Monday, January 31, 2005

Dissident vs. DSF sound clash on Saturday night – very top. Dissident were playing more breakcore stuff while DSF was more bass-heavy drum'n'bass. It was SO FUCKING LOUD in the main hall it hurt. The hairs on my arms and head were swaying like plants in the sea each time a burst of bass broke over me. In the end I spent a small fortune on laughing gas just to cope. Top night. Recommended. (Plus Dissident have got a 12" out - Fix - S.A.R.S / Crack Whores and Taxis - which is pretty fucking good.)

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Localising Housing
I don’t mean to go all Daily Mail on you but I wish to talk about house prices (see for more info on Daily Mail obsessions). You may have read in the news today some interesting news about houses and prices - really; "...the Yorkshire Dales national park authority is proposing to limit the number of outsiders buying second homes and retirement cottages in the 684 sq miles of the Dales. Under the scheme, which is set to be approved today by the authority's planning committee, virtually all new housing in the area will be reserved for rent or purchase by locals and outsiders taking existing jobs in the area. The restriction will also apply to new conversions of barns and other farm buildings."

While this in itself is not the most major event in history, it does represent something very interesting. Its an admission that the 'free' market cannot deal with that most basic of human need - housing. This plan is being watched with interest by similar minded organisations in Scotland, Wales and even in the South West (Cornwall is interested). Predictably the housing interests have reacted with horror at any messing with their free market; "...the Centre for Economic and Business Research (CEBR) has warned that the proposals could in fact, make the housing shortage worse. They suggest that the plan could slow down the rate of construction in the area and push house prices further out of the reach of local people." It's a pretty bonkers view of capitalism - a world-view that can only be true if first - we let them build lots and lots more houses - and second, the houses they build are not luxury properties beyond the reach of the average person. Which wont happen so their worry is, IMHO, simply scaremongering.

What is also interesting about this story is also that all the places looking at also implementing this idea are rural. Why not in a city? Why not in Bristol? Its the same issue: Take the harbourside developments as an example - they are marketed and advertised nationally. As such non-Bristolian rich people buying them as 'investments' or second homes will be putting pressure on the local housing stock. They are also out of reach of the average person, for example the "refreshing new take on contemporary urban living" aka Crest Nicholson harbourside development has 24 apartments available priced between £151,000 (for Studio Apartment) to £400,000 (for a 2 bedroom penthouse). This avalibility so long after they were completed suggests that the rich local buyers are not there - hence the fact that Crest Nicholson advertised their developments at a National level.

Ultimately all this goes to show the mess the current system of housing is. Want some stability in your life? You have to buy and hope that interest rates don't go bonkers. Can't afford to buy? You're left living in somebody else's investment and at the whim of a 6 Month Assured Short-Hold Tenancy Agreement. Or you can squat, which I admire those who do, but for those with a family, I guess the enhanced uncertainty is hard. If we want secure and safe housing we need to look elsewhere for answers, because today shows all too clearly that the free market has not got them.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

General Thoughts
I have just been to see The Corporation at the Cube. It’s a pretty good film and I would recommend it. The Cube is my most visited cinema at the moment having done new year there, seen the directors cut of Donnie Darko there on new years day too. The directors cut is slightly less confusing that the original, but still good – if slightly less magical.

On the political front a couple of articles worth reading. First is about Tesco, the place where a staggering 1-in-8 pounds spent in the UK ends up. And second is about the role of the destruction of the natural environment in making the impact of the recent tragic tsunami much worse.