Monday, February 28, 2005
Bill Clinton Daily Diary_________________________________________________________________
I continue to return to Bill's Daily Diary for a "refreshing" insight to the international world of a "lost" politician. Check it out, then scratch your head!
As part of a campaign to highlight areas of spending where the local Council could save a lot of money I have written to Mr.Stephen Moir, the head of personnel at South Tyneside Borough Council, asking him to provide information about absenteeism amongst Council employees.
I am interested in knowing how much it cost us to pay for non productive employees in the last fully recorded financial year, in terms of (equivalent) days lost, and pounds, shillings, and pence.
I have asked what procedures and controls are in place to reduce absenteeism and whether the Council operates an Occupational Health Care Absence Management policy.
It will be interesting to note the results of my questions when I receive them, my guess is that the cost will run into millions of pounds, which if managed and saved, could be used to reduce our level of taxation next time round.
This is an area that I believe opposition members could be be probing in, it would result in an increase rather than cut in services, and would meet with much support from the voting public.
I find myself along with many others lining up to object to and protest against the current measures being considered by Parliament to curb the activities of terrorists. The scourge of terrorism certainly needs to be eradicated, but not at the cost of removing some basic human rights and liberties woven into the texture and fabric of our long history.
Charles Clarke, the Home Secretary, wishes to guide through a measure which would enable Ministers, acting on the advice of the Security Services, to place a "suspect" under house arrest, withdraw their access to a telephone, remove their access to a computer, and severely restrict who would be allowed to visit them.
Today's Daily Telegraph reports the concerns of many M.P's who believe that this places too much power in the hands of politicians.
Read it here. click here
We all have a right, at present, to have accusations against us made public in a court of law, and to be given a fair trial if it is believed that we have committed a criminal offence. In essence, a body of evidence is gathered to present to the court as a statement from the prosecution. This body of evidence "habeous corpus" will be the main weapon of our accuser and we are then assumed to be innocent until proven guilty!
This has been the right of our citizens for centuries, and it is in danger of being ripped apart in the next few weeks.
Please don't view me as being a sympathiser of terrorists, far from it - "those who live by the sword shall die by the sword" is my motto! One of the aims of the terrorist is to change our normal way of life in a peaceful democratic society, to alter our way of thinking, to cow and batter us into a political step change. If this new anti-terror legislation passes through Parliament unchallenged, then one of the terrorists aims will have been achieved.
This is a worrying development, any future Minister may decide to hold me under house arrest because I may make some unsavoury comments calling people to action through this weblog. The security services may build a file on me, and their "evidence" may be sufficient for me to lose my rights to freedom and liberty. What would there be to prevent a future administration locking away political dissidents?
This is Great Britain remember - not bloody Burmah!! - Cick here
If the authorities have evidence of a crime likely to be committed, put it in front of a judge at the very least!
The state has many other weapons and pieces of legislation at it's disposal which can all be used to combat the threat of terrorism, internment in Northern Ireland in the 1970's failed conspicuously to deter Loyalist and Republican terrorists, but "other measures" certainly removed many of them from the streets - permanently! This was achieved without a resulting loss of liberty for the rest of us.
I rest my case m'lud!
Sunday, February 27, 2005
Sunderland v Cardiff
Sunderland 2 - 0 Cardiff City_________________________________________________________________
Well done Lads! A great result on a Saturday when everything (well almost) went right for us. A decent strike from Gary Breen before many had taken their seats saw the Bluebirds keeper fumble it into the net for a 1-0 lead.
Andy Welsh undid the Welsh down the left wing and was instrumental in Breen's opener, and overall he had an impressive game, always willing ti attack, get past the full back and put in a cross.
The second goal was another well taken effort from Marcus Stewart, who once again made runs all around the opposition half, taking most of their defenders with him.
The crowd of over 32,000 was boosted by many youngsters on cheap tickets issued to schools as well as a good smattering of part season ticket holders.
My day was soured by the site of hundreds of Cardiff City fans attacking the Wheatsheaf and the Terminus pubs to add to their growing reputation as thugs and hooligans. The police were slow to react (probably because the Welsh had deceptively started a few minor skirmishes in the town centre to tie the police down). It's high time the authorities took firm action and ban Cardiff fans from attending away matches.
