Sunday, 30 July 2017


Part of a penalty notice issued to homeless
people in Oxford
Any of you following the story of how Tower Hamlets trading standards department tried to fine a five year old girl £150 for selling lemonade without a permit will be pleased to know that it's not only London council officials who are lacking in any common sense.

Hot on it's heels comes this next story, this time from Oxford City Council who think it's a good idea to fine homeless people £2,500 for leaving their belongings in shop doorways.

While I can see the need to do something that could cause a fire hazard, I have to ask myself  the question "does it make sense to threaten someone who is homeless, has no money or assets with a financial penalty for breaching local by-laws?" The answer of course is "yes", because that's what the regulations say you should do.

The fact that your threat is completely meaningless, cannot be enforced and will have no effect doesn't matter. What matters is that you have complied with the regulations by issuing the threat and, to those in authority, that's all that matters.

The picture illustrating this piece is of an actual homeless person selling the Big Issue in Oxford although by now he's probably been chased off his patch by a criminal gang. Those of us living in Thamesmead know that all the Big Issue sellers around here are Romanian millionaires.


I stole this picture off the Al jazeera website
because it rather sums the place up.
According to my Google search, Venezuela is "a country on the Northern coast of South America with diverse natural attractions". 

According to Wikipedia, it became an independent country in 1830.

According to the Thamesmead Gump, Venezuela is a tin-pot Latin-American banana republic that's hardly seen a day's peace in all it's nearly 200 year history.

It has been constantly torn apart by a succession of revolts, revolutions, constitutional crises, assorted attempts at democracy which have usually ended in economic collapse, presidential impeachments, corruption, embezzlement, often all at the same time.

So why, I ask is the news media full of stories about the latest round of riots, demonstrations and yet another election? It seems to be headline news in all the main media channels and I have to question why we are suddenly so interested in the place. The BBC for instance, can't stop talking about it.

Perhaps we're planning to make it our new main trading partner after Brexit, who knows?

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