Thursday, June 30, 2005

Redhead's Landing

Redhead's Landing; The Quest

I have taken a while to read through all of the forms sent to me by the borough Council needed to process a formal application to have Redhead's Landing added to the designated map of Public Rights of Way. There are quite a lot of them, and I will be required to produce a professional scaled map, a plethora of other evidence, a collection of statements from people who have used the landing, and any evidence of restrictions that people may have faced in accessing the river here. I also have to contact the land owners (if known, and if possible) and post public notices on the site to inform people of my intentions and give the chance for objectors to make their views known. I need to prove that Redhead's Landing has been used by the public continuously for a period of twenty years or more.

It looks like it will be a bit of a long haul!

I'm indebted, once again, to Jimmy for sending me some more old clippings from the Shields Gazette, to be used in support of the application. I now have press clippings about this story going back to 1987, throughout this period there is a growing thread weaving it's way through the history of Tyne Slipway Engineering and it's predecessor companies, a growing litany of repeated interventions in the public's historical right to reach the riverside.

Despite the Council stating that the land is not recorded in the Land Registry, and that the current owner is unknown, a read through the Gazette clippings elicits a few clues;

1988 - Robsons Boatbuilders and McNulty's raise complaints to the Council about vandalism on the site and in response the Highways Authority applies to the Magistrates Court for an order to stop up River Street, on the grounds that it is unnecessary.

1989 - James Thompson's petition is considered by the Town Development Committee who decide to vary the stopping up order to allow continued pedestrian access to the Landing.

1995 - Judith Dunn reports in the Shields Gazette that the gates have been locked for six years now and that Councillors have voted to reinforce the Prohibition of Driving Order, she wrote "The landing-which is a pedestrian right of way-was at the centre of controversy earlier this year when fishermen reported the gates were being mysteriously locked to keep them out."

In March of that year Paul-Myles Kelly writing in the Gazette said "The gates between Robson's Boat Builders and Aker McNulty give access to a pedestrian right of way leading on to the slipway." In the same atricle he tells of how Tyne Slipway had locked the gates in order to carry out essential repair work, and further in his piece "Tyne Slipway is currently in the process of leasing the land from it's owners, the Port of Tyne Authority."

In May of that year the Gazette's Chief Reporter Jonathan Jones noted that TWM Robson's, owner of the former Robson's Boatbuilders were the culprits behind the gate's lockings, he said " Although they have no legal obligations to keep access to the landing open to boat traffic, they do have to ensure that pedestrians can pass through." This was just after the incident when Tyne and Wear Marine Engineering claimed that the gate had been locked by a crab fisherman to protect his motorcycle.

In September of 1995 the Shields Gazette carried an article about the history of Redhead's Landing which apparently was formerly known as "Wesh Shore", using the authority of the locally acclaimed historian Amy Flagg, it's use was traced back to pastural land before the development of commercial shipyards.

So if the owners in 1995 were the Port of Tyne Authority, it may be worthwhile getting in touch with them to see if they disposed it, and to whom. I will also set about investigating the decisions taken by the Borough Council during this period, hoping to build a case that says the council knew the land had a public right of way, and that they mistakenly left it out of the definitive map. If this can be proved to be true, it may make the process of a formal application a lot easier.

The gates at Redhead's Landing are once again locked today, and Tyne Slipway Engineering have failed to respond to two emails from me requesting information about land ownership and the activities of their employees in locking the gates. It has been cleaned up a fair bit since my last visit, and it would be nice to think that I could take photographs of the Tall Ships Race from "the Gut".

I think I'll ring them tomorrow.


Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Close season

The Close Season

Well it's very close (warm and humid) during the close season as we wait for news of further signings at Sunderland AFC. Mick McCarthy has done well so far to get exactly five of the eight that were on his list, without having to barter with other clubs, nor get into protracted negotiations over contracts and personal terms. Despite the fact that the club has massive debts still, and has made it plain to prospective players that the wages structure at Sunderland would be strictly adhered to ( a low remuneration compared to other Premiership teams, coupled to an attractive "staying up" bonus) he has managed to attract the players he wants to continue his solid team building.
The five new signings so far have been the young Irish lad Darryl Murphy, striker Jonathan Stead, goalkeeper Kelvin Davies, attacking midfielder Tommy Miller, and full back Nyron Nosworthy.
We are losing Marcus Stewart, Sean Thornton, Mark Lynch, Thomas Myrhe, and of course there is the outside possibility that Kevin Kyle will not be fit to return to the ranks at the beginning of next season.
We also lose Diadora as shirt sponsors, they also pulled out of sponsorship deals with other clubs during the summer, so it is hoped that they will compensate the club for failing to fulfill the contract. The new shirt sponsor and kit provider will be Lonsdale, more famous for boxing and gym kit than anything else I can remember, they have already produced a stunning looking all black away kit, and the new home kit is busy being revealed in stages on the club's website this week.