On a brighter note both Ipswich and Wigan managed to lose, resulting in all three teams level on 66 points at the top of the table.
Sunderland fans can download yesterday's goal clips from the link in the sidebar.
If you fancy yourself as a pundit, why not try and predict the results until the end of the season? Then you can see who will win the Championship title with this end of season calculator!
End of season points predictor - click here
Saturday, February 26, 2005
Shame on you!_________________________________________________________________
I find myself being in a position of embarrasment and humility, my low esteem has been caused by Mark Cooley and Daniel Kenyon, two soldiers from the 1st. battalion Royal Regiment of Fusiliers. Along with Darren Larkin and Gary Bartlam they have been imprisoned and dismised from the Army for offences including the abuse of Iraqi civilians during their tour of duty in Basra.
The actions of Mark and Daniel, from Newcastle-upon-Tyne bring shame upon all geordies as well as the majority of British service personnel serving in Iraq. Their behaviour displayed none of the characteristics of geordies - community, hospitality, friendship, and strong kinship.
I hope they enjoy their stay in Colchester's "glasshouse".
Read the report from the Daily Telegraph here.
Cllr. David Potts
I am indebted to Cllr. Potts for kindly pointing out an error in yesterday's post about the opposition motion for next year's Council budget. Cllr. Potts is an avid reader of this blog and has been an ardent crusader on the Trow Quarry issue. David represents Cleadon Village and even as a Conservative he has been receiving plaudits from a wide audience if you read the letters to the editor page in the Shields Gazette.
I would like to think that a whole bunch of other local Councillors are reading this blog and looking at the Curly's Corner Shop Message Board, but I only know of two others for sure. They all know of it's existence, because each and every one has received emails from me over the past three months.
If you are a Councillor reading this blog, please let me (or others) know - why not leave a comment, either directly to one of the posts, or in the Chatter box in the sidebar.
If you are using a newsreader to receive and look at blogs, you can be kept informed of all of my new posts by adding my site feed to your reader - http://south-shields.blogspot.com/atom.xml
This is also available from the sidebar.
I posted yesterday praising the single unified attitude of the opposition parties on South Tyneside Council and it is worth noting and magnifying on one small sentence where I mentioned that the Liberal Democrats are unable to break their bonds with the Labour Party.
Since the introduction of universal suffrage in the last century, the Liberal Party has a had a strong voice in the North-East of England, they provided the main opposition to the Tories and Whigs, they controlled a number of Borough Councils and Parrish Councils after the Great War, and indeed quite often formed the Government of the country.
They were uniquely independent and free thinking, they provided this town's first Members of Parliament (Ingham, Wawn, Redhead), and yet today, the Liberal Party's current descendants the Liberal Democrats, seem unable to see their importance as an independent opposition party in South Tyneside.
When people decide to vote against the Labour Party, they do it for a number of reasons; the first of which is an undeniable disagreement with policy, the second will be a firm agreement with policies of your party of choice, thirdly you may take a tactical decision to vote for a party with the aim of preventing another from being elected, fourthly of course is the decision for voting for anyone who does not represent Labour - as a form of pure protest.
So what does an elector get when voting for the Liberal Democrat party in South Tyneside?
It appears, on the face of it, they get another Labour member, a representative who habitually votes with and for the Labour Party on every important decision. Yesterday's meeting to discuss the budget and decide the Council Tax increase for next year provided yet another good example of the Lib Dems sacrificng their independence and doing everything that their electors wanted to prevent.
Liberal Democrats, you were elected to oppose the Labour Party, part of the duties of any opposition is to provide a viable alternative form of government, and you singularly fail to do this! You fail in your duties to the wider community of South Tyneside, yesterday you had a clear choice to oppose and join the others in the opposition in providing an alternative to Labour, and help make a turning point in local politics here, but you decided to continue your slavelike adherence to Socialist policies.
Perhaps it is time that you squared this with the electors of South Tyneside and make an open and honest announcement that you support the Labour Party, in fact why not just disband and stand under New Labour's flag?
Council Budget Meeting_________________________________________________________________
Something almost historic happened today - the disparate opposition parties on South Tyneside District Council united behind a motion to present an alternative budget for the next financial year!
