Blog published by Bristol 247 on 29th December 2014



Taxing Times

Blog written for Bristol 247 published on 24th November


Big Data Club

Blog published by Bristol 247 on 27 October 2014


Blog written for Bristolo 247 – published Sept 2010



Its some time since I have had the inspiration to write a blog post, then I was hit by a thought wandering through our fair city. No Gromits or statues of any kind (well there is the stag beetle outside wildscreen with a condom on its horn, but lets ignore that for now). Last year the city was teaming with people clutching little maps indicating where the Aardman dogs could be found. Queues of people of all ages formed at the dogs waiting to have photos taken. This year zilcth. I realised its because no-one has thought of an idea to trump the Gromit. Ladies and Gentlemen I have. It is not too late to get this idea implemented for this summer.


We stand at the brink of greatness as our Mayor has been nominated to be the best mayor, not in the south west, not even in England or Europe but the best in the whole world. If they had mayors on other planets he could be the best in the solar system or even the galaxy. What Bristol needs is 60 or so statues of George with, wait for it, different designs of trousers. My namesake would do stripey ones, others could be variously multi-coloured and we could have an original just in red at Paddington Station.


How do I make this happen? Do I need to get up a petition or just find sponsors (Bristol Pounds only). At the end of the school holidays we could have an auction to raise money for charities employing or run by members the mayor’s family.

Careless Whisper

Recently a statistic caught my eye. This isn’t unusual because I spend a lot of time looking at research reports. This one really shocked me. It has had very little media attention.

I have often listened to public commentators, especially those on the BBC musing about the cuts in local government and how little of an effect they have had. The argument goes that bloated local government has just slimmed down and no-one has really been affected, the schools open, the bins are collected and little has changed. This supports a view that the Government is right to squeeze the public sector because it isn’t affecting anyone.

the truth is that it isn’t really affecting anyone who is in the social circle of public commentators, journalists and ‘opinion formers’. So now for the killer statistic. This is not from a think tank or a lobby group but from a government body set up to monitor trends in the health and social care sector. It is called the Health and Social Care Information Centre – you can check them out at this site http://www.hscic.gov.uk.

A report published on 10th July with the exciting title “Community Care Statistics, Social Services Activity:England 2012-13, Provisional Release” pulls together statistics on care provided by local authorities and this is the sentence which pulled me up:

“The total number of people receiving services in 2012-13 was 1.3m (down 9% from
2011-12 and down 25% from 2007-08).”

yes that’s down 25%, or in people 300,000.  300,000 people who needed care 5 years previously no longer need it now. Over this period the number of people over the age of 85 has been rising, we would expect not a drop in numbers but an increase.

The report explains that the reasons given are:

“Feedback from councils suggests that the fall this year is again due to a
number of reasons including an increase in the provision of reablement services
outside of a formal assessment process, raised eligibility criteria for services and
reduced funding/resources within Councils with Adult Social Services Responsibilities.”

So some may just be receiving services in a different way but I expect most are just told they no longer qualify.

Now these 300,000 are largely likely to be isolated vulnerable people who wouldn’t be likely to be found at middle class dinner parties talking about their plight. They are largely unseen, largely unheard, they are not organised, they don’t have political clout and slowly but surely they are being assessed out of services.

The truth is its easy to ignore those you never see or hear.

Just been clearing out some of my old paperwork when I came across this letter from December 1999. I can’t remember all the ins and outs Image(I think it relates to a column I wrote for the Evening Post that winter about Harbourside) but it certainly amused me given what has happened since.