Tuesday, 30 September 2008

It’s bulletin on the railings time again

I am pleased to announce that his majesty continues to respond well to treatment. His blood numbers are normal except for one which continues to fall rapidly in the right direction. We will not make any further announcements of this kind unless his majesties condition worsens.
The reality, things looking good but would be happier if the rouge blood number was nearer the norm. I saw the best and worst of the NHS today. Treatment first class but because of events outside of their control the consultant was running 1&1/2 hours late. This would not have been a problem but the support staff knew this and never thought to tell the patients. In fact they became a little miffed when I pointed out that it was easy to calculate how behind they were and that perhaps they should tell the patients. I wouldn’t have minded so much if they were rushed off their feet but they were hanging around waiting like the rest of us. What time I have left on this planet I want to spend constructively not waiting around unnecessarily in hospital waiting rooms.

Welcome to Brum David

So the Tory party binge comes to brum this week. I watched the shadow chancellor’s speech at lunch time yesterday and I have to say a little disappointed. Plenty of attacks on Gordon & Co but very little substance. I warm to the prospect of having council tax frozen for a couple of years but that’s only for participating councils and I can’t see our lot collaborating with them. Perhaps whilst you are in town David you could get together with our opposition over in Sandwell and try to organise them into a coherent lobby so that we have an effective opposition and perhaps you might also have a little whisper in the ear of the leader to perhaps consider stepping down or altering his stance on talking down our town. Thank you in anticipation. Osborne mentioned that Gordon had had his hand in the pension’s pot robbing many of us of our pensions. What he never divulged was how he would put it right in fact he never mentioned their policies on pensions at all. This will not get the pensioner vote any more than dear Gordon so a sorry time ahead I fear. I look forward to his speech later in the week.

Monday, 29 September 2008

Catch up

I haven’t been posting much lately and that’s because I don’t know how to find the time. How politicians manage to post as regularly as they do is a mystery to me. I’m retired and although very busy in the voluntary sector in effect I can to a greater extent please myself how I manage my time. Politicians I know are renowned for talking to much they also write a lot. Recently I bought some capital equipment for an organisation I am involved with and have had to spend a lot of time working out how to work this stuff. I must be getting old or perhaps all modern equipment is getting more complicated. One of the items is a document visualiser, which when linked to an overhead projector acts a bit like the old overhead projector but capable of showing almost any sort of image. It can be linked to a microscope and makes even grotty old photos look good on the screen. I’m spending the awards for all money we were awarded recently. I never thought it would be so hard spending other people’s money.
This week on Wednesday is United Nations International Day for Older People. In Sandwell we are having a fun day at our new arts centre call THE PUBLIC the event is called Full of Life Festival and is being funded by Sandwell Council and PCT. I will be participating and presenting at this event. I do hope some of our cabinet attend because I will be asking some awkward questions. Unfortunatley I have to leave to go to hospital for my regular treatment mid afternoon. I wonder? Parliament being in recess and our MP’s office being just across the road will he appear? Should get plenty of publicity this event so unless Gordon needs him I guess he will and a bunch of councillors. Ummmmmmm

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Flat Stanley arrives in Sandwell

I had a lovely letter yesterday from my 8yrs old grandson in America. Thank you Oscar.
Flat Stanley is a character created by Jeff Brown. He apparently gets flattened by a bulletin board. Stanley has a lot of adventures when he is flat. By sending his version of Stanley to me he wants us to show him around and send back some souvenirs. The exercise is to help the children learn about other communities. What a good idea. We’ll be taking Stanley around and sending some souvenirs back.
Any ideas where we might take Stanley? One of our first visits must be to THE PUBLIC next week for “Full of Life Festival”
The picture is Oscars drawing of what he thinks Flat Stanley looks like. Not bad for 8yrs old well done Oscar.
His sister Lola did a similar thing about four years ago so Stanley is welcomed back. We better find some new things for him to do.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Parallel Universe

