Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Michael Owen

The Midget Gem signs for the dark side

No doubt this piece of news will be the talk of the town tonight and tomorrow, council business will almost come to a standstill, buses will run late, business will be slack etc., etc.
I only hope he didn't listen to the "negotiator" too much at Mitford Hall, after all he's new at the job, and still in his apprenticeship period before becoming a manager. However he has had many years experience as the "de facto" boss at Sid James Park,Image Hosted by ImageShack.us so ought to have been able to "sell" the club well. Pity he wasn't able to take any silverware along to impress the the new boy.
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Caffrey Brothers

The Caffreys

The Caffreys, that wonderful band from Wallsend who supported The Hollies at the Bents Park on Sunday, liked my pictures so much, they emailed me to ask for some more that can be used on their website! I'm a little bit chuffed, it gives a little bit of acclaim to both of us.
Readers may be interested in knowing that I submitted 14 pictures to the Shields Gazette's recent competition about the Tall Ships Race, I was happy to see them published in the local paper but a bit mystified that the one they chose to reach the final ten was, in my opinion, the poorest of the bunch. It's always difficult in deciding what someone else is going to like and appreciate, so a big thank you to the Caffreys for their appreciation.
They will be playing an acoustic set at The Lord Clyde, Western Approach, on Friday 11th. November this year. I can heartly endorse their music and recommend that you get along nice and early, it will be packed!


Bank Holiday

Bank Holiday Monday

Quite unusually I was off work on Bank Holiday Monday, I have spent the last twenty years or more being used to working on Bank Holidays ensuring that our customers get everything that they need at the holiday time.

The town was jam packed with tourists and it was all a bit of an anti-climax with the Cookson Festival having ended, I think the Bank Holiday NEEDS an event. large scale, as a finale to the festival. Something to think about for future years. Everybody just seemed to be wandering aimlessly about from parks to beaches, to shops and amusement park etc.

Wouldn't it be nice if we could perhaps shift the carnival from the start of the festival and hold it at the end instead, and change the route, hold it along the sea front, starting in the Market Square, go down King Street and Ocean Road and end it at Gypsies Green Stadium. Do it at night, and finish with a fireworks extravaganza!

It would give us the opportunity to reinvigorate the carnival, it needs marching bands, and more floats, more community involvement, and of course an event of this size would also require a lot of local business sponsorship.

What do you all think?


Monday, August 29, 2005

The end of summer?

The end of summer

So that's it then summer is officially over in South Shields, yesterday was the last day of the free concert programme in the Bents park and the Cookson Country Festival is packed away for another year, what a great shame, but all good things have to come to an end.
It was a breezy day, but luckily there was no rain,(we ought to be grateful that we don't live in New Orleans) and we enjoyed a fabulous set from local band The Caffrey Brothers, who were every bit as good as some of the big star names who have appeared over the past few weeks. They we were followed by The Hollies who belted out all of their standards and big hits, yet despite a few changes in line up over the years, they still sound exactly the same.
The current line includes Ray Stiles : bass, vocals (1985 onwards), formerly of Mud, and Carl Wayne : lead vocals (2000 -2004) previously with the Move. I found a rather interesting story related to their line up, which involved threats of incarceration in jail!
The last concert probably attracted the largest crowd of the season, despite it not being the best Sunday for weather, it was a real family occasion as you will see from this picture (click to enlarge)

I just had to take this next one, the old boy was looking so cool, and obviously enjoying the music!

Here are a few pictures of the Caffrey Brothers and the Hollies (click to enlarge)

What about a few suggestions for next year? I'd like to see someone reasonably local, how about Middlesborough lad Chris Rea, the price might be a bit high, but look at how much spending power is generated in the town when these concerts are on. That smashing Abba tribute band Super Troopers could well be worth a try as well, or how about Billy West's tribute show to Freddy Mercury?


Saturday, August 27, 2005

News - SouthTyneside Today: News, Sport, Jobs, Property, Cars, Entertainments & More

News - South Tyneside Today: Police vow action over knife incidents

Following the post that I made yesterday this is welcome news, everything must be done to educate peole that it is not "cool" to carry a knife (or any other weapon) around with you.Perhaps a few custodial sentences might convince people that it isn't worth getting involved in any threatening or violent behaviour, it would also pacify the rest of us and reassure us that the anti-social types will at least be removed from our streets.


Friday, August 26, 2005

OAP knife attacker

OAP knife attacker may face prison.

I was quite stunned listening to some of my fellow drinkers last night, that some people find it quite shocking that this man might go to prison over this knife attack. Yet, I asked, why should age or handicap be a factor?
Surely every assault involving the use of an open blade or other offensive weapon, ought to attract a custodial sentence, with each case being decided on it's facts and merits.
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The newspapers, particularly the popularly dailies, seem to be running a campaign at present, that presents Britain as the "lawless society", full of chavs, hoodies, drug users, and other anti-social types. There is also a lot of column inches given to the imposition of ASBO's (Anti-Social Behaviour Orders) some calling for more and praising their use, and some ridiculing the use of them.

