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Meetings and Events

BierHall It's time to catch up and post a short report on my recent activities.

My most recent Parish Council activity was to attend a meeting of the Finance committee last Tuesday. As usual the meeting was held in St. Peter's Bier Hall. This recently refurbished building is situated in the grounds of St. Peter's Church, Freshfield.

It will hold about a dozen people comfortably and we have used it every month for at least two years, the other Parish Council committees also use it. The public can attend these meetings but so far as I'm aware no one has yet taken up the opportunity.

Ruralnetukcolour21a Last week I attended a meeting of RuralNet|UK, this organisation is a rural regeneration charity which promotes a living and working countryside and finds new and effective ways to help rural communities improve and strengthen their local economies. It supports agencies working on the ground to alleviate disadvantage, to enable social inclusion and social enterprise. I am a member of the Liverpool Diocese Rural Issues Forum, and was asked to attend as their representative. I was very interested in the contribution made by William Perrin who, with the support of 4IP, has begun a 'talkaboutlocal' project which is to be extended across the country. The project will focus on the development and use of 'blogs' like this and the companion web site to this, 'www.formbyfirst.info'.

Finally, tomorrow I am taking Gill Fell, Chair of the Formby Village Partnership and Dr. Reg Yorke of the Formby Civic Trust to Frodsham. we will be looking at the extensive 'Heritage' scheme in Frodsham, which I would like to replicate here in Formby, but obviously to celebrate our local 'heritage' sites and buildings. We are also taking the opportunity to visit the offices of Frodsham Forward, a locally based Development Trust run by a variety of volunteers, but which drew down a £1.6m grant frm the NWDA when it was formed. It was these funds which helped with the development of the 'Frodsham Heritage' scheme.

Seal spotted basking off shore

In common with many residents and visitors, I spent some time with my family on the beach today. As we made our way from the National Trust, Victoria Road car park towards the sea, the extent of the high tide caught the eye. With the sea right in, butting up against the sand dunes, the scale of the continuing erosion was highlighted. Along with others, we were confined to a small strip of sand on the shore. Suddenly about 45 yards out in the sea we all spotted a seal, basking, head above the water, occasionally raising a flipper to lazily wave, as if to the watching shore bound visitors.

I'm afraid I have no photographs to document this appearance, as a family we simply stood and watched a magical start to our beach visit, gradually the seal moved slowly towards Southport, the tide began to go out and the seal slowly disappeared from view.

It's not the first time I've seen a seal offshore at this point but I suspect many visitors on previous occasions will not have been so lucky. Today's siting coinciding as it did with a high tide, and the depth of the sea immediately off-shore, which seemed unusually deep, gave rise to circumstances that favoured this natural wonder.

Formby First: the network is growing

I have written in earlier posts about the companion web site to this blog. The site is hosted by 'ning.com' and I would certainly recommend them to other users who may be contemplating establishing a local 'social networking' site.

One of the facilities they provide includes a choice of name options so from this blog posting, the companion web site 'formbyfirst.ning.com' is also available directly by using 'www.formbyfirst.info'.

Please check the site out, if you like it, do join, it's free.

Digital Formby (2)

Following on from the last posting and the comments that has received, I've decided to begin an occasional series of posts considering the increasing impact of the digital age on life here in Formby.

Tony1 An immediate example came to mind as I wandered along the village yesterday afternoon, almost before I had time to stop and browse the shop window, Tony Higginson, of Prichard's Books came out waving a couple of books that will feature in Author signing sessions in the next few days and weeks.

As many of us know in Formby, Pritchard's Bookshop window is constantly changing to reflect the seasons, events and topics in carefully mounted displays. This weekend, Father's Day will be a major theme, because of these displays I for one can never resist the invitation to go in and have a browse. 

But this shop isn't just a good example of a local bookshop, it also invites residents to take advantage of it's digital version. I've found that it's better than any other online book retailer, the search tool on the front page is easy to use and quick to find a range of relevant books. It's very efficient, books are frequently available within 1/2 days, there's no postage charge and to cap it all, customers get a discount for using the service.

Welcome to the best of the digital age combined with the friendly, immediacy of a local shop.

Digital Britain/Formby?

William Perrin of the 'talk local' project has just posted the following on his blog, he is quoting from the Digital Britain Report (chapter 5, para 61), which was published by the Government yesterday.

