Showing posts from September, 2010

Council Cash investigation

Also at the O&S Committee on Monday it was agreed that the chief executive of Copeland Council will lead an investigation into the council's management of money invested in or guaranteed to Haven rugby club and in the arrangements to appoint and support two councillors as directors of the club. The chief will will report back on the results of his investigation to a committee meeting held in public on 22nd November. In particular the initial investigation will focus on a series of specific questions raised by Councillor Alistair Norwood. These are:- Were the councillors who were appointed to the WRLC board given any appropriate training and support to perform this function? What was the reason for removing officers from this role and replacing them with councillors? Is there any reason to believe that their decisions contributed to financial loss suffered by the club or this council? What reporting mechanisms existed for the councillors to report back any issues that were found

Bransty Schoolchildren campaign against dog mess

Members of the School Council of Bransty School came to their hopefully more grown-up opposite numbers at Copeland this afternoon to appeal for more action against dog fouling and other forms of evironmental harm associated with irresponsible dog ownership. They gave an excellent presentation to one of Copeland Council's Overview and Scrutiny Committees, which included a description of the problems which children at the school have had to put up with. The presentation included pictures of two children from other parts of the country who have recently been seriously hurt (among other things, both were blinded) by the Toxicara Canis parasite, apparently contracted through dog droppings. Council officers reported on the measures which are in hand to deal with this problem: there is an assesment under way about the needs of the area for refuse bins, as a result of which there will be at least two more bins on Bransty Hill. The point was also made that you do not need a specialised &qu

Images from the litterpick yesterday

A few pictures of some of the team who helped pick up litter in Bransty yesterday and some of the bags of rubbish collected (Left to right: County Councillor Graham Roberts, Stephen Haraldsen, Brigid Whiteside, Chris Whiteside, Councillor Allan Mossop)

Litterpick results

We had a team of eight out this morning on Bransty Hill (the Bransty ward councillors and associated volunteers) and collected about a dozen bags worth of rubbish from fast food packaging to cooking oil and bottles from the play area by Harbour View, Bransty Road, the Greens, New Road, and the footpaths between New Road and Earls road. Pleased with the support. We will be running similar events again. If any resident of Copeland would like to see something similar organised to clear up litter and rubbish in your area (especially if you're willing to help) drop me an email and I'll be delighted to see if we can set something up

AV in action ...

Labour leadership first round results: David Miliband: 37.8 percent (of the total vote) Ed Miliband: 34.3 percent Ed Balls: 11.8 percent Andy Burnham: 8.7 percent Diane Abbott: 7.4 percent The bottom placed candidate, Diane Abbott, was then eliminated and her votes transferred according to second preferences. Second round results: David Miliband: 38.9 percent (of the total remaining vote:) Ed Miliband: 37.5 percent Ed Balls: 13.2 percent Andy Burnham: 10.4 percent The bottom placed candidate, Andy Burnham, was then eliminated and his votes transferred according to second preferences (or third preferences in the case of votes which came to him from Diane Abbott). Third round results: David Miliband: 42.7 percent Ed Miliband: 41.26 percent Ed Balls: 16 percent The bottom placed candidate, Ed Balls, was then eliminated and his votes transferred according to second preferences (or third or fourth preferences in the case of votes which came to him from Diane Abbott, Andy Burnham, or both).

Community Litter Pick tomorrow

The Bransty Ward councillors are organising a community litter pick tomorrow morning (Saturday 25th September) on Bransty Hill. Meet at 10 am at the children's play and garage area off Bransty Road next to Harour View Nursing home.

BBC Response

The BBC has made the following response - at least, it's supposed to be a response, though this is barely more than an acknowledgement - to the complaint I made on 23rd August. I think they have a different understanding from myself of what it means "to identify all significant views, and to test them rigorously and fairly." " Dear Mr Whiteside Thanks for your e-mail regarding 'PM'. We apologise for the delay in replying to your e-mail. We realise that our correspondents appreciate a quick response and we’re sorry that you had to wait on this occasion. We acknowledge your concerns that both sides of the argument weren't put across in an item comparing the election of Sheriffs in the USA with the UK Coalition government's proposals regarding Police Commissioners. We also note that you feel that the differences between these systems weren't adequately explained. We can assure you that impartiality forms the cornerstone of our output however it's

John Rentoul despairs ...

