Wednesday, 2 November 2011

The Hoonaloon Books 2011 Sale

The Hoonaloon Books Pre-Xmas Sale 2011 has just begun.

During the period 1 Nov 2011 - 27 Nov 2011, all the books we sell via ABE books will be discounted by  20% !

Please note that this offer only applies to books sold by us via ABE sites (, etc ) and that prices shown on those sites have already been discounted - all you have to do is make your selection and place your order.

As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to get in touch.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Hedgehog Finds Fame

More observant visitors to this blog may have noticed that many of our forays into topicality are embellished with likenesses of a young and possibly wayward hedgehog, Reggie.

As previously explained (See `Welcome to Angel Pavement`, this blog, 19 June 2010), the original Reggie was rehabilitated and returned to the wild some time ago, like a small, spiky version of the lioness Elsa in `Born Free`.

His likeness appears in this blog principally to stop us taking ourselves too seriously and also to add a touch of cheer when it`s needed, such as after my most recent post.

Although Reggie himself is, I like to think, roaming the wilds of Bournmouth, he will be present in spirit only at Woodbridge Library (Suffolk) during August , when library helper Jeannie has asked to use his picture to illustrate some stories of hers which she will be reading at two Stories for Children events there.

Although no actual hedgehogs will be present on the day(s), the Stories for Children events will take place on Aug 2 at 3.00 and Aug 30 at 11.00 at Woodbridge Library, New St, IP12 1DT. 

"Let`s keep our libraries alive, open and different !" says Jeannie, which is as good a rallying call as you could hope for.

Monday, 27 June 2011

Asbestos Support

As I`ve mentioned before, my oldest friend Chris died of Mesothelioma during 2009, the result of contact with asbestos whilst working as a roofer in younger days.

For that reason, I like to give fairly regular plugs to Derbyshire Asbestos Support Team and to  Action Mesothelioma Day, which falls on the first Friday of July.

DAST`s name is actually a tad misleading as they are now based in Chesterfield (Yorkshire) and provide services throughout the East Midlands.

The group can be contacted at

My previous articles on the subject may be of some interest. They are ;

Saint Elsewhere - this blog, 22 July 2010

Asbestos Awareness and Advocacy ; For Chris  - The Graphophone  (blog), 19 April 2010

Asbestos Again - Bookshelves and Brown Ale (blog), 3 July 2010

Welcome to Angel Pavement - this blog, 19 June 2010.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Meanwhile, Back in the States ... #2

Young American Channing Kennedy has attracted attention among the doughty denizens of the online world with two recent articles about libraries.

To find out more, see my article `Mr Kennedy goes to the Library` (13 June 2011) at

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

More Coastguards

The coastguards campaign (see past articles) has turned unexpectedly acrimonious, as this article illustrates ;

Sam Lister - Coastguards `Were not Gagged`, 25 May 2011 at .

Bolton Libraries Camaign

Without wanting to spend too much time on the same few issues, here`s an interesting article ;

Unsigned - 15,00 Join fight to Save Libraries, 21 May 2011 at .

Monday, 23 May 2011

Regional Round-Up and Miscellaneous Updates

Demands on my time and energy are getting to be a bit much at present, so please excuse the brevity of these postings. In an ideal world I would present your enraptured gaze with a collection of gleaming literary pearls, complete with the effective use of bathos, pathos and irony. Sadly, I`m much too busy for that, so these entries are fairly minimalist ;

NORTH YORKS - Save North Yorks Libraries

Joe Willis - Public Outcry Forces North Yorkshire County Council to Reconsider Library Plans, 5 May 2011 at .

This news has met with an understandably cautious response from the campaign group. Further comment can be found on their website.

NORTH YORKS - North Yorks Waste Action Group

This group are currently waiting for the company Amey Cespa to submit a planning application before taking any further action.  In the meantime, they are asking those who`ve not already done so to visit their site and sign the petition. 

AMBER VALLEY - Amber Valley Against Incinerators

Unsigned - Campaigners Fuming as Waste Plant Gets Permit, 13 April 2011  at .

