Monday, 17 November 2014

Local Issues (which span the world)

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.

Local Policing

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.


  1. John, it is a rare conundrum but the conservatives are only in power because of Clegg.
    Vote Labour. Milliband looks like an alien and talks like an alien but what other choice is there? Just to cheer you up here is a link to a couple of letter boxes:

    Letter Boxes for John

    It is a pain what this government shuffle under the carpet and there is little worse than a Cameron, Clegg or mIlliband. John Prescott for PM.

    I guess, as you are somewhat paranoid you have comment moderation on if the link doesn't work then blame me first and the your son-in-law wot gave me the code and told me where to put it.
    If the images are interesting to you I will send high resolution ones.
    Good to see you back.

    1. Thanks Adrian. The link worked. I don't think either box you photographed is particularly rare but nevertheless it is always great to see the old ones still in use. After all, they are over a hundred years old and still going strong. Some have been stopped up (they are protected so can't be taken away) on the excuse that their openings aren't as big as modern ones. Duh! So just use them for letters!! I can hardly pass a letter box without photographing it. I think I've got letterboxophilia or something.
      As for comment moderation you should see some of the things which would appear on my comments if I didn't. There is a soldier 'lady' who puts obscene comments about my disability with plenty of f words thrown in for good measure. I have kept some of them to try to convince Google to throw a certain person out but they ignore me. Apparently it's OK to make obscene remarks about disability - pity I'm not female or black, then I might be able to get something done about her. Then there are all the 'Please visit my piano selling site in China..." comments. Aah - need my paper bag again.

  2. Makes you wonder who they are serving.

  3. Beautiful delicate paintings of the trees and i agree with you about the cutting back and extra fees for parking. It's happening every where. Though I have to say that when our sea front and harbor areas realized they could attract more customers with lower parking fees, they did eventually cut back.

  4. Kind of makes you wonder about "service" industries, doesn't it? I can't mail any packages to my nephew and his wife in Vancouver, BC, because if they're at work, the carrier won't leave the pkg. on the porch. He leaves a note to tell them where the pkg. can be picked up. Of course the outlet is only open from 9 to 5, and both of them are at work by nine, and don't get home until almost six. Well, there's always Saturdays, you say? Don't be silly - the pkg. place is closed on Saturdays. One package I sent them sat at the office for three weeks until Mike had a dr's appt. and could leave work early enough to pick it up. How about UPS, instead of the postal service? They don't deliver on Saturdays either. It's only 120 miles up to there house, and it's probably easier (not to mention faster) just to drive up there and drop stuff off!

  5. It's amazing how similar local politics are all over the world. I think libraries are suffering from technology...e-books and such..just my opinion. So far parking is still free in our little downtown..but businesses have taken a hit from the big box stores...(Wal-Mart) and strip malls. The downtown is doing better because of a committee to try and revitalize it. I don't think it will ever be the fun place it was when I first moved here in 1977. Oh well, I hope you have a good week and maybe some changes will come that will be more positive and helpful. Take care!

  6. It pains me when I see that local, state and federal governments (who are supposed to be FOR & BY the people) pay no attention to how new laws inflict hardship on its citizens. I need more than a scream into a bag. I am praying instead. Just recently before our elections, I got a phone call wanting to know about which party I would be voting for. I told him that I wanted all senators and representatives OUT of office. He wished further time with me, but I said no I don't want to and hung up. I wish you better health. God bless you.

  7. How nice that you have community police! We have tried that here in some areas, and it seems to work well. Our neighborhood, though, pays for a deputy sheriff patrol, and they are good people.

    You have excellent artists! They are everywhere, i think, just waiting to show the beautiful things they have in their heads.

    While i understand that every government agency is strapped right now, or at least says it is, raising prices on everything and closing down everything else is going to backfire.

    A friend of mine whose husband was in the US Navy told me about something that happened on base several years ago when budget cuts were looming. The Commanding Officer decided that they didn't need a base library, and they could close it and save money that way.

    The brass above him heard of the plan, and sent out notice that if he came onto any base and it's library was closed, he did not want to see their golf course open! Not a single base library closed after that.

  8. A little scream into a paper bag, yes, that's me after watching the news, or reading the news. We have similar parking issues here in California. Our public library in our town is well supported, thank goodness, and the main library is open every day. Don't even get me started on the expensive mess (expensive to the taxpayers) that is Obamacare. Oh, one more thing, we are in serious drought conditions and where I live we dramatically are conserving water so they RAISE the rates for water.

  9. This is one time that I'm thankful that NZ is a few years behind the rest of the world in most matters. And I'm quite happy for it to stay that way. I really like those little paintings, they are delightful.

  10. There are continuing attempts of getting the inner city of my hometown car-free, which would of course be nice for pedestrians like myself, but a catastrophe for most businesses, I guess. Not everyone is willing or able to simply walk into town centre from where they live (10 minutes from my place to the market square).
    Public toilets - well, there aren't many free ones around here anymore, most of them are in shopping centres and you are expected to "donate" money, which I don't mind as long as the place is kept clean.
    Our public library is in the process of being enlarged, which is really good, but some of its smaller branches have been completely shut down in the past 10 years.

  11. It's a worldwide thing with governments making cutbacks, but for the life of me I can't figure out why they don't understand that their new policies are detrimental to if they really care.
    I really don't want to get started on what's happening here on my island.
    How can a library be open from 10am until 2pm...that's just wrong on so many levels.
    Loved your outing and the beautiful photos.
    Your local artists are to be admired.

  12. I can understand that especially for emergencies and for fasting blood tests it would be handy to have the doctor's surgery literally next-door... Even though I don't have a very long bus journey to get to mine, the early morning usually certainly is not a good time to be out and about without even being allowed a glass of water first. (And around 7:30 everyone else is travelling to work or school so the bus is often full too. Every time I'm stubborn enough to try it, I end up telling myself that next time I'll take a taxi...)

    The oil painting greeting cards are lovely!

  13. I'm not quite sure how or why I missed this post: up with the best of your rambles. I loved the Chester picture. I cannot believe that it was a card at that price. Pricing cars is a problem though because people will pay for a picture to keep (or give away) but have a general resistance to paying more for cards than the already quite high prices. Libraries are another difficult one. The Napier libraries are open seven days and blooming with all sorts of things going on and lots of new stock constantly. However books are very expensive in New Zealand.


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