Tuesday, 27 December 2011

one stomp at a time: It starts...

one stomp at a time: It starts...: Hi. I'm Rosie, I'm 20, I'm a law student at Kings College London, and my Granddad died of pancreatic cancer in November. A shocking start,...

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas. Today was not a good day. My dad was present at the table in our thoughts but obviously not there in the flesh. RIP Dad x x x

Friday, 23 December 2011

Improve Early Detection and Treatment of Pancreatic Cancer - e-petition

Almost 97% of people diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer die within 5 years. 22 people a day die from Pancreatic cancer. Earlier, clearer diagnosis would reduce this [1].

This is a campaign for better awareness of Pancreatic Cancer, not just today, not just in November 2011 which was Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month, but until the detection and survival rate for this disease is improved.

Pancreatic cancer could be termed 'The Hidden Killer'. Many of its symptoms mirror other less critical illnesses and therefore GPs often do not realise their significance [2]. Other possible causes for symptoms include Jaundice, Diabetes, Gall Stones or back problems. Time can be lost before the correct diagnosis is reached, by which time it can be too late.


Before you dismiss this please read the symptoms [2]. If you have any of these, it probably isn't Pancreatic cancer…but then again it might just be. Pancreatic cancer diagnosis and treatment is a lottery. It could affect you or someone you love.

There needs to be a significant improvement in funding for the training of GPs and for rapid diagnosis. This should not be taken from other parts of the NHS but be new and ring-fenced money.

We need better Pancreatic cancer diagnosis NOW. Please sign the e-petition at

[1] Pancreatic cancer is the 5th leading cause of cancer death in the UK. Pancreatic cancer has the worst survival rate of all cancers. 5-year survival is only 3%. This figure has not changed in over 40 years while deaths from many other cancers declined.

[2] Symptoms include jaundice, significant unexplained weight loss, persistent abdominal pain, pain in the upper abdomen and back, new-onset diabetes without with weight gain, vague dyspepsia or abdominal discomfort, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, pain when eating, depression. GPs may first look at other possible causes for these symptoms resuting in time being  lost before the correct diagnosis is reached. By this time it can be too late to save the patient.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Stephen Allison - Master of Arts

 Well its been a while coming but my MA Certificate arrived today! Hurray So that's BSc, MSc and MA (amongst other things.....lol.....)
I had a letter in the Hartlepool Mail tonight,

Dear Editor,

Hartlepool has had a Labour MP since1945, except for1959 when Commander Kerans took Hartlepool for the Conservatives for a single term. The same applies to the council, apart from a short period when a Conservative/Liberal Alliance held a majority, Hartlepool Council has been dominated by Labour.

So has this loyalty to Labour brought Hartlepool economical success, employment and well paid jobs? Unfortunately not.

In 2010, while the Tall Ships were in town, the office of national statistics reported 25% of working age people in Hartlepool were in receipt of benefits. Compare that to 20% in the North East and 15% in England overall.

Has this loyalty to the Labour Party brought improved health and life expectancy? Unfortunately Not!

The Public Health Observatory reported in 2005 that life expectancy of Hartlepool's women was the LOWEST in the country. Fifty years ago Hartlepool has five hospitals, including a specialist maternity hospital. Today it has one hospital and that is unlikely to survive much longer.

So what has loyalty to Labour brought Hartlepool? It has brought Hartlepool almost to its knees.

Many people are proud they vote labour. Ask them why? Often they don't have an answer other than “Always have, always will” Maybe it's time to start looking for a better reason than that?

We have 60 years of neglect to combat. Sixty years of labour taking the town for granted and 60 years of party political point scoring being more important than really getting things done.

In May 2012 let's start the fight back. Let's ditch the national political parties. Let's all put Hartlepool first.

Stephen Allison
13 Beaconsfield Square

Of course one of the usual suspects couldn't wait to point out the use of the Beaconsfield Square address and the fact that there is an election coming. So I suppose it's about time for them to start up the "Where does Stephen Allison live?" debate again. If I am sat in my office in the top floor of Beaconsfield Square when I'm doing something then that's the address I use. Typically when I am at Beaconsfield Square its to do with work or council business. If I'm sat in my study at Hurworth Burn when I'm doing something, then that's the address I use. Typically that will be more personal stuff. If I send something from a train then the address on the bottom will be "Sent from my Blackberry" It all depends upon where I am at the time and which hat I'm wearing. When Hartlepool Council write to me, which they do quite frequently, then they send the correspondence to Beaconsfield Square. If Sedgefield Council want to write to me, which they about once a blue moon, then they use Hurworth Burn. If anyone really cares I'm writing this from Hurworth Burn.

PS My first ever letter to the Hartlepool Mail back in 1986 was on almost the same subject! That the only constituencies that get any attention are marginals so Hartlepool would be better off with anyone other than Labour for MP, even if it was only for one term. Just shows how nothing really changes!

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Christmas lights

Rough day so far. Ten years ago we spent a family Christmas in Florida. It was the year my father turned 70 and in his usual macabre way he wanted a special holioday since, as he put it,“this might be my last Christmas” of course he was wrong that time! As this will definitely be our first Christmas without him I'm not really expecting a very merry time, but I am determined to keep up as many Allison family traditions as possible. One of these being my tacky display of exterior Christmas lights. These date from that trip to Florida when we were treated to the displays of Christmas lights that many in the US seem to love. From Santa and his sleigh landing on the roof, fairly light illuminated and aninmatronic reindeer grazing on the lawn, right down to simple coloured lights in bushes and around the eves of the houses. I of course loved all this. My father in his pseudo grumpy old man way tried to work out how much the electricity cost! So next year I acquired a few rope lights and a Christmas train that had smoke puffing from its chimney and looked like its wheels were going round. Every year since then the collection has grown slightly to the point where I can’t actually get them all up at the same time. So this year will be a challenge! Christmas lights here I come!

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Off to meet with PALS

Off to meet with PALS (Patient Advisory Liaison Service) to make a complaint about the handling of my father's case. Referred by GP August 3rd, Diagnosed by ultrasound September 26th, We were not actually informed until October 17th and he died November 20th. He never actually got any treatment for the cancer itself. He developed jaundice the week before chemotherapy was due to start and that meant the treatment had to be delayed until the jaundice was controlled, unfortunately it never was. If treatment had started a few weeks earlier then he was clear of jaundice!

Complaints and Concerns


Monday, 28 November 2011

Only 3 working days left in 2011

First day of the rest of my life! Tried to tell the tax man about my dad but they won't speak to me without a copy of the death certificate. I've now posted one off to them but they say "All post is dealt with in order of receipt" I asked what that meant and they told me that for receipt of post they are so far behind that "today" is actually December 20th. So taking the strike and Christmas into account my letter to them is unlikely to be even opened until 4th or 5th January 2012! What a way to run a country!

Friday, 25 November 2011

Dad's Funeral

Thank you very, very much to everyone who attended my dad's funeral today. It was a great comfort to see St.Hildas Church so full and know that so many people wanted to come and say goodbye to my dad. As a former councillor he was entitled to a civic funeral, with the great and the good of the council in attendance. However, he made it quite clear to me that he didn't want that. He only wanted people at the service who genuinely wanted to be there rather than those attending out of duty or from some need to be seen. A sincere thanks again to everyone who came. Rosemary gave the eulogy and it was a great tribute to her grandad. Afterwards we had a house full of young people who came to pay their respects to my dad. How many 80 year olds would have teenagers at their funeral who were not relatives or family but who came out of respect for the departed. I think we gave my dad a send off he could have been proud of. RIP Dad

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

RIP Derek Allison 1931 - 2011

Thank you very much to all of you who contacted me asking why my blog has been so quiet. Quite simply I've been far too busy to bother with it after the diagnosis of my father as having a terminal cancer of the pancreas. This diagnosis changed my whole world. Blogging just didn't make the cut in my list of priorities, which only had two things that mattered, my father and my family.

Sadly that list has now shrunk to just my family. My father died on Sunday night. He died at home with my mother at his side holding one of his hands and I was holding the other. There was no pain at the end, he just stopped breathing and slipped away. Six weeks previously he and I had been on a roof top re-pointing ridge tiles, now he is gone. I miss him already and know I will ask my self every day “What would my dad do ?”

My dad, Derek, has been married to my mum Aileen (nee Outhwaite) for 57 years. They had been sweethearts since she was 16 and he was 17. Many of my friends have remarked that they have never met a more devoted couple. It would be wrong to say they never had a cross word, a family story records one falling out before they were married that lasted two years and which, according to my father, was reconciled when my mother “came crawling back” My mother obviously has a different recollection of how they got back together.

