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Archive for the ‘Blogging’ Category

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

How to encourage growth

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Better cuts and more Keynesian spending programmes says Iain Malcolm

Following this post I posed the following questions to a number of our South Tyneside politicians of ALL parties, including the new “South Tyneside First” group of councillors, I also asked for opinions from some of our local businessmen and nationally recognised prominent bloggers and commentators:

If you were in a position to be advising the Chancellor and the Prime Minister, what would you be telling them about efforts to achieve deficit reduction and balance the budget?

How would you advise them to promote growth in the British economy to increase Treasury revenues?

What steps would you advise taking to help our local authority in South Tyneside promote the right conditions for job creation and improve consumer demand locally?

Sadly, some haven’t even bothered to engage or contribute to the discussion, one decided he could only contribute if I gave him space to openly criticise officers of South Tyneside Council (which was not within the remit of the discussion because officers do not decide upon policies), another said he would contribute but failed to do so. The ONLY local politician who took the time to send some carefully considered comments was Labour’s leader in South Tyneside Cllr. Iain Malcolm, who told me this:

The deficit, caused by the greed of the bankers not the last Labour Government’s spending on infrastructure,  needs to be reduced. However the Tory-led Government are using the deficit as an excuse for making deeply ideological cuts in public expenditure. The Government should be clawing back the unpaid tax by multi-national corporations and taking a leaf out of local government for ways of streamlining their civil service budgets. The Prime Minister has admitted that Councils are the most efficient part of the public sector, so send in the Local Government Association to review Whitehall expenditure with a aim to making drastic savings in their budgets.

But we also need growth in the economy and that means Government spending on economic infrastructure projects, I would rather pay people to work and receive their taxes than pay them for being unemployed. The Chancellor himself is starting to realise his austerity plans are not working and the deficit will need to be reduced over a longer period of time.

The greed of the banks nearly led to a total collapse of the economic system, if Gordon Brown had not stepped in (where other world leaders failed to lead) and reassured the public that their savings, pensions and homes were safe, we would have been in a far grave state than we are today. There would have been public panic (as witnessed over Northern  Rock) on an unprecedented scale with possible social disorder.  Whatever else one feels about our former Prime Minister remember it was his bold leadership that prevented a complete melt-down.

Finally, there needs to be greater regulation of the banking system – the light touch of the former Government (supported by the Conservatives at the time) clearly didn’t work.

It’s a fairly straight down the middle “follow the party line” sort of statement, but it does not show any real vision or initiatives to help the local economy in South Tyneside return to growth. there is no commitment. for example, to retain zero growth in Council Tax rises which would help maintain the little spending power that consumers have right now, and spending power is what lights the blue touch paper of economic growth.

However I’m very grateful and thank him for his participation.

In the table below are the combined thoughts and initiatives of the independents, Conservatives, UKIP, bloggers, and business people.

South Tyneside Opposition ideas for growth

Not very encouraging is it?

Perhaps this is one part of the explanation as to why we have such a heavily Labour dominated council here.

Update 1

This is from UKIP Cllr. David Potts

It never fails to amaze me that Labour politicians have the sheer nerve to blame the financial sector for the global economic situation. Coun Malcolm states that the crisis has been “caused by the greed of the bankers”. This is a pathetic throw-away comment backed up with zero evidence, and Coun Malcolm is intelligent enough to know this. Gordon Brown sold UK Gold reserves in the $200-300/oz range. Today, it is trading at $1600/oz. The Labour Government spent money like a drunken sailor, and the mantra that they “didn’t fix the roof while the sun was shining” could not be more accurate.

It really annoys me when governments blame the financial sector for operating within the regulatory boundaries that THEY create in the first place.

However, we must move away from national and global issues and focus upon what matters to us as councillors; South Tyneside. The highly respected think tank, IPPR North has warned that the South Tyneside jobless rate is set to skyrocket, particularly among our young people. It is deeply concerning that Coun Malcolm and his £170’000PA Chief Exec, Martin Swales publically comment that it is nothing to do with them and it is ‘all the evil Tory Government’s fault’. That is nonsense. II speak to local business people regularly. I know one energy broker who offered to save the council hundreds of thousands of pounds by switching their suppliers. His exact words were “I tried, but it was pointless, it’s a closed shop”. There is an active movement among the business community in South Tyneside to push ahead an agenda of progress and growth through directly influencing Council policy via peaceful protest and diplomatic pressure.

Now would councillor Malcolm like to tell us how many local firms are involved in the building of our new swimming pool complex? Would he also like to explain why suppliers of materials to South Tyneside Homes were based hundreds of miles away down South?

Look after the people of your Borough first.

Coun Malcolm and Mr Swales take people for fools and playing on this nonsense assertion that they are socialists. If they are socialists, I’m a Dutchman.

