Time for a new look….

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This year has been rather busy at work and at home, consequently something had to give, and it was my blog….

Well I am intending to address that and fully intend to ‘get back on the blogging wagon’ for 2014 – and as a first step I think it’s time for a redesign to something more contemporary…..

Don’t meddle with planning!

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I have blogged previously about my home town of Malmesbury in Wiltshire and the two supermarkets that are trying to open in the town – Sainsbury’s and Waitrose. The planning issues have caused huge debate in the town and the local MP has been very vocal – possibly not with the towns best interests in mind…..

leave well alone please Eric!

The applications were both delayed from earlier in the year to allow further discussion (as the Government is keen to promote) and were decided in June by the planning committee – and the decision went as recommended by the planning officer – a refusal for Sainsbury’s (situated too far away from the town) and consent for the Waitrose on the site behind the old silk mill. In my opinion the correct decision – the Waitrose site is close enough to the town to work with it rather than against it.

So in an ideal world the planning officers decision (he is paid to advise after all) would stand. But not if you are the local MP it appears. He asked the Communities Secretary Eric Pickles to call the decision in. This has caused further uncertainty in the town – exactly what it doesn’t need at the moment. After all, who would open a new business in a town with this level of uncertainty hanging over it?

I wrote this blog some while ago and didn’t get round to publishing it, I considered its subject was probably a ‘one off’ and perhaps I was getting worked up over nothing! But this week a very similar situation has occurred here in Nottingham – an MP asking for a decision to be called in again by Eric Pickles, despite all due process having been followed.

In my mind this just can’t be right, holding back land in this way delays both house building (which the Government are demanding) and the economy as a whole. It also appears to be totally at odds with what the Government claim to be trying to achieve with their ‘localism’ program.

Perhaps it’s time to think about local issues first and politics second?

Am I just getting old or is this wrong?

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I am getting old, sadly there is no escaping that fact. I am also becoming less tolerant, again a fact of getting older. This could make me less open to new ideas – I do like to think I have a fairly open mind to things (friends may tell me otherwise), but some things are just ‘not right’.

20130126-113535.jpgI have blogged before about my home town of Malmesbury, a small hilltop town in Wiltshire with a Norman Abbey at its centre. It’s a fairly traditional place (some would say boring) and that is one of its attractions to me. So a few years ago when a new vicar came to the abbey one of his ideas did not go down well with much of the town.

His idea? Turning the Abbey into a skate park for a week! If I am honest I still don’t like it – it just doesn’t feel ‘right’ to me – but it has now been happening for a number of years and is established on the calendar. It appears popular with the kids which is probably the result the church are after (although whether or not it results in ‘bums on seats’ is not clear).

I suppose we do now have a Pope who twitters (although I am guessing he has someone who does it for him!) – so perhaps it’s just my age?

Street View is back!

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photo2You would have had to have been on a deserted island not to have seen the details of the Apple Maps debacle in recent months. Apple sent Google packing – they had previously had a close relationship with them over many things in iOS (the iPhone operating system). But, in IOS 6 they finally got rid of Google maps with its amazing detail and street view and replaced it with their own Map App – which was (and is) rather poor by their standards (actually by anyones standards!).

Heads have rolled at Apple and they have made a public apology about the Maps – a rare event from Apple. There is talk about them buying TomTom who provide the data to enable a faster solving of issues – time will tell.

But now we have Google Maps back on iOS (iPhone at least) in the form of a new app – and it looks great (much as it did before – but better).

It will be interesting to see what Apples response will be – the pressure is on!

Not down to us?

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I had an extremely pleasant evening last week at the Mattioli Woods charity dinner in support of Rainbows Hospice – a fabulous cause and hopefully one that benefited greatly from the night.

The guest speaker was Lord Lawson – known to the younger members of society as Nigella’s dad, but better known to the rest of us as the Chancellor during Maggie’s three periods in office. He is now in his early 80’s, so it was going to be interesting to see what his take on things as they are now was. And in many ways we were not disappointed – he is undoubtably a very bright man, and if I am half as active at this age I will be very happy!

However, there was one part of his speech that did worry me – he will always play to the ‘Daily Mail readers’ in a room, and the other night was no different. But his views on Global Warming I did find rather blinkered, especially after his comments about it being ‘a religion’ that no one was permitted to challenge anymore! He basically appears to believe that we are having no effect upon the planet and that burning fossil fuels is definitely the way forward!

I accept that it is not a clear-cut case – but the current extreme weather, the melting polar areas – not our fault?

The photo above is of my home town, Malmesbury in Wiltshire. As a family we have been there over 40 years and I cannot recall a time when the bottom of the High Street has flooded and blocked access into the town – even before all the flood alleviation work was done a good few years ago – so do we assume this is just a fluke event?

I found this shrub while walking around Westonbirt Arboretum today!

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I found this shrub while walking around Westonbirt Arboretum today. Names had been rubbed into the leaves all over it – sad to think that in a few weeks all the leaves will have dropped and the names forgotten!20121021-152408.jpg

Variable nursing standards – again!

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A couple of years ago my father in law had a spell in Nottingham City hospital, the result was that he experienced some very good and some frankly dismal nursing, you can read about it here. Luckily since that date as a family we have not had to frequent a hospital – until this last week.

Unfortunately my mother who lived in Wiltshire was taken ill at the end of last week and was taken into the Great Western hospital in Swindon. This is a modern (9 years old) PFI funded hospital which is in very good condition still and would appear to provide excellent facilities. However the nursing again appears to be very varied – not a reflection on the hospital itself but I believe the nursing profession as it exists today.

