Arriving on a thoroughly grey day never makes any city look appealing but after an afternoon here I am struggling to see what might make Gothenburg a city to attract visitors. The airport is a fair way out from the city and the thick grey cloud that was covering the ground was relentless when viewed as the plane came into land.
The city itself one might say pretends to have potential. There are canals over which small bridges allow the pedestrians to connect to the squares and other streets. The main square is lined by hotels with the main Central Station on one side. All sounds promising until hoardes of East European, mostly women, attack each passer by through the square to demand money for some magazine, that I presume is the Romanian or Bulgarian equivalent of The Big Issue. Its wrong to say they are threatening but correct to say that they are persistent and in your face.
The buildings all look rather grey and similar and the shops are those one might find in any European city centre. Trams and buses are plentiful and have a good go to knock over any pedestrian who dares to cross the tram lines.
There are a few parks dotted around including one advertising itself as a kind of botanical gardens, except there were few plants to see at this time of year. The water in the canals is dirty with rubbish thrown in of the usual kind, bottles, cans and plastic bags, however uniquely there was a white plastic chair adorning the water too curiously a lifebelt too floating in the water, presumably unused. It cannot be the fault of the paths nor the trees but every single leaf in Sweden seemed to be squashed on the pebble paths making many areas slippery and at a minimum visually unattractive.
On the positive side there were some unusual signs. For example within the train station a sign proclaimed “HAGS” ” made in Sweden”. This seems a little unfair as there is cause to presume they are made also in very many other countries.
The train station was also packed full of a variety of different little cafes and eateries serving delicious looking food, however the venue of eating within a train station just does not seem right to me and the visual accompaniment of the Romanian sellers/beggars, also takes the appetite away a little. Some nice Chocolate muffins though were talking to me. The graffiti painted on the outside of the trains was good enough to rival that on the trains in Essen Germany and The Watermans car park in Brentford. The highlight of my little walking expedition was no doubt the burger restaurant Max. Not only were the burgers delicious and huge, but I managed to order my meal via a machine that gave me all my options in Swedish. The chocolate cheesecake however pictured below is one of the nicest food items I have ever eaten, bought in a little cafe in the station.
The people also seemed downcast. I cannot recall a single smile when outside the hotel. The staff in Max looked like a group session of ECT or bulk purchase of Prozac might be an option to be considered. Why was no-one smiling? Apparently the theory put forward is that they regain their inner happiness when the weather improves, which by my reckoning is 5-6 months away.
Crime however rears its ugly head everywhere and Gothenburg was no exception with a car with its window smashed in on a fairly main street behind the Radisson Hotel. The migrant issue in Sweden is also topical currently with the murder of Alexandra Mezher who was working on a night shift at a refugee centre for unaccompanied migrant children in Molndal near Gothenburg. According to the Swedish Migration Agency violent incidents have doubled in asylum facilities since 2014. Sweden also receives five times more asylum applications relative to its size than its neighbour Denmark, receiving 163,000 applications last year 2015.
The usual excellent European graffiti was evident with the colour of trains being markedly improved by the graffiti. This seem a european thing rather more than a UK thing, and oddly this is type of crime that it a funny way adds to the pleasure.
Would I be tempted to return here for leisure? Not really. I may be missing something but I do not get Gothenburg at all.
As a football fan I see plenty of occasions each game where the officials get it wrong and sometimes badly so. Having said that players and managers also are culpable of making errors plenty of times in any given game. I do however take a view that officials should be allowed to do their jobs with the expectation that they will not be perfect and certainly should be protected from on-pitch haranguing and demonstrations of anger on the pitch itself. At the recent Met Police v Kingstonian game at half time, immediately before which Met Police had scored direct from a corner, the officials were approached by the Kingstonian manager Tommy Williams clearly angry at some percieved error of judgement, and in a finger waving manner. We all in non-league should have respect for the officials and I personally cannot condone this behaviour. I am sure there are other views out there and it would be interesting to hear them.
Firstly please share this post with friends and colleagues. What I am about to describe is a worrying trend and one that I would not like to see expanding. A kind of “legal ” vigilante going under the euphemism of ” Environmental Enforcement”. OK. Picture the scenario. A short one hour visit to Wimbledon and returning to the train station and about to enter. What did I visualise?
