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Wednesday, 22 October 2014

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No need for police commissioner – but it is still our duty to vote today

SIR – May I, through your columns, express my feelings for the forthcoming Police Commissioner election.

As an ex-constable, Cumbria Constabulary, I see no reason for the creation of this post, like, I would imagine, a vast majority of the populace. The present arrangements of the police authority have always been more than adequate, and, I should imagine, a lot cheaper than the new set-up.

Having read the CVs of the four candidates (The Whitehaven News, November 8, we have to start with the Liberal Democrat, who I think is far too close to the police force as a lawyer. She also lives far enough away from Carlisle and Penrith to run up a fair expenses bill; and the Liberals are performing very poorly overall.

The Labour man starts off by telling us he is not and never has been political – then proceeds to blame the present government for the cuts caused by the previous government; and tells us he is proud to represent Labour in this job.

The Conservative – well, according to his CV which arrived through my letterbox, I am surprised he even had time to write out his application; never mind do the job, for all his other little “good works”. On top of that, what he intends to create if he gets the job will cost a lot of money, on top of his own £60,000 per annum – plus expenses all the way from Cartmel. He gives me the impression of wanting to collect public offices like postage stamps.

The fourth candidate, independent, at least gives the favourable impression of being experienced, capable, not being burdened by political affiliation, or over burdened with other offices. She also lives near Carlisle, where I imagine, with Penrith, the majority of this work will take place, so the mileage expenses will be a bit less.

Without a doubt this position should never have been created, but since it has been, then it is our duty to vote as it affects us all, but most definitely the result should never be political, the job is far too seriously important for that. We really should have had this in your paper much sooner.

Pat CAPSTICK

Low Moresby, Whitehaven

EDITOR'S NOTE: The deadline for nominations was October 19, and The Whitehaven News carried a list of the four candidates in its next edition (October 25). In our November 8 edition, we then gave all four candidates the chance to tell the people of Copeland what they would do if they were elected. Their statements can still be found on the homepage at www.whitehaven-news.co.uk.

SIR – It’s good to know that Seascale and St Bees have maintained their bathing water quality standards (The Whitehaven News, November 8), but United Utilities is allowing water quality to be compromised just down the coast at Ravenglass.

The sewage works at Ravenglass has been causing problems for a number of years now with regular issues with discharges and smells. The Environment Agency has taken an interest but, because United Utilities claims the plant is up to standard, nothing is done. The plant is apparently still up to the standards in place when it was installed many years ago but wouldn’t meet today’s levels.

As well as problems at the treatment works, there are regular problems, including flooding of properties on Main Street, because the old pipework, manholes etc are falling apart and the pipes from the more recently built part of the village are of a wider bore than the old pipes into which they feed.

There is currently an application going through the Lake District National Park’s planning system to build a replacement of the manager’s house plus three new houses and provide three extra caravan pitches on Ravenglass Camping and Caravan Site. This is in addition to the recent grant of permission for five camping pods. In correspondence, United Utilities states that the sewage works is “at capacity” but it doesn’t intend to object to the proposal as long as surface water is not routed to the sewers. One would think that “at capacity” would mean it isn’t able to take any extra but apparently not.

Another caravan site across the estuary at Saltcoats had a problem with its sewage treatment recently and the Environment Agency threatened the owners with all manner of penalties, including the withdrawal of their licence to operate, if the problems weren’t sorted out in very short order but it takes no action against United Utilities.

People can apparently swim safely in the sea at Seascale – but I wouldn’t recommend a paddle at Ravenglass.

Neil ROBSON

Townfield Close, Ravenglass

A SPOKESWOMAN for United Utilities replies: “Although Ravenglass sewage works is small, it is working within the limits of its environmental consent. The flooding in Main Street was not linked to United Utilities’ sewer network.

“We are carrying out surveys to investigate the structural condition of the sewers in the village as part of our ongoing investment programme.”

SIR – This fine ex-county council building slap bang in the middle of Egremont is being auctioned off.

Not far from this building is a car park that’s mostly deserted and would hold about 80 cars.

If Sellafield is serious about moving staff off site because it’s a ‘security issue’, why wait until the completion of the Albion Square project in Whitehaven?

They could move some staff into this building much quicker improving security quicker and inject some commerce into Egremont, rather than sending all their financial support down the Egremont bypass on its way to Whitehaven.

At least consider it, and do it quickly.

