|SeeRed covers a
wide range of topics including computer privacy, consumer protection, libraries, town
planning, road humps, folk festival economics, high-handed behaviour by planning
departments and general local government incompetence.
||It is written by a
scientist and ex-town councillor who finally decided 'enough was enough' when faced with
the incompetence and malevolence of local councils in England. Based in the seaside town
of Sidmouth, the website was first published in February 2003. 'Hits' exceeded 120,000 in
the first year with over 50,000 page views. The current 'hit' level is around 50,000 per
month. Read the site history here.
dating is now a multi-million pound industry in the UK and spread over scores of different
websites. World-wide it is claimed to be a billion dollar industry. Many claims are made
for the effectiveness of online dating, yet there seem to have been few objective studies.
A basic statistical analysis is presented here
as a 'draft for discussion' - it is based on the author's intermittent study of two
mid-market computer dating sites in the UK over the period 2008 to 2012.
Comments on the methodology would be welcomed.
is argued that the industry is inefficient in delivering a service to some types of
subscribers owing in part to profiles being spread across a wide range of often
unconnected websites. It is shown that whilst dating websites may claim to have 80,000 to
90,000 members, the number that are both active and able to contact other members may be
less than 10% of the headline figures.
Some of the problems experienced by users are outlined. New charging structures such as
pay-as-you-go are proposed which, together with use of simplified but equally
effective matching models, should enable a more cost efficient service to be delivered to
a much increased number of users. It is argued that present day sites are characterised by
dishonest presentation of data, restrictive fee structures and models for matching people
to one another that are both overly complex and largely useless.
|Despots in local
government: public servants would become our masters.
ago, local government was an inefficient and overstaffed mess - but at least 'public
servants' knew their place and many tried to do a decent job of work. Nowadays, local
government is characterised by spin, glossy brochures, excessive 'management' salaries and
an increasingly high-handed approach to dealing with the public.
Of particular concern
are social services departments who utilise the slightest and often imagined excuse to
take children away from their parents and place them into 'care'. Kenneth Clarke, the
current Justice Secretary (as of March 2012) has said that 'there are 'far too many
experts' involved in producing expensive reports for low grade and often neurotic and
self-serving council officials - who then use them within the ultra secretive family
courts system to remove children from their families. The parents are forbidden even to
talk to any advisor. It is a huge and (as yet) largely unreported problem.
From waste collection, through child protection, car
parking and planning, local officials now see themselves as masters rather than servants.
Misuse of delegated authority is a widespread problem, with lazy elected councillors often
being unaware what officials are doing.
Either local councils need stripping of
many of their powers, or new arrangements are needed to ensure that abuse of
authority is curtailed. One option might be to make local officials responsible for
legal costs - just as they can now be held personally responsible for Health and Safety
remains famous for its 'folk festival' - once one of the largest, most colourful and
peaceful music and dance festivals in Europe. What does the future hold? New for 2010/11 -
a Newcomers' Guide to FolkWeek.
years ago, after personal experience with modern Sunvic central heating motorised valves,
I took a few to pieces to establish exactly why they had failed prematurely.
|Little did I foresee
that the ensuing webpages would become one of the most widely
read sections of SeeRed. Of course, most
householders are fearful of taking their central heating system to pieces - they rely on
often inexperienced and sometimes useless 'heating engineers'.
It is particularly disappointing that many years after these webpages were first published
on SeeRed, Sunvic were apparently still
telling customers that they knew of no failures of these products - yet because of the
inherently questionable design, many or maybe most may fail within a few years. Some
householder experiences are here and including
where these actuators are sold as part of expensive Worcester Bosch space and water
heating systems. More recently (2011), Sunvic appear to withdrawing these products from
Planning and Conservation Areas.
a tree not a tree? When it is both in a supposedly protected Conservation
Area and in the way of proposed development?
If you know of similar documented cases, please let me know. Here is an example from Cumbria. The local MP is reported as
having said it is a case of "wanton vandalism" by a property developer. In July
2011 the same developer (now apparently running a different company) applied for
permission to build houses on the site - who says crime doesn't pay?
Planning and Flood Plains.
Flood Plain planning policies not applied? When well connected people want to build on the
When the wealthy owner
of Sidmouth's Nissan dealership creates a new commercial car park
by dumping hundreds of tons of rubble in a sensitive area and local councils and the
Environment Agency effectively look the other way?
