Saturday, 28 February 2009

Forward thinking in farming and food production.

Let's stop behaving like Ostriches.

We could be taking care of our own future more.

Many of us have the arrogant belief that humans can survive through any conditions.

It's not true.

Our finances are a mess.

Global warming is accelerating.

And now another potential disaster is catching us up.

Every thinking person will realise that we are running out of oil.

In the 1960s, I worked for Shell in California, on the recovery of paraffins from oil and the removal of sulphur from refinery gases.

Even then we only had 10 years of oil in reserve.

We are now having to scrape the bottom of the world's barrel by recovering oil from tar sands - a process that they were then developing in the lab next door.

Nuclear energy will also soon dry up because of the limited sources of Uranium.

In the next few years we will come to the very end of the oil and food production, which heavily depends on it, will suffer.

Food will become scarce and very expensive.

We need to grow more ourselves in our allotments and gardens.

Our farms need to use very new farming techniques that require little oil.

A brilliant program that introduces some really creative thinkers in the farming world together some superb photography.

I enjoyed every minute of this 48 minute program that points out that we need to focus on growing our own food NOW - using our gardens and allotments to the full.

Zoe Williams also wrote an article - Can we dig our way out of the recession? - in which she says:

"The recession isn't as bad as a war, but we're heading for an environmental apocalypse anyway, in which the ability to grow your own carrots is going to be really pretty crucial. McLaughlin did not actually say that. I just inferred it."

Coming next - the way some of our Ulverston allotments are misused and some of our councillors are very much to blame.

Town Mess Clear Up

Congratulations to Andrew, as reported in the Evening Mail, for having the energy to campaign about dog mess. It's great to have people in our town who will get up and actually do something rather than just moan.

However Cllrs Brenda Marr and Colin Hodgson will know that their statements are just hot air and will achieve absolutely nothing.

It's no use relying on SLDC to catch the bad dog owners (and they are very much in the minority - a few dogs can create a lot of mess). The officers go around in bright yellow jackets and can be seen a mile off!

What will change things in my view are two things:

Speak out ourselves whenever we see someone leaving a mess - hand them a bag and ask them to pick it up if necessary. Second - not so pleasant - pick it up ourselves.

As someone who enjoys walking other people's dogs, I regularly do both! If I'm picking up my mess, then I pick someone else's at the same time.

If Brenda and Colin are really genuine then let them join me on a Town Mess Clear Up. I'll give £100 to charity of their choice if they do - and they can wear bright yellow coats so that everyone will notice them (as they did in Kendal) if they please!

Lets see our Councillors be seen to DO SOMETHING !

The only one who I imagine would take up such a challenge would be Cllr Colin Williams - he knows how to get his hands dirty when necessary.

How about it Cllr Col ?

That would impress me - not hot air coming out of ineffective poodles - but fire coming out of dragons that bite.

Blog information

Visitors to this blog continue to rise!

You are now well above a steady 250 different visitors with 80% returning again and again. You now average about 45 visitors per day.

Click on the image to get more detail

Thanks for your participation and it's good to meet some of you at Poppies in town on Saturday mornings at 11 am and on the streets and listen to your concerns ! The smiles I get are particularly encouraging!

This is a great way to communicate though face to face is far better!

Suggestions always welcome.

Friday, 27 February 2009

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Dickon Abbott - His life is celebrated


When the thorn was green
my gold-haired son was born.
His birth star blazed between
the midnight and the morn.

When the thorn was white
with new wine he was wed.
The may's hedge-blossom bright
festooned his marriage bed.

When the thorn was red
they tore his life from me.
The swollen fruit he bled
hung dripping from the tree.

Now the thorn is black
and storm clouds cloak the sky.
Men pray to bring him back;
I only wait to die.

Dickon Abbott

Last weekend a new book was launched to celebrate the poetry of this highly sensitive man who did a lot for Ulverston.

This book will be available from the Tinner's Rabbit very soon.

Dickon Abbott, I understand, was a chairman of Ford Park Trust in the early days and had a vision of what could be done with this building and its grounds . . . . . .

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Tourism disappointment

The news that the North East is getting a big influx of tourists is a Wake-up Call to Ulverston.

They are benefiting from overseas visitors thanks to the weak pound and a steady effort in promoting their area over the last five years.

By contrast our Town Council and Jayne Kendall have really let us down with a poor web site from a tourism point of view.

Thanks to Jayne we have great events here but we are sadly lacking in the skill to promote them over the Internet.

The Town Council's web site was a great disappointment from a tourism point of view, though good at informing us about the workings of the council itself.

GoUlverston, though an excellent service for local people, informing about businesses in the town, is not primarily aimed at promoting Ulverston abroad.

The Town is really missing out and the empty shops reflect this.

The sad state of our streets does little to help, with the local Councillors not standing up to the County to get better service.

Ralph Spours, chairman of the Ulverston Traders Association, is out of touch, making a statement just a week ago that:

“Ulverston has become a thriving little town with the small shops and businesses."

He leads a divided group of shopkeepers.

The town is sadly showing signs of dying on its feet.

