Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Inside Market - Dickensian Festival

One of the events I really enjoy at Dickensian.

Climate campaign update

From "Friends of the Earth"

Dear Geoff

Today sees the start of the global climate talks in Cancun, Mexico.

If we want to avoid the mistakes of Copenhagen - and move towards preventing catastrophic climate change - we must send a clear message to the president of the talks not to repeat them. Please email her today .

The talks will be led by Mexican Foreign Minister, Patricia Espinosa Cantellano.

She must keep negotiations on track by stopping the dodgy back-room deals we saw in Denmark, and dropping the unfair restrictions set up to keep civil society groups quiet.

These groups are the eyes and ears of the world. And only by fully involving all countries in the negotiations can we hope to get closer to the strong and fair agreement we urgently need.

Please take action now

Thousands of people across Europe emailed the EU's top negotiators last week. Let's send Mexico an even bigger message.

Thanks for your support,

Can anyone explain to me why I should bother?

Is there realistically any hope?

It seems to me that the horse has bolted.

What remains is to make the best of a bad job.

Which is why I'm building friendships like mad.

Aren't we too preoccupied with things that really don't matter to be able to see the bigger picture?

Let's face it.

Humans won't survive, so let's make the most of the hard years ahead as we become extinct and sort out for ourselves what is really important in the years we do have.

For me the most important thing is to enjoy the present.

So welcome to another wonderful day.


From the Swarthmore Hall Blog

One day ago:

The next public event is on Thursday, ??? when Dr Mike Winstanley will talk on:

Please - do come along!


Was Dickensian a good experience?

What did you enjoy?

What did you not enjoy?

Was it better or worse than last year?

. . over to you!


Sunday, 28 November 2010

Should everyone have the opportunity of an education


Now by education here I include training.

But for me the real and important meaning of education is not training not learning to be an engineer, writer, doctor, media studies or whatever.

No for me it is being encouraged and taught to think and question. Most important it is being helped to learn how to learn.

At my degree ceremony I remember distinctly being exhorted by the wise person (I think it was Anthony Eden) :

Now I had demonstrated the ability to learn, to  consider my degree as the beginning of my education not the finishing post.

Ever since then I have continued to learn and do so even today - in a very determined way.

However I do not believe there is any obligation  for a student to earn more money than to fulfil his obligations.

Some very wise young friends of mine are deliberately earning the least  possible money in order to live the life they have chosen. In some cases this means only working one , two or three days a week so as to spend time on other none earning activities.

Others work hard doing a job they love that brings in very little - maybe below the minimum wage per hour.

I chose to work like this for fifteen years with a lot of enjoyment.

It is difficult to judge what a student is learning.

The fact that they don't even gain a degree of itself may not be a mistake. If they have learnt an important lesson in the process of failing this could be enough.

I am reminded that for most of my life I have been able to teach myself all I needed. The only reason to go back to universtity was to gain another qualification. In the process I learnt some useful things but also spent much time kicking against what I was being taught and going my own way. This is perhaps why I was refered to as an exceptionally good teacher by someone who has a lot of respect in education circles.

For me the student owes the country nothing other than to think carefully and thoroughly once he/she has fulfilled any obligations he has undertaken.

If he choses to earn no more money and yet is a burden to no one then he is doing us all a great service by living amongst us.

This can be his part in helping his country - a very important part.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Time to get those brushes out !

Here's another chance to work with our neighbours to make life easier for us all.

Sweeping, the snow off the pavements and streets before it's trodden on, really helps.  .  .

you and your neighbour.

It only takes ten minutes - to do a block.

It gets you warm - with the excercise.

It makes you feel good.

It builds good relationships.

Why do people hesitate?

If you haven't got a pavement

- go adopt one!

It will benefit you in the long run.

For your consideration

Do we approve of the actions of our police and those of the students.

At least with Youtube we have access to footage that allows us to make our own minds up.

Friday, 26 November 2010

From Crake Valley Events

Water Yeat Village Hall
Radio KFK
Saturday 27th November at 7:30 for 8:00
Tickets £8 on the door
Barrow based band featuring the amazing Pete Kassel on guitar (voted “guitarist of the year” by Guitarist Magazine in 1998).
Radio KFK play a mix of rock and blues classics which will be a feast for your ears and may just get your feet dancing!
*** Cabaret style seating, bring your own drinks ***

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Thought for the day - the month - for ever

I'd rather kill myself living

than live a death.

There's absolutely no comparison.

Sadly, some people appear to be prepared to stop living well before they are dead.

Do they 'live', energised by a fear of their inability to continue eating, breathing and sleeping?

Luckily the people of the third world don't have this privilege.

Presumably they determinedly live as long as they can.

Well done - vandal

The story of the vandal that owned up to a drunken spree gives me great encouragement.

It takes guts to own up like this and pay for something that is an improvement on the original.

Well done whoever you are.

I hope you now feel proud of yourself.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Bank Clock's Working

Keep your fingers crossed!

Thank you Matt Messenger of the M/NPS who work with SLDC for your involvement.

We appreciate the encouragement you gave to Smiths, overseer of Potts of Derby to get this sorted.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

We've been making candles!

