BBC BLOGS - Graham Smith's Blog

Archives for June 2012

Glittering prizes

Graham Smith | 11:30 UK time, Friday, 29 June 2012

Congratulations to BBC Radio Cornwall's Laurence Reed, who picked up his third consecutive gong for best regional news and current affairs radio programme at the EDF Media Awards in Bath yesterday. Yours truly was EDF's regional radio journalist of the year, which meant that Laurence and I were able to compare paperweights on the way home. A splendid time was had by all, particularly me, as seated at my table was an EDF chap who told me all kinds of interesting things about the proposed new Hinkley Point nuclear power station. My thanks to EDF and Hold The Front Page for hosting this event.

Cops and robbers

Graham Smith | 11:13 UK time, Friday, 29 June 2012

Thanks again to the FoI team: there's some amusing sport to be had from this list of items stolen from Devon and Cornwall police stations. Eleven thefts a year - that's nearly one a month. How did a burglar manage to steal a mattress? And what rotter has been going round nicking aftershave and the (presumably) WPCs' perfume and eye-liner?

In addition to the list of stuff stolen from police stations, there's a longer list recording the items where police have been the victims of crime while out on the street. Lots of jewellery, fishing rods and a six-pack of cider were among the swag which caught my eye. Of the 76 crimes recorded here, only seven resulted in prosecutions.

Time up for dinner time?

Graham Smith | 13:02 UK time, Wednesday, 13 June 2012

We're half a year on from when we reported that two Devon primary schools were scrapping hot school meals because they said they could not afford to buy them any more.

It now transpires that more than 60 of Devon's schools have quit the newly privatised service. More than a dozen now provide no hot meals at all, except where there is a statutory obligation to help children from families on benefit.

Information Request 02597
Please could you tell me how many county schools have opted out of the school meals service since September 2011 when the county council outsourced the meals to Devon Norse?
Devon County Council's response
Between September 2011 and April 2012, 64 schools decided not to receive their school meals service from Devon Norse.

And from the Devon Norse website:

In these times of economic pressure, Norse's pioneering approach to helping local authorities maintain high standards of service delivery will save Devon County Council money, protect local jobs and contribute to the local economy.

Looking for new, cost-efficient ways of working, Devon County Council was attracted to Norse's combination of public sector experience and commercial flair. The council believes these skills will develop the Joint Venture's business to everyone's benefit.

Devon Norse has responsibility for delivering cleaning services to schools and various NHS sites and civic buildings, along with catering at many of the county's schools and for civic functions.

Devon County Council said none of this was anything of their business - schools manage their own budgets, and questions about meals should be addressed to the service provider.

Anyone for politics? All I need now is a quote from Jamie Oliver and the job's done...

You wait for months and then you get two...

Graham Smith | 11:16 UK time, Wednesday, 13 June 2012

The entertainment potential provided by Devon and Cornwall Liberal Democrats over November's Police Commissioner election seems to know no limit.

In February it was all perfectly clear. After months of internal wrangling, the Lib Dems decided, finally, not to field a candidate.

And then they changed their minds. So the official position, as I write this, is that the Devon and Cornwall Lib Dems are now seeking a candidate.

Step forward North Devon's Brian Greenslade, a former chairman of the Devon and Cornwall Police Authority and a Liberal Democrat member of Devon county council. Except that Brian, who would very much like to be the Police Commissioner and who is a Liberal Democrat to his finger-tips, does not want to stand as a Liberal Democrat candidate.

This raises the highly amusing prospect of the Liberal Democrats having two candidates in the race - one of them official, one of them an independent.

Party officials are now frantically thumbing through their rule books to find out what the consequences of this might be: most seem to think that Brian could not stand against an official candidate and remain a member of the party.

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