Monday, 31 December 2007

HERE TODAY, GONE TOMORROW!

Just when you thought things couldn’t get more intriguing, they do!

A further two submissions haves been received from “The Badger”, and due to their content, I am going to attach it to this post, as well as in the comments section.

To be honest, I am starting to get a bit disillusioned. Whilst I would never consider ourselves to be political allies, I have always thought favourably of the http://whiteleasandparkway.blogspot.com/ site: at least they were updating their ward members as to their actions. However, the rewording or removal of texts and the situation surrounding the “Do You Know Who I Am” post have soured this view. The BRENDA affair plus the corresponding denials have also tainted my outlook. The question must now be asked – what really is going on and who knows the truth?

“The Badger” (I still don’t like the monocle) has to his credit brought this issue to the forefront. All recognition to his attention to detail; he has proved his point quite admirably.

A plethora of unanswered questions now lie on the table. The sooner they are answered, the sooner all these matters can be drawn to a conclusion. If not, the New Year is going to see these issues debated in the provisional press. Whilst I have nothing to loose, somebody, somewhere, will be named and shamed.

My advice? Avoid this outcome. State your case now before it is too late!

1st comment
THE BADGER SAID:

Well it seems Mr Gibson is not the honest and open person he would have us believe.Immediately after posting this (18.30hrs) I asked the same questions over on the ‘'Now You See It, Now You Don't Blog' sorry I mean ‘Working for Whiteleas and Parkway Blog’. It obviously created quite a stir or was it a bit too near the truth for Mr Gibson’s liking. So how did Mr Gibson react? Well he didn’t publish the post which confirms my theory that he only publishes posts that suit the tiny little world he inhabits like the one he published almost 2 hrs later.He clearly he refuses to answer the questions posed (see them above). This surely makes a mockery of his statement about being honest and open. Above all it leaves a huge question mark over his integrity and indeed his fitness to hold public office.He doesn’t deny meeting the Chief Executive although he did in his original post before he removed it probably because someone told him to do so or pointed that the Chief Executive would not be party to his little scam and would certainly not lie about any meeting should she be asked.It would seem Mr Gibson is now an extremely worried man, so much so that he has disabled the comments link thereby denying the public the right to make comment and added the following post: I have made my stance very clear on this matter. As far as I am concerned the matter on this blog is now closed. There are far more important things to discuss - like taking our borough forward.Perhaps he really means that he’s finding it a little too hot making all those cups of tea. Never mind once the real Brenda has been revealed to the public he may well find he’s got a lot more time on his hands than he bargained for, although I wonder how much demand there is for a ‘tea lady’ out in the real world. Still one can always moonlight in the double glazing industry.

2nd Comment

THE BADGER SAID:

I thought your many readers might want to see what really happened when Mr Gibson felt the heat in the tearoom.

The first two paragraphs below are from the original post and have been retained in his additional edits.

I know the Gazette has ran a follow up on the "Brenda" story. Subsequent comments have been left on this blog, making a number of allegations as to who "Brenda" really is.

I know certain people have been lead to believe that I left the comments on Curly's Blog. Let me state here and now, that I have never typed anything about any former Labour Party Members on Curly's Blog. Frankly, I couldn't care less about internal politics else where in the town - as long as the people of Whiteleas and Parkway get a good deal - what happens in other parts of the town whether political or non political is for others to resolve. I certainly have no desire to write about such things on someone elses blog.

The paragraph below was in the original post and then suddenly it disappeared. I wonder if it was on someone’s ‘duff’ advice?

LET ME ALSO ADD, THAT I HAVE NOT DISCUSSED THE COMMENTS ON CURLY’S BLOG WITH THE CHIEF EXECUTIVE OF SOUTH TYNESIDE COUNCIL. I HAVE NOT BEEN BEFORE HER, I HAVE NOT ASKED HER TO “COVER UP” THE STORY. SUCH ALLEGATIONS ARE TOTAL LIES.

This paragraph was then inserted into the third version of the post almost two days after the original post. I wonder if this new advice came from a certain Mr Scott to counteract the previous ‘duff’ advice?I CAN'T BE ANY CLEARER. I HAVE HAD NO DISCUSSIONS ABOUT THIS MATTER WITH THE LEADERSHIP OF THE COUNCIL OR WITH ANY OFFICER OF THE COUNCIL. OTHERS CAN IMPLY WHAT THEY LIKE, (BLOGGERS, OPPOSITION COUNCILLORS ETC).

This paragraph appears in all versions.

I also understand that a number of other comments are being passed around. I say to those who are spreading these - say them to my face rather than behind my back. Honesty is the best policy.

This paragraph was also added at a later stage re-iterating Mr Gibson’s honesty, strange then that he keeps changing his mind.

Note the final words in the last line - honesty is the best policy. I have been honest and open (at times to honest!). Now it is up to someone else to be honest and open.

Below is a final addition to the post, all I can say is the kettle must by now be boiling over.

ADDED UPDATE- I have made my stance very clear on this matter. As far as I am concerned the matter on this blog is now closed. There are far more important things to discuss - like taking our borough forward.

Hmm the whole episode brings a new meaning to the phrase ‘shooting yourself in the foot’, mind you there are many in the labour party that think Mr Gibson is a loose cannon and would love to see the back of him. I’ve heard that Ringtons Tea are looking for staff.


NOW YOU SEE IT, NOW YOU DONT







Some of you may have missed a comment which has been added to a post I made on 29th December under the title “BILLY NO MATES”. The original post is not relevant now to the issue, but I have decided to highlight it as it contains some intriguing and very serious points.




http://thenorthernherald.blogspot.com/2007/12/billy-no-mates.html I have outlined the comment in full at the end of this post.

“The Badger” has posted on this site before, and whilst I don’t like anonymous names or hidden identities, at least he has been pleasant and somewhat informative. However, this comment contains more “information” than an encyclopaedia!

I have allowed it to stand as unfortunately I am sure I am not the only one who has noticed a series of text “amendments” on the Whiteleas site (http://whiteleasandparkway.blogspot.com). Posts have a tendency to appear and disappear. The instance of the “Do You Know Who I Am” story has caused a plethora of calls to me naming a certain individual as the guilty party at Roxanne’s in South Shields, but to be honest I would be very surprised if this person would make such a slip up considering other “tasks” which lie ahead for him. The comments attached to the post leave the public in no doubt who some people consider to be the offending Councillor. I wish, I wish…….but I don’t think so.

The South Tyneside blogging world is a pretty small community and whilst we never agree, frequently fall out and often criticise each other publicly, we have a degree of solidarity which transgresses political approaches. Somebody, somewhere, knows who BRENDA is. As a result of “her” post two women have had their integrity questioned and a local commentator of long standing and sound integrity has been compromised. We are all therefore due the truth and the guilty party should come clean before the situation escalates once again to the front pages of the Gazette.

It’s New Years Eve. Wipe the slate clean and move on into 2008 knowing you did the right thing.



The Badger said...




Well done Mr Shaw it seems you have a crystal ball as Billy Boy is now frequenting the ‘Working for Whiteleas and Parkway Blog’ or should I say the 'Now You See It, Now You Don't Blog'. Have you noticed how often posts appear, disappear or are edited as if by magic. The most recent one being on the Brenda saga. It’s a good job I’ve started printing a hard copy otherwise I would meet myself coming back.Perhaps like me you will recall Mr Gibson denying having been summoned or indeed meeting with the Chief Executive to discuss the Brenda post, although she may well have a different take on this. Perhaps this explains the sudden disappearance of any reference to the Chief Executive from the original post.Take a look at the last paragraph from Mr Gibson’s last Brenda post:Note the final words in the last line - honesty is the best policy. I have been honest and open (at times to honest!). Now it is up to someone else to be honest and open.So come on Mr Gibson lets see some of this famous honesty (or was it infamous), tell us why you removed references to the Chief Executive. Whilst you are at it can you confirm or deny that you have:






a. Met with the Chief Executive to discuss posting comments on Curly’s blog under the name of Brenda?






b. Been summoned by Chief Executive to discuss posting comments on Curly’s blog under the name of Brenda?






c. Had discussions with the Chief Executive about using council computers for posting comments on Curly’s blog?






d. Asked the Chief Executive to cover up your actions in relation to posting possible slanderous comments on Curly’s blog?






Before you answer think carefully, remember questions may will be asked in public, clarification will be sought from the Chief Executive including a written request to confirm or deny any such meeting has taken place. This in turn may lead to a formal complaint being made to the Standards Board (yet again) questioning amongst other things your integrity, honesty and fitness to hold public office!






What price honesty now Mr Gibson?












Sunday, 30 December 2007

THAT WAS THE WEEK THAT WAS



NEWCASTLE UNITED ISSUE A PUBLIC APOLOGY

NEW YEARS HONOURS LIST

NEW YEARS HONOURS LIST


With the New Years Honours List being released today, South Tyneside’s political circles have had a good day.

