I expect most of you will be aware of the Supreme Court ruling against Jon Platt, and, by extension, many parents, to the effect that it is for head teachers, not parents, to decide whether it is acceptable for children to be allowed time away from school. It will affect anyone with children who works in or has a breadwinner working in the tourist industry or in a business that is, in some way, dependant on the tourist industry.
Let’s start on a happy note. I saw the Atlantic Coast Theatre’s production of “Rock of Ages” at the Devon Hall (Bideford College) on Saturday afternoon.
Last week, I mentioned conflict of interest involving the health service and specifically mentioned MPs and a couple of individuals. They, however, are not alone: many senior staff work for the NHS and yet have interests, or are closely related to people having interests, in health service providers. Of course, this can bring valued expertise into the NHS from outside. On the other hand, it can lead to a question of conflict of interest. What do you think? Should someone be employed by the NHS in a position where they can direct business to a private firm where they, or a close relative, has a financial interest?
For many years, there has been a certain amount of movement of people from private industry to government and vice versa. When well controlled, it is beneficial to both. However, it can too easily cross a hazy border and become incestuous, or go even further and encourage corruption. The New Model NHS has encouraged such movement. Here are a few examples. I leave it to you to decide where on the spectrum running from valuable synergy to unwise through potential conflict of interest and on to unacceptable corruption you would place them.
I was at the Square in Barnstaple on Saturday when the bikers had their protest against the lenient sentence handed down to Aiden Platt’s killer.
There are a couple of events coming up this Saturday 11th March that I would like to remind you of.
T. S. Eliot wrote that April is the cruellest month. With respect, I would disagree: February deserves that accolade far more than does April. As with January, we are still suffering the depressing weather, lack of sunlight and aftermath of the joys of Christmas and the New Year. The weather will have been, at best cold and damp, but we are just beginning to see hints of Spring in the garden.
This week, I am going to start with some books.
I always like to be able to tell you about a local author I enjoy, and this one is particularly enjoyable for me, as he writes science fiction, a genre I have been eagerly reading for around 65 years.
I expect that many of you, like me, were at Landmark Green last Saturday to watch The Performers Strike Back.
In any case, I am sure the local papers will have covered the event in detail, and so I need not say much about it here. What I will say is how impressed I was by the whole event. A mere three weeks after the closure of the theatres, the organisers got together 23 groups and all the equipment and permissions to give us two and a half hours of top quality entertainment. I have some idea of the difficulties involved in getting this sort of thing together, but I suspect I don’t know the half of it. If the people who ran the theatres for the last year or so – ran them into the ground, more like - had one tenth of the administrative and organisational ability shown by the organisers of this event, the theatres would be thriving today.
Last week, once again, the rest of the UK was cut off from the peninsular as a result of adverse conditions at Dawlish.
How many times has that happened so far this winter? I have lost count. How many of you remember Cameron saying something along the lines “We will spend whatever it takes to ensure a resilient rail connection to the far Southwest”? All of you – I expect. Now, how many of you think the present government has any intention of honouring that promise? Not so many, I wager.