So, if the press are to be listened to, this is indeed a lawless society, so it's about time that the laws were applied in an impartial and fair manner without regard for class, age, colour, creed, religion, or fitness. A young man with no previous convictions found guilty of the stabbing of another should suffer exactly the same penalty as might be applied to someone three times his age, and vice versa.
It is time to eradicate the culture of knife and gun use in this country, and Magistrates in South Tyneside could make an enormous contributuion to this by disallowing emotive contemplations in cases such as this.
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Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Thomas the Tank

Thomas the tank Video

Some months ago, I posted a link on this site to download the army spoof version of "Is this the way to Amarrillo?" video, and it has proved to be very popular with over 80 visitors a week downloading it. I did not know, at the time, that there was also another version available, this one features "Thomas and Friends", nicely put together, althogh the quality isn't brilliant, and the kids just love it.
Download "Thomas the Tank" version of "Is this the way to Amarrillo?"
Right click and "save target as" to download (17 Mb file .wmv)



Theft from Phab Club

I was less than impressed to read in the newspaper that heartless thieves had broken into the Phab (Physically Handicapped and Able-Bodied) Club in Grange Road, Jarrow. I tend only to post about event's in and about my hometown, or my football team, but cannot allow this sickening event to pass by. More than 800 youngsters use this facility and much is done to entertain, challenge, and educate them. Amongst the items stolen were a laptop computer, a camcorder, and four digital cameras. The cameras contained memory cards full of images, as did the laptop, these images constitute the memory of the club for many of these youngsters, who have difficulty in recalling there activities without reminders.

Unfortunately we read too often of break-ins at this type of establishment (and educational premises) where these type of items are targetted and stolen, perhaps the mind should be tuned into the possibility, and all reasonable security precautions ought to be taken. I would suggest that it might be a good policy for laptop users to take the machine home with them. This incident also reminds us of the need to back up data, not once, but at least twice! To prevent the loss of backed up data cd's it is worth keeping a separate back up in a second address, then if there is a fire, for instance, the second back ups ought to be safe.

As for those who carried out this despicable and mean crime, I hope they befall some severe accident that leaves them handicapped for the rest of their natural!!

(I can be quite mean when I set my mind to it)

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Sunderland v Man City

Sunderland 1 - 2 Manchester City

Another encouraging display, another discouraging result, the 33,000 odd fans were treated to some good attacking football marred by some poor finishing touches, with loan signing Anthony le Tallec ("Metallic") getting on the wrong side of the home fans. He ought to have had at least three goals!
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Mick McCarthy in his post match email bemoaned the lack of finishing finesse whilst City's manager Stuart Pearce acknowledged that his team were outplayed for 90 minutes but was prepared to accept the result.
In other news Christian Bassila, the giant defensive midfielder, signed a two year contract after the "will he won't he saga" involving French side Auxerre.
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I was unable to be at the match, because of medical concerns, but was able to see the second half using broadband internet streaming t.v. The match was broadcast by ESPN with full English commentary, and I used Coolstreaming, a p2p programme that improves in clarity as more seeders join in. Coolstreaming and PPLive are becoming hot favourites for watching live sports, you can download the programmes from this site, and get to grips with upcoming matches, as well as finding links to other streaming t.v. services.If you are ever looking for a link for an audio commentary of your favourite match, try this site.

The next match away at Wigan Athletic on Saturday now becomes even more important as the search for points continues, despite much better performances, confidence will only grow with a win under our belt!

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Tuesday, August 23, 2005


Sunderland AFC v Manchester City

You would normally expect to find me at a key midweek match such as this, but current medical concerns dictate otherwise. It is key match for the lads after losing the opening two games of the season heavily at home to Charlton Athletic and 1-0 away at Liverpool).
The season opener served as a quick lesson in the rigours and pace of the Premiership, with the lads generally outpaced in all departments, there was a lack of cohesion, specifically in the back four where Breen and Caldwell struggled and Arca was many a time out of position down the left flank.
After that defeat there was a marked improvement at Liverpool and the 4-5-1 served very well in the first half and the opening period of the second half. Passing was much better when we kept the ball on the ground, and the change at half back worked well with the introduction of Allan Stubbs. A forced change at right back after Steven Wright's training ground injury saw "Nylon" Nosworthy acquit himself well, he never looked overawed and was comfortable throughout. Andy Welsh on the wide left of midfield has had two good games in my opinion, and deserves to make the spot his own, what he didn't deserve was the silly red card after colliding, quite accidentally with Luis Garcia. Luckily the card has been rescinded.
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I still worry about our strikers, who so far appear to worry nobody, Elliott made a good showing when he came on in the second half against liverpool, but I'm afraid that what I saw of our centre forward against Charlton Athletic might earn him the nickname "Tore Andre Stead".
Whitehead and Robinson looked generally o.k., if a little overworked, and the other surprise dcent performance came from liam Lawrence.
So, a good result tonight would lift us away from the foot of the table, confidence ought to better after the performance on Saturday and I am genuinely hopeful of a win.

Keeping the faith!

(Now, do I listen to BBC Radio Newcastle or Magic 1152? Yes, please note Crabtree and Rowell are back!)


Loss of phone

Where did it go?

My mobile phone that is - I have made a number of visits to South Tyneside District Hospital and my GP in the last few days, and I am in the habit of switching it off when in their premises. Yesterday morning at the hospital I remember checking a few text messages before returning to the newspaper to complete a sudoku puzzle (this Japanese craze seems to have got it's claws into me) which requires a certain level of concentration.
It was only after my appointment and return to the Corner Shop that I noticed that my phone was missing. A phone call to the hospital did not turn it up. Did someone turn it up? Would they check through the address book and find "my number" or not? Would they like the home made SAFC wallpaper? Did I leave it on a bus?
Who knows, but I feel dreadfully lost without it, particularly as I'm waiting for a call from Sweasey!
Somewhere in the house I have an old Nokia which might come into service, just need to get a sim card and new number I suppose.


