Monday, 29 December 2008

What's happening?

As you may gather, energies here are directed towards getting the new Ulverston Website up and running using only HTML.

The home page is done and now working on the supporting pages with a Jan 1st deadline in mind!

Nothing new to show until this is all done!

Topics for the future:
  • Education - the importance of Creativity
  • Allotments - are they being used as intended?
  • Small local community groups and residential associations. How important are they?
  • The benefits as well as disadvantages of the 'credit crunch' - the relative importance of people and 'things'.
  • Sharing ideas through this blog.
  • The ongoing saga of the County Council Highways Department. Is this a reflection of how local government is not functioning as intended?
  • The SLDC's and The Town Council's lack of concern for the real needs of young people.

Friday, 26 December 2008

New links page

This mine of information has been well received.

All suggestions for supplementing it are welcome!

Work on the HTML version of the new site is progressing well; in the mean time a Flash version of the trial home page is already in place.

This Flash version has many advantages over HTML, though it is not so Microsoft and Google friendly and will be discarded for this reason!

A great group of people

It was good to meet such a positive group of people who clearly loved dogs.
The dogs reflect this and had a great time together. The people were equally friendly and shared the food and drink they had brought.

We started putting the world to right and discussed how we could influence the negative users of the park who some times can be destructive and leave broken glass and empty cans about.

Some stayed for two hours and had come from as far as Penny Bridge.

It's wonderful to have such a space that can be used in this way thanks to those who run Ford Park. This space is becoming increasingly used by responsible people and has the makings of a great community group. Many combine a visit here with their walk up Hoad.

We left the place cleaner than we found it!

Now to edit the video - had a great suggestion for the music!

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Christmas Day

Looking forward to seeing some of you tomorrow at 10:00 am at Ford Park with your dogs!

I'm bringing some hot cakes and plenty of dog-shit bags!

Sunday, 21 December 2008

For those in a mood to try some Flash

This is fun and will guide to using Flash effectively!

This e-card is doing the rounds.

It comes from Jacquie Lawson's web site.

The Ulverston Town Band

Yesterday Saturday 20th December midday-ish.

They went on from the Town Centre to several 'Homes' as far as I could tell.

A very hard day!

Friday, 19 December 2008

Links for Locals - Something to tell your friends about!

Not only have we a new web site for Ulverston,

We also have what we think is a comprehensive source of selected local information for you.

Try and find out about something and let us know whether you find it!

If you have some useful information to add then leave it as a comment either here or on this Links website designed specially for the job!

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Lessons from nature?

From this video, I draw inspiration from the animal kingdom of what we western humans have for the most part have lost - the sheer joy of just living!

Thanks to the inspiration of John Fox and Sue Gill, here in Ulverston, we enjoy this mindless activity of doing 'things' together with our Lantern Procession. We all create lanterns in wonderful shapes and parade them through the streets only to then destroy them.The dancing bands practice and practice and parade.

The whole process starts again immediately one procession is over, as we start looking forward to next year. What shall we make next time?

Why do we do it?

Who cares!

We don't know - we just start looking forward to it over and over, year by year!

Another 'mindless' activity is the involvement in playing music. A tradition carried on with vigour and enthusiasm by Richard Butler at Ulverston Victoria High School

The town enjoyed listening to the Victoria High Swing and Wind Band at their recent concert and when playing at the Market Cross in freezing conditions at the end of each Dickensian Festival day.

A performance as impressive as those starlings!

Dickensian Photos - sent in by you!

This amazing photo was sent in by Andreas

Click on the above to download the picture in all its detail - 800KB

Do you have a good one that you'd like to share?

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Politics - any point?

The more I become aware how both politicians and local government work, the more I can understand why people have given up.

I believe the system, while good in principle, has ceased in far too many ways to reflect the will of the people.

Most people believe the town council is ineffective, even though six of the 18 town councillors are also district councillors. Some say that even though some SLDC councillors attend a lot of meetings, they exert little influence because they are outnumbered by councillors from Kendal (actually the latter are in the minority). It doesn't help that some district councillors fail to serve on committees or don't attend regularly. Why are they there?

With the use of this new site you can check for yourself who your councillors are, get in touch with them easily and check on their SLDC attendances.

There are organisations like the Neighbourhood Forum that could be used to communicate between local politicians and the average person but some feel that it's not worth attending because they have been taken over by the county councillors.

It is easy to be sympathetic to those who have given up on the system when one attends something like the recent series of three consultations between the county council and Ulverstonians.

Here the Chair, county councillor Wendy Kolbe, made promisses that I challenge her to honour.

She repeatedly stated that we could speed the proceedings up by leaving it to her and councillor Pauline Halfpenny to sort details out with Highways Engineer Nick Raymond.

