The news that Britain has slipped back into a recession should not be surprising. The economy experienced a 0.2 % fall following the decline in the figure of 0.3% in previous quarter which now puts the economy technically into a double dip recession- the first time since 1975. I would argue that the local economy has probably never recovered from the recession 4 years ago. As a guess the North Staffs economy has shrunken by about 8-10% since 2008. The signs of a turn down are everywhere most noticeably in the local jobs market. If we take the Sentinel as a guide the Wednesday section has been advertising around 300 jobs over recent weeks.
I was very sorry to hear of the death of Jack Ashley the former MP for Stoke South. He was a doughty fighter for the rights of the disabled and a very good constituency MP. I knew him best during the 1970s and 80s when I was active in the Labour Party in Stoke, for a short period between 1985-6 I was Vice Chairman of Stoke South Constituency Labour Party. His campaign on behalf of people effected by the thalidomide drug in the 70s which would be a fine record in its own right but added to that was his work around domestic violence and the need for a refuge for victims of violence later in the decade.
I have been following the decisions made by the recently formed local Clinical Commissioning Groups with some interest. They seem to have something of the iconoclast about them. Firstly, the change a long established arrangement with the local drug and alcohol treatment provider ADSIS that has existed for many years for a Birmingham based service.
Shortly afterwards I read that the GP out of hours service in Basford is under review. The service which has been run as a not for profit organisation by local GPs fear that a large private health organisation will take over the contract and that a company with no local knowledge will have a detrimental impact on patient services. Continue reading
Something for nothing- private health and North Staffs Health economy
There is much talk in the media nowadays about ” something for nothing” society and “welfare dependency”. Usually these comments are directed at someone who has been on benefit for a long time and is deemed as putting nothing in to the community. And barely a day goes by that the newspaper exposes someone for fraud.
There is another form of dependency, which costs the taxpayer far more than those felons reported on in the pages of the Sentinel. Continue reading
The Observer reported that the support and advice for the young unemployed is not what was originally supposed. It seems that regular mentoring essentially comes down to a weekly text.
The £1bn scheme that has been promoted by Nick Clegg, as a concerted effort to solve the worklessness crisis for18- to 24-year-olds by offering them more time with advisers. But documents instructing job centres on their additional responsibilities reveal that the weekly contact promised under the scheme could merely consist of weekly text messages or emails.
It appears that a number of events are planned this wekend in Hanley to “celebrate” the sinking of the Titanic.
It is a 100 years on the 15th April since the great unsinkable ship sank. The events that led to the tragedy are well known. And the whole grotesque mismanagement of that night leads me to conclude that the sinking is a particularly vivid illustration of the class struggle.
In the 50s film of the sinking “A Night To Remember”, Lady Cosmo Duff Gordon – whose party occupied Number 1 lifeboat to themselves – turned to her secretary, Miss Francatelli as the ship sank, and said, “There is your beautiful night-dress gone.” And there too went the three Skoog children, the four young Paulssons and the eleven members of the Sage family of Cambridgeshire. All in third class, and all beneath the notice of this latter-day Marie Antoinette. Continue reading
A friend told me of a surprising find in a skip at local recycling centre. Sitting in a skip was, as far as he could tell, a perfectly serviceable Moog Synthesiser 1962 vintage. The sort played by Kraftwerk he thought. I’d seen one played by Keith Emerson in ELP at Trentham Gardens in 1971- but the less said about that the better. The point is that here seemed to be a possibly functioning piece of kit, which could fetch around £1000. My friend pleaded with the manager to let him have the Synthesiser. Continue reading
Doubtless the next week will be full of commemorative events regarding the Titanic sinking. However for those interested in free speech and free expression then April 11th– the day that I write- has significance. For today is the 400th anniversary of the last person to be burnt at the stake on the charge of heresy and he was a Staffordshire man. Edward Wightman went to the stake on the 11th April 1612 at Lichfield. He was a businessman and local Baptist minister in Burton. He also had business interests in Uttoxeter and Cheadle. Continue reading
I have a mate who has taught at a FE College in the area for approaching 25 years. He is an excellent teacher who knows his subject- History extremely well. In fact it’s a subject of some annoyance to him that he has to spend a great deal of time addressing large gaps in the knowledge of the students such as pointing out where Germany is on a map before he can run a class on the First World War. He told me the other day that he is expecting the College to fail its inspection. One factor in the apparent down grading of the number of students leaving as a consequence of EMA being removed a consequence of coalition policy and little to do with any systemic failing in the college. Continue reading
The Sentinel carried a poignant letter recently from a Sneyd Green Mum whose 45 year old son had been out of work for 4 years and despite hundreds of job application remained unemployed. He had volunteered for 15 weeks within a Co-operative Store in the City. His mother felt that such a comparatively young man had been tossed onto a scrap heap
This heart felt cry puts into plain words the central difficulty that the unemployed face in trying to get into work in Stoke-on-Trent. The jobs are not out there. Last week the Sentinel advertised 378 jobs in an area where there are 11,000 unemployed. Continue reading