Tuesday, 31 December 2013

New Year same old ramblings

Well I'm still skimming through the information regarding Buxton Social Services, that will have to wait for the New Year and I have spoken to quite a few people regarding it.

But in a look back at this year what has happened.

Well locally we found out that the Fire Brigade were as bonkers as the ambulance chaps with their wanting to close down stations throughout the High Peak and working on the spin that less is more and as forecast the public haven't fallen for it one bit. We will have to see if Labour run High Peak & Derbyshire County councils do I guess.

Speaking of the ambulance service in the High Peak, East Midlands Ambulance Service has had three chief executives this year. While West Midlands Ambulance Service, what EMAS based it's Being the Best reforms on have done a u-turn and started basing double crewed ambulances in the areas that it only said needed car response vehicles. Not that hitting targets rather than helping patients is the priority. Things like this I am sure will be having a factor on the 2015 general election.

More & more people are using food banks in the High Peak, we don't have any figures as the government decided it would stop collecting data on such things. The Coalition government certainly are not making themselves very popular in the county what with food banks, the Back-to-work-scheme which I have heard is around 3% effective and probably costing us tax payers an arm & a leg. The proposed cuts to ambulance & fire cover. Though a lot of people I speak to point the finger at the last Labour government for the financial mess we're in as a nation.

The area ground to a halt in March due to snow (which was brilliant I haven't seen it that bad for quite a while). Another good reason not to close your ambulance & fire stations.

Pavilion Gardens Buxton, in the snow.

Mrs Thatcher and Mr Mandela both passed away.

But what about next year?

Well we have the European Elections in May 2014 something which I think will be an indicator for the general election next year. I suppose it depends on how flooded the country gets with EU economic migrants as to how well UKIP does. The political theme of the town does seem very divided with the Labour supporters and those more to the right polarising more. Most people seem to be of the mind set that the Conservatives and Lib Dems haven't been able to get us out of the mess Labour landed us in. In truth most people I seem to speak to seem to be like Russell Brand that they're all as bad as each other and I'm not voting. It will be interesting to see what turn out there is.

Also the Scots will be voting to choose whether Scotland should remain part of the United Kingdom or not. This I think will be a biggy. Most of the online 'action' I have seen is for the Yes to split from the rest of the U.K.

I don't know if anyone has told the U.K. OK camp that you need to be doing things online way before the event rather than three weeks before hand. I for one hope Scotland doesn't leave the U.K. I think it will lead to the break up of the rest of the nation and we'll all be worse off. But it's for the Scots to decide what happens in Scotland.

Anyway that's my mega hurried review of the year. Mrs Sea Duck is saying my fry up is ready so all the best for 2014 my friends and don't let the buggers get you down.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Changes to Derbyshire Fire Service the debate goes on.

The debate on the proposed changes to Derbyshires Fire & Rescue services reached the House of Commons last night. With Toby Perkins MP for Chesterfield questioning the changes. This ws supported in the House by the MP for North East Derbyshire Natascha Engel, both Labour MP's. The government response was by Brandon Lewis MP who is the Minister for local government and Fire & Rescue. Also MP for that well known Derbyshire town of .......Great Yarmouth! (Unless my geography is really off that's not in Derbyshire.)

One of the main subjects of debate is the issue of new fire stations between 4-2 years old (like the one at Staden Lane in Buxton) now being in the wrong place.

You can access what Toby Perkins MP said by looking at his website. However, I have copied and pasted what the transcript is without interventions here.

