Friday, 29 November 2013

Bullying of all kinds

Thursday's Gazette featured the case of the bullying of a ginger head on it's front page.

It suggested the need to "Make ginger prejudice a hate crime".

This is a naive approach.

My experience as a form tutor in a secondary school suggests that this issue is being tacked back-to-front. Bullying goes on over every conceivable issue. Furthermore the way to tackle it, in my experience, is not to 'stamp it out'  or to propose new rules but to support the potential victims so that they can deal with it, with our support.

In a school, if you have good form tutors who know their kids well, they can spot bullying happening by seeing the change in behaviour of the potential victims. We used to have a brief but adequate twenty to thirty minute period at the beginning of each day. This was a time for 'registration', form notices, and general communications looking after the needs of the 30 students in your care. We were fortunate to have the same form of kids through the whole five years of their secondary studies. We got to know our students very well. A quick visual check of every person in your form every morning quickly showed up anyone who was behaving slightly differently to 'normal'.

How bullying is dealt with is extremely important. There is the 'stamp it out' syndrome. Some teachers dealt with bullying by going flat out to 'knock hell out of the bully'. "I made her cry" one teachers said, feeling very good about herself. For me this was a disaster. The bully would be even more angry and determined to bully others.

The result of coming down hard on the bully is that victims are afraid to come to the teacher with their problem - they will catch it even more strongly from the bully for being a 'tell-tale'. No, the way to deal with bullies is to support the victims and help them stand up for themselves.

Teachers can support their students in a number of ways.

First, one has to gain the trust of the victims that they are not going to get even more bullying if they report bullying to the teacher. What works is for the teacher in the first place to notice it going on. Approaching  the victim discretely, getting them to admit that they were being bullied which they will so if they can trust the teacher.  The teacher could then offer support and build a relationship where the victim had a friend to help them at all times. The next stage was to get the victim to agree to face the bully in private with the teacher as mediator.

This was done at an appropriate time which the rest of the class where unaware, maybe in the lunch break, and getting both victim and bully to face each other across a small table with me, the teacher at the side. Persuading the two to do this wasn't difficult if the whole concept was communication and not punishment. Bullies from my own form were quite willing, they knew they wouldn't get into deep trouble. The most difficult was to get the victim to face the bully. Having got both students to face each other, the victim was encouraged to tell the bully, preferably looking straight at them, how it felt to be be bullied. Getting this far was a major achievement.

The next was to ask the bully why they did it . "Oh it was only a bit of fun" they might reply. Then then they were asked if they had advice to give the victim. This novel approach worked wonders. At no point was the bully told off. They knew themselves it was wrong and their explanation didn't hold water. The bully then was asked to look after the interests of the victim in future.

The main achievement was that the bullying was out in the open: both victim and bully knew that a teacher knew it was going on and disapproved without condemnation having taken place.

Second the victim was urged to take action in class in my lessons if experienced any bullying. The could say in a clear voice that the teacher could hear, for instance: "Stop calling me a Ginger, I don't like it" "No you can't borrow my rubber". But never "Sir, sir, he's bullying me".

Always the victim must be encouraged to stand up for themselves and then find that it works.

If victims are suffering from bullying in any environment, schools especially but Facebook, email etc the most important thing is for the victims to be given the courage to deal with it themselves. Teachers may need to have this pointed out - good none judgemental support is so important.

Clever Scams

I've received this very similar type of scam twice now:

I'm writing this with tears in my eyes, I and my family presently on a short trip to Rome, Italy. Unfortunately, I was robbed in the hotel I booked, all my valuables which includes cash, cell phones were stolen during the attack but luckily I still have my passport with me.

I've been to the Embassy and the Police here but they are not taking the matter seriously. Please, I really need your financial assistance now because things are really getting tough on me here. Our flight leaves in few hours from now but we're having problems settling the hotel bills and the hotel manager won't let us leave until we settle the bills. Please, let me know if you can help us out?

