23 October 2009

The Letter

For those who haven't seen it, below is an abridged version of the letter from Nigel Johnson-Hill to the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
The original, full version can now be found via internet search.

Dear Secretary of State

My friend, who is in farming at the moment, recently received a cheque from the Rural Payments Agency for £3,000 for not rearing pigs. I would now like to join the 'not rearing pigs' business.

In your opinion, what is the best kind of farm not to rear pigs on, and which is the best breed of pig not to rear?

I would prefer not to rear bacon pigs, but if this not the type you want not to be rearing, I will just as gladly not rear porkers. Are there any advantages in not rearing rare breeds such as saddlebacks or Gloucester Old Spots, or are there too many people already not rearing these?

My friend is very satisfied with this business. He has been rearing pigs for forty years or so, and the best he ever made on them was £1,422 in 1968. That is until this year, when he received a government cheque for not rearing any.

Yours faithfully (etc)

The Fool On The Natural England Hill

'Natural England' recently gave £12,000 to a local farmer for not building a wall.

The 'Rural Payments Agency' became involved. 'Environmental Stewardship Scheme' money had been sent out willy-nilly in connection with something to do with a wall, in a place governed by the 'Peak District National Park Authority'.

No-one had looked to see if the wall had been repaired, or even still existed, before sending out the money.

There was originally a 'Countryside Commission', which changed its name to 'The Countryside Agency', which joined up with 'English Nature', subsequently becoming 'Natural England', and sponsored by the 'Department for the Environment Food and Rural Affairs'.

The thing that all of these unnecessary, superfluous overlapping 'countryside' bureaucratic bodies and quangos have in common is the sheer profligate waste of other people's hard-earned money.

22 October 2009

Melvyn or Charles?

22 October 2009 was a quite interesting day for the many people around here who like to argue about the weather and a possible climate.

Melvyn Bragg, presenting BBC Radio 4's excellent programme In Our Time was led through the history of the British Isles and the ups and downs of the climate. The period covered was 600 million years, stretching to just over 1 billion years when one or two of the guest scientists became over excited.

Melvyn learned, and through him the listeners, that the British Isles area has been a baking desert and under about a kilometre of ice. This has happened on a regular basis.

When Transparency's editor told his friend Craig in the 1990s, a physicist who works at CERN, that this global warming thing was disastrous, Craig pointed out that when he was about to leave Manchester Central Grammar School to go to university, in 1970, the same scientists and meteorologists were confidently predicting the new ice age.

A bit of research dug out the two Time magazine covers from the relevant periods, reproduced below.

Charles Jolly and his friends, of Transisition Buxton, are in no doubt. Charles said as much in today's local paper. Man is heating up the planet. People who point out inconvenient facts are no different from holocaust deniers. Shamefully, even the same word - denier - is used.

Perhaps Melvyn and Charles can both agree that, while the earth's human population continues to grow so rapidly and exponentially, any suggested 'climate change remedy' is neither use nor ornament.

15 October 2009

MP Fails Transparency Test In Questions Over Public Money

High Peak's MP, Tom Levitt, seems determined to help his local political opponents in every conceivable way possible.

In the latest episode in the expenses scandal, Mr Levitt has received a letter from the independent auditor - appointed by Mr Levitt's own government please note - and has now refused to release a copy to the press.

It is obvious that, if the auditor's letter exonerated the MP, it would have been released in an instant.

Irony Corner:

Tom Levitt MP has stated that he supports the organisation Transparency International.

The link to Mr Levitt's press release on this issue:
The link to one of High Peak Transparency's earlier articles on this subject:

Carbon Saving? Do As We Say, Not As We Do

The public sector bureaucrats who lecture us about the carbon footprint of unnecessary journeys have been caught out again.

This time it's Jim Dixon. Mr Dixon is the chief executive of the quango called Peak District National Park Authority.

Recently, the chief executive had another nice jolly at taxpayers' expense.* This time, it was a trip over to Sweden.

Sweden, nice place to visit though it is, has got nothing genuine to do with this public sector job here in the local area.

*Stromstad and back, Sept 2009

13 October 2009

A Place Far From The Madding Crowd No Longer

If you wanted to get away from it all on the 11th of October, it looks as if you picked the wrong day.

Yet more trampling on the Kinder plateau (pictured above) took place on that date, and building up of nonsensical myths about the place by people who you'd think would know better.

