Friday, 26 August 2011

Making Pottery in Mill Dam Park

Between 11 am and 4 pm tomorrow, Saturday 27th we'll be in Mill Dam Park with tables and equipment to help you make something out of clay. This will be fired and could be mounted in either Mill Dam Park itself or attached to the railings in Gill Banks.

We've chosen Mill Dam Park rather than Gill Banks  because this provides somewhere for children to play and for people to sit and chat at the picnic tables there.

This event will also provide an opportunity to discuss future activities of the BUGs. Tea will again be available.

In order to deal with any rain we've bought a ten foot square Gazebo that will provide shelter.

We look forward to meeting you.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Dealing with gang culture

This approach impresses me.

Like most things that work it demands commitment over a long period.

It also requires a lot of hard work from the police and supporting services. How can this be done if staffing is cut?

With a government that appears to want quick fixes and with a fickle media that follows the topic of the moment, do we have people of character who will take an issue and pursue it long after it is out of the headlines?

This is my main criticism of most politicians: they don't appear to stick at a task and see it through.

Too often we see headline grabbing people who are good at impressing the mass superficial readership of the media.

Perhaps this is where blogs may offer an alternative though I would prefer in depth reporting that is found in papers like the Independent where a few issues are worked on regularly and persistently:

An attitude of patient chipping away at a problem and praise for every single action that improves a situation in the long term.

Mark, what we have seen happen in our schools is the eroding of good teaching. Far too many good teachers resigned during the last fifteen years because they were being thwarted from teaching well by artificial aims that produced quick results.

League tables became the criteria of measurement - fine as long it stayed as a measurement but when it became a goal then the system of good teaching needing patient steady perseverance became eroded.

People with experience and initiative threw in the towel and found more satisfying work elsewhere and were replaced with keen but pliant people who went through the motions, lacking experience and support from more mature colleagues.

Teaching is a hard profession - the most difficult years are the first. The system is so overstretched there are few experienced colleagues available to support.

Of the local schools, Dowdales in Dalton impresses me but a lot of teachers there may carry a very heavy work load.

I need more hard facts from statistics to continue otherwise I'm writing about impressions and not reality. My quick search of Google failed though I now know that the answer will be buried in the UK National Statistics web site .

Monday, 22 August 2011

How does one cope ?

Knowing that thousands of humans are going through incredibly hard times as they try to avoid starvation in the regions near Ethiopia.

I see pictures of these people who have such strong faces and body language. People that come across as having such a strong character that one is full of admiration.

They are humans on this planet who happen to have been born in Africa whilst I was born here.

Two worlds so different.

I find it so hard to imagine their situation.

The problem is so great that it makes me run away and want to ignore it.

Now thinking about it, I remember something that I have repeated to myself many times before and it casts a ray of hope.

When dealing with a very big problem: concentrate on a very small part.

When faced with shifting a lorry load of earth: don't think of the huge pile but concentrate on digging and moving the next spade full. This, one knows is managable. Then it's just a matter of repeating the operation and concentrating on one action at a time.

Gradually, very slowly, the enormous pile goes down in size and the new one increases until after maybe a few hours - yes only a short time - the enormous pile has been shifted.

One comes out of dealing with this task stronger oneself not only physically but mentally with more self assurance for dealing with any task that comes along in the future.

Yes the famine situation is not one to run away from. Many brave friends are tackling this problem and other massive problems of life and death in their own way. Chipping away with perseverance, becoming much stronger people as they do so. They are indeed a source of great encouragement to me as I witness them cope.

Concentrating on the small picture, over and over and ever again is for me an answer.

Thank you friends for having such strength of character - a great source of encouragement.

Right, let's get to sleep now and in the morning go out with that spade tomorrow to tackle the tasks I want to achieve just one at a time.

I stand to benefit a lot, so as to cope better in the future. The rewards of living alongside people who are also struggling with determination are  massive and give a great source of encouragement.

Isn't it great having these kind of people around - next time I want to cheer myself up, I'll look at these pictures of people dealing with famine and other mind blowing hardships for inspiration.

Thank you.

Further thoughts next morning.

Previously I had considered the problem so big that I was inclined to do very little.

Now I've found a different perspective:

I like the look of the people I see, they come across as strong characters.

So I can help enabling as many as I can to survive. These are the kind of people I would like to populate our planet - many will die but those who don't can be a powerful force for good even in their own communities.

Friday, 19 August 2011

Himalayan Balsam in Gill Banks

After a steady regular tackling of this problem over the past past two months we are on top of it.

That is this side of Ulverston.

This morning we were down to finding just a few plants.

One of them had a great sense of humour.

