Archive for the ‘coronavirus’ Category

Reclaim the Streets Soho

June 3, 2020

The impact of covid-19 has hit everyone hard, every sector, but none so hard as the hospitality sector, with no sign yet of when they may be able to open.

Look at Soho, boarded-up streets and unless action is taken soon, they will remain boarded-up. And unlike airlines and travel sector which spread covid-19, are victims.

And yet it should not have been. Opening up too soon, relaxing lockdown, will create a second wave, but there was absolutely no reason why indie coffee shops and restaurants, not chains, could have not opened up in May, the weather was ideal, opened up with their tables and chairs spread well spaced apart in the street to maintain social distancing.

What has stopped this happening is the intransigence of local councils who would rather see local businesses die than give them a helping hand.

We can hear birdsong, streets are traffic free, city centres pollution free.

Covid-19 has jolted us into another now.

There can be no return to normal as normal was not normal.

Time to Reclaim the Streets.

Pedestrianise not only Soho but also Covent Garden, leaving only the arterial routes for through traffic. Deliveries park on the periphery, deliver by hand cart or trolley.

Kick start the local economy, allow indie coffee shops and restaurants to spread their tables well spaced apart into the street, no chains no pubs No Smoking, social distancing maintained.

Win win for everyone, local businesses helped back on their feet, improves the ambience.

Soho Summer Festival:

We’re proposing that streets around Soho are temporarily pedestrianised, in order to allow restaurants and bars the space for outdoor seating. This would allow the public to enjoy the Soho we know and love, while maintaining a safe social distance.

The norm in Athens, local streets at night turn into restaurants.  The Mayor of Athens is extending the pedestrianised streets.

The norm in North Laine in Brighton, coffee shops and restaurants, tables in the street. Brighton is extending its pedestrianised streets.

This does not require a change in licencing laws, it does require a change in the mindset of local jobsworths who would rather see local businesses go to the wall than improve the ambience of our city centres.

An initiate to Reclaim the Streets in Soho has been launched, an initiative dubbed the Soho Summer Festival. Initially pedestrianise the area for the summer. 

Once the summer has passed, it should be made permanent.

Lincoln coronavirus lockdown day seventy

June 1, 2020

First day of June.

A hot sunny day.

Single decker bus. Four passengers. Driver fails to turn off engine, open door, when waiting at bus stops. Bus very hot.

Four trains as Lincoln Central Station, including LNER Azuma London train.

Bus station many buses, usually deserted. Bus station still deserted of people.

I learn buses now running every half hour as of first of June not once an hour.

Not been out for six days, more traffic, more people about.

Sterile space in front of Central Coffee House, 200 Degrees, should be used for tables and chairs. Tragic the behaviour of brain-dead local councils, who would rather see businesses fail than provide help, a win win for everyone as improves the street scene.

More shops open. Sweet shop now open.

I learn a zero waste stall will open in Lincoln Central Market. They have been working on the space last few weeks. Bizarre though laying new floor. It will be a welcome addition to the market, if well run and well stocked.

Two passengers on return bus.

Dominic Cummings press conference

May 25, 2020

Strange times.

What we have witnessed over the last few days could not make it up if tried.

Mirror and Guardian break story of Dominic Cummings trip from London to Durham by car in clear breach of lockdown. In the car, two adults with covid-19, a small child.

Lockdown rules were clear, stay home, only go for exercise and essentials, food, medical reasons. if covid-19 symptoms self-isolate away from others in the household, no one in the household permitted to leave the house.

A small child in a car with two people with covid-19. or suspected covid-19

Did they stop en route, for fuel, a break to stretch legs, toilet, bite to eat?

At the time London was recording high number of covid-19 cases,and should have been cordoned off, County Durham relatively low number of cases.

Tories demonstrating  their lack of integrity, falling  over backwards to defend Dominic Cummings, without being in position of the facts.

We then learn, seen at Barnard Castle. Seen again at a later date after return to London.

The story changes. It was in seek of child care. Mother of Dominic Cummings says an uncle had died.

Ordinary people had people they were close to, could not be with them when they died, could not attend their funerals.

I had a family friend die, a veteran of WWII Bomber Command. Very sad he had died, very sad no one could attend his funeral.

Cabinet Office tweet they are to investigate a mischievous tweet. Investigate Dominic Cummings for Breach of Civil Service Code of Conduct? Er seemingly not.

Sunday Pepsi Trump gave a stomach churning press conference, defends Dominic Cummings, did what anyone would have done in the circumstances.

