31/12/2012

GONGS GONE MAD!


I’d like to kick off 2013 by asking if the ‘gongs’ given out in the New Year Honours list has now reached an all-time low?

I was always of the opinion that honours; as in Knighthoods, were awarded for outstanding dedication and contribution to the country or lifelong achievements in helping others, but we now have sports people who after training for four years, walk away with Knighthoods, OBE’s and CBE’s – suddenly we are dishing honours out like confetti; and no matter how grubby and sleazy your past is, a cash handover to a political party not only absolves you from all blame, it also appears to guarantee you honours. It’s getting so common to receive an honour; it has degraded the position and undermined the credibility of the recipient. How can anyone compare Sir Winston Churchill with Sir Terry Wogan?

But as for these sporting Olympians – I thought the whole business was about taking part? Surely winning the medals should be reward enough. Winning a medal at the Olympics, although a truly wonderful and brilliant achievement should not automatically warrant an OBE, CBE, MBE, or any other award!

 

One small fact that raises an interesting question is that wives of Knights can be called "Lady” now, presuming that same-sex marriage were to become legal in the UK, as David Cameron is bent on pushing through Parliament, would Sir Elton John and his partner David; should they choose to become full-on married; would they be known as Sir Elton and Lady David John?

The whole honours system needs a massive overhaul.

22/12/2012

A GREEN FAMILY SEES RED OVER SANTA’S VISIT


Apparently Tameside’s only remaining Santa has been given the sack after telling the young offspring of a ‘green’ Tameside family that he would not be delivering presents this year because their mummy and daddy had installed solar panels on their roof.

According to a spokesperson from Tameside council’s ‘elf & safety’ Gnome Diversity Department, I was informed that, “…parking a fully loaded sleigh on a glass covered slopping roof is considered extremely dangerous and therefore the traditional Christmas delivery system has had to be shelved!” He went on, “…it was bad enough when every bloody year we got some obese Santa getting stuck up a chimney, so it was decided at last week’s full council meeting that this extra hazard was just a risk too far …It’s just not on!”

In dramatic scenes here earlier today, the redundant Father Christmas (otherwise known as Santa Claus) had to be detained by Tameside’s Hobby Bobbies on suspicion of being extremely inebriated while trying to kick-start a posse of defecating reindeer in the middle of Hyde’s new £1.3 million Civic Square.

However, when I questioned a couple of onlookers who had wandered into Hyde by mistake, I was told by Mr Ali Bye (22) A Job Centre Employee, from Stalybridge; that this was not the first Tameside Santa to have been made redundant. He said, “…It’s typical of Tameside council. ...it  also goes some way to explain why year on year, the towns Christmas trees are getting ‘piddling and small’. He explained "Last year I got fourteen Santa's jobs in Tameside, this year only two; one cried off with Norovirus  and now the other one's been arrested. ...The reason the council called for less Santa’s is 'cause four of ‘um last year got mugged, two arrested for shopliftin’, one for child molestin’, and two done for being drunk in charge of inflatable reindeer!"

For those of you who are interested in the fate of the reindeer, well, they were incarcerated overnight behind Hyde Police Station before being shipped over to Blackpool zoo where they were given some fresh hay from a recently vacated nativity play.

Merry Christmas from Tameside.

Best Wishes to you all and look forward to a blogging good year in 2013

Curmudgeon

21/12/2012

THE END

The Ancient Mayans predicted today as doomsday!



End of the world, my arse!

LETTER TO THE EDITOR



It looks like Tameside councils most vociferous critic and prolific writer of letters to the Editors, has been admonished by one of Tameside’s highest paid council officials! On a package more ludicrous than the Prime Minister, Steven Pleasant has taken time off from ‘running the council’ to bandy words with Roger Bamford a resident of Hollingworth, who he believes has ‘damned the efforts and achievements of Tameside’s pupils’.


Now reading Mr Bamford’s letter, published in last week's Tameside Reporter, I couldn’t find a whiff of criticism damning anybody but Tameside council who according to Ofsted, have reported that the boroughs secondary schools had slipped to 145th out of 150 education councils. (Source: Ofsted)

Mr Pleasant has responded by saying that Tameside primary schools performed better than the national average and better than most other areas in Greater Manchester!

But having now read the report, it clearly states that, in some local authority areas, pupils have a less than 50% chance of going to a good primary school’ and unfortunately, Tameside is languishing 15 places from the bottom of this table too. Not only that, but the report states that Tameside is the worst performing education authority with the Greater Manchester region. (Source: Ofsted)

No wonder the Chief Executive is hiding his embarrassment behind smoke and mirrors!

17/12/2012

CONNECTICUT SHOOTING



As we mourn the deaths of 20 innocent children and six adults who were shot and killed at a Connecticut elementary school, the sheer bloody horror of this latest evil act of madness; just as those massacres that appear to be occurring all too frequently in these modern times, is hard to imagine, let alone try to understand.

Understandably, as a first reaction, thought has turned to banning all guns, but that would only make matters worse. It would be a knee-jerk response, but it shouldn’t be beyond the wit of man to come up with a system that fits with the US Constitution and allows sportsmen, hunters and farmers to continue to use sporting or field guns, while preventing people like this recent killer from having access to the sort of sophisticated automatic weaponry that can kill so many people in such a short period of time.

