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need any reminding, one only needs look back at the MP’s expenses saga, to realise that civic duty has in many cases been replaced by self-interest, and many of these so-called law makers have long standing issues with the ‘free press’ that may have exposed them; consequently some may seize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

25/11/2012

GREETINGS FROM THE GLOSSOP GAZETTE


As you may know, for the last two and a half years I have been writing a weekly column in The Tameside Reporter & Glossop Chronicle.

Unfortunately, for some inexplicable reason that relationship ended when the new owners took over! It may have had something to do with the criticism I had been pouring on their friends on the council.

However, having now taken residence on the internet, I am happy to announce that I will also be launching a selection of my erudite musings from the pages of The Glossop Gaxette, starting with issue No 5.

Make sure you pick up a copy; I'm sure I'll have as much fun commenting on Glossops local issues as well as neighbouring Tameside!

 

MOUNTED IN WHITEHALL


Whitehall was sealed off by the police yesterday, when a naked man climbed and stood atop the statue of the Duke of Cambridge!

Apparently he was trying to make a comment but, as far as I’ve been able to ascertain, nobody seems to know just what he was protesting about. Apparently, most people merely  laughed at him!  

Maybe this disproves the old adage, coined by English author Edward Bulwer-Lytton, that the 'pen is ' mightier than the sword!

STOP PRESS! …HOLD THE FRONT PAGE!


Shoppers in Tameside will be able to park for free in Tameside’s town centres in the run up to Christmas.
At last, our councillors have made a sensible decision and decided to waive the charges in selected car parks between 9.30am and 5pm throughout December to help attract visitors and boost trade.

It appears that the penny has dropped! Now town centre retailers can compete a little more favourably with the internet. Someone has realised that Ebay doesn't have parking fees. Neither do Supermarkets and out-of-town shopping centres, which are free all year round.

Let’s just hope that after the festivities, the council scrutinize the figures which will prove what traders have been telling them for years, that there’s an argument for having free parking all the time.

People would, in the long run, use the facilities all the time, and bring more money into the towns.

24/11/2012

IN THE LAND OF THE BLIND THE ONE EYED MAN IS KING!


There was an article in last week’s Metro regarding a High School in Ipswich, that had employed a  group of part-time ‘proof-readers’ costing over £14.00 per hour. The people who took on these positions are now responsible for correcting “typographical errors, which include spelling mistakes, poor or missing punctuation, incorrect capitalization and word spacing,” ensuring “that the reports are grammatically correct,” and improving “poor grammar”.

But the work being corrected is not the work of pupils. Oh no, the work under examination are the various reports and letters written by the teachers, who frequently need to correspond with parents!

The school's head teacher, defended the need for a proof reading facility, said: “Our examination results year on year demonstrate that the school employs very high calibre teaching staff, and making a final quality check prior to the publication of reports and issuing of letters, merely indicates the high level of professionalism we strive to achieve.”

Personally, I think his explanation was a load of crap!

What it tells me is that this school's students are being taught by teachers who are obviously having problems stringing complete sentences together! It also begs the question, regarding the calibre of the teachers who taught the teachers and who are now teaching today’s students to teach English? This downward spiral merely indicates the low level of professionalism we have come to expect from some of our teachers.

I mean, come on. What chance have the school’s students got to be adept in English if, by the admission of the head teacher, the teachers cannot be trusted to write grammatically correct sentences and spell correctly? Talk about papering over the cracks.

The real problem here; and I suspect, widespread in many secondary schools across the country, which evidently is not being addressed, is that the school have employed unsuitable teachers in the first place.

It certainly goes some way to explain why the exam pass rate gets higher every year, it's simply because the standards are dropping.

I will now reach for my flak-jacket and wait for the verbal salvo.

23/11/2012

AND ANSWERS CAME THERE NONE!


It’s quite striking that week upon week through the generous auspices of the Editors of our various weekly papers; many correspondents quite rightly comment on and ask many questions of the council and its multitude of elected councillors. Conversely, it bemuses me that while a certain type of high profile, prolific political commentator will often – and quite rightly - be fairly forceful in stating their opinions in the local paper, they duck back behind the parapet whenever awkward questions are asked or adverse criticism is espoused.