"Derbyshire fire and rescue service provide the people of Derbyshire with stellar service and protection. We depend on them in fire, accident and flood.
They work in a County that has huge variances; from the busy City of Derby and largest town of Chesterfield, other smaller urban bases and large swathes of rural, hilly and remote parts of the Peak District.
Firefighters enjoy the respect and admiration of us all, not just for their untold bravery that sees them run towards burning buildings whilst the rest of us urgently back away but also because of their amazing life saving work and the horrors we know they witness during Road Traffic Accidents.
Firefighters everywhere are admired but in Derbyshire alongside the geographical challenges that face our force, there are many causes for pride.
They have won awards for the standard of care they provide to citizens and have worked to identify individuals at greatest risk and provided additional measures to protect them. The numbers of fires have reduced in recent years due to their tremendously proactive approach to fire prevention made possible by their outreach work fitting smoke detectors and educating citizens.
But Derbyshire faces an unusually high level of fire deaths in comparison to other counties. In 2012-13; 10 people were killed in fires in Derbyshire (one of the highest in the country) In Derbyshire there have been five fires in the past 3 and a half years in which children have died.
Now Mr Speaker, we know that Derbyshire Fire Authority and indeed all services in Derbyshire are operating in the most extreme and difficult financial circumstances imaginable.
The Minister represents a department that I think has been the most cowardly in all of government, because of all the big spending departments it has been the one that devolves the most of its funding and meanwhile it has taken the largest share of the cuts.
So at a time when other departmental budgets have been squeezed, the DCLG budgets have been crushed. Passing on all of the tough choices of austerity to Council leaders and Fire authorities around the country. Leaving it to Council leaders to decide whether to cut libraries or social care, whether to leave potholes in the road or cut community safety budgets, to decide whether to cut back on firefighters or reduce the fire prevention work.
I find it nauseating to hear the Sec of state praised by the Chancellor for agreeing to take on the largest cuts when he faces so few of the tough decisions and leaves others to face the petitions and campaigns against them.
And lets look at what that means to Derbyshire Fire Authority, an authority that has already delivered £3m in efficiency measures from an efficiency programme started in 2010.
But the Authority face a 40% reduction in funding between 2011/12 and 2015/16, to a 24/7 service that will have around 60 full time firefighters on duty at any one time.
So when we scrutinise the changes proposed to the Fire Service by Derbyshire’s ‘Fit to Respond’ document it must be viewed in this appalling context. And the true architect of these cuts’ is the Minister, the sec of state and the PM who has chosen that the cuts to the fire authority should outstrip the cuts faced by almost any public service budget.
They could have made different choices, they chose to reduce the tax bill of million pound earners and wasted billions with their botched Royal Mail privatisation, their £3Bn NHS re-organisation has seen service levels fall while the budgets remain constant, I could go on, but politics is all about choices and they will answer for theirs when the day comes.
The impact on Derbyshire is stark- In the report’s own words it will see the service deliver ‘less for less’ and in the words of the Derbyshire FBU ‘we think that these proposals can in no way, give the service to the same level of resilience.”
At the moment a fire engine will be at a life risk incident within 10 minutes 3 quarters of the time and at those deemed as most vulnerable in over 80% of cases. These plans would see this drop to 66%.
Last year they responded to 565 life risk incidents now a third (about 190 times) you would not see a fire engine within 10 minutes. Can you imagine Mr Speaker lives in danger and a 1 in 3 chance of the engine failing to turn up within 10 minutes.
The campaigns are starting up across Derbyshire to send the strongest message imaginable to the Fire Authority about the views of people in Derbyshire. In Staveley, in my and my Hon Friend for Derbyshire NE constituencies, people are campaigning to save the station that was built just three years ago.
I received an email today from Catherine Atkinson about the campaign that she and people across Long Eaton are waging to halt the closure of their station.
And of course in Chesterfield people are mystified and concerned about the plans for our town.
I was there as a Councillor for the Rother ward in Chesterfield in 2009 when the old Whittington Moor fire station was closed, and the new one was built at the Donkins roundabout, at a cost of £4.5 million.
We were told that it was a better venue for the service, closer to the motorway and to the area that had the most fires and when the Chesterfield retained unit was disbanded, the public were assured they would still be provided for by the two fire engines at Staveley and back up from Dronfield and Clay Cross. Under the new plans Dronfield and Staveley will disappear; and to allow the service to respond to these closures the brand new fire station will be moved a mile back up the road (I’m not making this up) to Whittington Moor, precisely where the original station was.
The Fire Authority tell us they want to spend £4.3 M replacing the £4.5 M station that still has its first coat of paint and unsurprisingly they will take a hit on the resale value. They estimate that a used fire station might get them a £1M but frankly I believe even that might be optimistic.
So where do these plans come from? Well Council papers show a variety of tough decisions ducked by Derbyshire County Council in the dying embers of its first Tory administration for 28 years. They left the Council sitting on a financial timebomb and left the tough choices until after the election. Was the consultation always designed to lead to this report? Certainly it was ready at the first meeting of the new Derbyshire Fire Authority and presented as the solution to the funding crisis that faced the authority,
The Fire Authority quote as their justification the response to the 2012/13 consultation launched by the Conservative Fire Authority shortly before the historic and huge Labour victory in Derbyshire in 2013.
This masterpiece of push polling included, as justification by the authority, that when the public was asked ‘if the service continues to face restrictions on its budget would you support the principle of matching the service’s resources to the level of risk in each area?”
Unsurprisingly 80% of the public responded to that extremely leading question by saying ‘yes’ but to use that as a justification for what we are discussing today is ludicrous.
Maybe if they had asked: “do you support us digging into the reserves to spend £4.3M on a new station to replace the £4.5M station that we build four years ago and moving back to precisely where we were before we started this nonsense” they might have got a different response.
But frankly Mr Speaker, I dont care where it came from, I only care where it goes now.
 Its not just Chesterfield and North Derbyshire that has a major problem.
The Ascot Drive fire station had a £3 million refurbishment in March 2012, that will be closed. Buxton was opened in 2011, at a cost of £3.5 million, that will go. Illkeston was also only opened in 2009,its going to go.
The merger of the 3 stations in Derby would cost £1 million and it is stated that the overall outcome of building a new station and closing three would be cost neutral but at what cost to service?
The publication of the desired locations for the new stations enables the current owners of the land to significantly increase their sale price, costing the tax payer yet more cash.
Financially it is illogical, in service terms inadequate, it means 108 FEWER full-time firefighters overall more reliance on retained firefighters and 30 Operational Community Safety Officers.
Where will these retained firefighters come from? On average it takes 6 months from the day of recruitment until a retained firefighter is fully trained and ready to fulfil their role. Working as a retained firefighter requires that individual to be within 5 minutes of the fire station location for 120 hours a week and the allowance they receive for this equates to around 50p an hour. There are already difficulties in recruiting and these changes are going to require a significant increase in recruitment. This proposal does not seem to have taken into account the impact on retention or the cost of recruiting all the replacements.
 I have worked with the FBU to assess the impact on existing retained firefighters and it makes sobering reading
-          For the current 13 staff that work at Duffield fire station ONLY 2 can make the 5 minute ‘turn in time’ for the new proposed station at Milford; the other 11 staff would need to relocate to keep their jobs.
-          None of the Dronfield current retained firefighters are able or willing to be within the 5 minute parameter of Eckington fire station.
-          Chapel en le Frith has 11 staff, NONE of whom can make the ‘turn in’ time or are willing to relocate nearer to Furness Vale.
-          There is a similar story in New Mills, Alfreton & Ripley
Derbyshire Fire Service is offering a ‘relocation’ package, the FBU expect that many firefighters will not take it due to family or personal commitments.
In just 2011 the Emergency Cover Review done by Derbyshire Fire and rescue service stated that the current fire stations are in the right locations. Why would you move your family away from schools and work, when it isn’t your main job and decisions about the future locations of fire stations seem to change so arbitrarily and so quickly?
If these changes are implemented it will effectively mean a recruitment freeze for 10 years into the fire service as a fulltime firefighter. A huge deskilling of firefighters as a whole generation is told ‘no vacancies here’.
The location of stations, appliances and firefighters are crucial in response times. It is both the weight and speed of response that is most crucial in saving lives and preventing serious injury for both the public and firefighters.  The fewer fire stations there are, the longer it will take firefighters to attend the incidents and the worse the condition of the fire.
There is also the risk of flooding as we know from the great floods of Chesterfield in 2007 when over 500 homes were flooded but mercifully no lives were lost, precisely the extreme weather which  means help is needed in numerous places at once covering  a wide geographical area across the county but centred on one service.
On the Sunday Politics Show the Prime Minister responded to a copy of the Derbyshire Times showing the scale of cuts facing us in Derbyshire by saying that: “I praise local councils for what they have done so far to make efficiencies without hitting front line services.”
That was (to put it kindly) a factual inexactitude of breathtaking audacity.
The front line is being hit, in the Police, in social services, in libraries, in Sure starts, in A&E and most certainly in the fire service.
No wonder the Conservatives have chosen to delete their no frontline cuts pledge from their website, they wont remove it from our memories as easily.
Could anyone claim the closure of 11 fire stations, loss of 16 fire engines and 108 full time firefighters is protecting frontline services!
This plan doesn’t just mean millions spent up front on the basis of savings in future, it doesn’t just mean millions spent just a few years ago will now go up in smoke; doesn’t just mean dedicated fire-fighters thrown out of work; doesn’t just mean years of experience lost and thousands to spend in recruitment costs, it means people in Derbyshire being less safe than they were.
In his response to a letter from my Hon Friend from NE Derbyshire, the Chief Fire officer admitted that the huge capital outlays were early action and would be funded by raiding the reserves to spend money today to save tomorrow. With the Labour party committed to a fairer funding formula for the fire service Derbyshire should rethink their plans, and members across the house should send the Minister the strongest possible message, these plans will reduce the service, will increase the likelihood of loss of life, will make Derbyshire people less safe and are illogical in financial and service terms. The people of Derbyshire and our heroes in the fire service deserve better than the cuts imposed upon them by this government, better than the vision for our service envisioned by this document, its time to start again."

There was also a public meeting in Buxton the other day which I did not attend, unlike the ambulance one, I do not know the result or outcome of that meeting. I'm sure it will be in next weeks Buxton Advertiser. 

You can still have your say online on the Fire & Rescue debate, it started on the 1st of October 2013 and will run for 12 weeks. You can use the link here to access it.

