Thursday, 23 July 2009

Adoption or not adoption

The Hartlepool Mail Story about the Council adopting the Marina Car Parks (see here) has lead me to put down the following question for Full council next Thursday

To Councillor Peter Jackson

I had always been under the impression that it was the responsibility of a developer to bring roads and infastructure up to an acceptable standard before they were aopted by Hartlepool Council. By adopting the roads in the Marina area when they are of "very poor standard" are we not saying to developers that they need not worry about the roads in any development they are involved with as the Council will step in and spend whatever is necessary to bring them up to standard?

Stephen Allison
St Hilda Ward
Hartlepool Unitary Authority

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Heugh Battery Trust

This afternoon I will be attending my first meeting as the Hartlepool Council's Member of the Heugh Battery Trust Board. The Heugh Battery came into existence during the 1850's when a wave of panic hit Britain which culminated when France introduced the worlds first ironclad warship sparking fears of invasion. Hasty preparations were made and many ports were given gun batteries to give shelter to the naval and merchant fleets. Hartlepool got nine guns which were placed at the Heugh, by the Lighthouse and at Fairy Cove. Fairy Cove battery did not last long thanks to being on top of crumbling cliffs but the Heugh and Lighthouse Batteries, shored up by the promenade went on to serve for 96 years and were to hold the only British mainland guns to engage enemy warships during the World Wars.

You can visit the official Heugh Battery Website by clicking here and of course you can visit the actually battery he Heugh Battery site throughout the year on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. 10:00 until 16:00 with last entry to the site at 15:30. There are also special events are scheduled for days such as Bank Holidays.

Labour Party and Political Career before all else

Hartlepool MP Iain Wright was amongst dozens of Labour MPs who abandoned Gary McKinnon in his fight against extradition to the U.S. Despite signing the Early Day Motion which effectively was a written pledge of support to the Asperger's Syndrome sufferer, Iain Wright once again demonstrated that it is Labour Party and Political career that are his overriding concerns.

During a highly-charged debate, a floundering Home Secretary Alan Johnson faced criticism from all sides over the decision to let Mr McKinnon be taken to the U.S. for trial on charges of computer hacking, where he faces a sentence of up to 60 years.

'We have to act in accordance with the law and the law in this case I believe provides safeguards,' he insisted. And he dismissed the suggestion that the extradition arrangements between the UK and the U.S. were 'somehow unbalanced'.

His claim prompted cries of disbelief from Tory and Liberal Democrat MPs, who said other senior Government ministers had admitted Britain had to provide a higher standard of evidence if it wants to extradite a U.S. citizen. When it came to a vote, however, 74 Labour MPs who had previously signed Commons motions backing Mr McKinnon or demanding a review of extradition agreements with the U.S. failed to go against the party line. Fifty-nine voted with the Government and 15 abstained.

The Tory call for an urgent review of the controversial Extradition Act 2003 was voted down by 290 votes to 236. If only 28 more Labour MPs had stuck to their principles, the Government would have faced defeat.

'It's a frustrating sign that Labour MPs are willing to sign motions for PR purposes but are not actually prepared to vote for change in the House of Commons,' said Mr Grayling.

Former Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell launched a devastating attack 'In the period immediately after the military action against Iraq, the policy of the Government was to stay as close as it possibly could to the U.S. and that was the motive that lay behind this treaty,' he said. Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne said he was 'astonished' by the new 'Johnson doctrine' that there was an equality of treatment by the U.S. and the UK over extradition. In the past, ministers had confessed there was an imbalance but had tried to justify it on other grounds, he said. Mr Huhne said it was 'simply ludicrous' that the Government was 'prepared to afford our American counterparts such greater protections than it does our own citizens'.

The full text of this Article from the Daily Mail can be read here

Friday, 17 July 2009

Another one (potentially) bites the dust

My second question for the Council Meeting on 30th July is now also in doubt. I did want to ask the three Hartlepool Councilors who serve on the Cleveland Police Authority about the extra payments for the Chief Constable.

Apparently however there is no point asking Hartlepool's representatives on the Cleveland Police Authority (Councilors Barker, Tumilty and Wallace) about their input to the approval of the additional "honorarium" payments in cash and kind to the Cleveland Chief Constable!