Understandable perhaps, but what I can’t understand is why, when MPs and councillors are asked direct questions or criticised; especially when the readers’ comments are generally in response to matters initially raised by the councillors themselves, then more often or not, answers come there none!

If it’s the case that some councillors are not sufficiently erudite to confidently correspond comprehensively, surely they could find a qualified wordsmith from the council’s communications department to answer on their behalf. After all, it wouldn’t be the first time that a council member had called on their ‘ghost writers’ to bandy words with difficult, scholarly and discursive critics!

The result may not produce satisfactory answers; debate may not proceed productively; admittedly, debating though brutally edited copy can at times be unintelligent. Letters get started and then meander to ramblings; others engage in all manner of rhetorical tactics to deflect awkward interlocutors. But even on those occasions, when we are forced to decipher questionable standards of grammar; this would be preferable to silence, or simply being ignored as a way of obfuscation.


Last week, in Cllr Taylor’s weekly letter to the Ashtonians, paragraph 1, verse 1, he told us he was looking at some old photographs. Well with the greatest of respects, maybe his time would be better spent if put his old photo’s back in the drawer, took out his biro, and answered a few questions that refer to matters raised today - and do it personally! – After all, we’ve never seen him send an assistant or a 'stand-in' to a photo’ op, have we?

22/11/2012

VIVE LA REVOLUTION



News today tells us that once again the Coalitions borrowing rose from £5.9 billion in October 2011 to an extra £8.6bn this October. 

Two and a half years on from the Labour economic disaster, you got to ask, have we actually made any progress at all?

Tax, borrow and waste continues, tax receipts decline and benefits rise, the gas and electric companies are ripping us off and the good old BBC's in crisis.
 
On top of that, The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority have approved the fact that two Labour MPs; Debbie Abrahams and Julie Elliott have claimed thousands of pounds in expenses to rent London flats which were bought by former Labour MPs with the help of the taxpayer.

Can somebody explain just how far down the food chain you have to go these days before you find an honest person?

20/11/2012

THE COMEBACK KING?



This weekend, November 24th, our very own Hyde lad, ‘The Hitman’ Ricky Hatton returns to the ring to face former WBA world champion Vyecheslav Senchenko.

In my column two years ago, (October 2010) I wished Ricky all the best in his rehabilitation and sincerely hoped he could face and destroy his demons; pull himself together and live a long and happy life.                                                
Over the years, Ricky had provided me and thousands of boxing fans from all over the world, with hours of first class boxing entertainment; he was one of the best boxers this country has ever produced and I was sorry to see him in that position.

So my head says that in this comeback fight, he can't win, but my heart desperately wants him to succeed. Even if he loses the fight, hopefully he will win the battle and be content to face the tough challenges of a training career and once again become a legend in the ring, but this time through others in his boxing stable.

Remembering the' bad press' since Ricky ‘retired’ it’s easy to forget how big Ricky Hatton was between 2005 and 2009 and although I have never met him, from what I’ve seen and heard of the man, he strikes me to be a genuinely decent guy, who, without fail, always gave his all in the ring.

So, on Saturday, at the Manchester Arena, I, along with thousands of his fans, will be metaphorically standing in his corner, cheering him on and hoping that he can once again write a closing glorious chapter to his great boxing career and gain back his immense pride and self-belief.

After all, Ali did it, Mike Tyson did it, and hopefully on Saturday night, Ricky Hatton will do it!

Good luck Ricky!

 

19/11/2012

HERE WE GO AGAIN

What part of ‘NO’ do politicians not understand?

At the end of this week, MP’s will yet again be voting on whether we (Great Britain) acquiesce to the European Court of Human Rights requirement, that we give prisoners the honour to vote.

Now, as far as I can remember, we have already decided this, and it was a unanimous, NO!

