Friday, 25 October 2013
I`ve always quite fancied doing one of those articles where you present two different views of an issue and let the reader decide which they prefer.
As it happens, the chance has just come up.
As I`ve already mentioned , proposed cuts to the Fire and Rescue Service in Derbyshire are proving to be an emotive issue locally*.
For more information on the proposals, including a consultation document outlining the proposed changes, and a reference document providing more information and background reasoning, click here ;
This also gives you the chance to respond to the consultation and there is information on the six consultation events taking place throughout the region during November.
For details of the FBU campaign against the cuts, and the reasoning behind their opposition, click here ;
As you`ll notice, the FBU also provide a link to the DFand RS Consultation and encourage people to respond.
That`s enough from me on this subject, now it`s over to you.
For a bit of background ;
* Nick Osmond - Save Heanor Fire Station - this blog, 25 Oct 2013
* Nick Osmond - Catch a Fire ? - this blog, 11 Oct 2013
Thursday, 24 October 2013
Not so long ago I mentioned the possible closure of Heanor Fire Station as part of a parcel of cuts to the Fire Service in Derbyshire (`Catch a Fire ?`, this blog, 11 October 2013).
There is now a fledgling campaign against the closure.
Particularly good was an eloquent letter to the local paper ( www.ripleyandheanornews.co.uk ) by a local resident which appeared under the heading `Vital Community Role for Fire Crews` in the issue dated Thurs 24 Oct 2013.
Like me, the writer picked up on the strong sense of community prevalent among the retained firefighters of Heanor , giving details of various activities undertaken by the crew locally. One in particular may be worth highlighting here ;
"When Coppice Primary School were celebrating their 60th anniversary the local fire crew came to our summer fair event with their fire engine and four crew members. They did this entirely voluntarily giving up their own time to support our event and more importantly to let our children experience a fire engine close up."
There is now a Facebook group , `Save Heanor Fire Station`, begun by firefighter Alistair Patrick, who points out, tellingly, that the Heanor crew have experience totalling over 100 years between them. In that context I would just re-iterate my earlier point that an area like this with a heavy engineering presence throws up situations, e.g. chemical spills, rarely if ever experienced by crews elsewhere.
A problem with the Facebook campaign is that it does not really show up on most search engines. You can be sure the Fire Authority will be checking online to assess strength of feeling on the issue and at present there is little to see by just making general searches. That is why experienced campaigners usually use a blog or website in addition to social networking sites. This article is my own humble contribution to addressing this issue !
It is early days yet and I understand a petition is being circulated locally, which may generate more media attention.
I`m not a Facebook type of guy myself, but the FB campaign is an open group headed `Save Heanor Fire Station`. I`ve mentioned this before, but here are some other links that may proves useful ;
It is worth mentioning that two other stations in Amber Valley, Crich and Alfreton, are also facing possible closuure. I assume their will be grassroots campaigns organised in those areas too, but I`m not aware of any details.
Friday, 18 October 2013
Anyone who was interested in my posting(s) on the work of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission not so long ago may be interested in a new book, David Crane`s Empires of the Dead, which tells the story of the CWGC`s founder, Major General Sir Fabian Ware
To learn more, click here ;
On the Web
Other Commonwealth organisations ;
Wednesday, 16 October 2013
This blog has always had a lot of respect for Ross Bradshaw of Nottingham`s Five Leaves Publications.
For that reason, it was interesting to learn of his latest proposed venture, an independent bookshop in the city centre.
To learn more, click here ;
Sunday, 13 October 2013
Now for something more topical !
A number of online sources have reproduced a recent article by Cat Hobbs on the provision of public services..
The first part of the article concerns itself with her support for a Public Service Users Bill and distrust of the government`s Open Public Services initiative. That part of the article need not detain us, except to note that at some points she seems in danger of undermining her own organisations` campaign *.
The part I wish to highlight comes later ;
"Public services need to be run by people who care about people, and - crucially - who are given the time they need to do a good job.
This social purpose is often found in the public sector, and it can also be found in democratically controlled and accountable co-operatives, mutuals, social enterprises and voluntary organisations. The Social Value Act made it easier for Local Authorities to outsource with social purpose in mind.
Any organisation that delivers public services must be responsible to service users in a clear and concrete way. We believe that when co-operatives, mutuals, social enterprises and charities play a role in delivering public services, robust safeguards should be in place to protect the public interest. They must be accountable to service users, all profits must be re-invested in improving the service, there should be an asset lock to keep public money safe, and the service must revert to the public sector if the organisation fails."
I make no apology for having edited her text in quite a big way to bring out the points I wanted to emphasise, but I`ll provide a link to the full article for those who want it**.
She goes on to promote a set of "guidelines on what a good public sector mutual should look like", produced jointly by Co-operatives UK and the TUC*** .
My own thinking is that we do need to break out of the stale left versus right, public versus private debate which so fascinates our politicians and pundits and look at the question of whether things could be done in a more innovative way in future. This seems as good a place to start as any.
For those new to the whole question of co-operatives, mutuals etc (and I`m no expert), a good place to start is www.thenews.coop .
