Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Amber Valley Borough Council - Green Belt Plunderers

To continue with my 'lets have a go at the council' theme:

I mentioned in my last post about 'Aldercar and Langley Mill' and the border between the two - once upon a time, separate hamlet and village [in that order] - is now somewhat fuzzy. But now I have to say that by the time Amber Valley Borough Council have finished with their big push to build on green belt land - that all the greedy, grasping developers have been buying up in readiness - the borders between most of our villages will be non-existent and instead of being individual communities, we'll just be part of a large town that may as well be called 'RIPNOR' or 'HEAPLY'

There have been protests, meetings, facebook groups and petitions all against AVBC selling off land at Ripley to accommodate a new Morrisons supermarket plus housing etc. The council are elected representatives to do our bidding but it seems that they're hand in glove with developers all the way. They even held this part of the - often postponed - planning board meeting in private, where the public was asked to leave. We know who voted to pass the proposals, we'll remember their names when they want electing again.

AVBC's best friends - the philanthropic developers - tell us ... and we're meant to be grateful by the way:

"We'll build a nice supermarket for you, create jobs for you, and we'll provide you with some lovely little boxes for you to live in and then we'll landscape a 10" wide strip of land with - exciting new idea - some indigenous plants ... Instead of keeping all these fields of unsightly green and woody stuff that just sits there growing. And did you know that it's full of pesky vermin living in it?"

"What? no, you're wrong, it's a completely absurd idea that all this greenery is meant to be enjoyed by everyone, because it's ours, we've bought it now. It needs building on so that it doesn't keep sucking up all the excess water or continue making the air too oxygen rich, thus giving you daft ideas about saving the green belt or the planet [whichever soap-box you're all on this week]"

And back to me in the real world:
All the - up to now, relatively clear - boundaries between ... Aldercar/Woodlinkin, Aldercar/Heanor, Aldercar/Loscoe, Langley/Marlpool/Shipley, Heanor/Crosshill, Woodlinkin/Loscoe, Codnor/Waingroves, Waingroves/Ripley, Alfreton/Swanwick/Leabrooks/Riddings/Butterley, Marehay/Codnor/Ripley, Belper/Heage ... Will be as blurred as Langley mill/Aldercar - I've no doubt missed a few proposed builds and made some huge mistakes, please feel free to correct me and I'll amend accordingly.

All these unique places with their precious green bits and individual identities will be lost forever as they merge into one vast sprawl ... Sad isn't it?

But I can't help feeling that it's all a smokescreen ... throw all the suggested builds in the pot at roughly the same time - so that we're up in arms about it - then they'll come back with maybe just one or two ideas that we'll have to accept and make it look like they've listened to us - and we'll think we've won ... cunning.

Hmmm, Amber Valley Borough Council have the audacity to tell us that they've got to build houses on green belt land - and accept s106 bribes so that they can afford to tart up their preferred areas - because people want to live here as it's lovely and rural ... Hellooo, you're busy urbanising our rural bits, you morons.

Rant over ...

Monday, 30 January 2012

Aldercar And Langley Mill

From the front cover of our magazine
Whilst I'm in a 'lets pick on our parish council' mood, I thought I'd get around to publishing this post that has just been hanging around waiting for a rainy day:

A while back Asda gave our council some money - £7,000 is the figure I've got, but could have been amended - which they duly spent on a mock 'canal lock-gate' and new 'Welcome' signs to our village. Only our alleged quality council ended up misspelling at least two of them. Langley Mill is not spelt ...
A   L   D   E   R   C   A   R ...
As far as I'm aware - without counting minor roads etc - there are three main ways into [okay, out of] Langley Mill, and only one of them goes through Aldercar.

I have absolutely nothing against Aldercar, I have friends who live there. But when I arrive in Langley Mill, I like to know I'm here. I don't need a sign that says 'Welcome to Aldercar & Langley Mill'.

I'm sure that some of the - grumpier - Aldercar residents feel the same, they would prefer their own signs accordingly. I know that the border between the two places is somewhat fuzzy - seeing as every green space needs a house building on it - but we don't want lumping together, even if the parish council does.

To be continued - now that I've, ahem, got the bit between my teeth ...

Monday, 23 January 2012

Our Latest Parish Magazine

Just lately I've received several visits from fellow grumpies - this is despite the fact that I hide behind a photo of a badger and no-one knows it's really me - these visits were regarding our local parish council.

Questions were raised about how our money was being spent or in some cases - as mentioned in previous posts - not spent. A bit of other interesting information was shared about a garden party paid for by council funds. But no-one knows any of the - seventy - 'worthies' invited. I can't even check on the veracity of this information as the parish council website is being reconstructed, so please, do feel free to ignore this bit.