COUNCILLOR IAN MALCOLM – SERVICES TO THE HOTEL INDUSTRY – LORD MALCOLM OF TAVISTOCK

COUNCILLOR DAVID POTTS – SERVICES TO RAIL TRAVEL - LORD POTTS OF PANNS

COUNCILLOR GEORGE ELSOM – SERVICES TO THE WIND INDUSTRY – LORD ELSOM OF HOT AIR

LORD PAUL OF WAGGSVILLE – ADDITIONAL OBE (OUT BEFORE EASTER)

AHMED KHAN – SERVICES TO CHRISTMAS LIGHTS, SKIPS AND PORTERS – KNIGHTHOOD

MR BRIAN T SCOTT – SERVICES TO DEMOCRACY – DAME OF THE GARTER, LEFT LEG

BRENDA – SERVICES TO TITTLE TATTLE AND CUPS OF TEA – LORDSHIP – MIGHT NOT TURN UP TO COLLECT AWARD

NEWCASTLE UNITED ISSUE A PUBLIC APOLOGY


Sam Allerdyce, Newcastle United’s manager for the next ten minutes, was today forced to issue a public apology regarding the behaviour of one of his first team players. Speaking at the clubs training ground at D Wing, Durham jail, Allerdyce told gathered prison officer staff:

“Sadly, last night one of my first team players disgraced the good name of this club. Fiat Punto Uno, our Italian centre forward, was found to be tucked up in bed at 9.30 p.m. Not only was he sober, but he had been in no fights that day and was found reading a copy of “The Readers Digest”. A hot cup of Horlicks was by his bed. This club prides itself on the yobbish, violent and drunken behaviour of its players, both on and off the pitch. Punto has disgraced the famous louts who have worn the black and white prison uniform and lived up to the clubs famous Latin motto; ASBO CONTINUIM COURTO.

Unfortunately, Newcastle will not be able to field a team for next weeks third round of the Intercontinental Prison Trophy Cup (sponsored by Group 4) as all their players have been tagged with a 2 p.m. curfew.

THE SUNDAY ROAST



SUNDAY SUN

CHOCOLATE WOOLIES

OLYMPICS 2012

SUNDAY SUN

Today’s Sunday Sun contains a couple of snippets of regional news which prove interesting.

The first concerns the news that Michael Redfern QC, currently conducting the enquiry into the illegal removal of organs from the body’s dead Sellafield workers, is to widen his enquiry to cover coal miners. It has emerged that the lungs of deceased miners were removed during autopsies at the request of the National Coal Board, but without relatives consent. With this regions extensive history of coalmining, I can’t help but think that there will be families here who may have been affected by this practise.

The second article concerns a business partnership between two not for profit housing groups in Teeside. Ermimus Housing, with 11500 homes, will team up with Tees Valley Housing to create a body to oversee the management of both companies. No problem there. However, this will pave the way for directors to claim thousands of pounds in allowances, something they couldn’t do under the charitable status of the single company set up.

Hopefully, a certain ALMO housing group not a million miles away from Shields Town Hall won’t get wind of this. Otherwise, there go another couple of millions of tax payers money.

CHOCOLATE WOOLIES

Global warming not only affects the climate, but also the timing of our traditional festivals. As reports start to emerge of spring buds already appearing in gardens, Easter has also come early.

Despite the fact that it is still only December, Woolworths is already starting to fill its shelves with chocolate Easter eggs!

Whatever happened to the pure enjoyment of Christmas and the pleasure and the New Year?

Traditional festivities are slowly becoming a marketing project with retailers constantly thinking of ways to gain the edge on their competitors.

When questioned on their stance, a Woolworth’s spokesman said “Our customers like to be organised”. Of course they do, that’s why their still buying presents on Christmas Eve!

OLYMPIC GAMES 2012

Interviewed in today’s Sunday Telegraph, Tessa Jowell raises another potential problem for the 2012 Olympic project, that of completing the capital projects on time.

The old nugget of money is however, still an issue. Despite the fact that the budget for the Games left the start line at £2.4 billion, it is approaching the final lap at £9.3 billion. On the issue of costs, Jowell has adopted classic Labour spin. Asked whether the budget was immovable she replied “Absolutely”. However, she also added:

“Can I tell you that there are absolutely no circumstances in which the budget would rise? No, you would be a fool to do that”.

However, in an effort to move away from spiralling costs, Jowell raises the issue of building projects, an area she identifies as the “biggest risk” i.e. can we build them on time? To find the answer, look no further than Wembley Stadium, a project dodged by every conceivable issue you could imagine. It was finally completed three years late. I somehow suspect that sprinters will not sit in their blocks for this length of time!

Ending her summary of the project so far, Jowell lays it on the line. “The Olympics is….a metaphor for the government”.

Oh dear!

Saturday, 29 December 2007

NUMBER CRUNCHING BBC STYLE


It must be something about the end of the year, because the figures for the “Number Cruncher” are coming in fast and furious. This time it’s the turn of the BBC. With an announcement of a further 1800 job cuts on top of the thousands already made, have a little look at the Corporations expenses and corporate hospitality bill for last Christmas:

FIVE OF THE CORPORATIONS MOST SENIOR EXECUTIVES SPENT A TOTAL OF £4324.30 ON CHRISTMAS MEALS

DIRECTOR ALAN YENTOB SPENT £1579.63 ON INTERNAL CHRISTMAS DINNERS

JENNY ABRAMSKY, DIRECTOR OF RADIO AND MUSIC, SPENT £1147.22

MARK THOMPSON, DIRECTOR GENERAL, SPENT £680 ON ONE DINNER FOR FELLOW BOARD MEMBERS

CORPORATE GIFTS ACCEPTED BY EXECUTIVES INCLUDED FREE OPERA TICKETS, POP CONCERT TICKETS, RUGBY WORLD CUP FINAL TICKETS AND TICKETS TO VISIT THE HENLEY FESTIVAL.

Just the ticket!

I wonder how BBC staff would have felt, whilst tucking into their own Christmas dinner (possibly purchased for the last time through gainful employment) had they known their bosses were gorging at the trough of plenty. The same bosses who would return in the New Year with the message that due to financial problems, your jobs are gone. Put it this way, pudding would be difficult to swallow!

Here is a more detailed itinerary of how the BBC spent the tax payer’s money, courtesy of the Guardian

Mark Thompson, director general
External business entertainment: £937.48. Internal business entertainment: £1,363.73. Excerpts of entertainment received: November 2006, Times editorial lunch; November 2006, business lunch with Orange; December 2006, first night of Carmen followed by dinner (gift from Royal Opera House); January 2007, Cirque du Soleil, preceded by dinner as a guest of Fast Track Agency; April 2007, business lunch with Daily Telegraph; May 2007, Chelsea flower show with Reuters; September 2007, Daily Telegraph arts lunch; September 2007, C4 advisory board dinner as guest speaker.


Mark Byford, deputy director general
External business entertainment: £242. Internal business entertainment: £78.50. Excerpts of entertainment received: June 2007, two guest passes for White Stripes concert; October 2007, ticket for Rugby World Cup final from IMG Sports Rights Group; October 2007, complimentary tickets for Miami Dolphins v New York Giants at Wembley, invited by NFL.


Jenny Abramsky, director of audio and music
External business entertainment: £1,101.78. Internal business entertainment: £2,730. Excerpts of entertainment received: September 2007, exhibition, invited by the British Museum


Caroline Thomson, chief operating officer
External business entertainment: £2,607.30. Internal business entertainment: £2,078.35. Excerpts of entertainment received: November 2006, Ernst & Young, tour and drinks; April 2007, Ernst & Young, Renoir landscapes; July 2007, dinner at House of Lords; September 2007, cultural leaders event; October 2007, lunch with Will Wyatt.


Jana Bennett, director BBC Vision
External business entertainment: £680.85. Internal business entertainment: £2,405.84. Excerpts of entertainment received: February 2007, the Brits; July 2007, Wimbledon; July 2007, film premiere with Warner Bros; September 2007, Mercury music prize


John Smith, chief executive BBC Worldwide
External business entertainment: £948.34. Internal business entertainment: £961.08. Excerpts of entertainment received: January 2007, theatre with Lehman Brothers; April 2007, dinner in honour of the minister of communications for the People's Republic of China, Cai Wu, with Tessa Jowell; June 2007, Gyndebourne Opera with Zygos; June 2007, Holland Park Opera with Korn Ferry; July 2007, Holland Park Opera with Korn Ferry.


Alan Yentob, creative director
External business entertainment: £605.21. Internal business entertainment: £1,682.79.

NUMBER CRUNCHING COMMONS SPEAKER STYLE

Whilst on line food ordering has reached the homes of millions of people in this country, it clearly has not made an impact in Michael Martins (the Commons Speaker) house. A Freedom of Information enquiry by the Time’s has revealed the following rather strange financial figures:

SINCE MAY 2004 HIS WIFE HAS CLAIMED £4280 IN TAXI EXPENSES RELATING TO THE COLLECTION OF FOOD

THE SPEAKER HAS A CHAUFFER DRIVEN CAR WHICH HAS COST THE TAXPAYER £20000 PER YEAR OVER THE SAME PERIOD

THE SPEAKER HOSTED SIX DINNERS LAST YEAR AT A COST OF £10869.33, WITH A FURTHER £44,216 ON ENTERTAINMENT

If I had the time and the application, I am sure I could find a plethora of suppliers who would actually deliver food to Mr and Mrs Martin’s house. Indeed, the Times informs us that they live close to a Marks and Spencer’s outlet and a Sainsbury’s store. We could even go a step further and ask why the Chauffer didn’t collect the food? Perhaps it was beneath him.

Never mind, Mr Martin hails from Glasgow. Perhaps his wife wanted to make sure his Mars Bar was sufficiently covered in batter!

BILLY NO MATES

Those of you who follow this site will be aware that I have a “web stalker”, a certain “Billy Boy” whose posts derive from a USA ISP address. Less than courteous, Billy has been active for about 8 weeks. However free speech and all that has allowed his often less than literate comments to appear. These versions of English had the untimely regularity of appearing after criticism of certain councillors or certain councillor related issues. Obviously tipped off by a puppet master in this Borough, Billy Boy would respond accordingly. Certain restraints were introduced and included in a side bar on this site. Low and behold, Billy Boy has fallen at the first hurdle. Sexist, racist and homophobic comments will not be tolerated, and as Billy Boy incorporated all three into his latest moderated comment, he is now “barred”. I honestly thought that the Klu Klux Clan mentality was on the wane, but no, it’s alive and well inside Billy’s mind.

