Last Thursday, at the full council meeting of Redcar & Cleveland, a motion was put forward by Cllr. Steve Turner to scrap the existing criteria for Freedom of The Borough nominations citing it was "not fit for purpose" given the recent debacle involving my nomation of Eddie Straight. The result was a unanimous vote in favour by the entire council- all 59 members- and that included the Mayor. A working group will now be set up to review the FOTB procedure and rewrite the criteria. I would like to thank Cllr. Turner for taking up Eddie's cause and putting forward the motion entirely of his own accord. I would like to thank the Mike Findley MBE for his vocal support at the previous council meeting in December; and every councillor for backing the motion. Hopefully at some point in the future, we may yet see Eddie awarded the honour. Thanks to all members of the public who also voiced their support in recent months. I am working on the final cut of the film which I hope will be unveiled publicly in the Spring. Exactly where, when and how is TBA. Thanks!
"During times of universal deceit TELLING THE TRUTH becomes a revolutionary act" George Orwell
SALTBURN WAR HERO EDDIE STRAIGHT DENIED FREEDOM OF BOROUGH WITH NO VALID REASON
BY REDCAR MAYOR
IN A WEEK ! (Petition now closed)
THE TRIUMPH OF IDIOCY, INEPTITUDE & DECEIT OVER INTEGRITY & JUSTICE WILL BE FOUGHT UNTIL VICTORY AND VICTORY IS GUNNA COME !
2.12.15: THE TRUTH LAID BARE
Page 3 of the new Coastal View
30.11.15: 'CROSS PARTY PANEL' DECEIT
30th Nov 2015
An Open Letter to The Mayor,
Re: THE FREEDOM OF THE BOROUGH FIASCO.
What should have been something simply and inherently positive has been rendered a complete shambles that has left myself and many others feeling angry and disgusted. Please refer to the comments left for you by some of the 1,700+ people who have signed the online petition in the last two weeks. I thought it couldn't get any worse but in the last week, I have also discovered that you have been deceitful / less than transparent with myself and the public claiming repeatedly that Eddie was rejected by "a unanimous cross party panel decision". After obtaining the minutes to the FOTB Advisory Panel meeting of Oct 1st, I saw that this was patently untrue as NONE of the designated panel members attended. It states that Cllr. Cooney (Con), Cllr. Hunt (Ind) and Cllr. Mason (Lib Dem) all sent apologies. You met ONLY with Cllr. Wilson who was a Lib-Dem stand in. Yourself and a Lib Dem stand in does not make a cross-party panel in anyone's book.
Furthermore, in the last few days, I have also been informed by Cllr. Hunt that he DID NOT send apologies as he believed he had left the panel after May's election. So why do the minutes state otherwise?
From the outset I had been led to believe that Cllr. Lanigan was the Ind. member of the panel. I had heard before we met that Cllr. Lanigan did not attend the panel meeting. I asked you to confirm this and you did but what you didn't tell me was that she was not a panel member and nor did you tell me that none of the three had taken part. So is it possible that you yourself did not know who was on the panel? Or is it more a case that you were being not entirely transparent? Either way, it took you over 2 months to organise a cross-party panel meeting that was two parties short and gave rise to a nonsensical decision that Cllrs. Hunt and Lanigan have told me that they would have opposed had they been on the panel.
Consequently, the decision to reject Eddie is founded on a misinterpretation of the criteria, by a bogus panel, reported inaccurately to the public and with incorrect minutes. As a result, the fiasco has brought shame upon the title of Mayor and of this borough. Eddie Straight, who went through hell in the defence of freedom and democracy deserves better, the borough deserves better and so do I.
I end this as I began - presenting an opportunity. To restore some democratic credibility to this saga, I propose that Eddie's nomination be reconsidered this time by all 59 members at the forthcoming full council meeting. To ensure that members are properly informed, I request the opportunity to read a short statement in support of Eddie and show the film in the chamber before votes are cast. It is also right that the Civic reception for Eddie that was set up in light of his nomination being turned down, is cancelled.
27.11.15: MAYORAL CONTRADICTION
DARLINGTON-&-STOCKTON-TIMES - Mayor writes to Queen for national award. Great BUT it does contradict her argument "we can't give it to Eddie because then we will have to give it to all the other veterans in the borough". So presumably she will be writing to the Queen about all the other veterans? Of course not! Why? Because Eddie is 'a person of distinction' and therefore he is eligible for the FOTB. A national award does not negate the fact that the Mayor has been deceitful about the "cross party panel decision" that wasn't. Of course one can be cynical and see this as a convenient face-saving exercise...and she did actually tell me in her office "he should have got a knighthood years ago but its too late for Eddie, he is 95 and WWII was a long time ago". This is a fight for justice as much as the FOTB and is far from over regardless of even a knighthood.
MAYOR NOT AVAILABLE FOR BBC TEES
Mayor "not available" for BBC interview following the revelations
of the cross party panel that never was !
23.11.15: "CROSS PARTY PANEL"
DECEIT & CONFUSION !
