Sunday, October 30, 2005

Continental market

Council goes continental

Following the limited success of the "Continental Market" held on a Sunday last year, the Council is going ahead with a larger scale experience this week. Last year's events attracted about a dozen stall holders, who struggled to attract sales, mainly because their overheads and travel made the adventure rather expensive.
Shoppers were invited to spend around GBP 3.00 for a French pancake, when the price of a dozen eggs was less than GBP 2.00. Similarly a lady from Belgium found it difficult to sell tea towels printed with scenes from Ostende and Bruges!
Perhaps what turned shoppers away in droves was the sound of Dale Meeks (Simon Meredith in Emmerdale) wailing and hollering as part of his musical adventure "Shake Your Tailfeather".

This year more than 30 stalls from France, Italy, Germany, Holland, Tunisia, Spain, and Persia will line both sides of King Street from the 3rd. to 6th. November. The new Waterloo Square development will also see the opening of Debenhams and BHS on Wednesday, so South Shields ought to offer an interesting shopping experience, particularly on Friday and Saturday when the usual markets will take place in the Market Place. Read more here.

In line with South Tyneside's policy of spinning the publicity to excess I have commisioned a publicity poster for the event, naturally it includes the most photogenic of our representatives, my old pal the onion seller, Cllr. Foreman (why miss another photo-opportunity Jim?)
Click the thumbnail to enlarge

Remember, King Street is amongst the safest roads in the U.K. with no traffic related fatalaties or serious injuries recorded in the past year - it is also pedestrianised!


Friday, October 28, 2005

Safest Roads in Britain

South Tyneside's roads - safest in the country

A survey published by the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy claims that South Tyneside has the lowest recorded number of deaths and injuries caused by road accidents. At 24 people killed/seriously injured per 100,000 of population we are almost seven times safer than Westminster.

Naturally in "Spin City" some nice official has penned suitable words for the Leader of the Council, Paul Waggott - "We have worked very hard to reduce road accidents, injuries, and fatalities and these figures show that our policies have been very effective"

Of course none of us can remember reading of any life saving policy in New Labour's last manifesto!

Cllr. Michael Clare, the Lead Member for Neighbourhood Services added - "The Council takes the issue of road safety very seriously and I am delighted that our roads are officially the safest in Britain"

There are some things that we ought to challenge here, firstly, how does a study by the Audit Commission become labelled as official? Secondly, we need to analyse how many major roads pass right through our town? The answer is none, South Shields is not a place you can drive through or pass through, it sits in a corner with the River Tyne to the north and the North Sea to the east, it's a town that needs to be driven into, before you turn around and drive out of it! Thirdly, if there is a study made of the number of road humps and sleeping policemen per mile of public highway, we might be lucky and come out on top again! It's impossible for motorists to exceed 20 mph in the majority of our streets, generally pedestrians travel faster!
Thirdly, our roads are far less congested than those of the capital or other major conurbations, and because of our poorer economy, we probably have fewer car owners per 100,000 of population as well.

The final thing to challenge is Cllr. Clare's statement, if his "spin doctor" wishes us to believe that the Council takes road safety so seriously, can he tell us why it took almost six months to paint five yards worth of parking bays and erect two parking restriction notices at Laygate?


Redhead's Landing

Redhead's Landing - almost six months later

It was on May 10th. of this year that I first posted my concerns at the perpeptual locking of the pedestrian access gate at Redheads Landing, since then many emails have been sent and received between myself and our "award winning" Council, but as yet there has been no firm action. or indeed any sign of it.

Click picture to enlarge.

The access gate was provided following the inclusion of a planning condition, when consent was first granted for the erection of the gates, following the stopping up of River Street.
Although the Council does not own the land, and it is no longer a Public Highway, there were promises to investigate the current ownership, and at the time of the Tall Ships Race in July, talk of a Council funded clean up operation at the Landing. So far, none of these intentions have come to fruition, certainly no conclusions have been reached. In July a meeting of the Riverside Area Forum decided not to ask for a further report about the matter until after the Leader and Deputy Leader had discussed the issue the following day, now over three months later they have still not called for such a report.
The Council arranged for the permanent closure of the pedestrian access gate in July because of fears over Health and Safety, it is still closed today, and the Legal Services Team still argues that enforcement of the original planning conditions is not deemed appropriate. Despite assurances that the matter would be discussed by the Council Cabinet, I see no records of any discussions having taken place (see minutes of the Cabinet meetings here.)
I repeat my assertions that we had very good reasons for insisting upon the provision of a public access gate when the planning condition was granted, Redhead's Landing is one of only two points of public access to the riverside in South Shields and has enjoyed it's status for over a hundred years. This is important to photographers, anglers, local historians, other river users, and as a point of emergency access to land those found in trouble on the river.
Like many smaller issues, which are of great importance to a relatively small amount of people, this "award winning" Council insists on dragging it's feet, in the hope that the issue will quietly go away. I call upon the Leader and Deputy Leader of the Council to make a statement indicating when the public can expect to regain access to Redhead's Landing, and when- not "if"- the planning conditions will be enforced!


Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Cabinet agrees England smoke ban

Cabinet agrees England smoke ban

I'm rather pleased that Bliar's government has agreed to stick to the policy as written in it's last manifesto, at least those of us fortunate to be members of a private club can still enjoy a fag and a pint!

These moves towards compulsion rather than persuasion really do stick in the craw! I'm not belittling the efforts to improve the nation's health and reduce the burdons placed upon the National Health Service, but it really is time that the government started treating us all as adults instead of "naughty children".

Where is the element of choice going? Surely I am big enough to decide whether or not to stand in the same room as a smoker? Surely I am big enough to decide to use (or stay away from) establishments which would allow (or prohibit) smoking? Surely I am big enough to take this type of decision for myself, instead of someone else taking it for me?

Where will this government (and it's successors) find the missing GBP millions of revenue, if, as a nation, we all give up smoking? Will they reduce the NHS budget, because they won't need to be treating tobacco related illnesses? I have my doubts.


Monday, October 24, 2005

Tyne Dock Flood

Tyne Dock floods again!

It rained in South Shields today, not terribly heavily, but persistent, certainly nothing like the rain that is falling in Florida as a result of Hurricane Wilma. but rain it did. Guess what? There was a flood at Tyne Dock, at Kennedy's Bar to be precise, the very area that Northumbrian Water promised would be improved as a result of removing tonnes of silt from the network of drains and installing new pumps at an installation in Jarrow Road. The people in Armstrong Terrace were much relieved to read Northumbrian Water's announcement a month ago, as was Mr. Fitzmaurice the licensee of the public house. They aren't so happy now! This is the second flood since that prophetic statement and yet, as the photographic evidence shows, things are still not working, water is still not draining (or being pumped) away. Talk about testing the patience!
Work has now started at Brinkburn Recreation Ground, where contractors for Northumbrian Water have started the task of digging a very large hole, which will then house a massive underground tank. This tank will store the excess rainwater that regularly floods Ullswater Gardens, it will then slowly drain away towards the Tyne Dock area, I only hope that as work progresses the spoil does not wash into the drainage system and lie there blocking the pipework at Tyne Dock again. I had asked Northumbrian Water if the stored rainwater at Brinkburn could be recycled and made available to the Allotments Association as a community initiative with environmental bonuses. Unfortunately they told me that such a task would be too difficult - too difficult to run a pipe over a distance of twenty yards??

Further pictures of the flooding at Kennedy's Bar - click to enlarge

It's high time for our Councillors and MP to start asking some very searching and probing questions of our water supplier in order get some positive action that will eradicate this ridiculous flooding at Tyne Dock - over to you guys!


Sunday, October 23, 2005

Cherie Blair's car

The gym, James! Cherie gets chauffeured armoured car

CHERIE BLAIR has become the first prime minister's spouse to be given an official government car and driver for her personal use, including shopping trips and visits to the gym.

Use of the car, a bullet-proof Vauxhall Omega, is estimated to be costing taxpayers more than GBP 50,000 a year. She also has the use of a Ford Galaxy people carrier as more

What next for heaven's sake? A clothing allowance? A hairdressing allowance? Where does it all end for the poor taxpayer?
Yet amazingly Dennis Thatcher used his pensioner's pass and used the bus!

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Derby Game

125th Tyne Wear Derby produces "Great Escape" for the Toon!

