Category Archives: Community

Fat man on the run for Mental Health

thom kebabWell after a few drinks I was talked into running in the Jane Tomlinson 10km for a charity that does a huge amount for the people in York in an area that is often regarded as taboo to talk about or just brushed over.

For many, including most in my family, a 10km run is seen as not a challenge. However I am a bit different to that, as first thing I have to do is get fit. Something I have tried before, but with my erratic work it is often something I struggle to keep up with. This certainly has given me something to focus my efforts on and I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t manage it. So ultimately it is an exercise regime that I have to do to be able to get by.

I hope there will be plenty of support for me in the build up and the race. Mainly though in the fundraising for York Mind. I will be keeping people informed of what I am doing and a little bit on mental health over the next few months.

Please feel free to donate by following the link.

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Youth PCC, right idea… but what about their background?

The online world has been full of quips over the Youth PCC who was given a £15,000 a year job out of over 150 applicants and it turned out she tweeted dumb things.

There have been calls that someone so young shouldn’t be in this position, well this is a role to engage with Youth problems. So quite frankly the age aspect is not relevant. This is a really good idea to look at ways in which to engage with younger people, after all in York one of the big issues is Antisocial Behavior. Youth crime is a problem throughout the country and having someone on a similar level is a great way to look at tackling the problem. After all the usual people who come up with policies have absolutely no idea what it is like for modern younger people, which can be sown in the dramatic failure of most policies.

The other side has been saying there shouldn’t be such a racist, homophobic drug taker standing in the role. However we are dealing in a whole different world with the online tweets there for all to see and often forgotten. Her tweets were stupid, she knows that, every single media outlet has been saying it and the online communities have been sneering at her. These weren’t recent tweets, these were form when she was 13/14/15, 2 years prior. This may not be a long time for older people but it is a significant change in peoples lives from 15 to 17.

There have been people out there saying she should resign over her past comments, yet I don’t recall many people calling for Ed Balls to resign over his past when he dressed up as a Nazi.

Ed Balls as a Nazi

So should a persons comments when a young teenager set out the future of our lives? Absolutely not, I don’t think there will be a single person who could claim they hadn’t said dumb things as a teenager. They’re teenagers, that’s what they do!

Should the PCC have vetted her properly, absolutely.  Inn a modern world where things can come and bite you in the bum it is good to know what is ahead. However I would be more worried if the person hired was someone who had never done anything wrong, never said something stupid and was a perfect citizen. They will be as useful as a 60 year old lecturer in the role, as there has to be a relationship between ordinary younger people and themselves.

So before everyone else starts to dig at Paris Brown, did what you say when you were a 13/14/15 years old represent who you are in your current life? I think not.

Minimum pricing, how about clamping down on existing laws?

As it stands in England and Wales the alcohol minimum pricing is dead in the water. Scotland is going through a legal battle, but in the long run it is going to go ahead. The aims of this policy is to price out of the market the low earning heavy drinkers, as those who can afford will not worry about low priced drinks increasing. Ultimately to crack down on street drinking, antisocial behaviour and other drink related crimes on the crime aspect. On the other hand is the health aspect of over drinking.

My focus is on the clamping down on drink related crime. The minimum pricing policy quite simply will not help those who drink in pubs, bars and clubs.

Already there is the policy of fining those who serve alcoholic drinks to those who are drunk. Clearly this doesn’t happen, with virtually no fines in the last year. Also anyone who has been for a late night drink can see the visible evidence strewn across the streets in the form of drunks and violence, the hospitals also see no evidence as the beds are filled on weekends with drink related problems. If the existing Act was actually enforced it may well have the desired effect. What is the point of introducing another policy to curb heavy drinking and drink related crimes if the existing policy hasn’t been tried in day to day life?

This is a policy born of people who clearly have no set goals of what they want to achieve. As to think that minimum pricing would have a direct impact on the alcohol related crimes is a little bit naive and could only come from people without experience. Merely coming up with a policy to sound like they are doing something. As if they did want a clamp down then the current fining system of serving drunk people would be actively promoted and acted upon.

Low Voter Turnout, But Don’t Be Fooled Into Thinking The PCC Isn’t Needed

The election turnout for the Police and Crime Commissioners throughout the country has been abysmal. The whole election has been doomed from the start with masses of negative press from every media outlet; doing their best to ‘spread’ the message with an added twist of highlighting that no one will turn out. The blame does not lie with them for the low voter turnout though. The blame lays squarely with the Government.

It was always going to be a doomed process when the very first election was to be held in November, historically a November election has a significantly lower turnout than any other time of year and significantly lower than May. Let’s be honest who wants to haul their ass down to the polling station on a cold, damp and dreary November day. Then you have the fact it is dark by 4.30pm.

