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Month: October 2003

Proud to live in Lewisham

This morning’s Metro (right-wing brain washing for the undiscerning commuter) contained an article of unusual horror:

A man of 66 was critically injured in an attack after he told a child not to drop rubbish in the street.
The man was punched in the head by a man who was with the child.
The attacker, the child and two women who had been walking with them, walked off leaving the pensioner bleeding in the street in Lewisham.
The victim is in a critical condition in hospital. The attack took place at 11.30am on Tuesday.

The original version of the story from the Evening Standard can be found here.


Is it me, or does everyone else look at the photos in Next‘s windows and think “Wow, really attractive people in really dull clothes”? I’m sure there was a time when they were actually pretty fashionable.

Cuddle a property developer today

I was reading through some of my occasional blog reads today, when I came across this post on Technovia, the weblog of former MacUser editor Ian Betteridge. He tells the tale of a developer in Brighton which has violated its planning permission and is suffering as a result. From this he draws the rather mysterious conclusion that all property developers are scum.

Now, maybe it’s because I’ve just spent a day in a conference centre full of property developers, and maybe it’s because they form a large part of the readership of EG, and thus help keep me employed, but I really don’t think property developers are scum. Commercial property development is a risky game. You put all the money up front, often buying sites without the planning permission you need. You then have to run the gauntlet of the council’s planning process, which can vary wildly from county to county. You have to agree a Section 106 agreement which, in essence, means you agree to give up some of your profit to improve the locality in a way the council directs, before you see a single penny of that profit. Then, once your building is done, you have to rely on the vagaries of the property letting market. Property development takes years. Misjudge your start point – or have it pushed back too far by the planning process – and suddenly you can find yourself with a multi-million pound investment with no return, as many developers in the City of London are finding right now. (Too many buildings, not enough occupiers in the market.) And you have to put up with the opinion of every member of the public and local newspaper hack who decides that just because something is big and obvious, they understand the issues involved.

Sure, there are a lot of very rich people in property development, as our recent Rich List in EG proved. However, a lot of people lose a lot of money too. Without property developers, our built environment would never more forwards. Have you seen council-built developments? Would you like to live or work in one? No, I thought not. Property developers are businessmen like any other. Sure, some are scum. Most, however, are decent people committed to decent improvements to our built environment.

Politician catches journalist red-handed

I intended to post this yesterday, but just didn’t have the time in the end. However, it’s worth noting, so I’m doing it today. Accusations of bias from the BBC are commonplace right now, but it’s rare that a politician catches a journalist out quite so badly. This actually made me wince with embarrassment as I listened to it yesterday morning. Listen as Michael Howard points out a very obvious bit of bias in the way interviews are handled and the Today interviewer desperately tries to come up with an explanation.

The future of IDS?

No, the explanation doesn’t wash with me, either. It’s nice to see that the Tories have at least one members left with some nous about him.

Getting local, getting vocal

Sticking with local issues, we have an election coming up for our local council here in Lewisham. I discovered this because the form for the all-postal election dropped through my letterbox the other day.

If I’d really been paying attention, I’d have known about this previously. You see, one of the candidates has been campaigning vigourously for the last few weeks, although I hadn’t paid him much attention. Now I know that the election is happening, I’ve actually been reading his material and, much to my surprise, it’s rather good. This guy has identified all the things that have been bugging Lorna and I about this area and is addressing them in his campaign. In fact, they pretty much are his campaign.

So, what of the other candidates? I don’t know. I haven’t heard a single thing from them. Not one letter, leaflet or door knock. Nothing. You know what? Unless they pull something really spectacular out of their collective hats, the guy that’s been doing the work already has my vote. He’s local. He’s in touch with the local issues that matter. And he’s a Liberal Democrat. I’ve never voted LibDem before, but Mr Andrew Milton, you might just have persuaded me to lose my liberal virginity.