As a failed rock guitarist but still passionate consumer of music I always look forward to the Mercury Music awards at the end of October, and this year’s nominees were as interesting and eclectic as they usually are. What wasn’t as diverse was where these acts originated from. Over 60% were from the Greater London area and only four were from outside the south east of England, which is surprising when you consider the award covers the whole of the UK and Ireland. It seems the advice I heard fifteen years ago during my short and unsuccessful music career is still true – ‘if you want to make it, move to London’. Continue reading
Some great news on local jobs today in the Knutsford Guardian:
Nuclear engineering firm AMEC, based at Booths Park in Knutsford, is one of the key partners in EDF’s nuclear new build programme – the first of its kind in the country in almost 20 years.
Earlier this week, it was announced the Government and EDF Energy reached a commercial agreement on the key terms of a proposed investment contract for the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station in Somerset.
Following the news of the deal, AMEC said it expects to create up to 300 jobs in the North West before the building programme ends with a ‘fair portion’ of the vacancies to be allocated to the Knutsford office.
Frank Stokes, of AMEC, said: “We currently have well over 100 people working on the UK new build programme in both the UK and France, and we expect this figure to increase significantly as the programme develops.” Continue reading
This article was first posted on the Liberal Democrat Voice website
In its first annual report, the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission has proposed cuts in welfare for well-off pensioners, including currently universal benefits such as the winter fuel allowance, free bus pass and free TV license, proposing the money should be used to help children in poor families.
Proposing a fundamental shift in welfare support from pensioners to the young the report says:
We do not believe that favouring pensioners over their children and grandchildren will be a sustainable position over the long term if a meaningful dent is to be made in the UK’s high levels of child poverty and low levels of social mobility.
Writing in the Telegraph yesterday Nick Clegg welcomed the majority of this report but has rejected one particular aspect.
It also makes some more debatable assertions, about the appropriate balance of fiscal consolidation between different age groups, for example – punishing pensioners isn’t going to help a single child achieve more in life.
This seems at odds with what the Deputy Prime Minister has said in the past, publicly advocating the need to look again at universal pensioner benefits and that welfare “should not be paid to those who do not need it”. Continue reading
David Laws yesterday announced a little publicised but crucially important change to the way we’re measuring school performance. For many years our secondary schools have been judged by the proportion of pupils that achieve 5 GCSE’s at grade C or better, including English and Maths.
Although this was a well-intentioned target, it’s had a perverse effect. To boost their ranking under pressure schools have focussed on pupils that are on the D/C borderline at the detriment of both higher achievers and lower achievers at the school. If a child is tracking towards an E grade (or worse), forget about them. Continue reading
This article was first written for the Liberal Democrat Voice website http://www.libdemvoice.org/opinon-dont-confuse-declining-membership-with-a-decline-in-interest-in-politics-36432.html
A couple of months ago I was thinking about going to the Glasgow conference. I’d never been before. ‘You’ll enjoy it’ said some fellow local party members, “and you can be a voting rep too if you decide soon.”
My wife spotted the chance of a weekend away from the children.
‘Can I come?’
‘Well I was hoping you’d come but you’ll have to join the party’
So we both decided to go at the last minute, with her joining the party the week before. With a little complication on getting her security cleared we went for three days until we’d exhausted the goodwill of babysitting grandparents.
First impressions were not great. We had no idea what to do, where to pick up our passes, what was on the agenda or where to go. Important looking people milled past with clipboards and the place was like a rabbit warren, endless corridors looping round on themselves. However we made it into the main conference room eventually and sat down for our first debate. Continue reading