Monday, 25 January 2016

Garbutt: Meiji Reform and Kent police procurement and Benelux strategy needed

Clearly 43 police forces in UK is excessive, with Parliament already detailing the innumerable permutations of trousers and turnups and pockets and gloves and handkerchiefs. Even boots (or should it be shoes?) varying in price from £25 to £125.

If the Police can’t even find a common and consistent uniform what chance finding criminals?

Without exacerbating police bunions, why would the public want the police buying £125 shoes on the rates instead of £25 shoes for driving around and sitting about and occasionally walking about?

A Fashion Police and Gucci Cops on the run with your money.

Whatever happened to a standard uniform and shirt and ties and shoes and luminous overjacket?

We even have the Highways Agency of CCTV clerks designing their own little uniform of epaulettes and shoulder badges on the rates.

While in Kent with Meiji root and branch reforms we should consider police car procurement in detail.
Compared to most police forces Kent does rather well with the majority of vehicles and policies detailed on the website. And the workhorse of police cars being the Skoda Fabia and Octavia.

And also as part of the VW Group a few VW Crafter vans and Audi A6 performance cars.
So far so good.

Nothing wrong with consistency of purchasing through one auto group such as VW (especially as it’s Europe’s largest) and savings in spares, training, reliability etc etc.

And – the outrageous diesel emissions scandal aside – VW are one of the best auto groups in the world.
And the harsh reality is that there isn’t a British car manufacturer as yet that can cover all the range of vehicles required and require a Tax British–Buy British approach.

Would we really have Kent Police driving around in a Mini or a Lotus or Rolls Royce just because they’re British?
Rather though there are possibilities for refining procurement: with a focus on VW why have Ford Focus vehicles drifted into Kent Police? Or a Mercedes Sprinter? Or a Vito (I had to doublecheck it wasn’t a misspelling of Vimto but it is another permutation of Mercedes-Benz).

VW as one German auto group is fine - but Mercedes as well?

While the BMW X5 and Volvo V70 and Ford Connect suggest a more free and easy approach to the Kent Police tax-chequebook than is strictly necessary.

And there’s the Great British Landrover in the Kent Police mix – at last supporting the British car industry with British tax – so why then also have a Ford Ranger? Or a Mitsubishi Shogun? The last two are also rather ho-hum 4x4 vehicles. Nothing wrong with them as such but why not have more Landrovers?

And with motorbikes here seems a confusion of Yamaha and BMW – surely Meiji reform would have say a consolidation into Yamaha motorbikes and Landrover and Nissan Leaf 4x4 vehicles – the latter Japanese but manufactured in Sunderland.

Sunderland Nissan is after all the largest UK car factory which is already out-producing the total of the Italian auto industry each year. More cars from one UK factory than all of Italy is a Great British success story with Great British Japan support.

Shouldn’t Kent Police especially with Meiji reform be supporting that?
And none of the above are undercover vehicles which should be a range of drug dealer-confiscated/secondhand vehicles.

And none of the above are green/electric vehicles - as yet. How silly in the Age of Climate Change.
The latter is key in driving implementation of street electric charge points (4 UK towns announced today for investment in electric charging points)- and a hefty and ongoing Kent Police order in green vehicles (along with the other 42 police forces and council and coastguard vehicles) would stimulate innovation and take-up of electric vehicles.

For a Greater Kent and Greater Britain, as KCC Leader I will ensure Kent Police focus in on VW Group, Landrover and Nissan vehicles and Yamaha motorbikes: value and efficiencies writ large now and for the future.

And there’s another reason I will be focused on VW. The Great British support by REME and Major Ivan Hirst in 1945 that literally rebuilt VW from the ashes, with an order for 20,000 UK military vehicles, and reinstigated the VW Beetle from a Nazi runaround into the world’s most popular car.

VW is almost as British as they come. We need to remind them of that in Golfsburg. We need Kent Police to drive this kind of procurement.

Such clarity of investment would leverage say consistency and volume in auto parts and recycling – why shouldn’t UK foreign policy include VW for say a recycling plant in Chile?

Warm climate, and circular economy jobs would provide a stimulus to both European carmakers in the huge South American and USA markets (and as large Great British Mexico market where the VW was still being produced until a decade ago). And even the Alaskan landbridge/tunnel from Vancouver to Shanghai (linking to the huge Chinese market and avoiding the dangers/delays of the Pacific searoute) via the Bering Strait and on to Duisberg via hispeed rail?

Kent certainly should be stepping forward on hispeed rail with its Hitachi and HS1 and Chunnel work. But it hasn’t yet.

