Thursday, January 07, 2010

Greenhouse Redux

With reference to the demolition order on a community greenhouse for 'Health & Safety' reasons; the good news is that Basildon Council has a perfectly sensible policy to take public liability risks for such buildings. Well, the policy said 'sheds' not 'sheds & greenhouses' but the intention is clear and the wording is going to be clarified for the avoidance of any future doubt.

This doesn't mean that tenants can put up and structure they like on communal Council-owned land and permission will still be required. It does mean that one over-used reason to curtail people's freedom will not apply.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Panto at the Towngte Theatre

We went to the panto at the Towngate last night and I am happy to report that the family thoroughly enjoyed it. It had exactly the right mix of adult and children's content, with excellent production values and performances by the cast.

It was particularly pleasant to be in the Towngate, which was re-opened by the Conservatives after being closed under the previous Labour administration. The theatre runs a fairly full programme, and while it doesn't make money, it isn't a huge burden on the taxpayers either. It is actually a good example of the balance that needs to be struck in running a local authority. Clearly you don't want to charge an excessive Council Tax in order to support unnecessary Council activities. On the other hand just delivering basic services would mean doing away with things like sports and leisure, as well as many other things. Basildon has not benefited from a one-dimensional approach to this in the past, for example where Labour decided that any spare money had to go into Council housing and other community facilities could just rot. As if Council tenants didn't use the other facilities anyway.

Our view is that a Council has to represent the whole community not just parts of it.

War on Evil

On Friday Islamist terrorists suicide-bombed a volleyball match in Pakistan. They killed 93 people, including at least 8 children. This is yet another addition to the grim toll of the innocent murdered by that vicious ideology. You become inured to these horrors on the news, but it is important to take a moment to think about things like this. It was a volleyball match. There was no possible military or other objective beyond the slaughter of as many human beings as possible and it brings home to you the nature of the enemy that is faced by just about every civilised nation on the planet. Historically, most conflicts have a degree of right an wrong on both sides. The recently-ended civil war in Sri Lanka is a case in point with both the Tamil Tigers and the government committing some truly awful acts in order to further their cause and the roots of the conflict lying in the racism and discrimination that followed independence. That there are usually arguments on both sides in a war has led to some cynicism by some in the West that usually ignores the fact that for some conflicts right and wrong is very clear. There are very few who would argue about the morality of fighting World War two for example.

So, let us return to Islamist terrorism. This has its roots in a poisonous ideology shaped by the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, which basically states that the only true Muslims are those that follow a very narrow and literal interpretation of the Koran. Everyone else can be killed, and in many cases should be killed. If you have ever wondered why the vast majority of the victims of Islamist terror are ordinary Muslims, well there is your answer. According to the Islamist terrorists they aren't real Muslims. That is the nature of our enemy and that is why it is right to fight them. There is no ambiguity between people who commit mass-murder in order to impose a system that would have been considered unusually harsh and bigoted in medieval times and a modern liberal democracy. In fact, there is no ambiguity between such people and practically any form of human government. Those who would kill children in order to enslave women, kill homosexuals and banish learning and freedom must be opposed. We are at war with a vile enemy. What we need is for our political leaders to start acting like it.