Tuesday, 27 November 2007

UKIP Alnwick Meeting tonight

UKIP Alnwick Meeting tonight for Members, Supporters and Enquirers. UKIP Alnwick is very lucky to have a dedicated meeting room provided by one of our longest standing members and the Branch is now holding regular meetings in Alnwick. UKIP Alnwick have already adopted a Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for the next General Election, have contested seats in the 2007 local elections and are now looking into the possibility of a Parish Poll in the Town.

Gordon Brown seems determined that the Treaty of Lisbon (The EU Reform Treaty) will pass into British Law without a referendum of the people. This is despite the overwhelming evidence that the Reform Treaty is to all intents and purposes the Constitution upon which we were promised the chance to have our say in a referendum. Parish Polls, while not binding in law, are a good way to show support for a particular issue. Parish Polls around the Country on the question of the EU Reform Treaty have overwhelmingly been in favour of letting the people have their say in a referendum.

Monday, 26 November 2007

Is "Gifting" money a legitimate way of avoiding income tax?

The Electoral Commission appear to be looking into the cash donations through third parties to the Labour Party. It also occurred to me that rules on avoidance of Inheritance tax take a very dim view of people who "give away" huge sums for up to seven years prior to their death. I don't think there is a specific exemption for people who give money to a third party in order for it to be given to the Labour Party but then a party which sells seats in the House of Lords would probably not think twice about granting its friends special exemptions. If I gave away a few thousand quid I think there are quite strict rules about how much I can give and to whom before I would need to declare it on my income tax form as a capital transfer.

Similarly if someone gave me a few thousand pounds I assume I would need to declare it's receipt as a gift on my income tax form. Not sure if I would then pay tax on it as "unearned income" or if it would just carry over for the seven years until the inheritance tax taper relief ran down. Of course if gifting money was a legitimate way of avoiding income tax then I'm sure small builders would be happy to do jobs for nothing but get a thank you"gift" when the work was completed!

So I wonder if Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs are onto this one as well as the Electoral Commission?

Sunday, 25 November 2007

fingers caught in the till

According to a story in the Sunday Newspapers money has been donated to the Labour Party in the name of someone who knows nothing about it.

In this case that money must be an illegal donation and forfeit to the Treasury?

How do you change your fingerprint?

People are asking if the proposed ID card scheme can survive the recent data security cock-up. The government are pressing ahead claiming “biometrics” will make everything safe. However, biometrics would not have stopped last week’s data leak because it didn’t happen due to unauthorised access to data, it happened because of incompetent management of the data, cost cutting and human error.

It has now been announced that a simple method, using food gelatine, has been developed, that for less than £20 a go, can fool fingerprint detectors 4 times out of 5.

Biometrics won’t even prevent ID theft. It might even make it easier! Passports and ID Cards will store fingerprint data as a series of numbers on a wireless Chip. These chips can be read with a device near you, but not touching you, similar to a Bluetooth mobile phone. The government claim this doesn’t matter since it is not possible to recreate a fingerprint using the numbers stored on a Passport or ID Card. Unfortunately once again they are wrong! An academic paper published in April showed that mathematicians could reconstruct a fingerprint from this data. To prove the point they printed out the images they made, and then used the food gelatine trick to successfully fool fingerprint readers.

However, the really worrying thing is that once your fingerprint has been stolen and used by thieves or terrorists what can you do? It’s easy to change a stolen PIN Number but how do you change your fingerprint?

Saturday, 24 November 2007

St.Hilda Christmas Fair

Rosie and I spent a hard morning failing to collect a package from a courier (was looking for a depot on Maypole Way and it was actually Maple Way!). We went to the St.Hilda Christmas Fair in the Borough Hall in the afternoon. It always amazes me how many people manage not to see me, but as I said to one resident I’m not getting stabbed in the back as much as I used to, but only because there isn’t much room left for any more knives. I did manage to get some nice things for various Christmas presents and some home made cakes which will be eaten almost immediately. The tombola stalls did very well out of my children as usual!

