Thursday, 15 May 2008


The musings of the last few days have certainly drawn a little bit of attention, and for once, some sensible comments. As per usual a couple of posts did pass the usual tests, but hey, everybody has their stalkers! Trying to link these policies to any political party is, whilst flattering, also ridiculous.

Everybody has a wish list, the “something for the future” posts incorporate how I would like to see the Borough progress – nothing more, nothing less.

Anyway, it’s back to drawing board for the final couple “wishes”.

Call back Friday if you’re interested.

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Something For The Future – Free Leisure Facilities

If the control of South Tyneside Council is to be eventually wrestled from the hands of the Labour elite in 2 years time, then it will attract media attention not only on a regional scale, but also on a national basis. Whilst this would be an accolade for those involved, I myself would want the Borough to be a political beacon for what it actually does, not for who controls it. With a two year gap before the local elections return, there is an ideal opportunity to formulate some radical and ground breaking policies to put before the electorate. I have already mentioned the possibility of a referendum for an elected mayor. I would now also like to introduce a second approach, that of Borough wide “free at point of use” leisure facilities, to include all community associations, leisure centres, swimming pools and all associated bodies etc.

The thud you just heard was the Chief Executive of South Tyneside as she fainted, the thought of all that Temple Park revenue disappearing overnight. However, the idea has more merit than first assumed.

1 This country is on the brink of a health crisis that has it’s origins in both poor diet, but more importantly, a lack of physical activity. What better way to re-introduce swimming, squash, badminton, football etc into the family ethos, than by offering it for free?

2 If Gypsies Green Stadium is indeed demolished, then the South Shields area of the Borough will have no athletics facilities for the first time since the 1950’s. Council Leader Ian Malcolm and David Slater (Regeneration and Resources) have both in the past promised that money from any Foreshore development would be ring fenced for leisure construction. This money should be used to create an all weather running track at Temple Park, with ample left over to subsidise its free use.

3 Whilst the income stream “through the doors” would end, Temple Park can still recoup revenue from other sources:
- Upgrade of restaurant to include evening meals based on a healthy and nutritionally balanced approach.
- Grants from outside sports bodies, National Lottery, European sources etc
- Sponsorship from local businesses etc
- Retail outlets - sportswear shops on high streets make thousands of pounds selling sport associated clothing. Lease a unit to them in Temple Park
- Savings in Council expenditure. For example, South Tyneside Council has spent millions on market research, consultants etc. This work can be done “in house”, with the savings being used to subsidise leisure costs.

All of a sudden, the concept of free leisure access doesn’t seem so far fetched. As the obesity time bomb ticks onwards to destruction, society needs to radically change its approach to how it utilises it’s spare time. Free access to leisure facilities is certainly a step in the right direction.

All that is needed is the vision and the will.

Monday, 12 May 2008

Something For The Future – Elected Mayors

The recent election victories for the South Tyneside Alliance represented a massive change in the regions political make up. Not only did Labour loose its leader, but after decades of manipulative and hedonistic control, their strangle hold on the Borough is now under serious threat.

Despite this ray of political sunshine, many people still remain negative and dismissive of the regeneration of public involvement in Council politics, their doom and gloom attitude focusing on one tenant – it doesn’t matter which political party is in control at local level, they still have to administer national policies, guidelines and directives. The end result will therefore always be the same.

There is however, a way round this admittedly fairly large stumbling block, and that is the provision of a regionally elected mayor!

The Local Government Act 2000 was Labour’s first major pieces of legislation which was aimed at radically changing the way that local councils and institutions operated. Enshrined in this law was the public’s right to hold a referendum on the election of a mayor to head local governing bodies. To date the electorates of 13 regions have directly chosen their mayors, the most famous being “Robocop” Keith Mallon (Middlesbrough) and Hartlepool’s Stuart Drummond, famously voted in whilst attired in a monkey suit!

Whilst primarily a Euorpean/American concept, the idea of an elected head of the local executive is still in its infancy as far as the English voters are concerned. However, evidence shows that when it comes to regional governance, the concept does work.

~ Keith Mallon – reduced crime by 18% in his first year as an elected mayor
~ Hartlepool Council – 4 star rating achieved under the direction of Stuart Drummond
~ Hackney Council – prior to an elected mayor, the council was on the verge of being taken over by the government. However, to coincide with the period of its elected mayor, it is now on course for a 4 star rating (currently 3).

In conjunction with this evidence, I have always considered the case for an elected mayor to be extremely compelling. Government ministers have always been more willing to devolve powers to councils whose leaderships deliver effective and accountable local governance – in this instance mayoral models score highly. They also collectively form a powerful political voice for change, particularly in local police accountability, revenue generation, political change and economic development. Perhaps more importantly however, they provide visible and accountable leadership and a sense of direction for communities within their regions.

South Tyneside is politically well placed for the introduction of an elected mayor. We have a plethora of eligible candidates, both politically and no-aligned. We also have an increasingly politically active electorate, and together with the changing political landscape, we have a Council institution which is now being viewed as unreflective, unaccountable and stagnant.

Legislation calls for a referendum on the idea of an elected mayor to be endorsed by a majority of councillors or 5% of the eligible electorate. In the case of South Tyneside, this would mean just over 5000 people out of 114166 signing a verifiable petition. The Gypsies Green development opposition group Save Our Seafront managed to get just under 8000 signatures for their petition against the Tavistock hotel plans!

Anything is therefore possible.

