Sunday, 23 July 2017

Dangers of snap map

"MINISTERS have teamed up with Police Scotland to warn children of popular social media app Snapchat which reveals users’ locations."

"Holyrood officials have also contacted the service provider who have given their backing for updated guidance to youngsters and their parents."

"Privacy concerns were raised last month after it emerged the app’s new feature revealed users’ exact location and what they were doing."

"Child safety groups warned Snap Map could put youngsters at risk of stalking and bullying but Snapchat insisted location-sharing was `completely optional` and off by default..."

"The SNP administration is working closely with digital media providers and industry to support young users and provide information to them and their parents and carers to keep them out of harm’s way."

"Earlier this year the Government also produced an action plan on the issue and works closely with Education Scotland to promote the message in schools..."

"A current support page explains: `Your friends will be shown on the Map with their Bitmoji. Sometimes, their Bitmojis might even show them driving, walking, or more! If they don’t have their Bitmoji account linked, then you’ll see them as a blank Bitmoji outline`."

"The NSPCC immediately raised concerns about the app and said: `It's worrying that Snapchat is encouraging under 18s to broadcast their location on the app where it can potentially be accessed by everyone in their contacts list`."

"`With public accounts, this will include those who are not known to the user`..."

"Statistics show the charity's Glasgow Childline base handled almost 50 calls from around the UK linked to Snapchat based bullying between June and July 2017 while over 2015/16 the service carried out close to 900 counselling sessions with children contacting them from Scotland on the issue."

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Slow official response to the Grenfell disaster

[UK Column News 19 July 2017]

"So Patrick," says Mike Robinson, "As we were walking around on the way to the [Grenfell] tower we see lots of graffiti on the streets. And you took this image which I thought was the ultimate irony."

Considerate constructors secure everyone`s safety is on a billboard in the shadow of the burnt out Grenfell tower with pictures of the dead from the tower arranged underneath. Patrick Henningsen agrees that "You could not get a more ironic photograph than that."

Mike Robinson continues: "A number of people told us while we were there that the pictures of the missing are already starting to be removed."

"They`re everywhere. From Notting Hill, Portobello area, if you walk towards Latimer Road about a mile and a half, you`ll see these images everywhere. On lamp posts and clustered around under west way near Latimer station especially. And these are memorials more than anything. I think it`s symbolic. I think there`s a kind of cathartic experience for residents... I do think it helps people to remember [those] they`ve lost, friends, family members, in some cases. So I think it is very important and I think it should be up to the residents whether these types of memorials should be removed, and not the council. I think that`s very important but I have a sneaky suspicion it will be the authorities who will want to determine that, rather than the people who actually live in that community."
Mike Robinson: "Well yesterday the BBC published this. Now this is one of their reality check articles. And so they`ve waded into the discussion of what has happened to the donations given by the public following the Grenfell disaster. As I say this is one of the reality check articles which if you remember is the BBC`s so called anti-fake news fact checking service. And so I`m just going to run through a couple of things they say in this because they`ve done the reality check and we`ve got to assume - it`s the BBC - the facts are correct."

"The numbers don`t add up Brian and Pat."

"`Survivors and relatives of those who died in the fire in Grenfell tower last month have so far received only a small fraction of the cash and items donated by members of the public. It was two days after the Grenfell tower fire that mountains of donations sat in car parks and basketball courts and by the side of the road. The now infamous and black high-rise block loomed nearby. From clothes to baby milk, bedding to bottled water, the huge quantity of donations was the enduring positive image in a week of tragedy which shook the country in so many ways`. And they say that a total of more than 170 tonnes of items were donated. Some of those donations through the Red Cross have now been moved to a warehouse in Cheshire, Patrick. ...So this apparently is the Red Cross`s northern sorting office which they say is for the Grenfell appeal. The article says that so far one hundred giant cardboard containers full of donations have been moved there. An estimated 174 tonnes of items were donated. Ten tonnes have, or soon will be, made available to the former residents of Grenfell tower."

Another photograph taken by Patrick Henningsen is shown displaying inside the council support centre.

"Would you say ten tonnes of items are being made available to former residents?"

"No no, it`s kind of a skeleton operation inside the centre... This is run by all the various authorities. When you walk in, it has the atmosphere of a trade show. When you walk in, the first thing you see on the left, the Red Cross have a stand there complete with the pop up banners and a table; and gentlemen and ladies with the lanyards around their necks and branded uniforms and so forth. So you move on to the NHS mental health table for the... mental health literature..."

"What struck me when you walk in the centre, ...there`s a few people in there, maybe a few victims or a few residents, but on the whole it`s empty. Key workers ... or volunteers, or whatever they are, outnumber the actual residents there by, I don`t know, a huge ratio. I don`t know what aid that centre is actually delivering to people on the ground. I would suspect it`s minimal compared to the actual scale of what`s out there. You have to remember we`re talking about not just the people in Grenfell tower who have survived but hundreds, possibly thousands of residents, who have also been affected directly by this event."

"Absolutely," agrees Mike Robinson. "So let`s get back to the BBC article. They say ten tonnes have or soon will be made available. They say 62 tonnes of donations are being sold in British Red Cross shops. So we`ve now got official confirmation from BBC reality check that that`s what`s going on. The proceeds are going apparently to the Grenfell fund. Fifteen tonnes are being sold to textile recycling companies; 87 tonnes are still to be sorted. Now that`s according to the Red Cross. On top of that there have been cash donations of £20million, £5.5million has come through the London Community Foundation/Evening Standard Dispossessed Fund; £5.1million through the Kensington and Chelsea Foundation, £4.7million through the Red Cross; £4million which were individual appeals through various crowdfunding sites, £500,000 from four Muslim charities. So the total collected is £20million."

"And the total given out so far, Patrick, £800,000 and that is £215,000 to Grenfell Muslim Response, £220,000 to the Local Community Foundation, £180,000 to the Kensington and Chelsea Foundation, £158,000 by the London Emergency Trust. The money has got to be the biggest problem we have here because we have already heard residents describing how some people were getting money; other people weren`t. Perhaps this is going to be used as a mechanism for breaking up the solidarity there is within that community."

