Curly's Corner Shop, the blog!

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This blog is about to change (for the worse)

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Image hosting company changes policy

For seven years I have used ImageShack.us to host the vast majority of images on this site. Back when I started WordPress had a 50Mb limit on media uploads which was going to be nowhere large enough to cope with what I had planned for here and South Shields Daily Photos, the natural step to take back then was to use a free image hosting service to embed the images in my various sites. ImageShack offered free hosting for EVER, and they supported their operation by getting advertising revenue for the ads placed next to my images when linked to their site, and I guess they must have done fairly nicely as they had millions of free users. Over the years quite a number of my images disappeared after problems with their various servers, but not so many as to spoil these sites, however now they have introduced a new policy of restricting uploads to just 500 images, any thing beyond this will be automatically deleted unless a paid for hosting is accepted by 1st. March.

I currently have almost 2000 images hosted by them, they amount to less than 160 Mb of storage, yet they continue to allow users to upload images of up to 5 Mb each, in other words someone with 500 images of this file size will occupy 2.4  Gb of storage space, and they expect me to pay for storing compressed for web low resolution poor quality images? I think not!

This new policy is not being well received.

I have downloaded all of my images from their servers and hope that they might relent for registered users, this is from their FAQs page:

  • How long will my uploaded files be available?

    Your files will only be deleted if they do not adhere to our Terms of Service. If you are registered, your files will be available forever. If you are not registered, any file that you upload will continue to be available if it is accessed by anyone at least once per year.

  • How much bandwidth can I use?

    ImageShack allows unlimited bandwidth for images, videos, and slideshows when viewed from our landing page, as well as unlimited bandwidth for registered users ImageShack may at any time enforce its policies on bandwidth if an image is in violation of our Terms of Service, for instance, if it is abusive or used to spam.

As a registered user I wait with baited breath to see if they will adhere to this promise, but I don’t feel confident.

There are plenty of other free image hosting services out there, and WordPress now offer a decent amount of storage these days, so the loss of ImageShack will be no skin off my nose, but what will it mean for this blog, and my others?

If they carry out their pledge to delete all images beyond the most recent 500 then a huge amount of posts in here will end up looking messy, and in some cases irrelevant particularly if the image was of major importance in illustrating a point. South Shields Daily Photos would have to be closed down and deleted – what good is a photoblog without photos? It also means that many images embedded in forums and message boards over the years will disappear too. I now have the pictures back on my hard drive but it would take me about twelve months to re-write all of the image links if I had the time to do it, and to be honest I don’t.

So, if the worst comes to the worst on 2nd. March, expect to see many of my posts which I made more than two years ago lose their images, and one photoblog disappear from the internet, and that will be a shame for those who still continue to interact with it and leave comments.

My apologies, it is something beyond my control considering I won’t be bullied into paying for hosting low res. web images.

If things end up really really bad and looking really really awful, I may take the decision to close this place and start afresh.

Let me know what you think.

 

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Written by curly

February 26, 2012 at 2:19 pm

Frederick Street: 40 year decline to be arrested.

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Frederick Street, South Shields

South Shields street prepares to get new neighbours

Almost six years ago I blogged about the possibilities of getting some new housing and regeneration into the Frederick Street area of South Shields, I opined then that the main reason that this once thriving retail area was in steady decline was because it had lost its customer base, and that happened forty years ago in 1972 when a larger part of the “long streets” were demolished. Other than the small Lytton Park estate very few other houses were erected on the empty land, car ownership increased dramatically, people were more willing to travel further to find the type of shopping that they wanted,  and the traders in Frederick Street began a gargantuan struggle for survival.

