Saturday, September 30, 2006
New approach from Cameron.
The Conservative party kicks off it's conference in Bournemouth tomorrow and in advance of the event party leader David Cameron has launched a new Vblog (Video Blog) to try and stay "connected" with a younger generation of voters.
The Vblog takes what has been learned from his recent trip to India and combines video clips and written articles as well as offering the viewer the opportunity to add their own comments which David will attempt to reply to over the course of the next few days.
Webcameron kicks off with David introducing the concept whilst washing up in the kitchen at home, competing against the kids, (to keep up to date use the link in the side bar.)
It will be interesting to keep an eye on Cameron this week to try and determine how much substance there is behind the new "style", and how the tax cutting debate will pan out. Shadow Chancellor George Osbourne states today that a new Conservative government would not be offering tax cuts ahead of it's main priority, which would be to maintain a stable economy, whilst those on the right of the party have called for tax cuts of 20 billion pounds per year!
This could be a dramatic week for the Cameroonies!
The Times Online.
David Cameron's new Vblog has crashed under the weight of unexpectedly heavy traffic! This must be a big plus!
Friday, September 29, 2006
Cabinet Minister backs book bid
Miliband to press for Jarrow exhibition.
South Shields Mp and Environment Secretary David Miliband has contacted the Corner Shop expressing his continued support for efforts to exhibit the Lindisfarne Gospels in the North East. David agrees that St. Paul's Church in Jarrow is an appropriate option to consider, he said:
"Many thanks for your email regarding the Lindisfarne Gospels.
If you, or your friends in the North-East, agree that this is the right and correct action to take in order to see these historic artefacts displayed in their rightful place, then PLEASE take a few minutes to write or email your MP, and urge him/her to support the proposal.
You can find your MP's email address - here
Inquiry moves closer to Blair.
Blair "gatekeeper" questioned by Yates.
According to today's Times, Ruth Turner, Downing Street's director of government relations, is the latest to be questioned by Inspector John Yates in the "cash for peerages" inquiry. Ruth took over from Anji Hunter and was questioned about a number of emails discussing which party lenders could be placed on a list of nominees for peerages, before being forwarded to the House of Lords Appointments Commission.
The investigation of inter-office emails at Downing Street is likely to be of ever growing concern to the Prime Minister, as the inquiry moves uncomfortably closer. Perhaps he should reconsider his timetable for leaving office, so as not to despoil his "legacy".
The Times Online
A Sanddancer's view_________________________________________________________________
The Corner Shop has received news from one of South Shields' delegates to the Labour Party conference in Manchester, I had asked a number of local Labour Party members to send me their gossip, but they seemed very reticent.
I'm sorry, but this delegate specifically asked to remain anonymous.
As promised I kept my ear to the ground but there wasn't a lot to report early in the week. Things start taking shape towards the end of the conference. Alan Johnston seemed to be a name people were mentioning as a future leader or deputy. A lacklustre performance on Wednesday seemed to scupper his chances.
If any others from South Tyneside would like to share their conference experience, please use the comments.
Thursday, September 28, 2006
The enviro-eco-friendly house
Shields store to stock renewable energy products.
I hope that the people of South Shields are ready for these new initiatives, and ready to follow the lead of David Miliband who intends to install a wind turbine at both his London home and his South Shields home. Wind turbines and solar panels as sources of renewable energy with zero carbon emissions will shortly be available from the South Shields branch of B&Q, the D.I.Y. retailer.
A wind turbine capable of producing 1 kilowatt of electricity will be available (but not for self assembly or diy installation), as well as roof solar panels that can be utilized to heat your cylinder of hot water and reduce your dependency on a gas boiler.
It's probably time for the Environment Secretary to pay them a visit in his capacity as constituency MP, perhaps he can pass on a few tips to the staff on the features and benefits and help them work out the size of the carbon emission reductions.
You never know, there could be a decent job for him there, should he decide to retire from politics after the next election!
The new tax man?
Miliband cosies up to Gordon.
Not since the post war government of Clement Atlee has a South Shields MP occupied one of the major Offices of State, James Chuter Ede held the post of Home Secretary. It seems that someone at The New Statesman has the hots for our current MP and Evironment Secretary David Miliband, he featured in their issue two weeks ago and will be featured again next Monday, now they think he will be the next Chancellor.
Miliband has now firmly placed a marker for the post Blair period, making very positive statements in favour of a Gordon Brown leadership and attempting to place himself nicely in the pecking order around the Cabinet table and indeed in readiness to succeed Brown should the electorate decide that enough is enough.
The New Statesman article proposes that David Miliband will be the man to step into the Treasury as Gordon Brown's Chancellor in the run up to the next election;
"Amid all the talk of lies and goodbyes at the Labour Party conference in Manchester, one development went largely unnoticed: the convergence of the two men likely to dominate the party in the absence of Tony Blair. The first, of course, is Gordon Brown. The second is David Miliband, the Environment Secretary, once Blair's anointed heir and now the Chancellor's most vocal cheerleader.
Miliband's brother Ed, and the former Treasury advisor Ed Balls are, of course, also "on message" with the Chancellor and will no doubt be making all the right noises on David's behalf. If the New Statesman is right in it's assessment of the situation we could be in for a new range of "Green taxes" as New Labour tries to regain the environmental initiatives which the Tories have latched on to recently.
The New Statesman.
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Mick Hucknall on the pull again!
I don't know which of our South Tyneside Labour Councillors are at the GMex Centre in Manchester, but look at the opportunity they missed here!
Honestly, this bloke will hunt down any female with a pulse!
"I just lurv the thought of coming home to you"
Think of a new caption and add it to the comments if you dare.
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Floral awards for Borough.
The good news is that South Tyneside villages have picked up a clutch of awards in the Northunbria in Bloom Competition. Silver Awards went to Cleadon Village (pictured), Boldon, and Whitburn village, whilst Westoe Village and Jarrow picked up Bronze.
Councillor Michael Clare, Labour's Lead Member for Environment, Housing, and Transport can be rightly pleased with the result, although I hope he isn't exactly ecstatic. He said today;
"These awards are testament to all the hard work put in by the staff in Streetscape - not just for making sure that the Borough's green spaces, pavements and community areas looked spick and span for the In Bloom judges, but for actually growing and nurturing the plants in the first place.
