Freesteel Blog » 2009 » July

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009 at 6:41 am - - Cave

At this moment I am sitting in the park in Bas Aussee borrowing a wifi hotspot which I discovered two years ago, since the town’s one and only internet cafe shut down.

I am supposed to be doing lots of caving, but I am in fact hacking lots of cave software, until I get marched up the hill by Becka into the Loser Plateau.

I successfully avoided caving all of last week because my dad was visiting. We went for a long walk over the the crazy landscape that looks like this:



Thursday, July 23rd, 2009 at 6:42 am - - Weekends 1 Comment »

As I’m now on second part of the summer holiday, I find it hard to keep track of what I was doing.

Here are a couple of snaps from the Raid Alpine I was made to do by Becka. I didn’t pay any attention to the plans beforehand, because they were scary.

There would have been even more whinging by me if it wasn’t for the other seven mostly normal people (including Martin and Stella) in our group for her to measure up my lack of performance and conclude that I “wasn’t trying”.

These cols are such a long way up and it was just soooo hot.

Here’s a picture from Col d’Iseran looking at the pretty side:


And here’s one looking in the ugly direction towards the ski resort of Val d’Isere:


Here’s the lowest point of the trip. The weather was perfect almost throughout, except for the last two days when there were episodes of hard rain. Here is a man in a false teeth factory gave us directions for getting out of Annecy after we got lost in an industrial estate.


And here’s the high point, the first big French breakfast before we got tired of crusty bread and started to pine for english breakfasts of soft fried eggs, soft beans, and soft toast:


This was more or less the same crew as went on the 2006 (slow) raid Pyrenees, but with Martin who — this time — had not broken his collar bone while doing some pre-trip cycle training.

Just goes to show how risky it is to take holidays seriously enough to do fitness training for.

Tuesday, July 21st, 2009 at 6:13 am - - Whipping

What do you do when you spot that the Freedom of Information Act is missing from the list of statutory considerations for when the council wishes to summarily deny public access when they are discussing financial or business affairs of any entity including themselves?

Dear Sir or Madam,

I have noticed that decision L/6 regarding Neptune Theatre made by the Executive Board of Liverpool City Council on 22 May 2009 (and related documents) has been declared restricted by virtue of paragraph 3 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972:

“Information relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular person (including the authority holding that information)”

which is not required to be registered by any of the following Acts:

The Companies Act 1985, The Friendly Societies Act 1974, The Friendly Societies Act 1992, The Industrial and Provident Societies Acts, The Building Societies Act 1986, The Charities Act 1993 (link)

It appears that the very wide-ranging Schedule 12A was inserted by The Local Government (Access to Information) (Variation) Order 2006 under the powers of the Local Government (Access to Information) Act 1985, and I am of the opinion that it was an oversight not to include the Freedom of Information Act 2000 among those acts that have to be taken into consideration when deciding to hold council business in secret.

Please may I have disclosure of this decision and related documents for this agenda item considered under the Freedom of Information Act.

It worked.

Nothing particularly exciting, though, beyond the usual dispute of a landlord demanding loads of money to allow a tenant to upgrade the premises, or something like that.

The Council has operated the Neptune Theatre since the late 1960’s. The Council leases the Theatre from a commercial landlord who receives from the Council an annual rental fee which has been £6k. The Council also pay the landlord an annual service charge for the Theatre, currently £53k.

In May 2005 the City Council received a report detailing the poor and deteriorating condition of the Theatre building. The report identified the need for major internal refurbishment and works required to comply with the Disability Discrimination Act and Health and Safety at Work Act…

Since this date there have been protracted negotiations between the Landlord and the Council. To bring these negotiations to a conclusion the parties eventually engaged the services of an external arbitrator. The arbitrator has now issued his Award in the sum of £23,900pa increasing the lease from the £6000 pa previously payable but considerably less than the £55,000 pa the landlords agents were proposing.

Now why the heck would the Council want to hide this information and outcome from the public even for a minute? Doesn’t look like it’s in their interests. Is it just a matter of habit?

Maybe it’s time for a Local Government (Access to Information) (Done Properly) Order 2009.