Wednesday, 7 August 2013

The Mill Dam story in both papers

There is so much material for a newspaper to cover - how can they give a reliable account - the meeting went on for 90 minutes, discussing just one subject at a great pace. Think how many words were said. How can one write a balanced report. The Evening Mail's report is out, tomorrow we'll get one from the Westmorland Gazette !

In fact there was no report in the Westmorland Gazette as I suspect Mike Addison their editor needs more time to understand what exactly was said.

Let me try to summarise.

Lawrence Conway, SLDC chief exec, arrived with officer Deborah Wright, Park Engineer, Peter Clarke and Cllr Janet Willis, the deputy leader of the Council.


1. Lawrence Conway persisted in stating that the seesaw was perfectly safe despite the injuries experienced by local children, E.Clarke specifically. He never-the-less very reluctantly listened to our request that the seesaw should have the ground raised (which in our view would make the seesaw safer) and Deborah Wright assured us that this would be done by September, it being suggested that doing it this month had the potential of resulting lots of trampled mud while the children were still on holiday.
2. He insisted that the pottery removed from the park was potentially dangerous and would not be returned to the park
3. He went further and stated that any form of work in the park must cease : this included putting plants and bulbs in the park and the provision of picnic tables. This was for Health and Safety reasons that injuries could be incurred by the public using for instance a trowel to put plants in and the council would be vulnerable to being sued and would not be covered by their present public liability insurance.
4. He implied from his experience in Kendal that two benches in a park this size would be adequate. Janet Willis suggested that SLDC had no funds to install picnic tables themselves. Mr Lawrence was then told by his engineer that the one present in the park in 2009 was removed because it had been vandalised and was not replaced. The present situation with the presence of three picnic tables provided privately meant that SLDC where not liable and could be removed without notice any time they wished.
5. The conclusion is that without the work of volunteers the park could revert to the barren playground it was four years ago without adequate seating with only one usable bench and no flowers other than on the bushes.

In the mean time I'm getting some very positive feed back :

Someone I don't know, in her sixties, stopped me in the street: "Are you Geoff Dellow?" " I want you to know what a silly man that chief executive is." "All that fuss over the 'dangerous' pottery."

Then I find that there are now a couple of town councillors that support our actions in Mill Dam Park and believe SLDC are out of touch with the public.

We appear have reached the situation that the rule bound SLDC is resigned to sit back now and allow the park to go steadily downhill. The alternative is that councillors insist that money be spent on maintaining the high standard in the Park that officers Deborah Wright and Jim Maguire so much admired less than a month ago. OR that the present volunteers be encouraged to continue the work they are doing. With the appointment of Deborah Wright this situation may not happen. She, working with the excellent Peter Clarke could now do a brilliant job of maintaining the park and removing hazards they have already identified. Four years ago we had to rely on officer Tony Naylor who consistently failed to keep his promises. Now Deborah Wright has shown that SLDC can respond at lightening speed to a request for repairs to be made and have the work done within 18 hours.

The main question now is Janet Willis and fellow councillors what are you going to do to support the Mill Dam local people? We put a lot of work in now it's your turn.

I have just returned from a visit to Grange over Sands, a town of similar size to Ulverston with six young children six and under who thoroughly enjoyed all the facilities in Grange. What could be the reason for the obvious difference in the two towns? Could it be that Grange has councillors like Tom Harvey who fights tooth and nail for his town and people like the former Grange Mayor, Robert Leach who with another councillor started PromArt along their Parade back in 2003 with it's high voluntary gardening involvement. I am also aware of a completely different and very positive atmosphere in Grange's town offices; an atmosphere that has ensured that their Citizens Advice Bureau is sure to survive despite cuts as it is entirely run by volunteers with an absolute minimal professional guidance. They have also found a way of running their CAB something Ulverston may fail to have had for a full six months - again for lack of concern of our councillors. Well done Grange, we in Ulverston tended to look down on you back in the Eighties. Now despite your setbacks over your outdoor swimming pool, there remains  an admirable fighting spirit amongst your leadership so that you are even attracting creative people from Ulverston to not only support PromArt strongly but now they are set to be granted a commission for several thousands pounds work to add further attractions to Grange's flourishing town.

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