Showing posts from June, 2011

Cameron spells out Pensions arguments

Hat tip to Conservative Home for this summary of the three arguments David Cameron put to the Local Government Association on public sector pensions. Argument one: We can't afford to go on like this "In the 1970s, when a civil servant say retired at sixty, they could expect to claim a pension for around twenty years. Today, when they retire at sixty, they can expect to claim a pension for nearly thirty years – about a fifty percent increase on before. Now, obviously, more people living for longer is a great development for society. But more people claiming their pension for longer has a real life impact on our ability to pay for pensions. Indeed, we are already seeing the impact. In 2009, total payments to public service pensioners and their dependents were almost £32 billion – an increase of a third, even after allowing for inflation, compared to 1999." Argument two: The balance between pensions in the public sector and those of the taxpayers who pay for them is not righ

Sellafield named as site for nuclear power

There was good news for West Cumbria today: the Government has pushed ahead with plans for new nuclear power plants in the UK as it confirmed a list of eight sites where the next generation of reactors can be built, which include Sellafield. In the first major announcement on the future of nuclear in the UK since the Fukushima disaster in Japan, the Government outlined the locations deemed suitable for new power stations by 2025, all of which are adjacent to existing nuclear sites. The eight sites are: Bradwell, Essex; Hartlepool; Heysham, Lancashire; Hinkley Point, Somerset; Oldbury, South Gloucestershire; Sellafield, Cumbria; Sizewell, Suffolk; and Wylfa, Anglesey. The overwhelming majority of residents in Copeland will consider this excellent news, as the comprehensive defeat of Green candidates here in last year's general election and this year's council elections demonstrates.

Labour gets it wrong on Human Rights.

There is an almost inevitable tendancy for governments, even when they start out the other way with a localist or pro freedom and human rights agenda, to become less committed to it, and increasingly centralist as they go on. For the first few years a government is in power, it is not unknown for them to remember what it was like in opposition, or to remember some of their election promises about devolving power, or both. But as time goes on, frustrations when ministers have trouble getting a policy implemented, and are afraid of being blamed when things go wrong, be it a terrorist attack, general crime, or the economy, tends to make them very authoritarian. Hence if a government doesn't make any moves towards decentralism, localism or greater freedoms in it's first eighteen months in office, it never will. Even the last Labour government, which by the end of its' thirteen years in office had become one of the most authoritarian and centralising governments in the last hund

Whitehaven Festival - day three

Took the children into town again for the final day of a wonderful festival. Watched the air display from the north end of Kells, near the Candlestick, then wandered through the town to sample some of the stalls and let the children have a couple of rides. Great to see Whitehaven full of people enjoying themselves.

Adrian Smith RIP

Very shocked to learn last night that my friend Adrian Smith died suddenly last Monday aged 52. Just goes to show that death can come when we least expect it. The Obit reads "Died unexpectedly on Monday 13th June 2011 aged 52. Sadly missed by his partner Stella, his brother Stewart, sister Deborah and all his nieces and nephews. Funeral service at St Mary's Church, Aspenden on Wednesday 22nd June at 2.45pm." Adrian had a great sense of humour and a real sense of fun, and was really great company. He had strong opinions on a number of subjects but was never unpleasant to those with different ones. There is a guestbook linked to his obituary at the Harlow Star website where those who knew him can leave a message here . To avoid causing alarm to friends of any of the other people with whom Adrian shared his name, I had better add that the Adrian Smith who has just died was an old boy of Bishop's Stortford school. This is not the Adrian Smith, formerly of Harpenden, who a

Whitehaven Festival: Day Two

Took the children into town for the second day of the festival. Lots of people there, all having a great time. Lump in my throat when the spitfire flew past. Told my children that they should always remember that they've seen a spitfire flypast - there may not be a working original with flying hours left whey they are grown up. And that this is still a free country because seventy years ago when their grandparents were about the age that my children are now, 600 brave young men, flying planes like that one, fought off attackers many times their number.