Hat tip to political betting for pointing out that John Rentoul has been reduced to near despair by what the polling evidence says about the thinking of Labour party supporters. The title of this post by John Rentoul is four words that nobody active in democratic politics should ever allow themselves even to think: he goes on to complain bitterly about the fact that more than a quarter of those proposing to vote for Ed Miliband think that David Miliband has a better chance than Ed Miliband of winning an election. As is pointed out at Political Betting, the poll also shows that more than 10% of those supporting the younger Miliband think that his elder brother would be a better P.M. (The equivalent percentages of David Milliband supporters thinking his younger brother is more likely to lead Labour to victory and would make the best PM are both about 1%, which is more like the sort of percentage you would expect to see among people who have a strong grasp on reality. But we're talki

The two-minute peerage

Don't normally watch the Lib/Dem conference but while we are in coalition with them it seemed worth finding out what their activists are saying. I was watching when the Copeland Lib/Dem chairman (and PPC a few elections ago) Roger Puttnam spoke, and interested to note that he was described as "Lord Puttnam" on the television caption. I suspect they were getting him mixed up with the film maker David Puttnam who was given a life peerage by New Labour - wrong person and wrong party. Someone obviously told them fairly quickly and the message was corrected within two minutes. Bad luck Roger, must have been the shortest enjoyment of a life peerage on record ...

MoT Tests - council or private?

Eric Pickles has been one of the most effective members of the government at cutting bureaucracy and red tape: so I was a bit surprised to see it suggested in today's "The Sun" leader that Eric was trying to close down private sector MOT test centres and replace them with council ones. That would not be a good idea, and unfortunately some councils may be capable of misinterpreting what the Secretary of State really said in such a way, so in that sense "The Sun" has a point. But to be fair to the secretary of state for Communities and Local government, his objective was not to drive all private garages out of the MOT business, particularly not the ones who offer a good service, but to open up council-run MOT test centres which are used to check vehicles like buses for their safety and roadworthiness, and get them to also open their doors to the public. This may save both the council tax payer and the motorist money by providing more competition, but good privat

Not the most effective strike ever planned ...

So BBC staff are planning a walkout during the Conservative party conference (but not the Labour one) timed to coincide with David Cameron's speech. I'm sure DC and the Conservative leadership will be quaking in their boots at this terrible threat ...

Community Litter Pick - 25th September

The Bransty Ward councillors are organising a community litter pick on the morning of Saturday 25th September on Bransty Hill. Meet at 10 am at the children's play and garage area off Bransty road next to the nursing home.

Quote of the week

I don't always agree with Chris Mullin, the former Labour MP (that is something of a understatement) but his diaries have often been entertaining, interesting, and insightful. If you want to order them from Amazon, follow these links to the first volume: " A View from the Foothills " or the newly published second installment, " Decline and Fall. " I was particularly amused this week to read Mullin's account of a comment by Nicholas Soames MP, who has one of the best senses of humour in the Commons. (On an occasion when I did myself great damage through giving too much rein to my sense of humour, Nick Soames was the only person in the room who got the best joke, so much so that he nearly fell off his chair laughing.) Anyway, Mullin quotes Nick Soames on the idea that the House of Commons is operated like a gentleman' club as follows: "I run a gentleman's club which has been in existence since 1712, and if it was run the way this place is run it w

I should jolly well think so

Elected politicians are often accused of arrogance, and if the truth were known, this if a pitfall most of us need to watch out for: there is often a thin line between standing up for one's beliefs, and arrogance. But if elected public servants have to watch out for this problem, that is as nothing to the temptation to arrogance which can afflict senior unelected public servants. And I can think of no better recent illustration than the fact that David Hartnett, Permanent Secretary for tax at Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC), had to be ordered to apologise after it turned out that 5.7 million people have been charged too much tax or too little. You really would expect that someone who is paid a £160,000-a-year salary (bigger than David Cameron's) would appreciate the crass insensitivity of his pre-recorded comments on Radio 4's Money Box programme, when he was asked if he would say sorry to those facing unexpected bills, and replied "I'm not sure I see