Name and address supplied

SIR – At last, a formal response (The Whitehaven News, November 8) to the suggestion of halving Copeland Borough Councillor allowances and expenses during times of financial restraint, reduction of services and unemployment amongst the lower grade CBC employees.

Unfortunately it was a rather negative response, with tales of hardship amongst the 51 councillors. It is very unsettling to think that halving councillor payments might result in sleeping rough for some, perhaps busking for others... I am minded to suggest a fundraising campaign to aid our poor councillors, county and borough alike.

I am aware – as many are – that the make-up of elected councillors range from the unemployed, employed, self-employed and retired individuals. I have also been given to understand that many employers, such as Sellafield, the Royal Mail and others, much to their credit, allow time off for councillor duties – but that many council duties are also scheduled to avoid excessive time off work.

As for the unemployed councillor members, one of whom receives council payments around £30,000 annually – that is not a problem I suppose? One also has to bear in mind the cost of personal IT equipment issued to all councillors – and the on-cost to the public purse.

On behalf of the Copeland Labour Group, Coun Karl Connor advises that our volunteer councillors have not had a “pay rise” (allowances and expenses) in the last five years. How does that equate given that his leader took a £6,000 increase in payments, approved by fellow councillors, this year? I also query the claim of there being no across-the-board increase in five years – but attempts to find the truth on CBC’s website has proved difficult. Perhaps the new CBC website they have constructed and are about to introduce – in this time of financial restraint – will provide more information?

My letters in the last couple of editions of The Whitehaven News have created more comments in Whitehaven town centre than any previously printed. My thanks to all who contacted me, face to face or by telephone, but please do share your opinions – through The Whitehaven News letters page – to inform Copeland of your feelings. Every little helps, because it would appear, your councillor has little or no say within Copeland BC.

One question that Coun Connor could perhaps answer, because, when asked, I could not. Is it true that the chief executive of Copeland BC commutes from Lancashire to Whitehaven but is also allowed to work from home through the year? I understand he hasn’t taken up Copeland residence, in keeping with a number of his fellow officers, but have never understood why such a situation has been allowed. I, with others, look forward to your response.

To change the subject – as a member of the Whitehaven Chamber of Trade I helped introduce sponsored waste bins around Whitehaven, way back. Could not the same idea be adopted now perhaps – for maintenance of street furniture, waste bins, the Market Place Pagoda and the like? Perhaps CBC or the Chamber of Trade could persuade some of our major supermarkets and financial institutions to contribute towards their upkeep and restore some of their customers’ pride in Whitehaven – and the rest of Copeland come to that. If we had a town centre manager (as was funded, a long time back) would that not be a worthy objective, amongst many? Perhaps the CBC Services Director might like to take up the challenge?

Rob ROMANO

Ash Grove, Whitehaven

SIR – A vision of a future not fit for purpose...

Welcome to Whitehaven, the Mary Celeste of the North West coast. Just make sure you are an expert leg-crosser, because the public conveniences are closed to all the inconvenienced.

Local history can be found inside the closed Beacon if it were not all boarded up; and as a summer special for visitors, the Tourist Information Centre is also locked.

If entertainment is your avid desire, there is always the atrocious weather as a talking point, because the Civic Hall has ceased to have any significance apart from its locked doors.

Get back to raw nature by drudging through knee-high grass in our parks and open spaces, which are only cut once a year, or listen to the squeals of the children playing on the new fly tipping areas or the overflowing land fill site now that the play parks have gone, along with some recycling.

As you contemplate the marvel of empty dilapidated shops, ghosts of times past, don’t forget to stare in awe at the concrete tubs of cigarette stubs that used to contain flowers dancing in the sunlight.

Feeling bored? You can always pop into one of the numerous charity shops to get a bargain (until you realise that, with such high parking charges, the real cost of your bargains is more than three times its price ticket).

Ponder over the magnificence of the council offices and the new Sellafield office block in Albion Square, and wonder at the wisdom of these investments rather than investment in modern shopping areas to bring custom into the town.

But hey, don’t despair – the council have had some hard and difficult decisions to make, yours as a shopper is a much easier one... with Workington so near.

Michael DOYLE

Rosebank, Whitehaven

SIR – Please convey my thanks to Margaret Crosby for her nice obituary in respect of my mother, Florence Parnaby (“Whitehaven’s oldest resident dies at 105”, The Whitehaven News, November 8). However, there are a few omissions which I would now like to add, viz:

My mother did indeed receive primary education at St Begh's School, but completed it at Whitehaven County Secondary School (once located in Catherine Street, Whitehaven, but now alas demolished). While a pupil there she won a gold medal for running. She was the oldest surviving ex-pupil of the school.

