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Archive for the ‘Television’ Category

Visit South Tyneside

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The advertising campaign

OK we must have seen this a fair bit now, and apart from one desperately upset reader in the Shields Gazette it appears to have hit the right notes, if it didn’t it hit people who are not bothered about complaining too much. Personally I think it is a very good edit squeezing as much content as possible into 45 seconds, I’d prefer to see a little less “branding” and a little more of the sea front parks and beaches but perhaps I’m nitpicking. I’ve seen it on television, online, and at public events, I assume that it has also been distributed to cinemas.

I’d be interested in knowing how much has been spent on the campaign and how South Tyneside Council plan to measure its success. I’d also like to know if any of our local businesses were asked to contribute to the cost in return for a second or two of fame.

It is good to see that our council is now reaching out more openly to wider markets by allowing content to be freely shared on YouTube and Facebook, there are still some who won’t.

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Written by curly

July 16, 2012 at 9:08 am

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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South Shields’ girls in X Factor win!

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Little Mix chased the dream.

Exactly two years ago I used this video to illustrate this particular post where I said

“I think that South Shields girl Jade Thirlwall should think seriously about having another go at the X Factor, she could well emulate Joe McElderry next year.”

OK, so it took a little longer, but after initial rejection she was thrown in, along with fellow Shields girl Perrie Edwards,  Leanne Pinnock amd Jesy Nelson to a girl group later to be known as Little Mix.  It has been a hard road for the four girls as they went through the pressures of public votes in ITV’s flagship reality show but yesterday evening they won the coveted X Factor prize and that important contract with Simon Cowell’s music company. Another feather in the cap for South Shields  and a great advert for the young talent that we have in South Tyneside. It takes some “bottle” to be knocked down, get up, dust yourself down, and come back fighting, but as many girls from Laygate or Simonside can attest this determination to succeed is a requisite in the tough streets of Tyneside.

To be fair we knew that Thirwall had it in her as a former winner at the Pride of South Tyneside Awards, but how many of us saw Perrie Edwards coming through? I wonder too, how much of an influence “Mark” was in Jade’s success?

Winning the X Factor is no guarantee of fame and fortune, and the winners see little of Cowell’s £1m contract, it is rumoured that they are advanced as little as £150000, and must spend the rest promoting an album on behalf of Cowell, however some are now reckoning that the four girls could be in for a huge windfall as advertisers, and promoters see the marketing opportunities presented by a bunch of young vibrant girls put together as much for their looks as well as their singing prowess. They have already featured in a Marks and Spencer’s advertisement, and will no doubt be signed up to promote hair and beauty products at home and in the UK as Cowell looks to exploit a gap in the market. Little Mix could be on the verge of reaping rewards running up to £10m. Don’t begrudge them this success, they will see very little of their home towns or families over the next 12 months, they will need bags of strength and enthusiasm to cope with Cowell’s demands, there will be travel and sleep deprivation, their lives will no longer be under their own self control – they now belong to Simon Cowell.

What does it mean for this region though?

We become seen as a nursery for talent, others may become inspired to emulate this level of success, we get a little more national press attention, and sometimes it may not be for the best of reasons as personal lives become laid bare to reporters, our youngsters may become seen in a more positive light too. Most importantly, we may see young entrepreneurs in business and commerce become more emboldened and self confident as they follow their own dreams. They may be inspired by the competitive attitudes of girls like Little Mix, and we may find that other more diverse young talents on Tyneside succeed in building bigger contracts that lead to some growth in our regional economy, the experience of the hard knocks that eventually lead to a winning position might hopefully rub off on many of Tyneside’s teenagers, upon whom our future relies.

Damian Rice’s Cannonball, great song, would not have been my choice for the winner’s single.

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Call Tom Watson to the Select Committee too.

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Was the Security Service involved in the hacking scandal?