Last year, of course, we heard the same (we are determined to win gold), and it ought to be remembered that it wasn't so long ago that Whitburn Village was the overall winner in the Britain in Bloom contest. Back then the old Parks and Gardens Department was the proud operator of the magnificent nursery in Woods Terrace, South Shields, and another in Eastgarth, Westoe Village. Sadly both nurseries became concrete carpets with new houses erected on them! Decisions taken then to trim back on spending in the Parks and Gardens Department succeeded in reducing our once magnificent parks to broad swaithes of grass and little else.
South Tyneside's parks were glorious, you would have been hard pushed to find a bad one, the flower beds, shrubbery, and arboreal collections were something to be proud of and they set an example to our neighbouring councils and to our own residents who were more than happy to exhibit their own efforts alongside the Parks Department's at the annual Flower Show in the Bents Park, - something else that is being allowed to decay. I can recall too an annual event in the West Park, South Shields when the incumbent Mayor would add a new tree to "The Mayor's Walk", whatever killed off that tradition? (Something that ought to be resurrected to offset carbon emissions.)
The main arterial routes into and out of South Tyneside were also well decorated with flower beds, seasonally changed, nowadays we rely on a wholesale planting of perrenial bulbs to lighten the heart in spring.
So, as well as celebrating our recent successes we ought to be looking back and re-evaluating our priorities for the future. Streetscape and Enterprise (the body responsible for maintaining the Borough's flora and fauna) are not able to reach the standards we had so many years ago with the resources at their disposal now. New money needs to be found and invested in this area of our environment, savings need to be made in other areas of the Council's remit to meet this requirement - why don't we sell off the housing stock? (You know you want to!)
Luckily (fingers crossed) the restoration of the South Marine Park will go some way towards resetting the benchmark for public parks and gardens in South Tyneside, but, rather like the carbon emissions reduction targets, it seems that our Council is again failing to set itself higher targets and challenges, and is content to "try again next year".
South Tyneside Council
Monday, September 25, 2006
They seem to have already purged and excommunicated him! Check the Labour Party line-ups for the conference in Manchester - here_________________________________________________________________
If something like this had happened last year........._________________________________________________________________
Hat Tip to Beau Bo D'or
Brown upstaged by Blair
(Cherie that is....)
Labour isn't Working
Do you remember the poster created for the Conservatives all those years ago? This scene photographed outside of the Labour Party's conference hall in Manchester this morning looks remarkably similar don't you think? Delegates had to queue for a mind numbing length of time before passing through the security cordon, i.d. checks, scans and bag searches etc.
Spare a thought for those who would normally take a break outside during the course of the day for a breath of fresh air, a smoke, or a decent cup of tea and a sandwhich at a reasonable price, they will have had second thoughts this year, because they would have to be passed through these security procedures each and every time they left the building and returned. A captive audience for the catering units inside the conference centre!
The Labour isn't Working theme will turn out to be quite appropriate for the second day of the conference, a day which was expected to produce a high keynote speech from Gordon Brown setting out his vision for Labour's future under his (presumed) leadership, however tomorrow's newspapers will be carrying just as many column inches to remarks allegedly made by the Prime Minister's wife Cherie Blair.
During the course of the Chancellor's "longest job application on record" it is reported that journalists working for the American Bloomberg news agency overheard Cherie say "well that's a lie" at the point where Gordon Brown said it had been "a privelege for me to work with and for the most successful Labour Prime Minister". Denials were hurriedly made by Downing Street, but the damage seems to have been done, and the alleged remarks threaten to overshadow day one of the event, and may have reopened the Brown-Blair rift, just when the party was seeking an appearance of unity.
Mrs. Blair, since her husband's first election victory, seems to have shunned the convention that the Prime Minister's "better half" should be "seen and not heard".
Who can remember Norma Major or Dennis Thatcher for being anything other than shy figures standing in the background?
The Daily Telegraph
The Daily Mail
Sunday, September 24, 2006
Let's forget politics for today
The Ryder Cup 2006
Isn't it great when for some people the only time they "feel" European is during the Ryder Cup? I guess I must be one of them, it's also one of those occasions when it is acceptable to anti-American, in a sporting way. We are becoming so used to spanking the yanks when it comes to the team version of golf, this victory today is an unprecedented third win on the trot for the European team. It is therefore all the more surprising that our European golfers fail to win too many of the majors in the U.S.A., and also surprising that Tiger Woods never has a good Ryder Cup.
There are so many accolades to hand out to the Europeans, Ian Woosnam for his selections, Colin Montgomery for never losing a singles match in all the Ryder Cups he has been part of, Darren Clarke, not just for taking part so soon after his wife's death, but for the magnificent way in which he played. Then there was the rookie Henrik Stenson who was almost flawless and the Spaniards Olazabal and Garcia, so solid when teamed together. The "joker card" must surely have been Paul Casey who played the K Club's heavy course so well after "Gordon" had passed by.
The best moment must have been Casey's hole in one, what an event to come up with such a magnificent shot!
Please give the video time to load, it's worth replaying a couple of times.
Well done lads!
Where has the money gone?
Al Azhar Mosque, South Shields_________________________________________________________________
According to a report from the Charities Commission, the Al Azhar Mosque Trust Fund in Laygate, South Shields have not filed their accounts since 17th. October 2000. The last reported financial status of the fund in April 1998 shows that reported income over expenditure has a surplus of over 9000 pounds. I hope that nothing is amiss.
Seen in Shields (2)
Why not? It's the place to be seen!
Stanislav Varga, the Sunderland centre back, otherwise known as "Stan Viagra" has been spotted a number of times over recent weeks visiting a "friend" in Caraway Walk, South Shields, according to one of Curly's co-conspirators.
Any additional corroborative evidence (or pictures) would be much appreciated here at the Corner Shop.
Seen in Shields.
Why not? It's the place to be seen!
Declan Donnelly (according to two of Curly's co-conspirators, neither of whom knew each other) was spotted drinking with pals in the Fountain Inn, Horsley Hill Road yesterday evening before ordering a taxi - destination unknown. Rumours, still unconfirmed, suggest that he behaves like any other run of the mill Geordie, without any airs and graces or ridiculous demands.
