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Archive for July, 2007

Bolton Council Betrays its Residents

July 28th, 2007 No comments

I’m curious…

How many pieces of silver did it take for Bolton Council to betray the people of Bolton to the Manchester Congestion Tax?

No doubt, they are labouring under the delusion that “we’ll get a share of the money, but it won’t affect Bolton?. Well, it might not affect the councillors who work in Bolton, but it certainly will affect thousands of council tax paying, (and don’t forget voting) residents of Bolton who do work inside the M60. A clear case of “I’m alright Jack?.

Flawed

The congestion charge scheme is flawed for one very important reason: it wrongly assumes that motorists have a choice. We don’t. We still have to get to work, but the public transport alternatives simply do not exist. This is not London who enjoy a co-ordinated transport system, we instead have the GMPTA. It is therefore nothing more than an additional tax on the motorist. The motorist has already paid several times over in the form of road tax and one of the highest fuel duties in Europe. It is not our fault that successive governments have squandered this money rather than using it to provide a decent public transport system.

Since I work flexitime, it would seem sensible to alter my hours from 8am-4pm to 10am-6pm to try to avoid the charge and ease congestion, but since the evening charging period lasts until 6:30pm, it is clear that the GMPTA’s aim is to maximise income rather than ease congestion.

Expect queues of parked cars just before 9:30am around Manchester, as people hang back before crossing the M60, then an increase in speeding and road rage just before 4pm as drivers race to get out before the charging period starts. This along with several other issues were put to the representatives of the GMPTA at a Salford Chamber of Commerce meeting – not a single question could be answered.

Before anyone compares me to Jeremy Clarkson, I would point out that I would love to use public transport to get to work. I live around the corner from Blackrod station, and work right next door to Clifton Station. The journey time should be around 25 minutes, except for the fact that only one train stops at Clifton each morning. In order to connect with this train, I would have to leave Blackrod the night before. I have contacted GMPTA regarding this lack of service, but it is clear from the excuses in their replies that they have no intention of rectifying the situation.

Metrolink? What Metrolink?

Finally, much hype is being made of money being used to extend Metrolink. Since Bolton is one of the few areas that will never benefit from this, why should we be forced to pay the same as other areas who have the option of using it?

An edited version of this post has been published as a letter in the Bolton News.

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Kiss Me Hardy!

July 26th, 2007 Comments off

Nelson:”Order the signal, Hardy.”

Hardy: “Aye, aye sir.”

Nelson: “Hold on, that’s not what I dictated to Flags. What’s the meaning of this?”

Hardy: “Sorry sir?”

Nelson (reading aloud): “England expects every person to do his or her duty, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, religious persuasion or disability.’ – What gobbledegook is this?”

Hardy: “Admiralty policy, I’m afraid, sir. We’re an equal opportunities employer now. We had the devil’s own job getting ‘ England ‘ past the censors, lest it be considered racist.”
Read more…

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Crown Lane Madness to End

July 21st, 2007 No comments

I was relieved to read in the Bolton News that the ridiculous chicanes installed on Crown Lane in Horwich, are to be removed.

The full details of the decision can be read here, but the summary reads:

Residents of Crown Lane/Station Road have had a longstanding concern about the speed of all traffic and volume of heavy goods vehicles, using this route. In August 2006, following a consultation and public meeting to discuss the options, an experimental scheme was introduced in the form of two chicanes and a 7.5 tonne weight limit. At the end of the first six months of operation, local residents were consulted to determine their views on the operation of the scheme. This report summarises and comments on the concerns expressed, both in response to the introduction of the scheme, and in response to the consultation. Having considered the comments made in response to the latest consultation and by those who have submitted formal objections in writing, the Director of Environmental Services recommends the Executive Member to agree to the removal of the chicanes on Crown Lane, Horwich, to the north of Vale Avenue and on Station Road, Blackrod, at the M61 motorway bridge. The Director further recommends that the Planning and Highways Committee be requested to confirm the Experimental 7.5 tonne Weight Limit as a permanent Order.

Not before time! This is not some back road being used as a rat-run, it is a classified road (the B5238) and forms a vital link between Horwich and Blackrod (and the A6). You only have to look at the chaos caused when the A6 was closed by roadworks, the alternate route via Chorley New Road and De Havilland Way ground to a halt.

If traffic calming is required, then two mini roundabouts at Vale Avenue and Moss Lane would achieve this, (Moss Lane is going to be getting a lot busier, since the Council approved the building of a large number of apartments there), but that would of course cost a lot more money.

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Warning PayPal echeques

July 12th, 2007 2 comments

When I first used PayPal, I had a card registered and nothing else. I then decided to become verified and registered my bank account.

From then on when making a payment, PayPal’s confirmation screen said that the funding source was my bank account, and that the BACKUP funding source was my card.

Note the word ‘backup’, suggesting to the user that this is only required if there is a problem with the primary source (bank account). This is further reinforced by the fact that the payment is always taken from the bank account by direct debit and never by card payment.

When I made a couple of payments recently, I noticed that the payment method stated ‘echeque’ from my bank account. I assumed that this was PayPal’s new term for a payment from my bank account. Not so! The echeque payment method incurs a 7-9 working day delay! At no stage was a warning given that this payment would not be instant. Additionally, the email receipt clearly states that a payment has been made to the recipient when this has clearly not yet happened.

I was only alerted to the delay when an ebay seller informed me that ebay was telling him he had been paid, but was not showing in his PayPal account. I then started investigating and discovered that my payments were showing as ‘uncleared’ and that the reason was that echeque is a different payment method which had been selected because my card (which I had been led to believe by PayPal was only for backup) had expired.

Since then I have discovered several websites who accept PayPal adding prominent warning messages about the delay involved with echeque payments. It is clear that they have experienced problems with their customers not being aware of the delays involved with echeque. This is hardly surprising – it is not in PayPal’s interest to warn you about the delay, because this means the money sits in their account earning interest.

A google search for ‘warning paypal echeque’ also yields several people unhappy with the lack of warning for echeques.

From a telephone call with PayPal customer services, it appears that the card details are not in fact a backup as implied by their web pages, but are necessary to make the payment instant.

Update

Ebay now have this graphic on their site, encouraging you to use PayPal:

Misleading PayPal ad

In case you can’t see the animated gif, it says “cheque = 10-14 days, PayPal = Instant, Get Paid Instantly”
Not if the echeque method is used – this is extremely misleading.