Views of nurses with 10 years or more experience

My mother was admitted to an acute admission unit – as far as I can gather this is so that she could be assessed and then passed on to another more ‘regular’ ward. I would have expected this first ward to be very attentive and caring as it was where the patient has the first contact and their condition is ‘unknown’. But sadly that was not the case – the phrase ‘meat market’ is perhaps a bit strong, but the nursing was at best clinical and at worst uncaring. Luckily my wife was a nurse and once this information was made known the nursing staff became more ‘helpful’ – but this shouldn’t be the case!

Once moved my mother was placed on a medical ward and the difference in care was immediately noticeable – my mother became a person who required care, not a number. I was much happier as she was in good hands and was receiving what I perceived as proper ‘nursing care.’ Sadly she passed away after a week in this ward, but the care she received here was super and I have no complaints.

My concern is that nursing is supposed to be a caring profession and this is perhaps being lost – I came across a survey of nursing care whilst researching this blog. Practising nurses were asked what they thought about nursing standards today (it was carried out in late 2011). Interestingly the nurses who had been nursing for more than 10 years had a far more ‘jaundiced’ view of standards (see the graph above) than their younger colleagues who felt the care they gave was basically ‘ok’.

Obviously there still are great nurses out there – my mother experienced this, for which I am grateful, but there also appear to be some who are perhaps in the wrong job?

Sainsbury’s – good for West Bridgford?

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Last night Rushcliffe Borough Council approved in principle Sainsbury’s planning application for their new store on Wilford Lane. To be honest there was little doubt that it would be approved – sadly that is the way of things. However, will it actually benefit anyone other than Sainsbury’s?

I am not a fan of the supermarkets, I believe they have a lot to answer for – and have certainly helped our high streets to the sad state that they are now in. My home town of Malmesbury is currently a few months behind West Bridgford in this process – I can only hope that it doesn’t go the same way.

Sainsbury’s have stated that they believe the store will give more choice to West Bridgford shoppers (which it will), but it must have a negative effect on the town centre shops, so how can it be good for the town? Their official line?;

Sainsbury’s predicts the supermarket will benefit the economy and “complement” the smaller shops 1.25 miles (2km) away in the centre of West Bridgford.

West Bridgford is a very healthy suburb from a retailing point of view at the moment. Rents are strong and vacancies are minimal. Morrisons and Asda cover the town on either side and M&S simply food in the centre works well. Sainsbury’s just doesn’t sit well in this – especially when the Castle Marina store is less than 2 miles away as the crow flies!

So no, I don’t agree with the decision and hope that the Secretary of State kicks it out – sadly I don’t hold out much hope of this though!

When is a mobile network not a mobile network?

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Answer? When it constantly drops calls so that you have to use your landline!

Even Yoda can’t sort it out!

We are currently suffering constantly dropping calls on Vodafone at work – I have had calls lasting 10 minutes that have dropped at least 4 times during that time – and both parties had a good signals at the time! Frankly in this day and age this is just not acceptable, the mobile phone has been around for long enough to be reliable – it is about time the networks were as well.

This brings me back to one of my pet hates – the fact that our networks all run independent systems and don’t share ‘cells’. They are all intent on offering us a peek at 4G, but don’t appear capable of actually providing a consistent voice service.I am off to the wilds of Wiltshire this weekend – actually mid way between Bristol and London and near the M4 – but in network terms it could be the moon, the signal is rubbish on Vodafone!

As a firm we are currently looking at the renewal of our mobile contract and strangely the ability to actually make and receive calls comes quite high on our list of expectations! Vodafone are not exactly helping their cause here!

This time English Heritage have got it wrong…….

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Waitrose would be behind this – no real view then!

I have blogged previously about the fight currently going in my home town of Malmesbury in Wiltshire over the siting of a supermarket, the “combatants” being Waitrose and Sainsbury’s. I am in the “support the best of a bad case” camp – in an ideal world the town doesn’t need a supermarket – but the Waitrose one makes most sense to me, and would in my view have least effect on the town – partly due to its location and partly due to the arguably better ethics of the operator.

So I am appalled to see in the press over the last few days that English Heritage have in effect just come out in support of the Sainsbury’s deal! Obviously they haven’t said it in so many words – but they have made the following statement about the siting of the Waitrose unit;

“The role of the site as a positive contributor to the setting of the town will be lost as the area will effectively become part of the town rather than part of its landscape, resulting in an undesirable extension of its historic and tightly knit development pattern beyond the river boundary. “In this respect the proposals will cause substantial harm to the character and appearance of the conservation area, the immediate settings of Avon Mills and St John’s Bridge, and in harming the strategic setting of the town as a whole, to that of the Abbey. “

Now I lived in Malmesbury from the age of 8 and can honestly say that the site has no view of the Abbey, yes it adds to the towns area, but within the relief road (or ring road if you prefer). Surely that is preferable to adding a huge development on the far edge of the town outside the road system? Also the site is behind Avon Mills, so has no view of the Abbey or higher town, or can be seen from the town itself.

I understand why English Heritage are saying this – but in my opinion they are wrong!

I strongly believe that Sainsbury’s would kill the town centre, I do not believe their ‘spin’ about complementing the town. They are in business to make money, not help in a philanthropical way to develop a town centre and cherish it!

Come on Malmesbury, wake up and realise what is about to happen! For the Nimby’s there perhaps the realisation that it will make the town less attractive and therefore affect house prices downwards might help you make a decision? What ever happens the town is going to change for ever, but let’s try to make it as minimal and least damaging as we can?