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Tuesday, 1 August 2017

WALES - A SMALL COUNTRY WITH A BIG HEART

WALES - A SMALL COUNTRY WITH A BIG HEART
For Posterity

Wales has a population of some 3 Millions and it is one of the oldest and smallest Countries in the World.
The Welsh language is one of the oldest spoken languages in the World.
In West Wales and North Wales the majority of the citizens still speak Welsh and avidly protect and rightly cherish the Welsh language.

This Celtic Nation is a proud Nation but most people regard its integration into The United Kingdom as sacred.
I am Welsh but I am also strongly first and foremost British in my loyalty and outlook. Long may the Monarchy of Great Britain flourish and survive.

Wales has an identity that makes me so proud of my heritage.
I love Welsh songs, it's Choirs, its Rugby and Football, its Eisteddfod, its History and the thousands of Welshmen who fought in the World Wars 1 and 2.  Many gave their lives, including my Welsh Father to defend Britain.

I love Welsh food such as Lavabread - a special type of seeweed which they harvest at Penclwdd near Swansea. I like Cockles from Swansea Market covered in Oatmeal, Welsh Lamb, Bara Menyn - a special type of bread, Welsh Beef, Milk from West Wales, Butter from Mid Wales and so on. They even produce Red and White Wines in Wales as well as Welsh Whiskey. Yum Yum !

Years ago, I hit on the idea of filling jars with Lavabread, attractive packaging, sold as a type of Welsh Caviar through shops such as Harrods and Selfriges in London and at major retail Supermarkets.
The Plan was to buy up the existing Lavabread production units in West Wales and expand as the business  grew. Perhaps one day one of my Grandchildern will become Lavabread Millionaires !

Welsh people are friendly people. They love to say...
Croeso am Cymru...Welcome to Wales.
Each year, there is a warm welcome for The International Festival of Song and Dance held in Llangollen, North Wales. There is Peace, Unity and Happiness through the performances of people of many Nationalities.
The natural environment of Wales is simply breathtaking. Whether you visit the majestic mountains of Snowdonia in a North Wales,
The annual Eisteddfod held alternatively in North Wales and South Wales is a feast of Welsh Song, Dance, Poetry and Heritage.

The beautiful beaches of South Wales, particularly the Gower Peninsular, will make you marvel at the natural beauty of such a relatively small Country.
There is a certain lump in the throat when one crosses the Severn Bridge and passes the sign - Welcome to Wales. Yes, Wales is a very welcoming Country.

People talk to each other in the streets. They know their
neighbours. They help their neighbours in time of trouble.
Music is at the heart of Welsh People. In many a terrace house you will see in the front room - the Best Room , an upright piano.
Many schoolchildren take singing lessons.

Gone are the days when the Welsh fought the English. Throughout Wales, the visitor will see many Castles built by English Kings.
Today, the enemy are the English Rugby Team. However, the rivalry is in fun and not in anger - unless the English narrowly beat the Welsh.

Yes, Wales and England share a common future. The Welsh Nationalist Party, Plaid Cymru represent only a fraction of Welsh
Political opinion.
Devolution has given the Welsh Assembly in Cardiff a great deal of power. Of course, Politicians always want more power.
The vote to leave the EU was backed by a majority of the Welsh Electorate. The future of Wales is intertwined with the future of England and The United Kingdom. The Millions of servicemen from all over the United Kingdom who gave their lives in WW1 and WW2 did not give their sacrifice to see their Country torn apart by Political rivalry and insular perspective.

I want my Grandchildren to appreciate Wales. They may live most of their adult lives in England but I would like to see part of their Hearts in Wales. This is my legacy wish for them.

Thank you Wales for a lifetime of pride for my Welsh Heritage.
Thank you South Wales, North Wales and Mid Wales for giving me such pleasure over so many years. Diolch yr Fawr -Thank you very much.

Floreat Swansea my home Town. Cymru am Byth my Nation of Birth.

