Wednesday, 29 October 2008
More than 300 youngsters entered the Green Cross Code competition organised by the council's road safety team to mark its annual Be Safe Be Seen campaign, which highlights the need to wear bright and reflective clothing.
The competition was won by Emily Haden, nine, of All Saints Primary School in Babbacombe and Lucy Bevan, six, of Chestnut Primary School in Brixham.
Mayor Nick Bye congratulated the young artists for their 'brilliant designs.'
He said: "It was a difficult task picking the winners from so many excellent entries, and my thanks go to everyone who took part in the competition."
Emily's poster is displayed at the bus stop on Babbacombe Road, St Marychurch, and Lucy's at one in Bank Lane, Brixham.
The above item is from the local paper. The posters are on bus stops near where the children go to school which is nice for them as they will be able to show them of to all their friends but for the rest of us it means a long trip up to Babbacombe or an even longer trip to Brixham, which seems to becoming a bit of a 'no go' area at the moment. And there are plenty of people, not just children, around the Bay who need reminding how to cross the road. So spread them around please, there are plenty of other bus shelters.
The rain turned out to be drizzle so I went to Paignton, road works all the way through Preston so a little delay but made it for the kick off. The game was closer but with the score at two tries to one to Paignton with Torquay getting stronger as the game went on one of our new players who didn't completely understand the off side law gave away a penalty only 15 metres from the Torquay line and Paignton took full advantage. But a good game all the same. Still nicer to win.
The above photo shows a cloud handing over the War Memorial. There had been an other cloud hanging over the Memorial. The Mayor, Nic Bye had expressed the idea that it may need to be moved to make room to extend the Pavilion to make it into a casino that no one really wants (except Nic) and to make room for a large Theatre, which is a good idea. Now Nic Bye is not the most liked Mayor Torquay has ever had and I am sure this idea lowered his ratings slightly. He later said that he didn't want to move the memorial but only suggested it might become necessary. Anyway the Tory councilors who control the council have distanced themselves from the idea to to point of stating they will not move it. So metaphoric cloud goner but the big black thing you can see in the photo is still there as the temperature drops to a low of zero centigrade. Made it to 3C this afternoon.
Monday, 27 October 2008
You might want to skip over the photo below, it's of an old friend, we have know each other for over 50 years but this morning we painfully parted company, painfully for me anyway. We didn't really interact much even though we were very close. Once about 48 years ago I took it to the dentist to get it filled, too many sweets as a child, but until last Wednesday all I ever did was give it a quick brush and all it ever did was chew up any food that passed it by. Then Wednesday evening it did something that could not be forgiven or forgotten. It brought pain into my life in a big way. It had to go. So this morning after a weekend of painkillers and chewing all my food on the right side of my mouth I showed it to the dentist who confirmed my opinion and said. "It will have to go." And here it is, Gone.
The small bit at the side didn't want to go and it broke of still fixed firmly to my gum so the dentist had to get the hammer and chisel out to get it out. That was the really, really painful bit. To night I shall put it under my pillow so the tooth fairy can leave me 6d (6d is 2.5pence but given the rate of inflation over the last 55 years I should get at least £2).
A couple of days ago in the local paper there was a report of a bus driver receiving minor injuries in an incident in Brixham. A few days earlier a driver had been involved in a similar incident. The people responsible for causing the trouble were described as youths in both cases. The depot manager stated that drivers were trained to deal with difficult situations but all the training in the world is of little help when confronted with a gang of unruly youths who are out to cause trouble. The problem in Brixham has been growing for years. The bus stop in in the Town Square right next to where young people who have nothing else to do in the evening hang out. Moving the bus stop round to New Road after 6pm would help to move the bus, and driver, away from bored teenagers who will eventually decide causing minor problems for the poor bus driver who is just trying to earn a crust is a good way to pass a few minutes. Greater police presence, which has been promised, will also help but they can not be there all the time. Friday is Halloween, also known a egg throwing day, it used to be that eggs were thrown at buses which was bad enough. It is the devil to get egg, once it has set, off a windscreen and bodywork but now some of the nastier egg throwers are going to the trouble of hard boiling the eggs first. Keep the driving window closed on Friday night is my advice to anyone out driving after 6pm.
