Saturday, October 31, 2020
On almost any other day the news that Sir Sean Connery has died at the age of 90 would have resulted in wall-to-wall press coverage.
A proud Scot who made his name playing an English spy, Sean Connery's repertoire was much wider than just James Bond.
Among his other credit were "The Man Who Would Be King," "The Name of the Rose," "The Untouchables," and he completely stole the show as the defecting Russian submarine captain in "The Hunt for Red October," the only film adaptation of any of Tom Clancy's thrillers which came anywhere near living up to the book.
He will be missed.
Rest in Peace.
Cumbria County Council will meet online at 10 am on Thursday 5th November.
The meeting will be live-streamed and the agenda plus link to watch the meeting can be found on the council website at
Most of the items on the agenda are reports.
There is one issue which might possibly have been contentious had it proposed any change - the annual review of allowances payable to councillors - but in fact the recommendation of the independent panel is that the basic allowance paid to all county councillors, the Special responsibility allowance paid to county cabinet members and other senior councillors with specific responsibilities, and the travel allowances should not be changed.
The only amendment proposed is to change the Dependent Carers allowance to the National Minimum Wage from April 2021 and subsequently uprate the cap on it in line with changes in the National Minimum Wage.
I would expect these recommendations to be approved unanimously - there is no justification for any increase in councillors' allowances at this time. The total cost to the taxpayer of councillors' allowances is in fact likely to drop dramatically this year because none of us are travelling from all over the county to get to council meetings as they are all now being held online. So there should be very few if any travel allowance claims.
(As the starships USS Enterprise under Captain Pike and Discovery under Commander Saru are about to go into battle against overwhelming odds to save all life in the galaxy)
"Any, er, words of wisdom?"
(Ensign Tilly, played by Mary Wiseman)
"Be extremely subtle, even to the point of formlessness;
Be extremely mysterious, even to the point of soundlessness."
(Commander Saru, played by Doug Jones, quotes Sun Tzu, "The Art of War, part VI")
"Thereby you can be the director of the opponent's fate."
Former Terran Emperor Philippa Georgiou, played by Michelle Yeoh, finishes the line from Sun Tzu, and continues ...
"I am surprised that a Kelpian, of all beings, has studied Sun Tzu."
"I am surprised that a Terran is surprised by anything."
Friday, October 30, 2020
As Cumbria and parts of Lancashire are on a yellow weather warning from today, the Environment Agency is urging residents to be aware of flood warnings ahead of forecasts of very wet weather.
The heaviest rainfall is expected across the hills of Cumbria and Lancashire today and over the weekend. The Environment Agency is urging people to check their flood risk and remain prepared to take action as the situation changes. The weather warning is expected to stay in place until Sunday.
A Government update issued earlier today confirmed that Carlisle will be moved into Local Covid alert level "high" from tomorrow.
A statement was issued this week by North Cumbria Integrated care about the building works at both District General Hospitals, West Cumberland Hospital (WCH) and the Cumberland Infirmary at Carlisle (CIC) as part of the "Hospitals for the Future" programme. It can be found on the NCIC website here and reads as follows:
"If you have visited either the Cumberland Infirmary (CIC) or West Cumberland Hospital (WCH) sites, you will notice that there is significant work taking place at the moment in addition to the building of the cancer centre in Carlisle and the demolition at WCH
A range of improvements are being undertaken with the £4m funding we have secured nationally to prepare for the winter in addition to the £8m that has been secured to replace the CT and MRI scanner at the CIC.
- Our teams are doing their best to ensure there is minimum disruption across the sites and once complete, the works will ensure we are able to significantly improve the environment for delivering patient care.
- As part of the £4m funding we received to get hospitals ready for the winter we are undertaking: Significant upgrade for the paediatric facility within Accident & Emergency at CIC.
- Work on this starts this week and will utilise the space that was occupied by the site co-ordinators and discharge teams to make way for three consulting rooms, a triage area and an improved waiting area. The site co-ordinators have moved into the medical records space opposite and the discharge teams have moved to the Pillar Building at CIC.
- Work is also being planned to create 9 additional rooms in the A&E department.
- The introduction of Same Day Emergency Care at the Cumberland Infirmary which went live in August, with the building works due to complete by December. The dermatology service has been relocated to Hill Top Heights and further updates will follow
We are making changes to some of the inpatient areas in CIC in order to increase the number of single rooms we have access to. This will help with isolating patients where this is required, while maintaining our bed capacity. This includes utilising Aspen as an inpatient area with surgical pre-admissions moving into a temporary area on the ground floor in the day surgery and endoscopy areas and displacement of some consultant and SAS doctors rooms which we are looking at options for. Work has already started in Larch C to provide an additional room that enables us to isolate patients for infection prevention and to improve the environment for patients on the ward.
