Friday, 30 January 2009

More or Bore?

Posted by Chris:

I wrote the following which appeared in the Evening Gazette's 'More or Bore' column tonight:

MY wife Glynis and I hosted a meeting of the Association of British Counties (ABC) in Redcar recently. We wondered what a town still waiting for its promised regeneration had to offer visitors on a blustery cold Saturday in October.
The Committee usually meets twice per year in Warwickshire or Cheshire and holding it in the far northeast corner of the North Riding of Yorkshire meant a much longer journey for many members. But we needn’t have worried. It was the "stunning" scenery around the town that people mentioned when they arrived at the Nine 0 Club in West Dyke Road.
Fuelled by Glynis’s piping hot homemade soup, a number of members just had to walk down and have a look at the sea during the lunch break.
A digitised map of the historic counties has been produced and can be downloaded in Google Earth (KMZ) format and Arcview Shape (SHP) format.
It is fascinating looking at this on Google Earth, where a thin red line shows the county borders. Looking at where the Yorkshire/Lancashire border cuts through Todmorden Cricket Ground I am sure that you can make out the ‘scorch’ marks in the earth where the original hedge or ditch marking the boundary used to be.
By far the most interesting discussion at our meeting was about county flags. Members discussed how they could encourage each of England’s 39 historic counties to register county flags. Many have already done so and some have established designs. But how do you decide what the design should be and who should set the ball rolling? The Flag Institute will only register real counties, not regions, sub regions or administrative areas.
The Lincolnshire flag was chosen by listeners to BBC Radio Lincolnshire. The Westmorland flag has a white background with an apple tree design in the middle and two red bars across the centre but who is the appropriate body to register it? This was a problem that ABC agonised over at its meeting in Redcar.
We had learned at the previous meeting, in Coventry, that the Friends of Real Lancashire had tried to register the traditional red rose on a white background flag of the County Palatine but were turned down by the Flag Institute because a flag of that design had already been registered by Montrose. They had to settle for a red rose on a yellow background design.
First thing the following Monday morning the Yorkshire Ridings Society (YRS) contacted the Flag Institute. They accepted that the YRS was an appropriate organisation and that the white rose on a blue background flag was in general use in Yorkshire and beyond.
There followed an official ceremony in Hull just before Yorkshire Day involving the Lord Mayor. In early January 2009 the YRS is handing over the Yorkshire flag to the Lord Mayor of York at a ceremony in the Guildhall where it will take its place alongside the Union Flag and the flag of St George.
Click here to vote more or bore.

Thursday, 29 January 2009

People will not attend politicised area committees, say Lib Dems

Liberal Democrats on Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council have condemned as hypocritical attempts by the Labour Council to boost attendance at its Area Committees.

The Labour Council recently announced a poster campaign to encourage people to attend the five Area Committees.

But Liberal Democrats say that Labour’s interference in the committees is what has put people off in the first place, especially their cynical creation of the Greater Eston Area Committee. This just isn’t working.

When they took power in 2007 Labour immediately merged the Ormesby, Normanby and Eston Area Committee with the Grangetown, Teesville and South Bank Area Committee to create the huge “Greater Eston” Committee.

Attendances have slumped. At the December meeting only two members of the public attended.

Last year, only 2% of public questions came from the Ormesby Ward and about the same number from the Normanby Ward.

Labour Councillors continually usurp public questions raising their own concerns that could easily be dealt with through direct contact with Council officials.

Ormesby Lib Dem Councillor Glyn Nightingale (pictured) said:

“There is no rational justification for a local committee covering such a large area and so many people. There is absolutely no need for Labour to be so hung up on controlling every aspect of local affairs. It’s Labour control freakery at its worst. They’ve created an area committee to ensure they have a majority when there are rarely any votes for them to use their majority.

"Local people have shown what they think of Labour’s Greater Eston Area Committee. They are simply not going to them. This culminated in the embarrassing meeting in December last year when only two people were there for the meeting.

“The Area Committee is there for the public - not for Labour councillors to pursue their own agenda.”

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Entertaining Talk

Author and humorist, Chris Foote Wood, who achieved a year-long "Pier crawl" around every seaside pier in Britain, promises to give an entertaining illustrated talk and answer questions at Redcar Library on Tuesday, January 13 at 2pm. Tickets, priced £2.50 and including afternoon tea, are available from all Redcar and Cleveland Council libraries.