Listening to some mealy-mouthed politician offering more fudge and dither by offering to include some ‘three options’ presumably so that both 'sides' can achieve their objectives, is, in my opinion, an insult to democracy. We should stick to our guns and tell them that it is not acceptable!

What is it with the EU; it was just the same with the EU referenda, when Ireland voted against the views of the EU power brokers. They are asked to vote again, with the intention of getting them to change their minds.

As David Cameron goes off to ‘negotiate’ at the EU summit, he must make them understand that in matters regarding the UK, that we are a sovereign country where Parliament decides, and it must also be made crystal clear that in regard to refusing prisoner voting rights, the UK will not be paying any fines.

Just to remind you, month ago at PMQs David Cameron said:

 "I do not want prisoners to have the vote, and they should not get the vote—I am very clear about that. If it helps to have another vote in Parliament on another resolution to make it absolutely clear and help put the legal position beyond doubt, I am happy to do that. But no one should be in any doubt: prisoners are not getting the vote under this Government."

However, based on recent developments, whenever I hear Cameron saying "I`m very clear" about something, I fear the worst.

I find it hard to believe that we have reached a stage where our elected government cannot govern properly because of the ECHR. – Our Home secretary cannot even manage deport terrorists!

Now is the time to come out of the ECHR and introduce a British Bill of Rights as promised by David Cameron during the last General Election - and to hell with what the Lib Dems think.

 

18/11/2012

IT COULDN'T HAPPEN TO A NICER SET!


Now I might be accused of wittering, but I definitely do not tweet, (…with a maximum of 180 words, it’s not something that a long-winded columnist, like yours truly, would find useful!)

However, I wouldn’t mind betting that quite a few of those highly intelligent people who have jumped on the ‘paedophile’ accusation twitter bandwagon, wished they’d never heard of ‘twitter’  too!

Lord McAlpine and his legal team have warned they have a record of everyone who tweeted or retweeted his name, and could sue them for defaming him, and Sally Bercow (The Speakers wife) is top of their list!

17/11/2012

ANOTHER DAFT IDEA FROM AN EVER INCREASINGLY DAFT GOVERNMENT.



Tony Lloyd, who was a Labour MP until last week, has been elected as the Police and Crime Commissioner for Greater Manchester.


He was a Member of Parliament from 1983. Before that, he was a councillor on Trafford Metropolitan Borough Council from 1979-84 and was deputy leader of the Labour group.

This man is a career politician. If you cut off his leg, it would say ‘Labour’ all the way through it!


Now, there is nothing wrong with that. But don’t tell me that a man who has lived and breathed political dogma throughout 33 years of political infighting, is now not going to be ’political’
 

It is just not feasible! Policing needs to be independent of party politics.

Tameside police accept massive cuts in funding!
These PCC’s should not be elected, if elected at all, on political grounds. The whole idea behind this badly thought out scheme was to bring impartiality and the voice of the people to bear on policing priorities. But on a 13.5% voter turnout, no one in their right mind can this this result is truly democratic.


However, the one saving grace is that Lord Prescott has failed in his bid to become the Police and Crime Commissioner for Humberside!


And if further proof is needed that the whole scheme is political, Lord Prescott speaking after his defeat said: "I said at the beginning, this is a Tory marginal seat. It's not a safe Labour seat. It's not even a Labour seat."

I rest my case!

 

16/11/2012

'WHAT ELECTION?'


The Home Office obviously took a leaf out of Tameside council’s book when they planned Hyde’s new ‘Civic Square’ and ran their PCC elections under the assumption that 'if you build it they will come'

The total turnout in the election for the Greater Manchester Police and Crime Commissioner has been confirmed as 13.5%. – Not a great success whichever way you look at it, however we will have to wait until around 4.00 o’clock this afternoon before we know who has been elected to shake-up the police in Greater Manchester!

This pathetic turnout not only reflects the rampant apathy of public opinion, but even more importantly, the anti-democratic way in which this comic election was run. Can any of these newly 'elected' Police and Crime Commissioners truly say they now have a mandate to represent the views of the people?
 