Sunday, 11 May 2008

Abbott and Potts - Comedy Duo

Whilst aid might not be able to reach Burma, over at The Chief Whip’s office, news has been released of a couple of committee position “free” hand outs

As we all suspected George “Judas” Elsom has been given a committee position as a reward for putting his wife up for election in the Beacon and Bents Ward. Olive’s inclusion on the ballot paper as an “Independent” was purely aimed at splitting the vote. The voters weren’t fooled however and she only polled 43. I suspect poor old George will pay a severe price for his treachery when he is next up for re election. We have all seen what happens when the Independent Alliance works a ward – they win!

As to Abbott and Potts (weren’t they a comedy duo in the 40’s and 50’s – sorry that was Abbott and Costello) surely their appointments have nothing to do with the fact that Labour is desperate to avoid the creation of an “opposition block” of councillors. How better to diffuse the situation than draw some of the main players into the committee system. However, they needn’t have bothered – the comedy duo has never opposed anything in the Chamber for years so their silence hardly needed to be bought.

Here’s the prediction – Liberal Democrat and Conservative Party support for Labour policies over the next 12 months. Let’s start of with the TOP’s report.

Friday, 9 May 2008

Surely they must be related?

Thanks to Curly at his Corner Slop for the revelation. I somehow don't think Potts will say "Oh Yes!"

Eye Eye!

Rumours are gathering force that Councillors David Potts (Con) rather public exhibition of a bloody nose and black eye are not all they seem to be. Wild and wonderful parties have been mentioned, over indulgence has risen its ugly head and dodgy pavements outside of certain watering holes are in the frame. Even his good old buddy at the Corner Slop has had a dig at his black eye Pity his wasn’t so vocal about his lack of attendance at Council meetings.

Do(g)dy throat, dodgy eye, dodgy nose – what ever next for the poor afflicted Councillor? Dodgy…… whmmm.... I wonder if the Chief Whip has anything to add!

Lets face it, whilst a 10 hour knock out for a nose bleed seems a bit strong, who really cares?

Well apparently the Private Eye magazine and the Chancellor do!
Sources reveal that both the magazine and No 11 have been more than happy to receive the Gazettes picture of said Potts with “Billy Bunter” eye for the forthcoming national election, whenever it may come.

Who in Scotland would vote for an (English) man this mug shot on his election address?

Whoever advised Councillor Potts to allow his picture to appear in our local paper should be sacked.

If not, at least punched in the eye!

In The Clinch Of The Finch

Fridays Gazette carries a nice piece on Councillor Gordon Finch (Independent), newly elected Councillor for Horsley Hill.

I know Gordon well, and canvassed his ward on many a cold night. He is an honest and honourable man, and the Ward will be well served by him.

As they say, once you get the first Independent in the ward, the rest fall like dominoes!

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Judas No 2

Talking of controversy, the Hebburn Town Centre debacle rumbles on.

Councillor McAtominey is quoted in today’s Gazette as saying that when it comes to the best bidder for the town centre regeneration, money was “just part of the equitation”.

Sadly, McAtominey is economical with the truth – Tesco’s are involved - money is the centre of the equation.

Read the “Private Eye” magazine Councillor, if indeed you can! If this super store is involved, then money is the issue, and South Tyneside Council wants to trouser the lot, regardless of who objects.

Even Councillor Nancy Maxwell (who she? surely they are not related) has dropped a clanger.

“Come back in 5 years and people will be thrilled” she says of the development.

That assumes Nancy, that in 5 years you still have a Council seat!

Roll on 2010!

Family Feud

Some time ago the Gazette printed a horrendous artist’s impression of the proposed £2m indoor development plans by Michael Sheeran for the Ocean Beach Pleasure Park area of South Shields.

Today’s paper outlines the opposition to the project by 17 current operators, stall holders and caterers, many of whom envisage job losses and the end to long running family businesses.

Not only do they object, but so do Mr Sheeran’s brother and sister in law, Joseph and Sally.

The brain(less) child of Council Deputy Leader Ian Malcolm, the Foreshore programme is surrounded by controversy. This family spat only adds to the melting pot of discontent that shrouds the Council’s plans. The focal point of the development is focused on Gypsies Green Stadium, but rumour has it that Tavistock have not only got cold feet as a result of Labour losses at the last election, but that the “credit crunch” has also eaten into their reserves.

Only time will tell!

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Lady Linda – Intrepid Explorer!

As a footnote to the local election proceedings, I have via my travels managed to somehow accumulate election material from every Borough ward.

If it actually interests anybody, the worst material originated from the printing press of The Progressives, who despite years of political experience, managed to make an Asda receipt more interesting than their election address. Naturally, I found the Independent Alliance’s pamphlets generic but targeted for the wards they were distributed in. The Labour Party’s were professional but long winded and boring, and the Conservatives lacked enthusiasm and commitment. As for the Liberal Democrats – they were yellow, which mirrors their political stance!

As I file them all away for posterity, I can’t help but laugh at Joanne Bell’s (Labour) effort in the Boldon Colliery Ward. Quoting direct she says of Independent Alliance candidate Ed Keller:

“Do you want (a candidate)…who is not standing as an Independent Councillor in his own ward? (The Bede Ward, Jarrow) Why not?”

The reverse of the sheet then goes on to mention Ward Councillor Linda Waggot, virtually describing her as the “Patron Saint of Schools”. It fails to mention of course, that the Lady Linda does not live in the Boldon Colliery Ward, but in fact in the voting district of Fellgate and Hedworth. She does in fact live at the top of Ed Keller’s street. It also fails to mention that whilst highlighting the Bede Ward, a certain election there two years ago rejected said Lady Linda, mainly because…..she didn’t live in the Ward!