Port of Tyne

Port of Tyne

I am indebted to Joe Arnold, formerly a local government officer, who has kindly informed me that The Port of Tyne does in fact make sizeable contributions for local government services, as does Newcastle Airport. There is a mechanism whereby an average "tithe" (relative to the UBR of the individual councils) is calculated and collected into central funds. It is then redistributed to the individual councils served by the ports and airports involved.
I was rather hoping to uncover an unknown facet of an old Act of Parliament, which would have made interesting reading, instead I am left with egg on my face. I do hope that all parties involved will accept my sincere apologies if they viewed my comments as suggesting that nothing at all was paid to South Tyneside Council. Additionally, in case anyone was wondering if I was going to suggest privatising the Port of Tyne, I see no reason to change it's current trust status.
I have been known to be wrong before in this blog and am only too happy to apoligise for my mistakes


Monday, August 22, 2005

Port of Tyne

Port of Tyne Authority

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My little quiz of the other day stirred up a fair bit of interest on the message board, with very few people being aware of the size and scale of the Port of Tyne's operations. It was originally constituted under the 1850 River Tyne Improvement Act, one of those pieces of legislation known as a "local act", the Tyne Improvement Commission was the forerunner of the present Port of Tyne Authority which operates as a "trust" port, having been saved from privatisation at the last minute in 1997. There are about 90 trust ports left in the U.K., most of which are fairly small, but the Port of Tyne is one of the largest.
The current Chairman is Sir Ian Wrigglesworth, the former Labour and Social Democrat MP.

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Undoubtedly there are very good reasons for the arrangements they have with local councils and the Valuation Office, and I am anxious to educate myself about them, I am awaiting further details from their Finance Director who will furnish me with a full breakdown of these historical arrangements next week. At least their local competitors (in a variety of fields including, warehousing, storage, lofistics, transport, and hauliage etc) will then be able to have a better understanding of the Port's charging policies.


Sunday, August 21, 2005

Northumbrian Water

Northumbrian Water

It is now six days since I sent an email to Northumbrian Water asking a few simple questions about the regular flooding at Tyne Dock and Ullswater Gardens and their plans for dealing with it.

Six Days, and no response.
Six Days, the Israeli's fought and won a war in this time!
Six Days, God built the world in this time!

Come on Northumbrian Water, is this indicative of your interest in South Shields and our problems?


Saturday, August 20, 2005

Port of Tyne

Unfair Competition

We have a problem with competition in South Shields, a problem shared by a few other towns throughout the U.K.

Can anyone name me the biggest business in South Shields, which uses all of the Council services (i.e. rubbish collection, road maintenace, economic development, planning, building control etc.) but yet -on a long term basis - contributes absolutely nothing to the Borough's General Rate Fund, pays NO unified business rates, and manages to undercut the prices of it's competitors!
This is a multi-million pound business, employing many people, with huge assets and properties, and enjoys the benefits of a low cost base through the protection of an Act of Parliament.
South Tyneside Council is suffering a massive overspend in it's finances, and this particular business (if it paid rates) would wipe out the deficit at a stroke!
This business builds it's properties using (in some cases) grant aid from our government, the EEC, and local councils,and it does dip into it's own reserves to finance expansion!

Do you know who this is?

This business operates as a trust and is not accountable to any shareholders, it is one of a handfull within the U.K.

If you knew all of the facts, would you agree that this is a case of very unfair competition with it's peers? Would you not agree that these businesses should operate on the same level playing field as other private enterprises, and contribute to their local economies in a full and honest manner by paying for the services that they receive from the local Councils?

If you were the owner of a small company operating similar services as this GIANT would you not feel aggrieved that you had to pay rates and/or rents/mortgage, whilst this LEVIATHON did not?

If you don't know who it is, I will reveal the answer in the next few days.

Please note Curly's opinions and comments on this matter are very wrong, I have since been given information which substantially alters my opinions, and this post should be regarded as redundant - please see my apology above!!


Friday, August 19, 2005

Port of Tyne

Redhead's Landing and the Port of Tyne

I must record my thanks to Mr. Brian Darling, the Estates Manager of the Port of Tyne Authority, who telephoned me within three minutes of receiving my email yesterday. Such an amazing speed of reponse!
He confirmed that Redhead's Landing was not owned by the Port, and that he has no record of it ever being owned by them; however, he also stated that he always thought that it was a Public Right of Way.


South Shields Sanddancers :: View topic - a big thumbs down to shields council & the customs house

South Shields Sanddancers :: View topic - a big thumbs down to shields council & the customs house

Came across this topic on the South Shields Sanddancers Message Board, seems silly that South Shields Photographic Society should have to hold their exhibitions outside of the town, they are one of the oldest societies that we have!
Councillors - surely someone could contact the Photographic Society and offer to host future exhibitions in the reception rooms of the Town Hall, think of all the extra visitors!


the Mail online | Mail - news, sport, showbiz, health and more | Rebellion grows over 'too easy' A-level exams

Exams are becoming too easy!

It seems that, according to some reports, A levels will become exams that are impossible to fail in ten years time. Todays statistics show another increase in the percentage of pupils achieving a pass rate, for the 23rd. year in a row, and yet the government and local councils still expect us to believe that the exams are not being dumbed down!