Saturday morning we had a workshop with two families and their young children and we made about six candles like these from wax, ice cubes from the Coop and wicks.

They cost the families a fiver for the lot and they all went home after an hour here and half an hour in Mill Dam Park full of the joys of  - - winter!

Here's what they look like when they burn:

Book now for the next workshop on Saturday 4th December at 10:00 am here at the Corner House, Union Lane

An absolutely superb concert at the Coro on Friday Night

The Ulverston Victoria High School, Wind Band was playing with what I would call a full orchestra in a concert where The Royal Marines had the 'privilege' of playing with them later on.

Richard Butler their teacher, leader and conductor had done a superb job of inspiring and guiding them.

They opened with a piece that showed off their talents of being precisely in time and in tune - not a thing you expect of youngsters, some of whom I understand were only 11 years old.

"The Showstopper" by Osterling showed their talents off and certainly made me sit up and take notice.

Their playing was crisp and precise. Closing one's eyes would have made it difficult to tell one was not listening to the Halle.

Opening them revealed some very young children hunched forward whose body language suggested a lack of confidence.

Had they been able to hear objectively what I could, then I'm sure their stance would have changed dramatically and they would have appeared confident and assured. The latter was true of some of the soloists who were top notch.

As time went on we suspected they enjoyed playing with their respected adults and I hope the thought occurred to them - "I'm as good as they are". It's true - I thought they were.

The school is looking for sponsors for their next few years activities . I hope these will come in quantity as Richard Butler once again has planned a series of many activities which will take them to Europe - to Strasbourg and The Black Forest in Germany in July 16 to 21, 2010 . This kind of activity brings confidence and is a deserved complement to the studies of students who will be working hard at school in other areas other than music.

I shall be supporting their endeavors - contact Richard Butler , their outstanding teacher at

rbu at ulverstonvictoria.cumbria.sch.uk if you want to do likewise.

If in doubt , come and listen to the UVHS Swing Band at the Dickensian Festival at the Market Cross at 5 pm this next Saturday, 27th November.

Hopefully I'll be getting a version of this with my camera up onto Youtube shortly afterwards - as I did in the Spring this year!

Many Ulverstonians will be disappointed

If they were to miss this event next Friday, November 26th at 7:30pm

It is a musical evening to celebrate the life of Joe Harrison, who died of cancer in May, aged 77.

Joe was, foremost,  a well loved man. He always had a postive outlook on life even when in pain.

Some of us had the memorable experience of having had close contact with his strength and warmth.

As a physiotherapist, practicing in Theatre Street he had cause to help me with neck pains many years ago.

He grasped my head firmly against his chest with one arm and my body with the other and gave a frm swift yank - as though attempting to lift my head off my shoulders. He succeeded in relieving the pain by separating the two momentarily.

An experience at close quarters.

 I always enjoyed talking to him as he remained positive in spite of the pain in his legs and listening to him as he played in the Town Band.

The memorial concert at the St Mary’s Catholic Church in Victoria Road, Ulverston is something I look forward to. It will be a great reminder of one of the friendliest and most sincere people I have known in Ulverston over the years.

Ulverston Tourist Information Centre

A successful resolution?

I guess I have a somewaht different perspective to the official line - "Thank you Kendal - grovel, grovel, - thank you, thank you, Graham Vincent for rescuing us"

It was a great insight to spend four market days talking to the people at the Market Square resulting in more than 400 signing a petition, 200 pledging money - with a few actually saying "as much as it takes" and with 18 volunteers committing themselves (James Airey to his credit added his name later).

The TIC really mattered to them.

I believe it matters to most of us.

We have lots of other issues that really matter to us. In order of stength of feeling I would place:

1. Control over the car parking policy, especially over land that Ulverston people own or have been bequeathed - The Gill and Stockbridge Lane respectively.

2. The running of our toilets

3. The running of our markets

4. The running of our Town Hall - which we do not own

5. The running of our Coronation Hall - which we do not own.

6. The maintenance of our streets.

7. The enforcement of Dog Fouling legislation

8. The enforcement of Car Parking legislation

True the order above may be at fault. - Speak up with your pet concern

The crunch line in all these is that -

We have no control over the above and we resent theis - Kendal in the form of local government does.

There are many towns where they do not have the same situation:

Grange has control over its TIC, its Town Hall and equivalent of the Coro.

Settle has control over its Market - something it fought hard for.

Now, as Grange are at present battling over  - with this control comes responsibility.

Control requires management, enforcement, policy  and maintenance. It's hard work.

It also requires financial commitment - Grange raises money through local rates to run their responsibilities - which can be seen as unfair - they pay twice - to the SLDC for other town's TIC and in addition for their own TIC.x

However what it has is pride.

If you visit the Grange Council Management there is a completely different atmosphere to that at Ulverston - there is no us and them - being kept at a distance,  I find here - keep your nose out - we know what is best for you - that you've read about here, at the Town Hall.

