.

.
Click above for what became the consented plan, plus Transport page.

2014-05-31

The Day that Edinburgh Got Its Trams Back


"I was fortunate enough to be in Edinburgh on the first day of operation. Took this little video... I was with a muggle at the time; he didn't share my excitement..."  
(lewistpau)









(Three images: Moschops)


Washington Post: "Piketty’s 'errors' aren’t mistakes: They’re questions, and he answered them"


Link to web site

"Thomas Piketty thinks the Financial Times knows nothing of his technical work.
[See various earlier posts on this Brent Cross Coalition web site, below.]
"That's the Cliff Notes version of his 4,400-word response to the criticisms the Financial Times leveled against the data in his best-selling book "Capital in the Twenty-First Century." Piketty says that even though he expects people to improve on his work in the future, he still stands by it today, and the mistakes the Financial Times thinks it's found aren't actually mistakes — and that they'd know this if they'd read the appendices he put online.

"... Piketty, in contrast, only uses tax data to generate his British numbers. Now, that data isn't always the best-suited, but it's still better than raw survey results. And it's why Piketty finds that the top 10 percent hold 71 percent of the wealth in Britain, while the survey that Giles touts says it's just 44 percent.

"Ask yourself, as Piketty does, whether you think modern-day Britain is 'one of the most egalitarian countries in history in terms of wealth distribution.' That's what you'd have to believe if you take those survey results at face value."



http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/bookreviews/10816161/Capital-in-the-Twenty-First-Century-by-Thomas-Piketty-review.html
Link to Daily Telegraph Review
(10 May 2014)

"Former Bank of England Governer Mervyn King takes on the Left-wing French economist everybody's talking about"

"Piketty believes that there is a 'fundamental logical contradiction' in capitalism with 'potentially terrifying' consequences for wealth distribution unless we adopt radical policies to tax the rich. Because his is a book of great scope and ambition, one can see why it has attracted attention. 

"For all those people who would like to have a big idea but can’t think of one, Piketty has given hope that there is a fundamental weakness in capitalism. And after so many breathless accounts of the recent financial crisis, a wide-ranging historical analysis of the distribution of the fruits of economic growth is a pleasant surprise. A serious, thought-provoking book is to be welcomed.

"... Inequality does matter, and measures to reduce it have a proper place in economic policy. But by promoting efficiency and raising living standards, a market economy has proved its worth.

"To argue that inequality is the fundamental weakness of modern capitalism, while ignoring capitalism’s achievements, may excite the well-heeled intellectual salons of Paris and New York, but most of us recognise that a market economy has served us well by creating growth and reducing poverty."

Will National Rail Infrastructure Ltd. (and its Isle of Man tax-haven buddies) go ahead with this at a Brent Cross Waste Incinerator Project? (Just asking.)


Link to Shropshire Star

"A power plant using farm waste today exploded at Harper Adams University, spilling tonnes of slurry.

"A 200-metre exclusion zone was today put in place by police, who described it as a 'chemical incident'.

"It is the second time the £3 million anaerobic digestion plant has leaked sludge across land in Edgmond, near Newport."

2014-05-30

Evening Standard: Segregated Cycling Lanes, Brent Cross, and Hammerson's Living Hell Bridge



Nicky Gavron AM: "Government objects to London’s car parking policy"


Link to web site

"London has had the quickest shift out of the car and onto bikes, buses, and feet of any city in the world. But now the Government’s rolling us back.

"One of the achievements of the Greater London Authority is to have an integrated approach to making London a sustainable city. Car parking standards are one of the tools we have to encourage people to get around without cars.

"The London Plan sets out car parking standards which limit the maximum number of parking spaces for different types of development – offices, residential, and commercial. Keeping provision low, especially where there are good transport links, encourages people to rely not on cars but on walking, cycling, and public transport. People are even now choosing to live in car-free developments.

"Yet in his response to the consultation on the Further Alterations to the London Plan, planning minister Nick Boles said that London-wide parking standards have to go."

Future of London: "Crossrail as Catalyst: Realising regeneration and development around stations"


Link to web site

"On 23 April, Future of London launched 'Crossrail as Catalyst' at the King’s Fund. This new report examines how London communities can grasp the regeneration potential of Crossrail stations – and of future infrastructure projects.