After the tension and excitement of the build up during this week, we finally got to grips with the 125th encounter between Sunderland and the "Dark Side". In front of almost 53,000 fans in Sid James Park referee Rob Stiles indicated his intentions early in the game when he yellow carded Dean Whitehead for this challenge on Emre, after two more bookings neither defence seemed willing to chance making a saving tackle, and the game opend up as a result. Twice the Toon went ahead and twice Sunderland countered with amazing strikes from Liam Lawrence and Steve Elliott. There's no denying that Shola Ameobi's goals were tremendously good thundering headers but the quality of Sunderland's character showed as they took the game to Newcastle in the second half.
Once more, our graft, craft, and workrate were depressingly unrewarded, we were without doubt the better team for long periods of the second half. An unfortunate injury to Gary Breen brought the introduction of Alan Stubbs to play alongside Gary Caldwell in the centre of defence, the ex-Newcastle man had a great game and kept Alan Shearer in check, apart from one missed opportunity which allowed the former England captain to curl a shot just wide of Davis' post. It was Shearer's strike partner Ameobi who did the damage with two blistering headers which would have tested any Premiership outfit.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usIn reply, Liam Lawrence took the ball from the left in centre of midfield before unleashing a vicious right footed shot from outside of the area, with one bounce it beat Shay Given, our second from Steve Elliott was sweeter still, taking the ball with his back to goal, there appeared to be nothing on, a shimmy, a twist and turn, and a slamming left footed drive to the top corner of the net silenced the local crowd.
However afree kick outside of our penalty area was taken by the Turk Emre who produced a stunning direct drive which beat Davis into the top left corner of his goal, off one of the posts.
Later in the second half Lawrence ran into the box only to be clearly upended by Charles Nzogbia, a clear penalty which the referee turned his nose up at, later still Elliott forced Given into a diving save to his left, and as Newcastle's anxieties began to show Elliott again broke through, but his quickly taken lob unfairly bounced back off the cross bar.
To add salt to Sunderland's wounds Graeme Souness even had the brass nerve to introduce Lee C666ke into the game, a travesty indeed. So, despite being the poorer team for two thirds of the match Newcastle managed to escape with all three points.

The Manager's reactions

Sunderland boss Mick McCarthy:

"My lads were fantastic - but we were beaten and I am absolutely sick about it. I think we did enough in the game to have got something out of it.

"Stephen Elliott was excellent and only the width of the crossbar cost us.

"I've got a sense of pride for our performance. We were supposed to have come into the eye of a storm here and we've quietened that storm for long periods of the game.

"I didn't think we'd get the penalty when Liam was brought down - there was not much chance of that here.

"Things happen in the game, such is life. The width of a crossbar is the difference between the sides: the difference between a really great performance and a great result or me sat here peeved off.

"I think we could have done better than to concede from corner kicks but my players are giving me, the club and the supporters value for money."

Newcastle boss Graeme Souness:

"The first half belonged to us - we totally dominated and scored two good goals but Sunderland had two shots and scored two spectacular goals.

"We have huffed and puffed recently but we have not had our special players on the pitch. We have not been scoring.

"But today we had players on the pitch who can make things happen."


Thursday, October 20, 2005

Tory leadership

David or David, to face a Goliath

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Leadership contenders David Cameron and David Davis are through to a run-off vote of the Conservative Party's 300,000 members after a ballot of MPs.
Mr Cameron topped the poll, taking 90 of a possible 198 votes, while Mr Davis was second on 57. Rival Liam Fox was eliminated after gaining 51 votes.
Mr Cameron, 39, and Mr Davis, 56, will now enter a six week head-to-head campaign to woo the party grassroots.
The result of the vote of Conservative members is expected on 6 December.

The bookies have already made Mr Cameron the runaway favourite and Mr Davis undoubtedly faces an uphill struggle. Read more.
The eventual winner is likely to face "Goliath" Gordon Brown in the next general election (unless Tony Bliar reneges on his deal with his Chancellor once again)

In South Shields, leading party members were once again sending out mixed messages, with some obviously dismayed by the loss of their favourite Ken Clarke. Image Hosted by ImageShack.usThe current bookies favourite, David Cameron appears, at the moment, not to be the overwhelming frontrunner here.
Other "mixed messages" from the South Shields Tories can be found on their website, views such as this:

"Recognize this undiscovered gem which is poised to jump!!
Please read the following Announcement in its Entierty and
Consider the Possibilities"

Surprisingly it has nothing to do with either of the two final candidates, read more here
(Comments appended to first article)

I am no longer going to attempt to persuade them to clean up this junk and spam from their own website, I will desist from sending e-mails to their contact address if they aren't going to be read, if they can't be bothered to look after a simple one page blog, then they don't deserve to be taken seriously!


Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Jimmy Foreman

Foreman Frontrunner in Face Contest?

I don't know if any other local readers of the Shields Gazette have noticed how often the face of Cllr. Jimmy Foreman is portrayed in it's pages? It seems as though he glowers at me on a nightly basis, I'm fairly certain that his face must have been featured more often than our MP David Miliband, and he's in the Cabinet!:)
I seem to see Jimmy's face in my sleep, I'm a little surprised that he isn't featured on giant advertising hoardings, or in bus shelters, or on the back of dominoes or playing cards. The "spinning machine" at the Town Hall is quite obviously doing something to raise his profile, is he about to launch a leadership bid or become a Parliamentary Candidate? Perhaps they ought to be thinking about spraying his face onto the side of Stagecoach buses, just so we won't forget his former profession, or print it on the back of the bus tickets.
I've a feeling that the Maoist anti-cult factions have lost the day, the bus driver is winning, he outclasses our other Councillors in the self-publicity department so I won't attempt to add his features to this blog, besides I know his countenance too well.

