Showing posts from November, 2009

Byran Appleyard on Global Warming in the Sunday Times

Recent embarrassing disclosures about the work of climate change study at the University of East Anglia have touched off a fement of debate in the blogosphere, some of which is hitting the mainstream media, about whether man-made global warming is happening. Rather too much of the debate on this subject is dominated by extremists on both sides: for example, I greatly dislike the practice of calling those who don't agree that man's activities are causing global warming "climate change deniers" as if they were on the same level as holocaust deniers - e.g. apologists for nazis and genocide. I thought David Davis got it about right when he said that the evidence for man-made global warming represents a probability of about 80% - e.g. not conclusively proved but certainly strong enough evidence that we cannot afford not to do anything about it. There is a very good, and in my opinion well balanced piece by Bryan Appleyard on the subject in today's Sunday Times which yo

Reminder: useful flooding contact numbers

FLOOD victims should log on to or call Cumbria Foundation on 01900 820827 to apply for grants. GRANTS are also available for voluntary groups supporting people affected by the flooding. BUSINESSES affected by the flooding should contact the Federation of Small Businesses at, telephone number 01253 336000 or BusinessLink at or telephone 0845 0066888. TO DONATE to the flood relief fund go to or send a cheque, payable to Cumbria Community Foundation Flood Appeal, to CCF, Dovenby Hall, Cockermouth, CA13 0PN. CASH can be donated at Cumberland or Furness building society branches or branches of HSBC. Hat-tip to Cumbria Newspapers Group's website for the information in this post

Keswick is open for business (and so is the rest of Cumbria)

After campaigning this morning in Moresby I spent part of this afternoon Christmas shopping in Keswick with the family. As the Town Mayor of Keswick, Cllr Andrew Lysser, has said "Keswick is very much open for business. It has been a tough time but the local community has reacted wonderfully and, despite everything, the atmosphere is buoyant." Prince Charles visited yesterday to switch on the lights in Keswick (he was in Cockermouth today) and pushed the message that Cumbria is open for business. Keswick was full of shoppers today: the market was thronged with people, and the shops we visited, some of which had been flooded last weekend, were doing well.

Bridge Repairs

Engineers from Cumbria County Council, the Highways Agency, and the armed services have been working hard to prevent any further tragedies, survey every bridge in the county which is near water, and look at replacement bridge options both for the short term and the long term. Just about every thread on Political Betting for the past week has included at least one contributor who asks why Bailey Bridges are not being used in Cumbria. That was considered early on, and the professionals tell us that Bailey Bridges are not suitable for the particular circumstances of these particular bridges, but that the army will be able to provide some assistance, and today that is happening. Construction work will begin by the army today on a new temporary footbridge crossing the River Derwent in Workington, uniting communities currently cut off on the north and south side of the river following the collapse of Workington Bridge and the footbridge, and by the structural damage making Calva Bridge unusa

Remembering PC Bill Barker

The funeral of floods hero PC Bill Barker, who lost his life while saving those of others, will take place today at 1pm at St Mary & St Michael's church in Egremont.

Holmrook and Wath Brow

Although the Copeland Borough area has not been nearly as badly hit as Allerdale, there have been communities within the Borough which have had real issues. The Wath Brow bridge at Cleator Moor has been closed as has the Irt bridge at Holmrook - a massive issue both for the village and for South Copeland as this bridge carries the A595 south from Sellafield. A diversion is in place via Santon Bridge. Firefighters were in Holmrook all night last Thursday, pumping water from the road and properties. “We continued pumping all night,” said David Moore, watch manager of Seascale fire station. (Yes, that's the same David Moore who is often quoted on this blog wearing one of his other hats.) “But at 4am, although the tide had gone out, the river was rising faster than we could pump water away from properties.” People were told to stay in their homes and sand bags were given out. Although a number of businesses were affected by the flood they are still open. The local MP visited on Tuesday