Political acumen? Media sensitivities? Creative abilities? Attention to detail? Sadly these are gifts that deserted the South Shields Labour Party many moons ago, and ones which on recent evidence, will never return.

New Kid On The Blog

Whilst I have been trawling the streets of the Borough’s wards over the last few weeks, rattling letter boxes and persuading the electorate to vote for various Independent Alliance candidates, somebody has been setting up an extremely swish and well balanced local blog.

Billed as the “best informed blog in South Tyneside”, the site is well presented, well written and well informed. It certainly “out techs” these pages, and with out doubt offers a far better perspective than that pontificated over at the Corner Slop.

As I assume a more sedate and specific role within the South Tyneside blog community, I wish the Chief Whip all the best, and as the months plod on I shall attempt to “cultivate” a constructive relationship with its anonymous author.

However, judging by the posts over the last few days, he/she needs no help from me!

Monday, 5 May 2008

A to B

As South Tyneside Council goes through the (Labour) mechanisms of a new elected leader, the usual throw back to the “A” and “B” team scenario has once again reared its rather embarrassing head.

First of the blocks was Ian Malcolm, with the poisoned chalice firmly in the hands of his bank balance; now it appears that Michael Clare may have appeared as an “I, Claudius” candidate!.
The “B” candidates have been sucked in by a certain “Me Myself and Irene” syndrome.

Good luck to them. Who needs a liability beginning with "M"!

Either way, if a South Shields Councillor assumes the “Don” position, then the Jarrow Wards will demand second stage.

Oh God, what a mess the Labour Party is in!

(Self) Felled Councillor

Poor old Councillor David Potts (Con, Cleadon and East Boldon) – today’s Gazette is reporting that he wasn’t able to attend the local Election count on Thursday as some one had given him a bloody nose and a black eye. Luckily the culprit was "himself" and not some doorman who didn’t know who he was. Also lucky for me to – I may have found myself top of the list of suspects and at the mercy of a police interview.

Apparently Councillor Potts was unconscious for 10 hours – he obviously thought he was at a full Council meeting along with his side kicks representing the “Rip Van Winkle” Party.

Talking of suspects, Councillor Rob Dix (Labour, Harton) will find himself up in front of the beaks this Wednesday over his racial comment allegation (if all goes legally to plan that is – Councillors have a habit of avoiding the law).


Surely not a bye -election so soon after the local count?

Sunday, 4 May 2008

Independence Day

With the dust starting to settle on the carcass of the local elections, and with a number of South Tyneside Labour Councillors now seeking more standard employment, things can now return to “normal”.

It seems pointless going over the results at this late stage, the link below gives you all the information you need.

In hindsight, April was quite a month. I estimate that I delivered 30,000+ leaflets and knocked on 2000+ doors for the South Tyneside Alliance. On the day of the election I canvassed in 6 Wards, attended the postal voting opening and verification sessions, and finally arrived home after the count at 3.30 a.m. on Friday morning. The rest of the day was spent at work and the evening was devoted to a social night celebrating the Alliances successes the day before. Back to work again on Saturday, with today being the first day I have had free to start posting again. Whilst I can pat my own back and congratulate myself on being part of the victory, if a table were compiled to reflect who did the most work, I would be mid league, the equivalent of “Blackburn Rovers”. Other people worked far harder than me, and that was the reason behind the Independent Alliance’s success – they took to the streets and put politics back into the hands of the people of this Borough.

So what of the future, both for this site and the Borough’s political make up?

Posts on this site before the elections were averaging at about 4 per day. This wont be repeated for the following reason:

The South Tyneside Alliance made serious progress in this year’s elections. As a result of this success, 18 candidates will be standing at the next elections in 2010, with an overall majority highly probable. I intend to work very closely with them over this two year period, and spare time will therefore be in short supply (campaigning in some areas will actually start in June!). The site will therefore concentrate solely on the Borough of South Tyneside. Posts will be frequent, but will only concern local political matters.

There are also many outstanding issues which need to be addressed. Certain concerns were put on hold over the campaign period, some of which have great ramifications re the issue of who actually runs this Borough. For example, some one, some where, is going to have a whopping great incinerator built on their door step!

These issues and others will be returned to in earnest now that the election is over.

There is also the small matter of the South Tyneside Democracy Forum which was launched prior to the election. A website is under construction, and I shall report on their activities via The Northern Herald. The Forum has a rapidly growing membership, drawing support from all walks of life and political persuasions. Five major projects are in the pipeline, all of which directly relate to the Borough. Information on the Forums plans will be outlined here at the end of the week.

May 1st 2008 was a defining day for South Tyneside. Finally the Labour stronghold over the Borough is collapsing. No longer will council meetings be run like private clubs, and no longer will the public be ignored.

To quote Bob Dylan “The Times They are a’ Changin”

Monday, 14 April 2008

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Today’s Gazette carries the profiles for candidates standing in the local elections. Unfortunately, there doesn’t appear to be a link on the site for you to view the information on line.

Olive Elsom forgot to send her picture in – a post card from Canada would have sufficed. Neil Maxwell, standing for Labour in Harton Ward, also didn’t manage to get his photo included. How can the Ward members vote for him when he can’t even manage this simple task!

The best has been left to last. Together with ugly policies, the BNP must have some ugly candidates – they failed to provide pictures for 4 of their storm troopers. Something about the 9 o’clock watershed and children reading the paper underneath the quilt. Personally I think it’s because they could find any mug shots where they didn’t have their jack boots on.