The reason there is no point asking them as I am given to understand that none of the Councilors mentioned actually attended the relevant meeting. My question could therefore conceivably be allowed, but the answer would be a simple "No, I wasn't there"

I am not someone who thinks people should attend meetings that serve no purpose and indeed my own attendance at some committees has been questioned in the past. I have a simple hierarchy, does the subject of the meeting effect St.Hilda Ward. If the answer is "NO" then I may very well not attend. The Cleveland Police Authority however definitely affects ALL wards and to have all three of Hartlepool's representatives absent is a very poor show indeed! I won't even go into the issue of the substantial ADDITIONAL responsibilities allowance (Currently around £8,000 a year) these three Councilors are collecting while not being at the meeting!

FiReControl will now be 3 years late

According to the Public Sector Information Portal the troubled FiReControl project that will link up fire services around the country to highly-sophisticated regional control centres has faced even more delays.

In 2004 the government said a state of the art control system would be in place by 2007 costing just £100m. But the latest delay announced by the Communities and Local Government (CLG) department means it will now not be deployed into a fire service until May 2011. According to the Fire Brigades Union (FBU), the cost of the project will now be approximately £1.4bn, a huge leap from the original £100m.

"FiReControl is a complex project that involves significant change to operating practices in the FRS as well as the development and installation of a major new national IT system. It is important that we continue to subject the new system to rigorous development to ensure public safety and meet FRS requirements," said the fire minister Shahid Malik.

He admitted the government was not making progress "as swiftly as expected" and thus the plan must be revised.

"By setting up joint teams of officials from the Department for Communities and Local Government and our main supplier EADS Defence and Security to work on a day-to-day basis with the FRS, we will ensure consistent progress. We will also give greater assurance to the FRS by setting short-term milestones for the delivery of the project," he said.

"Our priority for FiReControl is to deliver a modern system that meets the needs of the FRS and continues to ensure the safety of the public in the future for all types and scale of incident."

The FBU has estimated that with the extra delays, the government will have to pay another £15m in rents to keep the new regional control centres – a central part of the project – empty for longer.

"There will be more to pay for the army of consultants, civil servants and project managers needed to try and deliver the project pushing the costs of the delay," it said.

Matt Wrack, the FBU's general secretary, said: "This is a scandalous waste of public money when fire brigades are looking to make major cuts because of a lack of cash.

"These plans are becoming like the Monty Python 'dead parrot' sketch. Everyone knows the parrot is dead apart from government which insists, in the face of all evidence, that it is still alive. These latest delays push the project very firmly to the other side of the general election. They are leaving a disastrous legacy for a future government to have to deal with."

Wrack added that the government cannot even get the system to work properly, never mind the fact that it is years late and massively over-budget. "Instead they are letting it limp on, doomed in all but name, spending cash that should be going to pay for frontline services," he said.

On a small note of success for the modernisation of the Fire Service, its new secure radios project is due for completion by next year.

Firelink, which will give all firemen secure links to control rooms and interoperability with the other emergency services, has also been hit by delays in the past. It was originally due to be completed in December 2007 and in January 2008 it was pushed back to June 2009. But CLG has now revealed that the radio system has been installed in two-thirds of fire services, with a full national roll out due to be completed in spring 2010.

"This is an improvement in their current ability to deal with any kind of emergency - industrial accident, severe weather or terrorist activity - as they are now able to communicate on the same digital radio network used by the police and ambulance command centres when dealing with major incidents," Malik said.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

One Down

Well, one down (The bold are my additions to the text).

Dear Steve,

I propose to disallow this question (The one relating to the Cleveland Fire Authority) for two reasons;

1. Presently the Constitution (CPR Rule 11(2)(ii)) does not allow questions beyond the 'minutes' of CFA. Constitution Committee have proposed a change, which will (hopefully) be on the Council Agenda for the 30/7/09, but which will stand adjourned without discussion under Rule 24.2 to the next ordinary meeting.

2. The question is unfair, insofar as some of the Councillors named, have yet to even attend a meeting of the CFA, owing to the Annual Meeting of the Borough Council, which made such appointments, falling nearly three weeks after the CFA Annual meet.

I would suggest that you approach each Councillor individually, for any views that they may want to express. On a personal basis, I've not heard of any such proposals, at this time.

Peter (Devlin, Chief Solicitor HBC)

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Questions for 30th July Council Meeting

From: Steve Allison External
Sent: 13 July 2009 19:17
To: Democratic Services
Subject: Question for 30th July Council Meeting

To Councillors Barker, Tumilty and Wallace
Hartlepool Councillors on Cleveland Police Authority

Question. Were you present at the meeting of the Cleveland Police Authority that approved additional "honorarium" payments in cash and kind to the Cleveland Chief Constable? Could you confirm exactly what this honorarium consisted of and did you vote for or against the additional payment?