As the story about Rupert Murdoch’s News International continues to evolve with more resignations and revelations one small written piece in Iain Dale’s latest platform seems to have evaded Fleet Street (for now) and it involves Gordon Brown’s lieutenant Tom Watson with his cleverly worded question to the Prime Minister earlier in the week. Former Tribune editor Mark Seddon writes:

So when earlier in the week, Watson asked the Prime Minister if the terms of the Inquiry into the Press would also include “rogue elements in the security services”, my ears pricked up. I have been wondering for some time how this level of serial criminality, this bugging and hacking from the Windsors to the Dowlers had seeming failed to register with our rather expensive intelligence services in MI5 and MI6. It seemed astonishing to me for instance that an officer in the Royal Protection Squad could happily flog private Royal contacts without anyone knowing. It also seemed surprising that no one seemed to know of the repeated attempts to access intensely private information on Gordon Brown. Some 4,000 people – probably far more – had their phones hacked, and no one knew what was going over in MI5?

So, apart from asking the Murdochs, Rebekah Brooks, Andy Coulson, various other journalists et al, perhaps the Commons Select Committee for Culture Media and Sport ought to request that Tom Watson appears before them next week. It would seem that he may have important information to share with them. If it is possible that members of MI5 or MI6 had helped journalists in their search for information to get a story at any cost then surely if it were proven, News International and News Corporation could not possibly pass any test that verifies them as a fit and proper organisation to hold a broadcast licence either here or abroad! They certainly ought not to be though of as fit and proper to take over BSkyB at any time in the future, irrespective of all the apologies offered this weekend.

If the Select Committee and the Judicial Enquiry find that this organisation has wormed its way into both the police forces of the UK and its Security Services, along with using its influence to manipulate politicians of all parties, then I’m pretty sure that public opprobrium would be so intense that shareholders might move to break up the company.

Although many will see Tom Watson’s moves as little more than “the revenge of Brown”, ultimately he may have done his country a great service.

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Written by curly

July 17, 2011 at 10:20 am

Dear Steve Bruce

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steve brucePlease give Sunderland’s young lads a chance.

Dear Steve

I don’t know how much spare time you will have over the next few days, but in the hope that you do make use of this interwebz thing and happen to search Google for anything to do with Sunderland AFC and its supporters in South Shields, then you may well come across my words, it is after all a long while since I last wrote about the love affair with my lifetime favourite football club Sunderland.

The Lads have had a bit of a torrid time during the second half of this season, and for supporters we have seen a strong promising position at the turn of the year when we were genuinely threatening to break into the top four of the Premiership, melt away as fast as a dropped Minchella’s ice cream on Shields’ beach! Yes, we have had an injury crisis that is true, we have a relatively small squad, that also is true, but I have questions, quite a few of them to be sure, about the management regime and style that you brought to the Stadium of Light. Despite our great Premier League position at the turn of the year, which we might have hoped would be sustained, you must recognise that it was not attained by playing the most attractive football in the world, we didn’t get there by playing like the Barcelona of the Costa del Monkwearmouth. We had managed somehow to get there with an ever changing back four who at times must have struggled to remember each others names, I don’t recall that we ever played the same back four for three consecutive games, and of course on the back of the goals of one certain Darren Bent. Bent gives us a clue that something was amiss, he’d already made plain his intentions to seek a move to another club during the previous season but remarkably he was persuaded to stay on the promise of beefing up the team’s attack, so out went Kenwynne Jones and in came Asamoah Gyan and before you could shout hurrah Bent was off after the sniff of a huge pay packet turned his head. Don’t get me wrong, Sunderland were right not to have been panicked into signing a quick replacement during the January transfer window, that could well have been short sighted, but in the supporters eyes there did not appear to be any longer term plan or option available either.