And it’s worth noting in ASEAN the hispeed rail potential with Myanmar (Burma in old money), Thailand and Vietnam and Indonesia each the size of France and many of those railways built by Brits and Canucks. And they ‘re still working 100 years on.

Unlikely to be said about China rail.

An Anglo-German pact with say VW and Landrover would help drive the volume of European autos in Chile and Latin America as well as provide a backdrop for the smaller but quality–led UK autos such as Rolls and Bentley and Aston Martin.

If anything, the disastrous British Leyland years showcased the failure of unions in the auto factories, and Britain taking its eye off the ball for volume engineering rather than quality. Germany’s success is based on focusing relentlessly on engineering quality and invariably in small family firms as part of a highly-organised supply chain.

And Kaizen-Meiji Japan an even greater example of that for the likes of Nissan or Honda in UK. That’s why Japan and Germany are running the British car industry now.

The UK auto industry is having one of its best years ever since peak production in the 1970’s, but as with so much of UK industry it should focus down into high-quality and specialist niches whether that be 4x4 like Landrover or car designs like Aston or high-end auto parts like Rolls.

There simply is no need for UKplc to try and take on Ford and GM by producing cars in every range – indeed the Americans are not doing too well at that either having repeatedly gone bust.

And there are enough vintage UK marques such as Rover or Riley or even MG capable of being reinstated with mainstream manufacturers.

While East Kent as a region is desperately in need of a Benelux strategy beyond cars.

How can the home of Europe’s largest port in Dover, the Channel tunnel and Eurostar, as well as Europe’s only multinational Euro-region, and at the centre of the Golden Triangle of London-Paris-Amsterdam, perhaps the wealthiest nexus of towns outside of Japan or California, and certainly Europe’s largest cities, have such feeble European trade and cultural links and so strong heroin links?

Sure there are hordes of French schoolkids on exchange trips in Canterbury in the Summer but that’s about it.
A KCC Brussels office semi-closed by UKIP and a small Summer school near Calais is about it in temrs of tax investment.

Even Kent’s 4 universities – Kent University billed as the UK’s European university are weaker than they should be. CCU in particular is bringing up the rear of the UK’s 114 universities and both should be focused on a top 200 global university aim.

As KCC Leader I will implement a clear and robust Meiji trade policy with Benelux.

With Holland I will seek trade partnerships with the Heineken1688 Project – a corner of the Garden of England forever Orange - and Philips and Liberation Route Europe.


Heineken is a Great British Dutch beer sponsoring the James Bond movies. A bit of a cheek to some extent as Bond never drank Heineken in the novels or previous films, only gallons of martinis and cognac. But you have to admire Heineken for aiming to be the global beer brand.

Wherever you go in the world you can – or will - have various local and national beers - and then Heineken.
Quite sparkling distribution and logistics. And the Bond tie-in will only expedite that.
The good folks at Heineken aren’t daft.

Kent needs that kind of dynamic trade so I will be urging Shepherd Neame and every Kent pub and restaurant and supermarket to invest in offering Heineken as a part of their drinks portfolio. And in return creating jobs and activity with Heineken in Kent. Even supporting pull-through in the rest of the supply chain for Kent’s SME’s whether the butcher the baker or pub candlestick maker. Could it be Great British Dutch Amstel or Grolsch instead? Sure. But I think Heineken is the one worth investing Kent’s efforts into.

And Heineken1688? The Glorious Revolution of Dutch rule of England in 1688 would provide countless cultural umbrella opportunities too. Whether it be a Van Gogh Museum and arts exchange with Rijksmuseum or artwork exchanges with Turner Gallery (does Kent really have 90% of its public art sat in boxes in warehouses? How foolish. It needs to be on display). Especially Kent’s native son Vincent and his letters home.

Philips? One of the world’s great electronics companies based in Amsterdam and Guildford. And should be based in East Kent too at Discovery Park to service the UK and London, Europe’s largest city etc. Indeed why isn’t all of Pfizer UK based there given the huge UK investment in Pfizer over the years.

Liberation Route Europe? A trick missed by Visit Kent and Visit Britain so far. An EU tourism initiative to promote the liberation of Europe from D-Day onwards. Hence Arnhem and Auschwitz so far in its first few years. But it really should be a thousand times larger with UK involvement: Kent’s role in D-Dday deception with Operation Fortitude and General Patton in Kent and even before that the UK-Canadian Dieppe raid training for D-Day and Dunkirk.

Part of the Kent-Dutch mix would also be the likes of Douwe Egberts coffee and Unilever shampoo etc.
Would it be just factories? Not necessarily there are call centres – certainly Unilever is one of the world’s leads on that – and customer service centres.