But now is not the right time to consider or enter into serious debate over this. It’s Christmas, a time for children; a time for loving and giving.

For me, today is a day for inward reflection on this unbearable tragedy.

Today is not a day to discuss gun laws, today a day when my tears and thoughts are with the parents, families and friends of those poor innocent, blameless tiny children, whose Christmas presents will already have been lovingly wrapped and carefully placed under the family trees; never to be unwrapped. It's heart breaking to think that all those carefully chosen gifts will never be heralded by excited squeals of joy and thanks, neither will they produce the spontaneous hugs and kisses that our children, grandchildren, nephews and nieces will give us on Christmas morning.

Those poor people, they will never get over it!

ANOTHER CASE OF HYPOCRISY BY A POLITICIAN


You really have to wonder at the crass duplicity and hypocritical behaviour of some MPs.

No matter which side of the political divide they sit; how some of these people have the nerve and temerity to pontificate over moral issues really amazes me. Last week it was revealed that a senior Tory politician who claimed marriage could only work between “one man and one woman” was exposed by his former mistress as having an 11 year affair.

Have these people got any integrity? This is more than a cheating husband story; no matter what your take is on the subject, this person has single headedly undermined a large sway of opinion regarding the Gay Marriage debate by the unveiling of his hypocrisy after saying, “religious same-sex marriages was wrong on ‘principle’.

We’re always being told that the Tory party is the party that believes in family values, the trouble is now you have to wonder if it's your wife they value.

In my opinion this MP should be made to step down immediately but, judging by the Tories recent track record, they would probably shoot themselves in the foot, again!

15/12/2012

TESCO RUMOUR QUASHED? – IN YOUR DREAMS!

It would seem that there were a few heated exchanges at last week’s Longdendale and Hattersley’s District Assembly!

Apparently, someone touched a nerve and Cllr Fitzpatrick responded by ‘going on the offensive’ and apparently slammed people who he accused of ‘putting Hattersley down’

All this shouting was over the rumour that the Giant TESCO had plans to close and open-up again as a ‘distribution centre’ However, Cllr Fitzpatrick said, ‘He had heard the rumour and had been assured by the company that this was not true!’

Well, that maybe the case, but TESCO also told our councillors that 500 jobs would be created with 250 going to the long-term unemployed people of Hattersley! But as we all know that proved to be false and despite continual requests for explanations from the council, not one councillor has come-up with a tangible explanation; - so forgive me if I’m sceptical!


His angry rant does not detract attention away from the lack of answers to questions posed by concerned residents as to why, after only a 6 months trading, TESCO have now applied to the council to amend their terms of agreement and allow 24hr-7 days a week deliveries; a facility much needed if the company was to apply to open-up as a distribution centre at some undetermined time in the future.

What our local councillors choose to ignore is the fact that when it comes to big companies, it seems that people power has no effect. Their attitude is totally against the spirit of the times when the enormous power of supermarket monopolies like Tesco is being challenged all over the country.

Cllr Janet Cooper showed her naivety on the subject by stating the blindingly obvious when she said, “Any application to turn the store into a distribution centre would have to go to planning, but no such request has.” (She’s still to learn that massive amounts of corporate cash and influence out gun and rule over common sense and the wishes of the people)

No, Janet, of course it hasn’t! There would be no point until you and your council colleagues had granted their application for 24hr-7 day a week delivery facilities, would there?

But once you had done that, an application to change could soon follow.

Of course you’ll all say at that stage the council will refuse; but there are reports of overturned council decisions right across the country! Once TESCO threaten to appeal; (Tesco could seek legal costs against Tameside; that could cost the council hundreds of thousands of pounds) like other councils have discovered, when faced with the might of TESCO or one of the other big supermarkets, you’ll collapse, and hey-presto, despite petitions signed by thousands of villagers, we’ll have a distribution depot to add to our misery.

Then we’ll see who has let the people of Hattersley down.

14/12/2012

...AND ANOTHER THING

I see Cllr Taylor is getting a bit upset with those companies who avoid paying their fair share of tax

He claims that Britain is a soft touch!

Well maybe he should write a letter of complaint to The Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP - Chair of the Public Accounts Committee who, it has been revealed has shares in the family company, Stemcor.

Although the majority of her investment is reported to be held in trust for her children and grandchildren. Surely, in the councillor’s view, this is a typical example of tax avoidance, and therefore, as Councillor Taylor suggests; Margaret Hodge must be sent to try it in China!

Now personally, I would say that it isn’t tax avoidance as it is the simple use of the law to reduce a future tax bill. Just like the use of ISA’s are; in other words, a ‘tax-free’ form of saving for the rest of the populous.

So, rather than going off half-cocked, tilting at windmills, the councillor might have been better employed addressing his anger at the Muppets who made the tax laws.

The political class, of which he, is one!

LIBRARIES ARE IMPORTANT


Dr Seuss said, ‘The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn the more places you'll go.’

There once was a man; born into a poor family in the neighbouring town of Oldham. Aged 15, this uneducated teenage mill-worker happened across a second-hand dictionary. Its price was sixpence.

To buy that dictionary cost him two weeks' personal pocket-money!

