Sunday, 30 January 2011

I'm off to demonstrate over something very important to me

Save Lakeland's Forests

Here's a thorough report on the event with the views of some impressive people.

Thanks Dave for pointing it out in the comments below.

And here is my amateur slant on what happened!

Written before the event:

The Save Lakeland's Forests demo at Grizedale at 1:00 today.

I'm looking forward to gaining some insight into how to stop Cameron's mad gallop towards rapid change.

I will be good to meet up with similar minded people.

I'd go by bike if I thought I was fit enough ( my spell at the allotment yesterday demonstrated my weaknesses) but in reality it's going to be 90% car followed by 10% bike!

Saturday, 29 January 2011

A plea from the Woodland Trust who own and manage Bardsea Wood

Support the Woodland Trust's Save England’s ancient forests campaign which calls for:
  • Ancient woods to be treated as a special case in the Forestry Commission's sell-off plans.
  • Restoration of all the Forestry Commission’s damaged ancient woods (defaced by conifers) to their rightful place as jewels in the crown of our native woodland heritage.
  • Closure of loopholes in protection for all ancient woods, to guarantee their public access and wildlife value, no matter who owns them.
Sign their petition

Friday, 28 January 2011

Repairs of the cobbles in Ulverston

It's been announced that work will begin on repairing the cobbles in Market Street this next Monday in what is called a £100,000 revamp.

But will we be happy with the result?

I doubt it - rather it will be regarded as an opportunity missed as large sections of the street will be left untouched and only part of the problem dealt with.

Furthermore we will be apprehensive about the quality of the work done and the materials used.

I went out this morning and made this video to give past information on this topic.

Last year I briefed County Cllr James Airey on my views of what should be done.

The information I gave was based on the numerous communications I've had with United Utilities, the Highways Department of CCC and information shared by the engineers at Preston as to how they repair and install cobbles (or Setts) in their city. Both United Utilities and the People at Preston have been most helpful.

I'm having a meeting with James Airey this next Tuesday as previous attempts to get together have failed.

I hope to be able to report back on what and how the work is to be carried out. I shall be watching with great interest!

Here is the helpful information I was sent from Preston in 2008 (which was passed on the James Airey).

Preston clearly take great care in supervising the work done by contractors.

Will CCC show the same degree of dilegence?

Their supervision of the work done by contractors in the past has been appalling. With a change at the top of the local department of highways and close monitoring from our new councillors - will we achieve quality work and value for money? . . . .

I hope that CCC will enforce high standards and be using Ultracrete Flowpoint to seal between the cobbles as recommended below:

From: "Ohanlon, Peter"
Sent: Wednesday, 8 October, 2008 13:35:08
Subject: Reinstatement of setts

Reinstatement of setts.
Dear Mr. Dellow,
                        Your e-mail was finally sent to me as I deal with all the utility reinstatements in the Preston area.
Appearances in Preston may be deceptive, because it is a constant battle with the utilities to achieve a satisfactory standard to sett reinstatements after excavations. It is obvious that the utilities do not have street masons trained to a sufficient degree to reinstate setts correctly. It is therefore a matter of constant supervision of the method used by the reinstators to ensure:
a)       that they are aware of the correct method of reconstruction
b)       that they follow the existing bonding / pattern as required
c)       that they use the correct type of sett (size, colour, material )
d)       that they follow the correct method of pointing the setts with the correct colour of ultracrete flowpoint.

In many cases, if we have not been present to ensure the required standard is adhered to, the setts have to be broken out and relaid in the correct manner. This is repeated until the setts are satisfactory. Very rarely are they satisfactory in the first instance.

The most recent setts reinstatement that I have dealt with was a utility trench 60m. long x 1.5m. wide. Despite my efforts to explain how to relay this trench I had to insist on it being re-laid four times until it was satisfactory. This was over a period of 6 months but the end result was worth the perseverance. Eventually the sub – contractor employed two operatives who were experienced in laying setts and with supervision and explanation they were able to finally achieve a satisfactory result. They were also given the time to do the work correctly; being paid on ‘day rate’ rather than on a price per m2. ( As were the the previous operatives ). Laying setts is a time consuming operation which cannot be rushed if a good result is required. Too often the reinstator / sub-contractor allows unqualified and inexperienced operatives to try to relay the setts hoping that their work will be satisfactory enough for them to “ get away with it “.