The ruling Labour group, after a "public consultation" has proposed a 4.9% increase in Community Charge (Council Tax). This consultation consisted of a few meetings of focus groups, area committees, and a questionaire on the Council's website offering choices of a 4.9% increase, 5.5% increase, or a 6% increase.
Notice, there was no offer of a rate of increase in line with the current rate of inflation (1.8%), or no offer of a Council Tax freeze next year, or no offer of a reduction!!
The opposition parties are proposing a budgeted increase of 2.7% in the Community Charge, a modest but still unwelcome rise. A zero increase (or freeze) might have been achievable if South Tyneside Council hadn't have found themselves in the position of paying over £7 million compensation to it's female staff who have been adjudged to have been discriminated against in the past. To pay this sum, the Council is seeking powers from the Secretary of State to borrow the money, this will result in interest and other charges of £600,000 p.a.
The reason why I used the term "almost historic" is because I cannot remember in my lifetime an occasion when all of the opposition parties have joined together to support a single motion. The proposer of the motion will be Cllr Alan Branley (Independent) and he will be seconded by Cllr. Gordon Finch (Progressive). Significantly (and most of the public will not know this) is the fact that they must all have sat down together in one room in the recent past to discuss and agree this tactic. Bearing in mind that some of the Independents are ex-Labour members, then you have to recognise the importance of the event. Ex-Labour, Progressive, and Conservative all supporting a single policy is a very rare event! (It's such a shame that the Liberal Democrats can't find it within themselves to break their bonds with the Labour Party and join the opposition.)
My biggest hope is that they can all move on from here and see the wider implications of having a united oppostion group, if only they could agree geographical boundaries and allocate only one candidate to stand against Labour in each ward, then this town might eventually free itself from Socialist rule. (We historically have seen more people vote against Labour than for them, except the opposition votes tend to go to two or three candidates per ward, instead of one.)
This decision on the next budget (although it will inevitably be defeated by the Labour Party) might still be seen as a turning point in the politics of South Tyneside.
Thursday, February 24, 2005
Curly is well
I'm fit and well today!_________________________________________________________________
This malaise has finally lifted and I'm feeling fit and well and back at work.
My thoughts are already turning to May when I celebrate 20 years of continuous employment, for this achievement my employer is gifting me £300 worth of Capitol Bonds (gift vouchers).
I have spent quite a few weeks researching what I should but myself to mark this anniversary, and I've concluded that by upgrading my digital camera I can record more moments this year to share with everyone on the web. The camera that I intend to buy is the Fuji Finepix S5500, a 4 million pixel SLR style camera with movie recording complete with sound.
If any of you has experience in owning and using this "super zoom" camera, please share your thoughts.
I hope to post a little more this evening.
Click here for camera details
Wednesday, February 23, 2005
Curly is ill_________________________________________________________________
I offer my apologies for failing to make new posts these last couple of days, I've been feeling quite ill with a bout of gastroenteritis and a very high temperature. Junior and missy Curly have suffered as well. I managed to go to work this morning but by 07.10 I had to return home. My stomach even rejected my first cup of coffee of the day!
Last evening I managed to get about 90 minutes sleep and visited the bathroom no less than six times to evacuate my stomach, the seering pains were quite unbearable, I had to take four loperamide hydrochloride to try and relieve the pain, but to no avail, and with a burning temperature I really should have forseen the consequences for the morning.
However, I have just enjoyed six hours of solid sleep and feel a fair bit better, but somehow I don't wish to take any food. I'll just restrict my intake to liquids only for the rest of the day, so I ought to be fit enough to return to work tomorrow.
Monday, February 21, 2005
Trow Quarry to be fenced off!_________________________________________________________________
The headline story in today's edition of the Shields Gazette is about the National Trust's decision to erect a new fence at Trow Quarry to restrict public access to the site. Readers of this blog will know that this is something that I have been campaigning for since December of last year (look through the archives in the side bar).
It is essential to minimise the risks to the public from the toxic waste finding it's way onto the beach adjacent to the exposed face of the infill site at Trow Quarry, material can regularly be found at this spot because the sea has eroded the infill which is very soft and loose. Asbestos sheets have been found here, and smaller asbestos spores are easily carried on the wind, additionally we still do not as yet know the full implications of gas migration (methane and carbon monoxide). So until the next report is finalised by High-Point Rendell it would be wise to keep people away from the site.
