Wednesday, 31 October 2007
Long may it last!
I was not at the meeting, though I was at the Town Hall demonstration and the King Street petition and referendum. At both of these venues the behaviour of all parties was impeccable.
However, this is the second time I have read about these allegations, and all from impeccable sources. There is no place in this campaign for such behaviour; it isolates those who would support the cause and leads to accusations of political meanderings. I understand that people are angry and that emotions are volatile, but dignity MUST prevail!
So what’s the problem?
I am disturbed that South Tyneside Council may still not be honouring the legal obligations re equal pay. I am sure chief executives and top tier officials are all receiving equal pay remuneration, so what’s wrong with giving the same treatment to teachers, kitchen assistants, carers and secretary’s? What is more worrying is that like the plethora of vultures who hound us to lodge accident claims, A4E are representative of a new era of litigation. The advice may be free, but once your claim is lodged, a fee/percentage payment is inevitable. If not, sue for claiming so!
Why should employees of South Tyneside be forced to pay a third party for work they have already done and money they are entitled to?
Come on South Tyneside Council, do you think you are actually above the law? Pay up and honour your commitment to your employee’s rights and legal entitlement.
Having got over the photo of Alex James from Blur ((a popular beat combo from my youth) looking like an extra out of Emmerdale, it was the news of the acrimonious negotiations over political funding which drew my attention.
Cross party talks have collapsed with Labour chief negotiator Jack Straw laying the blame firmly at the door of the Conservatives. With Tory demands for a cap on union funding, Straw asserts that the opposition was unwilling to accept similar restraints on its individual donors.
Negotiations have been grinding on for 5 months with no agreement. With its roots in the cash for honours scandal, the discussions have been revealed as a complete waste of time. Designed to quell public concerns, both Labour and Conservative Party’s never had a stomach for agreement; they just hoped by playing lip service to public concerns the issue would eventually go away.
With MP’s expenses reaching obscene levels, a racket further enhanced by their ability to set their own pay awards, it is time that all aspects of MP’s remuneration, together with election expenditure levels, were taken out of party control and passed on to an acknowledged independent body. With its members drawn from all walks of life, this body could set caps on expenses, wage increases and election expenditure budgets. If the political will exists, such a body could in place before the end of the decade.
Perhaps we have more chance of turkeys voting for Xmas!
The Editorial tone in yesterday’s Gazette, whilst still in support of the Gypsies Green development, showed a definite acknowledgement that the public may not be in agreement. The paper asks that you contact them with your own views: I would urge you to do so.
With the uproar over immigration figures and jobs figures, right wing pundits and posters have had a field day. Whilst the whole subject of migration is alarmist, it has given rise to a couple of very interesting facts. Government figures show that 51% of new jobs created in this country go to migrant workers. Over 64% of those employed in the hospitality industry are of over seas origin (mostly European). Council figures indicate that 200 jobs will be created as a result of any development of the Gypsies Green site. That’s approximately 128 overseas jobs, with 62 from the indigenous population. However, the loss of jobs at local B and B's and other hotels which is a real reality, will reduce this surplus to either nil, or a minus figure. That’s no new employment for the area, with jobs and livelihoods ruined.
Tuesday, 30 October 2007
STH is donating a prize of £250 to the first tenant drawn out of the hat who has paid their rent on time, owe no other debt to the council and keeps to the terms of their tenancy agreement. If that’s not bad enough, you can win £75 if you give four weeks notice of intention to leave, in addition to making sure the house and garden are all in order.
So that’s £325 of Borough tax payers money for merely doing what any other law abiding council tenants would do and is required to do i.e. pay your rent, look after the property and don’t do a moon light flit. STH officials defend their public hand out’s on the grounds that they spend a lot of money covering up for people who don’t look after their houses. A cheaper method may be to actually not rent them homes in the first place.
Who on earth advises these people? Are we paying staff to actually sit around and think of cheap gimmicks worthy of Ant and Dec?
South Tyneside Homes, an organisation, created under “arms length management organisation” legislation, needs to shut down, it’s stock placed back in the hands of the Borough, and start again.
Bizarre? Here's an extract:
Dear diary, it’s Sunday, August 13, 1995 . . .
4.15-7.25am I slept for three hours rather soundly.
7.25-7.30 I sprayed, and puddled and piddled and widdled.
7.30-7.35 I fed the long-haired white cat, Ting, with tinned tuna cat food. She ate the tinned food last night that I had set out yesterday.
7.357.40 I peed again and took a methylpred-nisone tablet.
7.40-8.40 I read the Tri-City Herald, published in Kennewick, Washington 99336... Shannon Faulkner is in The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina, as a cadet, the only time in 152 years that a female has been admitted to the ranks. I think she is a snot . . .
8.40-8.45 I filled the humidifying basin mounted over the Futura baseboard heater.
8.45-9.20 I shaved twice with the Gillette Sensor blade for the fourth? or fifth? time. I shaved my neck behind both ears, and crossways of my cheeks too.
9.20-9.25 I drenched my hair with and plastered it down with a scrub brush.
9.25-9.35 I dressed in a pair of black Haband trousers, a Haband white mesh shirt, the Haband blue blazer with simulated silver buttons, eyeglasses, the 14-degree Masonic ring, both hearing aids.
9.35-9.40 I cleaned the cerumen from both my ears and from both hearing aids.
9.40-9.55 I hunted high and low for the recent issues of Time and Newsweek to give to the Seneys, and I was frustrated not to find them
Now call me a traditionalist, but where’s the plot, the intrigue, the character development or more simply, what was the point?
In 1999 the Rev Shields doanted the diary to Washington State University on condition that it not be read for 50 years. Thank God. Between toilet visits he said in 1995
“Some people would say “Well, he’s a nut” May be I am”.
Fifty years may not be enough to change this sentiment!