AMBER VALLEY - Lodge House/Smalley Action group

Chris Mallett - Stud Manager`s Fury as UK Coal Tells Her to Buy Farm or Move, 14 March 2011 at .

Chris Mallett - Concerns Over Noise Lead to Objection About Coal-Mining Plan, 22 April 2011 at .

The latter article follows a decision by Amber Valley Borough Council planning committee to object to the proposed extension of Lodge House mine after hearing submissions from Nigel Mills MP and Cllr Kevin Parkinson, both of whom oppose UK Coal`s plans. 

SPONDON AND SINFIN - Spondon and Sinfin Against Incineration and others

Chris Mallett - Now Gasification Firm Heads for Court to Fight City Planning Rejection, 5 May 2011 at

NOTTINGHAMSHIRE - Emergency Services Campaigns

Fire Service  ;   Dom Howell - Stations to Stay Open for a Year Says Authority Member, 2 March 2011 at .

Police Service  ;  Unsigned - Police Station Closure Fears After Front Counters Shut,  28 April 2011 at .

That`s all for now !

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Update - Save Newark Hospital

Well, it`s a short time since the UK elections/referendum. Commentators have commented, analysts have analysed, pundits have punditted and bloggers have blogged.  No doubt their scintillating wit and insight has enriched the lives of many.

Back in the real world, I`m a bit pushed for time, so I`ll confine my own efforts to a series of short updates on matters we`ve touched on in the past, with the odd new arrival thrown in for good measure.

First up,  Save Newark Hospital.

This campaign, as I`ve mentioned before,  has brought together Conservative MP Patrick Mercer with a campaign group which features many prominent local Labour activists. 

The latest development can be found here ;

Unsigned - Campaign Joy as Committee Calls for Hospital Review, 4 April 2011  at .

A link to the campaign group`s web site is on this blog already and carries a link to their Facebook page, which is the main vehicle for news from them.

Meanwhile, Back in the States...

... a coalition of environmental groups is calling for a fuel economy standard of 60 miles to the gallon by 2025.

In a letter to their  President, they cite global pollution, rising fuel prices, political considerations, the need to invest in clean energy and job creation as reasons for their call.

Their website addresses Americans directly, giving four reasons to support the initiative ; to save money, to reduce air pollution, as a step towards energy independence and to "spark innovations that create new jobs".

Their target may sound a touch ambitious but there again, a target date 2025 does allow generous time for that to be achieved. Those of us who live in manufacturing areas of the UK (Aerospace and Toyota both have plants in Derbyshire),  will be aware that the UK is already heading in the direction of fuel efficient technology, with Aerospace in particular having introduced a number of innovations.

The G60 campaign can be found at ; .

Organisations involved in the campaign include the Sierra Club (the US sister organisation to the UK`s John Muir Trust) ,  an umbrella group called Environment America and scientific group UCS. For full details see .

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Bentham Library - Protest Walk From Bentham to Settle - 7 May 2011

Save North Yorkshire Libraries is a campaign which aims to keep open all local libraries in the N. Yorks area.  

Campaigners accept that some changes may have to be made, but are urging the North Yorks County Council to find ways to deliver library services throughout the county. They are at pains to stress that they do not wish to see one library saved at the expense of another.

 At present, they are working with Andrew Jones MP, the Conservative MP for Harrogate and Knaresborough to promote  petitions in support of two libraries in his constituency, Bilton and Starbeck.

Elsewhere in the region, they are planning a protest walk on 7 May 2011, which will involve participants walking from Betham Library to it`s equivalent in Settle. The route will be along a mixture of roads and local footpaths, which sounds thoroughly enjoyable.

Further information can be found at and .

Thursday, 31 March 2011

Coastguards Update

Further to my earlier article (Coastguard Kerfuffle, this blog,  22 Feb 2011), there have been new developments as regards the proposed cuts to the coastguard service.

The MCA have announced a 6 week extension to their public consultation, which will now end 5 May 2011. Most observers have taken this as a sign that the government is having second thoughts. Additionally, the Transport Select Committee have announced an inquiry into the proposals.

