Greenwich Drops Crossword and TV listings to keep publishing weekly newspaper

Eric Pickles has been raging against ‘Town Hall Pravdas’ and published guidance. But local authorities want to break the statutory notifications monopoly.

To get around this ‘guidance not law’ my own local authority Greenwich in a Cabinet report Tuesday proposes continuing publishing Greenwich Time, by dropping the crossword and TV listings.

The guidance says that they ‘should not seek to mimic local papers’ and should be not published more than quarterly.

The report says that a weekly publication is more cost effective than a quarterly publication because of economies of scale and the need to advertise statutory notices on a weekly basis.

Group asked to give ‘Gypsy and Traveller Awareness Training’ to Dale Farm Eviction Bailiffs

From a message posted on Traveller Times, transcript of actual phone call.

Basildon council: Hi is this Share? can you please do us some bespoke training on culture and awareness for Gypsies and Travellers?
SHARE: Sure, can I take a few details please?
Basildon council: its to support the bailiffs in the removal of the Gypsies and Travellers at dale farm and I’m calling on behalf of N Dungekivutu head of Equality and Diversity at Basildon Council, can you give us training to remove women and children from Dale Farm?
SHARE: Im sorry, we can give the council equality and diversity training to SUPPORT Gypsies and Travellers but the team wont give you training to remove women and children from a Traveller site NO, the team would NOT be happy with that.
Basildon council: Well we have a team of about 100 bailiffs that need to be shown how to remove Gypsy and Traveller women and children from their homes, it is under review but its definately going ahead but we understand it is quite controversial…
SHARE: Im just not happy giving training to a team of men that are going to forcibly remove women and children from their homes.
Basildon Council: Well if I give you a call tomorrow say 10am do you think you could ask your team if they would do it?
SHARE disconnects call.

Abramovich’s girlfriend runs Architectural Competition for St Petersberg New Holland Island Complex

Chelsea fans worried about Andre Villas-Boa’s budget for replacement of his clapped out and aging squad need look no further than the massive project being run by Roman Abramovich’s girlfiriend Daria Zhukova, through her Zhukova Iris foundation – which previously developed the Garage contemporary arts space in Moscow.  

The New Holland Island Project in St Petersberg is a 7.6 Ha $427 million 7 year project to create an arts and exhibition led project on an island for over 300 years occupied only by the military yet situated in the heart of St Petersberg.  The project is bound to create a more lasting legacy than the puffed up mansions on St Georges hill beloved of Chelsea players.  A previous 2006 scheme by Sir Norman Foster for the site was cancelled when the developer ran into trouble, although they had already demolished several buildings.

“We are starting completely from scratch,” …“The previous project was not popular with local residents.” 


The 18th Century warehouses on the island are required to be maintained, and a cultural and arts led exhibition led project is an obvious use for such an amazing site, which arguably is the most important heritage-led regeneration project in Europe. It was used as a timber-drying facility in the 18th century and later used to test new ship designs.  Peter the Great of course used to work as a carpenter at Woolwich Arsenal and that influence is clear here. Perhaps his girlfriend then is an Arsenal fan.

From an architectural competition of 8 projects run by the Architecture Foundation a shortlist of four has gone on display, and on the 16th of July the Island has been opened to the public for the first time so they can properly assess the entries.


The shortlisted practices are David Chipperfield Architects (UK/Germany), MVRDV (Netherlands), Studio 44 (Russia) and WORKac (USA).

The David Chipperfield scheme is probably the favorite with his famous clean horizontal lines.  I was rude about his Waterloo project a few weeks ago but he is on much firmer ground here.  Th cultural space would be subsidised by retail and office space, as well as residential real estate, with the former naval prison being turned into a hotel.

The MVRDV scheme is to treat the spaces as a curatble ruin surrounded by plastic art and a big crane – ridiculous student project.  No serious consideration of conservation of the heritage asset.