The debate continues, our own MP Andrew Bingham was not present I understand. I looked for the debate on the BBC iPlayer, on BBC Parliament but did not find it.

Buxton Social Services

I am still reading, listening and speaking to people with regard to my previous post. Please bare with me while I try to get as much information as I can before I blog. I will get there, just quite a bit of information to go through.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Buxton Social Services

With all the focus locally on the changes to the ambulance and fire services within the High Peak, the fall out from New Mills council (see High Peak Transparency) for more information. It would seem now isn't the time to raise questions with regard to social services. We have enough to deal with at the moment, Derbyshire County Council is supposedly axing 1600 jobs to help balance the budget. But poor old Sea Duck has been sent some information that I am eager but at the same time slightly worried to blog about.

It regards the actions of a children's social worker based in Buxton, the subsequent investigation which reflects badly on other agencies like SureStart, one of the local schools perhaps even one of the local GP practises.

This matter has been investigated by the local government ombudsman (LGO) a much under used resource in my opinion but when I read their report considering the information I now have, which I am assuming was also sent to them, well their conclusion beggers belief to be frank. A very poor job by the LGO.

I need to speak to a legal friend of mine before I go much further, to check if I can progress and blog about this. 

I need to look at all the information in front of me, lots of paperwork, and I mean several very full files, as well as digital recordings, maybe speak to a few people too before I progress.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Pick n Mix - Fire Station Closures, Ambulance Hubs not opening and Corn Buntings

Here we go again.

This was the opening line on a Facebook group set up to help save the ambulance stations within the High Peak area. It refers to Derbyshire Fire & Rescue closing various stations including those in the High Peak. The BBC reported this at the end of September you can see the article here. The fire stations in New Mills (where East Midlands Ambulance Service base their ambulance and 4x4 response car, so where are they going to go) is to close along with Chapel-en-le-Frith, Whaley Bridge and Hathersage stations. Glossop station will be downgraded to a retained station. Buxton station will relocate somewhere in the area.

New Fire stations will be opening in Furness Vale & Bamford.

The absurd thing about the Buxton fire station is that it only opened down Staden Lane 2 years ago in October 2011 costing £3.5 million. The nickname for the site within the fire service was Tracey Island. As it was supposed to be able to operate the various emergency services out of it should the need arise.See what the local paper the Buxton Advertiser says here.

Various comments in cyber space have noted that these public consultations seem to have a pre-determined outcome (see the Being the Best sham regrading the local ambulance service). That they are merely a tick box exercise. We of course wait and see. I hope we'll all get a rebate on our council tax for all these services that we are loosing. There will I think be some political fall out from this. The people of the High Peak are getting repeatedly annoyed it seems at the resources in their area being axed. Or moved to other areas, like when they were proposing to close both Buxton & New Mills ambulance stations and move them to junction 29A on the M1 over Chesterfield as this would, according to the Being the Best consultation,  improve response times. Which as we all know is a completely potty idea. I can't imagine who in EMAS said that was 'okay' to release publicly. Totally nuts.Where that political fallout will land will be interesting.

You could argue that we have better fire safety now, we have smoke alarms, sprinkler systems, we're no longer filling settees and easy chairs with toxic foam. But the fire brigade don't just fight fires. The service is called Fire & RESCUE service. They do more than get cats out of trees. They rescue people from water, ice, trapped in buildings, stranded on hillsides (it's not just mountain rescue), in car accidents. They deal with prevention as well, monitoring carbon monoxide in flats as well as fire safety. And if you were unfortunate enough to have a house fire and found yourself trapped, it wouldn't be the police or ambulance you would call it would be the fire and rescue service. With the removal of stations in the High Peak and particularly the Hope Valley, I can only see their response times to an incident increasing. You may have a better chance of survival if you open your windows and shout for Superman.

When is an ambulance hub not a hub but a station?

Last week the Buxton Advertiser noted that there will be a delay in the building of a High Peak hub for our ambulance service. I couldn't find a link to the article online, not sure why the Advertiser hasn't posted one. However, after the Being the Best consultation we the residents of the High Peak were assured that the High Peak would retain an ambulance station. Here's what the Advertiser reported back in March this year. How this got upgraded to a hub I don't know. EMAS have different 'levels' of station.
1. Hubs which are more or less all singing and dancing with mechanics, supply crews , where all you have to do is jump on your ambulance and go.
2. An ambulance station where you have everything except mechanics & supply crews. The ambulance has to be maintained by the ambulance crew which is how the ambulance station operate now anyway.
3. Community ambulance stations, these will be port-a-cabins based in certain areas where ambulance crews can be positioned. Or as a friend or a friend of a friend told me a standby point where you park your ambulance. It won't be port-a-cabins all round. Which we have anyway, you may have seen the ambulance crews parked up at the bottom of Fairfield road in Buxton or Long Hill in Whaley Bridge.

EMAS only promised an ambulance station not a hub. Will this mean more funding from the CCG? Check out the North Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group website for more information. Just click on the High Peak locality.

Anyway hub or station we're not going to get one now until 2017 due to finance. If they were looking at basing some of their standby points at the fire stations I guess they're going to have to think again.

East Midlands Ambulance Service reported yesterday that they have a new interim chief executive a Ms Sue Noyles. She will replace Jon Sargeant, who replaced Phillip Milligan earlier this year (that's three chief executives, is this a poisoned chalice?) Anyway Ms Noyles has a proven track record of getting the best out of people. I hope Ms Noyles displays the practical common sense that seems to be lacking so far in the management of East Midlands Ambulance Service and shy away from the buzz word babble of spin that seems to have accompanied it. Which would enable us to have a better ambulance service with crews that weren't fighting their own fatigue from being run ragged due to lack of cover, available to respond when needed.

I wish Ms Noyles the very best of luck and hope she is the breath or fresh air and common sense that we need in this matter. 

They were Corn Buntings

As you will know dear reader I have been trying to identify some finch like birds in the Goyt Valley that I had seen. In fact it was starting to bug me a little. The other day I was back down there and bumped into a chap who knew his birds. I asked him if he could tell me what they were and he confirmed that they were corn buntings. He'd been down watching for the short eared owl that can sometimes be seen down there.
I also noted there was a flock of swallows still in Peak Dale. I went back twice this week and saw on Sunday 29th September there were around 10 still fluttering around. I went back yesterday the 1st October and there were none. So I guess that they are heading back to Africa.

Not so much Ramblings from the High Peak as Moanings, I'll try and keep it a bit more up beat next time.

Friday, 27 September 2013

Spring Migration 2

Well the swifts and house martins have gone from around Buxton as far as I can see.

I was over Peak Dale the other day and there was quite a large number of swallows feeding in the fields along upper end road. A flock of around 10-20 individuals. I would have thought that they would be heading back to Africa on their return migration. Other areaS where I see swallows like the Goyt Valley, Manchester Road in Buxton, Combs reservoir and Fernilee reservoir all seem to have recognised the shortening of the day light hours and flown away. However, the birds in Peak Dale don't seem to have picked up on this. It would be interesting to note the day they depart.

