Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Ushaw College

I am not a Roman Catholic, I am a Christian ( liberal Anglican). I have many RC friends and three decades ago was a Durham theology student. I have had a career in information and heritage including saving some very large buildings. The problem of Ushaw cannot be readily swept away. Far better to say: forward to new opportunities. How wonderful it would be to create a new hilltop Christian village from what is present. Make the farm into luxury dwellings respecting the architecture. Create a retirement complex offering security and a community. Retain a small seminary and Christian community running the church and the library. Create a undergraduate hall of residence for Durham University. Continue a successful conference operation. Go to the Handelsbank for a funding partner. Get out there and work with a broad cross section of people of good will to see that God has a future for Ushaw College as He was its Director in its past.

This blog explains more and there is a petition here

Possibly some good news at last here.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Go North East, Facebook and IID

For 10 days now Facebook and Go North East have together forged a revolution in real time transport company information management in a crisis. Archiving this revolution is not easy.

Here is a significant post and an entry point:!/notes/go-north-east/go-north-easts-policy-on-moderating-facebook-posts-and-twitter-messages/458638036183

Go North East’s Policy on Moderating Facebook Posts and Twitter messages by Go North East on Monday, 06 December 2010 at 11:04

Go North East’s Facebook and Twitter pages are for the purposes of keeping customers informed and receiving customers’ feedback. It is largely un-moderated as we welcome feedback from all customers and want to hear all points of view including criticism of how we are doing if we don’t get something right in our service to customers. We will, however, remove posts that contain foul or abusive language, or which for other reasons are considered seriously inappropriate. This would include hoax incident reports for example.

During severe weather conditions or during other major incidents, Facebook and Twitter are proving an extremely valuable way of keeping customers informed. Our team works flat out to keep the information up to date, and we ask all Facebook and Twitter users not to waste their time and the time of other customers with mischievous or abusive posts. Our team can provide customers with a much better service if they are able to concentrate on providing service updates and answering as many genuine customer questions as possible.

We reserve the right to block Facebook accounts that are sources of abusive language or other inappropriate posts, and to report the account holder to Facebook. Such posts will be removed as quickly as possible by our team.
And here are some insider comments from a day or so back
"Facebook up to 27.5k "likes" and 2.5 million (yes million)"views" according to their stats. Ran a short piece on the people behind it in 'discussion topics' which has produced some very nice feedback. It's very rewarding hearing how much of a difference it is genuinely making for people.

An ad agency (we are not a client, don't know them), called mhdpartnership today tweeted: Looks like @gonortheast is king of the bus service updates."

There are risks. GNE have run a very open house which exposes them to a degree of counter productive posts. Not everyone is responsible in using their freedom.

Where might GNE see this all landing? Here at The International Institute for Information Design

and you will immediately see
6th IIID Expert Forum
Traffic & Transport Information Systems
Traffic, Transport and Social Media
How transport providers and mobility enablers can use social media to better communicate with their customers
8 - 9 September 2011, Wien/Vienna, Austria

An excellent case study methinks?

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Trying to keep a town bus service

Regulars around Prudhoe will know what a struggle it has been to keep a town bus service since the 603 was culled in a review around 2003. Here is one instalment in a campaign to try to keep things positive. You need to understand that since 7.11.10 a brand new attempt at a town service called 111 is being run by regional company Go North East on a commercial basis for one year. The text is a letter to our two county councillors that this town has.

Dear Neil and Bill

You are the two councillors responsible for Prudhoe to the county. Today I had cause to be at the top of Prudhoe for some while (Drawback area). As opposed to my last visit when the timetable cases displayed the old inaccurate 604 route timetable, now they display nothing. So someone has been around and done something but whoever it was could not even get hold of the 111 timetable out of the 11 leaflets, cut it out and glue it in place. That would be something and Town Councillor Duncan Couchman has arranged for that to happen in the Prudhoe Town Council noticeboard on Castle Road.

