Friday, 29 June 2012

Not The Last Word on the Balloon, though I wish it was.

Even though the balloon has gone the junk left behind still sits by the winch house on Torre Abbey Gardens. Apparently it has been moved to the position it is in to stop the balloon company taking it away, they have no legal access to that part of the Green, before the legal dispute regarding the rent is settled. No sign of that happening any time before the end of this century. In the meanwhile the pile of junk will sit there making Torquay look even more of a dump. People don't want to come on holiday and look at piles of rubbish littering the seafront. The railings are also still there though the old path to the balloon and the space where the balloon stood have been grassed over. Me, I would just as soon forget the whole thing, let Lindstrand or who ever owns the stuff take it away and restore that section of the Green to the pitch and put that once stood there.

People, including members of the council are still campaining for an inquiry in to why no rent has been paid by the balloon operators. Forget it I say. The Mayor, Gordon Oliver, is determined not to hold an inquiry and he is protected by a majority on the council so what ever Oliver wants Oliver gets. We can always vote him and his band of faithful brothers out at the next election though probably we wont even bother to vote. One person I was speaking to recently about this and the head in the sand attitude our council have, complained long and loudly about councillor so and so who he described as a complete waste of space ( he used other words to describe him as well but this is a family show so you will have to use your imagination.) When I asked him, the complainer, not the councillor, who he voted for in the last election he laughed at the idea of actually voting. Waste of time, he said they are all a load of w*****s. You can vote by post these days, takes 5 minutes every 3 years, not a waste of time.

And a little footnote on the balloon from far away Hong Kong where they also had a helium filled balloon. Sixty metres (200 feet) up in the air it lost much of its helium through a rip in the side. Several people were injured though none seriously. One person on the ground was hit by the falling balloon and suffered head injuries and had to go to hospital.

Full story here.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Some Ad's Just Go On Far Too Long

So Barclay's Bank tried to pull a fast one. This trick to increase profits illegally must have cost someone somewhere a lot of cash that Barclay's got but shouldn't have. In other words, plain and simple, they stole money on a huge scale. And they got found out and have been fined £290 million. Most people who steal money end up in jail. Any chance of that happening in this case? Not a chance in hell.
PS The ad is in Paignton and instead of  Gio Compario maybe a picture of Bob Diamond would be more appropriate.

Monday, 25 June 2012

Half marathon, a Ferret and Churston Golf Club.

The Torbay Half Marathon went well yesterday, no problems getting to the bus stop in Torbay Rd and the diversion round Preston to Cockington was well sign posted. I did go wrong at one point and had to do a three point turn on Preston Down Rd but was only a couple of minutes late getting into Cockington on my first trip. After that no problems and after the run was over the council quickly removed all the road closed signs and things got back to normal very quickly. One tiny little glitch, There was a sign at the junction of Torquay Rd and Hyde Rd which read, "Road Closed Access Only. It should have been at the junction of Torbay Rd and Hyde Rd but never mind. No one took any notice of it anyway.
The sun actually came out in the afternoon which was nice. Cockington when the sun is shinning is really a pleasant place to be, quiet, away from traffic and very relaxing.
PS We had a leaflet pushed threw the door yesterday, someone has lost their pet white ferret, if you have seen it please let me know.
PPS The plan to build houses on Churston Golf Club has finally been approved after what seens like a hundred years war of words between those for and those against. Where will the good people of Torbay play golf now?

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Half Marathon, Banking and The Torch

No more about parked cars unless it is something really spectacular like a car parked on top of the bus.

Sunday morning we have a half marathon here in Torbay, the runners go from Paignton to Torquay and back to Paignton and then do it all again. As the roads are closed to buses and other vehicles during the race (upto 12:00) and this includes about 75% of the Cockington route I can see there could be problems. 12, 12A and X81 services between Torquay and Paignton are going to be diverting as well so it isn't going to be a good morning to be travelling through the Bay. But as usual we will all do our best to provide as normal a service as possible.

The trouble RBS and Nat West have been having paying out money over the last couple of days should be taken as a warning to what could happen if, maybe when, the banking computers all go down at once and for longer than a few days. Maybe the idea of keeping at lest some of your money under the mattress isn't such a far fetched idea after all. It really doesn't bear thinking about but I do hope the banks are thinking about it now and soon start working on a robust contingency plan just in case.