At Grange there's a real buzz of involvement. Their secretaries have time for you, the, in addition to the work commitments, organise fund raising activities like the recent Bay Walk. Their councillor, Tom Harvey, speaks up forcibly for Grange instead of the wimp behavior from our councillors - Janet Wilkinson, Colin Hodgson and James Airey - that I witnessed at the recent Cabinet Meeting that made me furious and led to the 'Wimps with no Balls' comment over their handling of the Stockbrige Carpark issue - which I still stand by - made by me recently here.

My point is:

We need to claw back control of the things that we consider important to the town.

This requires hardship - both financial and commitment of time - but from my contact on the Market Square - this what many (most?) Ulverstonians want.

Ulverstonians want their sense of pride back.

They want things like their Town Bank Clock fixed quickly when it appears a simple matter of a severed cable.

Councillors for the most part are out of touch with this sense of determination.

I get the dismaying response from Jenkinson and Bishop-Rowe and others that "Kendal would never allow that" and "I've tried and it can't be done". What a defeatist attitude.

Then to top it all there's this "leave it to us- we know best - if we can't do it - you certainly can't"  which I've proved wrong several times.

So TIC : missed opportunity in my view - we were heavily let down by the grand talking Paul Jarvis of Ulverston Community Partnership when in my view he had a viable commitment for Ulverston to take over the TIC and he avoided it. Neither did James Airey persuade him to change his attitude.

With an attitude like this, in the long term, we are sunk.

We will end up, as a thriving business man in the town predicts - a ghost town - a pale reflection of the leading Town in our area a century ago when the iron industry thrived under the Kennedys only a century ago.

With control over our TIC a sense of the community fighting together to make this the best TIC in Cumbria, could have resulted and with it could have come control over a tourist web site that is so essential.

What may happen next is that the TIC is vastly trimmed down in manpower to fit the needs of the Coro Hall itself (under the mismanagement of  a notoriously badly managed district council - in the bottom 15% in the country - who find it costs some £300 per week to maintain a toilet) so that it no longer operates effectively.

The next step in my thinking that would be a big one but thoroughly within the town's capability is the take over of the whole Coronation Hall operation.

We've enough enthusiasm for the activities here from a very wide area to help this do well in spite of cutbacks.

It would then be our Coro run for the benefit of our societies and performers and the people who risk putting on shows. We have the potential of a really  successful operation here.

Why leave it in the hands of Kendal and the SLDC to be messed around with.

Fighters - please step forward.

Are you one?

Unsolicited warnings

An email has just arrived:

Postal scam NOT A JOKE, READ

Have you had it?

It says:

Can you circulate this around especially as Xmas is fast approaching - it has been confirmed by Royal Mail. The Trading Standards Office are making people aware of the following scam:

A card is posted through your door from a company called PDS (Parcel Delivery Service) suggesting that they were unable to deliver a parcel and that you need to contact them on 0906 6611911 (a Premium rate number).

DO NOT call this number, as this is a mail scam originating from Belize.

If you call the number and you start to hear a recorded message you will already have been billed £315 for the phone call.

My question is :

Do you find this kind of thing helpful and do you mind having your email address blasted all over the country?

I had the following reaction:

I wish you'd use a bit of judgement as you circulate scare stories.

Yes it's interesting for the national news but not appropriate for the likes of emails to Ulverston.

This is a gross destraction from getting on with the really important things in life  - like talking to our neighbour.

We're not going to have these cards through our letter boxes here.

Secondly I can't remember how you got my email address but before you start circulating nearly a hundred people with my address and many more of other people's addresses - could you first learn how to send blind copies to others so that our email addresses are kept private.

I hope this reply doesn't stop you taking initiatives in the future but please exercise some thought and consideration before you do it next time.


Was I being ungrateful?

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Picasso visited Liverpool

I enjoyed this gallery - worth the visit - Tate - Liverpool

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Short Notice - Just received

Click on the image to view

I am very disappointed at the short notice given by the Neighborhood Forum to those on its mailing list about this important issue.

I have complained and alerted others to this short notice.

It makes a mockery of community participation.

Hugh of Riverside cottage - who battled with TESCO over chicken farms

Hugh's taken his anti-discard Fish Fight to Brussels . . .

He reports :

"For the past few months, I have been travelling around the UK meeting fishermen, marine conservationists, politicians, supermarkets bosses, and of course fish-eating members of the public.

You can find out all about my experience, and how it has changed the way I think about fish, in the Channel 4 series, Hugh’s Fish Fight, to be broadcast in January 2011."

You could also watch this video

It's worth comparing how Tesco compare with the Coop when you look at the fish in their stores

Good relationships have benefits

One of our readers asks:

"Can we learn from this:

Donation to community after disruption

What do others learn?

Finding out the Affordable Housing figures. It's not easy.

Email to Alastair McNeill on Nov9:

Could you please refer this email to the person who can point out to me
the place on the SLDC web site which lists the number of affordable
houses that have actually been built in its area, year by year.

In particular I'm interested in the figures for those that have been
built within the Ulverston boundary since 2006

I am being told by someone who may be badly informed that 79 have been
built since 2006 which surprises me.

