I WRITE in response to Tim Knowles’ letter (The Whitehaven News, July 22).

Mr Knowles started his letter: “There is something not quite right about Copeland councils”. That is quite a breath-taking statement from a former Labour Copeland councillor who enjoyed a catalogue of events in his tenure which probably defined the statement of there being something not quite right about Copeland councils.

Former Councillor Knowles:

  • Resigned from Copeland Council Executive in 2008 to take up a post on the Cumbria County Council Cabinet.
  • Was project champion for the ill-fated Pow Beck Sports Village scheme which collapsed in 2012 costing the taxpayer hundreds of thousands of pounds. As a result Whitehaven RLFC were unable to host matches for the Rugby League World Cup, that privilege going to Workington RLFC. The subsequent independent report concluded in its key findings was that politics instead of people were trying to deliver the project.
  • Resigned his county council Cabinet post in January 2013 following the vote on not to search for locations for a nuclear repository.
  • Failed to be shortlisted as a Labour candidate for the Parliamentary by-election held in 2017.
  • Lost his seat in the Cumbria County Council Elections of May 2017 to a paper candidate who went on to be (and still is) an excellent councillor for Cleator Moor East and Frizington.

Quite a record and one that may never be surpassed!

My advice to Mr Knowles is before he picks up his pen to pour bile and scorn on people like Mayor Mike Starkie, who has worked tirelessly for Copeland and is slowly but surely helping pull our area out of the dreadful financial mess and decline left by decades of being disastrously governed by people like him, then he should perhaps think back and reflect on his own appalling record.

History demonstrates Mr Knowles that your legacy is one of failure. Your attempts to deflect, hide or blame others is futile.

Copeland residents have long memories.


Leader, Conservative Group, Copeland Borough Council

I’m driven to wonder

Following Mr Knowles’ letter (“Something ‘not right’ about local authorities”) I am left wondering.

I am left wondering about our national and our local politics. How come the Conservative party thought that putting our present Prime Minister into his current position was a good thing? He appears to treat Prime Minister’s Questions as a joke and is unable to give a straight answer to any member of the opposition.

Does his cabinet have to have so many people who would not look out of place in a second-hand car dealership? Is being welcomed into the arms of Boris Johnson something to be proud of?

Going local, is it possible to be both a Conservative where the mantra appears to me to be “let the devil take the hindmost,” and to be a good Catholic where everybody is asked to love your neighbour as yourself? Is the present mayor’s claim on his salary the equivalent of a bogus tradesman who gains access to a house under false pretences and then steals from it?

I ask all these questions because I have been left wondering.



No change to manifesto

It will not have slipped your attention that Labour members of Copeland Borough Council are calling for a costly by election. This is ridiculous.

Copeland’s mayor was returned for a second term with a massive majority, in which he was clearly endorsed. He achieved this based on his track record and his manifesto commitments that have not changed one iota.

In trying to draw comparisons with politicians who signed up to a party manifesto, took party funding and had party activists working on their behalf and then switched to actively work against the pledges on which they were elected, it does not hold water.

The mayor funded his own campaign and is sticking to the same policy agenda, which the Conservative group on Copeland has unanimously supported for five years – incidentally so has the Copeland Labour Group, which in virtual unanimity has voted through all five of his budgets and all of his policies which have cleaned up the mess he inherited from the last Labour administration.

If Labour wishes for an election they can have one – all they need to do is to encourage the Labour leader of Cumbria County Council to adopt local government reform and devolution. This way we might then get an election for a new devolved council as soon as elections are allowed next year. This is one of a number of vehicles by which increased government funding would be delivered.

As far as the ethics of the Labour stance go, it was not that long ago that they welcomed with open arms councillor Robin Pitt from the Conservative ranks. The then council and Labour leader Elaine Woodburn said: “Coun Pitt will be welcomed into the Labour group once he has been accepted as a member of the Labour Party. He has finally seen the light.” Not so choosy then, were they?

In conclusion, if there is no change to the manifesto that you were part of delivering post-election, what are the issues? Mr Starkie’s performance has justified his re-election whatever colour his tie. What we see here is a Labour party devoid of ideas, credibility and quality, seeking to hide its own inadequacies by scoring political points. They should stop this destructive attitude – we just need to get on and work together.


Copeland Councillor for Black Combe and Scafell

Here's to a milestone year

Thank you so much for the lovely nostalgia spread of our dancers in last week’s Whitehaven News. It brought back so many happy memories and was so nice to see the photos again and all their happy, smiling faces.

The Cowper School of Dance was established in 1871, which means next year will be our 150th anniversary, and we hope to be able to celebrate with a spectacular show.

Here’s to 2021!


Cowper School of Dance

Not for me

No people in town it’s quite disturbing

Empty streets it’s quite disturbing

Don’t fence me in I need to be free

It’s not for me.

Another day dies and so does part of me

Thirteen weeks since I was last free

Will this bloody virus ever let us be

It’s not for me I need to be free.

God bless the NHS.


By email

Face facts

My research about effectiveness of face masks led me to the candle test – try and blow out a candle with the mask on.

I couldn’t blow it out wearing a wet tea towel or a B&Q bucket or my elbow over my mouth.

But – and I stress do NOT try this at home – using my three-layered surgeon-style mask from a high street pharmacy I burned the fringe off my head and took out my eye brows. Not only did the candle stay lit but my whole face set on fire!

I am sticking to a wet tea towel and a bucket over my head, but at least no one will recognise me when I am out.


Moor Row