God Save the Queen and all the peaceful people of Great Britain -
England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland - and our friends throughout Europe. We may leave the EU but  we will not leave Europe.








THE COMMONWEALTH WAR GRAVES COMMISSION

THE COMMONWEALTH WAR GRAVES COMMISSION - CWGC.
An unfinished WW2 Case Study

No one who watched the Ceremonies on BBC TV at the Menin Gate and Passhendaile Cemetery in Belgium to commemorate the 100 years since in 1917 more than 500,000 Allied soldiers died or were injured, could fail to be impressed by the work of the CWGC.
The way in which the white headstones were beautifully managed after so many years is a great impressive example of the work of the CWGC.
All over Northern France and Belgium you will find similar cemeteries managed so well by the CWGC. Thousands of white headstones with the bodies and remains of service personnel from the World Wars 1 and 2. After so many years, the headstones are clean, well maintained with little gardens of flowers.
I am very proud of the CWGC and their main supporters The Royal British Legion.

The families of those lost in the two World Wars are rightfully thankful to the CWGC for all their fine work. It is right and proper for the CWGC to leave this Legacy to the young as well. They must realise what War is all about. It is not glamorous. It is full of death and injury. They must remain alert to Dictatorship, challenges to Democracy and Terrorism. Good must prevail if we want to live a life of Freedom.
One can appreciate the difficulty for the CWGC identifying bodies or body parts. It was and is a difficult task.

However, to be realistic, mistakes are made by the CWGC.

In 2016, my brother and I discovered where Lancaster Bomber
EM- L crashed on the 18 October 1943. This was due to a great German Hero from Hannover, Herr Dirk Hartman.
We were given proof of the crash site by a Police Report, Witness Statement and Fragments of the Lancaster. Robert Hardman of the Daily Mail covered the whole story in such a caring and wonderful manner.

Dirk Hartman also discovered an official Report stating that on the 18 October 1943, Two Coffins were taken to the site near the road from Ronnenberg, the body parts of 6 charred airmen were taken and burried with 6 other Coffins in a communal grave at Ronnenberg Cemetery.

Another official Report listed the contents of each of the 8 Coffins burried at Ronnenberg.
In 1946 all 8 Coffins  were dug up and taken to the new Hannover War Cemetery.

We have photographic evidence of grave Headstones with 2 names per gravestone at Hannover War cemetery - making 14 body parts remains. These have been identified by name.
20 bodies / parts were taken to Hannover War Cemetery. There are  6 bodies / parts left unaccounted for.  EM- L bodies / parts burried at Ronnenberg in Coffins 7 and 8 amounted to 6. One Rear Air Gunner had bailed out and was a prisoner until repatriation in 1944 by the Germans.

Near to the headstones which are named at Ronnenberg Cemetery are some Headstones which are unmarked.
The British Legion in Hannover have stated that there are no records available to say what happened to Coffins 7-8.

We believe that the unmarked Headstones near the named Headstones from Ronnenberg contain the bodies / parts of 6 members of the crew of EM-L.

We appreciate the difficulties for the CWGC after WW2. We understand how documents could get lost.
However, we believe that we have all the circumstantial and positive evidence in Report form, to get the CWGC to place the names of the 6 crew members of EM- L on the Headstones identified.

Understandable mistakes can be made. We think that the burden of proof is on our side.





THE FOREIGN AID BUDGET - TIME FOR CHANGE

THE FOREIGN AID BUDGET
Time for Change

I do not think that there are many people In Britain Today who approve of the way the £ Multi - Billions Foreign Aid Budget is spent. Neither do I.

Here are some facts -

16% of the Overseas Budget is spent on Crisis Relief monitored by the Charities and the UN
The UK spent £12.1 Billions. It met its target of 0.7% of GDP.
37% goes to the UN
63% goes via Bi-Lateral Aid
The USA spend 2% of GDP
Most of the UK Aid goes to -
Pakistan
Ethiopia
Nigeria
Afghanistan
Syria

All countries suspect for corruption and lack of Accountability.