Stephen Allison
St Hilda Ward Councillor
Hartlepool Unitary Authority

From: Steve Allison External
Sent: 13 July 2009 19:17
To: Democratic Services
Subject: Question for 30th July Council Meeting

To Councillors Payne, Lilley A, Brash and Flintoff
Hartlepool Councillors on the Cleveland Fire Authority

Question. Are you aware of any proposals by the Fire Authority to follow
the example of Cleveland Police Authority to make additional
"honorarium" to the Cleveland Chief Fire Officer or any other senior
Officers? Would you be in favour or against such proposals should they
be presented to the Fire Authority.

Stephen Allison
St.Hilda Ward
Hartlepool Unitary Authority

Monday, 13 July 2009

Massive surge in maggots and flies

Town halls were poised to scrap fortnightly bin collections after the heatwave sparked a massive surge in maggots and flies. As temperatures around the country soared, several councils said they were considering a return to weekly collections amid a flood of complaints.

Epping Forest District Council ditched alternate collections in May and Gedling Borough Council in Nottingham followed suit on Monday. Other councils are now re-examining their policies. Councils are considering a return to weekly bin collections as soaring temperatures make the rubbish a health hazard

Councils are considering a return to weekly bin collections as soaring temperatures make the rubbish a health hazard. Among them is Hertsmere Borough Council in Hertfordshire, which has pledged a return to weekly pick-ups if temperatures reach 30c (86f) on five consecutive days.

As the nation's heatwave warning was raised to its second highest level - amber - environmentalist Doretta Cocks said that fortnightly bin collections made 'a nonsense of public health measures'.

She added: 'We had a heatwave in 2003, 2006 and now in 2009 - and they are going to become more frequent because of climate change. 'This problem isn't going to go away, it's going to get worse. The current policy of alternate week collections makes no sense whatsoever.'

As highlighted by the Daily Mail's Great Bin Revolt campaign, anger has been growing over the number of councils switching to fortnightly collections.

The stench of uncollected bins was just one of the many problems facing Britain on yet another sweltering day, with temperatures reaching 31c (88f) in places.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Who Watches The Watchmen

Who Watches The Watchmen
By Ian Dunt

We all know there's something deeply wrong with Britain today. A sense of dissatisfaction and dull resignation haunts the country. For months now we've savaged politicians. That problem is still very, very far away from being fixed. But it's unfortunate we've isolated our anger in one area.

Today's Guardian allegations about an apparent culture of law breaking and privacy invasion at the News of the World could give us the opportunity to look closely at the British media, and ask ourselves how it is failing us. We'll be lucky. The trouble with scrutinising the media is that it's the media who have to do the scrutinising. And people tend to not to defecate in their own backyard.

As the recent movie posters for the Watchmen blockbuster put it: Who Watches the watchmen? An unwritten and unmentioned rule exists in Fleet Street, and has done ever since journalists set up offices there. You don't attack a fellow hack. For years, commentators would write nosey, judgemental stories on politicians' sex lives while pursuing highly dubious embraces of their own. But who would write about it?

Only themselves. And they were the last people who would. But now things are infinitely worse. The media failings are legion. Too many Westminster journalists accept small exclusives in exchange for good behaviour. Too many of them are genuinely friends with those they report on.

The decline of newspaper sales has crippled mud-raking journalism, with fewer and fewer journalists producing more and more stories. The only way to do that, of course, is to be at your desk, and we are now in the position where many of the stories journalists produce are based on press releases or one of the news feeds, like Reuters or the Press Association, rather than their verified account of an event.

The public have become part of the problem. There is outcry at the increasingly populist subjects covered by broadsheets, but editors don't commission work which doesn't sell. I have personally felt the sinking feeling in my stomach as a serious political story I spent hours working on was outperformed ten times over by a fluffy piece I scribbled up with the word 'celebrity' in the title.

