Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A Good End to the Working Day

The day after the local press described how one of our local hospitals had lost a mass of patient data Norman Lamb MP revealed the full extent of the problems in the NHS with data as a result of investigations he's been doing. "We already know from the Information Commissioner that the NHS is among the worst offenders for data loss, reporting as many incidents as the entire private sector."
What an indictment! The NHS sees us at our most vulnerable and then loses chunks of our data. And they always reassure us that it doesn't matter - well if it doesn't matter why did they keep it in the first place? And why do they put it on memory sticks and CDs that can drop out of pockets and off desks into bins or worse.
This afternoon was planning committee day. There was nothing in Eaglescliffe ward today but still plenty of tricky and frustrating decision making to do. Why should a developer who's got permission for a good quality design be able to come back and reduce the quality to something that's just about acceptable? Why do developers think that student flats are the new route to riches? The block which was refused permission today not only contravened our new council guidelines by not demonstrating a need for more accommodation but also was a pretty awful design for the area. It looked like boxes - several boxes rather than one monolithic box but boxes nevertheless. Standing nearly opposite Thornaby Town Hall it really did look incongruous. I'd have loved to have seen an interesting building, reflecting the stature and elegance of the Town Hall but what we were offered was chunky and out of place.
At tonight's council meeting there were two really good items which brought out the best side of people.
First we had an item in all the vast array of minutes and reports which come to Council about the return of the Mayoral Chains to Thornaby. Cllr Mick Eddy who is also this year's Town Mayor of Thornaby took the opportunity to thank John Fletcher for his help in arranging that return. Although many others had to be part of the decision it was John who found the way forward when there'd been little or no progress for years. Mick thanked him beautifully and very eloquently on behalf of the people of Thornaby and the Town Council and for once other members of the council were quiet and let him speak.
Almost the last item on the agenda was a motion, proposed by the Mayor, that the council sign up to the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights on its 60th anniversary. Alan Lewis spoke of the human rights of the Gurkha soldiers who lived and fought alongside British soldiers but then are denied citizenship if they retired before 1997. Sign the petition or write to your MP - let's get this sorted out once and for all.
After that Suzanne spoke very movingly about the plight of refugees on our doorstep in the borough of Stockton-on-Tees who have fled from abuses of basic rights like the right to live without being persecuted but then are seized in dawn raids and sent to detention centres to await deportation sometimes to countries which are not at all safe for them. Why it's deemed acceptable for children to be woken and bundled away from the only safe home they've known in raids that look just like the raids on suspected crack houses I'll never understand. But it happens and it happens here, under our noses.
So Stockton Council approved the Declaration and maybe, who knows, just one or two people might think twice about walking by on the other side next time.

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