Saturday, 31 January 2009

Busking on the Market Square Saturday 31 Jan 2009

Shed on the Roof entertain the 'crowds'!

Came across this group after my visit to Poppies where we had a good discussion of how to get groups going in different parts of Ulverston. Today the focus was on the area around Ainslie/Burlington/Casson streets !

The feeling was that a group focuses on a particular issue and gets to work - picking up litter for example.

Waiting to see what other people want to happen!

Meanwhile the busking is great!

Pet Duck kicked to death, Oubas Hill

This behaviour from unknown people will increase in Ulverston if people in communities continue to remain so isolated.

It's no use expecting 'the authorities' to do something about it.

Now, even more so than every before, we have to work with each other to solve this behaviour by working as communities that care and exercise constraint.

The lack of concern for young people by the Councillors for the most part is deplorable.

A Police State ? Are we moving in that direction?

From the BBC and the Guardian web site:

Nail-bomber given life sentence

This story about Nicky Reilly frightens me because of its lack of understanding of a vulnerable simple minded man who has been victimised by the attitude of an uncaring police and judge.

"Nicky Reilly has Asperger's syndrome and obsessive compulsive disorder, it emerged. But the judge, Mr Justice Calvert-Smith, rejected defence applications for him to be transferred to Broadmoor psychiatric hospital for further assessment before sentencing. He declared that the defendant was aware of his actions and their consequences."

The police stated
"He acted alone, he clearly had vulnerabilities around Asperger's Syndrome but we would say he was not radicalised and acted under his own steam. "

Obsessive behaviour

Friday's hearing was briefly adjourned earlier as Reilly's mother Kim broke down in tears in the public gallery.

The court heard that Reilly's mother had taken her son to see a psychiatrist at the age of nine because of obsessive behaviour and temper tantrums. He felt rejected by his father and later by a girl. He began to self-harm, took an overdose at the age of 16 and was admitted to hospital after stabbing himself in the leg.

The court heard he struggled to make friends and had a low IQ of 83. He came across Islam on the internet and embraced extreme versions of jihad. He converted and changed his name in 2004. His doctor became so worried about his expressed desire to become a terrorist that he approached the police. A planned meeting, however, never took place.

A suicide note left in his bedroom described how he was motivated by the "disgusting" behaviour of people in Britain as well as the "war on Islam".

Reilly came from a "loving and fairly normal family unit" but was "seduced" by a cause he "wrongly and almost fatally interpreted and probably never understood", said the judge.

Does his behaviour warrant an 18 year sentence?

How will this inadequate human being cope with a prison sentence?

This is justice gone mad.

Friday, 30 January 2009

Watery Lane Estate

Got a very friendly welcome.

Why are so many of the front doors rusting ?

Makes lovely white doors look a mess. Is this the Council not doing their job?

One resident told me that they strongly recommended that she not repair her fallen down boundary fence, yet it took them three months to come and repair it.

At the MUGA meeting in the Honeypot the same Council Department were telling us that damage to the MUGA would be repaired in days . . .

I've asked Simon Hughes to explain.

I liked the close with the trees. What do people think of the other closes?

What if anything could be done to improve the area ?

How is Dragley Beck behaving itself now that the bed has been cleared out and the wall rebuilt ?

A fast flow today. Let me know if it really gets going and I'll be down to do some filming!

Lightburn impressions

I spoke to several people in this area and they all would like the park to get used more. Some suggestions were:

1. Opening up the wooden building and letting the locals use it - volunteers with a cafe, meeting place for those on their own. Room for activities. Tool shed in connection with:

2. Neighbourhood gardening as inspired by Monty Don - flowers and veg - the odd goat to keep the kids in order (groan!).

3. Finding out what the exact plans are for this park.

Marsh House

Does anyone know someone in Marsh House, where I delivered some cards today and chatted to the warden.

I'm very curious what it's like to be staying there.

Croftlands Playing Field

I am at present awaiting a reply from both Norman Bishop-Rowe and the SLDC officers regarding recreation facilities for this area.

I have been pursuing this since last August and am still being given the run-around.

Communication would be far more effective if Croftlands had an official group (other than the safety-conscious ladies in the "Croftlands Community Safety Association").

How about joining in with a group of us including Lisa who has already posted here.

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Cards delivered in the Lightburn Park area

If you've arrived here and wonder what its all about:

Its about you!

With difficult times ahead, we will cope a lot better if we work together and support each other rather than struggle on, alone.

I find that a lot of people have become isolated and getting in touch with people who feel the same can be a great boost.

We all benefit from the encouragement of others and the opportunity is here for just that.

What's more there is money available to change things. Furthermore with a joint voice people can make changes. You may feel that the council can improve its service or provide support for those who want to help themselves.

What I am finding is frustration at not being able to get things done because bureaucrats believe they are in charge and we have to go through them.

They have lost track of the fact that they are civil 'servants' and ultimately answerable to us. If we work together we can change this and make them listen.

What can happen :

Councillors who do nothing will be replaced by others who will try much harder.

Officers will be put under pressure to show that they are doing their jobs well.

The recent handing out of MUGAs without taking the trouble to consult the residents properly about what they actually want is made even worse when we tell them well ahead of time what is wanted.

What do they do - pay lip service and break promises made beforehand to consider our wishes.

By getting together we can send clear messages to both Councillors and their officers as to what we want and find out whether they will listen.

