Mice, men, snow. Slings and arrows. Outrageous vicissitudes.

011My youngest daughters decided to forego a lift to school and chose instead to tackle the mile and a half on foot. I was quite relieved; my drive home from work last night was slow and uneventful on the A127, but my journey through Leigh-on-Sea was quite worrying.

The roads looked untreated, and I was not using back routes. When there is snow about I always stick to main roads. I saw buses slipping and sliding, and making very slow progress. I saw a couple of prangs, and a number of skidding cars. My brakes were largely ineffectual and I am glad that I put some distance between myself and the cars in front or else a collision would have been inevitable. It was very slippery, very slippery indeed.

I am not about to rant about the salt spreading in the borough. It cannot be a pleasant job, and however much is laid down there will always be places missed. Besides, the salt only has limited effectiveness.

I live on a main road. I have buses and fire tenders up and down the road all the time, and so my road is usually navigable. Even so, it is a hill, and when the snow fall is heavy it is still tricky.

I started checking my emails very early this morning; Hope and Florence were wishing for the regular stream of school closures emails to include theirs at some point; hard luck girls, your school is open. However, some ten schools are closed this morning.

There will be recriminations; in my short time as a councillor I have seen quite a number of emails complaining about school closures and the seeming unpreparedness regarding the snow. I am not sure I entirely agree with those that complain.

We now live in a world where we do not necessarily live close to where we work, or the school our children attend. Therefore, anything that disrupts journeys is going to mean there will be places of employment where workers fail to attend. It is annoying, frustrating even. Children off school will sometimes mean parents having to make special arrangements, or using up some of their annual leave.

As far as I can tell every school tries to stay open, gritters try to clear the main routes, the council aims for a business as usual approach despite the vicissitudes of the British weather. Of course we could do better, but we must also be realistic. Sometimes, in spite of the best laid plans, things get disrupted.


Oh George, what have you done?

Three years ago this country entered the deepest recession for seventy years, brought about by an international banking crisis. The last government steered us through some choppy waters and we emerged from the recession last year. They bequeathed the incoming coalition some very positive economic indicators.

In less than a year we have lurched from good growth figures to negative growth. This gives me no cheer, despite my repeated warnings that the coalition’s plans were bad and destructive. The cuts are not only going to be catastrophic for public services, it is damaging the economy.

With rising taxes and unemployment it is no wonder that public confidence is failing. The coalition’s plans for dealing with the deficit are cuts that go too deep, too fast, and do nothing to stimulate the economy. Growth is needed, and the private sector has not produced it. Remember that Osborne’s promises included job creation in the private sector.

I am no deficit denier; clearly the deficit should be tackled. I do deny that cuts are the only way – I think increased tax take through economic growth would have gone a long way to sorting out our debt. I also think that last year’s recovery was clearly fragile, and the coalition’s plans were too drastic and too soon.

In the eight short months of this Tory government we have seen a bust in double-quick time. 2011 promises to be a painful year.

And what does the Chancellor offer up by way of explanation for the latest set of bad economic figures – snow. Did it never snow during the Labour years?

We need a change of direction, and we need it now.