Friday, August 22, 2008

1968 - the crushing of the Prague Spring

Forty years ago this week the army of the Soviet Union and its allies invaded Czechoslovakia, bringing to an end the ‘Prague Spring.’ For a few months the Czech and Slovak people had enjoyed increased freedom of speech, and greater press freedom. I recall watching pictures of passive resistance by the people, slowing down tanks, daubing them with paint and chanting slogans. The invaders got the message that they were not welcome! I also remember hearing broadcasts in English from Radio Prague just before the invasion, and how the tone changed after it happened..
The tanks may have imposed Soviet rule, but they never broke the spirit of the people. Protest movements grew up in the years after the invasion, and laid the foundation for the ‘velvet revolution’ of the late 1980s.
The recent pictures from Georgia were depressingly familiar to those of us who remember August 1968.

More fly tipping cleared

We’ve had another spate of fly tipping in East Park. Last week I reported a load of black bags, an old mattress, and a fridge. I’m please to say some of these have been cleared. We need to keep reporting fly tipping when it happens, and if it is clear where it has come from, the perpetrators can be prosecuted.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

This man will never forget - August 14th 1967


August 14th is always a date I remember with sadness. Because August 14th 1967 was the date most of the Offshore Radio stations operating around the coast closed as a result of the Labour Government’s Marine Broadcasting Offences Act.
Although I was only young at the time, it soon became clear to me that much of the justification for this law was based on misinformation, exaggeration, and more than a few ‘dodgy dossiers.’
The attitude of the political establishment to its citizens at the time was incredibly patronising, and music radio was considered something to be rationed and controlled. These stations from ships and forts may have been short lived, but they were a key element in the growth of the British music industry in the ‘60s and 70’s.

Radio Caroline refused to die on August 14th '67 and carried on broadcasting from the North Sea right up to 1990. It continues to this day, and can now be heard without fading and interference via satellite on Sky channel 0199, and over the world wide web: http://www.radiocaroline.co.uk (I’m listening to it as I write this). The station’s founder Ronan O’Rahilly has always been one of my political heroes. “I’ve been fighting government’s for years, that’s the reality,” he once said....I’m sure a lot of us know how he felt!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Great British Beer Festival and Pubs in Peril

Last week I took three days off to work as a volunteer at the Great British Beer Festival at Earl's Court. Its good to do something completely diferent for a few days, but the festival as well as being a celebration has a serious campaigning side.
Pubs are closing at an alarming rate all over the country. In this area, the Bell in Stapleton has been closed for some time, and the Old Tavern in Blackberry Hill (pictured) is also awaiting a new leaseholder. A pub company put the Queens Head in Upper Eastville up for sale, and ominously mentioned 'development potential' in its details, but I'm very pleased to see its still trading as a pub.

Local Pubs are focal points for local communities, just as much as local post offices and shops (also under threat). The local branch of the Campaign for Real Ale has set up a campaign group to save local pubs, and details can be found here: http://www.pubsinperil.co.uk/


Graffiti gone

A couple of residents reported an outbreak of graffiti in All Saints Lane rear of Grove Road. I'm pleased to report that this has now been mostly cleared by the Council, they will be remove the rest once the grass in the lane is cut back.
We do have a problem with this in the area, a few weeks ago I managed to get lots of 'tagging' graffiti removed from the M32 bridge in Stapleton Road.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Bitten by a dog

I suppose its an occupational hazard when you do a lot of FOCUS Delivery, but on Saturday I got bitten on the leg by a dog running free in the garden of a house with no gate. I suppose I should count myself lucky it hasn’t happened before, but I did intend to spend the afternoon watching Bristol Rovers at home to Den Haag, not sat in a hospital waiting room!
What worries me though is that this dog could easily have attacked a small child instead of me, and then the consequences could have been tragic.

“Help -I want to vote for Obama!”

We Liberal Democrat Councillors are used to getting all sorts of requests for help, but this one was a bit different. An American woman left a message on my answering machine saying she wanted to ensure she was registered to vote in the USA, and to get in touch with the West of England chapter of the Democratic Party.
After a bit of internet research, I managed to e-mail the Secretary of Democrats Abroad UK, who has promised to ring her.
With so much talk of voter apathy, it was good to talk to someone with such an enthusiasm for an election, which is still over three months away!