"As with any major infrastructure project, part of Crossrail’s promise has been to generate or enhance economic opportunity in the areas it touches, particularly through regeneration around stations. And as with previous rail projects in and around the Capital, results – at least so far – have been mixed. Some communities are seeing direct and rapid benefits tied to planned stations, while others have yet to grasp Crossrail’s regeneration potential.

" 'Crossrail as Catalyst', supported by Crossrail, Arup, GVA, and London Communications Agency [Oh, no. Not that outfit!], is a multi-part programme designed to share best practice from areas which have realised regeneration opportunities from Crossrail and its predecessors; to identify options remaining before the route opens; and to look at how future infrastructure projects could help deliver even more in the places they touch."

That's All for Now, Folks! - British Council film: " Piccadilly Roundabout" (1943)



Piccadilly Roundabout (1943) from British Council Film on Vimeo.

Boots Brent Cross: "Tax-haven Britain: Boots Alliance and the use and abuses of Limited Liability Partnerships"


Link to "Tax Justice Network"

"Last year, 'War on Want' published a report revealing that Boots the Chemists – a fixture of most U.K. high streets – had dodged over £1 billion in the six preceding years, since it was taken over by the Alliance group. 

"War on Want have now sent a letter to HM Revenue and Customs, co-signed by TJN and others, requesting the tax authorities investigate the use of Limited Liability Partnerships (LLPs) by Boots and other companies as a part of their tax avoidance strategies.

"... The Alliance Boots case study indicates the potential scale of revenue losses arising from the use of LLPs, but the government appears not to be taking action to either investigate Boots or other companies employing LLPs for tax avoidance purposes, or whether any investigation is underway to determine whether the use of LLPs by Boots and others conforms with UK law."


TruthOut: " 'Devastating' Impacts of Climate Change Increasing"


Link to web site

"A massive collapse of an ice sheet in Western Antarctica has begun and, according to scientists, is most likely an unstoppable event that will cause an inevitable rise in global sea levels of at least 10 feet.

"The rise will be relatively slow at first, but by 2100 will ramp up sharply. This could happen sooner, warn the scientists, as the impacts of anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD/climate change) continue to intensify.

" 'This is really happening,' Thomas P. Wagner, who runs NASA's programs on polar ice and helped oversee some of the research, said. 'There's nothing to stop it now.'

"On April 13, the world's leading scientific body for the assessment of ACD warned of a 'devastating rise of 4-5C if we carry on as we are'."

2014-05-28

"Bank of England Governor: Capitalism Doomed if Ethics Vanish" (Brent Cross's Hammerson and Standard Life are down the pan, then.)


"Mark Carney issues strong critique of City behaviour, and warns of growing sense that basic social contract is breaking down"

Link to The Guardian

"Capitalism is at risk of destroying itself unless bankers realise they have an obligation to create a fairer society, the Bank of England governor has warned.

Mark Carney said bankers had operated a 'heads-I-win-tails-you-lose' system. He questioned whether traders met ethical standards and said that those who failed to meet high professional standards should face ostracism.

"Speaking at a City conference, the Bank's governor warned that there was a growing sense that the basic social contract at the heart of capitalism was breaking down amid rising inequality:
"We simply cannot take the capitalist system, which produces such plenty and so many solutions, for granted. Prosperity requires not just investment in economic capital, but investment in social capital."

Financial Times: "Follow up on problems in 'Capital in the 21st Century'"


Link to web site

"Ever since the Financial Times wrote articles pointing to data problems in professor Thomas Piketty’s best selling book, there has been quite a heated reaction online and in print. In this post, I will give what I hope are some more relevant details, address a few misunderstandings, and reply to some of the very legitimate questions that have been raised over the past few days.

... ...

"... The main criticism of the FT’s work from The Economist’s Ryan Avent, and the New York Times’ Justin Wolfers and Neil Irwin is that, although the FT has found problems with prof Piketty’s data, it does not really matter.