No doubt when his South Tyneside handler informs him of this outcome Billy will do one of two things. Firstly, change his ID tags, or secondly, post on other peoples sites. With his ISP details known and his use of “Anonymous Proxy” blocked, he can call himself what he wants but his racist tirades and sexist filth will not be posted. Sadly, I have no control over the second issue, other than to say if people want a “cuckoo” in their nests, that’s up to them: I know I wouldn’t.

Never mind, life goes on and so will the posts. Billy Boy won’t be missed and his silly friend who uses his Blackberry facilities to tip him off should really be more careful.

Now, where’s that list of potential BRENDA suspects………………

Friday, 28 December 2007

BRENDA

The Gazette has recently resurrected the BRENDA affair with the news that South Tyneside Council Chief Executive Irene Lucas knows the identity of the incumbent, but has yet to decide what to do with the information.

As it stands, she has three scenarios:

1. Stick to the Data Protection Act i.e. no names.

2. Release the information “in the public interest” i.e. a name

3. Encourage the guilty party to name and shame him/her self

What ever the outcome, the issue is clearly not going to go away. If the guilty party refuses to come clean, and is named by other means, then any presiding litigation judge is going to come down heavily on the failure to do the “honest thing”. My advice would be to come clean, issue a public retraction with a full apology and hope it is accepted.

If an escape exit does exist, this is the only way out!

Follow David MaCleans article below:

http://www.shieldsgazette.com/news/Mystery-blogger-is-tracked-down.3622170.jp

HISTORY BOYS

(Not the film or play, though it is on tonight: BBC 2, 9.00 P.M. The dialogue is superb!)

Who says history doesn’t repeat itself?

National Archives released today from 1977 show that Labour P.M. Jim Callaghan threatened to resign rather than pay an above than inflation pay rise to the police. Threatened with a strike, poor old Jim said he would resign rather than be held to ransom. He offered 10%, the Police Federation asked for 15%.

The outcome? The Federation backed down and Callaghan remained in No 10.

Sound familiar? The only difference is that Brown to date has not offered to resign.

Why? Possibly because it might actually be accepted!

NUMBER CRUNCHING: CHRISTMAS HANGOVER STYLE

Those of us with large families will know that Christmas is an expensive affair. Even with a conservative attitude to spending, money still flows out of the old bank account. According to today’s Times, the phenomena still continues after Christmas as well!

Here are some astounding “number crunching” figures for the Boxing Day/Thursday sales:

LARGE RETAILERS REPORTED SALES PEAKS OF £2000 PER MINUTE AT 9.45 AM

SHOPS FACED £17 MILLION OF ATTEMPTED FRAUD, WITH ONLY £1.9 MILLION DETECTED BEFORE IT HAPPENED

JOHN LEWIS REPORTED AVERAGE SALES OF £1000 PER MINUTE, WITH AN INCREASE OF 11% ON LAST YEARS FIGURES

BRENT SHOPPING CENTRE REPORTED 150,000 SHOPPERS THROUGH ITS DOORS, COLLECTIVELY SPENDING £50,000 PER HOUR

ONLINE SHOPPING REPORTED A 4.4% RISE ON LAST YEARS FIGURES

The use of new tracking technology (very useful in other areas as well) makes the collation of these figures much easier. What emerges however is that retailers, both on line and in the high street, face a win/win situation. They get our money on the run up to Christmas, and they get what we have left after Christmas.

Overall, spending figures for the period will be very interesting. Will we still see a credit card frenzy, or will cash have played its part in the anticipated squeeze on how we dispose of our income? Only the stats will tell.

TROUBLED TIMES (2)

Anybody who had any doubt about the ramifications of the Benazir Bhutto murder need look no further than today’s Times. The first 12 pages are devoted to the murder and its aftermath.

With the fear of civil war, there are also concerns that India may take the opportunity to make territorial gains in disputed areas. Either scenario is not good both for the country internally and for the region as a whole.

Whilst the coverage in the paper makes chilling reading, what is more disturbing is the shear lack of any substantive comments from David Miliband. As the governments Foreign Secretary, he is conspicuous by his absence!

Thursday, 27 December 2007

TROUBLED TIMES

I have never been one to comment much on international matters, but the death of Pakistani former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto is a tragic occurrence. Her assignation will have tragic ramifications for both the country and international community at large.

Bhutto’s exile for the last 8 years and subsequent return to the country in October was heralded by many as a return to civil democracy for the country. That desire now lies in tatters. If this extreme action is to be negated, then the democratic process must continue unabated.

The next seven days will show whether this is possible.

WE ARE……THE VILLAGE GREEN PRESERVATION SOCIETY

An early date for your political regional diary could well be the “Common Land, Town and Village Green Committee which will meet to discuss Mr Ahmed Khan’s application to have certain areas of land classified as such to protect them from future developments.

The Council’s own web site describes the Committee as such:

“This Committee has been set up specifically to deal with any applications received for registration of areas of land as common land, town or village green.”

Well, you couldn’t get any clearer than that. However, I can find no reference for it ever having met before. With a built in Labour member strength of 73% and with no precedents to base any decisions on, this could be a foregone conclusion. However, there is an under lying legal spat on the validity of public signs erected by the Council claiming ownership of certain areas of land under discussion. This alone could throw a very large spanner in the works, and end up being a little bit embarrassing to the Borough’s officials if their actions have been found to be, well, illegal!

The Committee will meet on 9th January in the main Council chamber, with the gallery open to the public. I shall be there, though without any grazing sheep: I have willingly foregone my peasant rights to let them roam where they see fit.

Mind you, if the application fails………

http://www.shieldsgazette.com/news/Seafront-notices-are-sign-of.3604293.jp
http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/release/jfmq/

YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO REMAIN NAMELESS, SORRY, SILENT, BUT ANYTHING YOU PAY, SORRY, SAY, WILL BE…………

If you believe today’s “Telegraph” headline, then Gordon Brown will be dreading the New Year. Sources have revealed to the paper that criminal charges will be made with regard to the David Abrahams “Donorgate” affair. Unlike the Cash For Honours fiasco that lasted nearly 15 months, this scandal has been done and dusted in weeks, with files already on their way to the CPS. The main suspect appears to be Peter Watt, ex Party General Secretary, and considered by many to be the “man in the know”. What he actually did know has been kept pretty much under lock and key, but the police appear to have fathomed out in record time the circumstances that led to Abrahams adopting a serious of non de plume to hide his identity.

With the Inland Revenue, the Electoral Commission and the Metropolitan Police all interested in this affair, Brown must be praying that all the evidence is put on a disc, popped in the post and never seen again.

It is highly probable that he may be the second modern day serving PM to be spoken to by the police with regard to financial irregularities, with the previous incumbent also being a Labour leader.

Pretty much sums up the last 10 years doesn’t it?

HERITAGE STRIPPING – A NEW LABOUR PASTIME

Today’s “Independent” carries the sacrilegious story that the Ministry of Defence is under pressure to sell Churchill’s old war offices situated under Whitehall. With over 1000 rooms, 7 storeys, 2 miles of corridors and 7 secret tunnels (if we know there are 7, they cant be that secret!) the under ground offices were built between 1906 and 1910 to a cost of £1.2 million. Estimates reveal that the property is now valued at around £35 million, with the Treasury putting pressure on the MOD to sell to the highest bidder in order to raise some cash.

There’s an old phrase which is used in the business community to describe the deliberate selling off of profitable company – asset striping. May I be the first to introduce a new monocle – heritage striping. Once the working home of Winston Churchill, Kitchener, Lloyd George, TE Lawrence and the infamous Profumo, the buildings represent a great part of this countries heritage. Though not always glorious, it is synonymous of the clerical, administrative and unacknowledged “pen pusher” work that went on behind the scenes during the nations most troubled periods.

To sell these assets in order to balance the books is a national scandal. It is also typical of this current Government’s lack of knowledge of Britain’s historical heritage.

What ever next, a Burger King banner over the entrance to Number 10?

BUSINESS AS USUAL

Well, after two days of mirth, merriment and new socks, its business as usual. As we all plan our New Years resolutions, the world starts revolving again and freezers are stuffed full of unused super market bread and Iceland apple pies.

Hope you all had a good one and that Santa was generous to you. Here we go again…….

Monday, 24 December 2007

HAPPY CHRISTMAS

Well, it’s Christmas Eve, and to be honest, after 12 weeks of blogging, I wish you all well, regardless of whether you are friend or foe.

Best wishes to you all.

Have a great couple of days, enjoy the experience and make the most of your families, however large or small.

Sunday, 23 December 2007

THAT WAS THE WEEK THAT WAS


TIME TEAM: END OF YEAR SPECIAL 2007

THREE WISEMEN “WERE AT SCENE”

OUTBREAK OF CONTAGIOUS “DEMOCRACY” VIRUS IN SOUTH TYNESIDE

TIME TEAM: END OF YEAR 2007 SPECIAL

The famous Channel 4 “Time Team” archaeologists have this week made a startling discovery at the Arbeia Roman Fort in South Tyneside. Buried inside what can only be described as a “metal chariot”, the team found 18 black onyx’s boxes, containing parchments containing specimens of “perfect hand writing”. Speaking to Tony Robinson, the programmes presenter, The Northern Herald obtained the following statement:

“Never before have we found such perfectly preserved documents. The writing is very clear, with two copies of each document signature. The Romans were obviously very conscious of making sure everything was in order. The chariot clearly belonged to the Emperor Thompson of the villa “Skip Hire”, and the papers relate to a dispute with the local Centurion “Ahmed Khan”, who for some reason the local Beaconbents Tribe have placed a mark next to his name. What this means we don’t know. The only problem we have is that the top soil is very fresh, which may be the result of local farm ploughing”.