During December [after my second grumpy visitor called for the first time] I 'Twittered' - as you do - asking myself 'Who are our local councillors and how to contact them if I wanted to?' ... This led one grumpy to think I'd blogged about it - before it disappeared - but it was just my twitter feed [on the informative side bit of my page] updating. I also asked myself 'Do I need to get involved here? Am I just a whinging moaner? Or do I indeed care enough to write about it?

Hmmm, actually I am just a whinging moaner and really couldn't be bothered with the whole idea of someone else giving me bullets to fire. But today my mind was changed - slightly - and I decided to have a go, because the 'Parish Magazine' - from our alleged quality council - has just plopped through our letterbox. This was not a conducive moment for it to arrive as I couldn't resist having a quick gleg at it, even though I was meant to be working.

Oh heck! It got me so annoyed in places that when I continued to finish today's work, there were tiny pink missiles flirting around the room, followed by much magnet and scissor action [collecting and adjusting]. I'd have been better off abandoning work for the day and getting to my keyboard.

Ahem, our naff Christmas lights were mentioned on page 4, under the title 'News From The Parish Council Office'. It went on to tell us who sponsored them ... have they received a refund yet? ... I can only deduce that our parish councillors do not live in our parish, because they're clearly not seeing what the rest of us are seeing.

Anyway, I need wonder no more about who our councillors are as they're listed on the back cover of this glossy magazine - the majority of which are no doubt destined for recycling bags [magazines not councillors, hmmm]. Ooooh, they've got vacancies for two more councillors. I've been informed that it is not advisable to join this exclusive club because if you don't fit in and conform then life is made uncomfortable until you resign. 

Please note councillors when you read this, that I'm only relaying information given to me by other grumpies, and is therefore not necessarily my own opinion.

I've also been told - by yet even more grumpies - that a fellow grumpess has written to our local newspaper (Ripley and Heanor News) complaining about our Christmas lights, the letter was published but there has been no reply. There have been other letters written to our parish council asking pertinent questions, these have remained unanswered. So where can you get in touch with them?

Oh look, as well as ONE phone number, there's also ONE email address for our local parish council ... a shabby throw away yahoo.co.uk address ... very grown up and official I'm sure.

Oh I say, Gasp, splutter ... and just look who is responsible for our floral displays ... what floral displays???? They really are taking the wee wee - and yes, this is my own opinion ...

Monday, 16 January 2012

One Reason I'll Never Be Rich

Our plumber rang last Tuesday ... 'I'm just calling for the part needed for your boiler and I'll be around in about ten minutes', he told the grumpy old man. We'd been serviced a few weeks before and a slight dribble was noticed - the boiler, not grumpy - hmmm - now we're being fixed.

'I'll just go and fetch some cash from the machine at Asda' sez my old dribbler ... 'Oh, how much do you want?' ... I'd still got my birthday and Christmas money from the parents, not that I haven't bought something, but I used my debit card on t'interweb. I'm still hoping to get my computer fitted with a cash slot.

For a geriatric, my GOM can move at a fair lick. He raced across the dining room, scooped up my posh Radley winter bag and dug out my equally posh Radley winter purse in less time than it took for me to finish the above sentence.

He proffered me the said purse and I handed him the cash required - just like that, this is because I'm lovely and generous.

Wednesday morning we were going out with some more crumblies. Before we set off I ascertained that he'd now been and got some more cash if we needed it, because I wasn't getting any out of the machine at Peak Village as they charge for the privilege ... 'Yeah, I'm ok thanks.' He never offered me a penny ... tightwad!

Saturday night saw himself checking the Irish Lottery results. He's totted it up and talked in this weird foreign language about fours and fives and pennies, doubles, trebles, blah, blah, blah. It transpired that grumpy had won just over £100, 'very nice' I thought, rubbing my hands together.

He came back from the bookies yesterday ... again talking this strange language that we've all [my family] repeatedly asked him not to bother with, we only ever want to know the outcome.

He stood in the doorway watching me work ... 'I've got me winnings' he said, patting his pocket, 'If you want to borrow any money,' he winked, 'I've got some'.

'Borrow? ... Borrow?' The rest of my reply was mostly unrepeatable - all I can tell you is that the word I used most began with a W and ended with an anker ...

Friday, 6 January 2012

Windy Blow And A Damsel In Distress

Well what a week that was!

I don't know about everyone else, but Wednesday night's bit of a draft and dribble of rain kept me awake most of the night. The top house lost a few ridge tiles, half of which were already missing after we had our last big blow ... some people don't bother with house repairs until it's going to be enough for an insurance claim, they only go as far as asking to borrow your ladder.

My neighbour's aerial escaped its moorings and we lost a slate. Grumpy is out on the front as I write - supposedly to assess the damage. This may take some time as he's chatting to all passers by ... whether they want to or not.

