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England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland UK Observations

White paper “a charter for potentially oppressive social engineering” says Forest

NEWS RELEASE Tuesday 30 November, 2010
A consumer group has warned that the Department of Health white paper on public health, published today, could be a “charter for potentially oppressive social engineering”.
The white paper, Healthy Lives, Healthy People, sets out the Government’s long-term vision for the future of public health in England. The aim, says the DH, is to create a “wellness” service (Public Health England) giving more responsibility to local authorities.
“To make sure that progress is made on issues like obesity and smoking,” says the DH, “Public Health England will set a series of outcomes to measure whether people’s health actually improves.”
Simon Clark, director of the smokers’ group Forest, said: “Government has no business micro-managing people’s lives. For all the talk about nudging, the white paper is a charter for potentially oppressive social engineering.
“We know what happens when people refuse to be nudged. Campaigners demand more and more regulations and ministers are happy to indulge them.
“The white paper merely transfers that power to local councils.
“We are in danger of creating an immensely dull, zero risk society in which freedom of choice and personal responsibility are consigned to history.”
Links
Healthy Lives, Healthy People
http://www.dh.gov.uk/en/Publichealth/Healthyliveshealthypeople/index.htm
DH press release
http://www.dh.gov.uk/en/MediaCentre/Pressreleases/DH_122249

Forest, Sheraton House, Castle Park, Cambridge CB3 0AX Tel 01223 370156

At last! An end to the elf ‘n’ safety madness as meddling officials face fines if they ban events
By James Chapman, Political Editor
2nd October 2010
Health and safety zealots blamed for creating a ‘national neurosis’ are finally to be reined in.
Meddling officials who attempt to ban events or activities on the grounds that they breach red tape will themselves be threatened with huge fines under Government plans.
And emergency workers, teachers and office workers are to be freed from the compensation culture where someone must be held to account for everyday mishaps and accidents.
Margaret Thatcher’s former trade secretary Lord Young, who has drawn up a string of proposals accepted by David Cameron, says a decade of Labour laws and regulations will now be torn up.
The assault on the excesses of the health and safety culture will form a key part of the Tory Party conference which begins tomorrow in Birmingham, and is seen as a potential vote winner.
In an interview with the Daily Mail, Lord Young unveiled plans which include:
■ Local authorities who wrongly try to block events on health and safety grounds will be forced to pay large-scale compensation;
■ No-win, no-fee advertising encouraging personal injury claims will face a major crackdown;
■ Red tape that means many children never go on school outings is to be scrapped
■ People performing first aid or Good Samaritan acts are to be exempted from being sued.
Lord Young, 78, said ‘petty tyrants’ had been allowed to flourish under Labour.
He said he had uncovered extraordinary examples, including a restaurant that would not give out toothpicks for fear of injury, a headteacher who told pupils not to walk under a conker tree without helmets and a council that banned a pancake race because it was raining.
‘It makes you wonder what sort of world we have come to,’ Lord Young said. ‘It has gone to such extremes. What I have seen everywhere is a complete lack of common sense. People have been living in an alternative universe.’
Lord Young said he was particularly concerned about council officials who often claimed powers to stop village fetes, sporting events or other events when they have none. In one example, organisers of the annual Whitsun cheese-rolling down a steep hill in the Cotswolds cancelled it this year after pressure from police and local authorities.
In future those affected by wrong decisions may go to the local government ombudsman who will be able to insist that a council pays compensation.
Asked how much local authorities would be forced to pay, Lord Young said: ‘Whatever the loss is. I want officials to think twice and make sure they have the authority.
‘This sort of nonsense has come from the last government trying to create a nanny state and trying to keep everybody in cotton wool.
‘Frankly if I want to do something stupid and break my leg or neck, that’s up to me. I don’t need a council to tell me not to be an idiot. I can be an idiot all by myself.’
…AND A CRACKDOWN ON THE WAGES OF TOWN HALL FATCATS
Town hall bosses were ordered to take huge pay cuts last night in an attempt to stop them earning more than the Prime Minister.
Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles will demand 362 local authority employees who are paid more than David Cameron’s £142,500 slash their salaries.
In an interview with the Daily Mail, Mr Pickles attacked the huge handouts as ‘ludicrous’ and said some councils ‘don’t get it’ – continuing to advertise lucrative and often pointless posts with six-figure salaries.
In his speech to the Tory conference next week, Mr Pickles will outline plans to demand an immediate 10 per cent pay cut for any council chief taking home £200,000 or more. Those earning over £100,000 will be told to cut their pay by 5 per cent – the same cut government ministers took.
He will then insist that all new appointments have their income capped at the same level as the Prime Minister. He cannot enforce a salary cap but plans to name and shame those who refuse to give ground.
He said: ‘You only have to pick up The Guardian recruitment advertisements to understand some people still don’t get it – it’s not their money. Some chief executives are earning enormous salaries that are not commensurate with what they are doing.’
He said bosses, who are in charge of staff facing job losses, should accept the cut ‘so they can look council workers in the eye’.
He said the Government, which has approved his report, due to be published later this month, would also implement a crackdown on ‘ambulance-chasing’ personal injury firms. There will be restrictions on the way they advertise their services and a limit to speculative law suits.
‘The last government allowed no-win, no-fee advertising and we have seen an enormous rush of it, on afternoon TV particularly,’ Lord Young said.
‘A lot of them aren’t lawyers – they’re claims management companies.
‘People are being paid for making a claim. Legal expenses are now two or three times the claim. The biggest cost to the health service is legal fees. That’s going to stop.’
Schools are to be freed from burdensome regulations.
Lord Young said: ‘Schools are not allowing pupils to go on days out because they are scared they will be liable if an accident happens.
‘That’s nonsense, and that’s not going to continue, unless a teacher is really negligent. In the ordinary course of events, accidents happen.’
The Health and Safety Executive enforces 202 primary regulations, a third of which were passed since Labour came to power in 1997.
Lord Young, who has an office in Downing Street, revealed that the Prime Minister has asked him to stay on to advise on turning public services into locally-owned co-operatives.
Baroness Thatcher once said of him: ‘Other people brought me problems. He brought me solutions.’

