Whitehaven Harbour

Originally a hive of industrial activity. Now home to leisure craft.

John Paul Jones

Whitehaven was attacked by the founder of the USA Navy!

History Is Everywhere!

Remnants of the towns coal mining history area everywhere!

Coal Mining Took Place In Whitehaven

The pits were the most dangerous in the UK.

Tall Ships Visit Whitehaven

Beautiful, Tall Ships often berth in Whitehaven!

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Lies, Damned Lies, And Audiotape - The Truth Always Comes Out!

Public Accused Of Scaremongering -

On February 26th, there was a public meeting at St. Gregory and St. Patricks School, in Whitehaven.

There was two aspects to the public meeting: Traffic in Whitehaven, and Whitehaven Townscape Heritage - this covered the redevelopment of the marketplace, and the new Whitehaven Foyer, which will be based in the dilapidated YMCA.

On 17th April, the following letter appeared in the Whitehaven News from a Whitehaven resident, who was at the Public meeting:
On February 26th. at St. Gregory and St. Patricks School, Whitehaven, CCC gave two presentations. The first was about the forthcoming traffic gridlock that is to beset Whitehaven and main access roads, with still no reply to questions asked, although promised by CCC Highways manager. The second was about Whitehaven Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI).

A presentation was given by Ms. Hayley McKay, Project Development Manager, Impact Housing. The content of this was explaining what is to become of Whitehaven YMCA, which is to be turned into what will be known as 'The Whitehaven Foyer'.

Impact Housing have apparently built similar buildings elsewhere. The purpose of this building is to house displaced/homeless adolescents. A degree of training, we were assured, will be given to the residents.

Upon being pressed as to where the residents will come from, Ms. McKay finally admitted that the scenario could happen that not ALL the residents need necessarily be from Cumbria. When pressed again, Ms. McKay finally admitted the case may be that NONE of the residents come from Cumbria, and indeed they could come from Liverpool, Preston, even as far as London.

There are several questions that need to be answered for the residents of Copeland:
  • If this needs to go forward, why is it not wholly for the residents of Copeland, for Copeland people?
  • What are the type of reasons adolescents will be brought from other parts of the country to our area?
  • Will these people be brought here because they have been involved in criminal activities within their own areas, and if so, how serious were their crimes?
  • Is the centre of Whitehaven an appropriate place, with its plentiful supply of pubs and gambling establishments, for a rehabilitation centre?
  • Were the public toilets knocked down to accommodate this building?
  • Have the people of Whitehaven been fully informed as to the nature and purpose of this building?
  • Is there to be a curfew on the residents?
  • Is this building and its prospective residents what the people of Distington turned down through invoking their democratic right of refusal, and therefore, this is why is has appeared in Whitehaven?
  • Do the residents of Whitehaven need this, given that Copeland Borough Council are forever, supposedly, conducting 'public consultations?
  • Where is the consensus from the residents of Whitehaven that this type of establishment should go ahead?
Copeland Borough Council are, yet again, complicit in hiding facts from the people of Copeland, that the people of our area have a need and right to know.

Enough is enough of duplicity coming from the very people who we have grown to realise do not and have not represented our best interests for quite some time.

Bern Birbeck,
On 18th April, Councillor Wendy Skillicorn started a thread on Facebook, about the Whitehaven Foyer. She said:
Brilliant Project, pleased we're getting one for young people in Whitehaven.
I set about quizzing Cllr Skillicorn about the letter which appeared in the Whitehaven News, from Mr Bern Birbeck:
Could you confirm the admission from Ms. McKay, who was at the February 26th Meeting, at St. Gregory and St. Patricks School, where she said that NONE of the residents may come from Cumbria, and indeed they could come from Liverpool, Preston, even as far as London. Thanks.
Wendy Skillicorn: That is absolutely NOT what I heard. The Whitehaven Foyer is being resourced and built in response to a local need. Knowing the good work and positive outcomes from the Eden Foyer and seeing the need for a similar project in West Cumbria two long established Cumbrian charities, Howgill Family Centre and Impact Housing Association have come together to develop West Cumbria’s first Foyer. Together they have formed the Whitehaven Foyer Company and purchased the former Y.M.C.A. building on Irish Street, Whitehaven.

This grade two listed building, though in a dilapidated state, has tremendous potential, in terms of size and location to become an iconic Foyer. The renovation of the main building will blend the best features of the original building with contemporary, attractive features, creating a welcoming, vibrant space. The poorly constructed building at the rear replaced with flats to provide integrated support and accommodation for vulnerable young people. The Foyer will work with young people, families and community in raising aspirations, attainment, employability and skills so they can participate fully in economic, civic and social life.

Lewis Holt: Read Ben Birbeck letter in Whaven News.....food for thought.