Local firm Studio 44 propose a forest – echoing the past use of the site – where others have placed new buildings, and have an imaginative modular tratement of the interior spaces of buildings.  If they came second to Chipperfield say the jury could legimitimately ask the winnder to work with Studio 44 on the interior spaces.

WORKac’s scheme involves a permanently thethered balloon and many cut out roofs, manages to make the complex look like a supermarket.

The winning project will be announced at the beginning of August, but will not necessarily be implemented brick for brick 

Capitalisms Last Frontier#21 A Token of Value

Theories over the origin of money are impossible to separate from the function of money the theorist assigns.  So for example if the theorist considers the key role of money to be payment of taxes then the theory will assign the origin of money to the origins of the state and the extraction of taxation.

The task here is to examine monetary origins without preconceptions as to what its functions are; rather to consider how those functions came to be and how this changed what came to be modern money.

We shall begin this examination by looking at primitive money, that is money before the invention of coin.  This requires us to be careful about preconceptions about what role money performs

“Primitive Money performs some of the functions of our own money, but rarely all…failure to understand the reasons for such differences leas to disputes about bridewaelth versus brideprice, to arguments about whether cows, pig tusks, and potlacj coppers are ‘really’ money, to the assumption that modern coinage merely ‘replaces’ indigenous forms of money, and to disagreements of authorities over minimal definitions of money.  In these disputes the characteristics of American or European money are too often used as a model.” Primitive Money, George Dalton American Anthropologist New Series, Vol. 67, No. 1 (Feb., 1965)

A good example of such preconceptions come from some ethnographical writings on the issue. or example a common theme is that money did not have an economic origin.The preconception being that money is a circulating means of exchange with no non-economic role, and utility solely as money. ;But it is rarely that straightforward.  Items that developed as money often had other purposes, such as ceremonial, or displays of wealth, which later gradually took on wider economic forms.  

Similarly we must look with circumspection that some societies, such as famously the Incas ‘had no money’ when they certainly did use certain goods, such as cacao beans and salt, as a medium of exchange.  

Indeed a vast range of goods were used as primitive money. as AH Quiggin points out

Salt, red ochre, tea, feathers, slaves, human skulls, woodpecker scalps, flying fox jaws, teeth, pigs, horses, goats, sheep skins, cocoa beans, almonds, rice, beeswax, tobacco, cloth, giant stone disks and countless other objects have been ‘money’ at various times and places. ( A Survey of Primitive Money. The Beginnings of Currency(London, 1949))

Money did not have a single origin but deems to have developed independently in many different parts of the world.

Most traditional societies evolved money, the main exceptions being some scattered hunter gatherer cultures.  Although there is no evidence of socities using barter as a ‘stage’ before money (as was universally bellieved before the 1920s, and still this view is heard today occasionally), it is equally incorrect to believe that there are no non-monetary socities, with is the more common ‘textbook’ view today.  There are ethnographical examples of groups that have no conception of a means of exchange but do have of barter.

Indeed some items can both be used as barter – for its own intrinsic worth, and as a means of exchange and store of value.

One of the most important improvements over the simplest forms of early barter was first the tendency to select one or two particular items in preference to others so that the preferred barter items became partly accepted because of their qualities in acting as media of exchange although, of course, they still could be used for their primary purpose of directly satisfying the wants of the traders concerned. Glyn Davies A History of money from ancient times to the present day, new ed. Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 2002. Page 10).

Current thinking amongst archaeologists is that money originated as a store of value, or rather a memory symbol of a store of value, especially in cultures where subsistence depended on the labour of a family, and the loss of a family member, or a bad season or weather event, could lead to starvation.  Given that food is perishable finding a store of value enabled exchange of that store for another agricultural surplus that year.  The ability to exchange surplus for a bride, to compensate for the loss of labour, may also have been key (WILLIAMS, J. (Editor) Money: A History (London, 1997))

It is worth considering the classical functions of money:  In the childrens versions of old textbooks “Money is a matter of functions four, a medium, a measure, a standard, a store.”  A medium of exchange, a unit of account, a store of value, a standard of deferred payment (that is a means of settleing a debt).  