The afternoon was spent getting my son his first grown up suit, and I mean grown up, at fifteen and a half years old he is already four inches taller than me, I don't know where he gets it from? The suit is for his initial interviews for the Royal Navy which he is going to on Wednesday next week. He looks very smart though I say so myself. Tonight I am off to Darlington and might be back late if I'm lucky........

Friday, 23 November 2007

Lib/Lab/Con 80% identical so why does it matter which one you support?

So the former Lib-Dem Candidate for Hartlepool has defected to the Conservatives. Considering that Labour, Lib-Dem and Conservative policies on at least 80% of issues are identical I don’t see it makes much difference which one of the LIB/LAB/CON you support.

It’s rather like shopping for frozen food. Some people prefer one brand over another or even swear by a Supermarket own brand. In fact almost all frozen foods come from a small number of producers. The only difference in most cases is the name on the box. Marketing people use such tricks to give an appearance of choice to the consumer when it’s the same pap inside regardless of which one you buy. Smaller producers with a unique product never reach mass market because supermarkets won’t stock their product. Again similar to politics. Mass circulation newspapers and TV Channels are only interested in the LIB/LAB/CON and rarely report on smaller parties such as UKIP, which do have something different to say.

Therefore I’m not going to get excited over a defection from Lib-Dems to Tories, or any other defection amongst the big three parties. They are just a smokescreen anyway since all three of them are committed to the European Union project and all thee want to see this country ruled by Brussels Commissioners rather than elected members of our own parliament. So when you listen to the Lib/Lab/Con remember, they can say what they like but ultimately Brussels will decide what they do. The only real differences between the three are packaging, the content is the same.

Stephen Allison
UKIP Councillor
St.Hilda Ward
Hartlepool Unitary Authority

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

"My Favourite Things" over 60's version

To commemorate her 69th birthday actress/vocalist, Julie Andrews made a special appearance at Manhattan's Radio City Music Hall. One of the numbers she performed was "My Favourite Things" from the "Sound Of Music."

Here are the actual lyrics she used:

Maalox and nose drops and needles for knitting,
Walkers and handrails and new dental fittings,
Bundles of magazines tied up in string,
These are a few of my favourite things.

Cadillacs and cataracts, and hearing aids and glasses,
Polident and Fixodent and false teeth in glasses,
Pacemakers, golf carts and porches with swings,
These are a few of my favourite things.

When the pipes leak, when the bones creak, when the knees go bad,
I simply remember my favourite things, and then I don't feel so bad.

Hot tea and crumpets and corn pads for bunions,
No spicy hot food or food cooked with onions,
Bathrobes and heating pads and hot meals they bring,
These are a few of my favourite things.

Back pains, confused brains, and no need for sinning,
Thin bones and fractures and hair that is thinning,
and we won't mention our short, shrunken frames,
When we remember our favourite things.

When the joints ache, when the hips break, when the eyes grow dim,
Then I remember the great life I've had, And then I don't feel so bad.

(Ms. Andrews received a standing ovation from the crowd)

Ahoy QE2

Hartlepool's Mayor appears to have enjoyed his trip to the Tall Ships Conference in Liverpool. He seemed very impressed by Liverpool's success in attracting Cruise Liners to the port, something he has often mentioned he would like to see in Hartlepool and good luck to him with turning an aspiration into a reality.

Unfortunately, what Stuart failed to mention was that Liverpool has had cruise liners docking there for over a century. Liverpool’s Pier Head was opened in the late nineteenth century specifically to serve the trans-Atlantic liner service. A small outfit called the Cunard Line (anyone heard of it?) had its European headquarters in Liverpool from 1914 until the 1960's when it was taken over by British shipping and industrial conglomerate Trafalgar House. The grand neo-Classical Cunard Building was the third of Liverpool Pier Head's “Three Graces” (Royal Liver Building and Port of Liverpool Building being the other two).