This leads to:

From: McNeill, Alastair
Sent: 10 November 2010 08:49
To: Whittaker, Tony
Subject: FW: Affordable Housing


Are you able to assist?


Which leads to:

From: Whittaker, Tony
Sent: 11- Nov- 10 11:24
To: Rayner, Jenna
Cc: McNeill, Alastair
Subject: RE: Affordable Housing


Please can you put the attached on the website (on the Housing Strategy
page - Housing > Strategy & Policy) and email Mr Dellow (see below) when
it is on.

Tony Whittaker

Which leads to:

Mr Dellow,

I have been asked to email you to inform you that there is information
available on the Council's website at

If you have any further queries please do not hesitate to contact the
Development Strategy team at developmentplans@southlakeland.gov.uk or
phone 01539 717490

Kind regards

Jenna Rayner

If you look on this page you will see "New Affordable Housing in South Lakeland"

Anonymous was unable to give me a reference because it wasn't on the sldc web site originally.

The figures he quotes are there.

I am now trying to determine the make up of the figures for Ulverston.

We'll get there.

I may even try to find out how these houses are allocated and what follow up checks are made.

It will be good for a skeptic like me to be reassured that the system really works as well as is made out.

Now for that town clock!

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Here's a tough choice - Affordable Housing or allotments?

But at least this council is doing something to deal with a crisis.

As someone who enjoys my allotment, I'd still favour giving it up so that we could have some cheap housing.

Plots for allotments would be easier to find than plots for affordable houses.

I'd be in favour of building on the Garden Terrace site which should provide good foundations and extending the plot down at South Ulverston which is good soil for growing but unacceptable for building.

But can you ever think of our Town Council coming up with such a scheme.

No way.

That lot of wimps wouldn't have the balls.

( This could be more 'politely' be expressed as 'Those weak and unadventurous people are too emasculated'. Is this more acceptable?)

These are tough times needing tough decision makers.

I can see the councillors already running for cover.

The Town where time stands still !

When will they get that clock fixed?

Our Town Council never fails us . . . again.

The other side of the story behind the Lantern House Art Book

I find there's a totally different take on this book if you dig a little.

My main problem with this project is understanding what it's all about.

The Book doesn't help itself - it doesn't give information about how the photographs came about.

The Lantern House hasn't communicated well.

The press could have helped us more.

Now it's my task - self imposed!

First I still approve of spending money , even £30,000 on the arts even if some of that money comes from our taxes. In this case perhaps some of it wasn't.

So first of all perhaps none of the money for this kind of project should come from taxes. There are plenty of people still loaded with money who could fund this kind of project.

For me there are plenty of opportunities to encourage creative expression without spending much - pottery on the railings - for instance.

If we're talking £30,000 , how about a sculpture by Chris Brammall - the money would have been spent here and the result could have been long lasting.

So what was the book about.

All the photos are linked directly to a person's view of colour. I guess it was an attempt to get us to reflect.

The video that has been made on Youtube helps though you need patience to hang on and listen to it all.

If you do, you'll get a much better idea of what the project is about as students interview themselves to describe what a particular colour means to them.

What would be interesting would be to hear from the rest of the people involved in the project what it meant to them.

I still come away thinking that the book is more about the Lantern House rather than the people in the town. However I've still to talk ato someone involved in the project directly.

I'm told that when 20 off the street were interviewed by Radio Cumbria, 16 liked the book.

It certainly is helpful to each one of us to be got  to stop and reflect.

However this kind of initiative has to be finely tuned to the people one is dealing with.

Now the book means more to me than it did but I'd still prefer a Chris Brammall sculpture for the same money!

Below are  links to most of the newspaper articles, provided by the Lantern House, some of them include participants stories:








Here's another try!

Monday, 15 November 2010

The Lantern House Art Book Project

I've been hanging back, trying to make my mind up about this.

First I'm all for Art. It can uplift the spirit.

True it's not essential to keeping our bodies alive, but this is where I believe we sometimes get our values the wrong way round.

Do we exist to function or to live?

Functioning here is feeding, surviving, having a home.

Living is feeling good and having a high self esteem. The image of a mouse preening itself , sending the message to the cat four feet away "Catch me if you can", comes to mind.

Materially, 99.9% of us in Britain are well off.

"What?" You reply.

Compared to those in Pakistan that are still suffering the aftermath of the floods we are very well off - even those of us that experienced the floods here.

If we could get out of winging mode, we would realise we have all we really need.

What upsets us is feeling hard done by; in other words we feel that "other people" are having a better deal than ourselves.

Alright, look at it this way:

I know people in Ulverston that are living very fulfilled enjoyable lives with very little money and in cramped homes.

So Art. What place does it have.

It can lift the spirit; make us smile, feel good. This after all is far more important than owning things and having money. Art is something that can make us feel alive - to LIVE.

Does this free book do that.

For me it doesn't - it's a missed opportunity. £30,000 spent on the wrong thing.

For me it's an ego trip for the artists who produced the book and doesn't seek to make Ulverstonians feel good.

Had it been a compilation of pictures of colour that we had taken, painted, chosen then it would have been about us. The claim that it resulted from our input is very tenuous and in my opinion fabricated.

