Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Britain a leading tennis nation?

With the recent success of the Tour finals held at the O2 arena earlier this month and the continued ascent of Andy Murray on the surface British Tennis is in a healthy state.

This of course fails to mentioned the fact that we have the privalage to host the holy grail of tennis every year, the Wimbeldon championships.

Still the ATP national rankings paint a very different story. Team GB is placed in 36th place in the latest list, one place below Kazakhstan.

Compare this with the other Grand Slam hosts the US, France and Australia who come in at 2nd, 10th and 15th respectivley.

This poses the question does Great Britain deserve to host such illustrious tournaments?

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Northwich Victoria shock high flying Charlton

Blue Square North side Northwich Victoria defeated League One’s Charlton Athletic 1-0 at the Victoria Stadium earlier this afternoon.

The match that pitted a team ranked over 80 higher in the league against the part timers from Wincham had the feel of a possible upset from the outset. Almost instantly it was clear that this would not be a routine victory for the league one side. The hard work and dogged determination of the Northwich side saw them pose the greater threat.

Twice the Charlton defence cleared Matt Bailey’s headers off the line as the defender provided a constant threat from set pieces. In truth Charlton were fortunate to return to the dressing room at half time on equal terms following a mad goal mouth scramble just minutes before the whistle.
The second half start in acrimonious fashion as striker Izale McLeod elbowed his Northwitch counterpart whilst the referee’s back was turned. It was clear that Charlton manager Phil Parkinson had told his men to match their opponents determination and desire as the league one side began to gain an uncomfortable ascendancy.

Yet just when the matched seemed to be shifting in Charlton’s favour an 81st minute poke home from 18 year old substitute Wayne Riley sent the home crowd into raptures.
For the last 10 minutes the atmosphere there was a mixture of tension and anticipation bubbling around the stadium.

Their reward for their giant killing efforts is another home time against Lincoln city a match that they must feel is winnable after today’s result.

My Pick of the second round match ups:

Kettering Town vs Leeds United
Northwitch Vic vs Lincoln City
AFC Bournemouth vs Notts County

Friday, 14 August 2009

Just the Job for Jake

With businesses struggling to make a profit and unemployment levels rising across the country people looking to break into the job market could be forgiven for losing heart.

However the message from one teenager in Swindon is to keep at it.

After nearly two years out of work, 19 year old Jake Skelton landed a Job at the Jurys Inn hotel on Fleming way. “As long as you stick it out you’ll always find your reward.” Jake said.

“I’ve told some of my mates, once you’ve got a job and you earn the money that’s coming in it makes you feel a lot better.”

Six weeks on from starting as a night porter Jake has already noticed a difference, “Now I feel a hell of a lot better.” He said.

“I can go out to the pub with my mates, I go bowling and can socialise with my family. Last weekend I even rented a boat out.”

Before being given the job at Jurys Inn, Jake went through a two week pre-employment training course, run by the New Deal team at Swindon Job Centre Plus. “We had tutors from Swindon College as well as people from Jury’s.” Jake said.

“They taught us team bonding and how important it is to have fun at work- and it really works. I really enjoy my job.” he added.

Carly Fender, HR Manager at Jurys Inn also thinks that it is important to train new staff members with a wide range of skills.

“They visited the kitchens at Swindon College and prepared food and served it to us. Everyone on the course was guaranteed an interview but not a job.” She said.

The training scheme is part of a government drive to get people without experience into work, a hurdle that Jake himself frequently came up against.

“I applied for hundreds of jobs but I needed experience to get them and no one’s willing to give you a go. I got the odd temping job at warehouses, but it was only for a week or two at a time.” Jake said.

But Jake insisted that there is help available and described how staff at Job Centre Plus “arranged for some funding so that I could buy myself a new suit from Burton’s for my interview.”

Jake added: “There is a silver lining to everything. You’ve just got to have hope in it really.”

Thursday, 30 July 2009

The closure of the Sun Inn

The Sun Inn in Lydiard Millicent was just one of the pubs across the country that was forced to close it's doors earlier this year.

We look at how the closure of Lydiard Millicent's only village has affected local residents and how other pubs in the area are working to draw in the punters.

All tied up?

In recent weeks the role of large pub companies (or pubcos) was thrust into the spotlight following an investigation by the Business and Enterprise Select Committee

Committee member Brian Binley MP said: “We had a lot of complaints about relationships between certain pubcos and their tenants so we felt it was right and proper to look into the matter.”

The pub tie is an agreement, between landlords and pub companies, allowing tenants to run a pub without owning the property while being tied in to certain Beers and products from the pubco.

The tie itself has been in use for nearly 200 years, but it is only since the 1989 Beer Act that pub companies, acting as middle men between landlords and breweries, have flourished.

Fellow BEC member Lembit Opik MP said: “The thing must be brought to a head; if nothing is done then pubs will continue to decline.

“The single biggest change needs to be a level playing field for the tenants of tied pubs. They pay a lot for their beer, often more than if they were free hold and they lose a lot of their income on the arrangements made between the landlord and pubco.”

The BEC report itself has recommended that the tie be investigated further by the standards commission, a body with strong legislative powers.

Mr Opik said: “The standards committee have the teeth to make a significant intervention if that is what is called for. This could lead to the biggest change in the pub environment since 1989.”

Following the BEC report landlords have come together to form the Fair Pint Campaign and call for the abolishment of the tie.

Co-founder Michael Bell said: “The cost of tied beer is now almost twice as much as you would pay at a standard wholesaler.”

A lot of pretty good pubs have gone to the wall that should not have done.”

However pub companies have hit back following the report, in a statement Enterprise Inns one of Britain’s largest pub companies said: “We are currently spending c£1.4m per month on rental support and special discounts and have also frozen prices on five key brands across the estate, costing us an additional £700,000 per month.

“From a tied licensee’s perspective, the ‘compensation’ for paying more for beer is that he/she pays much less rent and may receive a vast array of additional support services.”

Yet Mr Bell feels that they could do more; “They are not doing enough for landlords at all, the situation is very bad. The rent is about as highly rented as it should be and yet we are still paying over the odds for beer.”

