Thursday, 17 April 2014

Too bloody polite for our own good

Look at the number of people that can't cope with being teased.

People can't cope with disagreements. Disagree with someone and you've lost a friend for life. Yet surely the way real friendships grow is through learning to deal with the rough as well as the smooth. Thirty year olds break up because they hit a hard patch - they're not in the habit of having an argument and then learning to compromise: to allow the other person space to be different yet overall working together over the main things in life.

In French Cafe´s, I'm amazed how the locals break into a heated argument. Yet these are friends that have know each other for years. Often a cafe´serves different people from different backgrounds and ages - it's a great place to mix , disagree and get along.

Here, especially in Ulverston, we have lots of different factions all pulling in different directions and most about to fall down flat on their faces. People haven't learnt to get along, disagree but still stick together. Think of our public 'leaders' of all kinds:

How many of them can we tease?

Worlds apart

Our visit to Grange yesterday revealed what a massive difference the attitude of the council can make to the vibrancy of a town.

Isn't it revealing that parents with kids take them to Grange rather than spending time in Ulverston. There are so many different things for them to do along The Prom.

First there's the park with it's wide range of ducks and feed available at 50p a bag. The Prom itself is well kept - different societies take care of their own bed along the front, there are sculptures made by locals to be enjoyed. Then there is a brilliant little park for both very small and slightly bigger kids. Keep going and there's a great cafe´just the other sides loads of fun equipment for the older seven up kids. Keep going and there's Pitch and Put and at the far end Some more equipment and a patch of grass for children to play.

Every month a separate organisation brings together crafts from a fifty mile radius thanks to the work of a former mayor and councillor - Robert Leach.

All this brings people in from a fair distance - Barrow, Lancaster Kendal - which in turn keeps the shops going with it's excellent range of cafe´s, the Chocolatier, the best Butcher in Cumbria, great bargain secondhand goods.

If you visit the Town Hall, you find the Tourist Information run entirely by volunteers and upstairs you begin to realise why all this is happening. Even the staff of the council office is involved in supporting the town helping in fundraising activities like a Cross Bay Walk. Now attend meetings of SLDC and CCC and Grange councillors are taking on the rest with energy - watch Tom Harvey in action. Not a smoothie like our James Airey who seeks power and position at all costs but someone who's not afraid to ruffle a few feathers as he fights with all he's got for his town.

By contrast visit our Town Council and you'll hear a lot of twittering and clucking from a group of old hens as they run with efficiency getting nowhere as the sit and watch the town rapidly going nowhere and ignoring the potential help available form the local community from people with business no how and experience of getting things done. Isn't it sad that people with the ability of ex Glaxo boss John Lawrence has to go to Dalton to give his extensive experience to the Music Centre there rather than get involved with our town affairs?

Come on Ulverstonians - Pull your socks up!

Ulverston used to lead Grange by a country mile. Not any more. Ulverston going downhill at an increasingly rapid rate - if you want proof : look to our future with the next Mayor that we've got! - Grange bucking the trend.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

A Grand Day Out

Gather nine children of ages between two and nine who know each other reasonably well. Take them on the train to Grange for a day out. There's so much for them to do along the Prom after a tour of the park immediately after arriving at the station. The parents can sit back and witness lots of activity with children learning massive amounts about leadership, running flat out for miles, getting on with each other, coping with teasing, sharing treats, taking care of each other, showing the initiative, organising their own games, obeying orders, learning to bargain and handle money; in short growing into responsible human beings. The role of parents: to enjoy not having to do a thing other that briefly console a child with a hug, sort out some bullying. The children are best left to themselves and ignored while the adults do their own thing.

We all arrive back happily tired ready for a nap - the other half will have to cook the next meal!

Definitely a win- win situation. When can we do it again one mum says!

The nature of spam is changing

Comments are pouring in looking like this:

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There's a very quick response time between the posting of an article to the arrival of a comment.

Presumably the language is Chinese so who are the targetted audience?

More constructive thinking

See the Westmorland Gazette

Houses should be built in place of proposed Ulverston supermarket

Well done Dr Richard Rowlett backed by Councillor Jane Harris at the recent town council meeting. (No, what happens there isn't all negative but what's the chance of this kind of initiative being taken seriously by sleepy Ulverston?)

