Friday, July 25, 2008

Goole Fire Station Provision Cut

Members of Humberside Fire Authority today voted to reduce the fire cover at Goole Fire Station to just a single full time pump. This was on the casting vote of the Chairman of the Fire Authority Cllr Doreen Engall.

This decision will have a detrimental effect on Fire and Rescue provision for Goole, Howden and Howdenshire residents who despite many signing petitions, writing letters and campaigning, are now faced with the likelihood of having to suffer from longer response times in the event of a fire or accident. (please see posts passim). I can only assume Cllr Engall who along with myself represents Howdenshire, in using her casting vote to reduce the fire cover in Goole has been listening to a whole different set of people. I can neither support nor condone her decision, and I firmly disassociate myself from it. I can only hope she is not left to regret her stance on this issue.

Understandably, the authority also voted unanimously to close the retained Station at Sledmere near Driffield.

But there is some good news, because at the same time the Authority voted against plans to close Hull's Central Fire Station, but in favour of an amendment to keep the station open until a new facility is ready in the city center.

Other proposals for stations in North Lincs and North East Lincs were rejected with Authority members calling instead for efficiency savings to be made from non-frontline services.

So North Lincs, North East Lincs, and Hull get away relatively unscathed, BUT the East Riding suffers from the cuts........... Hopefully someone will be able to explain?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Africa Remembered

with Nkey in 1989

Some of you who know me well may remember the time I spent working as a development worker in West Africa from 1988 to 1992 (see blog posts passim).

One of those things I did back in '89 was in persuading the owner of the compound on which I first lived to allow his daughter, a little girl called Nkey, to go to school, the first girl in the family to do so. She was six years old and I recall buying her first uniforms. Today I had the pleasure of being the guest of Nkey and her husband Yahya who received his BSc degree from the University of Hull.

It is hard to imagine such a small gesture at that time, meant in a little girl attending school and getting an education many of us take for granted, would result in me being in the company of such a charming couple on their special day. A little girl whose future then was working in the fields - now has a job in London, a successful husband and two delightful children.

Commission Report Points To Worsening Rural Poverty

More people in rural areas such as Howdenshire are living in poverty, according to the Commission for Rural Communities in its ‘State of the countryside 2008’ report, which is published today. The report, the tenth in a series giving a definitive picture of rural England, also points to concerns over the decline in services and the challenge of meeting the need for affordable homes.

The reports says that rural economies continue to show inherent strengths, such as a higher rate of business start-ups than in urban areas and an overall growth in the number of businesses compared to a net decline in towns and cities. But it says wages in the countryside are still low for many people so that being in work is not a secure route out of poverty.

Figures show poverty is increasing at a faster rate in the countryside – three per cent - than elsewhere and that about a fifth of households now live below the poverty line. There are also signs of growing inequalities within rural areas themselves. In the poorest fifth of homes half the weekly income goes on food, housing, energy, transport and other essentials compared with 39 per cent in the highest income rural households and 47 per cent in the poorest urban households.

The report confirms what I here from many residents in different communities regarding declining services and says that in each of the last ten years the Commission has found fewer outlets for many services and increasing problems of access to services for people without cars. There has been a marked rise in internet use but the availability of high-speed broadband remains low in sparsely populated areas.

Housing affordability continues to be worse in rural areas, the report says. Last year the average price of a home in the countryside was £257,600, more than £50,000 above the cost of an average urban home. The cost of a house is 6.8 times the annual rural household income, compared to 5.8 times in urban areas and in some sparsely populated districts the price of a home can be almost ten times the annual income.

This is were we as the East Riding of Yorkshire Council, representing one of the largest geographical areas in Britain, need to look at ways of addressing these identified concerns, and find ways of putting pressure on this Government to deal more positively with rural issues.

To read the full report please click the following link