In principles laid down by Sir Robert Peel in 1829, it reads that it is the duty of officers "to seek and preserve public favour, not by pandering to public opinion; but by constantly demonstrating absolutely impartial service to law, in complete independence of policy, and without regard to the justice or injustice of the substance of individual laws, by ready offering of individual service and friendship to all members of the public without regard to their wealth or social standing".

This tradition has, in my opinion, served us well over the last hundred and eighty odd years and in order to retain its legitimacy, the police service cannot, in 2012, allow itself to become politicised.

Unfortunately, with most of the candidates in all 41 force areas running on a political party ticket, I find it hard to believe that political persuasions will play no part!

Of course these people must be accountable, but never political!

Democracy just doesn't work that way, as the turnout has demonstrated all too well!

When will politicians learn - If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it?

 

15/11/2012

THANK YOU FOR YOUR INVALUABLE SUPPORT


Folks, on reading this weeks Tameside Reporter, I was deeply touched by the amount of letters of support that are still pouring in calling for the return of my weekly column. It's been continuous for 3 weeks now and hopefully, with your continued support, the new owners may well relent; however, I won't hold my breath!
Normally, in polite circles, we learn to agree or disagree, and respect the others opinion even if we don't share it. In this case, it was easier to kick the soapbox out from under me!
Therefore, I would like to thank all those people who took the time to write ‘Letters to the Editor’ making their feelings known regarding their editorial decision to ‘drop’ my written column from the revived Tameside Reporter & Glossop Chronicle. Without your kindness, generosity and messages of encouragement, I would not now be the proud owner of ‘a blog’ from where I will continue the debate by commenting on local issues, pursue local transparency and democracy and ask on your behalf, those awkward questions that our bureaucrats hate to answer.
So, if, like me, you believe in the resourcefulness of intelligent debate, please feel free to comment.

This does not mean that I’ll respect any opinions I disagree with, but I promise you that I’ll look seriously for the virtue in many opposing options.

14/11/2012

IS A £100 MILLION MARINA THE ANSWER TO TAMESIDES PROBLEMS?



According the article written by Council Leader Kieran Quinn in the Spring 2012 issue of the Tameside Council propaganda magazine ‘The Citizen’, you could be forgiven for thinking that the council is making steady progress with the building of a £100million marina complex in Droylsden. There’s even a static web-cam on the roof of the Concorde Suite, so that interested constituents can monitor its progress! But it’s not the council, who are going to benefit from this long winded project, nor will it be local craftsmen and construction workers, but a Private House Building Company, whose base is in Wales!

The article also fails to explain why it has taken 8 years from appointing the construction company in 2004 to the present day construction site or gives a date for completion.

Gripped with the uncanny feeling of déjà vu, the article and the councils web-site tells us that the council’s vision is ultimately for a high quality housing project complemented by leisure uses such as a restaurant/pub/hotel, some commercial office development and a small number of speciality shops. At this point, Stalybridge sprang to mind! But this time, in addition there will also be a 30 boat secure marina on the Ashton Canal, south of Manchester Road.
Now forgive me for being sceptical here, but I was under the impression that a marina is a facility which caters first and foremost to boats and recreational boaters. That’s why marinas consist of basins or sheltered harbours which are fitted with equipment suitable for the use of watercraft.

A marina also commonly has services like a refuelling station, stores which stock basic marine supplies, boat repair facilities, and related businesses.

A point also to bear in mind, is that the council advise that this marina is to be a ‘secure marina’ which at a minimum, is an area that is usually secured with gates to which only members have keys, to keep unauthorized access to boats to a minimum. So presumably there won’t be any wandering around, feeding the ducks, unathorised fishing or sightseeing!

Now all this sounds very nice and if Tameside was to be magically picked-up and geographically relocated to the south coast; I’m sure a £100million marina complex would be welcomed by all. But all Droylsden has to offer by way of a navigable watercourse is the Ashton Canal; a canal that is currently only be navigated by a small group of intrepid travellers, who may want to spend their leisure time cruising the Cheshire Ring.