Chris Woodhead, the former Inspector of Schools argues that the exams are indeed getting easier to pass, and that harder subjects are being rejected in favour of softer or easier subjects.
We are in danger of defrauding our pupils over their conceptions about their own levels of knowledge, and by allowing a system that ensures ever higher pass rates, we will make it even harder for prospective employers or universities to differentiate between the "so called" brightest pupils. If everyone passes, how on earth is one to make a choice when trying to fill junior vacancies.
I was asked to congratulate a part time member of staff who achieved three A grades in his results today, but I was only able to tell him that I was not too impressed considering the sharp rise in "A" passes, and the fact that an "E" grade is now also considered a pass. I said that if he'd taken the same exams as I did in 1975, he would have been lucky to achieve three "C" grades! I'm sure he took it in good humour, but others did not, and were quite disgusted at my suggestion; however, I know that the lad's spelling is quite attrocious, and it is beyond me how his exam papers, let alone his course work, got past the examiners.
When one considers the debate that has raged over the last ten years, or so, about the lack of teachers, or the lack of teaching quality, it is almost impossible not to be sceptical about the claims that exam results must be expected to rise after the government's investment in education!
Once again, we see in South Tyneside, people like Cllr. Jimmy Foreman putting a glossy "spin" on the results, what will we do Jim with all of the graduates in three years time? Get them a part-time job in a shop?


Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Cleadon Park

Cleadon Park or Cleadon Vale

This new development at Cleadon Park, involving the demolition of part of Ashgrove Avenue is being built by Bellway Homes in partnership with Enterprise 5, a charitable housing organisation. The intention is to build affordable housing, some of which will be on a buy/rent basis, as well as to regenerate this rather economically depressed area. It ought to be an exciting period when those displaced can choose their new home.

However, I am already hearing concerns from former residents, particularly those who are working in lower paid jobs (aren't we all). It seems that the rent for a single persons home in the new development will be around 75 pounds per week (exclusive of water rates), for someone on a low wage this is a heavy slice of the weekly income. The great fear is that the majority of these type of properties may be occupied by the non waged, the rent being paid by the DHSS. If this proves to be the case, then one will fear for the condition of these properties in a few years time, as a few of those who contribute nothing tend to show little pride in the upkeep and visual decoration of the area, which then leads to a gradual deterioration in the whole scheme.
I sincerely hope that this proves not to be the case.
Please note, I am not making an attack upon the unwaged, or the people of Ashgrove Avenue, after all, I married a girl from there, but I'm sure you get my point!


Horsley Hill phone mast

No mast to be hoisted at Horsley Hill

Cllr. Iain Malcolm and his fellow ward Councillor Arthur Meeks are pictured in today's Gazette looking visibly satisfied that an application to site a new mobile phone services mast at the TA Centre in Northfield Gardens has been rejected by Council officials.

This is a good decision for the people of Horsley Hill ward and also for the town in general. Masts are proliferating with almost gay abandon, and despoiling some of the oldest buildings in the town (just take a peek at the top of the old Regent cinema in Dean Road, or the West Park Hotel in Stanhope Road for example.)

Yet, despite very little complaint from mobile phone users about poor service, reception, or coverage in South Shields, the network operators seem intent on renting even more space for more antennae. They say this is to provide the "extra" services available with 3G (who really needs to see an instant view of Rooney's latest goal "right now", we can all reasonably wait until we are in front of the nearest t.v.)

The effects of radiation from these masts is not yet proven, and I guess that as more and more are erected, the emissions from each one will be fewer milliwatts than some of the earlier versions. However, most of these masts are visually destructive to the urban skyline, and I for one am in agreement that a limit needs to marked out now to prevent further ariel growth. If a new antenna is needed to provide new services for the future, I would rather see it replace a current one, instead of adding to those we already see.
Cllr. Malcolm and his brother Cllr. Ed Malcolm are very much in tune with mobile devices and 3G services, both being prolific users of their Blackberry, often replying to emails from Curly's Corner Shop whilst on the move - no time wasting here! So we shouldn't turn our noses up at their advice in these matters.


Monday, August 15, 2005

Northumbrian Water

Northumbrian Water

I have decided that the time is right to tackle the ongoing problems associated with heavy rains and high tides which are always a contributing factor in the flooding that occurs at Tyne Dock and Ullswater Gardens on a regular basis. We can normally expect a period towards the end of summer and beginning of August each year when we will be dluged with heavy storms, so the unfortunate people in these areas will know what to expect.

I find it almost incomprehensible that Northumbrian Water continues to drag it's feet on this matter, they are clearly responsible for our drainage, and, as far as I am aware, the system of drains that serves the area is outdated and far too small. I have sent the following mail to the company and will report as soon as I have a response from them;

In recent years there have been a number of incidents of heavy flooding in the Tyne Dock and Ullswater Gardens areas of South Shields. These have primarily been at times of high tides during heavy rain storms, when the local drainage systems have been unable to cope with the demands placed upon them.
This is not a new phenomenem, you will have documented many such floods over the past twenty years or more. The Tyne Dock public house, more commonly known as "Kennedy's" has sufferred inordinately over the years with a number of owners/licencees having to face heavy costs for cleaning up and reinstating equipment and fittings, along with residents in Armstrong Terrace, South Shields.I covered one of these events in my weblog, "Curly's Daily Comment" in June of this year, http://south-shields.blogspot.com/2005_06_01_south-shields_archive.html
I would be grateful if you could read this article to reappraise yourselves of the situation.

