All entries for Tuesday 17 October 2006

October 17, 2006

When Refuse Collection Turns Ugly

Writing about web page http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/south_west/6058952.stm

The story I’ve linked to tells the tale of a man taken to court and fined £200 because he “contaminated” a recycling bag specifically for bottles and cans with a single piece of junk mail.

Refuse collection has turned nasty.

A similar thing happened to me last year, when I received a curt letter from the Council informing me that my bin bag had found its way on to the pavement and was causing an obstruction.

Clearly I hadn’t put it there, but the mob of Leamington Spa had decided to move it. I was told that if it happened again I would be taken to court.

Which is nice of them.

What’s particularly sad is that they only knew it was my bin bag because they specifically went through it to look for incriminating evidence. Sure enough there was a letter addressed to our flat.

Brilliant.

It’s good to know that our council tax goes towards paying for little Hitlers to go around opening rubbish for evidence of crimes which they can then take you to court for.

I’m sure the cost of doing so is considerably more than the £200 that they raised from the gentleman above and innocent people of his ilk.

Idiots.


Cost of democracy? £24,000,000

The government wants to change the rules about Freedom of Information because the current system is too expensive.

How expensive is “too expensive”? £24m per year.

Sounds like a bargain to me.

Wisely, many are suspecting that it’s not about cutting costs but is more about trying to cut down on the amount of information that is being ‘set free’.

FoI requests are denied if they cost more than £600 to process, but Lord Falconer, who is in charge of Constitutional Affairs, wants to include more things within this cost calculation, thereby making more claims ‘too expensive’ to process.

This is really bad news and a number of MPs seem to agree.

Organisations like the BBC could actually be given a set limit on the number of FoI requests they make each year. If that doesn’t sound like creeping Stalinism then I don’t know what does.

The government’s never liked the Freedom of Information laws it introduced. It watered them down once they got into government, and has been doing their best to make them ineffective ever since.

This time it might just succeed in its wish.


*We're all making television now…

Iain Dale is worried that his new internet TV station, 18 Doughty Street is about to be regulated out of existence by the EU. Similarly, YouTube could have to make sure its videos comply with EU legislation as would anyone hoping to put videos online. The British government are against it, saying it would harm future online businesses hoping to put videos online, but few other European countries oppose it.

So what’s going on?
Well the EU is updating its Television Without Frontiers Directive which ensures that standards in television are the same across Europe. The European Commission wants to extend the definition of ‘television’ to include:

  • Broadband, Digital TV and 3G Networks
  • Video on demand
  • Peer-to-Peer video sharing
  • Internet TV

A wide definition would mean that almost any video delivered publicly on the internet would be “on demand” and therefore subject to EU legislation. But it’s important to note that the EU isn’t necessarily including a definition that wide.

But is there a need for any regulation in this area?
Well, not necessarily. The rules need tidying up because they were written in 1989 with only minor revisions in 1997, just when Digital TV was starting up. And there’s an argument that there should be some rules which protect people from videos on the internet of questionable content.

But should these rules be set by the EU?

No.

The internet has never been regulated thoroughly by governments and it seems pretty dangerous to start doing that. The EU’s argument is that a dangerous video which is banned in Britain can easily be uploaded in Slovakia and then viewed by anyone in the EU regardless.

But it can just as easily be hosted in the Bahamas! The EU’s regulation in this area is utterly pointless as there are so many ways to avoid it that it’ll be redundant in about five minutes flat.

Iain’s gone quite over-the-top in proposing we quit the EU (this seems to be being used as an excuse for doing so). Instead he should be listening to what Jose Manuel Barroso said last night: try and change things from the outside rather than lecture from the outside. Only as a full and committed member of the EU will we stop these daft pieces of legislation from being created.


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