By reading that dictionary from cover to cover; mastering and expanding his vocabulary, led him to discover and properly understand that the things that men have written about in books, opened a wider field of pleasure than all the small actualities of personal experience most of us can evolve throughout all the waking hours of our days.

That boy became the Leader of the Labour Party and led it through its major breakthrough in the 1922 general election when Labour went from 52 seats to 142 and became Home Secretary in 1929.

Today, despite local protests, the Labour led Tameside council, based in the town of Ashton-under-Lyne are closing public libraries.

Tameside’s councillors should remember that a love for reading begins with books, it also ends with it.

At a time when Tameside council are considered by Ofsted to be one of the lowest educational attainment authorities, could it be more than co-incidental that Tameside are closing many of their town’s libraries?

12/12/2012

THE LUNATICS HAVE TAKEN OVER THE ASYLUM


Our Climate Change Minister for Energy, Ed Davey, speaking from the Doha Climate Change Conference, reported that the “countries taking part in the second Kyoto period (2013 to 2020) now only account for around 14% of world CO2 emissions!

Now that China, India, the USA and even Japan are no longer part of the Kyoto targets, can somebody please persuade our blinkered politicians to wake-up to the fact that our industrial competitors are no longer falling for this ridiculous fairy tale.

Perhaps this is why 86% of the world’s countries do not bother to turn up to listen to our Minister for Energy or his EU friends.

Today we hear that our energy bills are due to rise for us yet again! This means less disposable income for the population, higher overheads for business and puts economic growth even further away.

In the face of all this, you’ve got to ask yourself, why do our politicians ignore the fact that global-warming is based on flawed science and the fact that rises in energy costs will condemn millions into fuel poverty with bills they will not be able to pay? Could it be that it simply creates a climate of perpetual emergency that allows endless opportunities for further taxation and the erosion of liberty?

In my opinion, man-made 'climate change' is just an excuse to increase the government take by introducing another tax and has a lot more to do with money and politics than science. In fact, the global-warming movement is, as far as I can see, essentially the reverse of science – the manipulation and destruction of empirical data to support a theory whose accuracy was decided in advance.

10/12/2012

THE BUCK STOPS HERE, or should it be THERE?


I was wondering why it was left to Tameside’s Chief Executive to defend the council’s stance after being pilloried by Ofsted for the terrible position in which they find themselves in the table of successful schools? - (145th out of 150 local authorities!)

We all know that many of Tameside’s councillors are reluctant to answer difficult questions; we’re still waiting to hear about the ‘TESCO’ question, but if it is now the practice to run and hide behind the Chief Executive at the first sign of press criticism, one must ask why these expenses claiming career councillors, who are posing as heads of scrutiny panels and who have been appointed to monitor the academic achievement of our schools, are actually there.

This follows the publication of Ofsteds annual report, where, for the first time they have published league tables. Tameside council was reported as being 145 on the list of best and worst local authorities. In other words, 5 places from the bottom!

Steven Pleasant was wheeled out to face the press, and answer for the council's failure to Tameside parents. Basically he refuted the report, implying Sir Michael Wilshaw, the Ofsted chief was wrong, while he CEO of Tameside council was right, maintaining the report was 'subjective' and purely 'an opinion!' He concluded, Tameside's results were actually getting better year on year because of the investment made by the council in the now scapped 'Building Schools for the Future' scheme; an expensive PFI scheme that was introduced by the previous Government.

But, is it really Steven Pleasant’s place to defend council policy? Surely, that is the place of our democratically elected politicians.

 

08/12/2012

GAY MARRIAGE IN CHURCHES, LET BATTLE COMMENCE


Who has the power to redefine social structures such as marriage? Well it appears that David Cameron has!

Cameron on BBC News: “But let me be absolutely one hundred per cent clear, if there is any church or any synagogue or any mosque that doesn't want to have a gay marriage it will not, absolutely must not, be forced to hold it!”

Let me just say that I don't really have a horse in this race, though I am sympathetic to the idea of civil partnerships.

It seems to me that once again when current politicians get involved, they'd rather create a new law instead of amending an existing one. They should look to their history and learn the lessons their forebears learne; that politics is less about implementing optimum solutions; it’s more about stopping the worst!


The problem, as I understand it, is that current ‘Civil Partnership’ legislation does not confer automatic ‘next of kin’ status in the event of one partner dying intestate. The surviving partner therefore has no legal right of inheritance over any property or monies, even if the couple has been living together for many years in a shared property, whereas the surviving partner of a marriage does.

Therefore, the simple answer would be to amend the law accordingly, allowing couples who have committed to enter a ‘civil partnership’ to inherit in the same way.

The issue is whether this should receive the recognition and endorsement of society through a change in the law and all that implies?

I have to say that I remain dismayed at the unbelievable stupidity of Cameron and others who are pushing through a completely undemocratic policy, where the majority of people in this country have expressed their desire to continue to see ‘marriage’ remain between one man and one woman.


If Cameron and his supporters are 'so for' the institution of marriage, then presumably they understand that one of the main purposes' was to join in sexual union and be 'as one body'! - Leading to procreation
In my opinion, holding-up lifelong marriage between a man and a woman as the ideal is important. We should not be about lowering standards and expectations, simply because people fall short of it! Ideally, we try to understand what is undermining it and seek to put proper supports in place to put it right.