"That is already happening... There are two reasons why the money wouldn`t get distributed evenly. One is the bureaucracy is inefficient and unable to do that... So you have £20million raised and instead of going directly to the residents and those affected it`s being channelled through other charities. So another layer of bureaucracy with yet more administrative costs...  £800,000 - if you divide that up amongst the number of survivors we`re told from Grenfell tower that might be approximately £36,000 per head and if we go and speak to all these 200 and odd people... from the tower how many of them have received the £36,000 per head?... I would say very few if any have received that. So what are we looking at here?  The charity boondoggle which exists in the 21st century which is a massive industry on its own."

"And while the official response is pretty lacklustre the community response is as good as it could possibly be..."

Police Operation

"And in the meantime the police operation to recover human remains continues; the police saying that officers are moving one flat at a time through the building, on their hands and knees using small trowels and shovels, removing debris and seiving the debris through a mesh 6mm in size. This they say is so that they can pick up any identifiable parts of a human body. All debris is being packaged and labelled and then they move on to the next flat."

"The speed of their operation they say is determined by the fact that they have to pay attention to weather conditions, that they have to go up and down twenty three flights of stairs and what you`re seeing on screen at the moment is a still from a video that the Metropolitan police released where in this shot you see two Met police guys in hazmat suits and breathing apparatus and the guy on the right there - and I really thought this was despicable under the circumstances - he `s standing there breathing heavily and pretending to be out of breath. Now I`m not going to underestimate the effort it takes to move up and down that building. What they`re saying is they have to work in three hour shifts and if it gets too hot and they`re getting dehydrated they`ve got to work in shorter shifts and therefore they`re travelling up and down the stairs a lot. But to my mind, bearing in mind the human tragedy in this whole thing, for them to make a big deal of the fact that they have to walk up and down these stairs - these are supposed to be fit police officers - I thought that was pretty despicable. But they`re using this as an excuse to apologise for the length of time it`s taking to get through this job. As far as I`m concerned, Brian, if you want to do your job in less time, get more people on it."

Brian Gerrish: "Well it is interesting Mike. What I pick up from that is, of course, both these men are wearing professional respirators. So they are filtering the air. We know that there`s been an asbestos risk which I think you`re going to mention.... So at the end of the day those fibres are going to be on the suits they`re wearing themselves. You don`t want it on your skin. There`s something rather odd about this. And the other thing is - no windows. So the moment you get up ... a few storeys there`s going to be quite a breeze blowing through that building."

"That is a very good point and let`s just come on to the air quality then because the government is saying the air quality in the local area is absolutely fine. No problems with it. But as you just said there`s no windows in the building and therefore there is nothing to prevent debris being ejected out of the building by the breeze. "

"So the government has produced its air quality document and statistics and here`s the front page of it showing where they have the various air quality monitoing stations of various types. And Environmental monitoring following the Grenfell Tower fire data update. And Patrick no surprise that what they`re saying is that everything`s green; everything`s fine. No problems. And if we look at the asbestos monitoring no asbestos detected on the streets at all. I find this fairly unlikely."

Painful restraint is still allowed

"Since 2011 staff in secure children’s homes have been banned from using restraint techniques that deliberately inflict pain. Yet, incredibly, no such protection exists when children are being escorted to and from these very same services."

"Escort custody officers are authorised to inflict pain as a form of restraint. Last year, the Youth Justice Board announced its secure escort contractor was using a behavior management approach known as Minimising and Managing Physical Restraint (MMPR)."

"MMPR was developed for child prisons in response to the restraint-related deaths of two children. Gareth Myatt, 15, and Adam Rickwood, 14, died in secure training centres run by G4S and Serco respectively."

"Gareth died in April 2004 after choking on his own vomit while he was held down. G4S officers had forced him into a seated position and bent his upper body towards his thighs and knees. They ignored his cries that he couldn’t breathe. Gareth lost consciousness within six or seven minutes."

"Four months later Adam died after being unlawfully restrained for refusing to go to his room. He was inflicted with a ‘nose distraction’; a prison service restraint technique involving an upward strike to the nose with the intention of causing severe pain. Adam took his own life hours later, leaving a note for his solicitor to say he had asked staff what gave them the right to hit a child on the nose."

"The specific techniques used on Gareth and Adam were eventually permanently withdrawn from child prisons and are not permitted under MMPR."

"But the use of other painful restraint methods remains allowed and has persisted despite calls for a ban from UN bodies, the prisons inspectorate, the NSPCC and the UK’s four Children’s Commissioners."

Read more

Children living in temporary housing are on the increase

"The number of homeless children being housed in temporary accommodation rose by more than a third in the last three years, according to official figures."

"Councils in England were now providing temporary housing for 120,540 children with their families, the Local Government Association said."

"It said the growth rate - of about 900 extra children every month - was unsustainable."

"The government said the figures were a worry but still below the peak of 2006."

"Based on the latest figures from the Department for Communities and Local Government, covering January to March 2017, there was a net increase of 32,650 (37%) since the second quarter of 2014 - an average of 906 extra children every month."

First woman to be appointed as president of Supreme Court

"Baroness Hale of Richmond will reportedly become the first woman to be appointed as Britain’s most senior judge."

"The 72-year-old family law expert is expected to be confirmed as the next president of the Supreme Court, according to The Times."

"As deputy president, she is already Britain’s most senior female judge, but it is believed that Downing Street will announce her appointment in the most senior role. She will earn £225,000 a year."

Baroness Hale was one of the judges who ruled against the Scottish government's Named Person scheme.

Friday, 21 July 2017

Survivors in Scotland fear a cover up

"When the Scottish Government stated it would set up an inquiry into state child abuse in December 2014 - Nicola Sturgeon then dragged it out - first taking 6 months to appoint a chair of the independent panel - whom 2 religious orders objected to - delaying it further until October 2015."

"The independent panel of three people were finally appointed to lead the inquiry, Professor Michael Lamb, Susan O`Brien QC and Glenn Houston."