Coastguards representatives are taking the line that reform and modernisation of the service is to be welcomed, but that these particular proposals would be damaging. Their campaign, and those of a number of local newspapers, have attracted cross-party support.

In a fairly changeable situation, it`s almost impossible to provide an up-to-date guide to media coverage as new articles appear frequently. Here`s a quick overview ; 

The Western Telegraph has printed a number of spirited articles in support of the campaign to save Milford Haven Coastguard Station. These can be viewed at .

Coverage of the campaigns to save both Milford Haven and Holyhead Coastguard Stations can be found at , an umbrella site for two newspapers which together cover the Bangor, Holyhead and Anglesey areas.

The Milford Mercury is running a Save our Coastguard Station campaign in respect of Milford Haven and their site provides a number of useful links - .

The Hexham Express has been running a similar campaign in respect of Brixham, with details appearing at

My earlier article provided links to the coastguards` websites, Facebook pages and petitions and also contact details for the Transport Select Committee and a link to the MCA site for anyone wishing to read/respond to the consultation document. These are still current.

It seems unlikely now that the cuts will go ahead in their original form, but at the same time it`s not a good time to get complacent. This is a second opportunity for interested parties to inform themselves and make their voices heard. Make the most of it.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Mr Bridgen`s Proposal

Not so long ago we looked at the attempt by Andrew Bridgen MP and others to introduce a legal requirement for a 500m buffer zone between opencast mines and nearby dwelling places.

As I`ve previously indicated, Mr Bridgen`s proposal has cross-party support and also the support of environmentalists and groups representing coalfield communities.

Among his supporters we find real ale afficionado and Notts County fan Nigel Mills MP. Mr Mills is the member for Amber Valley and has this to say on the subject ;

"We are trying to protect people who have had the unfortunate accident of living next to these sites from some of the worst aspects of the blight that arises if they are unlucky enough to have an opencast mine proposed near them."

Mr Mills knows the issues that can arise. His Midlands constituency is home to UK Coal`s controversial Lodge House mine and another company, LEM, is proposing a second mine in the area.

The issue has given rise to strong feelings in the area for a variety of reasons, not least because central government (the previous administration) over-ruled the local authority in allowing the Lodge House development to go ahead. There are clearly issues in terms of  impact on the environment and on the quality of life of local people, and that`s before we touch on the merits or otherwise of reliance on fossil fuels.  Anna Soubry MP, who faces similar proposals in her Nottinghamshire constituency, has cited Lodge House as a situation where UK Coal promised to generate local jobs but is now having trouble justifying those claims.

Coverage in the local press has been extensive. Competing for your attention with literary epics on other burning issues of the day such as `Half Term Potato Fun` (Ilkeston Advertiser), `Thieves Pick up a Penguin` (Ripley and Heanor News) and `Strange UFOs Spotted on A38...`  (Ripley and Heanor News again), a number of very good articles on issues around opencast mining have appeared. Here are a few of the more recent ones ;

Derby Telegraph Group (

Catherine Oakes - Anti-Open Cast Group Appeals for Secret Vote... - 22 Feb 2011
Unsigned  - Villagers Fight Second Mining Bid - 22 Feb 2011
Chris Mallet - Open Cast Mining Plans `Intolerable` Says MP...- 10 Feb 2011

Ilkeston Advertiser (

Unsigned - `Free For All` On Mine Bids - 2 Mar 2011
Unsigned - Mining `Could Last Decade` - 2 Mar 2011
Unsigned - Government Does Not Back Buffer Bid - 23 Feb 2011

Ripley and Heanor News (

Unsigned - Mining Plan Goes to Vote - 28 Feb 2011
Stephen Sinfield - `Under Siege` by Opencasting - 19 Jan 2011

With new developments on a fairly regular basis, it`s also worth a bit of background reading. Sarah Bould ot the Ripley and Heanor News (see link above) wrote an informative but also readable and concise article `Where the Smalley Opencast Debate Began` (16 March 2007) which is still online.

