Showing posts from December, 2011

WCH Business case looks set for approval

It looks like the business case for the £90 rebuild and refurbishment for West Cumberland Hospital is finally set for approval. The West Cumberland News and Star reports that "Major progress could be made within weeks on the £90 million plan to rebuild Whitehaven’s West Cumberland Hospital. The full business case for the landmark redevelopment of the infirmary is currently being considered by regional health chiefs." The paper says that local NHS bosses are hopeful that the case will be approved at a Strategic Health Authority board meeting in January. More details on the News and Star website or on my hospitals blog (see link at right.)

Vaclav Havel R.I.P.

The Czech playwright, thinker, philospher, dissident and ultimately statesman Vaclav Havel, who died earlier this month, was a truly great man. I did not agree with everything he said or did, but as someone who showed great bravery when he suffered under communism for speaking up for the victims of oppression and injustice, became a symbol of the aspirations of the Czech people, and when he eventually became President worked for reconciliation and forgiveness, he deserves a special place among those who are remembered as great human beings. Former Polish dissident and later President Lech Walensa said that he thought Havel should have received the Nobel Peace Prize. Rest in Peace.

Emergency Chemists in Copeland over the holiday

The Emergency Chemists in the Whitehaven and Mid Copeland area over the Christmas and New Year holiday period 2011/12 are as follows: CHRISTMAS DAY (25th December 2011) 5pm to 6pm Seascale Pharmacy Gosforth Road, Seascale. BOXING DAY (26th December 2011) 1pm to 3pm Boots the Chemist 26 King Street Whitehaven NEW YEAR'S DAY (1st January 2012) 6pm to 7pm Egremont Boots Pharmacy 67-67 Main Street Egremont.

A Merry Christmas to everyone reading this

May I wish a very Merry Christmas, and a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year 2012, to everyone reading this blog.

Metal Theft - government acts

The government has today responded to the requests for action against metal theft, the need for which was highlighted on this blog yesterday. Home office minister James Brokenshire has confirmed that the government will be bringing forward measures to make it easier to catch metal theives. These will include "introducing a new licence regime for scrap metal dealers and prohibiting cash payments" and establishing a "metal theft taskforce" together with the Association of Chief Police Officers. He said that the Home office "is discussing with other Departments what legislative changes are necessary to assist enforcement agencies and deter offenders". Responding to a question from Gravesham MP Adam Holloway about the financial implications of metal theft, Brokenshire said the cost could be "anywhere between £220 million and £777 million per annum". Holloway asked whether there was "any argument for seizing the entire inventories of metal dealer

Crooked Cretins cut off Cumbrians

Thousands of West Cumbrian families, and other people as far away as Lancashire, lost phone services, including the ability to make emergency 999 calls, for part of the weekend after a bunch of idiotic criminals attacked a section of telephone cable near Workington. The motive appears to have been a futile attempt to steal copper wire - in which they were unsuccessful because copper was replaced by optical fibres in BT's trunk network years ago. About 13,000 homes and businesses lost all telephone service for a time, the main areas being hit in West Cumbria being Harrington, Cleator Moor, and parts of Whitehaven, though some customers in Lancaster were also affected. BT engineers working round the clock over the weekend made temporary repairs which restored service to all customers by Saturday afternoon, though it took until 2am on Sunday to complete permanent repairs. The damage also caused a reduction in network capacity that caused congestion for customers across a much wider ar

The Veto and democracy

"E.U. Leaves U.K." These were the first three words of the Indy's headline this morning - the full headline continued with "out in the cold" but I initially saw the first three words which seem curiously apposite. You can take them more than one way. Remember "Fog in the Channel: continent isolated!" A surprising number of commentators don't appear to get the main reason why David Cameron had no choice but to veto the proposed treaty this week. Some of the Liberal Democrats obviously do get it, which is one of the reasons that, despite all the efforts by some in the media to stir up a coalition split on the subject, I don't believe David Cameron's veto is going to bring down the government. * The fact that David Cameron thought the proposed treaty might damage the City of London was a very important argument against signing, but there was an even stronger one. * This was not about bashing Europe. Signing would have given DC a huge amount