I was in Washington Galleries last weekend and happened to call in at Sainsbury's where the club has a franchise, and to my surprise they were still trying to sell last season's Diadora home shirts for the full price, and continued to do so on the internet as well, until they made a reduction this afternoon; however they still want twenty notes for a mens shirt! It beggars belief when we all know that a new kit is imminent, and that other retailers have drastically discounted their stocks to make way for the new. Come on lads this shows no retailing acumen at all!
If you are not careful someone will blog about you........


Sunday, June 26, 2005

Laygate Parking

Laygate Parking Update

I posted some weeks ago about the terrible mess of parking in Laygate Lane opposite the site of Allens/Hedley Youngs, as an update the problem should shortly be sorted out. I've received this email from one of the Council Officers in charge of the matter.

I have been asked to provide you with an update on the parking at Laygate by Cllr Claire.
I can confirm that some of the traffic signs and lines are not in accordance with the traffic regulations, thereby preventing the Traffic Wardens from issuing parking tickets. An order has been placed for the new signs, and it is anticipated that these will be delivered in early July. On receipt of the signs I will arrange for them to be erected as soon as possible and also arrange for the appropriate road markings to be put down.

I will contact the Police and Traffic Wardens when the works are complete, so that they can start to enforce the parking regulations again.

Good news for pedestrians and those who are forced to drive on the wrong side of the road!


Saturday, June 25, 2005

Redhead's Landing

Redhead's Landing

I am indebted to Janis Blower of the Shields Gazette for providing me with news clippings about Redhead's Landing, they will form part of the attempt to apply to the Council to have the land added to the definitive map of Public Rights of Way. I have the appropriate forms from the Council and will shortly start approaching people for statements to support the application.

An article in the Shields Gazette on 22.03.89 describes how the Town Development Committee of the local Council decided against the closure of Redhead's Landing, following the submission of a petition by Mr. James Thompson, 69, of Oakland Avenue, Marsden.(I'm sure he used to teach me at the Grammar School.) Mr. Thompson had collected over 70 signatures of people protesting against the planned closure of the site, which he had visited since childhood. However, the Council did decide to restrict access to vehicles whilst still allowing pedestrian access. The decision was taken to erect a fence including an unlocked gate for pedestrians.

A further article on 02.06.95 is the first to point the finger at Tyne Slipway (or it's predecessor Tyne and Wear Marine Engineering) for being held responsible for locking the pedestrian gate.For a month the company had been flooded with complaints that it was locking the gate and preventing public access, but TWM Engineering Director Mr. Jeff Main said he thought he had found the culprit, a crab fisherman who locked the gate behind him to protect his motorcycle! Mr. Main said the company leaves the gate unlocked so the public can have "legal right of passage".

It is interesting to note that almost ten years later the successor company Tyne Slipway Engineering is now similarly being accused of locking the gate, periodically, to prevent access. Just as was said in 1995, the lower part of the slipway was always well maintained for use by the boatbuilders whilst the upper reach was allowed to be littered with debris to discourage public access.

No smoke without fire?


Wednesday, June 22, 2005

E Services

Rare praise from Curly!

It is not very often that I find things to shout about in praise of our Labour Council, but one has to be frank and honest at times and say well done! Why am I in such a mood? Well you only needed to see the mess around the town on Monday morning after the thunderstorms and floods.
There's no doubt that there was a fair amount of mess to clear up, sewage to remove, floodwater to pump away, roads, streets, and paths to repair etc. Yet, by Tuesday morning everything around town appeared to be just as it was 48 hours earlier.
I was particularly worried about a section of paving near to my house which the floodwaters had lifted and carried out of position, about two foot of subsoil had been washed away, leaving a gaping hole. Being concerned in case any pedestrians suffered an accident I decided to get in touch with the Council via E-services on their website.
I knew this route well because I'd been down it in the past, let me just say, it's worth registering and making use of, you will notice that there are a lot of areas covered, it would be difficult to think of a problem that might not be addressed by this method. However, I did not expect my enquiry to elicit a high priority response, but less than four hours later the job was underway! Just shows how much work those guys must have got through on the Monday morning! Well done fellas!!
I have to say that the navigation on the Council's website needs addressing, it's a big site and not that easy to find your way around, however, once you know where you are going, you can feel reasonably confident that the system will work for you!