Roll on the vote.

Keeping your powder dry!

In response to a couple of emails, thanks for the kind words re the pictures from The Sand Dancer 10k last week. It is strange to see snow at this time of year, and with the runners finishing the race with open blue skies, we certainly witnessed the full gambit of British weather that day. In answer to a comment, I have decided to start a daily photo section, beginning on May 3rd when I will be returning to a more regular pattern of posting. Feel free to use any of the pictures I post, particularly those who have emigrated and yearn for news from “home”.

Other people however, have been clearly very busy. Its rather gratifying knowing that you have caused certain individuals so much discomfort that they have to spend hours festering away trying to find ways to knock you down. Luckily for me I have more rewarding things to do in my life, particularly at the moment, but more about that later.

That does leave the issue of what to do about various comments and issues that have been raised. Should I lower myself or should I take the moral high ground and leave it in the gutter where it belongs?

Tactics, dear boy, tactics!

Sunday, 13 April 2008

Fancy a Bargain?

Thursday, 10 April 2008

Rumour Mill Election Style

George and Olive Elsom are so committed to standing in the ward of Beacon and Bents that they have taken themselves of to Canada to see how our dominion cousins conduct local elections. Olive and Oily may be back in time to deliver election leaflets to 6 houses in the Ward (3 of whom don’t vote).

Colin Campbell has withdrawn his candidature for Cleadon Park, no doubt with the promise of a clear run in a couple of years. Then again, Colin may have moved on by then, such is the shifting sands of his political philosophy.

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

The Word According to McCabe!

Poor old Councillor John McCabe (Labour - Hebburn South) has today objected to his Independent opposition election candidate (Stephen Rhodes) referring to him as a “Judas” for crossing the floor to the Labour side when he was elected 4 years ago (Mr McCabe was elected originally as an Independent).

I surprised that this pre election knock about even made the Gazette – the election period normally puts pay to publicity for this type of verbal spat. Mind you, they may have run the story just for McCabe’s final comment:

“And I must point out that Judas was still a disciple of Jesus”.

Now who would Jesus be then – surely not Malcolm or Waggott! Perhaps we should be told who thinks they can walk on water.

Either way, the paper will have to politically balance the article by allowing Mr Rhodes a reply.

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Who What Where

When the list of candidates came out for the local elections in May many people were surprised to see an addition to the expected roster for the Beacon and Bents Ward. Top of the list is “Olive June Elsom”, standing as an “Independent”. Olive doesn’t live in the ward, she resides in the Cleadon Park Ward with her husband George, who as it happens is also a “real Independent” councillor for their residing ward. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with standing in a ward where you don’t live, but what is strange is that Beacon and Bents already has an “Independent” candidate, and a very high profile one at that. In March Robin Coombes (Independent – South Tyneside Alliance) decided not to stand against George Elsom’s colleague Terry Haram in the Whiteleas Ward as he did not wish to split the vote and allow Labour to take the seat by default.

I wonder why George has not adopted such a conciliatory approach. I wonder why his wife did not stand in the Ward where they live and George already sits. The situation is even more difficult to understand when you take into account an email sent by George on the 26th March to an unnamed source on the issue of another “Independent” (not linked to the Alliance) who was standing against his “real Independent” candidate in Cleadon Park.
“I certainly wouldn’t put someone up against your candidate so cannot see why you should want to put up one against mine. The only beneficiary to a split vote will be labour.”
The argument is good enough for Cleadon Park, but not Beacon and Bents.


Monday, 7 April 2008

Some one's got the hump!

Well, you take a few days off and all hell breaks loose.
That odious little man at the Corner Shop (Mr Rigg for it is he) has certainly got the hump(s)

Whilst his technical analysis is both amateurish and ignorant of how my Site Meter works (the link he highlights is a basic précis for the public, it’s not the full version which I have access to) he has caused a few problems for this site.

The route to the Site Meter has always been open for anyone to view – there is nothing to hide about visitor rates and no claims as to self inflated figures have ever been made etc (unlike his site where no public access to his “popularity” is available). Without my own log on details, this site has always enjoyed an increasing readership base. However, by publicising the fact that the link exists, attempts have been made to “hack” into the site (and my computer) via the open gateway – my AVG and Zone Alarm software is working over time.

The Site Meter link is therefore off line at the moment, and whilst Mr Rigg will pop many a gasket with claims of skulduggery, it’s his fault that this happened.

What a paranoid man he has turned out to be.

However, what is more important is that his obsession with this site (Graham, why do you get up so early to check what I have posted on?) has meant that I have had to look at the legal situation and the following information has been offered by my advisor – something which perhaps “all” bloggers (and one in particular) should take note off before the situation escalates to far for certain individuals.

As we all know, the Data Protection Act regulates the collection and use of personal data. As such, IP addresses become personal data when combined with other information that is held (by any source) i.e. a name or a very specific location. The Site Meter link offered only an IP (or ISP address), whilst Mr Rigg has offered both an address and name. In my case, he has highlighted my name and my IP address – this is against the law and contravenes the Data Protection Act as he has identified electronic data about myself without my permission.

This will be taken up as a separate issue.