Since I retired I have often thought I am not living on the same planet as most of the younger generation and certainly not the same universe as most of our politicians. Regular readers (both of you) will know I am not a fan of Gordon Brown. I made the mistake yesterday of wanting to give him a fair hearing so I watched his speech on the box. I must say in places I was impressed. I like the way he used his wife to do the introductions and although BBC did not show the video Labour have done a lot of good stuff since they came to power. Sadly they have failed a lot of what should be their core supporters.
The good news I suppose was that the party gave a display of unity which was good. Divided parties don’t win elections and Cameron & Co don’t seem to have any better pensioner friendly policies than Labour are offering at the moment.
Gordon actually mentioned pensioners in his speech which is extremely rare for him. Some of the references though were ambiguous and no doubt will fool some. He mentioned security and dignity in old age which was linked to keeping people in their own homes for longer with care in the community and touched on home owners not having to worry about loosing their home to pay for care but in none of this did he say how or when. He mentioned sales people who do not reveal the product but his references to the above was typical Brown rhetoric which does not endear him (I wouldn’t buy a used car from him). Free prescriptions for cancer sufferers are great but in Scotland and Wales all prescriptions are free. A similar thing with personal care in Scotland. His reference to why he went into politics left me wondering. He said it was to do his best for his country which of course is Scotland. Pensions are to be linked to wages which is very nice. Nothing new here he has been promising that since the Turner Report. This should have been done 10 years ago.
So marks out of ten 5. Do I trust him any more? NO. Will pensioners against Brown continue? Oh yes it will.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Sandwell rides rough shod over pensioners

Once again Sandwell Council penalises its older population for getting old.
In what can only be described as another act of pure meanness they have decided to close three Sons of Rest buildings and insist that four more become self funded.
I have reported on this before but I never expected them to finally do the dastardly deed. This is not really a political decision because the three areas mostly affected do have labour councillors but ours is the weakest. The closure will not affect that many people but the way it was done is nothing short of shot gun tactics. No consultation not idea what will happen to the buildings. Presumably they will fall into disrepair become vandalised and an eyesore to the area. Saving will be miniscule.
As far as I know there have been no proper investigations into what other uses these buildings can be put to or indeed how the wider community could get involved and use them when SoR are not. Council tax payers deserve better than this.
Councillor Horton you should be ashamed of yourself as should your cabinet colleagues. You are at least in breach of the spirit if not the letter of the report of the select committee on older people. I’m ashamed of you.
As for the lead officer on this my views on his professionalism are unprintable.
This is not Sandwell’s finest hour.

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Community Forum

I mentioned our local community forum briefly in a couple of posts recently but I thought a more detailed post was necessary.
Ours is run by one man, a retired, community spirited ex councillor who organises it, takes minutes and does follow up letters and actions. The town team type up the minutes for him. I was particularly miffed with our local councillors who want to be seen at these meetings but don’t want to help. The chair pointed out that more people attend our forum than the West Brom town committee.
We have had some sheds broken into recently and our police showed some very positive pro active policing by providing free shed alarms for anyone who wanted them. We had reports from police on crime figures. Education, but this is confined to our local children’s centre and a debate on whether our newly formed academy would eventually have provision for swimming pool.
The Red House in the park of the same name is having a difficult time with the friends group trying to get a resolution on the future of the house. I for one do not feel that this property is of sufficient historical value to warrant spending millions of tax pounds to restore it. I’m afraid I upset the Chair of the Friends group over this. I have in the past tried to help them with advice on how they should get listed status for the park and a proper constitution for the group so that they can apply for funding from a variety of sources. They don’t seems to be listening unless you go along to their meetings which according their chair most councillors don’t.
Usually you get our local councillors who are happy to blame the council for pretty much everything. They are of course in opposition and it is easy because no one from the controlling labour group attend. This time however the newly elected labour bloke for our ward was present and I’m impressed, he’s learning fast and gave several well argued support for items blamed on the council. When it came to offering to do something he was again the only one who did. I had to point out to him his enthusiasm was commendable but one item he was offering to deal with was not on his patch. The councillor who’s patch it was never volunteered to do anything.
Planning items are always contentious with this one being no different. There appears to be a lot of concern and very little knowledge on the part of planning committee members what the new regulations mean. I think they mean it’s a free for all as long as you meet building regulations it’s do as you please.
It’s a big well done Tony who organises these meetings because this must be one of the longest surviving and best attended forums in Sandwell. I feel guilty because I can’t help him with the meetings. One of the most vocal of concerns is usually litter with one of our local pubs being a big offender. I like the labour bloke’s style he offered to visit the landlord that afternoon and get it sorted. Action Man Hosell. It’s a pity the wider electorate don’t see this.