* Cat is Director of the organisation `We Own It`, which is laying great stress on the fact that there is overwhelming support from Conservative voters for two of it`s key proposals ( http://weownit.org.uk/public-service-users-bill )
** Cat Hobbs - `Lets Co-operate for a Public Sector Users Bill - Co-Operative News, Unknown Date but circa Sep 2013
*** Anthony Murray - `Co-Operatives UK and TUC Team Up to Protect Public Sector Mutuals - Co-Operative News, 23 August 2013
**** Apologies for the lack of proper links, but the Co-Operative News web site kept freezing ****.
This blog has already mentioned jazz singer Jeanie Barton. This youthful chanteuse has already built up quite a following in the area, working with local hepcats such as keyboard player Bob Hudson.
Anyone wishing to see Jeanie live can catch her play a guitar-and-voice set at Beeston Jazz Club on 6 December 2013 with six-stringed strummer and picker Matt Chandler.
Details here ;
The other day I was walking through Ilkeston, Derbyshire when it came to my mind that I`d forgotten to update `This Month`s Good Cause` yet again.
A couple of minutes later I noticed a poster advertising the Friends of Victoria Park. As the name implies, this is a historic local park and as it happens one that has happy associations for me.
The `Friends of...` thing is a great tradition that I wholeheartedly approve of - you can be a Friend of West Norwood Cemetery, of Cromford Canal, of numerous museums, theatres, nature reserves and who knows what else. It`s all good.
For these reasons, and because it makes life easy, The Friends of Victoria Park, Ilkeston (www.friendsofvictoriapark.com) are , somewhat belatedly, This Month`s Good Cause.
The idea behind TMGC was that each moth I would select a good cause that might interest people. I`ve attempted to strike a balance between the national (Brake ; The Road Safety Charity), the local (Friends of Cromford Canal, Derbyshire Blood Bikes) and the international ( Anti Slavery, Commonwealth War Graves Commission).
The prolific penmanship of Nottingham-based writer W W Morgan continues apace.
With a number of novels and a collection of short stories available through his 88Tales imprint, this redoubtable writer has made good on his often-expressed intention of making a number of short stories available online, some being his own and others being the work of other writers.
Find them here ;
I have to admit they`re not really my cup of tea - I`d probably prefer something like his novel The Assassin`s Wedding. Anyway, that`s who he is, that`s what he does - have a look and make up your own mind.
When they feel adventurous in Aldercar, Alfreton and Ambergate, when a restless breeze blows through Bargate, Butterley and Belper, they turn their attention to Amber Valley Info.
You can do so to ;
Friday, 11 October 2013
Late last month, Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service announced a plan to reduce the number of fire stations in the area from 31 to 20.
Their proposal, which is to be the subject of a public consultation, is that 19 stations will close, but that 8 new stations would open, each covering a larger area that those it replaces. The suggestion is that the selling-off of land which previously housed a closed station will provide revenue to offset the cost of setting-up new stations.
The D Fand R S/Derbyshire Fire Authority accept that there will be a reduction in response times, albeit not a dramatic one (currently 80% of engines arrive at the scene of a fire within ten minutes, a figure they believe will fall to 75%), and they hope this will be partly offset by the use of 30 new Community Safety Officers engaged in fire prevention work in areas which have lost their local station.
I don`t particularly want to get into a huge discussion about all the ramifications of these proposals, but I do want to draw attention to one area where there are other factors to consider.
One of the stations tentatively scheduled for closure is Heanor Fire Station, which is my local station. It so happens that a year or two ago I met two of the retained firefighters based there. Retained firefighters are a bit like lifeboat men without the sea. They have regular day jobs but they are effectively volunteers who can be called upon if they are needed in their area. Importantly, a requirement of the post is that they live and work only a few minutes from their local station.
A couple of things have stayed in my mind about my metting with these two. One was the very real sense of community they felt, the other was the wide range of calls they have to respond to. You might think, as I did, that they mainly respond to fires and traffic accidents, but you would be wrong. Given the nature of the area, with a strong manufacturing/engineering sector, they are required to attend the scenes of chemical spills and other incidents involving hazardous materials much more frequently than would be usual in other areas.
I don`t really believe that level of expertise and commitment is going to be readily replaced by a bit of education about fire prevention. However you might feel about the cuts generally what you have to ask yourself is, do we want to lose that valuable experience ?
Form your own opinions ;
Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service - www.derbys-fire.gov.uk
Derbyshire Fire Authority - www.derbys-fire.gov.uk/derbyshire-fire-and-rescue-authority
Fire Brigades Union - www.fbu.org.uk
Derbys FBU 1 - www.fburegion6.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=47
Derbys FBU 2 - www.fbu.org.uk/?page_id=722
Retained Firefighters Union - http://therfu.org
Ripley and Heanor News - www.ripleyandheanornews.co.uk
Friday, 4 October 2013
"History makes it look as though everyone knew what they were doing all along. In fact, it wasn`t like that at all. Stuff happened by accident or had the opposite result from what was intended. That`s what `How to Change the World with a Ball of String` is about - times when history wasn`t very sensible."
Author Tim Cooke, on his book `How to Change the World...` (Scholastic, 2011)