The art is too top down ie:

The Lantern House comes up with some artists that express themselves on our behalf. Art comes to Ulverston and we are supposed to appreciate it. They come down from on high and deliver to the plebeians.

On reflection, I would have preferred people to come to us and help us to express ourselves. The book - and it needed to be something to be proud of could have been about the expressions of art of Ulverston People themselves and we could have all wondered and been encouraged by what was inside the heads of the person next door. We could have been asked "What things do you see that have an amazing colour?" I might have replied "The shades of bluey grey that come out of the early morning mist as I look out of the window on a wet day"

I could have then been asked "Can you capture this in a photo?"

Some would reply "No, but I'll try. " or "Would you try to do this for me"

Then we'd have a collection of what was important to individuals in Ulverston - the time and effort of the Lantern House people would have concentrated in helping us express ourselves in a way we were proud of.

Instead we have a book that few of us will bother looking at. We may find a use for it but it won't be as a book. Why should I spend my time to look at a collection of pictures that someone else has chosen.

They are their ideas not mine.

Once again the Lantern House has done something that few people can identify with.

The activities that I appreciate are those that help me develop and enable me to be able to give something of the art that inside my head to others.

The kind of thing that has succeeded to do this has been the Lantern Procession - well done the originators at the Lantern House.

Some times you get it right, sometimes not.

I have no problem with £30,000 spent on Art especially in these hard times when we need cheering up and made to feel good. It was what it was spent on I didn't like.

What did other people, who were involved with the project, think ?

I know one of the people mentioned in the list at the back - I'll ask her.

What's happening here?

Looks like some of the workings of the old mill in Mill Street are being taken out.

Are they not protected?

Inspired - What a result

This is what Martin Chesterman  did with a school he works with in North East London after he heard of our work putting pottery on the railings. Martin was my pottery teacher when I lived in Buckhurst Hill, London.

I love the idea and I hope we can do something, in turn, inspired by his thinking.

Great stuff.


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Saturday, 13 November 2010

Anyone remember? If you're 70 you may!

I'm told that bands used to travel from as far away as Manchester to come and play here on a flat part of this field to the people of Ulverston. The field is on the right as you go up what we call Constitution Hill as you leave Gill Banks on the Cumbrian Way.

Can you remember whether you went swimming in the beck at the top of Gill Banks path?

I'm told they rolled a boulder across the beck just below the waterfall and dammed it up so that it was deep enough to swim in?

Affordable Housing - again

The anonymous commenter recently asserted that I had my facts wrong. I asked him to provide the source of his figures which suggested that proportionately Ulverston had had more built than Kendal.

I'm still waiting.

For my part I've been searching and the figures that I've found bear me out.

Look here at the Local Housing Needs Surveys  (updated May 2010) at the bottom

Kendal, population (Wikipedia) 27,505  needs 455

Whereas Ulverston , population (Wiki) 11,200 needs 300

If Ulverston was as well provided for as Kendal proportionately, it would only need 185

Thus, Ulverston is in far greater need of Affordable Housing than Kendal.

If you think of 300 houses that's about four streets full.

Furthermore if you look here you will see that Kendal is to have 23 affordable houses and 40 flats built whilst Ulverston is to have . . . none.

So there's no doubt that we're  in need of Affordable Houses and I still maintain that many of those given planning permission at Fairview should have been affordable.

The result would have been a better mix of housing than an all retirement development and just a few of the desperately needed low income houses would have been provided.

It's not surprising that one councillor voiced his concerns Sadly he wasn't an Ulverston Councillor:

"A SOUTH Lakeland councillor has voiced concerns over affordable housing after plans were passed for 40 new retirement apartments in Ulverston.

Coun Phillip Dixon, SLDC’s Liberal Democrat representative for the Kendal Highgate ward, expressed concerns that the region was “only a place for the affluent” after the decision made by SLDC’s Planning Commitee omitted the councils strategy to include affordable housing in new building schemes.

Councillors approved othe outline plans to build 40 retirement apartments at Fair View House, on Daltongate.

 However, under SLDC’s core strategy, in all schemes of nine or more dwellings, 35 per cent should be made affordable - unless councillors waive the strategy.

Coun Dixon voiced his concerns after the provision to include 35 per cent of the development as affordable housing was not adhered to."

So what does anon say to that. I'll publish the response if any - just this once!

One wicked thought has occurred to me: What if anon is really Phil Lister having a go at Geoff and he, as a Labour Councillor, doesn't want to be seen as letting developers off the hook from building affordable homes. Let's see what the real Phil Lister has to say.

Ulverston Railings to become famous!

Yes. These will feature shortly in an international magazine of high repute: the Ceramics Review. Off- Centre section. Jan/Feb issue at a mere  £7.50. (Can someone send me a copy!)

This is high reputation conversation literature that graces the coffee tables of the people around the world that "have taste" and recognise quality art.

Our pottery on Gill Banks Railings clearly fits this category. People will have to travel miles here to see them as to take them on an international tour could prove a little impractical.

Be prepared for fame in the highest levels of society as they come and drool over our broken and suck together ceramics !