Benelux and Belgium.

While East Kent should also be focused on Great British Belgian companies like Alpro Soyamilk and Panasonic batteries for example.

I’ll be writing to the very capable Mark Gilmartin of Kent Police procurement to instigate a review of Kent Police vehicles – he may well know more than I do of say the benefits of Nissan vs Honda or Toyota etc etc – but certainly the political direction of Meiji procurement should lend power to his elbow in purchasing and tweaking the Kent Police offering for the benefit of the public.

And a wider economic offering for Kent.

Kent Police are lucky that crime is low with most of the criminals in the councils or courts so need to focus their efforts on reform and review of the plethora of brass bands and motorcycle display teams and so on. With Britain launching say a new defence and trade strategy with Japan where is the focus of the raft of public sector organisations bending around that target?

While this week’s statement by the Chief Health Officer of the NHS is that UK is completely unprepared for pandemics such as Ebola or even Flu, is as accurate as it is terrifying.

Britain one of the top 5 economies in the world (and an NHS one of the largest organisations in the world up there with Walmart and the Chinese Peoples Liberation Army) has proved incapable of holding enough vaccine stocks for the public and allowing the downgrading of the vaccine industries.

How incompetent.

And if the police are the public and the public are the police then we should all benefit from securing the best possible value form the £300MKent Police budget. And multiply that buy a minimum of 43 police and you can sense the scale of trade activity that is missing.

And the Kent-Essex Partnership seems merely to trim a few murder detective jobs downwards rather than any deep structural reform. I cannot see the point of 3 management teams for Kent. Surrey and Sussex Police – certainly after the disastrous farce of Deepcut Barracks – and at its simplest do we really need 3 central finance and IT teams on the rates? 3 teams buying boots and trousers?

And of even more concern given the KCC Empire of Lawyers, do we need yet more duplication through the other public sector services penalising the public that funds them.

The 43 UK forces could easily be trimmed down to c.15 forces without concerns of Big Brother Stasi-ism or extravagant sinecures examples like Rutland Police at the moment.

We’ve seen the millions of pounds of savings possible with body cameras, a fairly technical piece of kit. Imagine the savings of £25 not £125 shoes for Britain’s 100,000 coppers. And the cost reductions for bulk purchasing on £25 boots.

Flipflops could end up being more expensive. Never mind the thousands of pairs of police handcuffs that go missing after the police Xmas party each year.

While with c.100Mkent fire engines I wouldn’t be surprised if there were at least 50 or so other Kent Fire vehicles of transit vans and what-not, again all ripe for Meiji procurement tweaks. No doubt the idlers of the Coastguard will already have dozens of cars sat around rusting from lack of use and me-too-ism.

The Barnes AnneVan or FarceOne will of course be for the chop even before the Police PCC election this May and the stocks of cupasoups redistributed to the Salvation Army.

It seems incredible that the £2BN invested in KCC yields (and the billions more in Kent NHS and Education) almost nothing in return for Kent businesses and workers except for the cement industries and Serco.

A piece of work summarising the Kent GDP – both private and public is long overdue. The reality is your tax money is simply frittered away on Glory Projects- and primarily for the construction industry at that. We’re funding Costain and Murphy and Serco and G4S and almost nothing else.

Benelux and Luxembourg.

We should consider Cactus supermarkets for diversity in UK retail as well as BNP Paribas.

Again, sustainable consumption – and market forces – mean that not every product can or should be stocked but economic value being similar, shouldn’t we be supporting our Benelux friends to work with East Kent?

Certainly Holland in Asia is something to emulate with sparkling trade activity with the likes of Dutch Mill etc forging new brands in Asia, and even a whole Dutch Village I saw in Vietnam showcasing Dutch products and culture. And a Dutch Cultural Centre in Thailand to showcase Dutch films and art etc.

Worth remembering to the UK Dutch Embassy funded events in Ramsgate last year from Laura Sandys role.
The Dutch make much of Britain’s trade activity look pedestrian – already 34 years behind schedule for the 2020 £1TN target. Hence 12 new Trade Envoys to break open markets for Britain. And the need for follow-up and support in places like Kent.

I haven’t detailed a Benelux strategy for Northern France as yet (a BeNeFlux strategy if you will) and it certainly might include possibilities for say Evian etc, but initially the Opal Coast Tourism strategy with Kent that’s fallen into rust.

And the Boulogne passenger ferry for Ramsgate Port – perhaps linked with Ostend. Perhaps a sensible conversation with Dover Port and Folkestone will help balance out routes rather than Kent ports going through a paroxysm of competition and copying and collapse every few years.