Florence was well-travelled, having visited South Africa for extended stays on two occasions; and, in 2000, flew to Australia at the age of 93, to visit her granddaughter in Cairns, Queensland.

During the flight she was allowed to hold the Olympic torch which was being carried on the plane on its journey to the 2000 Summer Olympic Games, held in Sydney... She also travelled into Continental Europe several times.

Brian PARNABY

Ullock

SIR – Is Coun Eddie Martin, leader of Cumbria County Council, as naïve as his recent comments on the issue of burying of nuclear waste indicate?

He responded to the formation of an opposition group to burying nuclear waste under Silloth (www.spand.org.uk) with the following: “It is most important to stress that we are certainly not planning to build a waste respository… the question is whether we are prepared to allow a desktop study of the area to take place.”

Surely he understands that no-one will buy a property or invest in an area that is under consideration for a huge engineering project that will host high-level radioactive waste? This desktop study, which could take a decade ,would undermine the Silloth community and make a mockery of the million pounds of taxpayers money recently invested in regenerating Silloth’s Green.

In addition to the economic destruction, there are sound safety reasons to oppose any further involvement with this proposal. To learn about the unsuitability of West Cumbria’s geology for storing high-level radioactive waste all are invited to two public meetings.

Professors Stuart Haszeldine and David Smythe will speak at the Wave, Maryport on Wednesday November 21 at 7pm and at Solway Community College, Silloth on Thursday November 22 at 7pm.

Mary LAWLEY

Briar Rigg, Keswick

SIR – Last weekend, as part of the Tesco countrywide collection for Cancer Research UK, a small team supporting the Seascale and Gosforth Friends of CRUK collected the wonderful sum of £936.96.

Please could we thank all those who donated for their splendid generosity, particularly at this time of financial cut backs. Every penny has gone to CRUK to help in the fight against cancer.

Judy TAYLOR

Ellerslie Park, Gosforth

SIR – My grandfather was William Campbell who was the former stationmaster at Distington. He had four sons and one of them, Jack, my father, left Distington to settle in Fleetwood where he became an engine driver and served the railways for 48 years, retiring through ill health.

I am researching my family history but have drawn several blanks in the process. If your readers have any information about the Campbell family that could help me I would be most grateful. (I have seen your nostalgia article published last year in The Whitehaven News about William Campbell and him receiving a gold watch for long service in 1935).

Keith CAMPBELL

27 Bull Street, Harborne

Birmingham B17 0HH

SIR – Can you help to shed more light on the demise of Cumbria’s juniper trees?

As part of a research project aimed at helping the Cumbria Wildlife Trust with their juniper regeneration programme, I am trying to discover just how many of these amazing trees there were in our county before industry, the miners and farmers moved in.

How many of you know that Cumbria was once the gunpowder capital of Europe? As a third-year Wildlife & Media mature student at the University of Cumbria, and in conjunction with the Cumbria Wildlife Trust, I am undertaking research into the rise and fall of this industry and looking to find out what effect this had on the junipers of Cumbria.

The junipers? Yes, that is why gunpowder mills started to spring up all over South Cumbria – because the best charcoal in the production of the finest gunpowder was made from juniper wood. If I can establish the scale of gunpowder production, I hope to relate this back to how much charcoal, and thus how much juniper would have been used. But we may have exported or imported both gunpowder and juniper, so this will not be a simple task.

I already have information from an excellent book called the Gunpowder Mills of Cumbria by Ian Tyler, and also The Leven Valley, A Secret Past by Ronald Mein and Richard Sanderson, but I need more. I am trying to trace all three of these authors with a view to interviewing them. Can you help?

Do you have any relatives or friends that might know of anyone who had a parent who worked in the Gunpowder Mills? Perhaps you know someone who works or has worked in offices where old record books were kept; possibly churches, schools, company offices, council vaults; the list is endless.

I am looking for old photographs or drawings that might show the landscape before these trees were felled, also old maps that showed the vegetation make-up of these areas.

This is a very exciting project and I hope you will join me in bringing the past to life, so that we can help the Cumbria Wildlife Trust with the regeneration of this beautiful tree, and in return help the local wildlife that depends so much on it.

I can be contacted either by e-mail at dansencier@yahoo. co.uk or on 07731 758774 or leave a message on my blog at www.juniperjuniper. blogspot.co.uk

Daniel SENCIER

Wordsworth Terrace, Penrith

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