Crosby Event – Does Fairtrade tea and coffee taste good?

I am a big fan of the Fairtrade Foundation and its work and picked up on the press release below concerning a Fairtrade event in Crosby.

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Many people say that they don’t like Fairtrade tea and coffee. There will be an opportunity to taste a variety of Fairtrade teas and coffees in an event coming to Crosby village very soon.

Our local retailers are supporting a tea/ coffee tasting morning hosted by Cafe Barista in Moor Lane on Saturday 8th September, 10.30am – 12 noon.

Jacqui, owner of Café Barista, has always been a supporter of Fairtrade. ‘I like the fairness of it’ she says. Six years ago she stuck to her principles when her suppliers offered her tea and coffee without the Fairtrade Mark. Her interest in geography had helped her understand the importance to communities of getting a fair price for their goods so she insisted on Fairtrade. So 6 years on she now has regular customers who choose her café because they know they will get a Fairtrade drink.

Following Sefton’s successful application to be a Fairtrade Borough, Fairtrade Crosby Network are seeking to promote Fairtrade goods in Crosby, Waterloo, Thornton and Hightown and obtain Fairtrade town status for the area.

Fairtrade is about better prices, decent working conditions, local sustainability, and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers in the developing world.

There are many Fairtrade products available including rice, pasta, bananas, sugar, orange juice, wine, cotton wool and even gold. Chocolate lovers can enjoy Maltesers, 4 bar Kit Kat and some Cadbury’s products.

Have a look at the Fairtrade Foundation webpage http://www.fairtrade.org.uk/products/default.aspx to see more of the 100’s of products with the Fairtrade mark which guarantees a fair deal.

Rosemary Turner of the Fairtrade Crosby Network said: ‘Please come and try the various teas and coffees on offer on 8th September. People sometimes tell me they don’t like Fairtrade tea or coffee and I think that there must be some of the 500 varieties which they would like.
‘Buying Fairtrade goods ensures that producers and growers are paid a fair price for their goods, and shows that our local community cares about the impact we have on those who supply us. Fairtrade is the only certification scheme whose purpose is to tackle poverty and empower producers in developing countries’.

Parking Charges Maghull Square – We said it would be a disaster.

The fact that roads behind Maghull Square have been badly affected by the introduction of parking charges (Aintree & Maghull Champion newspaper lead article 29th August) in the Square and the car parks accessed off Leighton Avenue can’t be a surprise to anyone.

In April we Lib Dems canvassed residents in Towers Avenue and Leighton Avenue and delivered a special leaflet about the proposed car parking charges in the same area. Residents responded by raising concerns that have come to be a reality. Despite our Team saying that the whole matter of charging and traffic management needed to be looked at in more depth before things were taken forward no one at Sefton Council seemed to be listening.

Whilst Labour seemed to be interested in debating how much the parking would cost we wanted residents living behind the shopping centre to be listened to. Frankly, if the previous two hour limit to parking in the Square had been retained instead of only 30 minutes free parking, as now, this mess could have been avoided.

Recession – I have always thought it is and would be much worse than we have been told.

Politicians always lie, so we are told and probably believe. As a generalisation it is probably true to say that politicians rarely tell us the whole story. However, with regard to the economic down-turn I understand why all leading politicians of whatever party are not telling us all the facts. Putting it simply they can’t say how bad things are as to do so would further depress the money markets which could only make things worse. They have to act as though they are optimistic and they have to predict that things will get better soon even when they think this is little more than whistling in the wind. The Bank of England and the Office of Budget Responsibility also have to join in and try to talk things up for the very same reasons and that’s why their projections have to be downgraded when they are seen to be over optimistic.

We have to try to have confidence that things are getting better even when there is little chance of that happening soon otherwise a pessimistic outlook will just lead to more financial trouble.

My guess is that we will not see the end of this recession for between 5 and 10 years because things are that bad across Europe and beyond. Frankly, if things do not get worse that will almost be a reason to celebrate.

Bankers and Governments across the World got us into this mess, bankers because of greed, governments because they borrowed far too much in the good times. If you think back to Blair’s early years they were all about spending more without raising income taxes. The consequence could only be more Government borrowing but whilst the good times rolled by this was not accepted as a problem and few criticised Labour for their ‘buy now pay later’ economic policies. But when the recession struck (remember Blair also gave us the impression he could put an end to boom and bust) the wheels came off partly because of the scale of borrowing in the good times. Indeed, many citizens fell into the same trap because money was very cheap to borrow. When Northern Rock hit the buffers and the whole house of cards followed we were exposed not just to another recession (Blair had not and could not have stopped the economic cycle) but to one where to borrow would be far more difficult because we had already borrowed far too much both as individuals and certainly as a UK PLC.

Labour were lucky though because they lost the last election. No wonder they were not keen to form a government. They knew that whoever governed would be blamed for the harsh economic policies that had to be put in place if we were not to tip over the economic edge. And so it came to pass; the Coalition Government is about as popular as snow at harvest and the Labour opposition, who had a big hand in getting us into the mess we are in, have been forgiven (or is that forgotten) of their sins. Now Labour pontificate about how the rich are not being taxed enough when the reality is that during the good times, when Labour should have been squeezing the rich, they were actually letting them pay less tax than they do now!