Some of the problems with the Policy of Allocation is that sometimes 5% is charged by the Foreign Government for handling the allocation of monies. Too often, some monies are creamed off by the Foreign Government, their Civil Servants or by Distribution Companies. There have also been examples of goods being resold privately. The whole system is a shambles.

The British Government and the Civil Service must harbour a lot of the blame. Too often, they leave it to the Foreign Governments to disperse the monies as they feel fit.
Many times, the money allocation is not vetted and audited. There is poor Management control over the funds.
The pipeline of funds can sometimes be lost in a mire of confusion, lack of Progress Control and Management of Outcomes.
Yes, what a shambles ! No Project Management in place.
What can be done about this shambles ?

Many people in Britain think the answer is to cut the Budget by £Billions and pay the money into the NHS Budget. I agree with the sentiments but this could be a hit or miss way of reducing the Foreign Aid Budget.

I propose another route........
Allocate monies but via The Charity Organisations.
I  think we know that Charities are honest and they will allocate on the ground to those causes that need the aid.
 The Charities will ensure that the Aid reaches people who need Clean Water, Food, Crops, Education, Habitats, Clothing and so n.

Accountability from the Charities will be more accurate than from foreign Governments. No back handlers, no Special Bonuses or Commissions, no cooking the Books !
I trust the Charities such as Oxfam, Save the Children, the Churches and so on.

Of course there will be an outcry from the Foreign Governments and the corruption that goes with some of them.
However, the British Government cannot go on forever with the present Policy.

I for one has lost faith in our Civil Servants who allocate the Foreign Aid Budget. I believe that we are wasting £Billions of tax payers money with the present system.

So, what are we frightened of ? Start introducing the new Policy in fases. Cut out the Middlemen. Deal direct with the people in need-via the Charities.

However, make sure that he Charities are audited as well.


Tuesday, 25 July 2017

THE WELLBEING OF STUDENTS IN THE UK

THE WELLBEING OF HIGHER LEVEL STUDENTS IN THE UK

I have spent a lifetime on and off as a University Student.
In between, I have some 30 years experience as Chief Executive during which I recruited and trained many young students and older students - Many on day release to attend a College to pursue a qualification which I encouraged my employees to achieve.

What about the Wellbeing of Students ?

How can Society look after the Welfare of Students who will be the bedrock of Britain's prosperity in the future ?

1 - Financial Pressures

The present formula of charging a Student £9,000 per annum, payable over a period of time in the working lives is a big burden.
My proposed change is to allocate a £27,000 allowance against tax, so that over time, these fees and high debts are repaid so that the cost to Students is £Nil.
Controversial ? Certainly. Practical over time accounting for inflation and Net Present Value ( NPV ) - certainly. At least it deserves discussion of the Pros and Cons. It is innovative !

2 - Student Housing and Facilities

I strongly support providing more rooms in Houses of Residence and at worse, houses for 4 - 6 Students.
Placing young students in Bed and Breakfast facilities, sometimes more than 1 hour travelling time each way to University is a very bad system.
A sole student in such place can get very lonely, missing friends and can get depressed before anyone notices.

3 - Quality of Teaching

Once up a time, I studied at Henley Business School for a MBA Degree. The Lecturer for the subject Marketing was so bad that the 43 other students asked me if I would teach them Marketing.
I was a Past Winner of The National Marketing Award - for An Outstanding Achievement in British Marketing !
I do not want to see a Teacher or Lecturer monitored all the time but there must be more Student feedback on the Quality of the Course Teaching. The once in a while Ofsted visit is insufficent monitoring.

4 - Structure of Tertiary Education.

There needs to be change in the Structure and Duration of Higher Education Qualifications.
For example, A Level 2 years should count towards a Degree and the syllabus amended accordingly. At the same time, the Duration of a Degree should then be reduced to 2 years at University, making a total duration of 4 years ( 2 at A Level called Part 1 and 2 at University Campus called Part 2 ).
In Nursing for example, this would speed up the flow of Nurses into the NHS - badly needed.