I am appalled. There are three I will call them officers with the gentle demeanour of harsh traffic wardens crossed with prison wardens who are ticketing folks under the name of environmental enforcement. Their crimes? Seems throwing cigarette ends anywhere than some specific receptacle. Fixed penalty fines of 75£ or 80£. Those being questioned had a poor grasp of the English language. Apparently this is a criminal offence to throw cigarette ends away like this as one officer explained.
My views on this were heavily influenced by recent reports that police no longer routinely investigate burglaries. And around 10 yards away a homeless man was prostrate and sleeping and would have been a better beneficiary of their wise input and assistance. One might also argue that folks needing help such as this man might be better recipients of environmental protection than inadvertent or even deliberate throwing of cigarette ends on the ground outside a station . Am I right to be angry about this?
After a little research tonight it seems Merton Council have a zero tolerance to littering, or so they say. The wording from their website tells us this
“Due to the high number of pedestrians visiting the town centre, Wimbledon has the highest rate of cigarette litter in Merton with over 1,500 FPNs being issued since June. As well as taking a zero-tolerance approach to enforcement, the council works to educate residents and visitors to the borough about environmental crime and the likelihood that they will be fined £75 for littering”
With their website explaining in graphic detail how to pay the £75 fine.
What however is worrying is that there is no right of appeal against a fixed penalty notice. So we all understand the situation that littering is not a good thing and the majority of us would agree that we should do it. However there are limits. And those limits to me are exceeded by seeing in practice that people who were it seems unaware of this draconian zero tolerance to cigarette ends, and we are not talking about littering huge amounts of kebab shop waste or newspapers on the streets, but cigarette ends, are being fined what seems an excessive amount. Furthermore to see a homeless man prostrate, rather curiously by a gritting bin, and these environmental enforcement officers take no action in the 15 minutes that I observed them was to say the least disheartening. That ” society” , well the council , cares more extracting punitive fines than humane care, speaks volumes.
The next aspect that we need to address is the actual environmental enforcement officers. Their attire of a kind of jump suit more often associated with prison, with their waists surrounded by more equipment than many would need to climb Mount Everest or contain a whole ward of rioting patients in Broadmoor, seems excessive to say the least. Together with mounted CCTV on their uniforms. I am sure Neil Armstrong had less equipment when he set foot on the moon with Apollo 11 in july 1969.
Many or even most of these officers it seems are supplied by a company called Kingdom. A press release from March 2014 stated that the council’s own enforcement officers will work alongside the Kingdom enforcement team from the end of April as they go out and about around Merton to make sure the borough is kept litter-free. Kingdom’s team is led by ” experts with an ex-military and police background”. Quite why this is so necessary to deal with ordinary folks who have thrown cigarette ends on the ground is not so clear. They issue these fixed penalty notices to those breaking the Environmental Protection Act 1990.
Where it however gets more interesting is that Merton Council has come under fire for reducing street cleaning in town centres on Sundays – while spending nearly £130,000 a year on four environment enforcement officers. So photographs published in March 2015 show far worse littering caused by the overflowing of these bins than I certainly visualised on the pavements of Wimbledon. In fact I saw nothing other than the poor homeless man. There is a lot of information provided by the government on how councils can issue FPNs and also how they should use the funds accrued.
The same site above lists the various offences for which FPNs can be given and it is immediately obvious that some of these are serious and should be punished in a punitive manner, however in the context cigarette ends must be at the lower if not lowest end of the spectrum.
nuisance parking (people selling or repairing cars on the road)
dog control offences
leafleting without permission on land where leafleting is restricted (‘designated land’)
failing to nominate a key holder or give the council key holder details in an alarm notification area
failing to provide a waste carrier licence (for businesses transporting their own waste)
failing to provide a waste transfer note when moving non-hazardous waste
There is a world of difference between for example “littering” with an abandoned vehicle and a cigarette end. Yet the difference in fine amounts is surprisingly small. £200 for abandoning a car and £75 for abandoning a cigarette end. The money must also be put to specified uses.
Councils must use income from FPNs as set out :
Offence FPN money can be spent on functions relating to:
Litter – Litter, dog control, graffiti and fly-posting
Graffiti – Litter, dog control, graffiti and fly-posting
Dog control -Litter, dog control, graffiti and fly-posting
Fly-posting -Litter, dog control, graffiti and fly-posting
Unauthorised distribution of free printed material on designated land- Litter, dog control, graffiti and fly-posting
So what I am left wondering is what training is given to these officers, what degree of latitude do they have in not administering a FPN, if they have any targets, and of course how much money is raised and exactly to what purpose is it put. There is clear guidance on publishing not only the enforcement strategy but also to how the money will be used.