Director of McManus pubs Paul McManus agrees: “I think the pub tie is not fair, the pubcos were just having a revolving door of a manager. They must know that with some pubs that business model doesn’t work.

“They were letting people buy into this tenancy agreement, maybe some people would sell their house to raise the money and then it wouldn’t work they would kick them out and get the next person in.”

However other areas of the industry feel that other factors are to blame. The British Beer and Pub Association who represent pub companies feel that it is the tax on beer that is driving prices up rather than the tie.

BBPA Communications manager Neil Williams said: “we certainly feel that the recent problems the industry has suffered are not due to the pub tie. They are due to other factors, high taxation, rapidly increasing regulation and very, very difficult economic circumstances.”

Wetherspoon’s Media Manager Eddie Gershon said: “People are hurting and taxation on beer is very very high, we would defiantly call for a reduction on that.We know it’s cheaper to buy drink in a supermarket or to go to Calais and buy it but when you go to a pub you go for a social experience and that is what we have got to sell.”

However BEC member Mr Opik disagrees, arguing that a review of taxation is not as important as reviewing the tie: “There may be an investigation to be had there in the future but is not nearly as pressing as getting the pubcos sorted out.

The pubcos are very angry about the report and they have become very defensive about it, but somebody had to say something and the tenants didn’t have the power to do it.”

Iain Loe from the Campaign for Real Ale summerised: "In an ideal world we would like to see more freehouses run although we do see the value of the tie.

"Many of the family breweries in Britain do run their pubs very responsibly they give help to their tenants or lessees."

The pub tie is set to go before the Competition commission in the next few months and may yet herald a new chapter for the British pub sector.

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

A landlady's tale

Patsy Lowe is just one of the thousands of landlords across the country working hard to keep pubs open and thinks they need to focus on being the centre of their local communities.

We ask what life is really like as a village landlady.

Sunday, 28 June 2009

A day at Piddle Brewery

Despite the rapid increase in pub closures over the last few years the popularity of 'real ale' is going from strength to strength.

We take you on a journey through the Brewing process at a visit to Piddle brewery in Dorset.

Friday, 26 June 2009

The results are in!

Results of a survey into people’s drinking preferences in pubs have shown that poor customer service is a key factor.

100 pub goers were questioned by this site with results showing that poor customer service, bad food and a poor atmosphere were the main reason drinkers were staying away.

Suzzanah White from The Thimble Inn encouraged landlords to: “Listen to your villagers and try and accommodate what they want.”

“Encourage everybody to come in to the pub and do different events, special suppers or something.”

The top factors attracting people to the pub were socialising with friends and experiencing the pub atmosphere.

Steve Howe from the British Institute of Inn keeping said: “Do the simple things well, go back to basics and look at all aspects of the customer journey in your outlet and remember that it is a business.”

Give a good welcome and make people feel that that you appreciate that they are spending their hard earned money in your establishment.”

The results also showed that the impact of the smoking ban has dwindled in recent years with 51% of people questioned thinking the issue was totally irrelevant.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Landlords call for relax on smoking ban

A new campaign launched this morning is urging the government to allow smokers back into pubs across Britain.

The Save our Pubs & Clubs campaign wants landlords to be able to provide specially ventilated rooms in their pubs for smoking.

Celebrity chef Antony Worrell Thompson is supporting the campaign; "The smoking ban has had an extraordinarily detrimental effect on pubs and clubs.

The legislation as it stands is excessive and I would like to see it amended."

The campaign has the backing of MPs from a range of parties.

Liberal Democrat MP John Hemming said: “We need to amend the law so it is fair to smokers and non-smokers alike and doesn't compromise the future of pubs and clubs."

However the campaign has already been met with criticism.

Popular pub group Wetherspoons who ended smoking in their pubs before the ban feel it is time for pub owners to move on.

Spokesman Eddie Gershon said: “I don’t think it is a good enough reason for saying that pubs are not doing well.”

“People have to realise that it is here to stay and it is not an excuse.”

Friday, 19 June 2009

Drinkers worried about pennies not pounds

Figures from the Department of Health show that male drinkers are more worried about the price of Beer than its impact on their health.

While the ‘know your limits’ survey revealed that 37% of men would cut back on drinking to reduce the calories they consume, 44% were concerned about rising prices.

Public health minister, Gillian Merron, said: “It is encouraging that they are also thinking about their health.

Men who drink too much are at risk of conditions such as liver disease and stroke, as well as getting out of shape.”

Last week the British Beer and Pub association revealed that British drinkers are paying tax of nearly 46 pence per pint, the third highest in Europe.

Neil Williams from the BBPA said: “it’s a pretty dire situation. We’ve had an 18% increase in beer duty last year and another 2% in the spring budget.”

Only Finland and Ireland impose higher levels of tax, while consumers in France and Germany pay under 7 and 5 pence per pint respectivley.

Steve Howe from the British Innkeeping Institute said; “it certainly would appear to be unfair, we are heavily taxed to the point of it being a penal tax.”

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Pub Tie under the spotlight

As part of an ongoing theme Owenlane will be publishing a series of stories looking into the British pub industry. Below is the first;

A national campaign has been launched urging the government to refer the Pub tie between landlords and pub companies to the competition commission.

The Federation for Small Business (FSB) joined forces with the Campaign for a Fair Pint last week arguing that tied tenants have to pay much higher prices for their Beer.

In a statement the Chairman of the FSB Clive Davenport said: “The FSB has been campaigning on this issue on behalf of its publican members since 2004, and it’s time we saw a change."
The campaign follows a Business and Enterprise Select Committee report on the tie, published last month, which recommended an investigation.

The BEC report stated; “the tying of beers, other drinks and ancillary products should be severely limited to ensure that competition in the retail market is restored.”

“Pubcos which not only benefit themselves but support their lessees are likely to stay in business. If pubcos push too hard and are too greedy they will fail.”

However these recommendations are not universally supported, a statement from Punch Taverns, one of Britain’s largest pub companies read; “We strongly believe that the tied pub model provides a fair and equitable approach to sharing risk between ourselves and our licensees.”

Monday, 11 May 2009

BBC Radio One's Big Weekend

It was a Big Weekend at Swindon, 'Owen Lane' and special guest writer Andrea Miller give their thoughts on Sunday's line up.