5 - Student Consultation

I accept that good progress is being made. A Review should be instigated into the Pros and Cons of present communications between Universities,Colleges and Schools and Students.

6 - Early Course Advice to Students

There is a temptation on many courses to flood Students with Reading Lists that are too wide, too complex and too daunting.
This is the cause of a lot of stress for Students.
Similarly, I have witnessed Examination Questions that are far distant from what the Student had been taught.

7 - Mental Health of Students

Every Higher Educational establishment should have a Mental Health Monitoring Service. Every Student should be checked for stress. Stress Management Modules should be built in to every course. Students need to know how to live a Healthy Lifestyle within University and during their Working lives.

8 - Monitoring Political Extremism

This is a danger within every Higher Education establishment.
This must be monitored closely by University Management.

9 - Diversity

Students should be checked before entrance more closely for their understanding of the English Language. This is often overlooked by High Educational establishments.

10 - Health and Workload of Teaching Staff

Too many Teachers / Lecturers are leaving the Profession because they are overworked with paperwork and reporting procedures demanded by Central Government. This source of stress and illness must be reduced.

11 - Governance

Management Boards should include Student and Parent Representation. Parents because often they are paying towards their children's High Education. I spent some £100,00 educating my children.

12 - Board for Student Affairs Department of Education

This should include lay people with strong Educational experience In  Higher Education to give a broad perspective and a fresh outlook on future Strategy and Policy. It should not be exclusively structured with serving Educationalists or retired Senior Educationalists.

These are just a few of my views for further debate.

Raymond John Williams MA MPhil MBA DIPM

July 2017


Wednesday, 19 July 2017

THE BBC GLUTTONS

So, The BBC have finally published their List of Salaries paid to their Entertainers. I wonder why it has taken so long ?

The List shows that the top earners are paid over £ 2 Millions per year whilst many are paid at least
£250,000 per year. What GLUTTONS !

This is a total disgrace and it shows how outrageous these payments are out of Public Money.
It also shows that the Top Management of The BBC have been out of touch with reality. How dare they pay thee salaries to people who are not worth it. How disgraceful that they waste Public Money in this way.

It also shows how bad the Government have been in allowing such salaries to be paid.
They should have put a cap on salaries at the BBC.

This latest burst of Gluttony follows news that some Chief Executives of Councils earn nearly £500,000 per year.
Vice Chancellors of some Universities earn nearly £400,000 per year.
School Head Teachers earn over £100,000.
People in the NHS such as Chief Execcutives, Consultants earn over £250,000 per year.
The Civil Service is just as bad offering massive salaries to the Top Brass.

NHS employees have had their salaries capped at 1% per year for more than 7 years.

We live in a Society of Gluttons. However, it is self perpetuating. Recruitment Agencies lead the way in saying - You must pay these salaries - it is the going rate.

Will this Gluttony ever stop. No, I do not think so.

Only, the Government can set limits in the Public Sector. Will they ?

What level of Expenses are these BBC high earners claiming ?

Are all these so called Celebrities paying 40% Income Tax on their earnings at the BBC ?
Or, are they channelling earnings via Companies which they have set up to reduce their Tax Take?

My view is that there should be a 60% Tax Rate on earnings over £100,000 per year.
I also think that as a matter of urgency, the Government should instruct HMRC to review the Tax Returns of BBC High Earners - just in case there is Tax Evasion practices going on.


Friday, 7 July 2017

THE WIMBLEDON RIP OFF IS HERE AGAIN

THE WIMBLEDON RIP OFF

Here we are again - The Wimbledon Tennis Tournament.
It is a great occasion provided it does not rain like 2016.
The grounds are magnificent with the beautiful flowers. The Tennis stars are brilliant. We love going to Wimbledon if we can get tickets.