Curly would appreciate any further corroborative evidence!
Saturday, September 23, 2006
Bring them home!
South Shields MP and Environment Secretary David Miliband has joined the campaign to have the Lindisfarne Gospels returned to the North-East.
The Gospels are a priceless treasure created by the monks at Lindisfarne and are probably the best example of an illuminated manuscript in the U.K. As an historical artefact they hold a prized place in the collection of the British Library, and it is right that the people of the North East should enjoy adequate opportunity to view this masterpiece. The British Library seem very unwilling to allow the book to travel, fearing accidental damage - where is the "can do" mentality?
Various places have been suggested to house a temporary exhibition in the North East including Sunderland Library and Winter Gardens, and Durham Cathedral, however there is a more significant place in the North's history, still standing, and on our doorstep.
Through this blog, I would like to invite David Miliband and Stephen Hepburn (MP for Jarrow) to consider pressing for an exhibition to take place at St. Paul's Church, Jarrow. St. Paul's is the pre-eminent site of Christian history in the North, being the home of the Venerable Bede. It was Bede's influence, schooling, education, and training which provided the expertise for monks of later generations to produce the magnificent work that we all demand to see returned to the North East. A specialised unit would need to be installed to display the Lindisfarne Gospels, and 24 hour security would be a must, but I'm sure that we could achieve whatever the British Library demanded.
The benefits for South Tyneside would be extraordinary in terms of prestige, heritage, and tourism.
Imagine you had money to burn
Aka; Buying friends and influencing people.
Imagine, the Lucky Dip ticket that you invested a pound in on Wednesday provided five of the six numbers picked in the National Lottery, you would have a tidy little sum to spend on a night out, almost 2000 pounds to be exact!
What would you do with it?
With this sort of dosh you could go to Manchester to buy friends and influence people!
Bell Pottinger Public Affairs (BPPA), set up by Tory stalwart Lord Bell, is offering clients dinner and drinks with two Cabinet members, including the Lord Chancellor, two ministers of state and three senior MPs. Of course there are many folks out there who have this sort of spare change any night of the week, and if their businesses were to to prosper and be more profitable they would have even more to spare. Sometimes, red tape and legislation get in the way of making healthy profits, sometimes change can be a little unwelcome, so wouldn't it be nice to be able to sit down with a cabinet minister over dinner and drinks to iron things out, put the minister straight, advise him/her in a more personal and intimate way. Yes, that's the way to get business done!
I'm not suggesting that some political parties may be different to others, but faced with the mountain of debt, and faced with Yates of the Yard, New Labour is reduced to charging 12,000 pounds for trade stands at it's party conference in Manchester next week. Needless to say, those neeeding to bend the ear of pliable ministers have bought them all up.
I think I'd rather spend my winnings on a ringside seat for the next bout between Harrison and Waggot, far more entertaining!
The Times Online
Friday, September 22, 2006
Labour party to be bailed out by taxpayers?
Blears looks for rule change.
The Labour Party is almost 27 million pounds in debt, and since Inspector John Yates started his "cash for peerages" enquiry the big donors and "lenders" have started to dry up, well, who would wish to be associated in these circumstances?
So, to where does the party wish to turn to help it out of a bad spot? The taxpayer of course. Party Chairman Hazel Blears believes that Labour, as the party of government, should get more public money to help in it's political activities. Read more - here
Should any political party be substantially financed by the taxpayer? I suspect that the vast majority of us would say no, all political parties should endeavour to raise their funds from their members and supporters, without inducements!
If this financial crisis weren't bad enough, Iain Dale asserts that the "cash for peerages" enquiry will not go away, and that Martin Bright's article in next week's New Statesman will hand another pin to Yates to stick in the old doll.
Doing the maths
South Tyneside Council's Light it! campaign in partnership with Balfour Beatty reached the first of it's milestones last month. Balfour Beatty have been contracted to replace 80% of the Borough's lamp standards over a five year period, a total of around 24,000 street lamps, and 8,000 sign illuminations will be replaced, and a further 5,000 columns will be installed in back lanes and footpaths.
The new replacemant lamp standards aim to use more energy efficient methods, better lighting, produce clearer colours and allow greater distances to be illuminated. A first milestone was reached in August, a month early, when 691 lamp posts had been replaced, 3% of the total. A second milestone will be reached in February of next year, by when they aim to have achieved 10% of the total.
Now, unless my maths has gone awry since I left school, I reckon that a total of 37,000 installations is involved in the programme, 370 is 1%, therefore 3% is 1,110, and not 690! According to the Council's press release of 16th. August the 10% milestone will represent 2,302 new columns, not the 3,700 you might have expected from the total. But let's assume that they are talking about 10% of the streetlamps only, after one year of the project, how do they plan to achieve the other 90% in four years? They must be busy formulating new energy efficient productivity plans, it's the only way the job will be finished on time!
Cllr. Paul Waggott believes that residents love the new lighting scheme, he claims that the word on the streets is very positive about the new streetlights. My own observations and the testament of others differs somewhat from the official view, the lighting footmark under a new lamp standard is less diffuse than previous, the light is a little brighter and clearer, without doubt. However, you only need to move 15 yards away to find yourself in complete darkness. Perhaps the lights were off when they wrote the press statement.
South Tyneside Council
"Stan the man" slams plan!
Tyne Tunnell Toll to rise.
Imagine paying for something now, something you might NEVER see, something you might NEVER use, something that has not yet been built.
You wouldn't be keen on the idea would you? You would like to see what you are buying, yes? You would like to know what you are paying your money towards, yes?
Well, this is exactly what the Tyne Wear Passenger Transport Authority expects us to do as they raise the finance for the second Tyne Tunnel. The second tunnel is little more than a plan drawing at present, the PTA are yet to decide on who gets the construction contracts, and who will franchise all three tunnels on completion of the project However, because considerable costs have already been incurred, such as the acquisition of large tracts of land and properties on the Jarrow side of the river, and the expenses of a legal challenge launched by Friends of the Earth, they wish to raise the current fee to 1.10 for cars and 1.50 for HGVs, yet this is just the start, it is envisaged that the current fees will see regular rises to as much as 2.10 by the time the new tunnel opens (hopefully) in 2011. By then some motorists may have retired from work, been made redundant from their jobs, or even died.