I was involved in a “discussion” with a rival Newcastle fan yesterday evening here in South Shields and, to his credit, he had a clear view of some of the problems at Sunderland football club, he rightly suggested that we have far too many midfielders on the books, all solid workhorses but none of them with any real pace, no traditional wingmen, and nobody with creative flare or ability, I could not disagree. It was galling to recall that we had missed out on the opportunity to buy both Stewart Downing and Adam Johnson, both now making a good impact in the Premiership and with England caps behind them. He also pointed out that your South American buys collectively had all of the impact of a cold burrito, how could I disagree? Paulo da Silva just couldn’t cope with the pace and physical presence of Premiership attackers, Marcos Angeleri and Christian Riveros would struggle to make their mark in the Coca Cola Championship, err the idea might have been right to save money by shopping on the South American continent, but it appears as if Ricky Sbragia’s scouting operation was hopelessly out of its depth – and by the way Steve, is it true that you will be inviting Bryan “Pop” Robson back to Sunderland to head up the scouting team? We do need a bit of fizz!

My “Mag” mate also asked what is up with the training regime to cause so many injuries these days? I had to tell him that you had a different work ethic to Mick McCarthy, have the lads in for an extra hour each day, run less fitness drills and play more eleven aside football. That’s the problem I was told, over training and too much physical contact during the sessions, no wonder Keiran Richardson’s stress fracture was hushed up for a while, he suggested. And another thing Steve, and my Mag mate was effusive on this point, Sunderland AFC have far too many loan players at the Stadium of Light, how can you expect maximum commitment and the fulfilling of an ambition when so many players know they wouldn’t be there to either enjoy the fruits of success or face the music of failure?

The most damning failure, so far, of your management and footballing style has been to play unadventurous teams in solid, no I think I shall say stolid, formations, which while grinding out a few wins and quite a few draws did nothing to excite the fans on the terraces. So much so that chairman Niall Quinn was forced to come out and plead for us to return to the stadium, he blamed foreign television stations beaming matches into pubs, we blamed the football for ensuring that the Stadium of Light has been all but two thirds full for most of the campaign. A little more expansive play on the ground and to feet would help engender a sense of hope for the future, but it has never been realised.

Did I just mention the future Steve? Oh yes, that’s what it is all about now, I’m sure that you are aware that we have one or two young lads playing in the reserves who ought to represent Sunderland’s future, they ought to have been ready to play Premiership football by now, they ought to be in your thoughts for next season (on the assumption that you will still be with us). So, can you please explain to me and hundreds of other Mackem fans in South Shields that whilst we have gone through a thoroughly rotten injury crisis, which has now left us with NO fit first team strikers, why you bothered pushing Nedum Onuoha up front in a desperate tactical move against Fulham? You have Ryan Noble available, you put him on the bench, he has a goal scoring track record, yet this lad of the future has still not been used on the pitch in the Premiership. I thought you were a protege and product of the great Sir Alex Ferguson Steve, a man who has done so much in nurturing young talent in the game and brought names like Ryan Giggs, Phil and Gary Neville, Wes Brown, John O’Shea, Paul Scholes, David Beckham, Johnny Evans, Darren Fletcher, and Darron Gibson to our attention. I hope you are seeing my point Steve, from being four games out from the season’s end, and now down to two, you have had the opportunity to bring a few of our young lads on to the pitch. Our Premiership survival was all but confirmed, we have an injury crisis, these lads such as Ryan Noble, Craig Lynch, Billy Knott, Robbie Weir, and Adam Reed deserve to be given a chance to prove themselves alongside Jordan Henderson and Jack Colback.   The future may well be in their hands as financial constraints may prevent the club from spending all of the transfer fee received from Aston Villa for Mr. Bent, it would not have done any harm for some of them to be recalled from their loan clubs and thrown into our first team, the worst thing that might have happened would be them picking up an injury.

So please Steve, in the two games left against Wolves and West Ham, can you give the fans some entertainment? Can we please go out with a young striker or two on the pitch? Can you send out a team capable of winning all six remaining points and ensure that we end this campaign in the top ten and ahead of our rivals up the road?

Do that, and I might be happy for you to stay another season, but I’ll be honest Steve, you wouldn’t be my first choice.

