Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Optimistic Greece - Work and Opportunities

People & Power

Greece: The odyssey

A TV program about people who have found a new direction in Greece

People & Power can be seen at the following times GMT: Tonight(Wednesday): 2230; Thursday: 0930; Friday: 0330; Saturday: 1630; Sunday: 2230; Monday: 0930 on Channel 89

Filmmaker: Philip Williams and Mavourneen Dineen

At the end of another year of painful austerity and mouting debts, Greece's battered economy is seeing over 1,000 workers lose their jobs every day.
On the surface, many cities still looks prosperous, but the nation's deep crisis is clearly reflected in the windows of hundreds of empty shops.
More than one million Greeks are unemployed, which is one-quarter of the workforce, and the country is facing a youth unemployment rate of 58 percent.
But while many are struggling to survive in this harsh financial climate, others are returning to the land from the towns and cities that onced promised so much.
Up until a month ago, Kostas Bozas was a city banker. Now he is unemployed and has moved to his father's house in a village outside Thessaloniki, going back to his roots in search of a future.
"I come a from a steady job, and now at the age of 50 it's the right opportunity to become a farmer ... my father will teach me the things he knows from his father."
Thousands have taken the road back to farming in recent years - while the rest of the economy is in free fall, the farming sector is actually adding jobs.
"The work is labour work, it was very difficult for me. I'm a girl, I was raised in Athens, I was having everything done for me. And now I have to dig. I feel like Scarlett O'Hara - the land is my strength, I think that when you have the land you can feed yourself, you can produce anything, you can be happy .... We can't expect anything from the government, they have proven so many years that they are useless, so we have to do it ourselves," says Alexandra Tricha, a former scientist.
Not everyone fleeing the cities is doing it willingly. Some are making a strategic retreat, taking refuge in family villages just to get by - hoping that one day they will return to urban careers.
Christos Kozakis always thought he would return to his mother's house one day, but when his business selling luxury cars in Athens collapsed, he and his wife felt they had no choice but to move back.
"You feel connected, you feel that you have roots here, that's one of the good things .... The only thing that makes me bitter is that somebody else decided that for me, I was forced to come here earlier .... Don't get me wrong, work is not a problem, I would wash cars, I don't care, just let me do it, just let me make a living to support my wife and my kid. It's breaking my heart .... This is my country, we are not thieves, we are not people who don't pay their taxes, and we are not lazy."
The steady shift to the farms and villages appears to be an unstoppable force fuelled by desperation in the cities, inspired by hope for a better, less anxious life. Some will flourish, others may fail. But all have taken a bold decision not to wait for the government or anyone else  - their futures are now in their own hands.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Something to cheer us up

On a day when the town was depressing:

Very Few in Town
It was raining
It was the last Market Day before Christmas

. . . . last night, I was reminded of the following group of people; - and I'm sure there are many in Ulverston like them - who took on a wonderful, crazy challenge.

It raises our spirits no end to be reminded of these kind of people who live in our midst.

People that refused to be cowered by adversity.

Let's all find a dream to live by.

As for us in Ulverston Town Square -

We shared a large box of chocolates and listened to the ever persistant clarinet that played briefly outside the Soup Dragon even though the 77 year old player was short on puff - "In the deep mid winter" seemed appropriate.

Jayne Kendall

Caution please.

I can understand that Jayne is the preferred choice that many Town Councillors would make as the next Town Clerk.

She is very strong willed and will push her policies through, as she has in the past.

The major problem will be that they will be Jayne's policies and not necessarily those of the town. She showed what can go wrong when she ran the town web site. She was presented by an excellent design by Furness Internet, the firm in Barrow who then had to watch in despair as the site was ruined. She pigheadedly refused all advice from several experts and made a total mess of the site so that it had to be eventually abandoned.

Jayne chooses to do a job her way. She is not a facilitator : someone who pulls the town's resources together and coordinates the efforts and skills that are available in the town. What people admire is her single mindedness, a quality much absent in most of our town councillors, hence her popularity with them but those outside this closed circle are ignored. Her protegee Peter Winston is similar, they work well together. Things certainly get done but both of them are very bad at involving others and readily get potential workers' backs up.

Decisions with these two are often made without consultation and the finances can be of dubious reliability - take the example of the Ulverston Better Towns Team (the organisation that runs  Flag Fortnight) which Jayne was chair of until recently.   Incidentally how much does Peter get paid for running the Dickensian Festival? Sadly we have an inner circle in the town who are not good at involving others.

The town is heading for difficult times. There will be no slack and we genuinely all need to pull together: people that will make the most of all the town's talents.

Beware: any councillor with views different to Jayne's will have a tough time.

Please make sure her contract has a tight statement in it that will assist with a smooth replacement when this becomes important.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

The future of the CAB and other voluntary organisations

Having started by  becoming well informed by Roger Lindsay, a former volunteer who has prepared a well site on what is happening, I have now done a thorough survey of the question. I went to the AGM of the trustees last Thursday, I then talked in detail to Colin Henderson, a solicitor in Kendal who had a lot of experience from past involvement as a solicitor  for the trust. I then spoke to their chairman John Dersley at length on this last Tuesday morning when he explained his plans for the Ulverston CAB.

I conclude that if Ulverston is to be sure of its own bureau it must fund this itself by a supporters group: Ulverston taking care of its own - truly "in this together". No other source is guaranteed. John Dersley has hopes but has taken no action to secure funding of this nature direct but has many plans based on hopes based on operating under the umbrella of a separate organisation : Cumbria Rural.

A figure of £50,000 per year from 1,000 people from the surrounding area would seem to me to be thoroughly attainable and could well spark off long term support from other sources. What is needed is some positive leadership and not the continuous 'hope' that money will come from some form of local/national government. After all : the banking system is beginning to think in this way with small time investors lending directly to small business and cutting out the unreliable, large middle men banksers (gangsters) (Note: "Peer-to-peer lending boom could make banks obsolete" in the Independent  on Monday. So what's wrong with peer to peer support for local charities when we know exactly what is needed?

Thursday, 13 December 2012

At last I know for sure that our Citizens Advice Bureau will close.

At the AGM meeting tonight in Kendal, it was absolutley clear that the trustees of CASL  feel there is no way of keeping a face to face service open either in Kendal or Ulverston, as previously.

What is unclear is what will be done to continue this service one the present organisation is disbanded.

What is a disagrace is that we had to find out this way and so late in the day.

At least now things are out in the open. CASL the trust running both the Kendal and the Ulverston offices will be disbanded and the hope is that Cumbria Rural , an alternative trust will be able to take over.

Sadly we have responsible people refusing to be honest until now, not that they have done nothing - they have been chasing ideas which they hope could be made to work. Those of us looking for dependable solutions  are now left to pick up the pieces.

Now we know: we can take steps to find a solution for a face to face service ourselves and put behind us any thought of help from these CASL trustees who will be dealing with ifs and maybes but nothing reliable.

This indeed is very helpful as many alternative solutions now present themselves to those that are not defeatists. The same face to face service can be provided - but it will have to be done in a different way - and I suspect we will all have to pitch in, in some way if we are to be left with anything reliable rather than  looking to government - local or national.

The future is bleak, very bleak

Get used to it!

Most of the people who are here, live as though Ulverston was on another planet. They are extremely reluctant to believe they live on Earth and in particular Ulverston , Cumbria in the UK.

Even people who understand what is happening are reluctant to take in the reality of what is in the process of actually happening before their eyes.

When the Head of Google states that he's proud of his company's tax avoidance scheme because it's totally consistent with Capitalism, we realise what kind of monsters our western society has created.
We have human beings that will tear the clothes of freezing people and snatch food out of the mouths of starving people without a second thought because their prime allegiance is to the shareholders. They do not have allegiances to human beings in general.  We have people who have lost their humanity and there are many if not most of the people around that have lost theirs.

The sad thing is that nearly all of us have a misconception of what it is to have 'humanity'.

