nef’s birthday? It feels like mine!

This month has a special significance for nef.  We are a quarter of a century old.  It is now, in short, 25 years since The Other Economic Summit (TOES) morphed into the foundation.

For me it is a mere 24 years.  My involvement with nef began in 1987, when I stood in for the director of the Town & Country Planning Association at the first of nef’s specialist conferences on the future of cities.


Land tax vs. land redistribution

The news that the government was thinking of repealing the Smallholdings and Allotments Act 1908, with its local authority duties to provide, has made me do a bit of reading on the politics of allotments in the Edwardian era.


The blindspots of legal aid reform

Yesterday the government published its response to the Reform of Legal Aid in England and Wales. It announced a series of heavy cuts meaning that legal aid will no longer be available for many cases in family law, immigration, housing and debt cases.


Dangerous banks: can we tame them?

This talk was originally presented to Café Diplo, run by Friends of Le Monde Diplomatique in March 2011.


Going back to basics on sentencing?

The government’s sentencing climb-down yesterday, ahead of the publication of a new Justice Bill, harks back to the rhetoric of the Tory glory years as the ‘bang em up’ crime and punishment tabloid champions.  Or so it seems.


Misquoting Schumacher

When people quote the title of E.F. Schumacher's book Small is Beautiful approvingly in order to oppose renewable energy, you wonder if the world has turned upside down in time for the economist’s centenary this year.

Then you realise that, actually, they haven’t ever opened a copy after all.


High and dry streets?

Last week’s report from Colliers CRE, highlighted in the Financial Times (£), shows a polarising nation of shopkeepers: with growing inequality between the UK’s thriving high streets and those that are “degenerating” or failing.


Why we all have the right to a share of city space

Over the past few months news has emerged of three seemingly unrelated proposals, potentially affecting two ostensibly unrelated groups’ equal access to certain London spaces. Interestingly these proposals have not been connected in the media – but they should have been!


Philip Hammond speeds past democracy

In the foreword to the High Speed 2 consultation documents Philip Hammond, the Secretary of State for Transport, promises that “no final decisions will be taken until everyone has had their opportunity to have their say”.  But with the Secretary of State for Transport launching the campaign in favour of HS2 this week, it seems clear that he and the Department for Transport are closing t More

Why the NHS reforms are now not radical enough

So in one bound, the coalition has leapt triumphantly into embracing a wholly different series of NHS reforms.  Instead of GPs driving forward the commissioning process, there will be appointees representing hospital doctors, nurses and others. 

The brave new compromise looks a great deal more like the old PCTs, which are still twitching away prior to being dead and buried.


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