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Isn’t it great when things just work!

Earlier this week I posted (Threes) how things had been going awry recently. The last offending piece of kit being one of my printers. I had to take it back to Staples who sent it off to HP for repair. I was doubtful about their 7-10 days for completion. Well yesterday I was pleasantly surprised to be called and told “your printer is ready Sir” 5days max. What a surprise. All I need to do is persuade Staples to have toilet facilities.
Some minor software changes and a little fault finding online to get it fully operational but better than expected service.
I’m a bit of a gadget man me so I suppose at times things will go wrong big time. Loosing a regular used piece of kit though is like loosing your wheels. I don’t like it. Calm is now restored to BBCB household everything is working as it should. I think!

Friday, 19 September 2008

The man from the PCT

I mentioned in my previous post our local community forum was held yesterday. It was a very interesting and at times fractious meeting.
I suppose there are three very distinct areas in Great Barr and Newton. The area south east of the canal, our bit which is south west and the really posh bit on the north side of the Newton Road.
Oh and yes the man from the PCT came to explain what had happened to our doctor’s surgery.
The really posh bit’s biggest concern seemed to be that the mini bus service on the estate was always speeding. This item along with a lot of others was resolved by asking the chair to write to the bus company. I took along my note book. I don’t need to take notes but I thought it might irritate some councillors and the man from the PCT if I was taking notes. As you can imagine the biggest problem facing our area was the lack of GP services. The man from the PCT gave the standard script which was “the facts” presented to our MP and to myself and our councillors. This despite him knowing there were errors in the information going out. I refer to signage and message service. It seems that the PCT approach is if a doctor or practise manager tell them its fact if the patients tell them its supposition. He used terms like its unfortunate and normal service will be resumed asap but not once did he apologise. The corporate line from Sandwell PCT is: - it’s not our fault guv it’s those nasty people from Heart of Birmingham. If this is true and I doubt it, it’s time the rules were changed in line with the PCT geographically being held accountable. He claimed that we have a perceived view that we do not have sufficient GP cover in our area. Last year a GP closed a surgery and 1200 patients were forced to either go to Birmingham or change doctor. This year 1500 patients are left doctor less or have to traipse half way across Birmingham that is if they can get through on the phone to get an appointment. I wonder what their view of reality is? There’s a great NHS buzz phrase “Patient Centred Care” which is popular amongst labour politicians. Seems to be missing over here in Newton. I pointed out that Sandwell PCT had a clinic at the local church which is only used a few hours a week. This could have been made available to the doctor immediately the surgery was damaged. No one thought of using this asset. I want to know why.
When the dust as settled on this row, heads need to roll, from HOB and Sandwell and I know which one needs to be first and so does he.
I was impressed by our Labour and Lib Dem Councillors who are firmly supporting this campaign. The Tory bloke did his usual look at the ceiling act it’s got nothing to do with them. That side of the canal they have a doctor on almost every street corner. Which is why when the area analyse is done it looks on paper that we have enough cover but because of the way the canal divides our area and the access routes it leaves this side of the canal in effect doctor less.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Primary health care

