Friday, 13 August 2010

Dirty correspondence 2

And so eventually my councillor responded:

Friday 1st August 2008

Thanks very much for getting in touch with us about a number of issues with the top end of XXXXXXX Rd. If I can address each point you raise individually:


I’ve just popped round to have a look myself at your road and I didn’t see the fridges you referred to. Can you let me know exactly where they are so I can contact the relevant Council team and ask them to remove them? From past experience they are very good and do it in a matter of days, but I will chase it up if they don’t. It is a shame they have been dumped in the street given that the Council operates a free collection service for fridges. If you notice this problem in the future the Council’s ‘ C2C ’ service ( is a very quick and easy way of reporting the problem.

Rubbish in front yards

This is a slightly more complicated issue as the normal waste collection teams are not allowed to enter resident’s front yards to collect waste, even if it is in bin bags, as this would be trespass. However, the Council does operate an Enforcement Team who can clean this up once they have given residents sufficient notice (usually 6 weeks I believe). I will contact this Team and ask them to take the necessary action. Again it is extremely frustrating when residents don’t take advantage of the weekly and fortnightly bin collections, especially given the recent ‘Get It Out’ campaign which provided an extra 8 collections in the space of 3 weeks for all streets in Cathays!

Litter on the street

I completely appreciate the problems with bin bags being ripped open and litter subsequently being blown everywhere including into front gardens. It is a problem which affects a number of streets in the area, and the solutions need to be long-term. I believe the ultimate answer will be the introduction of wheelie-bins for the streets, such as XXXXXXX Road , where they can be stored easily in front gardens. There has been some resistance to wheelie-bins in the past, but I hope that a case can be made that they are necessary. Unfortunately it is not possible to get wheelie-bins in the areas until the roll-out of the new food waste collections has been completed, which in reality will mean not until next year. In the meantime it is really important that we look at the schedules of when litter-picking and street sweeping teams operate in XXXXXXX Road , and do what we can to get them to clean the streets immediately after the bins have been collected on a Wednesday as you suggest.

Resident parking permits

The decision to introduce residents parking bays at your end of Woodville Rd was made after a number of complaints from people living in the area that they were unable to find parking spaces. Subsequently a survey was carried out which demonstrated that there was a significant shortage of spaces at many times of an average day, and that a residents parking scheme was justified. I should note that even in this case only half the street has been made residents only parking, and there is no obligation to park in this half of the street and therefore to need to buy a permit. However, I appreciate your main point about the cost. I believe that the £5 charge is to cover the costs of administering the scheme, but I will double-check this is the case. The need to provide a stamped-addressed envelope is a little harder to explain, and I will enquire with the team who operate the scheme why they regard this as necessary. When I hear anything I will let you know, although I should note that I am away for a couple of weeks during August so if there is a delay that will be why.

I hope the above helps to answer some of the queries, and most importantly I hope that we see some improvements in the area in the not-too-distant future as a result. As I said earlier, I’m grateful for you letting us know about these problems as it really helps us to prioritise the Council services we have available in the area.

Best wishes

Dirty correspondence 1

I've been exchanging words recently with my local MP - and not for the first time. I thought I'd dig out the correspondence to bring you up to speed:

This was my first email sent 31 July 2008

> For the Cathays Focus Team,
> I'm sending a quick email in the hope of some action
> in my local area. I live at XXXXXXXXXXXXXX Road and
> have recently been really disgusted by the state of
> the road.
> There are a number of empty/old/broken fridges outside
> the Electrical store opposite the pub
> which have been lay at the side of the road for a few
> months now.
> There are also a large number of houses who are
> filling up their front yards with rubbish and do not
> seem to have been asked to clean them up. Rubbish is
> blowing down the street and into the yards of other
> cleaner neighbours! The sheer amount of rubbish in
> these yards is definately likely to cause rat problems
> and continues all the way up the road.
> Whilst I'm in my 20's and able to pop out and clean up
> my yard on a regular basis I feel sorry for my elderly
> neighbours who need to clean theirs.
> Also litter is often left out too late on collection
> day and therefore left on the street for another week
> and the bags are picked apart by seagulls.
> After the collection yesterday when I walked home from
> work the pavement was full of rubbish left over that
> the bin men refuse to pick up after the bags have
> split. Can a street cleaner be sent down after the bin
> men? Should the bin men be encourage to clean up split
> bags? If a seagull or cat has ripped open the bag
> overnight it is hardly the residents fault.
> I'd really appreciate some council assistance in
> getting this road tidyed up. It's a nice area to live
> but is currently looking really bedraggled.
> I have just sent off payment for permit parking for
> this area - not only do I now have to pay to park on
> my own road (to discourage non-residents from parking
> there) but I am even asked to enclose a stamped
> addressed envelope! What is my £5 for a permit for? A
> second permit costs £30... I can't believe the council
> are so short of money that I need to include my own
> postage paid envelope. If having to pay for your
> permit isn't galling enough, having to put a SAE in
> certainly is!
> Anyway, here is hoping that you can arrange for these
> problems to be looked at - at least a van to collect
> the abandoned fridges and waste would be appreciated.
> Kind Regards

