Sunday, 22 November 2009


Morality. What is it?
I think I have asked this question many times before – if not in public then at least to myself. Apparently I have still not come to any reasonable conclusion.
Ethics. What’s that all about? Are these personal things or universal necessities for the well being of humans (or animals – I haven’t quite sorted that one in my mind either. Maybe I should just say “living things”)
How can we behave in a moral or ethical manner when some of us – like me – can’t define what either of the words mean? Many questions but very few answers. Perhaps this is the nature of the issue.
With the advancement of technology (and presumably also then the advancement of the human brain) moral situations come upon us faster than we can even create the questions, much less find the answers..
So what is the difference between the two, if any, and does it matter ? Do we naturally understand how to reason about morals and arrive at ethical decisions? Do our values have any effect on our ethical decisions and moral standards?
Some people believe that humans hold a special place in creation, and morality can be summed up in one ultimate “law” of reason – that which all duties and obligations derive from. Kant stated that an imperative such as this is when a certain action, or inaction, is necessary, but in general to basic human life. When we are hungry, we need to eat, when we are thirsty we drink.
But another imperative is that there are no real conditions to it. An act where by the nature of this act asserts authority in any circumstance. An end in itself.
Where you can “will that it become a universal law”. Kant believed that this “law” could never be better or stronger than one that says for example, murder is wrong because it is not good for the greatest number of people. This of course is not relevant to those who are only concerned with maximising benefits only for themselves.

So where is this leading, if anywhere?

Only that my personal morals seem to get eroded every day. Not by me- well not intentionally. Or maybe it is by me-intentionally. There comes a point when the struggle to keep with your own true beliefs (or what you thought were your beliefs) becomes too much of an effort so why not just go along with the untrustworthy, the users in life who appear to benefit and profit from their actions.

Mid life crisis? Too old for that. Cynicism gone too far? Possibly. Total mental break down ? Naaah – some might like that too much !
Just me being me and afraid of losing what I am. Will I let it happen ? I doubt it.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Labour in Maltby use the "Slander Approach"

It's an old stunt - a low and cowardly one at that - but The Labour Party have decided to use it again, in their "campaign" for the election of two councillors for Maltby Town Council.

This stunt is colloquially called "If you have nothing positive to say about your selves then slag off the opposition in any way you can, regardless of whether your comments are true or not." It is regularly used by the current government and has been used by various politicians around the globe.

Now, we all know that newspapers are a great source of information, on the whole, but most of us aso know that certain newspapers can be extremely biased towards a particular issue. This is often the case in "party politics".So, to run a campaign based on newspaper headlines is surely, the lowest of the low. But The Labour Party in Maltby have seen fit to do just this on their candidates leaflet, posted through some doors recently. (I am not suggesting that this is selective delivering, but it rather appears to be !)
Don't be fooled Maltby by the underhand tactics of this group and their followers. We all have two votes at the election on October 1st. Use them wisely - Maltby's future is tentatively balanced.

Friday, 11 September 2009

No changes yet

After a short break from this blog, I had been thinking what to write for a "returner". I needn't have bothered thinking too hard. Maltby Town Council has come up trumps again with it's continued inadequacies, which while not new, do still sometimes leave me "gobsmacked".

Today 11th September, I have received a response from MTC to an FOI request I sent on 19th May.
Ok - so what's 4 months between friends when it should have been replied to in 20 days ? Not a lot at all really.But you would think that in this time they might have been able to answer ALL the questions, wouldn't you ?
Well, being well versed in the methods and workings of some of MTC cllrs, I am not suprised at all of course. I am also not particularly suprised that today's mail is from the "Acting Responsible Financial Officer" who is named as a totally different person who signed the mail that I received from MTC the other day. Got it ? HUH !

Ah well - just when I was thinking maybe I was finished with the need for FOI requests . . .

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Compassion or Insult - can the two be defined?

The release of the Lockerbie bomber, Megrahi, has caused embarrassment, outrage and crtiticism in different degrees from various ministers and officials around the world.
The director of the FBI has told the Scottish Justice Secretary he was 'outraged' at Megrahi's release and says it 's made a mockery of the law and given comfort to terrorists.The Scottish First Minister says it was a 'grave error of judgment' which has damaged the reputation of Scotland.
And Downing Street releases the full text of a letter sent by Gordon Brown to Colonel Gaddafi wishing him a happy Ramadan and addressing him as "Dear Muammar".

Granted, the letter asked Gaddafi to 'act with sensitivity' over Megrahi's homecoming and said that a high-profile return would cause further unnecessary pain for the families of the Lockerbie victims and it would also undermine Libya's growing international reputation", but I (cynically?) think the intent was more sinister than this and therefore very worrying.
"Muammar" seems to have ignored all sensitivities (would the man understand the meaning, anyway?) and given Megrahi a hero's welcome and Gordon Brown has yet to explain his meeting with Gaddafi where they discussed the release.

But where does compassion begin and end and where does the act of releasing a convicted criminal become an insult to the public, the victims of the crime and all concerned? Last week Ronnie Biggs was released from prison on compassionate grounds - this is our legal system. like it or not. Megrahi has been released on compassionate grounds - he too is an ill man.

Does the difference in our opinions lie in the crime itself, the amount of people involved, our own opinion of seriousness of the crime or what ? Is it the length of time in prison that matters or whether we think the person is not going to do any harm to anyone anymore ?
I do not believe that this can be the proper way to be just - and I do agree with those that say it sends out the wrong signal to they mass murderers, terrorists, bombers, train robbers or petty thieves.

Is there an answer ?

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Dear Kevin Barron, MP - again.....

Dear Mr Barron and anyone concerned with democracy....

I have forwarded to you an open letter sent by Mr Don Buxton (with his permission) in response to the appalling attitude of one of your "colleagues" Mr Iain St John. Perhaps you may have seen this letter, of Mr St John's but it is unlikely as you do not use email, despite your super, up to the minute equipment.

However, let's not go over old ground again.

The reason for this mail is to bring to your attention the utter contempt that many of those connected to RMBC show to their constituents. I am sure that you already know this but a small reminder never goes amiss, I believe.
Perhaps, like Mr St John, you may also wonder why you have been sent this "nonsense" as he describes it. Well, just to reiterate that if any cllr/or MP classes the views of the public whom they represent as nonsense, just because their views differ from the "elite" then we are in a very sorry position. From past experience and correspondence with you, I imagine that you will ignore this mail and class the contents as having nothing to do with you. If you do, then fair enough - it proves the points made in the letter that confirm that the growing network of the deeply concerned electorate are well founded.

Mr Buxton's letter describes the reservations and doubts that he has about the "integrity of the Elected Members and Officers of RMBC and the way that they try to spin, weave, deceive and ignore and isolate Rotherham communities."
He thanks his MP, John Healey and other MPs in our national Government for at least providing the tools to check, challenge, scrutinise and hold to account these "fools" that try to govern us. Through FOI efforts the citizens of Rotherham are now much wiser as to the cost of various seemingly unnecessary and expensive "ventures" at the tax payers expense. That Mr St John has the audacity to attempt to patronise the people who expose these situations and label some of them as "the jack boot mob" is little short of an absolute insult.

It would be pointless of me to expect any sort of response from you on the reasoning behind your colleagues attitude, I am sure.

I would like to be able to sign a letter to my MP as Mr Buxton has done ("I remain, Sir, your loyal constituent") However, I am unable to do so.

I remain, therefore, just another one of your constituents.

Yours sincerely,
Brenda Abou El Ola

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

GPs earn £300,000 a year

In 2004, this incompetent Government introduced a new GP's contract which increased the pay of the doctors but also took away a lot of the services, like weekend working, and evening surgeries. The ususal mismanagement in the civil service in their financial administration showed another waste of tax payers money.
Now it's been reported that the situation may be even worse than we thought. Some family doctors are now earning £300,000 or more. Am not sure if any Maltby GP's earn anywhere near this amount - I guess if they did they might be living somewhere different to Maltby - but it seems a bit excessive considering the hours they work for their local patients.

