Monday, 22 December 2014

BBC: "The InterCity 125 and its high-speed replacement"

"Four decades ago, something came along that many people feel helped save the railways.

A sleek, pacy, high-speed train, the InterCity 125. With its familiar sloping nose, the 125 symbolised a new era of clean lines and high technology on a network that had been underfunded and getting tatty for decades.

"Now, we are getting the first glimpses of the train the government has picked to replace it.

"The Hitachi 800 series won't be carrying passengers for at least another four years but it will finally come over from Japan for its first tests next year.

"It's not without controversy. At around the £6bn mark, the Public Accounts Committee has recently questioned whether the taxpayer will ever get value for money, especially if passenger numbers drop off in future. In fact they've questioned whether the government should be buying trains at all, normally the industry does it.

"But ministers say the new Hitachis will cut journey times for passengers and create hundreds of UK jobs.

"They will appear on the Great Western line in December 2017 and the East Coast mainline in 2018."

Sunday, 21 December 2014

BBC video: "Crossrail: Tunnelling beneath London"

Link to web site

"In exactly four years' time, Europe's biggest infrastructure project will open to the public.

"Crossrail is a new railway line running from east to west across London. It sounds simple enough but this is a project on a scale that echoes the great Brunel himself.

"It includes 26 miles of tunnels and we were lucky enough to go down a few, just to see how they are getting on.

"I say lucky. You should try climbing down 50 metres of claustrophobic metal staircase in full safety gear and carrying all the camera kit."

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Barnet Press: "Bid to halt waste depot plan foiled by mayor’s casting vote"

Link to web site

"AN attempt by Labour to stop Barnet Council relocating its waste depot to a site in New Southgate has been thwarted.

"At last night’s full council meeting, Barnet mayor Hugh Rayner used his casting vote to force through plans to start negotiations for the purchase of the Lupa House site, in York Way, Borehamwood, and the Abbots Depot, in Oakleigh Road South, New Southgate.

"The council has to find an alternative site for its depot in Bittacy Hill, Mill Hill, which it has to vacate in 2016, after plans fell through to relocate to Pinkham Way, next to the North Circular Road in New Southgate."

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Mr Mustard: "Short term or short of space?" (Barnet moving its Mill Hill East's dustcart depot, not to Pinkham Way but to Oakleigh Road South)

Link to web site

[Mr Mustard reporting a web site reader]

"Barnet Council only last week announced they had found two suitable sites for the relocation with Oakleigh Road South (a residential area with a childrens' nursery nearby) being their preferred location.

"I went to the emergency additional meeting of the Assets, Regeneration and Growth Committee meeting last night. Why is it an emergency to purchase land within 7 days of making the announcement public?

"I can only assume that it is because they want to rush this through unopposed, before residents become aware of what is being proposed. There were only 6 residents in attendance including myself."

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Enfield Independent: "Plans for waste depot at Pinkham Way dropped"

Link to web site

"Plans for a waste and vehicle depot at Pinkham Way have been dropped after an agreement could not be reached.

"Barnet Borough Council was considering plans to build a vehicle depot and waste transfer facility on the Pinkham Way site in Haringey by 2016.

"However, these have been dropped after the withdrawal of the proposals from the North London Waste Authority, which formed part of a joint planning application for the site.

"Alternative options for Pinkham Way will be considered, including housing or the potential sale of the whole site to the waste authority."

Friday, 31 October 2014

The Guardian: "Flytipping up 20% in England after falling for years"

Link to web site

"The number of mattresses in hedgerows, old sofas on road corners and other illegally-dumped rubbish rose by a fifth in England last year, marking the first increase in flytipping in years.

"Government figures published on Thursday show that there are now more than three quarter of a million incidents in England, taking the amount of rubbish dumped on roadsides, in back alleys and on private land back above 2010 levels, in what campaigners said was a worrying increase.

"Around two-thirds of the rubbish was from households, the equivalent of one incident for every 39 households in England.

"Guardian analysis of the data shows the borough of Newham in East London was the worst offender, with over 22 incidents per 100 people last year. The top 10 worst local authorities per 100 people is dominated by London boroughs, with Haringey, Enfield and Southwark following Newham. Only two areas outside the capital – Burnley and Great Yarmouth – made the list of the 10 worst."