(Get this straight they are Ceramics not mere pots).

Retirement villages - what do you think?

 On the surface a retirement village appears and attractive option - there are plenty of commercial companies pushing the concept.

I'd suggest there is a significant negative side to the concept. Would you look forward to living in one?

There are already several building areas devoted to housing older people in Ulverston and although they have some advantages. How do people enjoy living in them? Would it not be far better if houses in real streets were converted to suit the needs of the old?

Do the people living in pockets of old people lose the perspective of living in a community with a wide variety of occupancy.

Most of their days and lives is spent with others in a similar situation. It can be very depressing with a high proportion steadily declining to death.

An alternative is to have contact and being a part of raising very young children. Older people have time to spend and enjoy being part of the lives of youngsters as they discover the world. Friendships can be developed that can enrich both lives.

Older people have a lot of wisdom and knowledge to share which benefits both the recipient and the giver and leads to the old folk having a sense of self esteem.

It is good for us oldies to feel we can contribute to the enjoyment of others. This contribution can be very real - offering babysitting for the hard pressed parent - walking home-bound dogs for people out at work. Being a source of expertise from our previous and current lives as the old explore new areas of learning with the time available to them. They might even persuade a thirty year old to get involved with being a councillor!

Thus there's a lot that can be said against the concept of bundling one section of society all together. We need close contact with each other so we have immediate knowledge of other peoples lives rather than a remote TV newspaper glance at their world.

So escaping from the responsibility of building affordable housing has led to a poverty of human contact for those that will come and live at Fairview. Has not a great opportunity been missed with a second rate existence for those that come to live there.

A quick look at the internet lists some of the advantages of supporting oldies (pardon, seniors)  in their existing houses rather than moving them:
  • It fosters community continuity, which means the senior can continue to frequent their usual grocery store, drugstore or other places in which they are comfortable shopping and asking for help
  • It maintains valuable social networks,  often keeping contact with neighbors and friends that live nearby
  • It has a way of strengthening family and family ties
  • It promotes physical and mental well-being, just be continuing to keep the senior in a home where they often have raised their family
Perhaps there was a case for affordable housing at Fair View,  Ulverston after all!

the Retirement Village and Ulverston Town Council

In a sense, this is crying over spilt milk. The planning permission for this development at Fairview has been passed. Further thoughts will be given in a separate posting.

However what has happened leads me to consider further and wider issues.

My purpose is to reflect on the attitudes within our present local government and hope that we can move to a new way of operating for the future.

In my view the Ulverston Town Council could be a lot more effective and promoted the wrong decision in this case.  I shall explain why separately. (I shall be most interested in the views of the anonymous commenter  - probably Cllr Phil Lister - who has been defending the decision if he/she has the courage to come out in the open and promote a healthy discussion.)

True, the Ulverston Town Council  has limited powers. It's members could however act as a focus for the abilities and thinking within our town.

Very few councillors have been doing this.

But to her credit, Judy Pickthall has.

When an issue is raised it would be good to have a small group of say three who are well informed on the topic and have all their facts, information and contacts at the ready. They could then guide the rest of the councillors and thus the SLDC councillors - not only within Ulverston but those sympathetic outside to work together.

These groups could propose initiatives and be proactive in the way that Judy tries to do .

In my view there is a need for a planning group (say three) that takes care of the future planning in Ulverston - they would be very familiar with the latest publications like the Core Strategy Document - (7 MB before you click here) A document I took a lot of time to contribute to - unlike the other councillors. Sadly I've had to take my eye off the ball with everything else I try to do.

Councillors could work in threes on topics like the following :
  • the needs of the young people in Ulverston - Colin Williams
  • car parking in the town - Norman Bishop-Rowe would be good at this
  • close contact with the police - possibly Janet Jenkinson
  • the future needs of the town - roads, TIC, Toilets - how about Colin Hodgson
  • preserving the appearance of the town and promoting it - Judy Pickthall already does some of this (I've also been trying to persuade James Airey to get involved)
  •  looding in South Ulverston - Phil Lister working with District Cllr Mark Wilson
  • planning - Cllr Jack Rice perhaps
Any more?

My hope would be that councillors wouldn't feel that they had to know it all as I find happens now with their leave it to me - you can't help attitude. Instead they would be in close contact with others in the town who had expertise in these various fields. They would then be the focus for others rather than authorities themselves.

A good example of this going wrong is the Tourist Web Site for the Town over the last four years which could have been far better if the UTC had encouraged  the web site designers already active in the town rather leaving things to the overstretched Jayne Kendal with no background in this field. Even now  leaving it to SLDC is a poor choice for the future (with cut backs in the offing). Visit Ulverston has far more potential.

At the present there seems little coordinated working. Every one tries to handle everything in reactive way. The result is that Ulverston is getting stuck in the bay mud while other towns like Kendal and Grange are battling ahead.

There's a attitude of defeatism among councillors that they can't do anything that is so entrenched that one feels they have stopped trying. "SLDC will never do that " they respond when you put a new idea to them. Why not try at least I think.

