A LETTER TO THE EDITOR
I recently had occasion to travel by rail into London which I only do very rarely these days.
I found the Terminus much changed from earlier times with a brighter Decor but many fewer services on the concourse than there used to be.
Crossing a road outside I found a cafe with people rather than machines serving coffee and sat in a quiet corner at a table behind a floor to ceiling set of shelves bearing large containers of comestibles on which their Italian names of origin were prominently displayed.
There was no one else around as I sat with my back to the wall, but others had clearly sought this quiet spot before because I found an unmarked brown envelope laying against the backrest of the seat and held in position by the crease between the two. It had clearly escaped a previous customer’s notice as he rose to leave the cafe.
Inside was the missive I have reproduced below.
Dear Prime Minister,
Building Back Better in Country Town.
At your request my team and I have conceived a Pilot Scheme that, if successful, could then be rolled out across the country.
We think the Scheme would be enthusiastically regarded as a fine example of British leadership at the forthcoming meeting of World Finance Ministers and Central Bankers at Jackson Hole and your next attendance as a witness at the World Government Executive Committee Meeting in Davos. (Incidentally, did Mr Gates give the nod to the other Project we have discussed when you last met him?).
The scheme we have devised is focussed on a typical property in Country Town to determine what would be required to bring it into compliance with as many of your Government’s policies as possible.
“Anon House” was built in the closing years of the last century in accordance with the Government’s policies at the time and is now obsolete. The property consists of a purpose-built block of 10 leasehold flats in its own grounds and 6 other apartments in an annexe to the original land-owner’s Victorian Era Mansion that houses another ten flats.
The population density per hectare needs to be increased by about 400% to match the Housing Department estimates of what is needed to accommodate our rising population.
Similarly, and despite the introduction of some smart meters the current residents per capita consumption of electricity will need to be reduced to comply with the Ministry of Energy’s new standards based upon our plans for National Generating capacity.
Believe it or not, most residents still drive fossil-fueled cars and heat their flats and water using old-fashioned and polluting gas boilers.
To cure all these problems and meet our Net Zero by 2050 targets we recommend –
- The Local Council should be instructed to compulsorily purchase both properties, remove all existing buildings and prepare the land for redevelopment.
- A new 6 Storey Block with self-contained units having living areas in accordance with current norms for single, double and 3-person occupancy should be built with these features
- A ground heat-pump over the entire site area designed for easy maintenance and allowing for other services such as the supply of fresh water and drainage, and cabling for electricity supply.
- Piping to distribute metered and warmed water within the new block. (Operation of the heat pump must of course be controlled by a dedicated smart meter to which electricity can be cut off remotely if total demand in the area exceeds that which is available – whether the shortage is due to lack of capacity for generation, transmission or area distribution.)
- Television antennae and connected cabling with metered use to facilitate Licence fee collection and enforcement of the mandatory viewing hours regulations.
- There are two options for meeting the residents transport requirements:-
- Most will need to walk but a very small number of car parking spaces could be provided, each with its own Fast Charger appropriately metered and protected by requiring activation in the normal way through an app on authorised users’ cell phones containing their social and financial credit limits.
- They will all need to walk to the redesigned transport hub in town.
- Sufficient accommodation and personal transport facilities should be allotted for use by the council-appointed Block Manager and his/her staff.
We consider these arrangements will meet the Climate, Social and Economic objectives set by your Government.
Lady Pangloss Appleby
Build Back Better Unit
10, Downing Street
Will you be free next weekend to visit my uncle’s estate in the Highlands? He would fly us all up there in his ‘plane if you can make it and we could be back on Sunday evening ready for an early start on Monday morning.
I’ve attached an action plan for distribution to your Ministers with a copy to your private secretary who will handle the party-political aspects.
FOOTNOTES by Pooter Parkin
I have ascertained the following by research on the internet –
- Sir Humphrey Appleby, knighted upon his retirement as Cabinet Secretary and before his appointment as a Non-Executive Director of MegaBucks Bank, had two sons with his wife Felicity.
- Upon the death of Sir Humphrey and his wife in a tragic car accident whilst returning to their London Home from a performance of Tosca at Covent Garden the elder son Robert inherited “Heatherlands”, a fine Highland Estate with a famous Grouse Shoot and Deer Moor, purchased by Sir Humphrey upon his retirement from MegaBucks Bank.
- The younger son Cecil married Lady Amelia Pangloss, widowed daughter-in-law of Viscount Bags O’Money, second son of an Irish Peer, and they live in a Town House in Berkeley Square given to Lady Amelia by her father-in-law on the occasion of her second marriage (he was in ill-health and had no other close relations).
- Lady Amelia was so proud of her family name she used it as a Christian name for her daughter who now works in the Prime Minister’s Private Office after being privately educated at Deblands Ladies College and later graduating in Social Studies from a famous University.
- Lady Amelia’s family first came to prominence of course when a forebear became Mentor to Candide in the famous biography written by French author Voltaire in 1759.