Humans are in fact primarily selfish and that means all of us. We all need to learn this lesson fast as the world round the corner isn't the cosy place we imagine it to be.

"Get a grip" is a useful expression and one we all need to put into practise if we are to enjoy - yes enjoy - the rest of our lives here in Ulverston or even the world that is full of humans.

Here's an uncomfortable report that tells us 'like it is'.

Dwindling resources 'threaten global chaos'

When you've read, understood and digested what it's telling us, then let's talk and find out how we can still enjoy living in this very selfish world. . . .   I can - which is why I'm learning and playing my clarinet!

And I don't see it as living with my head in the sand. . . .

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Enjoying life

An interview with an 108 year old who still plays the piano for 3 hours a day in her flat in London and survived the Concentration Camps and Cancer.

Someone who has spent her life laughing.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

The Gill Community 'steals' the SLDC salt-grit

Here we have documented evidence of the criminals who steal the SLDC supplies that are meant solely for the use of the Car Parks

Yes we, the Gill community, are the grit thieves. Come and get us - we await the knock of the police at our front doors.

Thank God we have a couple of councillors who refuse to accept SLDC rubbish, even though it's delivered by the lorry load.
Well done Councillors Jane Harris and Paul Smith who politely but firmly put the local district council in their place - see the Evening Mail article

So the question remains:
If the communities in central Ulverston are not meant to 'steal' the car park grit for doing the pavements that don't get salted by the county,
Where are they meant to get thier supplies  ?
Will it take the County and the District the next five years to squabble over who will do the job?

We are stil waiting for a similar squabble to be resolved:
Who is responsible for putting up a sign in the area of the Market Square for the Stockbridge Lane Car Park ?
Four years ago, after a lengthy three week 'consultation' with CCC those attending put the above as their top priority for improving the road network in Ulverston Town. Yet this sign notifying road users that there was a (an empty) Car Park at Stockbridge Lane needs to be paid for by the county, but it is a sign to a District Car Park - so ( they say) is none of their responsibility. Squabble, squabble, squabble. The County Councillors at the time - Wendy Kolbe and Pauline Halfpenny - at the end of the consultation meetings, in order to bring a noisy and unhappy public meeting to an end repeated over and over again - "Leave it to us, leave it to us". We are still waiting - the specific councillors long gone. The issue remains.

Do we have a Town Councillor with the tenacity and determination to bang a few heads together and knock a bit of common sense into the officers concerned?

Meanwhile the public suffers, venting their frustration in the repeated jibes made at the total shambles we often have for what is affectionately called 'democracy'.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

The John O Gaunt, Lancaster

"Always start at the top"

Has been my motto throughout my life - and it's worked time and time again.

As far as I know, this is the top venue in the area for music. So for my first gig, I started here.

I had a great time playing at this friendly pub in Lancaster.  Saturday evening. This is my first time playing in a pub. I had a great reception - everyone was very warm and complimentary as I played my clarinet, flat out, on my own, with full undivided attention, eyes close, for half an hour, improvising freely on my favourite mp3s using the Roland 'cube' I've just bought. Yes - "I will survive" was one of the first to be played, "Yesterday" followed soon after, and with "Dr Jazz" I let fly with every ounce of energy I had - absolutely full blast, no holding back, whatever note I played was the 'right' one!

I played well despite  my clarinet having a fault : one of the notes wouldn't play. I quickly learnt to skirt round this so that it was less of a problem; there was enough noise in the pub to persuade the listeners that they had missed a note - not me.

Now I've dipped my toe in and had a good experience - I'm ready for more! Confidence running high.

Very tired - but immensely happy!

How did I get in? Well I had played their old piano and made it sing to 'wild aclaim' from the regulars for ten minutes at a previous visit.

I believe it is always worth at least asking for what you want. Amazingly a high proportion of the time you get it.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

It's a beautiful day

And I've got a morning out with a fantastic young woman ! 

Monday, 3 December 2012

My first audition

I'm "pushing the boat out".

Market Cross , this Thursday between 10 and 1 am

When I'll be listened to by the team from the Hope and Anchor to see how, what and how I play fits in with the music they have on at their pubwhat they do.

Any support and encouragement gratefully accepted !

The many faces of Cameron

What happened to that nice David Cameron? 

asks The Independent journalist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown

"There must be a name for this disturbing syndrome, the absence of a core, of authenticity"

Salting our roads and pavements

The County Council Highways Department are doing an amazingly good job. Well done.

All the signs are there that we have an incredibly good service here in Ulverston. All the main and even minor roads in town have been dusted with salt grit. The pavements in town are also treated. All the Green bins are stocked up full with salt ready for the community to to join in maintaining our roads and pavements to a high standard.

May I remind residents that the salt provided is NOT there for use on people's drives or private land. Should we get snow won't it be great to see the public working together to clear their own sections of pavement so that we can walk all over our town safely.

We all know that time to clear the snow is immediately after the snow has fallen and before anyone has trodden on it. Acting straight away is by far the most affective way. Making sure that we have the best tools ready to go will be important. I'll be out filming the areas that demonstrate a great cooperation so that we can see our work on Youtube. As in previous years I suspect that we'll all be out there clearing the snow within hours of the snow landing in our part of town. It's a great time to renew that community spirit of people working together to solve a problem.

The County Highways Team have shown us how to work well: I'm looking forward to seeing the public act equally responsibly so that we all feel good about our town. This spirit will I believe provide a great lift to those that are feeling at all depressed by the problems they face with hardships hitting them from all directions.

Here's a very practical way that we can all work together.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

You may wish to book this date

I shall be playing my clarinet with all the passion that I can summon up in what is for me an alien environment - a pub. The Old Friends,  Sunday afternoon 16th December. This could well be my first encounter with the public in a pub. Can I perform there with the same freedom and intensity that I am able to deliver here in my own living room?

I believe , based on my experience of playing 'on my own' in the Market Square for six or seven weeks now, I am ready for this challenge. Looking back I have received many compliments, I have been clapped by critical friends telling me that I hit my notes with 'perfection' - "That was amazing  - you got that just right". I have been given money by strangers because they enjoyed my music, I have watched, as I played, total strangers begin to dance without realising it to the music I was performing - probably because I too was dancing as I played and was transmitting those vibes. Music is the language of the emotions - one never knows what can happen when we are touched by the deep emotions of another person who is pouring out all the passion and enjoyment from inside his being via the skill with a musical instrument. I have seen it done hundreds of times by skilled performers : now it's my turn.

I'm fortunate that I'm going in with the experience that I know that I can do it. It will be even more poignant if I find others travel specially to hear me on this occasion.

I shall only be playing music that excites me strongly - so you'll learn a little about me. At the same time, I'll be learning about you as to whether my "performance turns you on". I've learnt that I can perceive and read the body language of those listening and see whether I'm communicating effectively with you to cause you the enjoyment that I'm feeling. Note I shall expect you to listen - or else I could stop.

If you're there you'll be at my first gig of many hundreds that will follow in the years to come. I intend to be very good in five years time as I'm aware that I'm 'on a roll' because I know I'm clearly better this week than the last. This encourages me to practise like crazy and thus reap the benefits of being an excellent musician.

My strengths are in improvising, playing my ear - playing whatever enters my head at the time. Being able to think, on the spur of the moment, a series of notes and way of playing them and just emit them without thinking - as you can imagine it's very exciting when you know you have produced something special. Come and judge for yourself. If you can't sit and really listen , then stay away. A performer can play some nasty tricks on those that show disinterest unjustifiably.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

A sad, sad, sad day at our market today

It was a beautiful day; many people were in the town and there were . . . . . three market stalls at the market. David Gardner's being the main stay.

Once again our town councillors have just stood by and watched it happen.

No that's not true you say. Cllr Judy Pickthall has tried hard.

No, you say, it's not their fault - it's the economic situation - people aren't buying.

No, you say our car park charges are frightening our visitors away.

Well compare Ulverston (no web site) with Settle, go talk and learn from David Gardner who is here faithfully twice a week. He sells plants at both markets. (look who's at the bottom).