Yesterday Cameron called for a “grown up argument” on immigration. Excellent, but we will clearly have to wait for the leader of the Conservative Party to elevate himself above the level of playground insult, Bernard Manning humour and sweeping generalisation. It also shows that the true nature of Tory feeling towards immigration is still tainted by bigotry and homophobia.
I am glad no mention is made of the “pedestrian bay” at this stage. Contrary to various claims, I didn’t object to the bay: I outlined certain safety issues and merely stated that it would be safer place 20 yards further to the left! Mind you, so did six other petitioners, so I can’t understand why I was the only one highlighted. (Perhaps certain people should be less selective with the information they leak!) With the reduction in banked up traffic, the bay may not be required as people should be able to cross the road safely. Time will tell on this issue.
It will still be three months till these measures are completed, but hopefully the area will stop resembling a car park.
Monday, 29 October 2007
Unlike natural births, the Milibands were in control of this situation (don’t attack me for a lack of compassion. I have experienced this process and the choice of timescales is your own. I am also well aware of the personal circumstances which lead to adoption). Had David been particularly “active” over the last few weeks his actions could have been excused. However, his speech at the Labour conference was dreadful, his conduct and lack of involvement in the recent Lisbon hand over of power was amateurish, and his whole demur since Brown took over has been one of a spoilt little school boy annoyed that his friend got the job of head boy!
Come on David, put your dummy back in the draw and get on with the job in hand. You’ve got the ability, and surely the Foreign Office brief provides enough scope for your gifts?
Talk about shooting yourselves in the foot! Clearly the people of this Borough and those who visit the area are quite happy with what we have; theY love the coast as it is and they appreciate its natural beauty. They don’t say anything about the need for hotels or other such developments. Even Councillor Malcolm, Tavistocks voice of support in the Council, admits that the coastline is about as good as it gets! The case for development is falling apart as the weeks go on. When will South Tyneside Council realise that this is a development to far, scrap the proposals and look at upgrading the leisure facilities at Gypsies green?
South Tyneside Tops The Charts With Online Voters
29 Oct 2007
Local people are passionate about their Borough and love living in South Tyneside according to a new online poll provided by Channel 4's hit show Location, Location, Location.
Residents have given an overwhelming vote of approval to life in South Tyneside and rated it a cracking five stars - the best in Tyne and Wear and currently 24th in the UK.
Earlier this month popular presenters Kirsty Alsop and Phil Spencer announced the top and bottom 20 locations in the UK. And although the Borough didn't make it into the main chart, South Tyneside viewers used the programme's online notice board to give it the top five star rating.
The beach, funfair, pubs, clubs, restaurants, parks, scenery, history, good schools, good transport links and its location within the region are listed as good reasons for people to live here.
One person described as "a great place, great people, great food." While another said: "We have a fantastic coast, excellent nightlife and friendly people."
Other comments include:
Great place all round. Beaches, parks, fun fair, loads of pubs and clubs. Ideally sited for travelling north or south. The once run down areas are now brand new communities with modern sought after properties.
Crime rates are good with pro active policing and the local Council provides excellent (and often free) facilities across the board. Excellent recreation for all ages, with a buzzing night life, children's activities all year round and plenty of activities for the not so young.
Show me a better coastline than the one we have! Excellent shopping. Great restaurants and No1: the friendliest folk you could ever wish to meet!
Great place and great people - the stats may let the area down slightly, such as on unemployment and health, but there's been great leaps forward in recent years...I'd definitely expect South Tyneside as a whole to feature in at least the top 20 a few years down the line. Looking forward to even more improvements to the area. South Tyneside - and indeed north east England in general all - is a place where people are friendly and welcoming. You really do feel right at home. There's fantastic cities, towns and countryside on the doorstep. Come on South Tyneside; show the rest of the UK what we're made of!
Shields is Gods country.
Such enthusiasm for the South Tyneside came as no surprise to Council Leader Paul Waggott who said: "As I was born, live, work and spend my leisure time in South Tyneside I couldn't agree more with the comments. South Tyneside is a great place and people who live here are passionate about their community and the environment. They also appreciate that the Council and its partners are committed to improvement and to talking to them about what they want in their Borough."
We're surrounded by fantastic scenery; our beaches are award winning and our parks, museums, markets and events are the envy of far bigger places and our achievements are impressive: Our children and young people continue to shine both in and out of school and their consistently improving academic achievements and talents make us very proud.
Our streets are cleaner and tidier than ever before, the excellent Recycling Village at Middlefields has just been named best in the country and our highly successful partnership with the Police and Fire Authority continues to reap rewards by creating a safer South Tyneside.
But nothing contributes more to this great place than our biggest asset - the people who live here. We're renowned for our friendliness, generosity, warmth and sense of humour. It's no wonder we love living in South Tyneside and with so much going for it ...who wouldn't?"
Councillor Iain Malcolm, Deputy Leader of South Tyneside Council, added: "We are a Borough with a rich history and an exciting future, and we are certainly an area on the up. We have the advantage of being an area of natural beauty, as exemplified by our magnificent beaches and Foreshore. Everything we do is aimed at making South Tyneside a better place to live, work and visit, and these findings show that people value what we do. The pride that local people have in the Borough shines through in the comments they have made, and if we work together, we can achieve even greater things."
Nearly five months down the line and with no further press coverage, many have assumed that the issue has “gone away”. However, such an assertion does great disservice to the tenacity and sense of civic duty that characterises Mr Khan. Tucked away in a little corner of Saturday’s Shields Gazette was the news that the case is to be heard on MONDAY 12 NOVEMBER 2007 at NEWCASTLE COUNTY COURT.