I'll really appreciate your prompt response.

Signed by someone you know

Close examination reveals that though the email address from the person allegedly sending the emailis accurate the reply email is similar but different.

Please ignore and inform the unfortunate person involved that their address book as been raided.

Yes this scam is becomming a bit too popular - Many of my contacts have the same story - the exact wording!

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Deep concerns about the reductions in the Fire Service to the Furness Area

Ian of the Ulverston Station puts his job on the line in order to speak out about the proposed cuts.

Barrow, Dalton, Grange and Ulverston will be affected, as I understand it, Engines will have to travel to Barrow from Ulverston in the new proposals adding 20 minutes to there arrival time.

Here Ian warns us of the proposed cuts that will make six of the present part time crew redundant at Ulverston and the knock on effect to the surrounding area.

Many in Ulverston know of all the extra work by our team of part time Fire Fighters. Not only do they carry out their valuable work doing their jobs but they also visit schools to inform children and hence the public about their service. As a result of work like this spanning decades we have an excellent relationship between the crew and the public.

There is a justifiable fear that this service will be put at risk when some of us worry that an increase in disquiet in our communities will result from the economic problems and frustration more and more of us face. There are perhaps some services that should not be cut until the disquiet in the country has settled rather than before a possible eruption that could occur in the near future.

Should we perhaps be looking to see whether in some organisations there is too much money spent on management and too little on selfless workers on the 'firing line'.

Please write to your councillor to show your concern. Ian and his team together with local residents are visiting the Ulverston Town Council this next Monday Dec 2nd at 7 pm to make their point in the 15 minutes at the beginning of the meeting reserved for the public to communicate with the councillors. You'll find your councillor here If in doubt which one to choose Cllr John Clough (Lab) and Cllr Pat Jones (Con) have already shown interest and concern. Cllr Mark Wilson has the advantage that he can communicate well with both the District and in particular the County Council being a councillor in each branch of the local government. See Cumbria County Councils involvement at here.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Food waste lunacy

At a time when we are operating a food bank in Ulverston, there is food being thrown away on a substantial basis. Isn't this something the councillor whose ward is most affected, Mark Wilson, could step in and help?

Anyone in the business will know that those selling perishable goods such as bread and vegetables will know that if the goods in question aren't sold by Saturday afternoon then they are thrown away. Thus all bread not sold when the french bread stall packs up on the Saturday market is taken home to be dumped. This may well be true at other bread shops across town. Yesterdays bread at the Coop, Tesco and Booths is probably thrown away to.

Even more serious in terms of waste is the policy to throw away all products at Booths that have past their sell buy date. Friends have been told that they cannot purchase or be given away these products for Health and Safety reasons. Does this policy not apply to the Coop and Tesco? Further afield does it not happen at Barrow and other towns?

At a time when people are unable to scrape the money to buy food isn't there something dramatically wrong.

I understand that another disappointing factor is that even if the bread from the bread stall was given away free at 3.00pm on Saturday it could not be available to the food bank because it is closed over the week end.

Come on Mark Wilson, can't you and our MP John Woodcock step in and help solve this ridiculous situation. I trust that Mark Wilson is preventing this happening at the Coop as he is on their board of trustees.

Is one solution for those with food, to sell it at a knock down price to the food banks on the last day of the sell by date? Similarly bakers and veg stall to offer their food to the needy rather than throw it away?

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Increase that feel good factor

So much is happening here in Ulverston that for me is doom and gloom that it's time to stop trying to lead campaigning but rather support others that are showing intitiative. At the same time we all need to remain positive and cheerful while so many people seem to want to be negative and struggling to cope with the complexities of modern life.

For those that feel the same way, it makes sense to some to go out and enjoy ourselves.

Does this phrase make sense :

Isaiah 22:13 i "let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die."

Not for me!

