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HIP HIP HOORAY for the Silly Season.

Is there no end to the stupidity of Government. As from today those of us with four bedroom HOUSES have to provide Home Information Packs before we are able to attempt to sell the House. I use the term House advisably, not every house is sold to be a home. In my experience even when it is, it is common enough for the incoming owner to want to refurbish utilities such as the electricity and plumbing, and central heating, possibly refenestrate or almost certainly replace the deteriorated double glazing inserts, and refresh old insulation . These things deteriorate and it is better to do such jobs at the outset if one can see one’s way to pay to do so.

What has the number of bedrooms to do with the case? What counts is the internal floor space of a house. The more bedrooms one can divide that up into, the more efficient its heating pattern. I recently saw a property that seemingly has more corridor space than actual living space. Being as it was Grade 2 listed with original period sash windows means that there is not a lot the owners can do about it. One may indeed wonder as to its heating costs. It does have thermostatic valves on the Radiators but it will need to be an exceedingly mild winter before any is liable to function, especially as the well insulated hot water tank will do little to contribute to the warmth of the Airing cupboard. Fortunately there is an actual radiator there to heat that. Does one need to pay for some par trained Snooper to do what might better be covered by the mortgage Surveyor, or the exercise of common sense. As for checking on energy saving light bulbs. Too embarrassing as it seemingly dates me, but as a child in the war one was lucky to find any light bulbs at all in a house ones parents had moved into. Come to think of it they had to have the electricity installed in two. I can never forget the excited tones of a retired Brigadier in the early 1960s. Whose house was just about ‘to get the electricity’

I wonder whether one might go into business hiring out energy saving light bulbs by the week in the name of HIPS? Necessity is still the mother of invention.

All this nonsense puts me in mind of France where every house sold has to be certified as to the lead content of the paint, and to the absence of termites. Very important matters of course, but whichever the result there is no requirement to attend the matter in any way. All that is necessary is to pay some £120 to get the report. Far better to put the money into new paintwork, termite treatment or rather more outlandishly into the provision of a damp proof course.

There are something’s the French do very well. Insulation for one. It is very easy and relatively cheap to purchase and install metallic components with which one can build a sub frame lining to a room. This when set far enough away from the existing wall can accommodate four to six inches of glass fibre insulation, the which unlike the English Variety does not spread its constituent part in every direction. I did see such frames once in B&Q. but probably they failed to sell, because they seem to be no longer available. Such walls are then finished off with plasterboard in the usual way. French Plaster board of course as I believe it to be the case that they now own ‘our’ Plasterboard Manufacturers , as well as ‘our’ Cement manufacturers , and they tend to be suppliers of much of our electricity and water too. These particular circumstances are accounted for by our Government’s acceptance of the French ‘Non’ when it came to opening up their Markets to foreign, which apparently includes British, interests. They can buy and operate whatever they like in the UK but we can not reciprocate. Even Christies the Auctioneer is now owned by the French. We ‘alleged foreigners’ can not own even a modest Auction Room or Estate Agency in France and so on ad infinitum.

What does need attention in our housing market is not the window dressing, but the ‘Sales Process’. If one agrees to buy or sell a house one should have there and then pay a deposit and sign an immediate contract which neither the proposing purchaser nor the Vendor can rescind without paying a penalty to the other party. There is usually a provision for the inability to obtain a mortgage if required. I believe Scotland has a not dis-similar process.

If instead of wasting money on HIPS every property had to be sold with an independent valuation survey, and detail of ownership and local searches there should be no need to expend money on the blaringly obvious. Houses cost enough already without the current manifestation of the HIPS nonsense.

Probably not ? Who knows one heard from then would be junior House Men that there might be some three hundred of them after but the one appointment. The list would be whittled down to a number who might be invited to attend an expenses paid interview at the other end of the Country. After an appointment the others would have to repeat the process at our expense. It did seem that something needed to be done about the selection process. Apparently there was a phalanx of applicants of doubtful merit who seemingly were unlikely to be appointed by any board of interview. The perpetual Tony Benskin of ‘Doctor in the House’ fame. Apparently in the most recent selection process, the Computer said ‘Yes’ to them. There in the danger lies.

One hears too of the difficulty well qualified General Practitioners have in attaining a Partnership. Apparently incumbent partners have taken to employing Doctors on a lesser Salary than might be earned through offering a Partnership, and then using the money so saved, they retain ownership of their Surgery Freehold after their own retirement. Thus enabling themselves to receive rental Income for the premises. A while back a Doctor I know was told by his Accountant that he should retire early after sickness, as it was no longer financially beneficial for him to work.