What Ulverston desperate needs is accommodation for those requiring a small space in which to live in moderate comfort close to the town centre thus minimising transport costs and inconvenience.  A need particularly appreciated by retired older people and by young people setting up for themselves away from home for the first time. Families are being catered for by new build like that created by Persimmons in Union Lane but there is a great need by the above age groups.

People like the above would then boost the use of the existing shops in the town A win-win situation!

Great art exhibition at Mancheter Art Gallery

I've been once and am returning to see this amazing exhibition - it's so unusual you can't take it all in within one visit - the mind (mine especially) just can't cope.

Every now and then one comes across an experience that is trully inspiring. The emotional stimulation to ones own motivation is for me the most valuable thing in my life.

The concert at Kendal liesure centre was one such experience with The BBC Philharmonic playing Brahms Third Symphony and Beethowen's Violin Concerto. However for something truly mind blowing, the exibition now on at the Manchester Art Gallery is not to be missed.his is the work of internationally famous Portugese artist Joana Vascocelos in a creation called "Time Machine".

This exhibition ends 1st June 2014 - you've got six weeks to get there!

We need all the inspiration we can get at a times like this! A welcome break from the continuous negativity in the media. Treasure it while it's there.

"I don't work with objects - I work with ideas"

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Bursting with energy

Isn't it amazing how plants take off when the tempreature rises and the sun comes out.

The sweet peas are growing almost visibly - in seems like an inch a dayc. It's all "go" down at the allotment. Rhubarb shot up a fortnight ago and is still growing at an amazing rate. It gives one a great lift to be in touch with this creative energy. I'm turning more and more to the allotment as a great therapeutic activity.

Having an allotment fulfils a lot of wonderful needs. It involves working with a fair number of muscles and unlike 'artificial exercise' in the gym you do it because you do it for a purpose. At the moment I'm lifting heavy forkfuls of manure and spreading it all over the various beds. I'm digging out patches of couch grass from areas that haven't been tackled before. There's plenty of fresh air - sometimes accompanied by a biting wind and rain but then we have the refuge of our shed with it's seat and the possibility of enjoying a quick brew while we peek out at the weather outside our open door. We come home with a great sense of achievement. On the other hand on a day like this today we have the chance of friendly chat and the satisfaction of planting out perhaps fifty onions that have taken off with lots of quick roots and a bright green shoot  with the promise of a mature plant in three months time!

Too little, too late

The unwillingness of councillors to 'keep their eye of the ball' results in the kind of fiasco that we have on our market at the moment.

Yes, we now have ideal conditions for people on foot to enjoy the market and help it thrive now that New Market Street and Market Street itself has been pedestrianised - sadly one thing is missing - a market. How many stalls did we have last Saturday? Was it four in the Market Square and one in New Market St?

Sadly we don't have people on the council that know how to get on with a job when they start it. Worse still they refuse to be helped by others with more business experience. In fact how many people think that the council actually stops a job getting done rather than helping? ( An example could be what has happened at Mill Dam Park where community spirit has been all but squashed completely by the actions of our SLDC Councillor)

The Super Saturdays were much enjoyed last year - where have they been this year?

James Airey was dragged over the coals a year ago because the paperwork for the pedestrianisation of Market Street had got buried in a County Council back office. This project was kicked off a full two years ago and is only now being implemented. It was the police that had to draw the council's attention that nothing was happening eighteen months ago and even then they had to quietly have a word with certain councillors to put them straight as to what the real problem was.

James Airey practises a philosophy echoed by councillors time and time again. They think the job is done once they've raised it. It doesn't occur to them that any project travelling through either SLDC or the County Council has to followed not perhaps weekly but certainly monthly. Officers need agreed deadlines set and then checked that they are kept. When a deadline is not kept some penalty or other needs to be imposed. All that may be needed is to have the inaction made public. The other attitude that can really make a difference is praise. It's like training dogs and encouraging children: praise and in the case of children, lots of hugs, works wonders. For council officers to work well they need to be in constant touch with their bosses - the elected councillors. How is this possible with power mad people who persuade the public to elect them to be not only Town Councillors but District Councillors and not only these two but County Councillors. How can people like James Airey and Mark Wilson who profess to do all three possibly give the effort that all three jobs require if done well?

What did Catherine Thompson have to say on the subject of Super Saturday Markets back on January 26th

" I don't think Ulverstonians or visitors know what Ulverston is about anymore, new blood in the council would help !!"

