Your News serves up plenty to digest and spark public debate
Published at 15:40, Wednesday, 29 April 2009
SIR – The Whitehaven News of April 16 raises so much needing comment. I disagree with the suggestion in a letter that part of the £20million windfall from the NMP should be spent on cleaning up derelict land, it would be better that Copeland enforce the provisions of Section 215 of the Town and Country Act 1990 Section 215 (Power to require proper maintenance of land). However, I agree that offenders sentenced to community services could be directed to clean up the streets as was the model Naomi Campbell in New York. SIR – The Financial Sins of the Labour fathers will fall on your children and your children’s children.SIR – In the Daily Telegraph on Thursday, April 16 there was an article listing 11 possible sites for future nuclear power stations. I noticed that three of these were in Cumbria; one of which was at Sellafield. I also read that a Friends of the Earth spokesman had raised the question of nuclear waste saying, and I quote, “nuclear power leaves a deadly legacy of radioactive waste that remains highly dangerous for tens of thousands of years and costs billions of pounds to maintain”. SIR – To supplement the letter from Michael Moon regarding the traffic wardens on Lowther Street, which was published in the Whitehaven News of April 16, I would like to add my support. SIR – It’s a pity that Ronnie Calvin, the 74-year-old councillor recently disciplined for using the phrase ‘nigger in the woodpile’ (Whitehaven News, April 16) , isn’t standing for re-election. SIR – Re your wonderful SEcond Section of The Whitehaven News, last week, of Pat Hughes’ memories. I just loved it and it brought back memories of my own memories of Sekers.SIR – Cumbria County Council has now convened four very well attended public meetings in the Kirksanton and Braystones areas to hear local views about the nomination of local land for new nuclear build.
On page two a report would seem to indicate that parish councils are to be denied the right to call in planning decisions and we live in a democracy?
On page three there is a report on a council meeting about Copeland’s lack of financial management. The council leader expressed her satisfaction of the way this had been handled. I think consultancy fees of some £60,000 were incurred but no one has been cited as failing to perform their duties. She is perhaps easily satisfied.
I am appalled that Councillor Calvin should be suspended for using the phrase “nigger in the woodpile”. He’s 74 years old and in his youth, as in mine, that phrase was in common usage with no racial connotation, it’s no wonder that the BNP is attracting support, for both local and national government and mainstream parties are out of touch with what ordinary people think.
Prior to the Budget I hope that the Chancellor might in the interest of British workers change the tax system from taxing employment eg. NHI levies, increasing business rates to taxing expenditure. We might then actually start manufacturing a little more.
G C EVANS
Strand Street, Whitehaven
The British economy is the worst placed for recovery. Whilst other countries have financial crises, they do have money in their reserves whilst Gordon Brown as Chancellor squandered ours during the time of plenty. It is estimated that the outstanding debt per head of population is £18,000 and rising. According to the IMF it will take at least 30 years for this to be paid back.
Simultaneously mismanagement of the local economy has resulted in the district council tax rising by 4.5 per cent when the national average was 2.5 per cent. The recent Independent Audit Report has been damning. Copeland Council has been placed amongst the eight worst councils in the country for financial management. It was found that the Copeland Council did not have adequate arrangements in place to produce annual accounts in line with the statutory timetable. In 2007/08 it could not produce an annual report accessible to the public or its elected representatives.
Furthermore the Council was found to lack robust information on levels of reserves held. It is on these that its financial strategies depend. It lacked fundamental information processing systems for managing its asset base, payroll, business rates and council tax accounts were not completed regularly and there was no robust system for assessing the financial performance of partners. Consequently elected representatives had to depend on draft accounts, which were inaccurate, incomplete and un-auditable. In short elected members of the Council did not have the data to make informed decisions.
Elected members were unaware of what was in the reserves. Consequently the Council Tax for the District Council was far higher than necessary.
Perhaps the socialists’ consciences in the Labour Group will realise that whilst the poorest on Income Support get their full Council Tax rebated, those whose income is just above Income Support level have to pay all or a proportion of the tax based on a means tested taper system. Therefore people who have a small occupational pensions or have been frugal enough to have savings, or pride their independence so much that they would prefer to work in a low paid job rather than claim benefits, who have the majority of their capital tied up in the value of their home, carry a heavy burden.
The 4.5 per cent increase in the district Council Tax will hit hard at the thrifty poor, who have saved and paid their way all their lives.
The Audit Commissions report is every bit as damning as the Housing Commissions Report last year. Last July Coun Robin Pitt, then on the opposition back-benches, called for the resignation of the portfolio holder for housing on the grounds of departmental responsibility. Correctly pointing out that burden of mismanagement falls on the poorest and most vulnerable in our society. Is Coun Pitt now going to call for the resignation of those on whose watch this financial mismanagement occurred now he has crossed the floor?