The Good:

Franz Ferdinand

AM: Even though I'm not a great fan of their music, they were really tight, and didn't spend all of their time playing to the crowd concerning themselves more with being good musicians playing their songs well. I enjoyed it so much that I forgot to be embarrassed about the neon yellow ear plugs I was wearing, as I am cool.

OL: I hadn't listed to any Franz Ferdinand for about two years before their set at Big Weekend and was left wondering why. Franz who don't fall into the typical Brit Band sound were really refreshing. Kapranos distinct vocals, the quirky guitar riffs, and chant along tracks had the crowd bouncing and afterwards, I was left thinking that their 35 minute set was simply not long enough.


AM: I hadn't heard of this unsigned band who were playing the " BBC Introducing..." stage, but was pleasantly rewarded for hanging around. I think it was one of their first big gigs, and the lead singer was self-aware enough to ask the sound guy to adjust the levels. They had a nice blend of melodic guitar riffs, pounding chords and solid vocals that in retrospect, makes me wish I'd spent more time at the Introducing stage and less at some of the more well-established acts.


OL: I wouldn't list RnB as my all time favourite genre of music and was lead to watch NeYo by my girlfriend and her two friends. I was pleasantly surprised! It's sometimes tricky being the first act on stage at a big festival but Ne-yo really got things going. Flying over from the US especially, NeYo gave a real taste of the American RnB scene.

The Bad:

Scouting for Girls:

OL: I had seen SFG at V fest last year and was almost crushed by a mass of hysterical teenage girls. The crowd at Muse and the Kaisers were not as physical! So this year I was expecting more of the same, however, it just didn't quite happen. This was SFG's first show of the year and unfortunately you could tell. Perhaps to concerned with playing to the crowd their decision to drag out the end of every track became a little tiresome when more hits or perhaps some new material would have been more welcome.

AM: Nothing is more alienating than being at a concert where everyone knows the words to every song while you do not. Except when the lead singer decides to sit most of the performance out and points the mic at the crowd under the pretext of showmanship.
The one song that lead singer Roy Stride saved himself for was a shocking rendition of Elvis, "Falling in Love With You." Oh dear.

Chase n Status

AM: This probably comes down to personal taste as I'm no great fan of drum and bass. All I can say is that from the field outside the tent where I was sat, I could feel the the ground shaking...while reading a book.

Moyles V Westwood

OL: Ah, Chris Moyles. The Saviour of Radio One. Westwood the hip hop jedi to millions of people across Britain. This was set to be the biggest mouth vs the biggest ego on radio one. Yet it was all a little too scripted. While Westwood repeatedly urged Moyles to strip and claimed to have single handedly brought the event to Swindon, the 'Saviour' himself seemed somewhat uninterested. In the end I was left feeling that most of the proceedings had been agreed the night before. All in all a bit of an anti climax.

The Ugly:

The Prodigy

AM/OL: It's fair to say that the Prodigy boys weren't the prettiest, cutest or even cuddliest act on show at Big Weekend. Still the hype and anticipation that had built up over the course of the weekend was simmering nicely. Yet only ten minutes in to their set and darkness descended on the main stage leaving the crowd chanting angrily and when power was finally restored, security
decided to stop letting people in.

But, eventually The Prodigy as if released from captivity gave the crowd everything they had been waiting for.

Tight Security outside the Prodigy.
Image taken by Jenny Aldridge

Saturday, 21 March 2009

What If?

Almost everyone who has an interest in history has, at some point, wondered ‘what if…’ Martin Lane investigates.

What if Hitler had won World War Two, or if Napoleon had been victorious at the battle of Waterloo? How would our lives now be different today if President Kennedy had not been shot on that fateful day in Dallas on November 22, 1963?

This undoubted appeal has even seen former Prime Ministers be drawn into the possible ‘what ifs’ of history.

Winston Churchill, an avid history writer as well as politician, once pondered how life would be different if the South had not engaged in the battle of Gettysburg, a turning point of the American Civil war.

Churchill said “the quaint conceit of imagining what would have happened if some important or unimportant event had settled itself differently has become so fashionable that I am encouraged to enter upon an absurd speculation.”

All these scenarios and countless more are still being mulled over on a daily basis by hundreds of alternate history fans.

Science fiction writer and critic Paul Kincaid said: “anyone who studies history is going to be struck by the number of times chance played a part,

Over the last few years the internet has breathed new life into alternate history allowing a community of ‘what if’ devotees to exchange scenarios and worlds that never existed.

“You cannot look, for instance, at the Second World War without at least once wondering what might have happened if Hitler had won,” said Mr Kincaid.

Mr Kincaid thinks that the area has become intrinsically linked to science fiction saying; “Alternate histories combine, to my mind, the most fascinating aspects
of science fiction and of historical fiction.”

Aliens, Space Bats and Other magic

Online fanzines and discussion boards such as www.alternatehistory.com have been running for several years now and the subjects that they discuss vary dramatically.

Alternatehistory.com currently has nearly 7,000 members debating the way history could have turned out, however they are also discussing things that are miles away from academic counterfactuals.

One section of the board is named “Aliens, Space Bats and Other magic.” Here members such as ‘NomadicSky’ ponder deep questions such as what would have happened if the minds of the Beatles had been transported from 1968 into the bodies of the Spice girls back in 1998!

“Just think of how the Beatles will feel, not to mention the fact that two of them have older versions still living!” he said.

This is just one of hundreds of similar questions; another example is put forward by board member ‘Kneze’ who wants to know who would be victorious: Sigourney Weavers’ Aliens or Hitler’s Nazis?

He says: “In August 1936 a Queen ‘Chestburster’ pops out of a random SS man as he is eating dinner in his home in Berlin, what happens next?”

Fellow member ‘Wanderlust’ replies: “I can't see how the aliens will cross the North Sea or the Atlantic, unless an aquatic alien gets ‘hand waved’ into existence.

“So Britain, Australia, Canada, NZ, Japan and the US should be okay, most likely reeling from the horror spreading across Eurasia but too scared to get involved.” She adds.

