SeeRed has over 500 pages

Summary - how SeeRed began.

Acknowledgements to Devon County Council Library Staff

The most popular pages on SeeRed during 2014 are listed below - most popular first.
NEW PAGE - Online internet computer dating websites - do they work and how can you analyse them? A study is presented here as a pdf document (22,000 words).
NEW PAGES - Floods in Sidmouth - July 2012 and November 2012. Photographs and links to videos.
NEW PAGE - SAAB 900 classic rear discs (rotors) supplied by Delphi: part number BG2420. Any other SAAB owners have this this problem?
NEW PAGE - SAAB 900 Classic oil pump  and crankshaft position sensor removal Also details of crankshaft sensor and oil seal.
All about Sunvic motorised valves - rather technical - yet incredibly popular! Maybe Sunvic read it every day!
Folk dance - the basics explained
Index page for caravanning one of the ever popular technical advice sections of the SeeRed website.
All you ever wanted to know about mending old caravan heaters!
Medical uses of radon - part of the SeeRed radon section.
Sidmouth FolkWeek - the newcomers guide. It is factual but unloved by festival maangement!
Wild gardening - The antidote to Britain in Bloom!
Outlining how Section 215 of the Town and Country Planning Act is being misused.
Planning debacle in Sidford an example of poor planning control in the Sidmouth area
Folk festival showers - all about propane cylinders and showers at folk festivals - I have no idea why this page is so popular!
Councils have spent millions of pounds installing road humps that arguably do not work. Some are now being removed!
Dental charges Dental charges vary very widely over the UK - root canal treatment can cost as little as 60 on the NHS and up to 800 privately! Needs updating.
Discussion of CCTV cameras in surveillance Britain - Sidmouth may soon have dozens of them instead of some proper policing.
Electoral rolls - how your details are still freely available, despite the introduction of an 'edited register'.
Sidmouth - about the town and some of its inhabitants. Part of the Sidmouth section of SeeRed and including the Vision for Sidmouth.
A discussion of filtering pornography on library computers
Recycling - why it is overrated as an environmental good.
Chester City Council - how local officials abuse their power!
Sidmouth hotels - details of almost every hotel, B&B and guest house.
SeeRed covers a wide range of topics including computer privacy, consumer protection, libraries, town planning, road humps, folk festival economics, high-handed behaviour by planning departments and general local government incompetence.
137by202from0494.jpg (6632 bytes) It is written by a scientist and ex-town councillor who finally decided 'enough was enough' when faced with the incompetence and malevolence of local councils in England. Based in the seaside town of Sidmouth, the website was first published in February 2003. 'Hits' exceeded 120,000 in the first year with over 50,000 page views. The current 'hit' level is around 50,000 per month. Read the site history here.
Online computer dating is now a multi-million pound industry in the UK and spread over scores of different websites. World-wide it is claimed to be a billion dollar industry. Many claims are made for the effectiveness of online dating, yet there seem to have been few objective studies.

A basic statistical analysis is presented here as a 'draft for discussion' - it is based on the author's intermittent study of two mid-market computer dating sites in the UK over the period 2008 to 2012.

Comments on the methodology would be welcomed.

honesty on the internet.jpg (57299 bytes) It is argued that the industry is inefficient in delivering a service to some types of subscribers owing in part to profiles being spread across a wide range of often unconnected websites. It is shown that whilst dating websites may claim to have 80,000 to 90,000 members, the number that are both active and able to contact other members may be less than 10% of the headline figures. 

Some of the problems experienced by users are outlined. New charging structures such as ‘pay-as-you-go’ are proposed which, together with use of simplified but equally effective matching models, should enable a more cost efficient service to be delivered to a much increased number of users. It is argued that present day sites are characterised by dishonest presentation of data, restrictive fee structures and models for matching people to one another that are both overly complex and largely useless.
Despots in local government: public servants would become our masters.
Decades ago, local government was an inefficient and overstaffed mess - but at least 'public servants' knew their place and many tried to do a decent job of work. Nowadays, local government is characterised by spin, glossy brochures, excessive 'management' salaries and an increasingly high-handed approach to dealing with the public.

