Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Inverclyde Royal Hospital tea bar to be axed

Unwanted cardboard coffee culture

Unwanted cardboard coffee culture

The League of Hospital Friends is reported to have operated their tea bar from their premises at IRH for about 36 years, very successfully and popularly by all accounts, but is apparently to be thrown out and replaced by a ‘cafe-culture’ Aroma coffee shop.

Unless the tea bar is rescued, where rices are kept low and the service is staffed on a voluntary basis, it will close next spring — despite a recent £30,000 refurbishment.

The League of Friends is said to have raised over £1 million for equipment at the IRH, patient transport and support for medical groups since 1973, and to currently be contributing around £100,000 per annum back into the community.

This would be enough to get them a mention, but when I saw the Aroma coffee shop described as being similar to Strabuck’s – politely described as purveyors of overpriced slops (how do they justify their astronomical prices for some hot water knocked silly and given an even sillier set of name, just to make them look kewl?) – that was the last straw.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health Board’s decision to shut the hugely popular facility to make way for their own Starbucks-style ‘coffee culture’ cafe has seen hospital staff, patients and politicians lined u to attack the move, and the Greenock Telegraph and the League of Friends have set up a campaign to save the tea bar. The local paper has reported on the matter bach on April 9, and again on April 17 and April 22. The story has also been reported in the Dunoon Observer online.

Petition sheets have been placed in newsagents across Greenock, Gourock and Port Glasgow.

They have also set up an online petion: Save the Inverclyde Royal Hospital’s tea bar

The health board says profits from its new Aroma cafe would be ‘ploughed straight back into hospitals to benefit patient care and in many cases, sustain and create new NHS jobs’. This doesn’t seem to show any concern for the volunteers who no longer be serving at IRH, nor does it address the issue of the redistribution of those profits.

A spokeswoman for NHSGGC said that the new cafe would create between ten and fifteen jobs, which would help workers affected by the closure of the nearby Ravenscraig hospital. She continued: “The tea bar staff have done a superb job, but where it is considered appropriate, Aroma cafes will replace existing tea bars in hospitals across Scotland. The volunteers will be welcome to continue providing support in other ways, and we will continue to talk through with them how they can help. In this time of recession and increasing unemployment levels, this initiative should be seen as a small but important job creation opportunity.”

At the moment, that £1 million raised by the League of Friends since 1973 was clearly retruned back into IRH and the Inverclyde community, on hi-tech hospital equipment, lifeline transport services and support for local medical organisations. Last year, funds enabled IRH to purchase the latest technology muscle scanner at a cost of £40,000 (one of only two in Scotland). There appears to be no assurance that profits from Aroma would be returned to the community that raised them, and could just be pooled and redistributed as those on-high saw fit.

In a briefing issued by the League of Friends, chair Jean Rees said: “We are proud of the service we provide and the sustained success of our fundraising efforts. Some of our members have been involved for many years – one was awarded an MBE for her work.  We feel that, particularly in the current economic climate, a very successful charity such as ours should be welcomed rather than disbanded. When we met with health board management it was, however, made clear to us that this decision has been taken and there is no room for compromise.

Readers, IRH patients, relatives, hospital workers, union leaders and politicians are furious at the move.


Apr 17, 2009 Posted by | Appeal | , , , , , | Leave a comment

New powers… will they be used, or abused?

Police stopOver the past few months I’ve posted articles watching the steady erosion of freedom in this country as terrorism is used as some sort of Free Pass for any and all legislation aimed at increasing the State’s power over the citizen, while the citizen is left powerless under the relentless of gaze of CCTV, the collection of their DNA, personal data regarding email, web browsing and phonecalls. And then there’s the detestable Phorm being foist on us as well.

I’ve already covered new powers that came into force in February, with Your next photograph could be a crime, and posed the question then as to whether or not these powers would be used, or more likely abused. On the basis that the police are already clearly ignorant of the law regarding photography in public places, and are not properly trained in this area, my thought was that the answer had to be yes.

I don’t generally like or adopt what I refer to as the lazy bloggers method of filling a blog, which involves just dropping another story on the basis that it is a quote, but in this case, since readers might think I’m making it up, I am indeed quoting the full article  for review, which details an allegation that Austrian tourists were forced by the police to delete photographs of a bus station in London after being told that photographing anything to do with transport was “strictly forbidden”, and had their details recorded by the police, including passport numbers and hotel addresses.

Because I usually have my camera with me, and use it daily in public, I’m beginning to feel as if I should start to leave my itinerary with someone, together with a time I expect to return home, and have them check the local police stations if don’t return at the expected time.