"It was a unanimous decision by a cross-party panel" said the Mayor... BUT IT WASN'T ! I now have the minutes of the meeting
when Eddie was rejected (see below) ALL THREE PANEL MEMBERS DID NOT ATTEND! ONLY ONE SENT A STAND IN
Cllrs. Mason (LibDem) Cllr. Cooney (Con) & Hunt (Ind.) all sent their apologies. The Mayor was joined ONLY by a LibDem stand-in, Cllr. Wilson. I have been informed that the Council constitution states that the panel can have a minimum number of two members but in anyone's book one Labour member & one Lib Dem does not constitute a "Cross Party Panel" = The Conservatives & Independents were not represented. What happens if the two members disagree? In this case The Mayor was ALSO the Chair so presumably she would get the casting vote? The Mayor has stated repeatedly that it was a "cross party decision by the panel" knowing it wasn't.
ALSO, I had heard a month ago that Cllr. Lanigan (Ind. rep on the FOTB panel) did not attend the meeting. I asked the Mayor about this, in her office on Oct 29th, and she confirmed it. What she didn't tell me was that the other panel members also didn't attend. Why is Cllr. Lanigan not included in the minutes and Cllr. Hunt (Ind.) is? Why is Cllr. Lanigan not listed on the Council website as a FOTB panel member and Cllr. Hunt is? I asked The Mayor's PA for clarification on who the FOTB panel members are and I was told Cllrs. Forster, Mason, Cooney and Hunt. But Cllr. Hunt told me last week that he had come off the panel last year!
This whole saga has been a complete shambles from start to finish. They seem to be making it up as they go along, they have misinterpreted the criteria, don't know who the panel members are and have been deceitful about the panel itself. It is unacceptable and I am writing to the council to demand that the decision be quashed. In the interests of fairness and democracy, I propose that the matter be settled by opening up the vote to all 59 members at the next full council meeting; and that my film is shown before the vote so that members this time are not deceived by phantom panel decisions and are fully informed. I will not let ineptitude and deceit stand in the way of justice for Eddie, the borough and myself. We deserve better.
Saltburn Cllr. Craig Hannaway (Lab) congratulates Jackie Taylor on getting the Freedom of the Borough BUT is shut down by Madam Mayor when he mentions EDDIE STRAIGHT! Cllr. Val Halton (Con) also shut down and Cllr. Kay (Ind) calls for review of criteria in light of controversy.
18.11.15: REDCAR REVELATION !
THE MAYOR: "He doesn't meet the criteria. His service was not here in the borough"
ME: "Other boroughs award it to military veterans" THE MAYOR : "That is their business. We have our own criteria"
TONIGHT I DISCOVERED THIS ON THE COUNCIL'S OWN WEBSITE...
from RCBC in 2008
17.11. 2015: THE MAYOR & ME ON THE RADIO
"Eddie doesn't meet the criteria. He was away at war. His service was not here in the borough" The Mayor, Cllr. Brenda Forster to me at meeting 29th Oct 2015.
Email sent 17.11.2015
Dear Cllr. Forster,
You have corresponded in writing twice regarding the rejection of my nomination of Eddie Straight and both times you have failed to provide a reason. You did tell me at our meeting on 29th Oct 2015 that Eddie did not meet the criteria because his service was out of the area and not here in the borough. I cannot accept that this insulting, nonsensical argument stands between what Eddie justly deserves as well as what the borough can benefit from in being seen awarded.
I am now going to put into the clearest possible terms why your reason for rejection is invalid and I would very much like a valid written response either in agreement or in proving that I am wrong.
THE CRITERIA IS VERY SIMPLE:
1. Nominations must show by example that the nominee is a person of distinction and/or a person who has rendered eminent services to the Borough.
2. Conferment should be strictly limited to those who have made a very significant contribution to the locality.
EDDIE MEETS THE CRITERIA WITH BELLS ON:
i) At age of just 20, Eddie was given command of 60 convicts to help rescue people from burning buildings during the blitz.
ii) At 21, entrusted with the personal safety of the heir to the throne, Princess Elizabeth, who he escorted down to the shelters beneath the palace.
iii) Joins elite tank regiment, 11th Armoured Division, and rises to Company Sergeant Major, the highest rank outside of officer class.
iv) Leads his platoon into battle for 11 months from D-Day across Nazi controlled Europe as far as the Baltic sea.
v) Leads his men into Belsen death camp to assist with the liberation of 60,000 prisoners and burial of 10,000 bodies.
vi) Was posted to West Africa to collect a platoon of Nigerians who he then took into the Burmese jungle to fight the Japanese.
vii) Was wounded by six bullets, two bayonets and a mortar bomb; and survived malaria.
SUMMARY: Eddie repeatedly put himself in harms way fighting the greatest threat to the freedom of this borough and the whole country in our history. All of this constitutes in anyone's book: "eminent services rendered to the borough" / "a very significant contribution to this locality" and that he is a "person of distinction" as you obviously concur with your offer to write a letter to the Queen in support of him being given a Knighthood/OBE.
SECONDLY, I would also like to respond to comments that you made on BBC TEES:
1. You accused me of being "cruel" by informing Eddie that he was going to get the award when it wasn't the case. THIS IS 100% UNTRUE. I informed him that I had nominated him only.
2. You queried cynically what I was trying to get out of nominating him and mentioned that I have a DVD out. The film is NOT out on DVD. I cannot release it on DVD because of prohibitive licencing rates of the archive film featured in it. I cannot charge admission at screenings for the same reason which is why the Museum and Saltburn screenings were FREE. I made the film, completely with my own funds, to get Eddie some well-deserved and belated recognition and the nomination was made for the same purpose.