The really annoying thing is that in some cases all we want is permission to do the work ourselves but this gets lost in the mire of bureaucracy and committee meetings and shuffling meaningless emails backwards and forwards.

Croftlands Community Centre

Any suggestions for added facilities?

For instance - how about a climbing wall to encourage rock climbing skills?

Would more cupboard space be useful for storage for community groups?

Would the ability to screen off part of the large hall to make a more intimate meeting space, be a benefit?

Would we like visiting exhibitions up for a few days?

Is there a place for new activities?

How about Pottery ? We've access to a Kiln.

There's £16,000 available for good ideas with community backing!

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

The case against Tesco Chickens

Last night we heard about Tesco's disreputable labelling of its chicken products.

Today I read this on a packet of Tesco Express Chicken in Morecambe:

Below a photo of a man outside was the text:

One of our farmers Ernie Wheatley.

Ernie has been rearing chickens on his farm set on the edge of the Derbyshire Dales for over 20 years. He regularly checks his flocks as bird welfare is a priority. This helps him achieve the high standards required by Tesco and Independent Farm Assurance.

From this we can imagine an idyllic scene of happy chickens fluttering across a beautiful fell side.

The reality is this:

Clearly Tesco is misleading us and trying to lull us into a false sense of security.

On the evidence of this, would you not be asking questions about Tesco's humanity? Or doesn't humanity matter when it comes to money?

Just watch this video and you'll quickly get the picture.

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Building Council Houses

I've been supporting this cause over two years now which is why I put up posters all over town, calling a meeting in the Old Friends about Affordable Housing early last year.

This organisation is worth supporting if you believe that council housing is part of the solution

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Ulverson Health Centre being put to good use!

Saturday Morning - join them!

This seems to me a great use being put to the unused car park.

Parents bringing their kids to have fun in this open space.

Traders need a level playing field that doesn't favour the supermarket

Following up to Jamie Samson's letter to the Mail titled

Town isn't a tourist money-pot in Lakes

I wrote the following letter to the editor of the Evening Mail, this morning :

There's a lot of good joined-up thinking in Jamie Samson's letter.

Because of our narrow streets the car parks play a very important role in the commerce of the town.

Yet commerce doesn't have a level playing field.

The superstores like Booths and Tesco can provide free parking because they have total control over their land.

It is essential for the future of our small shops and our way of life that we too have total control of the car parks at present owned by SLDC. This control used to be there with parks like the Gill until they were handed over.

What is needed is a way of generating an alternative clear income (charges less running cost) for SLDC that leaves our car parks well-used and free.

This cash could come from the shop keepers, it could come from us in higher rates. Some would welcome higher costs if only their trade was increased.

An additional factor is that our car parks need to be clearly marked and the recent ignoring of our request to the County Council to have better signing to Stockbridge car park does not help.

It is no wonder that the big supermarkets have such a disastrous effect on the life of a town. They have all the trump cards:

Control over car parks

Sharp practice in offering loss leaders and control over their farm and other suppliers.

Lawyers to take advantage of every tax loophole.

Some of the best commercial brains in the country.

The general public and the small business have lost control over their own destiny. Local Government and Big business have taken over.

This trend must stop for the well-being of our people. Inefficiency on the one hand and cost cutting sharp practice on the other must be prevented.

We need to stand up for ourselves in this David and Goliath contest.

Geoff Dellow

Coffee at Poppies - recommended!

This morning was my first paying visit.

Service was excellent - friendly, I got what I asked for even though it didn't seem to be on the menu. Price the same as The Rose and Crown.

The customers were friendly, talking to each other, with children, single woman on her own. The decor, simple attractive.

Greater choice of 'basics' than Gillams and cheaper. Three daily papers available - free. Loos clean, information counter.

Good choice Geoff, looking forward to meeting you there next week - don't all come at once!

Friday, 23 January 2009

Dealing with bureaucracy

My visit to Simon Hughes, Senior Housing Officer, South Lakes Housing left me totally drained, which is probably why so few people want to get involved.

Unlike when talking with a neighbour, you find that you are dealing with a total stranger who doesn't appear to share the same values as yourself.

There were a lot of evasive answers. The problem of course is that the officer is there to represent the system put in place by elected councillors.

Who is to 'blame'?

Has it become a way of life for these civil 'servants' who are in the public eye? Perhaps it's the system behind them that is at fault?

Many people are too frightened to even ask because they believe they will get blacklisted.

Are we always trying to 'suck up' to them in order to get what we want?

I have two issues: MUGA consultation and pets on sheltered housing. The first is a shambles the second more straightforward - or is it!

The simplest issue first:

Cats and pets in sheltered housing.

When someone wants to accept an offer of sheltered housing they have to sign an agreement.

In this agreement is the statement that they are allowed to bring a pet with them and keep it until it dies.

However then they are not allowed to have another.

My reaction to this is that yes they will sign whatever it takes to get in as they don't have a viable alternative. Furthermore, it wasn't long ago that the state ran poorhouses where they created the rules and you fitted in - or you were out.

We still have this mentality.

In order to run these 'institutions' the bureaucrats come up with policies which managers are expected to follow without any leniency for interpretation. These policies are a very crude method of controlling what happens. They allow for no individual interpretation by an immediate manager on the individual circumstances.

The result is that the individual feels powerless and against the system which appears to be totally without feeling.
Jail door at Chateau d'If - shelter for the weary?