One thing I did notice when down on the Strand last week were several persons with clipboards making notes as the buses came and went. A similar collection of clipboarders were out in Newton Abbot last Monday. There were not from the bus company so I suspect the councils were collection information and we may even get to hear the result of all this collecting.
My gum is starting to hurt as the injection wears off, I think I will go and take a few dozen painkillers. No, only kidding, I'll only take two for now.
Thursday, 16 October 2008
From the BBC website.
A National Express coach driver has pleaded guilty to causing the deaths of three passengers by dangerous driving in a crash near Heathrow Airport.
Philip Rooney, from Lanarkshire, was driving the London-to-Aberdeen service when it overturned on the M4/M25 slip road in January 2007.
Mr Rooney, 48, pleaded guilty to three counts when he appeared at the Old Bailey.
He was released on bail until 24 November when he will be sentenced.
Two people died soon after the crash and a third died six months later.
Christina Toner, 76, from Dundee, and Yi Di Lin, 30, a Chinese national, died in the crash while John Carruthers, 78, of Chertsey, Surrey died in hospital on 1 July.
The accident involved a Neoplan Skyliner operated by Trathens Coaches.
Following the incident, National Express immediately suspended use of the 12 double-decker coaches operating on its network.
No safety problems were found with the coaches which were reinstated five months later.
Rooney will be sentenced at Oxford Crown Court.
Original item from the BBC 04 Jan 2007
Sunday, 12 October 2008
Today, Sunday I got up about 8 o'clock. The Under 11s rugby team were playing their first game of the season. They were supposed to play last Sunday but rain (heavy) fell to earth on Friday and Saturday and the pitch up at Newton looked like a swimming pool. I needed to catch a bus from the Strand at 10:21 so at 9:35 when I switched the kettle on to have a cup of coffee I didn't expect to miss the bus. But just as the kettle boiled it went BANG in a nasty sort of way and switched off. So did the radio, the computer, the fridge, the slow cooker and the freezer. The answer machine and the alarm clock also went down but the lights were still on. No problem, just a fuse gone.
Focus didn't have any 30 amp fuses but I was tempted by a 30 amp circuit breaker. Problem was it looked like it would be too big to fit in the fuse socket. So 100 metres up the road to B&Q where they had a hundred 30 amp fuses. Well they only have 98 now and I have a spare taped to the side of the fuse box. New fuse in, everything worked and the lamb was delicious and cooked to perfection. But it was too late to get to the game. Shame, it was such a nice day, bright sun shine and dry with a slight breeze. Torquay can be so glorious at this time of year,
Lots of grey paint, guns, pipes cables and very steep stairs. The crew were very helpful and were enjoying showing us landlubbers round their ship and were even quiet nice when I called it a boat. It’s a ship. There is a bit of a clue in the name, I mean it’s the HMS Portland not the HMB Portland. The ship is off to the Gulf some time next month for about 6 months so good luck to her crew and thank you to them and the Navy for an interesting afternoon.
Click here for more photos
I have reproduced the most relevant sections here to save you looking at the Document but you can go on line but you have to copy and paste the adress below:-
Section 3. Description of project, project justification and project objectives
Provision of quayside infrastructure.
Subsiding passenger ferry services.
• Provision of quayside waiting and information facilities to support service linking
Torquay with Brixham.
• Reduction of journey times across the bay and reduce traffic loading on the local
• Introduction funding required to ‘pump prime’ the service into the aim of making the
service commercially self-supporting.
Torbay’s maritime location and geography lend itself to ferry connections, especially
between Torquay and Brixham. This form of travel is highly sustainable and provides
direct access to Torquay and Brixham town centres.
Preliminary meetings have taken place between the council and a potential ferry
operator and the implications are that the largest bus operator in Torbay is in support
of through bus / ferry ticketing.
Section 7. Funding – Include details of the funding required from ODPM and contributions
from each project partners
Realistically the scheme (including purchase of suitable vessels) will cost around £2.5 -
Total Project Cost………………………………………………………….