When pointed out that the onyx boxes also had a McDonalds carton mixed in with the “parchments”, Mr Robinson looked clearly embarrassed and mentioned something about being “duped”.

Carbon dating techniques have shown that the boxes and contents date to approximately 4th May 2007 AD, give or take a few seconds.

Inspector McBribe confirmed that a porter had been taken in for questioning, but released due a lack of evidence.

http://www.shieldsgazette.com/news/Police-probe-into-18-missing.3501687.jp

THREE WISEMEN “WERE AT SCENE”

The Three Wisemen are to take legal action following claims that they were “not at the birth of Christ”. At a press conference called by Max Clifford (the Wisemen’s publicist), the Kings issued the following statement:

"To say we were not at the scene of the birth of Christ is ludicrous. We have Argo’s receipts showing the purchase of gold, frankincense and myrrh on their “buy now, pay in 8 months” option. These receipts clearly place us all at the scene. We also have a legal document from the Bethlehem Maternity Hospital showing that Mary wanted a home birth and we three Kings of Orient are named as official birth partners”

Inspector McBribe, head of the Missing Bible Character Squad would not confirm the presence of the Wisemen at the scene, but his officers were checking CCTV footage and that DNA tests were progressing.

An ox, an ass and a star were also considering legal action.

In a series of unrelated incidents, Lazarus was forced to deny that he had actually just been “asleep”, and Moses passed scorn on the rumour that the 10 Commandments had been purchased second hand on EBay.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/article3076008.ece

OUTBREAK OF CONTAGIOUS “DEMOCRACY” VIRUS IN SOUTH TYNESIDE

Paramedics were today called to a full meeting of South Tyneside Council after several councillors were reported to be suffering from sever exhaustion, or given its Latin term “Democratica-Inia-Practicosa”.

Northumberland Ambulance Service has issued the following statement:

“We can confirm that 4 ambulances and a helicopter were dispatched to the Council chambers after 8 councillors had collapsed due to heat exhaustion i.e. the heat was on them. Our officers found them to be sweating profusely and very hot under the collar. Two had actually “bust a gasket” through shear temper. We were able to bring them round with sweat mince pies and lashings of mulled wine. One Councillor didn’t even know who he was, but his memory returned later that night outside a local night club”.


A Council spokesperson commented:

“Many councillors suffered exhaustion as a result of answering public questions, staying awake through out the meeting and having to pay attention to the agenda. This is not what we have trained them for. We remain committed to ensuring that nothing of this nature ever happens again”.

Environmental Health Service's were also quick to comment. A vet said “This is the worst case of “accountability” to hit the Borough in decades. If the outbreak is repeated in January, we may be forced to sedate or cull the public after 20 minutes, together with an exclusion zone of 20 minutes for Independent councillors”

http://www.shieldsgazette.com/news/Council-blasted-over-question-time.3594300.jp

THE SUNDAY ROAST


GOD CONVERTS TO BLAIRISM

THE RAIN NOW DEPARTING PLATFORM NINE IS THE VIRGIN “CASH COW” EXPRESS TO BRANSONVILLE

YOUR PRESENTS IN THE POST, HONESTLY!

YOUR PRESENTS IN THE POST, HONESTLY!

Hopefully those of us who have family outside the region will have posted our presents weeks ago because if today’s Sunday Times is anything to go by, they might not arrive in time. According to their front page, the problems stack up like this:

1. 2 million parcels or letters are lost or delayed in the Xmas post
2. Postal workers are over whelmed by the £10 billion boom in internet sales
3. Postal workers are so over stretched they are putting “you were out” cards through doors without even attempting to deliver parcels etc.
4. People have been forced to queue for hours at collection centres
5. Work loads have increased 20% on last year’s figures.

Postwatch, the independent watchdog, has contacted Adam Crozier, chief executive of Royal Mail, demanded that the recorded delivery service is either improved or scrapped due to postal workers failure to obtain receipt signatures, even though customers have paid for this service.

Could this be the same Adam Crozier who in November received the following remuneration package:

1. A 26% pay rise
2. Package total of £1.25 million
3. A performance bonus of £469,000
4. A pensions bonus of £158,000
5. A pay increase ten times the amount he gave other staff.

This was despite the following facts:

1. Royal Mail has just faced the worst strike for 20 years.
2. A back log of 200 million letters and parcels.
3. The loss of 45,000 jobs
4. Closure of 4500 post offices
5. 2500 further closures to follow
6. Despite a virtual monopoly, Royal Mail has experienced a 33% drop in profits.

(The Northern Herald first covered this issue on 1st November).

Unfortunately it is the same Adam Crozier, a man whose own lack of dignity allowed him to take the money without any degree of acceptance that at the end of the day he had done a bad job! Instead he blames the Royal Mails problems on staff and the unions.

Luckily, Santa doesn’t use the Royal Mail to deliver his presents. If he did, Christmas would be in March!

THE TRAIN NOW DEPARTING PLATFORM NINE IS THE VIRGIN “CASH COW” EXPRESS TO BRANSONVILLE

Poor old Richard Branson. Last week he was bemoaning that regardless of the outcome of his bid for the Northern Wreck, the whole affair had already set him back millions in legal and consultancy fees etc. Hardly in a pickle for money, Branson will be topping his bank balance up with a £48 million shared dividend cheque courtesy of Virgin Trains. As the fat controller of the less than prompt train group, he has overseen a 4.8% increase in ticket prices for this year, together with a 9% increase for first class travellers. Oops, almost forgot to mention, he has also trousered £1 billion in rail subsidies in the last decade. However, in return the public has received……… some of worst punctuality rates for trains, particularly the West Coast and Cross Country lines.

Is this really the type of man who should inherit what is left of Northern Rock? I don’t think so, do you?

GOD CONVERTS TO BLAIRISM

All today’s papers cover Tony Blair’s conversion to the catholic faith. For me religion is a private matter; his choice is his own.

However, a little bit of advice to who ever takes his first confessional. Cancel all your engagements for the rest of the day; you could be there for a long time!

Saturday, 22 December 2007

LIDL IN THE MIDDLE

Today’s Gazette carries the story of a new Lidl store which has opened in Laygate. Local Simonside and Rekendyke ward councillors, Ed Malcolm, Michael Clare and Joan Meeks, are quoted as saying they are “delighted at the arrival”.

I suspect that local traders in the surrounding areas are less than “delighted” to see the arrival of a cut price international store chain. I wonder if councillors actually bothered to speak to them for their views? I suspect not.

DO YOU KNOW WHO HE IS?


Previous posts on this site have highlighted the web blog “Our community –Your Voice – Working For Whiteleas and Parkway” (http://whiteleasandparkway.blogspot.com/). The site is run by local Labour ward councillors Ernest Gibson and Bill Brady. Whilst we will never be political bed fellows, I have always given them credit for setting up the blog and letting people know what they do in their efforts to represent their community. Other councillors could do worse than follow their lead.

Intriguingly however, a very strange post appeared/disappeared over the last few days (Do you know who I am?) with even more perturbing comments attached to its “space”. Reading between the lines, a local councillor has made a fool of him or herself whilst “out and about” the towns watering holes. The culprits identity has been removed, no doubt to protect the guilty party. However, some very strange and cryptic posts have appeared which point to a certain individual. Who will be the first to name and shame this arrogant Councillor?

Could it be true? Is it him? Perhaps we should be told?

REAL BNP: REAL RACISTS

Though perhaps a little slow to highlight the issue, today’s Guardian covers the split in the BNP. With allegations of theft, bugging devices, money laundering and illegal house entries, the party is in meltdown. Police have been handed documents which suggest the law has been broken in Nottinghamshire and London, with enquiries into the issues progressing.

Showing astounding levels of imagination and creativity not seen within far right politics, many BNP organisers have resigned and are now calling themselves the “Real BNP”. How many hours must they have spent brainstorming to arrive at this name!

Hopefully, this schism will negate the party’s ability to field candidates at the next local elections.

As a foot note and an unrelated aside, Labour MP Jon Cruddas, has been a dedicated force in exposing the BNP’s illegal activities, passing information onto the police authorities. However, he said in the Commons this week that the BNP party was;

“Engulfed in a political crisis that threatened to tear it apart. This is not the behaviour of a legitimate political party and I hope to see police and the Electoral Commission investigate these charges”.

This sound bite has an air of the “Abrahams” about it. Not only does Labour rehash policies, but they have reusable speeches as well. Recycling to the extreme I say!

Friday, 21 December 2007

MYTHS

Today’s Time’s highlights a series of “medical myths” which are based on repetition and no hard evidence. See how many you believe.

EATING TURKEY MAKES YOU ESPECIALLY DROWSY

Turkeys contain trypophan, associated with drowsiness, hence the myth. Personally, I think the drowsiness that is linked to Christmas turkey lunches is more due to over consumption of food and wine. Especially next Tuesday!

DRINK AT LEAST 8 GLASSES OF WATER A DAY

Apparently, we get enough liquid through a normal, healthy diet. I did once read that drinking to much water can lead to the growth of moss on one’s shoes!

SHAVING CAUSES HAIR TO GROW BACK FASTER

Now they tell me. If I had known all those years ago, I would have shaved my palms and avoided all those jokes about wearing gloves in the summer.

READING IN DIM LIGHT RUINS EYESIGHT

Neither does something else ruin eyesight apparently, but this is a clean site!