The behavior of Janet Jenkinson, James Airey and Colin Hodgson at Wednesday's cabinet meeting made me squirm - it was so subservient. Points they could have made forcibly on the Ulverston TIC and Car Parking in the town came across as damp squibs. Cllr Tom Harvey for Grange showed them how it should be done - he comes across as a fighter.

Getting involved with our politicians at the moment is so depressing and frustrating that one feels that one is better to focus on doing things oneself and concentrating on the others in the town who roll there sleeves up and get stuck in. It is with great reluctance that I have spent the last 90 minutes writing the above when I could be doing other things I enjoy. Why am I such a fighter?

Friday, 12 November 2010

A great photo taken by the Evening Mail Photographer

Thank you Milton Haworth

This image captures Halloween night at Gill Banks admirably

Amazing what you can do with some mud, wax and a few loo rolls!

and loads of Jam Jars from you the public as well!

and about twenty energetic workers.

This event and that of the pots on the railings are to be featured in a section called "Off-Centre" in the next issue of the Ceramic Review which describes itself as


Anonymous commenters.

Reluctantly I have decided not to publish any further comments from the person who is making some valid points on the planning permission recently given to the residential development at Fairview.

You are taking advantage by never being accountable for your views. When asked you don't back up your figures.

Surely you will be far more convincing if you stop slinking around in the shadows.

What have you to lose?

If you think this is unfair then start your own blog and communicate directly with the public.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

We went to the SLDC Cabinet Meeting yesterday

Here is the text of our statement and questions:

Sadly we can't expect a sensible answer - the last time I got the statement "the situation is under review" when asking about Stockbridge Lane Car Park, 18 months ago.

At least we tried to get ourselves heard !

 More later

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We represent the 400 people who signed a petition with 200 of them pledging yearly payments of an average of £20 per year, together with 19 people willing to serve as voluntary information providers in order that the Tourist Information Centre in Ulverston may to continue in its current location.

We are both angry and frustrated.

It seems extraordinary that, with the present involvement of the SLDC in running the Ulverston Coronation Hall, which requires staff to take the bookings for the many functions held there, the present incorporation of a Tourist Information Centre with the same staff could not be continued at little extra cost.

If the SLDC accept this logic the people of Ulverston wonder why the matter was raised in the first place.

We wonder whether the SLDC subjected us to the trauma of the possible closing of the TIC unnecessarily .

There has been great confusion as to the future of their TIC. The Ulverston Town Council was approached to take on the responsibility of a future TIC and they refused.

They stated that the Ulverston Community Partnership was going to take on this responsibility in preparing a bid to run the TIC and that Cllr James Airey would work with them to make sure that the 19 volunteers of which he was one, could find a place in the running of a future TIC.

Is the SLDC aware of this? Did this happen?

Since the time that Cllr Airey made this statement it has been impossible to determine what the current position is and whether the proposal supported by the 400 people was being put before the council.

Emails sent to Paul Jarvis the Chairman of the Ulverston Community Partnership, and to Cllr James Airey the Town Councillor who raised the matter with the Town Council, have not been replied to when previously many emails were exchanged.

Michael Keane the SLDC officer also did not reply to requests for information.

Even now with the announced reprieve for the Ulverston TIC , the people I represent are fearful for the future of their TIC.

The local people have lost faith in their Town Council, the Ulverston Community Partnership and now even query the involvement their District Council who may in the future take action that they disapprove of.

I believe that the people in Ulverston that I represent want to know:

Are we moving towards a situation were they are in charge of the future of their TIC?

There are people, not only on the Town Council, but in the street that are deeply concerned and want a long term solution which is to have a TIC which is as good as possible. Even better than the one we have now. They believe they know how, and have shown that are willing to work and fund this to be done if necessary.

Will the SLDC work with them to achieve their aim?

If not you will have many hundreds of people in our area that are very angry and will seek action in some form.

Geoffrey B Dellow

Christine A. Atkinson

John Blackmore-Tucker

Monday, 8 November 2010

A soldier on active duty

This blog is worth following.

It's very comprehensive with regular postings and I understand the guy is from Ulverston.

It gives a good impression of what it's like to be in the army in Afghanistan. A completely different world to the one here.

Some attractive women pictured - you can see why a guy wants to be out there!

Took me a while to work out who Mil Babe was - how long does it take you!

Try clicking the label - there are lots of pictures of her!

At last

Mill Dam Park

These essential safety catches have been missing for well over a year and were promissed six moths ago.

I guess we should say "Thanks"


At least the look good and work well.

But why couldn't they fix the bench at the same time?

Six months ago the park's officer of SLDC promised wood so that we could repair this ourselves - even this has not arrived.

Mud is caking above the rubber matting in many places. Would the council like us to sort this out?

And what's happened to these repairs that were promised?

And to the picnic table he promised and said he could cover the cost of in his budget?

Why did this get removed in the first place?

And what happened to the slide that was here?

South Ulverston Flooding Review

It's coming up to a year now since the first meeting about floods in South Ulverston.

The Environment Agency recommended a review every six months.

Do the people of South Ulverston have the stomach for another meeting where buck passing and inaction is the norm. People come away from such meetings frustrated, sick and very angry. Do they want to be made even angrier by authorities coming to meetings, ill prepared and offering no thoughtful answers.