For anybody else who has recognised their IP address or has had their name highlighted (though not necessarily linked to an address) you need to be aware of the comments of the Information Commissioner, Elizabeth France, in 2001 (the legal precedent has not changed) who passed the following judgement:

“If static IP addresses were to form the basis for profiles that are used to deliver targeted marketing messages to particular individuals they, and the profiles, would be personal data subject to the Data Protection Act 1998. Thus the scope for using IP addresses for personalised profiling is limited…They will only become personal data if the website operator has some means of linking IP addresses to a particular individual, perhaps through other information held or from information that is publicly available on the internet”.

This interpretation also includes the deliberate linking of IP addresses and individuals names. May name have been linked to an individual IP address by Mr Rigg – this is interpreted by the Data Protection Act as personal profiling. This is against the law.

To make matters worse for Mr Rigg, the independent advisory EU body called the “Article 29 Data Protection Working Party” (it sets guidance rules for member state's) has offered the following binding judgement on how data cannot be used:

“The possibility exists in many cases, however, of linking the users IP address to their personal data (which is publicly available or not) that identify him/her, especially if use is made of invisible processing means to collect additional data on the user (for instance, using cookies containing a unique identifier) or modern data mining systems linked to large databases personally identifiable data on internet users”

The use of caches, cookies, and Google links to link IP addresses and names are therefore against the law.

This will be taken up as a separate issue.

Finally, lets us not forget how the Data Protection Act has been officially interpreted:

“If you wish to use IP addresses to identify or build a profile on each….visitors as an individual, even if they are never identified by name, you should assume that the Data Protection Act applies…. A Court will be influenced by the Information Commissioners guidance on this point….(and) gain consent before processing an IP address for these purposes, for example, via a data protection notice”

Therefore before any IP address can be linked to an individual, consent must be first obtained. The person who has offered this information, in this case Mr Rigg, must also issue a data protection notice or register as a data holder. I am 99.99% sure he has not done so. If he has, the public must have access to this notice.

I am surprised at Mr Rigg, surely he should have checked out his legal position in full before he embarked on his paranoid venture – but then again, this is the man who is pivotal to the BRENDA affair and the slanderous allegations which were made on his site and which he allowed to sit there unchecked.

It looks like his complete lack of intellectual judgement has let him down once again.

Better things To Do!

Whilst many people looked for far more exciting reasons for my lack of posting over the last few days, I was in fact devoting most of my free time to the South Shields Harriers” Sand Dancer” 10k Race which took place yesterday. Hundreds of athletes braved the snow storms to run just over six miles of beautiful coastal paths to finish up by completing a lap of Gypsies Green Stadium and a well earned pint in the Sand Dancer pub (sponsors of the race).

Well done to every body who lent a hand – marking the course, processing the entries and results, preparing hundreds of goody bags, completing the mile high piles of paper work etc – it all takes time and it’s all donated freely.

The race is essential to the Harriers funding requirements – it pays to train junior athletes, cover entry fees, transport costs etc.

If Gypsies Green is knocked down, this will have been the last race.

It was noticeable that the runner’s numbers, donated by Nova Sports, carried the name “Manchester City Council”. South Tyneside’s name was no ware to be seen, nor were any local councillors present at the race.

The photos tell it all – well done all the runners. A full article and results service should be in either Tuesday’s or Friday’s Gazette.

Below are a few pictures taken by the family on the day.

One Man and His Dog

No, the ship has thankfully not hit the pier!

Yes, it is April!

Their Off!

The Lost Official

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner


Friday, 4 April 2008

Election Period

Normal service will resume Monday 7th April - Election Period

Tuesday, 1 April 2008


As I put the cat out for the night, and persuade the dog to spend at least one night in bed, Councillor Rob Dix of South Tyneside Council has second spot on the local text news (BBC 1).

As for the local blog world being united against racism, it died a dreadful death tonight.


A Racist in our Midst!

Poor Old Rob Dix, apparently the charge has more “stick” than a Teflon frying pan. That can only mean he’s kicked out of the Labour Party, and if he does the honest thing, a bye election will follow his expulsion (he is currently suspended).

However, what of the other players?

Deputy Council Leader Ian Malcolm comes out of the whole affair covered in the brown stuff. He tried to keep it quite, but a certain Gazette reporter D. MacLean got his teeth into it, and that was the cover up broken!

Labour has been engaged in a series of “spin” meetings at least since the weekend, but couldn’t come up with a suitable excuse for their racist member!

Sadly, David Miliband MP was unaware of the impending scandal, and when he found out (no doubt via the full page spread his constituency news paper put out in his home town) the flak was so bad that diplomatic relations between said Foreign Secretary and Deputy Leader of South Tyneside Council now resemble the governments relationship with Zimbabwe i.e. they are as frosty as the Antarctic.

Let’s not forget that Mr Miliband was parachuted into the region to curb the excesses of “Malcolm in the Diddle”.

Said “I” Malcolm may have “diddled” too far.

With WAGGGOTTT on the rocks, the Council’s Deputy Leader has been to slow to tackle the problem of racists in his own ranks.

I also note the lack of coverage of the issue by local South Tyneside bloggers.

Hang your heads in shame boys, and don’t resort to the “innocent until till charged” defence. By then it will be too late.

You’re all as guilty for not commenting on the issue. What will you do when Dix presents himself in court in May! Ignore it?

What’s the matter Mr Rigg, the time stands at 12.34 p.m and the Borough has a racist in its midst. Surely your copy of the Gazette has arrived by now – or perhaps the Labour grape vine has stopped you from commenting.

“What is multiculturalism?”

Clearly Rob Dix doesn’t know, and neither do you lot at the Labour Party!

Dix by name, Dix by nature!

What a day to start a blog holiday!

