My arm got left at the Royal!

Yesterday was the day the plaster came off my arm and now I have to teach it how to work! I’ve been busy with excises trying to convince it that it’s a lazy little git and I’ll get me cat to lick it better and mark it for ownership.

This morning I went for my morning constitutional walk to combine with arm and wrist movements during which I met our neighbour who recently moved in across the road (well, not actually across the road as that’s just a field) and after exchanging pleasantries, it turn out we came from the same area, even worse, the same Borough even to the extent we could have walked across the fields and footpaths if only we had known. This means, of course, the hamlet now has it’s quota of outsiders from down south so anyone else will have to settle for Birstall (where the steam trains are), Syston (where proper trains are) or simply just not come.

This week sees the end of this parliamentary session, the confirmed route of HS2 (if it ever gets built) and a progress report on how USE is going to survive without us propping it up as they expect us to fund their new headquarter building after we leave. That should be an interesting argument once our team spots the reason for the large sum of money they expect post 2019 from us.

It looks like the next parliamentary session could be somewhat troubled as even as I write, questions are being asked about the money that is being sunk into the HS2 project. As most of our railways are currently owned by companies owned by USE governments so why not just cut out the middleman (UK taxpayers) and do a PFI job on the project. Oh dear, that won’t work as there is no money to be made without subsidies (like the rest of the rail network). That’s all right, though, the UK taxpayer can pay anyway without much benefit and profits go to prop up USE – which is where we came in, isn’t it?

Yesterday was interesting.

Yesterday took us down south for a funeral and owing to the traffic behaving almost exactly as it was supposed to, we actually got there on time and able to have a quick chat to friends, family and neighbours before the long journey back up through the M1 roadworks. This new ‘smarter motorway’ had better live up to it’s name after all the years of effort. It started simply as a new M1/M6 junction and due to take 18 months, but seems to have snowballed over the years (not months, but blinking years!!).

The local (Birstall Parish) Council seems to have got their knickers in a twist when a reporter actually knew the law and started filming a public council meeting, much to their concern. I did wonder why local councillors don’t have their addresses on the council information or website. When I went to visit with view of being co-opted, I noticed how ‘closed’ they are up here compared with where I used to be a councillor and did wonder what they had to hide. I used to get people knocking on the door or telephoning me for help, but here everything seems to have to go through the council offices. Funny lot!

I see today, the USE chief negotiator seem to think we are prepared to leave without anything changing. Keeping the European Justice system, paying them to keep afloat and, horror of horrors, not telling them anything. Perhaps they forget we simply want out and if they wish to keep selling us stuff (they sell more to us, than we buy from them!), then maybe the idea should be to let us know on what terms they want to trade with us rather than the other way round. Just think how many of the asylum seekers by pass the unsafe European countries to ask for asylum in the first safe country they can reach – that’s the UK. I just hope that our so called negotiators remember that and ignore all the tales of woo and threats from those who cannot see beyond the end of their noses!

We’ve been away and I’m looking for support

Here we are at Just Dogs Live at the Peterborough show ground competing with our three and a half (one isn’t old enough) dogs. The sun is shining, and we are surrounded by around 750+ caravans and at least twice that number of dogs.

I just knew you would want to know that! Anyway, it’s annual event, so if you have an interest in dogs or looking for doggie things that are difficult to find, then it’s worth a visit if only to some of the display items, visit the breed show or simply find out about getting involved in training your dog or taking up agility (or fly-ball!).

However, that is not what this piece is about. Regular readers are aware that I take an interest in politics (both local and national). Those readers in Greengate, Hallam Fields or Wanlip may be aware that I stood in the recent Borough Council by- election. I also offered to fill one of the vacancies on the Birstall Parish Council, but apparently they decided I was too political (aka a bit of a stirrer) for the only local council that actually believes that politics can be kept out of local government. Slightly naïve!! I’m one of the few Independents who have actually got elected to both Town & Borough Councils at the same time and had good working relationships with members of the three main parties mainly because each party has good and bad ideas, so without having to follow the ‘party whip’ (yes it does happen on the quiet), I could do what I thought best for those I represented. If you want to get an idea, then visit some of my archive material and see how I got involved over the years.

