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Fine Fettle - ✂️ For the chop

Morning and welcome to your last weekend proper to get all the Christmas presents you still need to b
December 16 · Issue #1 · View online
Fine Fettle
Morning and welcome to your last weekend proper to get all the Christmas presents you still need to buy before all of the people come out on the 22nd and 23rd December.
Say hello to Fine Fettle.
It’s a bit of an experimental weekly round-up of the big stories from across Cumbria.
I’m Lee, my day job is as a broadcast journalist up in Carlisle and I’m originally from Kendal.
This week is all about cutbacks - for some quite literally.
Campaigners are furious in Kendal about flood defences that could mean hundreds of trees disappear, the county council wants to chop away at the districts and those same local authorities weren’t thrilled to hear that there would be more of the same from the government when it came to their piggy banks.

Coming up...
  • You can have one of these: Kendal flood walls or 780 trees?
  • There’s a councillor for every day of the year in Cumbria. The county council wants to change that, the districts aren’t keen. (My pitch for a daily ‘Better Know a Councillor’ newsletter never got off the ground.)
  • Cumbria misses out again on keeping more of its business rates.
When it rains, it pours
Plan for mass tree felling to make way for flood defences splits Kendal residents Plan for mass tree felling to make way for flood defences splits Kendal residents
Just over three years since Storm Desmond and there’s a spanner in the works for the Environment Agency.
Up until now, most of the criticism of its post-Desmond work has been that people haven’t seen much action taken to protect the homes and businesses flooded in 2015.
Kendal (and nearby villages on the Kent, Mint and Sprint) is furthest along in, what can come across as, a laborious process of long-listing, shortlisting and preferred option(ing?).
But a month before planning permission is due to be considered (and quite a few months after the plans were outlined at a drop-in session), people have realised their true extent when it comes to Kendal’s topiary.
Just under 780 trees gone in a chop and campaigners aren’t happy:
This project does appear to be destroying a well loved part of Kendal’s environment in order to save it.
The latest word from the Environment Agency is that they would like to meet with the campaigners and discuss how the design could be changed to save as many trees as possible – but it remains to be seen if this will satisfy.
I’m fascinated to find out who spray painted the trees because no one wants to admit they did it
Six versus one
Finally, you say, someone is sending me an email newsletter about local government reform.
Take some time to watch this piece by my colleague Bob Cooper about Cumbria County Council’s hope it can save money by becoming a unitary authority - or a couple of them. Unsurprisingly, the district councils which would cease to exist don’t quite see it that way.
BBC iPlayer - Sunday Politics North East and Cumbria - 09/12/2018
Expect developments on Thursday, when the county council cabinet will decide if it wants to ask the government to force Cumbria into unitary status.
In other news...
A smaller Barrow: The number of people living in Barrow-in-Furness could shrink by seven-per-cent in time for 2028 and BAE Systems Submarines says that’s bad for business
Business (rates) as usual: More disappointment for Cumbrian councils as they found out this week that they wouldn’t get to be part of a trial where they would keep 75% of the business rates they collect, rather than getting a share of 50% with the government keeping the rest. You’d imagine that Copeland (home of Sellafield) and Barrow (home of the shipyard) would be very keen.
Community radio: Media regulator Ofcom says it’s willing to consider applications for new community radio stations in Carlisle and West Cumbria (News and Star). Barrow’s got one, Kirkby Lonsdale used to have one, they’re not easy to make work but as commercial radio looks ever more regional and quasi-national, maybe there’s a niche available.
Rustlers (not the crisps): Cumbria Police revealed this week that more than 40 Swaledale sheep were stolen from two separate farms in east Cumbria in the past few months - while 20 pheasants were taken from Wetheral near Carlisle. Some will laugh off animal theft stories, but they are often a huge financial hit to victims who already feel isolated.
Not feeling too good: Both ITV Border and local democracy reporter Ellis Butcher found out this week how sickness and stress have been affecting staff at Cumbria Police and Cumbria County Council. One councillor even called out some staff for skiving…
Here is what’s on the cards for the week before Christmas:
Monday: An inquest opens in Barrow into the death of a man who is thought to have died after jumping into a flooded quarry.
Tuesday: South Lakeland District Council to discuss petition asking for the pool at Grange Lido to be saved.
Thursday: Members of the National Union of Journalists working on Newsquest’s News and Star, The Cumberland News, Times and Star and Whitehaven News take a one day strike over pay. Could it affect Friday’s Cumberland News?
Friday: Mad or Black Eye Friday. Or if you work for Cumbria Police, Festive Friday. And good news for cyclists who like to punish themselves, Whinlatter Pass is due to reopen to traffic today after roadworks.
Something missing?
Email me your comments, suggestions or questions - [email protected]
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