Time to honour WCH bed promises

When the "Closer To Home" review of hospital and health services in Cumbria took place, pressure from local medical staff, patients and residents secured a slight increase in the number of beds retained at West Cumberland Hospital - an a promise that the number of beds against usage would be kept under review and increased if it was shown to be inadequate. It's time to have a very serious look at the number of beds currently available against what is needed. One of the front page headlines in yesterday's Whitehaven News read " Hospital's bed shortage leaves patients waiting in ambulances. " The article begins "A shortage of available beds at West Cumberland Hospital has led to some emergency patients having to termporarily wait outside in ambulances. "And on one occasion nine patients were said to have to sleep overnight in the A&E department because there were no spare beds on the wards. "The problem is not down to staff shortages in

Whitehaven Festival 2011

This weekend for three days starting tomorrow (Friday 17th June) it's the Whitehaven Festival and it looks like yet another fantastic event. Full details are given on the festival website here . Highlights include: Friday: Fish cooking and Afternoon Tea Demos on the Sugar Tongue, Jet Skis and Book Launch by Jean Christophe. The latter is at 6pm Saturday: Live music on three stages, street theatre, Jet skis and celebrity chef demos. Spitfire flypast at 4pm Sunday: Forces Parade starting 10:30am at the Sea Cadets' and finishing in the Arena. Full air show program from 3pm All three days: Tall Ships, Cookery demos, Jet skis, fairgrounds and stalls (Note - I originally quoted the information on Copeland Borough Council website which said that the Spitfire flypast would be on Sunday. It was actually on Saturday.)

Libraries consultation

I have already mentioned the Cumbria libraries consultation, at which the remaining meetings in Copeland (all held at the relevant library) are: Cleator Moor Thursday 30 June 4pm-7pm Distington Thursday 23 June 1:30pm-3pm Keswick Wednesday 29 June 4pm-7pm Seascale Wednesday 15 June 1pm-2:30pm Thornhill Friday 17 June 10:30pm-12pm Whitehaven (Daniel Hay library) Thursday 23 June 4pm-7pm If you cannot attend one of these events, there are other ways for you to have your say before the discussion closes on 30 June 2011 * Email your thoughts direct to * Write to the County Council at Have your Say, Communications Team, Cumbria County Council, Carlisle , CA8 8NA

The DNA Database and catching rapists

There were suggestions in certain newspapers yesterday, particularly by Labour's shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper, that proposals in the "Protection of Freedom" Bill to stop keeping the DNA of innocent people in the national DNA database amount may potentially "allow serial rapists to escape detection." As I wrote a couple of weeks ago, rape is a horrible and serious crime, and we need to ensure that those who are actually guilty of it are convicted and severely punished. However, if you want to protect women from being attacked by locking up rapists, it is rather important that you convict those who are actually guilty of it, not those who are innocent. Keeping the names of thousands of innocent people on DNA databases doesn't necessarily increase the chances of convicting the guilty: it is at least as likely to produce more false allegations against those who are not. And an erroneous allegation of rape can be a life-wrecking experience. It is worth emp

Knife Crime

There is a horrifying account by Eleanor Mills in today's Sunday Times under the title "Help, a boy's been knifed in my garden." . (I would post a link, but it's behind a paywall.) Essentially two teenage ganges had a fight a few hundred yards away from her house, and a fifteen-year-old member of one gang ran away from it, pursued by two boys from the other gang: he was trying to hide in the journalist's front garden, and the other boys slashed his throat. This took place at 6.30 pm on a Tuesday afternoon in a London suburb as the author and her friend were about to go out of the front door with five little girls aged from two to eight - if they had been thirty seconds earlier getting moving, those girls would have seen the whole thing. There was a rapid response to the 999 call, the ambulance and police got there in time to save the boy's life - just. Most cases of similar stabbings never make it to court, because a reluctance by the victimes to "gra