It was interesting this evening on telly watching the Olympic Torch pass through my old home town Manchester. Parts have changed but Cheetham Hill Rd, apart from the bit at the bottom hasn't changed much in 40 years.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Parking in the wrong place

Two cars with parking tickets in Torbay Rd Paignton yesterday. The grey car is parked in a loading bay but not showing any signs that the driver was loading or unloading which is why it's got a ticket on the windscreen. The black car is parked in a motor cycle bay. Both drivers ignored signs warning them that these two bays were not for cars to park in so it will cost them £35 each, providing the pay up promptly. The driver of the car in the loading bay has only himself to blame, it's clearly marked out and signposted as a loading bay. The motorcycle bay is also marked out but to my mind not as clearly. Many more people park in the motor cycle bay without noticing the signs. So far I have spoken to at least 10 motorists who have been in the possess of parking there and none had seen the signs. Torbay council need to make it more obvious that this once car parking bay has had a change of status if only to improve the public relations status on car parking from very poor to merely poor.

Rained all day yesterday, better today. Glad I'm not in the Isle of Wight, sleeping in a car is not recommended.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

David Cameron is a hypocritical bastard.

 He has a go at Jimmy Carr for legally avoiding paying too much tax but doesn't have a go at his mate Gary Barlow who is doing the same thing. Nor does he have a go at all the rich people and companies who are also doing exactly the same thing. It's only us poor sods on PAYE that end up paying the right amount of tax. Cameron does say he is looking at ways of closing tax avoidance loop holes in income tax law but I have been looking at the wall paper in my bedroom thinking one day I'll do something about it. 13 years I been looking at it and nothing's been done. Successive governments, to be fair, have avoided this issue like the plague and who can blame them. No point in upsetting the rich when some (all?) of their best friends are the rich.

Also lets look at the reason his chancellor, Osborne the Ugly, gave in the last budget for cutting top rate income tax from 50% to 45%. He said if the rate stayed at 50% then people would be more inclined to find ways of avoiding tax than they would at 45%. He then brought in granny tax and pasty tax. Granny tax and pasty tax don't affect the rich and poor people are too poor to afford tax lawyers who can read the 15 000 pages of tax law looking for ways to avoid paying tax. The law could be simplified to state if you earn money in this country you pay tax on it in this country no matter where you live or where the head office of your company is. If you want to appeal against the tax demands the inland revenue make go a head. If you win, fine, but you don't get any costs. If you lose you pay your tax plus the inland revenues cost. Bring that law in and the country could be out of debt in a couple of hundred years instead of the couple of thousand years it is going to take at present rate of progress.

Midsummer's Day and cars were driving along on headlights at 3 pm in the pouring rain. Shame we can't blame the awful weather on Cameron as well.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012


I will not be making a habit of this, taking photos of my meals. This is just a tribute to

school girl Martha Payne, nine years old, from Argyll. She gives each school diner a 'food-o-meter' and health rating, and counts the number of mouthfuls it takes her to eat it.

Then the photos go on her blog, neverseconds, but Argyll and Bute Council said press coverage of the blog had led catering staff to fear for their jobs, but council leader Roddy McCuish told the BBC on Friday he had instructed senior officials to lift the ban immediately.

One good thing to come out of this little episode is Martha has been collecting for a charity, called Mary's Meals which provides meals for school children in Malawi. Donations have sored since the ban was imposed. Good for Martha and the children of Malawi.

PS My pudding was delicious, took several mouthfulls and the custard was made with full fat milk but the crumble contained loads of fruit.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Opening the Banjo

6 years ago the Banjo and part of the prom were closed. The reason given at the time was that should a large crowd congregate the concrete supports might not be able to stand the strain. Other reasons have been suggested, namely that it would be easier to develop the Banjo and prom if they weren't in use.
Anyway, after 3 months of hard work the prom and Banjo are now fit to walk along again and this evening the Mayor Gordon Oliver, flanked by Councillors Darren Cowell, Robert Excell and Jenny Faulkner from the Tormohun Ward cut the tape and declared the place open. The Mayor, in his little speech said there was more to come in his effort to tidy up Torquay. He didn't mention his idea for the third harbour and I decided it wasn't the time to ask him pointed questions about the cost of such a project. I didn't ask him about the £50 000 owed to Torbay by the balloon people either. Dull sort of evening really.
As I have said you can now enjoy walking along the pro for the first time in 6 years without having to dodge round ugly looking railings. Enjoy

