By Brian Simpson, MEP
It is really annoying to hear the Energy Secretary Chris Huhne tells us all to “shop around” for better energy prices when all companies seem to be working together when it comes to increasing the price. The average Gas and Electric charge is now £1,300 a year, which means that it has doubled in the last 3 years or so years, leaving a lot of people worried as to whether they can afford to keep warm this winter. So here we are in a modern day Britain in the second decade of the 21st century and people are worried about keeping warm. Disgraceful! Recent increases of 18% for gas and 11% for electricity are higher that the increases of France, Spain and Germany and other EU countries own some of our companies then you begin to wonder whether UK consumers are subsidising the home market of those companies. I think the answer is to re-nationalise the lot of them or at least get the regulator to show some teeth and get to grips with what is becoming a very worrying development.
Flying in Russia
One of my roles as Chairman of the European Parliament’s Transport Committee is to “sign off” what is unofficially known as the aviation black list of those aircraft (and indeed those countries) who our national regulators deem unsafe to fly in the EU. Coming through this confidential list can often bring up the odd surprises even from within the EU, but this pales into insignificance when dealing with a lot of African continent and indeed Russia. Now let me be clear here. Russian aircraft flying into the EU are perfectly safe and indeed the new Tupolou aircraft has been getting some good reviews. But my concerns are centred on the safety record of internal Russian flights, which is not good. We have recently had a spate of incidents including serious crashes at Petrozavodsk and Yaroslavia the latter wiping out the locomotive Yaroslavia Ice Hockey team, with aircraft that would have been banned in the EU. It would seem that the Russian Government has now decided to act which has to be welcomed. But I know from my own experience that sometimes changing the attitude of passengers is the most difficult task. As an example I cite the experience of passengers and crew on a recent Russian Internal flight Moscow to Blagoveshchensk (10 hours) who had to contend with hundreds of bees which had escaped from cardboard boxes smuggled aboard by an inebriated passenger. Internal flights in Russia can be stressful enough at the best of times, without bees buzzing about the plane for 10 hours!
I was sorry that the weather was so awful for the Annual Crab Fair but how anybody managed to climb the greasy pole in that weather was a complete mystery. Still, well done to all involved and as was reported at least the Smiley Train kept on smiling! I wanted as well to add my relief to the news that the new Darzi Clinic is to be started in Cleator Moor before the end of the year and staying with Cleator Moor, I want to thank all at the Pheonix Youth Project for their efforts in making that Project such a great success. I had the pleasure of visiting them last year and was extremely impressed with what I saw.
Finally, can someone let me know how the Smithfield and Longcroft Tenants and Residents Pie and Pea Supper went on at Egremont Rugby League Club? The very thought had my mouth watering and could I ask, was there gravy as well?