Cumbria Library consultations in Copeland

Details of consultations about the future of local library services in the Copeland constituency over the rest of this month. (The meetings will be held at the library concerned.) There are similar consultations in the rest of Cumbria. TODAY (Friday 10 June) Frizington 10am-11:30am Hensingham 2pm-3:30pm FORTHCOMING Cleator Moor Thursday 30 June 4pm-7pm Distington Thursday 23 June 1:30pm-3pm Kells Monday 13 June 3:30pm-5pm Keswick Wednesday 29 June 4pm-7pm Millom Monday 13 June 4pm-7pm Mirehouse Monday13 June 2pm-3:30pm Seascale Wednesday 15 June 1pm-2:30pm Thornhill Friday 17 June 10:30pm-12pm Whitehaven (Daniel Hay library) Thursday 23 June 4pm-7pm

Church, State, and the Media

I have never been one of those who think the clergy should keep out of politics, even when I disagree with what they say. So, like both the Prime Minsiter and Vince Cable, I welcome debate with the Archbishop of Canterbury, even though there are a fair number of things in his "New Statesman" article which I strongly disagree with. But that is not what struck me most when I looked up the article before writing this post - because I happen to think it is a bad idea to comment on something one has not read. What struck me most was how ludicrously one-sided the reports of Archbishop Rowan Williams' article in the media, and particlarly the BBC, had been. Listening to the Today programme, you would have got the impression that the Williams article had been an undiluted left-wing tirade about how terrible the government is. Well, the article did include a few fairly openly left-wing comments, and some criticisms of the government. However, there were also some criticisms of the

Future of local library services

Cumbria County Council is holding a series of drop-in meetings this month at which residents will have the opportunity to comment on how they see the future of their local libraries. If you care about your local library and are able to attend, it would be a really good idea to turn up and say that you value the service. The meetings will be held at the libraries concerned. The first one in Copeland is to be held at St Bees library tomorrow (Tuesday 7uth June) from 3pm to 4.30 pm The meeting for the main library in Whitehaven (The Daniel Hay library in Lowther Street, Whitehaven) will be held on Thursday 23rd June from 4pm to 7pm.

An unusual nomination

Apparently the Labour party is looking for a new General Secretary. (Now there would be a job from Hell!) Liberal Conspiracy makes an unexpected nomination here . Don Paskini argues that "For me, there is one obvious candidate. "Someone who is a legendary fundraiser, whose name is synonymous with raising money to win elections. Someone who has experience of turning round out of touch political parties, and of supporting candidates to run effective local campaigns. "Someone who is relentlessly focused on the priorities of voters, and whose most recent research showed how Labour could exploit Tory weaknesses on crime and the NHS, and which showed that arguments like “Labour should take the Big Society seriously” are utterly marginal to voters’ concerns. "Someone whose appointment would be a clear sign that Labour has abandoned tribalist politics and is prepared to reach out and work together with others. "Someone who is a successful businessman and a patron of ch

Rest in Peace

The act of commemoration in St Nicholas's chapel at noon today was short, simple, well attended, and very moving. May all those who died in the terrible events a year ago today rest in peace.

This week's commemoration events

Residents across Copeland are being invited to take part in a two-minute silence at noon today , in memory of those who lost their lives on June 2 last year. A short act of remembrance will also be held at St Nicholas’ Garden from 11.55am until noon, which will end with a two-minute silence. Two community days are being held in Whitehaven and Seascale next weekend for people to get together to reflect and remember. Each event marking the tragic anniversary will remember those who died and were injured. The Rev John Bannister said: “This first anniversary is an important one for all of the communities of West Cumbria who were so disturbed by events. “It is by the strength and fortitude of the communities affected that we have come through the last year with the compassion and dignity which defines the people of West Cumbria. “This anniversary will, I pray, provide some strength and support to us all as we continue along the long and painful road of recovery.” A summer fete style communi

Bravest of the Brave

I have been listening with admiration to the stories of the young servicement who were decorated by the Queen today for their bravery in Afghanistan. Whatever you may think of the situations our political leaders get them into, there can be no doubt that we are most fortunate to have so many very brave and dedicated people who are willing to risk their lives for their country by serving in our armed forces.