Technically we use the LCC Standard Details for Highway Works for the laying of setts. This involves using 100 – 150mm of lean mix concrete then a 25mm. layer of sand/cement mortar. One innovation that has been introduced is that we require the joints to be filled for at least a 50mm. depth, from the top of the sett, with a product called Ultracrete Flowpoint. This is a pre-mixed dry grout that only requires the addition of water on site.. This can then be poured neatly into the joints. It is a rapid setting grout that allows for early trafficking of the road, has exceptional bond strength and has built-in shrinkage compensation. It also dispenses with the need of using a bitumen sealant to the surface of the joints. We now specify the use of Flowpoint on all sett paving in Preston .

I hope this information is of use to you and if I can be of any further help or if you have any further queries please contact me by e-mail.


                                    Peter O’Hanlon
                                    Senior Technician
                                    Street Works
                                    LCC. Preston Area

Dog shit

One of our readers has drawn my attention to an article on the hazard of dog shit.

We all need to make a conserted effort to deal with this problem.

What we need is a conviction and then perhaps dog owners whao are careless would take notice.

This article shows why.

One problem is that we in Ulverston rarely (never?) have visits from the people in Kendal that are supposed to police this - however even then their visits could be fruitless.

Would printing this article off and distributing it help?

What action do you recommend, Cllr Hodgson, for dealing with the major problem up Gill Banks?

It's on your patch - do you check it regularly?

How do other councils deal with the problem?

Can we have some suggestions that might work?


Wednesday, 26 January 2011

1pm on this Sunday - Rally called to Save Lakeland’s Forests

Organisers of a campaign to stop the Government selling off the Lake District’s publicly owned forests have announced plans for a rally in Grizedale Forest at 1pm on Sunday 30th January.

The Government is about to launch a consultation on selling off England’s public forests, including more than 30 forests and woodlands across the Lake District such as Grizedale, Whinlatter and Ennerdale.  Legislation is also going through Parliament that would give ministers the power to sell off all the forests currently managed by the Forestry Commission.

The rally will hear speeches from Lord Clark of Windermere, a former Chairman of the Forestry Commission and the chair of the All Party Group on Forestry in Parliament; Eric Robson who is the Chairman of Cumbria Tourism and the Wainwright Society; Jack Ellerby from Friends of the Lake District; and the chair of Save Lakeland’s Forests Paul Townsend.

Lord Clark says: “This is a great opportunity to send a signal to the Government, MPs and members of the House of Lords about the strength of opposition to selling off the public forests. This is not just about the Government’s consultation.  The more urgent need is to do everything possible to change the Public Bodies Reform Bill to stop ministers being able to sell off these forests; and the first chance to do that will be in the House of Lords in the next few weeks. 

“I urge as many people as possible to come to Grizedale Forest on Sunday 30th of January - walkers, mountain bikers, families, and people walking their dogs - just as millions of people do in our public forests every year.  If we don’t stand up now and show how much these wonderful green spaces mean to us we risk losing them forever.”

The rally will take place on the meadow next to the main car park at Grizedale near Hawkshead.

Eric Robson says: “Selling off the public forests in the Lake District would be a disaster for tourism in this beautiful corner of the country and for biodiversity.  Whatever ministers try to tell us, they cannot guarantee the same level of public access to these forests if they are sold off or the same high standards of environmental protection.   Trying to suggest otherwise is simply misleading.”

After the speeches people will be encouraged to write comments about what the public forests mean to them on cards in the shape of a tree, which will be taken to Parliament by Lord Clark.

The campaign to Save Lakeland’s Forests was launched this month by Paul Townsend, a former parish councillor, who lives at Satterthwaite near Grizedale, and has already received national media attention.   The campaign has even been contacted by French TV.

Thousands of people have visited the campaign website – – and hundreds of people are also following the group’s updates on Facebook and Twitter.  Nationally, over 160,000 people have signed a petition organised by 38 degrees against the Government plans.

Paul Townsend commented “We’ve been delighted by the amount of support we’ve been getting.  There have been many messages of support and offers to help the campaign.  It shows just how much the Lake District’s forests and woodlands mean to people – not just those who live here but many people across the whole country.

“It’s important for people to come along and show their support on Sunday.  It’ll be a great day out and a chance for us all to play our part in putting a stop to the Government’s plans to sell off our forests.

“We’d also encourage everyone to sign the national petition organised by 38 degrees.  There’s a link to the petition on our website as well as details about how to contact your local MP and the Environment Secretary.”