3. You made the comment "Oh Craig is passionate about everything" in a derogatory tone. I make no apologies for giving a damn about this area and it's people; and doing something beyond talking about it. I stand by all my past films and campaigns.
4. You were asked ifyou were worried that if you awarded Eddie you may "open the floodgates" to nominations for other veterans and you said no. But you told me in your office on Oct 29th that you were and used those exact words.
5. Lastly, you claimed on the radio that I couldn't see your point of view and you couldn't see mine. As my interview testifies, I understood your argument perfectly well and described why it didn't hold water. You have failed to provide one that does. I will not be fobbed off with any patronising rubbish. I have collected some 700 signatures in two days on a petition which also includes the thoughts of many about the decision as well as offering much advice for you including this:
"I received the Freedom of the Borough in 2012 for my charity work, I believe that Eddie deserves it more than me" Mike Findley MBE, Marske by the sea, Redcar
There are many more and the number is rising fast.
The feel good story for Redcar & Cleveland that became yet more bad news...
Nov 12th 2015: EDDIE STRAIGHT DENIED FREEDOM OF THE BOROUGH
I regret to announce that yesterday, on Armistice Day of all days, I was informed that my nomination for Freedom of the Borough of esteemed Saltburn war veteran Eddie Straight was REJECTED by The Mayor of Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council.
I nominated Eddie in July with the backing of 6 supporting letters (including 4 from Councillors including the Deputy Leader). I also included a DVD of my documentary "Eddie Straight - To Hell & Back".
The decision to reject Eddie was made by The Mayor, Cllr. Brenda Forster, and the cross party FOTB Panel (one of whom failed to attend) on October 1st and I have spent the past month in correspondence via letters and a meeting with the Mayor imploring that the decision is reconsidered as they had misinterpreted the criteria.
They claim that Eddie is not eligible because his service was not within the borough/community. This is nonsense because the criteria clearly states "nominees must be a person of distinction and/or that has rendered eminent services to the borough / made a significant contribution to the locality". Eddie is absolutely eligible. His service was for the preservation of the freedom and democracy of this country - of which this borough and community are part - and ironically the fact that the Mayor and panel are able to enjoy the privilege of being democratically elected to office and able to make such an award is a direct consequence! And he served with distinction - he must have because The Mayor also suggested that a national award such as an OBE would be more appropriate. If he is worthy enough for a national award then how can he not be for a local one?
I put this to the Mayor when I met her two weeks ago. Her response was wholly inadequate, contradictory and some of her comments left me in a state of disbelief.
I reeled off Eddie's epic service history to which she said that he should get a knighthood or an OBE but not the Freedom of the Borough. When I pressed her why she contradicted herself saying that lots of men were shot in the war, that Eddie didn't liberate Belsen by himself and that she didn't want to open the floodgates to applicants. I explained there weren't enough veterans left in the borough to cause a flood let alone veterans as eminent as Eddie.
I explained how the award originated as a military honour dating back centuries and cited a number of examples from other boroughs where it has recently been awarded to military personnel: The 3rd Battalion Rifles in Hartlepool, The Royal Engineers at Stockton, a Lance Corporal from Rochdale and even an army dog in Tamworth! The Mayor's reaction was that they were for Afghanistan which was recent whereas what Eddie did was "a long time ago and it was too late". I was astounded again and asked her why bother with Remembrance Day then? She said because they had died and I said Eddie came within millimetres several times of being on the cenotaph as he was shot six times, wounded twice by bayonets and hospitalised by a Japanese mortar bomb. I said I made the film as well the nomination because not enough recognition was given to those who came back and quietly got on with life albeit haunted by what they had been through as my film testifies graphically in Eddie's case. She then said she would inform the panel about the points raised and get back to me. I thought reasoned argument versus no argument may yet win the day but I was sadly mistaken.
As the nation prepared for the two minute silence, news that the decision was final came in. This was 3 days after Eddie had laid a wreath at the local cenotaph with supporting local Councillor Stuart Smith. It was signed "on behalf of the Mayor and the borough".
I offered the Mayor a unique opportunity to thank an esteemed war hero, unknown before my film, on behalf of the borough whilst he is still alive to appreciate it. I offered a unique opportunity for the mayor to make the presentation at a special screening event at the Cineworld multiplex in Middlesbrough. (I am still going to arrange the screening regardless). I offered a good news story on a plate and Redcar could certainly do with one of them in light of recent times but to no avail. They have simply rejected all of it and still given no valid reason; And adding insult to injury - on Armistice day. It is a woeful, unconscionable decision and a poor performance all round. The panel should hang their heads in shame and the Mayor in my opinion should not be in the job.
I would however like to thank Cllrs. David Walsh (Deputy Leader), Sue Jeffrey (Leader) & Saltburn Ward Councillors Stuart Smith, Philip Thomson and Craig Hannaway for their help and support of the nomination.
REMEMBRANCE SUNDAY - 8th NOV 2015: EDDIE LAYS THE MAYOR'S WREATH
Cllr. Stuart Smith was joined by former Co. Sgt. Major Eddie Straight to lay the wreath of the Mayor of Redcar & Cleveland Borough at the Saltburn Cenotaph to mark Remembrance Sunday.