Will anyone finally put the Environment Agency and our councillors on the spot so that real action that moves towards a long term solution is proposed and implemented?

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Entrepreneurs at the ready

I believe the possibility of a direct train service from London to Ulverston has great potential to someone with a bit of flair.

This has just been reported in the Gazette and is still only a possibility.

Those interested in profiting from tourists would do well to think around the possibility of providing a service for holiday makers who could travel direct to us in a few hours without having to change.

This could be families trying to avoid a long journey in a car with kids screaming on the back.

Instead a comfortable ride by train and being met at the station with a hirer car with hotel/self catering accommodation lined up here or just outside Ulverston.

This is what I offered when I ran The Falls self catering cottages and I had a few takers.

Now set yourself the task of reaching possible holiday makers using the internet - web sites, youtube, blogs, Twitter so that they come to Ulverston.

With considerable imagination you can target a possible market. It will be I imagine very 'up market' and hence profitable.

To do this don't think 'Ulverston' but the things you can do within thirty miles and then let your targets discover that they can do this and stay in Ulverston. T use the internet to reach people, you have to imagine what they would be using Google to search for - it won't be Ulverston - they've not even heard of it.

If you're interested in pursuing these ideas seriously - contact me - we could do with a small group who brainstorm ideas to find some that could work!

Piano playing - a relaxation

Gradual progress taking place. I hope others are encouraged to have a go themselves!

Affordable Housing

Should we be disturbed by a comment reported by the Evening Mail.

Ulverston desperately needs affordable housing for young people to be able to own a house of their own. The numbers that have been built under this scheme in the last five year are less than ten and even many of these have ended up in the hands of people who the scheme was not meant for.

By contrast the numbers of affordable houses that have been built in the same period in Kendal is well over a hundred.

The developers have been squeezing under the regulations that said that developments with ten houses had to have a substantial number of homes that were 'affordable'. Thus they built nine : Taylor's Court and Upper Brook street.

Now we have just given planning approval for 40 retirement apartments at Fairview House, Dalton Gate.

What desturbs me is what the planning officer said:

"Ms Lawson told the meeting that the council normally required such a development to feature an affordable housing element, but said the applicant had indicated that such a condition would not be viable.

Ms Lawson said the overall benefits of the project outweighed that problem."

Thus if a developer states that complying with planning regulations on affordable housing "is not viable"then the Council just waves the regulations.

What chance do we have of ever having a substantial number of affordable houses built.

What seems to be said here is that it's fine for an outside developer to come to Ulverston to make money building houses for well off people from the South who fancy retiring here.

What are the benefits for Ulverstonians?

Retired people aren't big spenders and we have additional people here that will put demands on our services - roads, drains, sewage, police and especially services for the aging: doctors, nursing and hospitals. Then when they can't cope in their houses they will need special care in our care units and assessment units.

Meanwhile young people and those without wealthy parents to get them on the housing ladder have to live in poor housing at a time when jobs will be increasingly scarce.

Is this the kind of Ulverston we want to encourage?

Tell me I'm being pessimistic and there's a bright side.

Or perhaps I've got my facts wrong.

I'd be grateful.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Why so quiet!

I have a lot on at the moment:

In addition to my normal activities:

Tidying up all aspects of the Candlelit walk event held last Sunday night involving repairs, sorting and putting supplies away.

Dealing with the planning application for housing at the end of Union Lane which involves many complex issues.

Dealing with the secrecy surrounding the bids for the Tourist Information Centre and ensuring  that a proposal that uses the volunteers and professionals as is done at Grange is at least considered.

Raising the issues of the car parks in the town - especially that at the under used Stockbridge Lane and persuading Norman Bishop-Rowe to reveal the details of the figures for receipts on this car park. The broad issue is being covered at both the Ulverston Town Council and at the SLDC cabinet meeting on Wednesday in Kendal - both of which I plan to attend.

Then I have photos to display on the state of our car parking in the town.

Work planting a further 700 bulbs in the Mill Dam Park.

Thursday, 4 November 2010


We're still getting some who think I'll publish their negative thoughts!

I must admit that I'm very tempted to do so in order to refute what they are saying.

One received recently would be guilty of defamation of my character and slander if the anonymous commenter where to repeat it to others as much of it is untrue.

At present I prefer to ignore their malicious attitude especially as these people refuse to identify themselves so that we can never sort issues out face to face.

Again I reassert that I am very willing to publish criticism if it can be seen as constructive and I would prefer the author to identify themselves.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Photos from the event in Gill Banks

Allan Wilson came to capture some amazing images.

Here are a few.

A great pumpkin

Here's the band - Free Band Reel - that created the impressive eerie music
The combination of penny-whistle left, melodeon, and guitar right playing tunes in the minor key worked wonders.

The twenty Spike Lights with flares were dramatic. The remaining 85 holders made do with candles!

Lastly another photo with just two of the 'Spike Lights'.

Allan captured images that the eye never sees!

Then Susan Hargreaves captured the mood with her photos!