This will be a very interesting case. Mr Khan is seeking access to these votes. The Council has them securely locked away under lock and key (as the law requires them to do) and is refusing the right for them to be examined. With both sides reaching an impasse, the legal arguments will be very interesting. I shall certainly be going to the court to sit in the public gallery, and I would recommend that those who have the time also do so for two reasons. Firstly, it will be very exciting! Secondly, and more pertinent, it will be an opportunity to see the concept of “democracy” pushed to the limit. Mr Khan’s position is clear; all he wants to do is examine the rejected votes to ensure the validity of them not being counted. South Tyneside’s position does cause some puzzlement. Why don’t they just let the votes be examined under duel access, and depending on the outcome, take the matter forward as required? Why go to court for a public hearing with all the costs that are involved. Hopefully, they will bring the disputed votes with them and the matter can be brought to a satisfactory conclusion on the day.
I will post closer to the dates and times etc, but as a public spectacle, it will be a unique experience worthy of national attention.
Sunday, 28 October 2007
Like the protesters, Curly is entitled to his opinion. However, I can’t but help feel that on two counts he has been slightly disingenuous. Firstly, his often repeated assertion that the campaign involves “familiar faces” and secondly, his criticism of the lack of "what looks like a lack of support from the younger elements of South Tynesiders” involved in both the SOS structure and its public support.
Let’s look at these two issues on their merits. The familiar faces scenario is often used as a criticism within this Borough, the idea centring on the premise that the presence of certain individuals “dominates” campaigns or demonstrations. However, to use such an argument ignores one of the greatest historical political traditions of this region – that being the committed activist who applies his free time and free service to the propagation of an ideal. For thirty years the 19th century lawyer W. P. Roberts (The Miners Attorney) was ever present in the Courts fighting for miners safety rights (he attempted to prosecute Lord Londonderry 17 times without any legislation to specifically support his claims). He also led marches, organised meetings, wrote and spoke to press and constantly attacked councillors and MP’s for ignoring the plight of the industry and the disgraceful conditions of its workers. Roberts is now credited by many as a major force in the creation of the concept of work orientated health and safety legislation. Ellen Wilkinson, or “Red Ellen” as she was condescendingly called, was the “familiar face” in the fight to not only save the ship building industry on the Tyne, but was one of the prime forces behind the Jarrow Crusade and March. Her presence in Jarrow during the thirties was constant – she was in every paper, at every meeting and on every street corner where men congregated for work. Wilkinson also served as one of the countries first female women ministers under Atlee’s war time cabinet. She is credited as being one of the driving forces behind welfare legislation to ease the effects of severe unemployment. The list of “familiar faces” in the north east’s heritage is endless, but they all exhibited similar characteristics; dedication to a cause, the will to fight what they perceived as injustices and the ability to lead and organise where others could not. Far be it for me to compare current “familiar faces” with such illustrious company, but to level the accusation at the door of current campaigns is an unwarranted argument against modern day protesters who devote their time, effort and energy for very little reward other than a sense of civic duty and pride. I notice nothing has been said of certain “familiar” councillors whose letters of support regularly arrive with suspicious speed on the desk of The Gazette’s editor, to be printed with equal prominence and speed!
What then of the accusation that the campaign lacks the support of youth or younger people, or in Curly’s words, the under 35 age groups. At the grand old age of 42, I resent the implication that my opinion on the future of the Borough is negated by the fact that I am outside of a particular age group. The same argument applies to those over 50, over 60 and so on. Unlike the Liberal Democrats attitude, activism or community involvement is not validated by age restrictions. Where would the Conservative Party be without their beloved Winston Churchill or for that matter Margaret Thatcher, both hardly spring chickens when they came to power. To discredit a movement on the grounds of its age structure is ageist and insulting to those involved, and it also ignores one of the great problems faced by society today; the majority of young people find politics boring! Voting statistics show they don’t bother with the ballot box, neither do they trust politicians to represent them. Further, common sense tells us that they feel they have better things to do with their time. The perceived view by young people is that modern political parties, both at national and regional levels, have nothing to offer them. With council meetings lasting only 7 minutes, a council chamber with the average age well above the aforementioned “35” bracket, what can South Tyneside offer it’s young people in the form of representation? Certainly not acknowledgement of their concerns, certainly not empathy for those issues which affect them. The ageist argument also ignores one great factual premise; age and experience lead to the ability to appreciate wider arguments, in this case the knowledge that a certain hotel development will not enhance the area, but lead to the beginning of an erosion in the areas character, traditional economic well being and outstanding beauty.
Familiar faces? Not enough young people to reflect opinion? Far from being detrimental to this campaign, age and experience are ESSENTIAL.
My own philosophy is very clear; I am happy to be a “familiar face” because I am active on behalf of those who either do not have the time or the ability to do so, or indeed actually want me to do it for them. I also rely on the experience that age has given me and those around me, to face the issues prevailing. Finally, in the case of Gypsies Green, I want the SOS campaign to succeed so that those younger than me can appreciate and enjoy the area when they are more willing to do so. No more, no less……….
Raymond Challinor “A Radical Lawyer in Victorian England: W.P. Roberts and the Struggle for Workers' Rights”
Ellen Wilkinson “The Town That Was Murdered”
Paul OGrady, aka Lily Savage, has called on the chirpy Geordie Chipmunks to quit the business for their part in the £4 million robbery orchestrated by their companies alone. OGrady’s views clearly will have nothing to do with his quest to win…….Most Popular Entertainment Presenter…….
Saturday, 27 October 2007
Public support from the campaign was virtually unanimous, with from what I saw a 10 to 1 advantage in favour of the “no to any development” vote. One of the main concerns expressed by the public was the view that the whole process was underhand and that business was being favoured ahead of community and consultation.
Where people were in favour, the argument tended to stem from the fact that Gypsies Green Stadium had been deliberately allowed to fall into rack and ruin – something therefore needed to be done about it. However, when asked would they feel the same if the Stadium was redeveloped as a modern athletics facility, their decisions changed to being against the hotel development.
There is definitely a momentum gathering with this campaign, and with Tavistock’s planning application being submitted sometime in November, we can expect “fireworks” throughout the month, and not just on Guy Fawkes night!