Eric Pickles on replacing the new regional strategy

Eric Pickles, the Local Government and Communities Secretary, has written the following article on " Conservative Home " about the new strategy the government is following for the regions, under the title How we rebuild our local economy Looking beyond the spending review, one of the toughest challenges we face is the way to rebuild our fragile economy. Let’s start with what not to do. We cannot ever again become so dependent on one industry, or reliant on an over-inflated housing bubble. Nor can we allow the economy to become so London-centric: with the growth, prosperity and wealth concentrated in the South East, while the rest of the country lags behind. The economy is completely unbalanced: both geographically and across industries. And frankly, the legacy of regional development agencies which we inherited was totally inadequate to address these problems. So, as I’ve written before on ConHome, that’s why over the past few months, we’ve axed everything regional-relat

Another daft letter from the anti-nuclear brigade ...

About a fortnight ago I received a letter and enclosures from the "No need for nuclear" campaign, which I wrote up on this blog under the title " Elevating stupidity into an art form. " Today I received an almost identical letter with another copy of the same enclosures, but where the first letter had been addressed "Dear Councillor," this one was addressed to me by name and "as a former parliamentary candidate for the Conservative party." Like the previous letter it is riddled with false statements such as the suggestion that "the government has never carried out an assessment of future electricity demand." This is nonsense. The previous government did just such an exercise last year, under Ed Miliband. They gave the results less publicity than in my opinion they should have, but nevertheless they did publish it online as an annex to of the "Low Carbon Transition Plan", launched in July 2009. This was picked up both by the Co

Feedback from Bransty and Harbour Neighbourhood Forum

The B&H Neighbourhood forum met this evening in the United Reform Church. Main item on the agenda was the proposals for a new Bus/Rail interchange at Bransty station in Whitehaven on land which is partly the current station site and partly occupied by Tesco. Details of the proposals will be displayed in an exhibition at Whitehaven Library and Bransty station from later this week (probably from Thursday or Friday) for several weeks.

Time to outlaw new first cousin marriages

Sometimes new scientific knowledge means that the case against a practice which has previously been regarded as acceptable, perhaps even normal, reaches the point where society is justified in discouraging or banning that practice. This can be hugely controversial, particularly in communities where the practice concerned is more common and who may feel that they are being targetted. Any change in legislation has to be sold and enforced in a way which ensures that such a charge neither is, nor is seen to be, justified. But sometimes nettles need to be grasped. I am now convinced that Britain has reached that point in terms of new marriages between first cousins because of the increased risk that children of such unions may experience crippling or lethal defects due to doubled recessive genes. Almost all societies have some form of taboo or rule against incest, but there are variations in how close a relationship has to be before it is banned. Almost all societies ban brother-sister marr

Duxford "Battle of Britain" air display

Don't know if this blog has any readers in the East of England area but given my past political career before moving to Cumbria it's not impossible, so here is a travel tip. If you are planning to go to the second day of the "Battle of Britain" air display at the Imperial War Museum's Duxford site tomorrow, I strongly recommend that you make a very early start indeed. If you are not going to the air display, but might otherwise be travelling on the roads anywhere remotely near Duxford, and especially on the M11, A11, or A505, FIND ANOTHER ROUTE as far away from Duxford as you can manage if you can possibly do so. A huge number of people attended today - or tried to - completely filling all the approved car parks at the venue and causing almost total gridlock on roads around the area. We were told on the radio that the event was full and the organisers had closed the gates, though when we passed the entrance there were still vehicles queuing to get in. The impact

Blogging resumes

Apologies to those who posted messages while I was on holiday - I was expecting to be able to access the internet and the arrangements I made met with a technical hitch. Blogging will resume as from today