"Despite Scottish Government claims this would be one of the most wide reaching inquiries Scotland has ever seen, by 25th November 2015 survivors accused Holyrood of now being complicit in the cover up, after the inquiry remit was restricted to mainly abuse in residential care - blocking many survivors from giving their testimony in one fell swoop."

"The Charity supporting the survivors stating

"This decision resulted in many victims, who had suffered grievous abuse, being excluded from the inquiry. We are of the view that this decision has enabled institutions and organisations, who have covered up criminal activity, to escape public scrutiny, and possible prosecution. The failure to extend the remit of the inquiry has effectively resulted in the Government becoming complicit in a cover-up of abuse."


As if all of that and the loss of three panel members was not bad enough, we have this:

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Private interests around the NHS

[UK Column News 19 July 2017]

"Although the government says it is protecting the NHS the evidence, easily accessible, is that privatisation of the NHS is taking place. "

"Let`s come in on the subject of memory...."

A viewer sent in the NHS document Getting help for forgefulness

"Forgetfulness is common particularly as we get older", reads Brian Gerrish. "Well that`s certainly true. `Often this is nothing to worry about. However, forgetfulness that interferes with your daily life is not a normal part of getting older`."

"So this is all very gentile, measured stuff. I decided to follow it through a little bit more. Where has this come from and what`s it about?"

"So let`s bring in this one. And I noticed in the recommended organisations we had Admiral Nursing. I thought that looked particularly interesting. I didn`t recognise it. So I followed through that link that`s been provided by the NHS. That brought us into Dementia UK."

"Now I found that interesting that the initial brochure is simply saying, `Well, a little bit of forgetfulness as you get older is fine. If it interferes with your daily life, yes, maybe you`ve got a little bit of a problem. You can always speak to your GP about that`. But behind it we`ve got an organisation who is interested in dementia and in fact they are interested in providing dementia nurses - this is Admiral Nursing - and of course we`ve got a limited company backing up this charity providing this service. So if you were cynical you could say: `Well actually this is about money`."


"We had a look at some of the individuals involved and this lady caught my eye, Lady Barbara Judge, one of the trustees; experienced international corporate lawyer with significant experience as a senior executive;  Chairman and non-executive Director in the private and public sectors; First Woman Chairman of the Institute of Directors; worked in US, Hong Kong and the UK; also it says here, Chairman of the UK Pension Protection Fund and Deputy Chairman of the Tepco Nuclear Reform Monitoring Committee."

"So this is quite a lady Mike. In fact she`s recently left that UK Pension Protection Fund, but interesting you`re working on one hand with a Pension Protection Fund and with people getting near the end of their life in another role. I`m not sure I have a comfortable feeling about that. But if we follow her through it gets more interesting because this is Tepco; this is taking us to part of the Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings and this is into nuclear safety. So this lady has got many talents and if we bring in this part which is a short summary of her CV we find that in 1978 she starts off with a large American law firm but by 1980, a mere two year later, she`s appointed by the President as Commissioner of the US Securities and Exchange Commission. How do you do that?"

"I`m not sure," says Mike Robinson. "But I don`t see any health care in her career at all."

"No it`s fascinating. She then jumps on through a lot of money work; 1994 to 2009 she`s Director and subsequently Deputy Chairman of Friends Provident plc and in that same period she also becomes Director of the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority. So that is really an amazing career progression."

"But she`s now working to help people with their memory."

Mike Robinson: "So we`ve got people ...deep into private interests circling the National Health Service at the moment. So it might not come as a surprise then that transformation is what it`s all about. We`ve got local partnerships."

"This is sustainability and transformation partnerships of the NHS. And £325million, it`s been announced, is going to be invested in NHS transformation projects. We don`t quite know what the NHS is being transformed into. We believe it`s being transformed into something which is ready for privatisation. The government continues to deny that, but we as a matter of course, don`t believe them."

"So this is Jeremy Hunt and also NHS England Chief Executive Simon Stevens who has announced this £325million capital investment for local projects that are going to help the NHS modernise and transform care for patients. And it all sounds very good. In Greater Manchester hospitals will deliver significant improvements in urgent and emergency care by concentrating services in four hub sites across the city. It is expected to save around 300 lives each year in general surgery alone. In Bedfordshire local doctors and nurses are developing a primary care hub on the site of Bedford Hospital which is expected to improve access to same day appointments for around 50,000 patients and reduce the number of patients attending the hospital`s A & E department. In Derbyshire the urgent care village will be created at the Royal Derby with GP services, a frailty clinic and mental health services to ensure patients receive the right care in the right place at the right time."

"So, what do you think ?"

Brian Gerrish: "It`s privatisation. It`s being clustered around the NHS, a little bit done at a time. It`s all about collaboration, hubs, networking, linking, partnerships. But what it really is, is privatisation."

"Well, actually it`s even more interesting than that. Here`s what Jeremy Hunt said: `This funding will support strong local plans to help the NHS modernise and transform care for patients`. In fact, what they`re talking about in amongst all these projects is the merger of the NHS and local authorities, effectively, in some departments. So why would you have close collaboration and close merger between NHS functions and local authority functions? "

"Because that will link you in with everything to do with social services as well and therefore you`ll effectively be captured in a net. The state will operate a net around each individual."

"Absolutely. And it goes even further than that too. Let`s have a look at one of their examples. `Nottinghamshire: turning ambitious IT plans into reality`. So this is one of these projects. And what are they talking about? Data sharing...."

"`Qualms about sharing` is what they say on here. We have a portal that is capable of bringing data from different health and care systems for new ways of working as joint assessment. There has been a lot of emphasis on improving data quality and the implementation of summary care records. To this end, Connected Nottinghamshire is using the medical interoperability gateway to share patient data regardless of the clinical system used. This was first implemented in greater Nottingham and has since been rolled out across all GP practices within Nottingham and Nottinghamshire ... and it supports safer prescribing, apparently, improved diagnosis and patients` full history is accessible. Who is it accessible to ?"

"Private corporations ultimately Mike."

