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Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Britain's Battered Infrastructure

When he was Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne talked big about encouraging 'investment' in the British economy, and did a lot to persuade foreign firms to buy control of utilities companies and thereafter drain the profits into their own [alien] coffers.

Today's papers report that with the transfer of the South-West Trains franchise to a foreign company, 75% of all UK railway operation will be in foreign hands. There will be minimalist requirements for the new franchisee - like all the others - to invest minimally in trains and stations, but they are free to import the components from their own preferred suppliers.

One indicator of why train travel is increasing is also in the news today, in that one-sixth of the roads for which hard-pressed local authorities are responsible is becoming so badly scarred by pot-holes and subsidence and loss of surface material that they will have to be closed in the next couple of years. They will be too unsafe to use; and local authorities can't afford to insure themselves to meet damage suffered by cars and their human contents due to the ill-maintained state of the roads.

It is also announced that as more licenses to construct and run offshore windmills to produce electric power are offered, with subsidies for their construction and operation, alien firms are expected to get most of the contracts. Thus most of the construction materials, control systems and cabling will be imported; and the UK will again be paying aliens to cash-in for years to come.

Meanwhile, today's media are presenting in-depth analysis of the fine of £42 million on BT for awful service to their corporate clients in 2012-15: for which they are required to pay £300 million in compensation [which BT has hitherto shirked from paying]. The more formal operational separation of BT from its 'wholesale' provider of services to rival telecoms companies - Open Reach - is only now going ahead [in 2017]; and is a half-cock separation because nobody wants to take the risk of separating the pension rights of Open Reach staff from those in the larger pot of BT pensions funds which have a state guarantee arising from the privatisation process. The provision of first-rate broadband connection for both retail and wholesale users is recognised to be the most important item in the nation's infrastructure that is woefully inadequate. It is vastly more essential than the white elephant HS2 railway and new nuclear power plant on which the government has preferred to place their guarantees of funding [and implicitly of future subsidy, so that alien 'investors' can be guaranteed a flow of funds to siphon off from the firms to which British users will have to pay their dues].

It is also noted today that the government and their quango for decommissioning old nuclear power plant have badly bodged a tendering process, and are now having to prepare to pay compensation for mismanaging the process to the tenderers as they also prepare to have to pay more for the replacement contracts.

The above are just five stories from one day's news: and there are more!

Interest rates have been at rock bottom throughout the tenure of the Tory-Lib coalition and of the Tories, since 2010. Billions of pounds could have been borrowed by state-guaranteed companies to update the railways, the roads, trunk telecoms, and electricity supply and distribution. Millions of council houses, housing association properties and buy-to-let homes could have been built with the mix of funding that was used by the Conservative governments in the nineteen-fifties [enabling the Housing Minister, Harold MacMillan, to assert that he had hit the target of 400,000 homes built in one year: and go on to be Prime Minister].

The claque who are rooting for President Trump to fail are rubbing their hands with glee every time he mentions massive borrowing to fund infrastructure investment. Given that he has made his pile as an investor in material construction, one could expect him to be more sure-footed in this area that he has been with immigration or health care. We can but wait and see!

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