The 111 service passes the new county installed real time displays at St Marys but does not show on them. Along Castle Road and Castlefields there is I think no information at all. There are a few STOPS which do display correct information like at Interchange.

Despite the difficulties of the weather, what was required from the county was not rocket science. Just sticking the printed timetable up would have done. And we are now at one month on from the change.

What is clear to me is that the weather and the state of the estate roads in the town has utterly vindicated the company in their decision to split the 11 and 111. As for the evening services, the county could apply to the Local Sustainable Transport Fund for funding and issue a tender.

Obviously we cannot control the weather and it is unfortunate that just when the 111 would be really useful its operation has become very erratic. I guess not many passengers would be on its tally currently and in the circumstance it would not surprise me that unless something is done, we will face a situation in which in a year's time Prudhoe's town bus service has once and for all been lost. Because unless a service carries passengers it is not worth operating.

Can I also suggest that people from the county look at this

Every single route in that rural region has an up to date timetable easy to download as a PDF. Is this the situation with Northumberland?

I looked here

and no way does it match up.

Friday, 3 December 2010

Don't believe Radio Newcastle about Metrocentre trains

For several days now, BBC Radio Newcastle have been broadcasting no trains Newcastle Metrocentre. This has been totally wrong and just now I rung "Call the radio news desk: 0191 244 1459" to try to convince them of what is actually happening.

The girl there was so unhelpful it was incredible and clearly has no knowledge of where the trains go. All she would do is parrot that the train company say this.

The problem is that if you say as they have, there are no trains between Newcastle and Metrocentre the users of the line assume this means a blockage for the Carlisle Hexham Newcastle trains because Metrocentre is between Newcastle and Hexham. The girl bluntly told me that the line was so blocked and that I was wasting her time and hung up.

I have checked here and know this is wrong

I can tell you there are plenty of trains between Newcastle and Metrocentre this morning. Every train that does not stop terminate at Metrocentre is running.

When Northern tell you Newcastle Metrocentre is not running what it means is that the short Newcastle Metrocentre ONLY trains are not running. They have cancelled a number of trains which use a crossover at Metrocentre to turn round because of the danger of the crossover freezing. That is all that is happening.

If this effects you complain to Radio Newcastle to check it by looking at
That is all they have to do and then see how misleading the broadcast is. They simply HAVE to say Newcastle Metrocentre ONLY trains are cancelled. Metrocentre shops will not be pleased if the BBC broadcasts that they have no train service.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Ovingham Middle School Shut 3rd December

I attach the closure notice from OMS today. I know they are trying very hard and I do not disagree with their logic. It is serious once the grit stops working. However reading through this I think it can be concluded that the County Council needed to deliver a much more sophisticated and intensive effort through the week if normal life was not to fail as it has. Hopefully come Monday, the Atlantic will have returned and the snow gone away not come back this winter?

(06:55am – 03/12/2010)

Staff check e-mail at 7:30

The usual decision making process has been gone through. The deciding factors today were the following;

The snow that fell from early evening to around midnight has not yet been cleared. That snow is lying on frozen slush on the roads. When I spoke my plough/ gritter contact (who I may add has been a fantastic help since last Thursday and has called everything right in my opinion), he was defrosting the tractor he drives as the diesel was freezing. He was told that the road temperatures on the A69 was -13, at which temperature the salt has no effect. He described the roads on the lead up to school as treacherous.

The caretaker, who always battles through has given me the condition report around the school is that cars are getting stuck on any incline and actually polishing the ice as they slip.

Most school transport did not run yesterday. The ones that did are not keen to even try today.

Neighbouring schools are closed today.

Last night Mr Lakey, the Caretaker and I had to abandon our path clearing and gritting around the school because of the snow falling. At the moment, this grit is having no effect on the paths or the entrance to the car park.

I have judged that the risk is too great for pupils, parents and staff to travel this morning. I know that it is likely to be sunny later which means that the paths and roads will defrost, however I feel this will come too late.

I am very sorry for the inconvenience. Please see the note about volunteers- we are planning a community path dig on Sunday.