The ownership of media companies has become a silent national scandal. How can we possibly treat media ownership as if it were any other commodity? It is not equivalent to milk, or racing cars, or DIY tools. It is the means by which the issues of the day, and the public's opinion on them, are framed. Very recently, Lord Carter's Digital Britain review suggested top-slicing the licence fee. Rupert Murdoch hated the idea - not because he loves the BBC, but because it helped out his rivals at ITV. And, predictably, his newspapers began to trot out precisely the same line we know he believes in. From America's unspeakably appalling Fox News, to Australia's suitably titled The Australian, to the UK's Sun and the Times, Murdoch must be considered one of the most powerful men in the world. Where is his democratic legitimacy? It is non-existent.

And finally, there is the puerile attitude of the media, which focuses endlessly on trivial nonsense with only the most cursory attempt to pretend it's of any genuine interest at all. After the editor of the News of the World, Colin Myler, lost the Max Mosely case, he told reporters: "It was of legitimate public interest and one that I believe was legitimately published." The sexual mores of the head of Formula one is not a matter of public interest. It is something which is interesting to the public, which is a different matter entirely. There are pitifully few criteria upon which to say that someone's sexual habits are any of our business. Promoting celebrities to the status of role models - as in the case of Kate Moss - is usually preposterous, almost as preposterous as pretending a supermodel taking cocaine is remotely noteworthy.

Where MPs especially, or those in the public eye in general, partake in behaviour which explicitly runs against statements they have made, or positions they hold, that is in the public interest. But the standards should be strict. Even in the case of footballers, who are undoubtedly role models to many, it seems childish at best to pay any attention to their sexual habits, or even their drug use. This attitude - typified by the Mosely case - represents one of the most puerile, unpleasant aspects of the British character: the twitch of the curtains, the nosey, snickering interest in other people's personal lives. On the whole the British are far more progressive than this, and as a nation, we believe fiercely in privacy. But most tabloids seem obsessed with bringing out the worst part of our character.

That we should have editors arguing for the legitimacy of this kind of journalism when serious political coverage is lying dead in a ditch is deeply humiliating to my profession. The case against the media is so severe it appears conclusive. We desperately need to give it the kind of scrutiny politicians receive. But will we, as an industry, be brave enough to do it? There is hope. And that is the curious irony of today. It took decent, investigative British journalism, from the rather remarkable Nick Davies, to uncover a story about bad, unpleasant British journalism. All is not lost. But it will be, if we don't start doing something about this situation now.

Friday, 10 July 2009

Whisky accounts for one in 50 jobs in Scotland

The EU seems very keen to protect Palma Ham and similar products with "regional identities" but the EU seems silent on plans to end Johnnie Walker's historic links with Scotland by the closure of its Kilmarnock plant and a 200-year-old distillery in Glasgow.

The politicians claimed Scotland's links to premium whisky would be ruined if packaging operations were moved away. MPs said the end result could be the bottling of whisky overseas, especially in the growing markets of India and China.

This, they said, would seriously damage Scotland's premium product, as well as bringing about the loss of thousands of jobs and billions of pounds from the economy.

However, a spokesman for the owners of Johnnie Walker accused the MPs of overreacting. "We fully appreciate that emotions are running high, but we reserve our right to have undertaken a major review of our business in Scotland," he said.

He claimed the firm was committed to working with politicians and was taking its consultation process seriously.

But he warned: "We are concerned that political intervention and speculation may create a more anxious environment for our employees and could be counter-productive to the consultation process."

Alan Gray, of Sutherland and Partners in Edinburgh, one of the country's foremost whisky business analysts, has backed the MPs.

"I would go along with what the MPs are saying completely," he said.

"I think there is a danger that this could develop into something more and that bottling could be moved outside Scotland."

He said that, currently, just over 85 per cent of whisky was bottled in Scotland and the loss of this would lead to large-scale job losses in bottling plants and transporters.

But even more importantly, he said that bottling outside Scotland would damage the image of the product, worth just over £3bn in export sales and even more in the domestic UK market.

For whisky to be classified as Scotch, it needs to be produced in Scotland, but Gray said: "If it is not bottled as well in Scotland, that breaks an important link with the country, which I believe will seriously damage the product."

He added: "It would be a tragedy if bottling was moved abroad.

"I may be wrong, but we will not know until it happens, and then it may be too late."

Whisky accounts for one in 50 jobs in Scotland, employing about 10,000 people, with a further 30,000 jobs indirectly reliant on it.

£2.5m is available in Hartlepool until 2011

As a proud Dad I'm always ready to sing the praises of my children. My daughter finished her A levels at Brinkburn this month and is waiting for her results and the good looking lad on the right in the photo above my is son, Edward.