He will explain why Settle has a successful market and why Ulverston doesn't.

Have come our councillors  made an effort to go across and find out the various secrets of their success and strive hard to put their secrets into practice here. I think not.

Well first of all they have their own web site - totally dedicated to bringing in visitors into their Tuesday Market. You'll agree for a market web site they do a brilliant job.

This shows that they have:

 5 Food stalls some of which used to come here.

6 Clothes and Fashion stalls

7 General Retail Stalls

Some how making up 27 stalls , they reckon

Most of the stall holders give details of what kinds of things they sell

There are 20 photos of the stalls even one of David's stall with him in 'action'

So why the big difference in the effort put into attracting vistors to their market.

First David tells me the people in Settle are a bolshie lot who stick up for themselves and insist on running thier own market - hence the web site. They don't let the District Councill anywhere near it.

Second David tells me the councillors there make a big fuss of the stall holders and are regularly asking if there's anything they can do to help. Again something I'm told that is very absent here by comparison. Many tell me they have rarely seen a councillor and wouldn't have a clue what they look like.

Aren't there some lessons to learn or are we all going to lie down on our backs, dog like, with our paws in the air , wimpering  " Please be nice to me, I'm only a poor little dog and will let you walk all over me is that's what you want."

I suspect you can guess by response to that. . . .  Grr Grr snap snap 

That's why I've taken up the clarinet to do my bit and add a bit of interest to the square on market days whatever the weather rain or shine snow or swelter. That's why I come with others and play chess there every week. That's why I paid up my trader's Licence (£77) and at least tried . . . and ran a pottery making stall. I used to run a thriving 'health food' stall until I transferred it into the Oxfam Building in 1986 when I ran that community venture.

Come on you lot, ball your heads off and go storming into the council chamber and bang a few dustbin lids until you're heard. Or better still at the next election bring in some independent guys  who mean business and not a lot of card holding party politicians. In the North of England, Ulverston is one of the few places where party politicians survive.

Morcambe by contrast has very few. Other towns like Hawaorth near Bradford, which I contacted because they had brilliant work done on their cobbles by contactors (Balfour Beatie for United Utilities ). At Haworth, John Huxley, who is chair of the Parish Council, tells me they have 90 % Independents with party politicians a rarity.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Dickensian Weekend

Sure enough the video enthusiasts have been busy on Youtube - thanks

more and
more and
more and
more and
more and
more and

Yes James Airey, I am being negative

 For too long, our councillors have been doing a superficial job so that Local Government officials are able to run rings round them and often do an inept job. This is true to life "Yes, Minister".

Do our councillors stand up solely to give us the impression that they are working hard on our behalf? No doubt this may occasionally be true but too often they think that the mere act of raising an issue is enough.

To achieve a good result, a lot of hard work of communicating with officials needs to be done to see what is actually happening behind the scenes.

Local officials need praise when they work well and criticism when they don't. Most of the time our councillors are only out to give the public the impression that they know what is happening when in fact the officials are left to get on with it without supervision. On some occasions officials can be plain arrogant as was the case with Nick Raymond , now moved sideways, I suspect as a result of me contacting all the town and rural councils in South Lakeland.

With a job as demanding as this how is it that some councillors can imagine that they can act effectively as Town Councillors, District and County councillors as was the case of James Airey until recently together with his wife a District Councillor.

Ultimately it is our councillors that are in charge of our councils and are responsible for the highly paid civil 'servants' doing their job. However instead of tackling the top paid officials, the councillors all team up when they are under fire from someone like me because it makes them feel uncomfortable being shown up as ineffective.

More now than ever before we need honest and hardworking councillors who coordinate the energy of the whole community : too often they ignore local people who can show them up by doing the job better than they can. It's time for change - we in Ulverston need to work as a team - councillors working with the local community.

James wrote:

Dear Geoff

I don't think your constant negativity helps anyone . I think we have a good team of Councillors in Ulverston , Labour and Conservative. None of us are perfect but we simply want to do our best.

Kind regards


My reply:

Thanks James,

Yes we've got some promising Councillors who I believe will steer the Councils Town and District in new directions where there is more resolve to be more proactive.

It's very encouraging to see.

Lessons need to be learnt from the past and until we have councillors who are willing to admit that errors have been made and are still being made, we won't move forward as a town.

Too often Councillors cannot cope and refuse to recognise people who achieve things that they were unable to achieve themselves.

I do not accept that I am constantly negative but am very positive whenever Councillors do good work.

How often does Jack Rice's name get mentioned in connection with his fight with SLDC over Car Park Charges and using the freedom of information act to squeeze the figures out of them with the result that now I understand there is talk of the UTC regaining control of the Car Parks ourselves. This is such a vital issue that I will be full of praise for the councillors behind this if this is achieved or even attempted.

It seems however that we still have some very timid and obstinate Cllrs who avoid taking risks that would benefit the town.

No. The councillors are not all united. It could be the unity is amongst the timid whatever their political persuasion and that there is a growing self belief amongst those with new energy that see things differently. These are the people I and many others support strongly. How united are they over Sainsbury's, Robinson Brewery, the saving of the CAB, getting the cobbles sorted quickly at low expense?

Perhaps what is needed is for people like John Lawrence to get involved to work along with those already in place,  alongside the risk takers : a man with good judgement, used to dealing with people in difficult situations and resolve to steer through difficult changes in policy as he did when head of Glaxo.

I'll be campaigning for all I'm worth if he stands again - hopefully  as a County Councillor for North Ward in the elections this next May.

I shall step in and be full of praise and being positive for those that take risks to sweep away the cap doffing attitudes that are so prevalent here in Ulverston - something from the 1960s when I arrived here. No James it's time for change - our whole political system at local level needs a real shake up by some brave and hardworking people

Best wishes


Are we really in a position to criticise China ?

I received a petition to sign regarding the following:

Whilst I agree that the footage of China's treatment of dogs is disturbing and I  appreciate being contacted about it. I have to ask the question:

Are we in Britain in a position to critise when we condone the treatment of hens in our chicken meat trade? How do we feel about shipping of live beef across Europe and into the UK? Could it be that we identify with dogs as being worthwhile whist hens and cattle are less so? Could it be that dogs are not regarded with such affection in China as here?

Your thoughts please. I find this a difficult one to answer.Is it that humans by nature are basically blinkered and selfish?

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Wow, am I having fun with my Clarinet

I've got to the stage when I'm beginning to play anything by ear. I don't seem to have to worry about what key I'm in: my brain just tells the right fingers to move and hey presto.

I play particularly well when I can make up my own improvisation when the right note that harmonises is always only a semitone away. Sidney Bechet played by ear I'm sure and the dischordant notes he hit were magic. What's most important is what is deep down in one's soul or somewhere equally mysterious.

Hoping to play on Saturday morning. My, that will be a challenge. How will I cope with the cold?
Four degrees, sun and no rain is forecast wowee as Simon Clarke would say - he'll be out cycling no doubt.

No doubt we will find out - will I have enough puff? and will the fingers move?

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Martin Gilbert, story teller.

Busking with my Clarinet here over the week end

I played for about an hour with Colin Smith on Saturday Dickensian, he was impressed with my ability to improvise, hitting the right notes in the right key - along with whatever he chose to play and then again for 90 mins on my own today on Sunday - total 'takings' 9p and lots of claps , smiles and appreciation. My chest ached - You need to be fit for this game!

Lots more practice needed. Back to just blowing the mouth piece to develop muscles and puff.

Dickensian Weekend again today

We had a fantastic day yesterday with a great turn out from the local community dressed up with great care and detail in Dickensian outfits ; performers playing and acting in many places around the town along with workshops for children. The streets were packed with perhaps even more people involved than ever before.

A great credit to the organisation  of the event -  Peter Winston - as in previous years.

Yes the local shop keepers may have viewed the crowds with envy when the crowds didn't enter their shops as all the action was to be found in the streets. Surely shopkeepers can take the view that having brought so many people into the town they will have had a good time and will return in the future to a town where there is so much energy and good will.