So in my world there would be some degree of spectrum here on exactly what constitutes a littering offence and throwing a single cigarette end does not equate to toxic pollution of the planet. Maybe also these officers can not only look at the bigger picture, but as today adopt a more humane approach. To have allowed that homeless man to remain on the ground lying prostrate would not be their greatest achievement in their day. Littering does have context and we need to be careful not to be too literal and punitive. If Merton Council want and feel they should adopt a zero tolerance approach, then this should be reflected in not only this aspect but all aspects of their work. Finally what exactly are they doing with the money, that was not happening before? I have developed a zero tolerance approach to not knowing the answers to these reasonable questions.
I am just impressed by what a few lessons in GCSE photography have taught the 15 year old. Here you see the original photograph and what was created with about 20 minutes work. Soon she will be wanting paid commissions…and why not
Brentford came into this game on the back of a four game winning run and faced a physical Hull side with the menacing Steve Bruce prowling on the touchline. The simple reality were that Bees had a few chances in the first 10 minutes of which they should have taken at least one, but then the first half somewhat became an even game. The second half Hull upped the ante and made some decent substitutions and took the game away from Brentford with a combination of good technique and excellent finishing. David button would not reflect upon this game as his best for Brentford and the second Hull goal would usually not have happened with a spilling of the ball to the feel of the hull striker. hull however are an excellent side and move top of the championship after this victory and i would be unsurprised to see them there next May.
There was no shame in losing to the better side. The Brentford perfomance was good and the team are improving game by game. Do we have any concerns? Not really. Maybe the substitutions did not help last night. Taking Toumani off for me is never a good thing for whatever reason. KK runs a lot, has good positional ability but frankly lacks the technique for a good championship player and without being negative I can see him on his way to League 1-2 level in due course. Ryan woods looks younger each game but improves each game with immense workrate. Yennaris has settled, in my view surprisingly, at right back and also improves each game, but maybe still could elevate his general work rate. Some of his central defending was also excellent last night leading me to wonder if he might also be an option there.
Griffin Park under floodlights is something I will miss as there always is a special atmosphere and a midweek crowd on a dull and damp night of 9200 is excellent. Lastly it was good to see Sam Saunders back on the bench. He will play cameo roles one suspects but a good option to have.
Just to showcase three superb photos of very different topics that were not taken by myself. Enjoy. I wish I had the opportunity to do GCSE photography.
Cumberleylaude, a ‘gourmet cat’ with a love of fine dining, could join stage show after discovery of lost TS Eliot poem.
A good game of football. A single goal separated the two teams but in relaity it could have been 3-3. The football was good. The cheeseburger was too. Am not sure of the FA rules after a player is sent off but not sure he should be watching from the touchline even if he does take his shirt off! the crowd was 95, so he made it 96.
Having checked the rules. This is what it says “A player, substitute or substituted player who has been sent off must leave the vicinity of the field of play and the technical area.
Read more at http://www.thefa.com/football-rules-governance/laws/football-11-11/law-12—fouls-and-misconduct.aspx#7B9Jzt2xM5bxoOlT.99 ”
So I guess it depends on the interpretation of what constitutes the vicintiy of play.
The last time Brentford beat QPR was in 1965 and not so many of the capacity crowd last night were even born then. This game was thus a time for celebration. A capacity crowd of over 12,000, some useful money from Sky for live coverage, and the fourth consecutive victory in a season when 2 weeks ago some wondered if we would win 4 games all season. All achieved with eseentially the same players. There is no need to give a match report and all Bees fans were there or watching on TV. A high tempo game, maybe too scrappy in parts. If I were a betting man i would place good money, and lots of it, on QPR not only failing to gain promotion this season but also failing to get in the play offs and sacking their manager certainly this side of xmas.
Some of the peripheral things around a capacity crowd caught my eye last night. How good does Griffin Park look under lights, how scary burger sellers can look ( a lovely man actually and a nice burger too) and the strange things one finds on top of cars parked in the Watermans car park .
The firework or whatever incendiary device it was certainly lit up Griffin Park after the goal. A great night. What price a second victory at Loftus road later on in the season?