Edward is a founder member of the "Grant Givers" and I think is the only one to have been there right from Day 1. The GG's (as they call themselves) control a sizable pot of money that is available for 14 to 19 years olds. The photo is taken from the Hartlepool Mail and the article can be read by clicking here

14 Tall Ships coming next year

According to the Hartlepool Guide, 14 tall ships have already pledged their involvement in the Hartlepool leg of the Tall Ships Races 2010. The Guide then says the first of the 14 tall ships to give their verbal agreement to be part of the magnificent spectacle include:

* Sorlandet – based in Kristiansand, Norway, the 200ft ship with a capacity crew of 70 people is a Class ‘A’ vessel built in 1927.

* Christian Radich – another Norwegian 200ft Class ‘A’ tall ship in brilliant white and built in 1937.

* Stavros S.Niarchos – a Class ‘A’ brig based in Portsmouth, built by the Sail Training Association in 2000.

* Tenacious – another UK Class ‘A’ ship which is 190ft in length. Launched in 2000,it is the largest wooden tall ship to be built in the UK for over 100 years.

* Black Diamond of Durham – Hartlepool’s very own Class ‘C’ tall ship, the Farimar Trust vessel is a regular competitor in The Tall Ships’ Races.

* James Cook – named after one of the greatest sailors, explorers and navigators ever to go to sea. This vessel spends much of her time sailing in North Sea waters where the young Cook learned his sailing skills.

Do you suppose a "pledge" and "verbal agreement" are the same thing? Of course a verbal agreement isn't worth the paper its written on!

According to Hartlepool Council the town will welcome up to 100 tall ships and up to a million visitors between 7 and 10 August 2010 when the town hosts the second and final leg after the ships have sailed from Kristiansand in Norway.

Again I suppose 14 comes under the general heading of "up to 100" even if only 6 are actually named and one of those is home ported in Hartlepool anyway! Interestingly the Tall Ships Official Website doesn't appear to mention any of the "pledged" ships. The latest news on this web page is a job vacancy!

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

minion bell

My life is currently being ruled by a small brass bell. Sandra is recovering from an operation and needs help with getting in and out of bed, etc. She has been given the bell pictured below to summon me!

She's called it the "the minion bell"

Puts me in my place! Ah I hear it tinkling right now!

New Zealand Jobs for New Zealand Citizens

According to an article I have just been reading on-line (Click here for full text) New Zealand is reacting to the economic downturn by adopting a Policy of "New Zealand Jobs for New Zealand Citizens".

They of course can do this because they are a sovereign nation, unlike the UK which cannot adopt a policy of "British Jobs for British Workers" because the European Union won't allow it.

Even more ironic is the fact that many Kiwi's are leaving the UK and returning to New Zealand since European Union employment law discriminates against anyone from outside the EU. These returning Kiwis are taking New Zealand unemployment to a six-year high of 5 per cent of the population. Of the 26,000 Kiwis who returned home last year over 3,000 ended up on benefits.

Some 20,000 skilled Britons went to New Zealand to work in 2008 and one reason constantly quoted for not bringing in a more protectionist employment policy for the UK is that those UK subjects currently working abroad could be sent home by foreign governments in retaliation. Well it looks like New Zealand is getting its retaliation in early! Unfortunately its anger is affecting mainly British Expats when its quarrel is with the European Union, although I suppose the UK government is now so neutered by its subservience to the EU that how we might want to deal with our relationship with the Commonwealth Countries, like New Zealand, isn't really up to us anymore!

Friday, 3 July 2009

Question What is safer Recruitment?

In response to the question "What is safer Recruitment"

Safeguarding Children and Safer Recruitment in Education came into force 1 January 2007. You can read the full 152 page document by clicking here

Basically it sets out the responsibilities of all local authorities, schools and Further Education (FE) colleges in England to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and young people. It sets out recruitment best practice, some underpinned by legislation, for the school, local authority, and FE education sectors.

The guidance is also relevant for supply agencies who supply staff to the education sector, contractors who work in education establishments responsible for under 18s, as well as other providers of education and training for those under 18 funded by the Learning and Skills Council (LSC). The document also details the process for dealing with allegations of abuse against staff.

This guidance does not cover the requirements of the new vetting and barring scheme to be introduced under the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006. These will be phased in from 2008, and updated guidance will be prepared in due course.