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

North London Waste Authority: "LCRN / NLWA Give and Take Days"

Link to 'Give and Take Days' web site

"The North London Waste Authority (NLWA) in partnership with the London Community Resource Network (LCRN) are delivering a series of re-use events in North London, as part of NLWA’s waste prevention programme which promotes reduction and reuse across North London.

"LCRN / NLWA Give and Take Days – your chance to pass on items you no longer need and pick up something you do for FREE.

"Please note that you can only give: books, DVDs/CDs, garden ware, IT, tools, clothes/shoes, small furniture, small electrical items and toys. We also accept: large furniture and white goods.

"FREE BULKY ITEMS COLLECTION - you can have large furniture and white goods collected for free by registering with us. No items outside the North London boroughs will be collected from households. Please note, collection will depend on availability as we expect a high demand on this service and that we will apply a First-Come, First-Served (FCFS) service policy.

"During the events we will also be running clothes up-cycling activities and repair workshops:
  • Clothes up-cycling activities - you will learn how to create new clothes, kitchen items, accessories and toys from old clothes.
  • Repair workshop - you will have the opportunity to repair your own electrical items and learn the most common DIY by participating to our repair workshop. Please make sure you have deleted all your data from your items and bear in mind we do NOT take responsibilities for your items. FCFS service policy will be applied."

Events Listing

HACKNEY Residents - Sunday 16th November (12.30 to 3.30 pm)
Kingsmead Community Centre, Kingsmead Way, Homerton, London, E9 5PP
"Give" 12.30 to 2.15 pm  and  "Take" 2.30 pm to 3.30 pm
Repair Workshop - 12.30 to 2.15 pm and 2.30 pm to 3.30 pm

BARNET Residents - Saturday 22nd November (12.00 to 3.00 pm)
Green Man Community Centre, Strawberry Vale, East Finchley, N2 9BA
"Give" 12.00 to 1.45 pm and "Take" 2.00 pm to 3.00 pm
Repair Workshop - 12.00 to 1.45pm and 2.00 pm to 3.00 pm

CAMDEN Residents - Sunday 23rd November (2.00 to 5.00 pm)
St James' Church, 2 Sherriff Road, West Hampstead, NW6 2AP
"Give" 2.00 pm to 3.45 pm and "Take" 4.00 pm to 5.00 pm
Repair Workshop - 2.00 pm to 3.45 pm and 4.00 pm to 5.00 pm

- Saturday 29th November (12.00 to 3.00 pm)
Aubert Court Community Centre, Avenell Road, London, N5 1BL
"Give" 12.00 to 1.45 pm and "Take" 2.00 pm to 3.00 pm
Repair Workshop - 12.00 to 1.45 pm and 2.00 pm to 3.00 pm

The Independent: "Humanity's 'inexorable' population growth is so rapid that even a global catastrophe would not stop it"

Link to web site

"The global human population is 'locked in' to an inexorable rise this century and will not be easily shifted, even by apocalyptic events such as a third world war or lethal pandemic, a study has found.

"There is no 'quick fix' to the population time-bomb, because there are now so many people even unimaginable global disasters won't stop growth, scientists have concluded.

"Although measures designed to reduce human fertility in the parts of the world where the population growth is fastest will eventually have a long-term impact on numbers, this has to go hand-in-hand with policies aimed at reducing the consumption of natural resources, they said."

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Broken Barnet: "Our Friends in the North: our NHS, and our history - forced to repeat itself"

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it" - George Santayana

Link to web site

"1936 was a terrible year, for my mother's family. I've told this story before, but it bears telling again, I think.

"In the late spring, in a space of less than a fortnight, two of the six children lost their lives as a result of contracting diptheria, in an epidemic that raged in the foetid slum housing of the mining town where they lived.

"My mother's four-year-old brother succumbed first, alone, in a bed in the isolation ward of the local fever hospital, his father looking on, punching the glass wall in despair, forbidden to hold him as he died.

"His-six year-old daughter died a few days later, shortly after making her first holy communion - a source of some comfort perhaps, if there was any, to my devoutly Catholic grandmother."

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Barnet Times: "Proposals for a new depot in Pinkham Way would have 'minimal impact' on people nearby"

Link to web site

"Plans for a new depot at Pinkham Way would have 'minimal impact' on people living nearby, it has been claimed.