I have a very strong feeling of wanting to be in charge of my life and not having others telling me what I can and cannot do. I am ruled by reason and as long as my values are intact I can be as bolshi as hell.

Thus if I am being a responsible human and caring for myself and for those around me I question anyone interfering.

I was in Christie's hospital in 1978 for cancer treatment .

Without being asked, I had my clothes taken away from me on the first day.

That night I felt trapped, I was no longer 'free', so I got up at about 3 am, put on my dressing gown and started to roam the empty corridors. There was no one to question me!

I started a search of the ground floor outside doors that could be opened from the inside and looked out of each one. Eventually I found the one that looked across a car park and there was my car. I had my keys and should I want to, I could do a runner. This might have seemed strange had I stopped for petrol as I would have still been in my dressing gown!

With the knowledge of an escape route, should I need it, I went back to bed comforted.

I was back in control!

In our society there are too many cases where people feel imprisoned. This has a great toll on our mental health. The bureaucrats often believe that if they take care of our bodies then they are doing their jobs.

This is not good enough.

Our spirits and mental state is far more important.

Conclusion: every responsible person should have recourse to another human being who knows them and can make decisions with them in mind.

If we were living in a boarding house you would find that a good landlady was making individual decisions to suit our individual circumstances. Some would be allowed pets and others not.

In the case of South Lakes Housing it seems that there has to be a mindless blanket policy for everyone . This they feel is then 'fair' because you signed up for it when you came and your immediate manager isn't allowed to think for themselves but has to (or is supposed to) follow the rules. One with a bit of 'get up and go' will choose to look the other way and ignore the rules on your behalf - thank God for a bit of humanity and readiness to put their own jobs on the line.

Simon Hughes felt positive for the future however.

The (dreaded) system was under review. Three months ago someone decided that the pet issue should be reviewed. In a month's time a committee will get together to decide how to instigate this review by conducting a survey and eventually in the autumn arriving at a new policy. Which will still be as painful as the first. You can't legislate for individual circumstances.

What is needed is to hand back to individual managers a policy-free situation where they can make their own decisions about what is appropriate.

The new policy is to have no policy.

Meanwhile the wheels of bureaucracy turn extremely slowly. Something that could be decided in a day in a normal situation has to go through convoluted procedures and take 300 times as long.

Meanwhile the petless old person has given up the will to live . . .

Can't someone build a secret cupboard and provide a cat that pops into it at the sound of a hiss.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

This Saturday and in the future

I shall be leaving the Rose and Crown and coming here every Saturday from 11 to 12 am reading my paper and looking forward to listening to you!

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Cards through letterboxes

Have you received a card like this?

If you're wondering what it's all about, let me tell you!

During the time spent visiting and talking to people door-to-door, I have met several of you who would like to get together for a number of reasons.

The main one being that many people don't know each other very well and can see the benefits of more contact.

There are benefits to making such a group 'official', as it will then be asked for its opinions whenever something affecting Croftlands is proposed.

The introduction of a MUGA to the playing field is such an issue.

Taking things one step further, an official group can apply for grants through the Neighbourhood Forum, where there remains £16,000 that can be applied for before March. This money could be spent on improving the Croftlands Community centre with - for instance - a climbing wall for young people to develop their rock climbing skills. There may also be a need for more cupboard space for groups to store things, so that something like a pottery or craft group could meet.

Members would also most likely get elected to the Town and District Councils should they want to stand as Independents. Most people are dissatisfied with the present party politicians and their inaction.

Another option, rather than operating 'officially', we could simply gather together on the playing field for fun. Here our dogs could run around together on a Saturday/Sunday in an informal manner in a similar way to what happens at Ford Park. This led to the filming of something that went on Youtube ! There's another on the way taken at the 'happening' on Christmas day!

There are lots and lots of other possibilities and you will have your own ideas which you could add here by pressing the comment button - you can be anonymous if you choose - watch this space - I've still got another 100 cards to deliver!

Internet chat rooms

In my view the reporting that I have seen on BBC Breakfast features the wrong messages.

The concept of parents and teachers 'policing ' their children approaches the problem in a way that will perpetuate dangerous chats.

Children are rightly intrigued by the unknown, they want to take risks and need to be encouraged to do so but we must do this with parental guidance. When they want to climb trees we don't prevent them totally. We encourage them to develop their confidence in gauging the risk by giving them advice based on our experience.

We don't ban them from climbing because they might hurt themselves. When very young we climb alongside them so that they learn how to make good judgements and learn to cope with danger.

Parents and teachers should go online with their charges and join in with the interactions with strangers, so that children learn how to judge whether people are genuine and how to deal with potential danger.

What is needed is for young people to develop confidence in dealing with people older than themselves instead of spending most of their time with their own age group. No wonder we end up with a gang culture where adults are regarded as 'the enemy'.

In the classroom, wouldn't it be great if the whole class were working together sharing their experiences out in the open so that issues could be discussed? If someone came across a suspicious character the whole class could get involved in how to deal with it. The teacher could perhaps take over and guide this person into the hands of the police if necessary. Let's have an atmosphere where parents show how to develop confidence, ask questions, develop judgment and deal with difficult situations.

This approach will bring parents and teachers closer to their children, rather than alienating them. Then POS (Parent Over Shoulder) is no longer a message but rather a cry from the bedroom:

"Mum, here, quick, I've got a dodgy character"

"Now how shall we play it?"