Infrastucture works £0.1m
Operator subsidy £0.1m
Operator Subsidy £0.1m
Total over two years equals £0.3m
The above plus more can be read in the document on Pages 19 to 22 but that looks like Stagecoach are getting £200 000 over the two years. Not exactly what appeared in the local paper the other day. (See item in Newspaper in blog below, scroll down to the bottom to save you reading it all)
Saturday, 11 October 2008
The Western Lady, leaving Torquay on it's way to Brixham on it's 2:45 sailing this Saturday afternoon. The Western Lady has been ferrying passengers across the Bay for 60 years and is now under threat from the proposed Stagecoach Ferry that could start in the spring. The local paper(1) carried an item a couple of days ago which expressed the concerns of the owners of the Western Lady and the optimism of Nick Bye our Mayor. The mayor is optimistic that Stagecoach and it's ferry (proposed) will be good for the Bay. Stagecoach also expressed optimism; that the ferry would be good for Stagecoach.
Next is a visit by HMS Portland to the Bay this weekend. Now I missed reading about this in the local paper and didn't find out until 5 minutes ago that the Portland would be open to Joe Public tomorrow. For free as well. But you need a ticket which you get from the Tourist Office. Not sure if they are open tomorrow (Sunday) morning. If they are I might have a trip out. The local boat operators are doing a half hour boat trip round the Portland, not something Stagecoach would be able to do if they were already operating.
(1) From the Herald Express
It's quiet a long article, you don't have to read it if you don't want to.
30,000 Used Fast Ferry
Thursday, October 09, 2008, 11:05
21 readers have commented on this story.Click here to read their views.
THE national boss of Stagecoach has hailed its fast ferry service across the Bay a huge success with almost 30,000 passengers carried in a month.
But today existing ferry operators claimed the new catamaran will blow them out the water and lead to a loss of jobs.
Final figures for the four-week trial last month show 29,800 people travelled on the new ferry between Torquay and Brixham.
Following the pilot scheme Brian Souter, pictured, chief executive of the Stagecoach Group, said their results showed people in the area had 'embraced' the new transport link and said further partnership working was needed to see it become permanent. Mr Souter said: "The challenge now is to look at the possibility of introducing a permanent fast ferry service in the area.
"To do that would require strong partnership working and investment in the harbour infrastructure at both Torquay and Brixham to accommodate the craft on a permanent basis. "However, all that is possible and we will now consider the best way to take this forward.
"These passenger numbers show the trial was a big hit among commuters and tourists in Torbay and it's extremely encouraging to see so many people were willing to try a new mode of transport."
Mayor of Torbay Nick Bye added: "The popularity of the ferry during the trial proved to be a huge boost to the Bay's economy contributing to a September spending spree in the town, equivalent to a small cruise ship every day of the week."
But the independent operators of the Western Lady and Greenway ferry services say for an estimated £1million investment in new landing stages and waiting areas, Torbay will only get a marginally faster service with few other benefits.
They say they collectively put back at least £1million a year in wages, local boat supplies, fuel and harbour/kiosk charges and say 38 people could be put out of work by a new ferry service.
Sandie Armstrong, a director of the traditional Western Lady Service and Will Ford, boss of Greenway Quay and Ferry Service, have now produced their own analysis of the trial and have questioned the final figures.
Mrs Armstrong added. "There seems to be a clear intent by Torbay Council to invite competition on a route which is already well established, to our detriment.
"Why should our well-established service now be threatened, at a cost to us all?"
Their report claims they could carry 1,500 more passengers a day than Bayfast with more promotion and says their staff already act as 'ambassadors' and information centres, because of their local knowledge. They also claim some of their crafts are greener using much less fuel than the fast ferry catamaran.
Mr Ford said: "We can't match them on time, but there are other factors.
"We also use whatever harbourside facilities there are, without making extortionate financial demands on the harbour budget."
Ms Armstrong added: "Using the 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it' maxim, Torbay Council should recognise the value of a greener combined service with 42 sailings every day with a 30-minute crossing time, capable of carrying over 5,000 passengers a day and which makes a big contribution to the local economy."
Torbay Council has reiterated they will not be providing the funding for any new ferry service.
A council spokesperson said: "The council is keen to emphasise, once again, there are currently no plans to subsidise the fast ferry service, should they decide to make it permanent.
