Sunday, September 25, 2011

Mark Williams Last Term as an M.P. ?

I quite like Mark Williams, Ceredigion M.P. He is a very personable chap and voted against university tuition fees. I am not a Liberal Democrat, but I could be !

I understand there are 100,000 people in a constituency and he does have a reputation for dealing with real problem that constituents have, so fobbing off is valid workload control mechanism. However, come 2015 there will be 2 weak areas which will leave him personally exposed I believe.

I meet him to talk about Broadband about a year ago, shame nothing visible has happened or even threatened to, despite a couple of prodding's on my part. There may be stuff he is doing around Broadband that I have not seen and between Google Alerts and keeping my ear to the ground I should have picked up an non-clandestine activity in this area. It may also be he feels powerless and that responsibility for improved communications infrastructure is Cardiff. If that is the case he needs to make it clear.

I would not tell any elected representative how to vote. M.P.'s should have access to a bigger picture and better quality information we would hope. One would hope an M.P. gets better information than I get via The Economist and the web, but I do wonder sometimes. However, I do feel it is important to raise some matters so they get a view of how a constituent thinks and I am concerned that the Tory health service plans will damage the NHS beyond repair, they are ideologically driven and poorly thought out. I have yet to meet anyone in the Health Service who thinks they are a workable solution to the NHS's problems. Those I have spoken with see it as privatization by the back door. The NHS does need change, but the argument appears to comes down on the side that the required changes are not the ones making their way through at the moment.

I emailed Mark my thoughts. To his credit he always replies with an articulate response. This time though he wrote the head and tail of the email and inserted a fairly obvious party line response of around 1000 words, a fair enough workload control measure,  I would probably do the same [its an email between Mark and myself, so it would be wrong to reproduce it here] and a pdf of curious letter from an a Conservative MP who was also a QC with his view on a 38degree web site posting. If you were taking a legal view would take it from a QC who happens to be an M.P. for the party putting forward an bill?  maybe not.. I suspect Mark is getting the sharp side of the Lib. Dem. whip to tow the line over NHS reforms, but come 2015 he will wish he kept the backbone he had for tuition fees when judged by his constituents. Shame, I really like the chap.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

A viable way to get from Aberystwyth to Reading mostly by train

Though I work mostly from home and customer sites, yesterday was a day when I had to go to the office in Reading yesterday. I have previously driven when required. It takes between 3.40 and 5 hours. Now the office is less than 2 miles along the Thames from Reading station I was keen to see if I could drive a bit less of the way.

The Arriva train from Aberystwyth is a non-starter unless you go down the night before. The 1st train leaving Aberystwyth at 5.14 would get you to Reading for 10.30am 2 changes later [Shrewsbury and Newport!], add the 30 minute walk to the office and half the day has gone. Adds to my assertion that Arriva is a service unsuitable for business at this time.

I had been looking for other viable options and last week found that the 1st Great Western service from Hereford leaves at about 5.40. Gets into Reading at about 8.30 with no changes and cost 36 quid return.
Now getting to Hereford from Aberystwyth for 5.40 is non-trivial and a little anti-social to say the least, more so if you want to read to your kids the night before.
However, I managed to sleep for an hour on the train down and read half of the Economist. Coming back I wrote a 30 minute ZFS Solaris 11 features presentation for next week and read the rest of the Economist, so quite productive, a lot better than driving the whole way.

I had been looking for something to replace the Wrexham and Shropshire service since it shut back in January. Arriva from Aberystwyth is well, Arriva from Aberystwyth is not viable for business travel.
The drive to Hereford takes about 1 hour 45 and parking is easy enough. The food on the train which not quite up to W & S standards, but was fine. The train only started to fill up around Oxford and was quite empty most of the journey.

No doubt something will happen to this service in the next few month, it will be withdrawn or the price will treble, but it does look quite a viable option at the moment. I think I have also found viable and cheap accommodation within striking difference of Hereford to avoid the very, very early start.

The best part of the day was the walk along the Thames which was very pleasant. So Reading now has 2 things going for it, the other being this.