So, we have the odd situation where a public body is busy raising finance for a "private" project!
Veteran South Shields Tory campaigner Stan Smith calls the proposed rises "daylight robbery" and he believes the whole scheme ought to have been paid for from the public purse, if it was to have been built at all. Stan would rather have seen a Tyne Wear Metro link under the river from Tynemouth to South Shields, perhaps as a means of reducing environmental pollution and encouraging greater use of public transport this may have been more preferable, however, it's all water under the bridge now.
I'm not sure that I would agree to it being a publicly financed project, the current vehicular tunnel is still amassing huge debts that will be paid by future generations and I think it would have been almost criminal to fit another millstone around the necks of the taxpayers by asking them to fork out for a second venture. Unfortunately, like the Humber Bridge, the motorist will be seen as a paying "customer", and like the Humber Bridge there will be no competition, no real alternative, unless we wish to clog the Tyne Bridge even further. So it looks as though those who use a vehicle to travel to work on either side of the Tyne crossing will need to find an extra 100 pounds a month just to get to work, and for many of these shift workers the Metro is not a viable alternative. Another tax on the motorist? Well, perhaps it will be.
However, it's nice to see that Stan is up to his old tricks, obviously recovering from the ill health he suffered recently. I wonder if he would fancy a good old socialist subsidy to keep the fees down?
North East Against Tolls
Thursday, September 21, 2006
Organic growth calls.
Farming for wonks_________________________________________________________________
South Shields MP and Environment Secretary David Miliband recently met with representatives from The Soil Association in which they impressed upon him the benefits of organic farming. They calculate that organic methods create 32% more jobs in rural economies, that organic methods help reduce global warming, is less polluting, and will encourage more younger happier people to take up an agricultural life!
Knowing one young man from South Shields, and some from without, who tried to make a success of farming I can counter that achieving this pipe dream is not quite so easy, it is highly unlikely that young people of the future will be able to afford to acquire land to farm for starters, and achieving sufficient economies of scale to produce viable profits is the next major hurdle. Some who have tried the organic methods have ended up losing staff, running their farms as husband and wife teams, and taken a second part-time non farming job to make ends meet.
The major stumbling block for these people, of course, is persuading the major buyers to take their products. The supply of groceries for the British consumer is heavily controlled by the buying offices of Tesco and Asda and the other supermarkets. Just take a shopping trip to your local Asda in Ocean Road, South Shields (or the larger one in Boldon Colliery), or the Tesco Branch on Newcastle Road, and you will find that you need to search quite earnestly to find the rather small range of organically farmed products. Once you have found them you will wince at the prices being asked (probably the extra 32% on prices reflects the extra 32% jobs and production costs.) So, unless you are well heeled, you will pass up on the opportunity and buy the mass produced chemically laden products from the giant farms of Britain and Europe.
David Miliband has also had recent meetings with the top executives of the major supermarkets where he tried to knock their heads together and get them to do something about the damage to the environment that their buying policies produce. He would like to see a massive reduction in "product miles" by achieving more local sourcing, he would like to see a massive reduction in packaging, or at least a move towards recyclable packaging. Unfortunately, as David admits, 60% of carbon emissions in the travel cycle come from cars, not delivery lorries, yet our planners put more and more supermarkets on the edge of towns or on out of town retal centres!
Surely the message must be, more local sourcing, and more local supermarkets in town centres (as we will shortly see in South Shields), the supermarkets and growers must also be prepared to accept a smaller margin on organic products if they wish to encourage the consumer to purchase.
Meanwhile, Mr Miliband re-emphasised his farming vision at the TUC Congress last week:
"Our challenge is one planet living. One planet environmentally secure, socially just, economically prosperous, not just for some people but for all people."
I think I know what you mean David, but any chances of achieving organic growth in your political career are being hindered by your outstanding ability to gush forth with "wonk speak!" Most of us speak plain old Geordie and we daen't like the price of scruffy carrots.
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Persona non grata
Police clearance now required for party conferences?_________________________________________________________________
Councillor Bob Piper the veteran blogger and member of Sandwell District Council bemoans in his blog the difficulties encountered in trying to attend the Labour Party Conference;
"After 30 odd years membership, having held virtually every Branch Labour Party position, having sat on the interminable Constituency Management Committee for over 20 years, and 7 years a Labour councillor... this is what it has come to. Some member of Her Majesty's constabulary is going to decide whether or not I am a fit and proper person to go to Party Conference. Thanks a bunch!"
Curly is interested in knowing, have any members of the Labour Party in South Tyneside encountered similar problems within their "controlled environment", or do similar problems exist for our three Conservative councillors with respect to their conference?
No doubt there will be a one mile "exclusion zone" set up around both venues, all demonstrations will be banned, ice cream sellers and hot dog stands will be searched for signs of terrorist links etc. etc.
What is this country coming too?
Councillor Bob Piper
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Doesn't even fall over!_________________________________________________________________
Former Lib-Dem Leader Charles Kennedy made his much heralded return to the public arena at the party conference in Brighton today. He spoke about being personally and politically optimistic for the future, does that mean he fancies taking up the old role again?
Old Ming, meanwhile, thinks that the Arctic Monkeys have sold more records than the Beatles - bless!
The Times Online
Devlin case update
Child porn churchman moves out of vicarage._________________________________________________________________
One hopes that when important information is exposed via this blog that (a) I am doing the right thing, and (b) that some good will become of it.
Thankfully Daniel Devlin, the Christian downloader of child porn, and church organist, has been moved out of the Vicarage in St. Oswin's Street, South Shields, much to the relief of mothers of young children in the area.
A spokesman for the Bishop of Durham said:
"Arrangements have now been made for him to move elsewhere.
John Cummings, Labour MP for Easington, said:
"Under the present system, he should be offered secure accommodation away from anywhere where he might have contact with children until he is sentenced. I'm sure the law will then make adequate provision for him."
However, it is still unclear what his links are with the priest still living at that address, and whether or not there was pressure from within the Church of England to precipitate his move away, or whether the Curch was simply reacting to public outrage.