Mike Hawkins: Bern Birbeck is scaremongering I chaired that meeting which Mr Birbeck tried to highjack and I would suggest that he only hears what he wants I can assure you what was said at that meeting is not what Mr Birbeck is saying. Always something to whinge about.

Sean Duffy: If its so good, why was it rejected in Workington? Times & Star: Youth centre plan refused. Nearly 100 letters of objection and a 445-name petition were submitted by residents, who feared it would become a trouble hotspot.

Sean Duffy: I've just had a look on Eden Council website. In 2009 planning permission was refused for an extension to the building. Various reasons listed, but one being large number of police call outs. So, if Mr Birbeck is only hearing what he wants to hear, I must only be seeing what I want to see. The link is here for all to see.

Sean Duffy: Please don't get me wrong here. There is a need for somewhere for the young and homeless, but people need to be given facts, and be allowed to go into this with eyes wide open, instead of just listening to those that gloss over stuff and avoid talking about rough edges and reality. The fact is, that Foyer projects up HAVE resulted in more police incidents.

Jaynee Lainé: Wendy Skillicorn the question was definitely raised to Ms. McKay regarding this homeless home of 25 beds. It was asked 'would the kids (under 25s) of Copeland be the ones that would be living in it. She specifically answered stating that the 25 beds for the homeless would not be restricted to just Copeland kids. If you remember the question was also asked about if Foyer would liaise with the schools before kids left at 16, again it was stated that they 'might' but nothing was guaranteed or set in stone. Are you now saying that in a room of 40+ attendance that these two questions were not asked and answered? Perhaps if you could read one chaps letter in the Whitehaven News - he was the person in attendance to ask such questions.

Wendy Skillicorn: I am saying that she said that 'NONE' of the residents may come from Cumbria, and indeed they could come from Liverpool, Preston, even as far as London is untrue.

Jaynee Lainé: I think that you may have miss understood what I said. The question was posed to her. You and Mr Hawkins were chairing the meeting and so you were taking questions from the audience. I know 100% that you remember the question being asked. She may have answered it in not the exact words that are above, but when this was posed back to her ' she agreed ' . Can you understand and remember the groans in the room?

Wendy Skillicorn: Impact is a Cumbrian organisation and Howgill Copeland. I also remember the many favourable and positive comments in the room.

Wendy Skillicorn: I think maybe we all hear what we want to hear. If we are determined to believe nothing good can be achieved in our town , by anyone then all we ever see and hear will be negative.

Jaynee Lainé: No one is being negative - what gets peoples backs up in this town is that the public are NEVER informed. Then all of a sudden it is a done deal. If you think people are being negative Wendy - perhaps a Town Council would have prevented any negativity and we would get it right first time. instead - we have NEVER been allowed to have a Town Council - volunteer residents hearing about proposals like this before they happen. I am behind the 'idea' of Foyer' however in a town that is my own I would have preferred the 25 self contained rooms to be used only for Copelands youths. The favourable comments in the room was the fact that the building was inkeeping and they had made a good job of it. Other questions that were raised regarded how this would affect other 'existing' businesses such as Bakewell House and the harbour project. It was stated that they would compliment each other. Someone else also talked about 'councilling and enhancing' their people skills and everyday 'living skills'. I think the sour note was really regarding the fact that 'potentially' undersirables could come from anywhere in the country. I am not stating that every homeless person is undesirable - I am simply stating that the general consensus in the room was that if its using Copeland money and in a Copeland town it should be restricted to Copeland Kids !!

Jaynee Lainé: To add, they are 'not' all kids. This homeless hostel will house people up to the age of 25 maximum (for a period of no longer than 2 years). I did write some minutes Wendy.

Sean Duffy: Hi Wendy Skillicorn - are you able to guarantee that this will be only available to kids from Copeland. I'm sure that would put minds at rest. Sorry - youths

Wendy Skillicorn: The project is designed and funded to address a local need. Impact is a Cumbrian and Howgill a Copeland project.

Sean Duffy: That's not a guarantee.

At this point, Cllr Wendy Skillicorn did a runner from the conversation. The thread did continue. No response was given to the question about guaranteeing that the Whitehaven Foyer would only contain residents from Whitehaven.

It Is Now Time For The Truth To Come Out

The truth is, that it is only Councillors that hear, and see what they want to. They can't hack direct questioning, and run off into the sunshine to avoid embarrassment. Listen with your own ears:

About this recording: The recording was carried out for journalistic purposes, at a public meeting and was intended to be kept private, for reference. However, due to the above Facebook thread, it was felt that it should be released because public interest outweighs expectations of privacy.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Council Workers 'Kidnap' Advertising Board

This Is North Korea. Seriously!

Over the last few weeks, if you have been following our campaign on Facebook, you will have spotted Carla Arrighi popping up in different locations around the borough with her blackboard, campaigning for the introduction of an Elected Mayor style of governance.