So to our relief Wanderlust spares Britain from the Alien attack in this alternate reality but perhaps these sci-fi worlds are one of the reasons why academics have been reluctant to embrace ‘what if’ scenarios?

History or Sci-fi?

Perhaps alternate history is now more at home as an off-shoot of science fiction rather than as the neglected cousin of historical literature.

Author of an alternate history website John Reilly feels it has become linked to science fiction.

Mr Reilly said: “the failure of the classical science fiction world to materialize, forced the imagination to find another outlet.”

Himself a ‘Star Trek’ fan, Mr Reilly first became interested in alternate history after watching an episode of the show;

“Remember that Star Trek episode about the planet about to be destroyed, the only planet in the star system whose people never had spaceflight?

“The story turned on the idea that they had developed time travel instead, and disappeared into their own past when they realized their sun was about to go nova” he added.

Alternate histories have also percolated through into popular culture. The recent success of the computer game ‘Fall Out 3’ set in a post apocalyptic world is a good example.

The Fall Out series shows how an alternate reality can develop and take on new life of its own away from the initial point of divergence.

Films such as The Butterfly effect starring Ashton Kutcher have also highlighted how even the smallest change can have a dramatic impact on future events.

The success of mainstream films and games has to some extent re-awakened the academic community to the usefulness of alternate history.

Academic Role

Dubbed ‘counterfactual history’ by highbrow intellectuals this new life been seized upon by historians. Critic Paul Kincaid said; “collections of counterfactuals by historians have started to be marketed to a mainstream audience.”

Yet often where academics are concerned these alternate histories are looked down on. The historian Edward Carr famously described it as an “idle parlour game” back in 1961.

Nearly 50 years on from this now infamous statement, more academics are open to the role of the counterfactual.

Southampton University History Professor Mark Stoyle admits to having little personal interest in counterfactual history but still feels they are becoming more important to academics.

Prof Stoyle said; “Alternative histories are rapidly becoming much more popular because they provide a different perspective.”

It is this different way of approaching the subject that attracts certain historian to the counterfactual factual approach.

Gavriel Rosenfeld a History professor at Fairfield University, Connecticut, said: “alternate history is a wonderful tool for understanding the dynamics of collective memory and also the forces of historical causality”

Still, Mr Rosenfeld who is also the author of “The World Hitler Never Made, Alternate History and the Memory of Nazism” agrees that a variety of people are interested in his work.

“It ranges from Highbrow intellectuals to gutter trolling consumers of schlock fiction,” he said.

Yet to the wider world alternate history, or to use the academic term, counterfactuals, may still be simply an entertaining pass time rather than enlightening.

While promoting on of his latest articles online, ‘Disraelia: A Counterfactual History, 1848-2008’ historian Walter Laquer met with some harsh criticism:

Critic Barry Larking said: “I find this 'what if' approach to history for practical purposes useless and in turns, dangerous.

“Essentially what Mr Laquer has created is an illusionary narrative which actually does nothing to develop a useful understanding of the present” added Mr Larking.

Academics argue that ‘counterfactual history’ is separate from the alternate histories that sci-fi fans indulge in. Perhaps it is because they fear that they will be placed in the same bracket as ardent sci-fi fans, or become ‘trekkies’ of history that still inhibits the academic?

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Car wheels come to a halt

Tyre dealers in Bournemouth say vintage and classic car owners could find it more difficult to get replacement tyres because of new EU rules.

The warning comes after the European Parliament passed legislation to make tyres across Europe more environmentally friendly.

Dennis Owen the owner of Bournemouth Tyres said: "If someone has an old classic and they damage one of their tyres it's really difficult because they don't make them anymore.

"The only place you're going to find one of them is on ebay or something like that," Mr Owen added.

The regulations are aiming to improve safety standards, cut noise pollution levels by 50% and increase vehicles fuel efficiency.

Mr Owen, who backs the move, said: "As we're heading towards this greener world, if it is going to bring the fuel down then brilliant.

"They are always improving them – some of the new tyres that are coming out are really nice," he added.

However, Mr Owen is still worried about the cost, arguing that customers will still want value for money.

"They are going to want to know if they are more expensive if they are going to last longer," he added.

Bournemouth's transport councillor Robert Lawton says the council would support the plans. He said: "We're all in agreement – anything that helps the environment is welcome."

The EU legislation is set to come into effect in 2012.

Boat insurance could become compulsory

Boat owners in Poole may have to take up extra insurance after the EU backed proposals to crack down on uninsured vessels.

Poole's deputy harbour master Ian Bishop said there was little control over the insurance of private boats.

"The only control we have there is if they take up a mooring, licensed or owned by Poole Harbour Commission, then we insist on at least third party insurance," he said.

Mr Bishop also described that hit and run incidents were also a problem.

"With small crafts it is more likely that the accident happens when someone isn't present on one of the boats and nobody bothers to report it for obvious reasons. It's quite common.

"Boats on moorings are often struck in the night and nobody reports it," he added.

However, he is also concerned about the cost of inspecting vessels and enforcing tighter regulations.

"Any inspection regime involves costs and at the moment we would have no way of recouping that. We would have to take on extra personnel," he said.

Head of enforcement at the Maritime and Coastgaurd Agency Jeremy Smart said: "Insurance has not been a legal requirement except for specific oil vessels, I have not had any cases of uninsured vessels that legally require it."

The EU plans could see this extended to other vessels.

EU Transport Commision vice-president Antonio Tajani said: "It is a significant step towards improved prevention of maritime accidents and increased accountability of all the operators in the sector."

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Conservationists given licence to axe

Conservations are taking the strange measure of chopping down trees at St Catherine's hill to protect the habitat.

The move is to ensure a suitable environment for snakes and insects is maintained but has prompted angry reaction from local residents and dog walkers.

Herpetological Conversation Trust worker Gary Powell answers our questions below:

TV Bulletin 11/03/09

Convergence week TV:

Friday, 6 March 2009

Football survives freak weather

A victory for the Cherries was one of the few football games to survive freak weather this week.

Bournemouth's match against Aldershot on Tuesday went ahead without any problems, with the Cherries recording a 2-0 victory lifting them out of the relegation zone for the first time this season.

