Thursday, July 29, 2010
More of Britain's petty bureaucracy
Council orders family having picnic to remove £12.99 windbreak - branding it 'semi-permanent structure' -- but publicity brings the usual repentance
A picnic just wouldn't be a picnic without the great British weather trying to ruin it. Jon Hacker and his family were prepared for that - what they didn't count on, however, was a pair of overzealous council officers trying even harder.
After the family put up a windbreak to protect them from the blustery conditions on a day out, they spotted a 4x4 speeding ominously towards them across the Downs. Council enforcement officers leapt out and ordered them to take down the £12.99 plastic sheet because it classified as a 'semi-permanent structure'. The windbreak was in breach of by-laws aimed at protecting Clifton Downs, Bristol, the officers said.
Mr Hacker, 41, was trying to enjoy a picnic with wife Claire and daughters Sophie, 11, and Emily, eight. He said: 'One of the officers asked who had erected the "semi- permanent structure". 'I said, "Are you talking about the windbreak?"
'He said that windbreaks weren't allowed due to the by-laws on the Downs. One of them gave me a leaflet about the by-laws and it said you weren't allowed to put up tents or a gazebo, but it didn't say anything about a windbreak. 'My family and I were shocked to be informed that we were breaking the law. I think they were being very strict.'
The intervention was all the more galling as it ruined the day for one of their daughter's friends, Erika, 11, who was visiting from Spain.
Mr Hacker, an IT worker, added: 'We took the windbreak down and it was so windy our paper plates and serviettes were blowing everywhere. 'We didn't want to leave a mess as that would be breaking the law as well, so we packed up and drove home and ended up finishing our picnic in our garden. 'I can understand about bonfires and tents damaging the environment but, come on, a windbreak?'
Article 5 of the by-laws, headed 'erection of structures', states: 'No person shall on the Downs, without the consent of the Downs Committee, erect any post, rail, fence, pole, tent, booth, stand, building or other structure.' Anyone contravening the by-laws, which also ban lighting fires on the grass, could incur a fixed penalty fine, or a maximum £500 fine if the case went to court.
A spokesman for Bristol City Council yesterday admitted their employees had gone over the top. He said: 'We apologise to the gentleman and his family. Clearly there needs to be discretion when enforcing the by-laws of the Downs.
'They are designed to prevent tents and gazebos being put up on the Downs, but there should be flexibility to allow families to use windbreaks - we shall instruct our enforcement officers and rangers on this basis.'
British farmer refused permission to build a home... while an illegal gypsy site flourished next door
A farmer has been denied planning permission to build a home on his property for 13 years - while a neighbouring illegal travellers site was allowed to flourish.
Bruce Margetts, 46, has been living in a mobile home on his 47-acre farm in Smithy Fen near Cottenham, Cambs., since 1998 while applying to build a modest bungalow.
But despite having tended cattle on the site since 1992, South Cambridgeshire District Council has refused planning permission for a permanent residence three times.
Over the same period the Smithy Fen travellers site next door - just half a mile away - has boomed and was home to more than 800 illegal travellers at its peak in 2003. The 11-acre legitimate travellers site grew to 20-acres without planning permission, while Mr Margetts was told his three-bed property is not suitable for the farm.
Seven unlawful plots at Smithy Fen currently remain occupied without planning permission, featuring semi-permanent structures.
Mr Margetts fears he will lose his livelihood if he is not able to build the bungalow. He said: 'When I first moved into the mobile home, I thought it would just be for a few years and now it's been around 13. 'I'm able to raise a mortgage to build a house, but I'm just waiting for the planning permission. 'At the moment, I'm in an advanced state of camping and I'm relying on the council to continue granting temporary permits.
'It's essential that I'm here to look after the cattle but if I was unable to live here then I would lose everything. I'm a one man band, living and working alone. 'I just want a permanent residence here that's not going to get in anyone's way. I've planted around 400 trees since I moved here so no one will even see it.
Mr Margetts has spent about £8,000 on planning applications since 2001 and plans to apply again this year.
'There are travellers in the area that seem to have been treated much more leniently than I have,' he said. 'You would think that the council would want to support people who are investing money into the local economy.'
Mr Margetts tends to about 100 cattle on Oxholme Farm and needs to be on site to be on hand for calving, feeding and in case of accidents or emergencies.
According to government guidelines, those wishing to build country housing must demonstrate an essential need and the viability of their business.
Deborah Roberts, Independent councillor for SCDC, said she had a great deal of sympathy for Mr Margetts' plight. She said: 'I find it extraordinary that Bruce is not being supported in his ambitions to build a modest home on his land at his own expense. 'Bruce has a large herd and needs to be on the land 24/7 to tend to them. He is currently living in a ramshackle mobile home that is not at all suitable for his needs. 'Traveller families with no connection to the Fens have been allowed to stay when they do not need to be here.'