Friday, 1 May 2009

Home births and a woman's right to choose

I had a really interesting debate at lunch today with a friend (male) about a woman’s right to choose to have a home birth. As he was (once) a medical student, his view was that choosing to have your baby at home was a drain on hospital resources as you are taking a midwife away from a hospital where she can attend to a number of pregnant women at once.

In 2006 only around 2.7% of births in England and Wales took place at home; it’s not a huge number at all. In April the BBC reported on a study that found that “for low-risk women, giving birth at home is as safe as doing so in hospital with a midwife.” Even in those home births that then required transferring to hospital the risk to the baby was no greater than that of those who started off giving birth at home.

Louise Silverton, deputy general secretary of the Royal College of Midwives, said, "to begin providing more home births there has to be a seismic shift in the way maternity services are organised. The NHS is simply not set up to meet the potential demand for home births, because we are still in a culture where the vast majority of births are in hospital."

This seems to correlate with what my friend was saying regarding the use of resources, however, does the lack of midwives mean that women should be forced to come into hospital against their will? Should there not be instead more effort put into recruiting more nurses into midwifery or providing better services? In this country there aren't enough organs for transplant available to those that need them - should we then say that no-one is entitled to organ transplant or instead look at ways to increase the number of people that sign up to the organ donation register?

In the Metro today I read a article where an incredibly on the ball husband had assisted his wife in giving birth at home after he was told there were no midwifes available to come out to them. Instead of panicking or rushing her off to hospital he simply Googled ‘labour’ and watched some YouTube videos that showed him what to do.

I have no children so I can’t fully comment on ‘giving birth’ however, I do know from the unpleasant experiences of my sister-in-law and sister, that giving birth in hospital is not always ideal either. In the case of my sister, her husband was sent home for the night leaving her to suffer in great discomfort through the night alone as she had been induced. Both myself and my mum were really upset to hear how distressed she sounded in the morning. Not one for making a fuss (as us British tend to be) she just put up with the discomfort but clearly would have been happier if she had her husband with her.

I’m not a sandal-wearing hippy advocate of breast-feeding, cotton nappies and home births, however I do feel that women and their partners should be given choices when it comes to pregnancy and birth. This goes for being able to follow a ‘birth plan’ in hospital or choosing a home birth. I don’t condone mothers who choose not to follow medical advice out of their own stubbornness either – if there is a medical need for certain procedures, or for example advice that a water birth is no longer possible because of a tricky labour then fine, listen to the doctors. However, I do believe the choice to start the birth in the way you wish is very important.

I can’t imagine how nervous I would be in the months running up to giving birth. Knowing I had to have a tooth removed I was horribly worried in the week running up to it – having nearly 9 months to get nervous is another matter! Personal control over situations is a big issue in making people feel more comfortable and I think that if medical professionals can give women (and their partners) the feeling of control on such a life changing occasion, then all the better.

Gratuitous image of my nephew Henry...

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Things and Stuff

Ohhh I've not written anything on my blog in ages. I know, I know - I'm completely rubbish and can never expect to have a burgeoning career as a blogger being this lame. Apologies. I've been very busy doing things for my actual career - and some nice freelance web stuff too. I'm happily starting to find a bit of a niche using my skills to advise people on usability for their websites - and lots of other handy tips and hints about analytics and things. I'm still definitely not a web designer - no mistakes there please - but I've got some skills I can hawk out for sure!