I do not begrudge anyone in the NHS their hard earned pay. I know that especially in hospitals, doctors (usually junior ones) work ridiculous numbers of hours which is both immoral and dangerous. But wouldn't it be better to have the old system of your own GP comes to visit you "out of hours" and gets his extra pay that way, rather than having visits from locums who often travel miles to see a patient that they have never met before and no none of thir medical history?Most private sector workers across Britain are facing longer hours and smaller salaries so should GP's be different?

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Could this be the best Kevin Barron quote yet ?

The Rt Hon Kevin Barron MP, has made quite a few "gaffes" over the last number of months. Of course I am sure he would not call then gaffes himself, but it doesn't take much to wonder if the man is losing it/has lost it completely.

There was the issue of emails - even though Kevin supports taking care of the environment, (he says) he doesn't send emails and prefers to use trees by the thousands for his correspondence.
Then there was issue of him telling one of his consituents that he was not going to talk politics with them (strange for an MP)
Then we had his expenses issue - the fancy printer and office furniture and the new camera he needed for his trip to New Zealand..... etc

But this has to be the best one yet.

As many readers of this blog know, Maltby is in the process if s truggle to stop the Secondary School becoming an Academy. Much discussion has gone on - usually without the invited MP's, Cllrs, Governors and ministers who don't turn up at meetings. However, the stuggle will continue, to make sure our children get the best education possible - regardless of financial incentives to and from private businesses.

So what does Mr Barron have to say to this? In public debate regarding government policy regarding academies, Kevin said " I would not believe Government papers".

Well, neither would most of us Kevin, and as you have confirmed it yourself I wonder why you are still acting as my MP? Am I to believe anything at all about anything you say ? Oh, don't go there. I don't want you bothering your herad about "politics" again.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Reply To "maltbynews" Propaganda - July 2009

Dear Kevin Hall,

Let’s get a few facts correct here following your “sensational” front page report and patronising editorial in today’s maltbynews.

Firstly, you state the petition to dissolve Maltby Town Council is unlikely to have the effect which it’s supporters are aiming. You also state that Mr Mumford says that it is unclear what the purpose of the petition is. I can assure you that Mr Mumford has been told perfectly clearly what the purpose of the petition is for, but that if he has told you that he is uncertain, then who’s view is it that it is unlikely to have any effect? Contradiction in terms, Mr Hall.

Then you state “ that RMBC are already undertaking a review in Maltby following the upheaval in the Town (sic) over the past six months.”WRONG.

A governance review is taking place but not following or because of any upheaval. It is happening in numerous parishes across Rotherham. Bit of a manipulation of words there, to suit a biased view.

That you have named 2 Maltby residents in your report without their permission is a breach of many rules and regulations, which the National Union of Journalists are already very interested in.

“Having initiated their action on June 1st the group garnered the 30 signatories by the end of the month” WRONG.
A letter was sent to the Assistant Chief Executive dated 1st June with 30 signatures attached. You must have misinterpreted what I said to you when you phoned me Kevin. If you hadn’t been barracking me so much in this conversation you might have remembered that I told you that the letter said that we were committed to provide the necessary petition within the next month so that a Governance Review could be organised. Have your 2 “leakers” of misinformation not told you how many representations there actually are? Apparently not - maybe because they are too busy instigating a petition themselves based on another piece of MIS information.

Your next piece of propaganda says that Mr Mumford says that IF the Town Council were to “disappear” (sic) that the current precept would be retained by RMBC, and that “most likely” the assets would also be transferred to RMBC.
“IF” is the key word here. The petitioners are not intending that to happen at all and as for what will “most likely” happen…. what a shoddy piece of speculative reporting that is !
Your description of a “Community Group” which could administer assets was hardly informative, but suited your purpose of demeaning the prospect. For your information, an option in place of Maltby Town Council is a Community Interest Company (to understand more)

And finally….
As you were so keen to unethically name members of the public in your paper, perhaps you will enlighten your readers on the “Community Group (that) has helped to facilitate the presentation of the petition”. I am unaware of any such group being involved.

Yours sincerely,
Brenda Abou El Ola

Monday, 6 July 2009

Town Clerk Post advertised at last !

We have waited 12 months here in Maltby to have the post of Town Clerk advertised, after the resignation of the former clerk, Mr David Morton.

The ex clerk has been paid off and been given an apology from MTC (not sure about what) one day and then the next day the vacant post is finally advertised . There is a "gagging order" on the "undisclosed amount" that Mr Morton has received - well, at least as I write , but who knows what can change !

The job is currently only advertised in 2 places - on an A4 sheet at the Maltby Town Council office (of which only the brave and bold dare enter) and on the "new" MTC website. As the closing date is 31st July, which is quite short and the advertising VERY sparse, this does not appear to give a range of people the opportunity to apply. Surely this could not be the intention of MTC.

For the full job description, application form and covering letter (from the self appointed voluntary, "acting financial officer", not the Chairperson) details, see

To recieve an application form...hopefully before the closing date, email

Good luck !

Monday, 22 June 2009

John Bercow - New Speaker of The House of Commons

John Bercow, Conservative MP for Buckingham, is the new speaker of the House of Commons. He was elected to government in 1997 and served in the Shadow Cabinet under Iain Duncan Smith and Michael Howard. Bercow has increased his majority to over 18,000 at the General Election in 2005.
He has risen quickly through the junior ranks and was brought into the Shadow Cabinet in 2001. During this time Bercow stated that he lacked ruthlessness which would stop him from rising higher.

John Bercow’s website states
“You elected me and sent me to the House of Commons to speak and vote for the people of Buckingham. You might not agree with some of my views and that is OK. That is what representative democracy is all about.
Some politicians these days try to have bland views on everything so that they please everybody. However I have always taken the view that there is no point in being an MP if you don’t have opinions and you say nothing. I can’t fight the corner if I have no opinions and don’t know what to say.
However, it is my duty and pleasure to serve all of my constituents in Buckingham irrespective of your political views."

Bercow has long had an interest in Burma and the issue of democracy and genocide in the country. He runs the Advanced Speaking and Campaigning course, which has trained over 600 Conservatives, including several current MPs. Children and young people with speech, language and communication needs is another of his special interests.
The Speaker is the chief officer and highest authority of the House of Commons and also represents the Commons to the monarch, the Lords and other authorities and chairs the House of Commons Commission. Speakers must be politically impartial and on election the new Speaker must resign from their political party and remain separate from political issues even in retirement. The Speaker still deals with their constituents' problems as a normal MP.
I am not sure that someone can turn immediately from being affiliated to a political party to being completely impartial. Perhaps this is what my own MP, Kevin Barron is aiming for when he says that he will not talk politics with me (problem with Mr Barron is that he does not appear to be dealing with his constituents’ problems either).

Bercow says that immediately, he must and will cast aside all of his political views. "I said it and I meant it". He will be completely impartial and will do his best "faithfully and honestly to serve the House".

So as, with much of what is happening in political life at the moment, we will have to “wait and see”, whilst hoping that the new speaker will carry out his role of ensuring MPs follow the rules of the House during debates.
If we have a speaker who genuinely sticks to the rules as agreed, then we have a chance of democracy coming back to our government.

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Anything but teaching, Gordon - PLEASE !

Oh dear - poor Gordon Brown.

He has been "hurt" by the crises that have plagued him the past months as Prime Minister, and could "walk away tomorrow" and perhaps become a teacher.

Walk away Gordon ... PLEASE walk away....but for heavens sake don't inflict yourself and your hurt on our children any more ! Doesn't this country need plumbers, or electricians or something that does not involve PEOPLE that Gordon could work at ?

Thursday, 18 June 2009

MP's Allowances Published Online

Documents and receipts relating to MPs' allowances are published today on the parliament website.