This proposal to put 'gay marriage' on an equal footing will 'ratchet up' the pressure even more and devalue the family unit further.

As I see it, the crux of the argument seems to be over the word "marriage" and the religious component.

The dictionary defines Marriage thus: Marriage: c.1300, "act of marrying, entry into wedlock;" also "state or condition of being husband and wife;" from O.Fr. mariage "marriage; dowry" (12c.), from V.L. *maritaticum (11c.), from L. maritatus, pp. of maritatre "to wed, marry, give in marriage"

Marriage is a word that relates to the joining of ‘one man with one woman’ that is known across the world. By redefining it you are thus going to either confuse or infuriate many countries. After all, if marriage is redefined then the French equivalent, "marriage", will no longer directly translate as it will still mean the joining of 1 man and 1 woman. So we will be in the ironic position of having to use a French word to describe a proper marriage which is spelled the same and sounds more or less the same, but not quite.

This issue, far more than the theological ones, must surely be used to try and make David Cameron and his pals in the coalition see sense. Otherwise we simply have to despair at the quickest fall from intelligence to insanity in the history of the world.

This is an issue which should concern all thinking people, whether atheist, humanist or religious. Cameron and Clegg are attempting to redefine the core building block of society, the family unit which gives humanity its ability to renew itself in an orderly way, in fact to replicate. The introduction of new legislation is therefore tantamount to messing with society's DNA.
 
So, to sum up, I think it is reasonable for homosexuals to expect a legal form of civil partnership. This of course should not be called marriage, but an attempt to widen the current marriage laws in to same sex civil partnerships.
Another point, and one which seems fundamental when one speaks about the essentials of a traditional ‘marriage’ is the consummation of that marriage; and failure for this to happen used to be, and as far as I know, probably still is, grounds for annulment.
Therefore, as homosexuals cannot possibly consummate in a natural way, they cannot marry. By the same rule, non-consummation by same sex couples, should not be considered a reason for annulment in civil partnerships.

Before parliament and our politicians embark on this high risk road, we should ask a Royal Commission with members drawn from all walks of life; across all faiths, traditions and none, to assess whether this is really the direction we want our country to go in.

Marriage is a union between a man and a woman, anything else, is something else!

I'd be interested in hearing your comments.

 

07/12/2012

THE BIG QUESTION NEEDS A BIG ANSWER


If Tameside council wants to save money, then the big question that many constituents have been asking; and still await the big answer, is why do we need 3 councillors in each ward? That’s 3 lots of allowances, expense claims, and possibly 3 lots of free pensions to pay!

 Ask a Tameside councillor to justify their existence and invariably they’ll tell you they are overworked looking after the welfare of their constituents, but with a population of approx 215.000, that equates to approximately 3772 citizens per councillor. Contrast that with London’s 25 councillors who administer the affairs of over 7.6million citizens (that’s 304,000 per councillor) or New York with a population of 8.4million, they only have 51 councillors, which averages 165,000 each.

Based on those figure, we could easily trim each ward down to two councillors and save maybe £200,000 - per year, every year!
The purpose of a councillor is to represent the people of a local ward in their council. They are elected to bring their expertise and experience to address the specific needs of their local community. These duties are meant to be separate from their private and professional lives outside the council and their position is voluntary. Any payments they receive are not intended to represent earnings but instead to compensate them for incidental expenses incurred in fulfilling their duties in local government such as the use of their phones, transportation and office expenses.



That being the case, several of Tameside's councillors must be putting in quite a lot of mileage and been constantly on the phone’ to rack up £35.000 every year  in expenses! That’s a fiver short of £100 per day, 365 days a year!
Poor things, they must must be worn out!
Then we have council leaders calling for us to engage in ‘The Big Conversation’ but as far as I understand, communication is a two-way street, therefore without two way dialogue, there can no ‘Big Conversation’ and in fact there has been little or no dialog or democracy in our council since the cabinet system was introduced.

If you study it, you can immediately see how it is a benefit to the officials as a type of empowerment, but to the detriment of the electorate; it’s also a disadvantage to many of the council’s own councillors who would like to say more if they were given the chance.

Under the cabinet system; a system that was introduced by the last council leader; reminiscent of Yoda; the wise one, pontificating to his underlings, which in reality, renders those who are not in the cabinet with no real power to change, or influence what the select few have decided, or do - regardless of their roles on scrutiny committees, special panels or other groups.

In fact; as an example of just how undemocratic and unnecessarily costly this system is; cannot be better illustrated than the fact that when a certain councillor asked for information regarding a council decision, it is alleged that they were told to submit a FOI request. (The cost of an average FOI request is approx £293.00 each)

In essence, for those councillors who are not active within the inner-cabinet, their roll is almost perfunctory, never the less; they are still roles that attract additional, unwarranted, and unnecessary ‘Special Responsibility Allowances!’ So, apart from the chosen 'few', most of the remaining councillors may as well go home and put their feet up until the next election, when they can be wheeled out again to bolster Labours standing.
Governing by this system; and judging by a number of recent decisions, they might as well hand the entire running of Tameside council over to their friends at Tesco's. We would at least then have the benefit of a superbly run organisation doing what the council was really intended to do – i.e. sweep the streets, mend the potholes, improve the standard of our schools, empty the bins on the day they say they’re going to empty them and look after council tax payers by running all the social services properly. Above all, we need openness and honesty.