Family was everything to my dad. In addition to me they also had a second son, my younger brother David (49), who is a Director of the Austrian National Oil Company and currently lives in Budapest. My dad was always extremely proud of David’s achievements but at the same time sad that his career took him so far away from home. My parents also have five grandchildren. Their two youngest grandsons, Charlie and John, are still at boarding school. Two granddaughters, Rosemary and Ria, are both at University and their eldest grandson, Edward, is an engineering cadet with P&O Cruise lines, something that my father was especially proud of considering his own national service was spent at sea as a Merchant Navy Engineering Officer. One of my few regrets is that my dad was not being able to see Edward march in this year's rememberance parade wearing his Merchant Navy Uniform. Sadly my dad was just too tired by then to make the trip round to the sea front.

My dad was born in 1931 and attended the Hartlepool Boys Technical Day School. Like many a Hartlepool lad before him he served his time in the drawing office at British Steel before joining the Merchant Navy as an Engineering Officer with the Empire Line. While in the Merchant Navy he served on troopships for both the Suez conflict and the Korean War. My dad's involvement with the sea did not end when he left the Merchant Navy as he was a member of Tees Sailing Club for many years and was Commodore of the club in the 1980's. He was an accomplished table tennis player in his youth and a keen cyclist. In 1951 he and a group of friends even cycled to London and back to see the Festival of Britain. He hadn't played competitive table tennis for many years but he still went for a ride on his bike nearly every day.

After completing his national service Derek retuned to Hartlepool and worked in Port Clarence at British Steel (Chemicals) where he was the Works Engineer until his retirement in 1995. After retiring my dad took my mother on various holidays to visit many of the ports he had called at during his time in the Merchant Navy. This included far east destinations such as Honk Kong and Shanghai. My parents loved Hong Kong and also made two trips to China to see the Forbidden City, the great Wall and the Terracotta Army (or the Territorial Army as my mother called it!). My dad's engineering background however was never far behind and the Three Rivers Hydro Electric Scheme in China was something that impressed him tremendously.

My dad never lost his inquiring mind or his love of a challenge. He and my mother took up skiing when they were in their 50's and he became an accomplished downhill skier before an accident on the piste, where a novice skier collided with him, left him with a damaged knee and ended his involvement with the sport. At 80 years of age he was “the man who can” for several people in Hartlepool when it came to computer problems. I would regularly come home and find my PC had been upgraded without my knowledge since my “hard drive partition was not the latest version” or some other reason that was gobbledygook to me but not to my dad.

I could go on and on. As a Rotarian he visited Rumania to work on a children's hospital, the conditions under which these children lived, and died, was one of the few things I ever knew to make my dad cry. Until 2007 my dad was Chairman of the Hartlepool Headland Parish Council and a Hartlepool Borough Councillor, an Independent member, he had no time for party politics in local government, he thought local councillors should represent their communities and not play party political games. He applied his considerable carpentry skills to building more than one sailing dingy in the basement at home, he could dig a trench with a JCB back actor and drive a bulldozer. He and I worked together to build my current house and last year our family project was the installation of a ground source heat pump, which is currently saving me over £2,000 a year in heating oil bills. However, I think one of the things he would be most proud off are a bunch of flowers that arrived for my mother today. They are from friends of his granddaughter, Rosemary. The flowers made me cry but they were a fantastic tribute. Several of these young people are coming to his funeral on Friday because they loved him like a granddad of their own.

RIP Derek Allison 1931 - 2011

Funeral Service will be held at 10.30am at St.Hildas Church on Friday 25th November 2011. The family would be delighted if anyone who knew my dad and will genuinely miss him would like to come along.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Putting Hartlepool First

Straight talk and political parties are two things that seem to rarely go together, but a new party launched in Hartlepool, wants to change that. Their aim is to do exactly what their party name says, they are “Putting Hartlepool First”.

Putting Hartlepool First don’t care if you are Labour, Tory, Lib-Dem, UKIP, Green or just about any other party in your national views, so long as at local level you agree to set party politics aside and Put Hartlepool First.

“Hartlepool Hospital is a classic case of national party policy being enforced over local interest” said Hartlepool First’s Leader, Councillor Geoff Lilley. “While the Labour government were in power the town’s Labour Councillors were almost totally silent about the issue, because it was Labour Party Policy. Now the Con-Dems are in power Hartlepool’s labour Councillors are claiming to have always opposed the hospital closure. In my opinion it’s just cynical opportunism and party politics at it’s worst”

Hartlepool First intend to field candidates in the 2012 local elections, which will be fought under the new boundaries. “There is another example of party politics being placed above local interests” said Councillor Steve Gibbon, party treasurer of Hartlepool First. “The new boundaries appear to have been drawn to advantage the Labour party not reflect local wishes. The Headland and Harbour Ward is the glaring example but most of the other ward boundaries are set for party political advantage, not to reflect the natural communities within the town.”

The new party believe that the people of Hartlepool are ready for a change and want councillors who represent them and who Put Hartlepool First. “For too many Councillors in Hartlepool Civic Centre it looks like they put party first, political career second and Hartlepool at best a distant third” said Hartlepool First’s campaigns officer, Stephen Allison. “Hartlepool First want to change those priorities. We want to put Hartlepool First.”

The party has formally registered with the UK Electoral Commission as “Hartlepool Independents – Putting Hartlepool First” and has its own logo. Registration as a party is vital if the group want to stand any chance of really influencing decisions in the Hartlepool Civic Centre. Under the Local Government Act registered parties have several advantages denied to individual independents. “It’s the old story about a bundle of sticks together being stronger than a load of single sticks” said Party Leader Geoff Lilley. “In Hartlepool Council at the moment the independents are easily brushed aside because they don’t work together. Forming Hartlepool First means we can combine our strength and really have a chance of defeating decades of Labour dominance in the Council Chamber”.


Contact details; Geoff Lilley, 01429 291542 geoff.lilley@gmail

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Wednesday, 5 October 2011


Edward Stalking took a back seat for a few days. Had to go to London for a UKIP NEC Meeting and that takes a chunk out of the week. Also been doing some work on thr properties and playing with my big boys toys. However, back to the stalk. Edard was in Quebec today, apparently always a highlight of a ‘Fall Foliage’ cruise along the New England and Canadian coastline, Quebec City is a living testimonial to the grace of Old Europe. Its steep cobbled streets make an atmospheric counterpoint to the trees blazing crimson, yellow and gold and creating one of the most dazzling spectacles on earth.

Artists display their wares in its tree-lined squares and Europhiles can shop for fine antiques and savour fine coffee, croissants and La Vie Francais in Parisian-style pavement cafés.

Do not miss the magnificent view from the turrets of medieval-style Chateau Frontenac, which dominates the city. Despite its appearance, this hotel-cum-museum dates from the 19th century, when it was constructed by the Canadian and Pacific Railway Company. A visit here for afternoon tea-with-a-view will make a perfect end to a day ashore.

Aurora Cam shows the port at night at the mment, because yes I am sad enough to be posting this at 6am UK time (soon of course to be Universal time if the French get their way and GMT is consigned to the dustbin!).

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Boston Tea Party

It really is amazing how small the world is these days. Son and hier has just Facebook'ed to say he's sat outside the "World Famous" Quincy Market inBoston with a Lobster roll, crisps and soda. Now all he says he has to do is try some of this Mountain Dew stuff that everyone seems to be going on about!
According to the P&O Website historic Boston is a key cruise port for ‘fall foliage’ trips around New England and the Canadian Maritime Provinces but anytime is a good time to enjoy this friendly, walkable city - dubbed ‘The Cradle of Liberty’ for its part in the American War of Independence.
Learn its fascinating history by following the Freedom Trail or take a subway ride beneath the Charles River to Cambridge, home of the 400-year-old Harvard University. On the other hand, you could simply settle for some world class shopping and lunch with a view of street entertainers at one of the pavement restaurants in the leafy lanes which surround pretty Quincy Market.
Or spend your day exploring the citys neighbourhoods; Back Bay - filled with elegant boulevards and imposing brownstone mansions - is the trendiest district while North End displays Bostons colonial charm at its best.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Newport - Rhode Island

The boy has left New York and is now at Newport Rhode Island. Fabulous mansions, fantastic scenery and the world famous ten mile Ocean Drive make Newport, Rhode Island a must see city. From the splendour of its palatial ‘summer cottages’ to its quaint colonial streets, inviting vineyards and numerous marinas. For a glimpse into gilded age living, visit Breakers – the most opulent and elegant mansion renowned for its intricate art and craftsmanship, or marvel at Marble Cottage – a social and architectural landmark and the first of Newport’s grand residences. Both are laced with endless carpets of green lawn and beautifully manicured gardens.