Councillor Rob Dix (Harton Labour) has been arrested for racially aggravated disorder, the charges relating to his verbal attack on a traffic ticket warden. His employee, Parcel Force, are also investigating the issue. Dix has been bailed to appear again before the police 0n 7th May.

Eye witnesses accounts have collaborated the charges, so it doest look to good for Dix's long term political future, unless of course the BNP want him for free.

No doubt I will be returning to this issue.

Time for a Breather!

It’s April 1st, but as I look at my work diary for the next four weeks or so, I wonder who the fool is. Local news is slow at the moment – with the local elections looming there will be no loose talk or veiled comments, and there will certainly be no "green" documents. All things South Tyneside will only begin again on May 2nd when the election results are known (something also tells me that this is one of the most important local elections in this Borough certainly for the last two decades).

Now therefore seems a good time to have a little bit of a breathier and tie up a few loose ends etc. Posts will continue, but no to the same degree as the last 5 months. Rest assured however, us local commentators are an opinionated bunch and as such cannot keep our mouths shut on any issue. So keeping checking the site because there will always be something to read.

Especially on May 2nd – now there's a date for your diary.

Clegg - Over

I used to think that life as a Liberal Democrat must be a pretty mundane existence. However, an article carried by “GQ” magazine reveals a side to Nick Clegg which so far has gone unnoticed by the media and Play Boy. “Clegg-Over” not only reveals his drinking habits, but lets the electorate the number of women he has slept with, a round figure of about 30. Before we all jump to conclusions about dirty Nicks bedroom habits, perhaps he has used the word “sleep” in its truest sense. Have you ever read a Liberal Democrat manifesto – it is the safest cure to insomnia I have ever come across. Here is how Cleggie’s warm up patter may have gone:

CLEGG OVER – “Here darling, have a look at this for size” (Hands over manifesto to young lady)
YOUNG LADY: “Oh, Nick, you are naughty. OK then, just a quick look….zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!

Or something like that.

Clegg is quoted as saying on the Charles Kennedy drink problem that it would have been “pretty hard” to run the country as an alcoholic. Perhaps not as hard as he thinks – George Brown is giving it a go and he’s a fool!

Shake Your Money Maker

Today’s Independent reveals what most of already suspected – there was no official plot to murder and cover up the deaths of Diana, Princes of Wales and her partner Dodi Fayed. Why this media circus was allowed to roll on in the full view of cameras, script writers, book writers and movie moguls is beyond me. Sadly, the whole affair was a money maker from the word go (let’s not forget the lawyers) and the public needs to prepare itself for a plethora of books, serialisations and without doubt a Hollywood block buster. The conspiracy theories will also continue long past the point Charles realizes he will never be King.

Nobody gained from this pantomime, especially the tax payer – the bill has come in and its £10 million.

Making It Easy

Yesterday I posted on the dangers of the BNP making significant gains in May’s local elections. Today the Lords gave them a leg up.

A Tonne To Many

Matthew Taylor, who was head of the No 10 policy unit under Tony Blair, has told today’s Telegraph that there are far too many ministers and that their number should be slashed by 25%. Gordon Brown has about 100 ministers under his control – that’s a fairly hefty number of people needed to run the country badly.

If the “Northern Rock” rational were applied to government departments, heads would roll – but that would be akin to turkeys voting for Christmas would it!

Monday, 31 March 2008

Adam Applegarth is a leech

I’ve tried to avoid the subject because to be honest it’s verging on criminal. It’s immoral and it’s definitely insulting. It’s also crass and due to what is happening with those who are left to pick the pieces up, particularly in this region, it’s very insensitive.

Sadly it’s all very legal and not at all unprecedented.

Adam Applegarth, the Chief Executive responsible for the collapse of the Northern Rock Bank, has been awarded a £750,000 pay off. He will also receive a £2.5 million pension when he reaches 55.

2000 Northern Rock jobs are to go as a result of his incompetent leadership.

The man is a leech.

A Nasty Shock

Most people will be aware that the BNP is going through a little spot of internal turmoil at the moment. However, the strife is only at the top end – the grass root organisers remain active and well prepared for the local elections in May.

Today’s Time’s has a comment article on the subject by Tim Hames. Here’s some pertinent extracts:

“A by-election was held in Redwell West last Thursday. The Conservatives easily retained the seat but there in second place, eight votes ahead of Labour and with four times the strength of the Liberal Democrats was the British National Party candidate. At Yapton, seven days beforehand, the BNP had come third, a mere seven votes behind the Liberal Democrats, and with almost a fifth of the vote. A fortnight earlier Lawford and New Bilton had witnessed a cracking contest with Labour hanging on by a single vote over the Tories and with the BNP securely third on 15 per cent, well ahead of Nick Clegg's contender.”

“The last local by-election conducted in London was on March 20 at Gooshays in the Borough of Havering. The BNP had narrowly won it in May 2006 in something close to a statistical fluke but now had to defend it after the departure of its councillor. It was assumed that this might be a challenge for the BNP. Far from it. Its share of the vote went up from 28 per cent to 38 per cent. The Liberal Democrats, for the record, managed the singularly strange feat of finishing sixth.
The ward of Gooshays is striking for the lack of immigrants who live there. The ward is 96.4 per cent white, making it one of the least ethnically diverse in London. The place, however, is polarised by age (disproportionately large numbers of very young and very old voters), has comparatively high unemployment and very low levels of educational attainment. It is ideal terrain for the BNP and there are other Gooshays in London. That being so, the stealth success of the BNP could be the real story of the local elections.”