How much more will Ulverstonians accept ?

'Repairs' in Lower Brook Street.

"Never mind eh. It's only tatty old Ulverston !"

"Sling a bit of asphalt there. No one will notice"

Ulverston Town Council meeting

A proposal made by Cllr Colin Hodgson that alternative sources of refrigeration and air conditioning be considered to those proposed by Tesco was approved unanimously by the council. The application as worded by Tesco was approved with the above addition as were the other three applications.

This was a direct result of it being pointed out that there are viable alternatives to the conventional method of providing refrigeration, which could disturb householders.

Brendon Ace, director of Cumbelec stated that the refrigeration unit was a heat pump that removed heat from the units in the store. In this case heat was transferred into the air outside with fan driven units on the roof of the building. Alternatively and much more efficiently, the heat could be transferred into the ground under the building in such a way that it could then be recovered in the winter for heating the store.

This technology is very energy efficient, so much so that as little as a quarter of the energy is required for a whole store.

Monday, 23 February 2009

Tesco planning applications tonight

There are serious concerns over two of these applications which will be commented on by the Town Council tonight at their meeting.

The main one is of inconsistency with Tesco's stated 'green' policy

"Through these initiatives and more, we intend to halve the total carbon footprint of our existing buildings worldwide by 2020. We are also growing responsibly by ensuring all new stores we build between now and 2020 emit, on average, at least 50 per cent less carbon than an equivalent store built in 2006."

If this is genuine then Tesco would not be requesting the installation of ventilation and a condenser unit on the flat roof of the Woolworths building.

An expert heating engineer, Brendon Ace, director of Cumbelec who is bringing cutting edge technology to Cumbria will explain alternatives that are far greener to the councillors tonight.

This involves the use of boreholes which pump the heat that is to be removed deep down into the ground below the building - referred to as heat pumps.

This heat which is 100 metres below can then be recovered when required to heat the store in winter.

The cost of such an installation is well below £50,000 which is low compared with the £300,000 spent by Tesco in installing two wind turbines in its Barrow store.

Use of Boreholes would reduce Tesco's energy requirements by between 65 and 80% of what they propose.

Heat pumps are already being installed as a means of reducing energy requirements by forward looking companies in Ulverston such as Heron Glass, Marl International and Coniston House in New Market Street.

We would expect Tesco with its stated green policy to be leading the field and not following way behind.

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Lightburn Park and Croftlands

If you live in either of these areas , you will want to influence what is happening in the play areas in both places. At the moment there is confusion and anything could happen.

There is a real need for local groups, one for Croftlands and one for Lightburn, to express their opinions and feed them into the decision making process.

This issue is extremely important to the well-being of both areas. Well-designed and thought out facilities could have enormous benefits to each area. They would provide a social centre for communication and social support.

Without good facilities and interaction social unrest will grow. Young people and parents have become very frustrated with inaction and communities becoming polarised.

At the moment the expression of views is being left to just one or two people who are having undue influence.

Not until we have involvement by the locals will we get a coherent strategy in place.

The Croftlands situation comes within the remit of two District Councillors - Norman Bishop-Rowe and Brian Wilkinson and six town councillors (check "Your councillors in 10 seconds" on the right).

Lightburn Park area however is on the edge of three wards and covered by Norman Bishop-Rowe, Jamie Samson and Mark Wilson and nine town councillors.

Out of this array of 'talent' I would only rate James Airey for Croftlands and Jamie Samson, Mark Wilson, Brenda Marr, Judith Pickthall, Phil Lister and Colin Williams for Lightburn.

On this particular issue only Phil Lister is in my opinion talking any sense.

If you really want something good done in either of these areas you really need to get involved as decisions are being arrived at by chance and not by reasoned discussion. There are a muddle of officers - Richard Foster, Margaret Belk and Simon Hughes who cause confusion by not being in touch with what is needed, but the ultimate problem is the attitude of inactive councillors that are good at sitting on their bum, seeming to only pop up for a photo opportunity!

A lot of satisfaction can be gained by getting involved and a lot of frustration achieved by winging on the sidelines!

The opportunities for cooperation are there - people like the readers of this blog need to go one step further and start by saying something followed by meeting with each other and then stating clearly and forcibly what they want.

Friday, 20 February 2009

Scandal - Nick the Highwayman is robbing us

And they're giving him even more money!

In the Westmorland Gazette 26 Feb 2009, front page:

"County seeks 2.5% tax rise

Motorists will be pleased by plans to spend an extra £2.5 million on improving the county road infrastructure - using a loan that will cost the authority a quarter of a million pounds a year. A further £11 million has been allocated for road repairs"

Have you watched this?

Here is the state of the 'white' halt line outside Oxfam, which was done recently.

How recently do you think?

Here are two random interviews where people are asked how old they think the road markings are.

The passerby ends up with the comment "Don't get me started on that!"

Clearly many of us are angry with local government and how it is run.

What do our County Councillors take us for?

Are our County Councillors, Wendy Kolbe and Pauline Halfpenny, going to kick up a fuss?

