Thursday, 16 August 2018

Criminologists baffled by new crime stats.

From the BBC:

Gang-related violence has plummeted in London since the 2011 riots despite a recent spike in violent crime, according to new figures.

There have been 89 violent deaths in London since January and violent crime has risen by 40% since 2010. Gang-related violent crime has nearly halved over the same period, according to Met Police figures obtained by the BBC.

Meaningless comparison as per usual, all violent crime (probably a reliable figure) is up to 200,000 incidents a year.

For reasons best known to themselves, the Met are categorising a much smaller share as 'gang-related', from half a per cent of all violent crime in 2010 down to a quarter of a percent in 2017.

They might as well classify no violent crimes as 'gang-related' (however defined) and trumpet the fact that they have eradicated it.

'Cause London taxi drivers care so much about reducing pollution, innit?

From the BBC:

The mayor of London has urged the government to follow New York's example and allow a cap on the number of minicabs in the capital. Sadiq Khan said an increase in private hire cabs needed to be halted to combat congestion and improve air quality...

In 2010-11, TfL counted 61,200 private hire drivers and 50,663 private hire licensed vehicles in London. This went up to 113,645 drivers and 87,921 vehicles in 2017-18 - an increase Mr Khan described as "massive" and "unsustainable".

Blatant protectionism of course. For some reason, London mayors - of whichever political party or none - always kow tow to the London cabbie lobby.

Steve Wright, chairman of the LPHCA, said a cap would only push up prices, make it harder for companies to recruit drivers and leave minicab users stranded: "This is a ridiculous proposal. It's just a draconian thing from years gone by. It's protecting the black cab industry and will be detrimental to consumers."

Nailed it.

The final insult is hurled from the parapets of the cosy protected cartel, from the FT:

Steve McNamara, general secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association, said: “We support the mayor in calling for a cap in private hire vehicles in London. With the number of PHVs on London roads nearly doubling in recent years, Londoners have seen a rise in congestion and a negative impact on air quality.” There are 23,800 licensed London taxi drivers.

Funnily enough, official London taxi drivers all drive diesel vehicles and leave their engines running while in the taxi ranks.

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

"Dorchester car park spaces to cost £40,500 each"

From the BBC:

A council which spent nearly £1m buying and relocating a church wants to use the site for 23 new car parking spaces... Council documents valued the church at £350,000 but, at the time of purchase, the site's redevelopment potential pushed the value up to £700,000.

The Conservative-led authority also agreed to pay the church £205,000 for its new building next to Damers School in Poundbury and £25,000 in professional fees.

Liberal Democrat Ms Hosford, who represents Dorchester North, said: "The projected income from the extra spaces created cannot possibly justify the huge amount of expenditure that will have gone into producing them."

A council paying for 'redevelopment potential' is madness, because quite what the permitted development is is up to the very same council to decide. Had the council made it clear that they would refuse all planning applications, they could have bought the site for peanuts. Had the council granted permission for a twenty-storey tower block, the redevelopment potential would have been much higher, so why not grant that permission and then pay £10 million for the site?

Be that as it may, the Lib Dem lady is succumbing to the 'big scary numbers' fallacy. Google Maps shows that the church is in the corner of an existing large car park with an awkward layout in the church corner, so they can now re-jig the layout and increase capacity by 30 or 40 parking spaces, not just 23.

The council ought to know its average income per parking space, let's assume it's £5 a day, Mon - Sat, 52 weeks a year. Potential income from 30 extra spaces = £46,800, which in this day and age is a reasonable return on an outlay of £1 million.

Who buys new cars?

Emailed in by MBK, from The Times:

Here’s a surprising thing. The average age of a new car buyer in the UK is 54. The majority of new cars are bought by people in their fifties, sixties and seventies. The average age of a new Ford buyer, for example, is 56. For Volkswagen it is 54. For Toyota it is 63. Even cheap, fun, youngster-friendly Fiats are bought by people whose average age is a relatively ancient 49.

That doesn't surprise me at all and I'd always assumed this was the case:

1. Older people have more money, less sense and are more averse to risk and hassle, so are more likely to buy new. Younger people vice versa.

2. Assuming people pass their driving test in their twenties and pack in driving when they are 70 or 80, the average age of all car drivers is about 50, so we'd expect the average age of all car buyers to be about 50, with a slightly younger average for second hand car buyers and a slightly older average age for new car buyers.

If these ages seem high, it’s because we have been conditioned to believe that it’s the young who buy new cars, thanks to those jolly TV commercials featuring carefree twentysomethings heading to the beach together in a gleaming convertible. Even the ads for high-end roadsters shot in moody empty landscapes seem to favour wrinkle-free granite-jawed chaps well under 45.

Amen brother, most car adverts are vacuous crap. Apart from the one for the MX-5 where the bloke drove from the suburbs to a petrol station in the middle of the desert, bought a pint of milk and drove home again.
The surprising thing about the articles is the Baby Boomer vitriol in the comments:

Well the young don't typically really own cars do they.

They lease them and lots of my friends talk about how "its only £320 a month" as if its not a great deal of money. When you point out to them that often at the end of the deal they have nothing to show for it, they don't seem too bothered.

Furthermore plenty of young people don't even consider the purchase of a car (let alone a new one) possible, with sky high insurance, tax and fuel costs. If they live in a city they may as well forget it and uber/bus/cycle everywhere.

Jeez. In commercial terms, it makes little difference whether you are renting a new car for £320 a month or actually own it outright and are losing £320 a month in depreciation. Is he accusing young people of wasting their money on cars, or slagging them off for turning up their noses at them? Does he not realise that the statistics on car buyers include HP and FL deals? Or is this some sort of projected self-loathing? Lighten up, mate!