Cllr. Smith said "It is a great honour to lay the wreath of behalf of the borough but it was extra poignant this year to do so with a veteran and one as esteemed as Eddie".
The veteran of D-Day, Burma and the liberation of Belsen, now 95, said "I lost a lot of friends, I'll never forget. Twelve of us trained together. Only two of us came out of it alive".
Craig Hornby, who told Eddie's story in an acclaimed documentary 'Eddie Straight-To Hell and Back' and who filmed today's ceremony, said "Eddie came within millimetres of becoming another name of the cenotaph but he was lucky. He was only wounded by several bullets, bayonets and a mortar bomb; and got to come home and quietly get on with life albeit haunted by what he had been through. He deserves more recognition which is why I made the film and why I have also nominated him for the Freedom of the Borough to the Mayor of Redcar & Cleveland. I am hoping his epic service to the cause of freedom will be recognised soon".
The nomination was backed by all three Saltburn ward councillors, Cllrs. Smith, Thomson and Hannaway plus the Deputy Leader of the Council David Walsh.
Craig is currently arranging a special one off screening event at the Cineworld multiplex in Middlesbrough for either December or January. Eddie's film will be shown along with another that he made last year in association with the Friends of Redcar Cemetery entitled "Redcar Remembers The First World War".
Sad to report the death of another musician mate, exactly a week after Mike (below). Dickie H was a gifted guitarist and songwriter from Sunderland. He played his heart out for over 30 years in a dozen bands. I met him in a Gateshead social club in 1986. He was in his first band, HDQ (Hung, Drawn & Quartered), and was playing his guitar like his life depended on it. We clicked from the off. He was a frenzy of heart-on-sleeve passion, blistering power and distinctive hooks and melodies. That latter made him stand out. There was vibrancy and music in the man, lots of it. I ended up driving HDQ 6,000 miles round Europe in '88 and was back in the van in '92 when he was with his most successful band, the mighty LEATHERFACE. We did a staggering 39 cities in about 45 nights from Oslo to Barcelona, to Budapest and everywhere in between. When you spend months on the road with a band playing some of the seediest corners of Europe, there are lots of ups, downs and scrapes; and you get to know a person very well. He was happy go lucky to the core..."Haway it'll be alright man - put your faith in blind optimism son c'maaaan!!!" He was a big lad and a big kid. Always comical. Not a bad bone in him and no pretence. The fans loved him, people loved him and he loved a drink with all of em. And that became his life and what cut it short. He died just shy of 50 ravaged by alcohol and penniless. That's not so uncommon in the North East but how many do it playing in bands, writing songs, making records and touring Europe, America, Canada, Australia and Japan with only the cash in their arse pocket? And get to play Glastonbury and Reading? And record Peel sessions? And one of greatest punk albums ever made? And then get obituaries in THE GUARDIAN and the NEW YORK TIMES??? Only the talented and tragic DICKIE HAMMOND.
MIKE FRANKLAND RIP Musician, Composer, Recording Engineer
Sad to report Mike, composer of the A Century in Stone Score has died suddenly of a brain haemorrhage aged just 47. In the summer of 2003, we spent weeks and weeks locked in his recording studio as we put together the music for the film. It was one of the most inspiring creative collaborations I have ever known. His contribution was immense. This big lug of a bloke creating the most delicate, beautiful music as if out of thin air. It turned up the emotional impact of the film 1000%. We turned to each other several times with tears in our eyes - especially the sequence with the miners walking home across the moor. I was so fortunate to find him. Sadly he was a tortured genius. He suffered terrible anxiety, ended up with a heart condition and a pacemaker and also had a car crash a couple of years ago. The respect across the Teesside music scene for his musical talent and skills as a recording engineer was immense. Gone way too soon. RIP Mike.
A good rant on the radio...a perfect way to start the day!
12th October 2015:
THE END OF
TEESSIDE IRON & STEEL
The news no one wanted but everyone expected. No buyers had come forward. The Redcar Blast Furnace and Coke Ovens will now be blown out. 2,200 direct jobs will be lost with upwards of 8,000 including contractors and supply chain. This final act comes exactly 175 years after Bolckow & Vaughan were building their first plant on the Tees at Vulcan Street in Middlesbrough in 1840.
CONSIDER THE PALE BLUE DOT... A very small stage in a vast cosmic arena
A lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark
A mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam
The only world we know so far to harbour life
There is nowhere else in the near future we can escape to
It underscores the responsibility to deal more kindly with each other
and to preserve and cherish
the pale blue dot
the only home we've ever known.
28.2.15: NEWCASTLE UNITES AGAINST RIGHT-WING EXTREMISTS 'PEGIDA' ! and I was proud to be there filming this fantastic show of humanity
in the face of neo-nazi hate.
2.3.15: ACTOR MICHAEL SHEEN MAKES INCREDIBLE SPEECH AT NHS RALLY -
A MUST SEE ! Cloughie would have loved it !