If you`re misguided enough to want to read more of my own efforts you might try one of these;

The WAG Man Returns...(this blog, 1 Oct 2010)
Congratulations and Commiserations...(this blog, 20 Feb 2011)

It`s interesting to see how `real politics` like this often transcends the narrow, Westminster-based party politics our leaders like to play at.

In my personal view (I have no party political allegiance), at leadership level both the major parties have behaved badly over this issue - Labour by over-ruling the local authority and allowing Lodge House to proceed, and the Conservatives by not backing Mr Bridgen (though many Conservative MPs, particularly those from the Midlands, did give their support). By contrast, Mr Bridgen  has fought a good fight and certainly won the respect of many who may not always agree with him on many other issues. As I`ve been at pains to stress, his Bill is supported by a number of political parties and I hope that will continue to be the case.

As for Mr  Mills, since he`s fond of football, I`d hope that we`s all agree that on this issue the boy from Brinsley done good !

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Coastguard Kerfuffle

This week the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (part of the Department of Transport*) begins a series of public meetings across the UK to discuss government proposals to cut the coastguard service.

The cuts currently being considered are a reduction in the number of stations from 18 to 8, with five of the surviving stations providing a reduced service. Particularly sensitive is the fact that, under the government`s plans as they stand, only three stations will operate a 24 hour service.

Other changes being considered are proposals to `remove` the Agency`s emergency towing vessels and `delete` the offshore fire fighting and chemical spill response service.

Unsurprisingly, these suggestions have met with something akin to anger, particularly in the communities most directly affected ;

`UK Coastguards Unite Against Closure` said the Shetland News (22 Feb 2011 at

`Coastguards Angry with MCA Director` reported H J Marter of Shetland Marine News (6 Jan 2011 at )

`Now it`s the Coastguard that Need to be Rescued` commented the Western Telegraph (19 Jan 2011 at )

Inevitably, there has been a response from MPs and Councillors ; `MPs Unite in Battle to Save Coastguard` reported  News Letter ( 15 Feb 2011 at

The public have not been slow to show their feelings (Campaign to Save Holyhead Coastguard Backed by Public` stated The Bangor and Anglesey Mail`s Elgan Hearn (9 Feb 2011 at ).

Local newspapers have also not been slow to join the fray ;

`Save our Station` implored the Milford and West Wales Mercury (17 Feb 2011 at ), while the Hexham Express launched a similarly-themed SOS (Save our Station) campaign in respect of Brixham station, quickly attracting cross-party support (details at ).

Is this the beginning of another Save our Forests ? Well, maybe. "There are very few coastguards that are not calling for change or modernisation", a representative told the Shetland News, but pointed out that  "not one has said  these are the right plans", a point apparently conceded by MCA Chief Exec Sir Alan Massey.

The point to remember here is that we live in a plural democracy. There are reasons why even elected governments cannot just impose their will on the people without consultation. The most important point may not be what position you take on a particular issue, but that you get the chance to express that view.

Fortunately, opportunities to do so present themselves all too readily in this instance.

Firstly, there are the public meetings mentioned above. I`m pretty sure we don`t make much use of coastguards here in the Midlands, but the meetings will  provide important opportunities for the relevant communities to put their concerns.

Secondly, the MCA consultation document appears online for anyone to read and comment - visit to do so.

Additionally the Transport Select Committe is also looking into the issues, and submissions can be sent to them at (closing date 26 April 2011).

If you wish to sign one of the many petitions that are being circulated, or familiarise yourself with the case against the cuts, here are some useful links ;

Should you want to know my opinion, I think the cuts go way too far and are badly thought-out and impractical, though some changes may well be necessary. My suspicion is that the government fully intends to reduce the level of cuts (to this particular service) and that the current proposals are purely a starting point for negotiations and to test the level of public reaction. In that context, the phrase `be careful what you wish for` springs to mind !

*For a bit of background reading, you might like to see my posting `Transports of Delight` (this blog, 1 Sep 2010), with partic reference to the section headed trade unions.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Congratulations and Commiserations : 38 Degrees and Andrew Bridgen MP


As I would think most people know, 38 Degrees and others achieved an extraordinary level of public support for their Save our Forests campaign (see `More Woodland Worries`, this blog, 11 November 2010 ), eventually achieveing an astounding, and outstanding half a million signatures for their petition. As a result of their efforts, publicly-owned woodlands will not now be sold off . ( see Johnny Chatterton - `Victory ! Government to Scrap Plans to Sell Our Forests` at  , 17 Feb 2011 ) .