Avoiding the public

Is Ulverston Town Council becoming more and more inward looking?

After the way members of the public have been treated in the past by the Town Council procedures that  cut off people trying to communicate with the council using the 15 minutes available at the beginning of  a council meeting, one might easily conclude that the public is regarded by the council as no more than a nuisance to 'getting on with the important business of the council'.

I dropped in last night to the latest meeting and everything was humming along swimmingly. The Mayor sat with her large gold necklace, ably assisted by her Town Clerk,  the Deputy was missing .The Labour seats were all filled with a third of the Conservative councillors busy elsewhere. There was a chummy atmosphere and councillors chirrup to each other in a respectful way addressing each other as Madam Mayor and Councillor Smith. Business shot through at a brisk pace and Councillors were careful to declare their prejudicial interests in any matter being discussed and the chair managed with difficulty to control the frequent interuptions of Cllr Bishop-Rowe - she's had lots of practice. The Town council is a well oiled machine and it must be a big boost to  member's ego to be part of such an august institution.

But hang on a minute, how do they treat  the public, not only in the council chamber but on their web site.

You would have thought that with paying more for the services of a town clerk that the web site would be kept up to date so as to inform the public efficiently but what does one find? Under Council Administration have a look at Minutes and Agenda :

The Latest Agenda reads:

Town Clerk: Jayne Kendall
Town Mayor: Cllr Judy Pickthall
Deputy Town Mayor: Cllr Helen Irving
Our Ref: JK/SY
27 November 2013
Dear Sir/Madam Councillor,"

Yes it's the agenda for the meeting last December 2nd 2013 . What happened to the four meetings since then and particularly the one last night on April 14th?

  • January  6th
  • January 20th
  • February 17th
  • March 17th

  • Now look at the Archives at the bottom. The latest is dated 20 January which is the minutes for the meeting held on January 20th - what happened to the minutes for the meetings in February and March?

    Can one conclude that in reality the public really aren't important to our Council ?

    Is it "Please don't bother us, we're too busy being busy".

    Do we only get made a fuss of at elections?

    Roll on the day when a councillor finally decides that their electorate are important and runs one of these newfangled blogs - then they might start to earn our respect.

    Until then will we bother to vote?

    Monday, 14 April 2014

    Can we face negatives ?

    The editorial of the Independent today reads:

    "There is a danger that we are becoming bored of being lectured about climate change. We witness new weather patterns such as the gales and torrential rain that battered Britain this winter. We digest the images of melting glaciers, and read – with increasing numbness – the predictions about the rise in global temperatures. And it is not surprising if there is an overpowering urge to change the channel. That explains why the dissidents on this issue, however marginal scientifically, find a ready audience.

    So it is commendable that the latest instalment of the lecture comes in a tidy form – a mere 33 pages – and that, although its message is as apocalyptic as ever, it identifies snippets of encouraging news that may shake us from our fatalistic slumbers. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Summary for Policymakers insists on the seriousness of the situation: greenhouse gas emissions over the past decade were the highest in human history: without further action the impact of higher temperatures on agriculture, wildlife and human civilisation will be “devastating”.

    But the report also points out that past exhortations have not been in vain. Last year renewables accounted for more than half the new electricity generation added around the world. As the renewables industry grows it is becoming more and more competitive with fossil-based power generation. To avoid disastrous temperature rises, we will have to treble investment in renewables in the next 35 years: a tall order, but not impossible, given the political will. And the additional benefits, such as clean air and energy security, are lost on no one."

    This is very perseptive psychology. We can't cope with hearing about what I call doom and gloom and run away to look elsewhere, but the writer claims that actually there is hope - even though that hope is based on action "that is a tall order".

    If however there is no hope of a solution then no one wants to talk or listen about it.

    So when do we start focussing on a difficult subject? One we will repeatedly run away from in order not to face up to it?

    A great roman philosopher - Seneca said - “The mind that is anxious about future events is miserable.”  Does it not follow that the way to avoid being miserable is to not be anxious about future events. We need to look them full in the face and get used to  the worse possible senario and adjust our thinking to this eventuallity.

    Let's face it there may not be a future for the human race very soon. Does it follow that we have to be miserable.

    Those that face up to their own death don't end up feeling miserable.

    “It is quality rather than quantity that matters.” - Seneca