The opposition party have negligible presence in the town and although the PM had some personal disagreements with the sitting MP when they were both Cabinet Ministers in the previous administration the MP has always sacrificed principle for career in the past. Popular in his constituency he can be ignored nationally and his acceptance of the plan secured by use of his own slogan in the PR Campaign.
A PR campaign should be designed and managed by the Culture Secretary’s Department, broadcast by the BBC local radio station and published in the Press. The objective would be to win voluntary acceptance of the plan by the majority of the Town’s population by announcing a Government Grant1 towards the cost of modernising its Transport Hub.
The main theme of the campaign should of course be “Build Back Better” but a useful sub-theme would be “Frankie Fights for Our Town” as that was the slogan used by the local MP when he retained his seat in the last General Election.
Containment of Opposition
Some of the existing residents might think they would be disadvantaged by these plans. Any dissatisfaction amongst them should be contained as follows –
- Existing owners should be offered compensation at a rate to be determined by the Treasury and temporary accommodation in a nearby camp on surplus recreational land in the neighbourhood (there is a park with a boating and wildfowl lake nearby that would be eminently suitable).
- To limit any feelings of injustice we recommend the displaced residents should be assured they will only be charged an economic rent for their new accommodation and that service charges will be frozen at their present level plus an annual CPI increase.
- New occupants will of course be invoiced service charges at the cost2 needed to pay off the financiers and contractors of the redevelopment and meet running costs3 for maintenance of the property in future.
- We have estimated the project will not require any additional tax revenue and should be self-financing for residents after the next 2-3 generations.
Eventually, residents will be grateful to be relieved of responsibility for management of their own property. Thereafter they and future generations will own nothing, but they will be happy.
- The cost of such a grant will need to be included in the financing plan for the project that Lord MegaBucks will be willing to produce and fund through MegaBuck Banks Ltd in the City, a wholly-owned subsidiary of ArmsLength Inc of Delaware that is in turn one of many such institutions formed by the Charitable Foundation established by the Goldbug family.
- Lord MegaBucks has recently hosted Sir Phil My-Boots in Fintopia and they have together produced an outline budget for the scheme. You’ll remember Sir Phil is well known to our Chairman through his contributions to Party Funds and is the executive owner of a Contracting Company in the town. They have both assured us the construction and financing costs would be fully competitive with market rates for such projects.
- It might be thought running costs per resident will be lower in such a modern building with its improved insulation but that is unlikely to be the case.
Electricity costs for example are likely to be much higher for two reasons –
The power needed to run the heat pump will be considerable (when it is available).
Prices per KWh will be higher as the margin between installed and available generating capacity will need to be much greater than those common in the fossil and nuclear fuel era due to renewables lower utilisation rates.
FOOTNOTES by Pooter Parkin
Further internet research has revealed :
- The sitting MP in Country Town started life as the son of hard-working lower middle-class parents and was educated at his local Grammar School in the early 1970’s. He went on to gain entry to a good University, worked for a time as a Business Consultant then joined the Party’s Research Unit before becoming an MP.
- That form of social mobility introduced by the 1944 Education Act was of course eliminated by Harold Wilson’s Labour Government when Anthony Crosland was Education Minister in 1965 and instructed Local Education Authorities to Phase-Out publicly funded Grammar Schools – a process that was virtually complete by the early 1980’s.
- The UK now has a system some think is far superior with Party-Managed determination of candidate MPs by appropriate short-listing and Diversity Managers in most publicly funded institutions. These measures ensure Representation and Executive Appointments are made according to Religion, Race, Ethnicity, Gender, Physical Ability/Disability and so on, regardless of Merit, Qualifications, Experience or Aptitude. I sometimes reflect – “It is certainly a more diverse form of social mobility” – but then ask myself – “Is it better”?
- The Goldbug Foundation was created by Eli Goldbug, an immigrant to the United States in the 1860’s from a country in Central Europe. He went on to become a very successful Industrialist and amassed one of the largest fortunes of the era. Eli had many descendants, each of whom inherited a part of his Commercial Empire with one becoming Director of the Charitable Foundation he created. Eli’s objective in doing that was to repay the land of opportunity by supporting philanthropic causes.
- The present Lord Goldbug is one of Eli’s descendants but I have found it impossible to trace the complete family tree and cannot say how remotely connected he is, nor through how many generations.
- He too is well-known for his Philanthropic works, particularly on the remote, private and self-governing Pacific Island of Fintopia, where he resides for much of the time and meets with business associates.
- The indigenous Islanders revere him as a God because his ownership of the island has brought so many improvements to their lives – a bit like the Cargo-Cult people in another part of the Pacific who thought goods jettisoned from damaged aeroplanes during WW II were sent for their benefit by the recently deceased Duke of Edinburgh.
- Sir Phil My-Boots is a self-made businessman and entrepreneur born on the outskirts of Country Town whose main interests centre on the Construction Industry. He is an important figure in the town and has close connections with the Local Council generally and the Planning Committee in particular.
© Pooter Parkin 2021