Sunday, 29 November 2009

Margate's Millions - where are they being spent?

A new guest blogger, my colleague Cllr. Iris Johnston (pictured) who represents Margate Central one of the most deprived wards in the country.
"Roger Gale MP did his best to avoid crediting the Labour Government for all it has tried to do to help Thanet since 1997 in last week's Thanet Extra.
However, he had no choice but to grudgingly mention Labour Minister Margaret Hodge’s announcement of the 3.7 million pounds of Sea Change money for Dreamland.

It was the British Resorts Association working with Government, when I represented Thanet District Council (TDC) at Conferences in 2001, that led to action on helping sea side areas. I had to remind Conservative TDC on several occasions that we needed to get a bid in for Sea Change funds and we even missed the first tranche.

Thanet also received 3.7 million in April 2006 for a Safer Stronger Communities Fund within Margate Central and Cliftonville from the Labour government. Unlike Roger Gale, Thanet District Council acknowledges a further £700,000 for the next 2 years on its website. New play areas in Dane Park and Cliftonville, and significant crime reduction measures along with return to work initiatives and housing renewal funds show real Government commitment to Margate. I have never seen Mr Gale as the local MP at any of the meetings to make these things happen, nor indeed supporting pensioners bus passes, nursery provision or the minimum wage.

The fact that unemployment has dropped from over 23% in 1995 to, a now unfortunately recently rising, 5.7%, shows we cannot be complacent. The Governments 4.9 million Thanet Works funding along with other schemes to help people find work and train for employment must be targeted appropriately. Thanet District Council gets £65 Million of tax payers money annually from Central Government to cover Housing and Council Tax benefits and Labour councillors' regular requests for a breakdown on how exactly this is allocated are still outstanding.

Mr Derek Harding, who deserves great credit for his efforts in getting the 3.7 million pounds for Dreamland, attended TDC's Overview and Scrutiny Panel on 17th November at my request. He mentioned that around £4o million had come into Margate for Regeneration purposes. It is the responsibility of all councillors to ensure it is best and quickly used to regenerate Margate. Mr Gale might like to join us rather than spending so much time defending his allowances system."

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Ramsgate station is booming, so why cut back on staff?

I recently had a fabulous journey. I was working in the European Parliament in Brussels at 4.30pm and courtesy of Eurostar and Southeastern trains I was 20minutes early at Thanet Council offices for a 7pm meeting. Even with the advantage of an hour coming back that's fantastic.
The last part of my journey was courtesy of Les a taxi driver who may well be the man featured in the Independent. Tracey MacLeod on her way to review Age and Sons restaurant wrote:
“The short taxi ride from station to harbour (courtesy of a driver with 'Love' and 'Hate' tattooed on his knuckles) took us past boarded-up shops and repossessed properties."

She could as a journalist had a chat and asked him a few questions. It would have helped research her piece, instead she relied upon a lazy bit of stereotyping to present an image. Assuming there aren’t two taxi drivers with the same tattoos working in Thanet, she would have found out more about a man who enjoys helping children to school every day as part of his work and takes a pride in his job.
My journey illustrates that with the new super fast High Speed 1 service plus Eurostar, East Kent has a train service that is the best in the country. The pictures are of the new depot for the extra trains at Ramsgate in the Northwood ward I represent.
People know this. They are voting with their wallets. Use of Ramsgate station is booming. Since 2004/5 annual rail passenger usage of Ramsgate station has increased from 800,000 a year in 2004/5 to 1.014 million in 2007/8, that’s a whopping 26% increase, and I predict courtesy of all this investment things are going to get even better.
Margate by the way went from 585,000 to 672,000 a 14% increase, Broadstairs from 449,000 to 537,000 for a 19% increase. Ramsgate is the town that is moving on up fastest! Great more green travel and a massive increase in demand steadily increasing over several years. Surely Southeastern trains would want to provide an even better service and build on this record of growth?

I have seen a letter from Bob Crow, General Secretary of the RMT Union. In it he writes:

“I have received a report from staff at Southeastern Trains advising me that the company intends to cut 31 Station and Booking Office Staff posts and also reallocate despatch duties to Conductors. I have also been advised that the company intend to have a ridiculously short consultation period with the changes coming into effect on the 13th December 2009."

