Ambulances – What on earth makes people attack them?

This posting picks up on a most bizarre and appalling trend in vandalism – attacking/vandalising ambulances of all things!

The vast majority of folks will look upon an attack on an ambulance, or indeed ambulance staff, with utter disbelief yet such attacks are happening and far too often. The link below to the BBC website illustrates the problem:-

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-46511576

With thanks to Roy Connell for the lead to this posting

Maghull North Station – Tribute to the fallen and the suffering

I went along to the still new Maghull North Station (on Merseyrail’s Northern Line to Ormskirk) today to have a look at the just installed piece of artwork which celebrates the work of the former Moss Side Hospital and its pioneering treatment of shell shock. Of course, the hospital is long gone and the new Poppy Fields Housing Estate now occupies the site.

Here are some shots of what I think is a quite striking piece of artwork which is sited adjacent to the station ticket office:-

It was unveiled by local historian and former Maghull GP Dr John Rowland who has published a number of books on the history of Maghull and Lydiate.

A fine tribute to Moss Side, its staff, doctors and indeed patients who benefited from its pioneering treatments during and after World War 1.

The 3rd photo is amongst my Flickr shots at:-

www.flickr.com/photos/86659476@N07/

Brexit – May V Corbyn – It’s actually not a party political matter

The British media see things in a rather black and white way and often things can be like that. However, in politics especially at the moment, things are actually many shades of grey. Just look at this article from the BBC website about how many Conservative Brexit factions there are:-

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-46386172

And of course, Labour is also split. Their leadership is Brexit leaning it’s just that they want a different deal to the one that May has negotiated. Corbyn, of course, has always been anti-EU. However, lots of Labour MP’s are pro-EU and anti-Brexit although with many Labour constituency party organisations being dominated by Momentum those MP’s hardly ever speak out for fear of being deselected for opposing Jeremy’s view.

So a May V Corbyn debate is actually pointless as fundamentally they both want the same thing i.e. to leave the EU except that Corbyn says he can negotiate a different deal to the one May has come up with.

One leading commentator said this of the proposed debate, which sums up the situation perfectly:-

Mike Galsworthy – ‘As far as I’m concerned… A May-Corbyn debate on Brexit is going to be like watching two flat-earthers arguing over who can explain gravity better’

My point is this, any sensible debate should actually be between May and a representative of the cross-party People’s Vote Campaign. Personally, I’m not bothered who that representative should be but here are a few suggestions – Sarah Wollaston MP, Vince Cable MP, Alastair Campbell, Caroline Lucas MP. I think I would probably plump for Campbell.

Surely no one wants a no deal scenario other than complete Brexit nutters so the real choice in the ridiculous situation the UK now finds itself is between May’s deal and Remain.

However, there could be a point in having Corbyn in the TV debate too so that he has an opportunity to explain how different his deal with the EU would look and how he would achieve it. We get it that Corbyn and the Labour leadership feel they can negotiate a different, even a better deal, than May has done but where will the differences be? We need to see Labour’s Brexit Deal detail or indeed have Corbyn exposed for not having a real alternative at all.

That May’s deal is rubbish seems to be a given across Brexteers and Remainers so staying in the EU is the only really sensible alternative to it unless Corbyn can clearly show why and how his Brexit deal would be better than staying in the EU. If Corbyn can show his Brexit would be better for jobs, the economy, the NHS etc. than staying in the EU then his next step would have to be to get Article 50 extended whilst he wins a General Election and then delivers his deal. A tough ask indeed because he would also have to show why the EU would back his alternative.

With thanks to Roy Connell for thew lead to this posting.

Rough Sleeping on Merseyside

This is always a worrying matter but particularly so at this time of the year with plummeting temperatures.

The Liverpool Echo has an informative article by Liam Thorpe on rough sleeping on its website which is well worth a read – see link below:-

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/official-number-homeless-people-merseyside-15447648

The Sefton Borough figures are interesting to note as I guess you will be as surprised as I am with them.

Extract from Echo articleSefton’s figures show there are 9 rough sleepers in the borough and 40 homeless people in temporary shelter.

I fully expected them to be higher, although the difficulty in recording accurately has to be taken into account.

Rough sleeping shames a civilised society and the work of charities like Shelter is vital.

Troubled Southport & Ormskirk Hospitals NHS Trust – More staffing difficulties

The Liverpool Echo has the story on its website – see link below:-

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/we-feel-silenced-fear-losing-15431217

My recollection is that this NHS Trust has gone through testing times in the recent past and issues such as these bullying allegations can’t be anything but more bad news.

An organisation like the NHS needs to have exemplary industrial relations so why do we keep hearing of staff working for it being unhappy with and having a lack of confidence in NHS whistleblowing processes?

Local Democracy – Who investigates the goings on in local government these days?

I recently came across a scheme funded by the BBC (or more to the point more probably by its licence fee payers) to address a matter I have long had concerns about – see the link below:-

www.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/latestnews/2017/local-democracy-reporters

Having been a councillor since 1985 I have watched the demise of local reporting on local government with increasing concern. The demise has followed the loss of many local newspapers but even where the local newspapers do exist there is rarely any serious investigative journalism going on these days. I can recall 3 former newspapers that served my community from the not so distant past – The Maghull & Aintree Star, The Maghull Times & The Maghull & Aintree Advertiser and of course we have also lost the regional Daily Post too. This loss of local newspapers is sadly replicated across most communities.

I recall the days when the Maghull reporter for the Maghull & Aintree Advertiser would sit through most meetings of Maghull Town Council listening to and reporting on the debates that went on. Every year or so the reporters would change as new trainees were taken on. Nowadays you would be hard pressed to see local reporters at any meeting of Sefton Borough Council (or Merseytravel, the Fire Authority, NHS decision making bodies etc. etc.) unless a big issue is already on the agenda and even then the reporting is usually of ‘x’ said this and ‘y’ said that nature. You might say the local media often just passes on opinions these days. My point is there is little in the way of getting behind the politicians/officials spin.

A local paper on the warpath would once have been as worrying to a local council as the District Auditor if things were going wrong; now neither pay much attention to what a Council does so who is uncovering the goings on within local government and indeed within the other local decision making bodies that affect the lives of us all? Putting it bluntly no one the vast majority of the time.

Yes we see local government stories in the local press but they are virtually always built upon press releases from councils or the politicians who run the councils, or they are about party political spats between opposing politicians.

Is the issue that the remaining local media is not training young journalists to get to the heart of what is going on in local government? Is it that they can’t afford to pay the kind of wages required to bring on good investigative journalists? A good and experienced local government reporter would once have been expected to know as much or indeed more than the local political bigwigs they were reporting on so that they could take on the spin and expose the facts.

The problem is of course a national one, of that I have little doubt. I wonder how many uncomfortable moments that councils and publicly accountable local bodies across the land should have had (and would have had in the days when the local media was a force to contend with) are not being picked up at all these days, unless the matter is so bad that it reaches the national press/media such as the Rotten Boroughs page of Private Eye?

This challenge is, I think, what the BBC scheme is trying to address but will it have any effect? Are a new generation of independently minded investigative journalists going to be created via it? Is the present day poor reporting by the BBC a reflection of too few good investigative journalists coming through the system and is that why the BBC has launched the scheme?

As the majority of journalists will have started at the bottom of the journalistic ladder reporting on the goings on of the local parish councils will we once again see bored young reporters sat listening to the debates of Little Twittering Parish Council awaiting a juicy story?

In a functioning healthy democracy well informed investigative journalists are a big part of keeping the powerful on their toes and I fear the demise of them at a local level is doing us all a disservice.