I prefer to find something to do that is positive, the above is for those that have given up completely! Focussing on playing my clarinet is my choice rather than eating and drinking!

It's lovely to find that the more I play at home accompanying other music, the better I get.  I can hit the right notes more and more ( I choose to play by ear) so tunes I've never played before are becoming easier to play first time. Isn't it fascinating how the brain adapts to learning new things when put to work! It's great having something where there is so much ahead still to learn. Lots of opportunities to improve week by week. This is indeed encouraging - a great contrast to the world outside which appears to be steadily going downhill.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox wrote the opening lines of a poem called Solitude
Laugh, and the world laughs with you;
Weep, and you weep alone.
After a moving experience. Again she she wrote:

It is easy enough to be pleasant,
 When life flows by like a song,
But the man worth while is one who will smile,
When everything goes dead wrong
This makes more sense to me.

So clarinet and a number of other personal projects, Music and Movement being one of them, are now my priorities.

Colin, of the Artic 30 remains in cold prison in St Petersberg

Colin remains in prison despite the rest having been released on bail.

The Artic 30 were attempting to stop drilling in the artic by Russia. Something that needs to be done to halt the use of fuel which will increase Global warming. Without this the human race is doomed as the world becomes increasingly hostile to humans.

Here's a video of him appearing in court in Russia:

If you wish to help, I suggest you sign the petition that seeks to put pressure on Australia to do more to achieve his release:

sign here :

Here's another article as to a ruling by judges as to the illegality of the detention of the Artic 30

Monday, 18 November 2013

The future of Ulverston

I'd like to repeat my concerns about Persimmons building so many houses here in Ulverston.

Building new houses, in my view, poses a real threat to the future of Ulverston; far more so than the issue of a supermarket.

The concern is the type of houses that are built. It is inevitable that one type of house, in very broad terms, will attract a certain type of person. Ask yourselves, would you buy one of the Persimmons houses? Yes they satisfy the need for houses built to the minimum cost.

The probability is that Persimmons will be building all the new houses in Ulverston the future and that these will appeal to the naive. For example building three detached houses just one metre from each other, so that they can be called 'totally detached', as is being done here, leads to greater heat loss and more outside walls needing maintenance. A far superior design is terraced house with good insulation both heat and sound as has been built at the development that a friend has just moved to, at Halton just outside Lancaster. Please see to see what a difference well designed houses can look like.

If these type of houses were built here, you would attract a very different kind of person  to live in them.

The Persimmons houses are built to the absolute minimum building standards including poor heat insulation . The excuse if that they are more affordable. This makes a mockery of concerns about Global warming and energy efficiency. I understand that Scotland has set much higher minimum standards for Newbuild.

Another concern is that the purchasers are being persuaded to take on enormous mortgages which are just and so handleable as long as interest rates are low. What will happen if they rise? Will not a lot of people just walk away from negative equity leaving behind, depression and social unrest with empty houses. Will this country end up with lots of empty houses as has happened in Ireland?

Thirdly Ulverston needs to be able to make sure that small well designed flats are built for two groups of people: young single people and old people. Preferably new estates should cater for a mix of accommodation for all types of people rather than ghettos of a certain type of person as we have in Ulverston. Surely it is better socially and from a mental health point of view that people are all mixed together and housing, for instance, for old people is NOT all together. Whilst, young people live in other parts of townin small badly designed rented bedsits.

Lastly, great attention needs to be given to the road structure that provides access to new housing - in the particular case of Union Lane with the Hoad View development, we have the very poorly designed Mill Street and the junction at the bottom of Soutergate that will be used by those living in the new housing near here. This in addition to the blind corner at the junction of Union Lane and Stanley Street. Our roads are already under pressure. (Furthermore parking control on our streets is out of control because there are only four wardens for the whole of the SLDC area, now that it has been transferred to Cumbria County.)

