Fringe Box



Millmead Views: Enough Of The Wheezes – Let’s Have Some Really Good Ideas

Published on: 22 Oct, 2012
Updated on: 22 Oct, 2012

Cllr Angela Gunning represents Stoke Ward and is the Leader of the Labour Group at Guildford Borough Council

By Angela Gunning

Red tape – who needs it? The way to boost the economy, apparently, is to build extensions. If you’ve got a property to extend, of course. And your neighbours are OK about it. What if they aren’t? Too bad.

Not much good for flats, unfortunately. It is possible to extend your house anyway, permitted development rights are already available for reasonable and appropriate extensions to domestic properties.

I get the impression there’s a hidden department in one of this Coalition Government’s ministries where ‘clever’ money-saving ideas [aka wheezes] are generated. Here’s a few:

  • Let’s sell off the forests
  • Cut benefits
  • No school building
  • Some school building, but shrink them
  • Pasty tax – hot, cold, lukewarm?

And so on – they all hit the buffers when the blindingly obvious is pointed out. U-turns, U-turns, U-turns.

But back to schools. Michael Gove now announces that proposed new schools are too big. He blames get-rich-quick architects. Schools of fancy shapes and curves are to be unacceptable. So who will design the schools? Easy isn’t it? Just some rooms joined together. Back of envelope  stuff.

What does Gove appreciate about design of space, lighting, movement, learning environment ant the impact on young lives? Shouldn’t school be somewhere to remember with appreciation and affection? And what about teachers? Don’t they need somewhere decent and attractive to work?

Anyway, why stop with architects? Who needs builders? What about DIY schools? Plucky parents cutting costs as volunteers! In fact why not ask parents to even make the bricks themselves… like I saw them doing in Mukono, Uganda. (By the way, Guildford is linked with Mukono.)

Ugandans in our linked town Mukono making their own bricks – Photo Angela Gunning

What about converting derelict factories, or just bolting a few PortaCabins together? Why not do a cost-benefit analysis on a ‘throw-away school’. Take it down every two-three years – build in cardboard – second hand window frames. Think laterally!

Let’s issue free coats and boots in place of expensive heating: that would generate a market in second-hand garments. Could be a winner.

London October 20th – Protesters call for Trident to be scrapped and welfare benefits maintained – Photo Angela Gunning

Seriously though, why not cancel Trident? That would release a £100 billion. The so-called deterrent is deterring who and what? The real danger to our way of life these days is via the internet. Much more powerful to destroy your enemy by hacking than by smashing it to smithereens.

And what about tax–avoidance schemes so beloved by ‘celebrities’, bankers and other over paid characters? HMRC estimate these cost the UK about £4.5billion a year. Now that would be something towards straightening out this country’s financial black hole.

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