A view from the Bridge

THIS week, the Times covers extensively the Comic Relief activities in our local schools.

I’d like to start out by apologising to any schools we missed - it was a pretty hectic Friday, and myself and Graeme did quite a bit of running. Anyone who has taken their own photos is more than welcome to send them into us, and we’ll very happily publish them.

It’s always great to see how much good the kids in our schools do for charity, and Comic Relief is no exception. Our teachers, pupils and everyone else involved can afford themselves a pat on the back.

WATCHING the UK Budget on Wednesday, Chancellor George Osbourne put on an admirably brave face outlining the financial outlook for the UK in the coming year.

Next year, the government expects that it will borrow £114 billion merely to meet the its current spending commitments. The chancellor was probably quite right to point out that our debt commitments as a percentage of GDP will fall (assuming economic growth - a big if). However, that doesn’t change the headline total - that the state remains in more than a trillion pounds worth of debt. £1.15 trillion, roughly. Though by the time this is published it will probably have increased by a couple of hundred million.

One gets the impression that everyone in the House of Commons knows just how much trouble the country is in, yet nobody will speak publicly about it for fear of worrying the markets. Paying off the interest on those debts is just about manageable at the moment - though how long that situation will persist, no-one can say - including, I’m guessing, the chancellor.

What is worrying about the present situation is the fact that despite the current government’s commitment to cut borrowing, it remains as high as ever. And despite spending cuts which frequently hit those who can least afford them, the UK remains in deep financial trouble, as evidenced by the recent downgrading our credit rating.

I have to say, I wouldn’t want George Osbourne’s job. He faces an insurmountable deficit, a wobbly economy, and a nation which regards many of his party’s welfare proposals with scepticism at best. Much of what he had to say on Wednesday morning was sensible - including a (surprising) cut in corporation tax which will help businesses, and cancelling increases in fuel duty. However, listening to the jeers and cheers of that echoey old chamber, I can find no confidence - in the government or opposition.