From today the public will be able to view printed documents and receipts relating to MPs’ claims dating back to 2004/05 and up to 2007/08.
The expenses claims of every MP for the past four years have been published, but, ironically with some key details not shown. The Commons authorities have published the details after the long-running Freedom of Information battle.
Addresses and correspondence that claims relate to have been removed for privacy and security reasons.
This means it is not possible to see if MPs "flipped" second homes which is a main part of the Daily Telegraph's revelations from its leaked version of the data. This news comes on the same day that Kitty Ussher, a Treasury minister, has been forced to resign after avoiding paying up to £17,000 in tax on the sale of her constituency home. Another case of "acting within the rules", in other words getting as much as you can by keeping as much as you can secret.
Nick Robinson of the BBC has said that if the database was all the public could see and the full uncensored claims had not been leaked then MPs like Miss Ussher would still be in their jobs.

Is this a step in the right direction towards full openness and transparency... or another attempt to pacify the public and keep them quiet ?

Seems to me it's like saying "Here, take my bank card, but there is no chance you are having the pin number " !

For our very own Rt Hon Kevin Barron MP ....

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Direct question to Kevin Baron, MP, from

In an earlier blog I have commented that the Rt Hon Kevin Barron MP has refused to answer my questions about politics as "it will go on the blog". Some of us have discussed the possibilities of which blog this could be and want to ensure that Kevin gets to know all the questions that his constituents want answering and also give an opportunity for him to reply direct (in the absence of his own website)

This blogger has asked a direct question to Mr Barron and I have posted the blog below. Keep going to the site in the off chance that Kevin may reply some time in the none too distant future.

Mr Barron ... I also would welcome a reply on this blog , if it happens to be the one that you read.

Hi Kevin

I know you read this blog – the letter you wrote telling me about it is one of my most prized possesions.
I also know that you said you weren’t going to write to me anymore because I have published your comments on this blog. What I didn’t know is that you have also told other constituents that you ostensibly represent that you won’t write to them either, whilst mentioning ‘the blog.’ The constituent in question assumes you might mean this one, although ‘the blog’ could mean anything. Just to make it quite clear, this is my blog, and I am the only one who writes posts on it. I have sent you an invite to become a writer here because you still don’t seem to have a website on any of the three domains you seem to control, but as yet you haven’t taken it up, so I remain the only writer at the moment. You are, of course, still welcome to take up my offer to contribute – it’d be great for the people of the Rother Valley to hear more often from their representative.

Anyway, as you seem to be gradually reducing the number of constituents you will communicate with, rarely send out leaflets and have still not managed to get a website of your own going I thought I’d ask a question here, prompted by a comment on my last post.
So, the question your constituents want answering – and it’s a big one because most of your constituents are Labour voters – or at least they were last time around – is what your views are on the Labour leadership? We’ve seen and heard nothing of your views.
Are you one of the rumoured 50 or so that were prepared to call for Gordon to go? Are you upset that, at a time when the Prime Minister is seemingly recruiting anyone who will answer their phone to be in cabinet (Sir Alan Sugar who he has had to make a Lord, Glennis Kinnock, who can’t actually be a minister because she is an MEP) that you still haven’t got the cabinet post you reportedly wanted in 1997? Do you think Gordon Brown should stand down as Prime Minister – and is your view on this based on what is best for your party, your own future employment as an MP, or the good of the country – or a combination thereof?
We, your constituents, would really rather like to know, and putting information on the internet is so much more effective than sticking it in the window of your office in Dinnington. The Rother Valley is quite big, you know.
We’d be grateful, therefore, if you could answer here, or on a website of your own.
Thanks for taking the time to read this blog, and this post in particular.

Monday, 8 June 2009

Maltby Festival 2009

Maltby Festival 2009 - Sunday 5th July - Saturday 11th July

Sunday 5th July - Gala Day,Maltby Main football field, Muglet lane, Maltby

10 am - 4pm

Stalls, rides, disco, childrens entertainment, dancing and a medieval re-enactment, White Post Farm, circus workshop, competitions: kids fancy dress, gurning (funny faces), knobbly knees, glamorous granny and scruffy pet.
Each competition winner will be announced on the day. All competitions will take place between 11-2pm Lots of prizes to be won.

Monday 6th July - Zion Youth Group, Coronation Park, Maltby 6.30-8.30pm

Wild West night, including a Bucking Bronco and disco by DB Entertainment

Tuesday 7th July - Art Exhibition, Wesley Centre, Blyth Road, Maltby 2-9pm

Presented by Dave Brennan - local artists including students from MCS displaying their work. Refreshments available. Bar from 6pm. Free admission. Supported by Maltby Community Development Trust

Wednesday 8th July - "Camp Fire" in Coronation Park, Maltby

Sing song and food 6.30-7.30pm run by Hesley Woods, Woodpecker Fellowship Team.

Thursday 9th July -Teddy Bears picnic in Coronation Park - 4 - 6pm

Bring the family and a teddy and don't forget the picnic. Come and have some fun.

Friday 10th July - Safe@last presents weekend@last Concert

Saturday 11th July - Community Sports Day, Coronation Park, Muglet Lane, Maltby 10am-4pm

Fun for all the family- to include Youth services, Sports Development and local Police Services, races, football, climbing wall and award ceremony.

(Later Safe@Last presents weekend@last concert)

Sponsored by: Maltby Town Council, Hargreaves, Paper Island

If you are a group, charity, association, school or business who live or work in Maltby and want to get involved please contact us.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

The Apprentice Politician

Sir Alan Sugar, “businessman and TV personality” has been offered the position of Enterprise Champion a position in the UK government responsible for advising the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and promoting entrepeneurship.

I say “offered” the position , as in an interview with him this morning, Sir Alan appears a little confused as to why the government has given him this title and exactly what the title infers. He says that the role is totally non political and that he is intending to do what he does best, which is encourage and promote business and training and this title gives him the opportunity to spread this work further afield.

All good stuff, except … the role of Enterprise Champion carries with it a Labour peerage. The future Lord Alan Sugar, can’t say what would happen if the Government became Conservative led, as he does not know enough about David Cameron to back the party. Yet he has been a personal friend of Gordon Brown, he says, for at least 10 years.
Am I confused ? Not really. It seems blatantly obvious from what Alan Sugar has said this morning, and the manner in which he has said it, is that this another case of “jobs for the boys”. Which government would not want a man onboard who has estimated fortune of £830m ? (Of course, he is not actually joining the government)

I have to say that going on Alan Sugar’s “performance” this morning – ruffled appearance with open necked shirt, stuttering over his words and attempting to look surprised at his new position – any decent interviewing panel would say “You’re Fired” before the interview began.
A man working very closely with the Prime Minister who does not wish to talk politics ? Rt Hon Kevin Baron MP – having you been spreading your philosophy around ?

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

No need to forget

Dear Friend.

Thanks for the photo. Really can't say that I have seen her before - but you know my memory for names and faces and it's not for me to remember her anyway. That's your job.

I understand the throwing out photos and stuff - I have done a bit of that kind of thing myself..... and more ! But have now come to the conclusion that it's not necessary. Obviously when things are raw you tend to go crazy and want rid of everything connected to that person and situation. You don't need that person's face smiling out at you from a photo on the mantelpiece when you enter the room. You don't need that kind of reminder at all.

This person's features are etched into your very being, the touch of them and the thought of the touch of them is difficult enough. Keeping those thoughts to the back of your mind is what you need, at first. But then, as we are constantly told by family, friends and trained professionals, time does alter our thinking.We don't ever forget of course. To even try to is not helpful. But eventually we think about things in a different way and become to have a different perspective. We have bad times, when we think we can't live without this person who for so long has been in our thoughts every minute of every hour. But we can.