The neglect for the area by South Tyneside’s Labour council, and indeed its predecessors typified the reasons why I could not follow in the footsteps of my peers and support the party with any sort of unthinking blind loyalty that they showed. There were quite a few areas in South Tyneside that were allowed to just lay fallow over the course of those years including huge swathes of the riverside in Jarrow and Hebburn, and the site of the old coke ovens at Monkton. However in the last decade more effort has been put into economic regeneration, we now have modern business parks in Monkton and Boldon Colliery, the old St. Hilda’s colliery site houses a good business hub, the old Harton colliery site had earlier been replaced with housing, the Cleadon Park estate has been thoroughly reformed with a mix of social and private housing, housing has been much improved in West Harton and smaller housing  developments in Jarrow and Hebburn are much welcomed. Yet Frederick Street continues to decline and struggle and provides a visual eyesore on the main approach route into South Shields, it should be remembered as one of the great failures of the Labour Party to provide for the future of this area, this forty year legacy of crumbling ruin and economic heartache ought to have been an electoral battleground but it never was, and never shall be as long as sons and daughters blindly follow the dictums of their parents to vote Labour, the party will be quietly appreciative of this blind support.

That area of local politics, which I will refer to as “town development” took a great change under the leadership of Paul Waggott and has been continued under the present leadership of Iain Malcolm and the riverside regeneration plan is now one of Labour’s centre piece policies in South Tyneside, there is a realisation that we cannot hold on to our past and must build for the aspirations of future residents to provide a modern borough capable of attracting inward economic investment, and I think that they now see the the size of the problems stored up for them in the past after years of introspective navel gazing and subsequent neglect. I have always welcomed this new plan for the riverside and the Rekendyke ward, bringing a mix of housing and business opportunities to the area that really represented the heart of South Shields as it grew away from the market area in the late 1800s, for me it just cannot happen soon enough. So it is with some pleasure that I now see the signs going up in Frederick Street and what remains of Wallpole Street telling us that “this property has been acquired by South Tyneside Council for regeneration”. To be fair this process of acquiring properties is the most difficult part of the plan, some leases are longer than others and problematic to negotiate, some owners feel as though they may get a better deal by hanging on until the last minute (unfortunately they will not, their properties will be bought at a low price using CPOs) but once all of the land deals are made we can then see more rapid progress.

I took the opportunity of getting in touch with Cllr. Michael Clare, the Lead Member for this policy area and also one of the Rekendyke ward councillors to ask him about the level of progress being made and to try and ascertain what level of retail footage will remain in Frederick Street to service all of the new houses that will be build around it.

As you know the Council has been and continues to acquire land along the riverside and within the Trinity area.

Frederick Street is an integral part of the Riverside Regeneration Project and considered a high priority by the Council at both Officers and Political levels.

We are at last after considerable time at a sensitive stage in discussions with developers and landlords within and around Frederick Street. Local Councillors have recently met with Frederick Street Traders Representatives and the dialogue and support has been really positive about our ambitions for Frederick Street.

So in a nutshell, yes, Frederick Street does have a future as a retail area and businesses will continue to have our support. As part of the dialogue with Traders we have promised to maintain strong lines of communication with them at key milestones.

We are keen to continue to promote the street.

Curly, I believe you also have the capacity and network to help us in that regard and I personally would welcome your support.

As always, there seems to be confusion at the scale of development along Frederick Street.

For the avoidance of doubt demolition will only take place on the southern section. The northern section is being retained and developed with the emphasis on mixed retail.

The Council are currently negotiating with owners/retailers/landlords on the southern end. Those negotiations are at different stages for differing reasons some more complex than others and sensitive to those parties impacted by them.

We are however committed to this regeneration project.

There is one small cryptic clue in Michael’s words -which I hope I am reading correctly – “The northern section is being retained and developed with the emphasis on mixed retail”. I am anxious to know what sort of development is envisaged to modernise what will be the “rump” of this once fine shopping thoroughfare? By retaining the northern part we are assuming that some sort of works can extend its lifetime even further, and some sort of developments can be made which will shield from our eyes the unsightly mess which can all to readily be seen from the dual carriageway behind it as we enter town. I am also presently concerned that some of the properties in the northern part of Frederick Street may no longer be fit for purpose, or indeed still standing by the time the plan finally reaches fruition.