Barnet Borough Council is considering plans for a vehicle depot and waste transfer facility on the Pinkham Way site, in Haringey, by 2016.

"A Barnet Council spokesperson said:
"The former Friern Barnet Sewage Works at Pinkham Way is the council's longstanding preferred option for a new depot."

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Isentropic's Pumped Heat Electricity Storage (PHES) Technology! (We're blowing a bit hot and cold on this)

"Our system is a highly reversible, gas cycle machine that works as both an engine and a heat pump. It is the first time that a reversible system has been developed both to store and recover electricity using a thermodynamic approach.

"The received wisdom is that thermodynamic devices are not very reversible, but that certain thermodynamic processes in isolation can be highly reversible. This led to the direct incorporation of heat exchange to a storage medium within the gas circuit of our heat engine. The key innovation is the reduction to four highly reversible processes within the cycle with integrated heat exchange to the storage medium."

Sunday, 10 August 2014

New Scientist: "Beijing's coal ban may herald the end of the fuel"
Link to web site

"Could the world be approaching peak coal production?

"It sounds unlikely, given that demand for the black stuff has surged in the past decade. But Beijing is planning to ban coal burning in its six central districts from 2020. If energy-hungry China backs away from coal, the demise of the world's dirtiest fuel may be at hand.

"The Beijing plan was announced on Monday by the city's Municipal Bureau of Environmental Protection. It is no pipedream. The first of four big coal-fired power stations, Gaojing, shut last month. The city plans to turn off the rest by the end of 2016, but two will be kept functional but mothballed for emergencies."

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

"Electric 'Boris cars' are coming to London – how do they work in Paris?"

"When the electric car-sharing scheme Autolib’ launched in the French capital, staff were advised to expect a complete disaster. Three years and 30m miles later, the biggest concern is pigeons"

Link to le Tuteur

"By any measure – including, judging from a random sample quizzed on the pavement last month, customer satisfaction – Paris’s Autolib’ electric car sharing scheme is looking like a success. Membership is up from 5,650 a month two-and-a-half years ago to 155,000 today. Between them, those members have clocked up the fairly remarkable total of 30.4 million miles. The service’s 2,500 Bluecars – hitting 3,000 by the end of this year – are now averaging a total of well over 10,000 rentals every day.

"Véronique Haché-Aguilar, managing director of Autolib’ Métropole, which groups the 63 town councils in and around Paris that operate the scheme, said:
"We're pleased. The main aim was to cut air pollution and reduce the load conventional cars place on the city, but still give people an easy option to use a car when they really need one. I think we're making progress."

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

"London Arms Race As Protesters Crowdsource To Buy A Water Cannon To Take On Boris Johnson"
Link to Huffington Post

" 'London's has purchased three water cannon for the Met Police's armoury against austerity protesters this year. Surely it's only fair the people had one too?'

This is the question being asked by protesters who are furious at Boris Johnson's announcement that he bought three water cannon for the Metropolitan Police at a cost of £218,000.

Now, London is facing a water cannon arms race, as protesters launched a crowdfunding project on the StartJoin platform, aiming to raise £30,000 to buy police-grade riot control weaponry."

Friday, 20 June 2014

Terence Cuneo's New Barnet railway poster

Link to Barnet Times

"A 66-year-old railway poster featuring a Barnet signal box has been sold for £2,500 at an auction – £1,000 more than expected.

"The 40 inches by 50 inches poster had been expected to sell for between £1,000 and £1,500 at the Christie’s auction in London.

"The poster, emblazoned with the words On Early Shift, is particularly valuable because it is by the late Terence Cuneo, who is regarded as one of the greatest painters of steam locomotives."

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

NLWP: Call for Sites

Link to web site

What the NLWP is currently doing:
  • We are consulting on the Scoping Report for Sustainability Appraisal
  • We are seeking nominations for sites/areas to be considered for waste development in North London
  • We have published a data study on waste in north London
  • We are contacting authorities to which north London waste is exported
  • We are starting to develop a draft Plan based on feedback received

Call for Sites
"We are inviting industry, landowners and any other interested parties to nominate sites or areas to be considered for waste development in North London. The sites or areas suggested can be either existing locations currently used for a waste management purposes which may be suitable for future expansion, or sites or areas with a future potential waste management use.