No Justice

I agree wholeheartedly with the sentiments expressed by the parents of Luke Noble who was killed by a speed boat whilst on holiday in the Carribean. The skipper of the boat who caused the deaths of two youngsters was found guilty of manslaughter, yet was only fined! This not what we understand to be justice!
Read the story here.


Monday, June 20, 2005

Kennedy's Bar

Fitzmaurice fumes at flood damage to Kennedy's Bar

In the aftermath of last night's flash floods caused by the worst thunderstorms in living memory, Kennedy's Bar was once again mounting a clean up operation only four weeks after reopening. A flood in May caused thousands of pounds worth of damage to the popular Tyne Dock pub, and licencee Carl Fitzmaurice was just getting back on his feet, after spending thirty thousand pounds on new oak flooring, carpets, cellar equipment, beer pumps and lines, refrigeration etc.
When I arrived this morning the roads were still closed as council workmen continued to pump water from his cellar, before starting to clean up the layer of sewage infected sludge coating the streets.

Click pictures to enlarge

Carl explained that his problems are exacerbated by Northumbrian Water's sewers and drains. They are only 4 inches in diameter and lead directly to the river, when we have a high tide and the river is full the drainage systems cannot cope with any extra demand and they quickly back up onto the streets. At one stage last night flood waters were three feet deep inside and outside of his bar, customers were quickly called out to help save a stranded motorist when her car began to float and fill with water.
"Northumbrian Water are in a long running operation of cleaning out silt from a 1.5 kilometre stretch of sewers and drains, when really they ought to be investing in larger pipework", said Carl.
"I will now have to get in touch with the insurers and start all over again, the pub will have to close again because the bacteria in the sewage will quickly become a health hazard" he complained.

Carl Carl Fitzmaurice (right) pictured discussing his problems with a local journalist.

The markings around the fireplace show the level of the heavy sludge, the water level was a foot higher than this.

Considering the frequency of flooding at Tyne Dock and the continuing costs of cleaning up and reinstating damaged properties, it's high time that our local Councillors and MP put heavy pressure on Northumbrian Water to replace the worn out and inefficient sewerage system in this area and replace it with pipes of a considerably larger cross section, this is the only viable solution to the problems faced all too regularly by Carl Fitzmaurice and his long suffering neighbours. Come on guys........let's see some ACTION!

Other areas where inadequate drainage added to the problems last night were Ullswater Gardens, where the Neighbourhood Services Department spent several hours helping the elderly residents. Yet again these poor people have had to suffer because of the poor drainage system. (I believe it is the same network of pipes that serves Tyne Dock.) The old people's homes in West Way, opposite the Lord Ashleigh public house, were also inundated, again on the same network of pipes. I know that last night's weather was exceptional, but flooding in these three areas is not, it is now almost commonplace whenever we have haevy rain.



Puzzling Pavement

Here's a section of pavement that had about two foot of subsoil washed away by the storm waters, the paving flags had literally been raised from the ground. Clearly a hazardous situation created by the worst electrical storm that I have ever experienced. Two hours of absolute mayhem - we must remember that the power of mother nature is far greater than anything that we will ever invent!

Click picture to enlarge


Sunday, June 19, 2005

Flash Floods

South Shields Big Splash

I've been away in the Lake Distict for a long weekend with the family, where we stayed in Pooley Bridge, Lake Ullswater, the weather was beautiful, all be it a bit "steamy", jungle weather you could say, very hot and humid. A perfect example of the British summer would be three hot days and a thunderstorm.

We travelled back on the A686 Penrith to Alston route up Hartside Pass, and stopped to take a picture from the top, and it does show the amount of moisture being driven up from the south-west as well as a massive amount of humidity rising above the lake District.