One of South Tyneside council’s Chief Project Engineers told me:

The site is 5.3 hectares (13 acres) in size and already has outline planning permission for 401 new homes.

The Council is currently running a competitive tender process to select a private sector developer to develop a mix of 2, 3 and 4 bedroom family homes on the site.  This will include  a proportion of homes for social rent.  Six national housebuilders submitted formal expressions of interest in the development, and the tender process is working towards shortlisting these down to select a preferred developer.  We expect the developer to be appointed in June, 2012.  I’m not able to give you details of the bidders or their proposals as the public procurement process has to be kept confidential.  The proposed plans will be available when the developer has been selected.

To facilitate comprehensive redevelopment, privately owned properties in the southern part of Frederick Street will need to be acquired by the Council.  The Council has already started a programme of acquisitions and demolitions through negotiations with the individual landowners.  We are also working with existing businesses to assist with their relocation where this is possible.

It is expected that construction work for the housing development will start in early 2013.  It is unlikely that all the acquisitions will have been completed by this time, so this will continue in parallel with starting the first phase of development.  It is expected that the full development will take about 5 years.

The northern part of Frederick Street (north of Walpole Street) will remain as part of the neighbourhood centre.  One of the Council’s requirements for the development is that the future development is physically integrated with the existing retail and service centre.

The emphasis is mine, I keep hoping to read little secrets in these exchanges, I am optimistic you know,  and keep thinking that the current part of the old street just cannot be left as it is to sit in a new housing development. Nor can the current visual impact of this gateway route into the town be left as it is. The rear of Frederick Street has as much visual appeal as a landfill site, and this simply will not be acceptable in 2018.

Whilst the street has continued its decline a number of enterprising young businesses have begun to flourish, there has been a rapid growth in take away food shops and cafes, which whilst not fully replicating the culinary delights of Ocean Road are coming close. The street has some of the finest Indian and Bangladeshi food outlets in the town now as well as shops to satisfy those who wish to purchase the ingredients to cook their own. Many of these businesses may want to remain in the Frederick Street area in the years ahead of the new developments and it would be a great pity to see their enterprising work lost, one looks and hopes that premises with names such as The Phoenix Cafe have a prophetic sound and that the mix of retail development in the future will surely give the impression of an area reborn and rising from the ashes like a Phoenix. One would hope that the decline had finally been arrested.

Only then, by circa 2020, will we be able to look back and begin to forget about the near fifty year neglect by a succession of mainly Labour councils who appeared to care little about the legacy that they had left for their children. One has to congratulate the current team of planners for their foresight, and the disparate opposition in South Tyneside for providing their support (for surely they had NO alternative plans of their own during those years), and now we must trust that property owners fully engage with the proposals and negotiate calmly and timely to ensure that the best deals are made on behalf of themselves and South Tyneside Council to ensure that this development along the riverside proceeds with utmost speed.

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Written by curly

February 26, 2012 at 1:23 pm

This is a “fascinating blog”

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Should I don the black tie and go to the awards ceremony?

Curly’s Corner Shop, the blog!  has been nominated for the 2012 Fascination Awards, yes, I was quite surprised.

These awards are for blog writers who (in the eyes of the editorial team)

  • Inspire your audience
  • Encourage discussion through comment posting
  • Contain genuinely fascinating content

The nomination was made on the strength of this post and its 147 comments, I’ve emailed the organisers to thank them but sadly I will not be able to use the prize that I have received after being nominated –  a restaurant voucher worth $25. Oh well, perhaps one year they may start a new chain in the UK.
Accelerated Degree Programs accelerated degrees

Librarian? Moi?

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Written by curly

February 21, 2012 at 10:01 am

A chat with a UK snooker champion.

