Monday, 17 May 2010

The Final Curtain - "Bring me Sunshine"

Bob Tidmarsh passed away peacefully on May 2, 2010. As most of you know he had been battling Prostate Cancer for the last couple of years. Bob greatly enjoyed the discussions / debates that were exchanged on this blog. This is the Final Curtain for this Blog. As played at the celebration service, the appropriate music for now is from the comedy Morcombe & Wise "Bring me Sunshine".

Thursday, 15 April 2010

It’s a done deal

I’m delighted to be able to report that Sandwell Council Cabinet last night gave final approval for the funding of the refurbishment to Tanhouse Community Centre for conversation of part of it for a clinic. Project is due for completion end of 2010.
This issue has been a long standing battle with our Primary Care Trust and a wonderful example of people power and a good example of politicians ignoring their differences in the fight for what was needed in our community. I was involved from the early days when PCT kept telling us they had looked at sites which were unsuitable which went on for months. It wasn’t until residents like myself sought out political consensus to fight for what was blindingly obvious to us. The Tanhouse was the right place for our clinic. This decision will bring in new investment to our area but the health benefits are enormous and the facilities will be first class when it is open. This really is a win win situation. We get a super new clinic the council have a fully functioning community centre with a library, community activities, meals on wheels etc. and the PCT get a facility which will serve the people of Hamstead for the next twenty years.
I have a lot of people to thank for giving their support during the various stages of our campaign protests. Tom Watson MP, Cllr David Hosell and Cllr Joyce Underhill, Janice Bryan, Shirley Hosell and the Tanhouse Action Group members, Richard Nugent from the PCT who once convinced of our determination and sincerity became a supporter. And last but not least to my wife Pat who like always supported me throughout this struggle when at times my health was lousy she never gave up on me or the cause. Thank you all. This is the best news for Hamstead.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

A tale of two councils

Or library services to be more precise. I will admit to being well known at my local library in fact a few years back they nominated me for a learners award. But I digress. Recently I needed six copies of a play for a theatrical group I belong to. Sandwell quickly provided their two copies and offered to see if copies could be obtained from outside the borough. Four copies were found in Birmingham but this meant I had to become a member of Birmingham Libraries which I duly signed up for. “It will take about a week they said give us a call next Friday” A couple of weeks later I visited the library to collect my books. Jobsworth was on the front desk. “Sorry mate but we only have three copies” The conversation from here went down hill. “I’ll take the three for now” I said but when will the other copy be available and can you ring me to let me know its here” No chance of a phone call from here. It transpires that they will write to you but it costs 40p if you are a pensioner. (can all Sandwell Councillors who are regular readers please ignore the rest of this post) 40p payable upfront so I got my receipt, “Can I have your Library card” jobsworth asked sorry I said but I haven’t got it. This is apparently a major violation in Brum but I’m confused because he has all my details on his screen having given me the third degree when I advised him I had come to collect the books. He eventually conceded that you could have one issue of books without the card and proceeded to check me out. Having realised at this stage Brum is about four decades behind Sandwell in its Library service and customer care I asked about fines if the books were returned late. “6p a day” he said “even for old age pensioners? I enquired. “It’s 2p a day for them” In Sandwell it’s free as are phone calls when books arrive and Sandwell Librarians are so polite and helpful. The fact I made references to the differences between the two councils did not endear me to him.
Well done Sandwell and a big raspberry for Brum.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

This little gem

This little gem from the Labour candidate for West Brom East
A little too much opposition knocking for my liking.

Dear Constituent

In less than 100 days there will be a General Election. The opinion polls show it's going to be very close.

Who wins matters; particularly for families here in Sandwell.

That's because we're beginning to come out of the economic downturn that has hurt so many families. But the recovery is fragile. It's not in the bag yet.

The choice we make now will determine whether the economy starts growing or whether we go back into recession.

The Labour Government has said its top priority is keeping people in jobs. That's why we've said that we must make sure the recovery is secure before we look at reducing public spending. We've been backed by over 60 respected economists in the Financial Times.

The Conservatives disagree - they say if they form the next Government they will cut spending fast and cut it straight away.

But this policy is madness. Taking too much money out of the economy too fast will, in my opinion, put jobs here at risk.

That's too high a price to pay as far as I am concerned.