Has the recent warm spell thrown them off a little. There's still plenty of flying insects to feed on at the moment. I have seem several different types of caterpillars on my walks. Some large and green the others very hairy like little bears. Still lots of peacock butterflies around, so maybe this crazy weather that we've had this year has still thrown nature off a little. A friend of mine has got some broad beans flowering on his allotment. Maybe he'll get some beans before the year is over?

Another summer migrant that I thought would be well on it's way to Africa was a female wheatear that I spotted in the Goyt Valley yesterday afternoon. Feeding along the side of the dismantled railway line now frequented by dog walkers, it seemed to have little fear of me. Allowing me to get quite close. I was surprised to see a female wheatear still here, but delighted as it is a very pretty bird.

a male Wheatear

I still have to identify those finch-like birds in the Goyt. To be honest it's starting to bug me a little. Their the right colouring for Twite but I think their size is nearer that of corn buntings. There were several small flocks of them moving round the Goyt. I just couldn't get close enough for a proper identification check.

Corn Bunting

There were also the resident red grouse and pheasant. Though they were more silent than normal possibly to avoid detection by the buzzard that was flying low over the heather and grass. It was a wonderful sight to be able to look down on this mini-eagle and watch it from above. As it flew silently over the heather, just a foot or so off the ground. Not a behaviour I've seen them do before. Usually a buzzard is spotted up high in the sky as it sweeps the ground for rabbits.

There were also carrion crows, skylark and meadow pipits on the hillsides as well as mallard on the pond. Again no curlew or lapwing, then again the buzzard could have been a factor there.

The departure dates of our summer migrants (and our winter ones) as well as hangers on is of interest to the avian boffins at the RSPB and the BTO. They do as for volunteers to log such sightings in one of their online surveys. Here's a link to one that I use, BirdTrack.http://blx1.bto.org/birdtrack/main/data-home.jsp
Birdtrack logo copyright British Trust of Ornithology.
So if you do see something interesting flying around you can help out by logging it at BirdTrack, you don't have to be an expert to do so either.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Bakewell Ambulance Station to close within the next month

A friend of a friend of a friend has told me that Bakewell in the Derbyshire Dales will be loosing it's ambulance station within the next 30 days or so.

The news of the closure isn't anything new, as it was reported in the Matlock Mercury in March this year, however it is now going ahead.

The staff, vehicle and equipment will be moving to Matlock within the month.

According to East Midlands Ambulance Service Bakewell will now be covered from a standby point based 3.5 miles away at Rowsley. As outlined in their Being the Best proposals, which according to AA Route Finder would take 4 mins to travel. I do guess an ambulance on a 999 call would be moving quicker than normal road speed, so 4 mins is probably not accurate.

Quick question, I know the unpopular Being the Best where you can apparently do more with less proposals from EMAS say this will improve response times by 4%. As reported in the Matlock Mercury in March this year. Bakewell ambulance station is based next to Newholme Hospital, in Bakewell. How does adding 3.5 miles to the distance you have to travel improve your response time to Bakewell?

Of course you will have a crew or response car with a fully fresh paramedic as they have been comfortable at the Community ambulance station (standby point) which I understand has not yet been created.

Bakewell ambulance station don't just cover Bakewell, they are the nearest ambulance based outside the High Peak area if we need extra cover. Also they cover Ashford-in-the-Water, Baslow, Monyash, Great Longstone, Calver, Stoney Middleton and further into the Hope Valley. As well as the Chatsworth Estate. However, if they were responding from Rowsley, they would have to zoom up the B6012 past Beeley to the Chatsworth Estate, it's nearer by 0.2 of a mile. Again according to AA route finder. I guess it would also shorten the distance need to travel for Youlegrave as well. So not all bad I guess.

Also I don't know if Bakewell ambulance station, whether the building has reached the end of it's life? Is it in dire need of repairs and maintenance that are of a high cost? Then again if that was the case you can see the sense in garaging the vehicles elsewhere, but why not put your standby point sorry community ambulance station (that term is such a good example of spin it's unreal) at Newholme Hospital? Is there a tenure that is coming to and end and then have to move?

It's all very confusing and I for one will be interested in how things develop and whether this leads to better target hitting but worse patient care. More reliance on private ambulance services, which would increase running costs? At the end of the day the result we want is better patient care. I am unsure whether the Being the Best proposals which claim these proposals will improve patient care will actually deliver.

Remember Matlock station where the Bakewell vehicles and crews are moving to is also ear-marked for eventual closure too.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Lovely mornings and electronic cigarettes.

What to comment on today. I do like this blogging lark, gives someone like me a chance to ramble on.

The weather for the next few days is improving. Saturday looks like a wash out however if you live in the High Peak you'll be used to a few downpours.

Buxton has its own microclimate I'm sure.

Noticed a new shop the other day. One of those electronic cigarette shops. I understand the correct term is vaping. As I understand it, there is no smoke. Just a vapour that is breathed out. So it is in theory healthier. Effectively the person vaping is hydrating the nearby atmosphere. It does sound better, I know that there isn't as much research, medical wise, into it as there is smoking. Which we all know is very bad for you. The electronic cigarettes lack the additional chemicals that you find in tobacco based ones. I think I'll look into this a little further and let you know what I find out.

It is a lovely morning so I guess I'll leave cyberspace and go and enjoy the great outdoors. In other words get the outside job that Mrs Sea Duck will no doubt as me to do.

Have a great day everyone.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

General Ramblings....................

We I haven't blogged for a while, the Sea Duck mobile is not feeling very well so me and my faithful Abyssinian wire-haired tripe hound have been going elsewhere like Grin Low, Cunning Dale, Woo Dale and Lightwood Reservoir as our daily walkies to the Goyt Valley can't happen cause the car's kaput!

Chrome Hill from Parkhouse Hill

Oh well, c'est la vie.

Various things have happened, the Chief from East Midland Ambulance Service has gone to greener pastures. The common thought is he'll reappear in the East of England Ambulance service or Kings Mill Hospital. After EMAS's disastrous 'Being the Best' consultation where Mr Milligan promised to keep an ambulance station in the High Peak, does this mean that his going from the service will mean the promise will disappear with him?  I hope not, however, the acting chief a Mr Jon Sargeant is sticking with the 'Being the Best' proposals. You know where they can do more with less and was the subject of much jaw dropping from MP's, Councillors, GP's, Staff, Unions and general public, and much asking of the questions 'How?' I could and maybe one day I will write pages on this but for now I wish Mr Milligan all the best in his new position where ever it may be and hope Mr Sargeant is on the appointment list for the common sense fairy.

