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English thinker

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  1. You probably also want streets, schools, planning enforcement, parks, someone to check the hygiene of restaurants, trading standards, old people to be looked after, vulnerable kids to be protected, alcohol licensing and a whole bunch of other stuff. Less of a flippant answer: local authorities are more than about collecting bins. How much they should do and how much central government, or the private sector, should do is of course a valid question. Moving some of it to central government might not be such a big shift (approx 75% of council income comes from central govt / business rates anyway).
  2. Similar to a point made by a previous poster, I believe in Spain you take your rubbish to a centralised point (same or next street) and it is collected from there. In fact I know that was the case when I lived in Seville and Valencia. I suspect that daily collections from such a centralised point would also be perfectly possible in the UK, but I'm not sure the public (or at least our hysterical media) would buy it.
  3. Speaking as a former councillor for a London borough, I have postgraduate qualifications and many of my fellow councillors had professional backgrounds (accounting, IT etc.). But that's beside the point really, I rather like the idea that anyone at all can stand to be elected not only those who are suitably "qualified". Often the most searching question can be raised by asking for a simple explanation. As for corruption, I served on the planning committee and was never approached improperly in any way. I don't know anyone who was. And quite hard I'd have thought to bribe a whole committee, many of whom (being of different parties) would be only too happy to grass one another up. Incidentally, I got the impression that planning applicants/objectors had a less suspicious view of the process after they came along and watched our (often lengthy) deliberations.
  4. Even establishing the cause (and what repairs to carry out) may take time - the landlord may need to get an expert report. (I don't know anything about damp, but when I was a local councillor I did see one damp property which was believed to have been built over an underground stream . Extensive modifications were required - property had to be empty while the work was carried out. But I guess that would have been an extreme case.) Wonder if either of the following links are useful to the OP: http://www.adviceguide.org.uk/index/your_family/home_and_neighbourhood_index_ew/faq_index_housing/faq_housing_home_i_rent_is_damp.htm http://england.shelter.org.uk/get_advice/repairs_and_bad_conditions/repairs_in_private_lets/contacting_environmental_health Re the OP's specific question about how long to give the landlord, if I was the OP I might call local Environmental Health (see above links) for their view (on a no names basis if don't want to wheel in the big guns at this stage ) and maybe a chat generally. But obviously don't know all the surrounding circs. But like others, I wonder if you're better off just finding somewhere without damp, if that's an option open to you.
  5. I'm no left-winger, but saving a one-of-a-kind local community asset may not always be such a bad thing. Municipal baths, theatres, pools ... these things have their place. A racecourse is pushing it, but then I dont' know how prosperous or otherwise the area is, and how many visitors it brings into the area.
  6. Quite a few councils own a local theatre or, of course, leisure facilities. I guess a racecourse is a somewhat different local amenity but the link below suggests that the Council acquired it to stop it disappearing due to financial pressures. Apparently they successfully turned it round and it's gone from strength to strength. http://www.musselburgh-racecourse.co.uk/history-of-racecourse.asp Haven't looked up the council minutes, but maybe it was regarded as key to the local economy?
  7. And within that there are the specialisations - my limited view (as someone who occasionally works with accountants) is that it's not necessarily a bad time to be an accountant specialising in insolvency or tax matters. But I stand to be corrected.
  8. Well said. Though sometimes the nature of a forum post means things come across stronger than intended.
  9. +1. Plus there are often industry-specific events (conventions etc.) at which you have to be present. (And there seem to be more of these things nowadays, not less ... maybe more venues / cheaper cost of marketing / better travel options)
  10. I agree with your general point - it should be cheaper to just turn up and go (I was just saying that it's not as bad as the headlines would sometimes have you believe). And that fare of £35.50 wasn't difficult to find - popped up straight away on The Trainline, for travel in less than 72 hours' time. But as I say, I agree with your general point.
  11. On my earlier example (train fare of £35.50 Brighton to Stoke on Trent) that makes the car and the train about the same. But add a second person, or a family, and the car wins. They need to do something about that.
  12. £268 is outrageous - but that's the anytime return fare, something that can usually be avoided. For starters, it's unlikely that the 'to' and 'return' fare are both peak journeys, meaning two singles can be cheaper. And sometimes it can be cheaper to get two singles on one leg (e.g. Brighton to London, London to Stoke). And if you get an advance ticket (for a specific train) you really can save loads. I see, for example, this coming Thursday you can catch the 0802 from Brighton and be in Stoke on Trent at 1124 - at a single cost of £35.50. I use rail around the UK quite a bit for business and generally find it productive and relaxing (and pretty reliable). Recently went for a lunch meeting in Nottingham - first class return London to Nottingham cost me £65. And plenty of time with no interruptions (other than the free tea and coffee coming round). Not to say it's all perfect - have to spend a little time online finding the right fare. And on really long journeys air travel can win, sadly - on a recent day trip London to Edinburgh I had to go for the air option. And daily commuting by rail within London isn't much fun - which is why I now cycle to work (10 miles, takes about an hour - which is about the same time as by bus/tube/train.... so much for progress.)
  13. I think they are fundamentally different. With self-employment you are a shareholder (or business owner). As a shareholder/business owner you have the right to receive profits independent of your employment in the enterprise. E.g. start a one man garage / sandwich shop / hairdresser / whatever, expand, employ some people, appoint a day to day manager and although you may no longer work there full time, you still own the business and the profit it generates. To put it another way, you can sell, or give, someone your business, but you can't give/sell your job. Of course, if the nature of the business is that it is dependent on you, and only you, working in it, then the above is less true. Your professional footballer example is a good one. There's also the rather important point about employment generally not requiring you to risk your own money in start-up capital, compared to self-employment which usually does.
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