INFO & PICS
aka 'NIPPER' for a magazine article I am writing
to put the facts about this Eston legend on record
One hundred years ago today, my Great Great Uncle Henry Mates of South Bank & the Royal Navy Reserve celebrated the new year aboard HMS Formidable as it prepared to ferry hundreds of troops across to France. Within just a few hours, Formidable was hit by two torpedoes from a German U-Boat and sunk. My Great Great Uncle Henry and 546 others lost their lives. He was the first of three Mates brothers who lost their lives in WW1. My Great Grandfather, William was killed at Arras in 1917 and my Great Great Uncle James died in France a month before the end of the war in 1918...
In late May 2014, I was walking the dog
in Upleatham when a young Starling landed on me - totally fearless! I put it back in a bush and it kept coming back. With no other birds or people
anywhere to be seen, I took it home to Saltburn and fed it mealworms. The next day I took it down my allotment
and it fast flew off. A short while later it returned and did so until the end of September! He became quite a
celebrity down there landing on people's heads and getting fed. He even made the local papers where he was spotted by a lady from Upleatham who contacted me to tell me
she had raised him from a chick after he was found abandoned in Guisborough. So the mystery of where he came
from was solved but where did he go at the end of September? And will he return in the Spring? Regardless, it was a rare
treat to get so close to a wee wild creature and watch him (or her!) grow up. I documented it of course and the pics were such a hit on facebook I've put together a smart HQ glossy calendar! I've also done one of Meg my Border Collie which I do every year...
BUY CALENDARS ONLINE
COMING IN 2015... MAJOR BOOST FOR WW2 DOC
I've secured a major platform for my WW2 related film (currently in production) and related exhibition of photographs and artefacts. A premiere event will launch a three month run with looped daily screenings. Can't reveal more at this stage but will do in due course. Very excited about this :-)
DICK NEILSEN 1928 - 2014
My inspirational friend Dick Neilsen of Toronto has died
at the great age of 86. For almost 70 years, Dick was a film-maker, journalist and political activist...
24.10.14: FRIENDS OF ESTON HILLS
presented with a Coastal View Community Award click here
Eston Miners' Hikes 2014 DATES ANNOUNCED:
SAT 6th SEP &
SAT 20th SEP
FOR MORE INFO & BOOKINGSCLICK HERE NOW SOLD OUT If you are interested in future hikes please drop me a line and I will add you to the list
and when there are enough names I will let you know when I arrange another. firstname.lastname@example.org
4th Aug 2014: MY LATEST FILM (30 mins) Commissioned by The Friends of Redcar Cemetery.
After around 200 objections from local residents and schoolchildren, Teesside University have done the right thing and pulled their ill-conceived planning application to close a popular access route via their land to Eston hills. Their aim presumably was to stop joyriders which I support but it would have stopped everyone which simply wasn't fair. I think they should enter into dialogue with the council, The Friends of Eston hills and all affected landowners to come up with a robust and practical solution to the problem. Thanks to all those who submitted objections
and thanks to the Uni for seeing sense!
AUG 2014: Lost Art Found !
More of my late cousins artwork
has come to light...
4th June 2014: BBC TEES feature interview
Many Thanks to John Foster
May 2014: A Tribute to Wilf Shaw 1914-2008
I have written a tribute to the late Wilf Shaw for the North East Film Archive website.
Wilf was the filmmaker behind the 1930s film 'Cleveland' which came to light at the end of last year. IT IS A MUST SEE !
It features actual footage of Eston mines in operation and rare views across Cleveland.
You can read my tribute and watch the film here...
14th March 2014: TONY BENN RIP The greatest Prime Minister we never had. No state funeral needed.
He wasn't the selfish, vane n pompous type.
I had the good fortune to meet the man on two occasions. In 2005, I sent him a copy of 'A Century in Stone', as he was in it briefly (see above right) I got a fantastic reply (see below) and met him just a few days later at the Durham Miners' Gala. Then in 2009, he was doing a talk at Middlesbrough Town Hall and he was greeting punters outside with his flask of tea and pipe and sitting on his backpack-cum-folding seat which was his own invention he told me! (see below) I gave him a leaflet about my campaign film 'Coatham-A Common Concern' which had just been shown in The House of Commons a few weeks before.
Tony Benn outside Middlesbrough Town Hall, June 2009.
A great loss but what a legacy.
Will we ever see a politician as honest and humanitarian again?
ARCHIVE FILM REVELATION !
When I was making A Century in Stone I often wondered / dreamed about actual archive footage of Eston mines being out there somewhere. Apart from just a couple of shots that I did find, I was convinced there was no more...but 10 years on I have been proved fantastically wrong!
Presenting "Cleveland - It's Geography & Industrial Development", a 20 min B/W silent documentary made in 1937-38
by an amateur filmmaker from Middlesbrough called Wilf Shaw. It's like a 1930s version of A Century in Stone but with actual footage of Trustee, Pit Top, Low Drum and Tip Yard in action plus The Crusher and Cleveland works. It is astounding and undoubtedly one of the most important archive films of the area. It was sent to the North East Film Archive at Teesside University some months ago by Wilf Shaw's daughter in Cambridgeshire. Carefully digitised from a delicate 75 year old 16mm original, it is now available to view online. Mr. Shaw sadly passed away as recently as 2008 at the age of 93. I would have loved to have interviewed him on camera about how he made his film.I wonder if he got to see mine? I hope so...
ps - full page tribute to Wilf Shaw on NEFA website
24th Feb 2014: NORTH SKELTON
Our commemoration night marking the 50th anniversary of the last shift at Cleveland's last pit was a great success. The Bull's Head was packed ! Thanks to all who came. For those who couldn't get in - you can now watch the classic 1964 film about North Skelton online thanks to the North East Film Archive at Teesside University...