Today, Carla tied her board up against her property, and stuck our campaign posters to it. In the early afternoon, two council employees pulled up in a van, and cut the string securing the board, and bundled it into the back of the van, like two kidnappers, eager to escape with their victim.

Carla is upset at being singled out in this manner by the council.

What we have here, is a council that is supposed to be impartial during the run-up to a referendum, flexing their pitiful muscles, and acting like Kim Jong Un from North Korea.

Today, what was left of democracy in Copeland has died, with the actions of two anonymous, over zealous individuals, who were undoubtedly acting under instruction from the powers that be, within the white elephant on Catherine Street.

Elaine Woodburn - Pack Your Bags.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

An Apology

I'm Big Enough To Say Sorry - CBC Aren't 

I feel that I should respond to Mrs Geraldine Pritchard who wrote into the Whitehaven News, in reference to an article, which appeared, on my website. There was a small segment, covering her family, which contained incorrect information. This has been removed after a correction from Mrs Pritchard, and I thank her for pointing this out. I'm sorry if the article caused upset. That was never my intention.

The article was loosely based upon a story, which appeared in the pages of the Whitehaven News, during 2007, where her sister Cllr Elaine Woodburn was interviewed - it was suggested in the story, that politicians are born into the role, hence the family link with Copeland Borough Council (CBC). It would seem that Mrs Pritchard is also following a family tradition into politics - she works for Egremont Town Council, and I wish her well in her role.

The story, which I refer to, is an interesting one. Cllr Woodburn said at the time:
“I think for all councils there needed to be a change that moved away from that age where things were done and agreed behind closed doors. I still think it is taking time to break down some of those barriers, but we have taken huge strides in the right direction." 
“I know from where we were when I started now we have moved a massive amount. Ninety-nine per cent of what we do is in the open, now we have to do something to make ourselves even more accessible to the public.” 
“I’ll be here for as long as the members want me to be. It’s up to them to decide when I’ll go. But it is a four-year appointment these days and I don’t like doing half a job. I firmly believe that we are moving in the right direction and that, for the next three years at least, I am the right person to take us forward.”
In 2009, two years after Cllr Woodburns interview, Government Inspectors were sent in to investigate why CBC was failing – this contradicts her assertion, that she was the right person for the job.

Seven years on, I have still not seen any forward direction from CBC. We appear to be going backwards with (Lab) Councillors being gagged by use of a candidate contract, for the 2015 elections.

We also see (cross-party) Councillors being denied access to information contained in a report on the failings of the Pow Beck stadium project. What is occurring at the Copeland Centre is worrying.

It does not surprise me that there is huge support from the public, for the Elected Mayor referendum. We seem to have stepped back to the bad old days, where “elders of the group” (as Cllr Woodburn described, in 2007) make decisions behind closed doors to the detriment of the community.

Now, the decision is in the hands of the public, on May 22nd: Should we move to a new system of governance where the public choose a leader through the ballot box, or leave it in the hands of failed elders to select a leader themselves?

Poll Cards Now Being Delivered Throughout Copeland

Keep Your Poll Card Safe 

Copeland Referendum - Poll Card
Poll Cards have started to drop through letterboxes of homes throughout Copeland. The Poll Card is for the European Election, and for the Copeland Referendum, where you will be asked if you would like to change the way Copeland Borough Council is run.

We urge you to choose change in the referendum.


The Poll Card is not required to vote, but does make the job much easier for those ticking off voters at the polling station, so please keep your Poll Card safe.

On the rear of the card, you will find a helpline number, should you have any problems: 0845 054 8600. Your Poll Card will give you details of what you can, and cannot do. For example, it is an offence to vote more than once. If you need help, please contact the above phone number.

If you are away, or cannot go to your local Polling Station, you can apply to vote by post - you must do this before 5pm on Wednesday 7th May. Or, you can vote by proxy - this means that someone can vote on your behalf. Completed applications for proxy votes must be submitted before 5pm on Wednesday 7th May.

If, after 5pm Wednesday 14th May, you are unable to vote because of a medical emergency, or due to work reasons, you can apply to vote by proxy, by contacting Copeland Borough Council before 5pm on 22nd May.

Please call the above phone number for all queries.

Copeland Referendum Day Music - A Special Feature!

Everything Changes With Music -

Being a big fan of music, and running my own online radio station, I have decided to run a special show on May 22nd.

A typical month brings in 75,000 people to the station to listen to the music that I have on offer. Wherever people are in the world, they can tune in, and have a listen to Rock & Pop Radio.

The Copeland Referendum day show will begin at 9pm on May 22, leading up to the close of polling stations at 10pm.

What will be playing on Referendum Day?

