Robert Courts, Witney’s extremely passionate and totally Conservative MP, outdid himself in yesterday’s Commons debate on council taxes. In his desperation to say something – anything – before time was called, he came out with this illogical absurdity.
“Conservative-controlled West Oxfordshire District Council has one of the lowest council tax rates in the country and some of the best services due to its innovative cost-saving measures. Does that not show that Conservative councils save money on back-office costs and provide better services for local residents?”
The quality of Commons debates is not all it might be. This one on 2 April – on business rates – allowed our passionate MP, Robert Courts, to assure the house that independent traders in Witney and Chipping Norton were thriving because of the district council’s policy of free parking. This may surprise the independent traders of Witney and Chipping Norton.
Does Ayrshire County Council really does fill its potholes with Cocopops? https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=4504948646218957 If so, it’s no more of a joke than Robert Courts’ front page news in this week’s Witney Gazette. Thanks to the Passionate One’s attention to the pothole problem in West Oxfordshire, it is just about solved. Our MP was supposed to be meeting Mr Pothole, but Mr Pothole failed to show.
Potholes can be repaired temporarily or permanently. The immediate cost of the latter is great, but the total cost of temporary repairs is very much greater. Guess which one finds favour when the road maintenance budget has been slashed.
Much fuss at the moment about the PET-CT scanner at the Churchill Hospital in Oxford. Has In Health, a private company, taken it over or has it not? Who knows? Much opprobrium heaped on the government and its privatisation policy.
But a paper by Tom Moberly, editor of the BMJ (once the British Medical Journal) casts new light on the issue (‘NHS joint working with industry is out of public sight’ – www.bmj.com/content/364/bmj.l1353), To be sure, commercial confidentiality weighs heavy when NHS health trusts are negotiating with private companies, but NHS health trusts, which have a legal responsibility to inform and involve the public, tend to be the secretive ones. The private sector is relatively open about what is going on. Murky indeed.
Sid Phelps, Green district councilor in the Forest of Dean and restorer of beavers to the same place, has been mutilated while campaigning. A dog – “He’s just being friendly” – has removed part of his finger. Pity the poor postmen; they run this risk daily.
There are times when only Aussie bluntness will do. This from Kevin Rudd, Australian prime minister from 2007 until 2010:
“I’m struck, as the British parliament moves towards the endgame on Brexit, with the number of times Australia, Canada, New Zealand and India have been advanced by the Brexiteers in the public debate as magical alternatives to Britain’s current trade and investment relationship with the European Union. This is the nuttiest of the many nutty arguments that have emerged from the Land of Hope and Glory set now masquerading as the authentic standard-bearers of British patriotism. It’s utter bollocks.”