We now have a situation where there is a distinct lack of trust in politicians throughout the country. After the expenses scandal and the very backward attitudes held by the Houses of Parliament on how their expenses should remain. Many who are being brought forward for massive scandal show no remorse and seem to think this as a minor error. I must remember that when I try to swindle a company out of thousands of pounds that the best defence should be that I didn’t know I wasn’t allowed to claim for an organisation that didn’t exist. It was only a bit of fraud after all.

The combined effect of the timing and the lack of trust in politicians can be shown by the by-election turnout yesterday in Manchester Central with only 18% of people voting for their new MP.

This isn’t the only reason for the low turnout though. The fact is no one seems to know what the Police and Crime Commissioner is meant to be doing, the only role that is discussed is that of holding the Chief Constable to account. There hasn’t been much announced about what the Commissioner can and will be doing, there should have been an education campaign starting last year, rather than the pathetic leaflet from the Electoral Commission, that also didn’t tell you a great deal. Even some of the candidates didn’t know some of the roles they would have. The core role though was to replace the Police Authority.

For the past almost 50 years the Police Authorities have sat around a talking shop to make the decisions that the PCC will face. North Yorkshire was one of the worst. They have been blasted by the IPCC on several occasions and still they remained. Then again several of the members had such a low attendance record that they shouldn’t have been entrusted with the role. The Police Authority was made up of primarily councillors, so this ‘new’ aspect that has been discussed by the media of politicising the police has already been in place for the past 50 years. Many councillors have seen the police Authority as a nice little extra earner. At the very least this politico is elected and more importantly accountable. There will be a large number of spoilt ballots with most people stating that they do not want the Police Force being politicised, a message that is being pushed by those who like the status quo.

The comments of this being an extra layer of bureaucracy are not actually that correct. If you look at the bigger picture this is just a single person being elected to replace the appointed members of the Police Authority. They will have additional controls, the sensible option would have been to give the Police Authority the same powers as the Police & Crime Commissioner and then building up to an election ion 2015. When a majority of the country is voting.

The Lib Dems will be happy that they have managed to reduce this election to such a small minority of people turning out. It is a real shame that their has been a lack of information coming out from Government about the elections. Many voters annoyed that they have not been informed of the candidates, not realising that the local associations are having to foot the bill of this extra election. Let me tell you trying to campaign in an area the size of North Yorkshire is expensive.

I hope their will be a much greater turnout for the next election of the Police & Crime Commissioner in the future as this is an important role that needs more time for the message of the PCC and the roles they will play to sink in to people.

Accountability of the Police and Crime Commissioner is the key aspect

The ethos behind the Police and Crime Commissioner is to have a single person who is both elected and accountable. They will come forward with a plan for their time in office, in the form of a manifesto. This will be formalised when put to a panel that will oversee the PCC. They can then be held to their plan and scrutinised using the panels.

The whole point of this is to have a single elected person who comes forward with their police and crime plan and then held to it. However the act states that the police and crime commissioner can appoint a deputy who can hold the exact same power that the commissioner will have.

Imagine an MP being elected and appointing a deputy to go to parliament, attend gatherings and discuss important policy implementation. All the while taking their hefty salary for what? For winning an election and then putting their feet up. This is a role that will take home a £70k a year salary and they don’t even have to turn up for a single event.

It is a shameful part of the act and is a loophole to get failed MP candidates into a high power, high paying job that is secure for a 5 year term after a high profile person wins an election for them. I do hope Lord Prescott won’t be doing this to his failure of a political son as rumors have implied . He is vying to be elected to a very high profile with very high responsibility job and it would be a disgrace to use an existing character to get someone else a shoe in.

‘Inspire A Generation’ Let’s Inject Some Passion

The slogan of the London 2012 Olympic games has been ‘Inspire A Generation’. After 7 days it is quite clearly achieving this. I have never seen such a positive single voice coming from the UK, nothing has done this much to bring the nation together in decades. There are even rumours of people actually talking to each other on the tube, although this could be down to the number of Northerners riding around on it and working our influence.

Before the games started there was uproar from the media about who the IOC have used for sponsors and the draconian way in which their coverage has been enforced. Many have said the sponsorship money from McDonalds, Coca Cola and P & G is counter productive to tackling the problem of rising obesity levels in the UK. As someone who has struggled with my weight, eat too much and exercise too little, same as many people in the UK. I think this is complete and utter rubbish. The more money invested in sport the better.

It’s great to see the sports benefiting from the money of the junk food monkeys.