New version of BLOWIN IN THE WIND
How many ships took those men far away
To fight and suffer death and pain
How many men in both world wars
Never saw the light of day again
How many men were broken and returned
To be treated as heroes every one
The answer my friend is blowin in the wind
The answer is blowin in the wind

How many years have passed since that time
Are veterans treated just the same
How many stand in the wind and the rain
Still proud but questioning in pain
How many feel that they’ve been betrayed
By a country to which they gave their all
The answer my friend is blowin in the wind
The answer is blowin in the wind. 

How many roads must a man walk down
Before they call him a man
How many times must he prove himself
Like a soldier in Afghanistan
How many times when he comes home
Is he treated like an outcast not a man
The answer, my friend, is blowin in the wind
The answer is blowin in the wind.

How many times must the questions be asked
And dogma given in reply
How many heroes in the twilight of their years
Are denied compassion till they die
How many zealots should hang their heads in shame
For a law that is pie in the sky
The answer my friend is blowin in the wind
The answer is blowin in the wind

How many persecutors of the old and infirm
Whose war cry is de-normalise them all
Have forced upon society a vicious smoking ban
That contains no compromise at all
How have the people of a country once so great
Stood by and never heard the call
The answer my friend is blowin in the wind
The answer is blowin in the wind

When will the people say undo what you have done
And return the voice of reason to the land
When will the politicians listen to the call
Of society divided by a ban
When will 15 Million smokers rally to the call
And defend the right of dignity for all
The answer “Now my friend” is blowin in the wind
The answer is blowin in the wind.

Lyrics By Eddie Douthwaite

Smokers must clock in and out under new council plans
Council workers are to be forced to clock on and off when they go for a cigarette break in an effort to make them work them same number of hours as non-smokers.
By Laura Roberts
28 Sep 2010
Breckland Council in Norfolk said the move will affect all 280 members of staff, from managers to office workers, and smokers would be expected to make up any lost hours.
However, pro-smoking lobby groups who have described it as the “tyranny of the majority”.
William Nunn, Conservative leader of Breckland Council, said the policy had been suggested after consulting staff.
He said: “It came about because the staff themselves felt there was an issue of fairness going on where some people went out for a smoke and some didn’t.
“It’s absolutely nothing to do with money because they’ll make up the hours lost in their own time.”
Staff at the main offices in Dereham and Thetford would be forced to use flexi-time cards to clock off and on for a smoke.
The policy will be discussed by the council’s general purposes committee tomorrow [weds] and, if approved, it could come into force on November 1.
A spokesman for Breckland Council said the plans had received support from smokers.
He said: “Many smokers agreed with the proposal because they felt it would end any animosity towards them from non-smoking staff.”
Simon Clark, director of pro-smoking group Forest, Freedom Organisation for the Right to Enjoy Smoking Tobacco, described the move as “prejudicial”.
He said: “Once again we see the tyranny of the majority.
“There are a lot of non-smokers taking long coffee breaks, browsing non-work internet sites and taking personal calls so I don’t see why smokers should be picked on.”
A spokesman for the TaxPayer’s Alliance said the move could decrease productivity.
She said: “Of course it is better value for taxpayers’ money if staff are working, not out having a cigarette, but asking smokers to clock in and out means more bureaucracy.”
Many councils have no smoking policies and do not allow smokers to take breaks during working hours.
A similar policy was abandoned after it was trialled by Nottingham City Council.
Workers were given the choice of clocking out for each cigarette break or working an extra two hours every week.
However, in December 2005 the council introduced a non-smoking policy which meant workers could only smoke during their lunch breaks and not during working hours.


