It all started with a remarkable comment:-
"Recent senior leadership conference for both NPS and CRC, David Gauke asked the room why nobody spoke up to warn the Gov that TR was a bad idea. Room apparently fell silent."Then some Twitter exchanges:-
Jake Phillips - @jakephillips (Reader in Criminology @ SHU. Generally tweet about probation, criminology, politics...):
"If true, @DavidGauke might benefit from being reminded that probation officers actually **went on strike** in protest at the plans!!"North East NPS, Stakeholder Engagement @NPSNESE replied:
"I think you have hit the nail on the head Jake...it isn’t true...that’s not what happened at all...and it was Rory Stewart not David Gauke...so totally incorrect..."
Whether it was David or Rory, I find it's an astonishing insight into politics; how decisions get made; how many of them are spectacularly wrong, but mostly how the average person down the pub or on the Clapham omnibus can spot the flaws in an instant. I mean, who'd have thought this:-
Britain's rail franchise system no longer delivers clear benefits and cannot continue as it is, says the man leading a review of the network. Keith Williams said in a speech to industry leaders that firms are not adapting to changing consumer demands.
Rail franchising - contracting out passenger services - has drawn heavy criticism, with some contracts failing and customer complaints rising. The rail industry said it accepts that the status quo cannot continue. Mr Williams was appointed by the government last year to lead a "root-and-branch" review of the rail network.
Speaking in London, he said: "I have heard a great deal about the franchising model… driving growth in passengers and benefits to services. But with this growth, the needs of passengers have changed, whilst many of the basic elements of our rail system have not kept pace. Put bluntly, franchising cannot continue the way it is today. It is no longer delivering clear benefits for either taxpayers or farepayers."
The current "one-size-fits-all" approach to franchising does not work for every part of the country and every passenger, he said in the annual Bradshaw Address, named in honour of George Bradshaw, who developed the Bradshaw's Guide to the railways.
Outrage as help-to-buy boosts Persimmon profits to £1bn
Housebuilder Persimmon made a record-breaking £1bn profit last year – equal to more than £66,000 on every one of the homes it sold – with almost half of its house sales made through the taxpayer-funded help-to-buy scheme. The York-based builder, which sparked widespread public and political outrage for attempting to pay its former chief executive Jeff Fairburn a bonus of £110m, posted pre-tax profits of £1.09bn.
The huge profit – the biggest ever made by a UK housebuilder – means Persimmon banked £66,265 from every one of the 16,449 homes it sold last year. The average selling price was just over £215,000. The profit from each house it sells has nearly tripled since 2013, when the government introduced the help-to-buy scheme in an attempt to help struggling families buy their first home. Last year the company paid an average of just £31,536 for each plot of land, and spent £112,295 on actually building each home.
Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrat leader, accused Persimmon of “pinching their profits from the public purse”, adding: “Far from benefiting first time buyers, the major effect of help-to-buy is to drive up demand while having no effect on supply. The result is not help for those who need it, but a boost to the profits of big developers.” Cable demanded that the government immediately end the help-to-buy scheme and take action to crack down on “outrageous” executive pay. “This greed is coming at the expense of the public purse through the subsidies in help-to-buy,” he said. “Help-to-buy is a scam, enriching developers while forcing buyers off the ladder by pushing up prices.”
Greg Beales, the campaign director of the housing charity Shelter, said: “Persimmon represents everything that is wrong with the housebuilding system. The firm has generated huge profits from taxpayer subsidies whilst doing very little to help solve the housing crisis we face. “Piecemeal schemes such as help-to-buy have made the situation even worse by inflating house prices and giving big developers a leg-up – while doing next to nothing to help those most in need of a genuinely affordable home.”
Or that decimating youth services would not result in this:-
Gangs: 27,000 children in England say they are members - report
There are 27,000 children aged between 10 and 17 in England who identify as being part of a gang, according to a report by the Children's Commissioner. It adds that 313,000 children know a gang member - and, of those, 34,000 have experienced violent crime.
Commissioner Anne Longfield said gangs were using "sophisticated techniques" to groom children and "chilling levels of violence" to keep them compliant. The Home Office said it was "committed to protecting vulnerable children".
According to the report, gangs "set out to prey on vulnerable children" - and those suffering from mental health issues or abuse and neglect in their family life are particularly susceptible.