Unfortunately the miles of scenic coastline are hidden by a fog bank ast the moment
Which means the claimed "rugged beauty" is not very evident. In clear weather apparently the area is ideal for sailing, riding and rejuvenating walks. For true nature lovers Newport’s sanctuaries display a wide variety of bird life and for those who want to simply relax lagoon-like Gooseberry beach is the perfect location. Other famous landmarks include Trinity Church, Redwood Library and the Gothic Church of St. Mary’s - where Jacqui and JFK were married.

UPDATE; Fog too thick to land passangers safely (Newport is a "tender" visit where the ship anchors off shore and passengers go ashore in small boasts) so Aurora has departed early and is on its way to its next port!

Monday, 26 September 2011

New York New York

The wonders of Blackberry Messenger mean I am typing this blog post and simultaneously carrying on a conversation with son and heir who is shopping in Maceys in New York. He's survived his first full transatlantic crossing (he'd been across to Greenland but not right over the pond before this trip).
According to the Aurora Cruise itinerary the ‘Big Apple’ is the USA’s most charismatic city and really does have something for everyone. Love the great outdoors? Stroll through the gorgeous gardens of Central Park, right in the centre of Manhattan. People-watching more your thing? Get a taste of local life in the quaint cafés of bohemian Greenwich Village, or star spot in the boutique and restaurant-lined streets of the sophisticated SoHo and TriBeCa districts.

Feast your eyes at the Metropolitan Museum of Art or enjoy the shopping spree of your life at Saks, Macys, Bloomingdales or Century 21 on Cortlandt Street, which is the worlds largest discount warehouse and near that other must-see, Broadway.

So I'm not jealous, MUCH.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Edward Stalk - Mid Atlantic

Been a bit busy the past couple of weeks. Went to the UKIP Conference in Eastbourne, fonished off some maintemance work on one of my houses and general consultancy work and other bits and pieces. All this activity has led me to neglect my Edward Stalking. I've still been loking at "Aurora Cam" most days but haven't had time to blog about it. Anyway, son and hier sailed yesterday on a 24-night cruise to American and Canada, his first transatlantic sailing. He'll be calling at the "Big Apple" with two full days to enjoy glittering Manhattan. It"s the USA"s most charismatic city with the iconic Empire State Building, Times Square, Broadway and Central Park all waiting to be explored. The yachting haven of Newport couldn"t be more of a contrast with its fabulous mansions, breathtaking scenery and the world famous 10-mile Ocean Drive. Friendly Boston is dubbed the "Cradle of Liberty" for its part in the American War of Independence and with a full day and evening here, you can follow the Freedom Trail or visit world famous Harvard University. Portland is as much about its seascapes as its cityscapes, with an eclectic mix of waterfront pubs restaurants, galleries and boutiques.
Then it"s a journey to a string of interesting Canadian ports. First, take a stroll around the cobblestone walkways of historic St John, New Brunswick. Then, take in the sparkling coves of Halifax, the imposing walled city of Quebec, where you will have two full days, and the charming port of St. John"s, Newfoundland. They"re all yours to discover before sailing home with Aurora.

Sunday, 4 September 2011


Received my free copy of "What's on Hatlepool"

Twenty eight glossy A5 pages telling me what entertainment opportunities are available at Hartlepool Town Hall Theatre, Hartlepool Art Gallery, Museum of Hartlepool, the Borough Hall, Hartlepool Maritime Experience, etc.

All good stuff, until the bottom of the last page........

Wouldn't it have been nice if Hartlepool Borough Council could have supported Hartlepool business and had the WOH designed and printed in the town?

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Job Shares - great idea

I remember junior school maths problems about how many holes a number of men could dig in a number of days. The answer always showed the more days a man worked the more holes he could dig. Simple really!

Now try applying simple maths to the question about how many personal policies or strategies can a number of Chief Personnel Officers write in a number of days? The answer must be that if Hartlepool can share a Chief Personnel Officer with Darlington then there has not really been a full time job for a Chief Personnel Officer at either local authority. Unless of course neither has been digging as many holes as they could? Possibly that's not a bad thing because the last thing local government wants are more strategies or policies. Of course getting absenteeism down would be one thing a dynamic personnel chief might address, but no doubt she'll be too busy driving between Hartlepool and Darlington to worry about that?

How about also sharing a Director of Children and Adult Services? The current post holder in Hartlepool is going to be filling the Chief Executive’s job for six months. The job she was doing can’t be that onerous if it can be left vacant for half a year? This begs the further question of how many people at Hartlepool (and Darlington Councils) are currently being paid a full time wage for a job that only needs to be done part time, or maybe could be dispensed with altogether. Bring on more job shares I say.

Alicante - main city and cruise port on Spain’s Costa Blanca

Been a bit quiet on the Edward Stalking front recently. I've still being logging into "Aurora Cam" but the ship has been at sea so not much to report. Today however they are docked in Alicante so there is a new view on the cam.

Alicante is built around a natural harbour and is the main city and cruise port on Spain’s Costa Blanca. Of course Hartlepool's Mayor shared a similar vision for Hartlepool to occupy the position as the main city and cruise port on England's east coast, a vision that so far remains unfulfilled. Hartlepool and Alicante do however have many things in common, apart from the blue skies and warm sunshine of course. Alicante, is also a top beach resort in its own right (Hartlepol has the Block Sands and the paddling pool, although who knows for how much longer after the Heugh falls down). Alicante has a sophisticated Mediterranean feel (Hartlepool hasn't) with its restored old town (Hartlepool Headland) adding to its charm (rows of boarded up terraced houses waiting for new Housing Hartlepool Estates?). Alicante has the attraction of its sandy beaches (Seaton?). Dubbed the ‘City of Light’ when founded by the Romans (Hartlepool, dubbed the place they 'hang monkeys' by the French?), Alicante is still a relaxing place to walk around (As is Hartlepool because all the shops are shut).

Down from the impressive Castillo de Santa Barbara fortress (Hartlepool Civic Centre) which offers impressive views across the city, most activity centres in the streets around the Ayuntamiento (Church Street), a plaza area buzzing with restaurants and tapas bars. There are also many cafés along the seafront (Navigation Point).

Works by artists including Dali, Miro and Picasso are on show at the Museo de Arte Siglo and there is also an archaeological museum (Historic Quay and Museum of Hartlepool.

So there you are, what has Alicante got that Hartlepool hasn't? Just look at these pictures. Can you tell which town each was taken in?

Saturday, 27 August 2011

The only thing worse than being talked about.......

........is NOT being talked about (Oscar Wilde). Of course if you are involved in politics then most of what is said about you is untrue. The public however seem to be much more inclined to believe what they read on an anonymous website than they are to actually find out the real truth, especially f the anonymous website is full of bile and invective while the truth is much less titilating.

Anyway, the message board I am finding most amusing recently is one called "Junius" which proports to be an expose of the real UKIP. I find most of the rubbish posted on there to be exactly that...RUBBISH. When he (or she?) comments on events I know some of the background to, or have details about, I inevitably find he is so far off the mark that it is laughable. I therefore assume anything I do not know the details of, but upon which he pontificates, is similarly wide of the mark. I have just visited the site and he is ranting about the Ashford Call Centre. PLEASE! How long before he lets that go. I do occasionally find myself the subject of his bile. Just a few days ago, I was a Faragist Lickspittle who was put in place to manipulate and cheat to ensure a YES Vote in the PEP Ballot. Ensuring the "right" result would apparently be my route to a seat as an MEP next time! Strangely, there has been no comment from Junius about me since the NO Vote in the ballot! Am I still a Farage brown noser?