A sad farewell to a friend
Phil Johnson
13th August 2010
Imagine the scene if you can. Standing outside his pub in ‘Little India’ (the Evington Road side of Leicester) a man stands smoking his first ‘business’ cigarette of the day. He stands alone, outside the doors of his pub; his pride and joy. He speaks 17 languages so it matters not who goes past and waves or greets him he answers all in their own tongue – remarkable really. Everyone knows Rui. In the 4 years he’s had the pub (aptly named “Rui’s bar) I dread to think how many people have spoken to him, in depth or in passing.
Four years ago Rui took the pub on himself as he had now settled in Leicester after roaming the globe. He had business interests in South Africa & South America; he was nobody’s fool, he knew how to make money. From the grubby looking hovel that it was, he turned it into a pub that you would want to drink in. freshly decorated, spotlessly clean and with new furniture he opened his business to the world, well, ‘little India’ at any rate. In the first year he averaged earnings of between $500-£600 per week after all expenses. He had 6 staff working for him and all was going well. Plans to get the beer flowing in the upstairs bar were much talked about but the stumbling block came in the shape of the Brewery for they declared that if he opened to upstairs bar to drinkers his rent would have to rise dramatically for they had set a rental ‘only for the ground floor serving area’.
Now I find this very strange for you would think that the brewery would be happy getting their corn every week, regardless of how many bars were open. Would they have increased the rent if Rui put in another bar on the ground floor? I doubt it. Anyway, plans were shelved as the law was changing soon-dramatically changing.
Rui was the epitome of the eternal optimist. “Smoking ban doesn’t matter” he used to say, “this Rui’s Bar, they still come here”. Indeed they did but within months the numbers were diminishing.
The following years figures were far from satisfactory. Rui was earning about £200 per week and had halved his staff, meaning that he was working more hours himself. He still mounted guard outside his pub every morning with that first .business’ cigarette of the day. He still greeted people but some sheepishly feigned ignorance to the cheery wave. His first customers seldom arrived until 12.30pm as opposed to 11.00am initially and normally cheerful Rui was now beginning to look like a man under pressure.
As we dragged ourselves into 2010 I sat talking to Rui one day. It was a long old chat for not one customer entered the pub for an hour or so. Rui’s generosity knows no bounds but I would accept the free drinks being offered for I knew he was in trouble. The gist of the converstaion was as follows:-
“Things not too good then Rui?”
“They are bastards these people,  what do they know about MY business? What do they care about my business? They are filling their pockets with expenses but they have taken all my money away from me with this bastard smoking ban. All my people Phil, all my customers, you know why they won’t come in? because I can’t let them smoke in my own pub! I haven’t got any staff anymore I am doing everything. Bastards! (he paused for a quick liquid intake). You know Phil we had one good day last year and one good day the year before, the same, you know what I mean? Everyday used be like those days.” (It dawned on me that the 2 days he was referring to happened to be the days of the f2c-AGM)
For those that didn’t attend, Rui had given us the upstairs part of the pub with improvised ‘access’ to a smoking area. All we had to do was to nip downstairs to fetch our drinks; no hardship. Two glorious afternoons/evenings where it was easy to forget the present times and simply enjoy the moments as they passed. I remember last year that Rui bought the few of us that were left at around midnight a drink as a thank you. Being virtually comatose at the time I did not even think about it but now I know why.
“I applied for rebates on rents and rates but was telling me I don’t qualify. How? (he comtinued with hunched shoulders and palms upwards) I am losing business faster than that Ratner jewellry guy because of smoke ban, why do I not get rebate because government law is killing my business. They didn’t ask me my opinion what smoking ban would do, they didn’t give me choice. I wanted to put on strippers upstairs but the wife says no, she thinks I strip with them all (I had to laugh for Rui probably would have!). This business is dying Phil, they are killing it for me. (He started on the ‘top-shelf now). I talk to that a******e MP who lives down the road here, he’s here Phil, 500 yards away from my pub (I knew he meant PeterSoulsby-extremist hater of smoking/smokers) and what’s he say to me? ‘Nothing I can do about it, it’s now the law’, smiled at me, SMILED I say and f****d off again. Barrrrrstard he is!” ( I pointed out to Rui that Peter Soulsby will not entertain me in any way, shape or form and that as far as he is concerned the smoking ban is the greatest law ever passed by any Labour government).
I went past Rui’s Bar several times in last couple of months but never saw many customers in there on either occasion. Then, last week I espied the inevitable, the pub was closed up, tables & chairs removed and no Rui standing, smoking at the entrance. It was indeed a sad sight.
The last few months cost Rui a lot of money to stay open, all told, about £750 per week. On the day he called it quits he had sold 4 pints of John Smiths in 6 hours of opening, how sad an end is that?
What was the problem? Easypeasy to answer. ‘Little India’ is a high density smoking area in Leicester, they smoke hard and they drink hard and they’ll happily do the two together. Indians, West Indians, Poles, Latvians, Serbs, Magyars, Portugese,Roumanians etc, it mattered not to Rui, he could speak to all of them and make them welcome. If ever a man was made to run a multi-cultural pub it was Rui but a majority of uninformed idiots in Westminster put paid to that and he has an MP that “Doesn’t work for you”, unless you happen to be a non smoker! What were the true odds of Rui surviving as a licensee after July 1st, 2007? pretty slim I would say.
For all those who endear themselves to the likes of ASH, CRUK et al you ought to hang your heads in shame as we (people of choice) say farewell to a wonderful publican, a man of the world, a man of the people and a people’s man, for you have destroyed a perfectly good business and a mans financial stability through your zealous hatred of all things smoking. You couldn’t abide the thought of choice so that people like Rui could run his business the way he knew it should be run. Perhaps you will be happy to know that your meddling has put another 7 people on the dole instead of earning valuable revenue for this government-and believe you me, these are people who know how to wring every single penny of entitlement out of the system. Congratulations on that! I for one wish them every success.
On a personal note (and on behalf of f2c) I thank you Rui for those two wonderful AGM meetings, I doubt we will ever find a venue and host such as yourself again. This truly is a sad farewell to a good friend.
http://freedom2choose.info/news1.php?id=1152