In nearby picturesque Sidbury? More details
Or indeed in Derbyshire where Erewash Borough Council has apparently
behaved in an appalling and unprofessional manner? Householders and insurance companies
have been left to deal with the consequences of what appears to be blatant indifference to
local flood risks.
you still buying lottery tickets? Why is there so little analysis of how all the money is
||The largest webpage on SeeRed analyses how £120
million of lottery money was spent on computers in libraries. Arguably, the project
should have cost far less. The Minister, Tessa Jowell MP, refused to answer
my questions perhaps because she couldn't think of any plausible answers. After all,
this was the Blair babe who didn't even know about her own mortgage! She was later tasked
with persuading us that the London Olympics were to be competently managed.
Since publication of SeeRed the number
of gushing press releases about the P.N. scheme fell markedly. No connection, of course!
In Dec 2004 I was invited to send views to the DCMS
In subsequent years, UK public libraries began a steady decline. Many became more like
noisy 'internet cafes' than places where proper study could be undertaken. In effect,
libraries were dumbed down to appeal to the lower orders of society as part of a 'social
inclusiveness' agenda. Cutbacks have now led to reductions in staff - most competent
librarians have been replaced by casual part-time staff - who are paid peanuts.
too much council tax?
to the derbygripe website for this image.
|An overall theme of this
site is the extent to which government in the UK is incompetent yet has become too
self-serving, powerful and intrusive. Read about identity theft, government snooping,
waste of public money and Lottery funds, town planning, consumer protection, personal data
on computers, privacy in the Internet age, traffic management, and more! Visit the Derby Gripe website for hundreds of examples of
moronic activity by local council officials.
will it be before householders say 'enough is enough' and refuse to pay? All it would take
would be a revolt by 0.1% or 20,000 households: the total number of prison places in the
UK is only 80,000 and they are all taken already!
people have little idea of the extent to which their privacy has already been compromised.
Governments will soon be able to build a contact profile for every citizen - an appalling
prospect in many countries. The technology is already being developed and tested. The privacy section of this website outlines a few topics of
current interest. Learn about smart cards, CCTV, encrypted emails
and rfid tagging of anything from cars to clothes.
|In the new age
of e-government, people who ask awkward questions may simply be deleted!
of a dispute with Devon County Council, as a part of which DCC has blocked my e-mail
address. They also prevented staff at DCC HQ and in libraries reading this website by
making links "unavailable". Later, normal service was resumed - but my email is
still blocked! It is all a manifestation of the culture of fear that dominates DCC and
many other public sector bodies, especially the NHS.The dispute itself is in abeyance - I
have more to do at present than deal with these nematodes.
|The Britain in
Bloom campaign has been criticised for wasting public money on boring displays of garish
flowers. In 2005, it spilled over into abusive comments about the
SeeRed author by Sidmouth Town Council!
decades the Britain in Bloom campaign has been synonymous with
garish arrangements of environmentally useless plants. Councillors waste hundreds of
thousands of pounds of public money to create ever more outlandish displays.
Few Sidmouth residents take part. Maybe soon we can
put an end to the cult of chequebook gardening? In 2008, Sidmouth in Bloom even had a
competition for the most environmentally friendly garden - and
what a mess they made of the judging criteria!
Serious gardeners (and even one or two
government ministers) recognise we need to divert effort to growing more fruit and
vegetables at home - it may be ten years before the 'bloomers' awake to such a sensible
in Europe and India.
UK, libraries have borne the brunt of public internet access. Bureaucracy abounds, and
official policy is to provide little or no privacy despite draft Council of Europe guidelines. Things are
different elsewhere. For example, in India, access is rarely a problem because private
enterprise cafes thrive - as indeed they do in Germany.
This is a large site with discrete
sections. If you get lost, return here and start again.
Acknowledgements Search this website
You can help support
this website by
- emailing details to all your contacts
- providing links to SeeRed from any website
under your control
- encouraging your local Press to take an
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Published in the public interest by Dr
Stephen J Wozniak
Copyright © Dr Stephen J Wozniak
2003/4/5/6/7/8/9/10/11/12/13. Last updated : 8 January 2013.