Friday, 22 April 2011

Light at end of the tunnel

There has been a survey done by Liverpool Victoria Insurance Company , picked up by the Newcastle Journal  as well as some of the National Newspapers (the Mirror) . Student numbers are going to fall, and Newcastle will be one of the most affected places, with student numbers falling by 50%. Many people think this is a bad thing because property values will fall.
A friend has recently sold a house in Larkspur Terrace. When Estate Agents were looking at it with a view to putting it on the market, they valued it solely as a price/bedroom. It is in an area with a large number of rented properties. The Estate Agents thought there was no point in marketing it to anyone other than as a property to be rented to students, just emphasising one of the problems of studentification - that houses become unattractive to non-students, thereby contributing to the further imbalance in the community.
Is the survey says nothing about the value of houses.  So what will happen ?

A house has a value other than financial ( which may be reflected in the price it can attract) - just look at housing and school catchment areas. What will  reducing the number of students in Newcastle do to Jesmond.

There could be an excess of properties to rent. Will students still pay a premium to live in Jesmond, or will they still live more peripherally and pay less rent?
For some students, parents have bought houses for their children to live in whilst students. As house prices continue to slowly decline, it cannot be a guaranteed investment for parents  who may have been looking to make a profit on the capital.
 The most promising part of this is that if  residents can expect no further studentification, the exodus of residents may slow.
If  houses aren't bought up as buy-to-let  by absentee landlords, they may be bought by year-round residents. As buy-to-let properties tend to be at the lower end of the price range, young families and your professionals could move back into the area, as they are no longer priced out.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Some are more equal than others

 An article appeared in the Guardian - Government denies celebrities get VIP NHS record treatment  - Celebrities will not automatically be opted out of the Summary Care Record, only those people that Big Brother decides are at risk' (undefined),if their location is known,  will be. Of course, anyone can opt out , for any reason.  Notherndoc linked to an article in the GP magazine, Pulse, which  does say that Celebrities will be opted out.

Those behind the SCR are just resorting to sophistry when all these articles are have a line about the rest of us bing able to opt out. Those deemed to be VIPs will no doubt receive a suggestion that they should opt out , but the rest of are left to find out for ourselves.
this whole thing is Tony Blairs' idea . To show his confidence in the  system and its security, Leo Blairs' MMR immunisation status should be uploaded. How long it remains a secret will be a good test of the security of the system that they are so keen to get us all to sign up to.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

They are on our side -really

 This is where I lived from the age of about 6 to 18. I and my friends used to play football here. And the tarmac strips across the street ( no humps) were the tennis net for a game of tennis.  No chance now - all given over to cars .

I  picked up on a RSS feed the blog posting about traffic engineering from the blog entry Confessions of a Recovering Engineer , on the Strong Towns website. A refreshing read.  That towns should exist for people. The first bit that struck me was :

An engineer designing a street or road prioritizes the world in this way, no matter how they are instructed: 
  1. Traffic speed
  2. Traffic volume
  3. Safety
  4. Cost
The rest of the world generally would prioritize things differently, as follows: 
  1. Safety
  2. Cost
  3. Traffic volume
  4. Traffic speed
I came across the article in the daily Mail - half of children never play in the street  .

 And then I had a look at Google Maps at the street where i grew up and used to play tennis, football, cricket and ride my bike from the age of about 8.

    And the comments thread (now closed) also has some interesting comments
    Much is US - inclined and centres around cheap petroleum for vehicles
    some random things that struck me from the article and comments

    • narrow streets = safe streets
    • Mobility is related to economic prosperity ( or is it the other way round) 
    • should the street ( public space) be the place were you can expect to leave  you private property  (your car )

    Friday, 1 April 2011

    Join the Opt Out

    The NHS have spent the last 8 years trying to develop a nationwide electronic medical record. Its a long , sorry , tortuous tale. All the usual suspects are present
     - politicians who want short term sound -good sound bites and unrealistic expectations
    - large companies seeking to make a lot of money at the publics' expense
    - ineptitude from a wide range of people.
    -the 'it will be alright on the night' attitude to problems 

    Many  of the problems that occurred along the way are highlighted in the NHS-23 wiki.

    Many people have had serious concerns about this whole enterprise.
    Some of the more general concerns are listed in the website of The Big Optout 

    and more specific concerns about privacy on the openrights website. A GP has made a comprehensive catalogue of potential problems

    There are frequent breaches of confidentiality relating to data held in government IT systems. And in spite of sincere words in the Care Records Guarantee , one of the fundamental problems in IT security ( the people who use the systems) are unchanged. So this system will be no more or less secure than others .

    Ive opted out . You should as well