- A refurbishment of ward 4 at WCH has taken place with a, new air conditioning unit, lighting, nurses station and medicine cupboard being fitted. This brings a much improved environment for both patients and staff.
- A refurbishment of ward 3 starts this week.
- £1.75m has been allocated to improve the flow of Urgent & Emergency Care services at WCH. This will allow for improvements for the same day emergency care facility and moving Ambulatory Care to a modular building which will accommodate treatment areas, doctor’s room and a procedure room.
This work is all in addition to the planned work taking place to provide a new diagnostic suite on the ground floor of the Cumberland Infirmary site. A new CT scanner was recently delivered and an MRI scanner will be installed mid-November. The new facility will house the new scanners as well as an increased ultrasound capacity and is expected to be up and running in December. It is the first stage of an £8m investment which includes an upgrade to the current facilities on the first floor of the infirmary and once the work is fully complete it will mean services will no longer rely on the mobile units. It will also significantly increase capacity and provide much improved diagnostic quality which will also support patients accessing the new cancer centre on the site.
All works are expected to be completed by spring 2021. Anna Stabler, chief nurse said:
'This has been a significant piece of work and I know it has involved moving and disrupting many teams to facilitate this often at short notice and I’m very grateful for the support and patience with all the moves. Ultimately, this will ensure we are ready for this winter and will significantly enhance the environment and facilities available to us for delivering patient care across the Trust.'”
Thursday, October 29, 2020
Wond'ring how your pains were eas'd,
And disdaining to be pleas'd,
Till Alecto free the dead,
From their eternal bands,
Till the snakes drop from her head,
And the whip from out her hands.
Music for a while,
Shall all your cares beguile.
There are lessons for all the political parties, not just Labour, in the devastating report of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) into Anti-Semitism in the Labour party, released today, which found that, quote,
in breach of the Equalities act which the party itself put onto the statute book.
The Labour Party is now legally obliged under the terms of its own legislation to draft an action plan to tackle the findings of unlawful actions made by the EHRC, which should be based on their recommendations.
Once the action plan is agreed, The EHRC will continue to monitor it and, if Labour fails to live up to its commitments in the legally binding action plan, may take enforcement action.
The Interim chair of the EHRC described the failure to tackle anti-Semitism as "inexcusable."
The EHRC says that, quote,
"The investigation has identified serious failings in the Labour Party leadership in addressing antisemitism and an inadequate process for handling antisemitism complaints.
The Party is responsible for three breaches of the Equality Act (2010) relating to:
- political interference in antisemitism complaints
- failure to provide adequate training to those handling antisemitism complaints
The equality body’s analysis points to a culture within the Party which, at best, did not do enough to prevent antisemitism and, at worst, could be seen to accept it."
The EHRC also found two individuals - one of them former Mayor of London and Labour NEC member Ken Livingston (relating to conduct prior to his resignation from the Labour party) and the other a Labour councillor in Rossendale, to have displayed anti-Semitic conduct while acting as agents for the Labour party to a degree amounting to "unlawful harassment," and added that, quote,
"These cases were only the tip of the iceberg."
You can read the full report here.
I want to stress that nothing that I have written above is "Tory Propaganda."
While I often publish material on this blog supplied to me by Conservative HQ and I make no apology whatsoever for doing so, not one word of this post comes from that source.
Every quote, every fact above comes from the website of the official Equalities regulatory body set up under legislation passed by a Labour government. The Labour party themselves set the standards and set up the mechanisms under which they have been judged and found wanting.
As if that wasn't bad enough, Labour has also today suspended its immediate past leader, Jeremy Corbyn, and removed the whip from him, for responding to the EHRC report by saying
“One anti-Semite is one too many, but the scale of the problem was also dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents inside and outside the party, as well as by much of the media."
The present Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer, called the report a "day of shame" for Labour, said that he was "Truly sorry for all the pain and grief that has been caused" and promised to implement all the recommendation of the report in full.
Asked about Jeremy Corbyn's response to the report, Keir Starmer replied
“I’ll look carefully at what Jeremy Corbyn has said in full.