The 5th of January [yesterday] is the day I set aside for de-Christmasing the house. This is because:
  1. I'm never quite sure when 12th night falls.
  2. If I miss the odd items - yes I did, four decorative candles - they can be found and stashed away before 12th night is definitely, definitely up.
We don't want any bad luck this year. It's not like I'm superstitious or anything, but I don't do any washing on New Year's Day either.

Anyway, my near sleepless night went like this:
[twitter follower(s), please skip this bit, as you already know].

1.30am ... One soon to be ex-cat tearing around the house, demanding to be fed and her potty emptied, this would be more acceptable had I not done all this an hour earlier.

Roughly 3.00am ... The noise of several recycling boxes - thanks Amber Valley Borough Council for the crappy light weight, hold very little, flyaway plastic boxes - skittering down the street, stopping only briefly at obstacles - cars - got us both up. Grumpy went out and fetched our recycling back from the middle of the road. I opened the blind to watch the weather and we had a cuppa.

ZZZZzzzzzz.........zzz...............zz...............z ... we sort of dozed.

4.17am ... And I'm now wearing my very grumpy head ... An Asda lorry at their gate, waiting to be let in. The engine was running constantly. That stupid metal retaining wall they put in to hold back Pottery Lane reflects all the noise back to us.

4.59am ... They let the tw***ing lorry in, it took 23 minutes to unload then the next one arrived, at least it saved them opening the gates, closing the gates, opening the gates, closing the gates ... I should be grateful, but clearly I'm not.

7.35am ... Noisy arrival of the recycling lorry, they're up, everyone should be awake ... CRASH, clatter.


8.30am ... Phone call - damsel in distress ... 'I didn't wake you, did I?' ... 'No' was my truthful answer. The damsel in question is grumpy's number 1 daughter, she'd got no lights and wanted grumpy to talk her through checking the problem. I left them to it and went downstairs in search of coffee ... hmm, that's where we keep it now is it? I put the kettle on - oooooh, it changes colour [blue to red] - and made something vaguely coffee coloured.

Back in the boudoir/electrical repair shop we drank our, ahem, coffee which had all the qualities of sludge ... a choccie bikkie helped it down and grumpy lied to me about how nice it was; and then informed me that the electrical problem was not solved, he'd go after breakfast.

This meant that poor little old me was left to struggle downstairs with ten emptyish boxes, de-Christmas the front room - kitchen already done, that only took 5 minutes - and haul the now full [ok, I only did two] boxes back up to await their final destination to the loft ... on my own.

This IS normal grumpy father practice - I mean, on the one hand ... it's the middle of the morning and a damsel in distress has no lights, and on the other hand ... a woman with no real sense and little spatial awareness is balancing precariously on a chair taking down Christmas decorations. Which would you choose?

Yes, you're correct, a grumpy father would choose his daughter every time. This is as it's meant to be and I'd be appalled if he'd made any other choice ... even though I am the one teetering with a duster - might as well give things a bit of a waft while I'm up here - and one foot prodding fresh air in search of something solid to stand on.

I must say at this point, if number 2 daughter had phoned her dad for assistance, he'd have been out of bed and up there like a shot ... this is not because she's favourite, but that she'd already have taken the fuses out [and probably the fuse box off the wall] and would be on the verge of poking something with a screwdriver. She is very much a 'do-it-herself' type [like me, funnily enough], the sort of person who'd buy something that was never meant to fit what she wanted it for ... but it was a bargain. She'd then make it fit with ... saw, hammer, screwdriver, cable, paint, you name it, she'd utilize it, and the end result is always a masterpiece. So therefore, if she asked for help, it would be - by now - urgent.

I'm reliably informed that this isn't only fathers and daughters, it's also fathers and sons. I have one friend who - happy to help out anyway - told me that if their son phoned for anything, the answer would almost always be 'yes'. The conversation could go something like this:

Son ... 'Dad, do you think you'd be able to ...?'
Mr Grumpy ... 'Yes.'
Son ... 'Thanks.'
Mrs Grumpy ... 'But that's when we're supposed to be ...'
Mr Grumpy ... 'It doesn't matter, we'll go on that once in a lifetime holiday next year, my son needs me ...'

Anyway, back to this morning in bed - drinking properly made coffee - my grumpy informed me that we - WE - had got a day off. I told him I'd got a BIG pile of ironing to do [more than eight items is a big pile in my book].

'Oh ... have you?' ... 'You're meant to offer to do it' ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 'I'll do it if you want me to' ... 'Go on then, but you'd better start now if you want to get finished before dark.' [I've witnessed him iron one shirt] ... 'Oh, hang on. I've got the roof to repair'.

Hence one grumpy old man on the street with his binoculars ...