Why intrepid, I hear you say; well currently most canal holiday companies who operate canal boat hire, start in the heart of Cheshire, from where they recommend travelling the Cheshire Ring in an anti-clockwise direction. This is because most travellers can spend their first 4 evenings in small villages, where there are a wide range of pubs and bistros.

It’s only on arrival at Ashton’s Portland Basin, where it gets tricky, because now travellers will need to navigate the 6 miles of the Ashton Canal; which according to the British Waterways website, it recommends no stopping on the Ashton Canal.

Now, provided these recreational travellers have successfully navigated the few miles from Ashton through Droylsden and East Manchester without being mugged, pelted with bricks or abused, they will emerge in the trendy areas of Canal Street, Deansgate and the Castlefield Basin/Potato Wharf; a modernised former industrial area with a large selection of pubs and wine bars; which therefore begs the question, why are Tameside council claiming to be spending £100million of European money, duplicating the facilities that are already on offer a few miles further on? Is this expenditure really going to transform the fortunes of the many taxpayers of Tameside, or is this yet another glaring example of the council jumping on yet another vanity project, funded by the European Community European Regional Development Fund? After all, if housing is the priority, where are the affordable dwellings?

With thousands of people on the social housing list, why does the project only comprise of a choice of luxurious 2 bed mews, 3 bed town houses, 4/5 bedroom town houses and 1 & 2 bedroom executive apartments?

It also begs the question that given the dire straits of the rest of the retail town centres of Tameside, why is this huge £100million budget being concentrated in one place?
Does anybody else think that £100 million could be better spent?

 

13/11/2012

ABU QATADA’S VICTORY PROVES HOW STUPID THE LAW HAS BECOME


Now let me get this right. Thanks to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) it no longer matters what the British government or the British Home Secretary wants. It no longer matters what the British courts want. Nor does it matter what the British public want, because all or top government Ministers, including the Prime Minister, the Home Secretary and all  of our 650 MPs no longer hold the power in this country.  Oh they might well hold all the titles and enjoy the huge salaries that go with the titles, but when push comes to shove, they no longer actually hold any real power. That is now held by their puppetmasters in Europe!

For years a collection of politicians and political commentators have been telling us that the ECHR would have no impact on British justice. They said it would not affect our sovereignty or our parliamentry laws.

Well it readers it has, and this latest Abu Qatada debacle is a typical example showing how the human rights legislation is being abused.

Once described as ‘Osama bin Laden’s ambassador to Europe, this man Qatada represents a clear and present danger to the British public and yet the rights of his potential victims; the British people are ignored. I truly hope our politicians, especially those who contrived to land us in this situation realise that this will do nothing to increase public respect for the law and its entire works.

Folks, I'm begining to think Mr Bumble was right, after all … the law is "an ass, and an idiot!" And our continued membership of the EU and the surrendering of soverignty to the all controlling European bureaucrats, shows even more insanity.

This ECHR ruling was a stupid decision that makes our country both a laughing stock and a great place for terrorists to head for, safe in the knowledge that they and their families will have a safe and prosperous future at the British taxpayer's expense!

In my opinion, the ECHR should never have been able to override the UK’s national courts. We must get out of this iniquitous act that claims jurisdiction over our own laws, which were a thousand years in the making. They maynot be absolutely perfect, but they are far more democratic and liberal than anything dreamt up in Europe.

12/11/2012

IT MUST BE NATIONAL HYPOCRISY WEEK!



You really can’t believe the brass neck of some politicians, no matter which side of the political divide they reside.

The hyperventilating over Nadine Dorries MP taking a month’s leave to appear on ‘I’m a Celebrity’ is in danger of sending some of the older backbenchers close to warranting medical treatment. In fact, Labour’s Chris Bryant went as far as suggesting a by-election for missing Parliament.

