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Everything posted by petergear

  1. The BBC website: "Who are Hamas?" (written 26 January 2006) http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/in_depth/middle_east/2001/israel_and_the_palestinians/profiles/1654510.stm
  2. Er, this is a link to a Google video.... nearly the same thing. Incidentally, if you don't like swearwords, don't click on the link. It appealed to me tho, I nearly pished meesel laughin http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-4663672450629299727
  3. Spotted this in the Shetland News headlines: http://www.shetland-news.co.uk/pages/news%20stories/10_2006/web_opens_for_community_groups.htm £63,000???! How on earth did they manage to spend that much?
  4. An online petition some of you might be interested in signing: www.ceasefirecampaign.org/iran
  5. Wow! Yun's smokin' aa-right! HHHHOT, baby! Dey sure can recruit at da Smokehouse. Bootsy filled-in an' returned an application form for da job we hed in da pipper dis last week (and yes, he did have the necessary ex-per-ience), but I hed tae knock 'im back because he's gotten used tae aafil long tea-braks.
  6. I had been hassling Infrastructure Services about the flower beds for some months. No-one had done any weeding, nor pruning. It looked awful. The specification reads, "Unmulched beds shall be forked to a depth of 100mm and/or hoed and raked to...present a neat cultivated appearance." The other day, instead of weeding the flower beds, Golders have strimmed the weeds . They haven't even raked up the strimmed weeds, which are left in rotting piles (the spec reads "all weeds shall be cleared and disposed to an authorised disposal facility"). Why are the Powers That Be within Infrastructure Services letting them away with this? This situation has become farcical.
  7. In fact, here it is: http://www.shetlink.com/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=287&highlight=depopulate+foula
  8. It seems to me that within this Foula Ferry discussion, we are now debating self-sustainability within small community structures? Perhaps we could extend the geographical spread of this debate beyond Foula, to cover the whole of the West Side? Apart from subsidised sheep-production, I wonder what's left there, besides Mussels? Or perhaps it should cover all of Shetland - surely everyone knows that the SIC's incestuous money-go-round, post-oil-boom, is all that keeps Shetland propped-up? Perhaps a logical progression would be that the Scottish Executive should pull the plug on the millions it provides us to run Northlink, give us the boat, and let us make a kirk-or-a-mill of it? It is difficult to keep young families in rural areas. There have been a number of efforts to bring life back into Foula recently. These have met with some success, and there has been a return of young blood to the isle. The population has rallied a little. I don't think that expecting skilled crew members to work for a meagre nothing is a good way to encourage this trend - they will simply move away again. I am all for a wholesome existence, with less dependence on central governing bodies. I would love to lead a more fulfilling and self-sustaining lifestyle, "away from the ratrace", and Foula is the kind of "romantic" landscape which inspires such notions. In this day and age, though, no matter where you are, red tape surrounds everything. If you were trying to lead the Good Life, would you dive enthusiastically into the bureacratic tangle which, I imagine, would be involved in running a passenger-freight service in this modern day and age? Hazardous waters, perhaps? To be honest I know little of the Foula Co-op's involvement in bidding to run the service, so I'm havering a little, and making some assumptions myself, but I guess that none of them will ever have been involved in tendering for any "big-business" before. I'd guess they would have bid cautiously and sensibly, in order not to threaten their own life-savings if they'd mis-calculated. It is perhaps harsh and insulting of you to suggest that they were greedy? Just to add, while I'm on; there's already a "de-populate Foula now" thread somewhere else in here, if anyone wants a look.
  9. The flower beds still haven't been touched yet. They should have 10 visits over the course of the summer. This is us well into August now. Great going. The Council upgraded the specification this year quite considerably, with in some instances, double the previous frequency of cuts. So we should have enjoyed a huge improvement in service this summer over previous years. What do you think? Have we seen a huge improvement? Incidentally, an excuse which was used to justify the "problems" they were having was that the new contractors were having a "settling-in period". If the contracts had been awarded to a local firm, I wonder whether such indulgences would have been given? And whether this would be allowed to continue all summer?