Cumbria Flood Fund close to £500,000

There has been a magnificent response by the public and charitable organisations to the appeal launched by the Cumbria Community Foundation to help residents and local businesses who are victims of the floods. At the time tomorrow's edition of the Whitehaven News went to print this lunchtime, the total donated had reached £400,000. But such has been the generosity of the community that this total is increasing rapidly and by this evening the paper's website reports that it has almost reached the half-million mark. Cockermouth firm James Walker, a seals and gaskets maker, donated £100,000 to the fund. Details of the appeal can be found be logging on to Cumbria Community Foundation's website, or by calling the dedicated phone line 01900 820827. Cumbria County Council has promised £50,000 and Allerdale Borough Council £25,000. Donations from organiations and businesses have ranged from the large, such as the James Walker donation mentioned above and

Cameron visits flood-hit areas

David Cameron visited Cumbria today to see for himself the flood damage to Cumbria and learn about the steps being taken to repair the damage. His visit took in Cockermouth and Carlisle. It is very welcome that so many front bench national politicians of both major parties, from the party leaders down, have come to visit the area affected by the disaster.

Keswick and District Forum Cancelled

Due to the flooding the Keswick and District Neighbourhood Forum which was due to take place tomorrow (24th November) has been cancelled.

Cumbria Floods Appeal

An appeal has been launched by the Cumbria Community Foundation to help residents and local businesses who are victims of the floods. Details can be found be logging on to Cumbria Community Foundation's website or by calling the dedicated phone line 01900 820827. Cumbria County Council has promised £50,000 and Allerdale Borough Council £25,000. The leader of Allerdale council, Cllr Tim Heslop, told the News and Star: “ We are committed to working together with all agencies on the massive recovery effort that we face in getting the county back onto its feet. “As well as getting people back into their homes, the future of many small businesses and how we can help to ensure their survival is one of our top priorities. “We also express our heartfelt thanks to everyone who is working tremendously hard to help others in these exceptionally difficult circumstances - especially those who are coming to terms with their own loss.” There are buckets collecting donat

Unsung heroes

There are more people who have behaved like heroes in dealing with the impact of the floods than any list could possibly cover. The first name on the list will always be PC Bill Barker who gave his life saving others, but hundreds of people from the police, ambulance, RNLI, fire brigade, NHS, RSPCA, social services, housing organisations, and voluntary bodies have put in a huge effort. I'm going to mention one activity which was just one example of a contribution by one particular local community organisation - and not the only thing that particular society has done - to give an illustration of the lengths to which members of the Cumbrian community have gone to help one another. I and one of my colleagues from Cumbria County Council were in Cockermouth and Keswick earlier today. The bridges in Keswick, open or closed, were manned by people in reflective yellow jackets. When we spoke to some of them, we found that they were volunteers from Keswick Lions club. The Lions, at the reque

Nick Herbert on his visit to flood hit areas of Cumbria

Please note that the post below was published more than ten year ago on 21st November 2009 Nick Herbert MP, shadow cabinet member for the Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs, was in Cumbria this morning to see the areas affected by the flooding. He writes on Conservative Home about his visit. Here is an extract. I’ve been in Cumbria today to see the areas affected by the floods. I arrived early in Keswick where I met officials from the Environment Agency. Although the river levels had fallen considerably and homes were no longer flooded, the damage to homes had been done. And the water which had got into houses wasn’t just from the river – it was foul water which had risen from the drains. I talked to fire crews who were pumping flood water back into the river, and discovered that they were from Tyne & Wear and Lancashire. They had been called in at an hours’ notice and had been working on the scene ever since, staying at a local hotel. You cannot fail to be impressed by the

Dealing with the floods

There are a number of politically significant things which would normally merit a blog post which have happened in the past few days. However, I am still stunned at the impact on many parts of central and west Cumbria of the floods - an issue which is far from over as it is raining again. Bridges and roads are still in many cases down, blocked, or unsafe. More than seventy families are in emergency accomodation, though the numbers affected are much larger - it's understood that over a thousand properties have been hit by flooding. This puts the normal party political debate into persective and in the circumstances, I'm not going to be posting anything party political for the next few days. One thing we can all agree with is that the response of the emergency services to this disaster has been exemplary. Police, fire, lifeboat, NHS, council services and the voluntary sector have all moved quickly to help, co-ordinated their efforts well, and responded magnificently to a very ser