Friday, 26 October 2007
I also feel that “You Tube” have escaped criticism on this issue. In their desperation to cover the bizarre and weird actions of individuals, they have in essence encouraged this type of behaviour. Videos of people street fighting, putting fire works up their backsides and school children bullying class mates in the yard are examples of You Tubes failure to monitor what gets posted on their site. Yes they do withdraw items when things go too far, but it’s the fact that they can be posted in the first place that is disturbing. Films, videos and TV programmes etc, are all subject to broadcasting standards and age restrictions. The trash on You Tube however, is not. Titillation before morality? Of course it is.
The last line of the article, though not misleading, does not acknowledge the full facts.
“The campaigners planned to picket a meeting of East Shields community area forum, held at the town's Ridgeway Family Centre in Park Avenue, but it failed to materialise.”
A local TV news channel had promised to meet demonstrators either at the Town Hall at 2.30 p.m. or if they could not make it, Gypsies Green Stadium at 6 p.m. As they failed to turn up at the Town Hall, demonstrators deemed it better for the campaign to favour TV news coverage first, the CAF second. They naturally went to the sea front for 6 p.m, only to be faced once again with the reporters not turning up. Sadly, they were not able to get back to the CAF in time to stage a protest. This makes the matter a little clearer, and I can assure readers that it was not a reflection of any lack of application by SOS members.
Catch the article in the paper or the link below.
“Labour councillors have been training for years to achieve this record. Some of them have been sitting in this chamber for decades not uttering one word of dissent or even discussing anything, such was their level of dedication to get this meeting over with in record time.”
Club Chairman, Irene Lucas, was equally ecstatic with the outcome. “I love a Council that knows when to keep its mouth shut. This makes us clear favourites for the “Tavistock White Wash Cup” in November, when the Planning Committee will attempt the “blind eye” record when faced with plans to demolish Gypsies Green Stadium. As we speak the committee members are all hard at training “looking the other way”.
Achieving the record was not without its casualties. Several members failed dope tests when lab results came back showing that far be it from refusing to talk, they were in fact “dumb”. Just before the meeting began the record attempt was thrown into turmoil when George Elsom injured himself in the warm up and contracted “turrets” and didn’t know whether he would be able to keep his mouth shut.
South Tyneside’s Media department is to release the meeting on DVD, with the CD carrying a special mega remix version of events. All formats are printed on recycled toilet paper.
Councillors are now in training for the “lets see how long we can ignore the public” world record. So far, they are miles ahead of any other contenders.
Rowling’s revelations have led to a flood of other children’s book character “outings”;
1. Roald Dhal admitted that the “Giant Peach” was in fact an over weight/obese grape. He further confessed that the Chocolate Factory did not employ “umperlumpas”, but farm workers from Poland and Romania, not one of whom were registered with immigration services.
2. St Luke (bible writer) admitted that Jesus was not in fact the son of God on earth, but an unemployed carpenter from Jerusalem.
3. James Barrie has admitted that Peter Pan was not an immortal child who never grew old, but a former Vogue model who had extensive plastic surgery and botox injections in an attempt to preserve his young looks. He has recently appeared drunk and violent toward his partner “Tinkerbelle”, a prostitute from Glasgow, on the Jeremy Kayle Show.
Further revelations about children’s book characters have been outlawed in order to preserve the innocence of children until the weight of student debt, mortgages etc, finally destroys it for them.
MP’s from all political parties have received letters in the post from the Department of Health expressing worries about their “over weight” bank accounts. Ms Frankie Benny sated that “for some time the government has been concerned about MP’s expense claims and that their accounts are becoming obese.. The amounts of money that is being consumed is dreadful and very unhealthy for democracy”. Asked whether she had any long term solutions to this issue, Ms Benny said that she planned to implement the following policies;
MP’s holidays would be increased to 90 days thereby allowing them to have more time to spend lots of money and reduce the size of their balances.
Special home help classes would be instigated at constituency level, educating MP’s on how to buy the best caviar, champagne and fur coats.
MP’s would be encouraged to half the weight of their expense accounts by opening another one and splitting the money between the two.
Some MP’s were quick to defend the size of their balances. John Prescott, who will be retiring at the next election in order to spend more time in the Chinese takeaway, said “Being an MP is a very hungry affair and the only way to satisfy this greed and is to fill your pockets to the brim. That’s why we all look fat, were chocker block full of cash”.
“This government is determined to clamp down on hazardous eating. Therefore from July onwards pubs, government buildings, bus shelters, shops and other public areas will be out of bounds for fat people. Special shelters will have to be built outside of offices. Councils will be employing special officers who will ensure that pub landlords etc do not flout the new laws. They will be equipped with scales, tape measures and Nimble bread. Anybody caught breaking the rules will be fined either a weeks hamburgers and chips or £250, that’s pounds in money, not weight.”
Mr Johnson, who is 2 foot 6 inches tall, weighs 45st 8lbs.
Thursday, 25 October 2007
After the usual press photos and statements, those campaigners who were able to decamped to the public gallery for the full Council meeting, and what an eye opener that was. Lasting a glorious 7 minutes (that’s “seven” in full English It would have been shorter but the mayor plunged things into extra time when she had to remove her chain due to a procedural point) our illustrious Councillor’s allowed everything through on the nod without a single voice of dissent, query, clarification or indeed a tickly throat cough! The only noise that disturbed the proceedings was the sound of a mobile phone going off (on the Council side, not the publics. Perhaps it was an alarm to wake somebody up).
I am well versed to such “open” government, but those present in the public gallery were visibly shocked and to be honest, ashamed. If Councillor’s and full time officials ever thought that these people lacked motivation and coherence, then they have shot themselves in the proverbial foot.
The campaign continues tonight at the Riverside CAF, an area where the “true” opposition to this Council plans centres, followed by a public consultation exercise in King Street on Saturday. After that, watch this space. You’ll here it here first.