And now we have another full day ahead of us and the heavy rain is well in the past and is moving away with sun to appear as the day progresses.

Here's the program for today:
and here are the activities for today:

Even Labour Councillor Colin Pickthall supports the Cobbles Cock up by Cumbria County Highways

When will councillors start working with members of the community to make a really effective force working for the benefit of Ulverston ?

Colin  replies in defence of the work down Market Street that has been so disruptive - and in my view should never have been done in this way in the first place. Even now we are faced with more of the same in the new year.
Note , at the bottom, District and Town Councillor, Helen  Irving disagrees with Colin's approach.

*     *     *
On 18 Nov 2012, at 21:42, J PICKTHALL wrote:

Dear Geff,

I had a look this evening (having just returned home from London.)  I think the workmen have left the bottom end of Market Street in good shape.
I also think they have done a very decent job so far and have had to work mostly in dreadful conditions, and were exceedingly thoughtful - and even cheerful - in their dealings with the public.


Colin pickthall
 *     *     *
Thanks Colin,

I see we are agreed for the most part. However you choose to totally ignore my main point - the work should never have needed doing in the first place and that councillors in the past have not worked with people in the our community namely Roz Harris (from Ulverston and United Utilities) and myself to campaign effectively.

What you say is true - the workmen who were travelling all the way from Nescastle were doing a great job and suffered a fair bit of hassle from shopkeepers who weren't being reassured by local politicians . The reported statements by Councillor Airey that the whole job would be finished in four weeks was unfortunate.

In your brief reply, as far I can tell,  you ignore  my main points. We disagree that the quality of the new work is an improvement on the cobbles that had been undisturbed for decades. Have you noticed that the setts are in fact being laid further and further apart with increasing quantities of cement between, each time a fresh contractor does the work. Are we saying then that cement is a superior finish to granite. I suspect that cement is far more vulnerable freezing weather conditions.The quality of work unfortunately can only be determined in twenty years time or more.

The strongest point that I make is that had our Highways Department been doing their job over the past twenty years, then all this work would not have needed doing.

The contractors used by United Utilities demonstrated in the work that was done opposite the Westmorland Gazette office (with close friendly communication with me) that companies requiring access can in fact reach their services under the road, and replace the setts in such a way that a high standard of road surface can be achieved. In a year the new setts can be indistinguishable from the surface surrounding them. Thus with good supervision are good road surface can be maintained.

It seems that you condone the massive expenditure that has been needed and the failure of any councillors including now you, to be critical of the way our Highways Department operate, not only in the past but even now.

Surely the time has come for local councillors to work together with the local community  and support and use their energy in working for the benefit of Ulverston.

*  *  *
From James Airey our Conservative County Councillor
On 16 Nov 2012, at 07:55, Airey, James wrote:

Dear Geoff

I am not aware of any complaints from the Town Council, although they
did wish for the works to be finished or stopped in advance of the
Dickensian festival. There has certainly been many complaints from a
small number of the businesses which has led to the work being halted
until the new year. This is a far from ideal situation and a great shame
because I believe the work being done was to an excellent standard. I
also think that the workmen had done their best to minimise disruption
to traders, residents and shoppers.



From: Geoff Dellow
To: "Airey, James"
Cc: Helen Irving ; Judy PICKTHALL ; David Parratt
Sent: Friday, 16 November 2012, 10:56
Subject: Re: Cobbles Market street

Rest assured James, there have been strong criticisms to me from some councillors that I am in touch with.

Thanks you for replying.

The complaints come under three headings

1. That the work should never have been done in the first place as the damage done to the cobbles was minimal and only in small places. As I made you aware previously, successful reinstatement of cobbles was made my United Utilities in a patch opposite the Westmorland Gazette office. Clearly this would have been the way to have tackled the problem. The foreman from Amey that I filmed doing the previous set of work states clearly that the first stretch of cobbles didn't need doing and that Cumbria Highways were crazy doing it. How damning was that.

2. The scheduling of the work was such that the workmen from Colas anticipated that the would not get done before Dickensian, yet it is reported that you stated that the work would be over in four weeks. If the work was to be done , why was it not started a lot earlier? The workmen predicted at the beginning that a temporary surface would have to be laid which inevitably will have increased the cost and disruption. Why couldn't it have been done quicker?

3. The most serious issue is that the work should never have needed doing in the first place and cost the tax payer a penny. Had Nick Raymond the previous head of the local Cumbria Highways Dept. , not operated such a lax regime regarding the accountability of contractors to the work they did when when accessing the services under the road, then the quality of the reinstatement of the cobbles would have been done to the same high standard that United Utilities achieved in their work opposite the Westmorland Gazette offices. The quality work was achieved because, as you knew, I had developed a close relationship with United Utilities as a result of the petition that I presented to them through the Ulverston Town Council. - see below.

Finally, unlike you I am not convinced that the new work that has been done is of high quality. As we have already discussed there is a need for the work on cobbles to be done by a specialist team set up for the whole of Cumbria: it is not one to be given to contractors without proven experience of this specialist field. You will note that the last lot of work done by Colas is very different to the original quality of the areas of good cobbles at the bottom of Market Street. First, the resultant surface is far more  uneven than the original   the setts ( as we both know is their correct term) laid by Colas are widely spaced apart with wide areas of cement between. This will put a great strain from repeated freezing and thawing on the surface of the concrete and hence the gaps between the Setts. Surely the granite, having survived hundred of thousands of years is by far the stronger material, yet over half the new road surface is cement based. Sadly only time will tell but the surface that was dug up between New Market Street and what still remains at the bottom of Market street which has not been damaged by contractors was showing no sign of ware and tare. The original cobbles showed every sign of lasting well over fifty years had they not been attacked by ignorant and badly supervised contractors as has happened in the past.

I do believe that ultimate responsibility for what happens as the result of inept work by our local government officers is the responsibility of our county councillors. I agree that this is a great responsibility and not an easy job and not to be taken on lightly. In my opinion the job requires detailed knowledge of the way officers carry out there duties as well as being responsible for what happens in the council chamber.

What is available is a wealth of local knowledge among the electorate and my experience is that councillors far from encouraging support in this way, even resent what they see as interference. We have a great need for a bottom up system where cllrs harness and motivate the energy of the public  rather than what too often happens, as in this case, the efforts of the public are ignored.


The video of Market Street see was taken in Jan 2011 shows the relevant road surface and repairs that were accomplished by United Utilities.

This video shows the opinions of the Amey contractors to what they were being asked to do last year

Note below some of the correspondence with United Utillities

-----Original Message-----
From: Geoff Dellow []
Sent: 13 November 2012 13:03
To: Airey, James
Cc: Helen Irving; Judy PICKTHALL
Subject: Cobbles Market street

James, Helen and Colin,

Is there anything that can be done to rescue the situation regarding
work on the cobbles stopping now until next year?

The workmen tell me that they are being stopped as from tomorrow
Wednesday. This implies that there will be a large stretch of market
street with no surface on and that the men will be out of work until it
resumes some time in the future.

Isn't it possible for work on the cobbles to continue until the present
lot are laid  and before Dickensian which ever is first ? The workmen
were predicting that work would take longer than four weeks when they

The workers tell me that there have been too many complaints from
shopkeepers and from "the council".

It would seem there has been an almighty cock up.


*     *     *
From: Helen Irving
Date: 13 November 2012 21:38:49 GMT
Subject: Re Cobbles

I totally agree with what you are saying i do beleive the reason they
are stopping is because of one shop owner.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

The Police Commissioners

What a farce.

For the first time in my life I went in to the voting booth and deliberately ruined my ballot paper. Instead I wrote across my paper:

"This is not democracy in action"

For the rest of the morning I felt miserable and guilty that I had thrown away something precious.

Now, don't any dud police commissioner dare raise his or her voice other than to demand a proper election. One were the public is well informed about what it's all about. One that is done when the rest of the community will be voting .

