Back home from our travels and we really enjoyed visiting a part of the Netherlands that neither of us had been to before. I was wrong to be disparaging about the Aachen Christmas Market last week, it was quite spectacular and we enjoyed our few hours in Germany.
It was very interesting to visit Drielanderpunt, the meeting point of the Dutch, Belgian & German borders. Today, it is a simple small stone obelisk with the line of the three borders marked by a thin metal strip in the pavement. You can walk around it and (apart from the multiple text messages from EE telling me I was in a different county and was connected to a different local mobile network) you really couldn’t tell which country you were in.
When you think that just over 70 years ago, within living memories of some, these borders were being fought over in a dreadful, who would have thought then that within a few years most of the main combatants in that war would form a Union that has helped banish such wars from most of Europe. Today the borders between these counties have all but disappeared, it is only the change of road surfaces, a Welcome to Germany/The Netherlands sign and the language on road signs changes. Do we really want to tear that Union to pieces?
I realise that the EU is not perfect, far from it. Like all levels of Government, it can be bureaucratic and can seem to exist in a little bubble around where it is based (the same criticism can also be laid against Westminster & West Bridgford). It needs to make itself more relevant and responsive to the European public it is supposed to serve (also problems at other levels of government). But for all that, the membership of the EU is a positive for the UK in many area, not just economic. If we left the EU, then the UK would be a meaner, poorer place to live.
New Franchise Provider for Trains to Lincoln & Sheffield
This week we had the announcement that, from next April, we will have a new provider for rail service on the Sheffield to Lincoln line, Arriva Rail North. As is always the case with these announcements, there are plenty of headline catching promises of improvements and the local press printing pictures of (normally Labour) politicians trying to convince us that they had something to do with it.
These promises are all improvements that we in the local Lib Dems have been calling for for some time so we welcome the promises. However, call me cynical, but I seem to remember similar promises, especially about replacing the dreaded “Pacer” units (which were old fashioned & uncomfortable 25 years ago), before and will wait until the last pacer has been withdrawn from use and the extra trains promised are actually running before I start cheering.
The promised improvements from Virgin which took over the East Coast Line earlier this year, are still to materialise & I expect Arriva
EU & TTIP
I am still seeing posts from 38 Degrees & similar “campaigning” groups on the supposed perils of the Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership (TTIP), the trade agreement currently be negotiated between the EU & USA. Most of the claims made in these posts are unattributed and, simply put, plain wrong. Indeed, there are a whole load of exaggerations, misrepresentations &, possibly, downright lies from these groups. If you want to find out about the reality I suggest you go to the where the EU publish details of what some would have you believe are secret negotiations, The Transatlantic Trade Investment Partnership pages on the EU web site.