French Postal Insouciance Threatens International Borders.

When you might ask does the great British Megapolis London find itself in Germany ?

Some dystopian novel depicting events of counter factual history, where Nazi Germany triumphed over Great Britain during World War Two and annexed the great city into Greater Deutschland perhaps.

A deal between Brexit Britain and the EU to entice the Eurocrats into a favourable trade deal with UK?

No… none of the above, it happens in the minds of the geographically challenged super inefficient French Postal workers, who when entrusted with a small package addressed to a recipient in London, England, duly send the package to Germany.

Unbelievable ! Six days later when there is no sign of the package (despatched from a post office in Paris) at the recipient’s London address, an online tracking search reveals the package to be ready to be delivered, despite showing the package location to be in Germany!

Despite this obvious oversight there has been no apparent pro active attempt to rectify this monumental error by the French post office.

No… this has to be instigated by the disgruntled customer who on alerting a dim witted operative in what laughingly passes for customer service, is informed that the onus is now on the customer to engage with the French Postal website to inform the “service” that the package has not been received.

It is in fact languishing in a country where London is not the capital, which is not called Angleterre, but Allemande or Deutschland.

Then” we might six days after postage get some redress which may or may not get the package to it’s correct destination.”

The incompetence is unbelievable, the couldn’t care less attitude of the operatives within the service lamentable.

Yes this is just one experience, but believe me it is set against so many examples of incompetence within France’s bloated service sectors, both public and private that is making it hard to love France, even for someone who used to consider himself an ardent Francophile.

In France it seems the customer is not important, has few rights and is not taken seriously.

Try taking a product back to a shop, especially a supermarket in France.

Invariably you are met with an unsympathetic unhelpful response, no matter the extent of the complaint.

Wine was off “Oh that was obviously your fault because you did not keep it at the right temperature, The handle fell off “Oh you were obviously holding the item too forcefully” Your package was sent to the wrong country “That’s your fault for choosing a country that starts with the same letter as another country”

Could it be that the lack of competition and the monopoly enjoyed by companies in France’s sclerotic unreformed business environment engenders this attitude?

In the UK the customer is generally right with customer services erring on the side of the complainant.

There are dozens of consumer groups and media to hold business and their level of service and quality of product to account.

Come on France ‘de Merdez Vous’ you should be able to do better than this, get a grip and stop your decline into becoming a failed state.

I look forward to receiving my package in London, ENGLAND,sometime before the end of 2019, but given my knowledge of France in recent years I won’t be holding my breath.

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Nothing to choose between Nazis and Soviet regimes except victor’s narrative

So the Russian Regime are expressing outrage and indignation at British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson’s agreement with the suggestion that President Vladimir Putin could use the World Cup in the same way Hitler used the 1936 Olympics.

In terms of diplomacy the comparison was clumsy given the level of struggle between the Soviets and the Nazis during World War Two and the horrendous loss of life  suffered by Russians both military and civilian.

That said, in terms of historical perspective is there anything to differentiate between the two regimes and their respective records on the run up to the war and it duration.

I would argue not and it is time that the world and not least Russia recognised that morally and existentially Soviet Russia was every bit as bad as the Germans under the Nazis, in terms of cruelty and destructiveness.

Indeed The Russians under the Soviet system conducted their murderous repression on subject nations including Germany, well after the the Nazis had been defeated in May 1945.

Furthermore the murderous activity of the Soviet Russians has to be recognised in the run up to WW2 and not be excused in the context of a reactive and revengeful fight back, following the attack on them by Nazi Germany in 1941.

The Soviet record of atrocities started before the Nazis were even formed in 1920 and had already sent millions to their deaths by the time Hitler came to power in 1933.

The number of killings that took place both within the old Soviet Russian Empire against dissenting ethnic Russians and non Russian minorities alike  throughout the 1920s and 1930s, outstripped the even the Nazi’s total.

Yet we are seldom reminded of this during during the narrative of the Russian experience during World War Two.

Soviet Russia attacked and repressed Ukrainians, Finns and Balts  unilaterally, before in  tandem with Nazi Germany  set about the brutal and murderous dismemberment of Poland in 1939, courtesy of the Non Agression pact.

The rabid Russian bear was only re-invented as  a cuddly ally in 1941 by the Western Allies as a desperately needed fellow traveller in the struggle against Nazi Germany.

Subsequently Russia, both Soviet and post Soviet regimes have used the Nazi attack on Russia in 1941 to re-invent itself from an aggressor nation to that of a victim of the Nazis.

What tosh! they were up until 1941 co-conspirators in the carve up of Eastern Europe and the Baltics, consolidating that policy during he post victory period.

Their behaviour in the conduct of the war was just as merciless as the Nazis, the civilians caught between the two forces were victims of both parties.

The Russians in their victory were responsible for the rape of at least one million German women.

The subjugation of nations within the Soviet sphere in Eastern Europe continued up until 1990, where Germans, Poles, Hungarians, Czechs, Ukrainians and Crimean Tartars continued to suffer from murder, repression, prolonged captivity and mass deportations.

The population within the borders of  the Soviet Union itself continued to suffer, with the overall repression being relaxed to a normative state only in the run up to the collapse of the Soviet system, with the advent of Perestroika in the late eighties.

