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How the empire builders ruined Britain

This post was originally published on on the 4th January 2013.


Big is beautiful to some people.  Well, you get paid more for running a city than a town! Near my home there are six shops. There used to be a greengrocers where you could buy fruit and vegetables; that is now a ‘tanning salon’.

The butcher’s shop is bookies, the bread and cake shop is an off-licence selling booze. The pharmacist is still there, they have extended into where the grocers used to be. The fish and chip shop is still there, but the fish and chips are horrible!

Other changes include closing down the local post offices, there used to be three sub-post offices close by. The town hall is used for the adult care department and the council is now 11 miles away down the motorway in a civic centre that has chandeliers.

The big difference is the way people go to work. They don’t walk or cycle, most people, that actually have jobs; drive to work. People now live much farther from their jobs than they used to. Everything has been centralised. The jobcentre is now Jobcentre-plus and in another town. That means the unemployed have to spend their benefits on bus fares making bigger profits for the ‘private operators’. People have to commute by train to work because in some places driving is a nightmare and parking is even worse. They have more rail passengers, so they empire build by putting up fares above the rate of inflation.

Social housing rents have been increased in line with property values that soared because of silly 125% mortgages. Rents for social housing are around £4,500 pa when many people are typically earning £15,000 gross. Privately rented accommodation is even more and they often have no gas supply and a electricity meter that is pre-payment using a ‘key’. Young people have little chance these days of buying a property with the building societies having been bought up by banks or became banks. That is another example of empire building. Remember the Halifax building society? Remember the Trustee Saving Bank, owned by it’s members? I can name many more. Remember when people worked in factories and made things? Remember when we used coal for energy before the dash for gas? Remember paying the rates before the horrible poll tax and the switch to the empire building council tax. Yes, it was council tax that helped finance the civic centres, the ‘traffic calming’ and the multicultural arts centres. I can make roads that pass schools safer. Put double yellow lines there, so parents have to walk their kids to school!

Things have got better, we have cleaner air. Most people have central heating (at a high price). We have reliable cars (at a price). We have given up some things to afford all this. We have given up the service we had with local shops and post offices. We have given up the social interaction we found in pubs in favour of posting on Facebook. We have given up being a caring society, in favour of greed and avarice.

Could Britain have done better or are you happy in 2013? If you don’t live in the UK and the same things happened in your country or is happening; please comment.

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