This kind of behaviour on the part of the government encourages the rest of us to turn our backs on politicians and democracy. So what lies ahead?

Anarchy ?

Friday, 16 November 2012

Frome, Summerset the alternative to a supermarket town

Today Saturday the town debates the alternative to supermarkets.
 Alternative : a thriving economy on the high street - not a supermarket in sight.

Fortunately we've got some influencial thinkers in our town travelling all the way down south by car to join in the debate. People all across the country are challenging the large companies that try to take over our local ecomomies and drain them of their individuality and vitality and make them grey towns where you would have difficulty knowing where you were.

Visit this web site to get the alternative picture and what a vibrant picture you get. Ulverston too could be like this and there are some on our council that are determined to help it happen.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Three years on

Did this little story, made over three years ago, have an effect?

Yes. I think so.

Sanity is slowly, very very slowly seeping into the consciousness of some of our councillors.
Thankfully we have new blood and some fighters.
Great stuff.
Now will someone sort out our Highways Department? The home of incompetence for the last ten years and it's still having a 'field day' with the cobbles in Market Street as has been documented here. Needed badly: Knight in shining white armour to run as County Councillor. I'm sure there is a maid named Sanity to be rescued from the top of the Kendal Castle.

Fascism and our MP and Mayor

I heard about this last Saturday at  Lancaster University with some genuinely upset supporters of Tom's art work ( and clearly not BNP supporters). They were from Grange and aghast that our Mayor supported John Woodcock in his outrageous action in having two works of art removed from and exhibition here at our Town Hall. Here my comment left on the Westmorland Web Site:

I am deeply upset that John Woodcock thinks it is appropriate to comment on art and considers he has the right to have pictures removed (and even have an exhibition closed).

If Tom Dearden has something to say I am very interested in what he has to say and how he goes about saying it. This is the reason we enjoy art : it is to get us to think.

This is our responsibility not anyone else's.

John Woodcock an MP is not the person to prevent us seeing art. We are perhaps more capable than he of judging what is Fascist. By all means John express your opinion but don't ram it down our throats.

I found it equally disturbing that our Mare (or should that be Mayor) should also feel that she has a right to comment as our Mayor and exert her influence. The whole episode is no credit to the Labour movement or to the views of Ulverstonians.

Can we have an admission by both John Woodcock and from Brenda Marr that they are the ones that are acting like Fascists in laying down the law as to what individuals can and cannot do. If something wrong is being done please let the police and our judges determine what should be done.

Can we now have someone with a bit of courage from the Town Council taking this up with the Mayor and pursuading her to offer Tom an appology together with a substantial donation of say  £1000 so that Tom can feature another exhibition in the near future. Surely we have got a councillor who is able to see the gravity of the mistake that has been made and will act on behalf of fairminded people in the town.

Voting today

We're being asked to vote today for a police commissioner. I suggest that if you're going to vote and many aren't, you vote for Patric Leonard. He is the only person of substance and is clearly against privatisation and who is not an ex army conservative man.

Did all the cobbles need doing ?

No, just a few.
This film, taken before any work was done, shows how little of the surface needed attention.

It illustrates how one patch was successfully repared without disruption

Here Amey contractors agree that the cobbles they are removing don't need doing at all and the ones that did need doing were being left.
To quote their workmen " Cumbria County Council have always been crazy"
What a fine mess the bowler hat people have got themselves - and us - into.
Why don't our County Councillors take a grip on the situation? They are the ones in charge of the County County Council. The Councillors are in theory in charge of executives earning inflated salaries in the region of £150,000.
In practice the situation is a farce. The Comedy "Yes Minister" is far too close to the truth for comfort.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

The Market Street Cobbles Fiasco - Steam is rising and beginning to escape from my ears

The contractors leave with the job only half done only to come back next year to inflict more disruption. This and the cost to the tax payer for  a questionable solution, need never have happened. Furthermore there are projects that the town really needs are under real threat - the face to face Citizens Advice Bureau comes top of my list.

I suspect the bill to the taxplayer is approaching half a million pounds and the disruption to trade enormous. Not a penny of this money need have been spent and  the repair of the small level of damage to the cobbles  could have been done unobtrusively.

The Amey contractors have admitted here on film that the work they were doing didn't need doing; the cobbles they were digging up were perfectly sound.

This is the result of incompetent councillors starting with Wendy Kolby who was the Labour Party County Councillor for over twenty years. She did not supervise the arrogant Nick Raymond who was the Cumbria County Department of chief for this area until recently when he was at last moved sideways. Politicians conveniently forget that they are in fact the employers of our civil servants.

The Cobbles down Market Street would never have needed repair if it had not been for the fact that contractors accessing the services under the road were allowed to repair the cobbles without supervision by the Highways Department resulting in subsidence due to poor workmanship.

This was glaringly true when United Utilities replaced a water main all the way down Market Street in 2006 leaving appauling damage to the road surface in some fifteen places.

When tackled at the top of the company United Utilites admitted that they were at fault paying me £25 for raising the matter and agreed to return and repair the poor work. This still left all the other damage caused by unsupervised contractors acting on behalf of gas, electricity and previous water and drains access. Work allowed to be badly done by Nick Raymond's department.

Work subsequently done by United Utilites opposite the West. Gaz. office was of an excellent standard demonstrating that effective repairs could be carried out when done by a responsible contractor.

Instead of small scale repairs being done, the Highways Department were allowed to start a complete resurfacing of Market Street and the resulting chaos has resulted.

Now we should expect James Airey and Peter Hornby, our County Councillors, to sort this mess out. Again their poor supervision of what the Highways Department do is to blame.

It is time that politicians take responsibility for their workforce - the council often with top salaries over £150,000/year -  rather than posturing in front of the public and doing very little.

Why do we the public continue to elect them?

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Would Jayne Kendal as Town Clerk be a good thing ?

David Parratt is leaving us as Town Clerk and the Town Council is looking for his replacement. He has done a meticulous job with the limitted resources he has been given.

I understand that Jayne Kendal is being suggested as his replacement.

She is certainly a forceful character and much appreciated by former councillors: but is that a good thing?

How much does she bring the people of the town together?

How much does she harness their considerable energy?

Or is her emphasis to be egotistical and drive her own projects a common trait with many councillors?

Is she like her colleague Peter Winston? And is that a good thing for the people of the town?

Or is she good for the councillors? Does it follow that this is the same as being good for the people and businesses of the town?

The choice of person is very important at the present time if the town is to gain new energy by harnessing  drive of the people in the town. The councillors have not done an inspiring job in the past. Few people have much respect for them and the way they have worked. Do we have some new leadership in the town? Is this more democratic in that at last the people are getting behind some of this new thinking?

Does Jayne Kendal fit in with this approach?

Monday, 12 November 2012

Why shops and businesses like the Dolls House are important

They demonstrate our individuality. Without them we become like any other town moving steadily to a place for morons with no particular interests in life. The home for the hopeless - those that decry people who have a spark of life about them. Those that favour shades of grey rather than beautiful autumn colours that we have at present.

Those that seek refuge in the ordinary  - people without spirit - people who drink for its own sake, who smoke to calm their nerves, who can't see a reason to get out of bed in the morning, who can't find the energy to go down to the pub, who sit miserable, alone, at home, who take drugs, both on the health service and the illegal kind, people who eat for comfort, who are couch potatoes, people who don't think for themselves and are manipulated by the media, where the interest is not just the TV but now the computer, the Internet, the faceless Facebook, Twitter, the latest gadget i-phone, those with no interest in creative activities - art, music, walking in the countryside - a load of Zombies.

Thankfully Ulverston still has many people ( most I believe) who take life by the short and curlies and continue to 'live' and add a cheerful spark to what otherwise could be a dull existence; people that show initiative and entrepreneurial spirit, people we fight and struggle in adversity. People who do crazy and pointless things like lighting 500 candles in the pooring  rain, sing and perform music and celebrate their foolishness at the pub afterwards, people who gatherround the bonfire and are persuaded to sing scout songs for no reason other than they wanted to,  people whose conversation starts " Remember the evening we sang carols in the pooring rain and joked about the fact that we were getting wet through."