The chaos that followed for a brief period of what might pass for  freedom, under what might be viewed as a liberal democratic system, has gradually been replaced by KGB/FSB controlled regime returning the country to rule by Deep State.

This Deep State entity as the natural successor of Deryzhinsky, Stalin, Molotov and Breznev has no moral authority to defend Russia’s past conduct from anybody, even when compared to a regime as vicious and loathsome as the Nazis.

Historians and commentators especially Russian, should own up to the extent of Russian involvement in their crimes of genocide and repression throughout the Twentieth Century.

Only when the Russian nation accepts culpability and confronts it’s crimes will it be able to reset to a normative position in governance, society and international relations.

If Russia continues to dissemble and deny her past and is allowed to do so unchecked by the rest of the world, then we cannot expect her to change her behaviour.

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Carillion’s survival critical for Tameside. (First Published in the Tameside Reporter August 2017 no longer available o that titles now defunct website)

The building and maintenance support contractor Carillion’s recent and ongoing problems has surely exercised a few minds at Tameside Council.

The company’s share price tumbled sharply three weeks ago and despite winning a government contract on the rail project HS2,they continue to struggle with refinancing and the survival of the Wolverhampton based company is by no means certain.

The HS2 deal is said to be worth £450 million, but the payments for that contract will not start to flow until 2019.

In the meantime the firm has debts of £700 million and a pension shortfall for staff of £800 million.

The demise of a large company like Carillion would be a blow for the construction industry nationally.

What then would it mean for the borough of Tameside being so entwined with the company should the worst happen and Carillion go into liquidation.

Carillion is of course Tameside Council’s preferred developer and it is not only facilitating major building projects such as the new council offices through Vision Tameside, it also provides school meals for thousands of Tameside children and manages and maintains, council owned buildings and schools.

Some of the schools are dependent on Carillion for remedial work that the firm must carry out on buildings the firm constructed and delivered, when some work was found to be unsatisfactory or problematic.

This has certainly been the case with Russell Scott School in Denton.

The school was built by Carrilion and signed off two years ago, but it has been beset with problems, including sewage back flow and a once serviceable playing field which was deemed unfit for purpose.

It is now undergoing further work to restore it to it’s pre development condtion..

When the new school was signed off, the field was found to be a metre higher than when work started and filled with rubble.

It has been suggested that for the level of the field to be higher than before the pre construction level the rubble -that included small pieces of brick and glass – must have come from other building sites.

After the school was signed off, the field was simply topped with turf, but it has flooded with every major rainfall filling the adjoining paths and playground with a film of sludge.

Parents at Russell Scott School sink into the mud as they demonstrate the condition of the once pristine school playing field

Parents continually complained and in April work has begun to restore the field to its original state at a cost of £400,000 borne by the Council, the school and Carillion itself.

If Carillion did cease to operate what would happen to work such as this and the provision of school meals? and the still to be delivered building projects such as the new council offices in Ashton which will not be expected to be completed until at least late Autumn?

We asked Tameside Council if in the event of such circumstances there was a contingency plan in place?

Tameside Council have declined to respond to our request.

Without any plans there are fears that the borough could be beset with chaos and increased expense at filling the gaps left by Carillion.

Not that Carrillion has necesarily proved value for money for Tameside in several areas of it’s operations.

The provision of school meals  was brokered by former Tameside Council education officer, Elaine Todd, before she went on to take up a management position with Carillion.

The cost of the meals came in at 26 pence per unit more than central government gives to councils to provide them.

This has meant that one school is is having to meet the difference with £16,000 from its own budget over the year.

The shortfall is also having to be met by around 90 other schools across Tameside and is thought to cost schools across the borough around a million pounds between them over the financial year.

Carillion are said by Russell Scott’s governors to still owe the school £100,000 for energy costs incurred during the building of the new school.

It is fair to say that Carillion despite it global reach as a major player in construction and support services, has endured major criticism resulting from sub standard work across a range of contracts nationally.

In 2016 a petition containing 7,500 signatures was raised calling for Carrillion and fellow company Amey, to be stripped of their contract to maintain accommodation for Army personnel.

An MoD spokesperson speaking in 2016 said of both companies joint performance: “It is not acceptable that Carillion /Amey have fallen short of expectations”

Members of Pentonville prison board also criticised the firm who were charged with the maintenance of the ageing Victorian jail which was exposed as filthy and rat infested saying: “Carillion failed to respond in time to jobs.”

The dilemma for Tameside now is should it begin to divest itself from its exclusive relationship with Carillion and ask itself is it wise gong forward to have all the council’s eggs in one basket with one firm, on whom it depends too much.

John Bell Tameside Tory Leader

Tameside Tory leader John Bell said: “The problem with this deal is it cannot be monitored because there is no scrutiny committee holding it to account.

Therefore there is no way to ensure we are getting value for money and Carillion are delivering efficiently.

The issue of a former council officer who did commercial deals between the council and Carillion then leaving and going to work in a management post for Carillion, should have been monitored as a matter of scrutiny.”

“Where is the accountability? We are including the back bench Labour councillors here, they do not know anything (more than the opposition).

Due to the lack of lack of transparency we get to know nothing.”

Carrilion’s share price points to continued concerns from the City, it currently stands at around 58 pence which is up from it’s recent low of 55 pence following the share’s dramatic fall from around 200 pence last month and a high of 434 pence six years ago.

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