Monday, 24 January 2011

Salute to a very special person


Dr Ann McPherson: The GP who believes she should be allowed help to end her life

The Monday Interview: A growing number of medical professionals are supporting the idea of assisted dying. Dr Ann McPherson – who herself has only months to live – tells Jeremy Laurance why.

You can click here for the news article and see if you agree.

On a similar theme there is Johann  Hari's front page article in the Independent :

The shocking truth about how Britain treats its old people

Both these excellent articles focus on our society's avoidance of facing up to difficult decisions.

We continue to want to bury our heads in the sand.

Many refuse to stop and think about these issues that cause endless pain akin to torture to ageing people.

We operate on the simpleminded view that life must be preserved at all costs - even if it causes great pain to those that are forced to continue living.

In the interests of ourselves for when we grow old and approach death, we need to face up to reality and make some hard choices.

Life of itself is not the important factor.

It is the quality of our lives that is.

Under the present system the state can force us to endure a living hell because it will not face up to what is happening amongst us.

We are inflicting untold (literally) suffering on thousands of people because of our refusal to take time and consider the consequences of our inaction.

I'm truly gratefull to outstanding people like Dr Ann McPherson above who give some much of their energy to getting us to move away from our greedy unthinking lifestile and give more thought to those around us.

Sadly our inaction could well lead to those that read this having to enduring the same fate in twenty, thirty fifty years time.

We all are going to die.

Let's enjoy the process to the end as Dr McPherson appears to be doing

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Flag Festival news

To keep well informed on this topic you could visit Facebook at:

Things are moving on a pace in a very positive way.

Monday, 17 January 2011

Flag Making Workshop a great success

We had a great time together.

Achieved a lot and created some beautiful flags.

What more do you want out of a Sunday?

For more see the facebook page dedicated to this project!

If you want to be kept informed, just indicate that you 'like' this page!

Saturday, 15 January 2011


At last people are getting fed up with this blatant attitude, even though unwittingly we support it.

It's being demonstrated most clearly by the bankers. I hope we all stick with this issue and don't tolerate any bonuses this year or in the future other than for courageous behaviour to stem the "me first" culture.

Beware though it's going to be a tough ride.

If we stop our present bank culture we as a country could be in real trouble as, at the moment, we, our government depend on the revenue from our banking system and the stock market. This will mean even more hardship.

House prices need to come down - this will again affect our banking system with the danger of bad debts from those who loose the will to pay their mortgages on property that has a lower value than their loan - the temptation will be to do a runner.

The commodities market is a disgrace - the bankers use food as a way of having secure assets. They seek to keep the value of these foods high. As a result millions die because they can't afford to buy it.

This is referred to as "Silent Murder" - murders we are indirectly responsible for - it's our banking system and behaviour that causes the problem.

 This was featured on the excellent Radio 4 news program which knocks the spots off the sensational/empty Television News programmes.

The uncomfortable fact is that there is enough food in the world to feed the total population twice over .

Yes twice, TWICE.

No wonder immigrants want to come here.

Now wonder foreigners want to blow us up for our corrupt selfish behaviour.

Lastly - for now we have all the political parties except the Greens stating that the only way out of our financial mess is by creating more jobs - sounds good.

How do we create these new jobs - by growth - repeated over and over by Cameron.

How do we achieve growth?

By plundering the scarce resources of our planet - it can't support this expansion - the resources are severely limited - so what happens:

1. China is grabbing all it can.
2. Prices will go up
3. Only the rich will be able to cope - which surprisingly could mean the poorest in Britain - us - because we are rich compared with much of the rest of the world.

Uncomfortable thoughts to dwell on but this is the real hard world we live in.

Now to something Cheerful - let's get some Flags up this Flag Festival it's important that we real people shed our greed and enjoy each other and what we can achieve for ourselves.

Somehow , however we've got to wrestle with the above and act positively.

It's not easy!

Are we putting up with this behaviour?

Over the double yellow lines and blocking the pavement.

When I went in to talk to the builders working here about their vans, the response was:
"What's it got to do with you"

My response was : "I live here (in this town)" and walked out.

There is an attitude about that people can make their own rules up and to hell with the rest.

As far as I can tell they haven't parked back on this corner again.

Friday, 14 January 2011


I imagine the stomachs of those who live in South Ulverston will be uneasy to say the least.

80mm of rain forecast in the next 24 hours with more on the hills - a viscous coctail.

The worse happening by Saturday evening.

Let me know if I can help - some of you have my phone number to call.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

If the government wants to sell the Crown Jewels

Why don't they get on with it ?