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Jimmy is a nice bloke actually, with a sense of humour, no doubt we'll rib each other over a pint at the weekend!


Laygate parking

Laygate's safer roadside - see the difference.

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What a difference a few dabs of paint makes, white lines, proper parking bays, and a clear view of the road ahead. This is the view that the motorist sees when they now turn off the roundabout at Laygate to head towards Commercial Road, it's far safer, and for pedestrians it's a boon, they can see traffic approaching from either direction. No longer are cars able to be parked at right angles to the curb, restricting the views of pedestrians and other motorists, no longer will we have to drive on the wrong side of the road, no longer will we face another vehicle coming towards us on a single lane, no longer will we fear crossing this road on foot.
Here are some further pictures of the completed works - click to enlarge

Can you see now that all of the fuss I have made is over nothing more than two very small but highly important signs, and a few yards of lining on the road? Traffic wardens will now be able to properly enforce the parking restrictions. These very small measures may one day prevent an accident or save a life, yet it has taken 24 weeks of cajoling, pestering, emailing, and nudging from Curly's Corner Shop to have this work completed!
I would like to thank Cllr. Michael Clare for finally biting the bullet and ensuring that the work was expedited, but once again we need to be asking - why on earth did it take so long, and why so many excuses?
It is hardly the best advertisemant for the "award winning" Council that we so regularly hear about!


Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Ken Clarke

Clarke defeated in first round for Tory leadership

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Ex-chancellor Ken Clarke has been knocked out of the race to become the next leader of the Conservative Party.

The self-styled "biggest beast" came fourth in the poll of Tory MPs, gaining 38 of the 198 available votes, well and truly "smoked out".

Commenting on his failure in the ballot, he added: "I think it sends a message that they are looking for a younger leader probably, but I don't think my age was actually remarkably relevant," he said.

Philip Webster, Political Editor of The Times, said the result of today's first ballot in the Tory leadership race was a major boost for the Cameron campaign.

Clarke's leanings towards Europe over the last two decades have probably been decisive in his failure to collect sufficient votes from Tory MPs to keep him in the race for the leadership, and he is now likely to be seen doing a "brown suede shoe shuffle" back to the backbenches.

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Conservative Members of Parliament will now hold another ballot on Thursday when a third candidate will be told "thanks but no thanks"; rather like television's "X Factor" we will wait to see whether "Dr". Fox, "Dull" David Davis, or "Dashing" David Cameron will be sent home. The remaining two candidates will face a vote from party members in the country before a winner is declared in early December.

Meanwhile in South Shields the local Conservative Association have been remarkably slow to respond to hints from Curly's Corner Shop to clean up their website, despite me leaving comments on their Blogger Blog, and making telephone calls to local officers, the person responsible for updating their page has still not reacted, and it is still full of comments from "spammers" promoting their own sites and services.


Monday, October 17, 2005

Black History Month

Black History Month

Following on from my post of yesterday, in which I pointed out the necessity of cultures moving towards each other to help integration, can I draw your attention to an important exhibition taking place in South Shields Museum and Art Gallery.

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"Sikhism -Our Story" is on display until 30th October and aims to dispel many of the myths surrounding the cult, the exhibition contains many items loaned by members of the Sikh community in South Shields including Sunderland football shirts belonging to a group who I regularly meet at the Stadium of Light and South Shields Snooker Centre.
South Shields has a strong tradition of cultural diversity and racial integration with it's roots going back many years to the time of the first Somalian and Yemeni seamen who decided to settle here. Apart from an unsavoury incident in 1930 when a number were injured in a riot in the Mill Dam, we have had a long period of racial harmony and integration which must be envied by many towns, I wish the author of the e-mail which I featured yesterday had lived here, and could have illustrated how a community can thrive by acceptance of each others values and working together as a community.


Sunday, October 16, 2005

Strange Email

Political Correctness

We tend to receive all sorts of rubbish in our e-mail inboxes, we set our filters to detect and delete the "spam" and the "phishers" but now and then amongst the "forwards" something arrives that strikes a chord!
I make no bones about my right of centre viewpoints, some of which may be described as radical, but I am no xenophoebic neo-nazi cyber warrior by any means. Many of my views are shared by millions of people in this country who have rejected the strident reforms of the more extreme leftists over the years.
I received the following e-mail today with the invitation to forward it to as many people as possible; the views expressed in the e-mail are those of the author and they have already been published nationally in a number of forms. These views are probably held by a large proportion of the socalled "silent majority", but it takes the courage of a strong minded individual to put pen to paper.
I had no problems in analysing the simple messages that it sends out - immigration requires integration, multicuturalism requires acceptance and toleration from the multitudes (it's a two way street), acceptance of the newcomers requires an acceptance of the indigenous population (and both must move towards each other to build bridges), without accepting these principles there is no chance that a multicultural society can flourish to it's full potential. We still require immigration to fill skill shortages in our economy, but we must all work to ensure that the fragmentation of our society does not continue at it's present rate.
This is the e-mail that was forwarded to me;

The Right to Leave

United Kingdom - The Right to Leave Our Country - YOU, the immigrants, have the right - the right to leave !