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

UKIP Conference Program Eastbourne 2011

Thursday 8 Sept
Agents Training 14.00-16.30, Hardwick Suite, ILTC
YI Conference 14.30-16.30, Spencer Suite, ILTC
Freedom Association 'Free Spirits' 17.00-18.15, Spencer Suite, ILTC
YI Public Speaking Contest Final 18.15-19.15, Spencer Suite, ILTC
Chairman's Reception 19.30–22.00, Gold Room, Winter Gardens
Launch of Gadfly Club at Chairman's Reception

Friday a.m.
Session Chairman: Steve Crowther, Executive Party Chairman
9.15 Video: Small Business vs Petty Bureaucracy
9.45 John Wallace, Chairman, SE Committee
Cllr Carolyn Heaps, Mayor of Eastbourne
10.00 Cllr Lisa Duffy
Mayor of Ramsey
10.10 Cllrs Peter Reeve and Chris Adams
Towards 2015 – a strategy for success
10.30 Parade of UKIP Councillors
10.40 Sanya-Jeet Thandi
Standing for UKIP
10.50 Neil Hamilton
Political Commentator, Sunday Express
11.05 Tea & coffee break
11.20 Patrick O'Flynn
Chief Political Columnist, Daily Express
11.35 Barry Madlener MEP
Party of Freedom (PVV), Netherlands
11.50 Timo Soini
Leader, True Finns
12.10 Nigel Farage MEP
Party Leader

Freedom Association –
YI – The rise of Euroscepticism in Europe
Pat Bryant – Should drugs be decriminalised?
Care Asset Management – Funding long-term care
NEC Candidate Hustings
Tim Congdon and Gerard Batten: The Cost of the EU (Cavendish Hotel)

1.00 LEADER'S LUNCH, Gold Room

Friday p.m. Session Chairman: Lisa Duffy, Party Director
14.00 Nicolas Dupont-Aignan MP
Forward the Republic Party (DLR), France
14.20 The Euro Crisis – Economists Panel
Prof Tim Congdon
Dr Petr Mach
Godfrey Bloom MEP
14.40 Jon Gaunt
Director, The EU Referendum Campaign
14.55 Gerard Batten MEP
After the Riots: What Next?
15.10 Alex Singleton
[Former leader writer, Daily Telegraph]
15.25 Tea & coffee break
15.40 Paul Doyle
Policy Focus: Defence
15.50 Michael Heaver
Policy Focus: Education
16.00 Robert Elliott
Policy Focus: Long-Term Care
16.10 Andrew Charalambous
Policy Focus: Housing
16.20 Eddie Bone
Campaign for an English Parliament
16.30 Paul Nuttall MEP with Tim Aker
Policy Review

Freedom Association – Should the Death Penalty be reintroduced?
Marta Andreasen – The EU Budget: Why we should not pay one penny more
Electoral Reform Society –
Westonaprice –

7.00 for 7.30 GALA DINNER, Floral Hall

Saturday a.m. Session Chairman: Steve Allison, Party Vice-Chairman
9.15 Video: Europe's Ill Wind (25 mins)
9.45 John Tennant
Working in the European Parliament
10.00 Harry Aldridge
Young Independence in 2011
10.15 Tom Booker and Steve Fowler
YI at Freshers' Fayres
10.20 James Moyies
Branch Revival Programme
10.35 Sean Howlett
YI working in branches
10.40 London 2012
David Coburn, Chairman, UKIP London
London Mayoral Candidate
Parade of London Assembly Candidates
11.00 Tea & coffee break
11.15 Steven Woolfe
Campaign brief: City of London
11.35 Bill Etheridge
Campaign against Political Correctness
11.45 Inez Ward
Campaign brief: Justice for Landlords
11.55 Joe Rukin
Campaign brief: Opposing HS2
12.05 Ben Pile
Campaign brief: Fighting the Turbines

Freedom Association – Where next for the BBC?
Christian Soldiers in UKIP
UKIP Friends of Israel
NEC Candidate Hustings
Disciplinary Committee elections

Saturday p.m. Session Chairman:
14.00 Motions
Submit your Speaker Request slips to Member Services before 13.00.
[Motion 1]
[Motion 2]
[Motion 3]
[Motion 4]

15.15 Leadership Q&A
Submit your questions to Member Services before 14.00.
15.35 Tea & coffee break
15.50 UKIP Gold Medal Awards
Party Chairman
16.30 Steve Crowther
Chairman's closing address
16.45 Anthems
Introduced by Michael Corby
17.00 Close

We look forward to seeing you at the 2012 Spring Conference in Skegness, on 2-3 March.

Mafia Country

The P&O Aurora is docked in Mafia country this morning, Palermo, Sicily's capital, which perches at the foot of Monte Pellgrino at the heart of a large natural harbour. Founded in the 5th century, it has alternately enjoyed and endured one of the most colourful histories of any Mediterranean city. Greeks, Romans, Carthaginians, Arabs, Goths, Vandals have all come and gone, leaving their mark on the population as well as the architecture.

Despite being a lively modern city where the million inhabitants going about their daily business with the traditional Italian mix of style, noise and organised confusion, there is history at every turn from the Arab-Norman artistry of the fabulous, mosaic-laden Palazzo dei Normanni to the Capuchin Catacombs full of Palermitans mummified by the Capuchin monks.

Just outside Palermo is Monreale with its lavishly decorated cathedral one of the worlds ten most visited monuments.

Just so long as there is a fridge magnet shop! The collection for Grandma Aileen must be getting quite big by now!

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Wind Farm Hub

I was pleased to read that Energy Minister Charles Hendry was very impressed with Hartlepool and the town is set to become the “Wind Farm Hub” of the east coast. Apparently the Mayor and Hartlepool MP are delighted that there are thousands of new jobs on the way to the town. Imagine my surprise when I was visiting Hull and discovered their MP was very enthusiastic over the Humberside special enterprise area and that it was going to make Hull the new east coast centre of wind turbine manufacturing. Some mistake surely?

Actually, according to Alex Samond, the east coast wind turbine centre is going to be in Aberdeen and is set to create 5,000 jobs in Scotland. I’m sorry to contradict him but the Isle of Sheppey in Kent is the favored site for Europe's biggest wind turbine factory with 2,000 new jobs. Of course the firm promising to build the plant in Kent is the same one who closed their plant on the Isle of Wight in 2009 due to lack of orders.

Wind turbines are currently being touted as the panacea that will cure all ills, bring 1,000s of well-paid manufacturing jobs and power a clean, green Britain. Unfortunately, not everywhere being promised these factories and jobs will actually get them. However, don’t worry, everyone knows that Hartlepool is set to be the hub of UK Wind Turbine Manufacturing! Energy minister Charles Hendry said so and if we in Hartlepool know one thing it's that the word of a government minister is rock solid! They never just say what people want to hear and then do the opposite! Do they?





It's all just a CON Trick

Elected mayors. New idea or a re-packaged Victorian initiative?

As the twentieth century drew to a close local government was in a perilous state. According to White “For more than fifty years English local democracy has come under sustained attack from governments of every political complexion” (White 2004). This had produced excessive oversight from the national government in Westminster and local government that was effectively moribund and being driven by edict from the centre.

The status of local government in the year 2000 was almost identical to that which had existed 125 years earlier. Victorian local government approached the last quarter of the nineteenth century in a similarly depressed state to its modern counterpart. According to Simon Szreter, the Victorian town hall was, in most towns and cities “in an almost farcical state of low aspirations and low standards” (Szreter 2002).

"where once-proud corporations led by the town's leading men of affairs had put through great town improvements such as widening roads and building hospitals in the eighteenth century, municipal administration had now fallen into a mean state of bickering and 'do-nothingism'." (Szreter 2002).

The answer of the Gladstone government to the Victorian local civic lethargy was to re-vitalise the prestige of local government by encouraging civic activism. This led to the emergence of new local civic leaders, including the managing director of the West Midlands' biggest screw manufacturer (which ultimately became G.K.N.), Joseph Chamberlain, father of the future Conservative Prime Minster, Neville Chamberlain.

Joseph Chamberlain was elected mayor of Birmingham in 1875, for the third consecutive year, on the back his programme of ambitious municipal spending! Gladstone’s reforms were actually so successful that they produced a complete reversal of fortunes, with local government expenditure even outstripping that of central government. (Szreter 2002).

This persisted until the Labour government’s nationalisation programmes in the 1940s and 1950s began a return to central control. Ironically, nationalisation was what ultimately allowed the cycle of national vs local control to return to national dominance through the final destruction of local control by the privatisations of the Thatcher era.

"Nationalisation, by weakening the power of local government and by gathering together industries and services under central control, eased the path for privatisation when the political tables turned thirty years on." (White 2004).

Rejuvenation of local government

It was against this background in the late 1990s that the Blair Government was seeking a means of rejuvenating local government, with renewed local civic activism and increased civic pride. The government hit upon the concept of directly elected mayors as a means of reviving local democracy. According to a government consultation paper “Modernising local government

"A mayor would be a highly visible figure. He or she would have been elected by the people rather than the council or party and would therefore focus attention outwards in the direction of the people rather than inwards towards fellow councillors. The mayor would be a strong political and community leader with whom the electorate could identify. Mayors will have to become well known to their electorate which could help increase interest in and understanding of local government." (Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions 1998)

When the government’s proposals were translated into law, they actually gave local people the opportunity to have a real say in how local government was structured. Councils were made to undertake consultation with their residents over three types of alternative arrangements for their future council. The options were to have a directly elected mayor with a cabinet appointed by the mayor, a council leader appointed by the councillors with a cabinet appointed either by the council or the leader or a directly elected mayor and council manager (this last model was withdrawn in 2007).