50 YEARS ON COMMEMORATING THE LAST SHIFT
CLEVELAND’S LAST IRONSTONE MINE: NORTH SKELTON
A Screening of the 1964 short film ‘THE END OF AN ERA’ plus speakers
Peter Appleton Skelton History Group
Tony Nicholson Local historian and former University Lecturer
Craig Hornby Maker of the film ‘A Century in Stone’
The Bull, North Skelton
Monday 24th February 2014 - 7pm
Jan 2014: The Straight Road Ahead I have a new short about a 93-year old WW2 veteran called Eddie Straight. His story is special and has never been told on camera before. In October, the rough cut got a great response at Saltburn Film Festival as did guest of honour Eddie. The final cut however will not be shown until 2015 to avoid clashing with this year's WW1 commemorations. Next year will also coincide with a WW2 anniversary that is key to Eddie's story. Hopefully this will help secure a grander platform to exhibit the film - it is too important to simply go straight to the internet.
And the wait will be worth it !
More Lost Art located !
More of my late cousin Don Playford's art work has come to light - this time on the Isle of Wight!
Many thanks to Bob Godden for sending excellent photos of seven originals by Don from the late 70s.
click here to view
6.12.13: TREES SAVED bar one ! "The contractors had got it all wrong" said NETWORK RAIL...Or was this just a face saving
in the wake of bad press???
And why did they tell porkies about me to the police???
Either way, the remaining 30 trees were saved bar one! Full story in all its glory here
SALTBURN TREES ATTACKED
BY MINDLESS VANDALS
(from Network Rail !)
For my Evening Gazette
expose and video: click here
DEC 4th: ESTON HILLS UPDATE:
£15,000+ RAISED IN JUST 7 WEEKS !
& ESTON HILLS CALENDARS
are now available from:
I'm currently putting together a short doco about 93-year old Eddie Straight, an old soldier with a very special story that he has decided to tell on camera for the first time. The film will be premiered at a public event in October.
More details soon
AUG 2013: Something Seriously Rotten in Cleveland
Earthbeat,a brilliant special needs theatre group with funding and massive community support want to convert the Registry Office in Guisborough into a community theatre/cinema/venue. BUT...R&C wants to sell it to pub chain Wetherspoons instead. Earthbeat have an exciting vision for the community but the council's vision is dead from the neck up! Another pub in a town with 13 pubs, innumerable cafes/restaurants and hardly any cultural provision! Earthbeat have a fantastic track record, they have funding in place and the passion and support to make it happen. But the Council think they know better than Earthbeat and can find them a better building/location...Earthbeat have been looking for a building for years and tell me there isn't anywhere else suitable in Guisborough.
In my opinion, based on experience of how they think and operate, this Council are an inept bunch of self-serving glory hunters who want their names, party badge and council logo all over it. They don't want to see people running such a place because if Earthbeat made a success of it, it would embarass and expose how much they have failed in providing any such a place in Guisborough. Like so many episodes before, this has turned into yet another PR disaster for Dunning & Co. Great internal rifts within Labour have been leaked via social media; Labour MP Tom Blenkinsop has added his support for the campaign and presented a 4000 strong petition in Parliament: and there was a personal, albeit opportunistic, show of support from Tory Baroness Varsi.
Earthbeat, led by the inspirational Tony Galuidi, is now taking the council to judicial review for its handling of the affair and is pushing full steam with the campaign. I did a poster for them below which is going up all around Guisboro and the excellent Coastal View paper gave Tony their latest front page to write and damningly brilliant it is!
AUG 2013: YET MORE PLANNING BLIGHT FROM R&C ! It's one of my greatest bugbears - bad planning decisions that degrade the environment and peoples' lives and carry on doing so after the decision-makers are long gone!
AUG 31st 2013: ARTSBANK VERY LTD.
Artsbank has shut down telling the Gazette "it was not economically viable anymore". The article linked me to the project and so I would like to make it very clear that I did co-found Artsbank Community Interest Company in 2009 but I had absolutely nothing to do with Artsbank Ltd, the commercial art supermarket that it became after my sudden execution in 2010.
To those lamenting its demise, the place did attract people into Saltburn and give local artists a platform (certainly more than Mima ever did!) but for many, in Saltburn at least, it always had a cloud over it. Many boycotted the place and as its commission increased up to 50%, many artists pulled out or avoided the place altogether. If Artsbank had been genuinely community interested who knows what might have been achieved???
For a genuine community gallery, ran by artists voluntarily, check out Redcar's new PALACE HUB GALLERY
AUG 2013:THE REDCAR BUNCLE ?
The new Redcar Beacon AKA The Vertical Pier,
now has another alias... The Redcar Buncle!
The £1.8m tower recently made the shortlist for national architecture award The Carbuncle Cup. It didn't win but the question has to be asked Is it a carbuncle?