PS Sorry the photos are in the wrong order.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Our Town Council is of it's Collective Head

I think the balloon has gone for good even though I can see no official announcement anywhere.
Down on the site there is a pile of dug up equipment and the wince gear plus the dismantled gondola. As well as this pile which should some be taken away ( hopefully) the paths that lead to the balloon plus the concrete landing place have all been dug up. Around the site there were several blocks of concrete set into the ground to tie the balloon down. They have also been removed. The mast that carried the CCTV cameras are also no where to be seen. Now a few weeks ago I was down at the site when some workmen form the balloon company were working there. I was assured that the equipment was only being removed to be refurbished. OK I can understand that but only a perfectionist with loads of money would dig up all that concrete just to 'refurbish ' it.
Hopefully next time I get down there the railings around the site will have gone as well and we can all forget the blood thing was ever there in the first place.
The last mayor forced this hideous object onto the sea front, now the present mayor wants to spend up to half a million quid to see if it would be possible to build a 3rd harbour in Torquay so cruse ships can dock here and disgorge rich passengers who would spend loads of money here. Sounds fine until you look at his, the mayor's figures. Extra income to the council of just over a half a million pounds plus extra income to the businesses in the town of 800 000 quid. So far so good. The cost of actually building the harbour would be at least £125 million. If you add interest on any loans plus the inevitable over spend a project like this generates plus maintenance it could be a couple of hundred years before the project breaks even and goes into profit.
Either the mayor wants to bankrupt Torbay or he is mad or just bad at simply arithmetic? This third harbour will never happen but the council have just agreed to spend hundreds of thousands of pound on a feasibility study. Are they also mad? Or did the mayor hold a gun to their heads? Email your councillor and tell him you will be voting for someone else at the next election if this blatant waste of money goes a head.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

An Other Wet Week

Not totally wet, there were moments when it didn't rain. It's just hard to remember the dry bits.

The problem with cars accidentally parking in the motor cycle bay have been sorted. The sign hasn't been altered or anything like that but there is someone who comes to work on a motor scooter and parks early in the morning in the bay so car drivers don't get the chance to park there. Several bikes do park there during the day.

We did have problems with a coach trying to get on the bus stop to unload. I turned up half way through the incident and never got close enough to get a photo other wise it would be up there at the top. I could see the coach half in and half out of the bus stop with the Cockington bus at the front of the stop. The coach driver opened his door and began unloading despite the fact that the back of his coach was out in the road making it difficult for traffic to get passed. I was 60 metres back with a bus full of passengers so I just edged close to the kerb to prevent cyclists passing on the inside and opened my doors to let the passengers off. After sitting in the road for about 5 minutes the coach moved away as did the Cockington bus. When I got to the bus stop I started to load up for my trip to Broadsands and Galmpton when this rude women pushed passed my passengers and demanded the phone number of our depot. Foolishly I asked if I could help sort out her problem. Sigmund Freud might have managed but it was way out of my league. She just wanted to shout so I let her shout while I just smiled back. I only got slightly raised my eye brows when she lied to me. While the bus had been unloading half out in the roadway a police officer had walked passed the situation and had hurried on with a word to anyone. This women, she was the courier on the coach, told me the police officer has said the coach could park on the bus stop. Well the police officer never spoke to anyone and if she had said the coach could park on the bus stop she was very wrong. Anyway this one way verbal shouting match went on for a while and I tried to tell this mad person coaches and buses were different legally and would she mind going away so I could get on doing my job. She then played her trump card and demanded to know if I had a CPC. ( Bus drivers don't need a CPC until Sept next year) Yes said I, "Bought it at Poundland." She started to storm off and I called her back. She did come back no doubt expecting some admission that she was right. "Have a nice day." I said with all the sincerity and good will I could muster.

Both me and the Cockington driver waited all day for the coach to reappear to pick up the passengers so the fun could continue but we were disappointed.

Weather is going to improve next week.