"This is a question of judgement. There is no doubt that the data the FT has questioned relate to just six charts in prof Piketty’s book, not his theory, nor his numbers on income distribution. Many others have commented on those.

"My point is that if someone is claiming to have found a fundamental contradiction of capitalism, predicts the result is a rising share of wealth inequality, and uses apparent recent rises in recent wealth inequality as evidence that his theory is correct, those data lie at the core of the book’s argument.

"Without the rising wealth inequality data across all advanced economies, I would submit that prof Piketty has a theory without all the necessary evidence."

Fri 30 May: Architecture Show



Deloitte: "London gears up for next phase of property development" (and maybe 'Can Barnet Council palm off anyone with the three-quarters of Brent Cross that Hammerson is walking away from?')


Link to 'London Office Crane Survey' (PDF)

"Office space across central London has been running at below-average levels for five years, according to the latest Crane Survey from Deloitte Real Estate. 

The report paints a picture of short-term supply constraints, offset by underlying longer-term demand for space, with the next development cycle accelerating from 2016.
  • 9.2 million sq ft of London office space now under construction
  • Activity falls for second survey running – lowest number of new starts since 2010
  • Rise in office take-up and lack of choice drives occupiers to pre-let
  • Longer-term outlook points to new phase of development
  • [That's enough bullet points. Ed.]

2014-05-27

Bloomberg: "Lady De Rothschild: Inclusive Capitalism is an Oxymoron" (whereas Hammerson and Standard Life choose to drop the OXY part)


"On 27 May 2014 at the Mansion House and Guildhall in London, the Lord Mayor of the City of London and E.L. Rothschild are hosting
The Conference on Inclusive Capitalism: Building Value, Renewing Trust  Link
"The Conference has been organised by The Initiative for Inclusive Capitalism and the Financial Times.

"Lady Lynn Forester De Rothschild, chief executive officer and founder at EL Rothschilds, discusses the relationship between business and society as a whole."






Link to The Guardian

"IMF chief says banks haven't changed since financial crisis"
"The head of the International Monetary Fund has warned that a persistent violation of ethics among bankers and rising inequality pose a major threat to growth and financial stability.

Christine Lagarde told an audience in London that six years on from the deep financial crisis that engulfed the global economy, banks were resisting reform and still too focused on excessive risk taking to secure their bonuses at the expense of public trust.

She said:
"The behaviour of the financial sector has not changed fundamentally in a number of dimensions since the crisis.

While some changes in behaviour are taking place, these are not deep or broad enough. The industry still prizes short-term profit over long-term prudence, today's bonus over tomorrow's relationship.

Some prominent firms have even been mired in scandals that violate the most basic ethical norms - Libor and foreign exchange rigging, money laundering, illegal foreclosure."

Living Streets: "Over half of London’s local parties back our campaign"


Link to web site

"With polling day over, we’re delighted to say that over half of London’s four main local parties pledged to Speak up for people-friendly high streets

Living Streets’ London Manager, Tom Platt, gives us an update.
"Thanks to all of you who wrote to local parties in your area backing the campaign. We will now work hard to support councils across London create safer, more inviting high streets where it’s great to walk.

"Our ‘Six steps to people friendly high streets’ provides local councils in London with practical measures they can now put into motion to make high streets across the capital better places to walk – helping to boost local business, reduce casualties and create more pleasant places to live, work, shop and socialise.

"Over half of local parties have taken our pledge. This breaks down at a party level to:
  • The Lib Dem party supporting in over half of London’s boroughs
  • The Green party pledging in every London borough.
  • The Labour party supporting in two-fifths of London boroughs
  • The Conservative party pledging in a fifth of London boroughs.
"You can see exactly who supported the campaign by visiting our campaign map.

"If you would like to know more about our campaign, please visit the campaign pages or email me on tom.platt@livingstreets.org.uk."

BBC: "Could the era of glass skyscrapers be over?"


Link to web site

"One of the architects behind London's famous Gherkin skyscraper has now turned against glass buildings. Is it time tall towers were made out of something else, asks Hannah Sander.

"It is one of the UK's most recognisable buildings. A Stirling Prize winner. A backdrop to Hollywood films. Named the most admired tower in the world.