"Information submitted to us will be used in the development of the NLWP. The draft plan will contain maps and information about sites or areas being considered for inclusion in the NLWP and people will have the opportunity to comment on them.

"Should you wish to put forward a site or area, please complete a nomination form and return it with a map of the proposed site/area at scale 1:10 000 showing two named roads and any other relevant information to the address below. Please use a separate form for each site or area nominated.

"Nomination forms can be downloaded from the Call For Sites Subsection of the Document Centre. Click here for Nomination Form

"Please ensure that we receive nominations by 4th July 2014.

"You can submit your comments by email to (preferred method)

or by post to Archie Onslow, North London Waste Plan, LB Camden Culture & Environment, Town Hall, Argyle Street, London WC1H 8EQ

"Please ensure that we receive them by the deadline shown above.

"Please use the email address above for other enquiries or to request hardcopy versions of the documents.

'Pinkham Way Alliance' statement

"After the failure of the last North London Waste Plan (NLWP) in 2012, a new one is being discussed. Many of you supported our first consultation submission about it.

"Preliminary focus group meetings with planners and stakeholders are underway, and we’ve been attending.

"Sadly, there are immediate and disturbing signs that the key aim of the previous and failed NLWP remains, which is to ‘deliver’ Pinkham Way to the North London Waste Authority (NLWA) for future waste use.

"Despite prior talk of ‘openness’ and ‘transparency’, there appears little real willingness to listen to outside participants.

"We asked to receive information before the meetings. ‘Not ready’, we were told. Then, a different excuse: ‘It isn’t the practice to send it’. Finally, in front of the whole meeting: ‘If it’s sent, we find people don’t read it’. It is genuinely shocking.

"So, detailed information, with wide-ranging questions about policy, is distributed at the meetings and views are canvassed immediately. A cynical and revealing ambush.

"We've been told we'll get the information beforehand next time, but we're not holding our breath. And the damage has already been done.

"Business as usual, sadly. But three years of attrition have prepared us to respond quickly to such tactics, which is precisely what we’ve done. From here, your support and encouragement, as ever, will be a vital part of this.

"We’ll keep you posted. Please stay alert to this fight, because there will be much to do, including more essential fundraising.

"Speaking of fundraising, many thanks to the many of you who came to our concert on 25 May. You were such an appreciative audience; Suzie and I thoroughly enjoyed performing to you."

Stephen Brice
Pinkham Way Alliance

Friday, 6 June 2014

Sat 7 - Sun 8 June: Open Studios and Art Trail

Back for our third year, we've grown again. Showcasing 44 creatives in 2014.

On 7th and 8th June, artists, designers and craftspeople will open their studios to the public and show work on high streets in shops and cafes in Southgate and Palmers Green. This FREE event is a rare opportunity to meet makers and buy direct from them.

We have an even greater variety of work this year. Handmade baskets, furniture and sculpture will be on show as well as knitwear, lighting, textiles and millinery plus fine art, ceramics, glass and leatherwear.

We’re staging free workshops for adults and children to try their hand at art and craft - see tab for more info. There is something for everyone so come and be inspired over this wonderful weekend!

Watch this short film of our 2013 event to give you a flavour of what's to come!
Video of Open Studios 2013
Follow us on facebook for updates:

Event organiser Dan Maier: or 020 8886 9020
This event is organised by Creative Exchange, for more info click here

Friday, 30 May 2014

Anaerobic digestion plant explodes

Link to Shropshire Star

"A power plant using farm waste today exploded at Harper Adams University, spilling tonnes of slurry.

"A 200-metre exclusion zone was today put in place by police, who described it as a 'chemical incident'.

"It is the second time the £3 million anaerobic digestion plant has leaked sludge across land in Edgmond, near Newport."

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

TruthOut: " 'Devastating' Impacts of Climate Change Increasing"

Link to web site

"A massive collapse of an ice sheet in Western Antarctica has begun and, according to scientists, is most likely an unstoppable event that will cause an inevitable rise in global sea levels of at least 10 feet.

"The rise will be relatively slow at first, but by 2100 will ramp up sharply. This could happen sooner, warn the scientists, as the impacts of anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD/climate change) continue to intensify.

" 'This is really happening,' Thomas P. Wagner, who runs NASA's programs on polar ice and helped oversee some of the research, said. 'There's nothing to stop it now.'

