Monday, 5 July 2010

Save the Forum campaign "extraordinary"

The power of an internet-based campaign! In just four days, the "Save the Forum" Facebook campaign has attracted just short of 2500 members while the editor of the Northern Echo has just tweeted that they have never had so many letters from the public on any issue. He's clearing a whole page in tomorrow's paper. "Extraordinary!" says Peter Barron, the editor.

With a huge town hall rally planned for next Tuesday evening before Cabinet meets, I imagine those responsible for declining a request for an £80,000 loan from the owner of the Forum to enable it to be turned into a community business might be regretting their original decision. Dave Cox isn't asking for a grant; he isn't asking for a loan on the back of which he hopes to make a profit, he's asking for an unsecured loan to enable the business to attract other funding so that it can be turned into a non-profit making social community enterprise.

The tide of opinion is definitely moving in support of the Forum. Will those at the top of the Council realise the extent of anger about this or will they plough on regardless? It would seem the latter. Deputy Council Leader Bill Dixon says it is "simply impossible" for the Council to make an unsecured loan to a loss-making business at a time when local government cuts are taking place.


mark burton said...

I'm quite shocked at you mike... how can you sit there blogging this knowing full well what our town is up against. The cuts that are going to have to take place as a result of this new government – the government you just blogged in support of. Which way are you batting Mike? You can’t sit there in favour of cutbacks and then say… spend spend spend!

In addition to what has already been cut, further jobs are going to be lost… peoples jobs Mike, people you know and have worked with - their families household income gone - along with many services, which will have a devastating blow on not just young people and our schools, but the old and disabled too. Reversing this decision would simply mean deeper reductions elsewhere.

Quite simply Mike, if a service is not a fundamental requirement it is very likely that service will have its funding cut or taken away altogether. Which means it’s going to be tough for any external or partnership services if they cannot hold their own without council funding.

Instead of pointing the finger Mike, why aren’t you suggesting a donation of £32 from each of the 2,500 member of this campaign? If the forum means that much, suggest to them to put their hands in their pockets and help raise the £80k.

And where’s the Echo at? They make a staggering £1m a month pure profit… as our local press, where’s their generosity at times like this? – yes it is extraordinary!

Mike Barker said...

"What our town is up against". Ah, you mean the Labour Council which has wasted so much money over the past few years?

"As a result of this new Government". Surely you mean as a result of the budget deficit created by the old Government.

"Spend, spend spend". An £80,000 loan to secure six jobs and provide a valuable resource to thousands of local people of all ages, including helping to provide some young kids who might otherwise fall into trouble, at a cost to the public purse, with an alternative outlet for their energies.

I do think the suggestion in your penultimate paragraph is a good one, though, if the Council can't provide a loan.

Overall, though, on this issue I am happy to be of the same opinion as our newly elected Labour MP rather than that of you and Bill Dixon.

Anonymous said...

The blame for the cuts lies firmly at the door of the PREVIOUS Government, they were not fit for purpose and incapable of managing the countries finances, FACT.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said... I mean Mr. spin doctor said... I blame the Saxons, I mean if you go back far enough, they're the one’s to blame for all this!

Anonymous said...

Alan Macnab writes.....

Mark I think you should read my letter and the others in Hear All Sides in the Echo this morning. Yes we are facing difficult times, but The Forum is important in fostering and developing the musical talent of our young people. Without The Forum the musical talent of young people will be arrested because there is nowhere else for them to go to.

You will also note in my letter that I have called for a music strategy for young people to be developed by the Council and for music scholarships be given to help young musicians with their careers. The scholarship would only need £6,000 per year to give talented young people help with their careers. So far there has been no response.

If you have sat in on music auditions as I have in Hartlepool Mark you will realise that young people are hugely talented and that talent needs to be brought out and developed.

Young people from Hartlepool with support from the two musical scholarships have been able to attend the top music conservatoirs in this country and have been able to perform and demonstrate their talents in prestigious venues such as the Royal Albert Hall and Carnegie Hall in New York City and have perfomed in such productions as Les Misreables on the West End stage. Young people from Darlington should be able to do the same.

What say you Mark?

ianh said...

The Forum is a major asset to our town and our young people and every effort must be made to ensure it stays open.

However, to blog on this item and stay quiet on the failure of the government to deliver much needed investment in our schools cannot go without comment.

I was delighted when the cross-party letter went to Mr Gove in support of the funding, so where is your indignation at this decision?

Obviously local labour politicians will express their anger but what about the lib-dems and the tories. Will you come out and oppose this decision? or will you meekly go along with another so-called compromise?

mark burton said...

I don’t know Mike you’re beginning to sound more and more like a Tory, how far do you want to look back? Where has this Labour Council wasted so much money? Surely you’re not going to regurgitate the cross-town route and the town centre projects… again?