Last September the council was criticised for spending £13,000 installing sewage facilities at a gypsy site to protect their human rights - and recovering just £500 from the travellers.
A spokesman for SCDC said: 'Mr Margetts has been granted permission for a mobile home on the land while he establishes his business. 'As the proposal is for a house in the countryside, the applicant must demonstrate that it is both essential and viable - for example, for providing 24 hour care for animals. 'These are Government requirements. So far he has been unable to show us the financial information needed to confirm the viability of the farm.
The spokesman said if the farm continued to progress, Mr Margetts would eventually be allowed to build a permanent dwelling.
The pill giveth and the pill taketh away
This year there was a predictable amount of hoopla surrounding the 50th anniversary of “the pill.” Many pundits told us that the pill had delivered as promised: Women had become liberated. Sex in the City! Sex in dorm rooms! Sex behind bleachers! Women have it all.
But wait. Now comes word that women aren’t all that interested in sex any more. Their libidos are waning to the point that pharmaceutical companies are racing to find a Pink Viagra: a new pill; a pill that will restore the desire to have the sex that the pill made possible.
Why don’t women want to have sex? Is it because they are so absorbed in their careers? Is it because these careers force women to sacrifice their femininity and males to sacrifice their masculinity and thus the vivifying difference between males and females no longer exists? Why do women need males? Women have everything males have; they can do everything males do; what do males have to offer?
Certainly the above explanations are not unlikely and almost certainly have a degree of truth but — still — can the desire of female for male be so easily obliterated? Isn’t the attraction even more elemental than caps and chaps and buttons and bows?
I find it strange that commentators have not identified a very likely cause of the lack of female libido. The Pill, indeed all chemical contraceptives, have as a common side effect, a reduced sex drive. It is well documented both scientifically and anecdotally that the hormones in chemical contraceptives prevent a woman from producing the level of testosterone needed for her to have a healthy sex drive.
The sex drive is largely physiological: When women change their sexual physiology it should be expected that their sex drive will change. Many of the chemical contraceptives put a woman’s body into a state of pseudo pregnancy. Researchers discovered that pregnant women don’t ovulate (and women who don’t ovulate cannot get pregnant), so they learned how to deceive the female body into “thinking” it is pregnant so it wouldn’t ovulate. Nature also establishes that women who are pregnant generally do not have strong sex drives; it serves no evolutionary benefit.
Studies on the effects of hormones on male/female relationships have been proliferating. The work of Dr. Helen Fisher, among others, shows that women who use chemical contraceptives prefer more feminine looking men or “safer” men; when they stop using chemical contraceptives, they discover they have a higher sex drive but are not much interested in the male they chose when they were using the chemical contraceptives. Males are also much more attracted sexually to women who have fertile cycles; they produce more testosterone when around women who are fertile. Certainly the ardor of the male partner affects the female response.
A friend of mine once told me how her seven brothers and sisters one day had a frank and open discussion of their sex lives. Six couples, double income, no kids, lamented the lack of sex in their marriages; the females, attractive, well dressed and well employed, confessed they felt sex was just one more chore demanded of them at the end of a long day.
The males, equally attractive, well dressed and well employed, stated they felt they had to beg for sex from their wives, who would rather be watching TV. The one couple who had four children and were expecting a fifth, were a little pudgy, a little bargain-shoppish in appearance and a little financially stressed. They listened to their siblings and their spouses with incomprehension; their sex life, interrupted not uncommonly by sick or needy kids, was frequent and satisfying. The fatigue of home schooling and stretching a limited income had not encroached upon their lovemaking.
And maybe that is the clue. They thought of having sex not as “having sex” but as “making love.” Not that the others didn’t love each other, but sex for them had become routine and not the occasion of making an emphatic statement of love to each other. The pill had enabled them to have sex before marriage, and sex had become simply one more pleasurable act without much meaning.
The couple who were also parents had retained the ability to recognize the act of having sex as a profound expression of love; one of the reasons that their sexual acts could express that meaning was their respect for the baby-making power of the sexual act. When couples who are willing to have a baby make love to one another, they are expressing a willingness to have their whole lives bound up together: “I love you so much; I am willing to be a parent with you.” The act itself is laden with the meanings of affirmation and commitment.
Contraceptive sex significantly undermines that meaning. By its very nature it expresses the intent not to become a parent with the other. While couples who use contraception may in fact love one another deeply, contracepted sex expresses a willingness only to engage in a momentary physical pleasure and thus expresses neither love nor commitment. The body language of contraception therefore works against the very love which sex is meant to express and cultivate.