Original article from The Guardian, Thursday, April 16, 2009: Police delete London tourists’ photos ‘to prevent terrorism’

Like most visitors to London, Klaus Matzka and his teenage son Loris took several photographs of some of the city’s sights, including the famous red double-decker buses. More unusually perhaps, they also took pictures of the Vauxhall bus station, which Matzka regards as “modern sculpture”.

But the tourists have said they had to return home to Vienna without their holiday pictures after two policemen forced them to delete the photographs from their cameras in the name of preventing terrorism.

Matkza, a 69-year-old retired television cameraman with a taste for modern architecture, was told that photographing anything to do with transport was “strictly forbidden”. The policemen also recorded the pair’s details, including passport numbers and hotel addresses.

In a letter in today’s Guardian, Matzka wrote: “I understand the need for some sensitivity in an era of terrorism, but isn’t it naive to think terrorism can be prevented by terrorising tourists?”

The Metropolitan police said it was investigating the allegations.

In a telephone interview from his home in Vienna, Matka said: “I’ve never had these experiences anywhere, never in the world, not even in Communist countries.”

He described his horror as he and his 15-year-old son were forced to delete all transport-related pictures on their cameras, including images of Vauxhall underground station.

“Google Street View is allowed to show any details of our cities on the world wide web,” he said. “But a father and his son are not allowed to take pictures of famous London landmarks.”

He said he would not return to London again after the incident, which took place last week in central Walthamstow, in north-east London. He said he and his son liked to travel to the unfashionable suburbs.

“We typically crisscross cities from the end of railway terminals, we like to go to places not visited by other tourists. You get to know a city by going to places like this, not central squares. Buckingham Palace is also necessary, but you need to go elsewhere to get to know the city,” he said.

He said the “nasty incident” had “killed interest in any further trips to the city”.

Jenny Jones, a member of the Metropolitan Police Authority and a Green party member of the London assembly, said she would raise the incident with the Met chief, Sir Paul Stephenson, as part of discussions on the policing of the G20 protests.

“This is another example of the police completely overreaching the anti-terrorism powers,” she said. “They are using it in a totally inappropriate way.

“I will be raising it with the commissioner. I have already written to him about the police taking away cameras and stopping people taking photographs and made the point that if it was not for people taking photos, we would not know about the death of Ian Tomlinson or the woman who was hit by a police officer.”

A spokeswoman for Metropolitan police said: “It is not the police’s intention to prevent tourists from taking photographs and we are looking to the allegations made.” The force said it had no knowledge of any ban on photographing public transport in the capital.

Apr 17, 2009 Posted by | Civilian | , , , | Leave a comment

The Sun… it hurts… please… make it stop.

Apparently The Sun is still being published, and page 3 is still being used as wallpaper, and the rest as toilet paper, or should be judging by the quality of story they still run. It’s a pity the joke about identifying Sun readers is largely visual, and doesn’t transfer to words.

One of the myths that pervades the net was that Google etc had somehow censored, or been forced to censor, aerial views that showed the naval base at Faslane, or the armament depot at Coulport. This is utter rubbish, as the supposedly censored images have been available for purchase offline for years, and were simply not included in Google’s coverage until a few months before The Sun found them. Had The Sun been as alert as it claims to be, and not following more important stories like those of amazing images that could show the lost city of Atlantis, then they could actually have found the images online at the site of the vendor (no, I’m not handing out adverts, it’s obvious who this is anyway), and at the well-known site.

Amazingly, I can freely embed a panable, dragable, zoomable, aerial view of both nuclear sites here, readily available for any terrorist to plan their attack from. I expect we shall appear in The Sun shortly, being described as the next big threat to nuclear security in the UK. Mind you, it would be a bit embarrassing for The Sun if they did do that, since we’ve had the same views on the two pages given above since 2008, and their ace reporters have failed to spot the threat we’ve been posing since we first aired those pages.

However, kicking The Sun is about as rewarding and productive as filling paper bags with smoke. It will continue to repeat myths as if they were facts, and then go on to quote those facts once they’ve been repeated often enough to become received wisdom, becoming parroted credulously as the truth.

Clicking on the big picture below will take you to better analyses of The Sun’s story, so there’s little point in me wasting more time on it, which gives me time to cut up some more handy squares of newspaper. I forget who I’m misquoting, they were replying to a letter when they penned the original, but I think of The Sun when I say “I sit here in the smallest room with your article before me. Soon, your article will be behind me”.

Sun Faslane

Apr 17, 2009 Posted by | Maps | , , , | Leave a comment


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