Sunday, 8 January 2017

Is it right to charge double for decaffeinated drinks?

This week I ran out of tea bags at work. This is serious stuff. So I called in at Tesco in Madeley on the way to work to buy some more. I would normally buy tea bags from Aldi but they have decided - for reasons that nobody appears to be able to explain - to "regionally discontinue" their own brand decaffeinated tea bags and not stock any alternatives*.

So I went to Tesco, found the tea aisle and was disappointed to find that they were charging more for PG Tips decaf tea bags compared to the caffeinated version. Not just a few pence but a third extra for a box of 40 and more than double for a box of 160.

I ended up buying a different brand that didn't overcharge for decaf but I was annoyed so I called Tesco customer services to try and find out why. They blamed PG Tips for setting the price higher but assured me they would make sure my feedback got to the right people (yeah, right). So I then called PG Tips and spoke to a very helpful man who sympathised entirely with my complaint as his intolerance of caffeine isn't limited to headaches and shakes but to full blown uncontrollable gastric activity. He checked thoroughly and said that they don't set a recommended price for anything they sell to Tesco and that it is entirely down to Tesco to choose how much they charge. So I'm going to write to Tesco now and see what they've got to say for themselves. I suspect they will make sure my feedback goes to the right people and the price of decaf tea won't change.

The above is a little tongue in cheek but it is something that annoys me. Some people choose to forego caffeine for health reasons, some don't get on particularly well with caffeine and others get quite ill if they consume it. I'm a mixture of the first two - I can drink caffeinated drinks in moderation but not all the time so rather than subject my body to something it doesn't like I drink decaf where possible. But choice is limited and it can be more costly which is a little unfair if you have no choice but to drink decaffeinated drinks. It is difficult to find decaffeinated Coke and Pepsi in Telford despite it being something that those companies make in large quantities. You can't even buy it from the local wholesalers and consequently smaller shops are unable to stock it, even if they're willing to as our local shop here in Brookside was when I asked. Decaf tea and coffee is easier to come by but supermarkets often make you pay extra and if you ask for a decaf tea in many places they look at you like you've asked them for some obscure drink that can only be found on a remote island in the Pacific Ocean.

Is it too much to ask that decaf drinks are as freely available and similarly priced to caffeinated versions and that supermarkets don't try and pass the buck when putting a big margin on a product that many people have no choice but to buy?


* Tetley decaf tea bags appeared at Aldi in Madeley after I phoned them up last week to find out why they no longer sold decaf!

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Free security marking for bikes

The police will be outside Brookside Central today offering free "CRE Mark" security stickers for bikes.

Head down there with your bike between 10am and noon and they will fit the sticker and register your bike for free so that if it is ever lost or stolen it can be easily identified and traced back to you.

Saturday, 24 December 2016

It's getting late on Christmas Eve and it's time for a few days off.

Here's hoping you have a Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukkah, Cool Yule, Special Solstice and Crazy Kwanzaa.

I'll be back in a few days.

Friday, 23 December 2016

Fly tipping, loose steps and a broken road

More fly tipping has appeared behind the mobile phone mast on Brookside Avenue between Briarwood and Stirchley Road. This is the second time in the last couple of weeks that rubbish has been dumped here.


I also reported loose steps by Reynolds House earlier today. These are the steps that lead up to the footbridge that goes over the town centre ring road to where Asda used to be. The top set of steps were blocked off some time ago because they came loose and filled in with soil to make a lovely planter full of weeds.

After stepping on one step that tipped up when I stepped on it I check some others to find that a lot of them were loose. An officer was being sent to inspect them this afternoon.


Finally, I have had a response (after complaining to the Chief Executive of the council) to my numerous reports of possible subsidence on Holyhead Road at Snedshill. They have now inspected the road and decided that a utility trench is failing but because the area of road that needs fixing is more than 100m² they have to apply for capital funding in next year's budget. I have passed this on to my colleague +Thomas Hoof who sits on St George's & Priorslee Parish Council so that they can apply some pressure on the council to ensure the work is funded next year.

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Brookside Central Christmas Closing

Brookside Central will be closed from 4pm tomorrow (23rd December) until Tuesday 3rd January.

In the new year there will be plenty of volunteering opportunities at Brookside Central with Take 5 Café, staffing the community centre and the other community groups who are based at Brookside Central.

No automatic alt text available.

Petition calling for an independent inquiry into Child Sexual Exploitation

This week a petition I submitted calling for an independent inquiry into Child Sexual Exploitation in Telford was finally approved by the government's petition police after several chasing emails and agreeing to some minor changes of wording at their behest.

Telford & Wrekin has more reports of Child Sexual Exploitation per capita than anywhere else in the UK. There are 15 reports per 10,000 people in Telford & Wrekin compared to 6.4 in Rotherham. An independent inquiry would establish (as it did in Rotherham) the facts behind this disturbing statistic.

Telford has been described as the "child sex capital of Britain". There could be as many as 2,300 victims in Telford & Wrekin - 40% more than Rotherham's 1,400 - based on being 2 and a half times more likely to be a victim in Telford & Wrekin which has 60% of the population of Rotherham.

I would urge anyone concerned about this child abuse scandal to sign the petition and share it with friends and family. We won't get the facts by sweeping it under the carpet, we need someone who doesn't a vested interest in keeping the problem out of the public eye to find them as they did in Rotherham.

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Sajid Javid's oath of Britishness could prevent me being a councillor

Sajid Javid MP, the Communities Secretary, has proposed that all public office holders should have to swear an oath of allegiance to British values.

Local government and civil service is devolved so Javid is the Communities Secretary for England, not Britain. That means that if his proposals become law it will only apply in England and only people in England will have to pledge an oath of Britishness.

I consider myself English, not British and was a director and patron of the Campaign for an English Parliament until a few years ago. I would never make any pledge of Britishness but in the future that might find me and others banned from being a councillor. Is it really reasonable to expect people who don't have a British identity - SNP and Plaid councillors and MPs, people who identify as English, for example - to pledge allegiance to something they don't believe in?

If Javid really wants to promote community cohesion then he should stop trying to impose a one-size-fits-all Britishness on an unwilling population and end the divisive doctrine of multiculturalism. Acceptance isn't something that people can be forced into with laws.