|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.
||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.
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.
||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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
|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.
Planning and Conservation Areas.
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?
Planning and Flood Plains.
Flood Plain planning policies not applied? When well connected people want to build on the
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.
you still buying lottery tickets? Why is there so little analysis of how all the money is
||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
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.
too much council tax?
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.
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.
surveillance society - the early years.
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!
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!
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
in Europe and India.
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
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