Meanwhile, the Terra's home match against York was called off last night after snow left the pitch unplayable.

The Weymouth game was the latest victim of more surprise snow on the south coast.

A statement on the club's website read: "Tonight's match between Weymouth and York City has been called off. The early morning snow has started to melt and has waterlogged the Wessex Stadium pitch."

Officials at the ground carried out a pitch inspection at 8.45am on Thursday morning before deciding to call off the evening's match.

An official spokesman from the club said: "It's because of six feet of snow. We have had loads and loads of snow here."

Fortunately for the visitors, the decision was made before the York team began the 290 mile journey down to the south coast.

The Weymouth match was not the only casualty of the weather. Earlier this week Salisbury's Blue Square premier match against Rushden and Diamonds was also called off, due to a waterlogged pitch.

The Terras next match is away at Crawley town on Saturday and the match against York will now be rescheduled.

Man admits cannabis possession

A man had more than £30 of cannabis on him when he was found slumped on the side of a street, Bournemouth Magistrates heard yesterday.

Michael Rodgers, aged 24, from York road in Broadstone, admitted purchasing 12 grams of cannabis resin for personal use.

Mr Newman, prosecuting, described how police patrolling Stratford road had noticed Rodgers slumped on the ground.

They then went over to check on his well-being and on finding the cannabis in his jacket pocket, arrested him.

Mr Newman said: "Mr Rodgers was unable to recall the events leading up to his arrest due to the large amount of alcohol in his system."

Mark Hensleigh, defending, said Rodgers who suffers from learning disabilities and mental health problems, had been out of trouble for over two years.

"He wasn't causing a problem to members of the public" said Mr Hensleigh,"he'd only just bought the cannabis."

Rodgers was given an 18 month conditional discharge and ordered to pay court costs of £60.

After receiving his sentence Rodgers turned to the magistrates' bench and gave a 'thumbs up' before leaving the court room.

Saturday, 28 February 2009

Residents speak out against travellers' site.

Dozens of angry residents have warned of a crime wave if plans for a gypsy and travellers site near Bournemouth hospital are approved.

Sue Bungey, a public governor of the hospital said: "Dorset Police have been cut by 50%, they haven't got the strength and the man power to say to these people you've been on this site for an hour and you've got to leave now."

Ward councillor Jane Montrose is also against the plans: "This new temporary transit site gives police powers to move illegal incursions on within the hour. My concern is once these pitches are full, these illegal conversions can't be moved on anywhere."

The proposed site which is situated on Riverside Avenue is next to a home for retired nurses who are also protesting against the plans.

Mrs Montrose described how elderly women at the nurses home were particularly concerned: "They have come to me and put their objections to me. They are very, very nervous about this site being put in there."

The home was established by former nurse Fanny Thompson in 1934 and is now home to over 50 former nurses; it is also the only home of its kind in the country.

Chris Bridget, a life member of the Nurses Home's League of Friends is worried that it may impact on the future of the home:

"Why should they have people who have very often done unpleasant things in the area or on their doorstep?

"I'm sure that in Bournemouth there must be a better location."

Cllr David Shaw, from the adjacent Strouden Park ward, would like to see the site moved to Canford Arena in Wimborne and away from the nurses' home:

"I'm certainly not for it, all those elderly defenceless people."

Cllr David Smith the Cabinet member for Environment who presented the plans said: "There is no provision in Bournemouth where gypsies and travellers officially have to go.

"They turn up in our borough and just park wherever they want, they go on parks on the seafront and that causes a lot of distress and aggravation to the town."

Mr Smith who was reassuring worried residents at the meetings added: "I personally think it would be wise to give it a go for a year and see what happens.

"If it does turn out to be an unmitigated disaster and they do wreck the site down there and cause a lot of disturbance to the nurses, it shows that it hasn't worked."

Further public meetings are to be held on Tuesday March 3 at the Townsend community centre and on Wednesday March 4 at the Littledown centre.

Man admits text harassment

A Bournemouth man confessed to sending over 50 text messages of harassment to his ex girlfriend and her 19-year-old daughter at Bournemouth Magistrates court yesterday.

Jason Stephen Hayle, aged 34, from Randolph Park in Parkstone admitted sending 53 text messages to Barbara and Ursula Byfield between the 27 November and December 17 last year.

Lee Turner, prosecuting, said Hayle, who used to live with Mrs Byfield had been involved in "sending numerous text messages and phone calls to both victims," which also included "not only references to her but to her family."

Mr Turner then read out a statement from Barbara Byfield which said: "I simply want him to leave us alone."

Rob Nicholas, defending, told the court that "Mr Hayle does suffer from depression and has be referred to a councillor."

"The reason he sent this number of messages was to get a response" he added.

Mr Nicholas also said that Hayle was largely unaware of the impact the messages were having on Mrs Byfield and that when the messages were read out "the defendant was shocked and surprised."

Presiding magistrate, Mr Eric Watson, summarised by saying "aggravating factors were the large number of texts, 53, and that you were consuming alcohol."

Hayle was issued with a 12 month restraining order not to contact the family or go within 200 metres of the family home.

He was also given a 12 month conditional discharge and ordered to pay £60 of court costs.

Friday, 20 February 2009

Orchid Society to mark 50 years in the sun

Bournemouth Orchid Society is set to celebrate 50 years in bloom with a large show at the Carrington House Hotel.

The event is set to attract traders from across the globe and show secretary Michael Powell said: "we've got ten or eleven traders who will be selling everything from baby orchid plants through to orchid Jewellery.

They are expecting over 1,500 visitors over the weekend and Mr Powell added: "We're hoping a lot of people will come along who are not fanatical growers, people who just like seeing them in the shops and would like to know a bit more about it."

With over 22,000 types of Orchid species worldwide the variety of flowers is something that clearly appeals to society members and to Mr Powell: "there are orchids that don't grow bigger than your finger nail and there are some that grow to over a tonne, if you see a daisy then they all look alike."

Friendly competition is also a central part of the society's activities and this weekend there will be four trophies up for grabs.

Categories include Best Amateur-Grown Plant, Best Professionally-Grown Plant, Best Floral Arrangement and the Best Plant exhibited by a Bournemouth member.

