Friday 9 November 2018

Scrooge's victory

Killjoys hate Christmas. Nobody is in the mood to listen to their whining during the festive season and so they go to ground and prepare their (dry) January media assault. But it's not Christmas yet and November is the time for bitching about the Coca-Cola truck. This is a relatively recent tradition dating back to 2015 when the disgraced MP and sweet shop proprietor Keith Vaz told Coke not to come to Leicester.

Last year, attention switched to Liverpool where Councillor Richard Kemp, a miserable bastard from an obscure political party, called for the truck to be banned, citing the fictional childhood obesity epidemic as justification. His campaign was supported by Public Health England's chief fat cat, Duncan Selbie as well as Simon 'caps lock' Capewell and several local 'public health' groups including Food Active and the Health Equalities Group.

The Coca-Cola truck tour schedule for 2018 was published this week and Liverpool isn't on the list. Naturally, some the worst people in the country are celebrating this as a campaign win.

The tweet below nicely captures the snobbery of the 'public health' racket and the appetite for banning anything that doesn't personally appeal to them.

Coca-Cola say that last year's campaign has nothing to do with Liverpool being left out this time. They say they change the route every year. This may be true. Who knows? But as far as the likes of Food Active are concerned, they found something that gives a lot of people a little bit of joy and stamped it out. It must be very satisfying for them.

Regular readers will not be surprised to hear that Food Active is a taxpayer-funded pressure group, albeit a rather strange one. It is one of a network of interchangeable nanny state groups set up by Heart of Mersey, including Give Up Loving Pop (GULP), Healthy Stadia and HoM Partnerships. Heart of Mersey's trading name is the Health Equalities Group. I was looking at their accounts recently. They make for interesting reading.

Heart of Mersey is, as it states in its accounts, ‘primarily an advocacy organisation’. It has four trustees, one of whom is the aforementioned Simon Capewell. Its official charitable objective is to tackle cardiovascular disease but it puts most of its efforts into clamping down on e-cigarettes and fizzy drinks.

In 2016/17 Heart of Mersey had an income of £63,088 but it spent £239,974, of which £166,632 went on staff costs. Not bad going for an organisation that only employs two people.

It has been spending much more than it pulls in for years. Between 2013 and 2017, it had an income of £1,770,555 but spent £2,471,081 - a £700,526 overspend. But it could afford it. Heart of Mersey used to get grants from the NHS and by the time these dried up in 2012 they had £853,506 in the bank. They have been ploughing through this pot of cash ever since. Its (dwindling) income has mainly come from local authorities.

But the party is nearly over. By 2016/17 the bank reserves had fallen to £9,285. In 2017/18, Heart of Mersey spent £22,000 from an income of £15,000. It is now so small that it doesn't need to file accounts with the Charity Commission, but it doesn't take Carol Vorderman to work out that the money has all gone. Unless they attract some serious money soon they won't be able to pay the rent.

In its last (ever?) set of accounts, Heart of Mersey say:

These are clearly very challenging economic times for charities whose main commissioners are traditionally within the public sector. This has been reflected in our reduced income.

With judicious use of the charity's reserves, built up over its eleven year history, Heart of Mersey is able to continue its heart health activities.

Its not clear how the charity managed to save up so much money, nor why the money was not spent on its intended purpose at the time. So far as one can tell, Heart of Mersey has always been overwhelmingly funded by the taxpayer. For the last six years it has been burning through what is essentially a slush fund for handsomely remunerated northwest nanny statists.

It could be time to say farewell to Heart of Mersey/the Health Equalities Group. Half its trustees have quit in the last two years and it's old secretary, the disagreeable vape-hating Robin Ireland, has scuttled off to Glasgow to do a PhD.

But its network of front groups lives on. Food Active is still getting money from local authorities, some of which is used to fund the ludicrous GULP. Healthy Stadia, which is principally focused on banning vaping in outdoors sports grounds, is still getting money from the European Commission.

The sockpuppet state is a many headed beast.

PS. You might be interested to learn that another hectoring charity, the National Obesity Forum, no longer exists. In its last year as a going concern, it raised a grand total of £10. This is a shame for Tam Fry who I also found to be a sincere, if misguided, gentleman. But that's what happens when you let Aseem Malhotra and his reverse Midas touch near your operation.

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