Why are they giving Nick Raymond, the Highwayman even more of our cash to squander?

Politically savvy person wanted

The more I get into this politics lark, the more I realise there is to be done and the more those 'in control' appear to wish to thwart intelligent questioning of what they do.

I am therefore very serious in my request for expert help in finding out information about what is happening around us. I am perfectly willing to ask the questions but to be effective I must be well informed.

With the internet we have an unprecedented opportunity of finding out information. Not only can we find out what is happening locally, we can find it out across the county, across the UK and across the world.

We can find people who are tackling problems similar to our own and gain support from them even if they are in Australia, USA, Thailand, France, Germany. . . . . .

There are some great thinkers and doers out there. All we need to do is communicate with them - first by reading, then by email followed by phoning, video conferencing and rarely by eyeballing. The people are there to help, the tools are there - all we need are people to access this wealth of goodwill.

I need your help to work with them.

I'm willing to pay and you can live in Timbuktu and still do the job.

What's stopping you?

I can provide a job spec to look at!

I shall be going for quality or not at all.

There will be people with time available and with the interest, I'm sure

Tesco planning applications

Three applications are before the Town Council this next Monday Feb 23, 7.15 upstairs in the Ulverston Town Hall. The public have 15 mins at the beginning of the meeting in which to express their views.

Their role is an important one. They express their views which the SLDC planning committee who make the decision take into account.

It is important to first convince the town councillors.

If they recommend acceptance, it is unusual for the SLDC to go against their views.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Personal thoughts and response to a friend

I agree with what you say, about global warming, on many fronts.

The problem as I understand it is that becoming carbon neutral will not be enough as it will take a lot of time for people and the governments to be persuaded.

So carbon neutral in ten to twenty years time will be too late.

Lovelock argues - as I understand it - that if we are really serious in saving the human race (life of some form may well survive) we will have to become carbon negative (my term) so that we can claw back the damage that will be done in the next decade or so before we all 'wake up'.

Many of my friends have reluctantly come to the conclusion that all is already lost and we should just go out and 'enjoy' ourselves.

However this is a very negative way of living, so we just do the best we can without going insane and enjoy the fellowship of other caring people while we are still here.

This way of living does not have to be miserable even if it is without hope. We can concentrate on doing whatever makes us feel good.

For me, I'm enjoying contact with others and battling away against the odds. My highlights are watching toddlers grow up and doing pottery with culture loving people who do things just for fun and no other particular reason!

My councillor aspirations are very much in second place and come out of a feeling that I can't stand by and do nothing even knowing that in the long term my social world will collapse as people become increasingly selfish and they panic and strive to scrabble over each other as the try to reach 'the exit'.

I'm glad that I have a philosophy that tells me that there is no purpose in life other than to end up liking oneself!

Stories of incompetence in South Lakes Housing

The more I talk to those who live in houses administered by Simon Hughes, both Sheltered and regular Council Housing, the more I come across frustration at not being able to get work done.

Some witness neighbours from hell, with nothing done about it. Action is promised but nothing happens. Others have severe insulation problems with repeated requests for work and the putting in place of free government aided schemes yet nothing is done and the tenants foot the inflated fuel bill.

Simon Hughes appears to hide behind a 'complaints procedure'. He does not wish to get involved with giving answers. Yet I cannot believe that there are any good reasons for inaction.

Situations are never black and white. Having talked directly to Mr Hughes , he comes across as a person under siege who is reluctant to be open and straightforward. He is ready to give answers if pressed but is not going to volunteer them. Yet there must be severe constraints of money being available. Surely no organisation can be completely incompetent . . . Can it?

Fortunately if you are in East Ward, you have a Labour District Councillor - Mark Wilson - who is ready to take up issues on your behalf and try to get answers. I urge you to use him -

If you are outside Mark Wilson's area please let me know and we can work together to at least find concrete answers or else expose incompetence if it exists. So far I wait to be impressed by any of the five conservative councillors for the town though Jamie Samson certainly makes some encouraging noises though he doesn't overstretch himself with Council appearances - when compared with Cllr Wilson.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Lessons to learn from India ?

In response to my describing how , when I was teaching kids in a deprived area of London, their only goal in life appeared to be getting as much money as possible. They couldn't answer the following question; to which a friend of mine responded:

‘Why do we want money?’ is a good question.

I have just returned from a short tour of India.

Here one can see an interesting case study of what happens when population is allowed to go unchecked.

It was very educational. Some pictures to follow!

What is interesting is that despite being exceedingly poor, there is no over-riding unhappiness or despair, despite no welfare state, no free healthcare and no compensation if you can’t work.

The government does provide free schooling, which comes with a free uniform and a daily meal.

Our guide was telling about land owners who have accumulated wealth but have stayed in the same house and maintained exactly the same simple way of life as before.

The power of religious belief can be seen everywhere. One attractive feature, particularly of the Hindu religion, is respect for life.

This is all a lot nicer than other poor countries which have people fighting over every last scrap, and being pretty nasty to each other.

India is a case study in how chaos can be made to work.