"But 10 years after it was opened, one of the designers behind the 'Gherkin' has turned against it. Architect Ken Shuttleworth, one of the team at Foster and Partners who designed the tower, now thinks the gigantic glass structure was a mistake. He says:
"The Gherkin is a fantastic building, but we can't have that anymore. We can't have those all-glass buildings. We need to be much more responsible."

"Thomas Piketty's real challenge was to the FT's Rolex types"


"If the FT's attack on the radical economist's 'rising inequality' thesis is right, then all the gross designer bling in its How To Spend It section can be morally justified"

"The adverts in the FT and other reputable papers –
mainly for large watches, first-class air travel, portable fine art etc –
should be collectively retitled 'How To Hide It'."
Link to Paul Mason, The Guardian

"Thomas Piketty's Capital was still No 3 on the Amazon bestseller list when the Financial Times dropped its front-page bombshell. By picking through the spreadsheets the 'rock-star French economist' had placed online, the FT concluded that his key data appeared to be 'constructed out of thin air'.

"Piketty's claim that inequality in the west has risen since the 1970s is wrong, says the FT's Chris Giles. And on this basis, Piketty's view that rising inequality is the central contradiction of capitalism, and will get worse, is also wrong.

"It is always right to trawl through data. There is so much grossing and smoothing in economics, and so little of the realtime peer review that happens in science, that data should always be challengable. But the gleeful response to Piketty's 'errors' on the rightwing Twittersphere did not happen because some FT pointy-heads discovered a few fat-finger inputs.

"It happened because, if Giles is right, then all the gross designer bling advertised in the FT's How To Spend It can be morally justified: it is evidence of rising social wealth in general, not the excess of a few Rolex types."




Link to Evan Davis on web site

The Spectator:
"Has Thomas Piketty met his match? Well, I think I might have met his match. She's called Deirdre McCloskey"



"...To me, this is one big distinction at the heart of the wealth equality debate: whether capital — past accumulation of savings — gets to devour the future, or whether the future is created afresh by each generation.

"This argument is a struggle between those who think riches are created from riches, and those who think riches are created from rags. Are big profits best viewed as a generous return on capital, in the way that worries Piketty? Or as coming from innovation that ultimately benefits us all?

"The answer to that question determines what should be done about inequality. Piketty wants a progressive tax on wealth to prevent high returns entrenching the power of the richest. McCloskey, needless to say, is not keen on redistribution. Taking from today’s rich may give you a one-off uplift in the incomes of the poor of, say 30 per cent, she says; but that is nothing to the uplift from innovation and growth, which can double incomes every generation.

"So much for the central disagreement between them. Here’s my problem. Many people with strong views on inequality consciously or unconsciously think of this as a binary choice: profits go to either a deserving or undeserving rich, depending on your view. It’s all about capital, or all about wealth creation. But I struggle to see it that clearly. I’d like to know how much of the return on capital that so concerns Piketty is actually income earned from entrepreneurial wealth creation. I’d also like to know how important that income is to innovation.

"Piketty is well aware of this vulnerability in his argument. He says:
"The return on capital often inextricably combines elements of true entrepreneurial labour, pure luck and outright theft."




Link to web site
and video

CNN:
"Did Piketty get it wrong? Analysis questions author's data"

"This is how they argue in economics: over spreadsheets.

"On one side is Thomas Piketty, author of the best-selling tome "Capital in the Twenty-First Century." He argues that wealth inequality is growing and "threatens to generate extreme inequalities that stir discontent and undermine democratic values," and published the data behind his conclusions online.

"Piketty's book became a best-seller.

"His adversary is Chris Giles, economics editor of the Financial Times."

2014-05-26

The Guardian: "In new modern economy, politicians need to come up with policies to make capitalism meet needs of people, not vice versa"


Link to web site

"The reason for the anger, apathy and disillusionment [of voters] is quite simple. Parties have always competed to offer the basics of life. Vote for us, they have said, and we can provide you with a decent job that will guarantee rising living standards, a roof over your head and better public services. Voters used to believe that parties could deliver on this offer. Now they don't. Or, perhaps more accurately, far fewer do.