He goes on to say

“I have written to Southeastern trains and informed them of our opposition to the cuts and changes to our members’ duties. Furthermore I have also advised Southeastern that the consultation timetable is totally unacceptable and unless we receive written assurances that these proposals are withdrawn by 24th November 2009 then this union will be in dispute with the company.”

I cannot understand why when more and more people are using a booming service Southeastern trains want to cut staff. The less frequent ticket checks in the evenings now must be losing considerable money. The earlier closure of the ticket office also makes the station a more attractive place to those who may want to be anti-social . Some nights the only people left on duty are the taxi drivers!

I will be interested to hear what response Southeastern Trains have sent to the RMT with their deadline being today. As a regular rail user I want more staff for the safety of all passengers and to ensure fares are collected, not short sighted cutting of services. let's make the services better and more attractive so more people use the trains and more people are needed to work on the trains, it can be a win-win. My post 11 days ago raised my concerns on how this new regime is being applied. I hope Southeastern will invest in their services as they will have a lot more money thanks to the massive increase in passenger usage from Thanet residents.

Friday, 20 November 2009

There is Still Room for Racism in the Conservative Party

From the other end of Kent, to this End of Kent comes news of the latest Conservative councillor to be found expressing racist views. Read all about it here. The Conservative Party are keen to downplay this incident, suspending Bromley Cllr. Peter Hobbins and saying :
"There is no room for racism in the Conservative Party.”
If only this were true. If the Conservative Party wants to be taken seriously on racism it cannot continue its current “Year Zero” approach where every incident is quickly depicted as isolated and fenced off.
here's a list of Conservative councillors with links to their racist incidents

and a little bit of "controversy" on race issues is no barrier to rising in the Conservative Party

Let’s be clear there are more racist political activists in the Conservative Party than the BNP. This is what they get caught saying in public, what they say in private is often worse. I’m not saying all Conservatives are racist but a sizable minority are. When I was a councillor in Lewisham Conservatives like Barrie Anderson and David Britton did not just talk the talk on racism, but they walked the walk, with a proud record ahead of most of their contemporaries.

In my experience they remain the minority in the Conservative Party. The racists in the Conservative Party are also the minority. The problem is the overwhelming majority of Conservatives are prepared to turn a blind eye or a deaf ear to racism. To hope it goes away, but in reality to tolerate it, and to elect to senior positions people who privately act and think in unacceptable ways.

Cllr. Hobbins may be at the other end of Kent, but the Conservative Party remains a place where racism is unchallenged and tolerated.

There is still plenty of space for racism in the Conservative Party.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

They Shoot Foxes

I am very pleased to see Steve Ladyman South Thanet's MP (pictured with Hilary Benn, DEFRA Secretary of State) signing up to support the ban on fox hunting with dogs. There are many levels on which this is the right thing to do. Firstly, public opinion overwhelmingly supports the ban. No one is saying foxes should not be shot. What the law says is that it should not be a bit of fun to see an animal torn to pieces.

There are two other aspects which are rarely brought out into the open on this debate. First tally-ho foxhunting is utterly inefficient. If a smallholder or a farmer has problem with foxes they want it resolved quickly. The classically cited situation is of a fox in a chicken run. If this happens to you, you do not say “I will look at the hunt diary, and await the hunt meeting in my part of the county in 3/4/5 weeks. In the meantime it is mighty fine for the fox to return as often as it likes and to raid my neighbours." No you get your gun and you go out and shoot the fox or fiund somebody who will do so.

Lamping is a common practice still in many parts of the country, and it responds to the problem. Hunting with hounds is a social ritual. It is about people like David Cameron wanting some recreational activity at the weekend. It is about dressing up. It is about going riding with your friends. It is not about quickly and efficiently killing your pest.

Secondly, as someone whose family comes from a rural area, there is a class issue to hunting. I grew up understanding that many people in villages allowed the hunt over their smallholdings or rented land, in what was still an almost feudal acknowledgment of power. The majority of people who hunt are wealthy and frequently own considerable lands. The rural economy acts in many ways on an informal basis. If you refused permission for local hunts to cross your property the consequences would be subtle but notable. When casual labour is needed on the bigger farms and estates at the busier times of year, you would find yourself at the back of the queue. Borrowing equipment, and exchanging favours, all the little things that make a community would become problematic.