While a real storim with 100 mile-an-hour winds was lashing Britain, a political storm was raging in Brussels which will have far-reaching consequences. I am not delighted that David Cameron had to veto the proposed EU treaty but he had no choice whatsoever and he would have been wrong to sign up to what was on offer. The Eurozone needs to take effective measures to support their currency and deal with the solvency crisis, and it would have been wrong to try to stop them taking such measures, provided it were done in a way which does not harm Britain. Unfortunately it appears that signing up to the proposals could have harmed the City of London. I know the bankers are not popular right now (understatement of the decade) and I think there is a case for tougher regulation imposed within Britain in ways which make the city stronger rather than weaker. But on their past form I have zero confidence in the ability of the EU institutions to get that balance right, and in the present economic

Lansley: I am committed to West Cumberland Hospital

Health secretary Andrew Lansley confirmed while visiting Cumbria last week that he remains strongly committed to supporting West Cumberland Hospital. The Secretary of State was in Cumbria to open a new wing at the Eden Valley hospice near Carlisle. He made his comments to Penrith and the Borders MP Rory Stewart, who had arranged for him to meet a senior local consultant and GP to hear their concerns about services in Cumbria during his visit. Rory Stewart asked Mr Lansley to consider writing off the debts of the North Cumbria hospitals trust. The minister said that he might be willing to consider this provided the trusts can come up with a strong plan for the future. I am pleased by the confirmation that the government remains committed to our hospital, but it remains imperative that we keep up the pressure on the trusts and the government to ensure it is understood that we need a comprehensive range of health services in both West Cumbria and Carlisle.

EU debt crisis worsens as S&P flags credit risk

Last week the Governor of the Bank of England pointed out that the financial crisis in the Eurozone, which he described as a "Solvency crisis, not a liquidity crisis" posed a serious threat to the economies of all trading nations including Britain. Today we learn that EVERY Eurozone country which was not already at the world's worst rating (Greece) or already under review (Cyprus) has been placed on "Credit Watch" This means by definition that France, Germany and the other four Eurozone nations which currently have the best possible rating - AAA - are at some risk of losing that status. I think it is a bit misleading of Sky News to state that Ratings agency Standard & Poor's (S&P) move to place the whole Eurozone on 'credit watch' means that the six countries with AAA ratings "now have a 50% chance of losing that status." No, it means they are under review. If the markets really thought that France and Germany had a 50% chance of lo

Bransty Legion site planning application

Until the National British Legion closed all the nine clubs which were part of a particular group of "New British Legion" scheme clubs about eighteen months ago, the Bransty Legion club was an important part of community life for residents of Bransty Hill. It provided a meeting place which has a venue for all manner of community events, from Neighbourhood Forum meetings to Neighbourhood watch to changing for Bransty Rovers football club. Some of these have moved to Bransty school, which is the only remaining meeting place on the hill: others have been forced to stop or move outside the Bransty Hill area. This coming Wednesday, Copeland Council's planning panel will consider a proposal to give planning permission for houses on most of the site. Copeland Council's adopted local plan, with planning policies which are supposed to guide the planning panel, includes a clause to the effect that the council will resist the loss of a community facility unless it is replaced. S

Boundary commission submission

Tomorrow is the last day for the submission of responses on the Boundary Commission for England's proposals for new constituency boundaries for the North West. This was my submission "I support the Boundary Commission proposals for a new Carlisle constituency, but for the rest of the county I support instead the Conservative Party proposals. The Carlisle City Council area is an obvious community of interests. I support the Commission proposal to make the Carlisle constituency as close as possible to the local authority area. This is far more sensible than a rival proposal to put part of North Allerdale into a Carlisle constituency while associating significant areas of Carlisle City with Penrith. The North East part of Allerdale has economic, social and historical links with Penrith which are comparable with those they have with Carlisle: these areas were part of an earlier Penrith and the Borders seat when represented by the late Viscount Whitelaw. Having been a parliamentar

Time to batten down again

Take care if you are outdoors in some parts of Copeland this evening: there is a really nasty wind which is verging on the dangerous.

Beating the Metal Thieves, continued

Further to my blog post a couple of weeks ago about the ten-minute rule bill on metal theft, David Morris MP has also raised the issue of metal theft in the House of Commons. David, who is Conservative MP for Morecambe & Lunesdale, was disappointed to hear of recent metal thefts in his constituency two of which were very high profile, namely lead being stolen from the roof of the Winter Gardens and the theft of metal from the ‘Picture Frame’ artwork in the West End Gardens. In his question to the Home Office Secretary David Morris MP asked “What steps is she taking to tackle metal theft from public buildings and memorials?” Responding on behalf of the Home Office, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State James Brokenshire MP said. “The Home Office supports the wide-ranging plan being delivered by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) Metal Theft working group to tackle metal theft, including the theft from public buildings and memorials. In addition, discussions are unde