Travelling by road is a nightmare for a European – no discernible rules. Do what you like as long as you don’t hit anyone else. All you hear are horns to warn other vehicles that you are about to do something stupid that might result in hitting them. Surprisingly, there are few accidents and no road-rage.

There are many learning points for us here. One is that you can be happy with what you have got.

The American drive to earn cash at all costs looks very futile and hollow from Delhi.

Interestingly, We took a 6 hour train journey on a train as good as Virgin Rail can provide, which included a free 3 course meal.

It cost £10.

Why do we want money? I think it is a Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs thing.

Once you have access to food, shelter and love, the rest is probably optional and unnecessary.

There is another thing though and that is the drive that people have to find personal achievement/fulfillment.

For me it is a case of thinking, ‘There must be some reason for me being put on this earth. The least I can do is the best I can to live up to someone’s faith in me.’

Often money is one reward for striving to be better.

But then it isn’t all bad because you then have a greater choice about how you can use that money to continue to be a good person.

So money, I say !

Why all the fuss!

Cats in Sheltered Housing - progress

My - very discreet - inquiries to those actually living in the sheltered housing of the SLDC and County Council variety - all over South Lakeland - of course - reveals that in practice the system is totally unfair and surviving very well!

Old people do manage to keep cats in their rooms in spite of 'regulations' (those in cumbria housing don't have iron fast restrictions) with a blind eye being cast, though they do worry of neighbours complaining and ratting on them. Those that feel less courageous are glad to offer an occasional lap and a stroke and we have some sensitive wardens.

Human nature is alive and well and up to tricks as ever.

Sigh of relief.

Shame for those with the search light shining their way - maybe a diversion could be created - Isn't there a lot of noise coming from those yobbos down the street? - My, look there's a patch of damp up in that corner - Did you see that bull finch and hear that owl. I'm sure that scratching is coming from a mouse - isn't it lucky we've a cat next door (Nudge-nudge , Wink-wink)

Local Government Issues

I am finding a disturbing trend as I ask more and more polite questions to government officials and similarly question Councillors about what is happening.

The officials are nearly all very defensive and avoid providing answers. They have different ways of doing this, from the outright refusal to communicate adopted by Nick Raymond the Highwayman to the very polite "that's a very interesting point - we'll bear it in mind next time" adopted by Debbie Binch of Cumbria County Council.

Simon Hughes adopts two strategies - one of labeling your email as spam so that it cannot penetrate his in box and, when emails are redirected via a colleague, of replying "We have a complaints procedure (for Council Housing problems) - people are very welcome to follow that." Would you bother?

Margaret Belk of SLDC bats back your questions by ignoring them twice and eventually refers them to someone else who has just gone on holiday . . .

Richard Foster of SLDC repeatedly contradicts himeself and repeatedly fails to clarify where you are going wrong with your procedure for getting a result.

The Highways road problems procedure works very well as long as you report a problem but obvious things like an invisible Stop Sign in the centre of town gets the retort from the official: 'well no one told us about it'.

As for Councillors they too feel they don't know what is going on.

Norman Bishop-Rowe, who I find is usually good at asking questions, has no confidence in getting answers. When asked about the now disused building in the middle of Lightburn Park replies "I've been trying to get an answer out of them for the last three years"

When County Councillor Geoffrey Cook, who is chairing the meeting of County Council Local Committee for South Lakeland at County Hall, Kendal, is asked the question:

"Why did you allow Nick Raymond to totally ignore my question but instead (very very humbly ) answer a completely different question?"

He escapes by looking blankly in reply and presses on with the really important business for the day.

And so I could go on and on with examples from Colin Hogdson giving bland assurances and doing the opposite and Colin Williams with his creative mind replying "I park on the double yellow lines outside Bargain Booze all the time - it helps calm the traffic by restricting the entrance to New Market Street." "Cobbles a problem? I don't see it"

What it all boils down to an unchecked system in chaos driving our taxes up and up and our revenue, self esteem and feeling of being able to actually do something down and down.


Sunday, 15 February 2009

Monty Don makes sense : education and global warming

On the panel of Question Time, dealing with a query about putting parents in prison for not sending their children to school, it was suggested that we should make schools so that students actually wanted to go there.

Something I totally agree with. When I was a form teacher, I got my students from a 'deprived' area to arrive at school early by . . . . smiling at them when they did arrive . . It worked.

My form went on to get 50% with 5 A-C in a school where the rest got 23%.

Strong encouragement and a positive attitude really works.

Nowadays most of the inspiring teachers have left education, resenting being told how to teach, and found more satisfying jobs or retired early. One Head of a school elsewhere said that she dreaded the day when they did away with the National Curriculum as most of her teachers wouldn't be able to cope.

The whole atmosphere in most schools is oppressive as far as I can tell and there isn't a school in the area that has so far really impressed me. In London, when I left in 2004, Creativity and Problem Solving in lessons in IT were inspiring kids to work very hard and achieve much, resulting in a high sense of self-achievement. Now what is called creativity has very low level difficulty in my opinion and the whole class does not often enjoy the lessons to the full because some of the lesson is beyond them.