Basically Ulverston people need to remain in firm control of how the town develops. At present one feels that big business has taken over because there is a reluctance / even fear of councillors taking planning decisions that will be challenged at a higher court because the local government have no funds for lawyers. This is what happened over the Hoad View decision when councillors on the planning committee explained to me that they felt they had no choice but to give in and vote contrary to their own judgement.

The way things are going I believe the people coming to live in the new housing are the type that will want the lowest possible price for commodities which plays straight into the hands of the large supermarket giants. The nature of our shopping environment will be under threat.

As Doris Lessing, who has just died, points out - our society is controlled by very carefully designed brainwashing techniques. Furthermore those that think a little 'out of the box' are in great danger of being targeted by the majority of the population because they are different as has already happened to some KUS supporters.

Disturbing thoughts for those that stop and reflect!

Sunday, 17 November 2013

£3,300 already for the judicial review fighting fund

Keep track of this brave endeavour promoted by the people of Ulverston to make sure our planning department is to be trusted. Go to this web site to find out the latest.

It's important for all of us that we can trust our local government. If we can't do this then democracy is dead and the alternative is chaos. For me spending money on this - no matter what your views - is essential to the future of the town.

Here's a wise view from someone who is more objective than most:

"Finally, we have just made a donation to KUS who need to raise funds for the legal challenge to the Brewery Site development.  Unfortunately, due to where two of the councillors live some residents say "let them pay the legal costs" but it will have a huge impact on all our lives so personally I do think it is justified that they seek help.  No doubt some people will wait until it is built and then moan like hell."

It's important from all of us that personalities are kept out of it. There are too many people around who pick on any excuse they can to do nothing.

This issue is really essential if Ulverston is to remain a vibrant self confident town. A confidence that is being slowly whittled away by others and a lack of people who believe in the town.

At the moment we're heading to become a suburb of Milton Keynes with miles and miles of mindless Persimmons country. A town left with no character of its own.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Of even greater concern

Time and time again recently but particularly today as I talk with people I respect, I find that they really believe that local government both at district and county level are corrupt and that decisions are being made that are weighted with cash incentives provided by big businesses like the new builders Persimmons. They arrive at this conclusion as a result of the announcement by SLDC regarding the Land Allocation announced yesterday.

Today was market day and I spent the whole time between 10:30 and 4:00 in Ulverston Market Square: first playing chess and then after a short break playing my clarinet - just to keep my hand in. While there I take every opportunity possible to chat with people. Some of them are very wise people who stand back from immediate happening  and reflect about general trends. Some are the kind of people, with a wide experience of life, who come up with well considered views. They voice the opinions stated above.

The concern being voiced is that many believe that democracy is no longer in operation. On the contrary, it is being manipulated by a few with power. I have to admit that none of my councillors, at any level can be reached to discuss what is happening.

At County level I get smooth assurances that he is taking action . To my latest very precise question for him to take action he replies "Agreed" and then does nothing. I have seen similar correspondence with someone else who was pressing for a public meeting before the Land allocation plan was approved. Our councillor agreed that this should happen - and then did nothing

My District Councillor is totally unavailable , stating that she is very 'busy'. Approaches by phone, by email and even by calls at her door get no response.

At Town Council level I made a point of attending a place in The Gill where the three councillorswhere going to be alledgedly available. I had four issuesof importance to discuss with one of them, someone with considerable influence  But when I start talking to him,  he is whisked off to talk to complete strangers who happen to be just walking past and didn't want to talk to him anyway. When I request a further meeting by email on 15th October requesting a meeting to which he replied:

Sorry, I thought we had a talk of some sort.  Sorry it was not of the requisite quality.
I suggest you stick with (another councillor) who is an excellent councillor with endless patience.  I'm afraid I am not and have not.

Cheers, Colin.

These experiences confirm to me that democracy via contact with your local councillor is a waste of time and effort. This leads to the worrying conclusion - being reached by a large number right across the UK - that democracy using one's vote is pointless. But what is the alternative - Anarchy.