After many cities not wanting to offend other cultures by putting up Xmas lights, and after hearing that the Birmingham City Council changed its opinion and let a Muslim woman have her picture on her driver's license with her face covered!!!!!
This was the final straw in many bureaucratic changes of gross stupidity over the past few years & prompted this editorial, written by a UK citizen, to be published in a British tabloid newspaper.

I am tired of this nation worrying about whether we are offending some individual or their culture. Since the terrorist attacks on London, we have experienced a surge in patriotism by the majority of Brits.

However, the dust from the attacks has barely settled and the "politically correct" crowd began complaining about the possibility that our patriotism is offending others. I am not against immigration, nor do I hold a grudge against anyone who is honourably seeking a better life by coming to Britain.

However, there are a few things that those who have recently come to our country, and apparently some born here, need to understand.

The idea of London being a multicultural community has served only to dilute our sovereignty and our national identity. As Britons, we have our own culture, our own society, our own language and our own lifestyle.

This culture has been developed over centuries of struggles, trials and victories by millions of men and women who have sought freedom.

We speak ENGLISH, not Spanish, Lebanese, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, or any other language. Therefore, if you wish to become part of our society, Learn the Language!

"In God We Trust" is our National Motto. This is not some Christian, right wing, political slogan. We adopted this motto because Christian men and women, on Christian principles, founded this nation, and this is clearly documented. It is certainly appropriate to display it on the walls of our schools. If God offends you, then I suggest you consider another part of the world as your new home, Because God is part of our culture.

If St George's cross offends you, then you should seriously consider a move to another part of this planet.

We are happy with our culture and have no desire to change. Try to understand, we really don't care how you did things where you came from.

This is OUR COUNTRY, OUR LAND, and OUR LIFESTYLE, and if you are prepared to integrate honourably, we will allow you every opportunity to enjoy all this.

But once you are done complaining, whining, and griping about Our Flag, Our Pledge, Our National Motto or our way of life, I highly encourage you take advantage of one other great British freedom,

If you aren't happy here then go!! We didn't force you to come here.
Remember, YOU asked to be here. So accept the country YOU accepted. Pretty easy really, when you think about it.

I figure if we all keep passing this to our friends (and enemies) it will also, sooner or later get back to the complainers, lets all try, please.
No matter how many times you receive it... please forward it to all you know.


Wednesday, October 12, 2005


Kennedy's (Tyne Dock) - Further flooding tonight!

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This was the scene at Tyne Dock at 7.00 p.m. this evening, outside of Kennedy's Bar. Despite recent announcements and assurances from Northumbrian Water that around 50 tonnes of silt had been removed from drainage pipes in the Tyne Dock area, an hour of moderate rain produced further flooding. Cars were reduced to a crawl and the stench of sewage was noxious, boards and rudimentary sandbags were placed at the two entrance doors to the popular bar which has suffered a number of closures in recent months to repair damage caused by floodwaters. For a period a patrol car from Northumbria Police force parked at right angles to the main A194 road to effectively close it to further traffic.
The tide was at it's lowest with high tide not due until 11.55 p.m.
Northumbrian Water, please take note, whatever efforts that you have put in so far are NOT WORKING.

Click on the picture to enlarge.


Enterprise capital

Enterprise Capital

South Tyneside is the "enterprise capital" of Tyneside, so we are told, and whilst I am on the theme of Laygate, which is the gateway to the town centre on the A194, I may as well remind everybody about the opposite corner of Laygate, pictured here.

Click picture to enlarge

The vacant site on the left adjacent to Dawson's the Chemist was formerly Hedley Youngs and Allens of Laygate. Plans were originally hatched to develop a Netto outlet here, but these fell by the wayside. There was also talk of a drive-through restaurant, but that didn't happen either, later we heard (after one side of the shops in New Green Street had been vacated and emptied) that Netto were interested in renewing their intentions.

Readers will be getting used to the scenario now - yes, years have gone by, five and a half to be sure, and still the site lies empty. A great advertisement for the "enterprise capital" and the progress we have made as you enter the town.

Perhaps "Spin City" might be a more apt description!


