Treasures Of Cumbria – a new online cultural resource

What do you treasure in Cumbria? Treasures of Cumbria is a new online cultural resource launched in January 2014 by The Cumbria Museum Consortium. It is, in a sense, an extra-mural extension of the museums into cyber-space – a website serving as a public archive of the Cumbrian things, places, memories, people, songs, poetry, recipes and traditions that people think are special, worth sharing and preserving.  Even the soundscapes, such as the sound of  a water wheel turning at Little Salkeld Mill and interesting memories recounted, such as The Mysterious Fire of Morecambe Bay are treasures that people value and that deserve preservation. They have meaning and lasting value.

A classical example of a Cumbrian treasure preserved for the county on this system is the wonderful Roman cavalry sports helmet that was found recently at Crosby Garrett, and displayed at Tullie House before leaving Cumbria forever.

How many more treasures are out there to be revealed? This is going to be a very interesting and valuable resource.

Enabling technologies

The digital revolution enables people to enjoy and share the things that they value in multi-media format – images, text, video and audio recordings. Treasures of Cumbria is a remarkable project that harnesses the recent developments in consumer-level digital equipment and information technology in a highly accessible way. The content management system is free to use and accessible to people of all ages and walks of life. It is likely to be highly useful to communities that wish to celebrate their distinctive qualities. A key thing to remember is that we must respect Copyright law and not copy material from existing publications whose copyright has not expired. There is some guidance on that on the website. Contributors retain copyright for their contributions but allow CMC copyright for them too.

Tullie House Staff Introduce Treasures of Cumbria at Lyvennet Activity Group Lunch Club

Proof came that there’s no age limit to the digital revolution on Thursday, February 6th, as staff from Carlisle’s Tullie House Museum visited The Lyvennet Activity Group’s Lunch Club (LAG) at The Butchers Arms Community Pub and explained the Treasures of Cumbria project after a nice sociable lunch. The staff demonstrated use of the website on their iPad tablets, and on lap-top computer equipment kindly provided to LAG by Cumbria Community Foundation‘s  Health and Well-being Community Fund administered by Action For Communities in Cumbria (ACT).

Treasures of Cumbria website being introduced to members of The Lyvennet Activity Group at the Lunch Club at The Butchers Arms Crosby Ravensworth. Staff from Carlisle's Tullie House demonstrated use of the website on iPads.

Treasures of Cumbria website being introduced to members of The Lyvennet Activity Group at the Lunch Club at The Butchers Arms Crosby Ravensworth. Mary Ferguson and Maria Staff from Carlisle’s Tullie House, Maria and Mary demonstrate use of the website on iPads.

The staff explained that we can use the system to celebrate the things that we treasure here and make them known to others by registering as a contributor and uploading photographs and information about each treasure.

As anyone who knows Cumbria knows very well – we do have a lot of treasures around here; the physical include those that are primarily natural, our fells, valleys, rivers, lakes, fields and forests, to things cultural: our glorious monuments ancient to modern, our many stone circles, castles, Churches  and superb Cathedral and our traditions and memories.

The new website has been launched but will be subject to improvements over time as and when the need becomes apparent. The address is: http://www.treasuresofcumbria.org.uk/

  1. To publish your treasures you need to register with the system, the process of registration is very easy.
  2. Then you enter your profile information,
  3. Click on the “Add a Treasure” button and upload your media and related information for the treasure.

An important feature on the site is the map that shows people where the treasures are in the County.

There are various ways you can browse for treasures. You can use the map to discover them or search by contributor or view the treasures in order of popularity and date added to the system.

Tullie House and Art Gallery Trust in Carlisle is the lead partner and accountable body for the partnership which includes  Lakeland Arts in Kendal and Bowness and the Wordsworth Trust in Grasmere. This Consortium is funded by Arts Council England (www.artscouncil.org.uk) through their Renaissance Major Grants Programme.  

The CMC partners own website addresses written out are: www.tulliehouse.org.uk , www.lakelandartstrust.org.uk and www.wordsworth.org.uk

To conclude I quote the important message from the new website that hopefully will encourage you to record your treasures large and small:

          A treasure is something that’s meaningful to you.