You might think this is typical of Tameside, but it’s happening in councils up and down the country. They too have to make tough decisions- should they cut all the daft jobs- the outreach units, diversity officers and traveller liaison groups? Should they get rid of all the staff on long term 'sick' as well as all the spare 'managers', 'facilitators' and 'team leaders'? Or should they spend less on expensive and pointless 'training', new slogans and rebranding consultants?

No, no, no. Don't be silly! It's much easier to stop filling in the potholes, close the towns libraries and shut down all the swimming pools.
And if we object, we have to put up with clipped remarks from a narrow-minded collection of career councillors who saddle us with ever increasing burdens of red tape and bureaucracy; policy and layers and layers of management, hidden behind hyperbole, semantics and half-baked schemes.

Increasingly, and to our detriment, these members of the inner sanctum now seem compelled to get involved in projects that are far beyond their capabilities, which merely allow senior officers to earn lots of money, whilst producing nothing. An example of this style of management is best illustrated by the news regarding the loss of M&S from Ashton town centre. That, together with the continuous building of out of town retail outlets and giant supermarkets, has demonstrated how to kill our high streets, town centres and markets. All too often, presumably through a total lack of market intelligence, the last thing they encourage is 'extra business' and street vitality, which is after all what promotes the heavy foot fall which brings in the wealth; which in turn enables more taxes to be collected, and hopefully, spent wisely.

Let’s be honest; as recent readers letters show, they can’t even operate a comprehensive parking plan for the disabled, or dream up a colour coded refuse collection scheme that operate equally throughout the borough!

They say they are listening, but this council sees criticism as being confrontational. So rather than embrace, accept or act on it, they will do everything in their power to make critics seem irrational and their suggestions or analysis, made to appear absurd. This behaviour is typical of quasi-politicians who have come to imitate their Westminster counterparts by saying one thing whilst practicing another.

 As I mentioned, the council has spent thousands on launching and operating their ‘Big Conversation’ yet should one try to contact their local councillor with a question or complaint; they simply ignore your letters! They have become as popular with the public as is our bankers!

I’m beginning to think that political parties should be banned from Local Government. Constituents should vote for the person who they reckon will look after their interests - not be faced with a system where party whips can enforce a vote because it is either Labour/Tory/Lib Dem policy.

06/12/2012

ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST!


After it was revealed that 60’s celebrities, entertainment icons and high profile politicians; the likes of Sir Jimmy Savile, Garry Glitter and Sir Cyril Smith had been exposed and were being investigated by police who suspected them of child abuse, it came as no real surprise that the 82 year old Stuart Hall, CBE had also been arrested and charged with assaulting three young girls in the 70’s and 80’s.

What I did find surprising however, was when the news broke; there were already a number of news journalists outside Mr Hall’s premises and others outside Wilmslow Police Station.

Now presumably these reporters weren’t just stood there on the off chance that someone in the vicinity was about to be swooped on by the police, therefor the only assumption one can deduce, is that the police informed the press before they arrested Mr Hall!                                                  
 
The same thing happened a few weeks back when Paul Gadd (Gary Glitter) was taken away to be interviewed by police in London.
Don’t tell me that several dozen journalists, cameramen and TV cameras were outside Mr Gadd’s flat, just by chance at 6.00am on a Sunday morning! ...Anyone got Judge Leveson’s phone number?

A PLAN FROM MR BALLS


It was interesting to hear Ed Balls announce on Sky News this morning that as well as putting the tax rate back up to 50p for the rich, (A question he refused to answer yesterday when he was asked directly by George Osborne during the Autumn statement) that Labour, if and when, they are ever asked to form a government; in a move to kick-start the economy, they would take the one-off income from the next generation (4G) mobile phone licences and build 100,000 affordable homes!

But as usual with Ed Balls, he did not expand on the plan.

The problem is, 'affordable homes', aren't affordable to people on the minimum wage! It’s been calculated that anyone wishing to buy a new house, would have to save £250 a month for 8 years, just to put down the deposit!

Then there’s the question of the mortgage. People will not be granted a mortgage if they are unemployed!

However, if he meant building ‘social housing’, or, in other words, ‘council housing’, then the sooner, the better.

100,000, council houses would mean more employment, guaranteed income/return on investment for local government, reduced pay-outs in housing benefits, lower housing costs for all, lower mortgage payments, less credit in society and greater social integration. But of course that was needed in 1997 when they first came to office; and the need increased when Labour had its immigration frenzy. Why didn’t Ed Balls announce the policy then? Labour said many things in 1996 in the run-up to the election, like free education and then of course at a time of plenty decided to charge students, charge for prescriptions, they even thought about charging for GP's…

Labour rely on the fact that voters have short memories, so all these announcements and promises of milk & honey are all very well, but with the next general election two and a half years away; it would take many years build 100,000 houses.

The economy needs growth now!