It might also be of interest that a statue on the waterfront in Halifax (Nova Scotia) commemorates Samuel Cunard and the founding of the Cunard Line. There is also a special display on the Cunard Line in the Steamship Gallery of the city's Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. No doubt Hartlepool's Globe Trotting Mayor will be able to see these things first hand during his visit to the 2008 Tall Ships Conference, which will be held in, Halifax, Nova Scotia.

The Great Data Disaster of 2007

Predictably Hartlepool's (Labour) MP is featured in the local Paper tonight parroting his party line and urging people not to panic over the missing financial and personal information that has disappeared to who knows where. As a result of this latest incompetence by our beloved Labour Government there are millions of people all over the country in the process of changing their pins and passwords. Every time from now on that they go to the ATM and struggle to remember their new number I just hope they'll be reminded of the reason they had to change it.

too true..

Fantastic line from UK Independence Party MEP Derek Clark

"When will politicians realise that George Orwell's 1984 was a warning, not an instruction manual?"

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Regional Control Rooms......too late to complain now

A rare event happened to me today. I opened my e-mail in-box and there was an e-mail from the Mayor! Unfortunately it was just a round robin sent to every Councillor and wasn’t actually from the Mayor. It was sent following a request from the Chairman of Cleveland Emergency Planning Group to publicise the proposed closure of the Teesside Ambulance Control Room and the re-location of the control to Tyneside.

No hint on the e-mail as to whether Stuart was for or against the proposal but then that’s Stuart’s Leadership Style. Unless the matter concerns Hartlepool United, the Tall Ships or gets his picture in the Hartlepool Mail then Stuart shies away from expressing a definite opinion on anything. If there is the slightest chance he might back the wrong horse then he is conspicuous by his silence. After the race is over then Stuart will always have backed the winner, even if he didn’t say so until the result was declared. Very clever politics but not great leadership!

As regards the closure I am surprised that anyone cares. For years I tried, unsuccessfully, to warn about the closure of the Cleveland Fire Brigade Control room and its relocation to “Regional Control” at Belmont Business Park, Durham. The new control centre is expected to be operational in 2008 and from then on the North East control centre will be the first point of contact for members of the public seeking assistance through the ‘999’ system from fire and rescue services in Hartlepool, Stockton, Redcar, Middlesbrough, Northumberland, Tyneside, Wearside, Durham and Darlington.

If the setting up of a Regional Fire Control centre in Durham has been accepted then how can a Regional Ambulance Control on Tyneside be any different? The North East may have rejected an elected North East Assembly but the Regionalisation agenda continues to move forward unhindered.

Monday, 19 November 2007

THAT is how it's done folks!

I have absolutely no idea if this is a true story. I am just passing it on because even if it isn't true you know these types of things happen. It is all in the way you sell it!!!

Judy Wallman, a professional genealogical researcher, discovered that Hillary Clinton's great-great uncle, Remus Rodham, was hanged for horse stealing and train robbery in Montana in 1889. The only known photograph of Remus shows him standing on the gallows. On the back of the picture is this inscription: 'Remus Rodham; horse thief, sent to Montana Territorial Prison 1885, escaped 1887, robbed the Montana Flyer six times. Caught by Pinkerton detectives, convicted and hanged in 1889.'

Judy e-mailed Hillary Clinton for comments. Hillary's staff of professional image adjusters sent back the following biographical sketch:

'Remus Rodham was a famous cowboy in the Montana Territory . His business empire grew to include acquisition of valuable equestrian assets and intimate dealings with the Montana railroad.

Beginning in 1883, he devoted several years of his life to service at a government facility, finally taking leave to resume his dealings with the railroad.

In 1887, he was a key player in a vital investigation run by the renowned Pinkerton Detective Agency. In 1889, Remus passed away during an important civic function held in his honor when the platform upon which he was standing collapsed.'