Actually he did not, he broke the rules, other people complied with the rules, hard as it was, as they did not wish to spread covid-19 around the country.

Fired by Theresa May for lying, Gavin Williamson does the rounds telling all who would listen, Dominic Cummings telling the truth. How does he know. Er, Dominic Cummings had said.

When press camped outside home of Dominic Cummings, he made very clear his position: I don’t care what you lot think.

Having completely fucked up his own press conference, the following day Dominic Cummings to give a press conference.

The press conference was given in the back garden of Downing Street, and no, it is not the Rose Garden.

He was almost contrite, he admitted breaking the rules without admitting he had.

At times somewhat bizarre,  a 30 minute drive to Barnard Castle to check his eyesight was ok.

But what was telling, and does not appear to be picked up on, he had so much to do and had to get back to London. And what he outlined was an executive role not that of an adviser and very much what one would assume would be the role of the Prime Minister.

Should he resign or be fired? No, it would not achieve anything

He gave an account of what he had done, and why, from his perspective reasonable, but if everyone had, not reasonable.

And that is the dilemma. What is reasonable for an individual in their best interest is not reasonable for society. We are seeing lockdown breaking down, and the fear now is complete breakdown.

But on the plus side, he was not evasive he answered questions politely.

I would rather see Dominic Cummings once a week head the Downing Street briefing and give straight answers not what we normally get, and I would rather see him on the record than off the record briefings, sources said.

If this is the guy calling the shots, than |I would rather hear him tell us why and be open to scrutiny, not the incomprehensible waffle we get from Pepsi Trump.

As an anticlimax later, we later heard from Pepsi Trump, a timetable of how lockdown will ease,  From 1 June car showrooms and street markets. Street markets fine, but car show rooms. Mid-June all shops to open. Nothing yet on coffee shops, restaurant, hairdressers.

Indie coffee shops, restaurants should be open at the same time as street markets if able to spread their tables into the streets, restricted to outside seating only. It helps kick start the High Street, improves the ambience of city centres, but is being held back by backward councils living in the Dark Ages.  [see Reclaim the Streets]

There is still no track and trace app available. With each phase of relaxation we need to be able to monitor what is happening.

Adapt the German app, open source, destroy app post-pandemic, anonymise data for research.

Our High Streets are not going to recover through chains. Several have collapsed, M&S and Next have junk bond status. People can shop on-line for the crap found in High Street chains.  We should not waste the opportunity to re-imagine, reinvigorate the High Street.

With our focus on Dominic Cummings we are in danger of missing the bigger picture. We risk Dominic Cummings being made a Tory scapegoat to distract from the failings of Pepsi Trump. It is the Prime Minister who should resign.

We have over over 26,000 covid-19 deaths, close on 27,000 covid-19 deaths. Had UK acted a week earlier on lockdown we would have a quarter of this number of deaths.

Chima bought us time, we squandered it. We saw what was happening in Italy and Spain, we sat back and did nothing.

Germany, when death toll was less than a hundred, implemented lockdown. UK waited until measured in hundreds. Germany had in place track and trace. UK nothing. Deaths in Germany several thousands, not tens of thousands.

Greece, total number of deaths 170. Less than UK records in a day.

In UK, thanks to insanity of Stay Alert, lockdown is breaking down, UK heading for a second wave.

 

 

Fire Dominic Cummings

May 23, 2020

Dominic Cummings malignant cancer at the heart of government.

Lockdown rules were clear. Lockdown means lockdown, means Stay at Home.

Only allowed  out for exercise, to buy essentials, visit doctor or other medical needs.

People have been heartbroken at not being able to visit dying close family and friends, not attend their funerals.

People, have been fined for breach of lockdown.

Dominic Cummings broke lockdown to travel halfway across the country. He did so whilst he and his wife were infected with covid-19, accompanied by a small child.

Rules on infections quite clear, if infected with covid-19, self-isolate within house from other family members, they in turn can’t come into contact with others. Child was put at risk for duration of the journey. Or maybe they put the child in the boot with its own air supply.

But Cummings did not break lockdown once. Whilst Up North, he went on a little outing maybe more than one, we as yet only know of one. He returned to London, then went Up North again. That is three breaches of lockdown. A QC has forensically dissected his actions come to the conclusion,  a clear breach of the rules.

He should be fined maximum amount. He should be fired.

Looking forward to all those cabinet ministers who excused Cummings first trip to Durham trying to explain his second one. Minsters who lack any integrity who spout what they are told to say.