Questions will still be asked, privately, at the South Shields church where the priest is a member of the team ministry, it would be interesting to know whether the parish priest (as team leader) was FULLY aware of the implications of Devlin's residence at one of his vicarages and whether the Diocese of Durham informed him fully about the man's activities and court case. Was the parish council of All Saints informed on this matter, and their opinion or approval sought? What feedback was given to the Bishop of Durham's office from his parishioners regarding the suitability of Devlin's accomodation?
This case will probably open a very unwelcome "can of worms" for some within the Diocese of Durham.
Monday, September 18, 2006
Carbon emission reduction targets
Rossinisbird nails Council!_________________________________________________________________
Rossinisbird in his post of last Wednesday does well to expose the feeble targets being set by South Tyneside Council in it's quest to achieve measurable reductions in it's carbon emissions targets. They plan to achieve a 5% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions over the next five years -whoopee!
I could just about manage to do that on my own by walking to work instead of driving.
Come on guys, even the Conservatives are aiming higher than this.
Rossinisbird - (we know who he is now!)
Iain Dale's Diary
Top 100 spot for The Corner Shop_________________________________________________________________
Iain Dale has produced a fantastic publication "Iain Dale's Guide to Political Blogging in the U.K.", this 32 page .pdf document lists the top 100 Conservative, Labour, Lib-Dem, and non-aligned blogs, and guess what? - Curly's Corner Shop is listed at no. 89 in the Conservative list. I am flattered!
Iain Dale and Guido Fawkes are judged the top political bloggers in the U.K. and I'm surprised that they find the time to pop into the Corner Shop every now and then to find out what's going on in South Tyneside. I'll have to work hard to hold my position if he is going to make an annual list. I'll do my bit to keep David Miliband in the foreground of the blogosphere, I'm sure he'll appreciate the extra publicity!
Also in Iain's guide are articles by South Shields MP and Environment Secretary, David Miliband (who is no. 87 on the Labour List), Sky News' political editor Adam Bolton, and The Daily Mirror's political editor Kevin Maguire.
You can download a copy of Iain Dale's Guide, and discover just how popular political blogging is becoming - here
Pamela's killer could be out in less than FIVE years!
What is a life worth in the eyes of the law?_________________________________________________________________
Pamela Phinn always looked too young to be a grandmother, her sisters never looked older than teenagers, her daughter too. She was a smashing lady who touched all of her friends and colleagues with her warmth and cheery personality. The circumstances surrounding her death were tragic and bizarre in the extreme. So, it should not surprise that as this tale comes it's sad conclusion the bizarre element continues.
Paul Wales (pictured) 47, of Gorst Street, Walton, in Liverpool, was in hiding in South Shields from a drug debt when he decided to carjack a lady near the DJ Tool Hire shop in Victoria Road, with the intention of getting his hands on more drugs. He threatened her with a screwdriver before stealing her Honda Civic and driving off at speed up Westoe Road. Unusually an unmarked police vehicle saw the event and gave pursuit, joined shortly by a standard marked police car, as Wales drew dangerously close to Westoe Roundabout. Apparently driving at speeds of around 80 mph he mounted the kerb as he turned the corner, hit a pedestrian refuge and a wall before colliding with a group of people with dreadfull results.
That group of people were Pamela Phinn, her daughter-in-law Kelly Laws, and her two grandchildren, Pamela had tried to push the children's pushchair out of the path of the crazed driver, however she took the full force of the impact and was thrown twenty feet through the air. She was killed almost instantly. Her daughter-in-law and grandchildren also received severe injuries which hospitalized them for some time. Bizarrely, the car was stolen from Pamela's sister Dianne Dalton, who was to learn of the tragic consequences soon afterwards.
Today, at Newcastle Crown Court, Wales was sentenced to life imprisonment by Judge John Milford QC, who bizarrely said that Wales would have to serve a minimum of four years and four months before being considered eligable for parole.
"You will be imprisoned indefinitely and you will be eligible for release when you have served the minimum term, but only when the parole board deem you safe",
So, if he keeps his nose clean and expresses some remorse, he will be back on the streets in less than five years (taking into account the time he has already served on remand.) He has already taken good counsel and pleaded guilty, he even mouthed the word "sorry" towards the public gallery in court, his hopes must be fairly high. He goes to prison holding on to some prospect of an early release.
As for Pamela's family, their life sentence began in May 2006, and for them it's a sentence from which they cannot escape.
Why should it be that some of our senior Judges pass sentences that, for most of us, do not reflect the severity of the crime? Yes, I know it's an indeterminate life sentence, but the minimum tarriff might have been more substantial in order to strengthen the view that some people are being "tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime".
The Home Office, however, regards our prisons as being overcrowded and are working tirelessly to ensure that fewer people are being imprisoned. They would be far better employed building one or two more high security establishments that could house inmates for a minimum of twenty years, that way we could begin to believe that a life sentence almost meant just that! I'm sure there would be no protests from the law abiding majority from such expenditure.
The Daily Mail
The Shields Gazette
To boost or not to boost?
Chaotic first day for new law._________________________________________________________________
From today children under the age of twelve and anyone less than 135 cm. tall are required to be securely seated in the rear of your car using an approved child safety seat or booster seat. It's part of a European standardisation and is aimed at reducing the amount of injuries to children and young people in car crashes where the position of the adult seat belt causes internal injuries to major body organs (because it is designed to fit an adult rather than a child.)
With this in mind I mulled over the fact that I had thrown away the booster seat used by Junior Curly just two months ago, because I felt he was tall enough to benefit from an adult seat belt (but this was before some Eurocrat introduced meddling fingers.) So I decided it was time to measure his height to see if he would comply with the new legislation - ahh, exactly 135 cm. - with his shoes on! Would this be good enough, or would an over zealous policeman insist on measure his height sans shoes?
Well, having read that I could be fined a 30 pound fixed penalty, or 500 pounds if the case went to court, I decided to err on the side of caution and go and purchase a new booster seat. Easier said than done, you go and find one this week! Halfords, Asda, Mothercare, Bills Autos, various online suppliers, all sold out and none prepared to commit themselves on a date for new supplies. I bumped into other parents hurredly searching for booster seats too, all anxious not to be breaking the law, but you cannot even buy them! So what do I do now?