Click to enlarge picture.
We arrived back in South Shields at 2.00 p.m. and it wasn't too long before the thunderstorms arrived, they were at their most intense from 5.00 p.m. till 7.00 p.m. I was at the children's grandparents with them and they were terrified! They'd experienced thunderstorms before but not the incessant heavy driving rain and hailstone that this storm produced (some of the hailstone was as large as some ice cubes I've had in drinks at the bar!). Water was running down from Westoe Road through my father's estate like a river in a torrential surge, gardens were quickly submerged in a foot of swirling water which started to enter properties. Some people broke down fences to stop the build up of water in their gardens, the result was that they released a further torrent to surge further downhill into someone elses property.
Despite the increasing worry of my elderly parents and young children, the water reached the level of the doorstep but stopped short of entering the house, we had taken the precaution of lifting the hall carpets and moving to the first floor. The amazing thing was that the properties on either side were inundated, as well as those in the adjacent walk, I don't know how we remained dry!
St. Bede's Church on Westoe Road had it's evening service interrupted and parishioners were seen with buckets bailing out the water, before the onset of further storm water put an end to their efforts. Properties near the railway embankment next to The Office public house were also inundated and the roads were impassable for a while, properties in Ravenswort terrace have also suffered water damage as the streets off Stanhope Road all lead downhill to there, in effect about four rivers ran down to Ravensworth Terrace. I dread to think what Tyne Dock and Ullswater Gardens looked like.


Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Redhead's Landing Again

A private slipway?

Following my visit to Redhead's Landing yesterday, the experience has preyed on my mind, and I find myself asking a number of questions. Please view the photographs to help you follow my thinking.
There is a lot of flotsam and debris there and it is all well above the high water mark, on the upper part of the landing. It surely would put most people off from using it or visiting this location. How did it get there? Who moved it there from the shoreline? Why deposit it just behind the gates? Why not just push it back into the river and allow it to be carried out to sea?
You will also notice that in one of the photographs you can see the booms placed near the water's edge by Tyne Slipway "to prevent more rubbish accumulating." You will also notice that there is no rubbish, flotsam, or debris in the area of the slipway directly in front of their boundary fence. This makes it so very easy to draw the conclusion, rightly or wrongly, that someone is deliberately obstructing part of Redhead's Landing to discourage public access, whilst maintaining very good access for themselves.
If we remember the statement from the Council Officer regarding the provision of proof that the area has been used publicly and continuously for a period of twenty years, you would then, like me, question why someone is, apparently, doing there level best to disprove this assumption. Pile the rubbish high on the slipway, plainly make the place a bigger mess than it ought to be, and then periodically lock the gates - suddenly two and two no longer add up to four!
I am only theorising and questioning what I see at Redhead's Landing. Another question that comes to mind is this - if I were to find a piece of unregistered land, that for all intents and purposes was not usefully used by any person, and I then started to make use of that land myself, after a period of, let's say, twenty years, would that land now be deemed to be mine in the eyes of the law? (Isn't this what we call squatter's rights?) Under the provisions of the 2002 Land Registration Act the squatter can apply for the title to the land after a period of ten years of occupancy, and it will be granted if the registered land owner fails to oppose the application.

I think it's about time that someone in authority tried their level best to get to the bottom of this conundrum and firmly re-establish Redhead's Landing as a "Public Landing" as clearly indicated on the sign affixed to the wall.


Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Redhead's Landing 2

Tyne Slipway Ltd.

I had heard that the gates at Redhead's Landing were once again open for public access (the sign clearly states "public landing") so I decided to investigate on my way to work this morning, and returned at lunchtime to catch some pictures of the river from there.
The slipway is now completely unusable for anyone wishing to launch a boat, the original intention for riverside access, because of the huge amounts of flotsam that have accumulated there. However, having gained access through the open gateway, and carefully picking my way through the debris, I started to take some pictures. When I was finished I was approached by a man in dark blue overalls and the conversation went something like this;

"Alright mate? What do you want down here then?"
I replied that I was busy taking some pictures of the river.
" Are you from the Council then?"
It was quite obvious that I was not, because I was wearing my company's uniform, with logos on the front and back.
"It's just that we've made a few complaints about the state of the place here, it's not environmentally safe."
I asked if he meant the amount of flotsam.
"We found two dead sheep down here last week, and a dead fox yesterday"
I found this to be a bit unlikely, I considered how far upriver I would have to travel before finding a place where a sheep or fox could get to the river's edge, probably some distance west of Newcastle and there wouldn't be much left of the bodies by time they had reached this spot .
At this point another overalled man came through the gate .
"Come on, you can't stay down here mate, it's not safe."
I explained that I wasn't from the Council and asked where they were from.
The first replied,
"Next door, Tyne Slipway, we put the booms there and lock the gates because our boundary fence is in danger of getting damaged. We need to get the Council to sort this mess out."
I told them that I had also been in touch with the Council about the matter and explained that the Council does not own the land and therefore is not responsible for it's upkeep. I further explained that the land is not registered and therefore it is difficult to find out who does own the land. This didn't seem to impress them, and once again they advised me to leave.
They made no claim to be the land owners, and kept a close eye on me as I left, whilst the first man contacted someone on his mobile phone.