"And the local authority."


"And that is of concern."


Wednesday, 19 July 2017

`Privatising the World`: not something Oliver Letwin wants to discuss

Certainly not when it`s about privatising the NHS.

Maybe we should look at the UK`s independent fact finding charity because it is sure to tell us what we need to know about the Naylor report and whether or not it is about the privatisation of the NHS.

The fact finding charity, having examined all the facts, has concluded that the sale of NHS land and property is only about efficiency and improvements.

[Full Fact is the UK’s independent fact checking charity.]

It has to be pointed out that this fact finding truth charity has nothing to say about Oliver Letwin - the transformational NHS guru -  and his proposal to privatise the world. It has to be further pointed out that that is a tremendous omission.


When you miss something out that big all I can suggest is: `Do not expect anybody to believe a word your charity has to say`.


Pope Francis speaks about young people and work

I am not a religious person and do not ordinarily take an interest in what the Pope or any other leader of a religious group has to say. However, I have decided to look a little closer at Pope Francis who addresses one billion of the world`s population. To my mind, this is a religious leader who is thinking, somewhat,  about the plight of youth in 2017 and his words have some significance for all youth.

"It is a proud and myopic society that constrains the elderly to work for too long and obliges an entire generation of young people not to work when they should do so for themselves and for all. When young people are outside of the world of work, companies lack energy, enthusiasm, innovation, joy of living, which are precious common goods that render economic life and public happiness better. Hence urgent is a new human social pact, a new social pact for work, which reduces the hours of work of those in the last working stage, to create work for young people who have the right-duty to work. The gift of work is the first gift of fathers and mothers to sons and daughters; it is the first patrimony of a society. It is the first dowry with which we help them to take off to in their free flight to adult life."

I say his words have some significance and he addresses the plight of youth somewhat -  for obvious reasons, like dripping in gold and hypocrisy which makes me wonder. When the Pope speaks, who is he speaking to ?

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Learning styles: another neuromyth

"Unless you’ve been under a rock, avoiding the most infamous jargon of education, you’ve heard the term ‘learning styles’. It has become quite the buzzword in the last decade or so and is almost said with a cringe today. In what can be described as a neuromyth, learning styles have taken a beating by recent research and should be laid to rest with other famous falsehoods of psychology and education. Shockingly enough, though, its proliferation still exists. You can still see its fading footprint on our system of education by searching different universities’ programs of education. While reading through a particular program’s list of distinctions and goals…there it is…tucked away in the third paragraph, lauding the differentiation of this institution’s education department. With the wealth of knowledge invalidating the effectiveness of learning styles, it is quite remarkable institutions still use them as a pillar of their program..."

"So, since learning styles are bunk, is there a viable alternative that reaches learners of all abilities across most curriculums? It certainly looks that way, and the term to know is learning strategies. These strategies, and there are many, are researched and proven to work across most ability levels and curriculum. "

Read more:

CICA avoids compensating child abuse victims

"Children cannot legally consent to sex unless they are over 13 and the defendant reasonably believes they are over 16."

"But CICA, which decides payouts of sexual abuse, uses a different set of criteria."

"In evidence submitted to the Independent Inquiry into child sexual abuse last year, Barnardo’s said that the authority had responded to a claim from one child by saying that `it considers consent as a question of fact…a victim can consent in fact even though in law they may be deemed not to have consented`."

"Victim Support said a 12-year-old girl that had been plied with drink then assaulted by a 21-year-old man had been refused compensation because she had gone with him voluntarily."

"The charities claim that children are being made to feel like they are responsible for their abuse."

"Charities including Barnardo’s, Victim support and Rape Crisis say victims as young as 12 are being excluded from the scheme, the Daily Telegraph reported."

Monday, 17 July 2017

Hospital and student residences have similar material to Grenfell Tower

Glasgow superhospital

Health chiefs have moved to reassure the public after insulation used in Grenfell Tower was found at Glasgow's superhospital.

Kingspan Kooltherm K15 insulation boards were fitted at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital complex in Govan.

The same material was discovered in the Grenfell block by Channel 4 News this week...

The main contractor for the construction of the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital has provided assurances the boards were properly installed and met strict safety standards.

A spokesman for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said: "The Queen Elizabeth University Hospital is one of the safest buildings in the UK in terms of fire engineering.

"Multiplex, the main contractor for the hospital construction, have assured NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde that the Kingspan Kooltherm K15 insulation boards were properly installed to meet Scotland's stringent building and fire safety regulations.

 Edinburgh Napier University

"A physical inspection identified that around a quarter of the exterior walls on one of our buildings - Bainfield Halls of residence - featured the same cladding reportedly used at Grenfell.

"The insulation materials behind the Bainfield cladding panels are non-combustible, the panel hangings are all made of metal, the wall cavities are properly fire-stopped and the buildings are fitted with sprinklers."

"There are also a range of other fire-safety measures in place, including each block having its own exit route, a modern fire alarm and smoke detection system that is tested weekly, and 24-hour on-site security."

He continued: "Work has already begun to remove and replace the cladding as a precautionary measure, and we are working closely with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service to ensure it is safe to continue to use the building as normal."

"Residents are not being evacuated..."

"Local councillor Gavin Corbett said residents would be shocked at the discovery."

He said: "Almost as soon as the Grenfell tragedy happened I had local queries about the cladding used on the buildings at Bainfield. But this news will come as a great shock to the students in Bainfield and the wider community."

"It's obviously vital that the cladding is replaced urgently and that all fire safety and prevention steps are taken in the meantime."

Cladding similar to Grenfell Tower found on school buildings

"A type of cladding said to have been used on Grenfell Tower has been found on a small number of low-rise schools in 14 Scottish council areas."

"Checks are currently being carried out to ensure that the type of aluminium composite material has been fitted in accordance with building regulations."

"No Scottish local authority-owned school buildings above 18 metres have ACM cladding."

"The findings emerged during a meeting of a Ministerial Working Group."