"This includes any infrastructure required, the funding for which would be sourced through grants."
Some businesses reported dramatic increases in sales and footfall during the trial.
Joe Cloutman, chairman of Brixham Chamber of Commerce, said: "On every occasion I can recall discussing transport issues for Brixham, the option of improving access by sea has always been raised.
"At last we have trialled a regular, fast link between Torquay and Brixham, in line with this policy."
Pauline Copik, of Gundry Ships Chandlers in Brixham, added: "A lot of people came to Brixham from Torquay who would not normally come because of the difficult road journey so our shop benefited. I would also use the ferry to shop in Torquay as the parking costs are so high."
Friday, 10 October 2008
A good question. Some one must be making eye watering amounts of money out there. Enough to make the rest of us poor for the rest of eternity. I was listening to an American banker this morning on the radio, Radio Four that is, not Radio Stagecoach. He was being quizzed at a Congressional hearing about how much money he had made last year while the Good Old US of A headed for a rerun of the world famous year of 1929. The Congressman was asking him was it true he had made half a billion dollars. The wanker denied that he had made anything like that much money. That was a ridiculous amount of money for anyone to make in a year. “Well,” the congressman asked, “Would you mind telling us how much you did make if it wasn’t $500 million?”
A short pause. “Only $250 Million.”
A Fat Cow. Sorry, I don't have a picture of a Fat Cat.An other note worthy item surfaced a day or two ago when it was announced that assets of Iceland’s bank had been frozen. I bet I wasn’t the only one who had a little laugh at that. Then it began to emerge exactly how much British money happened to be it The Bank of Iceland (now defunct?). I case you missed it. £4 billion. Then a bit later several local councils admitted that they had money in The Bank of Iceland (defunct?) Torbay, my local council, have not so far appeared on that list. Could be the council don’t want to admit that next weeks wages are missing and the only way the workers would get paid was if they took their wages in cod. Or maybe they just never had any spare money to hide away in some far flung country. Or could be our beloved council looking at the very attractive rates offered by the Bank of Iceland (Broke) remember the saying, ‘If it looks like it’s too good to be true then it almost certainly is too good to be true.’
On a different note an item appeared in the Local Paper, on the front page no less with Brian’s smiling face beaming at us. I doubt he nipped down from Perth just to get his photo in the Herald Express. But the high speed cat which swam between Torquay and Brixham every daylight hour in a September trial run carried enough passengers to tempt Brian to run it permanently. A war of words has broken out. The council are denying that the million quid need to improve the landing stage at Brixham is coming from them. The existing ferry operators, Western Lady say they were here first, it’s not fair, lots of foot stamping here. Later they claimed they carried just as many passengers as Stagecoach so there!
Then the Mayor stuck his nose in and boasted that the cat had been like a cruise ship coming in everyday. Business had boomed and the town had made a killing and wanted the cat back as soon as possible. Hadn’t he been out side at all for the last 3 months? A new season called WWM, wet, windy, miserable will have to be invented to describe July and August this year. September on the other hand was SDG, sunny, dry, glorious. Maybe that was why the town did so well Mr Mayor, not because you could cross the Bay in 17 minutes.
The trip I took, took 16 minutes 54 seconds, not the 15 minutes claimed by Stagecoach. And this 16 minutes 54 seconds was from the time the boat started moving in Brixham to the time it hit the quayside at Torquay. Add 5 minutes getting on the boat in Brixham and 5 minutes to get off once it has dented the quay plus an other 5 minutes for the shuttle bus to load up and head for the Strand and it doesn’t add up to 15 minutes any more. I should add it is, for all that a better way of getting to Brixham than the bus which could stop up to 30 times, and that isn’t counting to 3 or 4 sets of road works and other traffic delays. But not much use if you don’t want to got to Brixham. And unlike the Western Lady you can’t sit on the deck and admire the view.
STAGECOACH PLANS TO TRIM WORKFORCE
Stagecoach Group is set to cut staff in response to the economic difficulties that are expected to take a massive toll on jobs in London. Thecompany runs South West Trains, the largest commuter franchise in the capital.Brian Souter, the group's founder, revealed that no decisions had been taken but that any responsible company would seek to control costs in the face of adownturn. Souter said: "The question for us and for other transport operators is whether modal shift can occur faster than the impact of a downturn in the economy."
