Thursday, June 17, 2004

Difficult Decision 

As a Governor of my local primary school I am asked to make some difficult decisions, but the one the governors made tonight was an exception. It appears that Mrs Griffiths the head teacher had been asked by one of the parents if they could video the annual leaver’s celebrations as they were unable to attend in person. Teaching staff at the school had already become worried by the disturbance that was being caused by parents with video camera and had decided to ban them from future school performances. Unfortunately Mrs Griffiths had asked the LEA for their guidance and they had sent a document that highlighted the dangers of publishing any photographs of children. What followed was a debate that lasted over an hour at the end of which a compromise was reached which gave Mrs Griffith the power to write to parents asking their permission to photograph their children and also banning video camera at least till the summer holidays. In the autumn the Governors would, after consulting with parents, decide on a policy to cover all aspects of photograph and videos, which the school would then adopt. I have to say that I, along with a couple of other Governors were not happy with the compromise, as we could not see what the difference was between taking pictures with a still or video camera. The British are renowned for taking the middle line on any issue, but in this case I think we were wrong. Mrs Griffiths agenda was to get video recording banned, not because the video would contain pictures of children, but rather because the activity disturbed the rest of the audience and the children who were performing. It will be interesting to see how the parents take this news and the way Mrs Griffith is going to explain the stance the Governors have adopted.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

A Radio Station For Stafford? 

As the County town the one thing Stafford lacks is its own radio station. Tonight the first steps in putting this right were taken. A number of radio enthusiasts from across the town have been plotting for sometime as to how a radio licence could be obtained to allow a station to operate. Changes in the law now looks as if this might be allowed, so the group called a public meeting for interested parties to meet and discuss the idea. This was held in the Borough Council Offices and was well attended. The audience included a wide range of ages and one would have thought backgrounds. Four Councillors turned up which I thought was rather disappointing.

What is clear is that once a recognised group has been established much hard work is left to be done, including raising the start up capital of around £300,000. As the radio station would operate under a community licence it cannot be funded by businessmen intent on making a profit, so must rely on community involvement and funding. Once its up an running at least half of its income could come from advertising which should relieve the burden. I was pleased to offer my support to the project and will be attended the next meeting which is planned for early July.

Sow & Penk Drainage Board 

Meetings of the Sow and Penk Drainage board are always polite affairs. The Board itself is made up of Councillors, owners of land which is in the drainage board area, and a representative of the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust. Unfortunately to-days meeting was not that well attended, with only four councillors, one land owner, and the trust representative present. Luckily it only lasted about an hour and a half so those people who failed to attend can at least think they didn’t miss much!

Monday, June 14, 2004

Euro Election Count 

Tonight’s Euro Election count was quite a shock in Stafford. Both the Labour and Conservatives lost ground while the Liberal Democrats were the only major party to make gains. Labour’s vote fell by a massive 6.9% and the Tories were not far behind loosing 6.5%. The Lib Dems gained 2.5%. However the big gainer of the night was UKIP. As the votes were counted it was obvious UKIP were doing well and I think everyone, including Victor Chell – their agent expected them to come second in the poll ahead of Labour. However at the final reckoning they only managed third place. As a single issue party I would expect they will have little effect in a General Election apart from taking votes away from the Conservatives who if tonight’s performance is anything to go by can ill afford to loose them! What was also interesting was watching David Kidney’s face. It is obvious he was not happy with the vote and must be worried that his days as MP for Stafford is limited.

What is also good to see is that the trend set in Stafford mirrors exactly what happened nationally. Across the Country the Liberal Democrats were the only one of the three main parties to make gains in the share of the vote. As dawn broke on Monday morning not only had the Labour and Conservative vote slumped but two more Liberal MEPs had been elected to serve in Brussels.

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