I’ve been having my own private battle with my Primary Care Trust over their treatment of our area. We lost a doctor 12 months ago and although initially they said he would be replaced they later claimed they could not fund a new doctor because of the way funding with neighbouring PCT was held. We in Sandwell are supposed to be getting three new surgeries funded by new government money. Now surprise surprise a new surgery is not coming to Great Barr. I want to know why.
We have one surgery which is a branch of a doctor some three miles away in Birmingham. Recently this branch was forced to close without warning because of a failure of heating system which brought down a suspended ceiling The upshot is we now do not have effective GP services in our area.
We were not aware of this until the misses needed to contact the doctor. No message on the answer machine or what to do. A visit to the surgery was no help either because it was locked up and no notice to tell patients what was happening or what to do. I understand there have been queues of patients waiting.
I think it’s time some political pressure was put on our PCT to meet their duty of care. I don’t blame the doctor or his staff because the PCT own the building but they could have dealt with it better. I firmly blame our PCT who despite having had one doctor leave they did not effectively deal with GP services in our area. I have emailed my MP to advise him on what is going on and been in contact with my local councillors. I must say I’m impressed with Dave Hosell who is in touch with the neighbouring PCT who are holding the funds and with Joyce Underhill who is also on the case. I understand Cllr. Hosell is arranging an offer of temporary accommodation at our local leisure centre. Perhaps now we will get the impetus needed to get GP services put on a properly funded basis befitting our needs. My email to the relevant people at our PCT prompted a detailed reply to our MP with a copy to me. Unfortunately the facts were not correct because I had checked a couple of hours earlier. Intriguing, I’m sure there will be much more on this story. We have a local forum this morning where one of the agenda items is health care. I do hope they send the man from the PCT to explain why.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

200 not out.

If you had told me back in December when I made my first posting on this blog that I would still be doing it 200 posts later I would have laughed at you. But here I am still largely talking to myself. That’s not entirely true from comments I have received and phone calls I have a small but distinguished readership here in Sandwell and beyond. So thank you all for your comments because I suppose that is what we bloggers need, recognition. Until I retired I had never actually written much except for technical stuff and I had never even considered writing poetry or indeed a play, short story or a blog. Come to think of it when I retired there were no such things as blogs. I’m not running out of things to say, in fact I am often spoiled for choice by some of the cranky things that happen during a week. Some of my regular features I hope to continue ie Pensioners Against Brown and I hope to find new regular topics as we progress. My health issues have slowed me somewhat and will continue to do so but when all else fails I can still sit at my computer. So thank you all and keep commenting.

Monday, 15 September 2008


My Mum used to tell me that good and bad news came in threes. This myth also applied to things going wrong in your life. Good old wives tale I suppose but I can tell you it’s a load of crap. In our house at the moment if it’s mechanical or electronic it’s going wrong. I’m not just talking about old stuff but new equipment as well. Problem is it can take an awful long time to sort out. Taking stuff back, getting engineers in, replacing old stuff. I just want to get on with doing what I do. Good example my HP printer which has not done a lot of work suddenly spit out some tiny plastic bits and then refused to accept that it had paper. End of print run and now a trip to West Brom to get it replaced. This was a relatively expensive printer which is only a few months old. The real rub is that if the machine is more than three months old it has to be sent back to the manufacturer for repair. Grrrr do I believe their promise of how long it will take? No

