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3:56pm Friday 12th October 2012
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5:37pm Friday 5th October 2012
2:25pm Thursday 4th October 2012
2:17pm Thursday 4th October 2012
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9:09am Friday 28th September 2012
If St. Edmund’s Church in Southampton can ban Yoga in the church hall because it is anti-Christian, as reported by the Daily Echo this week, then why not Zumba? From the amount of folks I have seen making right fools of themselves trying to emulate the fit young things on the publicity videos, it surely is the work of some mischievous spirit. And as for Line Dancing? Clearly the work of the Devil.
9:08am Friday 28th September 2012
9:05am Friday 28th September 2012
10:07am Tuesday 25th September 2012
12:45pm Thursday 23rd August 2012
12:43pm Thursday 23rd August 2012
Now more than ever, as we cope with crippling financial crisis and general malaise, what we need are strong, positive role models. It struck me this week we need look no further than Southampton's bin men to find those to emulate. They have always shone through, of course, as fine, hard-working chaps, but Tuesday saw final confirmation in my eyes of our binmen's selfless character. Last week in this column I wondered out loud just what detail the trumpeted deal to bring to an end the conflict between Southampton City Council and council employee unions would actually contain. How would the square be circled as the authority under its new - well fairly new - Labour administration sought to fulfill it's election pledges to restore pay cuts to council staff, avoid any new job losses and prevent cut backs in services. On Tuesday we learnt the detail of the deal now to be put to union members for final agreement. In essence it confirmed that pay levels would be restored - apart from those earning over £65,000 and there I shall shed no tears - but there was an immediate sting in the tail. Unions had promised 4,000 council staff they would win them three months worth of salary in compensation from the council in a legal claim. Unite and Unison claimed the council under Tory rule had not carried out the correct procedure for consultation before salaries were reduced. So certain were they of victory that the unions advertised - in this paper and elsewhere - for non-union staff to join up and benefit from the legal bid. It was a clever and, no doubt, an effective recruitment strategy. So concerned were the then ruling Tories that the council would lose such a legal challenge, my sources tell me, that following advice the council put aside £600,000 a year to cover the cost of the £12m loan it would need to meet the compensation payouts. The city must breathe a sigh of relief then that the unions have agreed to call off their legal challenge for compensation as part of the deal. Quite whether that is how union members will see the loss of their three months salary in compensation - amounting to £6,000 or more for some staff - I cannot say. Certainly if I was an employee who had signed up to the union and their promises I would now be seeking a refund on my union fees. No doubt Unison and Unite will point to the pay level restoration and claim this as fair compensation. But this was something Labour had promised already to do in their election manifesto. Pay restoration then was already in the bag. Quite why the unions have then thrown away a certain £12m pay day for members I can only speculate on. A cynic might say, that having seen their political allies into power they had achieved their aims and dropping the compo claim was quid pro quo. But who am I to say if this is correct. Certainly council staff, now asked to sign off on the no compo but more pay deal will be mightily miffed if they then discover in the council's mini budget planned for November they are faced with hundreds of job losses as a result, which is what Tories in opposition predict. Certainly the people of Southampton will be more than miffed if to restore pay and maintain jobs services are hacked to smithereens. But there I am being cynical again, and I'm trying avoid that at a time where we need to remain positive. Which brings me back to our fine binmen and their example in all this. You will recall that that it was strike action by the binmen (there are no women bytheway) that finally brought the city to its knees in the council's pay cuts dispute. Streets lined with rotting, stinking garbage symbolised the whole, sorry saga. The irony was, the binmen were not facing a pay cut at all. With salaries under the £17,500 threshold no binmen lost any salary, in fact they were due to gain £600-a-year under the Tories. But still they went on strike, one can only imagine in solidarity with their fellow union members. Now a cynic, not me you understand, might have thought no one, not even our bin-chaps, would do something for nothing, and that come the day the deals were done there would be a silver lining in it for them for their time spent on the picket lines. But cynics, eat your thoughts, for come Tuesday's agreement and we see that no, no rise for the binmen, not even the £600 originally on offer. They gained nothing more from turning the city's streets into rotting sewers than the thanks of colleagues who now see their pay restored. How selfless of them. What an example to us all.
9:59am Friday 10th August 2012
9:54am Friday 10th August 2012
Even in death it seems, we cannot escape the cuts. Yesterday the Daily Echo reported how Southampton City Council is making redundant Jim Emery who has been caretaker of the Hollybrook Cemetery for the last 26-years. In that time he has helped untold thousands of mourners attending the cemetery to tend the graves of their loved ones. And in an easy to understand way he has helped the departed by doing so. In axing Jim’s job – and forcing him from his home at the cemetery just two years before his retirement – the council shows its lack of respect, not just for Jim and all he has done, but for the families and even the dead themselves. Jim’s role will be replaced by a variety of people who will be tasked to keep the cemetery tidy and safe. May be this will work, but I doubt if they will be able to do the task with the care and commitment of a full time warden. How sad. When I go I will most likely be turned to ashes to be scattered, quite where I haven’t yet decided. But if I was to change my mind and opt to be buried I would like to think there was a Jim on hand to look after those who need the comfort of knowing I am well cared for. And that there was, somewhere up there – just six feet up there – someone who was looking out for me.
8:30am Tuesday 31st July 2012
1:55pm Wednesday 4th July 2012
12:45pm Tuesday 3rd July 2012
12:43pm Tuesday 3rd July 2012
9:19am Friday 29th June 2012
9:17am Friday 29th June 2012
As a survivor of the Isle of Wight Festival – no, I don’t camp, but I still think I deserve the campaign medal – I feel sufficiently qualified to comment on the whole mud-soaked debacle that saw thousands sleeping in their cars on jammed roads as the torrential rains fell.
11:19am Tuesday 19th June 2012
11:18am Tuesday 19th June 2012
11:18am Tuesday 19th June 2012
Danny Boyle says the world will be grateful we didn’t attempt to compete with China and stage an Olympics opening ceremony with the wow factor. Now they can all follow suit with a low-key approach following decades where such ceremonies have become progressively more extravagant.
11:17am Tuesday 19th June 2012
2:59pm Friday 8th June 2012
4:55pm Friday 1st June 2012
AS the political in-fighting goes on around the career – or possibly soon to be lack of career – of Culture and Media Secretary Jeremy Hunt and what he thought about the proposed BSkyB takeover he was considering, the central theme appears to be getting lost.
4:11pm Friday 25th May 2012
5:13pm Friday 11th May 2012
10:15pm Thursday 29th March 2012
5:44pm Monday 26th March 2012
8:03am Saturday 24th March 2012
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10:29am Wednesday 21st March 2012
4:07pm Thursday 15th March 2012
3:55pm Thursday 15th March 2012
I read that Asda has been having a word with some of its suppliers complaining that they are packaging their goods in Union Jack boxes and wrappers during this patriotic period of the Jubilee and the Olympics..
9:54pm Tuesday 13th March 2012
10:10am Monday 12th March 2012
12:04pm Friday 9th March 2012
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12:42am Friday 2nd March 2012
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1:35pm Thursday 1st March 2012