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Thursday, 22 June 2006
World Cup 2006

flag in drain

I’m doing quite a bit of driving this week (about 2 hours a day) so am getting used to spotting these England flags lying on the motorway, on the hard shoulder, and (like the World Cup hopes of many countries) down the drain. They have always struck me as a bit tacky and flimsy. Tom Wilson posted an old joke about England flags recently, and we learned how these things could cost a motorist an extra one pound an hour in driving costs, and how they scare horses in Hampshire.

Posted by bigblue on 22/06/2006 at 10:12 PM
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Wednesday, 21 June 2006
Under 21

Under 21

Welcome back to Scarlett who returns from a hiatus.

Today, 21 June, is the Summer Solstice. Aurelie left today, and will fly out from Paris tonight and arrive in La Reunion tomorrow morning. She will leave on the shortest night and arrive (in the Southern Hemisphere) on the shortest day. When I told her this she replied that “there is not much difference between Summer and Winter on La Reunion”. The circumstances still reminded me that six months ago The Meanies made such a journey.

The above photograph shows an interesting sign, at the supermarket in Oxted. It is adjascent to another sign which reads:

By Law we are not allowed to:
- Sell tobacco and alcohol products to persons under the age of 16.
- Sell beers, wines and spirits, to persons under the age of 18.
- Sell butane products, or products which contain butane, to persons under the age of 18.
- Sell lighter fluid (petrol based) to persons under the age of 18, should the operator have cause to believe the substance may be abused.
- Sell National Lottery and Instant tickets to persons under the age of 16.
- Sell video tapes (Cert 18) to persons under the age of 18.
- Sell video tapes (Cert 15) to persons under the age of 15.
- Sell video tapes (Cert 12) to persons under the age of 12.

I think the above wording could be more clearly and concisely written. Some of the information is confusing: tobacco and alcohol products can be bought at the age of 16, but not beers, wines and spirits, which can only be bought from the age of 18. One assumes it is supposed to complement the “under 21” sign, but there is confusion over ages: it does not spell out why they ask for ID from 20 year olds, who are buying products they can legally buy at 16 or 18. Another strange thing about the sign is the reference to “the law”: presumably this is to add weight to the injunctions, but it also gives the impression that the supermarket is only doing this under duress, not because it is the right thing to do.  The sign has certain omissions: for example it does not mention the situation with regards to knives (where there are also legal constraints). 

The full text of the sign in the photograph is:

Under 21
If you look under 21 please do not be offended if we ask you for proof of age when you buy alcohol.
Acceptable forms of ID:
- Cards bearing the PASS hologram.
- Photographic driving licence.
- Passport.

Again there is a strange subtext to this message: If you look like you might be over 21 then is it acceptable if you are offended if you are asked to produce ID when buying a Certificate 18 video, or a bottle of schnapps? My overall impression of these signs is that they are there as decorations, and to show compliance with the law (rather than corporate social responsibility).

Posted by bigblue on 21/06/2006 at 10:42 PM
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Tuesday, 20 June 2006
A pound of flesh


This is a photo of Shylock in a recent production of The Merchant of Venice at bluemeanie’s school.  Shylock was portrayed by these two actresses, clutching a single handbag. The play was set in Germany at the start of the Second World War.

Kipperfrog breaks the good news!

Posted by bigblue on 20/06/2006 at 11:04 PM
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Monday, 19 June 2006

Oxted Chichele Road

There will be a demonstration tomorrow, 20 June 2006 at 3:30 PM, at the site of the proposed development in Chichele Road, Oxted (pictured above). Unfortunately I will be at work, but hopefully someone will be able to take photographs and send them to me. More importantly the press will be there to ensure good publicity. (Hat tip: revoxted in a comment in this post).

I have just submitted my comments against the proposed development. I think that it is important to object to all three of:

The access road will have an environmental impact, and impact the neighbours (most notably the St Mary’s School which has renowned congestion issues. Regarding the wider impact on the environment: The borehole headworks, kiosk and building are part of the borehole development. It seems that the Water Company did not need to apply to the Council for a borehole as such but just the shelter over the borehole. Nevertheless the Council should block all aspects of the proposed development on the basis that the borehole should not proceed until a full environmental impact study is done. Such a study should consider the long-term sustainability of that water-source, as well as the impact on the environment and the danger of subsidence affecting nearby houses. If the Council can object to or block the development of the borehole itself (it is not listed in the application) then this should also be done.

If the Tandridge District Council is not prepared to reject a development in this area, then how exactly does it propose to discharge its responsibility to “secure nature conservation interest”, to “retain attractive landscapes and enhance landscapes, near to where people live” and to “retain land in agricultural, forestry and related uses” (as per national Planning Policy Guidance Note #2).

Due to overexploitation of our natural resources, human beings have affected our climate and are entering a drier period with water shortages in this part of the world. It would be irresponsible of the Council to approve any aspect of this development without considering the long-term sustainability of the proposed exploitation of the water below our town by the Sutton and East Surrey Water Company, and what impact this exploitation will have on us. Already there is anecdotal evidence of a lowered water table, and subsidence on properties near to the proposed development.