Laygate Parking

Danger at Laygate

I publish these pictures today as a reminder to Council Officers and Ward Councillors to hurry up and get the remaining five yards of yellow lines painted at Laygate, before someone befalls a nasty accident. The pictures clearly show car travarsing on the wrong side of the carriageway, and pedestrians having to take extra care whilst crossing the road.
Come on guys, pull the fingers out please!

Click pictures to enlarge

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Age Concern

An ambitious and exciting proposal

It's difficult to know what to expect when the Council's "spinning machine" provides headlines such as this, Cllr. Eddie McAtominey talking about the former Maxifreeze site on the corner of Laygate stated

"An ambitious and exciting proposal for the site, which is not retail, has been put to the council and discussions have started with the potential occupier of the site."

The Shields Gazette report noted that the exact details are being kept under wraps, but council chiefs have confirmed the proposal is for non-retail use that will complement the regeneration of the Frederick Street area.

Curly's Corner Shop has learned through network contacts in the voluntary sector that the potential occupier of the site is set to be Age Concern, whose local headquarters are currently in Beach Road.
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A spokeswoman for Age Concern today refused to deny that plans exist to relocate to the new site made available at Laygate, but did confirm that they are not releasing much in the way of details at present as "plans are very much in the formative stages". She also confirmed that the current building which they rent in Beach road is no longer large enough to cater for all of the services which they would like to provide. A move to a new site at Laygate, pictured here
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would enable them to expand their range of services to include the likes of legal advice, debt advice, community outreach workers, and in-house advisors.

The Council statement alludes to the fact that this development would fit well with, and enhance the Frederick Street regeneration programme, something which once again is long overdue and is taking far too long to come to fruition. I lived nearby in John Williamson Street until 1972 and I have witnessed very little in the way of updating this once busy shopping area in the past 32 years, other than giving a coat of paint to the uppers of the shops. This in itself can be seen as a factual and concrete measure of our Council's progress over the years.
If I refer to old, outdated, run down, in poor state health, I am not referring to Age Concern and it's clients, I am referring to this area which once housed a vibrant and strong community.

Click on the pictures to enlarge.

I think those who composed the words for the Council's "spinning machine" should try and find some more appropriate metaphors for this development!


Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Waterloo square

BHS set for October opening!

Click the link in the title to read what "the spinning machine" had to say, then view the images below (taken just four days ago.)

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It appears that something is holding the job up, and an opening in early October is as likely as kissing the hand of the Pope's wife!
Having spoken to some of the builders and shopfitters working on site, who believe that any announcements about a November opening would be ill advised, I believe that we should be tentative about any firm date.
Telephone calls to Next, BHS, and Debenhams confirmed that none of these companies has a firm opening date in mind, indeed the call centres responsible for Debenhams and Next were not even aware that new stores were being built in South Shields (in fact, if you want the whole truth, Debenham's call centre thought that South Shields was somewhere near Hemel Hempstead!

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Enterprise award

South Tyneside - Capital of Enterprise

This is the new banner headline on our Council's website, they have won a hundred thousand pounds to go with this award, won in partnership with TEDCO and STEP. Gordon Brown, Image Hosted by who initiated these awards would be proud of his New Labour colleagues who have resisted the temptation to squander the award by investing in any new exciting small businesses, but instead, have given it to "the spinning machine" to "to get the message across to people in the borough".

I wonder what people like Terry Deary think of this - he recently pulled his scheme to build a Horrible Histories Theme Park at Gypsies Green in favour of his home town, Sunderland - after waiting two years for South Tyneside Council to complete it's deliberations on his plans. I don't imagine that he would find our civic leaders so enterprising!

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Parking restrictions Laygate

Lines for Laygate at long last?

Following my long running campaign to have the parking restrictions on Laygate formalised so that traffic wardens can enforce them, Curly's Corner Shop has received the following comments from ward Councillor Michael Clare;

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"I support the view that although there has been a programme of works in that particular area, that in itself should not have delayed the work to the extent we have experienced. I have raised the matter with the Exec Director of Neighbourhood Services today at my regular meeting outlining my concerns."

"I expect as a consequence the matter will be investigated further, with a view to finding a satisfactory conclusion."

Thanks you once again for your interest.