PS – a little message to Curly at his Corner Shop. Whilst sitting in the front row of the public gallery (I like to be as close to proceedings as possible) I overheard three “full time council officials” discussing with great anguish and anger a certain series of his post’s regarding “Brighton”. The male employee finished by offering to email the other two copies of said offending posts. Not familiar with the faces, I am currently trawling Council publications to ID said offender’s mug shots. Always one for creating a stir at the top, I cant help but feel slightly envious –it’s always of great gratification to cause officials (unelected or otherwise) such discomfort, regardless of whether it’s true or not.
Hopefully this will be the chance for the National Audit Office to put its house in order.
Mind you, there is a rumour going round that John Prescott is after the job. Restaurant owners, hide your knives and forks!
Those of you who have followed my various ramblings over the last year will be aware that I have a great affection for the Private Eye magazine. Its political approach, no nonsense reporting and satirical outlook have greatly influenced my own views and thoughts on how we are governed etc. Every year somebody buys me a subscription for my birthday – I am happy because I get something I want and their happy because they don’t have to buy something I don’t want!
A lot of what appears in the Eye never hits the bigger papers, not because it’s untrue (though they have been in court on some very high profile occasions!) but mainly because it challenges the system to a degree which is to uncomfortable for the likes of the BBC, Murdoch et al.
Every couple of weeks I will be highlighting some of the more revealing items that appear in the publication. Look upon it as a little bit of further enlightenment in an otherwise very restricted media world!
Here we go then, five little items of less than fully reported news!
9 YEARS LIBERALS MANAGED UNDER THE LEADERSHIP OF A MAN ACCUSED OF CONSPIRACY TO MURDER
7 YEARS LIBERALS MANAGED UNDER THE LEADERSHIP OF AN ALCOHOLIC
1 ½ YEARS LIBERALS MANAGED UNDER THE LEADERSHIP OF A MAN WHO WAS ONLY 66 YEARS OLD
£200M COST OF BBC
200 STAFF BEING SACKED AT BBC
£250,000 SUM OFFERED TO ROSE GIBB, OUTGOING HEAD OF
£25,000 SUM ALLOCATED TO REPLACE COMMODES IN
With ID cards still high on the political agenda, the Eye highlighted the merger of The General Register Office (births, marriages and deaths). and the Identity and Passport Service (just passports at the moment). The new set up will soon begin developing the ID card system with a data base that can not only list individuals but can round them up electronically through family relationships right down to what your parents died of!
The civil liberty implications of this merger are obvious, but so are the security implications. A new soft ware system for the births, deaths and marriages data collapsed soon after its commission, despite costing the tax payer £6 million. The new ID system will be bigger and more expensive; hence the sound of the crash will probably break the sound barrier.
Ask any computer expert and he will tell you – the easiest system to hack into is one which has crashed!
With a mass cull of staff planned at the BBC, licence fee payers are probably not aware that the planned production facility move to
I have often posted on the antics of one Auditor General Sir John Bourn, a man who has spent tax payers money like the world was going to end the next day. Despite being publicly embarrassed on many occasions as to the degree of his greed, the man obviously can’t help himself.
The Eye has managed to obtain (through the use of the FoI Act) the following mouth watering expense claims:
DINNER WITH A SENIOR GOVERNMENT SUPPLIER AT “THE SQUARE” – £253
DINNER WITH 3 OF HIS STAFF AT “WILTONS” - £500
DINNER WITH A SENIOR GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL AT “BIBENDUM” - £205
DINNER WITH CROATIAN AUDITORS AT “THE
159 DINNERS OVER THE LAST THREE YEARS WITH SENIOR GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS ON A ONE TO ONE BASIS, NO MINUTES TAKEN AND NO WITNESSES TO WHAT WAS SAID
Now I’m no expert on overtly posh restaurants, but I would surmise that “The Square” et al were not fish and chip shops or greasy spoon outlets, or even the grandiose heights of a Pizza Hut.
Bourn’s diary commitments also reveal a man sadly lacking in any political judgement.
No details are given for Bourn’s trough activities for Friday. Perhaps he was sick, had burst, was booked in for an enema or simply fancied slumming it with some ham and pickle sarnies and a bag of crisps, much like the rest of us the plebs have to do.
These are the expenses of a man appointed to ensure that the government spends its money wisely. God help us all!
God help us all!
To finish on a lighter note, the Eye carries a cartoon of George Bush talking to a Turkish government official. Bush says;
It would be so funny if it were not so true!
Wednesday, 24 October 2007
Anybody who thinks the adverse reactions to the proposals are a flash in the pan is very much mistaken. I attended a meeting of SOS this week and found them to be a determined, coherent and committed section of the population who not only have the ability to see this campaign become a success, but have the advantage of sheer determination and foresight. The Council would be well served to remember the words “Fellgate” and “Steve Harrison”.
Clearly, this issue has created a clear divide between those for and those against the plans. Local bloggers are also firmly planted in respective camps. My position has been made clear; I am against the sale and in favour of some form of community leisure development on the site. Other commentators, notably Curly at his Corner Shop, are for the proposal. And why not, such is his prerogative and genuine concern for the Borough’s well being. However, he is of the opinion that the Borough has a majority in favour of the plans, sighting amongst other things the 57% margin of approval from his blog poll. This negates the fact that people who visit his site in the main also share his views, that’s why they read his columns. The view is also propagated that protesters are against change, which is a very ill informed view as they are clearly not. Mondays SOS meeting was unanimous in its view that redevelopment was needed, but with the town faced with a quickly aging leisure infrastructure and with obesity concerns gaining prominence, then the time was perfect for some form of development to improve on these concerns. A hotel with a private spa is clearly not the answer. Arguments also ignore mooted plans to knock down the Roker Hotel and replace it with a more modern conference based hotel (this is also a Tavistock project. How do they financially manage such developments? That’s a lot of pizzas being sold!). Does this council really think that two such facilities in close proximity can be sustained?