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Community Energy Champions Wanted

Cumbria Rural Forum Supported by Cumbria County Council

Community Energy Champions

Tuesday 2nd July 2013
Cumbria Rural Enterprise Agency, Redhills, Penrith  CA11 ODT

Programme

  • 9.30am Registration and Coffee
  • 10.00am Welcome -Ian Soane, Chair, Cumbria Rural Forum
  • 10.10am The Energy Champions Toolkit – Hellen Aitken, ACTion with Communities in Cumbria – Introducing the National Energy Action Toolkit
  • 10.40am Cumbria Action for Sustainability – Caroline Turner, Cumbria Action for Sustainability. An update on the support they can provide to Energy Champions including assistance with community led projects, and training to deliver fuel bill and energy advice
  • 11.50am Green Deal and Energy Company Obligation (ECO) -Tom Barlow Cumbria Affordable Warmth Project Officer , and Ian Barker, tadea – how Energy Champions can bring funding to their community through Green Deal and ECO
  • 11.10am Workshops – What does it mean to be an Energy Champion?
  • 12.15pm Summary of Workshops and Next Steps
  • 12.30pm Event Concludes

“We Need Smarter, More Connected Local Government” CALC AGM 2012

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“We need smarter, more connected local government.” That was a key message in Eddie Martin’s Vision for Local Government in Cumbria key-note address to local Councillors at CALC’s 38th AGM 2012, held at Carlisle Racecourse, on Saturday 10th November. In a lively and stirring speech that was well applauded, the Chair of Cumbria County Council candidly clarified the need for further ‘profound changes’ in local government and that our first priority will be Cumbrians’ “health, well-being and quality of life”  while addressing the “iniquitous waste of resources”.  Eddie described Cumbria as big, mostly rural and sparsely populated and reasoned that government here is perforce very different from that of Manchester or Birmingham and that Westminster needs to recognise this.  CCC employs 8,500 staff and provides no less than 822 distinctly different functions. There are 239 Parish Councils and 269 villages and 310 schools in the county.

Budget Squeeze Will Drive Rationalisation – Parish Councils Will Be Important Organs Of Change

In the four years 2011-2014, CCC will be cutting about £115 million from its budget, this is necessary to reduce current debt levels of about £350 million, and he reminded us that local Councillors should be active in seeking avenues for improvement for our communities and to exercise new powers from the Localism Bill to benefit our communities. That’s what the powers are there for. He warned us that over 300 people died of hypothermia in the county last year and that Cumbria saw the highest number of children in care  here this year, 620.  There are people in fuel poverty and suffering food scarcity, there’s a dearth of private sector employment.

He said that Community-Parish Council relations are improving and reminded us that Local Councils have more power to affect some changes in our communities than our MPs do, and should employ creative and unorthodox approaches to help their communities where appropriate. Indifference and lack of imagination must not prevent us from being part of the revolution.

Making Connections

He praised the Hub coordinators as exemplars of community leadership in “making a terrific contribution” helping drive progress in developing fast broadband communications infrastructure and he advocated unitised services as a means of cost control, citing joint waste disposal as an example that could save about £8 million.

A lot of money has already been saved by better fiscal management and by bringing services  in house and off-contract, in some cases this has allowed extension of services that would otherwise have incurred additional costs.

The introduction of Snow Champions (Click link to download PDF) is one example of how Community/Civic volunteering can help improve quality of life and well-being in communities.

Dr. Hall Presents on Windfarms at CALC AGM

One man’s view of the day by Charles Paxton.

There was fair weather over Kendal for the 37th Cumbria Association of Local Councils (CALC) Annual General Meeting at The Castle Green Hotel in Kendal yesterday, Saturday 12 November. It was a pleasant venue, the event was well organised, well catered and attended by about 50 Councillors. There was opportunity to chat with people before the meeting and over the buffet lunch.

It has been a busy year for CALC with lots of work connected with the coming Localism Bill and close involvement with the County’s efforts to develop broadband access and preparing for demographic change. They’ve strengthened their membership base, now 94% of Councillors are CALC members.  CALC will increase membership fees by just 3%, ( less than our current inflation rate).