I finally managed to complete the first half of Swimathon 2020, after a six month delay caused by COVID-19.Swimathon is the world's largest swimming charity fundraising event. the original expectation was that between 27th and 29th March, I would have been one of more than 21,000 swimmers who head down to their local pool, or one of more than 600 swimming pools around the UK which are taking part, to raise money for two incredibly important charities.
I have taken part in the Swimathon every year since 1994 to help a wide variety of important causes, but there is none more important than helping people living with cancer.
Cancer Research UK, the world’s leading cancer charity is dedicated to saving lives through funding research to help prevent, diagnose and treat cancer. Cancer Research UK are the only charity fighting over 200 cancer types but don't receive any government funding for their work, so their progress is all thanks to the support of people like you.
Marie Curie provides expert care, guidance and support for people living with any terminal illness, and their families. Around 2,100 Marie Curie Nurses work day and night, in people’s homes all over the UK, providing hands-on care to people when they need it most.
Together those who take part in and support events like Swimathon 2020 can make a difference.
Please sponsor me or other participants to help find more effective cures for cancer and to help people who are living with the condition.
My Swimathon 2020 fundraising page is here and is still open.
Thank you again to everyone who has sponsored me for past Swimathon events (and those who had already sponsored be before the pandemic) and thank you in advance to everyone who sponsors me or other participants this year and in the future.
- Under plans drawn up by Cumbria County Council, the multi-million-pound investment will see the A595 road upgraded at Grizebeck – with a new 1km stretch built to replace the existing section at Dove Farm.
- The upgrades will also include the installation of a new crossing for farm vehicles and cyclists, as well as more space for those walking and cycling along the route.
- The new stretch of road will see the A595’s capacity and connectivity with other major link roads boosted, helping local businesses grow and supporting residents to access more work and employment opportunities.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said:
"When I visited Cumbria last November, I heard about frustrations with local infrastructure, including the bottleneck at Grizebeck. I promised then that we would take action and I’m pleased today to deliver on that.
"It joins other investment in Cumbria – including £7.5 million to help support development plans to upgrade the coastal railway between Carlisle and Sellafield, and £1 billion to dual the A66.
"We’re committed to delivering for Cumbria and unleashing every part of the Northern Powerhouse."
Subject to final approvals, work is due to start by July 2022. The total cost of the A595 scheme is £14.9 million, with the Department for Transport’s funding of £12.7 million contribution forming the majority of the total scheme costs.
Simon Fell, MP for Barrow and Furness, said:
"I’m beyond delighted that this project now has the green light after years of relentless campaigning by local people and businesses. It beggars belief that the main A-road from Barrow to Sellafield is through a farmyard. Finally that situation can be righted, making the road far safer and much more reliable for locals and commuters alike, and Furness a more attractive place to do business.
"I’m hugely grateful to the Department for Transport, Lancashire Evening Post and Cumbria County Council for backing and funding this scheme, and the A595 Action Group for keeping the pressure up over the years."
Rob Johnston, Chief Executive of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, said:
"Reduced journey times make businesses more efficient and productive, and create new opportunities for work, learning and leisure.
This scheme will bypass the notorious bottleneck at Dove Farm. It will benefit commuters to BAE "Systems and Sellafield, and improve links to Millom. It’s long overdue and businesses will welcome it wholeheartedly."
The government is also committed to investing in other transport links in Cumbria – including £7.5 million to help support development plans to upgrade the coastal railway between Carlisle and Sellafield.
This week's announcement further underlines the government’s commitment to level up transport infrastructure across the entire country, including throughout the Northern Powerhouse.
Alongside recent investment in roads such as the A630, the government has set up the Northern Transport Acceleration Council to work with local leaders to drive forward progress on schemes meeting the needs of their communities.
Wednesday, October 28, 2020
Tuesday, October 27, 2020
Monday, October 26, 2020
Sunday, October 25, 2020
"Holding to account and threatening rape are two very different things."
(Marcus Rashford MBE)
The footballer had posted a statement (below) saying that posting "unacceptable abuse" against people who had different opinions about child poverty and how to address it was not the way to help hungry children.
The above quote was his response to someone who had responded that MPs should be "held to account."
This was the very measured and reasonable statement from Marcus Rashford about this on Twitter:
Saturday, October 24, 2020
British summer time ends at 2am on Sunday morning (25th October 2020) and all timekeeping devices which are not sophisticated enough to do it for themselves automatically need to be put back an hour.
I imagine there is a divide between those who would like to put the clock back to January this year and those who would like to put it back to January 2016, but I'm afraid we don't have either option!