It is clear that Labour is totally incapable of managing the economy locally and nationally. The legacy bequeathed to our children and children’s children is debt that they will have to repay and a heavy burden of taxation. It is for that reason I look at the babies I pass by in the street, sleeping so peacefully in their buggies and feel such regret. Instead of being gently inducted into adult society they will be thrust unmercifully into their ‘great expectations’ of Labour debt and high taxation. I hope the party is proud of its legacy to the nations youth!
Churchill Drive, Millom
Other side of nuclear debate
This highly emotive statement totally ignores the actual reality of the situation. In contrast to the total volume of non-radioactive waste, nuclear waste does have the advantage that (a) its toxicity is reducing daily, unlike that of the thousands of tons of non-radioactive waste, and (b) its volume is small in comparison.
A number of safe storage options have been proposed for the safe storage of nuclear waste, all of which in my opinion are very safe and grossly over-engineered in comparison to the feeble attempts to contain non-nuclear waste. I have recently seen a letter in your paper from a Dr Burton and also some of the replies. I strongly support his concept of the proposed “dry storage system”, it has many advantages and would probably win on any cost benefit analysis. I am sure that politicians would quake in their shoes if the same standards had to be applied to the equivalent toxic values of non radioactive materials.
J J CLIFTON
Traffic policies driving us mad
It’s nice to attract visitors to the town but not to the detriment and disadvantage of local people. The traffic wardens are, in my opinion being told to concentrate on Lowther Street, in order to drive the traffic off the street, and eliminate on street parking, in readiness for the time when they pronounce the area to be confined to pedestrians only, as per the schemes which are at present under discussion. This will also make Scotch Street a two way traffic system. It is dangerous enough as a one-way traffic flow.
Why change something that everybody is reasonably happy with, and introduce a system which will create havoc for the businesses, banks, and hole-in-the-wall cash machines, on Lowther Street, and will massively increase the risk of accidents on Scotch Street and the area adjacent to the Civic Hall. The bulk of these vehicles are either delivery vans for the Lowther Street businesses or cars belonging to residents of the area.
Why is it that the county council will decide on the traffic flow in Whitehaven and not Copeland Council? I agree that the link roads from one urban region to another, needs to be centrally-directed but not within the specific urban area, where local councillors know better the needs of their voters. There has been a series of meetings to discuss the proposals, two of which I attended. During these discussions there has not been a single resident from the audience who has stated that they thought the proposals were a good idea. Everybody has been there to pick fault, but the council have ignored the pleas of the residents and ploughed on regardless.
It is high time that the council listened to the voters. Where are the delivery vans going to unload? Where are the residents going to park their cars? Where are drivers to leave there cars while they use the five cash withdrawal machines? I’ll tell you. They’ll go somewhere else. Some of these residents are older people and won’t relish a long walk from the White Elephant multi storey car park which, due to its accessibility, is never more than 10 per cent full, even on a good day.
The parking in Whitehaven is already atrocious. Don’t make it worse. How many times have you had to drive around Morrison’s car park looking for an empty space, only to go into the shop and find it half empty, and the offending parties are at one of the Health Centres or in town shopping? Because the only alternative parking is “Pay and Display.” The same goes for Tesco’s. Don’t put any more pressure on supermarket parking facilities, they’re abused enough as it is.
But nobody listens, do they? And when the changes are made you will all see in the media that “After extensive consultation with the public and residents the changes were made with everybody’s approval”. What a load of rubbish. However, when the first accident occurs, I for one will be quick to point out that “We told you so”, and I hope that you will too.
Trinity Court, Whitehaven
SIR – How shameful is it for abled bodied drivers to be upset at being fined for parking in a disabled parking area.
Those must be the same abled body drivers who shun a free car park because it means they will need to walk the width of the road to shop; particularly the white van man, who when challenged will claim “I’ll only be two minutes” as he leaves the vehicle parked on the pavement, the purpose is to get around the parking restrictions in the road. It then forces the disabled on an immobility vehicle, or in a wheel chair to wait for the able bodied driver to return.
It would have been interesting to see how much bigger his majority was. His support , of course, would not have come from the racist element of the BNP, but from those with some understanding of our language, a degree of commonsense and a growing impatience with the way in which our lives are being made so much less pleasant by the bullying of semi-educated jobsworths ‘dressed in a little brief authority’ and toadied to by sanctimonious sneaks.
The episode is reminiscent of the fuss last year when David Cameron was called upon to sack a 73-year-old Tory peer who used this phrase in a Lords debate. We aren’t told in what context Mr Calvin used the words, but this is what Lord Dixon-Smith said: “The Homes and Communities Agency is not a body to which we object in principle. As the minister has explained, it is an amalgamation of the Housing Corporation and English Partnerships. Of course, the nigger in the woodpile is that it still incorporates what I call the hangover of the new towns legislation.”