After time -and for each individual, this is different. We can, if we allow ourselves to, remember the reasons why we loved that person in the first place (probably still do) and yes, there were lots and lots of good times. Do we have to forget those or try to make the bad things more significant than the good? No. No matter the reason for the separation, no matter what they did or we did or who said what, can we be happy (and even proud ) that we shared that person's life for a time ?
I believe so. I hope so and I hope that you can feel so, soon.

In the beginning and for a long time after, I thought that one day with "my" person was worth dying for. A silly sentimental thought, perhaps, but one that I remember now. I think you may have thought this too, so remember it. Remember, but not too much. Want a well worn cliche? No, you don't but here's one anyway - today is the first day of the rest of your life. That is not a reason to despair, no matter what. It is a reason for joy and the opportunity for further learning. Have a good day.....

Your friend,

Sunday, 31 May 2009

Gordon Brown, PM, has announced that he is going to bring in a Statutory Code of Conduct for MP's.
Excuse me while I fall about laughing a while longer, but this really is a joke.

I have a feeling it's something to do with MTC and the implementation of their Code of Conduct that amuses me so much in this matter - but then, surely the Prime Minister must get it right even if MTC and RMBC can't manage it ?
He is proposing big changes in the House of Commons…
"...people want to think that their MP is accountable to them. I will be leading this debate. I want to clean up the system." he says.. Hmm..."
There needs to be a link between the constituency and MP. People want to feel that their geographical area is represented. " He wants to be involved in his constituency too. Hmm... (clearly hasn't met Rt Hon Kevin Barron, MP for Rother Valley)
"We will have a big debate on a new constitutional settlement." Great ! But, hang on a minute - who is going to be involved in this debate ?
Well, actually it's going to be a group of people selected by the Labour Party.
Ah, I see.
Is he going to have a reshuffle in his government. Er...NO.
"People want to make their own decisions. People are voting on a party who are dealing with the matters in hand."
Exactly ! And if people have any sense at all - it won't be Gordon Brown's.To use a phrase that he has this very morning used at least 6 times within a 20 minute interview - “Wait and see “

Are we all willing to sit back and "wait and see" - nationally and closer to home ?
I'm not.

Saturday, 30 May 2009

Still unsure of who to vote for.....

Are you in a dilemma over who to vote for in next Thursday's election?

Have you only had 3 campaign leaflets through your door, but you have a suspicious feeling there may be more parties with cabdidates available?

Have you been turning the TV off at 6.55 to purposely miss those party election broadcasts and now wonder if you are going to waste your vote?

Don't worry, help is at hand....

(thanks to for the site info)

Try this and you can find out the best place to put your X on June 4th !

(apparently I should vote for Libertas, so now will have to do some reading up on them to see if they really do represent my views )

Disclaimer: I do not accept any responsibilty for anyone voting for a party which turns out to do the exact opposite of what they said they would do. This is, after all, the way of political parties in this great country of ours, it seems.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

A vote for judge and jury ?

I have been considering the views of The Jury Team party.

This is in an effort to find some party that I can vote for whose policies I can believe in. The party leader is Sir Paul Judge. Surely someone with a name like that can make a success of a new political party, especially as he is a "multimillionaire businessman" and intends to "clean up politics". The Guardian thinks that announcing that your leader is a multimillionaire business man is not, in current times, the best way to inspire confidence - and I think I agree on that one !

But I suppose any party needs money to get going - though apart from leafletting and hiring halls to speak to people in, I can't see what else you would need to spend money on.Has anyone any views on The Jury Team? I am still "out" on this one, which is sort of appropriate given the name.I hope I am not going to waste my vote because there is no one worth voting for.... then I would have to keep my views to myself until the next election , and that wouldn't be easy !

The Role of an MP

Two Maltby constituents went to see Kevin Barron at his surgery at Dinnington, on Saturday 23rd May. They are concerned about the situation in Maltby Town Council and want Mr Barron’s advice and support about what can be done to sort out the problems. Mr Barron acknowledges that the situation is bad, though appears to think that the only problems are due to the ex Town Clerk, David Morton, scenario. As we well know, this is a sorry state of affairs, but there are numerous other problems too.

So guess what the Rt. Hon. Kevin Barron MP is going to do to help these two constituents help the residents of Maltby ? If you think “nothing” then you are absolutely right.

Mr Barron states that he has many views on what is happening in MTC and he will speak of these views “when the time is right”, but to him, that is not now. In fact, the time will be right according to him only when he knows for sure that tax payers money is being spent incorrectly, or too much is being spent.
A commendable statement perhaps, if he was actually investigating a more than one sided dispute. A plausible response, if this was the only concern. But what of the councillors abuse to the public and each other? What of the “training” that is allegedly in process, lead by Mr Tim Mumford ? What of the Freedom of Information requests that have been put to Maltby Town Council and either returned with incorrect information or ignored completely? Apparently, none of this is Kevin Barron’s responsibility.
He will try to ensure that RMBC Legal Dept. reply to letters recently sent to Mr Mumford. He will not reply to one of his constituents letters about MTC as everything will “go on the blog”. Which blog this is, Mr Barron does not state. Clearly it’s not his own as he hasn’t even got a website. But whichever it is, why is he afraid that information will be available for the public to see ?

There is a leaflet on the table in Kevin Barron MP’s surgery, which says:
“MP’s can help their constituents by advising on problems (particularly those that arise from the work of government departments), representing the concerns of their constituents in Parliament and acting as a figure head for the local area”.

A figure head for the local area ? Maybe. A figurehead for selfishness, lack of openness and transparency with his constituents and a patronising attitude that personifies the political party he represents.
Thanks for nothing, Mr Barron. You and half of Maltby Town Council go well together.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Much has been said about Maltby Town Council over the past couple of years, much of it showing the decisions and actions of some to be wholly inappropriate. Much has been discussed and written and some of us have been wrongly accused of postulating.

Whatever I am accused of, I can place my hand on my heart and say that I never lie, cheat or fabricate. I have and will continue to follow through my words with actions.
This is not a “holier than thou” attitude – it is me.

Democracy is non existent in MTC. What are you, the reader of this, doing about it – if you care ?

A few quotes on this subject:

“Take time to deliberate; but when the time for action arrives, stop thinking and go in.” Andrew Jackson

“An idea not coupled with action will never get any bigger than the brain cell it occupied.” Arnold Glasgow

“The shortest answer is doing.” Lord Herbert of Chirbury

“People may doubt what you say, but they will believe what you do. “Lewis Cass

“We cannot do everything at once, but we can do something at once.” Calvin Coolidge

And finally from good old Anon …

“After all is said and done, a lot more will have been said than done. “

How many people are now prepared to back up their words with actions ?

Saturday, 16 May 2009

The BNP in Rotherham - A Year On

A year since the local elections, where two BNP councillors gained seats from long standing Labour councillors in the Rotherham Borough. John Gamble took the Brinsworth and Catcliffe seat from the Mayor of Rotherham and William Blair, Maltby, from long standing Labour councillor Glynn Robinson. Headlines then were “Labour Disaster”, “Damning Indictment”, “Shock Results Outcry at BNP”.

I have recently commented that then, there was debate about how BNP policies might affect Rotherham and that concerns were shown by many. So, almost a year to the day, I again went to interview Cllr Will Blair at his home in Maltby, where his pigeons still flutter in their lofts in the garden and his poodles still seek attention around visitor’s legs. Previously, I had asked him if I could quote directly from a list of BNP policies. This time I asked him if I could put questions from residents of Maltby directly to him. His answer was the same “Ask me anything you want - I am here to help the people of Maltby and Rotherham and to try make it a better place to live”.

We began by discussing the everyday type things that Will Blair has done for the local community – funding football clubs, Christmas parcels for the elderly, an Easter Egg Hunt, supporting local artists, schools and a dance club. Then there’s the less obvious things which Will says only came about through people asking him personally to get sorted – drains, street lighting, the cemetery cleaned up and taps put in, trees and hedges maintained in streets and parks that might not otherwise have been done. He believes in encouraging people to report things of concern to him and people do, he says. He is a member of RMBC’s “Sustainable Communities” scrutiny panel and also “Adult Services and Health”. This work involves him in research on diabetes, which he enjoys because it brings him into contact with ordinary people.