It was where we didn't expect to find it : lots of shade, nothing much growing - "there won't be any down there", territory.

But there was - one in full bloom - on a little island  - ready to distribute thousands of seeds down into the beck below, to be carried down to the patch we had been clearing for all this time.

Now we just have to deal with the plants that come next year from seeds that are still lying dormant ready to germinate when we aren't looking.

With the Balsam gone we can look forward to a much wider variety of plants coming back with the accompanying insects that will attract other wild life.

In anyone sees some upstream we'd like to know.

The World Financial Markets Crash

So let's have some positive news.

Something we can do something about!

At very little cost and a small amount of effort each week.

The latest from Mill Dam Park - worth a visit!

We're having an event here in a week's time:
Saturday 27th August

Pottery making for The Railings, Gill Banks.


Compare this taken on May 11th

Thursday, 18 August 2011

This kind of behaviour is so outrageous

David Starkey's Newsnight race remarks prompt 700 complaints to BBC. 

Yes it's the complaints that I find outrageous not the historian David Starkey's remarks.

If you watch the BBC interview  there's some very poor behaviour from two younger people who jump in with emotional reaction along the lines - "you can't say that" - and don't let Starkey finish his sentences.

He quotes Enoch Powell's Rivers of Blood speech which also got a similar reaction so many years ago.

Surely if we don't allow people to put forward arguments, we can learn nothing. Why can't we take both these thoughtful men seriously and consider what they are saying?

If we did we might change our policy a little.

I believe there is an element of truth in his argument and this needs to be examined and discussed - not shouted down or hushed up.

Both Powell and Starkey need to be praised for saying the unpalatable. Powell was immediately diserted by the main Tory party because hs vews were not politically correct.  Surely there was and will be some truth there: one doesn't have to accept the argument totally but lets examine the idea objectively.

Starkey was talking about black culture not all black people. But surely it was a mistake to encourage so many of them to come the Britain at the time - we were just taking an easy option at the time of making the most of cheap labour to do jobs the whites didn't want. Now we have a subculture that has never been integrated into British culture.

At the time of encouraging blacks to come we should have made sure that these people were treated as equals.

They were not.

When will we learn to discuss issues like this in the open and call a spade a spade?

Sadly this is not the hypocritical British way.

However the most important is to come up with a realistic solution to our problems. Now is a time to calmly listen to what wise and knowlegeable people have to say. To listen and reflect before we act.

Or if action is needed quickly, to at the same time be ready to admit that we may have part of our actions wrong, stop and try something else.

Allan Wilson again

Water in a Morecambe fountain

There's beauty all around us when we look carefully. However here we benefit from a fast shutter speed.

An objective view of our politicians

This report by Aidan Silcocks is reassuring.

He had some good words to say in favour of Ulverston Town Council

For my part I will need a lot more reassuring before getting involved and am giving this group a wide berth.

What I'm looking forward to is some new blood on this council. Next year, with the elections coming will be a great opportunity but who will be willing to stand?

At the moment I find I need to do work that has a positive outcome that avoids hassle.

The suspicion is that energy is better spent out of 'the system'.


Tuesday, 16 August 2011


Having watched the documentary on the riots on Panorama on BBC1 last night.

I came away with the perception that what sparked it all off was blind ANGER.

As a person who can feel this very strongly , I can identify with this totally irrational feeling. Trying to find simple answers can be a futile quest if this is true.

I'm going to read the article, the above picture was nicked from before writing any more.

We are going to be discussing the riots in our regular fortnightly group this next Thursday if anyone wants to share their views: Methodist Hall, Hartley St., 2:15 Thursday. We're a group that have been meeting regularly now for about five years.

I read the article and am very little further on as it doesn't deal with anger that real hurts others and this sometimes as in the case of the riots was the way anger was going to be satisfying and make those angry feel good.

Now they, the rioters, have to cope with us feeling angy with their actions.

Are we/they anyway further forward?

Monday, 15 August 2011

Saturday, 13 August 2011

War or Peace ?

We're all coming up with questions and answers.

So am I.

Please help me with mine.

We could ask ourselves:

Which direction are we moving in?

We have two large opposing groups the haves and the have nots. The Government  with the ones that are in work and struggling to deal with the bank crisis brought about by too much borrowing of all kinds and the havenots who feel they have no direction to go in - no jobs, little money and as they see it  - no future with little to loose. Watching the bankers living of millions of pounds does not help.

At present we are moving in the direction of civil war.

I'm all for a clear message being sent that the rioting behaviour is totally unacceptable.

This is war talk.

At the same time we need to map out an exit strategy.

What this appears to be at the moment is :

If you don't like it - leave !