This is the fault of the prescribed method of teaching, backed by a government that wants to train kids and manage their teachers. The result is kids that are antisocial, lack discipline and get their kicks out of being disruptive.

Monty Don's next big point is that the government and most of us are taking our eye off the ball.

Whilst we are all preoccupied with the credit crunch and misbehaving bankers that should be slapped in gaol, we really need to focus on Global Warming (which I have dealt with before and again here).

Too many people who have little science background pronounce that there are good reasons to not take it seriously - well at least not yet - even though we are almost certainly beyond a point where we will not be able to stop it.

I have come across one proposal by a very wise and knowledgeable scientist call Lovelock. He points out that Wind Farms will only ever tickle the problem. The way to really make an impact is to bury carbon like coal but in the form of organic charcoal from vegetation that has been burnt incompletely. This will lock the carbon out of the carbon cycle and start to do good. This will require specially designed 'furnaces' with a massive throughput - not an impossibility. Sounds farfetched I'm sure but makes a lot of sense when considered from a scientific point of view.

Without something being done I believe we are heading for total breakdown of society.

First take the realisation by the masses, in ten to twenty years time, that the human race is doomed. Now add the economic problems created by a greedy society that money (with some sex, alcohol and drugs to relieve the pain) solves all problems and we've got a a lethal cocktail.

Time for every sane person who has a bit of objectivity left to stand up and be counted.

Try telling this kind of thing to politicians like our existing County Councillors and you'll probably be slapped in gaol for disturbing the peace. I had my very responsible email to them sent on to the police as though I was threatening violence (story to follow). And Wendy Kolbe insisted on perpetuating this lie only last week and is attempting to justify herself.

I wish her luck!

Fresh Bid to create Affordable Homes

News from South Lakeland District Council:

"Ex-council house tenants who bought their homes in the right to buy boom can now sell them back to the council if they are struggling financially in the credit crunch."

Read on

Over to you!

It seems to me that the time is ripe for groups to be formed to support their communities in each of the ABC areas (Ainslie, Burlington Casson Streets) on Croftlands and around Lightburn Park.

I can see a lot of benefits that could come from the formation of such groups, and feel sad that decisions are being made without consulting these areas. The system of local government that we have at the moment is not working - nearly everyone I talk to agrees; yet there is , I believe, an alternative.

The movement towards having these groups has to come from people feeling there is some point in having them.

I suggest that it's better to trust yourselves - the communities that live together in these areas - than trust outsiders - me, the local politicians or the council officers. At the moment almost nothing is happening when a lot could !

What I'm suggesting is that the few that see this as worthwhile will be the people that get something going. If people don't recognise the need or have no confidence in the idea working then there is no point!

All I'm offering is the means for you all to meet each other - not to be the group leader (I have too many very demanding activities of my own!).

Incidentally I saw something yesterday morning that I hadn't seen for a long time - a very determined Street Parking Officer 'laying down the law ' in the centre of Ulverston.

It seems that my long chat with Mr Turner - who is in charge of parking at SLDC - had some result and he has kept his word in sending his team down to Ulverston to do a bit of sorting out.

You will be encouraged, I hope, to believe that any private individual can voice concerns in a rational way and get at least one SLDC officer to work them.

I've already witnessed in the Town Council Chamber the statement from Councillors that the public can do a better job of getting things done that the Councillors. This has certainly been true for me and I believe there's a place for both!

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Victorian Farm

I got inspired by the sense of satisfaction that comes from doing so much for yourself conveyed by this program.

So I'm inviting you to taste this life of making something useful for yourself, here in Ulverston :

For two Saturday afternoons at 2, 3 and 4 pm starting in a fortnight (Saturday 28th) you're invited to come for one hour of pottery, when you will be given help for one hour to make one or more - up to four/person are possible - ceramic beakers. Then on a following Saturday you will be invited to glaze these. You are welcome to bring the kids.

Total cost to you: £2 per beaker!

An offer not to be repeated!

Email me if interested!

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Protest Song ?

Don't think much of the Trowbridge protest song.

Surely, with all the musical talent in the town, Ulverston could have a few brilliant protest songs.

I'm sure that UCAN could get something going!

History tells us that they really can have an impact.

There's no shortage of material!

Parking, Tesco, Kendal, Kids, Councillors, Cobbles, Raymond . . . .

Police worries - again - photography

At the same time that head cameras are being heralded as a breakthough for the police, they are harassing photographers.

Photographers fear they are target of new terror law

"Marc Vallee, a photojournalist who specialises in covering protests, said photographers were frequently harassed by police using stop and search powers under section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000. The new powers would be too vague to prevent abuse.

Jeremy Dear, general secretary of the NUJ, said: "Police officers ... believe they have the power to delete images or to take editorial decisions about what can and can't be photographed. The right to take photos in a public place is a precious freedom. It is what enables the press to show the wider world what is going on." "

Very worrying.

Word Market is in full swing

Word Market is here and before you realise -

it's gone!

Brochure through link above.

