Saturday, 24 December 2011

Happy Christmas

Like most of us I'm finding that Christmas has sneaked upon me this year.   You think there are weeks or days left - but then discover there are only hours left!  I found myself this morning with a load of Christmas cards to deliver - so that's what I've been doing this afternoon - rather than peeling sprouts!

I have to say I was pleased to note evidence of gritting on many of our residential roads - obviously some of the Town Council's grit has been spread around!  Frodsham is such a fantastic community with people willing to make the effort to help each other.

This evening I went to the Christingle Carol Service at St Laurence's church - another wonderful Frodsham tradition where so many of come together to celebrate Christmas.   

Have a Happy and peaceful Christmas everyone. 

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Happy Hundredth Birthday Albert

I've just had a life affirming experience.  I've just been to Chapel Fields Care Home to celebrate Albert Wells 100th birthday.  Albert was in fine form and was thoroughly enjoying himself with his family and friends.  Albert grew up in Nottingham, is a Notts County fan and after a stint as a fire fighter and time in Devon came north to Frodsham with his family.  Albert told me his secret for a long life is doing what he was told to do.  That's doomed me then! 

We had a great chat about football.  Albert was a referee and famously refereed an FA Cup game between Ilkeston Town v Rochdale in 1951.  The story is so great it is worth telling here...

'Rochdale, two goals up and desperate to hold on to their lead, cleared the white ball high out of the ground where it became lodged in an adjacent Elm tree. The gathering gloom necessitated the use of the white ball, the only one Ilkeston owned. After more than ten minutes delay, during which time all sorts of methods had been tried to retrieve the ball whilst a mini pitch invasion took place, the referee decided to continue the game with a standard ball which was almost invisible in the darkness. When the full time whistle was blown there was considerable confusion because many people thought that the match had been abandoned. Meanwhile, the white ball had been rescued from the tree but the referee reported Town to the FA because he believed that they had deliberately tried to avoid getting the ball back. The charges were dropped. The following season saw the club sport a new badge depicting the ball in the tree and this became the club emblem for many years.'

You couldn't make it up! 

There was a wonderful celebratory atmosphere in Chapel Fields as his birthday coincided with their Christmas Fair,  Andy the home manager was dressed as Father Christmas!  I had a fantastic time and met 3 retired Councillors in my travels too!  

I spoke with Sandra - she is one of two people who organise the entertainment for the Chapel Fields residents. She told me how grateful the home was for the Town Council's £5 voucher scheme - that money can go a long way in organising entertainment.  Some of the residents used their vouchers to have a meal at the Community Centre a couple of weeks ago,  others have gone shopping with theirs.  Incidentally my wife was in Merricks this afternoon and saw a £5 voucher being spent there too!  Absolutely brilliant - exactly what we intended the vouchers to be used for.

I'm also delighted that Chapel Fields will house a community public access defibrillator from January 2012.  That will make 5 in Frodsham - more about that when we get to it!

So how should the Town Council commemorate a 100th birthday.  I asked Anne, our office manager to ask our local business for ideas for a suitable gift - once we'd set the budget.  Anne chose well - a silver salver suitably engraved.  So if you know any other centenarians in Frodsham who'd like the Mayor to turn up on their birthday - let me know!  

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

The Emergency Services and the fourth estate

I was honoured to be invited to attend the Emergency Services Carol Service at Chester Cathedral last night.  It was a wonderful event celebrating the work of those who look after the community year round.  Many of the participants came from the police, fire and ambulance services as you'd expect - but we didn't forget the others, many of whom are volunteers, such as the RNLI, mountain rescue services.   

The Cheshire Police Brass Band led the music - although there were many other notable performances - all from our half of Cheshire taking central stage.  The Girls Choir from Chester's Catholic High School were spellbinding, Ellesmere Port's 'Fireflies' Ladies Choir was inspirational - and the young drummers from Kelsall Community Primary School were absolutely fantastic.  

I thoroughly enjoyed the evening - even if I was left with a point of curiosity.  Why is it that so many men are tone deaf - and especially where I was last night amongst the 'great and the good!' Fortunately they are not rated on their singing abilities - rather on the excellent work they do for our communities.

However before the service started I was met by a local chap from Frodsham who drew to my attention an article that had appeared in the Frodsham and Helsby edition of the Chronicle last week - where one FTC Cllr's remarks questioning the value for money of Frodsham's PCSO had received prominent billing.
Now far be it from me to question the prominence the local press gives to the remarks of one Councillor - especially when that one isn't me (yes - I am being 'tongue-in-cheek') - or indeed the headline writer's skill in selling a story - but I do wonder what happened here and how one squares a headline of 'FTC in dispute over funding police community support officer' with wording in the article of 'There was no suggestion ... that the town council may withdraw its PCSO funding.'  I don't see the story there really ... although time alone will tell. The vast majority of us in Frodsham support our local police and very much support the work of our PCSO - and I use the word 'our' deliberately - because Kay is 'our' PCSO - I am sure that we'd be a lesser place without her.

I do think there is an issue about PCSO funding - but not necessarily in Frodsham.  How is it that FTC funds a PCSO, so does Helsby PC and even Tarporley PC?  Tarporley's population is about 1/4 of Frodsham's.  

But isn't it something of a scandal that Northwich Town Council doesn't fund any PCSOs when it is twice the size of Frodsham or that Frodsham and Helsby together provided 2 PCSOs - for the c15,000 people we have - when CWaC provides 2 PCSO's for Northwich?  The Northwich Town Council area has a population of around 21,500.   ... and Northwich Town Council's precept is more than double that of Frodsham - and they have around 3 times the amount of money to spend in a year than Frodsham has and 9 times the amount of money that Tarporley has.

Northwich's PCSO's are funded by CWaC as they are in Ellesmere Port and in the inner part of Chester - however these communities don't have their own parish council... Is this a case of the rural communities having to pay twice for a service or paying for something to make sure they get it? 

It may be ... or does it simply show that it is impossible to have uniformity of provision and especially when there is a mix of parished and non parished areas... but that is another story for another time.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe

Dianne and I have just come back from a spell-binding performance by the Frodsham Players of CS Lewis's classic The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe performed at St Laurence's church in theatre-in-the-round style.  The whole performance was atmospheric and utterly brilliant.  The warm stones of the church provided an ancient backdrop to Lewis's allegorical and timeless tale. 

The whole ensemble were magnificient - but I have to make special mention of the actors playing the four children.  Tom Marquand was Peter, Amelia Pendlebury - Susan, Alex Taylor - Edmund and Emily Woodward-Smith played the indefatigable Lucy.  The performance rested largely in their hands - and they carried it off with aplomb.