A further story in the Gazette hints at the possibility of an early decision on the application for Village Green status for Temple Memorial Park. A favourable decision will be much welcomed and will safeguard the park for future generations. The Council could do the town a huge service by agreeing to this proposal.
I am very proud of the achievements of a few people sat in front of their keyboards, taking the time to email local Councillors, local press, and television stations. Quite a few of them were prepared to get off their backsides to take some positive actions to influence the Council, particularly on the Temple Memorial Park.
It seems that local politics is being worn down by the power of the internet, I consider these two decisions to be victories for the Bloggers!
Read the gazette story here
First snow of winter in South Shields_________________________________________________________________
We woke up yesterday with a blanket of snow at last, I have to like it, if only to see the enjoyment in our children's faces. A bitterly cold North-Easterly wind brought angry clouds over the North Sea and deposited a fair amount of snow. Luckily the Council uded the weather forecasts to good advantage and gritters were out all night. All major roads were nice and clear.
One minor road that was not clears was Sunniside Lane in Cleadon Village. It was choked with traffic as families took to the hills with sledges and toboggans! Generally, when it snows here it only lies for a few hours, because the saltiness of the breeze from the sea causes it to melt, except when the wind blows from the East. As temperatures rose during the day, the snow melted away, and then as night drew in the temperatures dropped and the world seemed like a huge skating rink.
As I sit and post, the snow is falling again onto frozen ground, and it looks as though we'll get a fair bit of it today.
Saturday, February 19, 2005
Cruelty to Animals
I was rather struck by a particular story of animal cruelty in the Shields Gazette, involving a 56 tear old woman and her two dogs living in squalor.
It seems the lady was suffering from severe depression after her husband shot her some years ago and then commited suicide. However, following this, it seems she let her mind become as emaciated as her dog's body.
The important questions to ask in cases like this is;
why do neighbours take so long to notice, offer help and guidance, or notify the relevent authorities? Is this another sign of community spirit and welfare falling apart?
Read the full story here.
I need to express my deep sadness and anxiety over today's loss at the hands of the ten men of Brighton and Hove Albion. Why is it, throughout the course of history, we come close to achieving progress, and then throw it all away with a terrible performance?
Friday, February 18, 2005
Charles and Camilla
Charles and Camilla_________________________________________________________________
It seems, talking to people in the Corner Shop, that the prospect of the forthcoming marriage of Prince Charles to Mrs. Camilla Parker Bowles is exciting the nation's newspapers far more than the rest of us. The only real talking point is whether or not Mrs. Parker Bowles will eventually become Queen!
The current "intention" is that after Charle's accession, she will take the title Princess Consort, however, if the public mood swings their way over the next decade or so, there is no reason why she may not change her mind (or a future Government takes a different view of the matter.
The one thing that tickled a lot of us today is the announcement that the civil marriage ceremony will no longer take place in Windsor Castle, but in Windsor's Guildhall (Town Hall).
The reason for this is, if Windsor Castle were given a licence to hold civil marriage ceremonies, the venue would need to stay available for any civil wedding for the next three years. Obviously, and for security reasons, H.M. the Queen could ill afford to bow to this demand. So Charles and Camilla will now queue up at the Town Hall with their witnesses along with the rest of the "ordinary" public. Ha, Ha!!
Curly's Corner Shop
I am pleased to announce that Curly's Corner Shop is now back online and can be accessed through the link in to my homepage in the sidebar. I would like to apologise for the loss of service this week caused by server "timeouts" on Telewest's hosting server.
Wednesday, February 16, 2005
Curly's Corner Shop
Curly's Corner Shop_________________________________________________________________
I would like to apologise to all of my visitors to the Cornershop (my website) it is currently offline because of problems in one of the servers at the host Telewest Blueyonder. I am in contact with their technical support department and hope to have the problems resolved and the site back online by this weekend.
Monday, February 14, 2005
Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year_________________________________________________________________
I took Junior Curly to Newcastle yesterday to witness and join in the Chinese New Year celebrations, we both found it instructional and interesting.
Putting the weather aside (because it was extremely cold with sleet and hail showers) we were at once impressed with the new entrance gateway into Newcastle's Chinatown - the junction of St. Andrews Street and Stowell Street in Gallowgate. You will be able to see from the pictures that it is indeed an impressive structure and give the area a unique identity and enhances the "village" concept.
