I was born and bred in England and I love the country. But I frequently wish I could emigrate. We seem to be getting more and more laws and regulations, many of which emanate from Brussels. Part of the problem is that when a directive comes from Brussels, our dear Government always seems to "gold plate" it, making it more onerous than was originally intended. It might not be so bad if the people in Brussels who are dreaming up these scatter-brained schemes were actually elected by us, but they are not!
Some of the things that are irritating me right now are:
1. Before anyone can put a house up for sale they must obtain a Home Information Pack. These HIPs have to contain local searches, a surveyor's report, an energy performance certificate, et al. The idea is that they will speed up the sale of the house by eliminating the time it takes a potential buyer's solicitor to go through the process of obtaining all the relevant information. They cost several hundred pounds - and very few buyers even look at them as they need to obtain a separate survey or valuation for their mortgage lender and the searches are probably out of date anyway!
2. Local authorities are imposing ridiculous rules over rubbish collection. Many councils are now emptying bins only once a fortnight instead of every week. A lot of people find that in hot weather there has been an increase in flies and smells as a result. And with more rubbish to put into the bin, the lid is sometimes not completely shut. But in that case, the dustmen - sorry, refuse collectors - are entitled to refuse (no pun intended) to empty the bin. And many councils insist that the bin be put on the pavement in front of the house - which leads to more problems.
a) The bin must not be put on the pavement before the morning on which it is to be emptied. But some bins are emptied as early as 7.00am, so it is quite easy to miss the collection. Put the bin out the night before and one is liable to be fined. No, not fined - subject to a fixed penalty.
b) Councils say that we must put our bins on the pavement. But the law of the land says we must not obstruct the footpath. Which do we obey? A local man refused to put his rubbish onto the pavement because he considered it would cause a hazard to his blind neighbours. Instead, he left it just inside his garden gate - and the dustmen refused to take it.
3. The Government proposed to introduce identity cards on the grounds that this would counter the threat of terrorism. It was at first proposed that it would be compulsory for every citizen to have an ID card - at a cost of at least £92. Then they changed their mind and said that when applying for a passport (or renewing a passport) the applicant would, at the same time, have to apply for an ID card. I'm not sure what the current state of play is. Now, if terrorists are able to obtain or fake passports, surely they could do the same for ID cards, or am I simply being naive?
4. Supermarkets have been positively encouraged to build their stores on the edges of towns, necessitating a car journey to buy a week's supplies. They have successfully killed off the competition from small local bakers, butchers, grocers, greengrocers, fishmongers and corner convenience stores, and are steadily making inroads into pharmacies and opticians, so high street shopping centres are now little more than clothes outlets, charity shops and Starbucks coffee shops. Now we are told we should not drive to the edges of towns, but should use the high streets!
5. The nanny state in which I now live insists that allergy advice warnings be printed on all food packaging. I picked up an egg box today, only to be confronted with the warning: ALLERGY ADVICE: CONTAINS EGGS. I ask you!
6. An extension of the previous point is that the country has become over-litigious. One result is that local authorities sometimes take health and safety to ridiculous lengths. One removed all hanging flower baskets from its lampposts in case anybody got hurt by them, another cut down all the horse chestnut trees in its parks to avoid being sued by people after conkers fell on their heads.
Enough already! I can't emigrate - I'm too old for any country to accept me, so I'll just have to grow older disgracefully.