Archive for ‘Musings’

Hunting the Northern Lights. Not only in Norway, by the way!.

My one unfulfilled ambition was to see the Aura Borealis. The papers had been full of promises that this year would be great as the sun was to have a solar spectacular that would ensure a good showing. So I booked last January and gave myself the best chance with Hurtigrutten. (Fast passage). It’s a coastal ferry that travels the length of Norway and goes almost off the planet as far up as the North Cape. 12 days, 8 of which were in the Arctic Circle should do the trick, I thought. The boat , the food and the scenery were brilliant and I was chuffed that I did not guess the exact time the boat cruised into the circle and win the prize of a company flag signed by the captain. The winner was the first to line up on deck to celebrate crossing the “line” . King Neptune, assisted by a crew member in polar bear garb officiated and a large bucket of iced water was produced. In order to get the free slug of brandy, the poor unfortunates had to suffer a ladle of water down the neck. Companion & I followed the bear and we slunk …..

SCORCHED AND TORCHED.

Despite cynical muttering from a friend after our Aqua class that the media had driven up the hype on the Torch Relay and why waste time observing such a silly spectacle, I was not going to miss the event. The route was so close to my house, I was determined to get into Hawarden on the torch route as this will be the nearest I will even get to an Olympic event. Dumping the car close by, I strolled into the village by 4pm, over an hour before the relay was due. The Cenotaph was already well staked out and the café opposite was doing a roaring trade. The profits would certainly be up on Torch Relay Day. I enjoyed an excellent coffee myself and then staked out my pitch, even finding a convenient bollard to rest backside upon. Sir Willams’s park gates were decked in flags; the sun beat down and the crowds just grew and grew; flag waving and cheering everything that moved. It was a really wonderful carnival atmosphere as anticipation grew as the the time of arrival of the Torch got even nearer. A man with all the photographic gear plonked himself in front of me …..

Knee No 2 and further problems facing the Coalition. August 17h September 2011

Crepitus (nasty grinding noises) was present when my equality case was settled in 1992.  Knee problems are on both sides of the family so the chance of escaping the condition entirely was remote indeed. I reported on the 17th August at the unearthly hour of 7.15am at Gobowen to be  given a new knee by Mr S Karlacki who had examined the offending joint weeks earlier and pronounced the time had come to operate. The waiting room was full.  Patients peeled off and by 11.30am, I was alone with a lady from Ellesmere Port and her spouse.  We were soon joshing with each other to guess who would be at the bottom of the list for the theatre.  Of course it turned out to be me. Progressing to the ward, I was seen by the anaesthetist and told I would be in theatre by 3pm.  Much muttering with new found friend as to why we had been summonsed to the hospital so early as nothing had passed our lips since 9pm the previous evening.  By 2 30pm, I was loosing my cool particularity when new found friend was wheeled off for the appointment with the knife.  Nick, the ward sister …..

MAY DAY MUSINGS.1st – 2nd May 2011.

 I switched on the radio even earlier than usual and heard President Obama announcing that special forces had killed Osama Bin Laden in a raid in Pakistan. Although it was in the middle of an American night the word had spread on Twitter and young Americans were soon dancing and rejoicing outside the White House celebrating the fact that although a decade had passed, the yanks had finally got their man. Obama got Osama! hooray! Our news networks were just recovering from wall to wall coverage of the Royal Wedding when we switchyed ro the same level of coverage of the Bin Laden’s death but why not: what evil he and his organisation has inflicted on the world. I remember very clearly where I was when the Twin Towers tragedy news broke. Even ten years on, I’m sure I will not be alone in recalling where I was.   I received an email recently from a fellow blogger who encouraged me to continue doing just that. It’s always risky as I had suspected from some time that the site is scanned regularly by County Hall for new material, as the moment a blog is posted that is in any way critical of …..

WEEK IN THE LIFE OF…15TH MARCH -25th MARCH.

The discussions that allegedly occurred between some officers and members before the March Planning meeting took place was going to risk a confrontation.  For the second time in fairly quick succession, Planning members had to decide whether or not to allow a new estate of some 46 houses to be built on an enclosed field that according to our highways experts could only be accessed through a well established cul de sac in an existing estate.  This one road leading into the proposed site had been used for the past twelve years as a play ground for numerous young children who lived in St Mary’s Park, Mold.  The thought of a movement of over 300 cars a day through this residential street was just not supported by Planning members who had already gone against our officers by rejecting a previous application. No one could explain why site construction traffic could break through from Ruthin Road for the years needed to build the houses and then be closed completely.  Highways officers had not made out their case & the local member, a town councillor colleague and a very active community group leader for the objectors had been led to believe that …..