Nadine Dorries, who has now been suspended from the Conservative Party, defended her decision to go on the ITV show, insisting her involvement is a "publicity gift" and a chance to communicate with 16 million people. Strange then that Ms Dorries last year castigated the Speakers wife, Sally Berkow, saying, she’d degraded the Speaker's office" by taking part in Celebrity Big Brother!

However, despite her double standards, at least Ms Dorries can claim a well above average attendance record, having spoken in thirty debates in the Commons this year alone.

Contrast that with ex-Prime Minister Gordon Brown who, since the General Election, has made one speech in the Commons, and asked eight written parliamentary questions, made one appearance at a committee, and taken part in 27 out of 236 votes.  Maybe his constituents should ask themselves is he still worth the £65,738, plus expenses and the pension, we pay him?

Then there’s David Miliband, the current Labour leaders brother. Again a man who is rarely seen gracing the back benches. He was paid £70,000 for just three-and-a-half days spent working for VantagePoint CleanTech in California. This post with the American venture capitalists was just one in a in a series of lucrative part-time positions Mr Miliband has taken up since being beaten by his brother in the Labour
leadership contest. In fact, official figures show that he has accrued over £500,000 in private earnings and expenses opver the last year. I couldn't find out how much he'd demanded from Tameside council for speaking at the 'Annual Roy Oldham Dinner' but I'm sure someone will enlighten me?

This must be quite embarrassing for young Ed, who recently led a populist attack on ‘fat cat’ executives in a bid to turn round his flagging political standing.

 And last, but by no means least, we find Shadow Chancellor, Ed Balls who has called for another postponement of the Government's planned 3p rise in fuel tax. Despite the fact that it was he who introduced the fuel duty escalator in the first place! He introduced it apparently because he "takes global warming seriously"      
 
I’m beginning to think none of them could sleep straight in bed!

09/11/2012

IF YOU MUST LEAD WITH YOUR CHIN, COUNCILLOR...


There’s a saying in boxing that goes, “Don’t lead with your chin.” It referred to a boxer who always left his chin sticking out, inviting his opponent to knock him out.

Metaphorically, it could be interpreted as someone making themselves an easy target. Leaving oneself wide open to attack.

In a letter written in his usual ambiguous style, Cllr Taylor revealed the limit of his literary skill by bouncing from verbigeration to contradiction, seemingly with consummate ease.

Whilst bruising the Priscian’s head without remorse, he tells me he believes in free speech and thinks the local newspaper is the place to exchange views, but doesn't think right wing views should be aired! He says he admires me for holding firm views, but doesn't want to hear them!

He criticises me for using a ‘nom de plume’ yet it is widely rumoured that he frequently uses the services of a ‘ghost-writer’ to create his prolific musings; a point easily understood when one compares the vocabulary used in the spoken, with that of the written word.

He invites me to engage in politics and advises that to do so; one would have to be able to take a punch instead of giving one. He goes on to say that that he accepts the criticism he has received over the years, but takes that as part of the job and declared that whatever people may think of him, his detractors were greatly outnumbered by those who elected him.

Really, John?

May I respectfully remind you that most of Tameside’s councillors were elected by a minority of voters.  In your case councillor, at the last local election, 1905 people voted for you. But, 7429 Dukinfield residents, who were registered to vote, did not! That minority is even smaller if you consider the number of people who did not bother to vote or were not eligible to do so.

So now you have revealed your weak spots, maybe I will consider standing against you in 2015, although there are plenty of reasons not to do so. If anybody thinks that Tameside; indeed Britain, is democratic, they are deluding themselves. The main party is so firmly entrenched with the complicity of the media and financial establishment that it is next to impossible for fresh blood with new ideas to bring change to a decrepit system.

A point proven by people like yourself, John, who when other people’s views and opinions are at odds with their own, they conspire to remove the dissenting voice. That’s why we’re having this interchange. That’s why the Editor has 'washed his hands in public' and asked the readers to decide my fate!

But much more importantly, by writing with such vitriol, you have made my point. You have inadvertently revealed to the reader a blinkered tribal view from a senior councillor who simply appears to deny the possibility of integrity or decency in people with opposing views.