But Cllr Blair is elected as a Borough Councillor representing the British National Party, a name which has for a number of reasons, become synonymous with racism and even fascism. More than seventy religious leaders from across a range of faiths in South Yorkshire have recently publicly urged people to shun the BNP in next month’s elections. How can the politics of such a party support and improve things for the people of Rotherham? How much influence does the BNP have on this councillor’s day to day business?

“Being in the BNP, you have to do better than the rest, to prove that you can make a difference. Labour have done nothing. Many Labour councillors have been in the job so long, used to doing nothing for so long, that they don’t want to do anything. When a new party comes along it has to promote itself and make it acceptable to the people. When people see this happening and that the party is doing what they were elected to do, they will be voted in again. Voted in on their policies, not on what colour tie they wear.”

Will Blair insists that the BNP is neither racist nor fascist. He says that the party stands up for British people and that in fact he is not influenced by their policies.
“The BNP do not dictate what I do. I must serve the people of Rotherham and work for Rotherham Borough Council to the best of my abilities. The BNP can advise, but it is the people who will decide. The BNP listen because their members have studied at the University of Life. We need a government who really knows what people want; a government of ordinary working class people.”
He cites many occasions when he has personally helped families who have had racial problems and tells me again that he has no qualms whatsoever about mixed marriages. What he is concerned about is people who he says come to Britain “looking for work” instead of “coming to work”.
“Polish workers, for example”, says Blair, “might come here and work for £150 a week. This is not enough for them to live on and so their earnings are topped up by benefits. Yes, the benefits system is wrong, but we should not have to pay out of our taxes for people who are not born here. If they come here then they must be able to support themselves and their families without help from the state”.
I have to ask at this point about the Ghurkas. Should they be allowed settlement in Britain ?
“Absolutely, no question about that” is the reply.
Based on what they have done for this country during the war?
“Yes. Those people gave a lot to Britain and we should give back to them”.

I am still not clear, since our talk last year, of how the BNP decides on who to allow to stay in Britain and who must either not be let in or sent back to their “own” country. I am still not clear on whether I am “indigenous” or not – I am sure my ancestors came from either Scandinavia or Europe. How many generations do we go back before we can live here under BNP policy?
Will Blair does not believe that this is an issue.

He believes that the only thing that the BNP are guilty of is standing up for the British people – that’s the people who have come here to build it up and carry it forward.
“People came to this country after the war and helped to build it up again. They and their families have as much right to live here as anyone. People came from Poland, from India, from Pakistan and worked in the woollens mills – they made their homes here. We can’t tell them that the mills are closed now so they have to go.
But, like any other nation, we can not afford to have people who take up houses and give nothing back. At the moment this country is saturated.”

So where do we draw the line?

“You have to draw the line when the people who are coming change the British way of life. “
And is this happening ?
We discuss the comments of Labour MP Shahid Malik at the “Global Peace and Unity” conference. Malik stated that Britain will be an Islamic state with a Muslim Prime Minister within the next thirty years and is clearly in favour of this. The BNP are not. Is this not racist, then?
“No, it’s not racist. If we had an Islamic state there would be Islamic law. This can not be right for Britain.” No one needs to explain to me (married to a Palestinian, now a British citizen) the ins and outs of Sharia law or the implications of an Islamic state. But whether this would actually happen without the input of the BNP is debatable.

I ask what can be said about former colleague, Cllr John Gamble, ejected recently from the BNP.
“Basically, he broke the rules and did not do his job properly. If that is the case, then you have to go, which is what happened”.
The situation within Maltby Town Council ? This has to be asked, as it is his home town and the place where he runs his business.
“When the police are called to a Town Council meeting, there is something wrong. When the council is not representing the views of the people, there’s something wrong. Maltby people are not being represented well by the people they voted for, so it should be closed down.”
No one could accuse Will Blair of not getting straight to the point.

The proposals to turn Maltby Community School into an academy trust ?
“There has not been enough public consultation. Further consultation needs to be done to make sure it is what the residents of Maltby want.”
And finally, would you stand in the next General Election and how do you think you would fare?
“Yes”, he says, “I would stand, and it would be up to the people to decide if what I represent is what they want.”
How do we know you wouldn’t then turn into the type of person that is power crazy?
“I wouldn’t”, he says simply, “because that’s just not me”.

Cllr Will Blair seems to be a “man of the people”. He wants people to know that what he does now is what he has always done, not just because he is a councillor. But with the backing of his party, he believes that he has the support to give Rotherham what it needs and deserves. he appears to be a thoroughly "decent" man.

But I still can not marry up his views with the party he represents.
The latest BNP propaganda leaflet specifically quotes that they "oppose the drive to give 80 million low wageMuslim Turks the right to swamp Britain". The BNP will "ensure that British soldiers are not abused on the streets of our cities by Muslims". Are these not racist and extremist views?

It is well known throughout history that in times of economic crisis and public disillusionment with the ruling parties that far right extremist parties gain the upper hand. This is, as I believe happened last year, often a vote against what we have, not a vote for what we might have. That can't be the best way to elect. I tell Will Blair that I wish he as an individual stood for any other party, except the BNP. I tell him that until the BNP define an "indigenous" population, in a sensible working way, then they can not have credibility. He says that no one can be completely with 100% of the policies of their party. I think that you can. And if you are not, then you should not be a representative of that party.

Only “the people” can decide on that.

(Since this interview with Will Blair, Labour MP Shahid Malik has stepped down as Justice Minister pending an inquiry into claims about his expenses made in the Daily Telegraph.)

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Is someone watching you ?

In a discussion this morning on TV, it was suggested that :
“Having a conscience is knowing that someone may be watching you”.

What nonsense.
That surely, is having a guilty conscience.

Conscience is, in my opinion, being able to distinguish between whether your own actions are right or wrong and it is then your own choice to decide what further actions you take. This is an individual ‘s decision and based on that individual’s own judgement of their own moral code. It might be that this code is based on religious views, culture, society’s persuasion or a personal philosophy, but conscience is something that is there or not, regardless of outside opinion. It is the outside opinion versus our conscience that informs our attitude.

If we feel that “someone is watching us” (in this context) then it shows that our conscience is in conflict with our morals, but is does not define it. My conscience often gets me into situations that could have been avoided, but then I would have been going against my own morals – and my conscience will not allow me to do that.

Saturday, 9 May 2009

Maltby Schools - public opinion ignored again....

I do not wish to quote newspaper articles - you can read those yourselves in The Advertiser, Maltby News and others.
Currently, there are numerous people concerned not only about the fact that the school may become an Academy Trust ( I say may, because there are many who do not intend to let this go ahead without further discussion) but also that the consultation process has not been carried out in a satisfactory way.
Despite what RMBC and Mr Sutton say, the consultation has been proven, and acknowledged, to be flawed (ref. Graham Sinclair and Cllr Shaun Wright)

Today, a number of people have spoken to "the public" on the High St, and it is clear that there are very many that would like a further consultation on the issues.So, a group went to see Cllr Amy Rushforth at her surgery at the Services Centre. They explained their concerns about the consultation and asked that she support the people of Maltby in getting a further, more accurate public consultation.

Cllr Rushforth's response was a categorical NO ! The academy is going ahead, she says, regardless of opinion and there is nothing that can be done about it. She refers to the consultation that was done about The Craggs School, where she says there were no problems - but will not acknowledge that problems came AFTER the event.

Are we all happy with this response - which equates to "Tough luck, too late, it's all decided and we don't care what you as parents and public think" ? Are we happy that pupils at the school are being told by their Headteacher and Deputy Head Teacher to ignore anything that is being said by people who are saying that an academy might not be a good idea and want to talk about it more ?
Over to you Maltby.......