Of particular concern are social services departments who utilise the slightest and often imagined excuse to take children away from their parents and place them into 'care'. Kenneth Clarke, the Justice Secretary (as of March 2012) said that 'there are 'far too many experts' involved in producing expensive reports for low grade and often neurotic and self-serving council officials - who then use them within the ultra secretive family courts system to remove children from their families. The parents are forbidden even to talk to any advisor. It is a huge and (as yet) largely unrecognised problem, addressed over many years by the campaigning journalist Christopher Booker in The Sunday Telegraph newspaper and by John Hemmings MP. Some extracts will appear on this website (when I have time) together with a few from hundreds of examples of local government corruption from the 'Rotten Boroughs' column of Private Eye magazine. In the meantime - watch this lengthy video link - you might conclude that there are at least a few politicians and local authority staff left who retain some intellectual integrity!

From waste collection, through child protection, car parking and planning, local officials now see themselves as masters rather than servants. Misuse of delegated authority is a widespread problem, with lazy elected councillors often being unaware what officials are doing.

Either local councils need stripping of many of their powers, or new arrangements are needed to ensure that abuse of authority is curtailed.  One option might be to make local officials responsible for legal costs - just as they can now be held personally responsible for Health and Safety breaches.

Sidmouth remains famous for its 'folk festival' - once one of the largest, most colourful and peaceful music and dance festivals in Europe. What does the future hold? New for 2010/11 and updated for 2016 - a Newcomers' Guide to FolkWeek.
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For 50 years Sidmouth hosted its International Festival of Folk Arts amidst the scenery of East Devon. Families travelled from across the UK for their annual 'spiritual renewal'. 2004 was the last year for this amazing spectacle.

Read the full story here of how FolkWeek arose from the ruins of the International Festival. 2005 was a very small affair yet 2006 was a great success. And so was 2007! For 2008 the organisers cut costs to try to shore up the finances. 2009 was rather wet at times. 2010 was a perfect year for weather - but not for social dancers. 2011 was a challenging year - the recession was supposed to be hitting disposable income, yet many folk festivals were a sell-out. And Sidmouth's 'fringe' event became more popular. 2015 saw a real revival of social dance with some hugely popular workshops by American caller Tom Hines.

Many years ago, after personal experience with modern Sunvic central heating motorised valves, I took a few to pieces to establish exactly why they had failed prematurely.

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Little did I foresee that the ensuing webpages would become one of the most widely read sections of SeeRed. Of course, most householders are fearful of taking their central heating system to pieces - they rely on often inexperienced and sometimes useless 'heating engineers'.

It is particularly disappointing that many years after these webpages were first published, Sunvic were apparently still telling customers that they knew of no failures of these products - yet because of the inherently questionable design, many or maybe most may fail within a few years. Some householder experiences are here and including where these actuators are sold as part of expensive Worcester Bosch space and water heating systems. More recently (2011), Sunvic appeared to withdrawing these products from the market. Later, new part numbers appeared - but the internal components seem much the same.
Town Planning and Conservation Areas.
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When is a tree not a tree? When it is both in a supposedly protected Conservation Area and in the way of proposed development?

If you know of similar documented cases, please let me know. Here is an example from Cumbria. The local MP is reported as having said it is a case of "wanton vandalism" by a property developer. In July 2011 the same developer (now apparently running a different company) applied for permission to build houses on the site - who says crime doesn't pay?

Town Planning and Flood Plains.
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When are Flood Plain planning policies not applied? When well connected people want to build on the flood plain?

When the wealthy owner of Sidmouth's Nissan dealership creates a new commercial car park by dumping hundreds of tons of rubble in a sensitive area and local councils and the Environment Agency effectively look the other way?

Or indeed in Derbyshire where Erewash Borough Council has apparently behaved in an appalling and unprofessional manner? Householders and insurance companies have been left to deal with the consequences of what appears to be blatant indifference to local flood risks.