The exercising of hunts of their “right to rampage” (rather than roam) is as Conservatives put it a traditional country activity. The reality was that a favoured few expected to be able to ride where they wanted, when they wanted and how they wanted. Woe betide any kittens out playing when a pack of hounds came by.

So as well as being slow to respond to the need to kill foxes, hunts cause considerable damage to community cohesion. That’s why even in rural areas there is overwhelming public support for the ban. Hunts with hounds are inefficient and their behaviour is anti-social. Real country people know you do not wait for the hunt, you go out and shoot foxes whilst the evidence is fresh. It is far better if people want to dress up and ride out together, for them to follow a scented trail laid out across the land of those who are happy to have hunts, or have been paid for the privilege.

Yet despite this being the democratic wish of the vast majority of people David Cameron, Roger Gale and Laura Sandys are pledged to make the repealing of the hunting ban a priority if elected. They want people to have the right to set dogs on a fox, and pull it limb from limb in a bloody gory ritual. We should be proud of the distinguished record of animal charities like the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), and we should expose the fact that the Conservative Party wants to reintroduce a barbaric, brutal uncivilised ritual because many of its leading members consider it fun.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Hastings values its Heritage

Regular readers will know how disappointed I am at the neglect of Thanet's local museums by the current Conservative administration of Thanet District Council. Here's a report of how a similar community not far away takes a different approach. Hastings Borough Council was run by Labour until 2004. After a period of the current Conservative administration takes a more enlightened approach to cultural matters than Thanet Leader Sandy Ezekiel and his colleagues. Here's a report from pictured guest blogger Cllr. John Watkins:

"Hastings & St. Leonards has a population of 85,503. Hastings Borough Council (HBC) has fewer rate payers than Thanet population 126,702 (2001), with 32 elected councillors, as opposed to Thanet's 56.

HBC has a cultural policy that has provided an annual budget of £269,000 this year for their museum service staffing. Overall annual revenue cost for the service is £394,000 (this includes internal recharges and capital servicing costs).

This budget funds a Museums Curator, plus an Administrator and other support staff. These HBC employees run the two separate council museums in the town, both of which have free admission to the public and have recorded very high visitor numbers (with the use of an electronic beam counter).

HBC has assisted in the acquisition of a £1.4million grant fund, for the recent refurbishment of the very fine, main Hastings Museum and Art Gallery building.

The capital refurbishment project cost was met by
£977k - Heritage Lottery Fund
£30k - Interreg (for dual language material)
£15k - Friends of the Museum donations
£30k - Magdalen & Lasher Trust
£349k - Hastings Borough Council.

The council at Hastings is also very supportive, in terms of peppercorn rent, rate relief, signage, advertising etc, of the two maritime themed museums on the Rock-a-Nore beach front. The Fishermans Museum and the Shipwreck Heritage Centre are separately run by their own trustees, and also record high visitor numbers with support from the local Council.

These four well run and attractive museums add enormous value to their town's tourism trade. A visit to Hastings should if possible, include Cod and Chips at Maggies Fish and Chip Restaurant, Rock-a-Nore."

It is good to see a Council with less money than Thanet Council able to recognise, support and run museums in a very similar coastal community. No blaming other people and whinging, just getting on with the job. No money wasted on "big events" and burlesque. Instead a real understanding that a community's heritage is priceless, and heritage attracts tourists in the 21st century.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Southeastern Trains Reducing Customer Service

I had an interesting time on the train recently. I work in London and buy a combination of season tickets and day returns. Recently, I arrived at Ramsgate station to buy a cheap day return ticket in good time only to find a considerable queue. I waited in the queue, but it moved slowly. With 2 minutes to go I went, as I frequently have before to board the train. I went to the carriage where the guard was and explained I did not have a ticket, but asked to buy one on the train.