Mr Powell said: "all the plants on display will be judged whether they're from traders or from amateurs there will be trophies, rosettes awarded for first and second place and there is a special trophy for Bournemouth members."

The Orchid society was established in Bournemouth and Poole in 1949 by seven or eight professional orchid traders and two founding members who will be honoured guests at this weekend's event.

Former Chairman, Graham Smith said: "It's something that for some reason grabbed me by the throat… it's the variety I think, the incredible shapes and colours and the challenge of growing them."

Mr Smith who has been a member of the society for 35 years passion for orchids was confirmed while on a visit to Sri Lanka.

Mr Smith said: "I had to go out to the West Indies for a month, Jamaica in fact and I spent my spare time up in the mountains looking for orchids.

"That reinforced things so I joined the society."

The 50th Anniversary show is being hosted by the Carrington House Hotel which boasts the largest banqueting suite in Bournemouth: The Ambassador suite.

The Banqueting and Conference Manager Catherine Barker said: "we're directly under the Pavilion and the BIC and have the largest hall within a hotel in Bournemouth."

With a capacity of up to 800 guests at any time the facility should have ample room for the hundreds of flowers that will be on display.

Orchid secretary Ken Griffiths said: "It's a big society as orchid societies go; we have currently about 120 members and have shows biannually in Bournemouth."

Members of the society have taken their flowers to events all over the world during the years.
Mr Griffiths said: "We have been abroad on several occasions; to Dijon four years ago and to Miami last year for the world Orchid congress."

He added: "I've always been interested in plants, when I was a kid I used to grow cactus plants and sort of evolved into orchids… It's kind of like a disease, it's addictive!"

The Bournemouth Orchid Society's 50th Anniversary show runs from Friday 22 until Sunday 24 of February at the Carrington House Hotel.

For more information on the Orchid society visit www.erythos.com/BOS/ and to contact Carrington House Hotel call 01202 369940 or visit www.carringtonhousehotel.co.uk/.

Broadstone to back conservation

The people of Broadstone are set to have their say on the plans to extend the conservation area within the town later today.

Poole Borough Council is hosting the first of two public meetings at Broadstone Methodist church on Lower Blanford road this afternoon from 2pm until 7pm.

Poole conservation officer Margo Teasdale hopes residents will come to the meetings and feels there is strong support for the plans.

"I think generally there is consensus that it is positive and forward looking" she said.

The plans would mean that future building would have to match Broadstone's historic image.
Ms Teasdale said: "Any planning applications will have to be reviewed and assessed for the impact on the character and appearance of the area."

"We would like to improve the area, give it more of an image and recognise its importance" she added.

The Broadstone residents association, whose 3,300 members make up over half the population of the area, are supporting the plans.

Planning officer Pat Talbot said: "Particularly with planning we are most concerned that we should maintain the character and appearance of the whole of this area."

"In my mind, extending this as they are, is in all honesty nothing but good. If you want to do something then convert with taste" he added.

Mr Talbot also felt that it would benefit local business: "We all try within the village to work closely as a community and are fortunate to have an active chamber of trade… we are very blessed with the facilities we have."

Immigrant workers supporting the Dorset economy?

During a time of economic hardship many people will argue that Europe needs to protect its workers from cheap immigrant labour.

However is this actually in the best interests of the economy?

Earlier this week the EU revealed plans to tighten its immigration policy but is there a danger of the European Union becoming an exclusive club cut off from the wider world?

In Western Europe, expecially, many societies have an ageing population that need immigrant work to support local businesses.

Bournemouth MEP Graham Watson is correct to highlight the situation: "Reports have shown how very hard pressed we would be here in the South West without a pool of immigrant labour."

Mr Watson adds "We must not turn Europe into a fortress." In my opinion he has hit the nail on the head.

Recent concerns in the mining community calling for 'British jobs for British workers' must be aware of the wider picture and that it is unrealistic to ask Gordon Brown to put up barriers within the European Union.

Illegal immigration is something that needs to be controlled by the authorities but we must not link this with the genuine taxpaying workers from other countries.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

So Attractive Men...

A Bournemouth man is set to launch a series of talks tonight aimed at improving the mental well-being of men across Dorset.

Event organiser of the So Attractive Men… talks Tim Chaloner said: "There is always an opportunity for people to look at themselves, especially in the current economic climate, and to say how can I present myself in a more attractive way?"

Mr Chaloner who has been working on his own self development for 2 years added: "Part of the reason why I wanted to do this was because I belong to the Mankind project and after speaking to some guys there I was inspired to set my own group up."

The So Attractive Men… talks are aimed at giving men help becoming more confident and raising their self esteem.

Mr Chaloner said: "My understanding is that there is plenty of support for women and I thought it would be interesting to have talks exclusively for men."
Tonight's speaker, career consultant David Carey, said: "Emotional intelligence is really all about how to be successful in life."
Mr Carey added: "That mix of an average traditional IQ and a high emotional IQ will tend to make you more financially successful in life."

However Mr Carey insists there are other areas of improvement that are just as important as professional success adding: "but it also means you'll be more successful in other areas, in relationships and dealing with people."

The first talk is being held this evening at the Bar So rooms in the Exeter hotel at 7.30.

To find out more about the So Attractive Men talks you can visit www.wow-man.me or phone 07727844258.

To get more information on the Mankind project visit http://uk.mkp.org/

Friday, 6 February 2009

Green loans are worthless

Bournemouth entrepreneur Kresse Wesling claims EU plans to introduce low interest loans is not what is needed to help green businesses.

Miss Wesling, the Co-founder of Bournemouth based Eako accessories said: "Bank loans are only at one end of the spectrum and it does not make sense."

Earlier this week the EU announced it was backing plans for Union members to give state loans at lower rates to green businesses.

Miss Wesling added "you can get a low interest loan anyway, look at the Bank of England rate. Paying a lot less VAT, 5% or something, would be more interesting."

Eako, based in Bournemouth since August 2007, turns used fire hoses into luxury accessories and handbags.

Miss Wesling said the government needs to look at their own spending if they want to promote green businesses: "the primary thing is procurement, government should look at how they are spending. What they are buying isn't green."