An elected mayor is in post for four years and acts as the council’s political leader. This is a distinct and separate role from the current civic mayors, who change every twelve months and undertake a ceremonial role. Civic mayors are assumed to be non-political, although in reality it is unusual for the role to go outside the majority political party in a local authority.

Opinion polls have consistently shown that a directly elected mayor is an attractive proposition to between 55 and 75 per cent of the public (Market & Opinion Research International, 2008) but also that there is considerable confusion over the exact role and powers of an “executive” or directly elected mayor.

First elected mayors

A major change introduced by direct election is that a directly elected mayor need not be a councillor first. Anyone aged twenty-one years or older and satisfying certain residency requirements can stand as a candidate in a mayoral election.

This does rather open the door to “celebrity” and novelty candidates. Possibly the two most famous of these are Stuart Drummond, the “Monkey Mayor” in Hartlepool (British Broadcasting Corporation, 2002) and “Robocop" Ray Mallon in Middlesbrough.

The election of Stuart Drummond in particular was heavily criticized by the political establishment. Simon Hughes MP, then the Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesman, said on BBC Radio that Mr.Drummond's victory in Hartlepool highlighted the shortcomings in the system of directly elected mayors.

"We were against the idea of directly-elected mayors because we thought they allowed for gimmicks and superficial characters to succeed and we were clearly proved right." (Hughes 2002).

The monkey mascot's election success also lead Labour Party Chairman Charles Clarke, also speaking on BBC Radio, to admit the monkey mascot's success was "a serious issue" and that it may push the government into a rethink about the system of directly elected mayors. He further said,

"While there had been a positive mayoral result in Doncaster, where the Labour candidate won, the other end of it is the other guy elected in Hartlepool, the one in the monkey suit, who ridicules the whole system. Obviously we will have to weigh it all up ... but again like all these experiments, they are designed to encourage better ways of looking at local government and that is what we will continue to try to do." (Clarke 2002)

However, despite concerns about the electorate’s inability to vote for serious candidates, the mayoral programme was still felt by the Blair government to be the best way to meet its programme for “strong and prosperous communities” and to provide,

"transparent and accountable leadership which itself has important benefits. Such leadership firstly may provide a mechanism for regenerating interest in local politics. Secondly, a high profile local leader can potentially help create a more inclusive politics, providing an accessible focus point for businesses, the voluntary sector and interest groups, as well as voters." (Department for Communities and Local Government, 2006).

Despite central government’s support for the directly elected mayor model and the public interest generated by the election of individuals like the “Monkey Mayor” there were clear “No” votes rejecting the concept in vast majority of local authorities which held referenda on introducing the system. Since the post of elected mayor was created by the Blair government in the Local Government Act 2000 over 60 referenda have been held, resulting in the election of just 12 elected mayors, four of these being in London. (Hope and Wanduragala 2010).

The lack of public interest in a regenerated local government, via the elected mayor model, was even evident in the Prime Minister’s own constituency of Sedgefield. In a referendum in October 2001 the Sedgefield electorate voted 53% to 47% ((Turnout 33%) against the introduction of a directly elected mayor for Sedgefield District Council (BBC News 19 October 2001).

A review of the political progress of the elected mayors by Professor Colin Corpus concluded;

"The Blair government’s attempt to re-invigorate and refresh local political leadership, by introducing directly elected mayors, has resulted, by the way the mayoral model in England is currently configured, in little more than another route into the top local political post." (Corpus, 2009).

Continued Government support

However, despite the apparent failure of the elected mayoral system to catch the imagination of the general public the concept was included in the legislative programme for government published by the Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition in May 2010. (Cameron and Clegg 2010).

The coalition produced extensive proposals for a review of local government under the principles of “freedom, fairness and responsibility” which promised to create directly elected mayors in the twelve largest English cities, (subject to confirmatory referendums and full scrutiny by elected councillors). In a somewhat contradictory statement the coalition also promised to allow councils to return to the committee system should they wish to. The proposals to create more directly elected mayors while allowing existing elected mayors to be abolished illustrates the dichotomy that exists with the current mayoral system in England.

Since the field work was completed for this masters dissertation a new elected mayor, Peter Soulsby, has taken office in the City of Leicester but the concept has been rejected in towns as diverse as Welwyn (Kierenan 2010), Charnwood (Ashe, 2010) and Great Yarmouth (Pullinger 2011). In Charnwood only 32 people responded to a public consultation about the introduction of a directly elected mayor and most of them were in favour of a leader and cabinet model.

There are currently public consultations on-going in several major town and cities in the UK, most notably Birmingham, where two of the city’s MPs, John Hemming (Liberal Democrat) and Roger Godsiff (Labour) are leading a “No” campaign and a broad group of media, business and public sector professionals have formed the “Yes” campaign (Elkes 2011).

The involvement of members of parliament in campaigning for, or against, an elected mayor for towns in their constituencies has lead to some suggestions of a conflict of interest. The Tory MP for Castle Point, Rebecca Harris, signed a petition supporting a referendum on an elected mayor that resulted in an outcry from Castle Point council’s Conservative majority, who are opposed to the idea. Ms.Harris subsequently clarified her position as being opposed to the idea of an elected mayor “because it concentrates too much power in the hands of one individual”. However, she remains a supporter of the campaign to have a referendum on the question since she wants “allow people to have their say”. (Harris in Orbach 2010).

The Mayor of Mansfield expressed the opinion during the field work for this dissertation that “I think the big issue is of course, from the party political leaders viewpoint, is that they lose control, which is why they don’t like it.

I must get a life!

I just realised that the majority of my blog posts at the moment are related to Edward Stalking. I really must get a life of my own. Today I'm going to proof read the MA Dissertation. It needs to be at the printers by next Wednesday at the latest. I'll do a bit of work round the garden and then parents are coming for lunch. Rosie is due home in time for lunch so it might be an afternoon of "ticket to ride" or failing that "Penguin Game" Early night tonight, I really need some sleep then the next fun filled week commences bright and early on Monday morning. The current jobs list stands at: (in no particular order!)

1, New gas meter box at Duke Street
2. Finish Lister Street bathroom
3. Decorate Lister Street
4 Clear yard at Lister Street
5. Re-let Lister Street
6. Fight Council over Parking Ticket
7. Review UKIP Draft Constitution
8. Clean out and make secure ground floor at Milton Road
9. Repair rear window at Milton Road
10.Finish stripping upstairs bathroom at home
11.Strip and remove old caravans
12.Re-grout Milton Road Shower
13.Creosote paddock fences and gates
14.Tidy away and stack scaffolding
15.Level turnout paddock
16.Repair guttering and down comers round dog's kennel
17.Repair/replace damaged stable doors
18.New guttering along stable front
19.Paint house sofits and facia boards
20.Finish off box round heat pump pipework
21.Re-lay patio paving
22.Finish off exterior heat pump box
23.Infill where trenches have settled and level lawn
24.Cut grass every week
25.Take dog for daily walk
26.Re-felt both pet shed
27.Re-felt storage shed
28.Creosote pet shed
29.Creosote storage shed
30.Repair and re-paint chicken coop
31.Tidy playroom
32.Fit New Kitchen at Thornton Street
33.Finish interior boxing in Utility room
34.Fit mouldings round kitchen cupboards at home
35.Sort out wiring to utility room extractor fan
36.Clean and treat exterior window sill in big room
37.Box in extractor duct in Kitchen
38.Landscape pond
39.Hang mirror above fireplace in big room
40.Make and fit heat shield above wood burning stove in big room
41.Replace insulation in roof where slabs have slipped
42.Rebuild steps outside back door at home
43.Make proper doors for crawlspace access
44.Hinges and finish door on upstairs cupboard
45.Strip out old hot water cylinder
46.Replace Gate post Pillar cap at home
47.Creosote Gates
48.Level area where caravans have been removed
49.Erect fence along boundary from barn to pond
50.Plant willows along boundary near barn
51.Set up raised veggie beds ready for next year
52.Lay pavings stones to provide Newbie with more hard-standing area
53.Lay paving stones to path to chicken coop
54.SUBMIT my MA Dissertation
55.Do audit reports.
57.Tax Returns
58.Re-lay the Tiles on the steps at Beaconsfield Square
59.Re-assembly tread mill.
60.Fit new upstairs bathroom

Edward Stalk - Split Croatia

Today the boy has reached Split. Nestling on the sparkling Dalmatian coast, the medieval Croatian port of Split, faces the myriad magical islands of the Kornati archipelago which include Brac, Hvar and Vis.