"... The message many voters have been getting is that any problems they might be having are their own fault. Unsurprisingly, they reject the idea that they are too lazy or too stupid to cut it in the new modern economy and have come up with their own reasons for why life is a struggle – too much meddling from Brussels and too many immigrants.

"Changing the mood requires politicians once again to come up with policies to make capitalism meet the needs of the people, rather than policies to make the people meet the needs of capitalism. At present, the sales pitch sucks."



Link to The Guardian

"Thomas Piketty accuses Financial Times of dishonest criticism"
"Thomas Piketty has accused the Financial Times of ridiculous and dishonest criticism of his economics book on inequality that has become a publishing sensation.

"The French economist, whose 577-page tome Capital in the Twenty-First Century has become an unlikely must-read for business leaders and politicians alike, said it was ridiculous to suggest that his central thesis on rising inequality was incorrect.

"The controversy blew up when the FT accused Piketty of errors in transcribing numbers, as well as cherry-picking data or not using original sources. The newspaper concluded there was little evidence in Piketty's original sources to bear out his theory that the richest were accumulating more wealth, widening the gap between the haves and the have-nots in Europe and the United States."

Mon 2 June: New London Achitecture




"There are now proposals for over 230 new tall buildings to be built in London over the next decade, 80 per cent of which are residential. As London’s population continues to expand, is this high-rise vision of London's future the right one for our city and its people?

Kicking off the London Festival of Architecture 2014 programme, Centre for London, the London School of Economics and Political Science and New London Architecture (NLA) host a public discussion to debate the motion 'London needs many more tall buildings'.

Tickets cost £7 and can be booked here.
Please note that NLA member discounts are not applicable at this event.


Chair: Sarah Gaventa

Panel:

Paul Finch, Programme Director, World Architecture Festival
Simon Jenkins, Chairman, National Trust
Nicholas Boys Smith, Director, Create Streets
Tony Travers, Director, LSE London
Rowan Moore, Architecture Critic, The Observer
Respondents: [?]
Nicky Gavron, Chair of the Planning Committee, London Assembly

Daily Telegraph: "The UK is becoming a tax haven for multi-nationals at the expense of domestic shopkeepers." (Just 'becoming'?)


"Business rates, combined with a collapse in retail demand, are daily wiping out communities, retailers, investors and pensions"

Link to web site

"As a self-employed businessman, from generations of entrepreneurs, I am used to being taxed 'till the pips squeak' as a British Chancellor once proudly boasted.

"But even I have never come across such an iniquitous tax as business rates, paid at excruciating and ever-increasing levels on premises which are declining in value, on premises which produce no income at all, and which in my case has seen my income decline by 60pc while my tax has risen by 60pc. I am typical of businesses in the North - or indeed in regions outside London and the South East.

"Businesses have contracted, their employees have been sacked, their returns have fallen off a cliff - but the business rates on their premises have continued to rise as the politicians who presided over the financial collapse force the innocent to pay for their failures.

"Nowhere is the devastation greater than on the High Street where business rates are destroying shop keepers and landlords and the savings of those who have invested in their local communities. The solution to the crisis cannot wait for an overall review of business taxation."

The Independent: "Exclusive: Quarter of all shopping space is obsolete, says property chief Chris Grigg"


http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/exclusive-quarter-of-all-shopping-space-is-obsolete-says-property-chief-chris-grigg-9434312.html
Link to web site

"One of Britain's biggest landlords has labelled a quarter of all shopping space as 'technically obsolete' as ailing high streets struggle to cope with the onslaught of online retail.

"Chris Grigg, the chief executive of British Land, which owns half of the Meadowhall Centre in Sheffield and freeholds for Debenhams, B&Q and Homebase, predicts that crumbling shop parades will gradually be taken out of use:
"It doesn’t mean they won’t continue to be used to some extent for some years to come, but they are likely to be become more marginal. What will do well are the modern shopping centres and retail parks."