But the Coalition hardly gives us any confidence due to child like squabbles which are then hyped up by the media. Frankly, both Cameron and Clegg have to get a grip and stop the bickering amongst the backbenchers as no good will come of it. At present most of trouble seems to be emanating from Tory back benchers who have it in for both of them. Of course the Lib Dem benches are full of free thinking individuals as befits the historic Liberal tradition. On that basis you would expect the trouble to come from that quarter but a more united bunch in a crisis you would go a long way to find. No, it’s the Tories that are all of a fluster and maybe that is because Cameron has tried to bring in more independently minded people. Whilst he has seemingly succeeded the consequence in his case is ill discipline on a large scale. The economic consequence of the Coalition looking to be all over the place can only be negative so Clegg and Cameron have to try to get those Tories who have fallen off the wagon back on it quickly.

I fear that without a stronger Government leadership and a less opportunistic opposition our economic performance will continue to suffer many more years in the doldrums than we would otherwise have to.

HMP Kennet

See the BBC Web Site

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-merseyside-19436582

The BBC reports that “The Maghull prison will be changed from a category C closed jail to a category D jail, which holds those eligible for release on temporary licences. The change, which will start immediately, was announced by the Prison Service earlier this week.”

Now first of all let’s get one thing right the prison is in Melling Civil Parish not Maghull but like the adjacent Beechway housing estate it is always incorrectly talked about as being in Maghull for some odd reason.

But to the main issue here the prison, which was of course built as a temporary facility having only a 5 year or there abouts life span to help combat prison overcrowding, is to be regraded from having mainly Category C prisoners to mainly Category D prisoners.

Rumours of this change have been doing the rounds for quite some time (probably a year or more) and it has had quite a number of Category D prisoners in it for a long time. My understanding is that the Prison’s managers actually made the request to be regraded to the Ministry of Justice. Seemingly, this prison was seen as not having a long term future (well as a supposed temporary facility that can’t be any surprise) but that it could be given one if it became a Category D facility. I am also told that the cost of keeping prisoners at Kennet is very high due to the cost of leasing the land, on which the prison sits, from the NHS. The site was previously part of the wider mental health facilities of the former Moss Side (now Ashworth) Hospital.

My guess is that either the temporary nature of the facility was always a red herring or that this change in category will in itself make the prison a permanent fixture. The big question now, however, is what will the recategorisation bring as ‘D’ is in effect a more open prison type facility. Strangely, my understanding is that the perimeter fencing construction is to higher category than ‘C’.

When we Lib Dems ran Maghull Council we objected to the imposition of the Prison because it was done without so much as a by your leave by the previous Labour Government. By the way this Prison should not be confused with the quite separate proposed prison that was to have been built on the Ashworth South Site (which is in Maghll). HMP Kennet is on the Ashworth East site.

Another thing to add to the pot is in fact a very positive one in that many of the flowers that bedeck Maghull Square Shopping Centre and Westway this year were in fact grown by Kennet Prison for the Maghull in Bloom Volunteer Group. I have blogged before about our visit to the prison to see the plant growing facilities which are aimed at normalising prisoners and giving them some positive experiences prior to being released.

So, having rehearsed a bit of history, what does all this mean? Well to me the questions are simple. If we are to have category D prisoners at Kennet (for how ever long it is there) are they to be out and about in Melling and Maghull as this is my understanding of the process of getting prisoners prepared for release. If I have this assessment right are there any risks to the local community? If there are what are they? Frankly, the National Offender Management Service (previously Prison Service) just need to be up front with us all so that we can assess whether there are any realistic concerns and, if there are, how they are to be managed. The fact that you read an announcement via the BBC web site which makes it very clear that the decision has already been made, without so much as a by your leave again, hardly fills you with confidence though.

The Price of Petrol & delays at filling stations – It could lead to fuel rage!

Two separate issues but they came together for me recently.

Firstly, when we were in the wilds of Scotland, where petrol costs more (like many country areas in England) than it does in urban areas I noticed that there was quite a bit of fast driving on narrow roads which only had passing places. When I asked about it I was informed that fast driving along these roads is common with the locals. But surely all this charging around and slamming on the brakes when vehicles can’t pass each other must have a bad effect on petrol consumption. On that basis why are folks who pay over the top for fuel driving in such a way as to use more of it than they need to? The separate question is why do they put the fear of a God (assuming you have one) into visitors who are not used high speeds on such narrow roads?

But on our way back from Scotland another fuel related issue popped up when we stopped at the Abington Service Station. As fuel was required I drove into the Shell filling station. I had not realised that you needed to take a camp bed with you though! Having got a space at a pump very easily and filled up I walked into the shop where you pay only to be met by a huge queue of people. I came out 3 weeks later. Ok, maybe a bit of an over the top timescale there but it felt like forever. The reason? Well like many big petrol stations these days you can put a child in a nursery, book a holiday, have your teeth looked at and oh yes you can pay for your fuel too if you like a long wait. So having finally escaped to explain to Sheila why I had abandoned her on a petrol station forecourt I put it down to experience and left.

But then a couple of days later I came across an article in a newspaper (a rare read for me as I don’t usually bother with national newspapers) where it was reported that drivers were complaining about having to wait ages to pay for fuel because of petrol stations selling everything under the sun. Of course, I thought back to my own experience just a couple of days before but I also thought of Lydiate’s Shell petrol station on the A59 where you can often find queues back onto the carriageway for fuel. Sefton Council and Shell have even had to work together to put up warning signs about the queues and the danger they can present to other drivers approaching the site.

This particular site also has a mini-supermarket and you do have to take time off work to fuel up there if you pick one of its busy times. I don’t use it very often for this very reason and the fact that I think that sitting in a queue on a high speed duel carriageway is not the safest of pass times!