier this month.

“It is ludicrous to believe all the political talent required to run a city is only available in the administration and exclude half of the councillors,” he said.

“My pleas fell on deaf ears and, because of that and other serious differences, I felt I could no longer stay a member of the administration and the Labour group. I think the majority of people in the city will understand my reasons, but if they don’t I will live with that.”

Mr Letford is the second Labour councillor to resign in the last few weeks, following former Maryfield councillor Joe Morrow, whose departure caused the by-election subsequently won by the SNP.

Councillor Guild said he welcomed Mr Letford’s statement. “I am aware that it has taken a great deal of heart searching and courage on his part to reach this stage.

“I think he has been an excellent ambassador for the city and we hope he will be able to continue in his ceremonial role under an SNP administration.”

Mr Guild said his group would be putting forward the names of Mr Letford and Mr Borthwick as lord provost and depute lord provost at next Monday’s special meeting. He said that would be the case “irrespective of the voting pattern at the meeting.”

Reacting to Mr Letford’s resignation from the Labour group, Councillor Keenan said it was a “sad and disappointing turn of events, which makes it increasingly unlikely that we can sustain the administration.

“I would like to pay a sincere tribute to all of my colleagues who have worked tirelessly to promote our city and ensure its progress in recent years.

“It now looks very likely that the SNP will be able to form a new administration of their choosing solely due to the lord provost’s defection.”

Mr Keenan said he was urging the SNP to give serious consideration to appointing Councillor Borthwick as lord provost in view of the overwhelming support he had received from the council when being made depute lord provost a few months ago.

“I am confident that this would receive the endorsement of the citizens of Dundee,” he said. “This would be a fitting tribute to his 46 years of public service.”

The make-up of the council now comprises 14 SNP members, eight Labour, three Conservatives, two Liberal Democrats and two Independents.


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September 2010



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