I've done alot of work on this site: - a fantastic hairdresser and good friend. I've been slowly tarting up his site, adding a new gallery using lightbox and fixing things from the inside out (his original site was built entirely in tables - ugh) in order to make the site work better, be more efficient and user friendly - and also to improve his google rankings. We've been looking at building an online store and maybe some other exciting developments too.

I recently finished a course with Ffotogallery in Cardiff to try and brush up my design skills - I'm pretty handy with html, css and dreamweaver but I'm like an infant when it comes to photoshop. The ideas are all there in my head but my ability to translate them into slick design is a bit lacking.

Next on the list is some work for a friend on his business site - he's a tiler so it's not going to be anything overly complicated. However, he did commit the cardinal sin of purchasing his domain name along with some horrible 'build it yourself with our freakishly awful templates that let you do nothing' package. Grr. So now i need to transfer that sharpish.

So busy busy busy for me recently - I'm also coming to the end of my wedding marathon. By the end of May I will have been to 8 weddings in just over 8 months. Add to this a few hen parties and my sister's 30th and yes, you can call me social butterfly number one. Luckily I've booked a holiday for early June - bit of sun, sea and reading I think. If i can take my eyes off the monitor for what will feel like the first time in ages I'm hoping to get back to some old fashioned book loving. If you've got any recommendations for books to pack let me know!

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

The curious incident of the mum in the moonlight

So this weekend I went on a jolly to visit my family in Manchester, I had a lovely weekend planned - culminating in a surprise party on Sunday for my siter-in-law's birthday. Of course, me being me I then got hideously ill on Saturday night, I woke up around 1am with really bad stomach cramps and a feeling I was going to be sick..

After creeping to the bathroom twice already in the dark trying not to wake my parents I then ran to the bathroom for a third time to be sick. Exiting the bathroom in the pitch black again I was staggering quietly back to my room when this little voice came out of the darkness... 'are you ok?'....

I should at this moment point out that I am possibly the jumpiest person around - I don't exaggerate - and have always been a bit spooked by my parents big old house at night. Having imagined being jumped on by a burgalar in the dark for years it was finally happening...

So of course I screamed by head off and my mum (because OF COURSE it was my mum, who else would it have been) stepped out from the dark doorway she was looming in and grabbed me to stop me from falling back down the steps I'd just come up! The next morning my dad pointed out that he 'knew all along' my mum would make me jump and didn't know why she hadn't switched a light on or knocked on the bathroom door. I want to know why my dad didn't tell her that before she nearly made me die of a heart attack!

Divide : Scared To Death
Originally uploaded by monsieurlam
Anyway, my mum got me back into bed and then bless her loveliness sat up with me for the next 4 hours as I got more and more ill and even offered to play scrabble with me to pass the time!!! I did decline the scrabble offer as I was at that point hunched over a bowl trying not to be sick, however we did have a good game of I Spy. The only ones I can remember are moisturiser, charger and water chestnuts (yes I had a tin of water chestnuts in my bedroom - isn't that normal?). Either way she definitely redeemed herself by looking after me all Sunday as I went through all the niceties of a 24 hour vomiting bug: she brought me water, a bowl to be sick in, woke me up from my sleep to stick a thermometer under my tongue etc etc... Thanks Mum!

Friday, 13 February 2009

25 things...

I did was asked to do this on Facebook recently and thought it was interesting enough to post on here... lazy posting!

Rules: Once you've been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, you choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you.

1) I once fell out of a tree I was climbing whilst wearing my best Sunday dress. The back of the dress caught on a branch and I was left hanging from the tree. On spotting my predicament my Dad told me he wasn’t going to help me down which would teach me a lesson. I was probably only left hanging there for a couple of minutes but it felt like forever.

2) I love puzzles of all types and have a not-so-secret current love of jigsaws. This involved me doing a 500 piece Lord of the Rings puzzle at the weekend (my housemate rescued it from her mum’s bin). My mind always wants things to be tidy and organised.

3) Though I used to hate it I now love having curly hair. I think I look weird with straight hair and could never get used to wearing it that way. I hate being asked if I’ve got a perm.

