Archive for Waste of Money

A self contained mystery

Posted in And thus the Mystery was solved Watson!, Engineering, Posts that are far longer than I first intended, Rantings, The Railways, Your cut-out-and-keep Guide with tags , , , , , on October 11, 2011 by awickerman

Rick Haythornthwaite, the chairman of Network Rail, has decided not to seek re-election (i.e. as a well known Labour placeman he probably correctly thinks a Conservative-Liberal government wont ‘elect’ him). As he was leaving he decided to share this wisdom with the public;

“We know that many of the public view the leadership of the industry with confusion, suspicion or disdain. They don’t trust us and therefore are resistant to changes we want to make.”

But why? Why on earth would the public distrust a leadership that includes men like Rick? I mean yes he was picked solely due to being close to New Labour, his last real private sector job went badly, his previous government job was on cutting Health and Safety rules (he didn’t)  and he had absolutely zero experience of the railways, but is that any reason not to trust his wise leadership? Or men like chief executive David Higgins, a man who was Chief Executive of the ODA and was in charge while the final bill for London 2012 skyrocketed and then took his zero rail experience (but his vast knowledge of spiralling budgets) to Network Rail.  And the disdain surely can’t be because of the huge sums they earn for incompetence, so how on earth can we explain Ricks’s problem? Luckily Rick gives us the answer in the same article;

“I believe we have the chance to leverage a newfound appetite for change among the public, born of crisis, to galvanise a shift from a fragmented to a connected Britain.”

Breaking that down ‘leverage an appetite’ means pushing through expensive schemes that would normally be rejected as a waste of time and money, ‘born of a crisis’ means doing expensive schemes quickly so no-one has a chance to stop them, ‘galvanise a shift’ means push through expensive schemes in the face of entirely accurate opposition and ‘connected Britain’ means High Speed 2 and dozens of other very expensive schemes. To those who are spotting a common theme – well done.

In summary anyone who speaks such utter tripe will be untrusted and disdained and damned if I know why he’s surprised at that.

Ohh and “resistant to changes we want to make” is not only referring to High Speed 2, it’s also code for ‘we want bring back the massive bonuses that we got regardless of how bad things went’, something most people are quite rightly resistant of.

Great Headlines of our Times

Posted in Rantings, Tenuous Link of the Day with tags , , , on August 11, 2010 by awickerman

Thames Valley Police pledge to solve more crimes

Without wishing to be too facetious surely that’s the main job of the Police, in all honesty I can’t think of much else that they do and none of that is more important than catching criminals.  As such these two paragraphs indicate how wrong I am;

Thames Valley Police received a “poor” rating for solving crimes in its annual assessment from inspectors this year.

The Police Report Card by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary gave the force an overall rating of “fair”.

Having looked at said Report Card it appears that actually solving crime is only one factor along side such vitals as “Satisfaction with service delivery”, “Comparative satisfaction of BME community” and “Meeting the Pledge Standards”. So despite Thames Valley being poor at solving crime they do well enough on the rest of the ‘vital’ areas to drag it up to a fair overall.

My conclusion? If the police are struggling to meet budget cuts can I suggest the report card gets scrapped straight away along with sacking everyone involved in producing them, checking them or thinking about them.

Three for One Health Special!

Posted in Almost Beyond Words, Even Stevie Wonder Saw That Coming, Rantings with tags , , , , , , on July 2, 2010 by awickerman

And now a news story that manages to annoy me in three distinct ways. The BBC reports that the
Life expectancy gap ‘is widening’, which while not good news (all else being equal I think most people would prefer the gap to close) this is not in itself annoying. The three annoying points are;

1. The NAO says the figures mean a Labour government target to reduce the difference in life expectancy by 10% by 2010 is unlikely to be met.

Sodding government targets. Why anyone even bothers measuring them I’ve no idea, they were only ever a cheap headline and never got resourced (apart from the PR and monitoring). So after wasting money publicising them we now get fleeced again assessing them. Why? Seriously why?

2. It is calling for more investment to help GPs tackle problems like smoking and poor diet in poor communities.

The solution is ‘Basically we need more money’. It’s always that, never ‘We recommend taking a step back and thinking about this’, instead the demand is always to hurl more money at the problem in exactly the same way. The report goes on to say anti-smoking campaigns were less effective in poorer areas and so the solution is to double the spend on said campaigns. WTF?

