Forest of Dean & Wye Valley

Not the time to go nuclear !

In Dinosaur on April 18, 2011 at 12:27 pm

Do you sometimes suffer from one of those days when somehow your timing seems all wrong? When the odd remark that could have been perfectly innocent in a different context goes down like a lead balloon? Or worse?

So, what about this one for bad timing. On March 12, the Citizen came out with a front page headline, “Nuclear Hope for Thousands”. Jobs could be secured for generations to come, it declared.

The nub of the news item was that Gloucestershire could become a major centre for the nuclear industry, with thousands of “high quality” jobs being created. “If there is a certainty for the nuclear industry then there will be people needed to work in this sector,” the Tory MP for Stroud, Neil Carmichael, was quoted as saying.

Good news perhaps for those who liked that kind of thing! Of course, it goes without saying that we don’t. But on the same day, the news broke of the tragic earthquake and consequent tsunami in Japan. And, to make things worse, a few days later we heard that a nuclear power complex had been destabilised and was in danger of going critical. With radiation levels rising, the battle commenced to prevent the Fukushima plant from becoming another Chernobyl.

Now we on the Clarion have never believed that we should go down the nuclear road – and we’ve printed numerous articles pointing to the dangers and difficulties involved. Now surely is the time to stop flannelling and think again?

{click here for the Forest-side anti-nuclear presence on Facebook}

Making the most of our post…

There’s probably not many folk around these days who can remember the halcyon days when a letter cost a few pence (in old money) to post – let alone the time when if you popped it in the pillar box early enough it would be delivered the same day.

Back then the GPO was a government department, headed by a Minister called the Postmaster General. Not only did it handle the mail, but also pioneered the telephone system, routing our calls through a network of telephone exchanges who could connect you with places throughout the world. And you could have telegrams delivered, if you lacked a phone and had urgent news to send. And it was never afraid to embrace the latest technology when it came along.

Ah, those were the days! The rot set in, when MacMillan’s Government first allowed the GPO to distribute “junk mail” with our post. Later, the whole system was hived off, to become a public corporation.

Since then it’s been a sitting target for the circling vultures. It’s already faced the debilitating impact of “competition” – and now the Government wants to sell it off to the highest bidder – as the Tories under Thatcher did with the telephone system.

It’s no wonder that postal workers are campaigning to save the service and keep it in public hands. If we value our post, we should give them our backing.

Time for some cautious celebration?

Since our last issue, folk in the Dean have been celebrating victory in the campaign to save the Forest from the Government’s plans to snatch it from us – and then sell it back again. And we’ve every right to make a bit of whoopee.

But of course it ain’t necessarily over yet – and Jan Royall who led the campaign from the front was right to suggest we should stay vigilant. Whilst the Government has scrapped its plans for a wholesale sell off, they’ve appointing a panel to look at future plans and report back. I’m sure many folk will be waiting for its conclusions with bated breath.

Of course, this didn’t stop campaigners throughout the country from taking to the woods for a day of celebration on Sunday, March 20. Here in the Dean it was held at Wenchford. It was good to see so many people around the barbecues, strolling amongst the trees, and generally relaxing. One campaigner said to me, “it’s so good to be able to celebrate a victory, for a change!”

I agree. But there are so many more battles to be fought – and, who knows, there may be more victories to come, and times for more celebration!


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