MOBILE PHONES ARE DANGEROUS IN HOSPITAL

So why then, do we make patients use very expensive bedside phones?

HAIR AND FINGERNAILS STILL GROW AFTER GROWTH

Bald people across the world will now be distraught.

WE ONLY USE 10% OF OUR BRAINS

Most people, especially Councillors, use less. That in itself is another myth: Councillors don’t have any brains!

Follow the link below to find out the myths behind the myths!

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/health/article3080444.ece

“DEAL OR NO DEAL: DEAL OF COURSE” “YOU SAY YOU PAY”

With GMTV pushing for redundancies as a fall out from the phone in scandals, it is Channel 4’s turn to face up to its punishment. OFCOM has fined the broadcaster £1.5 million for allowing viewers to enter phone competitions they could never win. The programmes in question, “Deal or No Deal” and Richard and Judy’s “You Say We Pay”, generated £25.24 million in revenue, derived from 17.75 million calls during the period under investigation. The “trading account” looks like this:

RICHARD AND JUDY: FINE £1 MILLION
DEAL OR NO DEAL: FINE £500,000
REFUNDS: £82,000
CHARITY PAYMENT: £600,000
TOTAL: £2,182,000

REVENUE GENERATED: £25,240,000
FINES ETC: £2,182,000
BALANCE: £23,058,000

Not exactly calculated to Price Waterhouse standards, but I’m sure you get the picture.

Even with competition pay outs, the phone in’s still netted Channel 4 upwards of £23 million.

Not a bad night’s work for fiddling the public.

PRIVATE EYE'S LITTLE EYE


The last Private Eye of the year is always light on stories and heavy on satire. 2007’s final edition follows this format, but still manages to include a couple of gems. Here’s the “best of”.

CARTOONS

A bit like watching a picture on radio, but here’s 3 easy ones.

Elf, sitting next to PC, says to Santa “I’ve lost the details of all the children in the whole wide world”

Words on Panama Hat “Arrest Me Quick”

Harry Hills TV Burp – it’s another repeat.

PUBLIC ACCOUNTS COMMITTEE

Whilst looking at various elements of the Ministry of Defence, the PAC called forth the MOD’s Trevor Woolly for questioning. The rest is an actual verbatim exchange.

MR RICHARD BACON MP (CON, S. NORFOLK): Mr Woolly, are you a chartered account?
MR WOOLLY: I am not.
BURTON: Are you a qualified financial person of any kind? Do you have any financial qualifications?
WOOLLY: I do not have financial qualifications
BURTON: What is your job?
WOOLLY: I am the finance director of the Ministry of Defence.

What a classic exchange!

NUMBER CRUNCHING

4500 British troops left in Iraq
10000 British private security company employees left in Iraq

50 years since the Treaty of Rome created the EU
50 national vetoes over EU policy areas removed by Treaty of Lisbon

£200 amount to be spent on playgrounds over the next 3 years
£200 amount paid to Capita out of the education budget every year

£25 billion amount lent to Northern Rock with no promise of repayment
£15 billion amount claimed by government re compensation payments to pension’s funds
£3 billion amount actually to be paid by government as compensation to pension schemes.

Thursday, 20 December 2007

GMTravestyV

The GMTV phone in scandal continues to have serious ramifications. The company have sent letters to senior editorial executives asking them to put their necks in the redundancy noose. Faced with a serious profits slump and a loss of £20 million in revenue (phone ins are still suspended) GMTV employees are being asked to bear the brunt of the damage caused by another company (phone ins were conducted by an outside agency).

Somehow this doesn’t seem right! I wonder if Ant and Dec have received similar brown envelopes in the post this week?

NUMBER CRUNCHING PARKING STYLE

3 in 4 parking fines challenged are eventually over turned (London Boroughs)

Southwick Council – lost 84% of 2256 cases heard by auditor. Failed to offer evidence in 6 out of 10 cases.

Londoners have a 75% chance of successfully appealing against a parking fine.

By contrast, Stockport Council issued 23000 tickets with no referrals to the adjudicator.

Leeds – 85% chance of overturning fine

Sandwell – 78% chance of overturning fine

Nottingham – 76% chance of overturning fine

2006 – 8 million tickets issued nationwide, £1.16 billion in revenue.

The research has been conducted by Which? Magazine, the consumer publication which has been reinvigorated the Freedom of Information Act. As the figures for South Tyneside are not mentioned, perhaps some erstwhile individual or eager local journalist would like to park a FoI enquiry on Irene Lucas’s desk?

http://driving.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/driving/article3075996.ece

LOVE IS BLIND, AND VERY EXPENSIVE

When it comes to marriage, sometimes people just don’t see things coming, and Stuart Crossley is an ideal example. In January 2006 he married Susan Dean. Ms Dean had been married three times before (nothing wrong there, true love is a rocky road and all that….) Susan had previously been married to Kevin Nicholson, heir to the Kwik Save fortune. She then walked down the isle with Peter Lilley, son and heir to Lilley and Skinner shoes. Obviously not happy with hush puppies, she married Robert Sangster, he of horse and Vernon Pools fame. They lasted five years. All in all, Ms Dean managed to amass £18 million in divorce settlements and thousands more in alimony payments.

So is Stuart Crossley on family tax credit, living in a one bed roomed flat with no central heating? Of course not: he is worth £45 million, with a claim he has £60 million tucked away in accounts based in Monaco and Andorra. Guess what? Ms Crossley now wishes to divorce Mr Crossley and take a large chunk of his wealth with her.

A current legal spat prevails as to the legality of a prenuptial agreement, which is not really the issue here.

Mr Crossley, she saw you coming! Love may be blind, but your (ex) wife had the eyesight of a Golden Eagle!

http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/law/article3075995.ece

THREE WISE MEN

If today’s Times is anything to go by, Nick Clegg is in good company. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has declared that the story of the Three Wise Men was nothing but a “legend”. Three paragraphs into the article and every school nativity play is knocked for six:

“Further, there was no evidence that there were any oxen or asses in the stable. The chances of any snow falling around the stable in Bethlehem were “very unlikely”. And as for the star rising and standing still, the Archbishop pointed out that stars just don’t behave like that……for good measure he added, Jesus was probably not born in December at all. Christmas was when it was because it fitted well with the winter festival”

So there you have it – wrong time, wrong place and wrong people!

Dr Williams, speaking live on Radio Five yesterday, did launch a last ditch effort to save Christianity with the quip that one of the few things that almost everyone agreed on was that Jesus’ mother’s name was Mary. An entire religious system, touching virtually every country on earth and influencing political, moral and cultural outlooks across the globe - all based on the fact that there is a universal agreement that Jesus had a mother called Mary!

Naturally, there is more to Christianity than the knowledge of Jesus’ maternal lineage. However, when faced with the recent plethora of sanctimonious twaddle as to the degree with which societies “PC” outlook is destroying traditional religious practises, perhaps we should look closer to home. The Christian hierarchy is doing a pretty good job itself in dismantling its own credibility and relevance.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/article3076008.ece

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

NACHT DER LANGEN MESSER

The breaking news on the BBC’s website is that the BNP have split, with senior members accusing leader Nick Griffin of behaving like a “dictator”. Yes! Have you never heard of Hitler!

Other reports state that the party has split in two. So that’s two fascist, ultra right wing and racist parties we now have to contend with. The split occurred when two senior members were expelled by the Party for plotting against Mr Griffin (I wonder if they had “long knives”?). Their activities were discovered by an internal department headed up by an ex South African Intelligence Officer. An ex South African military man in the BNP? Now there’s a surprise!

Hopefully the BNP and is splinter groups will now politically implode. At least it will save local Council leaders from attacking their policies with a united front!

BUT WHAT ABOUT SANTA?

So Nick Clegg doesn’t believe in God. That’s fine Nick, because I have it on good authority that he doesn’t believe in the Liberals!

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/7151346.stm

2007

I have never been one for yearly news reviews, though I do make an effort to watch BBC 2’s “Newsnight” take on the past 12 months. With planned coverage cuts, perhaps we have seen the last of this.

However, 2007 has without doubt, been a year of changing fortunes. The departure of Blair was of great significance, and Browns disastrous first period in office will possibly begin the final furlong for Labour as it canters towards defeat.

Regionally, the political year has been dominated by the last couple of months. The “Case of the Missing Ballot Boxes”, the Tavistock development and the ongoing clamour to finally hold our councillors and council to account have all surfaced within the last ¼ of the calendar, and guarantee to continue well into the New Year.

On a personal note, I moved, changed jobs and embarked on a new career that was never envisaged. I also became an uncle for the first time, something which outranks all of the above (trust me, it is as good as being a parent but without the financial burden!). I have also made new friends, relationships which I am sure will stand the test of time.

A strange year then, but a rewarding one.

So what of 2008? To be honest, I think I will leave that to the bookies. Something’s however, will never change. Now where’s that Freedom of Information enquiry on what councillors can legitimately get up to with their old Blackberry packages?

GOING GOING GONE!

The issue of the stability of the regions beautiful sea front has been raised once again in tonight’s Gazette. Ahmed Khan, prospective candidate for the Beacon and Bents Ward, recently filed papers to protect the Lawe Top area from development. The Council responded by placing notices stating that they own the land and that we use it at their behest. With Mr Khan’s application now before the Council, it will decide whether to consider the registration of the land as a town or village green.

So what are we actually witnessing here? Let’s look at the facts. Mr Khan tries to protect the land from further development, the Council respond by placing nearly £900 worth of public notices stating that they own the land and we can only use it because they allow us to.

It doesn’t take a village idiot (on the green or not) to realize that the Council clearly have plans for these tracts of land, and Mr Khan is therefore getting in their way. They weren’t expecting their timetable to be challenged by the village green application, and have responded in an aggressive manor, not unlike a country land owner who has begun to take steps to keep the peasants (sorry, public) of his land!

