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More flash flooding problems in South Shields

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Ocean Road, South Shields

Ocean Road suffers again.

The brief but intense thunderstorm which hit the north east of England this afternoon was not in any way an exceptional summer weather event, the storm lasted less than an hour and the volume of rain was far less than the last storm to hit us in South Tyneside. Yet once again a familiar story unfolded as parts of South Shields were dealt a miserable hand due mainly to inadequate drainage solutions. Ocean Road once more bore the brunt of the weather as shopkeepers and guest house owners reached for the sand bags and plastic sheeting in a hurried attempt to prevent damage to their flooring. A similar picture was emerging at Tyne Dock at its junction with Eldon Street.

After scores of promises of action, millions of pounds worth of investment from Northumbrian Water, a similar level of activity from South Tyneside Council, we still see scenes such as these in South Shields and other parts of the borough. People that I spoke to this afternoon were almost distraught and bitterly frustrated that their businesses could be put at risk by a simple summer rainstorm and the apparent inability of local officialdom and utility players to keep a few drains running clear. The residents know exactly which drains will block, how quickly, and can almost accurately count the minutes before the waters will subside, yet they still have to suffer.

We can count ourselves lucky that South Tyneside Council were only having three free concerts in the Bents Park as part of the Summer Festival this year, otherwise the usual final concert would have been an ordeal to say the least.

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Written by curly

August 5, 2012 at 5:21 pm

Mayor in new “cuts agenda”

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Cllr. Eileen Leask, South Tyneside Mayor

Cllr. Eileen Leask, Mayor of South Tyneside

The Mayor of South Tyneside to cut her weight

The Mayor of South Tyneside Cllr. Eileen Leask told me today that she is on a mission to make serious cuts! No, not more public finances under threat but her waistline!

Eileen is determined to lose a few pounds and will be asking people to sponsor her to raise funds for some of the Mayoress’s charities this year. Having lost a few myself over the past two years I’ll be only too happy to help her out, and a little publicity to start her campaign cannot cause it any damage. More details when I get them – best of luck Eileen :-)

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Written by curly

July 22, 2012 at 9:08 pm

Cardle disappoints at South Tyneside Summer Festival

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Short set from former X Factor winner

Heard quite a few moans and groans in the Bents Park, South Shields this afternoon as Matt Cardle fans seemed a little cheesed off at his late arrival at the venue and the late start to his performance. The former X Factor winner was also heard moaning about his audio and asking technicians to make adjustments to his vocals in between songs. Most disappointing was the shortness of his set at around thirty minutes, but I guess at a free gig beggars can’t be choosers. The concert attracted a very decent sized crowd, although not as large as last week’s even though the weather was ten times better. The park was bathed in warm sunshine with just a few clouds floating by as we all filled the place with deck chairs and aluminium tables for a decidedly family afternoon of music and entertainment.  Unfortunately it was left to local performers to pad out the schedule but they took it in their stride, and despite nervousness gave a good account of themselves. For me the real star of the show was former Britain’s Got Talent contestant Ryan O’Shaughnessy, he finished in fifth place in the sixth series of the popular TV talent show in May this year. Like Cardle, O’Shaughnessy just appeared with a guitar to warm the crowd with some very mature songs, the Irish lad really was a breath of fresh air.

I guess it’s a bit of a shame that he eclipsed Cardle, but he had the audience in his hands whereas Cardle seemed to be totally unaware of where South Shields was!

Oh well, with a choice of a free concert in South Shields or an almighty struggle with crowds down the road making for the Sunderland International Air Show I think I made the right choice (anybody else notice the apparent lack of planes over South Shields this weekend?)

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Written by curly

July 22, 2012 at 8:55 pm

Scouting for Girls, and Jenny too.

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South Tyneside Festival now in full swing

I found it difficult to hide a little disappointment that South Shields would not see any of The Mouth of the Tyne Festival this year, the Saturday night parade has become a luminary and pyrotechnic spectacle that we all much looked forward to, and the varied entertainment on the Sunday was also a great “crowd magnet”. However, times are hard, cash is tight, wee have to cut our cloth, yet still we can manage to bring thousands of smiles to faces in South Tyneside as our Summer Festival adapts to the changes as today’s free concert in South Shields’ Bents Park provided some attractive and stirring competition to the street walkabout acts in Tynemouth. I missed last Saturday’s opening parade because of work commitments but there was no way that I would be missing today’s event as local girl Jenny Stevens and her band The Hiccups stepped up another notch to play to probably the largest crowd they’ve ever played to.

