The Doctors' Surgery
Until May of this year we had a doctors' surgery next door to us in Pensby. Literally next door. Sadly it moved to Heswall. No longer can I wander in in my carpet slippers whenever I want. Instead it involves being given a lift by Jo or paying for a bus journey. (Bus passes do not operate until 9.30 a.m. so unless I get an appointment after 10.10 a.m. I can't go to Heswall free. And an appointment at 10.10 for a fasting blood test would have my tongue out hitting the floor. I much prefer a time like 7.40 a.m.) The reason for the loss of this facility was given as creating a better facility for the customers. The fact that most Pensby residents wanted it to stay was irrelevant. The fact that it enabled the surgery to cut costs may not have been quite so irrelevant.
On Saturday we went to an art and craft exhibition in Irby. On the way in we met our community bobby, PCSO Sue Fowles, and spoke to her for while - she said she’d been an hour and half in the exhibition and was delighted by it. I suspect a lot of that time was spent chatting to local people she recognised. She is a very popular figure. Hopefully community policing will remain a local policy for a long time to come though the Police Authority does threaten it (and reduce the numbers of community police officers) every now and then.
Irby Artists' Association
Although all the entries in the art exhibition were by members of the Irby Artists' Association the quality overall was very high. And all entries merited their inclusion since the Association is about doing art in the community irrespective of people’s ability. One or two were priced quite highly (though appropriate to their quality). There was, for example, a beautiful acrylic of a lane in Brimstage in the snow by Dennis Oakes at £185 which was worth every penny. Had we had the money and the free wall space (and not had dozens of pictures in the loft waiting to be hung or re-hung when wall space becomes available) we would have bought it.
Another one I would have bought was an oil painting by Barbara Dunne at a mere £45 (Partner-who-loves-tea thinks it was £65 but that is still a bargain). I compromised by buying three original oil painting greetings cards at £3.50 each. When you think you can pay the same amount in a card shop for a printed card these originals are a snip at the price.
This one of St Werburgh’s Street in Chester must have taken ages to paint.
At the exhibition we also recognised a painting by Jean Upton. We saw a lot of Jean’s paintings in September when she and two other local artists had an exhibition at Heswall Library.
The talent to be found in our area never ceases to amaze me.
Local Car Parking
While on the subject of local matters like policing policies and art exhibitions I should also mention the impact that parking charges are having locally. They went up by 350% in 2013 and, unsurprisingly, people are going elsewhere rather than pay them. Local businesses are suffering accordingly.
Just outside the town centre there is a block of shops with free parking (for an hour) outside. Two of the shop spaces are occupied by a cafe - Willow Tea House - and if you are just popping in there for a coffee and a cake the amount of parking time is fine. But if you want a full breakfast or a three course lunch at a leisurely pace you need longer. Once again a local business is not being taken into account by the Council.
You might think I'm being very parochial in talking about these local issues but how about this for a quote from an e-mail I got today from Friend-uber-special in New York State...
"...they are just now in the process of making all the parking spaces in the library parking lot metered, pay spaces. So the library is something we pay for in our taxes, it's supposed to be free to use for all village residents, but we have to pay to park to go inside? No, thank you! As it stands now, I will go to another town to do all my shopping because they've already taken over Main St. with pay-for-parking spots."
I hadn't mentioned to her the car parking problems we were having - it was pure coincidence (or linking of thought processes) that Friend-uber-special should raise the same issue with me. She confirms exactly what the Heswall businesses are saying and shows that the problem is occurring all over the place.
Our Local Library
It is also ironic that Friend-uber-special should mention the library because the local council here are talking about closing ours down or reducing their hours to 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. How ridiculous is that. What about people who work for a living (some still do despite the unemployment level)? What about schoolchildren?
This is one of many budget cuts proposed for consideration this year.
The Public Loos
Another budget cut proposed is the closing down of all public toilets. As one whose disability gives me the potential for 'accidents' if there is no toilet around it will restrict even further my ability to go out.
Excuse me a moment while I have a little scream into a paper bag. Aah, that's better.