Could she then sort out the following ridiculous situation that arose during the recent public consultations about the Community Travel Plan?
In spite of the many voices calling for additional signs for the under-used Stockbridge Car Park, Raymond, by a method of marking he did not explain, managed take this almost to the bottom in the list of priorities with a score of -1.

This failing, among several others, renders the whole consulation process null and void and the outcome cannot therefore be taken seriously.

I have asked Debbie Binch several times to clarify the marking scheme that was used and to obtain the final document for me - the one that we were promised well ahead of the final meeting. So far she has not been able to get any sense out of Raymond. ( I assume that he is/should be concerned about the call by Tim Farron MP for an inquiry into the recent gritting fiasco).

If the town council accepts the result of this 'consultation', it will be yet another demonstration of its ineffectiveness.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

A new Web Site for Ulverston has started its long journey towards the top of Google as an Ulverston web site.

Its aim is to promote Ulverston to the benefit of Ulverstonians.

It is very much in the early stages of its appearance. It will get better and better in the coming days as more work is done to improve it.

At the moment it has been done in Flash but in order to be user-friendly, it needs to be done in HTML.

This is the current task.

At least something has got started!

There will be many ways to help promote this site which could help Ulverston in the future.

If you have a web site or blog, putting a link to the Ulverston site would help it rise in the rankings!

Monday, 15 December 2008

Christmas Day Reminder

A few of us are bringing our dogs to Ford Park for a get together at 10.00am .

It's a real lift to the spirits to see them enjoying themselves so much.

They have such a good time together on Saturday mornings!

It's great to have these community facilities to enjoy and it only costs £5 to become a member of the trust who are doing so much to make this park enjoyable.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Dickensian - absolutely brilliant

Don't miss this.

A superb capture of what happened in the mist in Ulverston on Saturday Nov 29 2008 at the Dickensian Festival.

Thanks for this to ISCMULTIMEDIA whoever you are!

Much better than the Countryfile TV Program today!

Come on now, give it a high rating and add some comments.

More footage from the Dickensian Weekend

These are photos taken in 2006 with the 2008 sound of the Ulverston Victoria High Swing Band

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Graffiti spreads to the grass

More racial abuse?

Half a minute.

Isn't that writing rather neat?

Why isn't there writing on the wall as well?

Why on the grass?

That's a really new (and worrying?) trend.

So what could it be ?

Is this a clue I wonder?

So you need another!

Friday, 12 December 2008

Money for new rope!

A message in a recent communication from the Neighbourhood Forum:

"The Forum has a budget of £16,885 remaining for allocation in this financial year. Any organisation wishing to apply for funding should contact the Neighbourhood Development Team on 01539 713180 for an application form. The last meeting of this financial year will be held at Urswick Parish Rooms on Thursday 5th February 2009, starting at 7.30pm."

This 'sad' message should lead to some creative thinking!

Why 'sad' ?

To me it's a consequence of the non-functioning of the Forum.

Never heard of it?

Proves my point! They meet in the area six times a year!

A friend of mine, very involved with group activities, attended the early meetings some years ago, with great enthusiasm. However he stopped going because he concluded that the meetings had been hijacked by the County Councillors.

This has been my conclusion too, and am still waiting for a meeting to be held in Ulverston on Affordable Housing which I asked for over 18 months ago. It was this inaction that contributed to my decision to run for County Council.

After first struggling to get this on the agenda and 'going to the top' and getting nowhere, then finding how differently other Forums acrosss the country operated, I decided to get stuck in and achieve reform from within.

One of the first things I will do when I get in (!) is to strive to get more local involvement and make sure that there are lots of community groups who are all crying out for 'money for new rope'!

If you have an idea and a group of people, then I can help you 'get in shape' to qualify by February 5th! You could form a residents association for a start. The Happy Street Residents Association sounds good to me!

Getting in touch with your representatives

People are increasingly out of touch with local government and especially their MP.

This need not be so. Now with the Internet it can be extremely easy.

With this link you can be in touch within ten seconds.

All you do is click on your road on the map and all your councillors and MP come up.

Click on the email address of the one you want to reach, type your question.


Try it and find out just how helpful you local councillor/ MP is.

If they're not. Let me know and I'll be asking why and publishing your experiences here!

Councillors will enjoy having closer communication with the people on their patch.

Good idea?

The Ulverston Town Councillors could all have an email connected to their new site in the next month. They are discussing it at the moment.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Ulverston Town Centre Future

The last meeting of the series of confusing public consultations by the County Council concluded last Thursday.

I can understand why you stayed away, even though some important decisions were made!

However, everyone who attended worked extremely hard - the councillors especially - and the best of a bad job was achieved.