So farewell to the Salisbury District Council. We are to become a Unitary Authority over the next couple of years. One must not doubt that there are pros and cons to the argument. We will have to see how it works out, and take more care concerning the nomination and election of Councillors. I understand that a County Councillor is in receipt of a modest allowance at the moment. Maybe we should have fewer County Councillors and pay each more money? I have always been sceptical concerning the way we as a nation operate the franchise. If for a minor instance we constantly fail to have Parish Council Elections because there are too few Candidates nominated, clearly there have been too many vacancies to fill and possibly we should have sought fewer Councillors. Parish Councils are not a noble and ancient circumstance of Old England, merely a manifestation of the late Victorian Age, the first instituted when my Father was aged two, and personally I would be happy to see them abolished in my lifetime.

Much as we should all respect those who give their time to such Public Service, much of their deliberation is often ill informed and thus futile. Their office is now, as ever was a mere fop on the face of Democracy. One gets ‘un-voted for Councillors’ who have never planted a tree in their life time, or who have not had the slightest of relevant experience in the field of Planning , pontificating on the circumstance of their friends and neighbours. Is it time to abolish this anachronism of the modern world. Maybe the Parish Councils should have been abolished rather than the District. They are far too expensive.

I have taken the liberty to borrow the article below from the Amber Council, whose authorship I duly acknowledge.

Parish councils

Description of service
There are some 8,350 Parish Councils in England, although London and many other metropolitan areas do not have them. Most Parish Councils were established in 1894 by an Act of Parliament. In Amber Valley, there are 31 Parish Councils including seven created in 1984 (Aldercar & Langley Mill; Alfreton; Codnor; Heanor & Loscoe; Ironville; Somercotes; Swanwick).
Parish Councils are the most local level of government in England. They are independent of other levels of local government, ie. Borough and County Council, however they maintain a close working relationship with both. The powers and duties of parish councils cover a wide range of functions but the level of activity between parish councils can vary considerably. Some meet infrequently (but at least four times a year, including one public meeting) Other larger parishes meet on a much more regular cycle and undertake many duties such as street lighting, managing cemeteries, allotments, commons, village halls, war memorials and markets etc.
Each Parish Council is a corporate body with a legal existence of its own, quite separate from that of its members. Its decisions are the responsibility of the whole body. They have been granted powers by Parliament including the important authority to raise money through taxation (the precept) and a range of powers to spend public money. The accounts of Parish Councils are subject to scrutiny by the District Auditor.
Parish Councils, unlike District/Borough Council and County Councils, are not subject to the jurisdiction of the Ombudsman. The Council works in co-operation with parishes in the Borough but it has no jurisdiction over the activities of the Parish Councils, other than matters relating to the conduct of Parish Councillors and then only on referral of a complaint from the Standards Board for England. The Borough Council has a duty to promote and maintain high standards of conduct among Parish Councillors. For further details on the Standards Board, click the link on this page. Some Parishes are members of the National Association of Local Councils which provides advice and assistance to Parish Councils. See the link on this page. The contact details for the local branch are:
Mr Brian Wood.

THE NOYEING FLUDDE. After the inundations of last month who can permit new buildings on our flood lands. Let us here have no more of it, whether either side of the Great Western or along the backlands of the Avenue Tisbury Wiltshire. As I write news has come in of the cancellation of the Wargrave and Shiplake Regatta due to the high water level. Can this be due to global warming?

This Regatta predates Parish Councils by many years and is the second largest entry Regatta on the Thames (after Henley Royal). Its cancellation last occurred due to the exigencies of the second World War, which the crews went to fight.

BRITISH TELECOM. Has decided unilaterally to change the terms of its contract. I see on the bill we had this week that if one pays the account by cheque, there is to be a charge made for so doing. I took the matter up with a lady in India who I thought advised me that the charge was to be 50p. However seemingly it was to be £4.50p. She advised that the line rental had been reduced by £1. When I suggested that such a reduction was little recompense to set against the £4.50, the lady advised that it was £1 per month. Eighteen pounds a year she advised. Oh dear more mis-information apparently the reduction was to be £1.50 a month, which is to say £4.5O per quarter. Does this mean those of us who prefer not to send our banking detail to India or where so ever, are paying nine pounds per quarter over the odds for our phone bill, or have I lost the plot?

As I had no wish to belabour the poor lady, I requested a word with the supervisor. He or she was apparently at a meeting, but I was promised a return phone call that afternoon, I am still waiting. I have no wish to do business on the sub continent, and the fact that most of the people one has dealings with have qualifications far in excess of my own, does nothing to temper my attitude. These call centre jobs should be retained in this country. If it is uneconomic so to do, then possibly it would be preferable that the Government subsidise the rate of pay rather than continue to pay out unemployment benefits. Money does not grow on trees, if it is sent abroad to pay employees in other countries, or come to that if people from other countries who find employment in Great Britain send their salaries out of the country; then every penny spent abroad is money taken out of our Domestic Economy. This is no way to run a country. John B. Pope.

contact : JOHN . B. POPE