The planned development of Gypsies Green Stadium is systematic of South Tyneside’s less than cohesive policy and attitude to development. If it looks old and rundown, bull doze it and let a developer have it for a song. Such a view is short-sighted, economically suicidal and represents nothing short of asset stripping. However, like the plans to force a development on green field sites in Fellgate, the public as docile as some people think. Forget blog site pools and fake Council consultation exercises, the battle will be fought through the use of the Freedom of Information Act, open public meetings and public protests. This issue now has a momentum of its own, with clear lines being drawn as to how it will progress.
Perhaps council officials and mandarins should have spent a little bit more time on the Gypsies Green running track, because they have a marathon on their hands!
Executive Director Neighbourhood Services
A letter from the leader of the council and the chief executive
Recruitment to the post of Executive Director Neighbourhood Services
We’re pleased that you are considering applying for the post of Executive Director Neighbourhood Services within South Tyneside.
Why wouldn’t you, with a total salary in the region of £120,000 per year, you’d be a fool not to apply.
We’ve already achieved a great deal in a short time, with improvements in educational attainment, the delivery of improved social care services and progress on the regeneration and transformation of the Borough.
We’ve shut down schools, flogged of our housing stock to cowboy builders and annoyed the vast amount of people in the Borough by planning to turn our coast line into Blackpool.
There is, however, still much to do. We’re focussed on delivering our ambitious vision for South Tyneside:
There is, however, still much to do. Too many schools remain open and people think they have a right to leisure facilities. Were focused on delivering our ambitious vision for South Tyneside: a privatised car park owned by Tavistock.
‘Our young people will have new hope because they will have a bright future. People of all ages will have high aspirations, great confidence and the skills and opportunities they need to succeed. People will be healthy, able to find work and will enjoy living here. Our reputation for excellence in service to our communities will be widely recognised and South Tyneside will be playing a full role in contributing to a thriving and prosperous region.’
Young people will have no future as schools will be closed, they will have poor reading and writing skills, they will be obese as we allow more and more McDonalds and Gregg’s to open in Kings Street. Our reputation for incompetence in service to our communities will be widely recognised (South Tyneside Homes).
We want an Executive Director who shares our vision and passion and who knows how to translate the latest policy developments into a coherent service. As a small team, our Executive Directors play a strong corporate role across the authority. You’ll need excellent leadership and influencing skills and the ability to maintain a strategic overview without getting into too much detail. We believe that the way in which we’re going about this will give the successful candidate an excellent opportunity to influence how this will happen.
If you want to make a real difference and be part of an innovative, high performing authority then we want to meet you. In return we can offer you a great place to live and work, the challenge and support of a committed leadership and the backing of our talented workforce.
We want an executive director who can match our level of incompetence, translating our vision into an incoherent policy. As a small team (they have all jumped ship) the Executive Directors will scratch your back if you scratch theirs. You need to have excellent skills in corporate freebies, be able to realize what the s**t has hit the fan, and have another job to go to when you finally jump ship. In return we will give you money for old rope.
If you’re as committed and passionate as we are and have the talent and flair to succeed in this challenging role then we would be delighted if you would apply.
If your only talent lies in pushing paper around in a circle, burying your head in the sand and still have the audacity to claim your full pay, then we would be delighted if you would apply.
Paul WaggottLeader of the Council
It’s not Mottram’s use of the English vernacular which is astounding, but his pension settlement which has just been outlined in newly released accounts. Already in receipt of a £225,000 a year salary, 61 year old Richard will receive a lump sum of £335,000 followed by an annual payment of £110,000. His retirement package has been calculated to be worth £2.6 million. Not bad for a man who said “f**k” a lot!
Not to be outdone in the number crunching steaks, Sir Ian Blair, (reportedly) head of the Metropolitan Police, has been awarded a £25,000 performance bonus. Currently in the dock over the de Menezes shooting and all ready presiding over the biggest increase in gun related crime the capital has ever scene, this tidy little bonus will top up Blair’s yearly pay cheque of £228,000, and add no doubt a few pennies to his pension fund.
When postal workers, NHS staff, gas workers and millions of other both private and public sector employees are faced with pension erosions, you would think the mandarins at the top would have the decency to use a little bit restraint.
As Sir Richard would have said “What a bunch of greedy f*****s”
Tuesday, 23 October 2007
Home by 3.30 p.m, kettle on, Daily Telegraph lying fresh at the door. As soon as this thumb becomes mobile again, I must make sure I break another digit!
Hopefully I will post some pictures later, when I find the USB lead for the camera. Why the hell didn’t I get Group 4 to transport the leads as well?
Monday, 22 October 2007
The debate will roll and roll, and it’s anything but over. What does concern me is that as it took place at about 3.30 p.m, who was able to watch it in its entirety. This is a very important issue, and one which affects every body in this country. However, the vast majority of those who are concerned will have been at work, coming home or collecting kids from school. We can’t even rely on the news channels to cover the issue in any detail during evening bulletins, such is their decline in the programme pecking order. By having such important debates at such inconvenient hours, we are hardly encouraging open and accessible democracy. While doctors are being encouraged to have night time surgeries in order to move with the times, perhaps MP’s and the House of Commons could adopt a similar approach and have more question time appearances on evenings and god forbid, perhaps the odd weekend as well.
However, now may be a good time for me to outline my views on the intended changes. At the moment I am strongly against any development of the Stadium for the purposes outlined by the Council i.e. a commercial hotel under the control of Tavistock Leisure. For brevity, this opposition is based on the following:
1. I feel that the sale price settled on, £15 million, is a gross under evaluation, and as such represents asset stripping by the Council.
2. I have misgivings, on information currently available, on the transparency and openness of the tendering process.
3. Rather than be demolished, Gypsies Green Stadium should be re developed as a first class community leisure centre, with an all weather running track, facilities for all other athletic events and changing rooms for football teams using local football fields. With obesity a current and real health issue for this nation, this type of development is entirely warranted.