Link to Editorial

"High streets ahead: Councils need to raise their game, and give retail a hand"

"Many people are keen to read the last rites to the British high street, which is always said to be in its death throes, even if – like Charles II – it seems to take 'an unconscionable time a-dying'. The rise of the car delivered the first blow decades ago. Once most people didn’t have to walk to the shops, a question mark was always going to hang over the little 'parade' down the road. Malls and internet shopping have stuck the dagger in further."

The Observer: "London's skyline: Boris, we agree London is a great city. So help us keep it that way"


Link to web site

"The London Mayor and his officers have so far responded patchily to the London Skyline debate, led by the Observer and the Architects' Journal and supported by leading figures in business, architecture, property and culture. Johnson has written a defensive and not wholly accurate article in the Evening Standard and members of his planning team have spoken at debates on the subject. 

"Their argument is that the London skyline is not out of control and that the city has a planning apparatus that is working perfectly well.

"They were half right. There is indeed a planning apparatus of some complexity in London. There is the London Plan, which says things about tall buildings with which few could disagree – that they can have a role to play, but that they should be well designed and in the right place, and that their effect at ground level should be considered. 

"There is guidance by the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment and English Heritage that says much the same thing, which is also close to what the London public seems to want, as sampled by a recent Ipsos MORI poll."

Link to web site

"How do we tackle the housing market crisis?"

"The UK housing market is in desperate need of reform. As Lloyds Banking Group imposes a cap on large loans, we ask experts from all sides of the issue for their solutions.

"Andrew Sentance, former MPC member:
"House prices in the UK are rising too fast. Latest figures show 8% inflation across the country and double that in the London area. In London, there is already a housing bubble and there could soon be one nationally. This is not healthy. Prices and wages are rising by less than 2% a year. When house prices are going up at four-to-five times the rate of incomes and other prices, danger looms.

We need a healthy market where houses are affordable for first-time buyers, and people can move around the country to find employment or because their circumstances change. Yet affordability ratios are becoming stretched. Finding somewhere to live in the most economically dynamic part of the UK – the London area – is becoming increasingly difficult."

Link to:
A brief history of British housing
"From 'a land fit for heroes to live in' to the 2000s boom,
housebuilding has gone through many peaks and troughs"

(That's enough from The Observer. Ed.)

LB of Barnet Conservatives: The Empire Fights Back


Link to web site of Cllr. Dan Thomas

"We like to buck the trend in this borough, and last week we did just that. Barnet is still blue, just. The trend of Labour making a number of council gains across London did not extend this far, fortunately.

"...Local Government is going to have to make even more savings regardless of who is in Downing Street next year. What we also know is that satisfaction with the council has increased significantly since 2010, and that the Conservatives have a record to be proud of in Barnet. Yes, we have a majority of one, but nonetheless we have been given a mandate to continue our good work.

"In continuing that work the council will need to talk with residents about the challenges ahead, the future of services, and what is important to them. The parties will be doing the same. Perhaps then we may get an inkling of what happened in certain wards. Over the next four years we will prove to residents who didn't vote for us this year that we have listened and are delivering for them a borough we can all be proud of."

Mrs Angry's Broken Barnet: "We are disappointed, or: 'Barnet decides - the day of reckoning'."


Link to web site

"Allianz Park stadium and sports centre sits in a semi-rural setting, in the middle of Copthall playing fields, in Mill Hill, surrounded by fields, and old hedgerows, miles from anywhere, inaccessible by public transport, approachable only by a manically road humped meandering road: its splendid isolation a perfect venue, in short, for the process of counting the vote for Barnet's council elections.

"We say splendid isolation: in fact the old centre and stadium, long regarded as a white elephant by Barnet Tories, was handed over by them to Saracens rugby club, for a peppercorn rent, and has been tarted up and customised to their specification: the result is an incongrous building, with a shop, and bars, the public one, as Mrs Angry noted with wry amusement on arrival, boasting large windows etched with commendable aspirations to 'honesty', 'humility', and 'discipline'.

"... Another Tory who did not bother staying to hear the declaration was Ansuya Sodha, the former Labour councillor for West Hendon who was deselected, and became so outraged at losing what she had thought was her right to remain a councillor, she defected to the Tory group, when they offered her a nomination.