This Guidance replaces:

Child Protection: Preventing Unsuitable People from Working with Children and Young Persons in the Education Service;

Criminal Records Bureau: Managing the Demand for Disclosures;

Safeguarding Children in Education;

Safeguarding Children: Safer Recruitment and Selection in Education Settings;

Dealing with Allegations of Abuse against Teachers and Other Staff (November 2005).

It also replaces the guidance contained in Checks on Supply Teachers which was issued in September 2004, Circular 7/96, Use of Supply Teachers, and in the associated Guidance Notes for Teacher Employment Businesses and Agencies.

If you really want to know more then below is the Hartlepool Borough Council Safer Recruitment Procedure. Please don't read any further unless you really want to know!


The post for which you are applying is subject to safer recruitment measures. This is because it is located in a school, or is a position where the nature of the work and/or the setting(s) in which you may be required to work could lead children and young people to regard you as a safe and trustworthy adult, and/or you will have access to sensitive information about children or young people.

Safer recruitment measures include rigorous checking information you supply about yourself in your application e.g. verifying employment history and qualifications and references, enhanced Criminal Records Bureau check and assessment of your suitability in light of safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and young people.

It is important, therefore that in support of your application you comply in full with our requirements, for example, by scrupulously completing the application form and prompt answering any queries we may have on your application. Non cooperation or lack of cooperation in this on your part will lead to your application not being considered.

How our recruitment process works

A selection panel is formed, made up of not less than two people, usually including the manager of the job. They agree the content of the Job Description and the essential criteria for the Person Specification. A job advert is then written.

When we receive application forms, we separate Part A and Part B. Only Part C is given to the selection panel. The panel does not see personal information about you. This is designed to reduce the chances of inadvertent unfair discrimination.

Each panel member then compares the information on Part C of your Application Form with the criteria on the Person Specification. They each read all applications, form their views and determine who will go through to the next stage. If there are a lot of applicants that meet the requirements, the panel will go through the successful pile again, keeping only those who best meet the requirements. References are then asked for and taken up at this point. If you specify on the application form that we cannot contact a referee prior to the interview you will be contacted and asked to explain why, if the reason you give is acceptable we may delay taking up the reference. However, if the reason given is unacceptable or the decision to delay taking up the reference is likely to cause an unacceptable delay in filling the vacant post, you will be contacted to be advised as to whether we intend to request references prior to interview or that your application will not be progressed any further.

If you have not received a response within 4 weeks of the closing date you have been unsuccessful.

What do we value on Application Forms?

We are only looking for the things we have listed on the Person Specification. We believe that there are extremely talented people in the jobs market. People who, for one reason or another, have not developed their skills and abilities through a traditional academic route and gained a qualification.

So, in addition to qualifications we also value other things such as previous job experience, research projects or personal study, voluntary work, social experience or personal life experience. You will be asked to provide original certificates to verify your qualification(s).

How to best fill in your Application Form

Post Reference
You will find a box marked post reference on Part A, Part B and Part C. Complete the boxes with the details supplied in your recruitment package. It is essential that you fill the boxes in as the application is split into separate sections and this allows us to track the application.

Application I.D.
Application I.D. is an internal administration box. You are not required to complete this box.

General notes
The selection panel are looking for those candidates who can give real examples of when they have displayed the essential things on the person specification. It is quality, not quantity that is important.

Do not enclose a CV; we only want information on the application form. CV’s will not be considered.

Give details of your full employment history and details of all gaps in employment, e.g. to have a family, because of illness, career breaks etc.

Give details of any referees whom we can ask for information about you. If you are employed, include details of your current employer. If you are unemployed, give details of your last employer. If you have never been employed, please give details of a school, college or university tutor.

In the interest of Safeguarding and promoting the welfare of Children, the Authority reserves the right to request a reference from your current or most recent employer and any previous employer, regardless of whether or not you have indicated such employers may be contacted.

Focus on the ‘How you meet the essential requirements’. Take each of the criteria on the Person Specification in turn. Take time to think about all of your previous experience and knowledge, and give examples of where you have best displayed the things that are asked for. Simply stating that you have each requirement will not be considered as suitable evidence. Remember, you can use examples from your work life, study, personal life, voluntary work, social experience, vocational training etc.

Answer the points in the same order as on the Person Specification. You can present this as a list and use numbering if you wish.

