At Long Last!

Good news if you holiday in Europe (or travel there on business), because as of 15 June 2017 mobile roaming fees will be abolished!

Other good roaming news is that starting from 30 April 2016, the existing price caps on roaming will change, and consumers will be allowed to roam in the EU from their existing post-paid bundle or home prepaid rates.

Hopefully this will mean the end of ludicrously high mobile bills after going on holiday in Lanzarote or wherever. It’s usually the roaming data charges which are really painful. They can be unexpectedly large because people frequently don’t turn data roaming off and still expect to look at their email, use Twitter and Facebook etc.

Sad Day

Apparently South Molton Recycling have gone into administration and ceased trading.

Sadly this does mean, that in the short term at least, jobs will probably be lost.

This doesn’t affect the recycling shops in South Molton and Barnstaple as they’re run by a separate company. But it does mean that people who in the Torridge council area won’t have their recycling rubbish collected.

I wonder whether they would still be trading if North Devon Council hadn’t taken the controversial decision to take their recycling services in-house?

London v North Devon

As long as it has some sort of bus service Devon County Council doesn’t consider that a community is isolated.  In some cases this may mean a service that runs just once a week!

Contrast this to London where a large number of the bus services now run 24 hours a day 364 days a year (there are no bus or tube  services on Christmas Day).

From 12 September even some London tube services will run through the night on Fridays and Saturdays. Not only that, there’ll also be a service about every ten minutes!

If you live in South Molton (even worse if you live in more rural areas) it isn’t even possible to have a night out in Barnstaple and get a bus home. As for a night out in Exeter – no chance. And if you’re thinking of going anywhere on a Sunday or Bank Holiday forget it.

This is just one example of how Britain is fast becoming a two-tier nation.

Immigration and the NHS

In the run up to the general election in May there was much talk from UKIP (And the Conservatives) about how immigrants are overloading the NHS.

Speaking at the British Medical Association annual conference, its chair, Dr Mark Porter, said that “We were told immigrants are filling up our GP surgeries and our hospitals,”

“Well, they are. They’re called doctors, and nurses, and porters, and cleaners, and clinical scientists. And without them, the NHS would be on its knees,” he added.

Even More Broadband

I thought the rollout of superfast broadband cabinets in South Molton was over.  I was wrong.

South Molton Broadband Rollout v9

Another cabinet has been installed at the top of Duke Street. For a geek like me what’s interesting is that BT have also installed a new standard cabinet close by. What that could mean is that houses  close to the telephone exchange, which might have been directly wired to the exchange i.e. without going through a cabinet, might now be rewired so that they get to the exchange via a cabinet.

The reason that’s important, is that telephone lines which are directly wired to the exchange can’t get superfast broadband. Lines which go via a cabinet can.

Station Road Views

View Down Station March 2010 from Google Maps Streetview
View Down Station March 2010 from Google Maps Streetview


View Down Station Road June 2015
View Down Station Road June 2015


Gullacombe Development from Community Woodlands
Gullacombe Development from Community Woodlands

The offending house is ringed. Notice how obtrusive that house and its neighbour are compared to the others in the development.


Vanishing Views

Why I don’t like planners  or developers:

View Down Station March 2010 from Google Maps Streetview
View Down Station March 2010 from Google Maps Streetview

Five years later:

View Down Station Road June 2015
View Down Station Road June 2015

These photographs were taken about five years apart. The first comes from Google Maps Steeetview and the second was taken by me a few days ago.

It wouldn’t have taken much to remove that one house from the development to significantly improve the visual amenity (a planning term!).

What we see around us each day is very important and contributes significantly to our well-being. Planning and design are very important to us whether we realise it or not.

This is a good example of bad planning. But certainly not one of the worst.

I think developers should be obliged to produce 3D computer models of all their developments to ensure that they harm the visual landscape as little as possible.


You may think you’ve got problems if you’ve got to spend several thousand pounds on maintenance on your house.

South Molton Town Council may not like the fact that it’s got to spend a couple of hundred thousand pounds on repairs to the Pannier Market and Town Hall.

It all pales into total insignificance when compared to the cost of repairing and renovating the Palace of Westminster!

A report published today reveals three options. ‘Do Nothing’ is definitely not an option

The first option involves doing the minimum work needed with Parliament remaining in occupation. This would take around 32 years and during that time the Lords and the Commons would have to close for between 2-4 years.  The cost estimate for this option is approximately £5.7 billion.

The second option involves a partial move out. First the Commons, then the Lords, would move to temporary accommodation outside the Palace.  This approach would take around 11 years and would cost about £3.9 billion for a ‘do minimum’ project.

The final option would involve both Houses fully vacating  the Palace for around six years. The cost estimate for some improvements is approximately £3.5 billion and about £3.9 billion for significant improvements!

Yepp – those are billions of pounds!

Of course if proper maintenance work had been routinely carried out the costs would doubtless have been less.


Good News

The unemployment statistics for May were published yesterday.

The good news is that in North Devon (the parliamentary constituency)  the claimant rate was only 0.6%.

The total number of claimants dropped by 43.9% compared to the previous year – from 659 to 370.

The claimant rate for youngsters (18-24) dropped by 46.7% – from 150 to 80.

Less good news for older claimants though. For people aged over 50 the claimant rate dropped by only 26.7% over the previous year.

Better news for the long term unemployed though. The number of people unemployed for more than 12 months dropped by 50% from 140 to 70.