you may not have noticed, but I had a week off. So, belatedly but no less heartfelt, a Happy New Year to one and all.
And what a new year it promises to be!
We’re going to see the results of the billions spent on the Olympics while the Government continues to tell us they haven’t two ha’pennies to rub together.
Meanwhile poor old councillors in Sheffield are wondering just how they are going to make ends meet.
I don’t envy them. I really don’t.
The scale of the cutbacks they face is truly daunting. And it can’t be ignored that there is growing evidence that the Tories are using the economic woes of the world to roll back the social care clock. I have to admit that it was beginning to spin a little over-enthusiastically for my liking, with Whitehall and Town Hall throwing money at every problem they faced in the forlorn hope that it would bring about peace and happiness – when it often simply bred dependence and indolence.
But that means Labour councillors, who now rule Sheffield, have to face some tough decisions in deciding which pet project has to be sent off to the pound.
However, there is a canny idea within those corridors of Pinstone Street power which suggest that a way round the lack of money is to make some.
And guess what? The hapless motorist is firmly in their sights.
Don’t get me wrong. If a motorist is doing something wrong, he or she deserves to pay for that indiscretion.
And that is what is proposed at the town hall where a scheme has been hatched to fork out for some mobile cameras which will be used to police the streets and bus lanes of Sheffield looking for rogue motorists: people who have parked where they shouldn’t and drive where they didn’t ought...
Yes. They shouldn’t and the council should.
But there is a time and a price, surely.
I thought we were hard up. Every time I read a story from the town hall it is worn down by the woes of penury.
So how can we not afford to employ crossing ladies (just an example, madam. Nobody is going to hand you your notice when you return your lollipop) but can buy some hi-tech gismos to make motorists’ lives more miserable?
The answer is simple, it seems. For these cameras will be self-financing. More than that, in fact. The fines they will bring in will attract a handsome profit.
Hundreds of thousands of pounds will come the council’s way as fines are handed out to wayward drivers.
Councillors have yet to make a decision on this but the enthusiasm for the maths and the mechanics could barely be concealed from the comments of officials who prepared the report.
We will have to wait and see whether Labour can resist going back to their old ways of badgering motorists and insisting that we abandon our cars and climb on a bus.
But you can’t ignore the fact that there is a financial calculation behind this project. Drivers really are seen as a source of income to be had at all costs.
Milked until the pips squeak, if I may mix my metaphors.
Happy New Year indeed!