By orchestrating my exclusion, the councillor and his buddies, seems to have forgotten that the working man is meant to be symbolised in the Labour movement. The fact that some disagree and have shunned the Party does not make them ill-informed. The fact they saw someone else's ideas as being better than Labour's doesn't denigrate them to second-class people.

You then go on to accuse me of spouting right wing views. Strangely, I get called left wing and right wing pretty much equally, depending on who is disagreeing with me. This obviously means that I must be perfect!

Personally, John, in local politics, left and right is nonsense. There’s only right and wrong.

All I know, from personal experience, is that ‘leftist’ economies with massive state control tend to be less free as the state continues to encroach on individual freedoms as “the state knows best” and therefore choice is limited as the state removes it.

It is almost academic whether we be governed by Labour, Conservative, Liberal Democrat or a coalition of all three; given the incompetence of the system which appointed the administrators in the first place and given their limited, state-constrained vision of how to go about things, their bureaucratic solutions always, inevitably, fall apart.

In a nutshell, John – most of these administrators, councillors and politicians do not come from a pool of untapped talent, they come from an artificially restricted list which “positively discriminates”, which means we, the ‘plebs’ are not getting the people with a range of talent and initiative, to effectively run an efficient council/country. Instead we are governed by people from a certain background, gender, ethnicity, political view, mind-set, with a readiness to comply.  Now, don’t get me wrong, there is some undoubted talent within the favoured groups but it’s instantly observable that the majority of those we in Tameside are forced to deal with, are not those endowed with it.

By the way, as for the red phone booth gag, use your own jokes. Don't steal from other comedians!

08/11/2012

THEY’VE GOT IT RIGHT FOR ONCE!



At last! Somebody is thinking in the right direction.

Whilst wandering around Hyde on Wednesday morning, it was a pleasure to see a number of different stalls housed in mini- marquees selling a range of European delicacies, sweets, fine foods and crafts at a continental market in Hyde, and apparently, it’s on for the rest of this week.

On sale were: Stuffed and flavoured olives, Tarts and Pastries, Turkish delight, Dutch cookies, Belgium chocolates, Chorizo, Italian deli, Turkish dry fruits and nuts, Caramelised roast nuts, sweets and nougats, Pyrenees Jams , Honey and mustard, Chocolates and fudges and much more than I can remember.

Ideal for gifts were colourful handmade Children’s winter cardigans, Scarves, Gloves, Handbags and other leather items, Remedial hand-crafted jewellery, Watches and cashmere jumpers.

Not only that, the vendors were friendly and enthusiastic; a far cry from some of the frosty faces that normally greet shoppers on Hyde’s new shrunken market. There was music, which created a jovial atmosphere. It was well managed, the products on sale were of good quality, well priced and the market for once was, reasonably clean and tidy!

Unusually, for a mid-week, the place oozed energy, atmosphere and street vitality, and if the powers that be could organise some good up-front publicity, it’s exactly the type of shopping experience that could bring in people from outside the area!

With such diversity on offer and with Christmas coming up, its themes like this that will encourage far more people to visit and shop locally. It would be nice however if someone could arrange to empty the bins and sweep away the dog ends a bit more often!

If you’re reading this and find you’ve missed this event, don’t panic; according to the council’s web site, the continental market is also expected to pitch-up at Ashton’s Market from 11 to 15 December.

Now back to my irascible, cantankerous self….

07/11/2012

CHARITY BEGINS AT HOME

 


As we approach Remembrance Day, I thought it appropriate to take a look at UK charities; in particular those who offer help and support to our armed forces.

First off, I’d like to say that in general charities do a great job, but when you look at just how many charities have sprung up over the last few years, it makes you wonder just how much of our money is actually going to those who need it.

The Royal British Legion has been helping ‘service’ people past and present for over 90 years, and although their needs have changed over that time the need for their work is now more vital than ever.