It has been reported that Northumbrian Water has an ongoing project to clean out silt in a 1.5 km stretch of drain that serves this area in an attempt to alleviate these problems. Can you confirm this?
Can you confirm the diametre of the drain that serves this area, it has been reported to me that it is only 4 inches?
Can you also confirm that the same network of drains also serves the area running from Harton Nook, South Shields (passing Ullswater Gardens) on it's way towards Tyne Dock?
Can I ask when work can be expected to begin on clearing the silt from this network?
Is it possible that Northumbrian Water may consider large scale investment to replace the drainage with a much larger system capable of coping with the demands placed upon it during heavier rainstorms, so that this flooding is less likely to occur?
I have decided to take up this matter now before we face the normal run of heavy storms that we generally expect towards the end of summer and beginning of autumn, and will be featuring it in my blog.
You may be interested to note that the Curly's Corner Shop group of websites has attracted over 380,000 hits in the past twelve months and that my comments are widely read, particularly by our local Councillors and Members of Parliament, I would be most grateful for a prompt response outlining your proposals for measures to end the dreadful flooding that regularly occurs in these areas.


Sunday, August 14, 2005

B&Q Fun Day

D.I.Y. Fun for Charity!

I nipped down to B&Q this morning in Station Road only to discover that the manager and staff had all gone crazy! It seemed that it was all done for a good cause, they were holding a Charity Fun Day to raise money for a charity called Headway. Headway exists to increase the knowledge, funding, and caring for people who suffer serious brain injuries through accident or illness.
This looks like a summer of fun in South Shields, so it was good to see the staff at B&Q all dressed up in fancy dress costumes and rocking away to the Sun FM Radio Road Show. They had also arranged some fairground rides for the kids and some excellent tombola stalls. I guess if everything hasn't been won today, you could always pop down tomorrow and try and win a prize, and at the same time help a worthwhile charity.
Here's a picture of manager Peter Cavanagh (Darth Vader) and some of his staff, the second picture features their delivery contractor who is helping out by sitting in a bath full of beans all day.
Click on the thumbnails to enlarge.


Friday, August 12, 2005

News - Sunderland Today: News, Sport, Jobs, Property, Cars, Entertainments & More

News - Sunderland Today: All ready for the kick off.

The Stadium of Light will play host to Charlton Athletic in the season opener tomorrow afternoon, after a hectic summer for the groundstaff who have laid a brand new pitch fit for the Premiership, and made other minor improvements to the ground. Mick McCarthy has brought in ten new faces for a combined cost of less than one Tore Andre Slow! I wish them well and can't wait to take my place in the North-West Upper corner. I'm expecting a crowd close to 40,000, not a sell out, although the club is doing it's best to drag the supporters in (there will be cash turnstyles for tomorrow's game.)

Lucky Matthew Coombs, a 12 year old from South Shields was first in the queue to buy the new all black away kit, and was fortunate enough to meet with Mick McCarthy, Matthew had waited at the stadium since Wednesday to buy his new shirt!


Thursday, August 11, 2005

News - SouthTyneside Today: News, Sport, Jobs, Property, Cars, Entertainments & More

News - SouthTyneside Today: Stop the "boy racers"

An important little piece in the Shields Gazette's website tonight emphasising the incessant problems being caused by the "boy racers" who congregate in the large car park opposite the Littlehaven Hotel. We have seen intents of action before from the police in Station Road, but the results appear to have been indifferent, to say the least!
It must be a thorn in the side for those people living in Harbour View and guests staying in the Littlehaven Hotel, but it is not just these few who are affected. Most of these boy racers enjoy nothing more than racing their tuned cars, (exhausts growling at maximum decibel level, with the stereo and "boom box" amplified to an even greater level,) from the roundabout at Seaburn and all the way along the coast road to South Shields. From here, most will turn around and repeat the journey at least twice, before gathering to swap notes in the car park.

Few of them will remember that the coast road used to have a 60 m.p.h. speed limit, and few will care that it has recently been reduced to 40 m.p.h. Their noise and anti-social behaviour are affecting thousands of people along this route, and they are a potential risk and danger to pedestrians.

Similar problems were experienced in Bishop Auckland last year, and Durham Constabulary decided to impart a rapid no nonsense "zero tolerance" approach, which resulted in a number of court appearances. Bishop Auckland does not rank as high as South Shields in the tourism stakes, and therefore had a little less to lose, whereas we are building a nice little reputation here and attracting a lot of spending visitors, who's custom we can ill afford to lose.
To make matters just a little worse the boy racers in town have even launched their own website to encourage others to join in!
I only hope it isn't too long before some of these are parked up outside the Magistrate's Court!


Tuesday, August 09, 2005


How to encourage people to use public transport?

I must be up front and admit that I have not made a lot of use of public transport over the past few years. I use a small family car (under 1500 cc's engine capacity) and it has very low carbon emissions, all of the things that the Government would wish, and therefore I pay a lower rate of road tax for it, and the insurance premiums are comfortable too. However, I will never, never, drive my car with any alcohol inside of me, even as little as one pint of ale.