Somehow we all need to take this very  seriously if we come to the conclusions above.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

It's a frightening feeling but

I cannot avoid the belief that parts of our local government has/is tipping over the edge towards corruption both County and District Council. Here the focus is on South Lakeland District Council

For this reason I'm strongly behind the need for a judicial review of a recent planning department decision. I believe we need an incisive tool - a judge - to find out what's inside our 'can' to see what's inside it. Is it in fact filled with worms as many of the thinking and aware people in Ulverston suspect.

In this respect it's good to see an immediate response to the launch of the fighting fund which I know is now well over £2000 and ready to soar higher as it seeks to reach it's target of around £10,000. It's a massive amount of money but there are many people like me that feel that this is such an important issue that we're willing to back our thinking with hard, very precious cash. After all, what kind of society do we want to live in? One where big business makes up the rules and dramatically alters our very special town of Ulverston? Oh did I use that emotive word 'special' which many deride? Well it arrived entirely because I believe it's the right word to use.

It was because this town had unique qualities that I chose it as a place to come and live and work, now over fifty years ago. I found that Ulverston was a people centred town - one where people really mattered and were a strong driving force in what happened in the town. Now the people of the town are speaking out for what they believe in, in a way that the politicians are not and this feels consistent with my concept of what the people of Ulverston are like deep down inside.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

County Cllr James Airey. Is this the best you can do?

Copied off Twitter:

Full County Council tomorrow , daft Lib Dem motion on GM food . Notice they are saying nothing about their butchering of rural services.

Off too , giving my monthly report . Not good news County Lib Dem budget will destroy rural services and raise Council tax.

I was away at another meeting , did I miss a good show? Am told Jo was so poor it was embarrassing .

Farron brands his own Lib Dem Councillors failures in the Guardian today.

But where were all the Lib Dems at today's event? sausage making perhaps!

Tim is anti nuclear too , he just wants to cover the countryside in windmills and let the lights go out!

* * * *

If you read James Airey's tweets, it is worth asking what does Airey stand for and what is he doing to help happen. How much does he actually support his constituents?

It seems to me - on I must say a very superficial visit - that following Airey's tweets gives little info on what Airey is promoting and stands for. He appears to take the easy option of slagging off the opposition. He could perhaps learn a thing of two from Tim Farron - and he's no favorite of mine - he's not my MP.

Am I wasting my precious time even commenting. If a better person, of any political persuation, were to come forward, I'd give them my vote.

Tomorrow I'll give him something important to do for us. We'll see what he can do!

Friday, 8 November 2013

Something that is perhaps very special about Ulverston

The way we behave to each other as we negociate many of our narrow streets.

I love the way people enable each other to dip in and out of the gaps in the parking as we travel along the many roads that aren't wide enough for travel in two directions. If the Highways Department started to tell us that we must do it - it wouldn't work. But because we are the ones that make up the rules and are considerate of each other, it does. We all seem to treat each other as potential friends helping each other through a difficult situation. I find it very unusual to find anyone that is unpleasant or unthoughtful.

Aren't Ulverston people great.

Would you get this in a town where these difficult roads didn't exist?

If I want to be cheered up, I deliberately choose a route where I know there is likely to be a lot of people who  give way to each other. I get so many waves of thank you!

It's quite amazing how this mutual understanding helps us get around at a reasonable speed with very few hold ups.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Relationships that go wrong

I've been looking back at old photographs and feeling sad about relationships that have gone wrong through misunderstandings.

Trying to communicate well with another person's brain is extremely fragile. You can have patches were there appears to be no problem and then like the flick of a switch, the relationship turns nasty over a very trivial misunderstanding. The problem can just as easily be with oneself as with the other person.