Face the other way across Split’s waterfront and you will see Diocletian’s Palace, one of the best-preserved Roman palaces in Europe and a UNESCO World Heritage site. The pedestrianised centre of Split is easy to walk around. Wander around its huddle of alleys and piazzas and then, for a great view, climb the exposed steps to the top of the 200ft-high cathedral bell tower.

Sip a drink at one of the many cafés along the seafront Riva or pop into a Konoba (wine cellar) to sample the excellent locally produced reds and whites. Culinary specialities include smoke and wind dried ham, stewed beef with noodles and delicious lamb dishes.

Just three miles from Split are the ruins of ancient Salona, once capital of the Roman province of Dalmatia.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Edward Stalk reaches Venice

This World Heritage city is just about the perfect cruise call because everything you want to see is so easily accessible whether the ship docks just down from St Marks Square or further up the Grand Canal at the main Venice cruise terminal complex.

Cars are banned from the maze of narrow cobbled streets and 500 historic bridges within the city centre so there are just the two choices for getting around: the vaporetto (water-bus) network or just plain walking. A gondola ride is really for fun and romance rather than transportation.

Start walking from St Marks Square, with its ancient Basilica, lavish Doges Palace and imposing bell tower, then follow signs for the shop-lined Rialto Bridge and the Bridge of Sighs. But wherever you walk, there are intriguing arty shops, museums and galleries plus some tasty cafés and restaurants along the way.

Friday, 19 August 2011

Dubrovnik today!

Son and heir is in Dubrovnik today, although if he's still on the 12 - 4 watch he probably won't be getting ashore much. Still he should have been able to be on deck to experience sailing into the beautiful 12th century Croatian walled city of Dubrovnik, apparently it is one of the great cruising experiences.

The spectacular Old Town – with its pretty harbour, towering ramparts, creamy stone pavements and red-roofed buildings – is crammed with architectural wonders like Onofrio’s Fountain - constructed in the 1430s – and the 14th century Franciscan Monastery, home to a wonderful statue of the Piéta carved in 1498, and the world’s oldest pharmacy (est. 1391).

Visitors can also see the magnificently Gothic Sponza Palace and the 18th century Baroque Church of St Blaise, Dubrovnik’s patron saint.

After you have had your fill of sightseeing there are numerous pretty restaurants and cafés tucked away on Dubrovnik’s narrow side streets – worth exploring as they also contain offbeat shops and art galleries.

Lacework, oil paintings and ceramics are good buys but take plenty of cash with you, as some shops do not accept credit cards.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Brad Pitt or a Tall Ship......no contest!

A major Hollywood block buster is being filmed in Glasgow at the moment. A cast and crew of 1,200 will be involved over the next two weeks. According to Glasgow City Council “the positive impact of the production on the local economy is likely to be in excess of £2m” Obviously what Glasgow really needs is the Tall Ships Race? Two million pounds only chicken feed compared to the benefits of the Tall Ships. Let’s face it Brad Pitt is hardly going to generate the same level of publicity for Glasgow as the visit by a sailing ship is he!

One question I’d like to ask is, what are the Hartlepool Tall Ships Team doing now? After all it was vital that the expert events team built up in the town was kept together for the future. Exactly what major events have they put on in the last twelve months? What events are they building up to? If the UK Government applied the same logic as Hartlepool Council then the team who organized Wills and Katie’s wedding will all have been kept together, on full pay, ready to spring into action for the next time a future king gets married!

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

The Success of Norway’s Fishing Industry Outside of the EU

Great Article from the Freedom Association.

The disaster of the EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) for Britain’s fishing industry is well documented, but in complete contrast is the great success of Norway’s fishing industry – outside of the EU.
Norway's fisheries and aquaculture industry is one of the world’s largest exporters of seafood reaching over 150 countries and producing 3 million tonnes of seafood each year. For the seventh year in a row the Norwegians have hit record highs in seafood exports (53.8 billion kroner in 2010, a fivefold increase from the 1990’s).
Not being in the EU is no disadvantage for Norway’s fishing industry with the EU accounting for 58% of seafood exports (31 billion kroner) and France being the largest EU market (5.3 billion kroner). Outside of the EU, Norway’s booming seafood exports are seeing significant growth in all of the BRIC countries.
To prevent over-fishing and preserve the ecosystem, Norway has agreements with Russia, the Faeroe Islands, Iceland (also not in the EU), Greenland (which left the EU in 1982) and the EU. The Norwegians have recognised that in order to preserve fish stocks it is totally unnecessary and dangerous to give away control of your national independence and fishing waters to the EU. Norway’s success also nails one of the great lies made by the EU for the CFP- that “fish don't recognise borders”. Of course the EU forgets to mention that fish don’t recognise EU borders either especially when they swim into the waters of countries with successful fishing industries outside of the EU, like Norway and Iceland.
It is quite clear that Norway’s NO votes in two EU referendums (1972 and 1994) has saved both their national independence and fishing industry, enabling it to prosper in the 21st century.
Norway’s fishing success outside of the EU provides a stark contrast to the wrecking of Britain’s fishing industry inside the EU. A look at the shocking figures showing the decline of Britain’s fishing industry should deeply shame successive British Governments:
- In 1970 there were 21,443 fishermen in the UK. By 2009 there were 12,212 (43% less)
- 97,000 jobs have been lost: 9,000 in fishing and 88,000 in dependent industries
- In 2007 Britain had 6,763 fishing vessels compared with 8,458 in 1997
- 70% of the total EU catch comes from what were formerly British waters.
- The CFP costs Britain an estimated £4.7 billion per annum (excluding the costs of unemployment)
- £1 billion of discarded British cod
The CFP disaster has led to other bizarre consequences. Britain has to import fish to satisfy rising domestic demand, with the fish imported being caught in what were our own territorial waters. Spain has Europe's biggest fleet and the largest quotas with most of its fishing done in British and Irish waters. 75% of EU fish stocks are overfished and near extinction.
Insane doesn’t even begin to describe the fact that EU member Great Britain, at a costs of £4.7 billion per annum, has collapsing fishing stocks and a declining fishing industry whilst Norway, outside of the EU, has healthy fishing stocks and a very profitable fishing industry that exports to over 150 countries.
The blame for this disaster can and should be laid directly at the door of those responsible - Britain’s cowardly and deceitful political class who have consistently allowed the EU to ruin Britain’s fishing industry and for that we should truly despise them.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

coffee and adrenaline

Coming down from a few days living on coffee and adrenaline! Not a good combination for an overweight 50 year old! In the same week as supervising the UKIP P-EP ballot I am hitting a deadline for my MA Thesis and trying to do the ground work for setting up a new business. Still the first two are now done and I can concentrate on the third one. Where do you buy chemistry sets?

PS The "boy" is still at sea and on his way to the Greek islands. I hope he's not finding those 4 hour watches too exhausting!

Monday, 15 August 2011

Take a break! I wish!

Son and heir is currently on the high seas cruising to Cephalonia (the largest of the Ionian islands) so no need to stalk him for a couple of days. Just as well since next week is frantic busy. The future direction of the UK Independence party will be decided in Hartlepool tomorrow (Tuesday 16 August) when the UK Independence Party Chairman, Stephen Crowther, will be in Hartlepool to witness the completion of an internal party ballot, to decide on whether or not UKIP joins a Pan-European Party.

It's been my job to oversee the ballot, as the Party Vice Chairman, and I've been using the services of local Hartlepool Firm, Atkinson Print, in Church Street.

It has been a big job to organize the ballot and the services of Atkinson Print have been vital; they have the specialist printing capabilities to ensure the integrity of the ballots can be guaranteed. Something absolutely essential when the result is as important as this one to UKIP.

The result of the ballot will be announced sometime on Tuesday afternoon. A ‘yes’ vote will see the UK Independence party looking to form a party in the European Parliament which will be open to MEPs of any member country that wish to see the European Union broken up and sovereignty returned to the individual member states. A ‘no’ vote will see UKIP remain purely a UK based party.

Then I've got a couple of meetings regarding a possible new business venture I've become involved in and of course although the MA Dissertation is finished I still have to print two copies and get it handed in. That will take longer than I expect I'm sure. So busy, busy, busy!

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Edward stalk - Virgo, Spain

Received a Blackberry Message from the boy at 8.13am (08.13 hours to the nautical out there) saying he was in Virgo, Spains busiest fishing port, Vigo sits on the rugged west coast of the province of Galicia. Over the centuries, this charming town and its resilient residents have been the target for many naval attacks including a couple from Sir Francis Drake.