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Challenge and Rhetoric

This blog was not started with the intention of being “political” but I am finding more and more that what I am feeling and want to write appears so.

I have, of course, said many times that I am not “party political” but to me “politics” is something that by nature, is a large part of our daily lives. It is not just about the activities of the government or law making organisations, but about how we try to influence the way we are governed. My philosophy on the way I try to live my life, is that if I believe that something is not “right” then I challenge it, and of course try to influence change. If I do not do this, then I am not doing my duty as a citizen in a democratic society. This is my opinion.
(For the benefit of my MP Kevin Barron, this is perhaps rhetoric, but not “anti-Labour rhetoric” as he labels my opinion).

I was asked this question the other day :
“Why put yourself on this mighty crusade to right every wrong in this town?”

Now, this was on a forum “chat” and the questioner is not a particular follower of my beliefs, as they are constantly telling me. But I do have to thank them publicly, for acknowledging in their question that there are “wrongs” which need “righting”, whilst questioning my attempts to do so.
(bit of an anomaly in there somewhere….)

However, my answer to this question was “Why not?”

I am incidentally not engaged in a “mighty crusade” (again I thank the questioner for suggesting that I am capable of it, though)
I do have opinions. I am outspoken. I do question and challenge views that are different to my own. This does not mean that I am stating that my views are necessarily the ones that should be followed, but that if we do not question and challenge, then what we thought and hoped was a democracy can easily fall into a dictatorship.

And I don’t believe that’s right.

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

"Save Education in Maltby"

The main point of the meeting at the Wesley Centre, Maltby,last night 28th April and the leaflets that have been given out, was to highlight the fact that only STATUTORY CONSULTATION has been been done on the Maltby Schools issues, rather than the FULL PUBLIC CONSULTATION which RMBC policy advocates for such issues.

It was clear that there are numerous people who should have, but have not been consulted, very many of these parents.
It was unanimous that those attending the meeting felt that the consultation was greatly flawed and inadequate. (Perhaps unanimous is not the correct word as only about 4 or 5 people did NOT put their hands up to the question “who thinks the consultation was unsatisfactory?” and then the same 4 or 5 people did NOT put their hand up to the question “who thinks that the consultation was satisfactory”, obviously using their prerogative to disassociate themselves from an issue as and when they feel)

An email was read out from someone who had asked it to be read at the meeting, in support of an academy. It made the claim that anyone who does not agree with an academy for Maltby does not have the interests of our children’s education at heart. I have heard this view stated on at least 2 occasions over the past couple of months and am insulted and disgusted, as I am sure many others are, at this view.

Unfortunately the email was anonymous, so no one is able to take issue with the writer. Anonymous emails ? This is stooping very low to get one’s views across.

There was suggestions that all concerned are balloted for their views and that a further consultation period is insisted upon.
It was announced that the next step is for leaflets to be given out outside MCS today at 5.30 – all supporters welcome. A petition will be available to sign on Saturday 2nd May outside Tesco and the new Co-op in Maltby, and that there will be a further meeting next Tuesday, 5th May, Wesley Centre, Blyth Rd, Maltby at 7pm

Sunday, 26 April 2009

National politics goes local

They’ve had a row over the contents of The Budget apparently.

The Chancellor wanted The Budget to include big cuts in public spending to tackle the nation’s deficit – it’s the biggest since the Second World War –but he was overruled by the Prime Minister, who feared that might lead to disaster for him at the next Election.

Now, I know this comparison is very local, so I apologise to anyone reading this who lives further afield than South Yorkshire and doesn’t know what I am on about, but I can’t help thinking this is a very similar scenario to what’s happening in Maltby and in fact Rotherham in general.

I always thought that the role of a Councillor, MP or Prime Minister was to do what was right and for the benefit of their locality, ward or country. It seems that this is not so and that the main purpose of these elected people is to make sure that they stay elected, next time around and for the forseeable future (preferably at least until retiring age and definitely without consideration of the electorate complicating the issue)

I am not so politically unaware to think that any party will continue to grow if it’s manifesto keeps changing to something that does not resemble the original that they were voted in on. But I do believe that they should change what they told us they believed and intended doing, if situations arise that need this. Surely, then it is only reasonable to expect that views can be changed – but only when the interest of the electorate is being served, not when the credibility of the party or party member is at risk.

Perhaps I just don’t understand party politics (I know I don’t agree with the governing party politics of RMBC or Britain ) But my democratic vote goes to the person who shows to me that they are working for the local community or the wider beneficial growth of the country – not for their own personal climb up the ladder of political power.

Saturday, 25 April 2009

“MORE than 3,000 troubled children have turned for help to the NSPCC Sheffield Young People's Centre” The Star’s headline has just shouted at me.

The building in the city centre, a former bank on George Street, was opened seven years ago with support from readers of The Star, who raised £250,000. The centre now helps 450 children a year , aged between nine and eighteen, who are or have suffered bullying, family breakdowns, bereavement, physical, emotional and sexual abuse. It provides a safe and welcoming place for troubled young people and has counselling rooms, play areas and a relaxation lounge.It also has a children's rights service and visiting services for children who have little contact with their family for full report and contact details.

The Young People’s Centre is, of course a great achievement and a wonderful support service for people in need. Many youngsters will, I am sure, be able to lead happier, safer, more positive lives in the future because of this support.

But I can not stop thinking – what ARE we doing to our children? And why ?

The statistics of cruelty and abuse truly are shocking, I do not intend to analyse them or compare them to other areas of the country or the world. (I am not smart enough to even attempt that and am also a little cynical about these sort of comparisons) The important fact is that this is happening and increasing, disproportionately to the increase of population in general.

We can debate endlessly whether people watching too much TV or playing violent computer games is the cause of this. The breakdown of family life and society is a constant topic of debate, even at the school gates. This was not the case when I took my own children to school not so many years ago, but it is the case now as my grandchildren begin their school lives. Before someone asks, no I have not done surveys and collected figures on opinion. I (and many others) just sense it - we know it because we are living it. Anger at a multitude of situations appears to cause physical violence so very easily and naturally, today. Worrying.
Even more worrying is that also at the school gates I hear parents cursing their children in the vilest of language, and then punish those same children for swearing back at them.

So, what do we do? I hear you asking. Some might even tell the tales of being belted by their father for a misdemeanour in childhood which “never did me any harm”.
I suggest that it did. If we bring up our children surrounded by violence, cruelty and abuse, then these things will be perpetuated in their childhood and in their adulthood.

Blame the parents?
Blame is not the right word, but parents need to be responsible. But also support them in an increasingly difficult task of educating their children in a society that has authorities who lie constantly and has Police who beat senseless the “protesters” who object to this.
A society which does not appear to care for it's people can not expect it's people to be responsible and to care for each other.

Friday, 24 April 2009

Please Don't Feed The Birds

RE: Letters to Rotherham Advertiser, page 2, Friday 24th April, 2009

Thankyou Don Buxton, for your detailed and interesting ornithological information, in your letter.
Some of the birds mentioned I have not actually seen in the flesh - specifically the Tennesse Mountain Bird , which I have no choosing to see, I may add. Others I have had glimpses of in my day to day doings and can confirm your descriptions of their behaviour.
The Bumbling Bee Down Sat Parachuting Bird, though may be rarely seen in Wickersley of late, is VERY prevalent in Maltby. I had occasion only yesterday to happen on this creature in the MTC offices, and I have to say that experiencing the spreading of it's enormous wings, as you describe is a sight to behold. On this occasion the spreading of it's wings was not in preparation for descent, but in show of it's delusional assumption of power and intimidation. The meeting of this bird is not for the faint hearted, and I would suggest that initiates to watching RMBC's feathered community, take along a fellow "twitcher".
(I understand that this term is used for bird watchers but I find that it is a suitable name for myself when talking to the Bumbling Bee Down Sat Bird - my whole body seems to twitch at the sheer exertion needed to stay restrained and appear calm)

Thanks Dave Haywood for speaking out in the paper (after a long break, due I feel to a period of "Why on earth should I bother anymore with MTC and RMBC when they have messed me and my community around for so long at such great extent" syndrome) Well expressed comments Dave, which I am sure the Chair of MTC will apreciate, as do many, for your concern.