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Smoke alarm

A couple of years ago I had two ten year smoke alarms provided by one of those help the elderly to stay safe schemes. This week-end one of my alarms stared to blast out its warning. I checked my house including the loft only to find nothing amiss. Following the instructions I tried to switch it off. Nothing doing. After awhile I did manage to stop it blasting my eardrums only for it to start again about two hours later. I’m not daft, I thought “I’ll take out the battery”. With this design the battery cannot be disconnected. After several removals of other key parts the thing is still apparently alive. We decided that a replacement was needed and one was duly purchased. I disposed of the old one in the rubbish bin outside. Late evening I saw a couple of my neighbours walking up and down our road trying to find the source of the alarm which had started up again. Removing the offending object from the bin I decided that if a scientific approach to removing the key bits was not working a more practical approach was required so I hit it with a brick. These things are virtually indestructible because even that failed to stop it. Silence eventually prevailed until about 11oclock this morning when, wail, wail, wail, it started again. This time however it is well and truly silenced. I have dismantled all the electronics.
I wonder how many other units of this model have failed in the same way?

Friday, 12 September 2008

Petitions Public Question Time & Such 3

In my post Petitions, Public Question Time and Such on Friday 27th June & Friday 29th August labelled politics and such. I referred to three issues at our last Town Committee meeting. A petition regarding road safety on the busiest stretch of road in our town ( I presented this on behalf of our local neighbourhood watch association) A question concerning transparency with the claims made in political leaflets and a comment about how I thought the leader of the Tories would carry on doing what he does, whatever.
Well last night was our town committee where these issues were responded to. It’s a bit of good news and a lota bad I’m afraid.
My question about Councillors giving reports which had been the subject of such a lovely letter rejecting me completely took a new turn thanks to the Chair. She liked the idea and asked for volunteer councillors to come to the next meeting and tell the assembled crowd what they actually do. One of the volunteers is a cabinet member and the other none less than my old friend the leader of the Tories. The issues about big fibs on political leaflets can apparently be referred to a scrutiny committee. I might just do that next time. It may just be enough to keep the next whopper of a leaflet and help keep campaigning by the other partieson a level playing field.

The road safety petition got kicked into the long grass of a Red Route enquiry which yippy we were told would start a consultation process late 2008 or early 2009. This almost certainly means NO TRAFFIC lights. The lead officer though made it sound like all is well we are listening. The words in the report and in the press take suggest though that that is not so.

Oh and the other issue the Tory leader carries on just as I said but I do look forward to his report at the next meeting.

Thursday, 11 September 2008

The Cabinet in Brum

Is this the real world? I better be careful in writing this post because it is impossible for any pensioners I suspect in mentioning Gordon Brown in a sentence without real anger creeping in. And it’s not just pensioners who are feeling the pain.
I wonder how much this PR exercise of bringing the gravy train hunch bunch to brum cost? And why? I don’t believe any of that propaganda that they have been putting out this week.
The PM and his cabinet must have been told to “smile and look happy” a lot more because this week I am sick of seeing their happy little faces leering at me from my newspaper headlines. I want to see them suffering like the rest of us. We had a lovely picture of Brown laughing his head off before the cabinet meeting. What was the joke I wonder? Was it something like! “I seem to have got away with that one they are starting to believe I’m the only bloke in labour who can understand what is happening in the world and lead this country” We had the headline “I’m listening” followed by we feel your pain etc etc. but every time we see him lately he’s grinning like a Cheshire cat along with his senior cabinet colleagues who are probably thinking “am I keeping my job” It might be better if they were thinking “ how the hell do we get rid of this nutter before he bankrupts the country".
I wait in eager anticipation for a policy announcement that is going to really help me and my family over this winter. There is some glimmer of hope though in that I think some of the policies on helping people faced with loosing their homes might help but I can’t help but feel it’s too little and too late. Why have they not done more on energy prices. We can all help to get our household bills down but to do it requires investment which most low income families and pensioners can’t afford to do. The so called deal with the energy companies is not new money and I have reported on the sham that is the “no hot water" requirement before a new boiler can be fitted”. This real world they keep mentioning is a long way from the ICC and Jaguar Cars. John Denham did a good job Tuesday evening in feebly defending his boss’s policies and trying to assure us GB is the only bloke for the job. Now let me think who has the smallest majority of all the cabinet members? Am I being too hard on Gordon??? No, did anger show in my post?, well just a little, is there a lot more bottled up? Oh yes there is.
Gordon as to ~GO~

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

For Sandwell Council from my favourite magazine

A little while ago I did a series of posts on how I thought Sandwell Council could save money instead of their current practise of attacking the most vulnerable with increases in charges for services. One of the suggestions was a switch to solar panel street lighting. The following from Gizmag today seems that this is now more than a dream.