In these more peaceful days, you will still find the best view of Vigo is from the fort (Castillo del Castro) built to defend it from the hill overlooking the harbour. Then walk through the steep, narrow streets of the atmospheric old town (Barrio del Berbes) to see (and smell...) the daily fish market.

Try one of the oysters which are fresh from beds in Vigos ‘ria’ - one of the sunken sea-filled valleys for which Galicias coastline is renowned.And a Vigo cruise call is also a chance to visit nearby Santiago de Compostela, the subject of pilgrimages since the Middle Ages.

Thursday, 11 August 2011


The Health Scrutiny Forum had to accept the worst they can do is refer Councillor Geoff Lilley to the standards board. Of course its a kangaroo court!

Campaigning councillor faces threat of legal action


Hartlepool Council Health Scrutiny forum adjourned its meeting today and Councillor Geoff Lilley was asked to leave the committee room while the rest of the forum heard legal opinions over whether or not Councilor Lilley could be suspended from membership of the forum and referred to the Standards Board over his alleged involvement with the leaflet branding some of the Scrutiny Forum Members as “Collaborators” over the closure of Accident and Emergency Services at Hartlepool Hospital.

The meeting is due to re-convene at 11.00am

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

More "Save the Prom"

The save the prom group were easily out manoeuvred by the civic centre bosses in their attempt to get option 4 removed by calling for a motion in council and a debate. The move has been rejected due to procedural problems. Well unfortunately that was always going to be the result since public question time is not the route to get a debate onto the agenda.

The route for a motion at council is under Part 4 Clause 12 of the Constitution of Hartlepool Council. This requires a notice of motion to be served, signed by at least 5 members, seven clear days before the date of the meeting. The Headland has three councillors? So there are three of the five (well maybe two!) and I'm sure three suitably supportive others could be found. The motion must then go on the agenda. I'm surprised that the chairman of the group, who is reportedly a lawyer? isn't aware of the need to follow procedure?

Actually public question time can be very useful but you again need to know the tactics. The question put down in writing a week in advance is the key but it only unlocks the door, it doesn't kick it open. This submitted question will receive a prepared answer and won't go anywhere. It is the supplementary questions, which DON'T have to be submitted in advance that are the real killers.

So the question submitted, and rejected, was:

Will the Mayor include in the agenda of the first available meeting of full council, a vote for council members with the following motion?:

“We the members of Hartlepool Borough Council vote to have option four removed from the possible options available for consideration from the Hartlepool Coastal Defences, Hartlepool Headlands Structures study.”

Well that was never going to fly for several reasons as were explained in the response in the Hartlepool Mail. However, if the question had been something like;

"Will the mayor confirm the timetable for the consultation on the future of the sea defences of the headland and identify who will be responsible for making the final decision"

Then this question could NOT have been refused. The supplementaries could then have brought in option 4 and the request for a debate. It would still have been refused but at least the matter would have reached the agenda and be minuted. Also councillors would have had the opportunity to comment and these remarks would have been on the record.

No matter what the rights and wrongs of your case you have to play by the rules of the arena in which you are fighting. The councillors and officers will use the rules to block you if you give them the opportunity to do so. Sorry to say it but the Save our Prom group once again showed their political naivety in their approach to this.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Rambling and stalking

Had a problem with the PC last week and it had to go to the doctors to be mended (OK I admit it, my dad fixed it for me) so I wasn't able to Edward Stalk as usual. Even more worrying was the thought I'd lost all my data, not just work and accounts related stuff but the first draft of my dissertation on erected mayors in the media.

However, all is now well and normal services can resume. I also have a little grey box, plugged into the side of my computer, which apparently is an external hard drive and is backing up my data files every night. It's wonderful what the pixies can do these days!

Rosie is getting some work experience at a local firm of solicitors and appears to be enjoying herself, Sandra is off doing whatever podiatrists do and I'm just waiting for the dish washer to finish so I can get on with my house work as a means of avoiding a riveting analysis of focus groups as a means of capturing social science data. I seem to have an almost instinctive distrust of focus groups, possible because Tony Blair and New Labour ran the country into the ground by doing what focus groups told them to do, well at least Tony did do that until his mate Bush (and of course God) started talking to him so he didn't need focus groups any more. Yesterday I avoided the focus group question by opening a strange suitcase in Edward's room and disciovering it contained clothes that had not been unpacked since a trip to Canada and the US east coast which we went on three years ago!

Well, that's the rambling over, time for the Edward stalk. The boy is in Gibraltar today, that British possession which so upsets the Spanish!

Apparently Britons love cruising to ‘home from home’ Mediterranean cruise port Gibraltar – and not just because it has some excellent pubs and tax free shops (good buys include glassware, china, leather goods, alcohol, perfume, silk and cashmere garments).

Gibraltar also offers wonderful views of Algeciras Bay and the Moroccan mountains from the Rock Restaurant, served by cable car from the Grand Parade.

Birdwatchers can spot more than 230 species and there are clearly marked nature trails you can follow to discover the country’s flora and fauna.

The most famous ‘fauna’ of course, are Gibraltar’s Barbary apes - get off the cable car at the halfway station to see these, then proceed to the top and hire an audio tape charting the Rock’s fascinating history.

Alternatively spend a day at the beach - Catalan Bay is the prettiest, with its colourful fishing boats and excellent seafood restaurants.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Hartlepool Hospital closure made inevitable in 1945?

Interesting to look into the historical precedent of the Hartlepool Hospital saga. Many people have argued, myself included, that Hartlepool was destined to lose its last hospital as soon as "North Tees and Hartlepool Trust" was formed. The clear senior partner being North Tees.

However, it could actually be said that the seeds for the demise of Hartlepool Hospital were sown in the 1940's. According to Jerry White (Winner of the Wolfson History Prize for 2001, visiting Professor at Middlesex University and one of the three Local Government Ombudsmen for England)

"Morrison fought hard for the National Health Service (NHS) to be devolved to, and run by, local government, losing out to a powerful cabinet coalition, at least one of whom had an unreasoning hatred of Good Old 'Erb and all his works. And also that the LCC passed over its hospitals to the Minister 'reluctantly' and 'with sorrow'. In its stead local 'accountability' in the new national service was manufactured through a network of local boards. Their members were placed there by the Minister and could be removed at his direction. It was the greatest creation of quangos in British administrative history. And it marks the true beginning of that withering away of local democracy recognised belatedly by the Royal Commission on Local Government in England in 1969: it called the loss of the hospitals a 'great misfortune' that ought to be reversed. But just five years later the remaining local authority health services were nationalised too."

Jackson’s Landing

Hartlepool Council has decided to spend an undisclosed sum (rumored to be £2,000,000) on the derelict shed that is Jackson’s Landing. “It’s a good investment. We may even make a profit on it” was reportedly the council’s line. In my opinion any profit will be taken by one of the “development partners” lined up ready to step in. If there was money to be made then private developers would already by making it. That’s how the system in this country operates.

Entrepreneurs see an opportunity, put their own money into it and if it makes a profit they are quids in. If it fails they have lost their money. The entrepreneur balances risk of failure against the possibilities of success and backs schemes he judges will give a decent return. Until now no private developer judged the scheme to be worth risking their own money on. However, now Hartlepool Council is throwing £2,000,000 of public money into the pot that changes the calculation. The risk of a developer losing his own money becomes effectively zero, but the chance of him making money, while still small, remains positive.

It’s a no lose scenario for developers. The only people likely to lose are Hartlepool Council and that’s just public money so what’s the problem? Plenty more council tax payers to extort money from. The next time Hartlepool Council pleads poverty just remember they had £2,000,000 of your money to give away on a scheme no private company would touch with a bargepole.


Got my PC back today, what a relief, collecting e-mails on the Blackberry is all very well and laptops are OK but I still prefer my trusty desktop machine. Anyway, amomgst other things I can get caught up with is "Edward Stalking"

Son and hier has been and gone from Barcelona and is now in Villefranche. Apparently the steeply terraced streets of this pretty centuries-old fishing village set against a densely wooded backdrop create a delightfully timeless picture. Despite its increasing popularity with tourists, Villefranche remains a small, relatively uncrowded resort with plenty of Gallic charm.

The centre is just behind Villefranche cruise terminal, across the road and up a series of steps. Along a maze of narrow cobbled streets, you will find chic boutiques and a choice of both cheap and expensive cafés and restaurants. Alternatively, walk along the seafront to a long narrow beach which curls around the bay. Up some steps is the way to the neighbouring, almost Victorian-style resort of Beaulieu-sur-Mer.