The crowds were large and enthusiastic, with a good mix of cultures, the street entertainment was varied and Metro Radio had a stage in Bath Street for live performances of opera, kung fu, and traditional dancing.
As you wandered around the smell of food from the many restaurants was very inviting and they were all very full. We found ourselves in the premises of the North-East Chinese Association, a community centre in Stowell Street, where we enjoyed a large plate of ham fried rice for only £2.00, a real bargain!
However it was the traditional performances of the dragon and lion dance that captured our imaginations the most, watching the buffet owners trying to tempt the lion into their premises with the offer of food in order to gain good fortune for the year ahead.
I hope you like the pictures.
Sunday, February 13, 2005
Cllr. Perry's Reply
Cllr. Perry's reply_________________________________________________________________
I am pleased to announce that I have received a very prompt and polite response to the e-mail tha I sent to Cllr. Perry yesterday.
He asks if I would like to appear in person to present the contents of my e-mail to the scrutiny commission or if I would wish it to be laid before them for consideration.
Unfortunately because of work commitments, I will be unable to appear in person. However, since this issue of pollution at Trow Quarry was first exposed by the National Trust (by leaking the report to the Shields Gazette), it has been very refreshing to witness the rather more open and transparent approach taken by the Borough Council.
I cannot remember a time when members of the public were invited to attend and speak to committees!
I have a feeling that things are moving in the right direction to ensure the safety of the public (and especially children) at Trow Quarry.
These two issues, Temple Memorial Park and Trow Quarry, have really stirred up the public and caused an almost volte face by the ruling Labour Group on South Tyneside Council.
Saturday, February 12, 2005
Letter to Cllr. Perry_________________________________________________________________
I have e-mailed Cllr. Perry with a very long letter outlining why I think the Council has prevaricated and missed the opportunity to make the Trow Quarry site safe. I have implored him and his scrutiny committee to take decisive action and to stop looking for mitigation for the damage to reputations.
To remind yourself of the site and it's problems, see my post of January 22nd.
Trow Quarry Reports
Trow Quarry questions deadline_________________________________________________________________
The Neighbourhood Services Committee met on 31st. January and have set a deadline of Monday 14th. February for members of the public to put their questions to the scrutiny committee considering the next steps at Trow Quarry.
You can email your questions to Cllr. Jim Perry
You can read the reports here they are available in pdf format
Thursday, February 10, 2005
Curly's Corner Shop
Curly's Corner Shop_________________________________________________________________
The number of visitors to my site continues to grow since I put version 2 online on the 7th. January, there have now been 250,000 hits in the past twelve months. The average number of visits per day is up 25%, and the search engines are only just starting to index the new site! I'm quite satisfied with these figures, and also happy that visitors are now spread globally.
Today's logfiles, for instance, show ip addresses from the Bronx, New York, Riyadh, Kuwait, Richmond in British Columbia, the Hague, Pakistan, and Adelaide, Australia, as well as a small smattering from the U.K.
It's pleasing to note that so many people want to know about South Shields.
Now if they also read this blog can I say that it would interest me (and others) to know why you want to know about South Shields, did you find what you wanted, and did you like the site? Is there any additional features that you would like me to add to the site?
You can let me know by sticking a pin in the Guestmap at the foot of the homepage, give me your email address if you wish (or enter n/a), enter where you are from and any connection with the North-East, and leave a little comment. You can even choose to attach your country's flag! It's all quite simple and helps other people see how wide the interest in the Corner Shop is, as well as looking a bit better than the normal "sign my guestbook".
You can also leave little comments in the "Chatterbox" on this page.
Charles and Camilla
HRH Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales has announced he is to marry his long time lady friend Mrs. Camilla Parker-Bowles, she will become HRH the Duchess of Cornwall.
It will be a civil marriage ceremony in Windsor Castle, as the Church of England do not perform wedding ceremonies for divorcees (especially when former partners are still alive), however the Archbishop of Canterbury will officiate at a service immediately after the wedding for prayers and a blessing.
On his accession to the throne, Charles will become the defacto head of the Church of England (although his wife will not be Queen), all smacks a bit of hypocracy don't you think?
