All in the eye of the beholder

I didn’t think I would come across anybody as obsessed as me when it comes to litter and the general state of our district, but a recent email has proven me wrong!  The three group of photos below were sent to one of our officers in support of a complaint.  As you will see, they are of a very rural landscape blighted, albeit very mildly, by litter.  Following on from these photos are a set of pictures I took recently, of what the people of Spalding are having to put up with.  The message here?  If you think what you are suffering is bad madam, just get a load of these!

That’s not to say that this lady isn’t absolutely right to be angry at the disgusting behaviour that leads to this mess – she is.  However, she goes on to berate the district council for not carrying out regular litter picks and street cleaning, complaining that she pays a lot more council tax here than when she lived down south.  That may be the case overall, but I doubt that she got her refuse and recycling collected weekly, along with the street cleaning and litter picking we are able to do, for just over £1 a week.  If the people of South Holland wanted a better standard of street cleaning, they would complaining to their district councillors on a regular basis wouldn’t they?  They would also be telling us that if we wanted their votes at the next elections, we would be doing something about these issues.  Unfortunately, from my point of view, they aren’t.  

The lady in question is also unhappy with the weekly collections as we use bags and not wheelie bins.  Unfortunately, this is where we have to part company, as I consider wheelie bins to be nearly as much of a blight of our roads and streets as littering and fly tipping is. 

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Welcome to England – have a KFC!

Oh the irony of it; an advert portraying a ‘typical’ British family (although I couldn’t spot the 0.4 part of the 2.4 kids) sitting down to enjoy a welcome to England meal with a teenage visitor from France.  His introduction to the typical English mealtime? a Kentucky Fried Chicken family meal!  Kind of says it all doesn’t it.

Sunday opening, fool’s gold?

Sometimes I feel like a second rate Nostradamus, when something I was whinging about weeks or months previously, actually comes to pass. Having accused George Osborne of being a closet Yank, because of his willingness to see a planning free for all used to drive his growth agenda, we now see that he is proposing to relax the Sunday Trading Laws for a trial period. Don’t be surprised to see the trial continue without a break, as all George’s mates in the retailing industry, continue to shamelessly lobby him, for it to become the norm.

As well as regretting this further erosion of what supposedly makes Sunday different from every other day of the week, I would question what the rationale for this change is. Apart from transferring more money from the pockets of hard pressed working people into the bulging bank balances of shareholders, how will this change help the recovery, or offer real growth?

We, the British public are constantly being berated by our politicians for having too much personal debt and told to reduce our reliance on credit to feed our naked consumerism. Yet George Osborne is about to propose something that can only make that debt grow further, as a bored public, credit cards in hand, now spend their Sundays wandering the aisles of department stores stores full of tempting imported consumer goods.

Also, how is increasing retail spending supposed to improve the national debt situation overall? With most of the goods purchased coming from foreign imports and not from home grown manufacturers, how does that help the dire financial situation we currently find ourselves in? No doubt the increase in VAT taken, combined with the increase in tax businesses will have to pay on their takings, will make the Government’s balance sheet look slightly better. However, given that there is every chance that this will be at least equalled by an increase in personal debt, isn’t this just fool’s gold?

Steppingstone Bridge update

16 March 2012 – Some progress made on the Steppingstone Bridge cleanup campaign. The two overflowing skips have disappeared already – thank you NW, now what about the rest of it please?

A clean up team from SHDC has cleaned up the glass and used a portable vacuum to clean-up the dog ends and grime that had collected in the nooks and crannies. They’ve also cleaned up the litter and rubbish around the approaches.

No doubt it will be made a mess of again in a day or two, but we’ll just have keep redoing it until people get the message that making a mess of our environment is unacceptable and we won’t put up with it.

Time for Network Rail to show Spalding some respect

Below is the text of a letter I have recently sent to Network Rail about the disgusting state of both the Steppingstone Bridge and the areas around it.  I also included some, but not all, of the photographs shown below.