"On April 13, the world's leading scientific body for the assessment of ACD warned of a 'devastating rise of 4-5C if we carry on as we are'."

Monday, 21 April 2014

Daily Telegraph: "Global solar dominance in sight as science trumps fossil fuels"

Link to web site

"Solar power has won the global argument. Photovoltaic energy is already so cheap that it competes with oil, diesel and liquefied natural gas in much of Asia without subsidies.

"... For Britain it offers a reprieve after 20 years of energy drift. Yet the possibility of global energy deflation raises a quandry: should the country lock into more nuclear power stations with strike-prices fixed for 35 years? Should it spend £100bn on offshore wind when imported LNG might be cheaper long hence?

"For the world it portends a once-in-a-century upset of the geostrategic order. Sheikh Ahmed-Zaki Yamani, the veteran Saudi oil minister, saw the writing on the wall long ago. 'Thirty years from now there will be a huge amount of oil - and no buyers. Oil will be left in the ground. The Stone Age came to an end, not because we had a lack of stones, and the oil age will come to an end not because we have a lack of oil,' he told The Telegraph in 2000. Wise old owl.

Saturday, 29 March 2014

The Guardian / Unilever: "Food waste around the world"

Link to web site

"Jeong Ho-jin dons a pair of plastic gloves to show off his most proud achievement as a district official in Seoul, South Korea, and then uses his keys to unlock a large, rectangular contraption that looks like some kind of futuristic top-loading washing machine. Loaded with bins half-filled with decomposing ginseng, lettuce and other meal remnants, this, it turns out, is South Korea's high-tech solution to food waste.

"Jeong works in one of two districts in Seoul where the high-tech food waste management program is being piloted. The program works by giving each household a card that has a radio frequency identification (RFID) chip embedded in it, containing the user's name and address. They scan their card on a small card-reader on the front of the high-tech bin to get the lid to open, then dump the food waste into the bin and onto the scale at the bottom, which gives a numerical reading of the waste's weight and disposal cost.


"... In Malmö, Sweden, we stick our food waste into frustratingly flimsy paper bags, and drop them into a plastic bin downstairs, from where they go to make the gas that powers the city's buses. Malmö uses anaerobic digestion carried out by bacteria and other methane producing organisms to produce methane gas. Each batch spends three weeks in the digester to complete the process. The resulting gas is then purified so it can be used for a fuel. Each paper bag apparently produces enough to drive a car 2.5km."

Surrey Comet: "Lawyers brand Sutton Council's incinerator decision 'unlawful'"

Link to web site

"Lawyers have branded the council's decision to give the go-ahead to a controversial in incinerator 'unlawful'.

"Lawyers representing Croydon man Shasha Khan have served a letter on Sutton Council saying they believe the council broke the law in giving planning permission for an energy recovery facility (ERF) in Beddington Lane.

"The ERF will burn rubbish from Sutton, Croydon, Merton and Kingston and convert it into energy and heat for nearby homes. Planning permission was granted last year and a legal agreement was reached earlier this month meaning - pending a judicial review - the project can now go ahead."

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Ham & High: "BBC chief backs education centre plan for Alexandra Palace’s TV studios"

Link to web site

"The BBC’s director general has thrown his support behind the plans to transform Alexandra Palace’s television studios into an interactive education centre.

"Tony Hall, who took over as head of the corporation last year, welcomed the plans for the proposed centre, which will use digital imagery and historic artefacts important to the tale of broadcasting at the Palace and beyond.

"The BBC studios at Ally Pally were the venue for the world’s first high definition public television broadcast in 1936."

Click below for BBC web site...

Wednesday, 26 March 2014 "Call to launch landfill bans to create 47,500 jobs in the UK"

Link to web site

"The UK could create 47,500 skilled jobs if it kept five key waste materials out of landfill, according to new research by think tank Green Alliance.

"New analysis by Green Alliance urges the Government to ban wood, textiles, electronics, food and plastics. It states that banning wood could create 3,200 jobs; banning textiles could create 6,600 jobs, banning electronics 9,500 jobs, food 12,100 jobs and plastics 16,100 jobs.

"According to the report, reuse, remanufacturing and recycling creates new and valuable products. Selling these generates profit which supports skilled jobs."