The Eston Miners' Mega-Hike SAT 31st AUG 2013 New Route!Eston Hospital / TipYard / California / New Bank / SS Castle
Lovell Hill / Court Green / Nab / Ghost Town / Trustee.
Thanks to all who came! A great day and great weather !
For info on future walks please: CLICK HERE
JULY 2013: Oh My The Council done good !
MAR-JULY 2013: The Saga of 'AUNT SALLY'
So after the volleyball and parking fiascos, the hapless council plonks this dour witless monstrosity (incorrectly dubbed an 'Aunt Sally') without any consultation right into the middle of the prom causing disbelief among the local community; as well as inspiring some graphic indignation below ;-))
And then suddenly within days ....
IT WAS GONE !
Thieves in the night did Saltburn a favour and the council cut down the stumps. The police came to my door but I knew nothing about it and still don't.
I was secretly hoping its mystery captors would hold it to ransom until the council agreed to relocate it but no...it was disappointingly found dumped on the beach near Marske :-(
And then suddenly a couple of months later, it was back ! Re-instated at a more appropriate location
And all was swell.......well, apart from the boy's shoes...
FEB 24: TERRY HORNBY 1943-2013
WELDER - WOODWORKER - BRICKIE - DECORATOR - GARDENER - TOYMAKER - CHARITY FUNDRAISER & DAD EXTRAORDINAIRE X
THIS IS REAL PEOPLE PRIDE AND PROGRESS !
FEB 26:COMMUNITY STOPS COUNCIL
SALTBURN CELEBRATES AS PEOPLE POWER FORCES COUNCIL TO SCRAP ITS CONTROVERSIAL PLANS FOR SWEEPING PARKING RESTRICTIONS & CHARGES ACROSS THE TOWN. THE COMMUNITY CAME TOGETHER AS NEVER BEFORE. THE LABOUR MP SPOKE OUT AGAINST THE LABOUR COUNCIL. THERE WERE LABOUR COUNCILLORS VOTING AGAINST THE LABOUR CABINET AND EVEN LEAVING THE PARTY. BUT THIS WASN'T A PARTY POLITICAL FIGHT, IT WAS A COMMUNITY FIGHTING COUNCIL TYRANNY AND THEY WON JUST LIKE COATHAM DID 3 YEARS AGO.
“The best way to take control over a people and control them utterly is to take a little of their freedom at a time, to erode rights by a thousand tiny, and almost imperceptible reductions. The people will not see these rights and freedoms being removed until past the point at which these changes cannot be reversed” Adolf Hitler
FEB 15:THIS IS REAPING WHAT YOU SOW ! REPORTS COMING IN OF CLLR GOLDSWAIN (PICTURED BELOW IN SPOOF POLITICAL SUICIDE POSE !) "IN FLOODS OF TEARS" AT A COUNCIL MEETING IN RECENT DAYS...REAP WHAT YOU SOW YOUNG MAN...AND THINK A LITTLE MORE ABOUT DOING YOUR PUPPET MASTER'S DIRTY WORK ON THE RADIO AND IN THE PRESS... Eeesh talk about a donkey being thrown to the lions by an ass !
Feb 10: RANCID & CONTEMPTIBLE! Council earmark £20k to spend
on parking consultants, despite 99.9% objection
Council info leaked yesterday ahead of release...Despite unprecedented objection from Saltburn businesses, tourists and residents regarding the parking proposals, the Council are now planning to spend up to £20k on an "independent market research study". This is "to provide the council with a comprehensive understanding of the needs and attitudes of those who live and work in Saltburn".
After the greatest response to any consultation exercise ever carried out in this borough where 2,018 objected and just 5 were in favour.
This is utterly reprehensible.
Council leader George Dunning and his merry basket case cabinet are utterly beyond contempt. The Labour MP Tom Blenkinsop reacted immediately with a damning statement against calling it "ridiculous" and "a waste of £20,000".
You are either playing politics really badly, worryingly out of touch with reality or just plain old lying through your teeth.
Either way your leadership MUST be questioned.
You have NOT listened to the people OR your party MP; and you have obviously learned NOTHING whatsover from your previous belligerent attempt to ride roughshod over democracy at Coatham. NO confidence here and obviously
I am not alone.
Jan 2013: THE COUNCIL vs SALTBURN
Dear George & Co,
You want to consult? You want our opinions? You want to listen? Then here's some graphic food for thought because a picture is worth a thousand words...and even more with words attached !
Following the unprecedented onslaught of objections that you have recieved, please don't waste any more of your time and ours; and any more of our money, on a statutory consultation that is clearly NULL & VOID.
Can you confirm that you are hiring or seeking to hire a consultant at a cost of around £10,000 to try and find ways to change the minds of Saltburn people? If consultation and democracy are worth anything, you will junk such an idea and act swifty on behalf of the 99.999% of the people who objected to your nonsensical parking proposals. Anything else would be a travesty as well as political suicide for Labour in Saltburn. Sincerely, Craig Hornby,
The tyrannical and belligerent local authority that brought you 6 years of the Coatham disaster at the cost of £3m+ in public money, and got a deserved bloody nose in the Supreme Court in 2010, looks to be heading into another war against democracy and another sure PR disaster! Redcar & Cleveland Council is plotting to introduce sweeping parking charges and restrictions across Saltburn (Pay & Display on all the main streets with limited waiting plus residents parking permits in all the side streets and an annual £11 charge to follow). The fact is Saltburn has NO parking problems! What it does have is a thriving town centre of independent shops and businesses bucking the national trend of High Street decline ! NO VIRTUAL SHOPS HERE! This council's plans, are as usual full of holes. They will CREATE a raft of problems, drive away trade and tourism; and inconvenience EVERYBODY, EVERYDAY, FOREVER ! It is an attack on our town and on freedom itself and they're gunna charge us for the priviledge! THEY MUST BE STOPPED !