We need to bring people of all ages together, not set them against each other.

Monday, 19 January 2009

Community groups in both Ainslie /Burlington and Croftlands areas

If you're interested in either of these and would like to know more:

Let me know as I've spoken to people in both that are also interested in being part of a group!

Cats in sheltered housing

I've just arrived home from talking to some people on Croftlands who report that Simon Hughes, Senior Housing Officer, South Lakes Housing, says "no" to an old person in sheltered housing having a cat.

This is outrageous. If the person is able to take care of a cat, even when some assistance is required, then they should be even encouraged to have a cat - 'someone' to look after and be responsible for.

We are taking care of people's bodies but not their emotional welfare. A cat can be an important 'person' in an old person's life particularly when animals of the two legged variety are rarely encountered.

I hope to be able to report back on this when I've talked to Simon Hughes tomorrow.

Colin and Janette - just hot air on Parking Charges?

Once again, although Cllrs Colin Hodgson and Janette Jenkinson are angry about something, are they really doing anything to try to change the situation?

Too often what is said ends up being hot air with no scorch.

What we need are dragons that breath fire and get their claws stuck in and worry the problem until a result is obtained.

The car parking situation in Ulverston is a real mess. Agreed, it is very complicated. However it doesn't help when the same councillors allow the County Highways Engineer, Nick Raymond, to put a request for better signs to the Stockbridge car park at the bottom of our list of priorities in the Town Centre Plan even though we were all in favour of this. By contrast a request for a cycle paths notice board which no-one backed went to the top.

Repeatedly, Civil 'Servants' seem to dictate what is done and Councillors meekly follow.

It's no good bleating that Ulverston Councillors are outnumbered by Kendal on SLDC - they're not - if you take into account those from other non-Kendal areas. Some political 'you scratch my back and . . . .' needs to be practiced.

Sedbergh Councillors have shown an interest in working with Ulverston to achieve mutually advantageous goals in spite of what Phil Lister said recently at a public meeting.

Rational persuasion is very powerful tool!

Raising council tax may be unacceptable, but increases in car parking charges are not the only way of raising money in this way.

Another alternative, though unpalatable to some, is getting the traders, both market and shopkeepers, to pay for the car park charges on Thursday and Saturday. After all, it is in their interest that everything possible is done to encourage shoppers to Ulverston and better use to be made of the previously mentioned Stockbridge car park, which few visitors ever find.

Far from increasing charges, towns like Blackburn & Darwen are exploring 3 hrs of free parking on Saturdays and market days, enough for a good shop.

Some imaginative solutions and determination to see them through are needed.

For your amusement - an email just received!


This is to inform you that there is a package in this office deposited by one Rev. Muktar Scott on the 28th September 2008. Your email address was attached to it and is to be delivered to you. I have been waiting for you to contact me for your confirmable package which contain a Bank Draft of 800,000.00 USD and some vital Documents. Kindly contact our branch office,

Fedex West Africa

Couldn't resist!

Report on Tesco at Bowness

Visit : Friday 16 Jan 09 at 11.00 to 13.00

Bowness is not comparable with Ulverston

When Tesco arrived in a new purpose-built modern block of luxury flats just over a year ago, the only shops were the Co-op and a butcher. Both are doing well now.

The killer for the small shops had been the coming of Booths up the road in Windermere, when three closed.

Comparing the Tesco and the Co-op:

Tesco because it is brand new is very welcoming tidy, 'clean', well organised.

Co-op feels run down, needing a coat of paint, not so easy to explore.

Queues: Longer at Tesco

Prices: similar but difficult to compare:
  • The Co-op sells loose for the family, Tesco sells pre-packaged or individual items for the casual drop in.
  • Tomatoes: Co-op loose £2.09/Kg 6 pack (£2.70/kg one bad)
  • Strongbow: Coop 15 x 440 £9.99 (£1.51/lt) Tesco 4 x 440 £3.40 (£1.93/lt)
  • Carling: Coop 15 x 440 £10.49 (£1.58/lt) Tesco 4 x 500 £4.55 ( £2.28/lt)
  • Other items often very similar
Service friendlier at Co-op, the staff were very helpful and seemed like old hands. Staff at Tesco was new (high turnover?) 'professional' .

The quality of produce was inferior at Tesco, but that is based on a small sample (they sold tomatoes that were already mouldy on 18/01/09 (photo taken 19/01/09) in a packet labelled best before 22 /01/09) see below.

Deliveries: Tesco at 5:30 am which annoys the luxury flat owners above.

Impact : Co-op initially lost sales but customers returned and now sales same as before.

Could be that tourists favour Tesco which is down near the marina whilst Co-op is up the hill and favoured by locals.

The only other shop in the frame, a butcher, had lost sales when Booths arrived, but there has been no impact since Tesco arrived - if anything business is slightly better.

The butcher said that the greatest impact had been on sales of drinks where Tesco had clobbered the opposition.

One important point: people suggest that Tesco in Ulverston will employ more people.

It is easy to distort this figure as we are talking about part time jobs which can be for any length of time:

Thus 4 people working 9hrs/week = 2 people working 18 hrs a week

Does this really create more jobs.

Perhaps we all need to work part time and earn less rather than full time and have little time for ourselves and our children.

Saturday, 17 January 2009

What's a guy doing poking cards through the letterbox at this time on a night like this!

You must live in Croftlands!