And how embarrassing of Kent with the largest Romanian student population outside of London - if not in Europe - not to have Romanian industry and cultural investment in Kent? The Little Hitlers and Little Englanders of UKIP may be doing far more damage than they realise with an EU-Out and Foreigners-Out stance.

Why shouldn’t every Kent supermarket and petrol station and corner shop stock Spa water. I’m not suggesting for one moment that Spa should be the only bottled water held or stocked – and certainly British table water such as Buxton is needed. But should we have so many different table waters from Evian to Volvic to who-know-where yet we aren’t supporting Kent and our Belgian and Dutch and Luxembourg and French friends?
That would be daft.
And a Benelux strategy is just the beginning of East Kent.

The reforms called for by sensible parliamentary voices such as Byrne or Pickles are needed – the former on Germany and the latter on Israel. While the collapse of the UK steel industry and early days of the graphene industry is cause for concern.

Certainly backtracking on the supposed problems of provision of State aid shows somebody wasn’t watching what was happening with a strategic UK industry – and a feeble blamegame with the EU over State aid is perfectly viable: as with VW that has German Government Ministers on their Board of Directors!

We certainly shouldn’t overlook Germany and VW as detailed above for Kent Police vehicles. Nor Siemens already based in Kent or Japan’s Fujifilm and Hitachi based in Kent. Nor Denmark’s Vatenfall or BestNet (the latter an opportunity given Chancellor Osborne announced today extra UK investment with the Gates Foundation in malaria eradication) but they should be the tip of a longer spear to drive East Kent trade and cultural activity.
And after all at the moment it’s zero.

Your billions in Kent tax are completely wasted and there is no economic plan whatsoever.

Time for Change

Tim’s Titbits: misc points

• Good to see East Kent’s MP’s united against not just the Shard Aerial but the Nemo Link pylons that could be buried – and rightly questioning the value of connecting to the Belgian windfarm. And why it needs to run through the UNESCO site of Pegwell Bay which seems unbelievably idiotic – yet approved by TDC Planning Dept. No wonder national Grid have skipped past any consultation and kicked it off the to the Planning Inspectorate quango in Bristol – increasingly I think we need a review of PI and its involvement in planning as it seems far too powerful, random and remote

• I contacted National Grid several times and could get no straight answer beyond reams of bumf reports that couldn’t explain why the UK needed the extra electricity (if any). It seems a vanity project. More importantly with the Thanet windfarm already one of the world’s largest for enough power for 600k households (about all of Kent and London?) where is the free electricity? The initial investment cost has been funded by you and your tax. While the ongoing running costs would be minimal. There is no digging up of coal or transporting of oil. So why isn’t that reflected in electricity bills? Why shouldn’t it be free renewable electricity to the public?

• Silence from RTC on the Slipways nonsense and farce of 100 SE Rd garden grabbing where they’ve approved 11 flats as per the TDC local Plan – and then TDC changed it to 13 flats with no reason beyond presumably incompetence or bungs.

• Silence form the dodgy barristers and lawyers of One Essex Court run by Lord Grabiner – perhaps most surprising tis the sealed lips of the ClothCap QC: Keir “Hardie” Starmer tasked with regulating the BSB and Judges etc - or not

• Similar Planning incompetence with the Dreamland farce now emerging with the Lottery Fund complaining they couldn’t understand how Sands Hotel came to own the site after it was CPO’d by TDC. Indeed the Lottery Fund even as late as April and c.2 months before the opening in 2015 thought they were £6M funding the Dreamland Charity(!). I can’t understand it either. Do you? And concerning the Brave New World of Wells and UKIP seems to want to hush up Dreamland suing TDC for delays and the costs some sort of gagging order for public funds. And there seems a sudden scurry around raising council tax as of last week…

• While TDC planning again, with taking 8 weeks(!) and 3 staff to issue a letter over complaints of the noise from Tonis newsagent – clearly we need a clearout at Abigail Raymond’s Planning Dept it seems less than fit for purpose and councillors either idle or baffled with BS

• Secrecy again with TDC and their bizarre submission to the Jack Straw TDC Review (reassuringly rejected) moaning that it costs £60k (c.2 staff?) to admin FOI. A pittance in a TDC £16M budget and 750 staff. But who wrote that submission and which councillor approved it? Or do we have an institution fired up with public funds and running along under its own steam?