One would have thought that these retailers would have stockpiled child safety seats in advance of the big rush, or promoted them constantly over the past six months in advance of the new legislation taking effect today.
This law of course is a complete ass, my child looks the correct height and weight until he takes his shoes off, some nine year olds are larger in all dimensions, some thirteen year olds hardly reach four feet tall yet are deemed safe under the law! What a mish mash!
So until seats become available again I will have to take a risk and unilaterally declare that Junior is exactly 135 cm. tall. Of course when seats do become available again he will have grown past the target height! Damned if I don't and damned if I do!
The Times Online
"School dinner Jimmy"
Cllr. Foreman caught eating again!
Being the Lead Member for Lifelong Learning on South Tyneside District Council must be like enjoying a second childhood for Cllr. Jimmy Foreman. He really is working his socks off promoting the benefits of his departmental brief. Despite a lull in publicity (last week) in the local newspaper, the publicity machine came up trumps with another good one in tonight's edition.
Jimmy was found lurking on page 5 with a silver rose bowl and - wait for it -two school dinner ladies! What a surprise!
The two ladies, Lesley Cusworth and Alison Reid were being presented with awards from Cllr. Foreman for their outstanding contribution to South Tyneside's education catering service. Yes, it's a hard life judging all of these school meals. Let me just say that Junior Curly loves them, "even better than mother's cooking" he says.
Next time you bump into Jimmy Foreman, ask him what his waist size was before he became Lead Member for Lifelong Eating!
He, he, he! (He's a good sport really.)
Sunday, September 17, 2006
Miliband for Labour Leadership?
Would our MP agree to this?
A report in today's Mail on Sunday, by Simon Walters, suggests that Tony Blair is on an "anyone but Gordon" campaign, and is even prepared to push his protoge David Miliband further into the glare of the spotlights.
Cabinet sources have told The Mail on Sunday that Mr Blair sees Environment Secretary David Miliband, not Mr Johnson, as his ideal successor.
Some of the unattributed quotes in Walters' piece are as follows;
"David is brilliant, much more personable than he seems, and knows how to revive New Labour. For all his common touch, I don't think Johnson could do that."
These must be testing times for the South Shields MP, he has a solid track record for not "rocking the boat" and has never voted against the government in any divisions in the House, however, he has recently made it plain that he would like Gordon Brown to lead the party and has publicly stated that he is neither a runner nor a rider for either two of the top jobs in the Labour Party.
Now, how often in the past has a politician said he/she wasn't interested?
Saturday, September 16, 2006
Boxed in at The Stadium of Light
7 from 9 ain't too bad.
It was about time that I stood back from the political shenanigans of the world and took time to understand the "Keano" effect. It was Sunderland's first home game under the new manager and expectations were higher than normal after two away wins during the past week.
It was obvious from the time that I jumped into the car that there was an extra buzz in the air today, and that a few thousand extra fans were making their way to the ground, the traffic certainly got much heavier as I approached Cleadon Village. I had arranged to meet my old friend and colleague Fred and his son, and we commented upon the number of supporters standing drinking outside of the Companions Club and the Conservative Club in Bridge Street, Sunderland. We hadn't experienced such numbers for a long time, and a large throng of red and white clad beings slowly made their way over the Wearside Bridge and clogged the area around Sheepfolds and the Wheatsheaf.
As we made our way into the ground it was all too plain that a few more than the usual 24,000 had turned out. The "Keano" effect was evident, the faces were animated and excited, the badge sellers, the programme sellers, the burger vans, even the police, had smiles from ear to ear. We had come hoping to see a thorough routing of Leicester City, that's how high the expectations were. The Casino in Bridge Street had a banner hung on the wall that expressed why Roy Keane deserved to be leading our team (see picture below.)
However the game itself failed to live up it's billing, 34,104 spectators did their level best to roar the ball into the back of the net, after Leicester took a lead just after the first half break. Liam Miller and Neil Collins looked jaded and tired, Robbie Elliott's distribution was less than ideal, Kavanagh was not making as many tackles as he had previously. Murphy and Brown saw very little of the ball. Yes, they all looked a bit weary, a combination of three games in eight days and a tough training regime set out by Keane. So it was no surprise that Collins and Miller were substituted in the second half, Murphy had already been replaced by the popular Dwight Yorke in the first half, after pulling a hamstring as he entered the box. Young Tobias Huysen had only been on the pitch for about five minutes when he swept into Leicester's penalty area, drifting across the box before slotting a left foot shot past Henderson, who was in no position to save it. The Stadium went wild with noise and the team perked up for ten minutes until the game fizzled out through lack of energy.
The only real comment that I can make about the second half is that defensively we looked comfortable, Varga and Cunnningham have formed a decent partnership in the back four. Leicester never looked dangerous, but you have to admire the team spirit and courage in coming from behind to get the point. It's a shame, you should really win your home games and look for at least a draw away, but 7 points from the last 9 is a fair harvest when compared to what we had two weeks ago!
Click picture to enlarge.
Friday, September 15, 2006
South Marine Park
Fingers crossed for finance!
I have campaigned on numerous occasions in this blog for the restoration and upgrading of facilities in the South Marine Park, South Shields, for example read here, and here, or here. The trustees of the Heritage Lottery Fund are ready to look at, and hopefully approve, the 5 million pound plan to restore our flagship park to it's former Victorian splendour.
Despite the fact that not all of my suggestions were acted upon, I am satisfied that I played my part in the public consultation exercise and I'm genuinely excited and hopefull that the grant finance will be forthcoming. If approved, work can begin in earnest starting with the rebuilding of the childrens' playground, which is to be moved away from the railtrack and further towards the centre of the green, closer to the picnic areas. Future improvements include the rebuilding of the bandstand adhering to the principles of the original, improved footpaths and walkways, rebuilding and replanting of major flower beds, replanting of shrubbery and trees, improvements to the Lakeshore Railroad, and a major rebuild of the terraces and water features below Seafield Terrace. All being well, the park should be renewed within two years.