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John Maughan, former UK Snooker Champion

John Maughan: an interesting but undersold South Shields success story

It all started for me way back in 1987 when  my mate, who was to become my best man, challenged me to a game of snooker over a couple of pints. I was wondering where he was thinking of taking me, back then I could only recall the old snooker hall in Union Alley which ran towards Queen Street and was accessed from South Shields Market Place, or through the rear doors of Woolworths, and as far as I could recall it certainly did not have a license to sell alcohol . Additionally the place had been closed and demolished years earlier.

As far as I knew there were no other snooker halls in South Shields, which I thought was a pity seeing as we were all used, by then, to staying up late watching Steve Davis grind out wins on the television. Little did I know that a relatively new private member’s snooker club had opened in Chichester Road in the former premises of Buck Ryan’s car and helicopter showroom (it had originally been the Chichester Picture House). So one Saturday evening I was taken there, and taken aback by the friendly atmosphere and remarkably modern facilities, I never knew that one could play a few frames of snooker and afterwards enjoy a few pints in a comfortable, but small, bar with such engaging staff and a raconteur who turned out to be mine host!

This chap behind the bar cut a bit of a dash with his slicked back hair, three piece suits, immaculately shined shoes, garish waistcoats, and always sporting a bow tie. He was typically enthusiastic about the game and spun long tales of competitions in Prestatyn, Carlisle, or Skegness, and spilled so called secrets about a young Jimmy White, John Virgo, and one or two tales about Terry Griffiths, a typically chummy sort of bloke chuntering on as he pulled pints of Bass Scotch. Well we didn’t mind listening, but there were times when perhaps his stories were so far fetched that we could be forgiven for thinking that he’d just fabricated them to improve the atmosphere of the place. What was worse was the constant interruptions if a major snooker tournament was being shown on the TV, we got the commentary in advance, the analysis of the shot came long before it was taken, it was a bit of a distraction to be honest. Trouble was……..he was always right, this guy behind the bar genuinely knew his snooker!

Back then, the bar was very small, and the snooker hall housed eighteen full sized tables, many of which were Georgian or Victorian in origin, there were a few Rileys but most of the others were hand carved works of art, especially the robust legs, so this bloke behind the bar was able to hold forth and everyone could hear him whether they wanted to or not. So where are these big star names these days was the question we wanted answering, why are they not up here playing exhibition matches if you know them all so well? I think some of us just “took the Mick”, knowing that any sort of spectator event in the Shields Snooker Centre was never going to happen, the place just wasn’t created or styled with that in mind. That was until Mr. Maughan, the manager, challenged us to go and find the evidence that he had indeed been a pretty major player in his day.

I must have been a hard to convince member as I found myself down at the Central Library borrowing a copy of Clive Everton’s “Guinness Book of Snooker “ which showed that John Maughan had indeed won a UK amateur tournament once, but John Maughan was adamant that he’d won two titles! The 1965 under 16 title was shown in the Everton book, but strangely the 1968 amateur youth title was not, in its place was a blank space suggesting that the tournament did not take place that year. Sadly Clive Everton’s book is no longer in print and the library service disposed of its copy a few years later because of its poor condition. Well at least we then knew back in 1988 that we had a UK champion showing off his tricks on the tables, but it would be nice to put the record straight and confirm his status. A more recent visit to the Central library in Denmark Square came about after myself and John’s daughter Lucille had spent hours scouring the internet for any references to UK amateur or junior championships for the years in question, sadly not a single site was found to be listing them, either in “official” snooker sites or fanzine type places, John’s name was not even mentioned! Luckily the library in South Shields now has a copy of the Hamlyn’s Encyclopedia of Snooker in the reference section and this provided the pages and the proof that we needed to show the world and those few doubters at the Shields Snooker Centre, you can view those pages below.

So this little chat with John grew from this frustration that the official records for the period are so well hidden, and certainly until today were NOT available to look up or reference online. So now whenever people are searching for UK amateur snooker champions at youth or junior level, at least they will find some sort of result from the search engines, albeit this article is slanted towards one man living and working in South Shields!