The next stage of this battle will be the decision on the application. That’s when the Councils true intentions will be acknowledged!

http://www.shieldsgazette.com/news/Seafront-notices-are-sign-of.3604293.jp

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

ITS TRIPLETS FOR OLD FATHER COMMONS

So there you have it, the Liberals have a new leader, Nick Clegg.

Nick Clegg is young and looks and sounds like David Cameron. David Cameron looks and sounds like Tony Blair when he was young. Gordon Brown is not young, but wants to look and sound like Tony Blair when he was. The Conservatives have dreadful policies, Labour have no policies so want to copy the Conservatives and the Liberals have policies which no body wants to copy.

May I be the first to say that things are not going to change that much.

TOMMY TITTLE TATTLE

Yesterday I posted on the fact that Scottish socialist impostor Tommy Sheridan had been arrested and charged by police on issues relating to perjury. Today it has been revealed that Sheridan’s witnesses at his libel trial are also to be questioned and further charges will follow.

Ha!

NEW KID ON THE DOCK, I MEAN BLOCK!

A new regional blog appears to have been born this month. “Tyne Dock Green” based at http://tynedockgreen.blogspot.com/ has to date three posts, one of which pulls no punches with its comments on ex BNP activists.

A pretty good start then!

The names are familiar, and I hope they post as much as they can. The regional community needs new perspectives all the time, especially on political issues.

Good luck Tyne Dock et al and happy posting.

WHAT PRICE SAFETY?

Walk into any new hotel, populated work place or shopping store, and you will see water sprinklers in corridors, rooms and public spaces. The reason? They save lives and they save buildings.

Walk into most South Tyneside schools however, and you wont find any sprinkler systems.

Todays Gazette carries the front page story that only two schools in the Borough have the safety sytems fitted. The reason? That well worn adage of cost. The issue came to press attention with the rebuilding of Dunn Street Primary School, which was burnt down in 2003. Faced with an additional bill of £100,000, the Council decided not to install any sprinklers. The total cost of the rebuild was £1.3 million.

Whilst it could be argued that to install systems in all Borough schools would be cost prohibitive, surely new schools should be upgarded as standard procedure? Remaining premises could be incorporated on a rolling programme.

Fire sprinkler systems not only save properties, but more importantly they save lives. Local fire brigade officers support their installation, and new government guidelines are working towards making them the norm. Surely this Borough could make savings elsewhere in order to protect our children and infrastructure.

Perhaps a few less jaunts abroad would be a good place to start.

Monday, 17 December 2007

NOW YOU SEE IT, NOW YOU DONT!


As I was off line all this week end, so I have been catching up on local posts, and it would appear that “something went on” and then basically went off, on the site of local Whiteleas and Parkways Councillors “Our Community” site: http://whiteleasandparkway.blogspot.com/.

The heading goes like this;

DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM?

Remember this - I was sitting in the members room today, and overheard (okay I was nebbing) into a conversation..............Due to my phone going into overdrive and the ongoing complaining about this previous posting - I could take no more - I have deleted (it), for a while.

Oh dear, what can the matter be, surely not a councillor locked in a lavatory.........or something similar.

If anybody has any idea what this relates to, please let me know.

OH NO, NOT AGAIN!

Revenue discs lost, DVLA discs lost, banking trust lost (Northern Rock), and now, budget omissions. Outlined just last month, the creation of 3 “Titan” prisons was put forward as the only way to ease prison crowding. What Brown and Co failed to mention was that they had failed to budget for the £1.2 billion cost.

Embroiled in an argument murkier than a stagnant pond, Jack Straw is accused of misleading the public about the actual costs of building the prisons. For a full account, see today’s Times article outlined by the link below.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article3059890.ece

However, remember Labour’s strategy of announcing “new spending”, when it already had been outlined the year before. Then reverse it, and take away the spending equation, add 7, divide by your favourite colour, add your pets name, minus your grandmothers name before she was married, divide by the initials of your favourite pop group, multiply by your neighbours cats age, and you finally have the amount the government have decided to spend on the new prisons.

Simple as that!

FROM THE PAST


Today’s Gazette contains a review of “From The Jam”, consisting of two original members from “The Jam” line up: drummer Rick Buckler and bass player Bruce Foxton. Followers of this site and others I have contributed to will be aware that The Jam (and the era) were a massive influence on my youth, shaping political thoughts and introducing many related ideologies. Minus Paul Weller, the duo (with friends) appeared at the Carling Academy and received very good reviews.

So did I go? Whilst being offered free tickets and a back stage pass, I declined. Why?

A time, a place, an emotion!

CHAMPAGNE SOCIALISTS


When Tommy Sheridan emerged all those months ago on the court steps to proclaim his victory against the News Of The World, I had a sneaky feeling that the matter was not totally over. His arrest yesterday and following charges of perjury then come as no surprise. What is strange is that the details of the charges to date have not been outlined by these mornings’ papers.

I have always found Sheridan an enigma: his patent leather shoes, designer clothes and media hyped life style never did fit to comfortably alongside the socialist monocle of “man of the people”. George Galloway similarly causes me equal dilemmas. He always offers a coherent argument; he is a tremendous public speaker and he has excellent political analysis: yet his behaviour on Celebrity Big Brother did him no favours.

As the original of “Champagne Socialist”, Sheridan has done his cause no good at all. Galloway also remains impotent, alone in a disgruntled Party and without any political friends. Sadly, they cast an unwanted shadow over those who remain behind, many of whom are decent and committed political campaigners.

Perhaps it is time for these people to step aside, retire and enjoy their life in their Georgian Mansion Dachas.

Sunday, 16 December 2007

THE SUNDAY ROAST


PERCY THE PLONKER
HEADING FOR TROUBLE

PERCY THE PLONKER

Ian Robson’s column in today’s “Sunday Sun” highlights a name well known to those who object to planning applications: “The Duke of Northumberland, Ralph Percy”. Well known to people in Northumberland, said Percy Duke has more objections to his past planning plans than Alan Shearer has England caps. He is also well known to those of us who campaigned against his plans for various tracts of land within the Northumberland area.

Yet this time, the boot is on the other foot. Old Ralph Duke'y has objected to certain plans to build a batch of houses in his “”fiefdom” as they may be bigger than “his future plans”.

I would love to hear his legal argument on this issue!

HEADING FOR TROUBLE


Page 3 of today’s “Sunday Sun” doesn’t contain what you would expect with the headline “Girlz in the Hood”. Centred on a new fashion craze which may draw David Cameron’s attention, the “Hood” in question relates to a new attachment to the average urban gear. Resembling something from an anthrax infected area or army nuclear warfare site, the “Goggle Jacket” has been branded a yobs uniform by many. And guess what, it has sold very well in South Tyneside.

However, Northumberland Police have been quoted as saying “we don’t believe this new garment will pose any serious problems”. Why? Because in the cold weather people could always wear a hooded top or balaclava.

Not one to contradict the police, but I have a different view to outline. Whilst reading this text, a family friend of mine who has connections with the “less than normal” element of society who come out of jail on licence offered the following oberservations:

1. The Goggle Hood is ideal for rapists.
You can’t pull down a Goggle Hood to reveal a rapist. You can with a balaclava or mask.
2. The Goggle Hood is ideal for rapists.
You can’t scratch his face and obtain valuable DNA evidence.
3. The Goggle Hood is an ideal way to commit any crime.
It obscures any facial features which would help the police or public identify any criminal.
4. The Goggle Hood is ideal for Paedophiles.
It obscures their age, identity and intentions.

Sold in South Tyneside, the criminals dream. Costing only £70, the price will drop as more and more manufactures move into the market for the “Goggle Hood”.

Forget CCTV in the above instances, they won’t be worth the installation costs!

CATCHING UP

Last Friday and Saturday saw problems with internet access, the issue repeating itself on corresponding days this week. Assuming that heavy internet Xmas shopping traffic was once again the culprit, I was enlightened to the real reason whilst ploughing through a batch of unopened “mail shot” correspondence. Tucked in between a letter from Argos telling me why I should have one of their store cards and a similar pack of lies from Tesco, I found an advice from my broad band suppler informing me that due to technical upgrades some areas may experience connection problems on the days I outlined. So there you have it: open your post on the day you get it and don’t make assumptions that the British public are to lazy to go out shopping any more!

But why do it on weekends? It’s just like road works at peak traffic times: it’s just stupid! Never mind, I have other issues to take up my time, and here are the ones you missed.

FRIDAY 14TH DECEMBER HOW VERY DARE YOU!

Today’s Gazette carries an excellent summary of Thursday’s rather turbulent full Council meeting.

Stand out matters centre around Councillor quotes which expose their true feelings towards open democracy, and for that matter, the public themselves.

In defence of the public’s right to field questions without time limit, Independent Councillor Jane Branley put it to the meeting that this was an attempt to gag the public. Not so said Deputy Mayor Councillor Alex Donaldson, and then it true Stalinist fashion passed the following decree, “The Mayor has made a ruling. Show some respect”. Sorry Councillor Donaldson, but this approach does gag the public and it’s them you should respect. Your Kremlin like ruling stops them holding to account those they have elected and voted for (and in cases, not voted for) a feature of any true and open democracy. You may think you operate a closed shop along the lines of a private members club, but you don’t.

The gagging approach is based purely on the fear that the unfettered hegemony that has existed for decades is under threat from an independent and free thinking electorate.