There was well-deserved applause for the outgoing CALC President, Mr. Melvyn Redgers OBE JP and the nominated officers were unanimously approved for appointment. With the coming of the Localism Bill and the profound changes that this will bring to Parish Council responsibilities, particularly in the area of local planning, the guest speaker for the event Dr. Mike Hall and the theme of his presentation seemed very relevant for us in Cumbria.

In his presentation Windfarms: Rape of The Countryside or Salvation of The World?, Dr. Hall began with a short self-introduction. With a background in planning, he manages The Burnsbeck Nature Reserve and he’s been a key figure in the FELLS Group (Friends of Eden, Lakeland and Lunesdale Scenery) for many years and has been involved in 7 public inquiries.

He stressed that in planning terms the siting problem has been exacerbated by increasing difficulty in mitigation, as turbine size has increased considerably over time, with applications for turbines 15-18 meters high in 1985 and recent designs being for very much larger structures (up to 165m in the UK).  The largest turbines in Germany are 183m tall.

Having drawn the important distinction between visual impact (how the turbines actually look, i.e. in terms of dominance) and landscape impact (how the turbines impact upon the landscape character), he noted that our subjective reaction to them was another matter and likely to vary from individual to individual.

He then presented us with an itemized list of pros and cons of wind farms.
Strengths:

  • Virtually no fuel costs involved in their operation,
  • No supply chain problems,
  • No Significant waste in their use

Weaknesses:

  • Reliability,
  • Dispatchability,
  • Contribution to reducing CO2,
He asked us to make up our own minds about wind farms in Cumbria once we had seen the rest of the presentation. ( CALC will make the presentation available on their website soon and I will add that link here.)
OVERVIEW
In short, the presentation showed that while Britain has been vaunted as having the best wind resource in Europe, the reality is that the resource is unevenly distributed, is unreliable and is impractical – being  poorly suited to the demands that are actually placed on the National Grid by consumers. He cited example areas in Wales where tourism business was under threat and reminded us of the importance that this industry sector has in the Cumbrian economy.  He warned that Cumbria was being targeted heavily by wind farm developers and suggested that parts of Cumbria, particularly some areas near the Solway had reached saturation point.
 Wind farms cannot provide ‘base load’ (the minimum requirements of electricity that are required to be available all the time) nor can it provide ‘load following’ generation (provision of electricity to match demand). Our electricity use varies considerably throughout the day, week and year, we can’t match our energy use to the availability of wind. Recent very cold winter weather was windless.
Dr. Hall tells us that wind farms’ failure to reliably provide energy on demand would require the equivalent of 30-40 new gas-powered power stations as back-up to ensure that there is power available when it is needed.
What about the disappointing contributions to CO2 savings? CO2 savings attributed to wind farms are calculated from the equivalent emissions from alternative fossil fuel generation prevalent at the time.  Apart from the CO2 emitted from the afore-mentioned back-up from conventional power stations, the declarable savings of CO2 from wind farms have dropped over time with the closure of old dirtier coal-fired power stations and their replacement with cleaner burning fossil fuel plants, such as natural gas and Liquid Petroleum Gas.
If the proposed wind farm sites damage natural peat carbon sinks then there is extra release of carbon stored over thousands of years from the peat to factor-in to the equation too. Peat gives off carbon as it dries and shrinks.
So where does all this leave us in relation to Dr. Hall’s title question?  It looks like rape to me. Personally, I think there has to be a more satisfactory solution.
 I think in Cumbria we’d be better off  looking at ways to improve efficiency of energy use from conventional power stations and nuclear and to supplement that generation with microgeneration and efficiency enhancement measures that have no negative landscape impact.  This way we’d maximise  efficiency from central generation, bulk purchasing of fuel and minimise negative visual and landscape impacts.
There are technologies available today for home heating and lighting that are extremely efficient and they will be the subject of my next blog post.

The Butchers Arms – Community Pub Plan on Track

Last Sunday saw the launch of the Share Prospectus for the Lyvennet community purchase of the Butchers Arms in Crosby Ravensworth. Following months of behind the scene activity a group of local residents have registered the Lyvennet Community Pub Ltd (LCP) as an Industrial and Provident Society, carried out a community survey, developed a Business Plan and a full share Prospectus.