This is his story.

John Maughan began life in 1949 in Consett with his family where his dad was the caretaker of the local billiards hall, he tells me he was only 11 years old when he acquired his first cue. A typical hard working family in the north-east of England, his dad was his greatest influence in taking up the game. By the time that John was 13 he’d won his first tournament, the Consett and District Senior Billiards, the proud young lad had taken home his first trophy having beaten grown men! From then on he made use of every opportunity to practice hard whilst his dad brushed and cleaned the tables. He tells me times were hard and that everyone in his family would take whatever jobs were available to help support themselves. John, at that stage had no intentions of taking up the game on any sort of full time or regular basis, and after leaving school took a job at Consett steelworks, as one might expect. However, he was at a stage of development in snooker where he needed better competition against better opponents, he was determined that he would try to be as good as his favourite player. “Who was that?”, I enquired, –  well it was the “legendary Joe Davis” of course.

Hence John used most of his spare time and money pursuing success in local and regional competitions, often sleeping in the back of an old white transit van with his dad if the venue was too far away from home, or more likely because funding was not sufficient to afford a hotel room – he was prepared to make sacrifices. He was making a name for himself on the amateur snooker circuit, and had reached the stage of playing in national events. In his early teens the family would go with him as John and his father traveled the north of England and southern Scotland chasing down more snooker competitions and trophies, they were by now regular entrants at the Prestatyn Pro-Am competition held each summer in the Welsh resort, playing three or four matches each day. John tells me that in later years he’d enter the competition with the aim of winning it solely because part of the prize was a free week holiday the following year! It was by rubbing shoulders with the new television stars of snooker that helped John improve his game, and in 1965 he beat P. Demaine to become the UK Junior Champion, and in 1968 he won the UK Youth Championship by beating Dave Clinton in the final, his aim now would be to become a full time professional player.

UK under 16 snooker champions 1944 – 1985

UK under 16 amateur snooker champions

UK under 16 amateur snooker champions

UK under 19 snooker champions 1949 – 1985

UK under 19 snooker champions

UK under 19 amateur snooker champions

He met his future wife Angela at the Freemasons Arms in Consett,  whilst she was visiting from Carlisle to see members of her extended family, and she soon came to realise that chasing the snooker dream came with the territory. Every summer John, Angela, and their young family would make an annual pilgrimage to Prestatyn in north Wales where John would again take part in the invitational week long tournament that included many of the top professionals of the day. Snooker was probably more elitist back in those earlier days, the EPBSA (English Professional Billiards and Snooker Association) maintained a sort of “closed shop” only allowing 32 players to become full time professionals and take part in its money winning tournaments, John Maughan had tried hard, so it seems, to become one of them, and according to him back in 1987 he’d been in a number of ranking tournaments and had done the annual summer stint at Prestatyn winning competitions which won him his annual holiday back to the same place next year! Aspiring professionals needed to garner not just ranking points but also had to be “accepted” by a committee which included World Champion Terry Griffith’s, John Maughan had done that, got the points, got the wins but failed to impress the Welshman Griffiths, who he had squarely beaten on the table a week earlier, consequently in 1978 he was not able to join snooker’s ranks of the elite professionals.  At this point John was one of the highest ranked English players in the world (he was ranked 13th.)  outside of those 32 elite professionals and he tells me he was gutted by the committee’s decision not to allow him to join their “club” – he nearly gave it all up.

Despite the setback he continued to play snooker regularly and was installed as the resident “professional” at the Richmond Snooker Club in Carlisle before later moving to Newcastle, then in 1986 came the opportunity to move to South Shields when he was offered the job of managing the Shields Snooker Centre. After more than 25 years he still loves his job there and continues to buck the national trend for licensed premises with club going from strength to strength. South Shields is now firmly his home where he has developed many friendships and strong ties.