"Elected instead were three Labour councillors, the redoubtable, wonderful Agnes Slocombe, now the longest serving councillor in Barnet, the hardworking assistant to Andrew Dismore, Adam Langleben, and Mrs Angry's dear friend, the lovely Dr Devra Kay, who is a woman of many parts: Yiddish scholar, jazz singer, and a real delight." [West Hendon is in the same 'Supplementary Planning Guidance' area as Brent Cross.]

2014-05-25

New York Times: "Swedish attempt to cut traffic deaths to zero inspires a similar effort in New York"


Link to web site

"STOCKHOLM — The quest to eradicate serious crashes here began with a happy accident.

"In 1967, looking to conform to the roadway patterns of its European neighbors, the Swedish government converted its street traffic from left-hand to right-hand driving.

"To the bafflement of transportation planners, fatality rates immediately plummeted. Was it driver vigilance? The low speed limits imposed at first to ease the change? The broad public awareness campaign?

"The stewards of what are now considered the world’s safest roads have spent nearly a half-century trying to figure it out."

Hammerson opens Les Terrasses du Port, Marseille


(But uses bog-standard agency images, that could be anywhere.)


"Les Terrasses du Port is located in the heart of the largest urban regeneration programme in Southern Europe, Euromediterranée.

Opened yesterday, the centre is home to 190 stores and its unique location, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea includes a 260m long restaurant terrace.


The centre is anchored by French department store Printemps, their first opening since the relaunch of its flagship Paris store.

Joining Printemps on the top level of Les Terrasses du Port are high-end designers including Michael Kors, Sandro, Bose, G-Star and Maje. The third floor is dedicated to the best international brands ranging from Zara, H&M and Mango to Pull & Bear and Aldo."



"The finest designer collections!
Wanderings twice daily for Level 2 and end on the Promenade Terrace.
Come and see the parades with the finest designer collections."
 [May have lost something in translation.]

"Child snack shop: Just before snack time, children are invited to complete a recipe.
Write like cooking with your children this unique workshop.
Just before snack time, children are invited to complete a recipe with animaterus."
[THEY EAT CHILDREN?]

2014-05-24

The Guardian: "Data reveals full extent of house affordability crisis in England"


"Average home in England cost just over 3 times local median salary in 1997.
Now it is just short of 10"

Link to web site

"It's just a London thing, say some commentators keen to play down talk of an unsustainable bubble in house prices. But a data analysis by the Guardian which has tracked prices as a multiple of local incomes in England since 1997 reveals how the affordability crisis has spread to virtually every corner of the country.

"In 1997, the only district where median prices were above 10 times the local median salary was Kensington and Chelsea, west London, home to the rich and famous. Today the average property in England trades just short of 10 times salary.

"Just as startling as the dramatic surge in prices is the failure of the builders to meet demand with new supply. ... What's more, the upmarket estate agency Savills admits that too much of what is being constructed in London is luxury flats aimed at wealthy buyers, with the 'lower mainstream' market especially poorly served.

"It is testament to the new norms in the housing market that 'lower mainstream' is defined as £350,000 for a two-bed flat."



Link to UK and London
"House prices-to-salaries maps
which show why you may
never get a mortgage"

A Barnet Blogger Speaks: "Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory"


Link to 'Not the Barnet Times'

"In one of the closest election contests of recent times, the Conservatives have narrowly retained control of Barnet council. The current state of the parties is Conservative 32 seats, Labour 27, LibDem 1. Labour’s tally is expected to rise to 30 after the Colindale election due next month. This will leave the Conservatives with a majority of just 1 seat.

"Given the swing to Labour across London, the blame for their failure to win Barnet rests solely with their Leader Alison Moore who must now surely fall on her sword given that this is her second successive defeat at the polls (third if you count her general Election defeat to Mike Freer)."



And 'Barnet Eye':

Link to web site

"First, the Barnet Eye wishes to send congratulations to Richard Cornelius, the Leader of the Barnet Conservative Party and the Leader of Barnet Council for the next four years, or at least until his colleagues decide to knife him in the back, which is what the Tories usually do after a successful election in Barnet.