(Sadly you have to have access to the Internet to read this. Please alert the many people without this to it what is expressed below.

I shall be at Poppies, Union Street this next and all future Saturdays from 11 to 12 am to talk to anyone that cares to come.)

More tomorrow when I regale you with my adventure in the dark, discovering I still have a measure of agility to recover my balance after stepping on drives that weren't there ( but six inches further down) - people traps camouflaged as footpaths.

At least I avoided the quick witted dog that bit my finger last time round. Still have the blood blister under my nail to prove it.

That was Saturday evening.

Sunday morning was much better!

There are issues for the immediate here and now and others for the future.

The current topic is the provision of a Multiple Use Games Area from SLDC. This is great news, but has the provision of skateboarding equipment been included as promised by Richard Foster when I approached him last August?

I visited all the people whose houses border the playing field a couple of months ago.

Here are my impressions of what they said:

All except one person who held a view agreed that there is a pressing need for more facilities for youngsters in the Croftlands and that the vast majority of them respond very well to adult advice and are eager to fit in.

Any complaints about the MUGA should not be taken seriously. This facility promotes ball games and the only consideration was where it should go. People agreed that it should be somewhere central, but away from the equipment for young children. It should be highly visible and away from houses.

Objections to this do not stand up to reason. The playing field is an area for people to . . . PLAY.

Anyone living round the field accepted this when they bought their house.

No paid supervision is required. Residents can have a great influence on unruly behaviour and several residents have a lot of previous experience of doing this when they supported young people playing football. Some people are very good at whinging and complaining about young people but very few try actually talking them. (I have a similar experience as I live overlooking the new Health Centre where we regularly get young people playing in the car park after hours and at weekends. Yes we have minor trouble and yes the kids respond very well to be spoken to).

What is needed is a lot of use by responsible kids with the backing of their parents and the community as a whole. We must do the 'policing'.

However we need both the MUGA, which will encourage team activities, and the skateboarding pad to enable the enthusiasts, who are a great bunch of kids, to be able to get off the streets and into the park (No they can't use the MUGA - unsuitable surface). At the moment they are shunted around and complained about but not encouraged.

So yes to the MUGA but make sure that something for the skateboarders is included or else residents will feel ignored.

Simon Hughes and Richard Forster take note !

Tesco - visit to Bowness

Friday saw me up in Bowness assessing the impact of Tesco there.

Don't be fooled, at Tesco :

I had to queue even on a quiet January mid-day Friday

They're not cheap.

The quality was dismal.

They have no competition other than the Co-op - all small stores except a butcher were forced out of business by Booths up the road in Windermere before Tesco arrived.

Tesco has been in the town for just over a year - report to follow.

Friday, 16 January 2009

Road markings

A clue to massive savings:

Examine closely and you may spot the problem.

Spreading butter on bread in wartime?

Coming up - County Highways highly inefficient

A discovery of a foolproof way that can halve their road-marking costs from a bit of close observation!

Tesco - need for some facts!

Tesco is coming - it's a fact.

What we need now is clear information about our true choices.

Here are some questions:

What will be the net gain or loss of jobs for the area?
I suspect it will be a loss. Not only will the shopkeepers suffer and lay off staff but their suppliers - like potato growers in Flookborough and carrot growers in Hest Bank will lose business.

How ethical is Tesco in the way it treats its suppliers? Does it put such pressure on them that they receive less than the minimum wage?

What is the carbon footprint of their products - do they travel great distances?

Do we have a level playing field regarding the payment of UK taxes? Do Tesco go to extraordinary lengths to dodge these, thus enabling them to charge less for products and still make a profit?

What effect will it have on the character of the town when at present we know each other well? Will we have the same contact in Tesco?

What will happen to our outside market ? Will it continue?

What will be the effect of the greater number of deliveries on our narrow streets? Will Theatre street, which provides a rear access, become restricted?

With Booths on our doorstep will people continue to go there if they have some serious shopping to do?

I'm to visit Bowness and Morecambe/Heysham to find some answers.

What impact have Tesco had there?

What in fact are the prices being charged and the opinions of the public?

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Stan Laurel - sending the wrong message

Is proposed statue right for our town?

It's good to hear Dr Brown speaking up for the present rather than see Ulverston looking back to its past.

See my post Stan Laurel comes to the County Square


Tesco - thinking residents

Two very thoughtful letters in the Mail

Read the first by Zoe Wand:

Can shops survive with Tesco in town?

and the second by A Hudson

Stop 'Tescofication'


Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Cobbles in state of disrepair

Cobbles outside Woolies on Saturday 10th January

How much longer do we have to put up with this from County Highways?

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Ainslie, Burlington, Casson, Clarence, Newton and Hart Street Area

There is great potential for people who live here to get together for their own benefit.

This is why cards are being delivered to these houses to suggest some possibilities.

What happens next will be up to you/them!

I've got some suggestions of what could be possible - I'm sure that you will have many others.

It strikes me that people are losing touch with each other in some parts of Ulverston but this is less true in these streets.

While there is still a high level of interaction it might be a good idea to have some way of communicating more with each other.

With Ford Park so close - both the grass, gardens and the building - there is lots of potential for communal activities : crafts, discussions, celebrations. There are already some who are members of the trust and this only costs £5 per year.

Then there are older people with expertise and time on their hands who would perhaps enjoy interacting with younger people - some with babies to youngsters when babysitting would work, others with older children when advice with hobbies and even setting up in business is a possibility.