  10. I understand that each of the tenderers were obliged to take on the existing crews under TUPE regulations, continuing equal pay, terms and conditions, so I don't believe "greed" was a determining factor in the outcome. I'm sure the Foula folk are essentially just pleased that the boat will be running, full stop. Any ferry crew, from Skipper to Deckhand, must be skilled at their jobs, else you have a very unsafe situation developing! Are you seriously proposing that a service such as this should be run by whatever random passengers happen to turn up on the day? If so, I bags first shot at driving the "Daggri"! Maybe this could become a new "extreme-sport" tourist attraction for the isles? Seriously though, all the inter-island services are, I understand, being examined under the scope of Best Value, with competitive tendering being one possible outcome. It would almost certainly be possible for unscrupulous but "successful" contractors to, at some stage, replace local labour with cheap labour from outwith the UK? Hm, where have I heard this one before I guess that tendering the Foula service will undoubtedly have been a useful opportunity for the SIC to "test the water", with regard the possibility of tendering-out the entrireity of the inter-island ferry services.
  11. Unfortunately there isn't so far as I know. The SIC's officers at Infrastructure Services can give repeated warnings to the contractor, and should they have the will, can give any work which isn't getting done to other contractors. However no local firms have yet been offered to give prices for any of the work which Golders are quite clearly failing to get around to. Very frustrating and disappointing.
  12. So far as I understand (and this is just a vague impression based upon a casual conversation with the boys at the dump), the grass is used to help regulate the temperature of the incinerator. I think that the temperature of the incinerator varies considerably depending upon the type of stuff they're burning. For example, if there's a high polystyrene content then it gets too hot, and they then use the grass to cool it (!). I might be wrong though so don't quote me!
  13. Golders can hardly blame the weather, as we had one of the slowest starts to the growing season in many's the year (it was about a month behind our usual), and it has been nice dry working weather. Anyway I have it on good authority that Golders took on 3 more staff two or three weeks back, and that they have been forced to take on another 3 staff over and above that, beginning fairly shortly, and that they've had to source a 3rd vehicle as well. I still believe that even with their staffing numbers doubled from 6 to 12, that it is too little too late. We priced to do the work with 14 staff, to be implemented from the outset, and with five vehicles rather than three, so my opinion is that Golders are trying to play catch-up with inadequate resources. Incidentally even if they do turn the work around now, they still haven't made a single visit to many areas yet which they're supposed to be doing; all the planted areas, for example, are supposed to have ten visits. I'm aware of a lot of girse which hasn't had its first cut yet. Please help the council to be aware of these areas if you notice them, by either emailing or telephoning Infrastructure Services. The council's officers do want to know, it's just that it's impossible for them to be everywhere at the same time, so they need a little help from members of the public. You want to speak to either Graeme MacDonald or Jonathan Emptage. The number is 01595 744800, and their email addresses are below: graeme.macdonald@sic.shetland.gov.uk jonathan.emptage@sic.shetland.gov.uk As I say, the council's officers do want to know, and they will chase up Golders to get the work done. The more you can let them know about, the better. If you don't see results fast though, phone/email them back again until you do!
  14. They've had this contract since the beginning of April. We're now into July. The areas you're talking about are category "c", which get ten cuts over the course of the summer, and (sorry to be pedantic Bryan) should have had four or five cuts by now.
  15. Ten times through the course of the summer, so they should all have had a good few cuts by now; all the clippings should be gathered and removed. As well as cutting the grass at each visit to the playparks, the contractor is supposed to sweep the hard surfaces (every visit), all glass, animal droppings and general rubbish should be removed, and the bins should be emptied.
  16. This isn't strictly the same thing, but is sort-of related.... I find junk-mail, telesales and junk fax incredibly annoying. Like door-to-door sales, it is an unsolicited intrusion on your "personal time". If you want to do something to stop yourself being subject to it, you can register with the Mail Preference Service, and/or the Telephone Preference Service, and/or and the Fax Preference Service, all from links on the website below: http://www.mpsonline.org.uk/mpsr/ It doesn't stop it all, but it stops most of it. Takes about two minutes of brief form-filling. Really works. Great!