Now if club vice chairman and South Shields MP David Miliband were to find time for a little chat over the summer………

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Written by curly

May 9, 2011 at 1:22 pm

A right Royal weekend

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South Shields really shines in the sun

I’ve had a great weekend, and hope you all did too, the early spring sunshine has helped to show South Shields at its very best with thousands of visitors enjoying our coast, beaches, parks, and restaurants. Friday’s Royal Wedding was a joy to watch whether at home in front of the TV or in the South Marine Park where I reckon about 1000 people were sitting on the grass with their picnics in front of a giant screen erected in front of the restored bandstand, it would be churlish NOT to congratulate the people at South Tyneside Council for arranging this. The picture quality was first class even in the strong sunlight, just a pity that a sharp shower temporarily got in the way, but it didn’t force people to leave, it really was quite festive.

We managed to do some supermarket shopping in the morning and it was the easiest experience you could find, the place was near deserted and we were finished in less than twenty minutes, I had a chat with some of the staff and discovered that they had all volunteered to work on Friday  and rewarded with overtime and a day off in lieu. It was also interesting to note that each year they nominate two of the available eight Bank Holidays to work and rotas are arranged on that basis, a pretty good way of satisfying almost all of the staff and ensuring that they get a good amount of Bank Holidays to themselves to enjoy with their families.

Saturday also found huge crowds in the parks enjoying the weather and I can see in future years that the cafe available inside the new swimming pool will be well used, certainly if we fall victim to the odd shower. Just disappointed that the afternoon was marred by a pretty inept display from Sunderland who surrendered without a fight to Fulham.

Yesterday saw me delivering leaflets in the Harton ward of South Shields in delightful warm sunshine, which made the task that much more rewarding, even had a very friendly chat with a congenial Labour councillor, as well as adding to some sterling work being done in the Beacon and Bents ward. Met many prominent members of our Bengali community yesterday evening on a full tour of every one of our restaurants in the town centre and Ocean Road, it was pretty cheerful and the reception was great, once again it was apparent that South Shields was the place to be as just about every establishment was busy with queues forming at two or three of the most popular, but boy the aromas of the spices were inviting. Just wish I could have sat down and joined in the feasting, but it was a bit early in the evening for me.

I have to say that I’ve been very encouraged by the responses we’ve received whilst campaigning for Mr. Hayder in the Beacon and Bents ward, no hostility at all, and I think people welcome the additional choice and a return to the days of more activity from the local Conservative candidate, far better than the days when a name was offered as a choice but no effective campaigning took place. This is far, far different to recent years.

We may be taking a trip out today if the kids can decide to agree, then it’s back to normal from tomorrow, hope you all enjoyed this great Bank Holiday weekend.

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If Labour had won under Gordon Brown……..

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…….their “cuts” would begin to bite in two days time.

It is so easy to forget that during the campaign for the last general election you could hardly pass a cigarette paper between the economic and fiscal policies of the two main parties, the Conservatives were promising around £16bn worth of savings to reduce the structural deficit built by Gordon Brown’s regime, and Labour were proposing £14bn worth of cuts in their next planned budget which would have been effective from April 1st. next year. That £2bn difference is minuscule when viewed against the £1 trillion (and growing) debt that they left us.

Yet now that Gordon Brown has been consigned to the history books and Alistair Darling forgotten about, can the Labour Party in Opposition be responsible enough to stand by their manifesto pledges and talk freely about the areas which would have suffered had they swung their axe?

It appears not, in recent days both Ed Balls, the Shadow Chancellor and Harriet Harman, the Deputy Leader have both evaded questions about Labour’s cuts whilst the party’s leader embarks upon a campaign of supporting street demonstrations and direct action, Balls in his interview with The Daily Mail on Monday made the slightly ridiculous argument that the economy had started to show signs of strong growth at the end of Labour’s stint (0.2% if I recall correctly) and that coalition policies had stunted that growth re-stoked inflation and set unemployment on an upward path. The ridiculous part of the argument is that  the fiscal measures announced in Gorge Osborne’s first budget will not come into effect until April 1st. this year, and Balls knows it full well, it is the same date that Labour’s budget would have been effective from if they had won the election. In his interview Balls gave no clues at all on where Labour would have wielded the axe as they set about “halving the deficit in four years”. Yet he and his leader were prepared to share a platform in London decrying the government for doing what Labour would necessarily have had to do.