The sun behind some trees on the shoreline of Fernilee Reservoir.
New job figures show the unemployment is falling. Is it? Mrs Sea Duck is actively seeking work, but she's doesn't get Job Seekers Allowance, this is because you can only claim for a certain number of weeks. She had her JSA cancelled as she had overrun this time period and is now actively seeking work, but sadly at the moment unemployed. So she's not claiming JSA which appears to be how the figures are worked out, but she's not employed either. So I'm not sure I believe the figures given out by the government today.  Not claiming JSA doesn't mean employed.
Sunset over the Goyt Valley

Someone threw an egg at Labour Party leader Mr Milliband today. He took it rather well and made a joke about how good the market was for the availability of eggs. Not sure that was the way to re-act. I mean if he and other politicians make jokes about having eggs thrown at them maybe more people will throw then to hear a good jest. Okay unlikely that would be a reason, let's face it, it is common assault really and I don't want to seem like I'm egging (sorry) anyone on here. But would the 'not bothered' reaction be really the right one? When an egg was thrown at Mr Prescott he turned round and gave the thrower a very nice right hand jab, right on the chin. Did anyone throw eggs at him again? No they did not.

Did Mr Milliband's response show him to be a good egg, who knows? Okay I'm going to stop now.

Rather serious things are going on at New Mills town hall, you can read about it at fellow blogger's site High Peak Transparency

I'm enjoying the cooler weather, not one for the baking heat me, the weeds on my allotment are loving the warm wet weather. I can see Mrs Sea Duck sticking dealing with those on my to-do list. It would be nice to blog a bit more but duty calls.

Until then be happy everyone.

Saturday, 3 August 2013

CRoW act 2000 in Goyt Valley ends

Well the CRoW act 2000 that was enforce until the 31st July has now passed.

This morning I went down around 6 am to the dismantled railway path to see if there was any improvement in the ground nesting birds there.

The act was in place mainly to help curlew and lapwings restore their numbers. As I previously noted I had seen curlew down there but not lapwings. Lapwings are found on the pasture land nearer Buxton town and towards Fernilee.

One thing of note was a brown hare that I saw. I've never seen one in that area of the Goyt Valley before. There was also a mallard with ducklings on the pond near the car park. One very noticeable bird present was the red grouse. I saw and heard quite a few of them. I came across a flock of around 12 very near the car parks. Possibly looking forward to the glorious 12th. There was also a kestrel as well as meadow pipits in some number. An unrecognised type of finch was also seen. Pheasant was also heard. A cormorant was spotted on Errwood Reservoir.

No sign of any curlew or lapwings.

 A few people were out walking their dogs. I counted five in total, all on their leads and walked by friendly middle aged ladies. Who were quite happy to exchange the time of day with old Sea Duck. One noted that the act was a 'bit of a pain' but had just changed location for the exercising of their pet. Another noted about the increase in legislation on dog owners. An interesting point.

Another thing I noted was an increase in flowers. There was a very delicate white one that particularly caught my eye. Has the lack of canines running over the ground encouraged them?

Anyway the act has passed and while I saw no increase in either curlew or lapwing, other wildlife does seem to have benefited from the act being in force.

Saturday, 8 June 2013

CRoW act 2000 in force in the Goyt Valley.

What a glorious few days it has been in the High Peak. Wall to wall blue skies. Quite a few sunburned faces around including my own, must remember stronger sun block.

 I have been down and around Fernilee reservoir mainly as at the moment you cannot walk your dog off lead along the dismantled railway line in the Goyt valley.

This is due to curlew & lapwings, along with other ground nesting birds being disturbed from their nest sites.
Sign on the dismantled railway in the Goyt Valley

To encourage them to recover their numbers, the CRoW act 2000 is being implemented and enforced, where dogs must be kept on a short lead. Park Rangers are around telling people to keep their doggies under control and on a short lead. This is in effect until July 31st 2013.


I think this is under the reckless disturbance offence which was brought in with the Countryside and Rights of Way act. Which is supposed to protect the wildlife. There are a number of ground nesting birds present in the Goyt. Short-eared owls, Hen Harriers, Skylarks, Curlew, Red Grouse, Pheasant, but I have not seen Lapwings on the the dismantled railway. They do nest further away over the pasture area of Long Hill where the sheep & cows graze.

Hen Harrier

Well I don't mind the act being enforced. I just hope the park rangers are as strict with those who damage the hen harrier and short-eared owl nests as those people who let their dog off lead

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Barefoot Hiking

Well today was glorious. Lovely weather, the ducklings were playing noisely outside when my eldest declared that he would love to climb Mam Tor. Those who don't know its one of the peaks around here. Known as the 'shivering' mountain. This is due to movement of the hill which has caused a road that once led from Castleton to Edale to be abandoned due the amount of subsidence it suffered. Always up for an adventure I said yes, quickly stocked up on water, juice, energy rich choccy bars and cheese sandwiches. The faithful hound (Abyssinian wire-haired tripe hound, Beano readers will know that breed) was leaded up and we set off in the car to what I expected to be a very busy Castleton.

It wasn't we went down Winnets Pass avoiding cyclists and sheep. Turned left towards Trek Cliff Cavern. There are various parking spots all with ticket machines nearby. However, if you ignore these and drive on you will find lots of free parking. There we left the car in a shady spot so we wouldn't get lightly poached on our return.

There were plenty of sheep with lambs around faithful hound kept resoundingly on the lead much to his disgust.

Within moments of setting off my youngest declared that she was tired and needed to be carried. Mrs Sea Duck who had sun blocked us all up encourage her to walk herself. Which she did.

Curlews could be heard in the distance. Chaffinches everywhere, as well as carrion crows. The crows seemed to be very interested in the people, stealing whatever sandwich remains they could happen across. The climb is nice and gentle, which is good for me as I usually walk by car.

The sun was lovely and warm, however as in areas of the High Peak there were patches which are best described as boggy.

There was a lot of activity. Someone had a remote controlled aeroplane, one of those stealthy flying wing designs. As we were buzzed by future technology we made our way up Mam Tor.

I was walking in sandals, the same ones I loaf about the house with instead of slippers. Everyone else in our party had walking boots. But me being a Peaklander felt I could deal with one of our hills in my loafing footwear. How wrong I was, as educating the ducklings about the countryside code, use styles, close gates keep doggie under control etc. I happened upon a very boggy area. Nothing new round here and marched through with my feet decidedly wet on the other side. This is something we take as water off our backs but the sandals didn't.

They started slipping around my feet and it was difficult to get a grip and keep ones correct stance and balance. Thinking how I wouldn't live it down if I became a mountain rescue incident. As well as the gorse bushes I would surely land in not looking at all inviting I decided to take the sandals off and walk barefoot. The sandals strapped to my rucksack drying in the sun.

Awaiting to stand on an adder, I continued with the rest of the flock far ahead. We reached the paved area, what Mrs Sea Duck refers to as the Roman Road. This was very busy and I passed a Scottish couple who remarked about my barefoot hiking.

Apparently its all the rage! I was actually waiting for someone to tell me to get a job. As I looked, and felt a tad vagrant.

As the rest were waiting for me, we had our choccy bars, sandwiches and various juice. The hound was given water for which he was very grateful. A lot of people were out walking, the sun was quite strong but I think it's strength was deceptive as a cool breeze at the top was blowing. 