The Town Council I was a member of, has less councillors and more electors than Birstall Parish Council and they realised that they actually had more powers than they thought, there were no uncontested seats (unlike Birstall), indeed, each one hard fought over by at least 3 political groups! Anyway,the next scheduled local election is only two years away in 2019, so as I’m the new boy and no point in asking again about the vacancy in the Greengage ward of the Birstall Parish Council, I’d better start thinking about it now.

I’m looking for support either helping with a few bob, or physical support like leafleting, making suggestions on what really needs doing – I already have Improved pubic transport such as access to hospitals, Abbey Lane or just Beaumont Lea. Even a map of Hallam Fields as the estate is entered would be useful as I spotted several delivery vans struggling when I was leafleting in May. If I noticed it, must be a problem!

Talking on the doorstep and from my own personal experience, local councillors vary from tryers to ignorers. I would like to be charitable and suggest the problem may be with the council organisation rather than individual officers (believe me, councillor relationships with officers can make a real difference on how or when problems get resolved), so we have less than two years to start making a difference! Don’t just sit and moan, help me as I had a record of getting things done/moving and it seems a shame to waste all that experience. I did/do have an interest in the disabled and access problems (I was on the Access committee) so maybe I can help if you are hitting a brick wall.

Meanwhile, the outside world continues apace with Thames Water being blamed for low water pressure and flow (we know all about that don’t we?) over the tower fire and a promise that longer ladders will now be routinely be sent out on tower block fires – just in case! Andy Murray managed to get through the third round at Wimbledon and ‘Brexit’ is still being discussed and problems being found.

Talking about which, I support the UKIP principles and still wonder how politicians got side tracked into having to dot the I’s and crossing the t’s rather than simply saying (as I and most people I know wanted), that we actually leave in May 2018 (2 years on from the referendum) and then you are on your own. In between times, maybe you may be interested in discussing our future relationship.

I know it would have been expected a lot, but it would have produced a large degree of certainly as everyone would know what the situation would be for the next two years whilst working towards putting together a cunning plan to help hold USE together! I’ m almost old enough to remember life before1970 and Europe was abroad (also things like currency restrictions!), but strangely, we managed quiet well then – and the previous few hundred years – so why all the threatens of doom and gloom from those who don’t remember? They keep coming out with these ‘ concerns’ which proved incorrect in 2016, so what has changed?

Better go before I really get carried away!

Moles and USE (what a combination!)

Talking to one of my neighbours this morning, it seems our cat has been teaching their cat that mice are not just for catching and bringing home as a present, they are also edible! He can lead anything astray, that boy.

Now all I have to do is convince him that moles are much harder pray and he needs to keep an ear to the ground and watch for movement on the lawn as the soil is pushed through the turf, then dig away. Our resident moles are currently teaching their offspring that to survive, they will have to leave home and tunnel away to find their own worms and grubs.

So we are currently getting a couple of large mounds with one or two much smaller ones nearby. The dogs don’t seem to want to show much interest at the moment!

There must be a way of catching them easily as whilst I was an apprentice, used mole skin to wipe the lead solder off the underground cable joints and make a nice waterproof joint – apparently it’s the best stuff for the job although, these days it seems they have all gone all plastic with compound and a plastic cover rather than the cast iron enclosure. Such is progress I suppose but I never did get on that well with the somewhat ‘flimsy’ plastic compared with nice solid cast iron. That’s why they have to leave the hole open to allow all to settle when jointing electric cables is case you wondered (not that you would).

Did you see the EU president have a go at the EU council at lunchtime? Talk about USE slowly losing the plot. We have Italy complaining that they are having to accept all these ‘poor’ refugees that the charities are bringing to their shores, but no-one actually seems to be addressing the basic problem of who is funding the ‘boat people’. A UN report suggests that more than half are economic migrants rather than refugees fleeing for their lives. They all want to come to Europe so they can go to the UK yet refugees are only allowed to seek asylum in the first safe country they arrive at. Yet no-one (UN – I have you in mind) seems to want to make this happen or perhaps most of northern Europe is unsafe.