61.  Local websites of all shapes and sizes are providing community news and information to hundreds of thousands of people. Most of these sites are volunteer run, using free publishing platforms like www.wordpress.com with no hard costs. They show that grass roots media can provide an accurate, reliable,popular sources of news and information without regulation or subsidy. Their news values and thresholds are new, reflecting grass roots interests and priorities.
62. Community sites with no costs can serve very small, human news geographies of a single ward or a few streets. Community websites with no old media legacy are able to discriminate between types of media production to suit local needs. The written word and photos predominate, sound and video are in a minority. In some communities with established local sites the readership within the community appears comparable to that of traditional news media.
63. Digital Britain is at the beginning of a new and possibly disruptive wave of local news, generated by communities for communities using free online media. Over the medium term this has the potential to be good for local pluralism and expression as commercial funding for traditional media diminishes. 4IP and Screen West Midlands are making a major investment in Talk About Local to create hundreds of new community websites by giving community activists the simple skills. Digital Mentors are taking a similar approach on a smaller scale.

I would like to think that this blog belongs to this 'new wave', next week I will be attending a one day conference in Rugby, where William will be talking about the 'Talk Local' project. At a more local level here in Formby the new companion web site to this is gathering pace (formbyfirst.ning.com), two new members have joined following this mornings Formby Breakfast Forum, held at Range High School.

Just to reinforce the point raised above in the Digital Britain report, the new web site has a 'news feed' from the Formby Times included on the front page, regular visitors would have read the latest headline news as early as Tuesday. Visit formbyfirst.ning.com have a look, if you like it, join in and let's make Formby one of the first communities to go truly 'digital'.

Formby: Village Partnership Meeting

Later to day I'm attending the next meeting of the Formby Village Partnership. The meeting will be held in Formby Library and will start at 3.00pm in the meeting room. The main focus of attention is likely to be the forthcoming Formby Music Festival, which is featured in Gill Fell's first blog entry on the Formby First Network , this is a companion web site to this blog.

The Partnership, which started up as a result of the 'Shop Local' campaign, is gaining momentum, the Music Festival is one of a number of projects the group has in mind. Sefton MBC are going to grant aid the Festival and the group are seeking additional funds from the Formby Area Committee and the Formby Parish Council.

I'll publish more on the Music Festival as the details come to hand. Watch this space!

Elected Mayor?

I was browsing the Sefton MBC web site today, and came across this notice, which I believe is most important and I'd like to draw the attention of Formby residents to it I've 'cut and pasted' it below:

Leader or Elected Mayor for Sefton - What do you think?

All Councils are required by the Government to undertake a review of the way they currently work and to introduce one of two options.

A new arrangement with an elected Mayor and Cabinet.

The choices are to either vary the existing Council Leader and Cabinet or to change to a new arrangement with an elected Mayor and Cabinet.

If you want to express a view then please visit the Sefton MBC web site and make your views known, there is link which directs you to the online form towards the bottom of this page.

My local barbers

Barbers Ever since I retired from work I have visited the same barbers shop for my haircut. Over time I have come to know the staff well and their neighbouring shop workers. One of the features of this continuing relationship revolves around my role as an elected member of the Formby Parish Council. Apart from trying to encourage one of the barbers to stand as a candidate at the time of a vacancy, I failed to make a convincing case I'm afraid, the number of times I've appeared in the local newspaper The Formby Times has become a running joke.

As I walk through the door I've frequently been greeted with cries of 'we saw you again pointing at that ...'; pointing at something seems to be a behaviour required by press photographers when they want to illustrate a story.

So by way of a compliment to my local barbers I've added this photograph of their shop, I could'nt get them to come out and point at it though. Mind you the shop was full of customers, clear evidence of their popularity. I would heartily recommend a visit.

Parish Council Meeting

Tonight I will be attending the usual Parish Council monthly meeting. Normally these meetings are held every first Tuesday of the month, but because the Clerk was unavailable due to leave, it was agreed to change the date in this instance.

I have attended a number of meetings associated with Formby Village Partnership Group in the last month. There were two meetings of the Business exhibition working group, eventually after much discussion it was decided to put the plan 'on hold', while other, perhaps better ways of promoting local businesses could be considered.

There have been two meetings of the Music Festival group and they are attending tonight's Parish Council meeting to make a short presentation during the 'public forum' item on the agenda.

Finally the 'formbyfirst' network site continues to grow in content and members, I hope you find it usual and relevant, membership is open to all residents, but access to the content is also available without the need to join.

Companion web sites

As I get ready to go out and vote today, I thought I'd remind you that there is companion web site to this blog where residents can view the draft Formby Community Plan, make amendments and add new content. It somehow seems appropriate that as we register our votes we should also turn our attention to a more local  place. I will be adding more material over the next four weeks. The present version of the plan is at:

Secondly arising out of two meetings earlier this week to do with the Formby Village Traders Partnership and a link on 'talkaboutlocal' I've established another companion web site that uses similar software to most 'social network' sites. Please go and have a look at:

You don't have to become a member to view the contents - videos, blogs, groups and forums etc but the membership is open to all. Enjoy!