So, we have an odd situation where the owner and employees of Tyne Slipway (Engineering) Ltd. take it upon themselves to lock out the public from Redhead's Landing, on the pretext of looking after their boundary fence. It occurs that their access to the river, for boats that they build, is over this public landing, and perhaps one could think that they are doing their best to ensure that it will be for their own private use.

If you wish to contact Tyne Slipway about this matter you can email the Commercial Manager Mr. Gary Wilson at this address

I certainly will.

Click to enlarge


Redhead's Landing

Redhead's Landing

I have breaking news about who has been responsible for locking out the public at Redhead's Landing, I will post it soon (after I have processed the photographs.


David Potts letter

Support for Peter Collins

Following the sacking of Peter Collins, the former National Trust warden for the Leas has received a mountain of popular support for his principled decision to inform the people of South Tyneside about the chemical cocktail contained within Trow Quarry. He has published a long and detailed account of the poorly handled problem in the Shields Gazette, and is now facing the prospect of losing his tied home at Souter Lighthouse whilst he is preparing his case for an Industrial Tribunal. In his submission to the Shields Gazette, Peter Collins echoed my opinion about the self declared "safeness" of the former quarry by the Borough Council, in short, by inviting one set of experts to find the deadly toxins they then attempted to negate the findings with the testimony of another so called expert witness. In doing so, our elected representatives provided us with an expert illustration of a whitewash!
Cllr. David Potts, who was one of the first to air the problems publicly, has been in touch with me at the Corner Shop, and I am happy to publish his comments here.

Dear Graham,

As you know I have spoken several times in defence of Peter Collins.

I believe that Mr Collins acted with the best interests of the public in mind and if anything should be rewarded, not punished, for his actions. There are few people in the world who put the interests of the public at large before their own. Those people should be valued and their actions applauded.

I wish Mr Collins the very best for his tribunal.

Yours sincerely,

David Potts
Conservative, Cleadon & East Boldon


Monday, June 13, 2005

Road Humps

Bid to "iron out" driving problems!

Two local business men are bumping more than their gums in their attempts to fight the growing scourge of over 1000 road humps in South Tyneside. Speed humps, speed mats, sleeping policemen, are all causing annoyance to drivers in the attempts to reduce speed, but there are increasing fears that lives may be put at risk as the emergency services also have their speeds curtailed.
I much prefer the flashing signs now in use in Boldon Colliery and elsewhere which warn you that you are driving at more than 30 m.p.h., they seem to be effective in reducing speeds without distracting the driver too much, and without causing excessive breaking and reacceleration, or worrying about damage to your undercarriage. It would be a lot more preferable to see more of these signs around than turning our roads into military style assault courses.
The topic is also receiving critical comments on the Message Board.


Redheads Landing

Readhead's Landing

It appears that the access to the river at Redhead's Landing is not currently a Public Right of Way, and that the Council is not in a position to require the gates to be unlocked.

I have received the following from Terry Collins, Head of Streetscape;

Hi Graham - I hope that the following is helpful although as you can see this issue is complicated. This is advice I have received from our Legal section following a similar request for information by a resident.



(Script from the Legal Dept.)

I note that you have received a request from a resident who has written requesting your help in securing the re-opening of a route down to the river, leading to a slipway known as Redhead's Landing. In addition the resident has informed you that a gate and side door have recently been bolted shut by an unknown party to prevent the public using the area.

The resident refers to the route as being a Public Right of Way but various Council Officers have carried out extensive investigation into the status of this route and there does not appear at this present time to be a Public Right of Way recognised in relation to it.

The Councils Rights of Way Officer has confirmed the route is not recorded as a Public Right of Way on the Definitive Map for the area (the Definitive Map being the place where all formal Rights of Way not being adopted Highway are recorded). Equally, it is not listed in the Council's records of adopted Highway kept under the Highways Act 1980. Nor is the land Council owned (it is privately owned by an unknown party).

As there is insufficient evidence to establish that the area in question is Highway and the Council does not own the land, it is not possible for the Council to take any action to require removal of the locked gate.

