Sunday, 9 December 2012

Cruel goodbye, World

Mostly "Doh!", not much Ha!

Big deal, getting rich nations to admit/agree they should give poorer nations reparation money for the increasing damage done by climate change. No amount of money will now stop island nations from going under - literally.

Doha saw no Big Deal that actually and practically tackles The Problem.

Instead, we are all - rich, poor and in-between - still ensuring our only message to our planet is "Cruel goodbye, World".

Yesterday people were prepared to occupy Starbucks to protest tax inequity.
But -
  • who do you 'occupy' to challenge tar sands in Canada?
  • when do you 'occupy' the acidification of our oceans?
  • where do you 'occupy' the on-going construction of coal-fired power stations in China?
  •  what do you 'occupy' to reduce heat waste?
  •  how do you 'occupy' the scandal of billions of women worldwide without the right or the means to control their own fertility?
We won't think globally and act locally, until we've thought locally and acted globally. Luckily, we have the mechanism to think locally - it's called democracy. And fortunately we have a powerful system within that mechanism - it's called politics.

At the moment we have the politics of planetary suicide.

But it doesn't have to be that way.
Labour's red rose has a green stem. It's already 'occupied' with the democratic debate about the who, the when, the where, the how and the what. You can join in.

Let's have less Doh!Ha and more Green Labour.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Police Councillors Residents

Cold and dark?
That didn't put off the Arena Park residents from joining the waiting Police Officer and us to discuss local issues yesterday evening.
Not the best photo I've ever taken! - good to see the Police uniform reflective gear works :) A local resident, Neighbourhood Beat Officer Lou Western and Simon Bowkett, my co-Councillor in Pinhoe Ward
Good to meet the new Chair of Arena Park's very active Residents' Association. We had a quick catch-up on the campaign to get lighting installed for the estate's new MUGA (that's Multi-User Games Area...). We believe we can achieve it before next Autumn.
Not so good was the childish graffiti scrawls reported by the two keen gardener residents who have successfully obtained compost bins for use by the whole community.
I went to see it.

Facebook features large in young people's lives... the graffiti clearly that of a child old enough to know better.

Arena Park's residents will clean the graffiti off the gate.
I took WPC Western to see it. She and PCSO Ryan Williams know the estates children well. They'll be talking with them.

Also, I'll be sending the photos to the Housing Association, whose Housing Officer works closely with the Residents' Association.

Arena Park is a pull-together estate.
The adults draw the children in to community activities and make them feel they can contribute positively.
That's one of the big reasons the new MUGA was installed this year. A residents Group, including Youth Ambassadors elected by the estates children, worked with the charity Exeter Parks Watch to win a £65,000 grant from the Home Office.

I'm not surprised that every child who left school this year now has a job, but I am delighted. These are tough times with so many young people jobless.
I strongly suspect the graffiti writer will be identified and persuaded to behave better.
I cycled home thinking in admiration how, even as the Government's austerity cuts hit people hard at Arena Park, residents still hold firm to a strong sense of community.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

"Awesome" performance

This afternoon I saw three actors, scant props, simple music and a well crafted plot - all from Theatre Alibi - grip tight an audience of teachers, teaching assistants, a school governor and about 150 school children at Willowbrook Primary School.
Just a standard school hall. Gym mats. Fluorescent lighting. And the acoustics... well... hmmmm...
But such a gripping performance.
"Just keep going, because it's worth it, what you're doing"
 For everyone, the hall faded away as the actors drew us all into their "Cabbage Heart" world.

Thanks to funding from Exeter City Council, Devon County Council and the Arts Council England South West, children who might never before have experienced the magic of simple, direct, high quality theatre all felt, as one boy said, "It was awesome!"

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Do only drivers fly-tip?

After Simon Bowkett and I spent a couple of hours delivering our latest newsletter
I cycled home along one of my favourite routes - Hart's Lane.
There's hardly ever any motor-traffic. It's green and pleasant. You always meet other cyclists or walkers. It's friendly. There's even signs of badger activity.
 But then, in the dog-leg for motor-vehicles to turn, near the end of the 'drivable' length of road, I came across these four bags of post-fix concrete: set solid. They had been left too long outside someone's home. Their contents had been wasted, now dumped - without regard to their impact.
 For almost anyone it would have been as quick to drive to Pinhoe's excellent new Pinbrook Road Recycling Centre as to drive to this little-visited back lane.
As building waste, and therefore chargeable, the driver would have paid £2 per bag. That's £8.
What sort of person lets £25 -worth of post-fix concrete go solid in the bags they bought it in, but won't pay a third of that for proper disposal?
And, as I was reported this piece of shabby behaviour to Exeter City Council's Fly-tipping phone line the thought occured that only drivers can fly-tip.
How can walkers or cyclists, who like to use Hart's Lane and other remote or less frequented spots, carry the weight of waste that is fly-tipped?
But drivers' fly-tipped rubbish and rubble affects walkers whose children might pick up something dangerous, dog-owners whose dogs might gash their paws, cyclists whose tyres might be punctured.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Snow-free Summerway sunset ... a big plus.

Beautiful sunset this evening.
As I watched the sun withdraw its gold I realised I was appreciating the watery gleam on the cars and road as much as I enjoyed the winter-pale sky colours. 
Not hard to understand why.
It's a whole year since Exeter suffered serious snowfall. 
Twelve months ago driving was treacherous. Too few roads were cleared quickly. Buses struggled. 
Cycling was scary - partly because drivers didn't want to share 'their' two parallel tracks with a cyclist. 

But no-one, by foot or bicycle, dared share space with the soon-slithering vehicles going too fast for the conditions.
All of which might not have mattered - we might have enjoyed wintery walking through stunning scenic views of our city - if only our pavements had been cleared/gritted. Instead every footway became a churned-up skid-pan.
So, until there's a sensible solution to keeping Exeter moving after snowfall... I'm dreaming of a white wet Christmas, not like the one we knew last year.