And lest critics wail that women are not baby-making machines, mention must be made of truly green forms of child-spacing, methods of natural family planning (NFP). Modern methods of NFP enable a woman to determine with great reliability the generally 7-10 days a month she is fertile and is not to be confused with the old “rhythm method,” which relied on counting days on a calendar.
Requiring no chemicals, totally without harmful physical or environmental effects (consider the carbon footprint of chemical contraceptives), and costing nothing to use, methods of NFP have proven as effective as any form of contraception. They also respect the baby-making power of sex by not treating fertility as some bodily defect that must be corrected. Most couples who use NFP have contracepted at one time and readily testify that their lovemaking when using NFP is markedly different in quality from their having contracepted sex.
So instead of supplementing one pill with another, women should go green in their sex lives. Not only will they protect the delicate ecology of their female fertility from libido-reducing chemicals, they may find themselves tickled pink with their sex lives.
Australia: Dangerous police secrecy in Sydney (1)
They no doubt fear public outrage if the true extent of lawlessness became known
ATTEMPTED assaults on three women in one day and less than 1km from where a woman was abducted and raped have been kept secret by police. The incidents happened within hours of each other close to Queens Park, in the Eastern Suburbs, the scene of a horrific April 29 attack by two men that only became public after the victim spoke to The Daily Telegraph. Despite three similar incidents in one day - July 6 - police did not make them public.
Suzanne, one of the women chased by a man in one of the latest incidents, said people had a right to know. "Just because I or one of the other girls was not raped doesn't make our story any less significant," she said. "The police investigating my report have been fantastic but I think it's important things like this are made public.
"While I was in the police station giving my statement police told me other women had reported the same thing, all between 6pm and 10pm. "In one case police said a man tried to get a woman into a car."
Police confirmed three women made statements saying that on July 6 they were watched or followed by men near York and Birrell Sts, adjacent to Centennial Park.
"Detectives have canvassed the area, sourcing CCTV footage locally; unfortunately none shows the men described," a police spokeswoman said. "The descriptions of the men vary. Police regularly issue warnings regarding personal safety however at this time, the intentions of the men are unknown and there's no evidence that any of the incidents are linked."
Suzanne said the fact the descriptions were different was even more frightening as it could mean the men were working in pairs. Soon after her ordeal Suzanne letter-dropped the area warning locals. "People need to be informed. It is dark around that area with poor footpaths and hardly any lighting," she said.
In her police statement, Suzanne detailed how the man appeared to be feigning talking on the phone when she saw him about 6pm. "When I was near York Place I saw a male standing on the other side of the corner on the footpath in the dark and I think he might have been on the phone," she said.
When she again looked back at the man, he was running towards her. "I started to run and headed towards the middle of the road where the cars were. I was running into my unit block and I looked behind and he was still running at me." On April 29 , young mother "Caitlan" was abducted and raped in nearby Queens Park.
A Daily Telegraph investigation showed police were keeping serious crimes hidden for days or weeks if they were releasing them at all. In one week in March, 11,508 of the 31,536 reports were listed as "check bona fides or concern for welfare" - terms which cover anything from murder to kids hanging on a street corner.
Australia: Dangerous police secrecy in Sydney (2)
WAVING a sawn-off shotgun and a 20cm knife, two men threaten the lives of drinkers and staff at a Sydney pub - the third time in 17 days.
Sick of being a victim, one patron fights back and, despite having his arm broken with a chair, his head split open by a wine bottle and being stabbed in the stomach, he unmasks a robber.
And it was his bravery that could provide the key to solving the crime, as the robber's face was caught on CCTV.
Yet, despite the obvious benefit, the images of Tuesday's robbery at the Stella Inn in Tempe were not publicly released by the NSW Police's multi-million-dollar media unit yesterday.
Instead it was the Stella Inn's manager who gave the footage to The Daily Telegraph.
"People should know there are bad guys out there running around with guns and see how frightening it is," said the manager, who did not wished to be named. "One bloke who saw the last robbery fought back and while I would tell people not to do it, his bravery and toughness means we can see the face of one of these guys.
"This is a real locals' pub and until the last three weeks we have always felt safe here. We are now increasing security patrols, cameras and time delayed safes.
"We have to make the customers feel safe again. The best way of doing that is to have these guys caught."
The Stella Inn was robbed on July 10, 21 and 27.
"Police don't think they are done by the same guys - and I agree - but something is going on," the manager said. "We were robbed last Wednesday. Just 20 minutes earlier the same guys robbed the Bankstown Hotel and a shot was fired."
The manager did not want to be critical of front-line officers, instead criticising the force's policy makers.
"They [police officers] have a really tough job but there seems to be a policy of keeping things quiet when in fact it should be made public," he said.
"If you look at the video it's obvious these guys know what they are doing."
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.