Tibet and China

THESE beautiful photographs were taken by a friend of mine – photographer James Taylor - in the late 1980s and 1990s.

A geology graduate from Birmingham, Taylor went on to work in Zimbabwe before travelling and teaching English overseas.

After working with Bosnian refugee children, he worked as a translator for the Czech Romany community in London.

A long-time student of Thai and South East Asian cooking, he now runs the award-winning restaurant Chantek in Truro.

Look out for exhibitions of his photography this year.

Knowsley Local Core Plan Strategy update

KNOWSLEY Council’s late submission of its long term plans to the government is based on out-of-date statistics.

Its Local Core Plan Strategy, due to be submitted in the spring, was delivered to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles, on July 19.

In a document accompanying what is already a controversial plan, changes to the version of the Strategy consulted on have been detailed which raise further questions.

Knowsley’s Core Plan has caused controversy for a number of reasons, many of which are connected to the proposed reclassification of greenbelt land for employment and housing uses.

The Schedule of Minor Changes details changes made after consultation ended in December last year.

It states that the changes in it “are minor and do not materially change the policies or strategic direction of the Core Strategy”.

However, at least one item gives cause for concern.

The document open to consultation stated there to be a need for an additional 31.9 hectares of employment land in Knowsley. In the revised document, this figure has been amended to 2.3 hectares.

This alteration is described as a “minor editorial change to correct calculation relative to updated supply position at April 2013”.

Considering an overall target of 183.5 hectares of employment land, the shift is considerable. Instead of needing to find over 31 hectares of new land, there is apparently only a need for less than one tenth of that amount.

Subsequent decisions within the Core Plan therefore seem to be based on calculations that are significantly flawed.

The documentation sent to the government includes a Report of Representations made which is available to view on the council’s website here.

The Schedule of Minor Changes can be viewed here.

Street surgery

MP to hold surgery in market place

graham stuartGraham Stuart is in the news today for having questioned Michael Gove’s decision (last month, as head of the Education Select Committee) to scrap GCSEs.

I had a little look at his site – to see who he was, what he was doing, what he looked like, as you do – as people do with local councillors, or would if they could – and saw this.

A nice idea to let the public have their say, get them more interested in/enthused about politics. All that stuff.

How many people even know they can go to their local councillor for help or would know how to? How many local councillors have full busy surgeries? Be interesting to find out. Wouldn’t it be great if they held them in the street sometimes too?

Councillor Blogs – new website

breckland cllrs pic

Click to visit site

New website Councillor Blogs helps you find councillors blogging in your area – if there are any. 

I contacted councillors in Wirral recently to ask who blogged. There are about 50 councillors in Wirral. Three got back to me – the two councillors I already knew had blogs and one other, who said he didn’t blog and that he guessed he “wasn’t interesting enough”.

The lacklustre response could be because lots of councillors just aren’t very good at responding to emails, or because few blog. It could be because they’re lazy or not confident with social media or technology. But there’s also a sniff of dismissiveness – treating blogs as vanity projects, properly avoided. Whatever the problem is, it’s a disaster.

So here goes. The plan is to build up a site as a resource but also to showcase councillor blogs – to show and tell how useful they can be, and to get more of them doing it properly.

Classic American Radio Drama

Adventures by Morse – The City of the Dead

Adventures by MorseLove Youtube. Here’s the first part of a ten part crime thriller radio show (you can follow the links to the later episodes) from the 40s. Just perfect if you need something to listen to while you paint that latest papier mache objet d’art you’re working on. Or whatever. Click to listen. Enjoy.

Rabbit

ray rabbit left 1

SO this pretty fellow is papier mache and I got the idea for him from the brilliant Emily Warren (who I hope won’t mind) and he now belongs to my sister and brother-in-law and he’s going up in my niece’s bedroom. Nice.

Open spaces charity the Land Trust supports business development on Greenbelt as Knowsley Council fails to consult local residents

While residents have been kept in the dark over plans to develop on local Greenbelt land, the charity they believed had safeguarded them from such a threat has given its support to the borough council’s proposals.

As part of their Local Core Plan Strategy, Knowsley Council in Merseyside plans to redesignate Greenbelt land to allow for large-scale housing and business development. The largest area of land heading for redesignation is a 77 hectare site, 43 hectares of which are the site of a former colliery. The remainder is made up of farmland and land owned by property company Maro Developments (set up by Matalan founder John Hargreaves).

The 77 hectare site is a triangle of land located at the junction of two major motorways, the M62 and M57. It was targeted by Maro in 2004 for business development and the possible site of a new Matalan headquarters.

Knowsley plan to remove Greenbelt status from the triangle of land within the M62, Cronton Lane and Foxes Bank Lane, as well as land on the opposite side of the M62

Knowsley plan to remove Greenbelt status from the triangle of land within the M62, Cronton Lane and Fox’s Bank Lane, as well as land on the opposite side of the M62

The Land Trust (formerly known as the Land Restoration Trust) has been working towards creating a country park on the colliery site since 2007. It was given the land for that purpose in 2011. But, surprisingly, it has shown support for business development on the land adjacent. This is despite the fact that the land is Greenbelt, and does not adjoin urban areas. Development on the site would fundamentally change the context of the planned country park – instead of being surrounded by agricultural land as it is at present, if the council’s plans go ahead, it would be surrounded by factories and associated infrastructure.

Although partially restored in the 1990s, the former colliery site south of Liverpool has remained closed to the public since mining ceased there in 1984. Over that time the site has developed into a beautiful and diverse wildlife habitat.

In 2007, the Land Trust – a charity which manages open green space on behalf of local communities – said it wanted to “establish a 43 hectare informal park” on the Cronton Colliery site, “a place where people can walk, run, cycle or ride horses, a site rich in wildlife and attractive for local people to enjoy”.

In 2011, when ownership of the land was handed over to the charity, chief executive Euan Hall said: “At long last, the Trust is proud to be able to start working towards opening up the former colliery which has cast a shadow over the local community for some time”.

So last year the future of the site seemed finally secure – and things looked even more promising earlier this year when the Land Trust held a high-profile competition to find a design for the country park. Michael Lee Architects of London were named winners in April.

But in mid-November, Knowsley Council’s plans to strip the colliery of its Greenbelt status came to light. Debbie King who runs a nearby riding school was searching for details of the country park public consultation event when she came across a company advertising advice to developers who might want to build in the area. The company was highlighting opportunities that would come into effect with the implementation of Knowsley’s Local Core Plan Strategy (LCPS). Read more of this post

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