April 2019

3254 days ago

So the chickens have finally come home to roost. Is anyone really surprised by the news that Middlesbrough schools are now so over subscribed that close on 100 pupils currently cannot get a secondary school place in the town. You don’t need me to tell you that the parents involved are somewhat underwhelmed at the news.
With the May elections on the horizon, little wonder this story is causing panic in the corridors of power. Damage limitation is now the order of the day, scapegoats must be found, self preservation vital, sandbags please in front of the council offices, tin hats for everyone sergeant.
Already Andrea Williams, the director of education, has been wheeled out to desperately table the excuses; the schools are full she tells incensed parents, because of unprecedented demand including an increase in international new arrivals. Additionally, she tells us, the problem is also driven by both Nunthorpe and Stokesley schools accepting fewer pupils from Middlesbrough.
Cue Helen Watson, the council’s executive director of children’s services, who cites birth rate increase for the crisis.
You will note that one of the major, if not the major problem, for all this is the council’s relentless drive to build more and more houses. Not a bit of wonder Nunthorpe and Stokesley schools are bursting at the seams when you factor in the new housing developments that are taking place there, and more are planned. When the present national government’s push for new house building was announced, did some enlightened Middlesbrough councillor have the courage to puncture the heady thought bubble of all that extra rateable value, by pointing out that, say 500 new homes equates to about the same number of additional children requiring education.
And perhaps that courageous councillor also pointed out that, as more and more houses are built, sooner than later the town’s schools will be unable to cope with such an influx, especially when the aforementioned student immigration element is added to the equation. Perhaps this far-seeing councillor might also have pointed out that in these new houses are people who own cars, and at times these families fall sick, and need medical attention. So perhaps it might be better if additional schools, health centres, and better roads, are established before the planners start increasing the population. Think horses before carts and departments that understand joined-up writing.
There has been talk of a new school at Middlehaven, ‘talk’ being the operative word, but no action. And, still on the subject of Middlehaven, if, as is so often pointed out, this is going to be a vibrant new area of the town, with its new College, Ski-run and Premier Division Football Stadium and goodness knows what else, where is the concatenation of executive homes which will be needed to accommodate the Glitterati in such egregious surroundings? Just asking.

Peter Cook – Editor-in-Chief

Rob Watson

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October - November 2008

3835 days ago

It was a Sunday evening and Ruth and Peter Annison were driving back to their Nottingham home after spending another delightful weekend in their favourite Yorkshire Dales.

“We so loved this part of the world,” Ruth explains. “And on that journey we began asking ourselves why we were leaving it. Why not move there permanently?”
It proved to be a road to Damascus moment for these two college lecturers, who decided there and then to sell up in Nottingham, and become residents.

But in so doing, two problems immediately presented themselves. Firstly they would need to find a suitable residence, and secondly, how would they earn a living?
It was while Ruth was looking around Hawes that the answer to that important second question was answered. “I was watching Tom Outhwaite the local ropemaker twisting rope in his small workshop, and he told me he was hoping to retire soon. With no obvious successor it seemed that the ropemaking tradition in Hawes, as in so many other places, was doomed. I made a quick telephone call to Peter and we began to explore the possibility of taking over Tom Outhwaites’s business. We were not alone. The news had got out, and Tom suddenly received 300 letters from people wanting to buy W.R. Outhwaite & Son which had been established in Hawes since 1905.

By Saturday morning Andrew was almost at the end of his tether. “I was now convinced that I would be found dead on the cliff.”

With his strength ebbing away, he decided on one last throw of the dice. Ignoring the pain and stiffness that was ravaging his body, he somehow managed to climb on to the rock that had given him some shelter. Stretching out his phone above his head he suddenly realised he had got reception. He frantically keyed in a text message and pressed the ‘send’ button.

“It took an age, and I shook with relief as I finally read the response – ‘message sent’. I tried immediately to make a

13strides

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