It is a bit of a vicious cycle that those who have the spare cash to throw about can invest in sport, and by investing in sport they are highlighting their brand to make more money from junk food. I would much rather have a private company pumping money in than having to raise taxes to fund it. The one thing that is missing from the investment into LOCOG is the further investment into the actual sports.

If we are to inspire a generation, the generation has to be able to afford to take part in sports. A huge hurdle to many sports is the cost; kit costs money and membership to clubs costs money. It is all well and good having millions of people prepared to step up and become the next Bradley Wiggins, Ben Ainslie, Peter Wilson or Tim Baillie; if they can’t afford to take part in these sports then it is pointless.

The best way to cut down on the huge costs of the rising obesity problem would be to invest in youth access to sports. Some schools are excellent, although many of these are public schools, access to sports in schools has been gradually eroded of the past decade with schools selling off fields for development. One of the advantages of having the free school system is that the Local authority can’t force the hands of this process. There can be direct investment into sports facilities if required.

The best way to cut down on the future generations becoming fatter and fatter is to bounce upwards from the London 2012 success and a whole different approach to sports from an early age. If compulsory sport was done through sports clubs and there was the variety there then the children would be taught by people with passion for the sports. Having to do sports by a teacher who doesn’t have the access to training, facilities or might have no interest in that particular sport is not positive, causing children to be put off taking sports further.

The other addition that any sports club can bring to teaching children is passion. A person who has a true passion for a sport can be worth thousands of ordinary people showing someone how to do something.

Poverty In York, due to Tory Cuts… Brilliant Joke.

Today I had Councillor Sonja Crisp commenting on the fact that Tories are imposing cuts to deprived communities. So I thought rather than a Labour councillor hearsay we would look at some facts. This may be an alien concept to many of the Labour Cllr’s and especially those from York.

Shall we get started with the fact Poverty is not a traditional sense of Oliver Twist Victorian workhouse style poverty. That meaning no longer exists in modern politics. Poverty is now measured as relative, due to the problem of absolute poverty in the UK has long gone, with only a small number of people comparatively to the rest of the world. Relative income is those who earn below 60% of the median UK income. So unless we live in a communist utopia, then this will never be achieved.

We all know that the Tories only look after the rich, as that is where the money comes from. This opinion is clearly from someone who doesn’t attend the Conservative events around the country. Your average Conservative member is not a banker, it is more likely to be a baker or farmer. The Conservative core principle is less jobs for the boys and less tax to pay. After all I do not need a pilgrim to be paid by my taxes, that is what Union subs are for… no wait, they go to funding the Labour party. The tax payer funded Labour party. The sooner we think like the Spanish did recently, the better. So it is quite clear that Labour is the party to keep the old boys network running, at my expense.

The claims of Labours help during their time in office was one to ‘help the working class’. So much so that they treated those who live on full time benefits without even contemplating work, as ‘working class’. As someone who comes from a working class, contemplating living on benefits was looked down upon by all those earn their wage. The cutting of long term benefits is long overdue. In reality Labour did just enough to fool their voters into thinking they were great, they made it acceptable to live on state handouts, we are not talking a helping hand when unemployed, I mean those who live their life on my taxes. While all the time pumping money into those at the Top. Creating a far bigger divide between the rich and poor under their 13 years, although I would expect nothing less than that from Labour. Leaving the biggest gap since World War II.

So now we know why poverty has increased in the UK, it is relative and Labour have created the biggest gap between rich and poor.

Those on the bottom end have been bumbling along funded by benefits, there has been nothing over the past Labour tenure done to actually encourage people to go to work. I know many who will openly admit living on benefits as they can. I mix a lot with people from a mining background, if anyone was unsure how to claim more benefits then local pub was the best place to find out. If anyone doubts this then they have never been to a Working Men’s Club in South Yorkshire.

Locally last years figures said that 4,705 children in York were living in poverty. That comes in at 13% of the of the childhood population, startling headline grabbing figures. Until you read the national average is 21%. This is also relative and means that a single parent with 2 children has a household income of a little of £1000. This is not easy to bring 2 kids up on £1000 a month that is for sure. But that is enough to get by on.

The fact is you will always have figures like this unless you become the richest City in the country, then you just leave neighbouring towns and cities to have more poverty.

The reality is we need to get a real world sense of poverty. If you can’t afford the essentials to get by on, then you are living in poverty. If you can’t afford to take the kids to MacDonald’s twice a week then you certainly do not need my help.

The one problem she can focus on is the homeless in York, but then again I doubt she will regularly sit and talk to them to find out what is their problems. If Cllr Crisp would like to experience real poverty I am sure I can arrange something for her. She also should be looking more toward Labour for creating higher numbers for poverty, rather than looking to blame Tories.