Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/706/13922
The Socialist 22 February 2012 |
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Very Inappropriate Priorities
14,000 athletes, 7,000 technical officials, more than 20,000 media and eleven million spectators will descend on London this summer for the 2012 Olympics. On the busiest days three million extra journeys will be made across the capital. But don't worry, 'games lanes' are being introduced on 39 miles of road to allow 80,000 accredited members of the 'Olympic family' to by-pass congestion.
The traffic will cause problems for other vital vehicles too - namely the emergency services. And yet NHS London's request for ambulances to be able to use the lanes has been rejected! Only ambulances with their blue lights on (which can only be used by specially trained staff in certain situations) on will be allowed into the VIP lanes. That leaves non-emergency patient transport and vehicles carrying blood and oxygen sitting in hours of traffic queues. Not 'important' enough, obviously.
"Rent levels have come down, so we have stopped ripping off the taxpayer." So said David Cameron on 11 January. He was claiming that private landlords were reducing rents in return for local housing allowance (the replacement of housing benefit for private renting) being paid directly to them.
But Inside Housing has now revealed that the prime minister was either mistaken or lying (we know where our bet would go). Only 36 out of 204 local authorities reported any reduction. And in each case, only a handful of landlords were involved. Without an immediate cap on rent and a massive scheme to build and renovate publicly owned housing, the huge subsidy to private landlords will continue.