Please note, however, that should the complainant (or anyone else for that matter) have sufficient evidence of long user, he may make an application to have the alleged way added to the definitive map. This is a potentially complex process involving a formal application to the Council. It would be necessary for the applicant to prove that the route has been used as of right by the public for a continuous period of twenty years or more. If the resident wishes to commence this process or wishes to find out more about it, I would suggest he contact in writing the Council's Rights of Way Officer, Kevin Vigars, at these offices.

I hope the information given above is sufficient for your purposes but should you require anything further, I shall be happy to assist.

Terry Collins
Head of Streetscape
South Tyneside Council

I have asked Terry to pass on this photograph as a first step in gathering evidence - click to enlarge.


Saturday, June 11, 2005

Town Centre

Cloning our town centre

There is a lot of comment this week about the gradual "cloning" of town centres up and down the land, with many hosting the same old shops, from the same old national chains, with many of them sporting the same old corporate facades. This makes visiting some towns rather tiresome, as everything looks the same. There are a few (very few) places in the North-East where town centres have retained a little local character and individuality. Three that come to mind are Hexham,Morpeth, and Whitley Bay, they each retain a smattering of local independent businesses that offer something "different". It's not easy to find small independent retailers in our town centre, and many that we were used to visiting have closed down (G.K. Lee, Frank Lake, Lambs, just to name three - if we went back a few years we could add Ripons toy and sports shop, Savilles record and music store, Wiggs for pianos and organs, Olivers the tobaconist, Clarke's toy shops, Masons chemist in King Street, Grant's the jewellers, and a host of others.) All of their sites and others have been replaced with cloned identities of the national retail chains.
This is sad, because part of the character of our town centre has been eroded, and this is happening all over the U.K.
No doubt it is becoming increasingly challenging for the small independent shopowners to compete against the nationals, or be able to afford to rent space in town centres, we now tend to find these people trading on the fringes of town centres, or in shopping areas away from the main active centre.
Peter Winfield, who owns Caxton Shoes in King Street has echoed these concerns of an identity crisis.

Despite the promise of new shopping at the Waterloo Square development (which will contain four more national retailers) I worry that our town centre too will become a nondescript entity among this "nation of shopkeepers." Perhaps, as we consider what should be done with the old multi-story car park in Mile End Road, we should make some ground floor space available specifically for small independent "local" retailers, at low rental rates. (I'm sure that nobody would object to the upper floors being used for office accomodation.)


Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Lee Bowyer

Charva Charged!

Lee Bowyer, Newcastle United's disreputable midfielder has been summoned by Nothumbria Police and charged with an offence under the Public Order Act following his attack upon team mate Kieron Dyer during a match at "Sid Jame's Park". I have to say that I'm a little surprised that "bling bling Dyer" is not subject to any further action as, quite clearly, he was seen on television landing two or three blows of his own. However, it is good to see that at least one of these so called role models will have to answer for their reprehensible "charver like" activities, the example that was set before their young fans that day was an absolute disgrace. It is to be hoped, that if he is found guilty, the sentence will be such that it will hurt him and prevent any chance of a repetition.

Happy Slappy

The news that 25% of children aged between 11 and 19 have been the subject of bullying by mobile phone, as reported by the children's charity NCH, is quite concerning. It is becoming a regular event to read in the national press stories of beatings and bullyings being recorded on mobile phones and transmitted around schools "just for the fun of it". It begs the question - "Would it stop if mobile phones were banned at school?"
I don't think that bullying would be stopped, but I certainly think that this measure would help in reducing it considerably, and would remove this apparent element of "fun". It's no fun to be on the receiving end, as one local youngster knows only too well. Perhaps handing the phone in at the beginning of the day and collecting it at the end of the day may be an option worth considering, but how would one police it? Mobile phones are now so small and easily concealed, and there will always be some who don't wish to comply.
The Shields Gazette carried another story of shocking behaviour involving the use of mobile phones, where children are playing "chicken" on the railways, whilst so called friends video the event on a phone. How will they like to distribute pictures when their pal gets killed?

It seems to me that we are missing a large dose of good old fashioned parenting skills along the line somehow. Think of the costs of buying a 3g mobile and then add on the monthly call charges, either contracted or prepaid, remember it is a teenager using it. Not an inconsiderable cost eh? Do our children get material belongings far too easily? Do we give them far too much pocket money and not enough education, information, and communication?
Has the passing of the daily family get together at meal times propogated the rise of the charvas?
The far greater worry is that current parenting trends when transmitted through the next generation will likely produce something approaching anarchy.
South Tyneside as a borough is clearly concerned about the behaviour of some of our youngsters who are in danger of going completely beyond the limits of normal acceptable behaviour. In an effort to prevent a young person irreversibly damaging their own future prospects they have set up STEPP (South Tyneside Early Prevention Panels), where children can be referred for analysis, assessment, support, and the seeking of solutions to their problematic behaviour. There are referral criteria to be met, but a strong multi skilled, multi agency approach will be used to assist young people and their parents achieve a degree of normal civil behaviour.