Myth One: Some trespassing that took place in 1932 is the reason we can all go into the national park if we want to.
In fact, the land has been bought from its owner. The national trust used our money - entirely legitimately - for the purchase.

Myth Two: People were jailed for trespassing.

Another false statement. Violence and riotious assembly were the reasons for the criminal charges.

Trespassing on private property is not a crime now and it was not a crime then. The many people who simply trespassed in an attempt to make a point were not even arrested, never mind charged with anything.

Myth Three: The town of New Mills was the pivotal place in relation to the trespass.

In fact Hayfield is where the 1932 people met, then later that day a few of them were arrested. Most of them came from the districts of nearby Manchester, such as Gorton. Another group came over to visit the plateau from the Sheffield side.

The slight relationship with New Mills came about by accident. Hayfield did not have a big enough lock-up, so the police had to go from Hayfield to the next town, randomly simply the nearest place with the necessary facilities.

In later years, New Mills came to have an influential politician with friends high up in the Labour government under Blair and Brown: the late Martin Doughty.

Martin Doughty - a tireless self-promoter especially where 'public' money might be there to be spent - almost single-handedly managed to build up the chance and slight association between his home town and the events of 1932 into the grandiose and false myth that it has become.

Transparency's favourite story from these events relates to the trial, which took place in Derby. The judge was told that one of the accused had a book by Lenin on him. "Isn't that the Russian gentleman?" he replied.

06 October 2009

Boyish Charm

Occasionally, something that sounds like a gimmick is actually a brilliant idea.

George Osborne, the Tories' shadow chancellor, (pictured above) represents a nearby constituency.

Today he said that people given a job in the public sector who make more money than the prime minister of the United Kingdom would have to justify themselves.

This is dependent on the Tories forming the next government. Politics is starting to become interesting again.

04 October 2009

Let's Pretend That It's A Village Green

High Peak Borough Council has gone on record complaining about the effect of current state-sponsored 'land grabs' in England.

These are where the council or some individual owns a property, but somebody makes a spurious claim that the land is a 'town or village green'.

The land owner is, in effect, deprived of his or her property. No compensation is paid. There is no opportunity for reasonable negotiation, or indeed any negotiation.

The governmment has supported this dishonest - not to mention completely mad - land-grab legislation for England. They allowed the law in this important area to be written, in effect, by lobbyists from the so-called Open Spaces Society, which has a very narrow vested interest.

Scotland has a more logical, sensible legal system in this respect and the 'let's pretend that somebody's property is a village green' scam by middle-class nimbys, as a device to prevent development near to where they live, is impossible north of the border.

02 October 2009

Cuts? Not For Council Bosses' Pockets

The News of the World has a rather direct style.

Verbatim, here is how High Peak's Chief Executive made it into the Sunday newspaper on the 20th of September 2009.

Unfortunately there was no 'love nest' or 'three-in-a-bed romp', which would have been more fun.

If there had, it would also have been one hell of a lot cheaper:

'Get-rich council bosses have pocketed pay rises of up to 45 per cent this year - while hard-working Brits lose their jobs or see their wages slashed.

'A News of the World investigation today reveals the shameless fat cats who have bumped up their salaries as unemployment has hit 2.47 million and more than 2,000 workers join the dole queue every day.'

The paper then puts Simon Baker of 'Staffordshire Moorlands and High Peak' near the top of their list of shame at a 37% increase. From £110,000 to £151,000 a year.

Fortunately, there was also a bit of light relief, as some fantasy/comedy was introduced near the end of the article:

'Last night council bosses insisted the rises reflected market forces.'

01 October 2009


Ex-mayor Lancelot Edgar Dowson has been busy lately.

Transparency offers a free translation service. This is so that pronouncements of some of our local politicians may be rendered into plain English.

A letter he wrote to the Buxton Advertiser, published on 1 October 2009, contains the usual strange venting of personal spleen against all things LibDem. Cllr Dowson's original statements - verbatim - are in italic, with the translations following in plain text:

'I was very surprised at the absolute silence that my proposal caused and the lack of support that it received'

Most councillors didn't like it

'Cllr Beth Atkins, New Mill's (sic) Liberal Democrat Town and County Cllr, then proposed that the Council vote for her fellow Liberal Democrat, Cllr David Lomax of Whaley Bridge, and this was voted on and, with all the other Liberal Democrats voting in favour of it, was passed.

Democracy worked.