If this were ever in any doubt, Councillor Eddie McAtominey sealed the case for the prosecution. "These questions aren't answered for free. If most of these people had simply visited the library and looked at the minutes of the council meetings, they would have been able to find most of the answers there." Now that’s a little bit unfair Councillor McAtominey. First of all, some of the public have to work full time and simply don’t have the opportunity. Many present on the day of the meeting had actually taken time out from their annual holiday allocation (but then again, that’s why you hold your meetings at 3.00 p.m. on an afternoon isn’t it!) Secondly, some issues related to revenue figures for the last ten years, material which is not always held at the library. Finally however, the cost does not matter: open democracy cannot be quantified, though you would clearly like it to have some form of limit. Part of your election remit is to provide open information to the public on a free and accessible basis. The Council has a clerical staff of thousands who have this information immediately to hand, therefore you don’t have to dig the answers out yourself. If you’re so worried about the costs involved, don’t allow Council officials on shindigs to country hotels that cost the tax payers thousands of pounds.

Finally, it was left to Council Leader Paul Waggot to burst a gasket and finish up with egg on his chin. Accusing Councillor Alan Branley of planting the public’s questions, his response drew a strong rebuttal. I submitted a question to this particular meeting, and for the record and Councillor Waggot’s ears, I have never met Mr Branley, spoken to him or exchanged correspondence with him.

Clearly, the Leader has learnt nothing from the BRENDA affair and the issue of loose talk. Never mind, with behaviour like this, Geraldine White will not have to do much ward campaigning and the Labour cohort will have to pick themselves a new leader (that’s if they still actually still hold a majority). Councillor Waggott obviously thinks the public do not have the ability to submit questions based on their own ability or political views and clearly holds them in contempt.

He’s in for a big shock in the New Year then!

SATURDAY 15TH DECEMBER POPE IS NOT A CATHOLIC: DUCKS DONT LIKE WATER: BEAR DID NOT S**T IN WOODS

Sometimes newspaper headlines grab your attention not because they are shocking or unusual, but because they are just down right surreal. The Gazette’s “Policies are not racist say BNP" is such an example. Highlighting the coverage received by their recent leafleting exercises in the Primrose and Jarrow Ward, local BNP officials have denied they target deprived areas. They also state “The BNP do not have a single racist policy”.

For the record, the BNP are a far right and racist party. They encourage violence along racial lines and have Nazi sympathies. Many of their members have police records for race related crimes, and they operate a policy of using their members along the lines of ultra paramilitary groups. When seeking election, many of there policies are abhorrent and have no place in an open democracy and ethnically diverse society. They seek to divide and rule, creating fear alongside repression. They are politically bereft of any coherent policy which does not incorporate a racial element.

Somehow, I feel better just typing it. It would feel absolutely ecstatic if the leaders of local Labour, Liberal and Conservative Parties within the full council would actually put pen to paper and submit letters to the Gazette condemning the policies of local BNP activists. It would further be a case of “drinks all round” if they would actually go as far as to have the political and moral foresight to issue a joint statement deploring the views propagated by this group within the South Tyneside Borough.

On this issue, political unity would be publicly commendable and morally correct.

TIME PLEASE

It’s always good to get a quote in the Gazette, so my “time limit” comment highlighted in the review of Thursday’s full Council meeting is much appreciated.

However, that’s the only good thing about the article, as its content presents a very worrying scenario and trend.

Councillor and Mayor Tracie Dixon has publicly stated that she intends to use the Councils constitution to limit public questions to 20 minutes re future full meetings.

In other words she intends to limit open democracy to 20 minutes per month and gag the public.

Whether she actually agrees with the approach and whether she has become a puppet of the controlling Labour hierarchy, her so far dignified tenure as Mayor is now in disrepute. How would she like to be remembered: as a Mayor who highlighted what is best in this Borough, or the mayor who stopped the public from holding its Councillors to account and as a result brought the whole concept of open local government into disrepute?

The decision is hers and hers alone.

Thursday, 13 December 2007

NUMBER CRUNCHING POLICE STYLE

ENGLAND STARTING SALARY £21,009

FRANCE STARTING SALARY £14,468

SCOTLAND HAVE PAID THE 2.5% SETTLEMENT IN FULL

ENGLAND HAVE DELAYED THE PAYMENT PAYING ONLY 1.9%

PUBLIC COUNCIL MEETING

By all reports today’s full Council Meeting was a grand affair. Highlights of the meeting include the fact that Councillors, under “Rule 8”, want to set a time limit of 20 minutes for public questioning. What sort of democracy sets a time limit for the public having their say? Russia, Pakistan, Korea – no, South Tyneside!

Follow the Gazette for a full report.

However, what you might not hear about in print is the Mayor’s unrecognised talent of “seeing the future”. Referring to Ahmed Khan as “Councillor Khan” may in fact be a reference to the regional election next year! ….or it may be a result of the police investigation in to certain ballot irregularities? Who knows, but the public should be told!

Bearing in mind the public were actually at the meeting in their droves, perhaps the Mayor should clarify the circumstances behind her gaff!

Full report from the public gallery to follow

(WHO) LIKES EEL PIE?

Sometimes newspaper articles throw up some incredible ironies and today’s Times is no exception.

Worth tens of thousands euros, the delicacy known as “white gold” or young white eels, has resulted in the trial of two French brothers on the charge of catching more than their allocation. Clearly a delicacy in France (and Japan as things pan out) the market price for “elevrs” has reached £360 per kilo. Sirloin steak goes retail for about £10 per kilo, so you can see how price has resulted in the usual European decimated stock of young eels.

However, in order to preserve stocks the Times has printed………………. a recipe for Sautéed Elvers with Garlic and Parsley. Pepper, garlic, olive oil…. it sounds gorgeous! How to protect a species; print a recipe to serve it by!

Well done the Time’s!

What next, Whale in Balsamic Sauce, Tiger with Sautéed Organic Olives……..

FULL COUNCIL MEETING 3 P.M.

Anybody with a free afternoon could do worse than go to today’s full council meeting at South Shields Town Hall. With at least 16 questions from the public and some contentious motions from certain councillors, political entertainment is guaranteed. Who knows, you may even get a mince pie and a hot toddy from the Councillors own back room supplies!

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

COLD TURKEY

Unfortunately, I can’t play out tonight as it is the obligatory Christmas “Bash”. Fun, Fun, Fun!

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

CPLI LAUNCHED TO NHS FANFARE

Once again over at the Corner Shop, the “Councillor Potts Love In (CPLI)” continues. This time it’s cancer treatments and the disparity between regions. I shall return to the figures and arguments highlighted over the next few weeks, once full regional and national enquiries have been made (21 days re FoI)

How can you base a press/blog statement on such a rough shod analysis of figures? Whilst Councillor Potts may have knowledge of the law, he has none of statistics. The Badger will make mince meat of him!

The councillor's inadequate argument on funding discrepancies is merely a sound bite and nothing more.

This Borough’s health care provider’s address cancer issues with the best of their abilities, regardless of political controls or restrictions. They offer a humane service, devoid of spin.

It’s a pity we all don’t abide by these rules, and alternatively seek cheap political press coverage at the expense of the NHS. God forbid that this sort of analytical garbage takes control of our health providers.

If it does, as the Scots would say, “were all doomed!”

NUMBER CRUNCHING GOLD MEDAL STYLE

After a good family weekend and a reasonable start to the week, today’s journey to work was hopeful, uplifting and careless. Until of course, page 4 of The Times;

“Rising security costs threaten to break the Olympic budget”

Why oh why do they do it to me?

Never mind, here we go.

GOING FOR GOLD

Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) base cost - £6.09 billion

Contingency Fund - £2 billion

Security Costs - £838 million

Elite and Community costs - £290 million

Paralympics Games and Look of London - £98 million


TOTAL - £9.3 billion

BREAKDOWN OF FIGURES

Security costs have increased 20%

Costs expected to rise by at least £238 million

Olympic Stadium cost £496 million, original estimate £75 million

Jonathan Stephens Permanent Secretary at the Department for Culture Media and Sport – fully expects the contingency fund to be spent.


I return to my much high jumped figure of at least £18 billion as a cost for the Games to be staged in this country.

Time will tell!

Poor old David Cameron, what will he say when as PM the bill comes in!

Monday, 10 December 2007

OVER THE ROAD.....................

Over the road at Curly’s Corner Shop, things seem a little ruffled. A post placed today airs his views on Christmas, multi ethnic Britain and the bizarre view that traditional Christmas celebrations are under threat. In his own words “the great hypocrisy is that the very people who wish to see the end of “Merry Christmas” and nativity plays in schools will no doubt be erecting Christmas trees in their own homes.”

Whilst his death knell for the tree and nativity play is alarmist, let him have his say and we will all make our minds up.

It’s the next two sections which prove strange. Firstly, an attack on Joan Atkinson, who will probably be the Labour candidate for East Boldon and Cleadon Ward. Joan is initially referred to as “Lewis’ mam”, a previous Labour candidate in the Ward. Poor old mother Atkinson, does she not have an identity of her own! Moving on, Joan is tainted with the “hypocrisy” brush because she has set up a petition calling for a Christmas tree for East Boldon, sighting the fact that the current Conservative Councillors have failed to acquire one from the Council. I must admit, I feel sorry for the “Gang of Three”; the ward is hated by the Labour hierarchy because it has the audacity to elect three Conservative Councillors. However, that’s democracy, and to be honest, the result is repeated year after year. However, Joan is only engaging in the oldest political game in the book, that of taking on her opponent at every opportunity. And who should her opponent be…..Councillor David Potts, who we all assume will seek re-election next year. Perhaps the tree is only camouflage, and the real issue is the oncoming election.