Hames then goes on to list three reasons why the BNP could do better than expected this May. Firstly, this year there is a lack of a European vote and UKIP candidates. Secondly, the BNP are better organised than ever and thirdly, a plethora of fed up voters are waiting to knock their party of choice - Labour voters sick of Brown and the state of the economy, Conservatives voters disappointed with the lack of a solid anti immigration policy and a Liberal Democratic Party which cannot attract any votes at all.

Unfortunately all the ingredients for a gain in seats exist – it’s up to those who can see through the racist overturns to stop them. Whilst voter disillusionment will account for some of their votes, so will the apathy of those who campaign against them.

We all need to be on our guard.

Once a Mosley, always a Mosley!

Poor old Max Mosley, boss of Formula One’s governing body (Federation Internationale de l’Automobile) the FIA. Max is the son of Oswald Mosley, the pre war leader of the British Union of Fascists and part time friend of Adolf Hitler. Mosley Jnr has admitted himself that even now he still comes across negative reactions to his unfortunate lineage. Perhaps then, posing for a video whilst being whipped by 5 women, and also acting out a scene from a concentration camp strip search with added sado masochistic sexual overtones is not the best way to combat allegations of Nazi parenthood.

Naturally, Jewish organisations are livid that one of the world’s most powerful sporting administrators has been caught out behaving like, well, his father!

Time to leave the starting grid Max!

No Parking

In February I sent a question in to Full Council concerning how many parking tickets had been cancelled on appeal in the Borough since the decimalisation of parking. Due to the 20 minute rule the question was not put and it was to be answered as if it were a Freedom of Information request. I correspondingly received my reply, but it was concerning another question put at a previous meeting.

After reading today’s Times, I think I may know why the Council may be “reluctant” to answer the question. 60% of parking ticket appeals are successful, and Caroline Sheppard, the Chief Adjudicator of the Traffic Penalty Tribunal, has today introduced measures which will make it even easier to appeal against a fine – and so she should. 8 million tickets are issued every year in this country, giving rise to £1 billion in revenue. No wonder Councils are keen to see them handed out like confetti. They have also secured the permission to issue tickets via the post. What happens if the offender doesn’t receive them in time and how will this impact on the work needed to present the evidence that the ticket should not have been issued in the first place?

The appeals procedure is now even more important. Below are a couple of website address which explain how you can go about it.

Oh Lordy

Not content with MP’s in the House of Commons making a profession out of eating from the trough of plenty, their brothers and sisters in the House of Lords want some of the action. Today’s Guardian highlights a crisis meeting of the Lord’s Privilege Committee which will meet to discuss allegations of expenses fiddles and the payment of certain “fees” to certain Lords, particularly from the arms industries (now there’s a surprise).

Of course we should really feel sorry for the poor old Lord’s and Lady’s in the upper chamber. Their expenses structure is not as good as their riff raff cousins in the Commons – they can only claim £308 per day for attendance. All they have to do is clock in mind, they don’t have to stay.

Oh, and by the way, the Lords Privilege Committee is a toothless lion with fewer powers than its Common’s counterpart, and that’s saying something.

Sunday, 30 March 2008

Willie the Wonker!

What BA said before the opening

“Will T5 open without a hiccup? Yes and yes.”

Willie Walsh, chief executive of British Airways in The Sunday Times last year

“We have done as much as we possibly can and we are ready. Our customers will absolutely love T5 and our people will love working there.”

Walsh, writing in British Airways News, March 20

“The terminal will be fantastic. I think it’s particularly pleasing that we’ll get an opportunity to do a better job at Heathrow when we move into Terminal 5.”

Walsh, the day before the terminal opened What BA said after the shambles

“I’m sorry for passengers, and I’m sorry for staff. If you want to blame someone, you should blame me.”

Walsh on Friday


Terminal 5 cost £4.3 billion and took more than fi ve years to build. Designed to handle 30m passengers a year, it has a computerised baggage system capable of processing 12,000 cases an hour on 11 miles of conveyor belts travelling at up to 23mph. The terminal’s fi ve fl oors could accommodate 50 football pitches.


The baggage system ground to a halt from overloading. Mountains of bags from transfer passengers are stuck in storage at other Heathrow terminals. More than 240 fl ights were cancelled in the fi rst three days, affecting 20,000 passengers. Thousands more have suffered delays.

The Trough of Plenty

Sitting with my pot of tea and catching up with yesterdays Gazette, it would appear that South Tyneside’s senior executives have had a pretty good year when it comes to trousering lots of money. A report by the Tax Payers Alliance shows that four senior executives earn over £100,000 per year, with Irene Lucas naturally coming in first with £129,135 for the year 2006/2007. Ms Lucas only earns £58,000 less than Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

Missing ballot boxes, anger over regeneration projects, school closures and Gerry Mandering of Council meetings, South Tyneside’s Chief is hardly value for money. In fact, she should offer the people of South Tyneside a refund on their money so disgraceful has her performance been over the last 12 months.

Unfortunately, the people of the Borough cannot unseat Ms Lucas with their vote. If they could, she would be at the job centre on 2nd May.


So what happened to Saturday’s posts? Work, because nobody bothered to turn up. The remainder of the day was taken up with exhaustion. Such is life.