Harriet Harman repeated the same lame argument on the BBC’s Daily Politics Show yesterday, and once more utterly failed to convince in her answers to the questions about where Labour’s cuts would hurt.

Interviewer: You talk about the cuts being wrong but you do not talk about the alternative. You also do not mention that you would also be making cuts.”

HARRIET HARMAN: “We do. We say that we would halve the deficit over four years. Now what happened is  the economy was hit by a global financial crisis. We had to allow the deficit to rise to protect the economy.”

Interviewer: “I know it’s tempting to get into the history lesson.”

HARRIET HARMAN: “I’m just trying to explain what we would actually do instead. There is an alternative and that’s what we’re setting forward.”

Interviewer: “So when it comes to cuts where would you cut and what would you cut?”

HARRIET HARMAN: “Well we think that Government is making matters worse because they’re slowing down economic growth.”

Interviewer: “You’re not answering the question and that is the problem.”

HARRIET HARMAN: “Well I am. Because basically the cuts are making. What the Government is doing is making the situation worse. They are making unemployment rise. We are seeing growth falter and that makes it harder to cut the deficit. So my point is they are making the deficit worse.”

Interviewer: “Don’t you see the problem though with this approach because you at the last election said that you would have to make cuts. Now it is impossible…”

HARRIET HARMAN: “Halving the deficit over four years.”

Interviewer: “To get you to say where you would cut. I’ve had Ed Miliband, Ed Balls sitting in the same seat. He wouldn’t say it.”

HARRIET HARMAN: “No well we’ve said over four years. We would.”

Interviewer: “Where? Where?”

HARRIET HARMAN: “We’ve said that we would consolidate backroom functions. That we would hold back on, erm, investment in capital that we’ve been doing so much over the last thirteen years of. So we’ve said it would.”

Interviewer: “Some of the people on that march. Some of those people listening to Ed Miliband would have lost their jobs under a Labour Government. Yes or no?”

HARRIET HARMAN: “Well I think that basically we would see, er yes fewer people employed  in the public sector. We wouldn’t see the increase in public sector employment that we’d presided over. But I think to assert.”

Interviewer: “But that’s interesting so absolutely categorically some of those people who were there cheering for Ed Miliband would have lost their jobs because you would have cut their jobs had you been in Government?”

HARRIET HARMAN: “I think people were actually saying that the cuts are too far and too fast and the idea that the private sector.”

Interviewer: “The answer to that question is yes isn’t it. They answer is yes. Some of the people there would have lost their jobs because you’d have had to have made cuts in Government.”

These are very weak arguments to be barking at people looking to support the Labour Party in opposition especially when viewed against the published spending plans that Balls, Miliband, and Harman had put their metaphoric signatures to when in government only twelve months ago.

Official Treasury figures from the Budget show that Labour would cut just £2 billion less than the Government in 2011-12:

‘Under the plans that this Government inherited, £14 billion of spending cuts were planned in 2011-12, compared with 2010-11. This Government’s spending cuts amount to £16 billion over the same period’ (HM Treasury, Budget 2011, p. 10)

And so we are left with the rather distasteful images of a Labour leadership lacking in honour and candour as they continue to hide the truth about their own planned cuts, whilst standing shoulder to shoulder with thousands who were deceived into believing that things would have been so much different, the anarchists and the perpetrators of violence may well NOT be part of the trades union movement but we can almost guarantee that at every rally and protest planned over the next couple of years they’ll be there. Conveniently, Labour’s spending cuts will not!

Video courtesy of Guido Fawkes.

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