Leaving aside the fact we probably can’t afford to see too many smokers quit (tax revenues are ~£10 billion a year from tobacco duties alone) this is madness. The schemes don’t work in poorer areas for whatever reason so why on earth will doing the same thing but harder be any different? Why not instead recommend changing the scheme, perhaps to one that might work. Why not spend the extra money on a research scheme to find out what will work? But then I suppose if the schemes work and people stop smoking all the anti-smoker workers will be out of a job; it’s in their interest for the scheme to fail or they’ll all be made redundant.

3. But it says that at present the system “does not provide enough of an incentive” to encourage family doctors to focus on the neediest groups in their practices.

Bloody GPs! Apparently we need to pay them more to actually care about their patients. Because £100k a year for a three day week just isn’t enough money, they need a lot more of our cash before they’ll put down the golf clubs and actually do any work. Heaven forbid that a GP ever does anything without being paid a fortune for it.

Or we could sack the lot of them, spend the money on practice nurses, pharmacies that can issue antibiotics/painkillers/contraception and expanded A&E. Such a situation would be functionally identical to where we are now but with several  massive advantages; 1. Golf courses will go bankrupt 2. When you have an ear infection you’ll just get some drugs instead of being patronised by an idiot of a GP who will eventually works out that you have an ear infection and then send you somewhere else to get some drugs 3. Nurses actually are (mostly) caring professionals so would help their patients instead of being unmitigated selfish arseholes like most GPs.

I can but hope in the ‘savage’ spending cuts to come everyone involved in this report is sacked and maybe even deported. They wont be of course, the civil service never cuts its own bureaucracy or the useless jobs (front line services are favourite because that scares politicians off from making cuts in the first place) , but it’s a dream.

A New Low In Inexplicable Connections

Posted in Almost Beyond Words, Rantings, Your cut-out-and-keep Guide with tags , , , , , on May 25, 2010 by awickerman

I realise it is De rigueur to try and link your product to the World Cup, no self respecting marketeer would be able to show their face if they hadn’t tried to link crips, TVs or even washing powder to football. But surely this is a new low;

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Bringing Balance to the Blame

Posted in Alas the Mystery Remains Holmes, Irregular Features, Rantings, Your cut-out-and-keep Guide with tags , , , , , on May 16, 2010 by awickerman

Having regularly lambasted the RMT in general and Bob Crow in particular I probably should balance that out by pointing out that the Network Rail management are an inept bunch of idiots who I wouldn’t trust to open a can of baked beans that was already open, let alone run a railway. As proof I present the NR policy on bridge strikes.

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Of no connection to anything

Posted in Alas the Mystery Remains Holmes, Almost Beyond Words with tags , , , on April 29, 2010 by awickerman

I do believe a new record for inexplicably tasteless and morally wrong adverts  has been set, from India a new challenger has emerged to plump new depths just to sell you anything.

It is in foreign so bonus points if you can guess what it’s all about, answer after the jump.

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Another Day In The Life of a Tunnel Engineer

Posted in Irregular Features, Tunnels with tags , , , , , , , on April 27, 2010 by awickerman

Today was varied and, as someone recently mentioned they liked the earlier Day in the life post I thought I’d do another.

The morning began with the vexed question ‘How do you stop a 20 tonne mobile crane smashing into a different fixed gantry crane?’ The simple answer to this conundrum is ‘Build a bigger fixed crane so you don’t need the mobile one’, those of you who thought that are henceforth banned from ever working with a certain large water company for being too logical. The correct answer is, of course, crash barriers, or more technically anti-terrorist rated crash bollards, which gives me another excuse for this outstanding link. (And if anyone knows what the name of that song playing at the start is, please put it in the comments as it is really bugging me.)

So after a morning of crash bollards and anti-terrorism standards I spent the afternoon sorting out the Network Rail tunnel inspections for the rail link to a well known London airport. This would have been a fairly standard job were it not for the recent change that now requires a ‘surface walkover’ of the route. While I’m sure this is OK for most rail tunnels in the UK (most rail tunnels being very old and so built in the days when the firm would just buy the entire hill in case something went wrong and they had to resort to an open cut) this is something of a bugger for tunnels in urban areas. In my case this meant working out who one had to talk to in order to wander around a gravel pit, several private farms, the A4 Bath Road, a major hotel complex, the M4, several Terminals and the runways.

This is in fact even harder than you would think as the first questions asked are normally “Why now after all these years? Is something wrong?”, a conversation that never goes well as people refuse to accept things are in fact OK. Given the history of the site you can hardly blame them, but still.

So there you are, a day in the life of a tunnel engineer that only peripherally involved tunnels, a sadly not uncommon occurrence.

And to the visitor who came here searching for “eurythmics sex crime” I have to ask; How many pages of results did you go through to get here? And why? I’m not expecting an answer, I just feel the question should be asked.

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