“The argument for switching to solar-powered street lighting seems very clear cut: they run on sunlight, emit no CO2 emissions, provide an off-the grid source of lighting during in an emergency situation and use efficient LED-based light which tends not to attract insects. Sharp Corporation has announced plans to roll-out two new models of solar-powered LED street lights in the Japanese market and these have the added bonus of in-built Seismic Motion Sensors which detect earthquakes of five or greater on the Japanese seismic scale and respond by switching to full illumination for two nights”.
So listen up Sandwell they are here now. No thanks are necessary for pointing out these suggestions. I know the big reduction in council tax is on it’s way. There you go again Bob off in the realms of fantasy land. Go and have a lie down.
You can use the street lights outside my house to test one if you wish. Always happy to help.

Sandwell Park Farm

I have commented several times recently about the meanness of Sandwell Council in introducing charges for admission to this site for pensioners during week days. Last night there was an excellent report in the express & Star about the massive reduction in numbers since the introduction of charges. They have apparently fallen from 21277 to 7190 in April of this year. This is all being blamed on the fact that Easter fell in March this year. Sandwell Council Leisure Chief Cllr. Linda Horton is quoted as saying “the charges had not put people off coming to the farm” I know Linda and I like her and respect her judgement. Normally she has a very pragmatic down to earth approach to these things but on this occasion I wonder what twerp of a council officer is advising her on this one. Linda I can tell you that pensioners are virtually boycotting this site because of the charges. Honest luv it’s a fact. I know of lots of older people including bob the Black Country Brummie and his missies who will start visiting again once the charges are removed. I miss my breakie and coffee in the cafĂ©. So come on you lot start living in the real world. You can see I’ve been following dear Gordon and his entourage this week can’t you using terms like the “real world”. I wonder just where that is. Answers in the comments box please but Linda have another look at this silly policy of charging pensioners during the week please.
There are better facilities at the other end of the valley at RSPB. Car parking is for the moment free, good toilet facilities, again free, you can get a cup of coffee and excellent walks.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Ground Care

Since Sandwell’s tree surgeon decimated my view I have been been branching out so to speak looking at some other aspects of what Sandwell do on my estate. My councillor tells me the head of trees is satisfied our trees were crown lifted correctly and pruning had true cuts. We have six grassed areas on the estate. At the moment all the grass needs cutting but I guess that is because of the recent bad weather. Starting from the top the first grassed area is always the subject of litter being not far from an off licence. The kids buy booze get to this site and throw away the containers. We need a litter bin on this corner. The grass though is in reasonable condition and if cut regularly would look good. Moving down the hill the next site is in a very bad way. Partly due to the residents who have used it as a building site and partly due to the gas work which was never put right. Grass here is in a poor condition and dangerous to walk across. The trees have been pruned. Moving further down the hill you come to our patch, nice lawns and well looked after. The next patch used to contain three mature trees which were cut down about three years ago and never replaced. The grass is in not to bad a condition and could look good if properly maintained. The final two grassed areas are opposite each other at the junction with Hamstead Rd. Both of these sites are a disgrace and should be the subject of a visit from the enforcement officer. One as been used as a building site by the owner of the property adjoining it. The grass is none existent and rubbish has been left on the grass whilst building work as been carried out over the last 12 months. Long overdue for some council action with this home owner. On the opposite side of the road is a chip shop with a grassed area which contains a path to other local shops. This site is always blighted by litter and as far as I can see the operator of the business does not take ownership of any of the litter scattered around the site. There are sufficient litter bins strategically sited so there is no excuse for the garbage we see every week end. Action is needed now! I wont hold my breath.

