13 March 2009

More meetings

It has been a busy couple of weeks for evening meetings, so much so that I have been to busy to write about them until now, and even then I am cheating about writing about three at the same time.

The latest Kingston Area Travellers Association (KATA) meeting was the usual friendly update on anything to do with public transport in the Kingston area.

Most of the talking was about buses (timetables, routes, vehicles, stop, incidents, etc.) because of the interests of the people there and that is where most of the action is at the moment.

Of particular interest to me was the news that the 65 and 371 routes (the two I use the most) are both going to get new vehicles in the Summer.

I have managed to avoid BCSA Executive Committee meetings since resigning as Secretary some time ago but I still get invited (because I run their website and do a few other useful things) and I finally relented and went to one.

The subject matter of the ExCo meetings are fairly dry, e.g. budget and arrangements for the AGM, but there is wine too. And sandwiches.

I came away from the meeting with just one minor action (which I have not done yet), which is something of a record for me. Normally I weaken quickly when asked to do something boring and volunteer quickly when there is something interesting to do.

Public Services, particularly Education, are a passion so I was seduced by the prospect of a talk on The 2020 Challenge for Public Services by Rt Hon Liam Byrne MP. It was a big let down.

The speech was well informed and packed full of historical context and examples but the vision for the future was blurred at best. All we got was "we must move power into people's hands."

This government's record on devolution of power is a mess: we have regional government for Scotland, Wales and (to a lesser extent) London, but not for the regions; some powers have been devolved where this makes no sense, e.g. choice of hospital; other decisions have been devolved to avoid making politically difficult decisions, e.g. abolition of grammar schools; and where powers have been devolved it is almost always to bodies like local authorities which are no more responsive to citizens than central government it.

There are lots of questions on moving power into people's hands that could have tackled but, like a typical politician, difficult questions were avoided and the vacuum was filled with spin and waffle. Not impressed.

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