We have a pottery group here in my workshop where babies come with parents and the occasional babysitting has evolved. It provides an opportunity for different ages to meet! Out of it may even evolve a cottage industry and who knows a viable business or two!

One way of keeping in touch could be to have a blog and this is easy to set this up!

There is money available for community groups to get projects off the ground and the way is open to have non-party political representation both in the Town council and particularly through the Neighbourhood Forum.

This area has even got its own pub as a resource at the Swan!

Does any of this make sense?

Monday, 12 January 2009

Tesco impact - six months later

Here is a cautionary tale few found on the Internet:

"When Tesco recently won planning permission for a new 24 hour store in Burnage only a mile from the large 24 hr Didsbury Tesco so Manchester Friends of the Earth decided this was the perfect opportunity to find out just what impact the ever growing number of supermarkets is having.

In our first visit, one day before the store opened, we found nearly 60 businesses in a half mile stretch providing a very wide range of services that all had different opinions on the new store. Feelings ranged from horror to happiness as some shopkeepers expected more people would walk past and generate business for them.

Just six months on and with the release of High Street 2015, a parliamentary report calling for controls on the supermarkets and the grocery sector, we visited again to see what had changed. There were still the same businesses but none had a positive view of the store. Two traders now thought they would close. Several had found turnover halve since the store opened and one store, California Wines, opposite the new store had closed half of the shop."

It is hoped that those in power will take the time to stop and reflect before making thoughtless decisions!

Encouragement from battling Britions

I draw a lot of emotional strength from experiencing others battling against the odds.

Some, as I do, follow a football team. What gives me even more encouragement is keeping track of people who aren't in the limelight, like Andy Murray, but are fighting just as hard and making great strides like Anne Keothavong and Melanie South in their tennis.

New Keothavong Website - Who is she?

Melanie South - who is she?

Enough. It's time for a boycott of Israel

This was the headline in Saturday's Guardian Comment

"Since 2006 Israel has been steadily escalating its criminality: expanding settlements, launching an outrageous war against Lebanon, and imposing collective punishment on Gaza through the brutal blockade. Despite this escalation, Israel has not faced punitive measures - quite the opposite. The weapons and $3bn in annual aid the US sends Israel are only the beginning. Throughout this key period, Israel has enjoyed a dramatic improvement in its diplomatic, cultural and trade relations with a variety of other allies."

Boycotting all Isreali products must be a priority for thinking people.

Encouraging our Government to be less pro Israel is the next.

We are heading in the direction of antagonising the Arab world, which will lead to even greater concerns about our safety and protection from terrorists. It's then a short step to a police state filled with fear, where everything we do is monitored and everyone is suspicious of their neighbour.

Friday, 9 January 2009

It's cheaper - it must be good

We have all got hooked on the concept that money is important.

It is, but there are other things that are even more.

Feeling good about oneself is always my priority.

The Tesco issue highlights this.

We can do ridiculous things that if we stand back, and think about what we are doing, we realise that we are being totally inconsistent.

We know, when we stop and think, that people are far more important than money.

Many feel that having the latest fashion accessory is what makes us feel good and respected by those around us. If we stop and consider this we realise that actually loyal friends are far more important.

Gaining friends because we are 'with it' and share the views of the majority feels hollow when compared with supporting a real and faithful friend.

Some of our reliable shopkeepers have become trusted friends!

Some have not and can be avoided and ignored!

A message from Royalty!

Hi Geoff,

Our investigations suggest the new occupants will be TK Maxx, not Tesco.

If you have information to the contrary please let us know.


Dave Guest

It seems that we got it right here ! It is Tesco!

Something really positive

As I visit people door to door I discover a significant number of people who rarely venture out of their houses.

This is not because they cannot move through their rooms, as they seem perfectly able when they get me a cup of tea (and even a chocolate biscuit). It seems they have lost the habit of venturing outside. Their shopping is brought in by relatives/ friends and their entertainment provided by the TV.

"I haven't been out for five years" was one remark in South Ulverston.

"Why did you let me in?"

"I saw your name in the paper!"

Then on Croftlands:

" The lady next door but one - she's nice - but I haven't seen or spoken to her for two years - I don't go out anymore. " Yet this person used to run a thriving pub only a couple of years ago.

These people haven't got real problems compared with some that suffer with a lot of pain, but it's all in the mind maybe!

An article in the mail
recently highlights a course in Ulverston designed to help. It is run by someone who has been down this tunnel and seen the light and come out the other end - coping but not cured.

“When living with a long-term condition, you can get isolated and shut yourself away and don’t answer the phone or the door and it’s very difficult to get out of that."

Marie Blackburn, from Penrith CVS, now co-ordinates a new programme in Ulverston due to start on January 19th.

She said: “I got my life back. The main message that we have to get across is that life is hard for everybody and can be really tough, but having a long-term condition makes it a bit more challenging.”

If you know someone who might be encouraged to get involved, then contact Mrs Blackburn on 01768 868649 or e-mail her at

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Woolies - Tesco

The person locking up last night did not want to reveal who would be moving in but stated it would be in the next fortnight.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Tesco - financial background

Here from Wikipedia:

See also Criticism of Tesco

Also the story in Inverness referred to as Tesco Town where it is claimed 51p in £1 spent on food is in a Tesco and an application for a fourth store has been defeated by local councillors 8 to 4 who are concerned about the effect on local shops. How I ask are Morecambe/Heysham getting on with three stores ?