Flooding chaos

My internet connection has just come back up after being down for most of the past 24 hours. One of the bridges in Workington which was swept away last night took with it the cables which supplied much of West Cumbria with broadband. Spent part of this morning checking the areas of my ward where there had previously been flooding issues. By comparison nearby areas of Cumbria, the Borough of Copeland has not been as badly hit. However, the situation in Allerdale, particularly Cockermouth and Keswick, has been extremely serious. A brave police officer lost his life while saving those of others in response to an emergency call. Hundreds of people have lost their homes and thousands have been without electricity. Road and rail services have been seriously disrupted. Copeland Borough has been giving some help to Allerdale. At a more trivial level the annual "biggest liar" competition has been cancelled for the first time in heaven only knows how many years. The work of the emergen

PC Bill Barker RIP

It has been confirmed that Police Constable Bill Barker from Egremont died in the performance of his duties when floodwaters caused a bridge to collapse under him as he was directing motorists to safety. PC Barker, who was due to celebrate his 45th birthday tomorrow, leaves a widow and four children aged between 8 and 16. He was a brave man who gave his life for others. The community of West Cumbria will remember him with pride.

The Queen's Speech - a wasted opportunity

The Queen's speech contained a large number of proposals for legislation, far more than there could possibly time to pass into law before the end of this parliament. One or two are good proposals. Some of the proposed bills set out laudible objectives but would not actually do anything to be achieve them. But it is a great pity that the opportunity has been missed to pass a law clearning up MPs and Peers expenses. A few weeks ago all parties were saying that they supported the proposed reforms. So why not put them into law? Even if there is no intention to backslide, the impression left with the public will not help restore confidence in parliament. Three good pieces in the press on the Queen's Speech: Martin Kettle in the Guardian here has no problem with politics if it's smart politics but thinks that Gordon Brown is giving way to fantasy. Kettle argues that smart politics should mean more than using "the next six months, in and out of parliament, to establish pote

Complaints against Conservative councillors dismissed

A series of complaints against prominent local Conservatives from defecting councillor Robin Pitt have been dismissed by Copeland Borough Council's standards panel. Cllr Pitt, now a member of the Labour group, accused a former officer of the council of plotting with Conservative councillors to remove the Leader of Copeland council. He made a similar complaint against the councillors he alleged to have been involved, and against the Leader and Deputy Leader of the Conservative group. A formal investigation into the allegation against the officer was dismissed, and the standards panel has now cleared all the councillors involved.

DC on poverty and "The Big Society"

David Cameron's "Hugo Young" lecture was remarkable in many ways. It was a powerful message on what a Conservative government should do to tackle poverty. It also showed that Cameron is reaching out to address the problems of the whole country, not just the Conservative comfort zone. The speech was warmly welcomed by one of the Labour MPs I most respect, Frank Field. (And no, I don't think Frank is going to defect - unfortunately.) And now according to an ICM poll in the Guardian, for the first time I can ever remember, the Conservatives came ahead of Labour when people were asked which party had the best policies to deal with poverty. Here is the text of David's speech. "There are many things to admire about Hugo Young and his writing. The elegance of his prose. The doggedness of his curiosity. The strength of his integrity. Above all, you had to read him - he mattered. He understood that the size and role of the state was a key issue in politics and return

Feedback, Gosforth and Ennerdale Forum

I attended the Gosforth and Ennerdale neighbourhood forum at St Mary's church this evening. Despite the filthy weather there was a very strong turnout. It was very fortunate that the church authorities had kindly given permission to hold the meeting in the main body of the church rather than the church hall, as the latter (the original venue) would not have been big enough. The main agenda item, which had clearly drawn the large attendance, was a presentation on the "Managing Radioactive Waste Safely" process, describing the process of discussions currently under way about finding a long run solution for legacy atomic waste. (About 70% of this waste is currently stored at nuclear facilities in West Cumbria.) There wa a lot of interest, and a large number of intelligent questions. If I had to sum up the points raised from the floor in a sentence, it would be that the main concern being expressed was that there should be full and complete consultation before any binding dec