THAT's how it's done folks!-

Saturday, 17 November 2007

Leith Police

Just had to share this email apparently sent to the Edinburgh Police Force, lengthy but absolutely brilliantly written. The identity of the author is removed to protect his (or her) human right to privacy......lol....

Dear Sir/madam/automated telephone answering service

Having spent the past twenty minutes waiting for someone at Leith police station to pick up a telephone I have decided to abandon the idea and try e-mailing you instead. Perhaps you would be so kind as to pass this message on to your colleagues in Leith by means of smoke signal, carrier pigeon or ouji board.

As I'm writing this e-mail there are eleven failed medical experiments (I think you call them youths) in West Cromwell Street which is just off Commercial Street in Leith. Six of them seem happy enough to play a game which involves kicking a football against an iron gate with the force of a meteorite. This causes an earth shattering CLANG! which rings throughout the entire building. This game is now in it's third week and as I am unsure how the scoring system works, I have no idea if it will end any time soon.

The remaining five walking abortions are happily rummaging through several bags of rubbish and items of furniture that someone has so thoughtfully dumped beside the wheelie bins. One of them has found a saw and is setting about a discarded chair like a beaver on speed. I fear that it's only a matter of time before they turn their limited attention to the bottle of calor gas that is lying on it's side between the two bins. If they could be relied on to only blow their own arms and legs off then I would happily leave them to it. I would even go so far as to lend them the matches.

Unfortunately they are far more likely to blow up half the street with them and I've just finished decorating the kitchen.

What I suggest is this. after replying to this e-mail with worthless assurances that the matter is being looked into and will be dealt with, why not leave it until the one night of the year (probably bath night) when there are no mutants around then drive up the street in a panda car before doing a three point turn and disappearing again. This will of course serve no other purpose than to remind us what policemen actually look like.

I trust that when I take a claw hammer to the skull of one of these throwbacks you'll do me the same courtesy of giving me a four month head start before coming to arrest me.

I remain sir, your obedient servant

Signed ?????????


I have read your e-mail and understand you frustration at the problems caused by youths playing in the area and the problems you have encountered in trying to contact the police. As the Community Beat Officer for your street I would like to extend an offer of discussing the matter fully with you. Should you wish to discuss the matter, please provide contact details (address / telephone number) and when may be suitable.


PC ????????????? Community Beat Officer


Dear PC ?????

First of all I would like to thank you for the speedy response to my original e-mail. 16 hours and 38 minutes must be a personal record for Leith Police station and rest assured that I will forward these details to Norris McWhirter for inclusion in his next book.

Secondly I was delighted to hear that our street has it's own community beat officer. May I be the first to congratulate you on your covert skills. In the five or so years I have lived in West Cromwell Street, I have never seen you. Do you hide up a tree or have you gone deep undercover and infiltrated the gang itself? Are you the one with the acne and the moustache on his forehead or the one with a chin like a wash hand basin? It's surely only a matter of time before you are head hunted by MI5.

Whilst I realise that there may be far more serious crimes taking place in Leith such as smoking in a public place or being White without due care and attention, is it too much to ask for a policeman to explain (using words of no more than two syllables at a time) to these twats that they might want to play their strange football game elsewhere. The pitch behind the Citadel or the one at DKs are both within spitting distance as is the bottom of the Albert Dock.

Should you wish to discuss these matters further you should feel free to contact me on ??? ????. If after 25 minutes I have still failed to answer, I'll buy you a large one in the Compass Bar.


Signed ?????

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Hartlepool's (Real) Heroes

It’s not often I agree with Hartlepool’s MP. His use of the Hartlepool Fishermen was a cynical ploy when he knows the European Union Common Fisheries Policy is what controls British Fishing. Similarly his protests about the closure of Hartlepool Hospital are hollow posturing when it is his party that is shutting the place. During the 2004 by-election the Labour Party made promise after promise about the Hospital, all of course forgotten once the votes were counted. If Hartlepool’s MP had any integrity he would resign over the hospital services being cut.