On his first trip Up North, his car an incubator of covid-19, did the car stop, toilet breaks, fill up with petrol, get a  bite to eat? How many did they infect en route?

UK has more covid-19 deaths than any country in Europe. Second only to USA.

China bought us time, we squandered it.

We saw what was happening in Italy, then Spain, we sat back and did nothing.

Too late to enter lockdown, peddling of bogus science, too late to ban mass gatherings and sporting events, close schools, close pubs bars clubs, implement mass testing, lockdown London, an app to track and trace, failure to close airports, quarantine for all arrivals.

Germany has placed source code of its app in the public domain. Why do we not adapt, open source?

And to the catalogue, add the insanity of Stay Alert, which has led to the breakdown of lockdown.

The arrogance of these people is they think they can do as they wish, show contempt for ordinary people.

Please follow the advice of Paul Mason, share, tweet, like on social media, that Dominic Cummings must go.

If Boris Johnson refuses to fire Dominic Cummings there must be a Vote of No Confidence in Boris Johnson. These are mass murderers with blood on their hands.

Think what the death toll would be if everyone behaved like Dominic Cummings. Thanks to the insanity of Stay Alert, lockdown breaking down, we are all about to find out.

Lincoln coronavirus lockdown day fifty six

May 18, 2020

Passengers on the bus, three or four, some got off some got on.

Shocked to find the wooden sculpture of a Lancaster bomber outside Lincoln Central Bus Station smashed. Wings broken off, all that is left, a broken fuselage. Mindless thugs. Hopefully caught on CCTV. Last week marked VE Day 75, the weekend the Dambusters Raid.

The last few weeks during lockdown only one train at Lincoln Central Station. Today three, including LNER Azuma London train. But still highly restrictive to travel by train. LNER have introduced mandatory reservations.

One week on from the insanity of Stay Alert, more traffic, many more people on the streets, lockdown is breaking down. At the weekend visitors flooded to coastal resorts, but will be as nothing when the weather warms up. We are now more or less guaranteed a second wave of covid-19 infections, a sharp rise in cases.

In M&S more obstruction of the corridor leading through to the Food Hall, they no longer bother to curtail off the clothes section, people trying on shoes.

Easy to see why M&S a failing retailer and now marked down to junk bond status.

Six passengers on return bus.

Reclaim the Streets

May 16, 2020

We hear the sound of birdsong, the streets are traffic free, the cities are pollution free.

There can be no return to normal as normal was not normal.

We have been jolted into another now. We must maintain our city centres car and pollution free.

The first businesses to reopen coffee shops, tables outside, social distancing maintained,  dwell time relatively short.

To achieve this, coffee shops need to be able to spread out into the streets, out into the squares, the norm in Athens, indeed the norm across Europe, when one coffee shop in Lincoln requested this they received an emphatic no from Lincolnshire County Council, not even the courtesy of an explanation.

Unfortunately we will not agree to you increasing the number of tables and chairs you use or the size of the area that you have at the current time (your enclosure needs to still be only outside the frontage of your premises).

Kick starting the local economy, improving the ambience, worthless council jobsworths don’t give a damn.

Our High Streets were dying before the covid-19 pandemic. The loss of Big Business, corporate chains, from the High Street is no great loss, it was destroying the High Street. If we are to recover it will be through small local independent businesses.  That is why we must allow indie coffee shops, and only indie coffee shops not chains, next restaurants, to expand into the streets. Not pubs and bars as we do not want drunks on the streets.

Local businesses spreading into public space helps everyone, safeguarding staff and clientele through social distancing, improves the ambience of the locality, especially if No Smoking, and for many local businesses it will mean life or death, the difference whether they survive or not.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has recognised people are going to be reluctant to use public transport  therefore we have to encourage walking and cycling if we do not wish traffic levels to rise. But if wishes to improve cycling and walking, must also make our city centres more attractive by encouraging local councils to facilitate indie coffee shops and restaurants to spread out into our streets.

Deliveries to the pedestrianised areas,  park on the periphery and deliver by handcart or trolley.

Sheffield, an unusual city in that prior to the covid-19 pandemic a city on the up, a marked contrast to most decaying cities. And why? Independent businesses everywhere.

BBC Radio 4 The Food Programme recently featured Sheffield, the focus on how indie food businesses were bringing life back to Sheffield. With the exception of Marmadukes I would not agree with their choice of examples, but the gist yes. I could list several examples, South Street Kitchen, Marmadukes, Steam YardSheffield Cheese Masters, Bullion bean to bar craft chocolate, ShuJu Taiwanese pop-up kitchen at Union St.