Now that demolition has concluded, and the area is cleared for new development, we really do need to make the environment safer for both motorists and pedestrians. Presently, the area in front of M.I. Dicksons and Al's Sandwich Bar is used by motorists who park at a 90 degree angle to the kerb, this forces other motorists to drive on the WRONG side of the road and into the path of oncoming vehicles. Pedestrians have an extremely obscured view of any traffic when attempting to cross the road.
This matter could have been resolved many months ago, if the officer in charge of the project had given it the priority that it deserves, I have waited since May for a satisfactory resolution to this issue - and yet, we keep hearing of all the marvelous "awards" and accolades that this Council receives!
It appears to me that the marketing and publicity efforts (i.e. "the spinning machine") attract higher priorities than simple safety measures requiring five yards worth of paint,

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Monday, October 10, 2005

Laygate development

New development promised for Laygate

A new development has been promised for Laygate following the recent demolition of the old Maxifreeze store. It is billed as being "ambitious and exciting", - read more

Don't hold your breath folks, Council officials have had "ambitions of painting five yards of yellow lines and erecting a small sign, since I first raised the issue five months ago in May!
We still have to drive our cars on the WRONG side of the road and into the path of oncoming vehicles to negotiate this corner! Pedestrians still cross the road with trepidation.
If we can't get the little jobs sorted in good time, then what chance for the larger projects? ("Superschools", "Horrible History Theme Parks", Trow Quarry, Tyne Dock Floodings etc. all come to mind as projects that take at least two years or more to sort out.)

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Saturday, October 08, 2005

Bonfire Night

Tradition being killed off?

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The Shields Gazette reports today of the moves being instigated once again by Council Officials, Police, and Fire Service, to "keep people safe" on this year's bonfire night.
Whilst I am in agreement to a certain extent that injuries ought to be kept to an acceptable minimum, I am becoming increasingly sceptical at the approach of "officialdom" to "safety", so much so that I suspect that the bureaucracy
would be quite happy to see Guy Fawkes night celebrations killed off completely. Indeed, the Gazette published a letter from one of it's readers just a few nights ago suggesting just this.
I find the idea quite abhorrent!

The gundowder plot in 1605 was a serious attempt to destroy the democracy that this country enjoyed at the time, if it had succeeded both the sovereign and parliament would have been destroyed. We have celebrated the saving of democracy by lighting bonfires, burning effigies of "Guy", and with firework displays for 400 years. The purpose and values of Guy Fawkes night are as relevant now as they were four centuries ago, yet those in positions of power, up and down the land, seem determined to erase the event from our history books.
Perhaps, as well as visiting schools to remind pupils of how not to handle fireworks and bonfires, the fire service and the police ought to be joining in the dissemination of information about the historical importance of celebrating the countering of the gunpowder plot.

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The internet has a richness of source material relating to Guy Fawkes and one of my favourites for children is a flash game on the BBC,
Parliament's own website has a good short article on the plot, and Wikipedia's articles are quite concise.

As a child, I remember that every back lane had at least two bonfires, parents supervised the fires and fireworks, and we enjoyed such treats as baked potatoes and roasted chestnuts. We had spent hours creating a "Guy" and collecting "pennies for the Guy"in order to purchase fireworks. The local fire service may have had a busy night in dowsing fires which had not been properly extinguished, but they coped, with much lesser resources than they have now!

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Accidents, however, were common, and the Ingham Infirmary would deal with many minor (and some major) burns. The greatest difference between the 1960's and now of course, is the fact that those who suffered accidental burns would not rush to the nearest solicitor to seek damages! They recognised that they probably contributed something by their own negligence, and besides, we had not yet been visited by "compensation culture" as we know it now.
Two years ago I tried (with official sanction) to organise a small fireworks party and bonfire, complete with food, for a small group of parents and children in my locality. I had found what I considered to be a suitably safe place to hold it and went to the Council to find out what they would require of me; the list was intimidating, a safe "fall out" area of about 100 square metres, safety barriers, two trained first aid attendants, fire extinguishers, a fire safety trained person, third party public liability insurance cover of half a million pounds. You get the picture?
Yes, the officials won the arguement, we did not have a bonfire.

I agree, let's do what we can to keep people safe, and raise the minimum age requirement to purchase fireworks to 21, but let's balance it against the traditions of the occassion. Let's encourage, rather than discourage responsibly organised fireworks parties. Let's provide more, rather than less, largescale official celebrations, and include a bonfire and a Guy.

In short, we ought to able to continue celebrating the discovery of the gunpowder plot and the saving of our Parliament, we are a big enough society to ensure that a four hundred year old tradition is not destroyed by bureaucrats, or spoiled by meaningless teenagers bent on causing annoyance, and at the same time ensure that injuries are kept to an absolute minimum.

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Thursday, October 06, 2005

Police investigate assault allegation!

Police investigate assault allegation

Police are to investigate allegations of assault after two were ejected from the Labour Party Conference in Brighton last week. South Shields ex-Councillor Wal Hobson was one of those involved - read more.

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South Shields Conservatives

Tory Party "Spammed"

Just been having a look at the Blogger blog of South Shields Conservative Association which was set up in advance of the last general election. Amazingly there has been no activity on the site since last May, apart from other bloggers taking the opportunity to "spam" their own sites by adding totally irrelevent comments to some of the posts.
The greater embarassment is the lack of maintenance to the site, no posts for over four months, and quite obviously no one of note looking at it!
This really sends out a poor message!
If no one can be bothered to look after a one page website, what credence do they carry when offering to look after something of far more importance?
Politics is a serious business, and it's all about getting the message across effectively, for all intents and purposes South Shields Conservatives don't intend to use "new media" to get their message across.