This Saturday at 7.30 pm Forum 28 Barrow :

A Poem and a Pint - £6

Tonight Thursday at 7.00 pm at Glaxo Club

Zosia Wand will facilitate discussions on :

What makes a Heroine Heroic?

concluding with a vote on ' our favouite heroine'

£7.50 including hot supper.

Job - researcher - £100 per week - start March 31st

Job spec:

Self employed.

Your identity kept under wraps (to replace existing service)

To research using the internet any subject requested - go back over this blog to get an idea of subject matter.

Good at writing, summarising and grammar (spelling!)

Aim to support Geoff Dellow with info for this blog.

Could live anywhere though occasional face-to face meetings essential.

Hours of your own choosing - you provide the service.

You will naturally be curious and will be interested in how the world ticks.

Money paid monthly.

Job review on Monday June 8th ie when more work could be required per week.

Length of commitment : six months April to October.

Job awarded on the basis of a test task and a face to face interview. Age not an issue.

Apply to Geoff by email:

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Local Blogs

Here's one that will impress you if you're interested in History of Furness and further afield:

AFTER THE CONFLICT - Cumbrian War Memorials

The author is local and a very thoughtful person - some low key but profound philosophy behind what is written!

Anyone know of any others that they revisit and would recommend?

Wetherby - worth a look at

Yesterday one of our viewers suggested we find out how they were able to provide free parking in their town.

Wetherby has a population of 10,000 compared to Ulverston's 12,000. It is also overshadowed by Leeds City Council.

Their web site is impressive compared to ours run by SLDC and the new Town Council's site which is more about the town councillors glorying in their own importance than about Ulverston - take the time to compare and you'll see what I mean - why do we put up with this?

They produce a very attractive newsletter every three months.

They employ five staff.

There's no sign of political party rivalry - their parties aren't mentioned.

They certainly seem 'on the ball'.

What's their secret?

We'll be talking to them as soon as possible

Political correctness gone mad?

Is the suggestion of scrapping this sculpture crazy?

Is the suggestion that it needs £3 million to make it safe, political correctness gone mad?

Can't we have more dramatic sculptures in our public places?

With Chris Brammall in our midst can't we have more invigorating sculptures in our squares?

Monday, 9 February 2009

Local Government - some examples of not working

As I begin to dig into local politics I'm finding a pattern.

The politicians don't put up a fight and just mouth off 'concerns' which get published in the Mail and the 'civil servants' are barely civil and are certainly not servants.

There appears to be a culture of arrogance amongst 'officers' that they can't be touched and they can do (or not do) as they please.

Their bosses, the Councillors, are totally ineffective for the most part.

One example of an arrogant officer is Nick Raymond, local head of Highways 'Services'.

Everywhere I come across people who deal with him there is that look of despair.

Yesterday I was talking to Mr Turner, Head of Parking Enforcement for the SLDC.

His officer in Ulverston, Dick Base, is not issuing tickets in many parts of Ulverston because the double yellow lines are so badly worn.

This issue has been discussed by Town Councillors, led by Judith Pickthall, at a meeting with Dick Base and they are approaching Nick Raymond. What is likely to happen?

Nothing, I'm pretty sure. The councillors haven't the stomach for a real fight.

Nick will plead that he hasn't any cash to spend - especially with the high costs of the road gritting - yet I discover his department, which oversees Capita, are guilty of allowing gross wastage of funds in the way that road markings are carried out.

The road markings that are done - by a firm that travels all the way down from Brampton to do our work - spread the lines so thinly that you can see the asphalt underneath!

They just scrape the surface with their marking 'paint' like spreading butter in war time.

If the lines were painted three times as thick - 5mm (quarter of an inch) then they would last three times as long and wouldn't need doing so often.

Now who is going to sort this scandal out?

It's the job of Wendy Kolbe and Pauline Halfpenny - what will they do now?

I'm notifying them both of the above!

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Celebs - who needs them?

Is the reason that we're so fascinated by the media and 'sport' because we don't spend the time talking to the guy down the street and liking ourselves by doing things ?

Do we need these fantasy humanoids to raise our spirits?

Protection from Terrorists - no thanks

A lot of things that are being done in the UK lead me to the conclusion that I'd rather live without the protection of my government:

One that stands by and allows torture to obtain 'information' and supports the likes of Guatanamo Bay.

One where the police grill and punish vulnerable and sometimes innocent people.

Quality of life and putting myself at risk if I want to is more important to me than the length of my life.

Stopping people taking unnecessary risks by say climbing mountains in dangerous weather.

Only this Thursday I was being told by Council officers that I mustn't put myself in physical danger in dealing with law breakers.

To which I retort "It's my party and I'll die if I want to!"

I'm not asking you to come to my assistance and endanger yourselves - just let me swing on the 10,000 volt wires if I choose !

A lot of people are so keen to preserve life and not think of what kind of life they are living.

Old people are taken care of so that their bodies aren't hurt but what goes on in their minds is of little interest.

The same with kids - Little Johny is fine if he's 'out of harm's way' up in his bedroom - no matter what is happening inside his head!

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Great news - yes some more!

This was the nightmare we endured

A new proposal has been put forward by Gary Robinson at a meeting last Tuesday evening.