Article in the Guardian - May 2008

"In May 2007 it was revealed that Tesco had moved the head office of its online operations to the tax haven of Switzerland. This allows it to sell CDs, DVDs and electronic games through its web site without charging VAT.[32] The operation had previously been run out of the tax haven of Jersey, but had been closed by authorities who feared damage to the islands' reputation.[32]
In February 2008 a six month investigation by The Guardian revealed that Tesco had developed a complex taxation structure involving offshore bank accounts in the tax haven of the Cayman Islands.[33] Tesco is in the process of selling its UK stores, worth an estimated £6 billion, to Cayman Island based companies set up by Tesco. These companies then lease the stores back to Tesco. At the time The Guardian claimed that this arrangement would enable Tesco to avoid an estimated £1 billion tax on profits from the property sales, and also to avoid paying any tax on continuing operation of the stores, as the rate of corporation tax in the Cayman Islands is zero. Tesco defended this arrangement, saying it has a duty to organise its affairs in a tax-efficient manner, and pointing out that the corporation already pays a lot of tax, including VAT on behalf of its customers, and PAYE and national insurance contributions on behalf of its employees.
Following these revelations, several MPs called for an inquiry into Tesco's tax avoidance schemes.[34]
Tesco issued a libel writ against the Guardian five weeks later. Tesco denied that it had avoided paying £1 billion corporation tax, but refused to answer further questions, or to clarify the purpose of the complex artificial tax structure they had created. Further investigations by the Guardian discovered that the tax structures were aimed at avoiding Stamp Duty Land Tax, and not corporation tax as originally thought. SDLT is leveled at 4%, and corporate tax at around 30%, so the figure of £1 billion tax avoided by Tesco has been revised to an estimated £90-£100 million.[35] According to the Guardian "Tesco has been involved in a game of cat and mouse with HM Revenue & Customs since 2003. On three occasions when the government has closed a loophole to prevent avoidance, Tesco has taken advantage of ingenious schemes to get around it. Tesco still has 36 stores wrapped up in UK limited partnerships - with Cayman Islands registered partners - which were established in 2006 before the latest loophole was closed."[35]
In June 2008 the government announced that it was closing another tax loophole being used by Tesco.[36] The scheme, identified by British magazine Private Eye, utilises offshore holding companies in Luxembourg and partnership agreements to avoid a corporation tax liability of up to £50 million a year.[36] Another scheme previously identified by Private Eye involved depositing £1 billion in a Swiss partnership, and then loaning out that money to overseas Tesco stores, so that profit can be transferred indirectly through interest payments. This scheme is still in operation and is estimated to be costing the UK exchequer up to £20 million a year in corporation tax.[36] Tax expert Richard Murphy has provided an analysis of this avoidance structure.[37] "

From the "No to Mill Road Tesco" Campaigners

Hi Geoff

You've obviously found our website so you can read the concerns we have there in some detail.

In planning terms, we were able to stop Tesco largely because of the impact on highway safety and congestion; Tesco make many more deliveries than any other supermarket, and each delivery, lasting for up to 40 minutes, would have effectively blocked Mill Road, causing not only congestion but danger, especially to cyclists.

They are highly aggressive, as you say, and it is a fair bet that if they open, a year down the line you will have fewer small shops still in existence.

Generally, people who say they are in favour of a Tesco Express do so based on the misunderstanding that it will be cheap. In fact, Tesco Express prices are over 20% higher than in their supermarkets. In our own shopping basket comparison, their prices were also higher than those in the existing independent traders on Mill Road.

Good luck and best wishes,

Tesco - Some very helpful thoughts

Someone has sent in the following excellent analysis. Comments from the Mill Road Campaigners have been added in red.

What do you think?



• When Tesco opened in Bowness, it showed signs of wanting to create goodwill in the local community by donating money to support local groups (it’s not exactly known for its generosity though, and this was only £500).
• Could draw more people into the town and support other businesses that way
• Saves people who shop at Tesco already a trip to Barrow – better for the environment and keeps money circulating locally.

No, that's precisely what Tesco doesn't do. Money spent in Tesco goes to their Head Office. Independent retailers keep the money local. The stats are somewhere on our website (!)

• May draw people from the outskirts (such as Swarthmoor) who now go to Barrow to shop back into Ulverston.
• Jobs (unless other local businesses are squeezed out)

Unlikely to be any doubt about that, unfortunately, and the jobs on offer are likely to be part-time and low-paid.

• Cheaper goods available for hard-up locals

see my initial comments (likely to be 20% higher than Tesco Barrow). Express stores are not cheap!

• Provides competition for local shops – they’ll have to up their game somehow, which could have a positive effect.
• Ulverstonians need to be able to buy everyday necessities locally and at reasonable prices. This is becoming very difficult now Woolworths is gone. Local suppliers such as Pellymounters charge extremely high prices (possibly due to a lack of competitors) provoking townspeople to drive all the way to Barrow and back just to get simple goods at prices they can afford. Personally, I am forced to shop via the internet more and more. This all means less of our money is staying in the town and there are fewer jobs locally. If the new Tesco store sells similar goods to Woolworths (as opposed to merely foodstuffs), this may well be just what we need.