Returning to the USE President complaint, they have also suddenly noticed that after we leave, there will be a big hole in the USE finances (which is why they want us to give them the money we could give them over the next few years if we didn’t actually leave). Why don’t the ‘remainers’ realise we are simply a cash cow for the united Europe project because whichever way you look at it, we are and always have been. Once we joined the ‘common market’ it didn’t take them long to work out we hold Europe together and go to their rescue when one starts to squabble with one or more of the others. I hope they realise this after we leave as at least then they may come to their senses before we have to step in once again!

It’s not only jobs for the boys in government!!

Following the resignation of the Council leader and his deputy, news came that the CE of the management company had thrown in the towel.

More revelations include a safety consultant suggesting to the council that the change in cladding material might be best served by not informing the Fire officer and the saga continues as apparently the technical director of the company who makes the insulation panels is on the government advisory that makes recommendation regarding the Building Regulations.

The real problem is this has been going on for years as I just remembered in the 1970s I used to carry out work for our local council and was asked to price for installing fire alarms in all the council community centres. All went well, until I said I would check my proposals with the local fire safety officer. I never did any more work for them again. After I was elected (to the same council) some 15 or 20 years later, the same council officer (now in management) acknowledged that he remembered me. It seems they did their best to make sure I wasn’t involved in any in-house works decisions – until they were going to do work at the local town council offices (I was also a member of that council) and the look on the ‘council surveyor’ when he realised I was involved, was a picture! Needless to say, no corners were cut, but I didn’t let on I knew – just a councillor doing his job!

Todays good news is that my paster cast should be removed on the 18th July and providing my arm doesn’t drop off, then a week or two later I should be able to use both hands to mow the lawn, wash up or even shower (having to bath at the moment) or even (dare I say) drive. That really depends on on me doing my exercises and getting the arm working safely.

Other events that may happen at Wanlip Tower include, our utility room may make progress and the ongoing water difficulties will be looked into (again). But with both my hands useable, you never know what might happen.

The truth will out, no matter what!

Breaking news this morning is that the ‘Times’ newspaper has documents suggesting the cladding on the burnt out tower block was not that which was originally specified and the metal coating was aluminium rather than zinc which means that as aluminium melts at a lower temperature than zinc, someone decided that the fire risk was very low. It also happens to have saved over £300,000 on the refurbishment cost which was over budget anyway. The full story will no doubt emerge in due course, but I wonder if anyone will be found accountable for the 80+ unnecessary deaths at the end of the day as the ‘Times’ story is pointing the finger initially at the Council and contractor who won the new, lower specification, contract after the original contractor appears to have priced to the original specification. As this could easily have happened all over the country, I wonder if a culture change will actually happen?

Of course is will mean funding for councils will need to be reviewed. It had to happen anyway as if national government continues with the devolving of powers down the ‘representation’ route to save government money, then David Gaulk (Treasury minister) will have to do some rethinking to provide funding for all the shifted responsibilities downwards in order to keep ministers hands clean and in power!

Is the Conservative ‘ideal’ still working in the interests of the country?

Today came the news that up to 600 tower blocks have cladding on the outside and some may be the same as on the one that recently burnt up. Not only that, but it now transpires that some may have cladding installed not as specified in the contract. Not sure why I’m not surprised as many councils have had to cut back on seemingly unessential functions and staff such as building control due to a combination of funding cutbacks and the Conservative idea that private business is perfect, never make mistakes and have no need to be accountable as long as they make a profit. To this end they allowed private companies to bid for building control inspections. I wonder if any of these companies will be prosecuted for passing as complying, work that is blatantly not in compliance. Many large companies just happen to have divisions that inspect for building standard compliance which has to be a conflict of interest which is OK until caught. I wonder if the problems with the Scottish school walls falling down is part of this conflict or simply poor contract specifying?