Kate Ashbrook, General  Secretary of the Open Spaces Society and a trustee of The Ramblers has been one of few who have sounded a word of caution. "The government`s about-turn on forestry sales...was wonderful" she commented "but we mustn`t be complacent." To find out more, see her article `We`re Not Out of the Woods Yet` ( 20 Feb 2011 at ).

COMMISERATIONS to Andrew Bridgen MP.

 Mr Bridgen had tabled an Early Day Motion bringing English law into line with that in Scotland and Wales, in that companies engaged in open cast mining would be required to leave a 500 metre buffer zone between their operations and any dwelling place(s) nearby (see `The WAG Man Returns / Lodge House Controversy Continues`, this blog, 1 October 2010).

 This entirely sensible and moderate objective had achieved cross-party support and was endorsed by many environmental bodies, notably the Campaign to Protect Rural England and Leicester Friends of the Earth,  and community groups such as  Smalley Action Group,  but I understand that UK Coal in particular had lobbied against it and it was opposed by the Government.

In the event, not one MP spoke against the proposal, but the Minister chose to `talk it out`. I`m a bit hazy on the finer points of Parliamentary procedure, but I gather this means the Bill is not actually killed stone dead, but `goes to the bottom of the pile` and will face an uphill struggle to become law.

Mr Bridgen to his credit, is not discouraged and plans to return to the matter in October. He commented ; "I was pleased with the level of cross-party support for the Bill. This is an important issue for thousands of people who live in the former coalfields and this Bill would give them peace of mind."

You might assume that Mr Bridgen, who has links with the Whitwick Action Group (see `Whitwick Action Group`, this blog, 8 September 2010) and the Minorca Open Cast Protest Group, is something of a rebel within the Tory ranks.  In fact, he seems to be a loyal Conservative, albeit one who has no great love for UK Coal. He does appear to be a diligent constituency MP and has a background in the processing and distribution of fresh vegetables.

I`m indebted to Steve O`Leary of Minorca Open-Cast Protest Group for providing a useful link on this issue ;


Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Utterley Butterley

Butterley Ironworks is a former industrial site in Derbyshire with a history that incorporates historic events such as the Napoleonic Wars, the Pentrich Revolution and the building of St Pancras Station.

After literally hundreds of years of continued foundry work there, it is no longer in use and the future of the site, with it`s unique underground wharf, has been the subject of some debate.

Fortunately, I have written on the subject before, so I can be lazy and simply direct you to my articles A Tale of Two Ironworks (February 2010) , Ironworks Revisited (February 2010) and Ironworks Revisted Again (January 2011), all of which you will find at .

I shall, however, attempt to offset my laziness by directing you to a potted history of the site, to be found at and to more history and some sriking images at . There are in fact many entries relating to the site online and it does pay to search around a bit. However, these are a couple I thought would complement each other nicely.


Voices for Libraries # 3 : 5 February is Save Our Libraries Day

I had hoped to write at greater length on the subject of the various campaigns against cuts to the library service, but work and family commitments leave me with relatively little time to spend on researching these things, and I`m conscious that others do it better in any case.

One such individual is the writer Alan Gibbons, who has been waging an epic  one-man war on library cuts. Another is Benedicte Page, who has written repeatedly on the subject at Somerset man Steve Ross has been campaigning for a public debate on the subject and, while the Minister initially appeared to refuse this, he has now granted a debate to Wigan MP Lisa Nandy, whose constituency has seen a 17% increase in visits to libraries, in contrast to a national trend showing declining use.

Without further ado, I shall draw your attention to the proposed Save Our Libraries day being promoted by Mr Gibbons. Details are to be found in his articles ;

`February 5th : A Carnival of Resistance to Closure` (25 January 2011) and `Support Swells for Save our Libraries Day` (25 January 2011), both at .