Whilst taking these photos, members of the public told me that a bottle had been smashed on the bridge steps.  I immediately asked the district council street cleaning team if they could find out who was responsible for the cleaning of this area.  Not for the first time, the team avoided any temptation to hide behind the ’not my job guv’ excuse we often hear from other agencies and just went out and cleared it up  – thank you guys!

The state of the bridge area has undoubtedly become far worse since Network Rail insisted on foisting their second hand cast-off bridge from Aylesbury upon Spalding.  The hideously ugly galvanized steel fence, Network Rail then installed to protect a stack of pallets, two overflowing skips and the scrap metal old bridge, has added further to the rundown and hostile feeling that must be experienced by anybody crossing the bridge.  Network Rail’s choice of material and style of fencing is completely inappropriate for a rural market town such as ours.  Unfortunately, this is typical of the arrogance and disdain Network Rail has displayed throughout the whole Steppingstone Bridge replacement fiasco.

To add insult to injury, during installation of these defences, Network Rail ignored the fact that the solitary lamp post serving the bridge, was responsibility of Lincolnshire County Council Highways Dept and incarcerated it behind their fence. This has prevented any maintenance by LCC and means the light has now not worked for nearly 2 years!

So, as well as the design of the bridge meaning users cannot see who else is on it as they approach it, the top deck of the bridge is a black hole during the hours of darkness.  This means that females pedestrians will not risk using it at night and will instead walk, or possibly even drive, the long way around in to the town centre.

The emerging proposals for the redevelopment of Holland Market offer, Network Rail a unique opportunity to become good neighbours to Spalding.  In the same way that National Grid are sorting out the site of the old Spalding Gas Works, Network Rail should seek to cooperate with the Holland Market developers, to regenerate the eyesore they have created.  I understand the old 5 Shed site, next to the Sainsbury roundabout, is also being considered for inclusion in any plans and this could be continued on to include the Network Rail waste land.

Even if Network show no inclination to be come involved in the project, it is completely unacceptable for them to leave their site in its current state.  In its current condition and because of the ongoing neglect of bridge and the area around it, Steppingstone Bridge is both a blight and an embarrassment for Spalding.

I therefore urge all of those who care about Spalding and wish Network to show the town and its residents some respect, to write to the address below, demanding action.

Community Relations Complaints Procedure                    9 March 2012
Network Rail HQ
Kings Place
90 York Way
London N1 9AG

Ref: Stepping Stones Bridge, Spalding – Rubbish and graffiti 

Please find attached sample photographs of the current state of the above subject bridge and its surrounding areas.  All these images were taken on the afternoon of 8 March 2012. 

1.  I request that you carry out urgent remedial work on the bridge surrounds to clear all the rubbish and on the bridge itself to remove the offensive graffiti.  I accept that this is not caused by Network Rail operations, but by the residents of the town.  Nonetheless, your company has a responsibility to maintain the area.  Also, Network Rail was warned that replacing the original bridge with one of this design would make it a prime target for graffiti.

2.  I would also request information on when Network Rail intend cleaning up the waste land surrounding the whole bridge area.  This undoubtedly increases the general impression that the area is abandoned and rubbish dumping is therefore acceptable.

Can the nursing profession change?

Yet another high profile report from the great and the good, stating the blindingly obvious – nurses need to be compassionate and caring above everything else. Those who started the vocation, such as Florence Nightingale knew this, as did the many dedicated nurses who followed her. Yet at some point in recent past history, the trendy thinkers managed to get hold of the vocation and turn it in to a profession that puts more emphasis on being clever than caring. We now have hospitals populated by an over qualified group of nurses who seem to of forgotten what the job is a out.

Is it likely that some report is going to make a difference, without a root and branch overhaul of those setting the standards and delivering the training – sadly I suspect not, as many of those in those positions are themselves products of the same damaged process.