4. Public consultation on this issue is deliberately being limited and restricted. No decision should be taken without a more extensive campaign to collate views.
As a member of South Shields Harriers, my individual views on the Stadium and planned developments are clear and unmoveable: the Stadium is a dump and has been allowed to fall into virtual ruin. However, to demolish it would be the final nail in this Borough’s lack of provision of competitive leisure facilities. No wonder the area and country fails to consistently produce the world class athletes that we once did, we don’t have the facilities we used to have. As no plans currently exist to provide alternative venues or amenities the ground needs to be preserved until a more suitable development can be assured.
A long battle lies ahead for both sides on this issue. On one hand we have a group of Councillors and full time officials who seem determined to push this through regardless of public opinion. On the other we have a group of individuals from all walks of working and political life, inexperienced with the mechanisms of bigger government. However, they have 3 things which set them apart from Council mandarins; they have passion, the have the commitment, but most importantly, they KNOW they are right.
Like a good run round Gypsies Green’s track, things are going to get a little bit heated!
To be honest I don’t know Mr Gibson or Mr Brady, and as Councillors I have little knowledge of their activities. However, all credit to them for setting up a blog of this nature: it is commendable that they use any means possible to both inform the public of what they as representatives have been doing for the people who elected them. It is also encourages the public to contact them more freely with the details of issues they feel are important.
However, nobody should receive calls of this nature and they both have my full support in highlighting the problem. I can find nothing contentious or insulting in any posts they have to date printed (believe me, I know what contentious posts entail!) so carry on as normal Councillors and I hope you only receive constructive and dignified criticisms, if you receive any at all.
I suspect that a lot of people who wish to attend will not be able to due to the restrictive nature of the meeting times. Most people in full time employment will find it hard to get to the Town Hall for the 4 p.m. start, never mind the 6 p.m. finish.
Or is this STH intentions?
However, please don’t think you have got away lightly. Below are 5 ramblings which despite being a bit late have some relevance.
To those of you who have been reading the posts on The Northern Herald, please pass the address on to others and if possible include a link on your own site (if only to highlight how not to blog!). Likewise I would be happy to include yours in my links section.
Moving on, enjoy what you read, and if not, post a comment and have your revenge!
Sarcasm to one side, the team played with dignity, pride and commitment, something footballers no longer consider a part of the game. Whilst all papers have given full coverage to the game, it is the Telegraph which offers a slightly different perspective. Consider the following points:
1. The only beer on sale in the Stade de France on the night was alcohol free. 250,000 pints at £6.50 a sip were sold. No arrests in the Stadium were reported.
2. A Cornish rugby fan was persuaded to part with his ticket for the final in return for a life time’s supply of beer. Some things are clearly still more important than the game.
3. Sales of champagne have been reported as rising by 71%, a direct result of England being in the final.
4. England coach Brian Ashton uses a Muhammad Ali quote to inspire the England team. “Defy the impossible and shock the world” is the phrase he propagated, somewhat better that his counter part Steve McClaren, who uses the dictate “Just turn out and collect your cheque at the end of 90 minutes. If you could win, that would be an added advantage.”
5. South Africa’s rugby tops have a magnetic strip in them which increase blood flow and acts like a steroid. Wow! Legalised drug taking.
6. Eurostar for once was fully booked, sales up by 40%. So there you have it, every 4 years Euro Star breaks even for 30 minutes.
No doubt Dr Kelly’s family will be distressed by publicity generated by this book, but hopefully the search for the truth will outweigh any heart ache they will face.
Both Huhne and Clegg, who have part time jobs as David Cameron spares at Madame Tussauds, appeared on Andrew Marrs Sunday politics show. What a love in! Clearly separated at birth, the two contenders showed that it doesn’t matter which one is elected, British politics is tearing towards an era which will be dominated by mundane and ideologically bereft policies. Now there’s something to look forward to.
Lets be very clear on this issue, this is not an attack on anybodies sexuality and it is not a moral condemnation of lifestyles. But was this really needed. Rowling’s books have great interest for children as they stimulate their imagination, preserve a world were fantasy can be entering and whilst being a little bit frightening, still leaves them innocent and optimistic about life. Proclamations of this nature are not needed and serve nothing to enhance the nature of the books.
Rowling has gone done a well furrowed politically correct road and felt the need to include a “minority” character in her books, all be it retrospectively. I think the author should go to ground for the next few weeks; I understand that Mr Dumbledore is a magician of some talent, and has a spell to turn her into a toad(y)!
Sunday, 21 October 2007
Friday, 19 October 2007
Firstly, the £8 million fraud perpetrated by ITV and its phone in robbers. Not only have the public been well and truly mugged, but we in the north east have the added indignity of seeing those chirpy little Geordie chipmunks Ant and Dec, top of the list of high way robbers. Swelled to the tune of £4 million in fiddled earnings, they have cried “not me guv” and made no offer to refund the money. Well done lads, were all very proud of your generosity!
If that was not enough, right next to this crime report was the startling fact that MP’s are to see their holidays raised to 90 days per year. I’ll type that again in bigger letters in case you thought I made a mistake – 90 DAYS! Overworked, to much stress? – wrong, not enough to do. A lack of legislation has meant they have a bit too much time on their hands. Perhaps this gap could have been filled passing the necessary legislation for a European treaty referendum.
Finally I was bowled over by the news that Slough Borough Council has scrapped the town’s bonfire this year due to concerns that it will be too smoky and in contradiction to the areas green policies. So there you have it, no more bonfires and probably no more fireworks, unless there silent and don’t break permitted noise levels! To any young entrepreneurs out there, there is obviously a growing market for smokeless fuel “Guys”!
Luckily my conversations with Mr Khan was uplifting and entertaining, as they always are. If only we all had his enthusiasm and commitment.
However, I must apologise to the lady who sat next to me on the bus. I hope the steam coming out of my ears and the flames from my nose did you no lasting damage! Just tell the hospital you were burnt by a bonfire in Slough!