For projects such as this I am prepared to support the Council in all of it's efforts, this is not a political matter, but a major tourism attraction for the whole of the Borough, an area where we have fallen behind our neighbours in Gateshead and Sunderland. It is imperative that the application for Lottery funding succeeds, not just for the recreation and leisure purposes of our own residents, but also to attract the spending power of thousands of visitors every year for our local economy.
The blurry oak
New Tory logo made by kids?_________________________________________________________________
The Conservative Party has revealed it's new logo, and for my money it looks as though my five year old daughter created it with a well worn felt tipped pen. The image of the oak tree has been chosen as it represents strength, renewal, endurance, and growth, as well as the party's new softer image with greener credentials. As a replacement to the "torch" I think it's "minging" as do a lot of other Conservative supporters who have expressed their opinions in Iain Dale's Diary.
The concept for the design originated from the grass roots when the Conservative blog "Tory Diary" asked for suggestions and the party took opinion from it's membership. In all changing the logo, developed by London marketing agency Perfect Day, has cost the party 40,000 pounds. There are separate national logos for the party in England, Wales, and Scotland
I hope that they can quickly learn not to waste expenditure so easily when in government!
My favourite satirist Beau Bo D'or thinks that the BBC may be worried about plagiarism, what do you think?
The Times Online
Tories hold Cleadon
Comfortable win for Milburn_________________________________________________________________
In the first test of political opinion since the last local government election in South Tyneside, the Conservative Party Candidate, Jeffrey Edward Milburn, was victorious in the by election yesterday for the Cleadon Village and East Boldon ward.
Jeffrey Edward Milburn (Conservative Party) 1,057
Alan Mordain (Liberal Democrat) 669
Lewis Malcolm Atkinson (Labour Party) 601
Christopher Michael Haine (Green Party) 124
The turn out for this by election was 35.2 per cent.
Councillor Milburn was critical of the negative campaigning followed by his rivals who attempted to make inroads by criticising the attendance record of his predecessor Philip Parkinson, who resigned his seat stating business commitments as the reason for his difficulties in attending meetings.
Lewis Atkinson, who is another political blogger in these parts, managed a small increase in the Labour vote, and must fancy his chances of a more favourable seat next time round, but Alain Mordain, the Lib-Dem candidate will be the most anguished of the four candidates as he had high hopes of capitalising on the Tories' troubles in Cleadon, (perhaps we might see him standing as an Independant next time!)
The count was held in the Cleadon Methodist Church and it was good to note that Ken Walls, my former Progressive colleague was there to support the Conservative cause, I've always had a lot of time for Ken and have known him since working at the former department store J.T. Parrish in Byker in the 1970's.
So, we say welcome to Cllr. Milburn, and hope that he too becomes a regular reader of this blog, and another branch to add to the blurred oak tree!
Thursday, September 14, 2006
Passes and protests
Labour plans to stifle debate at Conference_________________________________________________________________
The Labour Party's control freaks have taken control of the arrangements for the party conference in Manchester, they have already drawn up a list of Labour activists, ostensibly with a criminal record, who will not be allowed passes for the meeting. This is the first stage in weeding out those likely to "heckle" the Prime Minister on the second leg of his "legacy" farewell tour. There will be no repeats (it is hoped) of incidents similar to the eviction and detention of Walter Wolfgang at last year's conference when he had the temerity to utter "rubbish" in response to Blair's words (Wolfgang of course is now able to cause the hierarchy more headaches as he has been elected to the Labour Party National Executive Committee!) -does this mean there will be no need for South Shields' Wally Hobson to spend a few days at the gym flexing his muscles in advance of the gathering?
A further sign of Labour's "news management" is evident in the decision of the City of Manchester Council to ban a planned protest by Military Families Against the War, who wished to set up a peace camp in the city's Albert Square, having already protested in Downing Street and Trafalgar Square.
John Miller, whose South Shields son Corporal Simon Miller, 21, was one of six redcaps murdered at Majar-al-Kabir in Iraq in 2003, said it was a conspiracy:
"It is outrageous that the protest has been banned. My son, and many others, were killed by a decision the Prime Minister made and it is only fair that we are allowed to make our views known to him. Labour are scared because they don't want the war to come back and haunt them at their party conference. Over the last few years when people have demonstrated over the war they get taken away or dragged off. When Walter Wolfgang protested at last year's conference he was forcibly ejected. We are supposed to have gone to war to impose democracy but it seems we have got less democracy in this country than in many middle eastern countries. People are not allowed to have their say - unless they agree with Blair. The Prime Minister talks about democracy a lot but he doesn't practice what he preaches."
Does anyone remember the "big conversation" that Blair and Brown intended to have with the people of this country?
The Daily Mail
"Big Brother" state moves another step closer._________________________________________________________________
Phil Booth, of the NO2ID campaign, said:
"From now on, you can assume that anything you tell to an official or public servant will not only go on your record, but be passed on to anyone at all in "the public interest" - which has already been neatly redefined to mean 'official convenience'.
He was referring to the blandly-worded 'vision statement' issued yesterday by Lord Falconer's Department for Constitutional Affairs. This 'statement' proposes a huge multi-sourced database which could be accessed by thousands of civil and public service employees prying into the private lives of our citizens and would allow them access to details on every piece of minutae about us and our children. The Daily Mail describes it as a 'sinister' expansion of the "big brother' state.
Lord Falconer appears to wish the watering down of the Data Protection Act, which was meant to safeguard our privacy, to allow his plans to be forced through. Instead of the country's 400,000 civil servants having to search various databases whenever they feel the need to find out information about our lives, they would in future be able to consult one central access point to delve deeper to their hearts content.
Whilst the big headlines shout about the War against Terror, crime statistics, the Labour leadership crisis, the financial mess in the NHS, or the mishandling of events in Iraq and Afghanistan, you can be sure that Tony's cronies are beavering away, working hard at eroding our personal freedoms, stealthily building the foundations of a Stalinist d:ream.
Wake up people, this is for real, and things are not getting better!
The Daily Mail
You thought it was safe going to church?
Diocese of Durham houses pervert in former South Shields vicarage!_________________________________________________________________
I was brought up as a Christian, our whole family were regular church goers, my father is a licensed Reader in the Church of England, we made many lifelong friends in the church, my brother and I attended a church youth club, we were both members of church based Scout troops in our teens, we went on day trips and outings, summer camps added to the fun and social fraternity. Church offered comradeship, stewardship, a "safety net", a comfort zone, the local church was a community asset and focal point for many social occassions all those years ago.