Torbay Half Marathon takes place next Sunday morning ( 10:00 to 12:00, 24 June ). Over half of our Cockington route is affected but we will, as usual, do our best to continue the service while the race is on.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Motor cycle bay

Only one car made it into the motor cycle bay today. Again he hadn't noticed the writing in the road way. No other cars managed to accidently park there, mostly because it was full of motorbikes. If this carries on the council will have to extend the bay to fit all the motorbikes in.
The council have indicated that they may turn the sign round so motorists coming down Torbay Rd can see it before risk getting a ticket. Well done the council.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Palm Court Hotel

Still no sign of work starting down on the sea front at the old Palm Court Hotel.
3 months ago our elected mayor said work would start within weeks. I didn't think he meant 13 weeks.
As soon as something happens I will let you know.
                             This year's seagull chicks If mum is planning to take then down the harbour in a few weeks and teach them how to beg for food from the visitors then the chances of them making it to Christmas look bleak.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Petition to get the Mayor to Explain Why Someone Owes the Council £50 000.

Stop press Weather is bad so protest is off. Will take place if it ever stops raining
This is where the balloon used to sit before it got damaged in a small storm earlier in the year. That storm created a wind speed of 43 mph and the balloon was supposed to be able to stand higher wind speeds than that. I have heard that one of the cables holding the balloon down came lose and hit the balloon and £30 000 worth of helium vanished into the Devon skies and the wind then tore the balloon to shreds.
Mind you that storm was nothing compared to the storm that followed the revelation that no rent had been paid to Torbay council all the time the balloon had been in action. The elected mayor, a Mr Gordon Oliver has so far refused to either explain fully why no rent has been paid or hold an enquiry in to why this state of affairs carried on for so long. He claims it would be improper to do so as there is an on going legal wrangle in to the dispute. We, the people of Torbay, have no idea of the nature of this dispute or to what stage, legally, it has reached. For all we know it could consist of a letter from the council pointing out that the owners of the balloon th
at they haven't paid any rent and would they mind doing so. Or, worse still, very well paid council lawyers could at this very moment be engaged in behind the scenes negotiations with very well paid lawyers on the balloon owners side. As the sum involved is £50 000 it could turn out that the negotiations cost more than the value of the rent.
Anyway, a local councillor for Tormolun ward here in Torquay, one Darren Cowell is trying to get the mayor to hold an inquiry in to the affair. Yesterday, Saturday, he was out in the rain in Paignton collecting signatures on a petition. On Sunday 10 June, probably also in the rain he will be down at the balloon site at 3pm continuing to collect signatures. I will go along and talk to people, find out what the mood is, try and judge the strength of feeling the lack of rent payments ha
s generated. I will also be interested in what people think of our elected mayor and his performance so far.
I will also take one or two photos as well.
Personally I would prefer the site to be cleared of all the mess that is there now and a retirement home be found for the poor innocent balloon.

Parking in the Wrong Place

I took this photo a couple of days ago in Torbay Rd in Paignton of a Civil Enforcement Officer (used to be called traffic wardens). He was in the process of putting a parking ticket on the red car. Not because the driver of the car hadn't paid, nor had the driver over stayed his time. What he had done is park his/her car in a bay reserved and marked out as for Solo Motor Cycles Only. Now regular readers will know I think people who park their cars where they shouldn't deserve all the get. But in this instance my sympathy is with the motorist. Please read on.
This bay used to be, until mid May, for cars, but has been marked out, as I said for Motor bikes. Over the last couple of weeks I have noticed that people were still parking cars in the bay and several of then had got tickets. So yesterday while waiting time at our bus stop which is just across the road from the bay I decided to do a small amount of investigatative journalism. So each time I saw a car parking in the bay I nipped over the road and conducted an indepth interview with the driver.
Actually what I say was, "Are you aware that you are parking in a bay for solo motor cycles only?" and pointed to the writing in the roadway and the sign up on a post. None of the 8 drivers I spoke to had even noticed either the sign or the writing in the road. Which to my mind wasn't surprising. The sign is facing the road and is invisible to drivers approaching the bay. Similarly the writing (Solo Motor Cycles Only) has been placed so it can be read by someone standing in the road but to an approaching motorist it is small and would be like turning a book through 90% anticlockwise and trying to read it.
Almost impossible to see and defiantly impossible to read, especially if you are a weary motorist desperately seeking a parking place. It might be that this bay is legally set up and signposted but it would be nice if Torbay Council had a look at the site and did something to improve the chances that motorists could see the signs before that park there and get an undeserved parking ticket.
Plus it would leave the bay open for the people it is intended for, the solo motorcyclist.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

please Don't Leave Your Brains at Home When You Got Out For A Drive.