Gary, an Ulverstonian, has made a great success of the Canteen in Barrow and is willing to do something similar here! The guy has balls.

The Tuesday meeting was attended by two friends who reported that nearly all of the fifty people there were persuaded that this would be an excellent venture.

My own research supports this view because:

1. Gary has a track record of a big success in Barrow with the Canteen Media and Arts Centre. All those familiar with this are in favour.

2. The prime purpose of what is proposed is high quality entertainment that will involve and support local people in the arts scene.

3. Unlike community organisations in the town such as Ford Park that rely on grant funding for their existence, Canteen Media is based on sound , viable business know-how. Grant funding, in my view, should only be used as a pump priming exercise - to get something off the ground. To rely on it, is very unreliable, especially in the present economic situation with Charity funding being cut back.

4. The Roxy building has been already been designed to allow different activities to run simultaneously. It has good access and excellent sound proofing, with a stage in place downstairs.

5. The existing cinema and Gary's project will complement each other, with the prospect of something like Zeffirelli's in Ambleside being done here.

6. My own experience when I failed to get a full alcohol licence for the Corner House (now Oxfam) backs up Gary's approach. Strangely people would pay £2 for one drink but would not pay £1.50 for admission to my shows. With a jazz band to pay, I ended running at a loss and the 'community business' collapsed ! I'm thankful to find that here we have someone who has a lot better idea of how to succeed.

7. There's still a struggling jazz scene in the area that could do with a suitably design location to play in.

8. With a bit of effort and support from the thriving Classical Concert Scene - Manchester Camerata - we could get some cross-over with the musical scene at Ulverston Victoria High.

9. There seem to be a lot of responsible people coming into the town from a wide area who are looking for late night entertainment. The more of these that are around on our streets and back alleys, late at night, the better. We at present get trouble in Brogden St, next to the Roxy.
A combination of customers from Rustique and Roxy will be far more effective than CCTV, which too many think is the answer to all problems.

10. Canteen Media have encouraged other groups in Barrow to get started by providing facillities - I'll be looking at the Roxy for possible involvement in the visual arts - painting, sculpture, ceramics, photography and film making. And sound - bands, singing groups, local radio - TV? With the development of the Internet there are lots of possibilities.

We in Ulverston need to grab these opportunities with both hands and not let short-sighted people or the commercial pub scene stop this venture. The more people are brought together, the healthier society will be. We have a lot of creative and imaginative people in the town who are without a place to get together and hatch schemes, ideas and plots!

Perhaps UCAN could adopt the Roxy as its base?

Well now you have some ideas to bat about!


Great news

Another very creative photographer has come to Ulverston. Worth spending some time enjoying his photographs and musing on what might come next . .

One of those people that wait and wait and wait . . . . . . .for exactly the right moment to make the 'ordinary' look special.

People like this get us to stop, look, enjoy and take strength from 'stuff' that is staring us in the face . . .

Often we don't notice it.

I'm reminded of Ansel Adams who's photography I got to know when in California.

Rob Sutherland has just bought a camera that he's very pleased with . . . .

People like this are the life blood of the positive and forward looking side of our town !

He joins Ulverston photographers like Chris Thorp and Allan Wilson that we are getting to know more and more.

In other creative fields - sculpture and architectural metal worker Chris Brammall who has contributed much to the town with work at the rope walk, the start of the Cumbria Way in the Gill and much more (not enough is my comment) - and we choose to spend thousands on . . . that imposter Stan Laurel !

When will we start living in the year 2009?

We have a chance to look to the future with somewhere like this with another very creative Ulverstonian - Gary Robinson who will help put life into the Roxy - if we let him.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Politics is broken, so what do we do?

Thank you George Monbiot!

If you live near Lightburn Park, (or one of the other parts of town), you could be part of a group with considerable influence on the future of this area and could oganise activities both there, at the Methodist Church Hall and in the local area.

British society is going through a transition and many believe that the present financial crisis could aggravate antisocial behaviour.

On the other hand it could mean that more people start to value each other again, working with their neighbours to improve social conditions, self confidence, a feeling of being in control and enjoying interactions with others that have been on the decline in recent years.

Many would say things have deteriorated in Ulverston over the last twenty years when self promotion and materialism have taken hold.

The police are very concerned about the trend towards the breaking of the law with impunity and a lack of concern for other people.

In the extreme, some parents go as far as stating that they don't want their own children in their house. Some battered wives resent 'interference' even though they are being beaten up by their husbands.

What I have always enjoyed about Ulverston is working with others in various groups.

In 1960s whilst working at Glaxo, I was leading Pathfinders in connection with St Judes and the Parish Church.

In the 70s with the Town Mill project to purchase and use as a community centre the Town Mill in Mill street when we raised the purchase price but not commitments for running costs.

Later on with the Carnival Activites in the Gill, organised by the team surrounding John Fox and Sue Gill who ran Welfare State.

Lastly in the 1980s I sunk about £50,000 of my own money to get a community centre going using the building what is now Oxfam which I converted from Stables' Carpet Shop.