Having been let on, I was surprised when told I could not purchase a cheap day return and wcould have to purchase a full price ticket. The friendly and helpful guard, who I can only call D such is the approach of Southeastern Trains to public comment, explained that there had been a change in policy. Apparently the Strategic Rail Authority had carried out an audit and found that there was too high a level of fare evasion on Southeastern Trains.
Frequently in the evenings, people board with no intention of paying. Guards may ask them to get off at the next station, but if they refuse to pay but the guards cannot take enforcement action. Especially if there is a group, the guard is placed in a very difficult situation. Unless there are fare enforcement officers or transport police on board the miscreants know they can take advantage with almost impunity. There are cameras and CCTV, but it is very hard to follow up. I have on more than one occasion been coming off the train at Ramsgate, and heard fare evaders cry out to their friends that there are security staff checking tickets on the way out. they dash back on to the train to get off at Dumpton Park station where enforcement is very rare. It is a frequent claim by fare evaders that they boarded at Dumpton Park, because there is no ticket office at the station.

Some guards have jokingly called it Dumpton Park International so frequently do they encounter people claiming to have boarded there. Whereas regular Thanet train users know that the footfall at Dumpton Park is very low.

Southeastern Trains solution to this problem is to ban people from buying reduced price tickets on board the train. There are two “peak periods” for this. Cheap day returns are available on trains departing Thanet around 8am which must arrive in London after 10am, and the excellent value Price buster fares are available on the first train leaving any Thanet station after 10am. Canny people know this so there are often queues at the ticket offices before 8am for the first category, and just before 10am for the second category. I was told by D that the decision to only have one ticket office open at each station now, has made for lengthening queues. The idea is to encourage people to use the machines. The problem with this, is that the machines will not issue tickets before the times specified. So again it is easy for a queue to build up at the ticket machines. The machines also do not allow you to buy these discounted tickets before the day of travel. In the past I often used to buy a ticket on my way home. However, I often arrive back in Thanet after 8pm by which time the ticket offices are now closed.

D told me that Southeastern were reallocating security and fare enforcement staff on to the new High Speed 1 trains. I have noticed that ticket checks in the evening at Ramsgate as you exit the station are now less frequent. As D said fare evasion on the High Speed 1 trains is low level, partly because they are early, and also because the fares are higher, so the penalties are higher. Peak evasion is in the evenings especially where stations are fairly close together. I have observed this is a particular problem from Faversham onwards to Thanet.

So to improve fare collection as D advised me, Southeastern have decided to target ordinary commuters and charge them full fare when boarding without a ticket even if they declare this as soon as they board so there is no possible question of any attempt at fare evasion. The idea being that this will increase revenue. It does not matter that the ticket machines cannot issue discounted tickets in advance. It does not matter that the number of staff selling tickets, and the hours they work has been cut. It does not matter if you search out the guard when boarding to declare that you need a ticket. You will be charged a full fare.
Affable D negotiated with me that there must have been a queue out the doors of Ramsgate station Booking hall, so he therefore was able to issue me a discounted ticket to me. Many thanks to D for his common sense. The reality was that there was a queue of about 8 people. The queue might have taken 3 minutes or 13 minutes. You never can tell. I might have made my intended train or I might have missed it. For me it is not a great issue, as it is fine for me to arrive at Victoria, Cannon Street, Charing Cross or St. Pancras as I have an onward journey.
What about somebody going on the hourly daytime service to Dover? Why shouldn’t they be able to expect to arrive 5 minutes early to buy their ticket rather than 15 minutes? If they are stuck in the queue for tickets, and miss their train then they have to wait for another hour. Or do they dash for the train, and find that instead of being able to buy a cheap day return they are paying twice the price for a full return through no fault of their own?
There’s another problem from Southeastern trains reluctance to tackle the problem of the real fare evaders. I know of many people who will not use the trains later in the evening. The less they do, the higher the proportion of fare evaders, and the less safe people feel. It becomes a vicious circle where the balance swings to the extent that later at night some guards just hide away and make no effort to check tickets and to patrol their trains.

The vast majority of guards I find helpful and diligent in their duties but they acknowledge some of their colleagues do let standards slip. I have raised this with Southeastern Trains and D tells me that the rail unions are raising this change of ticket issuing policy, as they think Southeastern have got this wrong. So if you are someone who uses the cheaper fares, allow plenty of time, buy your ticket in advance if you can but do also complain. The old policy where so long as when you boarded and you immediately found the guard to tell them you did not have a ticket surely made sense, and it should be brought back.
Ramsgate and other Thanet stations should have increased traffic with the superb High Speed 1 service, hopefully Southeastern will find a way to provide customer service to match the quality of the new trains.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Cat Got Your Tongue?