05/12/2012

A FOOL AND HIS MONEY ARE SOON PARTED


According to the Metro; this month, as winter grips, we have people in Cumbria and Wiltshire walking up to 20 miles to receive food parcels, and throughout the rest of the country, thousands of people are in danger of dying of hypothermia.
Meanwhile, on jetting in to the United Nations climate change talks in Qatar, Ed Davey, the Liberal Democrat Energy Secretary made a pledge to fund £2 billion of foreign projects including wind turbines in Africa and greener cattle farming in Colombia.

The UK’s package of support is believed to include almost £100 million to help to subsidise renewable energy in Africa, such as electricity produced from wind and solar farms and around £15 million to help cattle farmers practise ‘low carbon agriculture’ in Colombia and £14 million will help build wind farms and other renewables in Uganda.

How on earth can politicians think it right to send billions in aid to countries far afield and yet we cannot look after our own people in winter time!

It’s a national disgrace that today in Great Britain we have tens of thousands of starving people deprived of basic human needs; the British public are being taxed to the hilt; we have hundreds of families facing a bleak winter because their homes have been flooded; there are millions of people taking ‘payday loans’ to pay for Christmas; we have food banks, huge youth unemployment and thousands of hard working parents and pensioners who can’t afford to pay their bills, heat their homes and adequately feed their families, yet our Government, who must be being led by Muppets, can still find the resources to fund any number ‘climate’ ventures throughout the world.

There is no way in this day and age, in Great Britain that anybody should die because they cannot afford to heat their home or eat sufficient foods to keep them healthy or warm.

The first priority of any Government should be the safety of its citizens; borrowing money so that politicians can go posturing on the world stage, announcing overseas vanity projects, should be amongst the lowest priorities for Government spending in the current financial climate.

There were 24,000 deaths linked to cold weather last winter! Just think how many might have survived if that money had been used to reduce their domestic fuel bills or invested in better care?

Heating and Lighting should not be treated a luxury in the 21st Century! The Gas suppliers, the Electric companies and this inept bunch of incompetent, self-serving, politically correct parasites who purport to govern our once Great Britain, should hang their heads in shame.
Yes, as the proverb says: A fool and his money are soon parted, but the problem here is that they are spending our money, not their own! 
 

 

03/12/2012

BIG CONFUSION



On reading the ‘Big Conversation’ pages on Tameside council’s website, one of their statements had me totally baffled. On the ‘Refuse collection vehicles and recycling services’ section, the last sentence says: We will also plan to improve recycling facilities for visitors to our cemeteries.

Now, can anybody explain what this sentence means?

01/12/2012

A MAGNIFICENT SEVEN!

Typical of my luck. …I hadn’t seen a goal for weeks and the time I miss a game, 7 come along at once!

Apparently, after today’s game, Woking's Commercial
Manager took professional advice and used the opportunity to launch their own brand of toilet paper to complement their football team. A spokesperson for the visiting side explained, “I think it was Trev’ Leech who thought of the idea while he was watching our lads standing around play. The Manager thought it was a crap idea, but, as Trev’ said, ‘it’s the closest Woking fans will get to see any sort of clean sheet!”

A brilliant effort from my old sponsors. ...Now let’s keep out of the bottom 4, eh?

By the way, a belated 'good luck' to the clubs newly appointed Board Directors, Colin Fielding, Mary Gibbons and my friend Trevor Leech (and I thought I’d been in advertising a long time!)

MPs – A GREAT BOOST FOR POLICE MORALE

It was appropriate that our local MPs and dignitaries paid a fitting and dignified tribute to the two fallen officers at the funerals for Nicola Hughes and Fiona Bone; the Home Secretary Theresa May even read a prayer during the service and David Cameron said, “These brave officers were simply doing their job out there protecting the public…. the incredible risks and great work our police service does”

Greater Manchester Chief Constable Sir Peter Fahy said: "Day in, day out, police officers go about their duty, go into dangerous situations, unexpected situations, and show great bravery, great courage and are with people at the very worst moments in their lives.”

Also back in September, delegates at the Labour Party Conference in Manchester held a minute's silence in honour of the two officers, where Hyde & Stalybridge MP Jonathan Reynolds, speaking about the deaths of the two police officers, told the conference: "It serves as an all-too-dreadful reminder of the danger that our policemen and women face in every force, on every day, every time they get called out."

Fast forward 2 months to 28th November where Keith Vas MP (Leicester East) called for a debate on Police Pensions.

Out of 650 MPs, less that 20 bothered to turn up! So, when there’s a riot or unarmed officers are brutally murdered on our street, politicians queue up in their hundreds to tell the world that our police are the best in the world, but when it comes to paying them and sorting out a decent pension more than 630 MPs couldn’t be bothered to turn up!

Maybe they were reflecting the poor turnout for the Police and Crime Commissioners, where on average; only 7% of the electorate could be bothered to vote. In fact, in some places, no one voted at all.

30/11/2012

LEVESON - A QUESTION OF TRUST


On publication of the long awaited Leveson Report, I believe we have a dilemma. On the one hand the perfect solution to the problems of the current press is unarguably that we need an independent authority to regulate it.
Gradually, over many years now, the ‘press’ by and large, have behaved disgracefully and there is no doubt that self-regulation has not and will not work. They have had their chance, and blown it!