My saddest experience was when someone younger than myself imagined that I was saying that I thought she was immature. I wasn't at all in the sense that she heard it. But her belief that I was thinking this became so set in stone that there has been no shaking it since then. Correcting such a wrong impression can take many years and it will only change when there is enough further sharing of activity that the misunderstanding becomes less important and for trust to be re-established based on present experiences. For this to happen, perhaps the two people have to share time together with visual contact so that a rich environment of communication exists. Working together in a situation were the two people are trying hard and are interdependent works wonders. Perhaps this is why relationships with a couple pulling together to survive with jobs , mortgages and children cements a good relationship. Perhaps this why wartime friendships between soldiers are so strong. Or why members of a pub team develop such close bonds. Something I witness at my local.

I believe that there are people who are highly susceptible to the possibilities of misunderstandings - they could have had really bad experiences earlier on in life and quickly assume that they are now experiencing a repetition of something similar to what happened before. There are others that are unbelievably easy to get on with - one of these said to me that he  had no problem even if someone  called him immature because this is what he believed he was - immature - with loads of maturing to be done ahead of him through his life. It wasn't an insult but a statement of fact with a future full of learning experiences ahead.

There is a magic ingredient for relationships to work well : trust - or is it familiarity and the belief one has no choice than just get on with it and stop looking for problems? If we believe change from what we've got is totally impracticable then we adjust to be more accommodating and making the existing relationship work.

I have been fortunate enough to be allowed to listen in to women discussing with each other the relationships they have with their partners. They have come to the conclusion that even though there are important failings in their relationship there is also a lot of good. They have come to be comfortable with the familiar. They know were they stand. Trust has become established.

The fact that some societies have developed where couples are brought together by the choices of the couple's parents and the partnership seems to work without this magic ingredient we call "falling in love" or "being in love". Could it not be that being stuck with the partner and learning to respect them even though they are different, actually works? And that the belief one can walk away any time we feel like it - doesn't. The grass may not be growing greener the other side of the hedge.  Perhaps the magic ingredient is self-belief and willingness to fight for one's own belief in oneself leads to the strength to be able to have strong relationships with others.

Perhaps the belief that relationships are dispensable because the vast communication possibilities provided by the likes of Facebook. When a relationship goes wrong, some people may believe that ditching it is the easy option because a new one will be better. In fact making one that is having difficulties is the one to go for because this is 'real' and will be far more satisfying in the long run.

Does any of this make sense. As they say perhaps its not rocket science and obvious to most people - they see it as that  rare commodity called "Common Sense".

Here's to not letting relationships make you feel sad, but instead focussing on the ones that go well or even moderately well!

Monday, 4 November 2013

Work on the Cobbles in Market Street

The quality of the work done appears to be excellent. Utracrete was used. However a lot of tamping down went on the last Thursday - it's easy to criticise and without inside knowledge impossible to judge. For me given his past history, it will a long time to dispell the idea that Nick Raymond is a poor manager and should have been given the sack several years ago. But one doesn't do that kind of thing in County or District Council circles.

I can quite understand that my letter below is unacceptable - after all what position do I hold? However my offer to meet up with Andrew Moss the Head of Cumbria Highways shown below has not been replied to:


You suggest that it's time we met.

Why would that be?What purpose have you in mind?From my point of view , I would be dealing with people, (Mark , James and yourself) who are highly skilled at pretending to say something that when examined closely means nothing.

Your statement in your other email is an example

"Geoff, rest assured we will be keeping a close eye on this work."

"Keeping a close eye" tells me nothing - of course you will now that we will be watching. You avoid making the statement that you will be using Ultracrete. or maybe by now"Yes, we have used Ultracrete in this repair"

So to summarise.  We can only judge the meaning of your words from your past actions and they from our viewpoint have been unacceptable.

So are you interested in a meeting which looks to the future and where you would be willing to make firm commitments that could be verified by us?

Any other would be pointless: trust between us is none existent but such a meeting would start to establish this.

Best wishes