Update 2

This from George Smith, President of South Shields Conservative Association.

I asked our Campaign Director (Dorothy) for a brief, but they “don’t do Blogs”.
Sorry about this, according to the Levenson inquiry they do Twitter, a bit too much for me.

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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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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

Similar posts

Double money canine cash give away

On dogs and water trends

Great North Dog Walk

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Written by curly

June 10, 2012 at 3:42 pm

It’s party time!

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What is beneath the gloss?

So now that the Diamond Jubilee parties are over and we bask a little longer in the glow, the next party is upon us from tomorrow in the shape of a footballing feast known as the European Championships in Poland and Ukraine. Another few weeks of supermarket prodding will have us overfilled with lager, beer, and frozen pizzas, our homes and cars will be draped with the flag of St. George, the “red tops” will exhort the England football team to glories well beyond their reach (they have only ONCE reached the semi final of this tournament), the new flatscreen TVs will be overheating, and when it all ends……….well there are the Olympics and Paralympics to look forward to in London, along with commercially sponsored torch bearers. One only hopes that South Tyneside Council is NOT tempted to mount the giant screen in the park again, I fear the demand will not be there to sit and watch in a South Shields park!

Of course our politicians will probably be a little more sanguine than myself, especially having invested so heavily in the London Olympics, and I confess most of the Olympian sports hold little interest for me even though there will be some football in Newcastle, but for others this will indeed be a veritable feast of summer sports with Wimbledon and Test Match cricket thrown into the mix. David Cameron and News International will be hoping to share the glory of English and British sportsmen and women as the medal count increases the “feel good” factor and the national index of good cheer. Parliament will be enjoying its long summer break with only the Leveson inquiry interrupting the good news, yet quietly gurgling away beneath the veneer of good cheer and “gloss” will be ……………………the economy.

Let’s not forget, that this is the main event!

After two years of a Conservative led coalition government the track record is not that impressive, the deficit continues to grow (albeit at a slower pace), the national debt is still woefully out of control, borrowing is still at record levels and getting higher, public expenditure is higher now than in the last years of Brown’s disastrous administration, so much for the cuts eh? The slight saving grace is that unemployment has not yet broken past levels which might lead to the sort of civil unrest witnessed in Greece. The Eurozone crisis refuses to go away, banks still appear to need recapitalisng (again) and none of the major European players seem willing to take the bull by the horns and dismantle the single currency. All the while the pan European policy appears to be one of further austerity, less public spending, and increasing taxation, as near every nation in the EU other than Germany slumbers along on virtually zero growth.

Growth? Did I mention growth?

Ah yes, who has the secret elixir which will put more money into the hands of consumers or savers? It is they alone who can provide the demand and stimulus that economies need, and any person in South Tyneside who tells you that they couldn’t use a few extra quid a month is madly deluded. Banks rely on savers to swell deposits, greater deposits create more capital, more capital creates greater liquidity which normally leads to easier lending and investment, yet the current economic cycle has brought us interest rates which creep closer to zero and discourage any saving at all. Similarly current personal and indirect taxation levels do nothing at all to inspire consumer confidence and help us to prioritise our spending on essentials such as mortgages and rents, fuel, and keeping our older cars on the road for even longer. It is almost a pan European deflationary cycle. Our own government is caught up in the very same frame of mind as Labour’s outgoing Chancellor Alistair Darling who was equally determined to reduce the deficit whilst raising taxes and sending out hopeful signals on government expenditure. Neither Labour nor the current coalition appears to have had a “plan B” that might have included some major initiatives to promote economic growth and rekindle consumer demand.

So, sadly, whilst we are in the summer party of love mood we have to remind the politicians that “it’s the economy stupid”, and with that in mind I’ve asked some of our prominent politicians in South Tyneside, along with some business people and other bloggers for their ideas on what we need to do to get our local and national economy on the move. Of course your own ideas are very welcome too.

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Former Mayor seeks end to “negative” politics.

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John Anglin looking for positive solutions in South Tyneside.

South Tyneside’s former Mayor Cllr. John Anglin won a handsome victory in South Shields last night when he ousted the Deputy Leader of the Independent Alliance Ahmed Khan in the Beacon and Bents ward of South Shields. Returning Labour  Cllr. Anglin gave this reaction to the Corner Shop:

As far as Beacon and Bents is concerned I am delighted that the residents have allowed me to represent them once more and promise that I will concentrate on positives and positive actions that are so necessary in these gloomy times. Enough of the continually negative attitudes. Lets see what can be done to improve our Ward and our town for the wonderful people who live in it.