Head of Centrica (British Gas) – Sam Laidlaw - £1.87m in pay and benefits, 80% rise on last year

Head of Centrica (British Gas) – Sam Laidlaw - £1.87m in pay and benefits, 80% rise on last year

Laidlaw – basic salary - £873,000, £753,000 bonus, £180,000 additional payments, £64,000 benefits

5 top senior executives at Centrica – paid over £5 million last year

Centrica - £1.9 billion profit

Average household bill - £1000 per year

British Gas customers – 15% rise in fuel bills

Number Crunching ITV Style

Michael Grade – pocketed nearly £2 million in his first year as Chair of ITV (includes share of £1.6 million bonuses).

ITV shares – value has fallen 40% in last year

Fly in a bottle

It’s always good to laugh – but perhaps not so good while you’re broadcasting live to the nation on Radio Four’s flagship news programme “Today”. Enter one Charlotte Green, who whilst covering the worlds oldest recording (a woman singing “Au Clair de la Lune” in 1860) got a fit of the giggles as the recording sounded like a fly in a bottle. Unfortunately for Ms Green, the mirth continued into the next item – an obituary!

Moments like this, whilst slightly unprofessional, remind us that perhaps sometimes we take things a little too seriously. Who can forget the Goons splitting their sides over nothing, Spike Milligan laughing at his own (terrible) jokes on his “Q” BBC 2 series, or the link below, Jonathan Agnew and Brian Johnson – an absolute classic!

Friday, 28 March 2008

Number Crunching Local Election Style

Decisions so far delayed

TOP’s – not Top of the Pops, but the decision to close some of the regions best schools, especially in the Labour hinterland

Gypsies Green and the Foreshore Development – planning permission delayed till June.

Ambulance Call Centre – Hebburn Call Centre delayed, especially now that they may have to leave the Iona Club where it is!

Leaks to the Northern Herald News Desk have been extremely revealing when it comes to the Iona Club situation. May I quote directly from the most recent email – I don’t like bad language on this site remember.

“Your f****d McAtominey, you t** f***d b*****d, the leadership will never be yours because of this project”.

I presume the sender referred to the fact that WAGGGOTTT will loose Fellgate, and then the in fighting will really start.

Malcolm’s (in the middle) beware – it’s not quite in the bag just yet!

Oh dear, Conservatives of a similar ilk!

How they seem to multiple!

It’s just getting a bit to close to home.

Would you really trust this bunch of Victorian reprobates with the safety of your children?

Terminal - ly Ill

Despite the fact that the new Terminal 5 at Heathrow Airport cost £4.3 billion to build and has been running “tests” for the last 18 months, the baggage system yesterday suffered a complete failure.

34 flights were cancelled and thousands of passengers lost their luggage.

Despite the fact that BA and BAA have been singing the new terminal’s praises for the last five years, they couldn’t get it right on the first day – and who was to blame? According to BA, it’s the staff's fault for not being familiar with the “system”. Hmm!

British Airways promised that Terminal 5 would transform the flying experience – it certainly did, the planes never left the ground!

Wembley Stadium, Olympic Games, The Dome - blah blah blah – we couldn’t build a Lego house on time with windows that worked!

Riot Force

Today’s Times carries a disconcerting picture of riot police just before they go into action in London.

Operation Mista took place yesterday and it involved 1000 policemen and women. The targets concerned drug dealers, money launders, receivers of stolen goods and forgers. 56 addresses were raided. The picture says it all.

1000 policemen in a series of raids – that’s why when you call the police on a Friday night about social disorder they never turn up till Saturday.

As somebody on the Times blog said - surely 3 policemen on these streets 365 days a week would have stopped all this crime.

Spitting Satire

Regardless of your political persuasions, nobody could have failed to appreciate the antics of the “Spitting Image” creators (1984 – 1996). The programme is to be resurrected in digital format ala Toy Story format, with original writer Henry Naylor being joined by that master of wit and impersonation Rory Bremner.

The programme starts a week this Sunday.

Be there!

Tommy’s Tribulations

It just goes to show that patent leather loafers and Saville row tailored suits can’t disguise the crook that lurks within.

All hale Tommy Sheridan, socialist, capitalist, liberal, snappy dresser and all round sleaze merchant. Yesterday Tommy and his equally communist wife were arrested and charged with lying under oath. The charges relate to a News of The World libel trial and a certain award of £200,000 to the Sheridan’s ISA Account.

Looking like he’d been Tango’ed, Tommy and Mrs Tommy are 2 of 7 who have been charged with regards to the original trial.

Yet another court case to follow in detail.

Number Crunching Nimrod Style

How costs took off:

Cost when approved: £2.8 billion

Cost estimate now: £3.5 billion

Original in-service date: April 2003

Current forecast in-service date: September 2010

Cost rose at the end of 2006-07 by £687 million

Cost rose in 2007-08 by another £100 million

Air craft carriers and now support aircraft, this country cannot build anything on time and at its original cost.

If this country were forced into a war similar to the 1939 conflict, we would need 8 years notice.

Thursday, 27 March 2008

Thats All Folk's!

Research issues will take up a lot of time tonight, so it’s a case of “That’s All Folks” for today.

A Fishy Tale

It looks like Michael Martin isn’t the only MP to have fishy smell of decay about him. Have a look at MP Alex Salmond’s (also Scotland’s First minister) expenses claims for his House of Commons duties.

Total claims – over £130,000
Overnight Stays - £2331
Staff - £846664
Incidental expenses - £18591
Travel - £3856
Communications - £2221
Stationery - £1017
Postage - £4768
Computers - £1255

During the time period for these claims, Mr Salmond made only 6 appearances in the Commons and voted 18 times.

What a stinker!