On Saturday evening I went to a wedding reception at the Whiteleas Social Club, normally I only visit pubs or clubs within walking distance of home, but this was 1.4 miles away, so I decided to take a bus. I didn't have a clue which bus to get, so walked to the West Park and waited for the first bus to come along. It happened to be a lucky choice as it went up Stanhope Road and along Boldon Lane and Whiteleas Way to drop me off opposite Peter Johnson's. The fare was 90p.!! For a measly 1.4 miles!!

Petrol (unleaded) is now about 90p per litre, and my car will drive almost 9 miles for 90p worth of petrol, I was a bit shocked. O.K., so subtract all of the other costs of driving a car (insurance, road tax, MOT, servicing etc.) and I still think I could have drove 5 miles for 90p.

I met someone there who was telling me about the new zone system of charging on the Metro, a three zone ride to Newcastle is now 4.00 return for a daysaver before 9.00a.m., for a mere 13 miles. If, as this person must, you work seven shifts in Newcastle, then it will cost you 28.00 to travel to work. As was pointed out to me, it's almost worth taking the risk of not buying a ticket, if you get caught once a week it will cost you only 20.00 for the "standard charge". Where is the encouragement at these rates?

Just to cap it all off, the taxi fare for the short journey home came to five pounds. How on earth do they expect me to change my ways?


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News - SouthTyneside Today: Overspend blame in secret report

The news that another "scrutiny committee" has been formed to investigate yet another major act of mismanagement by Council Officers should come as no surprise, it now seems to be a standard response by elected members when having to "fight a fire". However, these additional committees do not come free of charge as members continue to accrue further allowances for additional attendance. In any other business, managers would have been held acutely responsible long before now and departmental heads would have been changed in favour of personnel more likely to have the drive and determination to deliver within budget! The Board of Directors (in this case, our Councillors, will have demanded nothing less.)
I'm afraid that on a few occasions it has been apparent that elected members have failed to administer their responsibilities in controlling the performance of officers. It needs to be remembered that officers are there to administer the policies and decisions taken by the elected members, as well as to make recommendations and give timely advice to members.
Elected members have duties and responsibilities (for which they are held accountable by the electors) to manage all of the affairs of the Council, on our behalf, and I emphasise that these accountabilities extend to both the opposition and the ruling group. They all have a duty to investigate, question, and challenge officers in all aspects of policy administration. To draw the comparison with a PLC, we, as the shareholders, have very right to elect a new Board of Directors if we feel our money is being poorly managed.

I hope that as this financial fiasco unravels itself, a new hardline approach to fiscal matters is formulated for the next financial year; if Gordon Brown can be hailed as New Labour's "Iron Chancellor", wouldn't it be a good thing if South Tyneside Council adopted similar strict budgetry controls and ensured that we could expect a zero increase in the Community Charge next year? If, as has been stated over the past few weeks, there is a decent level of "reserve" funding, there is a good case for aiming at a zero increase with no loss of services.

Who amongst them is going to be brave enough to suggest such a vote winning platform?


Monday, August 08, 2005

BBC NEWS | England | Lancashire | Council attacks sicknote cultureuman

BBC NEWS | England | Lancashire | Council attacks sicknote culture

Blackburn Council's reaction to sicknote culture has saved them over 1.3 million pounds in the last year. Here is a good example of forward thinking human resource management. It gives faster health care to it's employees, and cuts out the role of the GP. Average sickness in the ranks of Blackburn's employees is now the lowest in the North-West.
Such a scheme, all be it slightly different to arrangements in South Tyneside could still realise substantial savings, money which is badly needed now to make up for the massive 4.1 million pound overspend.


Friday, August 05, 2005


My Music

It's an excerpt from Rodriguez' Concerto for guitar, if it ain't to your liking, just hit the "esc" button and it will switch off.


Redhead's Landing

Redhead's Landing, gate still locked!

The wheels of the machine go round and round.................in a very slow grinding fashion.

The Shields Gazette carries the story tonight describing in detail why the Council has decided to lock and secure Redhead's Landing in the interests of public safety. Most of the text in the report is taken verbatim from the series of emails between Neil Carter, Council Officers, Councillors, myself, and Scott Duffy (David Miliband's aide in Parliament). It's a shame that Angela Taggart, the Gazette reporter, had not seen my reply to Neil Carter (it's in a previous post Angela) where I question how flytippers could possibly be held responsible for the state of the landing, when it is almost permanently locked. That would have added a little more spice to her story, perhaps someone would like to work out how the flytippers managed to get a boat over the fence?
Indeed, it would be challenging to find out if there has been a tide high enough to deposit a boat so near to the pedestrian gate, I can't remember any small tsunamis on Tyneside in recent years, there were no reports of deaths or destruction down there, however, the lads at Tyne Slipway did tell me a couple of weeks ago that they had found the bodies of a fox and a sheep on the landing, and that is why it was locked.
Now where on earth, locally, did a sheep and a fox find access to the River Tyne? Sometimes you just don't have to question or probe too deeply to understand that someone is trying to pull the wool over your eyes.

I wonder how Council Officers are getting on with the job of finding the owners of the site? They were first authorised to do this about ten years ago. If they have found the owners, following the decision to lock the pedestrian access gate on health and safety grounds, I wonder if a Dangerous Conditions Notice is going to be issued?

I wonder, also, if anyone has set about discovering why planners originally insisted that this pedestrian gate be kept open at all times, and why, later, this Council found good enough reason to take enforcing action to ensure that this planning condition was adhered to? Why did they find it so important then, but not so "legitimate" now?

