Azara Blog: July 2010 archive complete

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Date published: 2010/07/06

The Lib Dems do not want a decently sized supermarket west of the Cam (permanent blog link)

The Cambridge News says:

Construction of a giant supermarket on the North West Cambridge development could have dire consequences, a councillor has warned.

Plans for new stores on the edge of the city, also serving homes on Orchard Park and those due to be built at the National Institute of Agricultural Botany (NIAB) site, are set to be consulted on.

As the News reported yesterday, one option would see a 3,500 sq m superstore, around the same size as Asda at the Beehive Centre, built at North West Cambridge.

The development, between Madingley Road and Huntingdon Road, is being brought forward by Cambridge University and will include around 3,000 new homes and accommodation for 2,000 students.

Cllr Belinda Brooks-Gordon, who represents the Castle ward on Cambridgeshire County Council, believes it would be the wrong place for a big supermarket and has launched a campaign against the plans.

She said: "I would like to see individual shops and community facilities on this site, not a giant supermarket. The idea was to build homes round a well-planned local centre and shops.

"If a large supermarket was built on this site it would lead to serious transport issues and increased carbon emissions."

Another option would see the location of the superstore shifted to NIAB, between Huntingdon Road and Histon Road, while a third would instead create two smaller supermarkets, of 2,000 sq m, at NIAB and North West Cambridge. A fourth would stick to existing plans for smaller convenience stores.

It is pathetic how anyone who hates anything (and Brooks-Gordon, like most Lib Dems, hates supermarkets and cars) has to justify their (arbitrary) opinion by playing the "emissions" card. The rich people who live in the Huntingdon Road area (and Brooks-Gordon lives just off Huntingdon Road) evidently do not want a supermarket, but (most of) the people who live in north Cambridge do, and it would be sensible to place a supermarket at the northern end of the NIAB development. There is plenty of land there, and the Huntingdon Road NIMBYs would not have to notice it at all.

The government has spent some money on iPhone apps (permanent blog link)

The BBC says:

BBC News has learnt that the Government has spent tens of thousands of pounds developing iPhone applications.

A Freedom of Information (FOI) request revealed that development costs ranged from £10,000 - £40,000.

These included a travel advice app from the Foreign Office and a jobseekers' tool.
By the end of May there were over 53,000 downloads of the Jobcentre Plus app, although critics have asked why someone who can afford both an iPhone and the expensive running costs would need a Jobcentre Plus app.

There are also reports that it will not work with Apple's new iOS4, which Mark Wallace, campaign director for the Tax Payers' Alliance, found a little ironic.

"It seems many Government bodies have given in to the temptation to spend money on fashionable gimmicks at a time when they are meant to be cutting back on self-indulgent wastes of money", he told BBC News.

The idea that there is something inherently wrong with government departments commissioning iPhone apps is silly, but unfortunately the Tax Payers' Alliance is pretty silly. They might as well complain (and possibly have complained) that government departments are commissioning websites. And pretty much all apps that were developed prior to iOS4 should work with iOS4, so Wallace is probably just shooting the breeze on that one as well. (It's just that the apps might not take advantage of the new iOS4 features, which is fair enough.) And government bodies were not "meant to be cutting back" on this, that and everything, until the current LibCon slasher government took over.

The real question here is whether the apps (and websites) are value for money. If you were to charge 100 pounds an hour for developing an app (and there are presumably many IT companies that would charge less), then that would mean 100 to 400 hours for development for an app, which seems excessive. And given that the iPhone is only one mobile platform, it does seem not to be particular value for money, although an independent auditor would have a better idea than the Tax Payers' Alliance.

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