• No news as yet on the 16 pages of FOI bumf rewriting Parliament’s laws to suit TDC(!) – hardly the best use of resources as East Kent collapses further into ill-health and poverty by every government statistic. The councils seem to be the problem…

• An interesting World Holocaust Day exhibition in Ramsgate library for 27th January: featuring not just the Nazis but genocide in Cambodia, Bosnia and Darfur-Sudan

• Silence from FOIFinchy and Kent Fire rejecting EUR requests on staffing and salaries etc- and the Ramsgate million quid garage(!) instead of a 2nd swimming pool

• Silence on the Manston missing monitors from Sproates, Berry and Button and state of the aquifer and Thor contamination - worth remembering the Manston pollution was eventually independently recorded at over 4x EU safe levels. And Thor was banned for pollution but continued and the pollution has spread beyond the factory. This with the tonnes(!) of cleanup at the old Sericol site has bene met only by silence by our councillors and civil servants.

• A weblink for pollution at Flint:

• Thank goodness we have Southern Water and TDC to ensure such scandals don’t happen here eh?
• Let’s hope the new £300k NHS CEO is active or KCC Public Health on such matters

• New car transporter at Ramsgate Port: seems a bit ho0hum. One sailing a month and cars unloaded in less than a morning? And most of the 20 jobs taken by existing council staff?(!). Seems to add nothing to the economy.
• Newington election: equally ho-hum. Good to see a range of candidates. And perhaps the only point of note is the rejection of UKIP and reversion to a traditional Labour seat, fewer double-hatters for TDC and RTC seats – we need a pledge form future candidates not to stand for multiple seats, and ….a quite horrifying 21% turnout(!). One of the worst electoral turnouts ever: there was gnashing of teeth over the first Police PCC elections of only 15%, so 21% for a normal election is appalling. Essentially making the candidates and their policies, if any, worthless.

• Kent Police election May 2016: silence from all concerned – although I did smile at Henry “Borders” Bolton with Macedonia now reversing on his advice and closing their borders and Afghanistan requiring Kent’s Ghurkas to be deployed to help bolster that regime. I think we can do without his advice – especially as the French are now taking responsibility for managing the shambolic blight of the Calais Jungle.

• A strange point: the UK has approved the new Hinkley nuclear reactor – one of only 2 new reactors in Europe: one in Finland delayed for over a decade and likely to now be scrapped. And one on the Belgian-Dutch border reporting various fissures and cracks in the reactor requiring Hinkley to be overhauled. What a mess – and as Germany and Italy are already phasing out all their reactors as a radiation hazard. The sooner Dungeness is closed – and the Channel reactors in Normandy and Belgium the better.

• A fascinating article on innovative Koppert Cress in Netherlands in yesterday’s Independent on Sunday – astonishing flavours and proteins in a Thanet Earth-style facility and also evaluated by UN Africa for famine relief. Fascinating as part of the overall food stocks initiatives with preserving the Seed Bank and developing insect and soya protein for the future. Cambodia in particular – still suffering from malnutrition which is absurd in the 21st century - has received various UN development funds for insect farms/warehouses.

• Silence too on the UN Secretary-General 2016 election new process and openness. While it seems Britain’s top civil servant at UN is now supporting a woman - any woman- for the top job. Who decided on that rather than the best person? Quotas for the very highest jobs are irrelevant- and exactly what the new process is meant to avoid with notional quotas and backroom deals of East Europeans this year etc. Utter nonsense that will only fail to delay delivery of the 2030 SDG Goals and open elections for the delayed UN Parliament. If Britain’s failing to provide vaccines for its own citizens than how can the likes of Malaria or TB or AIDS in India and Africa be defeated?

• Certainly ensuring the G20 nations (c.905 of the world economy) achieved the 0.7% UK aid target would help eradicate poverty and disease that much faster than 2030.

• Interesting that Finland and Iceland and New Zealand all have targets for stopping smoking by 2025-2040. I think UK has a target by 2020? Plain packs are due this year I think- probably the last main initiative before moving to prescriptions from the chemist for Marlboro for over-25’s etc. Smoking now down to only 8% of UK 15 years olds. While I cannot understand why prison suppliers haven’t say reduced their cigarettes to one brand only? Why waste tax funds supplying multiple cigarette brands?

• EKFOS: East Kent Film Office and Studio: inaction

• Carpet Warehouse: ideal for offices etc and interesting that TDC seem to have taken back control of the site

• Arlington House: the last main policy still overdue from my 1st manifesto

• Pleasurama: silly delays – simply cancel and start again. A mess.

• Pavilion: silence on Wetherspoon and the mega-boozer

• Harbour St Fund: silence and looking a mess of boarded up shops

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