Are you still buying lottery tickets? Why is there so little analysis of how all the money is spent?
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The largest webpage on SeeRed analyses how 120 million of lottery money was spent on computers in libraries. Arguably, the project should have cost far less. The Minister, Tessa Jowell MP, refused to answer my questions perhaps because she couldn't think of any plausible answers. After all, this was the Blair babe who didn't even know about her own mortgage! She was later tasked with persuading us that the London Olympics were to be competently managed.

Since publication of SeeRed the number of gushing press releases about the P.N. scheme fell markedly. No connection, of course! In Dec 2004 I was invited to send views to the DCMS Select Committee

In subsequent years, UK public libraries began a steady decline. Many became more like noisy 'internet cafes' than places where proper study could be undertaken. In effect, libraries were dumbed down to appeal to the lower orders of society as part of a 'social inclusiveness' agenda. Cutbacks have now led to reductions in staff - most competent librarians have been replaced by casual part-time staff - who are paid peanuts.

Paying too much council tax?
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With thanks to the derbygripe website for this image.

An overall theme of this site is the extent to which government in the UK is incompetent yet has become too self-serving, powerful and intrusive. Read about identity theft, government snooping, waste of public money and Lottery funds, town planning, consumer protection, personal data on computers, privacy in the Internet age, traffic management, and more! Visit the Derby Gripe website for hundreds of examples of moronic activity by local council officials.

How long will it be before householders say 'enough is enough' and refuse to pay? All it would take would be a revolt by 0.1% or 20,000 households: the total number of prison places in the UK is only 80,000 and they are all taken already.

Towards a surveillance society - the early years.
1984jpg.jpg (3552 bytes) Most people have little idea of the extent to which their privacy has already been compromised. Governments will soon be able to build a contact profile for every citizen - an appalling prospect in many countries. The technology is already being developed and tested. The now obsolete  privacy section of this website outlined a few topics that were of interest in 2003/4. These were smart cards, CCTV, encrypted emails and rfid tagging of anything from cars to clothes. This section is now years out of date - it predates the Snowdon era for example.
In the new age of e-government, people who ask awkward questions may simply be deleted!

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Details of a dispute with Devon County Council, as a part of which DCC blocked my e-mail address for several years. They also prevented staff at DCC HQ and in libraries reading this website by making links "unavailable". Later, normal service was resumed. It is all a manifestation of the culture of fear that dominates DCC and many other public sector bodies, especially the NHS.The dispute itself is in abeyance - I have more to do at present than deal with these nematodes.
The Britain in Bloom campaign has been criticised for wasting public money on boring displays of garish flowers. In 2005, it spilled over into abusive comments about the SeeRed author by Sidmouth Town Council!
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For decades the Britain in Bloom campaign has been synonymous with garish arrangements of environmentally useless plants. Councillors waste hundreds of thousands of pounds of public money to create ever more outlandish displays.

Few Sidmouth residents take part. Maybe soon we can put an end to the cult of chequebook gardening? In 2008, Sidmouth in Bloom even had a competition for the most environmentally friendly garden - and what a mess they made of the judging criteria!

Serious gardeners (and even one or two government ministers) recognise we need to divert effort to growing more fruit and vegetables at home - it may be ten years before the 'bloomers' awake to such a sensible idea! 

Internet cafes in Europe and India.
libcompute.jpg (4395 bytes) In the UK, libraries have borne the brunt of public internet access. Bureaucracy abounds, and official policy is to provide little or no privacy despite draft Council of Europe guidelines. Things are different elsewhere. For example, in India, access is rarely a problem because private enterprise cafes thrive - as indeed they do in Germany.
Camping on a small site on the outskirts of Sidmouth
camperssmall.jpg (8501 bytes) Made popular during various folkweek events, a small camp site is available for motorhomes or small caravans. Further details on this page. Details are also available via the campinmygarden website.

This is a large site with discrete sections. If you get lost, return here and start again.

Published in the public interest by Dr Stephen J Wozniak (link contains email address) or cut and paste

stevewozniak42 (AT) hotmail.com - and remember to replace (AT) by @

Copyright Dr Stephen J Wozniak 2003 - 2016   Last updated : 2016.