But then there is no practical place to leave to.

So if we are to have 'peace'.

How do we get there?

By the time honoured method of talking and understanding the opposite point of view.

A strategy where both sides are offered carrots.

If it's a future the rioters want, then surely we need to offer them one:

If you do this this and that then you can get somewhere that you want.

The government has got an option which it seems to ignore.

Raise taxes and use the money to provide jobs with strict guidelines. I'd favour jobs with a fair bit of exercise requiring hard labour and cooperation.

For instance

Building parks in their own neighbourhoods

Enabling people to self build as was done in Lewisham with timber frame houses. (See also)

The people to consult for ideas are those that work at the interface between the two groups of haves and havenots : social workers, youth leaders, people that run hostels, teachers, the police. People with daily contact with the problem groups. Add to these those organisations with a track record of success in getting the havenots involved with society.

Isn't it worth reflecting on what was being said immediately before the riots - on facilities that were being closed watch a video with the views of what seem to be sensible young people - One that ends "There will be Riots, there will be riots, riots" - they were right.

"You can't raise taxes you argue - we're being overtaxed already: this could mean that we have to abandon the concept of achieving 'growth'. "

It is obvious that there are people even here in Ulverston with a lot of money who could be taxed.

If Booths are able to sell at this very moment, cherries at £10 per kilogram, and cheese at £27 per kilogram, surely this proves the point.

Some have amounts of money to spend that many in society cannot comprehend.

Let's make moves towards bringing the two opposing sides together and seek out and support those that are actually working hard to do just this as part of their daily job. Remote politicians making snap judgements are the last people that should be making decisions and we should be making this clear to them if we don't like what we hear.

This is not a soft option.  What is needed is a hard tough one but we do need an alternative to prison if this means locking people up to do nothing other than cost the rest of us money and train to show lip service to the system and sadly make better more skilled criminals with a common axe to grind.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Are our police human or just robots keeping the law?

This article makes us aware just how human the police can be:

"Trying to restrain a shop owner who is attempting to run into a burning building to attempt to salvage his stock, and indeed his livelihood. Taking off my helmet so I can hear him better, he sobs as he explains to me about his life, and how he has built up his trade and now does not know what to do. I simply do not know what to say to him.

"I do something I find myself doing a lot over the next few hours, telling him I'm sorry and then giving him a manly hug with a pat on the back. Helmet back on and we're off somewhere else."

Cameron's criticism of police inaction comes across as that of a typical underhand politician scoring cheap points with the benefit of hindsight.

"The police weren't ready on Monday night". 

No neither was anyone else. Crystal balls have not, so far, been issued as part of standard police equipment.

When you reflect that several of the Ulverston Police force will almost certainly have seen duty in Manchester or even London during the past week. 

What a baptism of fire:

"As we drove we became a target. A group of people wearing hoods and with their faces covered started throwing missiles at the car," De-Haynes told the Guardian. "We stopped because that is what we are supposed to do. But the windscreen smashed and I was covered in glass, it lodged in my eye and I was spitting it out to stop myself swallowing it. It's a shock in any circumstance but when you can hear the thud of other missiles being thrown at the car, hitting the doors and windows, no matter how experienced you are, it is frightening."

The article goes on:

"Once officers were on the street, they were surprised by the support they received. "A lot of people we came across – people in an inner city area who would normally not have anything to do with the police – were on our side. We had support from everyone in an area. It was good to hear that people did want us to protect them."

I wonder how many people agreed with Cameron.

I certainly didn't and am full of respect for the job that the police did.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Hands on news from Tottenham

Thanks to Gordon Jones of The Gill, Ulverston

I was told that several police officers are being called upon to help in Manchester,

Help set up a Credit Union for this area.

Rita Baugh has sent me the following

"Credit unions are useful for people who need small loans (say to replace a car or washing machine), and they are also ideal for people who cannot open bank accounts - for example because their income is too small or irregular. They may also be a more ethical alternative to the big banks for those who do not wish to endorse them. More detailed information about what credit unions are and do and who runs them and who they may benefit can be found here:"

*      *      *      *      *      *

On this web site you can download an information leaflet which tells you:

"Credit Unions are community savings and loans cooperatives. They offer members the chance to save regularly and to access affordable, low interest loans
linked to the value of their savings.

All Credit Unions are owned and controlled by their members, and are run by and for local people, not for profit. Any surplus is paid out as a dividend to savers or retained to develop Credit Union services.

All savings are protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme in the same way as savings in banks and building societies."

In order to establish a Credit Union a minimum of 1000 pledges of support need to be collected from across South Lakeland to prove that there is enough support .