How we acknowledge receipt of your Application Form

Return your completed application form to Human Resources, Hartlepool Borough Council, Civic Centre, Victoria Road, Hartlepool, TS24 8AY. We do not write back to every candidate that forwards an Application Form to us. It will tell you in the information pack how and when you will be informed.

After recruitment takes place

If you have not received a response within 4 weeks of the closing date you have been unsuccessful.

Giving you a fair and equal opportunity to work for Hartlepool Borough Council

We are fully committed to providing a fair recruitment process for all. To do this, we need to know if you feel anything may prevent you from demonstrating your full potential. We will make any reasonable adjustment or arrangement to any part of the recruitment process.

Access to employment for disabled people

We are committed to equal opportunity in employment for disabled people. This means that we will not unfairly discriminate against a candidate with a disability, or an employee that becomes disabled whilst working for us.

One of the ways we publicise this commitment is through becoming a Two Tick Disability Symbol User. This standard relates to the way we treat disabled candidates and employees, supporting disabled people to work and stay in work.
Any disabled person who meets the essential criteria on the person specification will be guaranteed an interview.

Complaints about the recruitment process

If you feel you have been treated unfairly, or are unhappy with any part of the recruitment process, we want to know about it! You can make a complaint by contacting the relevant service and explain that you wish to make a complaint. If you need help with making a complaint contact us on 01429 266522 and ask for the Recruitment and Retention Team in Human Resources.

Data Protection

The information you provide on the Application Form will be used to assess your suitability for the post and will be viewed only by those involved in the recruitment process. If you are appointed, the information will be used to create your employment record. If you are not appointed, it will be destroyed after 6 months, except in the event of a dispute.

By submitting this form, you are consenting to the recording and use of the information for the purposes mentioned above.

Job Vacancy - Chief Liaison Officer

Job Vacancy - Chief Liaison Officer
Band 9 £21,306 - £23,473 p.a. pro rata
18.5hpw September 2009 – March 2010
37hpw April 2010 – August 2010

This post is subject to Safer Recruitment measures, therefore, please ensure that a Safer Recruitment application form is completed.

You will carry out an important role in the busy Tall Ships Office developing the volunteer/Liaison Officer system for The Tall Ships Races – Hartlepool 2010. The role of Chief Liaison Officer is key to the success of the event as you will be responsible for recruiting, motivating, managing and supporting a group of volunteers who are giving their time freely and without whom the event could not happen.

Prior to the event you will be responsible for developing a volunteer training programme, and recruiting and training a team of 200 volunteers. You will be required to develop appropriate administrative and information management systems. At the event, you will be required to effectively manage and co-ordinate the tasks of the volunteers and ensure that the Captains and crew take full advantage of the fleet facilities and in-port activities that are arranged for them.

We are looking for a self-starter with lots of energy and who has excellent communication, people management, leadership and organisational skills, and a flexible approach to workload pressures and deadlines. Sailing experience and a knowledge of the needs of sailing ships is desirable.

The successful applicant will accompany key Tall Ships project staff on a fact-finding visit to The Tall Ships Races in Belfast Friday 14th August – Sunday 16th August 2009.

For further information or a confidential discussion, contact Michelle Daurat, Tall Ships Project Manager on 01429 284 390.

Hartlepool Borough Council is committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children, young people and vulnerable adults.

This post is subject to safer recruitment measures, including a CRB check.
Application forms and further details are available from and should be returned to, Hartlepool Borough Council, Human Resources Section, Chief Executive’s
Department, Level 1, Civic Centre, Hartlepool, TS24 8AY, Tel: 01429 523331
Email address: or apply on-line at or

Closing Date: Friday 17th July 2009 12 noon

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Tax Refund

Don't fall for this one!

The scams are getting more elaborate!

I received an e-mail today headed "Tax Refund Number 2009HMRC827141476XZ/925"

Opening it up I was told that after the last annual calculation of your fiscal activity we have determined that you are eligible to receive a tax refund of 284.23 GBP. Your TRN (TAX REFUND NUMBER): 2 7 9 0 2 1 6 8 1 5, please fill the payment form attached in the email.

Please submit the tax refund and allow us 3-9 business days in order to process it.

Note: For security reasons, we recommend that you close your browser after you have finished accessing your refund status.
- For security reasons, we will record your ip-address and date.
- Deliberate wrong inputs are criminally pursued and indicted.

Best Regards,
Greg Stephen
Tax Credit Office Agent
Telephone: 0845 300 xxxx
Opening hours:
8.00 am to 8.00 pm, seven days a week


However, despite the "from" box on my e-mail header saying "From: HM Revenue & Customs" the actual e-mail address was < > and I suspect it should really have been a address if it was genuine!