"It was convened to examine building and fire safety regulatory frameworks following the Grenfell Tower fire in London last month in which at least 80 people are believed to have died. The group met for the third time on Thursday."

"Under Scottish building regulations, the type of ACM reported to have been used on Grenfell should not be used in cladding on high-rise domestic properties, but can be used `appropriately` on other buildings."

"In each case, the cladding systems must meet the relevant technical requirements."

The trouble with regeneration

"Residents are demanding that the public inquiry into the Grenfell Tower fire increases its scope to include the regeneration programme ," Mike Robinson informs viewers on UK Column News on Friday 14 July 2017... Mike asks Brian Gerrish for his thoughts on whether the inquiry should increase its scope.

"Well I would say it should ... Mike, because the experience of a lot of people here in Plymouth and other cities across the UK has been that where these government created regeneration programmes have been put in place we have seen a ... transformation in the way that local authorities behave. They`ve become very aggressive... So we`ve had reports and dialogue with members of the community across the country: Sheffield, Newcastle, Glasgow, London. Anywhere these major regeneration programmes have been put in place there`s been a step change in the behaviour of local authorities and inevitably they`ve become very domineering ... and the party politics, the vision for the future, is the primary goal; people`s real interest, second place."

"So we are keen to understand why residents` concerns have been systematically ignored, as they describe it....  just to reinforce that, something we`ve seen right across the country..."

"It`s right across the country and it doesn`t matter what the subject is - the subject could be safety on the streets - it could be the crime rate - whatever it is that local people are genuinely experiencing and concerned about, they are not going to have a proper dialogue with the local authorities because the local authorities have been changed into political fiefdoms." 

Mike takes up the discussion again: "Well the Mirror here...: Scandal of the flats standing empty as Grenfell Tower families live in hotels. And this is 159 social housing flats which have been identified in the Kensington and Chelsea area and the council says `We are continuing to make good progress on rehousing during a complicated process involving severely traumatised people`. So far 167 first offers have been made, 25 offers have been accepted, 8 households have been rehoused. That`s 8 households so far have been rehoused. But the point here is that there`s 159 empty flats from the Sutton estate but of course these flats are boarded up. They`re derelict at the moment. There`s no sign of those being refurbished at this stage. The housing association is called Clarion - it was originally called Affinity Sutton - and they have offered a number of flats on another part of the estate but they`re saying the tenants would have to carry out repairs at their own cost. So residents are saying they`re shocked and appalled that this is going on."

"Well Mike this is one of the key areas and of course this is a con carried out by the government. But when they started to get rid of council houses - council houses had a mixed reputation across the country. Some of them were built to quite good standard; some of them were very poor indeed; but the key thing about a council house is that once people have been on the list and they`ve secured the council house it was theirs for life. It stayed in the family. If there were children they might end up living with mum and dad; they might end up with grandma and grandad living with the family. Then what the government did: `No no. We`ve got to improve these things; we`ll give you an updated kitchen or an updated bathroom.` There was a bribe element to this and these updates were then used to bring in the housing associations and what the housing associations were was a `for profit system`. They say they`re not `for profit` but they are in fact a `for profit system` and with the housing associations came the removal of secure accommodation for life. So as the housing associations have come in: who are they accountable to? It`s not really clear because invariably they have the local council on their board but they`re private organisations with a public sector input. It`s very confusing but these housing associations have become increasingly dictatorial in telling residents what they can and cannot do if they are to remain living in one of their properties."

Mike refers to an article in GetWestLondon: "West London colleges merger plan will benefit students and staff. So regeneration at the heart of all this... Now this is interesting because it involves Wornington College which is part of Kensington & Chelsea College. So Ealing Hammersmith and West London College and Kensington & Chelsea College are going to merge. They say this is a move that is going to benefit everybody. Now Ealing Hammersmith and West London College has four sites and Kensington and Chelsea College has two sites and as I say one of those is Wornington College. Now this article in GetWestLondon makes a statement that under the move both colleges will retain their existing sites and names and this is very confusing, Brian, because Kensington and Chelsea council right at the time that people are obviously upset about what is going on with Grenfell have decided that it`s time to knock down Wornington College... and to regenerate it."

"So what they did without so much as a by-your-leave, without asking anybody for their opinions in April last year, they bought the building for regeneration. They`re going to turn it into flats apparently. But they say they`re still going to accommodate the college but this college is something that local people rely on absolutely. It`s something that helps people - anything from learning English as a foreign language to getting people up to a standard to enter degree level courses around the country. So the local community appreciates this and they are concerned at the moment that this college is going to disappear as a result of this deal. They don`t really understand why the deal`s happened and there is a campaign group if anybody`s interested. It`s called the Save Wornington College campaign. You`ll find it on Facebook. Do go and have a look. But the key point here is, you know, a community that is already suffering the effects of regeneration continues to suffer and, of course, some people might take the view `Well hold on, they`re wanting to knock down the old building and replace it with a new building. Why would you complain about that?` Well for the same reason that when they knock down many of these social housing buildings and replace them, they replace them with fewer homes than were there originally."

"And they`re too expensive for local people to afford."

"Exactly. So people are extremely sceptical about whether this is going to turn out as promised."

"Well I`ll just add to that Mike that I believe what is going on here is Big Society at work. Big Society, which is never mentioned in the mainstream press and media at the moment, it is definitely there. It is being built and of course in Big Society the state is to control everything. It`s to control industry; it`s to control housing, education and of course we can see that the NHS is being privatised at the moment. It`s very nearly there and so we`ve seen the destruction of local communities across the board, whether they are community centres, or homes for the elderly, they go. Local libraries are going; local education facilities are going; and what`s invariably replacing them is always something that is bigger and shinier but if you look at what the control is, it`s really based on... profit."

"Interesting that you mentioned the library because Kensington and Chelsea have decided to close the library in the area and install a private school into that building."

"Libraries are being decimated across the country. Many people say that ... of course , if we end up with a system of knowledge based on the internet and electronic forms that information can be changed overnight."

"Well let`s bring David Scott in at this point because, David, Grenfell Tower insulation was not certified for use with flammable cladding, according to the Guardian. The mainstream media continuing to flail around on this issue."