Mention also needs to be made of Now Then, an indie magazine that features local culture and indie businesses, interesting articles and art, well worth seeking out.

Through reclaiming the streets, we are operating at the interface between business, environment and society, a component part of Doughnut Economics, where the local economy is designed to be regenerative and distributive, with people and the environment at its heart.  We kick cars out of our town centres, we plant trees, we improve the ambience, we create a space where local businesses and communities can thrive, breathe clean air, or simply relax with a  good coffee, read a book, sit and watch the world go by.

One of my favourite places to sit and relax, Little Tree, a bohemian bookshop cum coffee shop, not far from The Acropolis.

In Exarchia, an anarchist district of Athens, they set up road blocks, boxes with plants,  created traffic free zones. The city authorities also act, they are extending the pedestrianised areas around The Acropolis.

Tour company tui heading for collapse

May 13, 2020

When Thomas Cook collapsed, all the signs were there it was in serious trouble, thus when the collapse finally came it was no surprise.

All the signs are there with tui, huge debts, before covid-19 a debt of €2 billion, losses of €845.8 million for the first half of the year.

There are though big differences between the two companies, Thomas Cook did not have the poor reputation of tui, people were actually going on holiday.

Were it not for a €1.8 billion bailout from Germany in the form of a loan (which must be repaid by 2022) tui would have already collapsed.

Tui plans to cut 8,000 jobs and cut fixed costs by 30%. Chief executive Friedrich Joussen said tui was burning through cash at a rate of €250 million a month, despite recently cutting costs by 70%.

Tui has been offering non-existent holidays which are then cancelled. Fools and their money easily parted. Hassle to then obtain a refund.

Anyone thinking of booking a holiday with tui should think again.

Major problem for hoteliers especially those who signed exclusive contracts with tui.

Hotels must move way from reliance on tour companies, limit to less than 20% of occupancy, no one tour company more than 10%, payment end of every month.

It is now so easy to book direct. Everyone has a smart phone, tablet, baby laptop, laptop, computer,  connected to the internet 24 hours a day.

Hotels should be seeking direct bookings, offering good deals to their regulars. Hotel associations together with government tourism bodies establishing open source open coop platforms to facilitate direct bookings, charge a nominal fee to maintain the platform, any surplus used to fund environmental projects.

Mass tourism has trashed the planet, spread covid-19 around the world.

We must move away from mass tourism, ban all-inclusive hotels which are killing local economies, fewer tourists, longer stay, quality tourists, not the dregs that companies like tui deliver to hotels.

Tourism has to be sustainable, benefit all of society.

Doughnut Economics.  Amsterdam with the help of Kate Raworth has developed a post-pandemic recovery programme, Doughnut Economics Amsterdam. A draft proposal has been drawn up for Cyprus focusing on the tourist sector, Doughnut Economics Cyprus.

Any recovery programme has to be distributive and regenerative.

Collapse of tui would be good news for the industry.

There used to be four big tour companies operating in the UK which dominated the industry, Thomas Cook, Airtours, Thompson and First Choice.  Then there were two, Thomas Cook and Airtours merged, Thompson and First Choice merged.  Then there was one, Thomas Cook collapsed leaving only tui.  Tui now controls not only tourists from the UK, from the whole of northern Europe, which is not a healthy position for the industry to be in.

Travellers and hoteliers need to move rapidly to direct booking to safeguard against and hasten the inevitable collapse of tui.

Lincoln coronavirus lockdown day forty seven

May 9, 2020

A hot day.

One passenger on the bus.

Why oh why do bus drivers not turn off engine when ahead of schedule sitting at a bus stop?

Passing through villages occasional houses with flags flying.

An example of crass stupid of local council. Toilets at Lincoln Central Bus Station, alternate wash basins taped out of use. Why? It places people at greater risk as more people using any individual wash basins.

More and more businesses are opening.

Sign of the Fish open in Sincil Street, I would not recommend, very poo quality, No sign of a queue, no one buying.

Why no traffic wardens dealing with illegal parking? It is worse on each visit into town.

M&S once again have put obstacles in the corridor leading through to food hall, people forced closer together and thus at greater risk.

A couple of people on return bus.

VE Day 75 coronavirus lockdown we must move forward

May 8, 2020

VE Day, UK was broke, Europe was broke. Had useless prat George Osborne been Chancellor, we would have had austerity for 75 years. Instead we invested, rebuilt UK, rebuilt Europe.

