Digest- March 2021

Digest- March 2021


March 2021

Middle age is when narrow waist and a broad mind exchange places!

The Outlook

We now have dates on the way to saying goodbye to lockdown.  At the time of writing it was 3 days ago that schools fully reopened.  It was at a time of steeply falling cases, hospitalisation and deaths.  There may be an impact but it will take 2 to 3 weeks to show up.  As teachers are still not a priority for vaccination there is no guarantee they will not catch it from a pupil.  The latter are not immune.  My grandson had to isolate after one of his class caught it before Christmas.  If a teacher has to isolate bang goes education!  Also on 8 March one person was allowed to visit relatives in care homes.  This is unlikely to be earth shaking after the national scandal of the treatment of care homes at the outset of the pandemic.

The forward timetable allows 6 to meet outside and organised sport to start from 29 March but I don’t see the weather being that inviting.  12th April sees life close to back to normal with shops, libraries, outdoor hospitality and hairdressers reopening.  I’m looking forward to that as I’m fed up with tripping over at the moment.  17 May heralds two households meeting inside and six in pubs.  The good news is that Balmoral Community Centre will be fully open from 12th April. 

Now for your amusement

From Barry Todman at NPC London.

A man is walking in a graveyard when he hears the Third Symphony played backward. When it’s over, the Second Symphony starts playing, also backward, and then the First. “What’s going on?” he asks a cemetery worker. “It’s Beethoven,” says the worker. “He’s decomposing.”

Joke time…….An artist asked the gallery owner if there had been any interest in his paintings on display at that time. “I have good news and bad news,” the owner replied. “The good news is that a gentleman inquired about your work and wondered if it would appreciate in value after your death. When I told him it would, he bought all 15 of your paintings.” “That’s wonderful,” the artist exclaimed. “What’s the bad news?” “The guy was your doctor.” ….

2. Joke time. Life gets better as you get older, doesn’t it? I was in a coffee shop recently when my stomach started rumbling and I realised that I desperately need to fart. The place was packed but the music was really loud, so to get relief and reduce embarrassment I timed my farts to the beat of the music. After a couple of songs I started to feel much better. I finished my coffee and noticed that everyone was staring at me. Then I suddenly realised I was listening to my Ipod. This is what happens when senior citizens use new technology.

National Health Service

The government plans to ‘take back control’ of the NHS.  They are proposing two things which amount to dismantling the 2012 reorganisation by Andrew Lansley.  I well remember the criticism particularly of perceived privatisation.  Now they want to encourage collaboration between different NHS organisations.  Shades of motherhood. This is diametrically opposed to Lansley who promoted market based competition. 

Next they want to give politicians powers of direction the opposite of having given overall control to NHS England.  The requirement to competitively tender some services is to go as are the Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs). These are GP lead units which buy services from local providers.  They are to be replaced with Integrated Care Systems (ICS) that will bundle local service providers and GPs.  I am somewhat baffled by this last proposal so we will have to see how it turns out.  We shall have to see whether the reforms improve safety and quality of care.  For them to be really effective they would need to provide proper workforce reform to boost staffing levels and a long term plan for social care.  There is little sign of either. 

All this came out before the lamentable proposal to reward front line staff with a 1% pay rise.  This is still reverberating.  I have a firm opinion on this so here is the letter I sent to the Echo and was printed on 9 March:

I recently read a book by Barbara Tuchman entitled ‘The March of Folly’.  Its opening sentence is, “A phenomenon noticeable throughout history regardless of place or time or period is the pursuit by governments of policies contrary to their own self interest”.

Examples are the futile defence of the £ on many occasions,  The US involvement in Vietnam, Gordon Brown’s dumping the 10p tax band, denying needy kids meals in school holidays and now the 1% pay rise for the NHS.

At present there are thousands of vacancies in the NHS which are being covered by more expensive agency workers.  The 1% has provoked howls of protest but government continues to plead poverty.  It is likely the protests will be followed by the workforce shrinking further thus adding to the vacancy list.  Those who leave will have adequate skills to join agencies and find themselves back in familiar places earning significantly more.  The outcome will be that the cost of this is going to far outweigh the 1% and precisely reflects Ms Tuchman’s thesis.

Local News

The Council’s plans for car parking have been much in the news lately.  Here is a clarification kindly provided by Shoebury Community News

The Borough has been divided into 4 car parking zones between 8am and 6pm, Zones 1A, 1B, 2 and 3.  Note the 8am.  It used to be 9am.

The new SOUTHEND PASS costs £102 a year payable by monthly direct debits of £8.50 and is open to all and is for the car not the household, so is available to residents and non-residents of the Borough. This is a year’s contract and cannot be reduced.

The SOUTHEND PASS allows you 3 hours parking in any of the Council’s car parks and on street parking bays across the Borough every day.

PARKING after 6pm is free. 

Outlined below is the cost and you will see the benefits of the Southend Pass..


Normal hourly parking charges will apply for those without the Southend Pass.


The charge for up to 10 hours in the Central Seafront Zone (1a) is £18 between 8am and 6pm which equals £1.80 per hour

Zone 1A – Central Seafront and Thorpe Esplanade

1 Hour £2.50 (Pre-Paid with Pass)

2 Hours £4.50 (Pre-Paid with Pass)

3 Hours £6.50 (Pre-Paid with Pass)

Zone 1B – Town Centre and Shopping Area

1 Hour £1.10 (Pre-Paid with Pass)

2 Hours £2.20 (Pre-Paid with Pass)

3 Hours £3.30 (Pre-Paid with Pass)

Zone 2 – Shoebury Common, East Beach and Leigh

1 Hour £1.00 (Pre-Paid with Pass)

2 Hours £2.00 (Pre-Paid with Pass)

3 Hours £3.00 (Pre-Paid with Pass)

Zone 3 – Charges remain the same Free

The pass will be available using the MOBON app on your phone. For those who do not have a smartphone or the MOBON app there are other ways to pay for the Southend Pass. Please contact the parking team on 01702 215003 for more information.

Car park closing times will remain the same, but these charges will not reduce in the winter, as they do at the moment

Dates for your diary

20 & 21 March:  Town spring clean.  Christine Hindle at makesouthendgreatagain@gmail.com.  to volunteer. She would not give me a phone #.

Sunday 21March:  Census day.  If you have not had a letter call the Council.  01702 215000

21 April:  Members meeting.  2pm at the Balmoral Centre, (Covid-19 Secure, Community Facility) Salisbury Road.  Bob Howes on ‘My life in Music’

© JDS/ March 2021.  Tel 01702 472670