When this failed , I went into London, trained as a teacher at Goldsmiths and taught in a secondary school in a tough area. This was followed by work as an IT consultant in both Primary and Secondary Schools when I promoted creativity and problem solving.

So I'm at it again, back in Ulverston, steadily building up and supporting two groups in the Town - one to discuss Philosophy, the other to encourage Pottery.

Now I'm hoping that others will want to get community groups going based in different parts of the town and with interests to suit them.

Nothing worthwhile can be achieved by me on my own. I am not seeking to lead but to enable those who want to do something to get together and decide what is best for their particular circumstances.

There's a very thoughtful article by George Monbiot which is being discussed immediately all across the country thanks to the internet. I endorse his view wholeheartedly on the failure of politicians and local government - basically - forget them - it's up to us!

So over to you!


Join us at Poppies, in Ulverston Centre every Saturday at 11 am

As you see - we're solving the world's problems.

A bit more help wouldn't go amiss !

We're there every Saturday between 11 and 12 am!

Drop in - or just peer through the windows and watch 'the show'.

Poppies is very friendly, very good value for money and located opposite the Trustees Savings Bank in Union Street.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Do you have something to say ?

You may like the idea of launching a discussion. To do this you can become an 'author' on this blog or you may want creating your own blog - I'm happy to help!

Blogs can be a great way of communication!

There were 337 of you visiting here in the last month, with 70% returning, causing the figures to go up all the time!

Some feel it's a great alternative/supplement to the paper!

Let me know your views!

Firms' secret tax avoidance schemes cost UK billions

Which is why we should avoid using Tesco's stores.

In the front page news at the moment with both Obama and Ulverston - Tesco

Many large companies employ teams of expensive lawyers to take advantage of every possible tax loophole in order to keep there profit high.

This is why Tesco, who have their offices in the Cayman Islands, are able to snap up business opportunities like Ulverston's Woolworth and trade at an unfair advantage over other more ethical companies.

Another reason to support the Co-op, local traders and Booths, both now and in the future.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Opportunity for you and young people - not to be missed!

Signal films present:

Taken from the Evening Mail web site top and below from an email from

Film project focuses on youth - Dead line Feb 6 - act now!

Last updated 11:50, Saturday, 31 January 2009

A FILM company is offering teenagers the chance to get involved in free digital photography workshops.

Signal Films, in Barrow, is running an exciting project where 13 to 19-year-olds from Furness and Ulverston area will work with a professional photographer.

The company particularly wants to encourage young parents and NEET teenagers – Not in Education, Employment or Training – to take part in the government funded Mix Mediabox project.

The youngsters will create their own professional portfolio of images around the idea of youth identity.

The images will then be exhibited in a special celebratory showcase event in March.

The workshops start in mid-February.

The group will work with professional London-based tutor, John Carroll, in learning essential techniques in photography.

The young people gain hints and tips on what makes a good photograph and new skills which they can use by taking stills on location around the Furness area.

The deadline for applicants is Friday February 6.

For more information contact Signal Films or Connexions in Barrow.

If you miss this opportunity let me know as I've been hoping to persuade someone in Ulverston to run a similar course with expert input, also under the Mix Mediabox Project.

For everyone over 16 :

Introduction to filmmaking FREE 1-day workshop

Interested in getting a first taste of filmmaking?

15 Cumbrian trainees will have the exciting opportunity to take part in a FREE intensive one-day course on Sunday 8th Feb covering the basics of filmmaking.

This exciting course will combine film workshops and group instruction and has been designed to provide a fun, hands-on introduction to the basics of scriptwriting, DV-camera operation, direction and production.

Led by a team from award-winning film company Signal Films, the training will consist of:

- Ideas workshop on how to develop mini film scripts with an experienced scriptwriter

- Specialist training in digital camera by a practicing industry professional

- Production & direction skills with a feature film director/producer

1-day course taking place on Sunday 8th February

Deadline for applications: Wednesday 4th February

Applicants must be aged over 16 and living in Cumbria

If you would like more information or an application form contact Anna at Signal Films on 01229 839983, email or visit our website

Anna Copeland
Project Manager
Signal Films
6-9 Lawson Street
LA14 2LN
01229 838592/839983

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Reminder - Ulverston has a new web site.

This is a very determined effort by a few people to get an impressive Internet presence for the thousands of tourists and visitors. Done entirely with no financial support!

The first festival of the year approaches in a week's time - Word Market 7-14 February.

This web site also provides and an extensive source of information for local people with information about everything under Ulverston's sun (this includes the odd cloud or two).

British Jobs for British Workers

Are we being consistent here?

We have lots of opportunities to favour local produce and British products but do we take them?

We're good at shouting out slogans but do we act to put these into practice?

If we were being consistent would we buy the cheapest pork from Tesco when it comes from Denmark?

Would we shop at Booths because we favour the more expensive local products?

Would we avoid Chinese made toys and products even though they are cheaper ?

Don't we need to think more about our own actions before mouthing off about others?

Will we buy our petrol from companies that favour British Workers and not go to the cheapest pump?

I hope so.