Miss Wesling added "imagine if all the NHS hospitals were run on green energy."

The aim of the EU initiative is to support green businesses during the economic downturn.

A statement from Commissioner Neelie Kroes said: "The measure would ease the credit constraints on businesses affected by the current economic situation, provided that they invested in products that were more environmentally friendly."

The French government have already announced that they will take up the initiative.

Meanwhile the Bank of England announced yesterday that it would slash interest rates to 1% in an attempt to lift the British economy.

To purchase Eako products visit http://www.fire-hose.co.uk/

To visit the EU website go to http://europa.eu/

For information relating to the Bank of England interest rates visit http://www.bankofengland.co.uk/

BIC denies 'concert crunch'

The doors of the Bournemouth International Centre will remain firmly shut tonight after the former lead singer of Texas, Sharleen Spiteri pulled her show.

In a statement Spiteri's promoter Live Nation said: "It is with regret that the Sharleen Spiteri show at the Bournemouth BIC on Friday 6th February has been cancelled. Due to the current economic climate the ticket sales for the show are just not strong enough to ensure successful shows."

A spokesman from the BIC said: "They've completely refunded everyone who had tickets, no one's lost any money from it."

However the BIC insist that sales for its other live events are not being hit by the economic downturn: "We have been selling as well as any other time, people still want to see shows."

In the case of Scottish born Spiteri it may simply be the location of the concerts that led to poor ticket sales. Gigs across Scotland including Glasgow and Edinburgh in January were all sold out and events in Manchester and Sheffield also attracted large crowds.

The BIC spokesman added: "She hadn't done as well in Bournemouth and the south as in other places."

This may be the more likely explanation than a 'concert crunch'. Spiteri has also cancelled other concerts in the south.

Live Nation added: "The Plymouth show has also been cancelled but the remainder of the tour will take place as planned."

Spitari will perform at the Symphony hall in Birmingham on the February 8 and at The Royal Centre in Nottingham on February 9.

To contact the BIC regarding a refund or upcoming events call 0844 576 3000 or visit http://www.bic.co.uk/

For more details on Sharleen Spiteri's upcoming concerts visit http://www.sharleenspiteri.co.uk/

To see other events promoted by Live Nation visit http://www.livenation.co.uk/

Snowy Pictures in Bournemouth as University is forced to close!

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Pope mars Holocaust for remembrance

The actions of Pope Benedict XVI just days before Holocaust Remembrance day have sparked angry reactions from the Jewish community in Bournemouth.

Pope Benedict lifted the excommunication of four bishops on Saturday, including the notorious British Holocaust denier Richard Williamson. Rabbi Adrian Jasner from Bournemouth Hebrew Congregation said: "It's sad and leaves a dirty taste in the mouth."

The Jewish community across Bournemouth joined with the travellor and gay communities on Tuesday to mark Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Rabbi Jasner who leads worshipers at Wooton Gardens added "What is the Catholic church trying to prove here? To what extent will they go to bring everyone back in? It casts a real stain on the souls of those who were murdered by the Nazi at Auschwitz."

When interviewed by a Swedish TV station, Richard Williamson claimed that there were no Nazi gas chambers. Jasner said: "It's incredible and appalling with the facts laid bare."

Pope Benedict, himself a former member of the Nazi youth, made a statement on Tuesday in an attempt to smooth things over, describing his "full and indisputable solidarity" with the Jews.
But Rabbi Jasner said "I find it hard to come to terms with a statement like that."

The Catholic Diocese of Portsmouth spokesman, Barry Hudd tried to explain the reasons behind the move: "The removal was more of a bureaucratic thing, it was important for negotiations for them to return to the Catholic church."

Hudd added "It had been planned for a long time but in view of the circumstances the timing was unfortunate."

To contact the Bournemouth Hebrew Congregation visit http://www.bhcshul.com/

To contact the Catholic Diocese of Portsmouth visit http://www.portsmouthdiocese.org.uk/

To contact the Pope visit www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi

To lean for green?

EU meets to discuss transport emissions during economic downturn.

The Bournemouth based Yellow Buses Company, owned by Transdev, has announced it has invested £1.2m in developing greener public transport during 2008.
Head of marketing Jenni Wilkinson said: "Yellow Buses is passionate about green issues and further investment is planned this year."
In September 2008, Yellow buses launched a new scheme called 'Carbon Stoppers' and now donates a proportion of its income to green charities.
Wilkinson added: "To date more than one thousand pounds has been raised. The Yellow Buses Company has guaranteed its involvement in the project until the end of 2009."
The European Union have been meeting this week to discuss whether the credit crunch will stop transport companies from reducing CO2 emissions.
At a conference with the European Road Transport Research Advisory Council, Janez Potocnick, the European commissioner for science and technology said: "CO2 reduction will bring both environmental benefits and re-enforce competitiveness."
However public transport is clearly only a small part of the problem. Currently, 50% of Europe's road transport emissions come from road haulage, with private cars being the next largest contributor.
In Brussels the research council is optimistic and hopes: "Stimulating demand for low-emission cars during the downturn should help bring idle capacity in the sector back into action quicker."

EU website: http://europa.eu/index_en.htm

Transdev Yellow Buses website: http://www.bybus.co.uk/

European transport research website: http://ec.europa.eu/research/transport/index_en.cfm

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Do you know your family history?

Poole library is challenging people to find out more!

Following the release of the 1911 census last week, libraries in Poole have launched a Family and Local history week.

Poole central library and Broadstone library are encouraging people to delve into their past by hosting a series of talks and events. Jenny Oliver, who is running the ‘Poole and the Plague’ talk at the central library this afternoon said: “It’s a really dramatic story.”

Mrs Oliver added: “It strikes a chord with a lot of people and this event can provide information for the beginner or to anyone who has got stuck.”

The library is inviting local people to use free online databases such as Ancestry.com. Mrs Oliver added: “the 1911 census has just been released and people have got a whole new thing to look at.”

The Dorset Family History Society is also backing the event. Education and Liaison officer Debbie Winter said: “We have exhibitions, stands, books and CD’s for sale and are giving advice on starting a family history.”