In addition the Council has not advertised this development widely enough in the community. Due to the “secrecy” surrounding the proposed development, the Council need to restore a proper democratic process and redress the imbalance whereby many residents only found out about the proposed development at a late stage. If the Council does not feel it can reject the application completely at this stage, then it should postpone the decision to allow for a full open and public discussion on the issue. Afterall, this is not a conservatory extension that has been proposed ...

Posted by bigblue on 19/06/2006 at 11:45 PM
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Sunday, 18 June 2006
Danger - Deep Excavations

danger sign

Today Scarlett, Aurelie and I went to a picnic in Regents Park in London with my cousins to say farewell to cousin Ruth who left the UK this evening to take up a position at the Constitutional Court in South Africa.  My (video) camera was “stolen” and I nearly had a heart-attack - then realised it was a practical joke. Unfortunately Scarlett had a singing lesson scheduled, so we left early (at something to four in the afternoon).

I noticed earlier that the Tandridge District Council Interactive (sic) website came back up today, and the details of the contraversial planning application can now be viewed here.  I have started writing my objection, which I will email to the Council by the deadline. 

Go and see too what kipperfrog has to say on this.

One thing other thing: The Tandridge District Council website is a veritable maze of text, which is not particularly easy to navigate. While it is well laid out, and reasonably comprehensive, you seem to have to “click” just too many times to get to the information you are looking for. This is both when “drilling down” to pages with greater detail, and when moving across “horizantally” (to related information). Judging by their published webstats they are pretty well used, so they shouldn’t be complacent. When I first went to the site today they asked me to participate in a user survey to evaluate their site. I closed the pop-up window. Afterwards I wished they had asked me for feedback once I had made some use of the site ... (Actually there is a link on their homepage to the survey, so I may just fill it in when I have some time!).

Posted by bigblue on 18/06/2006 at 11:02 PM
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Saturday, 17 June 2006
Threat to Oxted environment


Thanks to revoxted for highlighting this issue in his comment on yesterday’s post.  Above is a photograph of the site of the proposed road development off Chichele Road, leading to a proposed borehole development.  Click on the picture above to go to the short video clip, or you can view it at

The sign on the gate reads:

Gateway to
new road for new
borehole with future
planning permission
for new housing estate.
Don’t let them build a new
road to Barnett Shaw,
through here killing trees
and chasing away the wildlife
with diggers and concrete mixers.
You only have until Tuesday
(ie 20 June 2006)
to block it. Go on Tandridge Council
Website, Planning Application 2006/735.
Do it before it’s too late!!!
We know what the plan is
building access to prime
building land and draining it
ready for greedy developers.

Unfortunately I have been experiencing problems accessing the Tandridge District Council Planning Website, as it just seems to hang.  I also noted in yesterday’s post that I find some of the information on the Council website about Commenting on a Planning Application to be rather strange.  In particular it states

You can comment either in support or against any application on any planning grounds. There are no formal rules that need to be followed. As long as we receive your comments in writing within 21 days of the date of the neighbour notification letter we guarantee they will be considered as part of the planning application process.

The Council cannot advise you what comments to make on an application nor will they enter into correspondence about the application or about objections to an application.

However, the following matters are generally held not to be relevant in considering planning applications:

  * effect on property values;
  * aspects covered by other legislation;
  * protection of a private view;
  * the existence of covenants and other private legal restrictions;
  * impact of construction noise;
  * private neighbour disputes;
  * financial gain/commercial interests;
  * character or motives of the applicant.

I think that one should just argue that some of these should be taken into account in this particular case. The fact that we are in a green belt area which should afford a higher degree of protection to the environment, whether or not this is covered by other legislation, and the impact of construction (and other noise) are clearly important as the site is next door to a school! I also cannot see why the motives of the applicant (ie in potentially preparing a site for stealth-development) should not be raised, nor the fact that they have financial and commercial interests that are in conflict with the rest of the community.

I would like to comment more on this specific application, but I cannot access the planning application (number: 2006/735) from the Tandridge District Council Planning Interactive Website. I suppose that makes the website as interactive as the Council in this case!

Posted by bigblue on 17/06/2006 at 11:50 PM
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Friday, 16 June 2006
Police in Oxted

Oxted Master Park

This was the scene at Master Park in Oxted shortly after 8pm this evening when a police van pulled over a car with a number of young people in it. They spent some time questioning the driver and occupants, checking documents, the condition of the vehicle, etc. There has been a stronger police presence in Oxted since the incident at the Total garage. This may have more to do with the Surrey Police World Cup crackdown.

In other Oxted news, David Beckham and Sven Goren Eriksson paid a visit to a barber shop in Oxted.  According to one of the owners, they

really drummed up the crowd, Sven was working his magic with the women.

Posted by bigblue on 16/06/2006 at 09:09 PM
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Approaching Stonehenge


Pinkie took this photograph from the back of my car as we approached Stonehenge a couple of weeks ago.  The sign above the Stonehenge one, indicates to the historic town of Devizes in Wiltshire.  In the photograph you can make out (right, foreground of the stones) one of the many barrows in the vicinity.

The splotches on the windscreen that affect the quality of this photograph are insect roadkill. I was impressed (in a way) by the number of insects that were in evidence in Wiltshire: far more than one finds in Surrey or Derbyshire. This was a sort of improvised splatometer experiment.

Posted by bigblue on 16/06/2006 at 11:13 AM
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