Following the euphoria and celebrations of VE Day, VJ Day was yet to come, a more low key event, life was tough, rationing did not end until 1954. And we should not forget the role played by the Commonwealth. Nevertheless what followed, creation of the Welfare State, NHS, free secondary schools, school leaving age raised to 15, nationalisation of key industries, coal, steel, railways.
The desire was to create a fainer more just society.

During WWII we knew who the enemy was, we had weapons to fight. With covid-19, we know who the enemy is, but the enemy is invisible, a silent killer, we have no weapons with which to fight.

Post-Pandemic we are heading for the worst collapse since the South Sea Bubble burst.

We therefore do the same, we rebuild, not by going backwards. After VE Day, we did not go back to the 1930s, we moved forward.

We therefore must do the same. We do not bailout out dirty industries, we do not bail out tax dodging conman like Richard Branson.

We bail out people, local indie businesses, not global corporations, we fund a Green New Deal.

Strategic sectors we bail out through acquisition of a controlling share. Minimum conditions: no use of offshore tax havens, zero carbon by 2035.

Denmark, Hungary, France and Canada will not bailout tax dodgers.

There can be no return to normal as normal was not normal.

We hear birdsong, our streets are traffic free, cities centres pollution free. We have learnt we do not have to engage in pointless consumerism, visit ghastly shopping malls.

As we slowly relax lockdown, indie coffee shops first, we allow them to spread out into the street, improve the ambience of the street, the norm in Athens, they then can social distance, safeguarding staff and customers.

But it needs worthless council jobsworths to engage their brains, act on behalf of local businesses, the local community. When a coffee shop in Lincoln asked of their local county council they were met with an emphatic no. That is how much they care about the local environment and helping local businesses back on their feet.

We need to develop Doughnut Economics for every city, every sector. Amsterdam working with Kate Raworth has developed Doughnut Economics Amsterdam. A rough draft has been drawn up for Cyprus, Doughnut Economics Cyprus, focusing on the tourist sector.

Portugal easyJet director living in an alternative reality

May 4, 2020

Airlines, airports and travel industry in general live in a different world to everyone else. They talk of back to business as usual, airports expanding.

Covid-19 has opened up another now. There is no return to normal as normal was not normal, mass tourism was killing the planet. People have become used to bird song, streets traffic free, cities pollution free. They are not going to give this up without a fight.

Aviation a major contributor to global warming, has spread covid-19 around the world, therefore within this context the comments by director general of Easyjet in Portugal José Lopes objecting to quarantine for arrivals into the country beggars belief.

The director general of Easyjet in Portugal José Lopes has said that the resumption of the company’s activity in Portugal is very dependent on the elimination of the quarantine imposed on passengers arriving in Madeira and therefore suggested “the elimination of these barriers to connectivity ”.

Portugal, together with Greece, one of the few countries in Europe to have acted promptly and contained coronavirus. José Lopes wishes to throw this all away.

José Lopes is not alone in expressing these sentiments, UK Airlines has come out with similar comments. Objecting to quarantine, claiming aviation vital to the UK economy.

What has been the economic cost of coronavirus pandemic, of wild fires in Australia, of floods in England?

Airlines, tour companies, and tourism industry, live in a different reality to the rest of us.

Not satisfied with trashing the planet then spread covid-19 around the world, they are now objecting to quarantine for arrivals into a country.

When other countries closed borders, closed airports, and where open were screening passengers, UK did not. Inbound flights from coronavirus hotspots from around the world, no screening, hop straight onto public transport. Very late in the day, consideration of quarantine, though in reality not quarantine, self-isolation.

At the weekend a friend travelled from Spain to Cyprus via Germany. On arrival at Larnaca she was taken into quarantine. She did not object, even though she has gone from lock down in Spain to quarantine in Cyprus, as she sees that it is necessary to stop the spread of coronavirus.

Covid-19 may have arisen in China, airlines spread it around the world.

Airlines are the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions.

There is no going back to normal as normal was not normal.

We cannot have a third runway at Heathrow, a second runway at Gatwick, airport expansion.

We have to live within the limits of the planet, one of those limits is the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. We have to reach zero carbon by 2035.

In the future we will have pandemics, we have to be prepared, stop them spreading rapidly around the world.

Aviation contributes little to the economy. We have seen how fragile our supply chains, how easily pandemics are spread around the world.

We have to relocate manufacturing within our own borders, grow our own food.