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.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Pottery making in Ulverston Inside Market

Visit us this Saturday, 6th October between 10 am and 3pm, and make one of the one hundred ceramic lanterns that line the path through the woods at Gill Banks on October 31st.

Join us doing the rediculous. Here we were singing carols last year:

What Rain?

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

West Coast Rail Bid- scrapped

Sanity at last.

First Group are not going to be allowed to pull a fast one.

Quote from the BBC web site:

"The decision to award the West Coast Main Line rail franchise to FirstGroup has been scrapped and the government says the bidding process must be rerun."

However still silence from our MP John Woodcock, the Labour Shadow Secretary for Transport. When is he going to get involved? Do we need a more competent person to represent us?