The 0845 number connects you to an automated voice service that sounds very good. However why do the Tax people need to know my mother's maiden name, and the three digit code on the back of my credit card? If they want to refund me money it would (theoretically) come through the on-line account that they use to take money off me on a regular basis.

Don't fall for this one!

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

AIDs to sweep the world” and “Millions at risk”

“AIDs to sweep the world” and “Millions at risk” Typical media headlines in the late 1990’s. UNAIDS released estimates in 1997 that, worldwide, 30 million adults and children had HIV with another 16,000 being infected each day and the media coverage reached such a height that it was almost impossible to open a newspaper, switch on a Radio or TV without AIDS/HIV being the story of the day.

However, since a peak at the beginning of the new millennium the number of stories relating to AIDS/HIV has shown a noticeable decline in almost all the developed world, with the exception of North America. The “Global Media Aids Initiative” launched in 2004, by the then United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, has members in Serbia and the Ukraine but no other European Country appears on their home page. The BBC (and MTV) appear as global members but the BBC references the World Service as opposed to the domestic broadcaster.

The media coverage of AIDS/HIV shows an almost classic product life cycle (see chart below) as described by economists to explain product sales over time.
Media interest started development in the late 1950’s when the first cases were encountered, they were not always recognised as HIV and received little coverage. It was over twenty years before the media reported that Doctors treating gay men in New York and San Francisco were seeing the first properly identified cases of what The Centre for Disease Control in Atlanta had started calling “AIDS” – Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.

The media interest received a huge boost on 2nd October, 1985 when the actor Rock Hudson died of AIDS. In a message of condolence, US President Ronald Reagan used the word “AIDS” in public for the first time, more than four years into the epidemic. The media coverage entered a strong growth phase with “Gay Plague” and similar story lines appearing more and more frequently. Coverage in March 1987 of a speech given by New York gay rights activist Larry Kramer led to the formation of the radical Gay action group ACT-UP.

Over the next ten years the story continued to attract wide ranging media coverage but in most countries the focus moved from the Gay Plague to the risks of infection through heterosexual contact. The peak for media coverage was probably in June 1998 when the 12th World AIDS Conference in Geneva reported the existence of multi-drug resistant strains of HIV.

After this the coverage declined and by 2002 the creation of a global fund to fight AIDS had to be combined with Tuberculosis and Malaria in order to receive endorsement by the leaders of the G8 and African nations. The coverage of HIV/AIDs in the European media has fallen noticeably in the past five years and while stories continue to appear they are much less frequent and have much lower precedent.

The coverage of HIV/AIDs in the media has shown an almost classic product life cycle of slow development, explosion of interest, a steady, high level of reporting and then a decline. The period over which this has occurred did exceed half a century! The extended period shows the importance of the story. HIV/AIDS continues to get extensive media coverage around the world. Compare the 50 year cycle for HIV/AIDS with 50 day or even 50 hour life of many “celebrity” based media stories and it is obvious that HIV/AIDS will continue to be important and continue to receive media coverage for the foreseeable future.

Euro Critical Group in European Parliament launches

At 3pm today (1st July) a new Euro-critical Group in the European Parliament will launch. The event will take place in the European Parliament in room ASP 1E2. The Group will comprise of the following members, alphabetically,

Denmark: Dansk Folkeparti, 2 MEPs
Finland: True Finns, 1 MEP
France: Libertas (Mouvement pour la France - CPNT), 1 MEP
Greece: LAOS, 2 MEPs
Italy: Lega Nord, 9 MEPs
Netherlands: Staatkundig Gereformeerde Partij, 1 MEP
Slovakia: Slovenská národná strana, 1 MEP
United Kingdom: UKIP, 13 MEPs

Nigel Farage the UKIP leader and the current President of the Group said,

“I am delighted to announce the formation of this group. It is a cohesive and broad based Group that will be able to build on the effectiveness of the Independence/Democracy Group from the last Parliament.

It will be able to provide real opposition to the centralising consensus of the other groups. Something that this Parliament, and the free peoples of Europe have been crying out for”.

The name of the new Group and its program will be presented at the launch.

Press are, of course welcome to come and ask questions of the new Group members who will be present.

For further information contact

Gawain Towler
Press Officer
0032 496 510 711