30 Dec 2010

Getting back to it.....

Well I'm getting back into things after a break from emails over Christmas - I was away from Stroud a few days so missed the drama of the long power cut here in Whiteshill - apparently only 80 out of the 570 properties in Whiteshill remained without electricity for a long period but in these temperatures heat loss to homes can be very rapid without any heating and put vulnerable people at risk. The Council was apparently not notified of this outage and I understand this will be taken up with the company in due course.

Photo: Jacqueline Frost has been here?

Plus I hear the uriloo getting stuck open in Stroud at the height of the cold temperatures and water supplies in the Frampton/Whitminster/Saul/Cambridge area were at a very low pressure and some properties had no supply as a result of burst pipes. Severn Trent apparently dealt with this and also provided bottled water.

Well it is sad to see the chaos around transport - it took me an hour to grit the slope up to Bread Street before Christmas as one of the bins had been emptied by vandals and not refilled. Two cars already had hit the hedge at that point - no serious injuries I understand - it is extraordinary to see the extent of the disruption to travel services caused by snow - another indication of the government's failure to invest in transport infrastructure. Greens sent out a news release here that shows how we urgently need to develop a proper public transport system.

The snow, of course, is just one in a long list of problems facing road users. The price of petrol has reached record highs, roads are increasingly congested, and carbon emissions from the transport sector are continuing to rise. These problems are all set to worsen....

I was also interested to catch up on George Monbiots column where he writes: "There is now strong evidence to suggest that the unusually cold winters of the last two years in the UK are the result of heating elsewhere."

He goes onto outline the evidence and show how this cold is part of the picture saying: "A global warming trend doesn't mean that every region becomes warmer every month. That's what averages are for: they put local events in context. The denial of man-made climate change mutated first into a denial of science in general and then into a denial of basic arithmetic. If it's snowing in Britain, a thousand websites and quite a few newspapers tell us, the planet can't be warming. According to Nasa's datasets, the world has just experienced the warmest January to November period since the global record began, 131 years ago; 2010 looks likely to be either the hottest or the equal hottest year. This November was the warmest on record."

It was also good to see in this week's column he picked up on the issue of fuel poverty - see here - this is an issue I have raised many times on this blog - we have one of the highest levels of excess winter deaths. As he notes: "Fuel poverty is defined as having to spend 10% or more of your income on keeping your home at a decent temperature. Between 2003 and 2008 (the latest available figures) the number of households in fuel poverty here rose from 2m to 4.5m. That's not people; that's households: this blight now afflicts 18% of the UK's population."

The column is a great look at how we are allowing the energy companies to grow rich - indeed super rich as Monbiot finishes: "Nothing will be done to reduce fuel poverty until governments discipline one of the least regulated energy markets in the rich world – controlling profits and prices – and help those who need it most. Green policies must be funded by transferring money from richer consumers to poorer ones. It's a scandal that none of this was addressed by the Labour government. It would be little short of miraculous if it were tackled by the Tories. But until something is done, the cold will keep killing, at levels that even the Siberians don't have to endure."

Anyway I have several hundred emails to read and catch up on so will stop this now with a wish to all for a good and peaceful 2011. Lastly here is the video of a Stroud Street (reported in the SNJ) of folk trying to get up it.

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