Thursday, 20 February 2014

BG&DRA: "Urgent response required to Pinkham Way consultation"

"You may have seen via the PWA that a new consultation process has started on what’s called a 'Site Allocations – Development Plan Document'. Basically there are 54 sites discussed in the document across the borough and one of them is Pinkham Way. The outcome of this consultation could make it much easier for NLWA to develop the site in an industrial manner that all residents will be unhappy about.

"Therefore your help is needed to provide a response and the quickest and easiest way to do that is to add your name to the PWA response. It only takes 2 minutes!

"You are equally allowed to provide your own response, and the PWA site gives guidance on how to do that.

"The deadline for responding is Thursday 6 March, so why not do it now while it’s fresh in your mind?"

Friday, 7 February 2014

Wed 12 Feb: "Hammersmith ‘flyunder’ options to be revealed"

"The draft findings of the council’s investigation into options to bury Hammersmith Flyover are set to be discussed at a public meeting next week.

"The ‘flyunder’ transport select committee takes place at Hammersmith Town Hall on Wednesday 12 February at 6.30pm (for a 7pm start).
"Transport and engineering experts have been exploring various options for a tunnel replacement for Hammersmith’s ageing and divisive flyover. The probe has been exploring various tunnel lengths and possible starting and end points, and is measuring options against social, economic and environmental benefits.

"The study will include feedback from local residents and is set to be finalised by March 2014 - when the study will be given to Transport for London (TfL) which owns and manages the A4. 89% of respondents to a council poll back some form of tunnel replacement.

"The study aims to answer two main questions which are: could a tunnel be built and should a tunnel be built?

"Cllr Nicholas Botterill, H&F Council Leader, said
“Residents’ views are vital on the question of whether we should build a tunnel and how bold we want to be. We have a range of options - from simply replacing the flyover to something far more ambitious, like a tunnel that potentially stretches from Chiswick to Earl’s Court, involving various north/south connector tunnels. All options are being explored.”
"Multinational engineering firm CH2M Hill Halcrow - one of the UK's largest infrastructure experts and builder of the Channel Tunnel - is exploring the ground conditions in the area to help answer the question of ‘could a tunnel be built’.

"Meanwhile TfL is continuing its works to repair the flyover, with some overnight and partial closures of the flyover needed along as well as local road closures and diversions.

"Come along to the council’s Transport Select Committee at Hammersmith Town Hall on Wednesday February 12, 2014 at 7pm."

Thursday, 6 February 2014

The Guardian: "The Enfield Experiment: London's fortunes distilled into a single borough"

"The Guardian's senior economics commentator kicks off a new series looking at the challenges facing the London suburb where he grew up – and the ideas that might offer a radical fix"

"Link to the web site, me old cock-sparrow"

"How do you fix a broken economy? No bigger question faces post-crash Britain. Yet after six years of pledges of virtue – of borrowing less, exporting more, greater investment, factories not banks – the Westminster classes have led us back to their favourite diversion: blowing hard into a balloon marked 'house prices'.

"Meanwhile, the existential problems of how Britain pays its way in the world, and how its people earn a decent living, without depending on credit or welfare, go ignored. Indeed, the most intriguing answer I've seen lies not in the beartraps George Osborne and Ed Balls set for each other – but 10 miles north of parliament, in Enfield.

"... Eastern Enfield is also handicapped by some of the worst public transport links anywhere in north London, with no tube and only two trains from some stations into the city every hour. Graduate Antony Blacker can tell you what that's cost him: he was rejected from a post in the borough next door, Barnet, because it wasn't practical for him to commute by bus." [Light-rail, anyone?]

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

First Capital Connect: The Hertford Loop

First Capital Connect (Hertford Loop)

[Dr William McCrea in the Chair]
2.30 pm

Nick de Bois (Enfield North) (Con):
It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship for what I believe is the first time, Dr McCrea. I am delighted to see so many colleagues here. I think that we have all linked up on the First Capital Connect line, which shows how integrated we are, and how integrated we would like our transport to be.

Many of us in this place often focus, understandably, on the important political policy shifts that often divide us, despite the fact that sometimes we have common goals and desired outcomes. Those political policy shifts understandably dominate the political agenda, and of course have a significant impact on our constituents, but although they may capture our imaginations and dominate most of our time, this debate is, I suggest, on one of the most pressing issues facing hard-working constituents who commute to work.

