Donations for victims of the Nepal earthquakes are gathering dust in a church warehouse after the country’s government introduced taxes of up to 30 per cent on relief material.
Organisers of a Catterick Garrison-based appeal to provide aid to victims of the natural disasters said they were heartbroken that about half of the goods collected – about ten tonnes of items – remained at the Hollybush Christian Fellowship, near Northallerton, a month after they were due to be delivered.
Executive member of the British Ghurkha and Nepalese Community Jagannath Sharma, principal physiotherapist at the garrison’s Infantry Training Centre, said the appeal’s organisers had been heartbroken by the donations not reaching where they were desperately needed.
Dr Sharma said: “Everybody is donating because they want to get the right aid to the right people at the right time.”
Another appeal organiser, who asked not to be named, said tonnes of other donations from Catterick Garrison had been shipped to the Red Cross in India, but had not been moved to Nepal because of the taxes.
Guerilla gardeners who risked prosecution in order to tidy up eyesore sites have staged a protest.
A group of people who live at Morpeth last year trespassed onto the grounds of Northumberland County Council’s derelict 19th century Willows and Beechfield properties to carry out an impromptu clean up.
They have now staged a protest at the sites to call for the cherished buildings not to be bulldozed as part of new development planned, and for more consultation with local people.
The buildings, which are on the same site on Gas House Lane, date from before 1860. They were bought by the county council in 1930 with Willows subsequently used as a centre for the unemployed.
During the Second World War, Beechfield housed a first aid centre and air raid precautions headquarters while Willows was used by the Red Cross.
After the war the buildings were used by the employment committee and school grounds department, and in 1952 became the County Library headquarters.
Willows is a former care home.
However, both sites are said to have stood derelict for more than 10 years, with their grounds becoming overgrown.
Residents led by David E. Clark, of Morpeth Town Council, and friend Garry Featherstone, a building surveyor and Master Builder with a special interest in historic buildings, decided to take matters into their own hands in September last year.
They sought legal advice on the laws of trespass and gained access to the grounds to carry out a clean up.
Since then, the county council has unveiled plans for a riverside development at the sites, as part of a blueprint for the town and Northumberland as a whole.
The gardeners arranged a protest on Tuesday afternoon through Facebook group Morpeth Matters. Thirty people turned out at just 24 hours notice.
Coun Clark said protestors were motivated by desire to retain the cherished buildings in some form and a lack of involvement of local people in what is to happen at the sites.
“Thirty people turned up just to demonstrate their anger and frustration at the fact the county council have not even consulted with the general public, they just seem to take these decisions without any kind of consultation and they are here just to knock down our heritage.
“Morpeth has lost lots of old buildings. Once they are erased, they are gone forever. These buildings should be retained in some shape or form.”
The protestors have been backed by county councillor for Morpeth David Bawn.
“I am sure I am not the only person in Morpeth with some disquiet about the masterplan released by Northumberland County Council regarding the re-siting of various facilities in Morpeth, which to my mind goes against the spirit of the emerging Neighbourhood Plan.
“With specific reference to the attractive Victorian Willows building, I agree that this area of the riverside and corner of the town desperately needs to be redeveloped, but we must do all we can to protect our town’s historic built environment.
“It is self evident that any redevelopment must incorporate the existing historic buildings rather than demolish them.”
A county council spokesman said:
“The council believes that the existing library site and adjoining buildings at The Willows and Beechfield could form a site to be used for a landmark riverside development for the benefit of the town.
“These proposals are obviously at an early stage and are subject to a number of factors.
“We will be working with the town council and the neighbourhood plan group as we develop future proposals.”
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 14 May 2015
Here’s an idea… forget the spin-doctors and the mainstream media and instead explore the political landscape via the music it’s inspiring.
You probably won’t have heard much, if anything, of what follows. It’s not played on the TV or radio, the political parties themselves don’t know it exists and almost certainly wouldn’t care for it if they did – with one exception. There is one party who understand the concept very well – can you guess which one ?
This is folk music (small ‘f’), music performed by folk, singing about their concerns. For the most part it’s DIY recordings and videos, probably made on no budget at all in most cases, and released into the wild via Youtube and other sites.
It’s not-for-profit, its makes no money for corporations, it almost certainly wont be on your radio. But its inventive, satirical, funny, vitriolic and often thought-provoking. What else do you need ?
Once upon a time, protest music like this would have been the domain of either a person with a guitar (the folkie approach) or a band (the punk approach). Both would have had to use a recording studio for best results, press records or cassettes, and then have to distribute them.
It all took time and money.
Nowadays you can have a recording studio on your PC, record and mix your track and within minutes post it on the internet. Within an hour it could be heard by more people than you’d ever have believed possible in the old days.
What follows is a selection of these songs. They are mainly protesting against various parties or individuals – there are actually very few songs promoting political parties, and they are usually pretty dire – as an example I’d point you towards ex-Radio 1 DJ Mike Read’s ‘Ukip Calypso’, which had to be withdrawn from sale after claims that it was racist. I reckon it was the attempt to sing it in a fake West Indian accent that did it.
Ukip tried to salvage something from the wreckage by saying that all proceeds would go to the Red Cross to help fight Ebola, only for the Red Cross to reply;
“As a neutral organisation, we cannot benefit from something which overtly supports one political party.