"It's good to be mad . . .  - in fact it's good to join the mad people"

 People who have better things to do that read and comment on blogs like this!

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Playing my clarinet in town

Had a lovely time this last Thursday mu sixth in a row - lots of smiles and more impressive some money given without being requested. Many people love to here some well played music and the clarinet is a lovely instrument - so I'm practicing hard.

Donations from about eight people.

Thank you

Friday, 9 November 2012


Submissions to SLDC Planning are still being accepted I suspect.

There has always been a strong spirit in Ulverston and the surrounding area. It is a people centred town and continues to battle for the people and businesses of the town who, given the chance are self sufficient. It is this buoyant attitude that politicians need to recognise ( and even be wary of). The town attracts people who support it strongly with entrepreneurial flair that will show itself more and more as Ulverston struggles for survival ( The Ulverston Brewery, the Marl International, the LED business  that is now a world leader. Glaxo laboratories that are returning once again.) An increasing number of large companies are attempting to take advantage of imagined opportunities. These they can quickly find are not so attractive as they first thought because of lack of local support so that they pull out leaving gaps in the provision of services. Examples are the Armstrongs Insurance a thriving local business bought up be Swensens only to close shortly afterwards leaving Ulverston without this service. Tesco at the moment are not being supported as well as they had hoped and could close up any day because of the strong competition coming from the community based Coop.

Sainsbury’s supermarket is of very limited value to the town of Ulverston and can cause enormous harm as a result of it’s attempt to gain a foothold. We already have a thriving supermarket with a strong local bias which combines with low cost shops in town to provide and enviable service to the town.

Most of Sainsbury’s appeal comes from sophisticated campaigning which appeals to myths held by some of the public. Ulverston is one of the remaining towns in the country were people value each other highly. With the economic situation even this is being challenged; yet this is precisely when people need to value each other because this is the most important thing in a community: people.

It is a myth that another supermarket is needed in the town for the following reasons:

1. It is not cheaper. Time and time again when the facts are really examined rather than the myths accepted, people find that goods purchased from small well run businesses are cheaper. Furthermore the service comes with a genuine smile based on honest hard work for the community. Local businessmen know how to resource quality products using a network of local suppliers. Butchers can access local farmers with the situation that they even know the animals that have been slaughtered  specifically to provide meat on their counter. Beef that has been fattened with food that ensures quality taste. Where a cheap cut is needed than they again can supply this way below supermarket price. Only this week my family were offered and bought  a pork hock at £1:20 for a kilogramme this gave 500 gm of local meat at a price way below supermarket prices. Vegetables are another case in point where not only prices can be 30% of supermarket prices on the market stalls but local shops provide a far wider range of everyday veg at lower prices than the supermarket.

2. Supermarkets are not need in that most people work either in Barrow or Kendal and shop there. For those that don’t Barrow supermarkets can be accessed by car at £3.50 petrol and with a return journey of less than 40 minutes - a monthly trip being all that is needed. Several local Coops serve the community well with the bulk of products needed that aren’t covered by the local shops.

3. The proposed location is not only dangerous to potential foot traffic but also to car travel being situated where insufficient visibility is available . Through traffic will also cause significant delay on a busy main road, the A590 between the motorway and Ulverston and Barrow.

4. What the new supermarket can offer is free parking at a time when thanks to cooperation with SLDC the car park charges are being reviewed with the criteria that they are set to ensure maximum usage in the town and hence high income rather than a regime over the past twenty years where charges have been in line with the tourist car parks in the Lakes where there is a captured market. Here in Ulverston other towns have benefited from traffic and a thriving market is now struggling in contrast with other northern towns where the town has been able to set the charges to suit the town and ensure that this important resource is used to 85% capacity (Stockbridge Lane by contrast has operated for years at less than 5% and thus bring in only £10,000 per year to benefit SLDC on a car park that was willed to the town for its own benefit..

The high car parking charges have been a nightmare for the trade in the town . Now there is the potential a new era when once again trade will return to the town.

5. The false argument of Sainsbury is glaringly apparent when they state that they will create new jobs. First the numbers are inflated by counting part time jobs but far more important is the fact that for every new job provided it is likely that two will be lost – one to the shops in town but easily forgotten those in the locality that are the suppliers who operate on small profit margins made worse by lower demand these businesses depend on the maximum trade provided by dependable local shops and markets.

6. The last cruel injustice brought to a caring town is that large companies inevitably use many lawyers to take advantage of tax loopholes which in practice the government aren’t able to plug. The small local businessman has no access to these resources of expertise and trades at a disadvantage. MPs have recently demonstrated their frustration with Starbucks, Google, Tesco who pay little to no tax.

Why Sainsbury’s ?  Prominent tax campaigner Richard Murphy, from Tax Research UK states that very few companies are completely "clean": the Co-op bank has an offshore banking arm, the BBC's use of freelance contracts has been attacked. The Guardian Media Group itself has been criticised for holding some of its assets through companies in the Cayman Islands and Luxembourg. It is human nature to take advantages where they are available.

“Starbucks is a nice easy target at the end of the road, and Murphy says the fact the Daily Mail is calling for a boycott shows which way the tide is running. But the problem of tax avoidance is deep-rooted and ultimately only politicians can change the landscape. Their Faustian pact with multinationals has to end. This is about much more than where we buy our morning latte.”

We call upon this planning committee of politicians to support the underdog. The repercussions amongst local people at the sense of injustice will be enormous if they don’t . They have a very strong sense of justice.

The Future

It is important to consider the likely possibilities if a supermarket was accepted. The management of a large proportion of the trade with then pass to remote executives that will have no allegiance to out town. With transport costs rising steadily and the principal of operation of a supermarket being based on the use of wide road networks then supermarkets situated away from the national networks will be the first to be discarded when it is recognised that economy of travel is paramount. Thus the Furness , stuck out on a limb will be very vulnerable.

By contrast local traders with their detailed local knowledge build close links with local suppliers and keep transport costs down. This enables the low costs of food that local shops enjoy.

The successful future surely in difficult times is for trade to remain in the hands of small family businesses who have  a strong feeling of loyalty not only to their customers but also to the farm suppliers they use. Unlike Nationally based companies like Tesco and Sainsbury’s food is not shipped from even Europe whilst fuel prices permit this. Surely this model of supply cannot continue at a time when the worlds resources of fuel are having to be shared amongst  counties like China with their the rapidly expanding fuel hungry middle classes .

No, keeping trade in the hands of canny local businessmen is essential for a town which can take care of itself and could easily be abandoned by remote executives in London or even in Europe – in Germany and Bonn in the future. Here low cost and well managed car parks will be essential not only to local traders but also to SLDC as a sources of income (one lost to the SLDC if a supermarket is in charge).

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Do we get conned by supermarkets into thinking they are cheap?

I think so.

There are many things that we pay for without really questioning the price.

The worst case is petrol. We are brainwashed into thinkng that we need to keep filling up our cars at well over 50 pounds a time. The price keeps going up and we keep on buying it.

Some people think twice:

They use a cycle  - and keep fit at the same time. Distances like Dalton are quite manageable if you are going to work - I did it regularly whatever the weather with a change of clothes at work..

Share a shopping trip with a neighbour.

Grow your own veg in the garden or an the allotment you'll make good friends - and yes there are plots lying idle.

Buy in town on market day - on a bike. Prices are a third of prices in Booths which must be less than half the price at a Sainsbury - market stall holders sell veg that is just ready to eat at a fraction of the supermarket price - three aubergine for £1, four capsicum 80p, four lemons 50 p, celery  50p. bananas  70 p .