4) I once won a competition to design a Christmas card for the local Royal Bank of Scotland branch when I was about 9. I remember doing a snow scene with Father Christmas and his sleigh and tippex-ing in the snow flakes on a midnight blue background.

5) I didn’t go on a plane until I was 18. My uncle died in a plane crash around 6 months before but I still really enjoy flying.

6) My dad’s name is Phil Taylor. My friends at home call him ‘the Power’. He plays snooker but I’m not sure if he’s actually any good at darts. He’s my absolute hero but is also as stubborn as me so we have some brilliant arguments. His initials are PMT and I like to think it’s because he has pre-menstrual tension.

7) Seven is my lucky number. I was born on the 7th March. I once put my last $20 of betting money on number seven on roulette in a Sydney casino. I didn’t win.

8) I like to sing at the top of my voice in the kitchen when I’m doing jobs and slide around the wooden floor in my socks. At moments like these I think I’m possibly the best dancer the world has ever seen. All time sock dancing favourite is probably Jaramaqui.

9) I wish I had paid more attention in university and attended more lectures. I only started really enjoying my degree in the third year and although I got a 2:1 I wish I’d have taken more away with me.

10) I’m a sea lover. I would always choose living by the sea over anything else.

11) I come from a big family. I have an older brother and sister, 2 nephews and 1 niece. My mum is one of 7 and my dad is one of 4. I have around 26 first cousins, 19 second cousins and if you factor in my cousins’ husbands and wives it adds up to a pretty long birthday card list. I would consider myself very close to all of my family however living three and a half hours away occasionally has its benefits!

12) Jack Nicholson once asked me if I’d like to pat him down.

13) Matthew Kelly once tripped over me.

14) I think my mum might be one of the best cooks going. Sunday lunch at my parents is usually a marathon of food, wine, conversation and humour. I picked up a love of cooking from her and really enjoy cooking for people.

15) On my 19th birthday I got so drunk that I was sick in my knickers. It’s a long story and best told in person with actions.

16) I once hid in a wardrobe for ages waiting to jump out on my cousin Daniel who was living with us at the time. When I eventually jumped out it was my Aunty Jane who had walked in and not Daniel. I’ve never seen anyone look so terrified. I was about 16.

17) I’ve been on TV. I was in a kids television show called Knight School for ITV. I demonstrate possibly the worst acting skills you’ve ever seen but happen to be quite proud of the singing I did for it.

18) I’ve never broken a bone but have the weakest ankles known to mankind.

19) I’m fairly mild mannered but sometimes enjoy a really impassioned rant on a particular topic, occasionally this can lead to irrational bouts of rage. Current examples include:
- My noisy boiler
- People who stroke my hair
- Shane Ritchie

20) I have itchy feet and love going to new places. I wish I could travel more and when money allows have a mental list of places to visit. Most of them involve long-haul.

21) I think empathy is a really important trait and should be paired up with compassion as often as possible – even if I sometimes have to remind myself.

22) I sucked my thumb regularly for around 26 years. I still occasionally suck my thumb when I’m really tired and usually wake up with teeth marks on my thumb.

23) I love the idea of love and romance but hate over the top men who try too hard. Insincere romance or male clinginess makes me cringe! I think deep down I might be after the cave-man approach.

24) I got flashed at three times in one visit once when I went to visit my Nanna in a unit to assess old folks with Alzheimer's/Dementia. Each time was by the same man. He was remarkably well hung for his age.

25) I enjoy making people laugh and being made to laugh. It’s my favourite pastime. Some jokes will never grow old either. Me and my sister putting my enormous bras on our heads will still do it every time.

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Islands in the Stream

This makes me happy. In fact Dolly Parton in general makes me happy. I defy anyone to listen to a Dolly song and not smile. Well, maybe except for a newly divorced and slighty bitter woman who might happen to catch the opening bars of 'D-I-V-O-R-C-E'. Anyway, I was singing a song all morning and couldn't put my finger on what it was. Turns out it was the opening lines of 'Islands in the Stream' and I was happily singing Kenny Rogers bit. (He's an affable looking fellow too).

So sing a long with me. Please. I swear it will make you smile...

"Baby, when I met you there was peace unknown
I set out to get you with a fine tooth comb
I was soft inside, there was somethin going on"