And finally.... Cllr Peter Thirwall is conspicuous in his absence from the Advertiser this week - a sad situation.I can only presume that Mrs T was entirely satisfied with his decoration of the bedroom and has now set him on with other household tasks, to occupy his free time.
Good luck, Peter. As we know, a good degree of labour is a blessing to the heart and soul !

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Take heart, Maltby....

"Things" have been rather hectic lately (or maybe this is again me at my best procrastination ) I have been busy reading numerous documents, repoorts, plans and proposals and attending more and more meetings in connection with the future of Maltby and it's residents.
As I have not quite mastered the art of adding a link to my website and have to rely on "others" to do the honours, I must post this link here, for now.

This is a well researched, in depth, up to date blog on the goings on of our elected members of council and parliament and it is a pleasure to know that many are concerned.

Take heart, Maltby ! As has been said on many occasions "The truth will come out"

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Happy Easter

Today, many people celebrate Easter Day, when according to Christian scriptures, Jesus was resurrected from the dead after his crucifixion.
It is a concept which I was brought up on, my father being a lay preacher in the Methodist Church, but a very difficult one (for me) to believe in or understand. Over the years as I have grown up, my beliefs and opinions have changed dramatically from total belief through total lack of understanding and all the possible feelings in between. If I am asked now exactly what I believe, I have to say that I am not sure – I am still learning.

It is not easy to put aside an almost inbred culture and way of life that I have known since childhood, despite my study and struggle to understand. Some days I have great respect for those who have such a strong faiths; other times I am confused at how such intelligent minds can believe in such things. But then, that is faith.

Whether we have a faith or not, there can be no doubt that the Christian message is one of love and hope, and that can only be a good thing. That atrocities have happened through history in the name of Christianity, I am again confused as to how this has happened and can only tell myself that in all religions there are extremists who have their own agenda.
But whatever our belief, faith or religion, we can together celebrate the fact of life itself. Whether this is all we have or whether there is something else to come – I do not know. I do know that I must make the most of life today and protect it and nurture it in any way that I can - be it my family, friends, or those who I have never met.
Happy Easter.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009


This week, as always, we have watched and read of reports of unpleasant events and incidents – economic crises, government morality, crime and also natural disasters. Many of us go through a range of emotions ranging from shock and horror to disgust and despair. Yet amidst these situations, I would like to tell of a small incident that occurred yesterday. I hope it does not appear too sentimental as it is, just facts.

In my neighbourhood (as many others) we have been experiencing a particularly bad spate of inappropriate behaviour by youths and younger children. We are, however, “lucky” that we are surrounded by fields and countryside, where people are able to walk their dogs. As I was doing this yesterday, I realised that I had lost a fob from my keyring – not valuable but a personal momento. I began looking back along the way I’d walked, not expecting to find it in the long grass and mud.
A group of young people shouted across to me “What you lost?” I shouted back and they came over to me and started to help me search. After a few minutes, I said that it didn’t matter, we weren’t going to find it.. One lad said “It’s ok – we aren’t doing anything anyway”, so I said (half jokingly) that if they had nothing much to do, why not pick up a few of the plastic bottles lying around and get the blue bags that have been caught in the trees?
This idea amused them at first, then one asked his friends. “Shall we? They ran off, bending to pick up the bottles that either they or their mates had discarded the night before.
Serendipity - the effect by which one accidentally discovers something fortunate, especially while looking for something else entirely.
Perhaps today I will again be insensed by the destructive fires that these youths set, the pointless litter throwing and bottle smashing. But yesterday, for a while, I saw the better side of their nature.

And it doesn’t half gladden the heart.

Sunday, 29 March 2009

Letter to Kevin Barron, MP

Dear Mr Barron,

Thankyou for the Rother Valley Parliamentary Newsletter, which I received this week.
I am interested to read about the positive work that you have been doing within the Rother Valley community, including the backing of local business in Dinnington, justice for miners in their compensation payments and supporting schools in Wales, Anston and Rother Valley College. I wish you continued good luck in the future with these projects.

Unfortunately, I am very concerned that you do not feel the need to mention the major upheaval and recent discussion regarding the secondary school and primary schools within your home town of Maltby. I appreciate that your workload is great and that you must prioritise with the issues that you handle, yet, as you well know, there are currently major areas of concern on a number of issues in Maltby, Bramley and Wickersley, which mainly come under the heading of “Consultation and Acting on Public Views (or not) ”.

Your newsletter states that you “take up issues on behalf of Rother Valley residents and raise their concerns in Parliament”. Personally, I have no evidence that you respond to Maltby issues whatsoever, and my correspondence to you has not been responded to – with the exception of my request about the situation in Gaza.

You are well aware of the controversy within Maltby Town Council and Wentworth Valley Area Assembly, yet do not appear to class these issues as a concern for you as Rother Valley MP.

I am at a loss to understand your motives. When “grass roots” issues are apparently ignored by my MP, I wonder who you suggest I turn to ?

Yours sincerely,

Thursday, 26 March 2009

The Fencing Cometh

The Muddies , Maltby, Rotherham was once a small wood with a small pond.It lies on the outskirts of Maltby and is surrounded by housing and farm land. For several months of the year it is very wet and supports a variety of water amphibians including frogs and newts. The Great Crested Newt has used the land for breeding for at least forty years, but the land is under threat from development by RMBC.
Residents in the area have at last persuaded RMBC to erect a fencing along one boundary, in an attempt to prevent damage caused by "youths" congregating there. This has and is continuing to be a long and difficult struggle on the part of residents.
I am allowing myself some light relief today from the constant stream of emails and phone calls that this entails.
I present :

The fencing cometh (with apologies to Flanders and Swann)

‘Twas on a Monday morning that the Muddies fence began
And Streetpride came along to clear the rubbish, with their van.
They looked and saw the mess was just too much for them to do
So they rested through the morning and then after lunchtime too.
Oh it all makes work for the working man to do.

‘Twas on a Tuesday morning, the workmen came again
With bin liners and garden gloves it really was quite plain
That they could not shift the garbage that was lodged behind a tree
So they left it till tomorrow till they had a JCB.
Oh it all makes work for the working man to do.

‘Twas on a Wednesday morning that the JCB arrived
The task was not so easy still, no matter how they strived.
And then there was a problem that they really had to face –
The plans were not quite right and they had dug in the wrong place!
Oh it all makes work for the working man to do.

‘Twas on a Thursday morning, an ecologist on site.
His mission was to save the newts from what might be their plight.
He carefully made some homes for them from stones beside the dyke
And guided them from danger to a home that they would like.
Oh it all makes work for the working man to do.

‘Twas on a Friday morning that the area seemed clear
And erection of the fencing was now so very, very near.
But Friday night’s a reckless time for teenagers round here-
The dyke was filled with mattresses and empty cans of beer.
Oh it all makes work for the working man to do.

On Saturdays and Sundays, they do no work at all…..
So ‘twas on the Monday morning that Streetpriders came to call.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

This is very hastily put together, so I apologise now for any errors, omissions or panic style writing. I write in haste.

I have heard today that The Home Office is considering plans to force “social networking sites” such as Facebook, MySpace and Bebo to hold information about their users in an effort to foil the criminals/terrorists who communicate through them.
All the information would be stored on a central database (and yes, possibly a few cds which get mislaid on trains, buses etc) as part of the proposed Intercept Modernisation Programme. These plans are to keep information about all telephone calls, emails, and internet visits made by everyone in Britain through a multi-billion pound system. Every picture we look at, every piece of music we listen to and every person we have emailed will be “on file”. The Data Retention Directive, a European Union statutory order already proposes that internet service providers in member states store communications for one year.

