Sunday, 19 August 2012

Ecuador and Press Freedom

Julian Assange is speaking on Sky now. Very polished and very convincing. He would make an excellent demagogue. Why am I not convinced? What am I to make of a man who resorts to Ecuador to defend his justice? Ecuador whose president has nationalised its press. Ecuador which is ready to return a Belarussian dissident to a very dubious future. Assange is accused by proper process of very serious personal crimes against women. His unwillingness to let the judicial process proceed ultimately suggests he is nothing more than a convincing charlatan, albeit one apparently interested in causing grave international disharmony.

see for Belarussia
also for press freedom in Ecuador.

Friday, 10 August 2012

The Devolution Debate on rail in the North

Northern's stakeholder magazine Connections Summer 2012 has dropped through the door.  Inside is a highly relevant article on local rail devolution which you can reach via and if you cannot use Facebook I shall add two pictures here. Down in page 7 "the solution proposed to the DfT involves Greater Manchester.. South Yorkshire and West Yorkshire.... and York Council forming a new organisation". Where is the North East in this? With East Coast! The last two sentences I add but it looks very like the North East's disinterest will see a solution landed rather than one created. Whereas the folk in Lancashire and Yorkshire have joined forces to get what they need.

Monday, 6 August 2012

East Coast for Hexham hits the Journal

It has now reached the Journal that someone in DfT wants us to consider North East Local Services being operated by East Coast. That might not be the end of the world but how is the North East going to properly debate how it wishes "Local Rail in the North East: the next 15 years to shape out?" Does anyone have the clout to organise a regional seminar with strong MP support down?

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Western Rail Corridor Ireland in the abyss?

"Iarnr√≥d √Čireann will need to give serious consideration to closing uneconomic routes, such as the link between Ennis, Co Clare, and Athenry, Co Galway, which carries an average of just eight passengers per train. This grim statistic suggests restoration of the Western Rail Corridor from Limerick all the way to Sligo was a political fantasy."

Oh dear, truth or fiction? Is it the failure to complete the project (eg to Sligo, re-open Crusheen, integrate with the closed Waterford Rosslare) or was it always a way to spend EU money recklessly, which is to blame? I am glad I was at re-opening day when it all seemed so good. . Picture is at Gort 30th March 2010.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Nexus' Misguided Debate on Quality Bus Contracts

This is one of the most misguided debates around at present and politicians who fuel it should examine themselves, the vast majority of the Tyne Wear bus network operates profitably at no cost to the taxpaper, if Nexus' Quality Bus Contract materialises, I am sure it really will cost the taxpayer. there is a lot of mischief going on in Tyne and Wear, it effects us next door and meanwhile no one seems VERY INTERESTED in the real issue of who runs local rail from 2014. PAH is what I say.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Will Sainsbury commit or not? Prudhoe Town Centre

From Take Pride in Prudhoe.

About six weeks have passed since the Town Centre application passed. Prudhoe can hardly be said to have been overwhelmed meantime with information. Is everything well with the project? In the Courant there has been some briefing
. A key sentence has been pointed out to me. "the supermarket building, which has always been intended to be occupied by Sainsbury’s, although the supermarket giant has yet to formally commit itself to the project.". My informant claims to have this view separately expressed to him directly from a Sainsbury executive. Yet my memory of last summer's consultation was that Sainsbury was right in there. This was the consultation whose results were never published. Was there something in there which has discouraged Sainsbury? Are other factors in play like the new Morrisons at Blaydon? Is uncertainty once again the watchword on the streets of Prudhoe?

(added 24th August 2012: the new Hexham Courant reports that the consent is on the desk of the Secretary of State because in some respects it breaches planning guidelines. He is expected to either approve by 31st August or to call in for a public enquiry. There are many who will hope for the latter but I would not bank on it.)

(added 13th October 2012: there's not been a word since although the Duke of Northumberland is much exercised with water at Spencer Court in Newburn. Informally I reckon I have been told Sainsbury no longer interested,  the long awaited flood study of Prudhoe is being carried out, the Secy of State did sign off, but Northumberland West Area Planners at Hexham (whose chair was sacked for bullying in October 2012) are hanging onto the decision. The objectors say they are complaining to Europe and two town councillors tell me the Duke will do nothing before 2014. About half of this has been properly reported.)

(added 8th November 2012: Sainbury's walked away from Prudhoe.)