So far 165 people from throughout South Lakeland have already completed individual pledges of support. 

Thus if you think this is a good idea you need to encourage family, friends, neighbours and work colleagues to complete pledges of support. They can do this by completing an online pledge at

If you need a paper copy of the pledge form please get them to call Gordon Henry on (01900) 607 532 and he will send one out and a reply paid envelope.

Personally I was helped greatly by a Credit Union in the States at a time when banks would not help because I was new to the country. Because the Credit Union knew my background they were willing to give me a loan which enabled me to find a little more cash for a deposit on a much needed house - something then - in the 60s - that was a wise thing to do!

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Robinson's Brewery Site

I've been thinking a lot around this issue and have reduced the argument to what does Ulverston need most on this particular site which is central to the town:

A supermarket or housing with a high degree of affordable and small units suitable for older people.

I come down on the latter.

Several of the housing schemes that have been built recently provide poor housing even modern potential slums that are not being bought by our young people.

The housing at Taylor Court on Stanley Street instead of providing dwellings for local people is being operated as a series of Holiday Cottages called Laurel Court.

The nine units at the Gill end of Upper Brook Street are so crammed in and on to of each other that they will provide the modern day equivalent of the slums of the last century. Living rooms are placed on top of other peoples bedrooms with hardly a view out of many of the windows.

I think that most local young people would rate housing above a supermarket. To achieve an desirable result, I would have thought that the new development would need to be controlled by a housing association so that the units actually reach the local people and not people attracted to retiring here having lived elsewhere.

It could be hard to persuade the planning committee that a rejection of a supermarket will not be reversed by appeal with the force of money on the side of the bullying Supermarket Big Four.

John Harris writes of his experiences in the Stokes Croft area of Bristol which was recently in the news because of local opposition to Tesco.

When it comes to planning this is what can happen:

"The local stories that underlie this picture of endless expansion tend to follow much the same script. Once one of the Big Four has a town in its crosshairs, it can usually be assured of eventual success. If planning permission is initially refused, supermarkets will appeal, knowing that the legal costs to any local authority will be so high it will usually rather cave in – so, though councillors often take a stand, the local officers who fret about their budgets turn out to be more pliable. Just to tilt things the supermarkets' way even further, there are Section 106 agreements, named after the relevant part of the Town and Country Planning Act of 1990, whereby big corporations can swing the debate by offering to fund no end of sweeteners: libraries, public spaces, housing, even schools."

It's not going to be an easy fight to win,

See the web site "Keep Ulverston Special" for the latest news. They also have a petition to sign.

We have until August 19th to send in our views to the planning officer  Kate Lawson at

Lessons to learn from the riots

With a situation like this, the most helpful thing, for me, is to reflect and reassess the role I can play here in Ulverston.

It is not healthy, I believe, to write off happenings elsewhere as though they have no relevance to things that happen on our doorstep.

What most people agree is that the eruption of heartbreaking lawlessness has a multitude of different causes. No one issue is at the core of the violence.

The message for me comes from my experience as a teacher in London in what was seen as a very caring school, whose head set this agenda and was the reason I chose to work at his school. The result of the head's approach was that parents with problem kids sent them to our school from many parts of the area so that we struggled with teaching many difficult children.

The message I took on board is there are a substantial number of  children who have parents that couldn't cope with their own kids. One talked to parents where the kids at home set the rules. If the parents couldn't cope then who were the people who would act as parents. The answer had to be - the rest of societies adults. They - we - needed to take part in setting the standards and encouraging youngsters to grow up responsibly.

Many caring adults have taken on teaching to fulfil this role others have become social workers and youth leaders. Most are paid to do this.

Another group of paid workers who help maintain an ordered society are the police - many of these, especially in Ulverston have chosen this career to help society function and do it well.

Now the caring professions are being stretched. It's a time when people who already have full commitments of work and their own families to accept that they have an important role in helping to parent other people's children.

The lesson to learn is that we all need to take on board our reponsiblity to help bring up all the children in our community. It's all too easy to think that because some people are paid to do a job then it's entirely their responsibility.

Regretably there are some people who refuse to engage in problems when they occur, their solution is to move the problem on elsewhere so that an uneasy calm is maintained and disruption exists away from their area.

This strategy appears to work - initially - but the underlying disruption is not dealt with.

The message for us, I believe, is to fully engage in our society and assert ourselves and even help beyond our immediate circle of responsibilities of home and family.

We need to tackle irresponsible behaviour by talking and remonstrating with these people who act disruptively.

In the long term, it does not help to push the problem away from us, to expect that "they" - the police; teachers; social workers; councillors; local government - should be dealing with it.