The South Shields based four piece now have a more rounded sound and style with some heavier riffs and beats  to accompany the melody created in Jen’s self penned songs, Jenny has been a member of the Curly’s Corner Shop Message Board and a Twitter user for some time now, so many of us were delighted to be able to enjoy her warm up act which was a very decent set played to a demographic which perhaps was not her usual “market” (lets be fair most buyers of the band’s CDs are a little bit older than the average Scouting for Girls fan), she has also done a great deal of self marketing and promotion through the use of social networking sites so there really were no excuses for local music lovers NOT to know that she’d be playing today. The set included a great selection from the first album Meg’s Hill and the new album Better Frame of Mind. If you don’t know the music of Jen Stevens and the Hiccups watch this video for a taster:

Thankfully the weather stayed dry, a mixture of cool clouds and breezes interspersed with some warm sunshine, it certainly helped in getting the crowds out and I’d not be far wrong in guessing that perhaps 18000 packed the Bents Park, almost as many as attended the Joe McCelderry coming home concert last year. The giant screen first introduced at the Bents Park last year was in use again and very much appreciated by those families at the back, whilst at the front of the stage thousands of young boys and girls recreated a version of a “mosh pit” revelling in seeing their faces caught by the cameras. Unfortunately it made my job of taking pictures that much more difficult with a camera rostrum erected right in front of the centre of the stage, shooting over the heads of thousands of youngsters is difficult enough without other obstructions, I think I’ll take along my own step ladders next time :-)

Next up were the headline act Scouting for Girls whose debut self titled album went to No. 1 in the charts in 2007, the next album Everybody Wants t be on TV reached No. 2 in the charts and gave them a No. 1 hit single in 2010. They are a three piece band from London with a huge fan base in the mid to late teens group who were very vocal today. Not exactly my taste in music, but hey if they draw a crowd into South Shields for the right reasons then that’s fine by me, they sound a bit too much like the Gary Barlow Take That genre. Anyway here’s the one that had them all jumping!

All in all a great afternoon, pretty busy, lots of cash being spent and lots of visitors in town. South Shields and South Tyneside can be happy that the Summer Festival is definitely in full swing, next Sunday we have former X Factor winner Matt Cardle in the Bents Park, sure to be another big draw!

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Written by curly

July 15, 2012 at 8:52 pm

“Chillaxing” with David Miliband

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David Miliband and family in South Shields

Former Foreign Secretary takes the sea air in South Shields

A lot of people were rather bemused that Prime Minister “call me Dave” Cameron carved out “chillaxing” time at the weekends by losing his daughter at the pub or playing games on his iPad, or even fitting in a game of tennis, but really it must do an MP (or a PM) a world of good to get away from the Westminster village and make time for more important matters, especially if he/she has a young family. So it was good to see our constituency MP David Miliband along with his wife Louise and the two boys “enjoying” yesterday’s horrendous rain on the sea front in South Shields. Sheltered beneath his NASUWT umbrella, the former Foreign Secretary was in very anonymous mood dressed down in denim jeans, and a sporty looking waterproof zippered jacket that could easily have come from one of Mike Ashley’s outlets (let’s hope not), matched to a very expensive looking pair of brown suede boots. He and his family were making the most of this trip to the constituency as the parade for Armed Services Day was about to make its way down from Gypsies Green Stadium to the Bents Park, yet despite the weather they all seemed to be enjoying themselves quite unperturbed by the lack of apparent interest in them, they could easily have been Mr. and Mrs. Thompson from Tynemouth on a day trip – Joe Public was none the wiser!

Oddly I didn’t see David Miliband in the Bents Park for the commemorative service for our armed personnel (that is not to say that he wasn’t in there for a time) but I did see him and one of his sons making his way along Bents Park Road homeward bound as the service was in progress. The talk was of things that young boys find so important of course, like building some sort of “transformers” type machine big enough to hide inside of a van and ready to gobble up marauders, and as most fathers know only too well thoughts quickly turn to the empty stomach and move towards lunch if the lads have had some exercise.

Now Colemans fish and chips are very nice, but on a Sunday?

Well, why not? However, it has to be said that there are other fish and chip shops worth a try in town, but when it comes down to ice cream the lads are totally correct, there is no other ice cream in the world after you have tasted Minchellas!