It is however, what we expect from the Conservatives. Remember the last recession?

The Tories crippled industry and said that "unemployment was a price worth paying". Last month David Cameron also backed the Tory decision to cull 2000 jobs at Birmingham City Council.

They haven't changed. What do you think? Who do you trust more to put jobs for working families first? Fill in my survey here and let me know.
If for any reason you have problems with the link, the survey can be found at:

If you take out the references to the Tories following Bob the Black Country Brummie advice it would be more acceptable if it read:-
First five paras are ok "para 6 might be better if it read Labour is the only party who believe protecting jobs and reducing the deficit slowly so that it does not affect our economic recovery. We will not surrender to the view that unemployment is a price worth paying for economic recovery.
A future fair for all."

There is no need for the rest of piece. I’ve looked at the survey but declined to complete it.
I don’t expect much from the Tories or the Lib Dems on the general election but plenty from Lib Dems on the local elections.

Our politicians don't seem to have learned much from the termoil of the last year. I don't know about you but I'm getting bored with the campaign already

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

They’re off

I had what can only described as a shitty day yesterday but it did give me time to watch the party leaders giving their first pitch. I was particularly interested to see little Nicky Clegg with his audience of students in Watford. He was totally upended by the first question which concerned a young man who was worried about his granddads pension being eroded year on year. Clegg waffled then settled for restoring the link to earnings immediately and then he talked about winter fuel allowances. Missing the point completely. No point in restoring the index link while wages are being frozen and he never understood how Brown had stolen pensions from thousands of us including I suspect this young man’s granddad and how the state pension geared as it is to RPI had eroded pensions under Labour. Verdict on Clegg day 1 needs to do better.
I think I might do a selective piece on one of the leaders each day health permitting.

Monday, 5 April 2010

Some advice!

To the cretins running the Labour party campaign at the moment. The “A future fair for all” motto is a vote winner and much better than the Tory time for change slogan which will only worry a lot of people. Folks only like change if it can be seen clearly as for the better. Their offer can’t.
But back to the advice when publishing posters and policy statements:-
Keep it simple.
Keep it honest
Keep it positive
And don’t knock the opposition.
Tell them clearly what Labour are going to do and don’t get dragged into slanging matches with either of the opposition parties.
Lets have no more of the silly Ashes to Ashes stunts. Personally I’m fed up with hearing Cameron knocking Brown. I would prefer to see some positive stuff from them towards us older folks. Remember the effect the demon eyes adds had on Tony Blair.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Strike, strike, strike.

It’s interesting listening to the main party leaders when dealing with this issue. Cameron was blaming Labour for all the industrial strife. If my memory serves me right the days lost through strikes under the last Tory regime was many times what have been lost under Gordon. Is it all right to be hypocritical during an election campaign? I never believed that striking solved anything and throughout my career I never lost a day due to industrial action on my part. After all the threats and double speak to get a solution you usually have to get around the table and negotiate. Thatcher tried to break the unions and because of their political objectives succeeded to a large degree. I hate the spectre of Union Barons spouting off about the issues and calling out their members on strike as much as I hate the Wally Walsh’s of this world dictating their terms and as I see British Gas managers adopting a regime of bullying. Unite is doing a lousy job for its members as is signal men and rail unions. We had a threatened bin men’s strike in Sandwell which has been avoided by sensible talk on both sides. These Union bosses don’t loose any money whilst their members are on the picket line. Maybe the law needs to change so that strike leaders loose the equivalent in cash to the low paid members they represent. I don’t believe there is a solution to the BA dispute without Walsh and Woodley being replaced. Walsh has a job to do to make BA more efficient how you can achieve that with your staff constantly in crisis mode I don’t. Woodley and Welch need their heads banging together.
The strike that really concerns me though is the misses who was flatly refusing to do any filing. We always had what we both considered a fair division of labour around the house. Because the wife worked part time prior to our retirements she did a lot of the paper work. When our filing cabinet became so full she asked for help in clearing out the out of date stuff but this required some considerable effort on my part. I will admit to not taking her seriously at first but as the months went on and the pile of filing got out of hand I was forced to act. We literally couldn’t find anything. I eventually capitulated and we spent almost a week trying to catch up and shred the sensitive stuff. Harmony is restored. Let us hope it can be restored on the industrial side soon.