Thursday, 12 April 2012

How much longer a green and pleasant land?

ONE of the most disturbing recent pieces of Government legislation will affect every single person not just in Weymouth and Portland but right across Dorset.

Hailed as the most serious planning system changes since World War II, it could be a major threat to treasured Green Belt areas.

For the first time the Government is saying that the default position for a planning application will be to say “yes”, making it easier for major developments to go ahead.

From the Westminster windbags who brought you such successful ideas as the Granny Tax and a chance to meet the Prime Minister for a knock-down “donation” of £250,000, this isn’t reassuring.

The changes to the National Planning Policy Framework, like all roads to Hell, are paved with good intent.

They are designed to create employment and encourage affordable housing, but at what cost?

I’ve seen Weymouth and Portland planners wrestle with thorny development problems for more than 30 years and they can be fiercely defensive of green and pleasant lands.

But that defence gets a whole lot harder when the so called seat of Government develops a split in its planning pants which I’m sure developers will lose no time in exploiting. Let’s hope local planners continue to judge each scheme on its merits.

Still, there may be something a lot of us can do to help the situation. Barely three years to go to the next general election... or may be sooner.

Nothing intelligent about this system

I RECENTLY criticised our glorious new intelligent traffic light system for delaying drivers like me so much that we waste up to two days of our lives each year just waiting for them to change to green.

It led to many other people telling me that they also hate Weymouth’s new system, but our dislike has now turned to disbelief after the Intelligent Transport Society awarded our traffic lights Scheme of the Year!

Fortunately we can have them on this under the Trades Description Act since there is patently nothing intelligent about either the system or, apparently, the society.

The award needs to be put in context because firstly it was made by a group which likes shiny toys like this and secondly it was one of the newest shiny toys in the shop window.

To put it even further in context, the award may be for something provided for drivers but the system clearly isn’t something they want, like or had any decisive input with in deciding to introduce it. If they had then I doubt they’d have backed scattering traffic lights about like confetti.

Finally, when all the clapping had stopped and the award was presented, it was safely collected by Dorset County Council transport spokesman Councillor Peter Finney who is unlikely to use Weymouth’s new stop-go-stop system with any regularity as he safely represents West Moors & Holt... and you can’t get much further away than that!

Be on your guard for breakfast time burglars

ONE of our neighbours got burgled recently and it brought sharply home how important it is to be security conscious.

Police told us that two men had apparently been disturbed in the act having earlier been spotted in the road carrying out what officers believed was a surveillance of the area.

I’m pretty good with home security and regularly check that windows are closed and doors are locked before going to bed.. .but this incident took place at breakfast time.

Many people have already opened up their home for the day by the time tea and toast are ready, getting ready for work, hanging out washing, seeing children off to school.

This can mean that doors locked overnight are now open and police stressed how important it was to always be on your guard.

Don’t make it easy for intruders, keep an eye out for suspicious pedestrians showing an interest in properties, watch out for repeat visits by cars and try and avoid simple mistakes such as leaving the front door unlocked while working in the back garden.

None of us should get paranoid about security. All of us should be aware of it.

I didn’t know she was that old!

ANY father needs some sharp mental adjustment to see his daughter reach the age of 78.

It certainly rocked me a bit when my daughter reached that grand age because her skin looked fresh and she was leaping about our sitting room like a spring lamb.

Fortunately it was only modern technology that had developed a few wrinkles... that and my daughter’s blundering attempts to get to grips with our new Wii games.

She tried tennis and baseball and did so badly that the Wii assessed her fitness performance as that of a 78-year-old!

Unfortunately she somehow got even worse and was later assessed as having the fitness level of an 80-year-old ... just my age.

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