A regular reader has sent me this picture which is to be found in the window of the Labour Party's office in Northdown Road, Cliftonville. An old poster which marks a significant achievement of the Labour government. The Conservatives have pledged to bring back animal cruelty, by repealing the legislation banning fox hunting, despite massive public support for the ban.

It looks like Mayor and Dane Valley Councillor Ted Watt-Ruffell may be keeping to the

"Conservative Party's 18 years of government when animal cruelty came bottom of the Tory list"

in view of his recent appearances in the local papers and courts.

When asked about this, Ted said the cat had got his tongue and he was unavailable for comment.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Albion House to be sold off Ramsgate Town Council to be homeless

The Asset Management Working Party agenda reports:

An acceptable offer to purchase the property has been received and the matter is in Lawyers’ hands.

This is not what I understood to be Council policy concerning this building. My understanding was that Ramsgate Town Council would retain freehold, at least of the ground floor and basement for public use in Ramsgate. Where is the Town Council supposed to go?

Ramsgate Mayor Dave Green and Thanet Councillor has been negotiating on behalf of the Town Council, on the above basis for the Town Council to lease this space. I understand from him that Thanet District Council have not advised Ramsgate Town Council of this development. He has clarified with the relevant officers who confirm that sale is proceeding of the total freehold.

I do not believe a private owner of Albion House will gain or will want to retain public use of the building. They will want to maximise their returns whether that means flats or commercial premises. The Conservative Council are being consistent in vandalising our heritage by seeking to sell off this part of Ramsgate history. Museums, public toilets, town halls everything is for sale. Nothing is valued.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

How Roger Gale can Stimulate the Economy

Paul Carter (pictured), Conservative Leader of Kent County Council recently gave evidence at the House of Commons. He was providing his "expertise" to the committee considering the Child Poverty Bill.

It is not that long ago when introducing free bus travel for schoolchildren, that Paul Carter ignored child poverty indices, and provided free travel first to Tunbridge Wells, and other leafy parts of West Kent. Thanet needless to say was one of the last parts of Kent to receive this assistance, despite being one of the most deprived areas.

One comment that did strike me was this:

"The east of Kent has social deprivation indices that are off the Richter scale and in the top 20, something we are not proud of. Roger Gale said to me the other day that when he first became an MP (in 1983) he was going to change the dynamic of Thanet in five years. If anything it has gone backwards, not forwards."

Good to see Paul Carter accepting that the independent records show that his selective introduction of free bus travel was not based on need. More interesting though is this coded chiding of Roger Gale's performance as a MP. Nobody can suggest Roger Gale has changed the dynamic of Thanet in the last 26 years.

Contrast his record to Steve Ladyman's work as South Thanet MP in only 12 years to secure the High Speed trains, the rail depot, and possibly a new ferry service. Take party politics out of it. Since 1983 there have been 14 years of Conservative government and 13 years of Labour. As Paul Carter notes Roger Gale has failed to achieve the target he set himself, whichever party was in power nationally.

One of my earliest posts on this blog pointed out that many Conservatives (including I am sure David Cameron) would like to see Roger Gale stand down as a MP. In the current controversy on Roger employing his wife Suzy Gale, it has been notable that no local Conservatives have come forward to support him, no councillors, no Laura Sandys. Here's a prime example of an opportunity to support Roger which was missed.

I do not necessarily object to spouses being employed by representatives. How do we define when a fling has become a relationship? Is it fine to sleep with somebody and employ them? Is it only when married, rather than living together that things change? The proposals are arbitrary and ill thought out. What is needed is accounatbility. Records of the hours people work, when they send emails, attend meetings, answer telephones and actually do work. Roger Gale disagrees and compalins about public scrutiny.

I still have concern that he defended the fraudulent practices of Derek Conway. Any comment on him about the "integrity" of his own financial arrangements needs to be judged by the low standards you can find here. Derek Conway could easily have published dates and times of emails, metings, or telephone records but was unable to do so.

I have a suggestion for Roger Gale on how he can belatedly address social deprivation. Aged 66 he is eligible for the state pension. With 26 years in Parliament he is eligible for a leaving payment of £64,000. He would also receive a pension of 26/40 x £64,000 = £41,600. He may well have other personal pensions, plus the state pension of £4,900/year. He has a property portfolio as well.