What the papers say

A number of very powerful newspaper articles over the past few days making the case that this country needs change and pointing to the collapse in respect and authority of the present government. Geoffrey Wheatcroft in the "Independent" "The farcical collapse of our government can be contemplated with detached amusement, but the personal disintegration of Gordon Brown is awful to behold." "... Brown is now more enfeebled than any prime minister within living memory, or maybe in our history. Although John Major was said to be 'in office but not in power', he seems in hindsight a towering figure compared with Brown, whose government is disintegrating around him, and who to a unique degree totally lacks authority." You can read the full article here. But even more damning is Allan Massie's assessment of Gordon Brown in The Telegraph as "The wrong man in the wrong job at the wrong time." He starts by applying to Gordon Brown the classic d

Forthcoming Neighbourhood Forum meetings

Among the neighbourhood forum meetings in Copeland constituency due in the next two weeks: 1) Gosforth and Ennerdale forum: 7pm on Monday 16th at the St Mary's Church Hall, Gosforth 2) Bransty and Harbour Neighbourhood Forum: 7pm on Tuesday 24th at the Bransty Legion, Bransty Hill, Whitehaven 3) Keswick and District Neighbourhood forum Also 7pm on Tuesday 24th, but this meeting will be at the Friends Meeting House in Keswick (opposite Booths) UPDATE - DUE TO THE FLOODING THE KESWICK MEETING HAS BEEN CANCELLED The main item on the agenda for all three of these meetings will be a presentation and opportunity for discussion about the work of the Managing Radioactive Waste Safely partnership. This covers the response which our community should make to the government's initiative to find a final home for the country's higher level radioactive waste.

We will remember them

Today is the 91st anniversary of the Armistice which ended the First World War. At 11 am today people all over Britain will remember those who have fallen or been injured in war, from the Great War to Afghanistan. There will be a two minute silence in St Nicholas's gardens, Whitehaven.

Albion Square

Attended the exhibition today about the council's plans to redevelop Albion Square for offices, potentially providing 600 jobs in Whitehaven.

Nuclear sites consultation starts

As the consultation begins on which sites should go forward for Nuclear New Build, all three previously proposed locations in Copeland are still in the frame. Locations at Sellafield, Braystones and Kirksanton have all been included by the Department of Energy & Climate Change in a final list of 10 sites for public consultation. This will take place over the 15 week period which starts today and concludes on February 22. I believe that new nuclear build is very much in the interests of Britain and that Copeland has a great deal to offer as a site for new nuclear facilities. We need to consider the advantages and problems of all the sites which have been nominated very carefully. Given the constraints on grid capacity and local infrastructure, I have my doubts about whether new nuclear build on more than one site in West Cumbria is likely. The arguments in favour of Sellafield as the site do appear stronger than either of the other sites. My colleague David Moore has called on RWE

New Nuclear Build sites to be announced today

An annoucement is expected today on which sites will be considered for New Nuclear Build. I hope and expect that land adjacent to Sellafield will be one of them. We will also hear what is proposed for Braystones and Kirksanton.

Hell Freezes over yet again

The Sunday Times reports today that two left-wingers, Claire Short and Tony Benn, have both expressed agreement with aspects of Conservative policy. Short accepted an invitation to speak to Conservative frontbenchers about how to improve the effectiveness of Foreign aid. She told the Sunday Times “The Conservatives have committed to keeping up the budget and keeping up the commitment on poverty and keeping a separate department, so I am pleased about that.” Benn admitted that “There are issues I find myself in agreement with some of the Tories on, particularly on civil liberties. All this security state stuff is very, very worrying. Libertarians like David Davis, a right-wing Conservative, resigned over the government’s 42-day detention law and I went to speak for him.” He said he also agreed with the Conservatives over the Lisbon treaty. BTW, I had an email from the National Union of Students in response to my previous "Hell Freezes Over" post, pointing out that this was no

Remembering Heroes

Attended the Remembrance Sunday commemoration in Whitehaven this morning. The attendance was excellent and I was pleased that it included so many young people. It is important that we remember those who have given their lives for our country, both in the terrible wars of the first half of the 20th century and more recently. Like many people I was struck by the powerful story of Staff Sergeany Olaf Schmid, one of the British soldiers who were killed in the last few days. Sergeant Schmid was a soldier who saved lives: he had volunteered for bomb disposal work and during his tour of duty had personally defused 64 Talebin booby traps. The 65th killed him. He undoubtedly saved the lives of many of our troops and, almost certainly, those of many innocent Afghan civilians including women and children. He was a true hero and his sacrifice, along with all those others who have given everything for their country and their fellow human beings, must always be remembered.