For more on libraries, including links etc, see these ;

Voices for Libraries ( this blog, 29 Sep 2010 ) and Voices for Libraries #2 ( this blog, 9 Dec 2010 ) and Long Eaton Library and a Local Historian`s Legacy  ( 16 Jan 2011 ) at .

Save Standard Quay

Located at Faversham in Kent, Standard Quay is one of two remaining boatyards where Thames sailing barges can be repaired and restored.

The boatyard is a viable going concern, with orders on the books. Craftsmen and apprentices are employed there, keeping traditional skills alive. The Quay is located at Faversham Creek and has a 300 year history of involvement with boatbuilding.

The threat to the boatyard`s continued existence will come in June when the lease expires and the owner plans to turn the yard into a tourist attraction/nightlife and restaurants type of thingy.

Campaigners are calling on Swale Borough Council to make a compulsory purchase order, which is probably unrealistic and almost certainly undesireable. It would be possible for the Council to rule out the proposed change of use, which is a secondary objective that campaigners have.

The campaign details, including links to media coverage are here ;

Clearly, no-one is preventing the owner from continuing to own the land and draw revenue from it. The owners of the boatyard business are willing to continue to rent the property, and are equally willing to buy the freehold. They infer that there is a threat to their livelihood if they have to leave the premises to make way for a new development.

It would be interesting to know what arguments the property owners would put forward - presumably the proposed new development would, if viable, be more lucrative for them and would generate jobs.

Ultimately, it does present Swale Borough Council with a decision as to what kind of development they see as appropriate for their area, and how much they are prepared to intervene.  

Save Herne Hill Velodrome

Anyone who`s been watching Ration Book Britain on TV recently may have seen the features on the 1948 Olympics, including footage of Herne Hill Velodrome, a cycling track which was one of the venues for the finals of the Olympics and the only such venue to still be in active use.

The Velodrome - the word `velodrome` is a new one to me, but I quite like it - is threatened with closure due to deteriortation and lack of funding. I think I`m right in saying the threat to the site pre-dates the current round of government cuts. Campaigners hope to save and improve the site, which caters for all levels of cycling ability from beginners to professional athletes, by securing  a mix of corporate and individual funding and the efforts of volunteers.

It`s a site with a great history and it would be a shame if it was lost. To find out how you can help, visit ;

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Resolutions and Revolutions

Made your New Year`s Resolution yet ? It`s not to late to make a resolution with a difference this year.

The British Humanist Association is promoting something they call the `social resolution`. Instead of the usual (and usually unsuccessful) vows to lose weight/swear less/give up smoking or whatever, they suggest undertaking to do something  to help others. This might be something as simple as  helping out an elderly neighbour in some way, or  something slightly more involved such as  giving blood.

Find out more by visiting their web sites ;

BHA advocates "a world without religious privilege or discrimination where people are free to live good lives on the basis of reason, experience and shared human values." Although it is clearly an organisation that promotes a non-religious world view, this initiative is open to all and not restricted to the non-religious.

They explain their decision to run a project of this sort by explaining that individual responsibility, social co-operation and mutual respect are central tenets of humanism, and that this project is clearly in keeping with that.

Allowing/encouraging participation by people of faith is not necessarily as much of a departure as you may think. An entry on the BHA web site states "we campaign on the basis of human rights, including the rights of people with religious beliefs."

There have, inevitably, been complaints that the project could be seen as corresponding with the Tory `Big Society` project.  By the same token, another person might argue that the project is implicitly socialistic, though as far as I know no-one has. In point of fact, humanism is not the sole prerogative of socialists.  There`s certainly a Parliamentary Humanists Group which brings together non-religious MPs from all three major parties, and I for one am glad that it is run on cross-party lines. In any case, principles such as `individual respnsibility, social co-operation and mutual respect` are not the exclusive property of any political group, and are in any case open to interpretation.  As you may have gathered, I`m not a lover of sectarianism !

However, I digress. as you may know, Reggie the Hedgehog was a devoutly non-religious hedgehog and an advocate of  dialectical materialism. Here`s his picture once again !