  • Europe: The Final Countdown
  • Iron Maiden: No more lies
  • David Bowie: Changes
  • Paul Young: Everything Must Change
  • David Gray: A Moment Changes Everything
  • Flying Colors: Everything Changes
  • Offspring: Stuff Is Messed Up
  • Scorpions: Wind Of Change
  • She & Him: Change Is Hard
  • Brendan Croker: No Money At All
  • Muse: Time is Running Out
  • Little Mix: Change Your Life
  • Elephanz: Time For A Change
  • Aretha Franklin: What A Difference A Day Made
  • Glen Campbell: Good Riddance 
You don't have to visit Rock & Pop Radio to listen - click the play button below, or CLICK HERE to listen with your preferred media player. Remember to vote on May 22 - make change happen.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Have Copeland Borough Council Lied To The Public?

Toilet Demolition Linked To Albion Square -

Draw your minds back a few months, when the following statements appeared in local press, from August 2013:
Keith Parker, Copeland’s head of neighbourhood services, said: “This budget reduction means that the council can no longer provide services our citizens have come to expect.

“The cost of direct provision of public conveniences was £41,000 per year to which can be added a further £7,200 in grant support to third parties.

“The toilets in Whitehaven absorbed the lion’s share of these costs, in terms of utilities, non-domestic rates amounting to approximately £18,000 alone.”

These high figures, the meeting heard, have so far put off potential new operators.

Mr Parker added that Copeland was not alone in closing public toilets due to budget cuts, adding that Glasgow, Manchester and Cornwall have done the same.

Miss Woodburn now plans to forward the petition Whitehaven Needs Public Toilets to MP Eric Pickles, the secretary of state for communities and local government.

“It’s a disgrace that we have had do close these toilets,” she said, “but we have had no choice. I admire those behind the petition for wanting to make a difference, and it should be sent to Mr Pickles so he can see the impact of the decisions his government makes.”
Now, take a look at this excerpt from a document, dated Nov 10th 2008: the removal of the public toilet block can't be demolished as part of the Albion Square development, but "it would vastly increase the success potential of the scheme opening up a public space with linkage views of more significant architecture (if demolished)."

So - who do you believe? Copeland Borough Council, who said that budget constraints was the reason behind the toilet demolition, or the above, taken directly from the WLR Draft Design Report?

Still not convinced? Want more evidence?
Take a look at this drawing from April 2011 - Note that there are no Public Toilets:

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Stay As We Are, Or Change For The Better?

Coming To A Letterbox Near You!

Print & place in your window - show your support!
Over the next month, our campaigners will be out and about, from Distington, through to Millom, dropping off leaflets, which outline the failings of Copeland Borough Council.

You are invited to PRINT OUR POSTER and place it in your window, or car, to show your support for our campaign - help to spread the word. It is time for change.

After 40 years of failure, and a non-listening attitude from those that are supposed to represent us, we are calling for a change in direction.

We became tired of party politics impacting upon the lives of everyone that lives in Copeland, and set about collecting signatures in a petition, which has forced a referendum to be held in the Borough, on Thursday, May 22.

This is your chance to say to our Councillors that you have had enough of political interference and the waste of taxpayer money.

£Tens-of-millions have been poured down the drain due to poor project management - the buck should stop with those in charge, but they stick their heads in the sand when the going gets tough, and blame everyone else but themselves - they also suppress information. This is not acceptable.

We urge you to vote for democracy on May 22. Voting for an Elected Mayor in the Copeland Referendum will enable YOU to choose your leader of Copeland Borough Council, instead of having a political party imposing a leader on you.

If the public vote for change, Councillor Elaine Woodburn will be relieved of her duties as leader of Copeland Borough Council (after the election of an Elected Mayor for Copeland).

It's a simple choice that you will have before you:

  • Stay as we are (where you have no say)
  • Vote Mayor (and choose your leader)
Councillors and even our MP have attempted to muddy the waters, so that those that have failed can cling onto power. This referendum is about three things:

  • Democracy - you choose your leader.
  • Transparency - you can see who makes decisions.
  • Accountability - you know who is responsible for success or failure.

This referendum is not politically motivated!

After becoming disillusioned with the effects of politics on the local community, our collective set out on the path of bringing a democratically elected leader to Copeland Borough Council so that the public would have a greater say on issues that affect the community.

Politics is the rod that broke the back of Copeland, and it is democracy that will fix it. Since October last year, various Councillors, and one MP, have approached us offering help.

Our group are not the puppets of any political party, and have rebuffed all offers.

If we succeed, or fail in our endeavours, we can hold our heads high, knowing that we tried our best, without the influences of any political party.

After 40 years of failure, it is time to change direction, away from the mess (as Jamie Reed put it). One thing is for certain - if we don't try something different, the community will suffer.

An independent, democratically elected Mayor is the only way to prevent political interference in our lives. We've rejected their interference, and so should you.

Please vote Mayor on May 22. Thanks.