It is a shame that such interventionist measures need to be considered, but as a last resort for some parents (and school teachers) this may be the resource they are looking for.

Festival Time

Hurrah! It's that time of year again, when we wish for clear skies and warm sunshine to enjoy the Cookson Country Festival, the Amphitheatre on Sea Road is already tuning up most nights with the best in local talent as the festival gets off to a start. I have to say that I'm looking forward to the annual carnival, the Mela, the new Mouth of the Tyne Festival, live music in the Bents Park, and of course the Tall Ships Race. It promises to be a great summer, and I'll attempt to cover all of the major events, and you'll get to see the latest activities both here and in Curly's Corner Shop.


Monday, June 06, 2005



The latest Webalizer statistics for Curly's Corner Shop are showing a rise in the daily average number of visitors over the past two months, there have now been a total of 385,000 visits over the past eleven months to the suite of websites. However this statistic only takes into account those who have passed through the Corner Shop homepage, it does not take into account those who come directly to the messageboard, this weblog, or Curly's Photoshop, but 1000 visits a day on average is not to be sniffed at, and I'm sure that the effect will be eventually to attract some new visitors to the town and encourage them to return.

As far as our local politicians are concerned, I would really like them to try and make use of this medium. If they have a point to make, an announcement to give, or a reply or rejoinder to some comment of mine, please feel free to click on the "comment" tags and leave your marker! You can be assured that your words will be heard far and wide.

My current concern at present is that the full line of of shops for the new Waterloo Square development should be released as soon as possible, if for no other reason than to end the speculation on Curly's Corner Shop Message Board that it will be Primark. It will also be good that retailers make their intention known sooner rather than later as this will aid them in the recruitment process, and ensure a smooth merchandising period prior to opening. We all hope that the shops will be ready for the Christmas Rush.



Breaking News - Huge Fire

Curly is enjoying a long weekend off work before returning tomorrow and this morning I was taking a walk to the West Park again where I captured some pictures of "Sid Jame's Park" the other day, you know that place where they try to "Carry On Football". Unfortunately it was difficult to make out the ground because I found a huge pall of smoke hanging over it and heading towards Gateshead. The source of the smoke was one massive fire somewhere on the northern outskirts of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, at the time of posting I don't know exactly what was on fire, but, as you will see from the pictures, it does look major.
Just as I post, I've been informed that it's an old Northern Electric Building in Slateyford Lane at the junction with Silver Lonnen, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, that's about 17 miles from here!

According to local shop worker Amanda Smith who works just a hundred yards away from the building "the fire was huge and caused quite a few traffic problems for those heading west out of the city, luckily we weren't affected too much, I'm not sure if anyone has been injured or not, the ambulances are just leaving the scene now, but the fire engines left about half an hour ago."
Click pictures to enlarge


Saturday, June 04, 2005

Car Parking, Stanhope Road

Keep death off the roads, drive on the pavement!

I seem to have a bee in my bonnet about inconsiderate drivers in South Shields at the moment, it's getting so bad with some that I'm almost at the point of "naming and shaming". I was out and about yesterday to take some photographs of St. Jame's Park, as it can be seen with a good telephoto lens from the West Park, and I noticed (for the umpteenth time) a driver riding his BMW over the pavement to park it in front of his shop! Not only does this "businessman" appear to have no regard for the way in which he endangers or puts at risk the pedestrians, he also appears to have no concerns about how his actions are seen by those in the immediate local community. If he can get away with it, then why shouldn't everyone else. His business is on Stanhope Road, South Shields, close to a corner shop at it's junction with Bewick Street.
Click picture to enlarge
Not content with how he drives or parks, he happily allows his employees to park his vans right on the street corners, making it a very hazardous operation for other motorists to exit Collingwood Street or Bewick Street with no view of the oncoming traffic. I hope a friendly traffic warden sees this post.

Mowing the lawn

As I was returning from the West Park, I witnessed another strange but interesting site, which I'd like to share. A young girl has her horse stabled at the allotments in the West Park and she was taking it out for a walk, I asked where she was going, and she replied that "now the summer months are here, the grass needs cutting at home, so I take the horse there and let him do it." She lived in a council property and it's evident that the horse is doing a great job and she has no need to buy a lawnmower or wait for anyone else to do the job for her. No doubt she gets a fair amount of "free fertiliser" as well.