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Written by curly

May 4, 2012 at 11:50 am

Live election blog – South Tyneside

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Results as they come in

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Just keeping an eye on the local government elections here in South Tyneside as results are declared in South Shields and Jarrow.

  • First off a wrong prediction in the early declarations,  Labour’s Melanie Cartwright has taken Monkton from the Independent Alliance with a majority of 391 (didn’t see that one coming).
  • Labour holds Whitburn and Marsden as predicted, Tracey Dixon romped home with more than a thousand votes to spare.
  • Labour holds Bede ward in Jarrow, as predicted, welcome to Margaret Peacock.
  • Ann Walsh holds Biddick and All Saints with an 877 majority.
  • Alan Smith (Labour) defeats the Independent Alliance councillor Geraldine White in Fellgate and Hedworth (another prediction comes right).
  • Jim Perry holds Primrose for Labour with a majority of over 1000.
  • John McCabe holds Hebburn South for Labour
  • Gladys Hobson makes a return to South Tyneside Council as Labour wins in West Park (not looking good for the Progressives).
  • Just after midnight and Labour has already picked up an extra three seats on South Tyneside Council.
  • At 45.5% Cleadon Village and East Boldon has the highest turnout in the borough again.
  • HUGE win for Labour in Beacon and Bents, Ahmed Khan the Independent Alliance defendant has been beaten by former Mayor John Anglin with a good workable majority of 203!
  • Joanne Bell holds Boldon Colliery for Labour
  • Pat Hay wins Harton for Labour, driving another nail into the Progressive’s coffin.
  • Mark Walsh wins another seat for Labour, knocking out Gordin Finch (Independent Alliance) in Horsley Hill, if Westoe falls to Labour this could signal the end of the Alliance.
  • Westoe has gone Labour again! They must be jubilant as Sheila Stephenson records a 300 odd majority as the Independent Alliance is reduced to a solitary member. (is that right, just Jane Branley left?)
  • Former Conservatice Alex Donaldson (also a former Mayor) holds Cleadon Park for Labour.
  • Labour hold both seats in Simonside and Rekendyke
  • Just waiting for results in Whiteleas and Cleadon Village now, perhaps they are closer than expected?
  • Doreen Purvis eventually wins a seat on the Council as Labour takes Whiteleas from Independent Terry Haram
  • Jeff Milburn survives as the only Conservative councillor in South Tyneside holding his seat in Cleadon Village and East Boldon with a majority of only 249.
  • Mary Butler has taken Hebburn North for Labour to complete the evening’s bruising for the opposition parties.

South Tyneside Council now comprises 48 Labour members (a huge increase of nine seats) and a paltry six seats for the opposition, the real opposition must now come from within the Labour Party. Looks like my predictions yesterday were not far off the mark.

Biggest sweat must have been on the brow of Alex Donaldson who saw his majority reduced to only 21 as June Elsom came very close to unseating him, in total the Labour Party has won 18 of the 19 seats contested, a pretty formidable victory by any standards!

Conservative Jeff Milburn was unable to attend the count after being badly bitten by a dog during election day, he spent the evening being treated at the hospital.
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Written by curly

May 3, 2012 at 11:51 pm

Back at last!

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Curly's desktops

So, just what have I been up to?

Well, TWO new computers, both in the same case!

It has taken a while, but the hardware on the old Windows XP machine was deteriorating and could only have bits and pieces replaced so often, the operating system was outdated and not capable of keeping pace with the latest developments. So now I have a dual boot machine, i.e. when I switch it on it gives me a choice, do I wish to fire up Windows 7 Ultimate, or Linux Ubuntu 12? I’ve used the Windows machine to set up my home wireless networking solutions streaming content out and sharing files and folders between this desktop, a laptop, a Blackberry, a PS3, and a Nintedo, everyone is happy on that score! I also use it to edit my photographs, because Photoshop is simply the best. However, what has kept me away from here for so long is my determination to learn how to do things in Linux, how to code, work in the command line and “Terminal”, it is challenging and fun, and seriously I cannot get enough of it.

I wanted to rise to the challenge of running my home computing on a machine using only software that is commonly shared and legitimately free, and as you can see from the picture of my two different desktops above, I have even managed to get the thing to look and behave just like a megabucks Mac!

I am determined to learn how to use the Gimp image editing software, it may never be as good as Photoshop, but I’m pretty sure I can make it produce good pictures, the example above shows that I have a long way to go.

So I’m ready to be back in the saddle to ride this vehicle wherever we want to go, political interests have had to take a back seat for a few weeks, the hunger for knowledge has been winning the battle.

I’ll start tomorrow with a little piece on the local elections here in South Tyneside to get the ball rolling again – remember to go and use your vote, you really have no right at all to complain if you fail to mark a cross.

Written by curly

May 2, 2012 at 8:38 pm