On Thursday, attendance dropped to the lowest of the three meetings, with 8 members of the public, 7 SLDC Councillors, most of whom were also Town Cllrs, 3 Town Councillors and the 2 County Councillors, Wendy Kolbe and Pauline Halfpenny. The presentation was by Highways officer Nick Raymond, the whole process organised by Debbie Binch.

In the words of one of the most involved people from the community who had been to every meeting:

"It was a farce"

Witnessing how the proceedings were carried out, it is easy to sympathise with the public who stayed away.

Some positive things came out nevertheless, but even at the end we came away without ever having had the details of the process explained to us, even though there had been many requests for explanations.

It is true that the process was a complicated struggle to accomodate both the wishes of the town and those of the government, however this process was never explained properly.

It did not help that the chair kept trying to move the discussion on and offered some simplistic solutions when those present insisted on understanding as much as possible and coming to knowledgable solutions. The offer of the chair to leave the details to be decided by the County Cllrs and the Highways officer was wisely rejected.

There was a dogged determination in the audience not to want to go home until the best decisions possible were achieved.

Had the County Cllrs themselves understood the process, they could have help us through it.

The impression given by Nick Raymond was that this was something to get through with the minimum of explanation and that his ideas of what we and the government wanted should go forward with the minimum fuss. He had all the power and we were only able to modify his decisions slightly because of a lack of understanding and the limited time available.

The way our proposals were scored was never explained to my satisfaction and I am even now trying to determine from the officers how they arrived at their recommendations.

As someone with reasonable intelligence who attended all three meetings, I failed to understand the criteria.

It appeared that any mere suggestion that fitted government targets was accepted, even though we had given it a zero score as no one actually recommended it. Whereas, even when an item had our full approval with a score of 4, by the time it had been interpreted by Nick Raymond as being against government guidlines, it was damned to the dustbin.

Had we understood this system of marking suggestions and been given the opportunity to contribute suggestions that would be given government brownie points, the result could have been considerably different.

For instance had it been suggested that we revert to using horses and carts, I suspect this would have been scored way above anything else. Why didn't we go for this? Then we could have diverted all the funds away from Kendal with Ulverston taking pride of place as the most environmentally friendly town in the county. Now I come to think of it, there's a fair bit of grass growing between the cobbles. Did we get full marks for this?

Thus we will continue to have an empty car Park at Stockbridge Lane with no signs to it because erecting signs was seen as promoting the use of the car rather than relieving the pain of crowded parking on our narrow streets like Burlington and Ainslie street.


In addition, we were expected to accept the outrageous costs of County Council work without question : £2,500 for two information boards for the town centre with bus and train times!

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Community Travel Plan document arrives

The Community Travel Plan document can be downloaded here for your examination prior to the meeting tomorrow at the Supper Room, Coronation Hall at Thursday 4th.

If you have any comments, please leave them here or send them to me at and I will relay them to the meeting, should you not be able to be present.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

People enjoying the Dickensian Festival

With video, many photos from 2006 and the sound of the Victoria High School's Swing Band from this week end.

Monday, 1 December 2008

Chasing the Kendal Highwaymen

The way that Ulverston is being treated smacks strongly of the days of the Highwaymen, when they held travellers at gunpoint, demanded their money and then disappeared.

Here, our rates disappear and highwaymen are glimpsed infrequently, only to disappear back to Kendal leaving 'chaos' behind.

All credit to her, Pauline Halfpenny, one of the two County Councillors for Ulverston, is pursuing this case vigorously.

She is very concerned that the work on Daltongate was not done for last Friday as promised, whilst I am shocked that what was done, was of such shoddy workmanship.

Two workmen in two vehicles - to give them their due - did come last Wednesday to move the "No Entry" sign from behind the scaffolding to a new spot where it could be seen.

What floored me was that they couldn't be bothered to clean the old paper posters off the bottom of the sign. The workmen clearly haven't got their hearts in the job.

This fits in the pattern of could-care-less maintenance for Ulverston where a crew of highwaymen spend a morning here doing some good work but missing other obvious work only a few yards away.

Thus on Brewery Street they repainted the much neglected Zebra Crossing but ignored the sign to the carpark not thirty yards away that is now practically invisible.

Having done the "No Entry" at the bottom of Soutergate in King Street they ignore the equally bad "Stop" road markings on Dalton Gate.

This inefficiency results in massive extra costs of totally unnecessary journeys, extra organisation, paperwork by the desk job planners as well as the time it costs the rest of us to chase them to do what ten/twenty years ago was done all the time without us noticing by the Bobby on the beat coordinating with the highways workers.


Because no one takes a pride in their work? In the hands of a remote penpushing organisation like Capita Symonds who can look great but produce rubbish work ?

Only asking!

Some one needs to?

Your thoughts?