Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Census - Figures for England and Wales

2011 Census - Population and Household Estimates for England and Wales, March 2011


Fascinating stuff -  for example, figures show how household sizes are have declined; how almost all the growth in young people under 14 is experienced in London and the South East and East (where indeed most of the growth has occurred) and that there has been quite a decline in populationthe North East.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Complainants ."..had failed to make the case..." re West Link Option 6

West Link Road - Latest News Release  from THC - More here:


An investigation into complaints about the way The Highland Council chose the preferred line for the Inverness West Link has found that the Council  followed the proper process in compliance with national guidance.

Depute Chief Executive Steve Barron was asked by Council Leader Drew Hendry to review issues raised by five members of the public, who complained about the process and decision of the Council in relation to the West Link Options.  Mr Barron’s investigation included meetings with the complainants, a review of previous correspondence provided and additional information submitted by the complainants.  He found the complainants had failed to make the case that the process was flawed or needed to be revisited in any way.

...Council Leader Drew Hendry said: “I would like to thank Mr Barron for his thorough review of the issues raised by the five members of the public, who complained about the process followed in this important matter.    I appreciate that the complainants do not agree with the Council’s preference for option 6 but I am satisfied with the conclusions of Mr Barron’s review and am ready for the Council to proceed with this important project as quickly as possible.”

Quite frankly this news release makes no sense to me.  

The release  appears to state  a conclusion that the process was sound based solely on the investigation of matters raised in one  particular set of complaints.   One set of complainants failing to make a case with their points does not mean that a case could not be brought indicating there were flaws, surely?

I am particularly bemused by point 2 and 3 of Mr Barron's below:

Mr Barron concluded: “Having considered all of the material, I have reached the conclusion that the Council has followed proper process in compliance with national guidance and it reached a unanimous conclusion on the basis of good advice, clearly presented.”
He added:
  1. I do not believe that there are any valid issues to be addressed arising from the complaints;
  2. It is my view that the number and range of options presented to the Working Group and the Council were appropriate.]
  3. I consider the process to be compliant with relevant guidance. With the innovations included, it may be considered to be exemplary.

And I am also bemused by Councillor Hendry's statement - in the context of Mr Barron's - given that I received the following email on 27 Feb 2012 from the 'Oppostion group' - just before the Councillors considered the options:


Thank you for your email and in depth attachment, you have obviously given this issue some serious consideration.

As an Opposition Group we currently do not set policy in the Highland Council, but more so hold the ruling Coalition – the Lib Dems/Labour/Independent Councillors to account and ask pertinent questions, arguing the case for you and others like you.

Firstly, can I say we agree that this consultation was far from complete and lacking several other potential options.  When we attempted to have other options included we were told by the Administration Coalition, that they would not consider other options.

We will fully debate our point of view on Thursday in Full Council, which you may watch on webcast or in the Chamber.

Can I add finally though, that this is Highland Council’s remit and has nothing at all to do with the Scottish Government.  This is a Highland Council road and NOT a trunk road, which will be reflected by the change of name.  On this road improvement, all matters are referred to Highland Council only and it is up to the ruling Coalition, as to what is actually done here.

It is such a pity that they did not extend the consultation and take more considered views from the public, to which end we have criticised them considerably, as the whole process was indeed flawed.

Kind regards,

Councillor Maxine Smith
Transport Spokesperson for the SNP Group
In Highland Council

'Urban Realm' - lots of thought provoking items in e newsletter

Quite a few interesting items on 160712 'Urban Realm' e news:

  • 'Miller Construction has won student housing contracts in York and Birmingham to meet continued demand in the fast growing sector.'  More here

Does anyone know what is happening about student accommodation on the UHI Beechwood Campus site?  It is not clear from this page on the web site as to whether or not there will be on site student accommodation?  

  • Snoozebox, the portable hotel group, have announced that Edinburgh is be the latest destination for their unique brand of low cost accommodation after they were commissioned by property developer Artizan...Comprising a range of stackable containers units the hotel can be configured for the demands of individual sites and can be ready to accept guests within 72 hours of being unloaded from the back of a lorry...Company spokesperson, Susan Moorhouse, said: “Snoozebox provides high-quality, safe and affordable accommodation for visitors who want to be at the very heart of the Festival activity. Snoozebox have enjoyed tremendous success at other high profile events this year and we are confident our first venture in Scotland, located in such a unique environment, will be a sell-out.”  More of the 'snoozebox' item here

  • A precipitous decline in UK construction, down 7.4% compared to last year, has been reported by the Office for National Statistics.  More here
  • Edinburgh University have commenced construction on their Flowave Test Tank, a £2.6m facility for simulating wave conditions.  More here

The stand-out item for me was:

  • American underclass documented in ‘Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt’... Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt, (here) a graphic account of America’s underclass produced by Pullitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges and cartoonist Joe Sacco has caused a stir with its controversial call for rebellion peppered with striking imagery... Striking a pessimistic tone both Hedges and Sacco warn of a ‘bleak’ near future with cities and states falling into bankruptcy, neo-feudalism and the ‘decimation’ of both working and middle classes unless urgent action is taken.  Item here