The functions performed by the earliest types were probably fairly restricted initially and would not have have been the same, necessariliy, in all societies.

Many items can perform the function of a store of value.  For example today hoarding a gold bar may perform this, certainly housing is used as such a store.  But that doesnt make gold, or housing money.

The example of Yak Stone money, where any good could be used as a unit of account, but only stone money, vast and immovable, could be used to store value, shows us that the storing of value is the necessary function of money, but it is not sufficient.  Given that exchange of value requires a store of value storage is logically prior to exchange.  But storage requires a means of exchange to enable economic transactions.  

Many items that later went on to form early forms of money had symboloic value, for example the display of wealth, religious value, or a symbol of a brideprice, but these were not always tradable initially.  It is easy to read backwards and state, as some ethnologists do, that the early ‘functions’ of money were not economic, as the basis of such evidence, rather than corectly adducing that symbolic items acquired monetary use through use.

Glyn Davies quotes linguistic evidence to show how ancient and widespread the association between cattle and money was. The English words “capital”, “chattels” and “cattle” have a common root. Similarly “pecuniary” comes from the Latin word for cattle “pecus” while in Welsh the word “da” used as an adjective means “good” but used as a noun means both “cattle” and “goods”.

This illustrates the importance of cattle as a store of value.  But it is difficult to exchange, you cannot exhange a qauarter of a cow without slaugtering it.  So goods that could be divided and assessed though weight or number gathered the functions of money as well, aiding the echange function of money.  The words “spend”, “expenditure”, and “pound” (as in the main British monetary unit) all come from the Latin “expendere” meaning “to weigh”.

From means of exchange by number and weight – quantative money-  it was less of a leap to developm full commodity money.  That is objects that have value in themselves as well as for use as money.

Quantative money was used in Ancient China, Africa, and India in the form of cowry shells. Trade in Japan’s feudal system was based on the koku – a unit of rice per year. The shekel was an ancient unit of weight and currency;The name shekel was based on the Akkadian she, which was the early name for barley. Barley was used as the original medium of weight—and the shekel was equal in weight to 180 grains of barley, or around 11 grams. The first usage of the term came from Mesopotamia circa 3000 BC.

OECD – UK should adopt Continental Style Property Tax


the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) says Britain should adopt a Continental European-style property tax.
Pier Carlo Padoan, chief economist of the OECD, says George’s Osborne’s cuts are “appropriate,” but the Chancellor must do much more to stimulate Britain’s economy. Mr Padoan argues he should scrap many VAT exemptions – including food, passenger transport and domestic fuel – and abolish council tax and stamp duty in favour of “a property tax based on market values.”
Leading accountants described the proposals, to be set out in the August edition of Prospect magazine, as “revolutionary”

The Telegraph sees this as an attack on the property owning classes, however Vince Cable has backed the idea.

In theory a tax of around 1% of total value could replace council tax, SDLT and inheritance tax. It would affect those on fixed incomes, but some incentive to downsize is good, and it would be easier to collect then many other forms of tax. Above all it would help shift the culture away from speculative investment on house prices, as this would be automatically deflated. Rather, like in some countries where such taxes apply, housing is seen as more of a utility.

Gove backs ‘flatpack schools’ in BSF replacement

On Tuesday Micheal Gove the Education Secretary announced the successor programme to Buildings Schools for the Future as well as emergency funding of half a billion to help avoid the schools places crisis that is bound to dominate the headlines this September.  Following the Sebastian James (of Dixons) report earlier this year he said:

I have accepted his recommendation to move towards greater standardisation of design of school buildings. One of the aspects of the BSF programme Mr James criticised was that each school was separately designed costing unnecessary millions in consultancy fees and often resulting in buildings which were not fit for purpose. Greater standardisation will reduce costs, improve quality and limit the opportunity for error.  