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Written by curly

June 25, 2012 at 8:13 am

Armed Forces Day 2012 in South Shields

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The Badlanders ride into town

I don’t know why, but every time we hold a special commemoration for Armed Forces Day in South Shields we end up with heavy skies and rain, and so it was on this damp Sunday morning as the Badlanders MCC rode into town along the Coast Road to the Bents Park. A cavalcade of hundreds of big noisy brash and expensive motorbikes preceded the parade of local armed services personnel and youth groups led a pipe band marching from Gypsies Green Stadium watched by a very encouraging crowd which grew massively as they approached the entrance to the Bents Park. The parade took the salute from the Lord Lieutenant of Tyne and Wear  Nigel Sherlock O.B.E. alongside the Mayor and Mayoress of South Tyneside Cllrs. Eilleen Leask and Olive Puncheon at a dais erected next to the clean and modern looking caravan park of Sea Road. Considering the inclement weather (no we have had our fair share of rain this summer too) it was encouraging to see so many youngsters and families coming along to pay homage to the courage, bravery, and steadfastness of our armed services in the service of our country.

In past years the parade and salute has taken place at the Town Hall on the same day as the rest of the country, at times the parade was so short that it almost went unnoticed, so the decision to combine it with the excellent and well organised fun day provided by these motorbike enthusiasts appears to be the right one. Many of the Badlanders are former members of the armed services and will often be seen visiting South Shields for the annual Service of Remembrance each November at Westoe, they spend months and months planning and organising this huge event which grows and grows each year – they are to be heartily congratulated for the sterling work that they do raising thousands of pounds for service charities each year.

As the parade entered the Bents Park the groups lined up in front of the main stage for an inspection by the Lord Lieutenant of Tyne and Wear and the Mayor of South Tyneside, this was followed by a special religious service conducted by vicar of St. Michael and All the Angels, Westoe, the Revd. Paul Kennedy, himself a former decorated serviceman. His exhortation included the ode from the moving poem by Lawrence Binyon “For the Fallen”:

They went with songs to the battle, they were young.
Straight of limb, true of eyes, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

The National Anthem was played by the Durham Army Cadet band.The rest of the day was spent in showing off the magnificent machines, sports and games for the children, demonstrations, and live music from local rock bands. If you would like to see pictures form the “fun” part of the day, you will need to tune in to South Shields Daily Picturesover the next few weeks. No amount of thunder or lightening was going to stop them!

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Written by curly

June 24, 2012 at 1:51 pm

What has happened to South Tyneside Council?

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Doing things we’ve yearned over for years!

I don’t know what’s going on, South Tyneside’s Labour Party must have had an injection of pragmatism, or they are riding on the crest of a popular wave, or something like that.

Councillors are to be threatened with legal non niceties and even fines for failing to declare pecuniary interests, there has been a reinforcing of older rules about seeking favours or influencing decisions, respect is the flavour of the month, and to really upset any opposition they’ve managed to underspend the budget and put money away for a rainy day!

My head is in a spin, I don’t quite know what to make of it, let’s just hope that they keep it up and manage to keep council taxes at the current level leaving us with some money to spend as consumers trying to reinvigorate our local economy. After all a low taxed borough must surely have a chance of winning over investors and job creators.

However, the biggest shock is this – council and committee meetings taking place on an evening when it is easier for members of the public to attend – this is an outrage! How dare they do what we’ve been wanting for years!

Before you know it they’ll be opening a Facebook page so we can “like” them, or even worse they’ll install a webcam in the council chamber of South Shields Town Hall so we can watch them in action.

This flourishing of populist policy will have to stop I tell you, after all we need something to complain about.

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Written by curly

June 21, 2012 at 8:08 pm

Olympic Torch arrives in South Shields

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Olympic Torch Relay, South Shields
Our moment to shine

I don’t know what compelled me to set the alarm for 06:30 this morning after a decent night of celebrating England’s win over Sweden in Euro 2012, it seemed a rather silly thing to do considering that I’ll be working until 10:30 pm this evening, but I’d promised “Missy” that I’d take her to see the Olympic Torch Relay as it reached South Shields. I was even more surprised that she managed to be out of bed and ready on time, most weekends she doesn’t surface until about 08:30 am. So we  passing the Town Hall in Westoe Road at just after 07:15 really surprised to see so many people already waiting in the rain – yes the incessant rain. I’d decided that anywhere between Crossgate and the back end of the Town Hall might be a bit busy, as well as the top end of Ocean Road, so I’d go for the South Marine Park opposite the Wouldhave memorial. My guess is that the area around the Leas and the Bamburgh would also be choc-a-bloc full as Haile Gebrselassie and Brendan Foster put in their appearances.