Smoking ban extension that would outlaw lighting up outside pubs is axed
29th July 2010
By Sophie Borland
Smokers will continue lighting up outside pubs and offices after ministers yesterday scrapped plans to extend the ban.
The last government had proposed enlarging ‘smoke-free’ zones to include the areas around building entrances, but this has been shelved.
Anne Milton, public health minister, said: ‘We have studied the smokefree legislation and decided not to proceed with the planned review.’
She added: ‘We are not rolling back the smoking ban, nor are we deploying austerity as an excuse for deregulation.
‘I believe we need to bring public health out of the lecture hall and into the living room.’
But doctors and health campaigners fear further proposals to cut the rates of lung cancer and other smokingrelated diseases could also be scrapped.
These include banning cigarettes being displayed at the front of shops or being sold in vending machines, both put forward in Labour’s Health Act last year.
‘These laws are vital as they will help put an end to the loopholes that allow tobacco to be advertised to children.
‘Smoking remains the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in the UK.’

Big Brother spying tactics rejected

01/06/2010
by CLAIRE WALKER

THE leader of Staffordshire Moorlands District Council has vowed that the authority will never resort to spying on residents.

Councillor Sybil Ralphs’ pledge comes after report from a leading body found that 372 authorities in Great Britain have used covert surveillance operations in the past two years to spy on dog owners, people flouting the smoking ban and even their own employees.

SMDC is one of just several councils to be praised in the report by Big Brother Watch — a campaign fighting to protect liberty and personal privacy — for not embracing the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA).

Speaking exclusively to Your Leek Paper, Councillor Ralphs said: “What other authorities decide to do is up to them. Our policy in the Staffordshire Moorlands is not to use that kind of surveillance either now or in the future.

“The administration of Staffordshire Moorlands District Council has no intention whatsoever of following a policy of surveillance — it is unnecessary and unacceptable.”

Research, using figures obtained using the Freedom of Information Act, found there have been 8,575 cases of covert surveillance in the past two years, with councils placing people under surveillance for minor crimes ranging from littering and dog fouling to smoking in a public place.

The reported stated: “Not all councils embraced the culture of abusing RIPA powers under the current regime and they managed perfectly well without them.

“Furthermore, if it is ever right for surveillance to be used for such problems, then it ought to be the last resort, rather than — as so often in this country now — the first tool used by overbearing councils.” The news comes several months after SMDC was slammed for failing to provide top earners’ salary details for a national survey compiled by the TaxPayers’ Alliance.

Councillor Ralphs said: “Surveillance is something as leader that I have emphatically spoken against and every elected councillor in my council I think is of the same opinion.

“I am pleased that this particular part of our administration has been recognised and appreciated.”


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