As we pressed on to the summit. I met two chaps who remarked about my barefoot walking. They were training for the British three peaks, Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowden all in 24 hours. Trying to raise money for charity, possibly to clad barefoot fell walkers. They too instilled me with knowledge of the benefits of barefoot hiking. It was okay as long as you didn't stand on anything sharp. They left me swiftly behind as they disappeared towards the trig point at the top like a set of gazelles. 

With the summit now in sight various people exchanged glances at my slightly Tarzan way of walking. One chap declared that I was wearing the best set of boots he'd seen that day. A tad Emperors New Clothes I feel. At the top we rested again and I was able to put my now dry sandals on.

At the top people were photographing themselves at the trig point. A couple of paragliders were floating very peacefully in the sky.

The way back was quicker, I avoided the boggy parts on the route. As we descended around 1400hrs, more people seemed to be heading up Mam Tor. Castleton was much busier. As we came to the abandoned road several university students were measuring to see if it was feasible to fix the road. Maybe something to watch out for in the future. When we arrived back at the car, the clever shady parking had worked and the car was cool. Still put the air con on.

One of the ducklings nodded off on the way back. Again there was the sheep slarlem on Winnets Pass. The roads still did not seem that busy for a bank holiday weekend, especially one with such good weather. The journey back to Buxton was quick and pleasant. A mug of tea to refresh, and some fun memories of walking with the ducklings.

So if you were walking the hills around Castleton and remember a barefoot hiker being dragged along by his faithful hound. Then it t'was I Sea Duck the Mary Celeste of Mam Tor.

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Spring migration

Well I was out and about on the hills recently and noticed that some of the migratory birds have arrived.

My 1st Swallow was in mid April over Chinley Head near the Lamb Inn on the Hayfield road from Chapel-en-le-Frith A624.

I haven't heard any Cuckoos down the Goyt valley yet, usually you hear one by the trees on Errwood reservoir or Nook Wood.

No sign of House Martins, Sand Martins, Swifts or Hobby's yet. I am keeping an eye out for them.

I did see several Wheatears over towards Axe Edge last week. Still watchful for some Whinchat

I did see Whincat over towards Mam Tor last year, but none so far this year.

We do seem to have a thriving wildlife here in the High Peak something I am very grateful for. As well as such a picturesque landscape.

If you do see any migratory birds, please feel free to log them on the British Trust of Ornithology's BirdTrack website. It's free and you don't have to be an avid birder to be involved. 

An unusual duck has been seen for quite a while in Pavillion Gardens in Buxton. At first glance I thought it was a pochard but a bird boffin has informed me it is a North American Canvasback. See what you think. Here's a few photo's.
Canvas back with local Mallards


 The Red Grouse, Curlew and the delightful Lapwings seem to be busy nesting. I always love to see the Lapwings doing their courtship displays, so acrobatic. A bird known by several names such as Lapwing, Green Plover, Farmers Friend (as they eat the pests that bother the livestock) and Peewit after the sound of they're call.

No sign of the resident Short-Eared Owl in the Goyt for a while. I saw a Tawny Owl one night in April, just outside Fernilee, but no Short-Eared Owl to-date. Nor the Hen Harriers.

Other birds of prey like Windhover 'Kestrel' and Buzzards all seem to be doing well.

Two ravens that I saw earlier in the year in the Goyt seem to have moved on. 

Canada Geese also seem to have set up shop permanently in Pavillion Gardens. They do seem to be getting into a strop with the local Mallards.

Locally House Sparrows, Robins and Blue Tits are all happily nesting. Near where we live a noisey Rookery is active.

Collard Doves are nesting and we're also getting visits in the garden from a Woodpigeon.

 Meadow pipits are busy so are Corn Buntings, Redpoll and Linnets. Pheasants are squawking in the hedgerows, quite frankly with the sun out the High Peak is most lovely. I'm sure we'll get more than one or two visitors this bank holiday. Let's hope the good weather continues.

Chaffinches, Goldfinches, Greenfinches and Siskin have all been seen down Cunning Dale.

I look forward to spotting my first Garden Warbler or Grasshopper Warbler. The last one I saw was down Monsal Dale.

No Yellow Wagtails or Tree Pipits so far this year, plenty of Pied Wagtails. They come into the garden off the local fields and pasture, a sure sign the weather is about to turn nasty.

Haven't seen any today so I guess the weather is going to stay fine.

Derbyshire County Council Elections 2013 (results)

Well it was a glorious start to May, the weather was quite simply divine. This is echoed in another blog entitled View from the High Peak I do recommend a look, the pictures are lovely and inspired me to put a few landscapes of the Goyt Valley onto this submission.

The weather could have not have been better for the May local County Council Elections. One would have hoped that it would have not put people off from voting, however, the turn out over Derbyshire was 34% which is a touch disappointing.

My numbers come from two sources the Derbyshire County Council website and the BBC one.

 Derbyshire County Council went from No Over All Control to Labour controlled. With Labour gaining 18 council seats, the Conservatives loosing 13, the Lib Dems loosing 4 and and Independent loosing 1.

Across the country the results were;-

Conservative 1116 councillors -335
Labour  538 councillors + 291
Liberal Democrats  352 councillors -124
UKIP  147 councillors +139
Independents  165 councillors +24
Green Party 22 councillors  + 5
Residents Association  12 councillors +2
Mebyon Kernow 4 councillors +1
Liberal 3 councillors +1
Independant Health & Concern 2 councillors 0
British National Party 0 coucnillors -3
English Democrats 0 councillors 0
Idle Toad Party 0 councillors -1

There was one vacant seat. Why I have no idea?

The breakdown in my own area of Buxton is as follows,

Buxton North & East

Margaret Applby   UKIP             495 votes
Caitlin Bisknell     Labour           1138 votes
Pam Reddy         Conservative  795 votes
Graham Scott      Lib Dems       84 votes

Turn out 28.27%

Buxton West

Matthew Bain            Green Party    219 votes
Tony Kemp                Conservative  1123 votes
Bob Morris                Independent    771 votes
Fiona Sloman            Labour            952 votes
Christopher Weaver  Lib Dems       90 votes

Turn out 32.5%

Across the High Peak areas the total votes cast were

Conservative   9557       33%
Labour            10983     38%
Lib Dems        3452       12%
UKIP               2593       9%
Greens            1487       5%
Independents   771         3%

Total Votes 28,843

Labour won Buxton North & East, two seats in Glossop & Charlesworth and Ethrow
Conservatives won in Buxton West and Chapel & Hope Valley.
Lib Dems won in Whaley Bridge & New Mills.

UKIP, The Greens or Independents didn't win any division but an interesting point is that they didn't stand in every electoral division of the High Peak.

The popular rumour is that UKIP took away votes from the Conservatives. This is true, but they also seem to have taken votes from the other parties. One could argue that if they hadn't stood in Buxton North & East that the UKIP vote would have gone to the Conservatives which would have beaten Labour's Caitlin Bisknel's 1138 votes with 1290 votes.

But I don't think it's that easy.

UKIP are certainly the party of protest at the moment, I remember when the Greens became briefly the third party in UK politics. However it is UKIP's willingness to discuss the political elephant in the room, EUROPE, that also makes them attractive as well as people being fed up with the usual three main political parties. I think UKIP have made a dent in all the political parties locally.