Monday, 8 September 2008

Sons of Rest in Sandwell

I went along to a scrutiny panel for health and older people. A decision by Sandwell council to close three of these premises and ask the remaining ones to become self funding had been “called in” by the Liberal Democrats. The result of the meeting was that a recommendation was made that the cabinet member be asked to delay the decision for further consultation. The best of a bad job I thought but it gives a little time to regroup. The meeting was very well reported by Express & Star. I don’t believe the Sons of Rest position is sustainable, bearing in mind the costs and numbers involved and the privileged conditions they get compared to other groups. They only appeal to a small number and this is reducing year on year. There is a bigger picture though that does need to be addressed. A couple of years ago Sandwell had a Select Committee for older people and I gave a lot of evidence to that committee. There are two publications related to that worth mentioning Living Well in Later Life and All Our Tomorrows which was the final report approved by full council. The ethos of both these documents is that the council is committed to trying to improve the lives of its older people. Recent decisions by the council suggest that they are ignoring the recommendations of the report. I refer to 1) massive increases in charges for meals on wheels, 2) introduction of week day charges for older people to Sandwell Park Farm, 3) introduction of week day charges for car parking at the farm and now 4) the closure of SOR premises. A systematic reduction in facilities for older people and not in line with their stated aims.
I don’t believe that the council officers who have “negotiated” with SOR have done it well; my experience was that they talked at them rather than tried to involve them. The SOR groups themselves though do not sell themselves well and they have to face the fact that what they offer is only applicable to a shrinking few. There is a debate/consultation that needs to be carried out as to what the real needs of our older people are. The premises SOR use are only used once per week in most cases so there is ample opportunity for looking at other uses for the buildings and for talking with other voluntary groups of older people and I hope they will take this opportunity to do that in a constructive and open way. I in the meantime will be lobbying my councillors to support the political aspects of the decision and challenge any more that reduce facilities for older people. One worrying aspect from this meeting was the fact the chair would not allow me as an interested member of the public to speak although she was prepared to let another member of the public present speak, until I complained. I should like to know what protocol was at work here. I was very impressed with the contribution of both my councillors who were present at the meeting. One of the proposed closures is on their patch and neither had been informed of the decision before it was public knowledge in the press. This is another example of where the cabinet members are failing the local member in getting the message across. I think at the very least Cll. Hosell should be asking for an apology and if this does become a good news story he should have it first.

Sunday, 7 September 2008

I’m back

Well I’ve never really been away and I can’t explain why I have not posted for such a long time. It’s not that I haven’t had anything to say, I’ve not got writers block or got fed up with the blog. In fact I still have plenty to say. My friend Gerry made a good point in that a lot of anger was showing in some of my posts. I don’t think its anger but more frustration with myself these days in that I can’t do as much as I used to and I have to settle for a more sedate life style and I have to rely on other people more than I used to. Hence things move at a slower pace. A good example of this was our new boiler. Fitting of it went well until one of the fitters bust a tap in our bathroom and we realised the shower would not work from the new system, We now have a new shower but British Gas after sales service in replacing our bath taps is very poor. Admittedly we have a temporary arrangement so we can have a bath but the misses is not impressed because the taps don’t match the rest of the plumbing. Surprising how long it has taken to get all this lot sorted and the house back to something like how we like it. It was almost fate in that a few days after fitting we had to switch on the heating because it was so cold.
I’ll get back to commenting on Gordons lack of empathy with the electorate in a day or two and how I think us pensioners should treat him.
Pensioners against Brown continues. You heard it on this blog first.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Pensioners against Brown. Its back.

I'm staying focused and getting on with the job.