I confess I feel sorry for the Prime Minister, but if she must listen to advisors rather than making up her own mind, then either she isn’t leading or the political system needs re-evaluating as there seems to be a lack of direction since the referendum unset all their ideas. It starts at local level, you know, as you blindly vote for a party rather than a person which just reinforces the idea that the party is perfect. I’ve always taken the view that the perfect candidate takes the best bits from each party manifestos and follows them through, but do you question any of the candidates, read their leaflets or just blindly vote Labour, Lib-Dem or whatever. When I stood in the recent by-election, only one person contacted me as a result of my leaflet and on the doorstep, I got the impression that residents were totally underwhelmed by local politics (and by inference, national politicians).

Anyway, I’m Independent with UKIP leanings just in case there is another election I feel I could contribute locally to. We will see!

Personal updates

A note for those who actually know me.

Jack died yesterday. You may remember he was like me and always wanting to put the world to rights as he walked the dogs around the block or along the lane.

On Monday I had the first of two x-rays on my wrist to make sure it hadn’t displaced again, so providing the next one (in a week) is still OK, then the plaster comes off two weeks later and I’ll have two operating hands. Also on Monday, our youngest sheltie, Zander, passed his gold good citizens test.

Finally, the plastic base on one of our water butts melted in the heat so we now have a leaning water butt. Keep on eye on yours!

Is your council prepared?

The fall out from the London fire shows how unprepared many Borough Councils and County Councils actually are. Once upon a time I was a Borough Councillor on a home counties Council and I know they had plans in place for such an event even to the extent that that held emergency exercises at least once between each election.

During my time the exercise was a passenger plane crashing on a sports centre (it had to be council property for ease!) which was not as daft as it sounds as the location was near to the normal take off flight path of a well known Bedfordshire aerodrome (ask your dad) used by a few holiday makers and freight organisations. The Council has it’s own emergency room in the basement of the civic centre complete with secure land line links and a (currently disused) radio transmitter for backup communications. Obviously the building dated back to the sixties and from what I saw would not take a lot to get back into use. The Chief Executive was the designated coordinator who was expected to bring in staff and involve councillors for the ward(s) that any emergency occurred. First response was the idea so that the events that happened on the 14th should not have happened and help should have been on the ground by mid morning at the latest.

As you all know, I live in a perfect world where nothing goes wrong (hence the plaster cast on my wrist this month), but maybe you ought to ask your local councillor if they have any procedures in place in the event of a similar emergency in your Borough/City.

Why no sprinkler and let’s get out of USE without messing about.

Todays sad news regarding the London tower block following a multi-million pound refurbishment and upgrade suggests they forgot the one thing that would have saved many lives, namely a sprinkler system. My experience has shown the system does work in commercial premises, but sadly, residential buildings need close monitoring to reduce vandalism as water can do a lot of damage. It also appears that any fire detection/alarm was left wanting, but what price do you put on human lives??

On the political front, this has simply reinforced the idea that the election result has left our politicians wanting. I started with the delay following the referendum result before telling the United States of Europe (USE) that they had two years to work out how to deal with this decision by the British people simply because they seem not to have thought the obvious (in my eye anyway) would happen. This messing about has added to the current problems within UKIP for some reason, with the leader resigning, the past leader suggesting he may have to get a grip and an East Midlands MEP throwing in the towel.

Now is the time to put your money where your vote was and for us to grab UKIP by the collar and make sure they are ready to deal with any wavering by the government in the negotiations over us leaving them to sort out their own problems. Their latest trick is to decide that they need to demolish their parliament building and build a new one at a few billion Euro cost. We are, of course, expected to pay for our share. See you couldn’t make up, could you?

By the way, the UKIP organisation is in a shambles, so you should be prepared to get your hands dirty if you want us out of USE with something to change rather than the carry on as we have over the past 40 years. I can remember supporting joining an Economic Community (EEC) but never a word about taking us over which has, in effect, happened and we muddled along quite happily (apart from the odd war) for a few centuries before that – or have we lost our backbone?

That’s given you something to think about, but I’ll be back soon.