When conversing with him about the big name stars he’s played against we hear a stream of talent and only wish that one or two of them might visit South Shields and have an impromptu match against John, people like John Parrot, John Virgo, Steve Davis, Mike Hallet, Dennis Taylor, Cliff Thorburn, Willie Thorne, Joe Johnson, Jimmy White, Ray Reardon, fellow northerner George Wood, and late greats such as Alex Higgins and elder statesmen of the game like Rex Williams.. We’ve lost count of the stories that he tells of Thorne and White and their various exploits and horseplay at tournaments!

John is now content to indulge most of his sporting interests during the course of his day at work, he is a keen football fan, loves horse racing, tennis and darts. He has promoted a strong sporting ethos within the Snooker Centre over the past 25 years and helped form and manage a football team, and once arranged a day out karting for club members. His club now hosts 17 dart teams, a pool team, a couple of fives and threes teams, and is also the regular meeting place for the Westoe Fishing Club!

South Shields Snooker Centre now has 16 full sized snooker tables, a much enlarged bar area complete with pool table and four dart boards, and can offer a multitude of live sporting action from its satellite TV system, it also offers a good variety of hot bar snacks, hearty all day breakfasts, and beers and lagers from only £2 per pint. Membership is available at only £6 per year and table rates are very reasonable, the club on Chichester Road (next to The Cyprus) is open daily from 10:00 am (telephone: 0191 4567097 for table bookings or membership enquiries).

John said:

“I’ll be here for quite a few years yet, I’ve no intentions of retiring, my eyes may no longer be good enough to play top level snooker but you can guarantee that my staff and myself will ensure that South Shields has a first class facility here for any youngsters wishing to learn the game, and give other members comfortable surroundings to play and relax in. If any other sporting teams need a venue or a meeting place they just need to get in touch and have a chat. I might not have made it to the top in the world of snooker but I certainly feel as though I’ve a moulded a top job for myself here in South Shields. The family grew up here and we love the place, I guess I’m part of the fixtures and fittings now”

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Written by curly

February 21, 2012 at 9:34 am

Cllr. McCabe’s finest moment.

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Why does one councillor spend so much time effort and risk in attempting to stop a legal action?

Cllr. John McCabe has some fine words published in the Shields Gazette this evening, as we learn that Cllr. Khan’s appeal will add massively to the sums expended by South Tyneside Council as they attempt to umask the mystery Monkey blogger:

“Let’s be clear. The Monkey blog is not some whistle-blowing caped-crusader seeking justice for the underdog. It is a vile, filthy and tawdry blog full of lies, slander and frankly horrendous filth against councillors, council staff, their families and reputable businesses in the borough.

“The council has a duty of care to its staff. Cyber bullying should not be tolerated. Four people, who have been libelled the most, agreed to allow their names to be used in the US Courts to seek to unmask this pathetic individual.

“We don’t know who it is, the council has never suggested it is Coun Khan, but given his frantic attempts to undermine this case it is hard to understand why he would spend so much time, effort and risk so much money trying to stop the legal action.

“Coun Khan’s anti-SLAPP motion was an attempt to stop the council unmasking the individual operating as Mr Monkey, but Coun Khan’s actions were dismissed by a judge as ‘frivolous’ at a hearing in September and costs were awarded in favour of the council. In my view, he owes the council taxpayer more than £40,000.”

It is a strange day which sees the passing of one councillor who cost the council taxpayer so little over 45 years  and another intent on costing us so much over a much shorter period. Instead of prolonging the legal actions in the US why doesn’t Cllr. Khan bring matters to a head and call the plaintiffs’ bluff by inviting them to launch a libel action in the UK?

I’m sure that the majority of us in South Tyneside would like to see the end of this affair in a more clear cut manner than the Suarez/Evra long winded  handshake and subsequent apologies.

 

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Written by curly

February 13, 2012 at 6:46 pm

Blowing your own trumpet……….