Tuesday, February 08, 2005
First off, allow me to warmly congratulate Ellen on becoming the fastest person to navigate the globe single handed, and at such a young age! One cannot underestimate the enormity of the task she had undertaken, in terms of a sporting challenge this is akin to climbing Everest without any back up team, oxygen, or protective clothing.
She undertook this challenge alone, and endured some of the worst conditions that the earth's climate can provide for over two months; burning her hands, bruising her legs, depriving herself of sleep for countless nights. On at least three occasions she needed to scale the main mast to make running repairs, had a slight collision with an underwater object, and almost collided with a whale, not to mention running the monsterous and mountainous seas in the Southern Ocean.
I cannot and will not underestimate the enormity of this 28 year old's achievement.
However, I need to say that Tony Blair has been conspicuously opportunist by announcing today that she would become a Dame Commander of the British Empire, a piece of calculated news management again!
Today, when she berthed at Falmouth should have been her day, to relax, enjoy the warmth of the welcome, get used to walking on terra firma again, and to reflect on her achievement. There would be enough pressure on her today with the world's press wanting a piece of her. A little dignified delay would have been more appropriate Prime Minister!
Francis Chichester and Robin Knox Johnston waited months for their Knighthoods, our World Cup winning captain Bobby Moore waited years for his, and Geoff Hurst (the only man to ever score a hat trick in the World Cup final) waited decades for his.
I guess, at 28, Dame Ellen McArthur still has plenty time to spoil her reputation, although I doubt she will.
Read her story here
Sunday, February 06, 2005
I'd like to share with you a little programme for digital photographry, it's called "Noiseware" and it's available for free! I posted a couple of nights ago about the Phototakers website and after I'd posted a few pictures it was suggested that I use "Noiseware" to clean the shots up.
I'd never heard of "Noiseware" and the poster didn't point me towards it, so after doing a search, I found it and downloaded the free community edition, and boy was I pleased! With one click of the mouse this programme removes all of the extraneous pixel noise in your image and cleans it up superbly, as well as reducing the file size.
If you want top notch images, this programme is the way to go!
Get it here!
Thursday, February 03, 2005
As you will know, I've had an interest in photography for a long time, and the new digital age has kind of rekindled my interest. I've bumped into an excellent forum for photographers where you can post your images (from an image host-I use ImageShack) and others make friendly critiques of your work, and make gentle suggestions as to how it could be improved.
I've made a few posts in the last week or so, and I'm enjoying looking at some really superb photography from around the world.
I'm really keen on this message board, so if you're seriously into images, take a look at
Wednesday, February 02, 2005
Temple Memorial Park (School decision)
Temple Memorial Park (school decision.)_________________________________________________________________
I must say a big "thank you" to the anonymous Councillor who posted the agenda for today's meeting of the Council's Cabinet meeting through my door, along with it's associated background reports.
The likelihood is, that the Cabinet will now be recommending a new "preferred option" to the full Council, that is to build the new super school; at the current Chuter Ede site. The most interesting things to point out are; the Council Officers have radically changed their opinions since Barbara Hughes and Ron Reynolds have left their posts, the importance attached to the possibility of methane leakages into any new buildings erected on Temple Memorial Park.
I feel this fully vindicates the position I have taken since the exclosures became public in December. It was always my intention to link the fears associated with the pollutants found at Trow Quarry to the possibility of a similar scenario at Temple Memorial Park. It was also important to sow these seeds of fear and doubt into the minds of elected members, particularly Labour Councillors in a position to influence the decision making in Cabinet. Hence my campaign of e-mails to individual Councillors, groups of Councillors, letters to the local press, and the instigation of television investigations into Trow Quarry and Temple Park.
I always hoped that this campaign would steel and fortify those who opposed the new school at Temple Park on the simple grounds of the restrictive covenants, which could have been all too easily amended or broken by the Council
Of course, before the new project is able to proceed at Chuter Ede, further site investigations will need to be undertaken at the former landfill site on Benton Road; the new school will be erected adjacent to, not on, the former waste site.
I should also e-mail my associates at Friends of the Earth to ascertain their willingness to join with Councillors for a site visit to Trow Quarry to enable decisions to proceed about it's future safety for public access (see previous blog posts.)
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