Thursday, 31 January 2008

Quote of the day

"If you live long enough, you'll make mistakes. But if you learn from them, you'll be a better person. It's how you handle adversity, not how it affects you.

"The main thing is never quit, never quit, never quit."

Bill Clinton

Tuesday, 29 January 2008


One thing that's struck me going round to talk to people is how many of our older members have their own emails and basic web skills.

I've always felt the retired are an untapped resource for the community. While some might rightly want to enjoy their retirement following their own pursuits, others would still jump at the chance to volunteer and get involved but they can't get out as much.

As more services are moving online, it's vital all our elderly don't get left behind and become digitally excluded. Digital exclusion is one of the core indicators of social exclusion.

That's why Silver Surfers' Day is such a great idea

Held in Adult Learners Week, the day (this year it's Friday May 23rd) sees lots of taster events held across the country to encourage older people to get online and learn more about the interent and how it can empower them.

Schools, community centres and even work places with internet access are encouraged to open up their buildings so students and employees can mentor budding Silver Surfers in how to send an email and browse the internet. Some companies even run Bring Your Parent to Work Days.

With the growth of broadband and the internet playing an ever greater role in our lives, I believe internet providers should be taking the lead in getting more pensioners online and engaged.

These days, an internet highway pass could be just as important in an OAP's life as their bus pass. Both allow the freedom to travel, explore and keep mind and soul active.

We're rightly proud of the success of Kingston Communications - it gave us unlimited cheap local calls, the first interactive broadband TV system and a fantastic Community stadium.

How great would it be for KCom to offer an internet highway pass allowing free broadband access to those over 65. Hull could once again be a trailblazer as we were with universal healthy free school meals - Scotland is piloting them and Wales look set to follow.

And we could raise an army of Silver Surfers prepared to contribute to the community.

Sunday, 27 January 2008

Minns: 'Let them eat crisps!'

So the council tax rise in Hull is only going to cost each household the price of a packet of crisps a week.

But these aren't ordinary crisps.

These are Walker's Sensations sweet chilli crisps!

Not so sure that's the right analogy in countering our image as a 'fat city' but I hear they're very popular in the Avenues!

The Lib Dems Budget, they claim, will only cost each household 50p a week for council services - a 3.8% percent rise.

Sadly, this is being subsidised by hard working families. Healthy school meals - universally free under Labour but scrapped by Minns - are going up 10p a meal. That's a 9% rise - a whopping three times the rate of inflation to rake in £100,000 a year.

So a family with three kids at primary will now have to find £702 a year for healthy school dinners that they had free under Labour!

It's effectively a tax on families, a tax on healthy meals and a disinsentive in the fight against obesity.

So guess what some families will be tempted to give their kids?

I bet it won't be the Sweet Chilli variety.

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Humberside lives again!

I'm sure very few Telegraph journalists have ventured north of Watford.

But you'd think that at least they'd know where Hull was!

The Telegraph's website has just created a new on-line interactive political map of the UK. It's all very whizz bang and they must have spent thousands on it.

Unfortunately, all three Hull consituencies have been moved to North Lincolnshire - Hull East is sandwiched between Grimsby and Doncaster North, Hull West and Hessle now has Brigg and Goole and Cleethorpes as neighbours and even Hull North is south of the Humber.

I'm sure Terry Geraghty will be delighted!

Saturday, 12 January 2008

Computer says no

It absolutely beggars belief that nearly £1m has been taken out of people's accounts for council tax and council rent by mistake.

Over the last month, double payments were being taken by Hull City Council, hitting 9,500 people. This forced some to borrow money from loved ones to feed their families at Xmas and penalised some with £25 bank changes for going overdrawn

Not only was this not picked up for two weeks but it's now going to take up to five days for the council to pay the money back.

The council promised hardship loans for those needing emergency money. But we're already hearing stories of people being turned away because they couldn't prove the money had been taken. Surely the council should be able to check their OWN computer records to see if extra payments had been taken?

But no - they admit they don't know exactly how many people have been affected!
All the while that money has been sitting in the council's bank account earning interest.

Councillor Sean Chaytor is absolutely right this morning to be calling for a full investigation into this mess. The council should be working round the clock to pay everything back - including that interest and where relevant, the bank charges.

The Lib Dems are already spinning that it was a computer error, a software problem. But the buck stops with the cabinet member for finance - a certain C Minns.

This just adds to a picture of Lib Dem council incompetence.

They're already facing legal action from a company that claims they went back on a deal to bring a Big Wheel over to Hull for Christmas and cabinet member for regeneration Andy Sloan resigned days before this story broke to spend more time with his PHD!

Even the Hull Daily Mail is quoting Lib Dems sources saying there's a distinct lack of leadership.

But I hear that's all small fry compared to a story of such gross incompetence that's about to break.

The challenge now for Labour is to listen to the people and formulate a positive agenda for change that this city so desperately needs. It's a challenge that the Labour group, ably led by Steve Brady, is rising too.

So that come May we can log off the Lib Dems once and for all.