So whilst waiting in the rain I bumped into one of your Labour councillors also getting a good soaking, but already working hard for local charity Cancer Connections today, puts some of us to shame I thought.

There was a lot of hooha and fanfair about the event as Met. Police motorbike outriders drove down Ocean Road with all of their flashing blue lights, shaking hands with children as though it were a carnival, they were followed by the sponsors buses, the sounds of music and a DJ announcer as hawkers tried to sell Union Flags along the pavement, it occurred to me that there were far more policemen from the Met than there were sponsors, organisers, and torch bearers, just made me wonder how much money is being spent sending these lads around the UK as the “security bubble”. As two of the bearers made their relay swap one torch was ignited from the other before the preceding one was extinguished, I was asking just how many torches were made as each bearer ends up keeping the torch as a personal memento (or disposing of it on eBay at a mighty profit.) I’m guessing that there are an awful lot of used butane cylinders to dispose of too, or do they use a different fuel? Fuel, yes fuel, how much petrol and diesel is used during this relay?

Anyway, the event passed through South Shields on its way to Whitburn rather quickly and everyone seemed to enjoy it, especially the little children who had been dragged out of bed rather early on a weekend.It must have been a great occasion for those local torch bearers who had been chosen to carry the flame along our small part of the route, they’ll be proud, pleased as punch, and have stories to relate to their grandchildren.

There all sorts of mini events taking place along the sea front and beaches today to mark our part in this journey, all planned in the hope of glorious sunny warm weather…….oh well that’s one thing you can never guarantee.

Now I just need to force myself into getting excited about Greco-Roman wrestling, equestrianism, fencing, and archery.

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Written by curly

June 16, 2012 at 10:56 am

Great North Dog Walk 2012

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South Shields hosts another “record breaker!”

This is becoming a bad joke, little more than a publicity stunt, even CBBC cameras and crews were in attendance as the Great North Dog Walk organised by Tony Carlisle set about bursting the Guinness World Record once again. Am I the only one in South Tyneside who finds the figures rather less than credible? Am I the only one in South Shields asking the right questions at the wrong time?

I’d like to know just why these numbers are apparently going up and up year after year, yet the event looks only a little larger to me, and the crowds and tents have all dispersed by late afternoon. I was down on the Leas this morning to photograph the start of the Great North Dog Walk 2012 which now claims to have more dogs taking part than the first Great North Runs organised by Brendan Foster, yet I parked easily behind the Bamburgh, as far as I am aware there were no extra Metros or buses today, there were no road closures at all, and nobody to police such a huge gathering, no safety stewards or metal barriers. The start line did not stretch  a mile and a half and the first participants passed by my camera in little more than twenty minutes. I’d like to know if anyone either in South Tyneside Council or close to Mr. Carlisle has any interest in trying to answer the questions that I have posed in previous years.

I guess someone thinks that the publicity factor is good to have at the start of summer, it puts South Shields on the map and makes a news story for a few outlets which lasts for a couple of days and if all of the money that is claimed to be raised is going to good local causes then hip hip hooray!

However I estimated that around 3000 dogs at most walked by in that first hour, and so to realise figures of over 24000 would need that rate of participation to be sustained until at least 6:00 pm and clearly it was not, do we really need to be accepting these claims without scrutiny?

The questions that I posed last year:

  • How do the organisers confirm how many dogs take part on the day?
  • Is there any involvement by any official from Guinness World Records Ltd on the day, and on site, to validate the “world record” claim?
  • How much does the event cost to organise and run?
  • How much sponsorship is raised and from whom?
  • How much money is raised for charities and which charities benefit?
  • Are any accounts published, and where can the public read them?

A comment left last year by Steve G:

Curly, originally, was querying whether the reportage of the Great North Dog Walk was accurate.
The claims made suggest there were over 22700 dogs on the Leas on Sunday over a three or four hour period.
This equates to 5600 dogs on the Leas at any given hour.
For the sake of argument there is one dog owner with each dog.
Curly is simply pointing out that given the amount traffic this mass attendance would create – are the claims made in the Gazette true?
Bearing in when I was jogging, a few years ago now, the figures for people running the Great North Run was around the 18000 figure – less than the dog walk. This involved road closures along the Leas, additional public transport, police attendance, stewarding etc.
The Great North Dog Walk should have been decidedly noticeable and quite frankly it was not. Not this year, not last year or previous years.
The video of last year on the Great North Dog Walk (on the website) does not appear to show the crowds that 16000 or so dogs would require last year.
If the number of dogs attending is exaggerated, then logically, so is the amount raised for charity. How can this sum be checked? It is only an estimate. Though £45 per dog per walk, since inception, seems achievable.