I have a feeling that if someone delves deep enough they will find out who the owners are, because on 8th. April 1999 Chris Bradley, the former head of the Legal Services Dept. wrote to a resident using these words;

"I would confirm that it was a condition of a planning permission issued by the Tyne & Wear Development Corporation on 15th January 1991 that the pedestrian gate at this site should remain unlocked at all times. The Council’s Director of Development Services will be writing to the new occupiers of this site in the near future regarding the possible breach of planning control."

So the Council ought to have a record of this correspondence from the Director of Development Services, they just need to find it.

At the end of the day, there are hundreds of local residents (and a few Council Officers) who recognise that the public has always had access to the river at Redhead's Landing, and that's how it should remain, it was recognised in the 80's and 90's when planning permission was granted for the erection of the gates, and it ought to be recognised now.

I hope this post gives people something to chew over.


Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Boris Johnson MP: Enlarging on the response to the London bombs

Boris Johnson MP: Enlarging on the response to the London bombs

It is only in rare moments that this blog migrates beyond the boundaries of South Shields or Sunderland Football Club, but I have long been a fan of Boris Johnson's comments, indeed from the period when he was writing for the Daily Telegraph before his election to the House of Commons.
His style is outspoken and witty at times, with a penchant for "shooting from the lip", but in this article from his blog he raises some fairly serious questions about being British and Islamic in our multi-cultural society. Sufficient serious questions to garner a rich harvest of comments, proving that his article is deeply thought provoking and engaging people in a healthy debate.
I have stayed clear of the atrocities committed in London, not wishing to become embroiled in the maelstrom of invective that was sure to follow, but, rather, like some of my readers, I have tried to contemplated why any young men would wish to destroy the early promise of their own lives, destroy the richness of their own family existence, and destroy the lives of so many other innocent souls at the same time.
Is Islam the highly factious religion that Boris suggests, or are Islamic young men and women so impressionable and malleable to the evil intents of murdering terrorists, who would never take the risk of carrying a suicide bomb themselves? Please note, I have never read of a so called "leader" in Al-Qaeda, or Hammas, or other such groupings to deliberately blow themselves to pieces.
I really ought to do a little more to understand Islam and read up on some Koranic texts, my understanding is simply too vague, your thoughts and comments are most welcome.


Laygate Parking

Parking priorities in Laygate - remember this?

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

Well the good news is that the Council now has the correct signage waiting in a depot, and arrangements are now being made to have the yellow lining completed. Once this is done and the signs are in place, the traffic wardens will then be able to properly enforce the parking restrictions, and it will become far easier and safer to navigate your vehicle, or cross the road on foot at this danger spot in Laygate (just outside of Dickson's pork shop and Al's Sandwhich Bar.)
With a bit of luck this could be in place by the end of August........right guys?


Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Sunderland team photo

Strangers in Sunderland's pre-season sitting!

Sunderland AFC have released the pre-season team photo and doesn't it look so strange, faces that most of us would not recognise and names that would probably have been meaningless 12 months ago, indeed some still are. Missing from the photo are Alan Stubbs, the former Celtic and ex-Everton Captain who joined us today, and Liverpool's Anthony Letallec who joins on a season long loan.
Who is Billy Dennehy, or Ben Christensen, or Ian Graham or Sean Taylor? I hope these are the talent of the future having been nurtured in the reserves and youth teams. The season is barely two weeks from commencing and McCarthy's Black Cats intend to add further personnel to their ranks before kick off day, I wish them well, and I'm pretty sure that they will survive the first season back in the Premiership.
Here's a picture of Dean Whitehead.


Waterloo Square

Retailer revealed as River Island

After the rumours and speculation, which incidentally have turned out wrong, we have had an announcement today that the fourth and final retailer to take their place in the new Waterloo Square shopping centre will be River Island. They will take a 40,000 sq. ft. unit alongside Debenhams, Next, and British Home Stores.

Cllr. John Anglin, Chairman of the Town Centre Core Group told Curly's Corner Shop,
"The fourth major retailer in the development is River Island who have shown their faith in Council strategy by increasing their retail area

The building work is progressing very nicely as this photograph taken today shows (click on the thumbnail to enlarge)

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

The scheme should be completed in time for Christmas shopping and should go some way towards stemming the drain of shoppers to our rivals in Sunderland, Newcastle, and Gateshead.

Cllr. Anglin added,
"You will have noted that Debenhams are actively looking to recruit new staff with a view of trading successfully by Christmas."

River Island already operate from premises in King Street and it is unclear what will happen to that building, which requires an upgrade, but perhaps will become available for another retailer.

We also have to face the problem of how to deal with the old multi-story car park in Mile End Road, it has been suggested that it be demolished and redeveloped as office accomodation. If this is to be it's future, then I would ask that consideration be given to including retail units on the ground floor of the new development, with a view to low cost rents/leaseholds to encourage local "specialist" retailers to thrive alongside the national chains. We must work towards preventing the "cloning" of our town centre as has happened in countless other High Streets the length and breadth of this island. We need to look at towns like Hexham, Morpeth, Tynemouth, Thirsk, Penrith, and evaluate how they have managed to retain such a great mix of local and national traders within the same streets.