Brian could afford to pay all his shop floor workers, the drivers, fitters, cleaners etc out of his own personal fortune for the next 5 years and not even notice the slightest change in his life style.
Tuesday, 7 October 2008
I finally made it to Occombe Farm to see the Willow Cow made by Serena de la Hey who made the much bigger Willow Man who stands beside the M5. I set out to go there last week but didn't make it. I got side tracked. It turned out to be a good job as the cow wasn't finished until yesterday. But now it stands in the entrance to the farm. Occombe Farm is an open farm welcoming visitors who want to have a look round. As well as the Willow Cow there is a farm shop and a pleasant cafe, a nature trail and a bird hide. You can wander round the farm yard which unlike most farm yards isn't knee deep in cow muck. Catch the Number 60 from Torquay Strand at 10 minutes to the hour during the day (not 12:50). The Number 61 brings you back at 9 minutes past the hour (not 13:09). .
You also get to pat a real Ruby Red Cow on the head if you want.
Friday, 3 October 2008
A story I did hear while I was down on the Strand, I also heard it a bit later in my travels concerns a couple who got on a bus in the area. Now I would like to point out that there are 4 different bus companies running services in the area, Stagecoach, First, Country Bus and Dial a Bus who I mentioned earlier. So this couple could have got on any of them, I ain't saying which. Anyway they presented their concessionary bus passes to the driver (it was after 9:30) but the driver politely refused them travel. Why? Because he was a polite driver, oh yes, and because the passes were Welsh. Now English passes aren't accepted in Wales so in a spiteful, childish, tit for tat reaction that two old friends like England and Wales should be ashamed of, we here in England don't accept theirs.
I am sure the driver explained this but anyway the couple complained to the bus company concerned. The person in charge of the depot was upset that these poor visitors to our wonderful country were left feeling so unwelcome that it was decided that the driver would be called into the office and asked, with extreme prejudice to explain this act of unfriendliness. Fortunately (or unfortunately depending on the style of your sense of humour) before the driver ended up imitating a vacuum cleaner, that is on the carpet (having a slight snigger I expect) someone managed to mention to the person in charge about the existence of this minor step towards devolution mentioned above or as I prefer to call it, a bit of stupidity by our government. There are so many rules and regulations you can’t expect a person to know all of them can you?
The tit for tat arrangement we have with our next door neighbours in Wales also extends to our neighbours to the North, we do take their bank notes though, we aren’t going to look a gift horse in the gob if it‘s got money in it‘s hand, are we?
Thursday, 2 October 2008
Then into the Drake Centre which is where I took the photo. When I came out it was raining so I got the bus and went home. I must have got the same bus because the seats were just as hard, next time I go to Plymouth I might take a cushion. Did run on time both ways though.
Wednesday, 1 October 2008
Brazen thief steals buses from station and damages others
Wednesday, October 01, 2008, 23:00
8 readers have commented on this story.Click here to read their views.
POLICE are hunting for a large luminous green bus that was stolen in broad daylight.
It was last spotted near Hotel Barcelona in Magdalen Street, Exeter, on Sunday afternoon but has not been seen since, despite the police helicopter being scrambled to join in the search.
It was one of two buses stolen within the space of half an hour from alongside the bus station in Paris Street, Exeter.The first bus to go was a single-decker, which was driven away at around 5pm on Sunday but recovered shortly after.
At 6.05pm, police were told that a green training coach belonging to Stagecoach had been taken from the bus depot.
The bus struck six other buses as it made its exit, causing hundreds of pounds of damage and forcing the vehicles out of service for repairs.
A police spokesman said: "The bus was described as being 30ft long and green with a big 'L' on the back and on both sides."
Richard Stevens, operations manager for Stagecoach, said: "This is absolutely deplorable behaviour and there is nothing funny about it at all.
Anyone who spots a luminous green bus with 'L's on its rear and sides is asked to contact their local police station or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
It wasn't me; but......... I actually don't have an alibi.