Villefranche is a convenient base from which to explore the French Riviera and Cote dAzur and the medieval villages of Eze and St Paul-de-Vence.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Through the Bay of Biscay

Well the boy has survived his trip through the Bay of Biscay and is now following the Atlantic coast of Portugal towards the straights of Gibraltar and the first port of call on this cruise, Barcelona.

Save the Prom 2

Well I've continued with my career of winning friends and influencing people......NOT. I blogged a couple of days ago that the Save the Prom group were being dangerously naive, in my opinion, if they thought they were going to save anything without becoming involved in politics. Of course some individuals in the group wouldn't agree with me if I said night follows day and I knew I was putting my head above the parapet to be shot off. Anyway, I've left the group. I'm sure they can manage perfectly well without me and many people will be glad to see the back of me. I've no doubt the group will succeed in getting option 4 taken off the table but still think they might find it's a pyrrhic victory.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Edward Stalk

The boy is at sea today on the way to discover the treasures of the Mediterranean including the iconic sights of Barcelona, Villefranche, Rome, Florence and Gibraltar.

Barcelona offers a vibrant mix of ancient and modern, with the extraordinary architecture of Gaudi at its heart, and the chance for a relaxing promenade through narrow streets and open squares.

Rome is one of the great historical cities of the world. With its rich heritage of fascinating buildings and monuments, it"s an essential destination for all lovers of Italy and the unforgettable highlight of this Aurora cruise.

Florence offers the artistic treasures of an elegant renaissance city, or you could choose to visit the iconic Leaning Tower of Pisa.

Of course he's beavering away in the engine room so how much will he get to see is the question?

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Aurora Southampton

Boring day on Edward Stalk today as its change over day and they are in Southampton

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Edward Watch Saturday 30th July

The boy is spending the day at sea cruising homeward to Southampton. That means "Aurora Cam" shows quite a boring view.
However, never one to miss an opprtunity to cyber stalk my son and heir I've been reading the general bumff about the ship he is on. Aurora is a mid-sized cruise ship, apparently instantly recognisable thanks to her elegant tiered stern. Aurora is designed as a classic ocean going vessel and is therefore ideally suited to world cruising. At her heart is a Lalique-inspired waterfall which forms the centrepiece of her atrium – one of her signature features.
When it comes to bars she offers a variety to suit every mood including her Crow’s Nest bar, which offers a great view of every port along the way (and the oceans in between), Champions sports bar and adjacent casino, and Anderson’s with its rather sophisticated wood panelled walls. Entertainment wise there’s the Playhouse cinema which shows recently released films, a show lounge and theatre.

Her dining options include her two main restaurants, as well as a bistro by Marco Pierre White and an al fresco grill restaurant.

P&O Cruises Aurora is designed for walking or jogging with the opportunity to do just that around her circumference thanks to the broad teak promenade deck. She also welcomes families with children’s clubs and a dedicated family pool. She even has one pool which can be covered by a sky dome.

Friday, 29 July 2011

Save the Prom!

I’ve joined a FACE BOOK Group entitled Stop the Heart from being ripped out of Hartlepool which has been set up to highlight the risk to the sea defences around the headland. The group is very well meaning and enthusiastic but they do not seem to appreciate how naïve their stance is and that if option 4 is actually ever under serious consideration then they have probably lost the fight before it starts.

The group are probably destined to succeed because Option 4 is only there as a sacrificial lamb to make the option the council really want appear more palatable. Standard tactics, propose something so bad that everyone will oppose it, then when the second worst option is actually implemented everyone is grateful and claim a victory. If Option 4 was really the aim of the powers-that-be then the group will fail because they are determined to be pure and above it all by keeping the fight NONE POLITICAL. This means they are relying on the good will of the Hartlepool Councillors and the Hartlepool MP to see that the best option is not the cheapest one! Of course when option 4 is dropped then the group will claim victory, the council will claim it listened to the people and then do what they wanted to do anyway! Cynical, not really, just know how politics works! In fact not politics, just any negotiation. Always start from a position you are willing to concede and fall back to the position you really wanted in the first place. By doing this you appear to be compromising and giving up something, in reality you get exactly what you always wanted AND appear to be reasonable and willing to compromise.

The group are making the same terrible mistake as the “Save our Hospital Group” back in 2004. The SOH Group had the political establishment in Hartlepool TERRIFIED but they then threw away their biggest weapon by deciding not to be POLITICAL. At a stroke the political class in Hartlepool realised these people could effectively be ignored because they were not a threat!

What people have to realize is that the ONLY thing most party politicians really care about is their political career which means they need to keep getting re-elected. Losing their seat is the death knell for an ambitious party politician trying to build a career in politics or who wants to make a good living out of it. If something does not threaten their votes or their career in their chosen party then they simply do not care!

By announcing they are none political the Prom Group have told the party politicians that they don't need to worry. If the Prom group announced NOW that they would be standing candidates in every ward in May 2012 fighting on a manifesto to “Stop the Heart Being Ripped out of Hartlepool” then just look how fast the current councilors would come on board, provided their national party allowed them to! which of course they wouldn't! They would be between a rick and a hard place.

If the Save out Hospital Group has stood a candidate in the 2004 by-election then they would have won and the town would have had a save our hospital MP. If they had stood council candidates then they would have won those seats as well. The Labour party would have been desperate to get the town back and the Save our Hospital Group would have been able to demand anything they wanted. Of course, the SOH group would have had to stand as a group, not just a collection of independents. That is something else people fail to appreciate. Politics is about numbers and about working together. You have to have numbers.

I have joined the group, but am not taking an active part because if I do then there are people in the group who will immediately go onto the attack and accuse me of using the issue as a political football. Therefore, I will support the group from the sidelines but sadly I think the Prom group will ultimately fail and will never achieve anything UNLESS they get political.

Thursday, 28 July 2011


Continuing my Male Menopause and Male Empty Nest Stalk of son and hier. He is today sailing through Norway's beautiful Sognefjord, the worlds longest and deepest fjord. This is one of the world's most memorable cruise experiences. Overlooked by snow-capped peaks and surrounded by cascading waterfalls, this is a sensational approach to the tiny village of Flamm, which nestles in the innermost part of Sognefjord.

But the fjord is not Flamms only claim to fame, it also has the extraordinary Flamm Railway. A masterpiece of engineering, this rises more than 2,845ft above sea level in just 12 miles and the views are just as dramatic as the journey. There are a variety of other boat and road trips which promise more fantastic scenery along with visits to farms, mines, villages and isolated mountain lodges

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Statistics recently came my way on the use of Criminal Record Bureau (CRB) checks by local authorities. The figures, released under a Freedom of Information request, showed Hartlepool was the 91st highest user of CRB Checks in 2010/11 out of 628 local authorities asked.

On Teesside, the highest user was Stockton who carried out 4,220 CRB. Hartlepool reported carrying out 3,716. However, Hartlepool "Public Protection" lists their CRB checks separately to the council and they carried out 266 checks. Therefore, Hartlepool's total is actually 3,982. This puts them on par with Cumbria County Council.

The only other Teesside Council who split their CRB's is Redcar and Cleveland; they list their "Development Department" separately. Their 183 checks in 2010/11 give Redcar and Cleveland an overall total of 3,168. Still considerably lower than Hartlepool.

The lowest user of CRB Checks on Teesside is Middlesbrough Council. They checked 1,057 people in 2010/11, less than one third of the people checked by Hartlepool. Does this mean Middlesbrough is less concerned with public safety? Alternatively, could it just mean they manage their CRB Process more effectively? It might be interesting to find out how much these CRB Checks are costing Hartlepool Council, not just in the fees payable to the Criminal Records Bureau but also the internal costs of administration within the council? If they cost just £100 each and the Council could reduce their use to the level of Middlesbrough, which is a much larger local authority, then there are potential savings of almost £300,000.

/628 Council CRB Checks 2010 / 11

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Found my Penguins!

Found my Penguins!

Edward Watch

Today's cyberstalk of son and heir reveals he is in the peaceful Norwegian village of Olden. The perfect Fjordland cruise setting - nestling at the southern end of one branch of the beautiful Nordfjord and at the entrance to the gorgeous Oldedalen Valley.

A lake in the valley has been turned a rich, deep green by the river pouring down the mountains from the vast, million-years-old Briksdal Glacier. Giant waterfalls also cascade down making the views even more spectacular as you travel through the valley to the foot of the glacier - one of the offshoots of the vast Jostedal Glacier now designated as a national park.