Compared with the 2009 elections the Lib Dem vote has crashed in Buxton. In 2009 it was 1463 this year it was 174. As I noted the turn out wasn't great but it is quite a drop. The Lib Dems may be unpopular as they are in coalition with the Conservatives. Perhaps the door swings both ways in this leading to the Lib Dem unpopularity brushing off on the Conservatives as well. UKIP didn't stand in Buxton during the county council elections in 2009.

Also have the boundary changes had an impact on the results?

On the day there was a Labour car driving around Buxton, with flags and a humorous horn, gaining peoples attention. Twitter was quite active with mostly Labour but also UKIP tweeting. Something the Conservatives, Greens and Lib Dems cottoned onto and started tweeting later that morning. A thing of note is how Caitlin Bisknel used her twitter account to encourage people to get out and vote Labour, with the hashtag #fairdealforderbyshire used by the Labour faithful did seem to continually bring the party to mind. Her own blog had a mirror of the canvasing leaflet noting why to vote for her and her party. On the other hand Fiona Sloman the other Labour candidate in Buxton isn't an avid tweeter, she does seem to go leafleting and speak to people on the doorstep quite a lot, but did her lack of tweeting before and during election day have an impact on the vote. Caitlin won the seat she was contesting Fiona didn't? Did it provide an edge to the campaigning, an extra arrow in the quiver?

Question? Do social networking sites in particular Twitter have such an impact on how people vote these days?

It's an interesting question. Scientists have a phrase called the Illusion of Truth where if a subject is repeated often enough then the more people are likely to believe the subject or fact. Regardless of empirical data. Can Twitter and sites like it create an Illusion of Truth with regard to activity or popularity? Leading to candidates becoming more well known and regarded? Is there a flip side where a candidate could become notorious and disliked, or at least appear so? The simple answer is I don't know and with not having one shred of empirical date to prove or disprove I suppose I should shut up.

UKIP do seem to be more active than the other parties on Twitter as well, as well as bloggers like Peasant in Buxton which is worth a look. They note the similarity between the Labour & Conservative leaflets. Saving the ambulance stations in the High Peak (until more information is available I would look at them far from saved), gritting the roads, fixing pot holes. They note where's the difference. They do have a point. It reminds me of a conversation when Tony Blair was leader of the Labour party. A friend asked me which Conservative party would I vote for Red or Blue? What UKIP seem to offer is plain talking difference from the other parties.

I also note that no one has said how valiantly they have defended the Cobar Birthing Unit which was lost.

UKIP have done quite well considering the local paper just noted they were standing and there was no explanation of what the candidate stood for or was wanting to improve.

I spoke to a few people, friends and work colleagues, who all didn't vote.

A group of nurses were very non-plussed about it noting that they only voted in General Elections and weren't really bothered with the local situation. Various friends who after work decided a visit to the beer garden or a nice iced G&T on the balcony was preferable to voting as it was such a nice day, and it was.

Did the weather lead to more voter apathy than encouraged people to vote?
Perhaps Mrs Sea Duck's "They're all as bad as each other," attitude is more widespread than I thought? Mrs D did vote or at least spoiled a ballot paper and put it in the box.
Is it the ultimate protest vote? Where people turn round and say, no I'm not voting for any of you.
Would a broader spectrum of political parties and candidates encourage more people to vote?

What about the Greens? Well according to my own figures 5% of the High Peak voted Green. Their one tweet on the 2nd of May from @DerbysGreens was "Please remember to vote today." A touch meek perhaps, lacks a certain energy. They're highest percentage of the vote in Derbyshire and the High Peak was from the Chapel & Hope division with 10.2%. They seem to have a loyal but small following in the High Peak.

Anyway Derbyshire county council has gone red with a Labour majority. Congratulations to all those who won seats. Now remember the people who put you there and work for us and not just for your own political party.

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Derbyshire County Elections 2013 (continued)

Apparently the county of Derbyshire is under the focus in these forthcoming elections (around two days away, this coming Thursday). National pundits are watching the county with regard to the bigger political picture. As Derbyshire County Council changed after 40 years from Labour controlled to Conservative controlled in 2009, people are watching closely to see if it will change back or if UKIP will be the King Makers?

The Conservatives haven't had an easy ride, with Robin Baldry caught fiddling his expenses and Juliette Stevens defecting to UKIP.

The current council make up is;
Conservative 31 councillors
Labour 23 councillors
Liberal Democrats 7 councillors
Independents 2 councillors
UKIP 1 councillor

Across the county the political candidates are

Conservative 63, Labour 63, UKIP 54, Liberal Democrats 48, Independents 14, Green Party 9, British National Party 4, Trade Unionist & Socialists Against Cuts 4, Socialist Party 1, Monster Raving Loony Party 1. For a full list please click on this link.

So there is quite a lot of diversity county wide to vote for.

There are always those who vote for their political 'tribe.' Those who always vote for Labour or Conservative. Or those who always vote against a certain political 'tribe.' It's the floating voters, the undecided, like myself, that I think can have the real impact. Those whose political allegiance changes with the political weather. They are more inclined to vote for a candidate who they like, regardless of political party.  This is where the local issues, as I've previously mentioned the potholes, the ambulance station closures, where the national pundits can't call. Where the issues effecting us in the High Peak are different from those in Chaddesden in Derby.

There are those who will give the ruling parties nationally a beating locally, mid-term, which seems to be the case regardless of who's in power.

A few more flyers came through the door namely for the Conservatives & Labour.

UKIP seem to be tweeting with their @UKIPBuxton profile. Labour have a profile and is steaming ahead with their hashtag #fairdealforderbyshire. Neither the Conservatives nor the Liberal Democrats appear to have a local High Peak profile on Twitter. The Green Party have one with @High Peak Green, but have yet to tweet anything! Most candidates do seem to have a profile on Twitter, with social networking sites seen as a way to get their message across, some using them more than others. But Labour and UKIP seem to be the only ones locally who have any momentum on Twitter.

The flyers were for Conservative Pam Reddy and Labour's Cailin Bisknell.

Sadly Mrs Sea Duck appears to have filed the Conservative flyer in the bin already, so I was hoping to analyze that a bit more but can't due to not having a copy to hand. I do remember it mentioning the opposition to closing the ambulance stations and due to this opposition that there will be an ambulance hub in the High Peak. No there won't be! East Midlands Ambulance Service say it will be an ambulance station, location currently unknown, staffing levels currently unknown. It will NOT be an ambulance hub. The freezing of the council tax I really do like.

The Labour flyer does mention the ambulance station closures but only that the Labour group has fought against these closures. This is very true and quite a few of our local councillors of High Peak Borough Council have taken the lead to object to these plans. I understand that the local councillors unanimously opposed these plans. Notably Fiona Sloman (Labour) appeared to take the lead in Buxton and Lance Dowson (was independent now Labour) taking the lead in New Mills & Hayfield.

They too are saying that they have frozen council tax and pegged car parking charges.