The second onslaught is directed against “Rossinisbird”, a fellow regional blogger who covers many issues, but as a member of the Green Party tends sticks to all things environmental. Poor old Rossinisbird is lambasted for his views on religion, blasphemy laws and his own Christmas tree! Again I’m perturbed by the vitriol! Have the Bird and the Man in the Corner Shop fallen out? A quick perusal of comments reveals nothing, and Rossinisbird’s own site only reveals recent posts attacking the BNP etc. Oh dear, not much Christmas spirit in evidence here.

Never mind, this post will no doubt draw a few comments, and I may even find myself on “hypocrisy” island with no mates. Looking back at previous posts and comments, I’m obviously been targeted for such a trip anyway. Anyway, as an atheist, I will be decorating my tree tonight. For me it signifies the coming together of family members, many of whom have religious convictions. However, they take what they want from the period, as I do in my own way. We sit side by side at the same table and enjoy the festivities in equal measure.

http://curly15.wordpress.com/2007/12/10/celebrate-christmas-without-the-hypocrisy/
http://rossinisbird.blogspot.com/2007/12/fascist-appeasement.html
http://rossinisbird.blogspot.com/2007/12/sick-racist-filth.html
http://www.shieldsgazette.com/news/Villagers-pining-for-return-of.3569001.jp

POST SCRIPT

Oh dear, I think Rossininsbird has just issued a reply
http://rossinisbird.blogspot.com/2007/12/believe-what-you-are-told.html

OVER THE BORDER................

Far be it for me to meddle in Scottish politics (though they still meddle in ours; I take that back) but it would appear that Edinburgh’s leaders are just as dubious as their Westminster counterparts. With Scottish Labour leader Wendy Alexander embroiled in her own donor gate scandal, First Minister of Scotland Alex Salmon has entered the fray with his own controversy.

Most papers have covered the spat that has grown over Donald Trumps plans to build a “golfopolis” near Aberdeen. Rejected by the local planning committee, Salmond has “called it in” and will make a final decision himself.

However, what Salmond failed to mention was that the day before he made his decision, he met with Mr Trump’s spokesperson. Not only that, but Jim McKinnon, the Executives Chief planner, also met with said spokesperson only hours before the executive made it’s announcement re the calling in!

Naturally, Salmond has denied any wrong doing, sighting his meeting as “constituency related”. He also claims to have met all parties involved in the planning controversy, both for and against.

Yes Mr Salmond you have, but not a couple of hours before you overturned the democratic decision of a local council.

As David McLetchie, the former Scottish Conservative leader said:

“The people smell a rat. This will confirm fears that this application is now a shoo-in and is going to be rubber stamped by the Scottish ministers irrespective of what was decided locally”.

Hmm, despite being from another parliament, the language sounds strangely familiar! Gypsies Green anybody!

THAT WAS THE WEEK THAT WAS



MEMORY MEN

MILK IN COWS SHOCK

MEMORY MEN

A man today walked into the Houses of Commons and claimed to have “no memory” or recollections since 1997. Mr Gordon Brown, clearly dumfounded and out of touch with reality, said he had no knowledge of pledges, manifesto commitments, party donations or accountability in general. In a separate incident, the media reported a man missing. David Miliband has not been seen by the public for a number of weeks and may be confused as to the nature of his job. He is not thought to possess a canoe, but is also expected to re appear soon with no memory of certain events.

Here is a police list of other suspects who have no memory of what they have been upto over the last few years:

1. Steve McClaren
2. The entire Newcastle United management roster since Kevin Keegan (excluding Bobbie Robson who did not have a canoe)
3. Boris Johnson
4. The Daily Sport
5. Pottsy Panns

MILK IN COWS SHOCK

South Tyneside schools are doing away with the traditional glass bottle of milk, and will from next Monday serve school milk from a “cow”.

“This is environmentally a very good method of serving milk” said Mrs A Cat, Head of School Services “as they don’t require recycling and will walk to school. We have even managed to genetically colour code the cows. The ones with blue hair are full fat, the ones with green semi skimmed and the ones with red hair have no taste at all.”

Farmer Giles, Head of Cow Contractor Services, a Council ALMO company, was said to be “over the moon” for the cows, though the cat, the fiddle, dish and spoon were unavailable for comment.

Sunday, 9 December 2007

BUSINESS AS USUAL.........

After a weekend at Dufton YHA in The Lakes, two days of walking gear is going to take some cleaning. However, it will be done by Monday and things by then will be back to normal. Now, who accused me of saying something about a councillor………………….

INTERNET WEEKEND CONGESTION

I don’t know what has happened over the last three days, but I was unable to log on to either Google or the Northern Herald web site. I suspect sheer volume of traffic in a not that good BT area was to blame. Damn Christmas shoppers! There should an internet congestion charge.

Never mind, here are the posts which were unable to get through, with the day and date they relate to.

SATURDAY 8TH DECEMBER 2007 SUNDAY 9TH DECEMBER 2007

There will be no posts for 2 days due to am important family birthday which takes me to a where area thankfully, technology has not caught up with the modern world!

FRIDAY 7TH DECEMBER 2007 STONE AGE PLANNERS

Whilst viewing the Times under the impression that posting was futile. I came across an article that that informed the public that the plans to build a congestion relieving tunnel along side Stonehenge was to expensive, leading to the possibility that area may be placed on a list of United Nations world endangered heritage sites ( to much traffic and vibrations etc). Despite the Government spending more than £23 million looking at the problem, the envisaged £540 million tunnel is considered an expense too far, and so it should be. Who would want to spend that amount of money!

However, Stonehenge was created by a society that had no budget, no planning committee restrictions, and no regional municipal councils. It dragged stones hundreds of miles without cranes, motorways or transporters. It lifted the stones without cranes, dug holes without diggers, positioned them without GPS, and waited for a year for the sun to rise and shine exactly through the arches created by their own free hands.

And yet we cannot find a solution to the traffic issues!

FRIDAY 7TH DECEMBER 2007 AN OLD WIVES TALE

After nearly 36 hours of trying to access the internet, I have found out why things have gone wobbly. Larry Page, the Google founder with a bank balance of £9 billion, is getting married this weekend. So there you have it, he has been to busy worrying about his wedding vows and prenuptial agreements to consider whether The Northern Herald can continue with its daily posts!

FRIDAY 7TH DECEMBER 2007 CO-OP

Whilst the Northern Rock dives towards obscurity, another north east heritage continues to prosper. The Gazette tonight highlights how the Co-op paid out £64,300 to its members in South Tyneside. The company’s Group Share Scheme saw shop keepers pocket £153 each, which rewards members for their custom with payouts twice a year.

Regional chief officer David Mockford also predicted increased profits for the year ahead which bodes well for local shop owners.

Perhaps we should remind ourselves that Co-op also operate a banking, loan and mortgage service. So if you are uneasy with the Northern Rock scenario, you can still invest your money and receive banking services from a north east company.

THURSDAY 6TH DECEMBER 2007 INSPECTOR MCBRIBE OPENS A CAN OF WORMS

An article in today’s Gazette reveals that Mr Ahmed Khan has been interviewed by the police in the “Case of the Missing Ballot Boxes”. The police team will be headed by Chief Superintendent Mark Dennet, an Area Commander for South Tyneside Area HQ.

With his endeavours to reveal the truth thwarted at the civil courts due to legal technicalities, Mr Khan hopes that the criminal system will uncover what really happened in May 2007.

Whilst the issue is currently a criminal matter, it must be remembered that Mr Khan is the innocent party in this scenario. South Tyneside Council election officials, as legal custodians of the boxes, are the body who have misplaced the disputed votes.

With a “porter” currently earmarked as the scapegoat, at least the police will allow him to put his side of the story to a legally constituted body. However, as I understand it, his recollections differ slightly from the Councils!

Always one to engage in a reasonable conversation and debate, I rang Mr Khan and asked him for an update on the days proceedings. After a 4 ½ hour constructive interview, the police covered all issues and will return to interview Mr Khan in the very near future.

With over 4 hours of conversation, the police are clearly not paying lip service to Mr Khan, or indeed, the Council. This is now clearly a very serious matter, and as things stand, it is an ongoing issue. If I were an involved Council employee, I would be worried. Very worried!

THURSDAY 6TH DECEMBER 2007 PRESCRIPTION BUS TRIPS NORTH OF THE BORDER

Tucked away in a “2 bi 2” column of the Times is the news that England will be the only part of mainland Britain where the sick will have to pay for their prescriptions after 2011.

Scottish charges will be reduced by nearly £2 next April and phased out totally by 2011. Whilst this may please those Scots of a less than healthy disposition, as an Englishman, it makes me sick!

With an increasing element of the English tax burden being used to subsidise devolution north of the border, and Scottish MP’s still meddling in Westminster’s concerns, perhaps the time has come to give Edinburgh total control of the country and it’s finances.

Who knows, without this burden, perhaps we may ourselves be blessed with the removal of prescription charges.

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

CHRISTMAS STOCKING FILLERS

Though I rarely review books, I have just read three crackers in a row. The first two (consecutive volumes, 1 and 2) are by Steve Lowe and Alan McArthur with the rather revealing title “Is It Just Me Or Is Everything S**t?” Described as an “A –Z rant about the naffness of modern life that so relentlessly bitter it’s actually rather uplifting”. The third book is Vernon Coleman’s “England our England: A Nation in Jeopardy”. Ignore the dodgy inference that the title may imply (it’s not a BNP publication!), Coleman published his anti European Union text in 2002, though it somehow passed me by. In essence, its 295 reasons why we should leave the European market as soon as possible, if not before.

For those of you who are still being badgered for a Christmas present list and don’t really fancy another year of socks and underpants, ask for them in your stocking and start the New Year on a high.