"Yes, and it`s very striking ... some of this we covered on 15 June 2017 and we`ve covered in articles since and now cropping up belatedly in papers like the Guardian and on the BBC. "

See David Scott`s article: Grenfell: why the fire regulations failed


Thursday, 13 July 2017

Children`s outcomes are worse for the poor

I hope the Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) are paying attention that household incomes are a very important factor when determining what is going to happen to children..

But, probably not.

I guess they would rather provide opportunities for little businesses to develop on the back of that poverty.


Maybe this is why I think that:

"The importance of money in determining a child’s life prospects is highlighted in a major new study published today with household income found to have a significant impact on everything from children’s cognitive and educational outcomes to their social development and physical health."

"We can now confidently say that money itself matters and needs to be taken into account if we want to improve children’s outcomes," says the review’s co-author, Kerris Cooper. "We often focus on gaps at school but what the evidence shows is that money doesn’t only make a difference to children’s cognitive outcomes, it also makes a difference to their physical health, to birth weight, and to social and behavioural development."

Fifty-five of 61 studies carried out in eight countries over the past three decades showed increases in income to have a positive effect across a variety of measures, according to the systematic review carried out by Cooper and Kitty Stewart of the Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion at the London School of Economics.

Behavioural insights and lessons still to be learned

The Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) puts forward the perception that it is strong on research and learning.  Questionable., because it has little to say about the lessons that have already been learned about poverty and education or the need for educating politicians about research.

BIT says: "Yesterday Justine Greening, the Secretary of State for Education, announced that the government was to fund 11 Research Schools, bringing the total to 22 nationally...

"We have a long history with the Blue School and with Somerset more generally, having collaborated with them on our projects supporting the Somerset Challenge, a cross county group dedicated to school improvement, which is also part of the Blue School’s bid."

"Over the next three years, the Blue School, supported by the Somerset Challenge, BIT, and Professor Simon Burgess from the University of Bristol, will focus on several strands of work."

"These will include creating online material to support teachers in the use of evidence based interventions in the classroom, as well as workshops and conferences with a similar focus; training for teachers on how to tell good evidence from bad, and what sources to trust; and how to tailor the findings of research to their own context and needs."

Creating online material?   BIT is politically based and not value-free.

Will opportunities be taken for private enterprises to build businesses out of something like STEP be there in the interventions, workshops and conferences that ordinary taxpayers fund?

I do think so.

Who knows?  As it is, a few more lessons need to be learned by flustered Justine Greening who "left important Government documents unattended in the street as she dodged questions about teachers’ 1% pay rise."

"The Education Secretary fled back into her house, leaving her Ministerial Red Box outside containing official papers..."

Tut. Tut.

A definite D for that.

And possible expulsion ?

Politicians need to be educated too

Scottish MSP Liz Smith believes that
the STEP programme improves
reading in primary school pupils.

How did she come to believe that exercises designed to improve balance and hand-eye coordination can improve reading and attainment in general?

Dorothy Bishop, research neuroscientist, informs readers that there is an absence of strong scientific evidence for the efficacy of the programme and also reminds interested people of the discredited Dore programme that has now been abandoned which bears striking similarities to STEP.

Summing up she says: "We can agree that we all want children to succeed in school and any method that can help them achieve this is to be welcomed. There is also, however, a need for better education of our politicians, so that they are equipped to evaluate evidence properly. They have a responsibility to ensure we do the best for our children, but this requires a critical mindset."

Liz Smith MSP needs to learn the difference between marketing `spin` - `they would say that wouldn`t they?` - and peer reviewed evidence.

Read more

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Fire safety requirements are inadequate

"The stated purpose of fitting sprinklers was to `help prevent the devastating impact that a fire can have in a school [which is] longstanding`..."

"Now, however, the government has redrafted the document, completely changing the previous wording. What had read: `It is now our expectation that all new schools will have sprinklers fitted,` has been replaced with a statement declaring the absolute opposite. It now reads `BB 100 no longer includes an expectation that most new school buildings will be fitted with [sprinklers].`"

[Tam McFarlane, Fire Brigades Union]

"The installation of sprinklers in new schools was a policy introduced in 2007 by Dorset MP Jim Knight when he was an education minister in the last Labour government... "

"Since the policy was introduced sprinklers have been credited with saving 17 schools from huge fire damage. They allow for quick evacuation of children and staff and limit the spread and growth of fire. Their removal would be disastrous."

Reverend said children make false claims of abuse

"A clergyman who oversaw a children's home where abuse took place in the 1970s and 80s `never once` reported staff to police, he said in a newly-discovered interview."

"The Reverend Nicolas Stacey said children could be `manipulative` and make false claims, in the 2006 tape."

"Mr Stacey was a director of social services in Kent at a time when girls were drugged and abused at Kendall House in Gravesend."

"He died in May 2017 aged 89."

"A review published last year found that girls at the home, which was run by the Church of England, were routinely drugged, locked up, and sexually abused..."

"The Kendall House inquiry found that drugs were administered in doses exceeding usual prescribed adult levels to control girls' behaviour, placing them in a constant stupor..."

"The recording, first made public in 2012, was discovered in British Library archives by a former Kendall House resident and abuse survivor, Teresa Cooper..."

"Ms Cooper added: `There might potentially be hundreds of allegations and victims facing the serious consequences of injustice based on the unfounded judgement of those meant to protect children`."

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Baby accidentally vaccinated with gardasil

Vested interests would like to see child abuse inquiry fail

"The sex abuse inquiry came close to collapse amid now-refuted claims that lead counsel Ben Emmerson QC sexually assaulted a colleague, and that this was covered up. He and other lawyers including Elizabeth Prochaska resigned."
"The head of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse has admitted that the sensational alleged sex scandal involving the inquiry’s own top lawyers came close to forcing its collapse an outcome which, she says, would have been welcomed by the powerful institutions which regard it as a menace."
"In an exclusive interview with The Mail on Sunday, inquiry chairman Professor Alexis Jay said: ‘Strong vested interests would like to see this inquiry implode."
"‘There are institutions which would prefer to see us fail, because we are such a threat’..."