And keep their greedy hands off our woods and forests

See this site for what's happening:

Save the Lake District's Forests

So will you vote for Tim Farron if he doesn't oppose this proposal.

I won't - beware Tim - dissolve the Coalition if this kind of thing is going on.

This proposal is sheer madness:

1. It is to sell assets that we should be bringing in a steady income. Once sold - no income. This is very much a short term solution.

2. In private hands the aim will, and has to, be to generating money. Thus needs that not not do this are bound to be marginalised wherever possible - it will be a continuous battle to prevent the loss of facilities. Furthermore our forests generate income indirectly for the wider tourist industry; unless the private ownership benefits from tourism it has no incentive to make our open spaces accessible. The private ownership would therefore have to make money out of the forest  itself (say wood) and tourism say hotels outdoor pursuits etc to have this incentive.

Surely the best course of action is to run the forests more effectively by, for instance, improving attractive access and promoting tourism.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Why is everything so quiet here?

I'm immersed with preparations to take over the running of Flag Fortnight.

In order to take over all the assets - flags poles etc - from the group that want to pass it on, I need to form a group of people who are answerable to a constitution.

I have now a commitment from a small group that are going to take full reponsibility for the Flag Festival and am working on the final details of a suitable constitutuion.

We shall be ready for the handover by formal agreement on Thursday 20th January.

Then will follow the handover of the flags and all related equipment.

At this moment we are active in making contact with a large number of people who want to support this project, one that I have been enthusiastic about and have already worked on for several years.

We are in touch with John Fox and Sue Gill who initiated this festival when they led Welfare State some twenty years ago.

This Sunday we are having our first Flag making workshop led by the people who were involved with flag making in the very beginning.

We are all very optimistic of doing a good job and welcome anyone who would like to get involved or support us in anyway.

Messages of goodwill made here will be passed on to those who stand up and 'do' but who avoid computers like a plague !

Saturday, 8 January 2011


A lovely quote from the obsessive Jonny Wilkinson as he learns not to hammer himself for failure on the Rugby field:

" I appreciate now that performance stems from enjoyment"

"Looking back at the end of the day : "Have I enjoyed myself, and in doing so , have I helped others to enjoy themselves?" "

I too find this a good question to continue to ask myself:

Am I enjoying this?

If not  - stop.

Find another activity - no matter how hard - that you enjoy.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

I'm off to see the wizard

The wonderful wizard of  . . . .


Where they say the power lies. (Could lies be the right word?)

I thought I'd just 'drop in' on some notables!

Later at 16:30 on returning.

This was the right thing to do and I got the impression I got my message across.

Yhis can be a very effective way of communicating , I believe.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Why am I feeling so positive these days?

For several weeks now I've been ignoring our politicians.

For the most part, I regard them as 90 % useless. More than this some of them are even harmful to what most agree are things that are needed in the town. They actually stop good initiatives taking place. Something I have said before and caused some people offence.

However for me, blotting them out from my thinking has meant that I am more relaxed and able to work hard on things that achieve results.

So much of my contact with our local politicians has led to frustration because I have been expecting them to act in a way they find is beyond them.

I have not tried to explain why here, as this only reminds me of issues that frustrate me. It has been bliss to forget about them completely.

I have come to identify more and more with the view of Carl Fine of South Ulverston who refuses to go to any meeting where a politician is in the fore because what has happened in similar meeting makes him so angry.

I am getting close to being able to talk about these issues in a way that you can understand. When I do you may then agree that they have serious shortcomings.

In a sense it is wrong to criticise them - they are presumably those that are believed to be the  best of the people that are on offer.

I believe it is the system that is at fault in that the wrong kind of people are attracted to run for office so that the choice is very limited.

Sadly I have to go to Tim Farron MP before I find a politician that I really respect and he sadly isn't one of those that represents me in any way.

If I want to find people that I do respect then they are in roles outside politics. They are people with character who struggle against the odds and are very positive and take risks that benefit us all - often indirectly. I have featured many of them here on my blog. They are people who really lift our spirits and who gain our respect.

Increasingly we are entering into times when many people will feel that the standard of politician must be raised because they are aware that things are going on that hurt us all. Things that could be handled a lot better.

I only hope that people are waking up to the opportunity to get involved with doing things differently. Doing things with an absence of involvement of most of our present politicians.

Maybe life has always been this way. . . .

Hit them where they are sensitive

JAK points out :

"Radio Cumbria spoke to the county council rep for Highways re potholes and he stated that they were so proud of coming 3rd in the country for response and action on the Cyclist's Touring Club's (CTC) site."