The Guinness Book of World Records website gives no indication of how the numbers involved are validated. In fact in the 2010 video neither the owners nor the dogs appeared to be allocated numbers as per the Great North Run. As the picture in tonight’s (14th. June 2011) Gazette confirms – how are the numbers checked and entrance fees collected?

Does this event show the borough in a positive and record breaking way?
Well, it was not reported in the Sunderland Echo, nor the Evening Chronicle – I did not check the Journal. So only we know about it!!

I am not concerned over the relatively small amount this event received from the council, what I am concerned about is that there appears to be little or no accountability regarding this small and many other larger amounts distributed by our council.
Look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves.

Also, I am getting tired of the Gazettes inaccurate reporting or rather the reprinting of other peoples press releases. But that is another issue in itself.

I hope my pictures show that these numbers require answers to the questions, they were all shot between 10:00 and 11:00 am this morning.

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A great day out for families and pooches, Deputy Mayor Ernie Gibson showed true bulldog spirit manfully and doggedly reading through his speech as the wind tried to whippet away, but you’d have to be pretty barking to believe that this is a Great North Run sized event which one day may end up spilling egg on our chins with some explaining to do!

Update

This picture shows a small section of the crowd at the start line of the 1982 Great North Run when 20000 people competed, call me hard to please if you wish, but I’m not convinced that we saw anything like these numbers at the Great North Dog Walk.

Great North Run 1982

Here is a section of the crowd at the Great North Dog walk

Great North Dog Walk

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Written by curly

June 10, 2012 at 3:42 pm

The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee on South Tyneside

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Queen Elizabeth ll

How will you remember it?

I have some pretty vague memories of the Queen’s visits to South Shields, way back in the 1960s I stood with my classmates from Barnes Road Junior School along with a clutch of parents and teachers as we waved our little flags watching the Queen and Prince Philip opening the Marine and Technical College in St. George’s Avenue. I think it was my earliest recollection of what our monarch looked like, later in life I had a similar vague encounter at Gypsies Green Stadium in 1977 when she visited as part of her Silver Jubilee tour, I cannot quite remember how I blagged my way into that event, something to do with someone who I knew in the Conservative party no doubt. It was the highlight of the day and after several pints in the Vigilant she was hailed as the talk of the town. Somehow a few of us managed to get down to the North Marine Park to witness our beacon being lit. Strangely I recall nothing at all of the day we celebrated the Golden Jubilee ten years ago, if indeed we did.

Yesterday was more of a family event almost in an Australian style as we joined the in laws for a “Royal Garden Party” barbecue and a few “tinnies” in the sun, the children found the pageant along the River Thames very interesting and it was quite fascinating to watch their faces as the afternoon unfolded on one of today’s gigantic flat screen TVs, and today we will hopefully join hundreds of other South Shields and South Tyneside folks sitting in the South Marine Park watching a giant screen and enjoying this evening’s concert in London before moving up the hill to see one of the beacons being lit. I must congratulate and thank South Tyneside Council for staging this event and the little afternoon tea dance in the park yesterday, it would have been wonderful if the 1977 visit could have been beamed back to a giant screen in the park if only they’d had today’s technology available then.

I’m hoping to photograph the beacon being lit in the Arbeia Roman Fort with the reconstructed west gate as a backdrop, I just hope this new beacon is in a good location, don’t fancy showing South Shields to the world with a collection of “Coronation Street” back yards as a backdrop.

I like these occasions, they help create unity and spread a little joy, they transcend the politics of the day, and bring people together. Queen Elizabeth has helped to modernise the monarchy and make the institution that little bit more accessible, she stands as a symbol of stability stretching over sixty years, she has also managed to transform our thinking about the old Germanic values of her ancestors and portray a family that seems to have endured some of the same marital and economic problems of many others. As the years of economic parsimony have passed through her reign she has adapted the Royal household to meet the needs of Parliament and the British economy without severing that thin golden thread that stitches the tapestry of this island’s history.

Personally I’m now looking forward to the Platinum Jubilee in ten years time!

How have you celebrated the Jubilee weekend readers? What will your memories be?

 

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Written by curly

June 4, 2012 at 11:20 am

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