  17. I don‘t know Sakchai myself, but it seems clear that “the system†has failed here, and with horrific consequences. How on earth can we expect a generation of young people (or old people ) to have respect for the systems of justice and government, if that system “behaves†as badly as this? People will never have faith in a system which bullies vulnerable people, or acts in a "shoot first ask questions later" manner. Whoever is responsible for this disgusting balls-up will, I hope, face serious consequences for their actions. In any case, I reckon at the end of the day that this is some serious rotten egg on someone’s face. I hope Sakchai is is returned home immediately. All the best to you lad, hope to celebrate your return soon.
  18. The boys working for this outfit do indeed seem to be very polite, hard-working and well-intentioned. I have no issue with the workers. The problem is that there are not enough of them; there would need to be more than double the manpower if Golder Landscapes were to actually conform to the new specification. Bear in mind that the frequency of cut has increased dramatically for all categories of ground, and that they would be expected to be showing an improvement on previous years' standards.
  19. Yup, I'm afraid that some of our competitors' staff were notoriously poor at customer relations, and you wouldn't have been the first to have cause to complain about their manners. Unfortunately their work wasn't always up to much either, which is one of the reasons this new firm aren't getting many complaints. I'm fairly certain the staff you're talking about weren't in my employ.
  20. I was amused to see that despite the fact that they still have to make their first visit to some of the outlying areas, that they felt the need to whizz around the most obvious areas in the town for a second cut, mere days after they had done the first one. I'm sure you can all work out what they're trying there. The bins in the playparks around Shetland still aren't being emptied (Hayfield included, Lolzord), the hard surfaces still aren't being swept, the planted areas still aren't being maintained, the litter still isn't being picked up, and there are loads of places (playparks included) which haven't even had their first cut yet. I find it incredibly galling that they are apparently "getting away" with this. I wonder how closely the record they'll submit this month to the council, of work completed, correlates to the actual work they've done?
  21. Pretty much. The service we provide is to pensioners, disabled people, temporary accomodation etc. The frequency of cuts is category "C", which is the same specification as that in the playparks and sheltered housing schemes under the care of Golder Landscapes. Category C areas should get ten cuts. Unfortunately, it's difficult to draw direct comparisons with all their work and ours, as there are a few different categories designed for different areas in Golders' contract. Some urban verge areas are category "D" (eight cuts) and some are "F" (six cuts). Waste ground is cat "F" (six cuts ) or "G" (three cuts). Despite only being awarded our contract about a fortnight ago, we have still managed to get onto our second "round" already (six hundred gardens in two weeks). Golder Landscapes have held their contract for a month and a half now. It remains to be seen how much longer it will take them to finish their first round.
  22. The specification was upgraded upon previous years', following the Best Value review.... should have resulted in improved standards, not lowered
  23. Yes, it is, in all the areas within the remit of the contracts (playparks, road verges, planted areas, sheltered housing schemes, open spaces, office areas, social work property etc). The first line of the Specification states the following, under "Scope of Works": "The works include the routine landscape maintenance and litter collection of the areas..." Clause 2.5 of the Specification, Litter and Leaf Clearance, states the following: "The Contractor shall maintain a general litter free appearance of grass areas. In addition to the litter collection noted in clause 2.1 blown litter shall be regularly collected and removed from perimiters, under hedges and around trees within any grass area and disposed to an authorised disposal facility." Clause 2.1 states the following: "Litter, stones and other debris shall be collected immediately prior to cutting or treatment being undertaken." Also: "The contractor shall.... clear any cuttings, earth or debris that lands on surrounding hard surfaces as a result of cutting or treatments to grass areas". With regard to the planted areas (Pitt Lane, Jim's garage, the areas near Kirkland etc), clause 3.6 reads: "Litter and other debris shall be cleared from the beds and collected at each maintenance visit...." Regards the hard surfaces, clause 4.1 reads: "... the removal of of dirt, litter, fallen leaves..." etc There is a specific section for playparks: "At the time of maintenance of play areas the contractor shall sweep the whole surface of the play area to remove any litter, glass or other debris and remove it from the site to an authorised waste disposal facility. All litter bins in the play area shall be emptied...." etc However despite all this, they're not doing any of it, so far as I can tell.
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