I had hoped that during the summer a genuine challenge would be made on his leadership and that bigger fish than I would be campaigning to get rid of him. But alas this looks like it has fizzled out to nothing so it has to be pensioners again to take up the baton.
Yesterdays announcements about mortgages left me feeling let down. Talk about the classic “to little to late” the upside I suppose was the Tories announcing they plan to raise Inheritance tax threshold to over million quid will thrill all us pensioners with sheer delight.
I can’t wait to see what dear Gord is going to do on helping struggling families with energy bills. This is not so much an economic re-launch more a piddling splash in a puddle.
Hapless Alistair and Gord have been on the tele recently telling us its not our fault. I’m sick of hearing the credit crunch, high oil and commodity prices all out side our control. Well rubbish. Gordon in his Prudence days promised the country we would not return to boom and bust and here we are going bust. He and he alone was responsible for economic policy for the last ten years. He knew what was going on over the pond and he ignored it. There are many things he could have done to prevent this and if he had prepared for a rainy day we would not be facing the crises we are today.
So my question is ;- is Prudence Brown the man who bankrupt Britain?

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Sandwell’s Tree Surgeons. Supplemental

Following my little rant and emails to my local councillors I have to say I’m impressed.
What I would expect from the Tories, if it’s not purple and pink and generate some cheap publicity then they’re not interested. So no response from them. The Liberals contacted me direct. Councillor Mrs. Underhill is going to contact the council officer concerned and try to get a site visit. I had a visit from our Labour Councillor Dave Hosell who is also going to look into it but feels like Bob Piper the trees will recover.
This is a first for me, I’m being spoiled. Better not say to much more or you’ll all want councillors like ours. I think I better go and have a lie down all this praise for our elected representatives it’s a bit of a shock to the system.

Monday, 1 September 2008

The big energy con

There as been talk recently of imposing a windfall tax on the energy companies. I had never been in favour of such schemes but now I believe something needs to be done. There are two aspects to this post. Firstly the governments Warm Front scheme which is designed to help older people improve the energy efficiency of their home. Grants are available of up to £2700 for such things as cavity wall and loft insulation and in some circumstances to help meet the cost of new boilers. Our MP clearly thinks this is generally good news because we have seen him pictured with a big cheque for Sandwell for the next round of grants. I used to work with older people so I was involved with sign posting and helping them get funding. The new scheme though has one fundament fault which the government obviously know about and are choosing to ignore. If you qualify for a grant for help towards a new boiler they have a “no hot water rule” which means your old boiler has to break down before the grant comes into play. An assessor is then sent to check out your claim. This can take up to a month. We have been waiting for 5 weeks although an assessment had been made earlier in the year and our grant approved. So what to do? With my health, being cold in the winter is not an option so we decide we need to invest in a new boiler and get British Gas to supply and fit it. At the same time that this is happening British Gas send me my quarterly statement with the advice that my monthly payments are going to increase by 42%. I’m arguing with their adviser because they advertised 30% with less if like me you are a duel source customer. He’s having none of it “we’ve checked the account and that’s the amount you need to pay” “I’m in credit” I claim but to no avail. I then explain I have just yesterday had fitted a brand new condensing boiler which is graded by you as the most energy efficient. Your company fitted it and claim I am going to save 140 quid a year. So can I start getting some payback on my investment? Sorry mate he explains but we can’t take your word for that we have to monitor your usage over the next six months. By this time I am really peed off and ready to tell him to stick his therms up his thermostat. On my calculations I’m going to paying well over the top until February next year when they might let me have my money back. Unless of course the claims they make for the efficiency of the boiler and the predicted saving, which I have in writing, are not realised. It all smacks of a big business con to me which needs to be investigated along with the farce “no hot water rule” before pensioners do really start to die of cold this winter. The industry regulator seems powerless to act against these companies so it is up the government to step in and do something about it and about the Warm Front grants but they already know that barmy condition applies. So who is actually conning who here? Still everything’s OK we’re getting an extra 50 quid at Christmas, bah humbug