February 13th, 2015

Return of the heat pump


By Rob Reid


Since last summer, I’ve learned a lot about heat pumps, all in the name of deciding whether I could go green on heating my house without leaving my bank balance in the red. When I last wrote about my dilemma, I reached the classic consultant’s view that more research was required. Since then, I’ve been carrying it out, and it’s time to make good on my promise to report back on what I found.

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February 6th, 2015

Chasing the sun


by Chloe Bines


I recently attended a ‘build your own solar charger course’ run by Bristol charity Demand Energy Equality at which I constructed a portable 18W solar photovoltaic (PV) panel from second hand solar cells and a laptop case. Having spent a couple of nerve-wracking hours with a soldering iron, the feeling of satisfaction was immense when I finally put my panel out in the sun to charge my phone: success!

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February 3rd, 2015

Moo-ving on up

The Typing Pool

by the Administrator


January is a particularly rich month for folklore, as all manner of customs are required to ensure prosperity for the year ahead. Regular readers of the Administrator’s update will no doubt be aware that the Land of Blog remains an equally rich preserve of the traditions of yesteryear, and it will no surprise that we’ve been busy saying our ‘black rabbits’, burning hawthorn bushes, and dropping egg whites into water in order to guarantee you a healthy supply of articles in 2015.

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January 30th, 2015

Better out than in?

Be careful what you wish for

by Hulda Espolin Norstein


If the UK was to leave the European Union, what difference would it really make to our environmental laws?

UKIP’s increased influence on the political agenda and David Cameron’s eurosceptic-appeasing promise to hold an in/out referendum has rapidly turned the UK’s exit from a pipe-dream to a real possibility. Both sides of the debate are spending considerable time and effort informing the public (and each other) about why the UK should remain in/leave the EU; how obvious it is that continued EU membership is essential/detrimental to turning the economy around; how crucial/unnecessary it is to our geopolitical influence – in fact, how the EU is the solution to/cause of most of the UK’s problems.

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January 23rd, 2015

Clean streets, dirty conscience?


by Ian Doyle


Ask residents what’s important to them in their local environment and clean streets will always be one of the first things they mention. Litter, in all its unpleasant forms, has the power to dramatically affect perceptions of environmental quality and reduce residents’ pride of place, and there is evidence that it has detrimental effects in terms of property values, mental health, and crime. Therefore, it’s not surprising that clean streets are given high value.

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January 20th, 2015

The outsource of it all

Manchester City Hall

by Phillip Ward


I once talked a Government Minister out of legislating for charging for domestic refuse disposal. It was 26 years ago and, in my defence, I knew nothing of waste policy, nor was recycling of much interest to most people at that time. My objections were not therefore based on waste considerations but on the fact that the Minister concerned wanted to add the provisions to the Parliamentary Bill I was managing. Since that was dealing with the introduction of the Poll Tax, my advice was that the Bill was controversial enough without opening up a whole new front. I do sometimes wonder whether, with the advantage of hindsight, I should have simply said “Yes, Minister”.

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January 16th, 2015

Mutual benefit: austerity, waste partnerships and Teckal

Marriage de la vierge

by Wayne Lewis


The age of public sector austerity ushered in by the 2008 financial crisis has fallen with particular severity on local government. The Local Government Association (LGA) has calculated that the latest Local Government Finance Settlement announced on 18th December 2014 represents an 8.8% cut to local government budgets from April 2015. This brings to 40% the total reduction in core government funding since 2010 – then typically around two thirds of a council’s budget. Yet the deficit remains obstinately large and whatever the complexion of central government after May’s general election it’s likely that we’ll see councils’ spending power continue to shrink.

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