So he could be a man of leisure able to find his worth in the job market if he wants extra money, whilst receving £46,500 at least a year. A cut in salary I accept, but more than enough for most people in their twilight years, plus he will not have any work to do, his time will be all his. He could as many retired people do, play an active role in his community and volunteer, there are plenty of local groups who would welcome his involvement. Plus having failed to change the dynamic of Thanet for 26 years, Roger Gale could actually help stimulate the economy by creating a job vacancy.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Sir Keith Park's Statue Unveiled

There has been much talk of who will be on the 4th plinth in Trafalgar Square. This afternoon the statue to Sir Keith Park will be unveiled in Trafalgar Square. Here’s a brief biography of the hero you may never have heard of:

First World War
Fought at Gallipoli

Park's battery took part in the Battle of the Somme

Park blown off his horse by a German shell. Wounded, he was evacuated to England and graded "unfit for active service" from the army when recovered he joined the Air Corps.

Awarded the Military Cross for shooting down one, two "out of control" and damaging a fourth enemy aircraft during one sortie. Promoted to Temporary Captain and then Major, commanding 28 Squadron November 1918. Park’s aircraft claims were five destroyed and 14 (& 1 shared) "out of control". He was also shot down twice during this period.

Second World War

Appointed Air Vice Marshal, Park given command of No. 11 Group RAF, responsible for the fighter defence of London and southeast England. Organised fighter patrols over France during the Dunkirk evacuation and in the Battle of Britain his command took the brunt of the Luftwaffe's air attacks.

Commanded air defence of Malta, and squadrons participated in the North African and Sicilian campaigns.

Appointed Allied Air Commander, South-East Asia, where he served until and after the end of the war.

I hope there will be suitable coverage of this commemoration in the media. However I suspect this will not be the case. The campaign to have an appropriate memorial has been superbly run. I was kindly invited to the unveiling today, but frustratingly a work commitment prevents me attending so this my way of marking this event. You can read more about Sir Keith Park in my earlier posts here and here.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Conservatives Clueless on Economy

Continuing a financial theme this headline article "Tory plans for austerity cuts could be a disaster warns survey" caught my eye in the Daily Telegraph's Business Section:
Erik Britton, a director of Fathom Financial Consulting said: "While we agree that the UK's fiscal position is dreadful, Opposition plans to begin fiscal tightening next year could spell disaster. We are calling for an overhaul of the Bank of England's Quantative Easing programme to make it start delivering for the real economy: for all firms, not just the biggest; and to provide a cushion for cash-strapped households."

The consultancy said that the Government should hold off from raising taxes or cutting spending until 2012.
Or to summarise George Osborne hasn't got a clue what to do.
You can read the whole article here.

Monday, 2 November 2009

UK Plc doing better than in past slumps

This morning I picked up a copy of City AM the freesheet rival to the Financial Times. It had an interesting editorial from Allister Heath. I have highlighted the parts in bold which are a consequence of the last 12 years of Labour government:
THERE are many reasons why the stock market has bounced back, despite the severity of the recession. The fact that corporate earnings didn’t collapse as much as originally feared is one such explanation, as highlighted this weekend by Lombard Street Research. The operating profits of UK companies have fallen 8.4 per cent from their peak, compared with 10.6 per cent peak-to-trough in the 1990s recession, and 22.8 per cent in the early 1980s. The fact that the drop in profits has been contained to single digits is a considerable achievement; it can be attributed in part to very speedy cost-cutting and drastic reductions in inventories (helped by modern just-in-time stock-control). The other big driver has been labour market flexibility, which has helped avoid redundancy and early retirement schemes where possible by freezing wages and cutting hours.
It is often thought that one of the big lessons from the present collapse is that nothing ever changes in economics. It is certainly true that each time pundits start to claim that we have entered a new order – in the late 1990s, justifying the bubble, or in the mid-noughties, rationalising the property bubble – the economy has a habit of imploding. But something does seem to have changed: some parts of the economy have become more flexible, companies employ more efficient IT systems and employees have started to cooperate with employers better.
It is easy to become gloomy, especially when one looks at Britain’s future prospects; but what this shows is that not all the trends are bad.