Oh how times have changed - the Church of England now has female priests, yet I never read of any female disciples in the Bible, it also openly allows "gay" priests to officiate, yet I can't remember reading of any such behaviour amongst our Lord's chosen twelve or subsequent "saints".
Despite being taught to be tolerant and receptive to the views of other people, I would admit to being a little uncomfortable in the modern surroundings of some of our churches today. I would be dishonest if I said that I agreed with some of the drift away from traditional theology, I clearly do not. Yet, the church should still be a place for "sinners" and not the self righteous, so in some respects I agree with the spokesman for the Bishop of Durham when he said of the recent case involving Daniel Devlin;
"The Bishop is aware of the proceedings against Danny Devlin and the Church agreed that bail be given as long as he lived in a local vicarage.
This is fine by me as it provides some sort of arrangement whereby Devlin is removed from the community in Seaham, where it was apparent that he was downloading child porn whilst working in the local area. It also provides an opportunity for the Bishop's staff to provide counselling and support to Devlin before he appears at Durham Crown Court for sentencing.
Importantly however, what these arrangements do not provide is a level of reassurance for the residents of St. Oswin's Street in South Shields where Devlin inhabits the former vicarage. It provides no measure of support to the parents of children, such as myself, who no doubt use the same park as Devlin, it provides no sense of security to the teachers, pupils and parents of the local community schools less than a stone's throw from the former vicarage. Worse still, as the events of yesterday evening portend, the arrangements invite the unwelcome prospect of "vigilante" actions against Devlin, and this would be something which I could not condone. We are all subject to the law of the land and the processes of justice must be allowed to run their course. Devlin (as pictured by the Shields Gazette) is likely to be given a custodial sentence as well as being added to the Sex Offenders' Register.
Where the Diocese of Durham has attempted to give "pastoral support" at arms length, they have succeeded in enraging the local residents needlessly. One wonders why such "pastoral support" could not be found within the confines of the Bishop's Palace at Auckland Castle, or the many buildings within the precincts of Durham Cathedral, places of traditional sanctuary?
I would like to sign off by saying "suffer the little children to come unto me", but it's a bit risky these days! (Heaven knows what Cranmer would have to say about the matter)
Information has come to the Corner Shop that the property in St. Oswin's Street is not a former vicarage at all, but an existing vicarage. The property is being used by a current Church of England priest in South Shields, as well as Devlin. The priest formerly worked in the parish of Dawden and Seaham and may have met Devlin there.
This must cast suspiscions upon the priest and question his relationship with Devlin and the amount that he knew of his activities. The information might also give cause for concern about how the Diocese of Durham decided to allocate a property to Devlin, did he volunteer a request to be quartered with a priest that he knew? Did the priest actively request that Devlin be sent to South Shields? Was anyone who made the decision aware of the close proximity of schools and parks?
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
Out with the old.
Demolition men at work!_________________________________________________________________
I took a walk this morning before heading to the Corner Shop to begin my shift behind the counter.
I had deliberately chosen to visit the old East Holborn area of South Shields, shown in this Google satellite image, as it is undergoing some considerable change - my intention was to capture some images for use in Curly's Photoshop.
It's a very historic area of the town and it's roots go back into the eighteenth century and beyond when it was a hotbed of local industry, chemical works, shipyards, glassworks, etc. The houses around here were built upon ballast hills, spoil material deposited by years of visiting wooden hulled craft. It is also the location of The Rose and Crown public house which still retains an aged character and was the popular watering hole for shipyard workers at the old Middle Docks.
Now many of the familiar landmarks are being demolished to make way for a whole new riverfront in the future. Old factories, such as Peter Johnson's and the pipeworks have already been flattened and the Middle Docks properties are now being brought down and, possibly, the docks will be recaimed from the river. The plan is for a huge new development including mixed housing, office accomodation, hotel and leisure, and more open views of the river.
I understand that the land under development is owned by Branmore Investments Ltd., a company headed by South Tyneside Councillor Allen Branley (pictured) and his business partner Alan Mordain who is a candidate in tomorrow's by-election in the Cleadon Village and East Boldon ward. The two hold a good hand and will be mainly responsible for the remodelling and redevelopment of the riverside, so it will be interesting and exiting to observe the progress of the project.
It has to be said that it takes people of vision, foresight, and a willingness to take a risk on the chance that lands like these become available, I would suggest that being in the right place at the right time is also an important factor.
There are only two councillors on South Tyneside Council who do not claim the Members Allowance, they are the Independants Cllr. Allen Branley and his wife Cllr. Jane Branley; Allen Branley has also faced criticism in the past year for his poor attendance record at Council meetings and has been quoted as saying that some committee meetings are nothing more than "talking shops" that "spout hot air", he reckons he can get through more council business than most others by dealing directly with officers on behalf of his constituents - obviously a man of action!
Anyway, his demolition works will make some very interesting additions to the photoblog and a lasting record to the end of an industrial era of shipbuilding and repair on the Tyne.
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Brown sneaks in
Gordon Brown to move into No. 10
Apparently on the advice of "security officials" Chancellor Gordon Brown will be moving his wife and family into the flat above No. 10 Downing Street within the next few days. This is being done with the full agreement of Tony and Cherie Blair in a bizarre twist to Labour's leadership crisis.
As Peter Hain begins to map out his challenge for the Deputy Leader's job, one might speculate what might happen if another MP decides to challenge Gordon Brown for the leadership, the Chancellor apparently didn't want the news of his move into No. 10 to break too early in case he was seen to be "looking presumptious". The move was confirmed by his office last night after it was leaked by others -possibly within Downing Street.
Whilst the problems gather apace for the Labour Party - Tony Blair will face a frosty reception at the TUC Conference today - Opposition Leader David Cameron is doing a sterling job of keeping his nose out of Labour's affairs, there is absolutely no need for negative politics in this matter, so he calmly lets the story unfold publicly to allow us to make our own judgements.
Yes - it's very presumptious Gordon!
The Times Online
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