Dixon-Smith explained that “it slipped out without my thinking; it was common parlance when l was younger”. Mr Calvin said: “It’s just a saying. It was not meant to cause anybody any offence”. Indeed, it’s an idiom once so common that the metaphor has become transparent and the user is only aware of the figurative sense: does anyone genuinely suppose from this evidence that Lord Dixon-Smith is a racist? Does anyone really think his intention in this context was to insult black people? The same goes for Mr Calvin. In fact, did he or Mr Calvin actually offend any black people (the odds are that it was a white person that reported Mr Calvin)? If whoever heard Mr Calvin’s remark felt strongly about it, why didn’t he say to Mr Calvin: “Don’t you think in this day and age you could find another way of saying that?’ Mr Calvin would no doubt have said “Oh, I’m sorry, I wasn’t thinking. You’re quite right - what I meant was ...”; and wouldn’t that have been enough? Of course times change, younger people rightly don’t use the phrase, older people don’t choose to - but an inadvertent slip into language which was perfectly unexceptionable when one was younger, with no harm done, is surely not the ‘serious’ breach of conduct the council alleged in humiliating Mr Calvin, after his apology and explanation , and despite his 28 years of service to the community. I would suggest anyway that the simple fact of being offended shouldn’t in itself be legal grounds for punitive action; such legislation is not protecting but taking away our freedoms; we shouldn’t need to be always looking over our shoulder frightened that the spies of the PC Taliban are eavesdropping.
It’s probably necessary to add that l’m not racist, not Tory, I don’t hate homosexuals and I’ve worked happily for female bosses.
Ellerslie Park, Gosforth
Those were the days when we could leave on job in Whitehaven on a Friday and start another job the Monday after. Were we lucky or what?
After leaving school at 15 and working as a tracer in T S Durham Mining Engineer’s office in Somerset House, Whitehaven, I was introduced into another world by him. He was a friend of Mr Schon and his very words to me one Friday, after he had seen some design sketches of mine were “Put on your best hat and coat this Sunday and I’ll take you to meet some important folk.
I duly did as I was told and was taken by Mr Durham on that bright Sunday morning in 1956 up to and into Marchon’s office, where a gathering of gentlemen, Mr Schon, Marzillier, Halfpenny, Sekers and de Gara were all enjoying coffee and a crack. My home spun sketches were put on show and I was told by Mr Sekers to report for work the next morning (Monday), at Sekers Mill design offices, as a trainee fabric designer. I couldn’t believe my luck, me, whose family – the Brannons – had always been coal miners at William, Wellington and Haig pits, had been hob nobbing with all these foreign folk and would now be in a design office (no qualifications then).
I had a grand time, and with others during the hot summer of 1959 worked preparing gold leaf for the ceiling and silk wall surrounds for the Rosehill Theatre, nearing completion. And on the Theatre first night we were allowed back stage to watch the beautifully dressed audience arrive and be seated.
I eventually moved on to Sellafield’s drawing office, then marriage and children and further education, but I will always remember my halcyon days, when I put on my best hat and coat.
Maureen FOY (nee Brannon)
Lake Road, Keswick
The message coming out of these meetings is broad support for new nuclear build in the Sellafield area, but concern about the impact on the local character of the Braystones and Kirksanton areas if development was to take place there.
We now have to take this message on board.
As the county council’s cabinet member responsible for nuclear issues, I welcome the confidence that RWE npower is showing in West Cumbria as an area in which it wishes to do business. I believe RWE npower can be a major contributor to our economy, but I would urge, as our local MP Jamie Reed has already urged, that attention be focused on developing the land adjacent to Sellafield.
The county council with West Cumbria Vision and other partners has worked hard to make the Sellafield site an attractive proposition for hosting a new nuclear power station. The views canvassed from local organisations and the public demonstrates strong public support for new nuclear development at Sellafield.
We are now in a situation where three site nominations for new nuclear build in Copeland have been submitted to Government. This has resulted in uncertainty for communities across Copeland, and it is a particular concern for people in Kirksanton and Braystones, who are understandably worried about their homes and the future of their communities.
I believe we must act quickly to remove that uncertainty and I would therefore urge the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority to help by placing their land at Sellafield on the market as soon as possible. The sale of that land will help bring some clarity about the future at the Braystones and Kirksanton sites.
If RWE emerged as the successful bidder for the Sellafield land then I would be the first to congratulate them and pledge my support in helping them develop a new nuclear station there.
Coun Tim KNOWLES
Cabinet Member for Economic Wellbeing
Acting Cabinet Member for Environmental Wellbeing
Cumbria County Council
Published by http://www.whitehavennews.co.uk
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