The RIBA has been fiercely lobbying, offering to jointly look at ways to reduce costs.

A number of recent modular secondary schools, in York and Bewdely, by Yorkon, have shown the potential for both costs savings, being delivered on time and on budget, and good sustainable design.  What is more the autocad files are delivered to council architects, enabling them to tweak the design and external experience to the site, the best of both worlds.  


Shapps backs pro-Self-Build Action Plan

Grant Shapps has today backed an action plan produced by the self- build working party. Key measures include:

  • More land be made available for self-builders. It calls for Government to ask councils to gauge the demand for self build in their area and account for this in their planning strategies.
  • New implementation models, which include making serviced plots available to self builders, be actively promoted across the industry and the public sector.
  • Lenders be encouraged to offer more finance products for those building their own home.
  • Revolving funds should be made available to support group self build schemes, which Mr Shapps has pledged to give serious consideration to.
  • Over-burdensome regulations hampering the growth of the sector be removed or simplified, and calls for Government to introduce more proportionate planning rules for small developments.
  • The self build industry itself needs to provide clearer independent information to would-be self builders. A new online self build ‘portal’ is proposed to be set up to enable more people to get a project underway

Also of interest is an international comparisons report produced by the Dept, we have previously covered the more positive climate for self-build in the Netherlands on this blog before, as well as Shropshire innovatove self-build exceptions site model.

Is Beijing Considering Road Pricing or Workplace Parking Charges?

According to China Daily

Liu Xiaoming, director of the Beijing Municipal Commission of Transport, suggested in a report to the Beijing Municipal People’s Congress that the city adopt “both economic and administrative measures” to further reduce the use of private cars and divert private car owners to public transport.

Liu said this should be the city’s “primary policy target” in solving traffic congestion.

Although Liu has suggested that charges for private cars will be increased, neither he nor the commission have specified what measures will follow the raising of parking fees in April.

This hints that Beijing may be considering more radical measures.

A series of measures to cut traffic were put in place in the first half of this year, including a rise in fees in public parking and license plate rationing (leading to second hand cars now being more expensive that new cars.  These measures had some effect, parking at parking garages have fallen by 12-19%, and traffic speeds have risen, but so has the volume of traffic indicating that their is some induced traffic, one suspects from PNR parking sources and more trips by those with old license plates.

Beijing is undertaking the largest subway construction project in history.  There can be no complaints that downtown Beijing will be covered by this.  But 42% modal split for a city of this size and importance is too low, it should be aiming for 60% within 10 years and 80% within 20.

To do this it needs to:

  • Eliminate all public parking garages for workplace parking within the inner two ring roads and close to subway stations/BRT corridors.
  • Integrate bus, subway and rail – at every level
  • Introduce proper bus priority – the photo below shows the current chaos – including a radical prioritisation (& enforcement) in favour of BRT on key orbital and radial routes – extending radically the current BRT network (3 lines, with no interconnections, and only one route for the whole of the west of the City). with more conventional bus prioritisation on narrower and older roads.
  • Bring back trams, not just the tourist tram, especially for interconnection in the central area and to connect large new developments.
  • Integrate cycle parking and public transport (for example no bicyle parking at BRT stations despite huge bicycle volumes)
  • Introduce large pedestrian only areas, especially around historic city centre and CBD, and introduce large bicyle only highways throughout city.
  • Introduce workplace parking taxes in the short term and road pricing in the medium term – with charges varying by ring road band.  The structure of Beijing would make it one of the easiest large cities in the world to enact this.
  • Introduce radical emissions controls on diesel vehicles, including break bulk to electric  or hydrogen delivery vehicles in the inner two ring roads.

Most of the above problems results from the compartmentalised bureaucratic structure of the City, silo working.