How many North Road residents’ children are in private music sessions with their own musical instilments utilising the recording studios at the forum? People are strapped for cash Mike. Many can just about scrape enough together for a return bus trip to allow their kids go swimming… if they’re lucky!

I should imagine there isn’t that many deprived children or young people in a band recording their music at the forum. The vast majority are from privileged backgrounds… you should know that Mike, living in the west end. If the users of the forum can afford to support it, they should.

It’s a great asset to our town - nobody disagrees with that but what should go first to provide the £80k loan? .... which public service? Who's job at the council? Which partnerships grant?

Alan, didn’t you once suggest a sports council? Now a music strategy and music scholarships for £6k

When are you two going to wakeup out of your daydreams? We are in a make-do and mend era. There’s not enough money to support all the services many people already depend upon, let alone create more services to pay for. I really don’t know what planet you two are on these days!

Anonymous said...

Alan Macnab writes....

Thanks for reminding me Mark about the Sports Council. I admit it's taken a bit of a back seat over the last few months. I need to talk to an eminent sports person who I haven't been able to speak to for some time. We both live busy lives. I will possibly see him today and if we have time I will talk to him.

I do live in the real world.

The music scholarship is about vision, ambition and belief in young people and giving them the necessary support to help them with their careers. £6,000 can be raised. Not a great deal of money I am sure you will agree Mark.

I am still waiting for a response from the Council. It's a suggestion which is a good one and works in Hartlepool.

Mike Barker said...

Mark, leaving aside your typical Labour view (which I would question the veracity of anyway) that if something is provided for "privileged" kids from the West End it somehow has less value than if it's provided to "deprived" kids, and ignoring the fact, which you may be unaware of, that Cabinet made a sizeable grant to a local sports and leisure club recently to allow it to remain in business (a decision which must remain confidential because it was discussed after the press and public were excluded), you seem unaware that the £80k has already been provided to the Forum - so it ain't sitting in the Council's coffers waiting to be spent on something more worthwhile in your eyes anyway.
Of course there must be cutbacks, but it seems to me that the value that our local community gets from this organisation makes it worthwhile the Council supporting. Unless, of course, Mark, you don't believe that something that benefits West End kids is worthwhile.
In terms of your future career, I'm sure you're doing the right thing by supporting the position of your Group leadership, but on this matter I think your new Labour MP is taking the correct view.
How interesting it is to see how quickly our new young MP and our, how shall I put it, more mature Council leadership have diverged!

Anonymous said...

Mike, Thankyou so much for supporting "save the forum". It means so much to everyone who uses it, and enjoys being there. Even after Mark Burton had tried to push his views onto you, you still stick by us. Its nice to know tha some of the council are on our side.
The forum is u7sed by alot of people, not just teens. There are music lessons, Tribute bands, gigs for younger audience. It is a lovely place, with such a relaxs atmosphere. Something people should be proud to be supporting.
Thankyou, on behalf of everyone supporting the cause.

Anonymous said...

Going back to the comment which seems to imply that only west end kids use the Forum, I would like to point out that my son taught himself to play guitar, he saved his own pocket money to pay for sessions in the rehearsal rooms and we don't live in the west end! He was a regular in the open mic sessions before moving away from the area.

Admittedly we are in hard times but I believe the Forum is a great venue for young and old. The tribute bands are brilliant and New Blood nights are always packed out. I personally think the idea of dipping our hands in our own pockets is not such a bad one but all cannot afford £32. I just hope a solution can be found because it would be a terrible waste to lose the Forum.

ianh said...

I agree with you on this.
Given that it is repayable loan presumably based upon a good business plan.

Therefore i presume you oppose your governments decision to withdraw a loan to Sheffield Forgemaster?
A loan with interest(not a bail-out) negotiated over a period of years which would have put the north at the centre of european nuclear technology. Securing skilled jobs in the short term and attracting long term private investment, creating many more highly paid and skilled jobs into the future.
Instead we one again hand this opportunity on a plate to Korea and china.
and what opportunities for our young people will remain?
"Jobs for the boys" in the city OR ....."do you want fries with that?"

Alaina Chesney said...

I am a 'young' person living in Darlington. I love music and arts. I however don't think we should waste money on a site that has no virtue (in my opinion). Can someone please inform me about the success stories from the forum or the now famous musician's it has nurtured to fame? I doubt you'll find more than 1 let alone 3.

I don't care for politics and who's fault it is and why it has become the joke it is. However, it will never draw a crowd big enough to turn a good profit and those 'fans' on facebook are Sunday fans I would call it. They support the idea but I bet half can't even remember the last time they went to the forum! I can remember the last time - something I hope to never repeat.