“In addition, the Red Cross has a proud history of helping refugees and asylum seekers who are negatively referred to in the lyrics.”
Read later told BBC London:
“People are very, very, very quick to take offence now at something that years ago would have been deemed to be a bit of satire and a bit of fun..”
Could this be the same Mike Read who in 1984 was instrumental in getting the BBC to ban Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s “Relax” on the grounds that it was obscene ? I think it could.
For the record (sic) “Relax” subsequently shot to Number 1 in the charts, stayed there for five weeks, going on to enjoy prolonged chart success throughout that year and ultimately becoming the seventh best-selling UK single of all time.
Banning things rarely makes them go away.
Well, since we were talking about Ukip, I’ll start with selection of songs about them.
There are lots of them ! I’ve chosen a small selection of my favorites.
Interestingly, there are a lot of female artists recording anti-Ukip songs…make what you will of that.
Anyone who reads Private Eye will know that Ukippers tend to have a very low tolerance of satire directed against them, so perhaps they might want to skip therest.
The rest of you… enjoy !
Who Put The U In UKIP? – David Goody
(Dont) Vote Ukip – K Pizz
Fab Farage: A UKIP Odyssey (featuring Stella)
The Daily Mail UKIP Song
Ukip – Jonny & The Baptists
And my favorite…
Lets put the blight back into Blighty
Like the Dark Ages, but more white-y
Song For UKIP – Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre
To be continued…
NHS spending on private ambulances has soared in the North East, new figures have revealed.
The North East Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust’s spending on private ambulance services has more than quadruped between the financial years 2011/12 and 2013/14, figures from Freedom of Information Requests show.
In 2011/12 the amount spent was £639,820, but this rose a staggering 353% to £2,898,275 in 2013/14.
However, other ambulance services maintained lowest levels of spending across the period while one even reduced its reliance on private vehicles.
Over the same period, average ambulance response times – the period between a logged call and the vehicle’s arrival – increased by 51 seconds in the North East.
A spokesperson for the North East Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust said:
“While it’s true that average ambulance response times have increased over the last three years, so too has the volume of calls being dealt with by our contact centre.
“Despite this marked increase in activity, the North East Ambulance Service remains one of the best performing in the country for reaching those patients most in need.
“To put it in perspective, our average response time to an emergency in 2011 was 5 minutes 11 seconds. In 2014, it is six minutes. Both of which are well within the national target of eight minutes.
“Organisations such as Red Cross and St John have been used to a greater extent over the last year, again as a consequence of demand.
“There is also a national shortage of paramedics due to the longer three-year-period it now takes to complete the required degree. NEAS hopes to have an extra 140 paramedics by 2016.”
Official NHS figures show that across the country even ambulances for the most serious cases are taking over a minute longer to reach patients than three years ago.
NHS ambulance services across England are now spending close to double the figure on private ambulances when compared to 2012, with parts of the country seeing a 10-fold rise.
Andy Burnham, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary said:
“These figures show just how quickly the NHS is changing under David Cameron. Blue-light ambulance services have traditionally been considered part of the public core of the NHS. It is clear that no part of the NHS is now immune to privatisation.
“When people dial 999, most would expect an NHS ambulance crew to turn up. People have never been asked whether they think blue-light ambulance services should be run by private companies. Before this practice goes any further, there should be a proper public debate about it.
“NHS paramedics have raised concerns over whether private crews have sufficient training, competence and are fully equipped. The Government needs to provide urgent answers to these questions and provide assurances that this practice is not compromising patient safety.”
Source – Newcastle Journal, 21 Oct 2014
Labour run North Tyneside Council has had to cancel an attempt to introduce voluntary prepaid benefits cards after only two claimants volunteered to take part. The council claimed that the scheme was misrepresented as being aimed at drug and alcohol users.
The council’s attempts to launch the cards predates Iain Duncan Smith’s announcement to the Conservative party conference last month, in which he said:
“I have long believed that where parents have fallen into a damaging spiral – drug or alcohol addiction, even problem debt, or more – we need to find ways to safeguard them – and more importantly, their families, their children, ensuring their basic needs are met.
“That means benefits paid, I always believe, should go to support the wellbeing of their families not to feed their destructive habits.
“To that end, conference, today I can stand here and announce to you that I am going to start testing prepaid cards onto which we will make benefit payments so that the money they receive is spent on the needs of the family, finally helping I believe to break the cycle of poverty for families on the margins.”
In fact, prepayment cards have already been extensively tested on failed asylum seekers, who are obliged to use an Azure card produced by French multinational Sodexo.
Users of the card report that they are treated negatively, that the cards often don’t work and that they are prevented from buying cheaper fruit and vegetables from markets.
One user told the Red Cross:
“You go to [one of the approved retailers] and it’s just refused when they swipe it…. So sometimes you can go for a week without food…. If it happens by Friday – at the weekend they are closed. Then you tell them on a Monday that this is what happened, and they tell you it will take three to four days. So already you’re half of the week.”
So, the claim by North Tyneside deputy mayor that they wanted to give people
“. . . a financial life-line to better managing their finances so they could be more independent in the future and provide them with great choices.’
may be genuine, but it doesn’t seem to reflect what actually happens when you take away people’s right to spend their money as they choose.
Source – Benefits & Work, 10 Oct 2014