You have to admire the ingenuity!!

Click to enlarge


Thursday, June 02, 2005

Curly's Corner Shop

New features in Curly's Corner Shop

Just thought I'd post a little note about a couple of new features in Curly's Corner Shop, my main website, which is used to promote all that is good about South Shields. Firstly, I have added a Bravenet Photogallery at the foot of the second column of the home page. This allows visitors to post photographs into a Visitors Album, I'd be keenly interested in your pictures of your home town, just to let us all know where you are from. My thanks go to Colinl in Albany, Western Australia for starting the ball rolling with a great picture of his Town Hall. Please feel free to have a look and post a picture.

Secondly, Curly's Photoshop is relatively new, I've started this Photoblog with the intention of passing on my experiences with digital photography, and to give some hints and tips on how to get to grips with worlds best image editing software Adobe Photoshop CS. You will also find some great links for Photoshop resources, add-ons, and plug-ins here. The link for Curly's Photoshop is near the top of the end column on the home page.


Wednesday, June 01, 2005

David Miliband

Praise the Lord! (well....the Minister actually)

I received, quite by surprise, a welcome email from our MP David Miliband, the Minister of Communities and Local Government, today. He had been reading this blog, particularly the posts referring to Redhead's Landing, it appears that he too shares the concerns of a number of local people about it's current state of total closure. The surprising thing to me is that a Cabinet minister can find some time in his busy schedule to read Curly's Daily Comment and to look at my main site Curly's Corner Shop. I find that to be humbling and gratifying, I also find it to be remarkable that someone in such high office still cares about the little things in life. The issue about public access to Redhead's Landing suits his title admirably, it is a community issue, and one which local government may have to deal with.

Although I could never be described as a natural supporter of the Labour Party, I set this as another welcome example of David's desire to be totally involved with South Shields, and illustrates his yearning to keep in touch at grass roots level. Yet again, he has shown himself to be quite different to his predecessor David Clark. I am grateful for his proactive approach to the issue, nobody asked him to do anything, and as far as I am aware his post bag isn't bulging with complaints about Redhead's Landing. It's one of those small issues with great importance to only a few people, but yet, he cares! Three cheers for David Miliband!

Here is the text of his email;


I note that you are asking about Readhead's Landing on your web site, and I have recently raised this matter with Mrs Amanda Skelton, Executive Director for Neighbourhood Services.

It is important that this matter is addressed, as I know a number of my constituents who are ship enthusiasts or photographers use this area for their hobbies. I will contact you again as soon as I receive a reply from Mrs Skelton.

Best wishes.


I really ought to make a post on my Message Board to remind people that the issue is being looked at and hasn't been forgotten, I'm currently waiting for further information from Terry Collins, head of Streetscape at the Council, about the land's status as a public right of way.

Laygate Parking Issue

Since my post of 20th. May about the dangerously parked vehicles in Laygate, I've had mail from Northumbria Police and their Senior Traffic Warden in South Shields, Harry Mellish, as you will be aware the Council still has to complete the road lining and signage here before the traffic wardens can take enforcing action. This work is of an urgent nature to prevent accidents involving drivers on the wrong side of the carriageway, and pedestrians who, when attempting to cross the road, have a very restricted view of vehicles leaving the roundabout and heading towards Frederick Street. I have been in touch with the ward Councillor Michael Clare, so hopefully we may see some progress in this matter.

Kindergarden Cop

No, it's not big Arnie's film! St. Wilfred's RC School in Harton Lane is to recruit security guards to help with the supervision of children during school hours. This follows a bullying attack on a young lad which was captured on a mobile phone camera and distributed amongst the other pupils! Read the Shields Gazette report here. I personally find this to be a bit disturbing, and I'm not sure about what type of message the school is sending out.
Are they emphasising the quality of supervision and their determination to stamp out bullying, or are they admitting failure in their efforts to control their young charges?
I really don't see the image of a uniformed security guard with any sense of comfort, it conjures up a picture of a drug ridden, weapon cached, school in "da hood" in an American inner city area! Is this really what parents want to see in the schoolyard, or would they prefer just good honest firm but fair supervision from the current teaching staff and their assistants?
I wonder what the teachers think about the decision?


About Me

Born in 1956
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Former Borough Councillor
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blueyonder DOT co DOT uk

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