Wednesday, 10 June 2015

‘Yes’ always easier than ‘no’

YOU just can’t trust a government to keep its promises exactly as they were made, and the forthcoming referendum on whether this country should pull out of Europe is no exception.

In the run up to the general election the Conservatives promised that, if re-elected to power, they would hold a ‘yes-no’ referendum on leaving Europe.

That referendum is still very much on the cards but its marketing has been radically changed with the emphasis for proposed vote wording switching from ‘Should the UK leave the EU?’ to ‘Should the UK remain a member of the EU?’

Not much of a change you might think, but history shows that undecided people offered a ‘yes-no’ positive-negative voting choice are more likely to vote ‘yes’ and quietly go with the flow.

This will suit the powers that be just fine and leave those who campaigned for a referendum because of concern at Brussels interference feeling they have been short changed.

It is also – and what a surprise this is – far easier to campaign for a ‘yes’ positive vote than for a ‘no’ negative vote, rigging the scales in favour of this country staying in Europe.

So the mind games have clearly started even though there are still more than two years to go for us actually to get a chance to put our X in a box.

And which way will I vote? Well, I’ve never had much time for Brussels ponderous and increased meddling in our affairs.

It might humourously be summed up as: “Pythagorean theorem, 24 words; Lord’s Prayer, 66 words; Archimedes Principle, 67 words: 10 commandments, 179 words; Gettysburg Address, 286 words; US Declaration of Independence, 1,300 words; US Constitution with all 27 amendments, 7,818 words, the St James’s bible’s wedding ceremony, 688 words and finally, the EU regulations on the sale of cabbage... 26,911 words!

Empty shops and shattered dreams

THIS column has commented before on empty shops in Weymouth town centre, how unsightly they are and how they drag down the resort’s image, but things may have got better.

Certainly survey work by retail experts now puts Weymouth in a much more positive light with barely one in 14 shops empty as against some neighbouring towns where as many as one in six stand empty.

Regardless of whether there are fewer empty shops, it is still interesting to stroll round and see the remains of various dreams which are a collective epitaph of Weymouth’s recent trading history.

Current empty premises range from crafts to cash credit and from lingerie to even the closure of a charity shop.

Some empty premises do find themselves ’under new management‘ and this trend has to be encouraged if the town centre master plan is even to stand a chance of getting past ‘Go’.

As always, the acid test will not come now as the summer season swings into top gear but at the end of September when the first miserable storms of the autumn  send a chill through cash registers all over the town centre. That’s when we’ll find out how strong Weymouth’s recovery is.

Chalets were built to last

CHALET users are breathing a sigh of relief after their future and that of their buildings took on a slightly more optimistic future.

Previously Weymouth & Portland council’s approach bore all the hallmarks of a sort of hokey-cokey where chalet users were told they were in, out, in, out and shaken all about.

Their long running battle at Greenhill to achieve some sort of stability now finally seems to have borne fruit with a council agreement for renovation, repairs, extended leases and a much more sympathetic and realistic approach to both the chalet users’ problems and those of the authority.

However, this is the council we are talking about so the whole thing was couched in the sort of archaic and non-committal language last seen when Noah admitted it might be raining.

This time around councillors – who are slowly getting the hang of asking awkward questions – didn’t just accept a report that the chalets’ condition was deteriorating but that they were still in a relatively sturdy condition.

Councillor Andy Blackwood set his stall out and specifically tried to pin down an answer as to exactly what that meant and was told that the structure was still so solid that it “wasn’t going anywhere”.

This was useful information for members worried that someone might try and attach wheels to the chalets and tow them away for landfill, but the optimism behind such confidence was scarcely touched on.

Apparently the reason why the chalets weren’t “going anywhere” was that they’d been originally built by railway workers who didn’t mess around with anything as flimsy as a bit of two by four covered in chipboard... oh no!

Their approach was to assume what a sturdy structure was and stick a nought on the end of it, a building method which means the chalets are so strong they may only be vulnerable to hot air from a particularly long council budget debate.

Certainly the iron used in the chalets’ skeleton is nothing like at the end of its life and, while deterioration cannot be stopped, it can be managed, which is good news for the chalet users as they slip leisurely into a seafront summer.

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