Look At It This Way - February 26, 2016

Antonio Banderas

Antonio Banderas

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Hello, 999: What’s Your Emergency... sorry, Austerity?

“Hi, yah, one’s trading up from a £1m studio flat at Cobham to a £19m seven bed roomed mansion at Wentworth – not the prison, LOL. Are there any membership deals at the local golf club?”

“How do you do. I understand Antonio Banderas lives in Surrey – how does one go about inviting him to judge the village cake bake? We’d ask Ronnie Wood but he turned on the Christmas lights at Claygate.”

“Hi, do you happen to know if there’s a dress code for standing outside the ATM at Oxshott on date night? I’ve been watching repeats of that 999: What’s Your Emergency programme set in Blackpool and wondered if I could wear my Stella McCartney Clara whispering silk dressing gown with tonal chemise?”

Forgive the 999: What’s Your Emergency parody. Transitional funding has brought out the worst in me. It’s all down to the fact that the Government saw fit to grant Surrey county council £24m to cushion the blow of all those nasty cutbacks – while Blackpool didn’t get a penny. For the record, Surrey ‘only’ asked for £20m.

More than 80 per cent of the Government’s transitional fund went to predominantly southern councils. The North-South divide is now so wide I don’t know why they don’t market it as a destination resort for high speed trains – or heritage trams.

It’s not just Blackpool which has missed out on any hand out from the Government’s £300m two-year sweetener, but Liverpool and Manchester – and the five most deprived councils in Britain.

I like Surrey, and I know it has pockets of deprivation, and has to subsidise London, and faces huge cuts in grants and business rate funding – and a 3.9 per cent hike in council tax to claw back £24m.

But it’s one of the least deprived counties in the country in terms of income, employment, health, education, and housing. People live longer there. There’s less risk of violent crime or robbery. There are shorter queues for free school meals. And you could even have Zorro as a near neighbour.

Yet Blackpool hasn’t got a penny from the £300m government fund to help counter the sheer scale of the inequalities here.

I used to think quantitative easing sounded like an economic enema until I heard the term ‘transitional funding’. It’s the ‘enema’ within. It’s got me running scared.

The problem is there’s nothing transitional about the mess we’re in. It’s hanging around like a bad smell. And watching millions of pounds go to councils in areas which already reek of money while the Government turns up its nose at Blackpool’s case is more than just hard to take – it’s unforgiveable.

Good Evans! I’m a fan of Chris

Top Gear? Top guys! I enjoyed the wit, if not wisdom, of Jeremy Clarkson but I also remember the sense of let down at the Lights switch on some years ago when he, Richard Hammond and the Stig were the guests of honour. They came, they saw, they looked bemused. It went from nought to big end gone within moments of them striding on stage.

In marked contrast Chris Evans is raring to go – and restore the fun to the programme and do his bit for the resort too. He’s an effortless ambassador for Blackpool – and it looks like Matt Le Blanc is a convert to our brand of seaside too. The pair overwhelmed the locals they met with their exuberance for Blackpool.

The other day James May asked on social media how they were going to fit all those presenters in one studio. Simple, they have smaller egos.