For an example of effective spamming, either use the link in the title of this post, or see the link in the sidebar.

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Conservative leadership

"Britain needs the smack of firm government"

I have asked our local Conservatives for their views on the leadership contenders for their party and the comments have started to come in to Curly's Corner Shop.

"We're really very fortunate in the Conservative Party in that we have such a rich pool of very talented politicians from which to select a leader. All of the candidates are of the very highest caliber, and whoever we get will be good news for Britain"

"Some question Ken Clarke's stance on Europe. To me that seems irrelevant. Europe is now well and truely on the backburner, the constitution is dead and there is not a cat in hell's chance of us joining the Euro within the next 10-15 years."

"Some would say that David Davis may move the Party to the right and this could be a mistake. However, it is important that we do not forget what we stand for. We are, traditionally, a centre-right party and I believe we should remain so. Britain, once again, needs, and is ready for, the smack of firm Government."

"In short they're all sound men with strong attributes, but if you're asking
me who my personal choice is, well I'm afraid at this stage I will have to
adopt the tone of the great Francis Urqhart and say; I couldn't possibly

Cllr. David Potts.

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SAFC kit launch

Steady trade at the Stadium of Light

With a view to finding out how well my son might take to his first live game of football, I decided last night to take him to the Stadium of Light to get the new season's shirt at the launch of the Londsdale kit. However, as I was preparing to leave home he decided that he was too tired and might not enjoy being in a big crowd! Pah! I thouht if my father had taken me to my first game at Roker Park in 1963 at the age of seven, then surely he ought to be able to enjoy a game of football at the age of eight, mystified, I went alone.
The crowds had been building steadily during the day and there was a large queue at the club shop by time I had arrived, there was the added attraction of free entry into the stadium for the reserve's game against Manchester City. Whilst there, I collected my tickets for the League Cup match against Arsenal, again I will probably go alone judging by Junior's lack of enthusiasm.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usDon't they look good!

There was also a handful of first team players helping to sell the shirts and signing them, I spotted Julio Arca, Justin Hoyte, and Christian Bassilas
Here's the Argentinian doing his bit!

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Sunderland Reserves 1 - 0 Manchester City Reserves

In a match that seriously lacked inspiration or entertainment the reserves handed City their first defeat of the season.

Murphy scored in the 73rd minute with a powerful left-foot strike after turning his marker just inside the box. The Irish lad is fairly tall and powerful, and when the ball is supplied to him, he looks very willing to work hard and has an eye for goal.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usDaryl Murphy
The game also marked the return from injury of Alan Stubbs, who played for 90 minutes. He looked relaxed and assured as he marshalled the younger defenders around him, he was in a different class to all of the others on the field.
The centre-back will now go into Mick McCarthy's thinking for Sunderland's game against Manchester United a week on Saturday.
Murphy went close in the first half with a header after a good run by Craig McFarlane, but it was City who had the best chances up until the goal, the Irishman's first in Sunderland colours.
Dan Smith had to clear an Ishmael Miller header off the line and the same player curled a shot just wide in the 40th minute.
Sunderland keeper Joe Murphy made a great save from Lee Croft in the second half after a mistake by Stubbs.

I was particularly impressed with our back four and the keeper Joe Murphy, but the midfield were rather dull and workman-like.

The win, only Sunderland Reserves' second of the season, came in front of a crowd of 3,953 at the Stadium of Light.

Sunderland Reserves: Murphy, Taylor, Stubbs, Christensen, Smith, Martin, McFarlane, Woods, D. Murphy, Graham, Davison.

One of the great advantages of being in the Stadium of Light with such a small crowd was the ability to choose your own seat in the only stand open, the West Stand. I decided that as there weren't too many "press johnnies" there, I'd take a seat above the halfway line in the media section. It's still a bit cramped with the little pull down table in front of you, but if you had your laptop with you, there is a socket under the seat for free power, and an ethernet connection on the side to couple you up to a nice "phat-piped" broadband cable. I found myself in good company , on my left was Simon Crabtree, the match commentator for Metro Radio and Magic 1152, and on my right was Justin Hoyte and his mate.

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Crabtree just doesn't know how to keep quiet (probably how he got the job) and needs a haircut, and Hoyte needs a sense of humour, he looked far too serious all game.
The next home match is a league game against Manchester United a week Saturday, another one that I will miss because of the work rosta!
See you all for the Arsenal match then.

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