As we all know, the British public is extremely generous even at a time when the whole nation is in the grip of austerity. That fact is borne out by the amount of money that is raised for tsunamis, hurricanes, floods and earthquakes. However, when you add to this the fact that the Government already give millions of taxpayers’ money to supplement hundreds of UK charities, on top of which they spend an awful lot on sending £billions in aid overseas – you’ve got to ask, why do taxpayers need to keep paying yet again?

In my opinion, if the nation cannot afford to care for its service personnel and its veterans, it simply shouldn't send them to war. We, as one of the richest nations on earth, should be looking after all our returning soldiers; our wounded and disabled service personnel, their wives, partners and children out of normal taxation, before we send £billions to overseas countries, some who have their own nuclear weapons and space programmes.

Similarly, if some of these extremely vocal celebrities and choral politicians really think that poverty should be made history, why don't they give a lot more of their money to charity, stop fiddling their expenses and taxes and depositing monies in tax-free havens?

I remember hearing a story a few years ago; during the annual ‘Children in Need’ television extravaganza. While up and across the land, lowly paid Council Workers, School Teachers, Nurses, Bank clerks and Shop Assistants were dressing up and getting soaked, custard pie-faced and generally subjecting themselves to gentle abuse in order to raise a few bob for needy kids; it was revealed that the good old, strangely bewigged Irish chuckler, Sir Terry’ had allegedly charged the BBC sixteen thousand pounds a time for his appearances on the program; no wonder he was so bloody jovial; that being the case, we could all smile and chuckle if we were pocketing thousands whilst demanding money from everyone else in the country. 

Let young Geldof (wealth estimated at $1.2 billion in 2011) and his extremely wealthy mate Bozo Bono (whose tax arrangements were singled out for criticism in a report by the charity Christian Aid in 2008.) try struggling on the minimum wage for a while, trying to buy a 3 bedroom semi with a mortgage.  Maybe then they would understand why some people genuinely believe that 'charity begins at home'!

As Roman comic playwright Terence (approx 190-159 BC) said, “One's own family, or country, comes before any other responsibilities.”

05/11/2012

SOMETHING’S AFOOT AT TESCO’S!



Now why on earth would TESCO want to apply to remove the condition relating to restricting deliveries? After all, it’s not as if demand for their goods is overwhelming is it?

After a mere 5 months trading, could it be that the bosses at TESCO, witnessing a well below expectation in turn over, are intending to convert the huge TESCO extra into a huge distribution centre? After all, with their nearest distribution centres being in Doncaster & Widnes, it would be very handy positioned were it is; directly on a motorway junction, ready to service the whole of Greater Machester!

If this application goes through, all it would take is for the supermarket giant to apply for a ‘change of usage’ order and ‘hey-presto’ before you could check the points on  your club card, the people of Hattersley could find that their council promised food store has become a food distribution centre?

Or, could it be, that that was the intention from the off?

It seems patently clear that something odd is afoot, because the restriction on delivery times was a specific part of the planning approval. At the time, residents made it quite clear that they did not want 40ft Articulated Lorries coming and going 24hrs a day, 7 days a week!

To now suddenly apply to amend the terms of the planning approval, seems to shoot holes in the council’s reason for approving the scheme, which, if I may remind you was to be a boost to the region and especially to provide long awaited jobs for the residents of Hattersley

So if this is the plan, where will the jobs go? Let’s face it; you don’t need 301 people to operate a huge warehouse?

As we all know, TESCO and Tameside council have yet to explain why there was such a large discrepancy in the employment figures, from those that were promised (450) to those that were delivered (301). But on reflection, maybe this application to amend the delivery constraints answers a few of those awkward questions that Tameside councillors have so far refused to!

I therefore suggest that until the council and the local Longdendale councillors, find their voices and come clean with the reason for TESCO’s application, those who represent the vast majority of the residents from the area, strongly oppose the application.

Hopefully then, it should send a clear message to the Strategic Planning Committee or whoever it is that sits in judgment of these matters, together with the local member for Hyde, to oppose the application.

This time, I hope the voice of the people will be heard and this development will not go ahead.