We need to be part of a responsible society and play an assertive role.

What then could we do today, tomorrow this week to do something positive in the town where we live.

This may need us to get involve with areas of town outside our immediate cosy enviroment and demonstrate involvement with other people in the town so that all sections of our town are kept in touch with each other and attitudes do not polarise into us and them.

When others are experiencing problems we need to first understand them by talking directly and second we need to become part of the solution.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Here's a guy I admire

Just arrived by email:

Tonight MondayAugust 8 at 9 pm Channel 4

'Hugh's Fish Fight: The Battle Continues' is on Channel 4 tonight, MondayAugust 8,  at 9pm - it would be fantastic if you could watch . . .




What lessons can we learn for Ulverston?

Do all we can to foster the building of communities that talk to each other?

Communities that respect the law and the police ?

Thanks to our size we have everything going for us but don't we have the potential for similar problems to the cities. Can't we learn from them?

Tackling even the sign of a problem before it grows.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Atracting interest.

Big Bums on Pavement is a provacative title for a blog.

I had no idea what it was about but went along and investigated when I found that this page from this blog three years ago, has been attracting a lot of interest recently - the second most viewed page in the last month.

Who do you think is spending their time looking ?  - perhaps there are some weirdos who have a strange obsession with bums of any kind - maybe the police are curious about misdemeanors form the past - maybe some, love looking at beautiful cars because they've got fed up of looking at beautiful but unavailable women - after all anyone can buy a beautiful car - with the right amount of dosh.

Do viewers wish for more of the same ? - I'm sure bums like the above are available for snaps most busy weekdays - even in the holidays - after all bums are often more viewable when the sun comes out.

Will they be as beautiful though?

Can anybody explain?

Why do we read the news?

We end up becoming gleeful that others are getting their comeuppance as in the case of Murdoch et al and that the financiers can't cope but in reality what we need is a completely new set of values where people come first.

This can start now with my neighbour.

Instead what it does is get us depressed or desensitises us so that we don't care about anything because all we see around us are problems.

Isn't it better to focus on a small world and take some action rather than become paralysed, anaesthetised.

I get the feeling that there is so much needing action that it leads me to feel depressed and I do nothing.

Are people so busy that they have lost the ability to stop and reflect. Then they could reorganise their lives so that it became positive again.

Thankfully , I have some friends that remain positive whatever hits them!

And some are being hit really hard.

Thank you friends - I appreciate your ability to cope.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

What's wrong with our youngsters ?

If you take the number of breakages at The Railings - Gill Banks as a measure -

Very little.
For a group that is labelled "mindless, unthinking, reckless and boisterous" they come away with a lot of brownie points.

What's wrong with our councillors and one or two adults who should know better ?

If you take the removal of the picnic tables at the same location as a measure -

Quite a lot.
For a group that has been the responsibility of guiding our society, their knee jerk reaction of "remove those tables immediately - they're on our Town Lands Trust Land" has much about it that should be questioned. These are people who should have a reputation for consultative decisions made in the interests of the majority.

As far as one can determine, the order to remove the tables has come about because some young people were making a lot of noise there recently at around midnight. 

Rather than adopt the time honoured solution of going and talking to the boisterous end-of-term, don't-like-the-deputy-head-up-the-road youngsters  which the police are normally very good at, David Parratt's attention was drawn to the behaviour.

His immediate reaction, without consulting other neighbours or the majority of local people, was to demand that the tables be removed. This ignored the great pleasure given by these picnic tables during the daytime, enjoyed by large numbers of the public as well as the youngsters themselves.

There is also the suspicion that otherwise responsible adults have taken to throwing one or the tables in the beck. This arises from the fact that this happened on Friday at between 7 and 8 am, not a time when youngsters were seen to be up and about and yet one when said adult was seen inspecting the table moments before. The plot thickens!

Fortunately another neighbour with land immediately adjacent to the original site for the tables sees things very differently. He and his family is very sympathetic to the young people who have used this location to gather for several generations in the past. 

Assisted by friends, his land is now being altered so as to provide an alternative site for one picnic table in what should be very attractive surroundings.

If you have views on the issue, comment here or email the councillors involved; they represent the interests of The Town Lands Trust who own the land in question:

or deal directly with the Town Clerk, David Parratt at the Ulverston Town Council.

A question worth posing:

Cannot a good case be made for provision of a picnic area in the town for people to have snacks and chat in quiet pleasant surroundings?

The picnic tables have been donated by a group calling themselves the BUGs. The people that have renovated Mill Dam Park and are clearing Gill Banks of the invasive Himalayan Balsam.

"Let's not make war but sit down and talk"