DC: a policy on Europe you can believe in

You can see a video of David Cameron amd William Hague talking about the Conservative response to the ratification of the Lisbon treaty at Youtube here , or at the bottom of this post. Here is a statement which DC made yesterday on the subject: "Yesterday {e.g. 3rd November - CJW} the Lisbon Treaty was signed by the President of the Czech Republic. It is now set to become EU law. I know from the huge number of letters and emails that I have been receiving how much people will resent the fact we cannot now have the referendum we were promised by Labour. But I have always been clear that, if this situation came about, I would immediately set out how a Conservative Government would respond. First, if we win the next election, we will prohibit, by law, the transfer of further power to the EU without a referendum. Never again should it be possible for a British government to transfer power to the EU without the British people's consent. Second, we will introduce a United Kingdom So

After Lisbon

So the European constitution - sorry, the Lisbon treaty - has finally been ratified. The worst thing about this constitution is not that it is a vague, badly written treaty - though even some of those were on the body which drafted it, such as Gisela Stuart MP, think it is - but the dishonest and anti-democratic way it has been forced through against the wishes of the electorates of several countries. Voters in Britain were promised a referendum and saw that promise cynically broken. Voters in one or two countries, such as France, were given a referendum, voted the constitution down, and saw it imposed on them anyway through the back door. Voters in Ireland rejected it and were then made to vote again until they gave the result the authorities wanted. It's no way to run a modern, democratic association of nations. While the treaty had not yet been ratified, it was right for David Cameron to promise that, if we had come to power before this point, we would suspend ratification while

Lest we forget

This coming Sunday is Remembrance Sunday. The message that the sacrifice of our armed services is not jsut something which finished sixty-four years ago but continues today was brutally underlined this morning. I went to an excellent display last night about the work of the Army at Whitehaven Civic Hall, organised by the local Army 42 Brigade which covers the North West of England and given by the Army presentation team. (Incidentally, while it was an invitation-only event, the Army is looking to build up their contact details lists of people interested in attending such functions, so if you are a resident of Copeland who would have liked to go, email me your details using the link at right and I will pass them on.) Part of the message, about the sacrifices which British service personnel still have to make on our behalf was reinforced this morning with the news that five British soldiers were killed in a single incident in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. Whether we agree or disagree wi

Fisking Jamie Reed M.P.

I mentioned a few posts ago that the October issue of Labour's "Egremont Today" propaganda sheet, which masquerades as a community newspaper, contained some very dishonest statements about Conservative policies. I have now seen the November issue and it's worse. In particular, there is a deeply mendacious article by the MP for Copeland which utterly misrepresents what Conservatives stand for. Parts of it also attempt to stir up class hatred in ways which, if the MP had written in similar terms on race, would not have been far away from risking prosecution under his party's own laws. So here is a little light fisking of Jamie Reed's offensive and unpleasant propaganda "We are not all in this together: Copeland comes first." Helpful of you to make clear in your very title, Jamie, that you have abandoned any pretence that Labour is a party for the whole nation. "It won't have escaped your attention, but it has become fashionable for certain pol

Hell has officially frozen over again

This is the third or fourth time this year when something has actually happened which I would once have expected only after Hell had frozen over ... I spent several years of my youth as a Conservative involved in Student politics during the premiership of Mrs Thatcher, including a year as one of the comparatively few Conservatives elected as a student union sabbatical officer. It would be fair to say that the National Union of Students (NUS) was not the most fertile territory for Conservatives that I have ever campaigned on, and I never expected that I would ever read an NUS press release commending anything the Conservatives had ever said or done. Well, it happened this week. Here is the press release concerned. NUS WELCOMES CONSERVATIVES' BACKING FOR STUDENT VOICE IN FEES REVIEW • Willetts warns universities are yet to properly account for £3,000 top-up fees • Case not made to students and their families for even higher fees • Shadow Universities Secretary says he would proba