Cyclists are obviously far more vulnerable than car drivers.

Being third, ( now forth ) is an impressive feat with 97% of the 355 reported holes being fixed. You have to come down to Lancashire with its 450 holes fixed to find other authorities with more holes fixed.

The county will be anxious to maintain any record that makes them look good. They also have a new guy in charge of this area who will want to correct the poor impression left by his predecessor, the arrogant Nick Raymond.

So which site is the one that generates these reports?

It's Fill That Hole run by the CTC.

This is the site to use and Fix my street coming a close second - the latter covers far more features - Fix that hole is specific to holes.

Well done Cumbria County - keep up the good work - especially in Ulverston where you have your most enthusiastic supporters.

We'll be keeping an eye on that league table - sad that Cheshire have knocked you down to fourth.

Time to climb back and regain third - second and first a virtually unattainable at present !

Note I've videoed the stretch along Victoria Road - will have to find the time to edit it.

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Pot Holes - Now's the time to use this site

It's brilliant and has been recommended more than once on this blog.

Fix My Street

If you have street damage due to the snow and frost get cracking and report it using this site.

Others have found it is effective in getting as rapid response as any other known method.

Be prepared to give your name and details though these won't be published.

It's best to be armed with a photo to support your report and if you can give a reason as to why it should be fixed early so much the better.

I've just done the ones in Stanley St - I'll let you know how I get on.

Snow Heroes live here as well

Look at this pavement and the cleared street - before the thaw.

Everyone seems to have got involved - must feel great living here.

I can't believe any of the 'army of social security scroungers' live here. If they are out of work they are using their abilities effectively.

How's this for an idea :

In order to qualify for social you had to produce a photo of a cleared drive and a stretch of pavement.

Just how much effort does this really require?

Ten minutes with a brush if you get out there before anyone else treads on it.

Thirty minutes if you only have one leg, one arm that works and do it on your back with a toothbrush.

Anyone else with photos to brag about?

Thanks God that's over

Now life can return to 'normal'.

Christmas and New Year are for me a time to get through rather than enjoy.

There's nothing on television of interest other than repeats along the same theme.

All my friends are off doing stuff and out of circulation.

I repeated get hailed with what I find to be stupid statements to which I'm supposed to give a reply:

"Happy Christmas ! " - what does this actually mean? Is it a command or has someone got a magic wand.

Does it not stem from an unreal expectation that life at this time has a different set of rules.

"Did you have a good Christmas?"

Is my answer "yes" - because I more or less succeeded to ignore the event? - It did give me time to do other things like begin to tidy up and prepare new projects; like enjoy a quieter world with shops closed and few people on the roads and public places. The weather provided an opportunity for much more meaningful activity. Thank you, weather, for giving us some problems to work together on - a kick in the teeth to challenge our humdrum way of thinking and now some problems that will tax our 'system' to the extreme. - Some people may even start to feel that they need to effect a change and do some serious rethinking.

Or was it "No" - because it made little difference to me  and I'm glad this farce is all over?

I can honestly now look forward to 'life back to normal' which is something I love and can look forward to rather this visit I've had inflicted on me from another world that most of my sane friends seem to get dragged into rather unwillingly.

Now all we've got to get through is perhaps a week of this New Year lark and bliss - 'normality'.

Attitudes to work

I've had an interesting comment from someone on the Absolutely lethal posting, who chooses to be anonymous but I believe is quite a regular here and operates very close to or possibly is Phil Lister (Phil can deny it if he wishes): (my comments )

"Your blog is getting to be ever more extreme and right wing.
 (I do hate people who try to put people in pigeon holes what is 'right wing')

Compulsory work fare for benefit claimants, or the 'army of social security scroungers' as you prefer for them to be called?
 (presumably the you is not me)

The problem isn't lack of work ethic but lack of available work.

If there is valuable community work to be done, wouldn't it make more sense to employ people at a decent wage to do it, and get them off benefits?

Mind you, this isn't going to happen any time soon this Con/Dem government you're so keen on.
 (who is keen on? Where does this assertion come from?)

Moreover all the evidence from places where work fare has been tried shows it doesn't work.

It doesn't equip claimants with the skills they need to get a job, because they're compelled to do it they're, not surprisingly poorly motivated and it takes time away from them actually hunting for work. "

This comment, I suggest, comes from someone with very inflexible views.

They are certainly held by some people and are worth discussing.

Who's going to kick off while I try to sort out the issues here.

I believe they are fairly complex.