This is what happens when you leave your car on a bus stop even if it is just for a moment. The car driver had just nipped into a shop for a few seconds but got talking. Time flies when you are having fun but for all those motorist stuck behind the bus that couldn't get on the bus stop it wasn't fun.

Please don't park on a bus stop, you don't know when the bus is going to turn up and block the road. And it could cost you 70 quid, it's an instant ticket if you stop on a bus stop and you aren't a bus.

As you can see from the photo it was a wet miserable day here in usually sunny Paignton.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Great Red Ball

Spot the Great Red Ball. OK I made it easy for you but several people around the Harbour who I asked what they thought of this wonderful attraction said, What great red ball? I don't see no great red ball.

They should have let it loose at the top of Fleet Street and let it roll down. Now that would have been much more interesting.

PS The band stand like place where is was housed has been closed off for years because it was deemed unsafe. So how come it's suddenly safe now. Just a thought.

A Special Day on The Embankment.

I was on the Embankment waiting for the Royal Procession to go by. Not yesterday but 59 years ago for the Coronation. And it rained then as well. Didn't put us off though.
The family lived in Manchester back then and had travelled down to London a couple of days before and stayed with my grandmother in her big house in Pemberton Gardens near the Archway tube station. We got up really early on the big day and walked down to the Primary school on the main road. My aunt Margaret was headmistress there and the whole school were going to the Embankment and we just tagged along. Now I was only 9 back than and didn't really think coronation were such a big deal. I had in my pocket coins of the realm with 4 monarchs heads on them. Victoria, Ed the 7th and George 5 & 6 and boring history lessons at school had revealed that we had had Kings and Queens by the hundreds.
It was a dull day and it started to rain, not heavy but still damp and wet. As we waited, cheering the occasional street sweeper and wondering what was holding everything up there was an  announcement that a "British" Party had climbed Mt Everest a few days before. Back then no one had ever climbed right to the top so that was a big deal and we all cheered. Now thousands of people have climbed the mountain, I read somewhere recently that some bloke has just been up there for the tenth time. Get a life mate.
Anyway, back to Embankment. One incident I clearly remember was the man in the raincoat and trilby hat who came up to me. I was just deciding if I could relive the boredom by nipping between the Guardsmen who were lining the route and run across the road and wave to the crowds when he held up his clipboard and said, "What school are you from?" in a very official voice. This guy wasn't going to stand any messing about.
Now at that moment I knew several things that a second ago I hadn't realised. The Embankment, being so close to the Abbey was a favoured spot and those people there, mostly children, were there by invite only and only from London schools. Like my aunt's school. I had not even the least idea what the name of that school was. (I now know; St John's Primary School) Telling the man I was from Bishop Billsborrow Memorial School, Moss Side, Manchester would not be the right answer. I was an interloper at the Coronation. I would be dragged of, kicking and screaming to the Tower of London and thrown in a dudgeon and forgotten about in all the excitement of the day. My skeletal remains would only be discovered years later during a clear out sale. Small children told each other lurid tales about places like the Tower back then. I wonder if they still do.
After what seemed like a million years of dead silence but was probably only a couple of seconds he thrust the clip board at me and said, "You must know what school you go to." I looked at the list and pointed to one that already had a tick next to it and claimed that as my school. He was still a bit annoyed and told me I was in the wrong place. I said I had come to see my cousin who went to a different school. Satisfied he went on his questioning way.
I have often wondered what he would have actually done had he discovered the truth, would me and the rest of my brothers and sisters and mother and father really been dragged kicking and screaming off the Embankment and told never to return or would he have just wandered of shaking his head in disbelieve.
Eventually the coaches turned up, one coach had the hood turned down even though it was still raining and contained a large Lady waving to the crowds. She was Queen Tupou III of Tonga and got a extra special cheer for braving the English summer weather.
Then the Queen went by in her golden coach and we all waved and cheered and then ran like mad for the nearest tube station where we caught the tube for Hampstead West. Then an other mad dash through the streets of Hampstead, it had finally stopped raining and the sun was coming out, to my aunt's house where we and a thousand other people sat in the darken living room in front of a 10 inch TV set and watched the actual Crowning of HRH Queen Elizabeth the Second.
God Save the Queen.