måndag 31 juli 2006

Brighton's Volk's Railway messed up

Brighton - Volk's Railway

Brighton Council has realigned the Volk's Railway. It has been laid to a high standard with proper ballast, which is good, but this shows the curves are too sharp - the four-wheeled cars squeal as they go round. This is wearing out the wheels and the track and could cause damage to the old trains, which weren't designed for such curves.

There was no need to make the curves so sharp. This has been done to make way for a commercial development of various sports facililities, but these should have been fitted around the original route which dated from the 1880s, then there would have been no need to move the railway at all.

Howver, the exposed situation is not very suitable for what is proposed, which could as well go in Brixton as Brighton, so it is squandering a seafront location. Meantime there is a massive unsatisfied demand for beach huts - if you want somewhere to change apart from on the beach, you have to joing Brighton Swimming Club, which does not make non-athletes welcome (though this should not stop anyone who wants to swim in the sea from joining - you will just be a thorn in their sides).

söndag 30 juli 2006

Full English Breakfast

Full English

For some reason people have got the idea that I am a vegetarian. A lot of people who come and eat at my house are veggie and vegan and they will always get the food they want. But although I hardly ever buy meat to have at home, I eat what is put in front of me and if I am in a restaurant I go for the best menu option. I don't think it is a good thing to separate yourself from other people by sticking rigidly to special diets. It is unkind to reject food when one is a guest, especially as they might have gone to a lot of trouble to prepare it.

And I always look forward to a full English breakfast at the weekends. The sea dippers go off to Carotts at Southwick or some other place and we tuck into a big fry-up. After a long swim or a swim in cold water it won't do any harm to have once or twice a week and they keep you going all day. If done well, it is very tasty but probably quite unhealthy if eaten daily and you do a sedentary job and drive everywhere.

lördag 29 juli 2006

Re-use is better than recycling

Broken glass on Brighton  beach

Brighton's sea front cleaning team do a wonderful job against all the odds, but this should not be happening. If food and drink containers were subject to a heavy tax if they were not re-usable, then people would collect them and take them back to the shop to get their deposit, if for no other reason than to buy more beer.

This is one for the EU - have the bottle manufacturers knobbled the Brussels bureaucrats so they are not going to do anything about it?

torsdag 27 juli 2006

Football supporters

On the Rødby-Puttgarden Ferry

I was on the way to Germany with a load of football supporters. Here they are having their fry-up and beer on the boat. When they had finished they cleared their tables and took their trays and dirty plates back to the serving hatch.

onsdag 26 juli 2006

Brighton City car parking changes are a big mistake

SUMMARY
Brighton and Hove Council proposes to amalgamate the city centre parking zones into two large zones. The proposal is unsound on economic grounds as the Council is foregoing very substantial potential revenue. This loss of revenue renders the proposal unsound on grounds of economic justice and equity, since it is at the expense of the poorest members of the society.

The proposal is not based on sound economic principles of resource allocation.
The proposal will generate additional traffic in the city centre.
The proposal will cause hardship to residents.
The scheme needs to be re-thought. Any scheme should:
1) Recognise the differential demand in different locations within the city centre from one area to another in as fine-grained a way as reasonably practicable.
2) Avoid queueing as a means of allocation. There should normally be places available, if at a price, since, amongst other benefits, this enables the true economic value of the parking spaces to be manifest.
3) Optimise revenue through some form of market price mechanism. This is in the interest of all citizens, especially those least well-off
There are numerous well-known ways of achieving this, which, as a town planner, I could enumerate, but as I am not a consultant employed by Brighton and Hove Council, I must refrain from doing so.

DETAILED OBJECTIONS TO PROPOSED CITY CENTRE PARKING SCHEME
The allocation of parking spaces in Brighton city centre could be a textbook exercise in resource allocation. Parking space, in economic theory, is “land”. All land is ultimately a “public good” - it is space that is there for everyone to use, and everything humanity does takes place in space and time. Space on the ground is a prerequisite, and as such, it takes on monetary value. Moreover, its value varies according to location and time; identical properties in different locations change hands for different amounts. Likewise, space on the highway, used for parking.

When land is developed, part of the site is given up for use as highway, whose primary use is for passing and re-passing, to allow people and vehicles to move from one place to another, to give access to properties, such as to people’s own homes, and to accommodate vehicles belonging to tradesmen and enable delivery of goods. The use of highway land for, in effect, the long term storage of vehicles, always detracts from that primary function of the highway which is integral to social and economic life. It follows that vehicles not actively in use should normally be kept off the highway, within the curtilage of individual sites.
For political reasons, local authorities have moved away from this position and allow the highway to be used for the long-term storage of vehicles. In effect, this has created a set of sites for occupation. The value of these sites, as with any other land, varies enormously from one part of the city to another, as the Council tacitly recognises through its differential zonal parking charges. On the other hand, it entirely fails to acknowledge the value of these sites when it makes them available to residents at what could well be little more than the cost of administration. And as always happens when goods are priced at well below their market value, demand exceeds supply, leading to a waiting list and rationing by queue.

The Council’s attempt to address the problem by amalgamating the zones demonstrates the profoundest economic ignorance, to everyone’s loss. People in the most contended areas, in the city centre, will find that they will have difficulty in parking near their own homes, whilst the Council is forgoing the opportunity cost through sub-market pricing, losing substantial revenues in the process. The larger zones will also encourage people to drive within the zones.

The scheme needs to be re-thought. Any scheme should
1) Recognise the differential demand in different locations within the city centre from one area to another in as fine-grained a way as reasonably practicable.

2) Avoid the use of queueing; there should normally be places available, if at a price, since, amongst other benefits, this enables the true economic value of the parking spaces to be manifest.

3) Optimise revenue through some form of market price mechanism. This is in the interest of all citizens, especially those least well-off.

tisdag 25 juli 2006

EFFECT OF TAX LUNACY

At 4.00 am, all the ferries are converging on Mariehamn, population about 10,000? Where is Mariehamn? It is the capital of Åland, which is ethnically Swedish but belongs to Finland. Rather than blowing each other up, they agree to go their own ways, so they opted out of the EU tax regime. The ferries stop there so they can have a duty-free shop on board. Nutty, isn't it?

Åland

Brighton Bin City

I walk down to the sea front every morning around 7.30 and the streets all look like this.

Obviously Brighton and Hove Council doesn't care that much or it would have worked out other systems of dealing with rubbish.

Brighton East Street

The Journey East #3

The local situation The Catholic church in my part of the world is apparently in quite good shape. However, the liturgy is resolutely Luthe...