Mrs Winter also thinks that there is greater interest following the release of the 1911 census but the first thing people should do is speak to their relatives: “talk to any living relative and gather information Documentation, birth certificates or a family bible,” she says.

The history week runs from the 19th-23rd of January and the library hopes to attract visitors in their hundreds.

To contact the Dorset family history society you can phone 01202 785623 or visit http://www.dorsetfhs.org.uk/
To access the 1911 census you can visit. http://www.1911census.co.uk/
To contact Poole Central library you can phone 01202 262424 or visit the website.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Mammj News 21.01.09

Here is the TV bulletin of our first Mammj news broadcast. I'm the sports reporter at the end!

Mammj News 21.01.2009 from Mammj on Vimeo.

Monday, 19 January 2009

Gus MacGregor live at the Pig and Whistle

Gus MacGregor live at the Pig and Whistle from Mammj on Vimeo.

Bournemouth Folk Club live at the Pig and Whistle

Hidden away in a pub hall ostentatiously named ‘Centre stage’ the Bournemouth Folk club hosted the best of local folk talent on Sunday evening. The leading act was Switzerland born, Gus MacGregor, who is a veteran of the music circuit.

Casually walking on stage with a pint of lager in one hand and his guitar in the other, MacGregor immediately establishes a rapport with the throng of folk thespians that have gathered at the Pig and Whistle.MacGregor is perfect for a Sunday evening.

Early impressions lead to comparisons with songwriters such as James Blunt and MacGregor’s soft vocals and well crafted lyrics allow his music to wash over you in a similar way.Songs such as Rose Garden and Before the Unions Fell, let the listener connect with MacGregor’s past, resulting in songs that are often uplifting yet deep.

MacGregor, who picked up his sisters’ guitar and taught himself to play, cites Bob Dylan and Paul Simon as early musical influences and enjoys playing at smaller venues: “I think intimate venues for my music are perfect, just me and a guitar most of the time,” MacGregor says at the end of the night.

The crowd that earlier that evening was reprimanded for talking loudly during performances by Folk chairman, Paul Burke, was silent during MacGregor’s set and the atmosphere prickled at the end of each song.It was clear why MacGregor was top of the bill.

Of the many support acts, former Bournemouth University student Sarah Griffin, stood out from the rest. With a voice filled with sorrow, Griffin’s character really came through and her skill with the Mandolin was truly refreshing.

Unfortunately not all the performers were as strong as MacGregor and Griffin, with one performer being unfortunately unaware of her own vocal range. Alison Bailey, in particular, appeared nervous and uncomfortable on stage.

The Bournemouth folk club holds concerts at the Pig and Whistle every Sunday and Thursday and at £4 for adults and £2 for concessions, it is well worth experiencing the Dorset folk scene.

For more information on upcoming events in Bounemouth visit. http://bhone.co.uk/

To contact the Bournemouth Folk Club visit. www.bournemouthfolkclub.com/

For more information on Gus MacGregor you can visit his MySpace page.

Friday, 9 January 2009

4 for 4?

Are the top 4 in Men's tennis more dominant than ever before?

Ahead of the new season and with the establishment of what seems to be 4 dominant players at the top of the game, what do you think the chances of all 4 reaching the semi's at each of this years grand slams?

Assuming all remain fit, is there a chance they could do it?

Aus Open:
This is the most likely slam for all 4 to make the semi's in my opinion. Murray has started the new seaon very strongly and Nadal is looking more consistent on the slower hard courts. Federer has an excellent record Down Under and should be shoe-in for a semi final berth. As for Djockovic the winner at Melbourne Park last year despite losing to Gulbis in Brisbane his is likely to up his game to defend his title.
If someone is to come unstuck early on it may be against an on fire Nalbandian or Safin. Nadal has also struggled with hard flat hitters on this sort of surface so someone like Blake or Tsonga could cause him a few difficulties. The Australian Open also has a habit of throwing up a suprise package. Relative unknowns have reached the finals over the years including Gonzalez, Schuttler, Baghdatis and Tsonga last year.

French Open:
A good chance Nadal will bag another title here, the Spaniard is arguable the greatest clay court player in the games history and it would be a brave man to bet against him going far again this year. Last year we also saw that Federer and Djockovic are the best behind the imperious Nadal and both stand a good chance of reaching the last 4 this year as well. This leaves Murray as the weak link for Roland Garros. After teaming up with former champion Alex Correjta last year Murray showed signs of improvement on the red clay beating the clay court specialist Jose Acasuso before falling to Nicolas Almangro in the last 32.
It is clearly a big ask for Murray to reach the semi-finals this year and there are perhaps numerous player more than capable of defeating the Scot on their day. Ernst Gulbis, Nicolas Almangro and Nickolay Davydenko would all be confident of victory against Murray in Paris.

Nadal and Federer are almost certain to reach the last 4 again this year and Murray stands a pretty good chance as well if given a reasonable draw. In-fact, despite reaching the final 4 in 2007, Djockovic may prove the weak link here. Last year he seemed very rusty at the net and needs to improve his volleys if he is going to go far at Wimbeldon again. Players such as Roddick, Karlovic, Ancic and even Soderling or Youzney could all be stern tests this year.

US Open:
I think that Federer has been most dominant at the US in recent years and stands a pretty good chance of adding a sixth title to his collection. Both Djockovic and Murray are very strong at Flushing meadows and i would expect them to do well again this year. If feel that Nadal again may be the most likely to fall at the US. As with the Australian Open Nadal is vulnerable to strong flat hitting players such as Blake and Tsonga. The 2003 champion Andy Roddick should also not be counted out. With the vocal support of his home fans he is more than capable of taking out one of the big four.

It is very unlikely that the top 4 all meet their seedings and get through to the semi-finals of the slams. In fact this has only happened 3 times in the 21st century. Djockovic reaching the semi's at Wimbeldon and Murray at the French Open are perhaps the two least likely to happen. Federer's semi-final run must come to an end at some point but who outside of the top 4 can take him out over 5 sets? As for Nadal he is dominant on clay, very strong on grass and continually improving on hard courts but it is still a big ask to make the semis at all 4 this year.

One thing that is certain, these 4 players will battle on every stage for the big prizes.