The young need to work harder - I've been buying new cars since I was 25.

The first Boomer says young people can afford to buy cars but a lot of them don't want to waste their money on them (and good for them). The next Boomer says they can't afford to buy new cars because they don't work hard enough. This was not an income comparison, you fuckwit, it was about who buys new cars.

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Ruth Davidson: Maths Genius

H/t Lola, from The Herald:

Business leaders have warned the tax burden on high street shops is disproportionately high. Ms Davidson said: “The retail sector currently makes up 5 per cent of the UK economy but pays 25% of all business rates, over £7 billion per year.”

That's about as helpful as saying "The haulage industry pays 90% of all diesel fuel duty" or "Smokers pay 100% of all tobacco duty". Business Rates is a tax on valuable locations, and retail premises are usually in the most valuable locations (town centres). It's as broad as long, if there were no Business Rates, rents and purchase prices would be correspondingly higher.

Having flunked the logic bit, she's wrong on the facts as well. From the House of Commons retail briefing paper:

In 2017, consumers in the UK spent around £406 billion in retail purchases [about 20% of GDP]. In 2017, the retail sector as a whole contributed £194 billion to UK economic output (11% of the total), measured by Gross Value Added or GVA3; this was an increase from £190 billion in 2016.

In 2016, the sector employed 4.9 million people (20.5% of the UK total), and contained 374,000 businesses (15.5% of the UK total).

We can argue whether the retail sector is 11% or 20% of the UK economy or anything in between, but either way it's more than 5%. I could have guessed that without looking it up.

Please note: £7 billion Business Rates divided by £406 billion sales = 1.7p for each £1 of sales on average or about one-tenth as much as the VAT thereon.

"Statistics misuse 'biggest health problem in Northern Ireland'"

From the BBC:

Figures obtained by BBC News NI show the number of alcohol-related deaths in Northern Ireland is the highest on record. Between 2001 and 2016, more than 3,500 deaths in Northern Ireland were attributed to alcohol.

Coroner Joe McCrisken said: "We have an enormous problem with alcohol use, misuse and abuse in Northern Ireland. The figures are frightening because they show that the number of alcohol-related deaths is increasing, so it's important to raise awareness about the dangers."

Okey doke.

Northern Irish population 1.9 million, average life expectancy 70 years, makes about 25,000 deaths a year.

3,500 'alcohol related' deaths (whatever that means) in 16 years = 220 per year.

In summary, only one in a hundred deaths has been accelerated by 'alcohol misuse' or is 'alcohol related'.

Dealing with alcohol-related illnesses costs the health service about £250m a year, said Dr George O'Neill, the chairman of Addiction NI.

And how much does VAT and duty on alcohol sales raise? About three or four times as much as that.

He added that 12,000 people were admitted to hospital each year with alcohol-related problems in Northern Ireland...

£250 million a year divided by 12,000 hospital admissions = £20,000 per admission. That is surely a completely made-up number and at least four times as much as the overall average cost per admission.

... where 170,000 people drank hazardously and 47,000 drank harmfully.

And out of 170,000 'hazardous' drinkers, only 220 die a year (see above) and 99.9% will survive quite happily, so it can't be that 'hazardous', can it?

Monday, 13 August 2018

"Builder charged over £4m new homes digger destruction"

From the BBC:

A builder has been accused of causing £4m of damage by ripping apart five new homes with a digger... Daniel Neagu, 30, from Athelstone Road in Harrow, north-west London, has been charged with causing criminal damage.

I call bullshit.

I'm happy to accept that those five homes could have been sold for £800,000 each, but not in a million years is the (re)build cost £800,000 each, probably more like £200,000 each, tops. The rest is land value and profit margin. So by all means do him for £1 million's worth of criminal damage, but not £4 million.

President Erdogan does glorious mixed metaphors.

He's the gift that keeps on giving.

From the BBC:

Mr Erdogan told a news conference in the Turkish capital, Ankara: "You [the USA] act on one side as a strategic partner, but on the other, you fire bullets into the foot of your strategic partner. We are together in Nato and then you seek to stab your strategic partner in the back."

You shoot yourself in the foot, not the other person. And clearly Trump hasn't stabbed them in the back, he has stabbed them quite openly in the face.

Buying weapons off the Russians, like Turkey has started doing is pretty sneaky, that is more akin to a stab in the back. And if he thinks he can defend the Turkish currency against a determined onslaught, he's got another think coming.

President Erdogan does a glorious diagonal comparison.

From City AM:

US President Donald Trump has taken a hard line against Turkey over the fate of American pastor Andrew Brunson, who has been detained in Turkey for the last two years, accused of links to the banned Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and the Gulenist movement which has faced a crackdown after a failed coup in 2016...

In a New York Times article at the weekend Erdogan threatened that NATO-member Turkey could “start looking for new friends and allies” if the US did not reverse its trend of “unilateralism and disrespect”. Turkey also wants the US to hand over Pennsylvania preacher Fethullah Gulen which it blames for the 2016 coup attempt.

Woah! That's not how prisoner exchanges work.

Brunson is an American held in Turkey against his will; he wants to go back to America.

Gulen is a Turk in exile in America very much under his own will; he does not want to back to Turkey.

Saturday, 11 August 2018

Farmer 'killed in field by cattle' in Groombridge

From the BBC:

A farmer whose body was found in a field may have been trampled to death by his cattle, Sussex Police said.

The 64-year-old's body was found in a field with his Aberdeen Angus cattle and he died at the scene.

Mr Sandys's partner, Christine... found him on the ground in the field with the cows and a nine-year-old bull which had been born and raised on the farm, she said.

The bull was snorting and stamping and it was not safe to get close to Mr Sandys, she added.

I know the police shouldn't jump to conclusions, but "May have been trampled to death"??