Now I do not use either Bebo or MySpace, but I have to admit that I do have the occasional dabble on Facebook – much to my offspring’s disgust as I am an oldie and these places are for the young and cool generation. (My stepson even refuses to let me know his Facebook name, in case his mates find out I am registered there – the shame of it)

So, I am not really concerned about my “trafficking” on these sites. I fear however, that before long, the interceptors will be onto me and have me closed down and interrogated about my use of the internet and the voicing of my opinions to anyone who cares to read. Looking at my recent “history” I see that not only have I Googled Daily Mail Online, but also Sacha Baron Cohen, BBC i player, Sunderland flag image, human lyrics and bucket on a rope pic, and that’s only since yesterday. (I feel already I must justify the “bucket” thing – it was something to do with the nursery rhyme “ding dong bell”, alright ? )
What sort of a person looks at these things, is …. well, anyone’s guess. I dread to think what the interceptors would make of it all.

And then there’s the blog.
“Secrets or not?” alongside “Voting Hamas”, “Being British” and “Godwin’s Law”. “Publishing and dirty Laundry”, “Walk on By” and “Winehouse, Dylan and Raleigh” to name a few more titles. Crikey ! This blogger must be up to something. In fact – isn’t she the same person that was caught on the Co-op CCTV last week buying half a dozen eggs and a jar of mixed fruit jam?
We rest our case, Your Honour.

Should I hastily erase all history every time I search for something ?
Why bother, it’s all recorded anyway.
Is there any criminal connotations in watching Matt Monroe sing “The impossible dream” on YouTube ?
Probably, if anyone wants there to be.
Am I becoming paranoid?
Shall I stop writing, talking, thinking now before I am forced to by “them” ?

I will continue with my ramblings until my battery runs out – and I don’t just mean the one on the computer.

Saturday, 14 March 2009

"Everytown" : a year on

Almost a year since local elections here, when I made observations on the election of BNP Councillors. Then, there was debate about how BNP policies might affect Rotherham and concerns shown by some.
As it has transpired since then, the concerns most prevalent within the town (particularly, from personal experience, in Maltby, Bramley, Wickersley) are the blatant underhand doings of RMBC and their Labour councillors and the awful detrimental effect this is having on the community.

Maltby Town Council is commonly known as a pantomime. The chairman is under investigation after allegations have been made against him by previous Labour councillors who now purport to be independent. The true independent councillors are being hounded out of their positions by false accusations – some by intimidation and aspersions about their religious beliefs. Verbal and physical assaults have been made on members of the public by MTC councillors. The Chief Executive at RMBC pass the buck in any way that they can and the electorate is patronised by their attitude.

Wentworth Valley Area Assembly, which used to be democratically run, has had it’s Labour “renegade” chairman removed and a new (Labour) chair and vice-chair put in place without the approval or knowledge of it’s members and decisions are made against voted proposals.

A multi – million pound private business venture is “proposed” which affects all Maltby Schools. This potentially leaves our children’s education being sponsored by a company who have been running since last year and sell computer software. Only statutory consultation has been done, leaving the majority of parents and the community with one week to consider and digest the implications of this which is against the advice of all four teaching unions.

There are constant reports of the council spending millions on private projects whilst public services are cut or removed.
And more………..

Reports in local papers bring attention to more and more instances of a body which shows little regard for the people it is entrusted to serve. When the Chief Executive of Rotherham Council is riding rough shod over the electorate, likewise Cabinet Members, where do we turn?

In “Welcome to Everytown: a journey into the English mind “ (2007) Julian Baggini takes Rotherham to be a statistical microcosm of England. He spent six months living in the district "to understand the English mind, what we think, what we believe, what we want and what we value".

We live here. We know what we think, what we believe, what we want and what we value. We hoped that the people we elected felt the same and had our interests at heart.
How wrong we appear to have been and how sad if Rotherham really is an example of “Everytown”.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Publishing and dirty laundry

Today is World Book Day.
I had always thought that it was held on 23rd April - Shakespeare’s birthday, St. George’s day and no doubt many other things celebrated but it seems it’s a “moveable feast” in this country and varies.

After weeks of reading, but little writing (apart from in my head) I promised myself that I would devote today to some serious writing on one of the many projects I have in process, specifically the follow up to “Crossing Borders”. But I am in a moral dilemma, which is this:
When is it acceptable to publish autobiographically about situations and family life, and at which point does it become airing your dirty laundry in public ?

Julie Myerson, a novelist and columnist has published a book which tells of her family life, and includes details of her son (allegedly) smoking a “spliff”. The debate about this is whether this is a mother betraying her family and making money in the process or is it perfectly feasible for anyone to tell their own story and that of other's, after all, this is what writers do.

Of course, Myerson is not unique in her story telling. Many people have written of their own unhappy childhood, their children's or partner’s, or their own struggle with alcohol, drugs, illness or financial circumstances and the effect on the family. The argument that making money from broadcasting intimate details of your life is a very topical one. But I have a feeling that this type of book is not a real money maker (unless you are recognised as a “celeb” of the moment) and suggest that in many instances the author has written because they feel their story needs to be told and may be empathised with by others who have experienced similar circumstances.

Naïve ? Perhaps.
Whatever the author’s decision, it is a personal view and a personal opinion on right versus wrong.
(But I wouldn’t mind other people’s thoughts on this !)

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

When home grown becomes organic

I have been AWOL from this blog for various reasons, over the past few weeks (yes ok, no one noticed) and I couldn't decide what to talk about as I launch myself back onto the blogging “scene”. I could voice my opinion on the economic situation, the financial in-discrepancies of the government and bank officials, the love of the celebrity culture that is becoming sordid and inhuman, immigration, texting the police instead of contacting them directly, the Middle East situation or the “court of public opinion”.
But these are all very serious topics, and I feel the need to think of relative trivia at the moment.

What is on my mind today is organic vegetables.
I don’t mean that I have a yearning for them or am about to become vegetarian. Just that I bought and cooked an organic Savoy cabbage yesterday and am puzzled about it’s texture.

Now I have to say that this is the first time that I have bought an “organic” vegetable, or more precisely, the first time that I have bought vegetables specifically labelled as “organic”. Of course I have eaten what we used to call “home grown” vegetables many, many times. As a child I grew cabbages, lettuce, radishes and carrots in my own little plot in our back garden. This then progressed to cauliflower, sprouts and potatoes when my father acquired an allotment, and tomatoes, cucumber and peppers when we went up the gardening ladder and were the proud owners of a greenhouse. We would pick things straight out of the garden and eat them, and they were delicious (making sure that the dog hadn’t been in that area of course, but our dog was very particular about using hi’s own space for his toilet).
This process was repeated when I had a family of my own – without the allotment this time as our garden was big enough to grow almost anything we wanted for our own use.
All this home grown produce was “organic”, in the sense that there weren’t any chemicals used – unless we call pure and simple cow and horse muck, which I believe produces methane and probably other scientific type things. Methane is, I know, a gas but maybe is not classed as a chemical.

Is there any difference between “home grown “ and “organic” or is it just a new label which means that we have to pay almost twice the price for it ?
And what did I mean about the texture of my organic cabbage?
Well, I washed each individual leaf very carefully until there was no trace of any soil/dirt on it before I cooked it. But at my first mouthful, my teeth ground on what seemed like grit. The second mouthful was the same, so I took the cooked cabbage off my plate and scrutinised it again. No sign of anything except…cabbage !

So my puzzlement is this :
Is a small dose of soil/sand/grit which can not be removed by water, added to the organic vegetable to give it a little authenticity ? Is it with all vegetables or just cabbage? It’s like those jars of cockles, mussels and whelks that you can buy pickled in vinegar. I am sure they are washed thoroughly, but there is no doubt about the taste of sand that comes with them.

I will progress my way through a range of organic vegetables, and let you know the result.