I would be very grateful if someone could explained to me how one pegs a car parking charge?

Labour also want to move Buxton's library back to the town centre. The Buxton library is currently on Kent's Bank Road, up Heath Grove way. It's based in an old school, car parking is very good and free. The Sea Duck's use it often and I'm not sure that moving it to Buxton's town centre would offer the same facilities.

Nothing through the letter box from any of the other parties.

So it would appear that there is 'all to play for', in these coming elections. I for one will be interested in how these turn out.

As always I hope everyone who can vote does so and that the turn out is high.

Friday, 26 April 2013

County Council Elections 2013

I've been chatting to people about what they think about the County Council Elections this May. Quite a few people didn't know who they were going to vote for. Mainly on the basis of 'they're all as bad as each other.' However, I tried to focus conversations on what people were wanting from their council.

One of the main things that people mentioned was pot-holes. It seems like Mayor Giuliani's broken window policy many people feel that a pot hole means that those in power don't care. Mayor Giuliani of New York thought that broken windows left unpaired made people feel that things were going downhill and that those in power did not care so launched a policy of repairing every broken window reported or spotted. Pot holes seem to be classed in the same way by the people I spoke to. St John's road in Buxton and New Mills Newtown traffic lights seemed to feature in peoples evidence of this.

The second thing mentioned was the fear of loosing ambulance cover from the Being the Best proposals from East Midlands Ambulance Service. This seems to get classed as either 'insane or just plain madness' rather across the board from locals who cannot see the sense in the proposals at all. That East Midlands Ambulance Service were solely focusing on ticking the boxes for response times which are easier in the bigger towns and cities and relegating those of us who live in rural areas to second best. Feeling that EMAS have assumed the attitude of we can't hit the response times in the High Peak area so why bother. I'll blog a little more about the current ambulance stations situation this coming week as I think it's an essential service to focus on.

Other things people mentioned were housing, schools and more importantly after school care for the children as most families have both parents working. There was a mixed reception to the welfare reforms, namely some people were worse off and others thought that a cap on benefits was actually a good thing. Then the conversations moved to jobs. Or rather the lack of them. High Peakers do seem to be focusing on local issues, rather than national. However, on a national level one thing seemed to be apparent a 'fear' of immigration. Namely if more people come into the country then services will be reduced just by the increase in people using them. This was apparent on last nights Question Time on the BBC. Us Brit's seem to have developed a 'fear' of immigration?

I'm seeing more signs up regarding the election, mostly Labour with a few Lib Dems and Conservatives. As I previously mentioned, Labour do seem to have got their act together with regard to these elections. A lot of activity on Twitter, and canvasing and the signs in people's gardens. Fiona Sloman is getting a few mentions on Twitter though she doesn't appear to be tweeting much herself.
The High Peak Conservatives seem to have finally going on cyber space too. There were also quite a few placards seen showing support for their candidate Jocelyn Street.

The Greens seemed to not really being up for this round. I saw their leader on Question Time last night, she did seem to live in a Utopian world of her own, to brass tacks I didn't like her. I was toying of voting for the Green Party until then.

Apart from a few placards in High Lane (not our patch) I haven't seen anything of the Lib Dems and a few posters around were all I have seen of UKIP.

I really couldn't say which way this election could/will go. All I hope is that the turn out is high and that everyone who is able to vote  does so.

Friday, 19 April 2013

County Council Elections

There is quite a lot to blog about with what's happening in the World. Baroness Thatcher dying, the Boston Marathon bombing (horrid, simply horrid), North Korea acting like a child who's found their father's gun.  I decided not to focus on those things, important as they are and look slightly more local.

It would appear that the candidate nominations for the forth coming county council elections are now in. Nominations closed on the 5th of April. The three main parties, Conservative, Liberal Democrats and Labour are fielding candidates in pretty much every area. Some areas of the High Peak will be able to vote for UKIP, Green Party and Independents. In my own area there are five candidates.

Tony Kemp for the Conservatives, who lives locally and was one of the Conservative councillors who turned up to discuss the housing plans for Buxton back in December 2012 when none of the Labour councillers did. Conservatives raise housing concerns.

Matthew Bain for the Green Party, again he lives locally and is focused on reducing the councils carbon foot print and moving the UK towards a low-carbon economy. The Greens have a small but loyal following in the High Peak area. Mr Bain is all for locally produced products (should like Redfern's Farm Shop then and Chatsworth Farm Shop .) As well as a fair distribution of resources for all, which sounds good but reminds me of Communism.  I do like his idea for more allotments and community orchards. That would be good for the local biodiversity.

Christopher Weaver for the Liberal Democrats, another local, this time from Whaley Bridge. Living and working in the High Peak for over 40 years, he's also been a local councillor for High Peak Borough Council. The Lib Dems do have quite a green manifesto, recognising climate change, moving towards renewable energy, they also would like to freeze council tax for as long as it is possible.

Fiona Sloman  for the Labour Party another local and councillor for High Peak Borough Council. I have spoken to Fiona before and found her to be very knowledgeable, as a former trade union officer she is very clued up on what people's rights are. She has taken an active role in fighting East Midlands Ambulance Service to save the ambulance stations in the High Peak. She hosted the public meeting at Pavillion Gardens. When I spoke to her regarding the proposed changes I got the distinct impression she was genuinely concerned about the issue, the impact it would have on the people of the High Peak, rather than scoring 'political' brownie points.

Bob Morris an Independent candidate, sadly I couldn't find a link for Mr Morris or any information regarding what he stands for. Thankfully the local paper had piece which noted that Mr Morris wished to put people before 'party politics.' A local man who runs a local business, focusing on education, better roads and transport (have you seen St John's road in Buxton, the pot holes by the traffic lights are just plain dangerous). Being Independent means he won't have a party telling him what to do just the people of Buxton.

I discussed the candidates with Mrs Sea Duck who dispaired that the Beer, Baccy & Crumpet Party wasn't standing in our area. As usual I would have liked more diversity of parties to vote for, I guess the old adage if there's no one you would like to vote for then you should stand yourself applies.

I just hope that everyone who is able to vote does so.

I have had a look at Twitter to see what the parties locally are tweeting, it appears Labour are the ones who seem busy in that side of the social media with the hashtag #fairdealforderbyshire, as well as to a lesser degree UKIP. There are webpages for the other candidates with a little bit about them (some very little), but the Labour party and UKIP seem to be the only ones using social media to their advantage, locally at least.

I know that Labour has been out canvassing  in Harpur Hill and Glossopdale but I have yet to see anyone else, no flyers or leaflets through the door. A few UKIP posters around. In our area Labour seem to have a distinct advantage with just a plain good old head start. But the discussions I have heard from the electorate seem to be of the lines of the usual 'they're all as bad as each other.' UKIP and the Greens are minor parties and therefore a waste of a vote (unfairly seen that way if you ask me). Labour got us into a huge financial mess. The Conservatives and Lib Dems can't seem to get us out of it.

As I noted before I just hope that as many people do vote in these elections as are able to do so.