"Prof Jay said the inquiry will produce clear, practical recommendations in plain English that will make a real difference: ‘They will not be of a somewhat general, unspecific nature: Well, inter-agency communication could be improved, all that stuff, I’m not interested in that’."

"Previous inquiries had also made recommendations but they seem to have made no difference: hence, she said, her inquiry would also look at why such proposals had failed: ‘This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to achieve the maximum impact’."

"Small wonder the inquiry has made enemies. ‘Turning a blind eye takes many, many forms,’ she said. ‘There are some powerful institutions and individuals that don’t know what we know. Like it or not, they’re going to be called to account’."

Read more:

Transgender problems have quadrupled

"The number of children being referred to gender identity clinics has quadrupled in the past five years, figures show."

"Experts have warned that the huge spike is, in part, due to the promotion of transgender issues in schools which they say has encouraged them to question their identity, and `sowed confusion` in their minds."

"Figures from the Gender Identiy Development Service (GIDS), which is the NHS's only facility for transgender children based at the Tavistock Centre in north London, show that 84 children aged between 3 and 7 were referred last year, compared to 20 in 2012/13."

"The number of children referred to the service under the age of ten had also seen a four-fold increase, from 36 in 2012/13 to 165 last year... "

"Mr McGovern, who is chair of Campaign for Real Education, added: `In a sense we are imposing adult concerns on children. Schools feel under huge pressures to comply with a politically correct agenda`."

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Jersey child abuse report does not go far enough

  "Stuart Syvret, who served as president of the Health and Social Services Committee and then as Health Minister between 1999 and 2007, said that while the report had made some ‘good recommendations’ it had failed to make any reference to the Island’s judicial system, which he described as a ‘fundamental failing’ of the inquiry..."

"The former Senator said: ‘I am relieved for the many abuse survivors that finally the proof of the comprehensive failings of child protection agencies in Jersey has been admitted to the survivors were right; they were always right. That has been confirmed by this committee of inquiry`..."

"However, he added that the inquiry had not gone far enough in addressing concerns about Jersey’s judiciary, and that this represented a ‘serious failure’ of the inquiry..."

"`Jersey does not have an independent prosecution system and an independent judiciary`."


"Ex-Senator Stuart Syvret was at the forefront of a decade-long campaign to expose the Island’s failings which allowed systemic child abuse to remain hidden for decades..."

"He said as a result of his involvement in attempting to expose the scandal he ‘routinely gets death threats’ and that he could never go back to politics..."

"Earlier this week, the Independent Jersey Care Inquiry released its report on abuse suffered by children in States-owned care homes."

"Much of the report confirmed what Mr Syvret had first tried to uncover a decade earlier. He vowed that despite the report’s release, the ‘war continues’ against those who abused children..."



Charlie may get his chance

"Charlie Gard's hospital has said it plans to return to the High Court for a fresh hearing over his future."

"Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH), which has been treating the critically ill baby, said it had applied to return to the court `in light of claims of new evidence relating to potential treatment for his condition`."

"Charlie, who is 11 months old, has a rare, degenerative genetic condition which affects the cells responsible for energy production and respiration and leaves him unable to move or breathe without a ventilator."

"Doctors previously won an order to say his life support should be turned off in a case that went all the way to the European Court of Human Rights."

"That has been opposed by Charlie's parents, Connie Yates and Chris Gard, who want to take him to the US for experimental treatment they believe could save their son."

"Today his mother said they were `hopeful and confident that Charlie may get his chance now`."

Friday, 7 July 2017

7/7 conspiracy

"On 7 July 2005 the general pattern of injury in the critically ill patients was of mangled lower limbs."
British Editorial Society of Bone & Joint Surgery

"What we actually need is a map of the train showing everyone with legs and feet missing. That would give you a kind of diagram. I think you`d find a rather long area down the centre of the train."

"You`re suggesting that there were explosives planted under the train?"



"One reason why they would not want an autopsy is because it would disclose what type of explosives were used. and prove the government`s elaborate home made explosives...story to be a total fabrication..."

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Gentrification: a communitarian objective

(14 June 2017 UK Column News)

"There`s been lots of commentary in the press about what has caused the scale of the fire - we don`t know how the fire began. But clearly the cladding on the outside of the building had something to do with it and that`s shown in that image there with the fire climbing up the outside of the building."

Mike Robinson elaborates: "There were many many warnings that these buildings were hazardous with regard to fire safety... There was a pressure group established to deal with this issue ... but the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management organisation [TMO] didn`t seem to take any heed of the warnings. "

"Sadiq Kahn, the Mayor of London, had this to say: `There will be a great many questions over the coming days... I want to reassure Londoners that we will get the answers.` Do you believe him? "

"Not at all," answers Brian Gerrish. "I think as usual there`ll be a big cover-up because, of course, the failure to provide the proper fire detection and suppression equipment is all part of cost cutting and that is what we`ve seen year after year... So everything is based on cutting costs and cutting corners and ultimately as we`re seeing here that puts people`s lives at risk."

Mike Robinson goes on: "So the organisation that manages this building was Kensington and Chelsea TMO..."

And he continues: "I think it was 2011 or so that we did a documentary on this organisation..."

"But one of the points that was made in that documentary was that originally the TMO had been a tenants management organisation - it was a tenants grouping to help manage the properties. But the name was changed once that was privatised to become `Tenant Management Organisation` ... They`re managing the tenants in a particular way. "

Brian Gerrish: "Well, this is all part of the model Mike. We could have a long discussion about this but people are saying from across the country that they`ve been forced out of their council houses in many situations. Of course... the advantage of the council house was once a family had it they had that dwelling for life. They had security of tenure. And then what happened usually with the scam that `We`re going to upgrade your property but if you want the upgrade you`ve got to accept the fact that it will no longer be a council house, it will belong to a housing association."

"Which is a private organisation," interjects Mike Robinson.