NEWS FROM COUNTY HALL. 11th October 2010.

 My Tory group met at 1300 to discuss yet another potential complaint I had received but my problems were swept away by breaking news brought to us by our Leader that the Council Leader, Cllr Arnold Woolley would be standing down.  His request to stay as Finance Executive member had apparently been rejected as well. Much rejoicing amongst some of my Group over the news Arnold was to step down and there was excited talk of buying champagne.  Before I left County Hall, I knew that a new political Group had been registered with officers and thus the New Independents Group was born as a new political entity on the Flintshire scene.  Fast forward to 9.30pm the same day.  Journalist rang to say he had heard that Cllr Woolley was to be sacked or face a vote of no confidence.  I told him what little I knew and agreed that my Group would welcome the “New Independents”.  Twelve hours the story had changed again (A week is a long time in politics is the old adage but when it comes to Flintshire County Council, we really do it grand style).  By 12th October the story was that Cllr Woolley had consulted his …..

PLANNING COMMITTEE- 10TH March.

The meeting got off to a shaky start as the sound equipment in the room, set up to be friendlier with the public, malfunctioned.  So we all trooped into the council chamber which is much preferred by most members.   Agenda Item 8 would bring either heartbreak or euphoria, dependent upon the decision. Having spoken to the Planning officer on several occasions as it was to be a large extension and neighbours had objected, I was very happy that the applicant, P had leant over backwards to alter plans on seven occasions to meet the Planners demands.  A round robin of identical letters had been handed in opposing the scheme; yet the Planning officer thought that no more than four houses in the local vicinity would be affected.   No one has objected to me and the Planning Officer, knowing about the protracted negotiations was happy to get the item approved under delegated powers rather than more unnecessary delay by sending it to the Planning Committee. It was an odd situation as I and my ward members had opposing views.  I was content with delegated powers but another member demanded committee determination which was his right. Cllr Hilary McGuill spoke for …..

The Ombudsman and me!

I’ve been rather preoccupied since 15th June 2009, when I received a bombshell letter from the Head of Investigations, a member of the Wales Public Service Ombudsman. I learnt that the Ombudsman considered that I had been contradictory and there was “prime face evidence that I have or may have broken two of the council’s codes of conduct”. An investigation would be carried out. On 3rd June, I had volunteered a statement to offer support to a very knowledgeable and experienced Cllr who had been accused also of breaking council codes over how he had conducted himself at a Head of Housing Selection panel last February. As I had been a panel member, I did not think he had broken any code. Knowing the misery, stress and loneliness of being accused of breaking rules in a former life, I knew it was my duty to stand up and tell it how it was! Big mistake! I then was caught up in the Ombudsman’s web and soon discovered that his office gives him immense and really frightening powers. A councillor “must comply with any request of the Ombudsman or the Monitoring Officer in connection with an investigation Code 6.2.” “Any request” …..

COUNCILLOR CAPERS 18TH 31TH July.

  Much time, better directed on serving my constituents is being taken up with defending myself against what is developing into a Kangaroo Court scenario.  It started with: “Ombudsman to probe Halford’s conduct”, reported in all three local papers 28/19th and 23June passim, and the time put into researching the powers of the Ombudsman has not been wasted!   The ‘Ombudsman promises confidentiality, privacy and that his investigation will be carefully and confidentially handed.  Every care will even be taken to ensure the unanimity of persons named in his reports!’    Whilst moaning to my bright LibDem chum that a leak had occurred when it should not, LibDem cllr asked an inspirational question.  Why did the Ombudsman’s team have to report the allegation to any one in the Authority in the first place?  Confidentiality means just that and so why tell anyone, particularly when a high profile Coalition councillor called Alison Halford is involved. Its been confirmed that a leak to the press should not have occurred and so it seems that I may not be the only one looking down the wrong end of a code of conduct infringement.  The speed at which the ombudsman’s team is operating, pushing me …..

Alison Welcomes recent news in Eddie Gilfoyle case

Alison has given a warm welcome  to recent developments in the Eddie Gilfoyle case reported by Miscarriages of JusticeUK (MOJUK) News Service and in the Guardian (see links).  Alison for a long time disturbed by the outcome of Eddie’s trial was convinced by his consistent claim of innocence.