However, what we do not like is the big rip off for food and drinks.
They only sell Lanson Champaign. In 2016, Asda were selling the exact bottle of Lanson Champaign with a Wimbledon branded top for £26. At Wimbledon the exact same bottle was £75.
This year 2017, they were changing more than £80 per bottle.What a cheek and what a massive profit they were making. Rich people could not care less. They were buying lots of Champaign. Disgraceful!

One of the favourite drinks are Pims. This year they were serving Pims from a tap - full of lemonade and a small measure of Pims in a plastic cup. Hundreds were queuing up for some Pims. What was the cost ?  £8.50 per plastic glass ! £17 for the two of us. Plenty of ice as well. You can buy a bottle of Pims for £10. Another Rip Off.
But, people do not care.

Perhaps you fancy a piece of cake ? £3.50 per small slice. Or, a small bar of fruit - £3 please.

Coffee was more reasonable at £5 for two in a Cafetière. Nicely served.
Of course, many people park their car - another £20 unless you go to the Park and Ride for £15, taking 25 minutes to get to the ground.

Perhaps you would like a Programme ? That will be £10 please.

Perhaps you would like to book lunch at over £100 per person in the main restaurant.
Snacks such as  Hot dogs, fish and chips, sandwiches- all over priced.

OK, Wimbledon is special but be prepared to pay a lot for the experience.

I prefer Eastbourne Tennis. This year we saw Djolovic. Konta, Watson, Ostapemko and many more tennis stars. Better view on Centre Court and a lovely atmosphere.








Saturday, 24 June 2017

THE SAFETY OF BUILDINGS IN BRITAIN TODAY


 
THE SAFETY OF DWELLINGS IN BRITAIN TODAY

What a shock we have all had in June 2017 with the devastating fire with  major loss of life at the Grenfell Tower block in the Borough of Kensington, London.
The Government has launched an immediate Public Inquiry.
As a precaution, thousands are being warned that their Tower Block homes are unsafe and that they must leave their homes and in many cases, sleep on an or bed on the floor in a Leisure Centre surrounded by other residents. What about privacy ? What about the ill, Disabled, children and yes, Pets ?
It truly is a nightmare for everyone, young and old.

I hope that this latest Public Inquiry does not last months or even years before their conclusions or may I say confusions are released to the General Public !

I am only an ordinary citizen but I can list my questions for the Public Inquiry which need answers which should be easily attainable and  available without too much time and effort.

Let me start with the Planning Departments of local authorities.
Surely, they specified NON inflammable materials in the specifications used in buildings of all kinds ? For example,
High rise apartments, Hospitals, Schools, Hotels, Commercial buildings, Theatres and so on
Did they?

Did they check samples of the materials to be used for fire resistant specifications ?
Did they ?

When the materials were delivered for the onsite usage, did they check that the materials matched the specifications ?
Did they ?

Who signed the Purchase Order for the materials ?
Who And in what capacity ?

Building Regulations ?
Were these correct ? Did they ban flammable materials for use on Buildings ?
If Yes, who ignored them ?
If the Building Regulations were a fudge, who in the Council challenged these poor Regulations and refused to allow flammable materials to be used ? The Council had a Duty of Care.

Why wasn't the Buildings such as Grenfell not routinely checked for fire hazards ?
Or did they and their advice ignored?

Who in the chain of events is responsible ?
It must be the people who placed the Order in the first place if they did not specify non flammable materials, in my view.
If they did specify non flamable materials, someone in the chain as well as those who placed the order in the first place must be guilty.

I am surprised that many buildings do not have fire extinguishers and sprinkler systems as well as very loud fire alarms.
I know that hotels have them. What about all the other kinds of buildings ?

The Tragic Grenfell fire could be only the beginning of the risks in Buildings. Safeguards must be improved but they should not takes
 Months or Years in Debates, Confusion and Delay.

The people who have already suffered  Must be  compensated -by Class Action legal cases if necessary.
We must not forget safety in the home as well.
There must be a swift and immediate review of all legislation relations to the safety of Buildings of ALL TYPES.

The present problems might only be the tip of a very expensive iceberg!