But let’s not lose sight of the fact that phone hacking, fraud and bribery are all crimes; and as such should be handled by the police! After all, no one should be above the law.

It’s true, the press desperately needs regulating, but does it need legislation to guide it? In other words, will the appointed regulators need political guidance? Do we really want politicians to hold dominion over the regulators?

I think not, given the track record of our MPs; and I know we shouldn’t speak collectively; but you got to ask yourself, who among the 650 would you trust to appoint that authority?

As if we need any reminding, one only needs look back at the MP’s expenses saga, to realise that civic duty has in many cases been replaced by self-interest, and many of these so-called law makers have long standing issues with the ‘free press’ that may have exposed them; consequently some may seize the opportunity to settle old scores.

By the very nature of politics, no politician can be truely independent, so there is no way that we can place 100% of our trust in any politician. There’s also no way that we can trust any politician not to have an alternative agenda!

In my opinion, should regulation become underpinned by law; a law that has been made and therefore quite possibly changed and amended by future politicians, we will have lost yet another bastion of freedom; that of the precious freedom of the press!

One thing that history has taught us, is that once parliament has granted itself legislative powers; as night follows day, you can bet those powers will be expanded on, at some later date.

So, the shouting and lobbying begins! Where it will end, no one knows, but I suspect that we will end up with an unhealthy compromise which will consist of ever more intrusive and bureaucratic regulation with pledges and assurances that the law won't be misused. …Then, at the first hurdle, it will be.

Then, other than football reports, racings runners and riders and other sporting events and there really would be no point reading newspapers anymore, because there will be no single truth in a world ruled by political parties.

So, to conclude, we all agree that the press needs regulating to protect the innocent and the vulnerable, the question is, who do we trust with enough independence and integrity to appoint the regulators?

It’s a sad world we find ourselves living in!

29/11/2012

LOCAL MPs FIND THEIR VOICE!

 

Thursday: 10.00am  Transport Questions:
Well done Jonathan Reynolds MP and Andrew Bingham MP for seizing the day with the Secretary for Transport.
 
Let’s hope that when you meet in private with the Minister, together you can progress from words to action!


ANOTHER NAIL IN THE PUB’S COFFIN...


Is this Government trying to kill off the local pub trade once and for all; or is it a personal crusade to financially cripple the average man in the street?

Determined to be seen as a champion to influential lobbying health campaigners, our Prime Minister has come up with yet another initiative to prevent ‘binge drinking’ by introducing a minimum price of 45p on a unit of alcohol.

If this proposal goes ahead, it would hit everyone who drinks responsibly as well as those who regularly drink themselves into a state of oblivion! For instance, a bottle of supermarket home brand spirit would shoot up from £11.00 to £12.60. and everyday table wine rising from £3.99. to around £4.50.

If the Government really want to introduce a radical initiative to help prevent the sale of cheap alcohol to young ‘binge drinkers’ then they should go the whole hog and ban the sale of alcohol from all supermarkets and return the retailing of all alcohol, exclusively back to the pub; either over the bar or by reintroducing ‘off-sales’ counters. The local pub used to be the meeting place for people to socialise, have a reasonable drink and relax. But our pubs have been forced to close on a large scale over recent years - due to the escalating prices demanded for staple lines by the breweries, excessive Government taxes, smoking bans and the ‘blind eye’ the Government has turned to the big supermarkets; who are undermining local pubs by selling cheap alcohol as ‘lost leaders’ etc. The only marketing option the pubs have left to compete in this situation, is to either become gastro or themed pubs or run ‘price & drink’ promotions, in a quest to survive!

Surely it must be far better to sell alcohol in places that can monitor excessive drinking.


But there are many more reasons that Britain seem to have become the binge drinking centre of Europe and therefore much more thought must be given to combat this growing problem. The Government should know by now that there is no one ‘silver bullet’ that will fix it!

                                                                         In other countries being drunk in public is not socially acceptable and not something to be proud of or to boast about later. Here, it is. I think it is less to do with the price of booze or disposable income, and more to do with forms of rebellion and wanting to be "cool". We glorify sports people and celebrities for partying, and we copy them. In other countries, this kind of behaviour is seen as pitiable or shameful.

Although I, like most of my peers, did engage in under age drinking; when I was 18, I was legally introduced to drinking by my father; in many ways it was a rite of passage that many youngsters growing up in the late 60’s early 70’s experienced. Therefore, when I went drinking in pubs in my area and because families lived closer together, pubs were frequented by the older generation and there was always someone in the pub who knew my family. So if I was ever out-of-order, this info’ would trickle back to my parents. Now we have big city centre pubs, trendy bars and student only drinking holes with only young people in them, and with families spread around the country, if a youngster drinks too much, and started fighting or was rushed to A&E, their parents would never know and start disciplining them.

Youngsters who learn to drink in the company of adults are more likely to learn how to behave than those who guzzle supermarket booze on street corners.

Unfortunately, politicians seem determined to destroy the traditional pub, so they should shoulder much of the blame!

The other major change has been the opening times. The introduction of 24-hour opening has been a major factor in the increase of ‘binge drinking’ although it was initially a measure brought in to relive the pressure on town centre police from being overstretched when all the pubs closed at 11.00 and the congestion caused by late night revellers fighting for all night buses and taxies.


