Friday, 3 February 2012


The Steering Group, which met at the usual venue on Wednesday 1st February, agreed support be given to the RMT's 'No to McNulty' campaign and that FAC would seek to obtain signatures on the A5 sized postcards 10am until 12noon at the front of The Forum, Barrow, on Saturday 4 February.

The postcards are to be sent to the local MP but our MP, John Woodcock, cannot sign an Early Day Motion because he is a member of the Front Benches.
So, completed postcards will instead be delivered to nextdoor Copeland MP, Jamie Reed.  If our own MP cannot defend our services then we must approach one who might. (There has been insufficient time to determine this MP's position on the McNulty review)

The Steering Group also considered several issues brought to light in the columns of the Tues 31 Jan 2012 edition of the NW Evening Mail.  FAC is constantly watching for anything that could reduce the standard of living and quality of life of local people and this edition was spectacularly rich in (possible) examples.

Page 2   A health watchdog is asking people who have received emergency care at Furness General Hospital to share their experiences.  There have been deaths of babies in the Maternity department, examples of neglect of elderly and infirm patients, and a very recent case where a badly injured cyclist was to be sent home diagnosed as 'winded' when, in fact, he had sustained broken ribs and a collapsed lung.  Are these events the result of poor management or medical incompetence? Or are they the result of stressed overworked staff trying to cope with impossible demands caused by financial cuts?
Note:  The Care Quality Commission (CQC) wants to hear from anyone who has experienced any type of emergency care or treatment at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary and Furness General Hospital during the period 1 April 2010 to 13 January 2012.  The Barrow meeting will be held on Tuesday 21 February at the Abbey House Hotel, Abbey Road, commencing 3pm.    

Page 4  Small businesses in Cumbria are ready to call it a day, according to a report.  Cumbria's small businesses are feeling the heat of the economic downturn, with many considering ditching their companies, a report from the insurance group Aviva has found.  According to the study, one in three firm owners in Cumbria and the north west were considering returning to the workforce as an employee.
The closure of businesses means job losses; this is not socially or economically healthy for any community and this is why FAC is concerned.  Local enterprise and regeneration organisations have been eliminated as funding was discontinued.  The Marina Development project was abandoned.  Despite these, local 'officials' continue to spout upbeat messages whilst Furness Labour MPs , past and present, declare that 'something should be done to create jobs.'  Meanwhile, unemployment continues to rise.

Page 5  Trident will have nowhere to go if Scotland votes for independence, a report by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament said......the Scottish National Party says, come independence, Trident will go because alternative sites to Faslane and Coulport will be found in England.  But a study by the MoD in 1963 had ruled out other sites, including Barrow.  CND said "..a site that could be considered is Barrow where the submarines are built.  This might be suitable if the navy only deploy Trident when there is a full moon and a high tide.  Walney channel is too shallow for a submarine base."
The implications for workers at BAE in Barrow are obvious but local 'leaders', instead of embracing alternatives, doggedly stick to that old flea-bitten line "Trident means jobs. It is an essential deterrent."  It doesn't and it isn't.  It is obsolete, it provides no defence against terrorist attacks and is a criminal waste of vast sums of money.  It offers nothing for the longterm development and prosperity of Furness. Unfortunately, except for some relatively small-scale high-tech enterprises, developmental courage and imaginative job creation are in short supply in this region.

Page 10  More than 3,800 families living in 'oversized' social housing across South and West Cumbria are set to be hit by government plans to tackle under-occupancy.  Ministers want to tackle the problem and reduce the housing benefit bill by stopping residents of council or housing association property from having an extra bedroom.  Under the current rules, one spare bedroom is allowed.  Analysis by the National Housing Federation shows 807 families in Barrow will be hit at a cost of £531 a year and 1,989 in Copeland for £505 a year.
The unelected ConDem coalition government races ahead with imposing austerity upon the non-millionaire members of the population and the Labour 'opposion' opposes nothing - indeed, agrees with the cuts!

 Page 20 At the lunch, Jackie Arnold, BAE Systems Submarine Solution's head of financial governance and strategy, who also represents specialist manufacturing on Cumbria's Local Enterprise Partnership board, said LEP had been meeting with other boards in the north west to see "whether other LEPs should collaborate."  (That should be good for having business lunches and dinner parties for the next ten years!)  But then she continues..."We have been working with Furness Enterprise in supporting GlaxoSmith Kline in Ulverston with growth plans."  JUST A MOMENT!  Furness Enterprise will soon be defunct and the future of GlaxoSmith Kline is not looking too rosey - read Page 23 below.

Page 22  Hundreds of shops and commercial premises in Barrow are set to benefit from a free revamp.....the council has pledged an extra £100,000 which will allow businesses to apply for (free) grants of up to £2,000 to replace their shopfronts.  Councillor Dave Piddock (Labour) leader of the council..."Even though we are facing extremely difficult times, we still need to support our local businesses.  The scheme improves the look of the towns in the borough and supports the high street."  Commercially this is just cosmetic - how many new, decently paid, long-term jobs will it create?  What's the point of a nice-looking town of empty shops and no work?

Page 23  (Stuart Klosinski - industrial development manager for Furness Enterprise)
Potential for bioscience investment at Ulverston faces a new Scottish challenge - Glaxo's Irvine site now has Enterprise Zone status - we are examining the implications.
Look, Stuart, anyone possessing a single brain cell knows what the implications are.  Only ONE of the Glaxo sites will get the nod from the American owners for new pharma developments.  Glaxo at Ulverston has already had big job losses.  The Furness transport systems (road and rail) are not fit for the 21st century.  There is no 'enterprise' money available for Furness.  Irvine now has loads of dosh for  commercial investment and development incentive, and it has good road and rail links.  Other than death itself, I know nothing is certain in this life but, somehow, I get the distinct feeling that Ulverston is in for another spell of unemployment. Don't you?
There is much more (from this one edition) that could have been included here - perhaps this is what Cumbria Newspapers intended....swamp a single edition with loads of pie-in-the-sky and snippets of 'possibles' and 'maybe's' so there's lots of material but little of any substance.  A classic case of vacuousness.