• Where will everyone park? Could cause traffic chaos. Or are there ways in which they could develop more parking space? Where might that be?
• Will need to be supplied – more lorries coming into the town centre.
• Will it put other businesses at risk? Direct competitors locally are Booths, Co-op, newsagents, butchers, bakeries, delicatessen, the indoor market. Other competitors – depends on whether the store will sell mainly foodstuffs or other items as well.
• Tesco doesn’t sell or promote locally produced goods (unlike Booths, which does).
• Doesn’t make the local high street look attractive or unique – a selling point for Ulverston. Might be bad for tourism.
• Will Tesco do a Bargain Booze and buy up adjacent shops, becoming larger and larger? Bargain Booze uglifies the street and causes parking problems, Tesco may prove even worse in that regard.
• Tesco is not known for its business ethics (unlike Co-op and Booths). Should such an unethical business be encouraged?
• What about our status as Fairtrade town?
• What about the possibility we have at the moment of marketing Ulverston as an alternative to clone towns, as a place where you can still get quality, where people can come for an alternative shopping experience?


• Will they be allowed to expand if they want to?
• What kind of Tesco will it be? Express? Mainly foodstuffs or a mix of food and other goods? This is something that could possibly be controlled by changing the planning permission so that they are only allowed to sell foodstuffs. However, the town really needs somewhere to buy the kind of goods that were stocked by Woolworths, otherwise people will have to go to Barrow just to buy the odd pot or pan.

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Absolute outrage at Israel's actions

As I hear the news this morning, my feelings lead me to have to do something.

This is an outlet.

I only hope that Andrew Marr's interview with Brown reveals some ray of hope for action from Britain.

Is Obama going to express a view?

It did not. Gordon Brown is totally off track , it seems to me.

Does Britain really believe that Hamas will ever stop firing rockets and fighting Israel while they treat Palestinians - the original owners of the land - like animals with no dignity. A caged lion will fight to the death.

The call for a ceasefire is a mockery if it ignores assurances to the Palestinians that there is hope for them in the future.

While there is trouble in the Middle East, we can expect trouble here.

We need a long term policy of removal of support for Israel by both The States and Britain for us to avoid sinking towards the police state that is looming.

Saturday, 3 January 2009

Beware - a police state ?

Buses come in threes . . .

From The Guardian:

" Private firm may track all email and calls

'Hellhouse' of personal data will be created, warns former Director of Public Prosecutions "

a consultation paper to be published next month by Jacqui Smith, the home secretary.

With policies like this: how does Labour ever hope to get re-elected ?

It shocks me that the idea even crossed their minds.

Does anyone agree with this idea?

I'd rather fear a terrorist than Big Brother.

"External estimates of the cost of the superdatabase have been put as high as £12bn, twice the cost of the ID cards scheme, and the consultation paper, to be published towards the end of next month, will include an option of putting it into the hands of the private sector in an effort to cut costs."

Policies like this can sound very rational at the time yet in practice they can be completely different.

In practice they are always carried out by fallible humans sometimes uncaring, unthinking and even corrupt.

Recently a mother did the 'right thing' by reporting to the police that she had found a gun in her autistic son's bedroom. He was being victimised and pressured by a local gang into hiding their gun for them.

The police's irrational, thoughtless actions have now ruined this vulnerable young man's and his responsible mother's life for ever. A caring family has been torn apart.

It could happen to you with this kind of blind trust in 'the government' to take care of us.

We need more control over 'Big Brother' not less.

We are increasingly surrendering our powers to 'authorities', local government, bureaucrats, with dire consequences.

The Palestine conflict

My sympathies are with the Palestinians.

The behaviour of Hamas is that of a desperate people struggling for survival against an uncaring invasive Israel.

As seen from the Arab viewpoint, until there is a glimmer of hope for a better future then outright aggressive defense is seen as the only option.

Israel's aggression will never bring about a peaceful solution. There are too many wrongs in the past that cannot be laid to rest without Israel giving ground in a big way. Something they show no sign of doing. They have to learn that military superiority is not everything when dealing with a people with little to live for.

In no way should this be translated to this country in a conflict between Moslems and Jews. Many Jews in this country are doing everything they can on behalf of the Palestinians.

The protests in this country should be supported but they must be directed against the country of Isreal and not against the Jewish religion by a lynch mob mentality that could be encouraged by the BNP.

What will Obama's response be?

How will it contrast with that of Bush?

Friday, 2 January 2009

Woolworth move out - Tesco move in

This may or may not be good for the town.

Tesco do not come with the best of reputations. . .

Here local people are concerned about the loss of business to small shops.

On the other hand a large store in the town centre will attract shoppers that would otherwise go to Barrow.

Small shops can then offer specialised and personal service.

Some feel that the local shopkeepers are unimaginative with their opening hours.

Tesco prices are not favourable.

Small shops can often be cheaper with good friendly service included - something the uncaring, low paid and ignorant staff of large stores can't compete with.

Compare Smith and Harrisons with Homebase and B & Q in Barrow - there is no question which to use!

Our big problem is parking in Ulverston something our Town Council should be tackling and is avoiding.

Access for Tesco will be the main problem which is why there was such an energetic opposition elsewhere.

Here is the web site of a campaigning group!

Protests also took place in Wales to the opening of a new store:

Farmers are concerned about their practices.

Tesco can be a ruthless organisation and if I remember correctly avoid paying tax on their profits with an offshore fiddle.

We shall be researching their likely movements in Ulverston and report back.

Thursday, 1 January 2009