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Cllr. Jimmy Foreman, South Tyneside

…….or even a saxaphone Jimmy?

Funny what the internet throws at you from time to time.

As South Tyneside councillors start to avail themselves of every possible photo opportunity before the elections in May, with nightly appearances in The Shields Gazette, and newletters littering your doormats, I find a one without a fistful of dominoes and not a dinner lady in sight! Does Labour’s Jimmy Foreman have a hidden talent that he was trying to keep secret?

Original photo courtesy of my mate Grouser.

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Written by curly

February 5, 2012 at 6:00 pm

Relaunch No.6 “Doing the right thing”

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Keeping Ed Miliband may be the “right thing” for Cameron

Video courtesy of Guido Fawkes.

I don’t know how you feel, but I find it rather difficult to “connect” with this bloke, he may want to do the “right thing” but he never sounds right, nor looks right, and as Leader of the Opposition he just appears to be the “right thing” for providing target practice for David Cameron at the Dispatch Box.

However, talking of doing the right thing, at least Ed Miliband appears willing to join the Prime Minister in forcing the hand of Alex Salmond, the SNP’s First Minister in Scotland. This is an interesting position considering how many seats Labour might lose in Westminster should Scotland be broken away from the Union and attain independence, but fighting a move in a referendum on the matter is surely the right thing to do. Salmond the populist leader of his party has been invited by South Tyneside Council Leader Iain Malcolm to speak in the north-east at a meeting of the North East Economic Forum organised by Malcom’s Sovereign Strategy lobbying company. This is a good move as it will help to define relationships between Scotland and this region irrespective of the outcome of any referendum, whenever it may be held, our economic prosperity may suffer heavily should Scotland be in an independent position in regard to taxes, subsidies, and “sweeteners” to businesses and it is right that Salmond should come down here to clarify what he really wants for Scotland and to take back our views on how our joint prospects may pan out if Scotland is no longer part of the United Kingdom. Iain Malcolm said:

“I’m not in favour of Scotland becoming independent from the rest of the UK, we are stronger together, but that is a matter for the Scottish people.

“Whatever happens it is vital the North East has a stronger relationship with our partners across the border.

“That is why yes we do have to look at what might happen, say after 2014.”

The prospect of a nation on our doorstep offering better incentives to business, or smaller tax rates may well be something to fear, or will it? Perhaps such a scenario may lead to wholesale revision of business taxes in England introducing a necessary level of competition. Other worries may surface about areas such as VAT or sales taxes which could result in cross border shopping expeditions to Edinburgh or Dumfries furthering the decline of our north east shopping centres, a major worry for places such as South and North Shields, Wallsend, or Gateshead.

Like Malcolm, I do not want to see the eventual break up of the United Kingdom , and I do not believe it would lead to increased prosperity for the people of Scotland, I do not believe that they could cope economically without the levels of subsidies provided via Westminster. Like Cameron and Ed Miliband I think the “right thing” politically is to force Salmond’s hand and hold a definitive referendum at a time not of his choosing, with the legal framework clearly outlined so as there can be no doubt about the differences between a yes and a no vote.

Also, whilst we are on the subject of the “right thing” it is comforting to see that stumbling Ed Miliband at last recognises that cuts in public spending are necessary and right, and that deficit reduction needs to be ongoing, just a shame that he has spent the opening period of his leadership campaigning against such measures along with Ed Balls. The “right thing” to do now, surely, is to apologise for the mistakes made during the years that both of them spent in Gordon Brown’s government as the spending spree with other people’s money piled debt upon debt adding to the problems that we all face now.

So, Labour is starting to see the benefits of doing the “right thing” (and here’s another), now Miliband just needs to pull the rest of his party along with him. Unfortunately, and this will remain for  some time, the presentation is abysmal, lacklustre, weak, and dull as dishwater,  with major players in his own ranks bemoaning his performance – long may he remain as Labour’s leader!

 

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