It is perhaps worth bearing in mind that a typical commuter from Gordon Hill in my constituency to Moorgate will spend approximately 230 hours a year on a First Capital Connect train, if all runs well.

Mr Charles Walker (Broxbourne) (Con):
If the trains are not running well, as is often the case, they will spend another 230 hours waiting for the train to arrive.

Nick de Bois:
My hon. Friend anticipates me neatly ... [And so on. Click for more.]

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

WIRED: "Mozilla Calls on World to Protect Firefox Browser From the NSA"

Link to web site

"Brendan Eich is the chief technology officer of the Mozilla Foundation, the non-profit behind the Firefox web browser. Among many other things, he oversees the Firefox security team — the software engineers who work to steel the browser against online attacks from hackers, phishers, and other miscreants — and that team is about to get bigger. Much, much bigger.

"In a recent blog post, Eich calls for security researchers across the globe to regularly audit the Firefox source code and create automated systems that can ensure the same code is used to update 18 million machines that run the browser. That’s not an option for other browsers, but it is for Firefox. The code behind the browser is completely open source, meaning anyone can look at it, at any time.

"The move is one more way that the giants of the web are responding to revelations that the National Security Agency is snooping on web traffic via popular services and software."

Saturday, 11 January 2014

The Independent: "Secret report shows how organised crime infiltrated judicial system as well as police, with prison service and HM Revenue & Customs also compromised"

Link to web site

"The entire criminal justice system was infiltrated by organised crime gangs, according to a secret Scotland Yard report leaked to The Independent.

"In 2003 Operation Tiberius found that men suspected of being Britain’s most notorious criminals had compromised multiple agencies, including HM Revenue & Customs, the Crown Prosecution Service, the City of London Police and the Prison Service, as well as pillars of the criminal justice system including juries and the legal profession.

"The strategic intelligence scoping exercise – 'ratified by the most senior management' at the Met – uncovered jurors being bought off or threatened to return not-guilty verdicts; corrupt individuals working for HMRC, both in the UK and overseas; and 'get out of jail free cards' being bought for £50,000."

Thursday, 9 January 2014

"The UK remains on course to retain its throwaway culture"

"As a new government report on waste fails to make a splash, the UK's unsustainable economy looks likely to continue to generate excessive waste, writes Tim Cooper"

Link to The Guardian

"Issuing a waste prevention programme at the peak of the Christmas shopping period might have been a master stroke by the coalition government. What better time to highlight and address the excesses of consumerism? Presents that are cheap and cheerful, designed for the moment rather than a long life, and little more expensive than the glossy, excessive packaging that supposedly communicates the giver's generous feelings towards the recipient?

"Yet the timing has proven less successful. Far from hitting the headlines, the coalition government's new report, Prevention is Better than Cure, has evidently been wholly disregarded by national broadcast and print media alike."

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

"David Cameron 'very much suspects' climate change is behind recent storms"

Link to The Guardian

"David Cameron yesterday angered some in his party when he said the storms and flooding causing havoc across Britain could have been caused by climate change. 

"During his weekly questions in the Commons, the prime minister said he suspected global warming could be responsible for an increase in extreme weather events, including the recent storms that have left seven people dead and hundreds of homes under water.

"... The prime minister said:

"Colleagues across the house can argue about whether that is linked to climate change or not. I very much suspect that it is. The point is that whatever one's view, it makes sense to invest in flood defences … it makes sense to get information out better, and we should do all of those things."

New Scientist: "Electricity use drops as UK passes 'peak light bulb'"

Link to web site

"We have passed peak light bulb. The average amount of electricity needed annually to light a UK home fell from 720 kilowatt-hours in 1997 to 508 kWh in 2012, a drop of 29 per cent.

"Brenda Boardman of the University of Oxford's Environmental Change Institute says this is largely down to the phasing out of inefficient incandescent light bulbs. 'Because of the amount we are switching to compact fluorescent light bulbs and LEDs, there is a huge drop in demand,' she says.

"From 2007 to 2012, the UK's peak electricity demand fell from 61.5 to 57.5 gigawatts. The benefits of efficient light bulbs are good news for the UK, which will have to work hard to maintain its electricity supply."