COUNCIL REAP WHIRLWIND & SNUB MEETING
Since being unveiled in November, the Council plans have reaped an absolute whirlwind of opposition, indignation and disbelief ! The scheme's "pre-consultation period " which ended on Jan 18th, saw an unprecedented response in terms of both turn out and objection so said one of the council staff in the consultation caravan. Also, over 400 residents packed out a public meeting on Jan 8th. Many voiced their concerns and took apart the Council plans with ease. The Council Cabinet (Lab) shamefully snubbed the meeting but all 3 ward councillors did turn out and all 3 firmly voiced their opposition. (See videos of full meeting above)
A SHAMEFUL SHOCKING BETRAYAL
Just 9 days after the public meeting, a shocking betrayal followed at a full council meeting. A motion had been called by Saltburn Cllr Philip Thomson (Tory) to scrap the plans and not waste any more time and money by proceeding to a pointless "statutory consultation" process. The motion was defeated by 3 votes and one of those votes belonged to Saltburn Cllr. Joan Guy (Lab) who went back on her word and voted with the council! She betrayed the town and its people for the sake of her party and should RESIGN NOW because you will be certainly finished at the next election.
ANOTHER PR DISASTER a la COATHAM ?
At the time of writing (Jan end), the council has retreated to digest the mountain of objections and consider its next move BUT info leaked to residents today (Jan 30th) from a council insider claims the Labour leadership are determined to push this through and are planning to spend approx. £10,000 to hire a consultant to try and find out what it will take to change the minds of the people! If true, this saga is fast becoming another Coatham aka an outrageous war on democracy at the expense of the public purse. AND this time they have got 100% of the community against them; and a community that has a diversity of intellect, ability and character that is unparalleled in any town in the Borough. So if you have any belief in democracy and any sense George, there is only one thing to do - tell the people you have listened and knock it on the head. Otherwise it could well be another bloody nose, more money wasted and another PR disaster...
Hasta la Victorie Siempre !
Political Volleyball anyone?
One morning in mid-December, a crew of workmen arrived with a JCB at Saltburn Valley Gardens and suddenly started ripping up The Donkey Field. In its esteemed wisdom and with NO public consultation whatsoever, the council were installing a BEACH VOLLEYBALL COURT - on Saltburn's best public green space - just 800 yards from 8 miles of beach! Blitzed with complaints, from residents already incensed by the parking proposals, Cabinet member for Tourism & Leisure Cllr. Olwyn Peters told the Gazette (Gazette story)"preliminary work has been carried out at the site but we will shortly be starting a consultation process" Consultation AFTER the fact?!...only in R&C! With their failure to consult and the ongoing public uproar, the council were forced into damage limitation mode and after a week or so they pulled the plug on it. But who was it that gave the green light in the first place??? I emailed Cllr. Peters but got NO REPLY. I have since found out, from a highly reputable council source, that it was in fact the neighbourhood officer for Saltburn, Gary Cummins. So did Cummins or the Council hold up their hand and make a public apology? Of course not! The Council chose instead to spin a story about how a complaint from an 11-year old schoolgirl (my friends' daughter in fact) had tugged their heartstrings and they had halted the project. (Gazette story). In one fell swoop, the Council had shamefully used a little girl to save face; acknowledged none of the other objectors and insulted the intelligence of the entire electorate by putting out such piffle - so let the truth be known! Workmen did return to try and restore the site but it remains an unturfed mess...perhaps the turf has been earmarked for a lawn tennis court on the beach?! Ridiculous & Comical alas...
JAN 2013:Gwen Wadwell & Jack Plews RIP
Two of the last three surviving interviewees from A Century in Stone passed away around New Year. Jack Plews was 99 and almost certainly the last surviving Eston mineworker. Former Eston hospital nurse, Gwen Wadwell, was 97. They are both immortalised on film and won't ever be forgotten.
There is now only 1 of the cast of 12 still living: Pit-Top native Gwen Waldon who will be 90 this year.
JAN 2013:LOST ART LOCATED
My cousin Don Playford, who died in 2010 at the age of 56, had been a gifted wildlife painter (as well as musician). He had succumbed to alcoholism and his artwork was long sold off to god knows where. Over Xmas, I got a call from a man in the Dales who had seen my tribute to Don on this site. He had 10 of Don's paintings and kindly offered to let me make copies and put them up. So for the first time ever on the net, I am very proud to present the lost art of Donald Playford.
ESTON MINERS' MEGA-HIKE Now Booking for Walking Groups & Schools...
Following much positive feedback, I've decided to open my guided walks on Eston hills to walking groups and schools on a by booking and year round basis. Like the miners...we will walk the hills whatever the weather! For more info please click here