You don't have time - work part time from home buy a house that needs doing up or is small and extend/ renovate it.  I have friends both work part time three days per week and are raising three young children, two under three without over using a nursery. Out of work - borrow from a sympathetic local goverment (Labour) to build using timber frame construction as was done in Lewisham using the Walter Segal method of building with the whole group helping each other to build. Where there's a will . . . . . It can be done.

Other prices we accept without thinking - Cigarettes even rolling your own is expensive. Why smoke when it's such a killer?

Drinking alcohol don't buy in bulk - brew your own. Buy just one pint at £2:50 at the Stan Laurel on your evening out not four.

Clothes - good stuff at the charity shop.

Never buy new rubbish (from China) but secondhand qualityclothes from charity shops,  furniture - from Impact  and auctions (clothes even new - avoid designer labels but buy denim or quality tweed or similar that lasts twenty years) and especially buy 'out of date' electronic and gadgetty stuff - iphones, computers etc.

A bit of imagination and you can do it.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

So where can you buy meat at 30p a meal ?

I reckon on 4 ounces or 130 gm of meat for a good meal.

 Yes one pound of pork can be bought locally for only £1.20 : that's 30p for a meal - less than the price of one cigarette.

Why would anyone eat but well at that price ?

Answer coming up - quality meat from a quality supplier.

Any suggestions?

People need all the help they can get these days.

Monday, 5 November 2012

The sad case of a councillor that has lost her way

I suspect that Helen Irving can't cope with her work load. She's now taken on not only the post of Town Councillor but now SLD Councillor. It's quite a commitment when you're an active grandmother with many family and other commitments.

Why "lost her way" ?

Well she's missing the opportunity of earning some great brownee points (yes she's aiming to be a full girl guide eventually). She has the opportunity to associate herself with a team of 50 people who would sing her praises with only a little encouragement if she became known to them. The group call themselves the BUGs and are behind several community projects in the town :

Looking after Mill Dam Park which is attracting visitors from all over Furness because of its friendly and well cared for environment. They have, over the past three years and out of their own funds, provided three picnic tables, transformed the flower beds planted over 2000 bulbs and 1000 bedding plants. Now the wide variety perennials are becoming established. Pottery made in the park on several occasions is decorating one side. They have even rescued the fencing that was discarded by the adjacent sheltered housing with a view of renovating the fencing in front of the park which is looking rather tired. They are working behind the scenes to treat, paint this wood ready install with their own labour now that funds for work on our parks is drying up.

Creating the pottery on the Railings at Gill Banks. This has come about over many years now through many opportunities for both children and adults to make pottery which has survived the attentions of vandals and the weather.

Creating Pottery for personal use. A group of seven meet every Monday evening. See below

Running numerous workshops for children : making kites in the summer and flying them in Ford Park, making Candles as Christmas presents and other craft projects.

Supporting the Ulverston Flag Festival by making well over 50 flags which are flown not only on people houses in and around The Gill but in a circle around the Cumbria Way monument and in front of the Coro during Printfest.

The Candlelit Walk which has just been celebrated for the fourth year. Successfully handed over by the BUGs to a new team just this year.

Chess every Saturday in the Ulverston Market Square in a cooperation with the chess players at the Stan Laurel pub. The purpose here is to liven up the Town Market and provide the means of encouraging chess players all ages from six upwards.

Music as above at the Thursday Market where the aim is to supplement the music played by the Town and other bands, aiming again to provide interest at our Ulverston Market Days.

The successful removal of the intrusive Himalayan Balsam from Gill Banks one of seven species that the government had made it illegal to spread in the wild. Here a small team from BUGs worked nearly every Friday for four months with 99% success removal last year - over 1000 plants were removed.

Sadly Cllr Helen Irving couldn't spare 5 minutes yesterday for her first time, when some of the BUGs were working in the park and she was passing it. Instead of coming in to learn a little of what was being done she chose to recount her on site conversation with the SLDC Parks officer about plans to remove the fencing - something they already knew about from our regular contacts over the past three years resulting in assistance with the providing of two lots of compost from SLDC - the last lot being seven tonnes - which again was shifted off the road by a ten strong BUGs team in two ours. Also the provision of timber to repair one of the benches again done by the BUGs.

How can she represent the views and activities of this active group is she can't give even five minutes to becoming better informed of their activities on her patch? What comes across from Cllr Irving is a top down approach to management where we the public are told what is good for us rather than supporting and encouraging  the active members of the community to do more.

In these times of financial hardship you would have thought that a group that has provided in the region of £2500 out of their own funds  to help with the above activities would have been welcomed by our SLD Councillor when so many services are being cut back because of lack of finances. Surely the purpose of a councillor is to represent her constituents and be well informed of their activities when they are providing so much to the community.

I fear that unless our SDL Councillor changes her attitude then she won't be re-elected next time when the theme for the country is "We're all in this together".

The offer is still open: "Would you like to spend a little time becoming informed of BUGs activities and encourage them so that they can to sing your praises and compliment your  welcome support ?". Note we're not asking for money but simply for assistance in good communication between the BUGs and local government. Isn't this your job as a councillor, both town and district?

Note: you can spot a BUGs supporter by the fact that they have a pottery 'bug' - a small Ladybird beside/above  the front doors of their houses all over Ulverston. To keep in touch with their activities email Geoff at gd at or Facebook. At the moment we're organising Christmas Present candlemaking activities for children.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Music that makes you want to danse is special

Here the French group Morlisneul from Lille get people dansing spontaneously in the centre of Paris.

A times become tougher and tougher, more and more we need music like this.
Musicians of the north - that means Ulverston - how about it?
Shall we invite this group over to encourage us to get up on our feet and danse

danse and


. . . . and what a great way of keeping fit!

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Sainsburys planning application - Supermarket at the Beehive, Ulverston

Time to get down to writing to the SLDC Planning Department before their deadline of November 7th.

Receive on October 23rd:

 Ideally letters/emails should be with SLDC by 7th November. If you require longer, a brief outline of your response by then would be appreciated which you could expand upon later. I am not sure when the application will be considered by the Planning Committee the first likely date is now 20 December. Please contact me nearer the time for confirmation. In the meantime further you may register to speak at the Committee by contacting the Democratic and Electoral Services Manager or Committee Clerk. ( Apply to Fiona - Geoff) 

Telephone: 0845 050 4434 Email: 
 Fiona Clark email :
 Planning Officer South Lakeland District Council South Lakeland House Lowther Street Kendal LA9 4DL 
 Tel:01539 733333 Ext 7332 Direct Dial:01539 797559 Fax:01539 717355 

*        *        *        *        *

 I shall be opposing this planning application and will post my reasons here by tomorrow Sunday 4th November - making this statement means that I'll get down and really do it ! - Geoff

Will we loose our face to face Citizens Advice Bureau ?

The Save Ulverston CAB web Site
Write to the web site using this email
Contact your Town Councillor
For those of you reading this that feel it's not worth the effort  - it's not true.
Even today some of our energetic councillors are claiming to the decision makers that there's a strong feeling in the town to save our CAB. They need letters from us to back them up. They can only speak out with conviction if we write to the web site -
I'm coming across people who say "Yes, the CAB is a brilliant service, without their personal help I wouldn't have my home now"
We need to write and tell them how we feel - just a short note is well worth having. It takes five minutes. Copy, paste and write . . . . something. 
Like " Great work , keep it going, your presence in the town means a lot to me"

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Monitoring the work in Market Street

I've just written to Colas the contractors that are rebuilding our cobbled street:

"Your firm has just started work on our main street in Ulverston - one I take an intense interest in. I have be reporting on the progress made on this particular topic - the maintenance of our cobbled street - for five years now.

We look forward to some excellent work - a thing we didn't get from Amey previously - see Youtube - now it's your turn.

We're looking forward to recommending you in future - if you deserve it. See - and

We'll be publishing regular updates as the work progresses.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Dr Geoff Dellow"

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Work on the cobbles down market street

I had a chat with the workers the other day:

Work is moving fast

The cobbles haven't been easy to remove - suggesting that they didn't really need to be removed all over.

