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Milton Keynes, dormant betting accounts and a well-deserved international plaudit for lovely Weymouth

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John Penrose

John David Penrose is the Conservative Member of Parliament for Weston-super-Mare

Breakfast at home on Saturday, the gentle tick of the dining room clock the only sound above the soft murmuring of the children, the barely audible rasp of low-fat spread being applied to wholemeal toast, and the occasional turning of a newspaper page’s well-informed and balanced coverage of Government news. Calm and contentment – the perfect peace of a family weekend…

Well, a man can dream, can’t he? But one thing at least is true: the weekend breakfast bedlam was momentarily broken by a splendid piece in The Guardian, which reported – over the whole of its page three, no less – my decision to list Milton Keynes Shopping Centre.
Now assiduous readers of this blog will recall that I touched on the question of modern listing in an earlier outing in which, if memory serves, I talked about a case in Leeds which, for reasons too arcane to trouble you with again, was regarded by one of the architecture mags as a missed opportunity for ministerial glory.
Listing modern buildings, or not listing them, divides opinion, you see. The 20th Century Society was ‘absolutely thrilled’ about Milton Keynes, while the British Property Federation thought it was ‘utter madness’.
Me? I just look at the evidence and try to do the right thing, though I can’t help but think that it’s rather good that architecture is still such a talking point, and provokes such bold comment.

Dormant betting accounts

Horse racing picture by Paolo Camera.Do you like a flutter on the horses? Or do you prefer a cheeky accumulator predicting the winner in the 4th race at Lingfield, the opening goal scorer in the Manchester derby at Old Trafford, and the winner of the Eurovision Song Contest? Or how about a drop of online poker?
Gambling comes in all shapes and sizes and, as the information technology revolution has roared into every corner of our lives, so has it become incrementally easier to get involved. And one by-product of this has been the huge proliferation of betting accounts held by individuals, most of which are just like any other, with money flowing in and out (mostly in the latter direction, given the nature of the transactions we’re talking about) but some of which may lay dormant for years.
In the case of winnings that have lain unclaimed for years, I think there may be a case for using this money to benefit a relevant good cause. Grassroots sports projects seem a nice fit, particularly as sport and betting are so synonymous with one another.
It’s a complicated business, though, with both ethical, practical and operational wrinkles that need to be ironed out before we can take it further.
So this week I have also asked my fellow MP, Don Foster, to take a long, hard look at the issues and report to me on this might all be taken forward. He’s promised to let me have something by the end of the year. I’ll keep you posted.

Wonderful Weymouth

Weymouth Beach by Joe Dunckley.Finally, another, very welcome, oddity from the world of tourism facts and figures.
Tripadvisor, the world-renowned online travel guide, has published a Top Ten of ‘emerging destinations’. Top of the charts is the (deep breath) Garmisch-Partenkirchen in Germany with its ‘gorgeous glacier top skiing’, closely followed by ‘the world’s first jaguar preserve’ in Dangriga, Belize and, at number three – an Argentinian kayak centre on the Parana River.
So far, so good, although I’ve got a feeling that fishing in the Parana may land you more than you bargained for…
But there in fourth place is our very own Weymouth. That’s right. Weymouth. Fourth in the world, with a recommendation to ‘visit (its) beautiful beaches before the 2012 Summer Olympics arrive’.
As a visitor there myself last month, I can do nothing but agree, pausing only to make a gentle plea to the DCMS web manager not to take this as a cue to illustrate this piece with a re-run of the ‘Penrose gobbling ice cream cornet on Weymouth Beach’ pic from a few weeks back. The world has suffered enough.

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