As for introducing a minimum price for a unit of alcohol, well on the face of it, it may well increase the tax that will go into the treasury and may even go some way to reducing ‘binge drinking’ in certain quarters, but it will have no effect what so ever on those people who religiously go out on a Friday and Saturday night purely to get smashed. Nor will it have any effect on the guy on the bench, who may appear dirty, and apparently not have two pennies to rub together, but he will always have enough money for a ‘Tennents Super’ or bottle or two of cider, before The Cotton Bale opens for breakfast at 8.00am!

So here again we have totally out of touch politicians introducing another knee-jerk move by the that will just penalises responsible drinkers.

The tolerance and acceptance of drunkenness in our society is our problem. Watching people exit clubs and pubs, and causing a nuisance and decorating the place with ‘pavement peter’ should be tackled head on.

There is no need for any further banning or meddling. All that is required is that the current law be implemented. In most pubs, drunks are NOT ALLOWED to be served alcohol. If landlords flaunt this they should or lose their licence. Drunks are NOT ALLOWED on streets; so arrest them and fine them.


Being drunk and disorderly in a public place is an offence and should be ruthlessly enforced. Let's have zero tolerance! Minimum fines should be £500 and doubled for each repeat offence and should be duly recorded. Once people realise that carrying a criminal record for being found drunk & disorderly is one that will accompany them throughout their careers; they might then begin take responsibility for their own actions.


In order to alleviate some of the financial burden on the NHS by ‘Binge Drinking’ the Government should also consider imposing a ‘fee’ of say £75.00 for any treatment given to people who present themselves at Accident & Emergency who display any alcohol related injuries drink induced illnesses.


Once we take the glamour out of being seen as a habitual drunk and reintroduce  drunkenness in public as something one should be ashamed off, the sooner we will see a change in the nations drinking habits.

And as for politicians and their peculiar sense of logic, well it would be nice if they could be consistent.
                                                                                                  If they think higher taxes on drink deters drinking, higher taxes on tobacco deters smoking, and higher taxes on motoring deters driving, why don’t they see that higher taxes on earning and working hard deters working, and higher taxes on profits and enterprise deters job creating investment ventures?

Note to David Cameron, - “Remember, it’s not your money – someone else earned it”

28/11/2012

THE BEST SECONDARY SCHOOLS, AS RATED BY OFSTED


Ofsted have today (28 November 2012) published a table giving the percentages of pupils attending good or outstanding secondary schools by local authority area in England.

As many parents know, year on year our councillors here in Tameside never fail to tell us how good their schools are, how exam results have got better and proudly boast that each secondary school operating under their auspices, continues to improve.

That being the case, perhaps those councillors can explain how it is that according to Ofsted, Tameside schools with a score of 34% are languishing 5th from the bottom, at 145 out of 150 local authorities?

However, it’s not all doom and gloom, because in primary education Tameside schools are performing a little better; they’re positioned 14 places from the bottom at 136 out of 150 local authorities, with a score of 57% in the table of pupils attending good or outstanding primary schools!

According to the Ofsted report, over two million children – 31% of the school age range – attend schools that fall short of being good or outstanding. While some of these schools are inadequate, most are not; they are just not good enough, but Tameside seem to have more than their fair share!

It might also be interesting for our local Labour MP Andrew Gwynne to comment too. He is always telling us about the failure of the Work program and blaming the current lot for why there are so many teenagers knocking on the jobseekers door. Well these Ofsted figures makes one wonder if the two are not in some way connected?

By the way, it’s interesting to note that our neighbouring authority; Oldham are 23rd with an impressive score of 86%. Maybe some of our councillors should have a word with their counterparts…

27/11/2012

I'M A GREAT HEAD TEACHER, GET ME OUT OF HERE


It was interesting to hear that the effect on pupils’ learning has been ‘dramatic’ after a headteacher from an all-boys school in Burnage, banned his pupils from using mobile phones during school time!

But this is not news. Many schools have banned pupils from carrying and using mobiles during school time, on school premises, for years!

So why this ‘news’ has just hit the airwaves regarding pupils at Burnage Media Arts College in Manchester seems to be a bit opportunistic to me!

Perhaps a clue is contained in the schools title: ‘Media Arts College’ Maybe this story was part of an exercise of how to get an old Press Release published or merely a well-used way to raise the head teacher’s profile?

Apparently, staff at the school have said, that their students (They used to be called pupils; the term student was designated to those who attended graduate college or university!) are forbidden from using mobiles anywhere or at any time on campus (or ‘school grounds’ to those over a certain age). The ban was brought in twelve months ago after children disrupted lessons by texting and playing games on their phones. There were also concerns that pupils were cyber-bullying one another using texts and Blackberry messaging (BBM).

Surely the head teacher didn’t need to be a genius to work this out. Can people honestly be surprised that kids are doing better when they are not playing with their toys in the classroom? - I believe this is called; common sense and the real news story here should be about ‘another head teacher who has adopted the application of that old, long forgotten practice called ‘discipline’.

What I’d like to know is who paid to have these mobile phones surgically removed from their hands?