"Private? Well, quasi-private, Mike, because usually it`s a private company with input from the local authority. What people discovered was all sorts of rules, regulations. `You can do this. You can`t do that.`  And if you do something that upsets the housing association then they`re issuing warnings, some of them particularly unpleasant ... that you can be thrown out of your accommodation."

"So this is all on the back of austerity. This is all part of the general dismantling of everything to do with what`s good in the public sector, in my opinion."


15 June 2017

UK Column takes viewers back several years to the New Deal for Communities Initiative which was a policy of New Labour 1999-2008.

"This is from the final report on the success of the New Deal for Communities. But of course there were lots and lots of problems and many people saying it was a new brutal socio-economic initiative brought in by New Labour and I can say Mike that certainly in the Plymouth South West area the BBC absolutely refused to report all of the dangers: the building, the fraud and corruption, that came in on the back of this programme..."

Viewers are reminded that the programme was designed to achieve six key objectives:
"transform ... 39 areas over 10 years by achieving holistic change in relation to three place-related outcomes: crime, community, and housing and the physical environment (HPE), and three people-related outcomes: education, health, and worklessness."
Look at the language... This is a heavily politicised programme. It`s nothing to do with improving people`s lives..."

"Now I`ve just picked one man here, I`m not saying this man is at fault. What I`m highlighting is that when you get into the New Deal, what do you find? You find universities and this man is of course also involved with the Tavistock Institute. So we`re into deep applied psychology and social engineering. Let`s see how this thing works. So bring in the New Deal programme, all about regenerating 39 partnerships and 6,900 projects. They`re supposedly looking at crime, community housing and the physical environment, education, health and worklessness - very interesting word - because that was the first time I ever saw that rather strange word and that was in documentation appearing here in Plymouth."

Mike Robinson: "And how`s that different from unemployment?"

"Well this is newspeak. This is transformational newspeak. So the key bit is it all works in partnerships and what this does is to break down separation of powers, responsibility and accountability. And this is the very meat that we`re seeing in this terrible fire accident, that we`ve got the local authority linked into a private company which has taken over that association. This is a deliberate mess where all of these organisations will work to cover each other`s backs because they`re all culpable within the partnership."

"So everything is there on that diagram for you. We had enormous experience of this in Plymouth including the fraud and corruption and the missing money..."

But the other thing that came in with it was Common Purpose...

"Big problems splurge across boundaries," says Julia Middleton whose Common Purpose leaders continue to network across the silos."

"And this is just amazing," says Brian Gerrish. "This is Devonport Column, the start of UK Column ... and what we were warning about was a very brutal agenda in Devonport in Plymouth where local people that had worked in their community for a long time were bulldozed out of the way by these regeneration organisations. And when people complained the police were brought in to guard meetings. [2006]

"... We got every part of this jigsaw because Plymouth City Council was short of money and had spent £100,000 on Common Purpose training. It`s all here."

In order to understand where the likes of gentrification and common purpose comes from  Gerrish advises people to look at the work of Peter Drucker.  Communitarians, like Peter Drucker, believe that "attaining a healthy society involves the successful merger of the three sectors of society - government, private and social sectors (including the churches). This merger is known also as `Drucker`s `3-legged stool` named after its main proponent, Peter Drucker, who is considered to be the father of modern management. Drucker believed that the only way to persuade the world to accept change is to engage all three sectors of society, working together to effect change`. In Drucker`s model the church becomes interconnected with the state and corporate interests - in reality becoming subservient to these interests."

"In the United States one of the main organisations manipulating the Churches into this Communitarian partnership is the Leadership Network. Where does that take us? You`ve been talking about that for weeks Mike. This is the rise of the so-called City States. And they are going to be the new environment that we live in."

Patrick Henningsen joins the conversation: "I just wanted to say that the Mayor of City of London demanded a full and independent inquiry and breaking news: Theresa May just confirmed a few minutes ago that there will be a full and independent inquiry into the Grenfell Tower inferno..."

Brian Gerrish: "Patrick I`ll just interject there if I may and say my prediction today is: `that will be an absolute cover-up` because if you look at the way this new city structure works - because these people are all working in partnership - they are all going to defend each other. If any one of them goes down from the local authority or the housing association, any one of them goes down, they`re going to take the rest of them down with them. So you will see very clever calculated cover-ups to produce a report that will say `Well we did make some mistakes. We`ll do better in the future. A few people died but let`s move on.` I guarantee that`s how they will try and drive it."

David Scott: "And the terms of reference of this inquiry will be quite narrow. They won`t look at the changes in local government. They won`t look at funding..."

"Of course. And yet that socio and economic political agenda is the agenda that has actually driven this state of affairs."

"And I`m going to stress that when you ... bring in Common Purpose this is ... where local authorities treat local people as if they are dirt. And clearly in this case ordinary people from that tower block warning and warning and warning that something was wrong. What happens? Not only are they dismissed but the local council spends taxpayers` money on legal teams to try and shut them up. The same thing happened in Plymouth. And I can say that the same ruthless agenda was unleashed in all the cities that undertook the new deal for the community agenda, whether it was up in Glasgow or it was Liverpool, Sheffield - wherever that agenda came in - with it came a very very aggressive change in the way that local authorities and people in the public sector treated the ordinary man and woman in the street..."

Mike Robinson: "Yes, because the term that`s quite often used for this process is gentrification which sounds soft and cuddly but it`s nothing of the kind."

Brian Gerrish: "Nothing of the kind. And of course one of the things that has happened on the back of the regeneration is the private companies have made millions because as ordinary people have been displaced from their homes - they might have been slightly run down homes - but the local councils have displaced local people, brought in the gentrification but that has also allowed housing and regeneration companies to make millions on the back of suffering of ordinary people. This is a very dangerous, serious agenda and the thing to remember is this is not only from Labour, it has been continued via the Conservatives and the LibDem alliance. So this is a cross party agenda. It needs to be stopped."


Also brought out by UK Column was that problems with cladding have been known about for years.

See the BBC production Inquiry. The Great British Housing Disaster (Adam Curtis, 1984)