"Whilst many of his scheming rivals will be seeking to 'pin the blame' on Mr Cornelius for all manner of disasters (real and imaginary) in their campaign, he has pulled off a stunning victory. The electoral tides are flowing strongly against the Tories, and washed away Hammersmith and Fulham and Croydon Tory administrations.

!For Barnet to hang on is a truly astounding achievement. I believe this to be almost entirely down to Mr Cornelius. This may strike many as a strange thing to say, but I think he is an excellent player of political poker. He had a rotten hand and has had setback after setback since being leader. The greatest of these was the misfortune to have a certain Brian Coleman in his cabinet when he took over."

2014-05-23

GOV.UK: "New rail franchising deal set to transform passenger services across London and south east" (oh, yeh?)



"Three new state-of-the-art electric train fleets will mean more services and seats, faster journeys and better connections across many of the busiest rail routes in London and the south east after the government announced today (23 May 2014) its intention to award the new Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern (TSGN) franchise to Govia Thameslink Railway Limited.

"The 7 year franchise – the largest ever let in terms of passenger numbers – will help deliver the government’s multi-billion pound investment in the region’s rail network, opening up new routes across London and improving services to scores of destinations, including:
  • Brighton
  • King’s Lynn
  • Peterborough
  • Cambridge
  • Bedford
  • Luton
  • Gatwick Airport
  • Moorgate
"Nearly 1,400 new electric carriages will be rolled out across the new franchise, providing 50% more capacity and 10,000 extra seats every weekday into central London during the morning peak by the end of 2018, and delivering quicker, cleaner and more reliable journeys for passengers and businesses.

"In addition, the new franchise will see millions invested in improving stations and staffing, a simplified ticketing structure and tough new targets for Govia to improve punctuality by reducing delays by around a fifth and improve cleanliness.

Rail Minister Stephen Hammond said:
"A world class railway is a vital part of our long-term economic plan. New state-of-the-art trains, more seats, better connections and improved stations will transform travel across London and the south east. That’s great news for businesses and the hundreds of thousands of passengers who use these vital services every day."
"The TSGN franchise will play a crucial role in delivering the government’s £6.5 billion Thameslink programme – a major programme of infrastructure work that is helping create 8,000 jobs and will allow 24 trains per hour to travel in each direction from Blackfriars to St Pancras. New tunnels will link Peterborough and Cambridge to the existing Thameslink route providing easy access across London via St Pancras to Gatwick and Brighton.

The franchise will introduce 1,140 new carriages – already under construction - on the Thameslink network, improving services to scores of destinations, including the introduction of new cross capital services and a connection at Farringdon to London’s newest railway - Crossrail.

"In addition, Govia will order a new fleet of 108 carriages for the Gatwick Express service, replacing the current 25-year-old trains with a fleet better suited to the needs of airport passengers. It will also secure 150 new carriages to replace the 40-year-old trains currently operating on the route between Moorgate, north London and Hertfordshire.

"That means the total number of carriages in service will grow to 2,631 by 2019 – an increase of 27%. It will also release some existing electric carriages to be used elsewhere in the country.
Govia will invest significantly in improving stations, including free wi-fi at more than 100 stations, better retail and catering facilities and improvements to customer information systems. Staffing hours will also be extended so that at more than 100 of the largest stations there will be staff available from the first train in the morning to the last train at night.

"Demanding contractual obligations on the operator will deliver cleaner and more spacious trains and improve passenger satisfaction. Tough new benchmarks for performance, train and station cleanliness and customer service information have also been agreed.

"The operator will also develop website, smartphone and tablet apps that will make door-to-door travel easier for customers, including planning journeys, buying tickets and booking onward taxis.

"The TSGN franchise will replace the existing Thameslink and Great Northern franchise (operated as First Capital Connect) from 14 September 2014 and will include the South Central franchise (operated as Southern and Gatwick Express) when it expires on 26 July 2015. A small number of services and stations will also transfer from the South Eastern franchise by 21 December 2014. The current franchises provide around 273 million passenger journeys annually.

"Following the announcement, and in accordance with usual procurement practice, there will be a standstill period of 10 days before the department will be a position to enter into, and complete, the formal contractual documentation and make the award to the successful tenderer."