However, I must agree with him about Remembrance Sunday. Looking at the row upon row of names of Hartlepool men and women who have given their lives for this country always makes me feel humble and proud.

There is currently a move in the town to name new streets after Hartlepool’s Heroes. I appreciate that some people within the Civic Centre seem to think the only thing that matters is the football club and its supporters but to me the term “Hartlepool’s Heroes” would be much better assigned to those men and women whose names are carved into the war memorials, rather than to professional footballers.

How about naming the streets after the men and women of Britain's armed forces, merchant marine, and supporting services who really did give their all for us. That would show real remembrance rather than just putting on a poppy for a few hours every year!

Monday, 12 November 2007

Tall Ships Project Board

The costs for the Tall Ships race continue to be a little hazy but according to the Mayor the current gross cost estimate for the Tall Ships is £2,285,000. Unfortunately these figures were given in a verbal answer to my question to full Council and I'll have to wait for the minutes to verify I noted them down correctly.

However as far as I can make out the current cost breakdown estimates are:

Event Technical/Infrastructure £510k
Traffic Management/berthing £450k
Organisers and crew hospitality £375k
Health and Safety, security/medical etc £290k
Project team personnel costs £290k
Event professional fees/entertainment etc £200k
Marketing and Evaluation £170k

In April the Cabinet approved a Tall Ships Project Board composed of Councillors to receive regular progress reports and make strategic decisions on the Council's inputs (Cabinet Minute 6.2 on 07.04.02). So far this board has not met, nor, as far as I am aware have the Councillors to sit upon it been selected. (I don't expect to be asked by the way!)

From April 2007 to August 2010 is 40 months. It is now November 2007, that means nearly 8 of the 40 months have now gone past, 8/40 is one fifth of the total duration of the project. Does this mean NO strategic decisions have been made in this period? The selection of the Project Officer was fairly important
I would suggest, no need to involve Councillors in that decision obviously. The development of the budget from £800,000 to £2,285,000 could be seen as quite important, but again no need to involve Councillors in these decisions either. The setting up of "work stream task groups" was announced in the Hartlepool Mail before any of the none cabinet Councillors were given any input to the process. Obviously not a matter Councillors need to be concerned about either!

But not to worry, its only public money and its not like Councillors have any responsibility to spend it wisely. 4.9% Council Tax increase anyone??

Figures just don't add up.......

A few weeks ago at the Trafalgar night dinner on board the HMS Trincomalee the assembled guests were told that the ship had had its best year to date, with 50,000 visitors to the ship. Fifty thousand visitors are a credible number but need too be increased substantially before the ship will show an operating profit.

As a professional Project Manager I can’t help but look at figures and start working out “what ifs” So, let’s put that number in perspective. For the tall ships race weekend in 2010 there are being projected 1,000,000 visitors to the town. Consider if just 1 in 10 of these people decides to visit the Historic Quay. Of these half of them decide to go on board the Trincomalee. That will have the equivalent of the current annual number of visitors going through the ship in just three days. Even if the ship was open 20 hours a day for the three day tall ships visit then that works out at a visitor going on board HMS Trincomalee every 4 to 5 seconds for the full 60 hours.

I am 100% behind the desire for the Tall Ships Race to be a triumph for Hartlepool, but I am having great difficulty making the figures add up at the moment. I live in hope that someone can prove me wrong!

Sunday, 11 November 2007

We will remember them

They shall not grow old as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Ghost Ships and Tall Ships

So the Ghost Ships Saga is all over bar the shouting and even the Mayor has finally come off the fence on the issue by criticising the Planning Committee for its stance and the potential legal bills faced by the Council.