Monday, August 01, 2005

Redhead's Landing

Redhead's Landing - the arguement continues

I have received an email from Neil Carter, a solicitor in the Council's Legal Services Department, which once again attempts to brush off the issue of public access to Redhead's Landing. In reply I have raised some pertinent points. Here is the text of my reply, which I hope will provoke some discussion amongst elected members, who, if they are not too carefull, will allow officers to take decisions for them, instead of advising and offering recommendations. At the end of the day it ought to be our elected Councillors taking decisions!


thank you for the guidance and advice contained within your email, however,
I am concerned and worried by one or two key points.

a). Who has made the decision that " this is not now something which the
Council as Local Planning Authority could legitimately enforce", officers or
elected members? How is it not legitimate to enforce planning conditions
now, yet it was legitimate only ten years ago? How would a decision such as
this undermine the value of previous resolutions passed by the Town
Development Committee, and what sort of precedent does it provide for the

The condition of the landing is no different now than it was in 1995, the
last time the Council took enforcement action, against the same people who
continuously lock the pedestrian access gate on health and safety grounds.

b). Who would be held liable for any accidents that occur at the Landing, if
it were available for public access, the Council or the land owner? Who
should be held responsible (financially) for any clean up, and the
installing of life saving equipment, the Council or the land owner? ( I note
that other slippery surface areas remained open for public access for the
Tall Ships event, i.e. the rocks surrounding the south pier at Littlehaven
Beach, and the Groyne Pier, and Trow Rocks, all areas where the public could
easily injure themselves and consider approaching a solicitor for guidance.)

c.) When the original planning consent, and conditions attached to the
erection of the gates, was given, why was so much importance attached to the
"maintenance of a gate for pedestrian access that should remain unlocked at
all times"? We must assume that there were very good reasons for coming to
this decision.

d.) " In light of the information provided by Tyne Slipway, Council Officers
carried out an inspection of the site on 25 July and have formed the view
that it is wholly unsuitable in its present condition for public access.
This is due to the large amount of waste material which has been deposited
on the landing by fly tippers and also due to the proliferation of algae and
the lack of life saving equipment on site."

How did our officers come to the conclusion that fly tippers had been
responsible for the depositing of the waste material, when the gates are
almost permanently locked from the inside?
On the few occasions when I have managed to gain access to the landing, I
have always found that the lowest part, close to the river, is always clear
of rubbish, thus allowing Tyne Slipway good use of the waters edge, however
the vast majority of the waste material is deposited high up the landing,
beyond the point where it could have been deposited by the tides, and I
suggest that it has been deliberately carried there as an effective barrier
to discourage any use of the landing by anyone other than Tyne Slipway
Engineering Ltd.

e.) In hypothetical terms, if Tyne Slipway Engineering Ltd. were to prove
that they had exclusively used Redheads Landing over the course of the last
ten years or so, the landowners remain unknown and have not objected, would
this company be able to claim title to the land under the conditions of the
2002 Land Registration Act?

As you can see, although the Council is not the landowner, it is not an
adopted highway, or recognised as a Public Right of Way, it is not so easy
for the Council as Planning Authority to so easily wash their hands of the

In the longer term, unless I take the route of making an official
application to have Redhead's Landing added to the Definitive Map of Public
Rights of Way, it would be best, in my view, to continue enforcing the
conditions of the planning conditions and to seek out the owners of the land
with a view to acquiring it for public use.

Were it within the Council's ownership, a dwarf wall could be erected to
separate it from Tyne Slipway's land, and to provide a barrier at the waters
edge, suitable life saving equipment could be provided, along with seating,
and the landing could be maintained to a safe standard meeting the desires
and aspirations expressed through the decisions and planning consents of
TWDC and our own Town Development Committee.

I trust these points will be carefully considered as members decide what the
future holds for Redheads Landing.



An entertaining weekend

Despite the poor weather, it rained all day Saturday and the sky remained dark and shrouded with mist and fog, we all still managed to be pretty much well entertained. My intentions were to photograph the Sunderland International Airshow on Saturday, and the live music in the Bents Park on Sunday, unfirtunately the poor weather forced a change in plans.
There was no flying at all on Saturday and the static displays and ground activity at Seaburn weren't exactly "earth moving" so we spent a day out doing a big shop at Asda in Boldon, it's amazing how large that place has become, yet because of it's new double decker parking arrangements it is still easy to get in and get around. I could not believe the range of goods the new store holds, apart from the normal food lines they have a fantastic range of non-food, everything from televisions to tins of paint.
So the real decision making had to be about Sunday's activities, my mother isn't very well and hasn't been out of the house too much in the last week (other than to attend hospital appointments) so I allowed her to make the decisions for us. Pop Concert or Air Show? I'm not sure if she's a fan of Javine, 911, the Sunset Strippers or the Honeyz so the Air Show won hands down, and, after the advice I had given in Curly's Corner Shop Message Board, we found the National Trust Car Park at Whitburn Point to be fully occupied, but we managed to squeeze in. We took the children, folding chairs and a picnic and enjoyed a good show, the stars of which were The Red Arrows.
The Konica Minolta Dimage Z3 got through a lot of work and it's 410mm lens caught some great action, here are a couple of tasters!
Click the thumbnails to enlarge.

There are further pictures available to view in Curly's Corner Shop, and Curly's Photoshop.
The Shields Gazette has opened a small competition for readers pictures of the Tall Ships Race, so perhaps I might submit a couple of entries.


About Me

Born in 1956
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