Amey have not been given the contract which for me is a good sign because their attitude to work last year was poor (abominable?). The result was good but they took forever doing it and succeeded in upsetting most of our shop keepers with their casual attitude to getting the job done.

The present contractors, Colas,  are travelling all the way from Newcastle: leaving at 5:30 am - two and a half hour journey to start work at 8 am then home again at 5pm with another two and half hour journey.

Sounds like the quality of work will be good in that an asphalt surface is  first being laid with cobbles on top using the special cement - Ultracrete - that was used before with good result - this is the material recommended to me by Mr Rhodes, the Highways engineer responsible for work in Preston - a town that takes great pride in the way it lays and maintains its cobbles where it still has them.

It seems that Cumbria Highways still haven't entirely got their act together in that work on the Brogden Street/ Market Street intersection is being delayed because some work is still needing to access services under the road. They never-the-less seem to be taking the present work seriously. It seems that there has been a marked improvement in the Highways Management since Nick Raymond was diplomatically moved sideways away from our critical comments. This arrogant man was last heard to be working in Barrow.

The contractors stated that the work will most likely take longer than the promised four weeks however they stated that the road will be thoroughly usable for the Dickensian Weekend. I'm looking forward to some decent depth in the gutter on the left and not the very low 4 cm gutter in part, higher up, that we had last year.

Could it be that it pays to monitor carefully what local government gets up to and speak out by putting a few critical videos on Youtube and a private blog? Something anyone can do - perhaps even more effective than what a County Councillor can achieve especially when they spend their time being important on too many committees. One or two even attempt to represent us, not only on the County Council but the District and the Town Council - something James Airey attempted to do until recently - how can he possibly do a good job in all these posts. Even his wife Caroline, a lovely person maybe, gets a place on the SLDC - something she does very poorly in the view of Mr Willis of Greenodd ex Post Office. Could it be that some people are power mad? Why does the public blindly support this kind of person by simply voting for 'the party' - in this case the Conservatives?

Rant over - back to the clarinet!

Friday, 19 October 2012

Why so few posts here these days?

I've found something to do that is very demanding of my energy and time - learn to play the clarinet well. There are a multitude of problems which demand lots of determination. The rewards however are great and this activity is proving very enjoyable for me. I'm even being given a little cash by one or two. This is the most reliable way for me of telling that people enjoy what they hear.

 I'm keeping my head down and putting in lots of practice - in fact every minute that I can spare whilst maintaining a balance of other activities. Many people around me are being superbly encouraging and this support is great to have.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Aren't these so graceful?

Sinfonietta of Light, Exhibit of Susumu Shingu's floating sculpture in the octagonal basin of Jardin des Tuileries in Paris. October 10 - 28, 2012

Sunday, 14 October 2012

A visit to Paris

The Pompidou Centre attracts musicians and performers. Last Sunday was no exception with a very talented group from Lille performing next to the Fountain of the Automats.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Safeguarding our NHS

This has arrived from 38 degrees.

Here is some HUGE good news: more than 100,000 of us have signed local petitions asking doctors to use their powers to save local NHS services.
It’s already working. City and Hackney CCG, in London, have said they’ll adopt 38 Degrees safeguards into their constitution. They've agreed to put their patients first, and use their new powers to prevent local health services being damaged by privatisation.

Now we need to repeat this success in other places. The first step is getting thousands more signatures on local petitions to show doctors we’ll back them if they protect the NHS.

Please forward this message to at least three friends and family living in England, and ask them to add their name here:

The doctors on local CCGs will be under pressure from the government to hand out contracts to private companies. That could put vital services at risk. [1] But the last thing most doctors want is to carve up our NHS for private profit. Plus, the new CCGs have a legal duty to listen to local people. [2]

If we can get in early, while CCGs are still being formed, we can give doctors a better choice - one based on sound legal advice and the interests of patients, not private companies.

There are hundreds of thousands of us who care about the future of our health service. Can you forward this email to friends and family who want to protect our NHS and ask them to click here to join in now?

The success in Hackney is a huge step forward for two reasons:

1. It proves our campaign can work - if we can win over local doctors in Hackney, we can win over the local doctors taking decisions about your local health services too.

2. It boosts our chances of winning everywhere else - it's always a bit harder to persuade someone to be the first to do something. Now that City and Hackney CCG have taken the plunge, it should be a little easier to persuade doctors everywhere else.

If it can work in Hackney, then it can work elsewhere too. Please can you add your name to the petition to your local doctors now?

Thanks for being involved,

Becky, James, Marie and the 38 Degrees team

[1] “...plans for a radical restructuring of the health service in England, which will give GPs control of much of the NHS's £106bn annual budget, cut the number of health bodies, and introduce more competition into services”
Guardian: NHS Reform Health bill passes vote
BBC: NHS - The shape of things to come
[2] Telegraph: Scrap NHS Bill, say doctors who will run reforms
Pulse: More GP commissioners withdraw support from health bill

Supermarket will 'wreck' Ulverston

I've just returned from holiday to read the above headline on the Westmorland Gazette site.

They quote Ceri Hutton. I think she is right. 

Here is my rather long but hopefully thoughtful detailed comment: 

Unlike Ceri, I am not part of the Keep Ulverston Special Group. Initially I was in favour of the Robinson's Brewery site supermarket as I thought it would complement existing traders in the town and provide a cheaper alternative to Booths.
I took the trouble to investigate the proposal put forward by Sainsbury in May this year and published an interview with their representative which I believed would inform the public in a neutral way as to what was proposed.
As someone who was present at their display for three hours on their final day I find the publicity coming from Sainsbury regarding the views of local people to be downright dishonest and worthy of very competent politicians who are good at convincing people that black is white.
I too have discussed the topic with about fifty of my friends and 90% believe that any supermarket will undermine the long term future of the town of Ulverston. I am now convinced that another supermarket would be disastrous. Upgrade the Co-op which is owned by us : Yes. But large remotely run businesses : No
The reason is that at present the trade in the town, for the most part is run well by local people. These are canny businessmen who work with local suppliers to get good produce at low prices. Both Deborah Robinson and myself have independently done thorough surveys of local prices that show that that a combination of well run shops like Brocklebanks and Smith and Harrisons can supply a wider variety of goods at lower prices than the supermarkets.
Supermarkets are a thing of the past they are on their way out because of their inefficiency and inability to operate flexibly at a local level. Their transport costs will always be high and are rising as fuel prices increase. Something made in Dalton will be trundled all the way to Manchester only to travel all the way back to Dalton to be sold there. The local businessman buys locally from other efficient producers with working conditions with negligible transport cost.
Supermarkets do not provide new jobs because they put the smaller local suppliers out of business in favour of the distant large scale supplier with dubious hire-and-fire policies and in some cases illegal immigrant workers.
Secondly large is not necessarily better. These companies are run by remote executives who act for the benefit of the large company. Thus in say ten years, they could decide that an Ulverston store isn't as effective as a larger one in Kendal. The smaller Ulverston store which will get closed.
They won't care a toss about how that leaves Ulverston. Yes you could argue that Ulverston is thirty years behind the rest of the country. With the present economic situation this could well be it's salvation.
My plea is for everyone to think carefully about the future and not plump for the 'cheaper' option - in the future this could prove the expensive one which holds a monopoly. No in my view small, local and quickly flexible is the service to vote for. Ulverston, in spite of it's poor politicians has still got the makings of being special. Now at last there are the signs that even the political scene is at the beginning of a shake up thanks to the likes of Jane Harris - one our new and energetic Councillors - and there are more waiting off stage ready to step in - in Five years time Ulverston could be truly special.
Vote “No” to Sainsbury and any other supermarket. Resist their slick highly professional and dishonest way of winning an argument. Resist big business. Have faith in your local loyal nose-to-the-grindstone businessman not a remote disinterested cold-blooded executive with an office at the top of a sky scraper with a team of suited PR persuaders and highly paid lawyers who know how to operate just on the right side of the line of legality. People who know how to pull the right string and are even skilled at the back-hander.