Unfortunately for the Mayor I believe a major contributing factor to the whole sorry mess has been the Mayor’s failure to provide clear leadership. Under the Mayoral System if the Mayor and his cabinet had made their support for the ships clear four years ago then the issue would have been sorted out sooner since the powers of the average, non-executive Councillor are trivial when compared to those of the Mayor and his chosen cabinet.

My own position has always been not that we couldn’t dismantle the ships but that we shouldn't dismantle them there? Amongst other things jobs are now being used to justify the decision. Hundreds of jobs may be created but, in my opinion, they will be mainly low skill work and will almost inevitably go to migrant labour, not residents of Hartlepool.

From day one as a Hartlepool Councillor I have been told the future for Hartlepool is in tourism and service industries. Ship dismantling and waste dumps are hardly compatible with that type of future. Following this decision Hartlepool Council needs to seriously look at their regeneration policies. Hartlepool will never attract white collar workers. Just look at when the MOD were rationalising their stores depots a few years ago. The choice was an overcrowded, very expensive site near Bath or a huge, underutilised site near Eaglescliffe. The jobs went to Bath!

Hartlepool is a northern, industrial town. The ghost ships decision proves that. If Hartlepool Council, are serious about regeneration then they should stop the fantasy about tourism and start looking for real jobs. Let's start lobbying now for a new nuclear power station! That would be 100’s of direct jobs and 100’s more supporting service jobs for the next 60 to 100 years. A new Power Station would bring real money into the town and the jobs would be real, high skill, long term jobs. Unfortunately the only things exciting Hartlepool Council at the moment appears to be Hartlepool United Football Club and of course the Tall ships race. Unfortunately neither of these will build a long term, sustainable economy in Hartlepool and definitely not the Tall Ships Race which will be a three day wonder that the Council taxpayers will be paying for for years.

Saturday, 10 November 2007

Latest News....from 2006!

When I started this blog I thought it would be easy to do a brief snipped every day; however it’s definitely not a simple as that. Firstly there is the problem of what to write about, it’s not the shortage of subjects that’s the problem! It’s what to choose amongst the mass of possible topics.

So, here’s a quick one. When I asked the Mayor about the introduction of alternate weekly rubbish collections he told Hartlepool Council that since its inception recycling has risen from 19% to 38%. Unfortunately just 24 hours earlier Hartlepool Council Press Office had issued a release claiming recycling in the town is a huge success and domestic waste recycling in Hartlepool is currently running at its highest ever level - 27.7%

Stuart’s explanation of the discrepancy?

Hartlepool Press Office had used figures that were a year old!

Well that’s OK then, we wouldn’t want to mislead people by giving out up to date information would we!

Friday, 9 November 2007

Death of UK Fishing

The Fisheries Minister and Hartlepool’s MP no doubt hope they scored lots of political points when they visited Hartlepool. How much practical assistance the visit will give to the remnants of the Hartlepool Fishing Fleet is highly debatable.

The current crisis in UK fishing is the result of many years of the EU Common Fisheries Policy. UK Fishing grounds are controlled from Brussels not Westminster. UK politicians have as much real influence over fishing policy as they do over the weather fishermen encounter on the few days they are allowed to put to sea.

While the UK remains within the European Union then British fishing will continue its inevitable decline. Any fishing that survives in Hartlepool in a few years time may only be as a subsidised tourist attraction. Visitors might be able to visit the “Historic Fishing Quay” to see how fishing used to be an important industry in Hartlepool.

The European Union has no interest in a continued fishing industry in the UK. The only thing any British politician can offer is sympathy and platitudes. The only way to save British Fishing is to withdraw from the European Union and close our fishing grounds to foreign fleets. Iceland pulled out of EU membership to protect its fishing industry and the Norwegian Fishing fleet is much more sensibly and sustainably managed outside the bureaucracy of the EU.

Fishing is not the first British industry sacrificed to the European Union Project and I doubt it will be the last.