I know Scotland is a beautiful country, but the travelling Councillor seems to have some form of unnatural fixation with fighting unviable seats. This is his third attempt to win an election north of the border, but perhaps instead of it being a case of “three and out”, it’s more a “three and in” scenario. Faced with a 7000 deficit, Councillor Potts will be lucky to get into triple figures. However, surely his reward for taking another battering will be a safe seat in leafy Suffolk or some other such Tory heartland.
Good luck David, you deserve 10 out of 10 for tenacity. However, a little hint. Just remember to attend the election hustings, something you have failed to do at local ward CAF meetings.
“That’s absolutely ridiculous” said TinkyWinky, head of the party’s Publicity, Media and Nappy Unit. “The Liberal Party is not ageist and values the experience that age gives”.
Speaking from the Westminster MP’s ABC Crèche, TinkyWinky revealed the list of candidates who will be standing in the leadership race.
Poppy Mia, Aged 7 months
Ashley Troy, Aged 18 months
Burberry Pizza Hut, Aged 3 days
Courtney Chantelle, not yet born, due on Tuesday.
It was confirmed that the spokesman for Foreign Affairs, Peter Pan MP, aged 4, had been ruled ineligible to stand for the leadership battle as he was about to start “the big boys school”. None of the other candidates were available for comment as they were having their afternoon nap. However, The Northern Herald can reveal that candidates will be backing the following manifesto pledges:
1. SMA to be on tap in House of Commons toilets for future Liberal MP’s
2. Compulsory “rest periods” between Common’s debates, notably just after lunch and before playing on the swings in Hyde Park.
3. The Speaker of the Commons to be replaced by Noddy.
Future Liberal press conferences will now take place in McDonalds play areas, and 10 bumper seats have been ordered for the new Liberal front bench team.
“Sadly I can confirm that South Tyneside Homes have sprung a leak. We are leaking senior staff and money like there is no tomorrow. In summary, the only thing not leaking is the roof. Together with our Council colleagues, we plan to initiate a restructuring programme based on a new senior executive structure. With this in mind, I am glad to announce the following appointments:
Chief Executive in charge of Lego: Bob T Builder
Head of Building Works: T Dan Smith
Chief Architect: John Poulson
“This country is governed by a man the people did not elect. He draws his power from a completely different country, and those he governs have no means to vote him out. He ignores public opinion and doesn’t honour his promises. He is a dictator”
Bush stated that despite his clear anger, he still had no intentions of launching military action against Britain to restore democracy.
“After a protracted legal battle with my internet provider and a series of High Court slander cases, I am now in a position to be annoying again. I have dusted down my Freedom of Information template, renewed my subscription to the Shields Gazette and sharpened my wit and repartee. However, I have been shackled by certain restraints imposed by my new web site hosts and a certain judge who has no sense of humour. Correspondingly, I am banned from using the following words in posts;
Naturally, I shall try my hardest to comply with these restraints, but I can’t make any long term promises.”
Mr Shaw currently holds the world record for ongoing Freedom of Information enquiries, 67453, all lodged with South Tyneside Council.
The new viewing schedule is as follows:
7.00 am – 9.00 am ~Chinese News Daily
9.00 am ~ 12.00 pm ~ Chairman Mo, Friend or Foe
12.00 pm ~ 7.00 pm ~ Indian Call Centre Highlights ~ When Calls Go Wrong
7.00 pm ~ 9.00 pm ~ Graham Norton Swearathon ~ lines already closed but keep calling in
9.00 pm to close ~ Jonathon Ross attempts to pronounce the letter “R”.
“Dads Army” will be renamed “Terracotta Army”, Victor Meldrew will star in “One Foot in the Yangtze” and Eastenders will re replaced by Far East-enders. BBC 2’s schedule will be revamped to include “Ready Steady Wok” and “Doctor Woo”.
Thursday, 18 October 2007
Based on new Home Office figures just released, the “arrest” table for last year is as follows:
MANCHESTER UNITED 195
Before we get to depressed, let’s put this into context. Both Newcastle and Sunderland have some of the highest crowd attendances on a week to week basis, both home and away. There prominence therefore only reflects a clear statistical pattern. Police attitudes to football crowds and football related disorder have also become tougher, and with more games being shown on the telly, problems in pubs etc were inevitable. With an additional 5% increase in crowd attendance, a corresponding upsurge in arrests is no surprise. Finally, let’s not forget that over zealous steward, given a uniform for the first time in his life and a direct link to monitoring police officers. How many times have we witnessed supporters hauled out of their seats for mere over excitement?
So let’s not panic, and let’s hope that these table topping performances can be repeated in the football league proper!
Consider this then. Which country do the following facts apply to?
Governed by a head of state who has not received an endorsement from the electorate.
Governed by a head of state elected to represent another area in another country, who the electorate of the country he governs have no legal opportunity to vote out
An electorate governed by rules and laws they have no opportunity to endorse, amend or vote against
Governed by a larger pan national structure without the opportunity to vote out the executive.
Communist Russia, Cuba, North Korea? Sadly, these facts apply to the United Kingdom. Together with Brown’s capitulation on the referendum issue, Britain will no longer be a sovereign state. We are governed by an unelected executive based in Brussels, a body who the public cannot remove and whose legislative process we cannot influence.
The irony is that this government fights foreign wars in order to “free” nations so that they may exercise their own democratic right, yet shackles its own populace to the most fundamentally undemocratic body ever seen in modern political times. The greater shame however, is that it has been propagated by a Labour government, a party created on the principals of freedom of thought, expression and a universal democratic say for all, regardless of wealth, class or ability.
Like Blair before him, Brown can never be trusted again. Not only has he lied and misled the electorate, but he has shown dreadful political judgement. As his own MP’s prepare to rebel against him, the greater British public will remember the day he finally handed the nation over to unelected mandarins.