A Timely Reform by Ian Ridley

Blog & web site of Ian Ridley

August, 2010Archive for

Playground cuts leave a sour taste

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

So the Coalition have announced the end of the Playbuilder scheme, scrapping or scaling back hundreds of community playground projects. The exact direct savings to the public purse are unclear. The scheme’s overall budget was £235 million to fund 3,500 projects. According to the BBC less than 1,300 have been completed so a rough guess might be that £150 million won’t be spent.

Now rewind a few days to the suggestions to end free milk for the under fives. That would have saved £50-59 million per year.

The need for free milk for young children is unclear. The scheme originated when wartime rationing was still in force. However milk and other sources of nutirition are easily bought now. The BBC has a good article on the pros and cons. The main concern is probably that milk may help suppliment the diet of children whose parents do not provide them with the nutrition they need.

The Playbuilder cuts have raised mutterings about increased childhood obesity.

I admit I am comparing apples with oranges here: Playbuilder uses Capital (one-off) funds whereas Nursery Milk is a annual cost. However, costs over a three year period would seem to be roughly similar.

So what we have is a choice between 2 schemes that basically cost the same over three  years. The Coalition has decided to keep the milk and cut the playgrounds without explaining the health benefits/ impacts of these decisions.

Instead the perception is that school milk is an “untouchable” due to the (erroneous) legacy of ““Maggie Thatcher the Milk Snatcher”. Playgrounds are a soft target.

I would not like to think that the Coalition make their decisions based on focus group rather than facts.

William Hague not to address Lib Dem Conference

Saturday, August 7th, 2010

William Hague (or any other senior Tories) will not be addressing the Liberal Democrat Autumn Conference in Liverpool next month.

According to Liberal Democrat Voice,

‘A party spokesman said:

“William Hague is not part of the conference agenda and I can confirm that he has not been asked to speak at the Liberal Democrat conference. No Conservative ministers have ever been approached to speak at our conference.

Fringe events are still being finalised, and it is of course possible that an independent group may have invited Mr Hague to speak at their Fringe event.”‘

This is in response to the Dail Mail’s assertion that,

“William Hague is being lined up to speak at the Liberal Democrats’ annual conference next month in a move designed to cement relations between the coalition partners.”

Which just goes to prove (again) that you can’t believe anything everything you read in the Daily Mail papers.

(Hat tip to Lib DemVoice & Liberal England).