The Pub, the last in Crosby Ravensworth serving the upper Lyvennet Valley area has been closed for over 6 months due to the retirement on health grounds of the previous owners.

A price of £255,000 has been agreed with the current owners and the group now have until 20th May 2011 to raise the required funding. They already have £160,000 in share pledges and these will be drawn down over the next couple of weeks and various small value grant applications are also currently being progressed.

Kitty Smith, the group secretary said;

“With a minimum of £250 prospective share holders are investing in the building; the “bricks and mortar of this rural cumbrian pub. This is a sound investment with the expectation of a dividend payable from year 2 onwards.”

Over 100 people attended the public meeting demonstrating the local commitment for the venture.

Given the groups involvement in the Eden Valley Big Society vanguard their work is attracting attention nationally.

Community Pubs Minister Bob Neill said:

“Three cheers to the LCP Group for working with the community to keep the heart and soul of the village, the Butchers Arms, alive and well. Pubs are important places for people to get together with neighbours for a drink and a catch-up, and their role in keeping communities strong should not be underestimated.

“The owners’ approach to working with the community to keep the pub open and offer new services for people is exactly what the Big Society is all about – power to local people. I look forward to stopping in at some point in the future to raise a glass to their success.”

Anyone interested in becoming a shareholder can find further information on the website www.lyvennetcommunitypub.com or by contacting the groups secretary Kitty via the site.

The group are also looking for tenants to run the business.

Jan Schindler’s List: Benefits Of Fibre To The Home

“Could Cumbria count fibre-optic internet connections as remedial action against CO2 emissions? Perhaps we should be able to, because fast broadband could save up to 4,600 km equivalent of CO2 emissions per household, per year! These figures from Jan Schindler’s presentation The Socio-economic impact of fibre to the home given at the 36th European Conference and Exhibition on Optical Communication, held in Turin, Italy, on September 19 – 23, 2010. If we extrapolate from these figures we can start to see the aggregated potential, for example, in the Big Society Eden Vanguard Pilot area a proposed broadband pilot scheme of about 1000 homes could save the equivalent of up to about 460,000 km of CO2 emissions per year. I don’t know how Jan worked out the figure, but if we said hypothetically that the average CO2 emissions rating in the UK is 162 g/km (Source: http://www.carpages.co.uk/co2/) then that would be a possible saving of up to 74,520 kgs of CO2 per year from the Big Society Eden broadband pilot project.

Some of the best landscapes in England are threatened with ruination at the moment by subsidised wind farm projects that won’t save very much CO2 because of the need for back-up power generation from conventional power stations due to intermittency of the wind. Sometimes it blows near a turbine, sometimes it doesn’t – all the time there needs to be a stable provision for households and businesses. During recent cold winters wind energy apparently contributed pitifully little energy, click here for coverage.

For more on this please see Dr. Mike Hall’s video presentation part 2 on the subject of the dubious claims of CO2 savings from wind.  Please click here to read more about the issue in Eden from Rory Stewart, our MP for Penrith and The Border. I’m grateful for his defense of our landscape!

I believe that subsidy of fibre-optic internet connection to homes and premises instead of to wind turbines (where local people don’t want them) would be a far better use of public money as it would have multiple and varied benefits in addition to reducing  CO2 emisions. What else does a Wind turbine do? It has but one role.

Here is some encouraging information about the role of broadband from the 36th European Conference and Exhibition on Optical Communication, held in Turin, Italy, on September 19 – 23, 2010

www.ecoc2010.org/contents/attached/c20/WS_7_Schindler.pdf

http://www.ecoc2010.org/

• “Usage of FTTH services has positive impact on environment
-Less commuting and therefore less traffic
-Less business travel
-Less long distance transport of patients
• Key results ofPricewaterhouseCoopers/Ecobilan STUDY 2009:
-The environmental impact of the deployment of a typical FTTH network  will be positive within less than 15 years in average
-Intelligent deployment (e.g. using sewers and existing ducts) can even improve the positive impact of FTTH-Using FTTH and FTTH services can save up to CO2 equivalent of driving a car for 4,600 km per year –for every household!

• FTTH has a positive impact on the environment: 1 million users connected -at least 1 million tons of CO2 saved
• FTTH is a key sustainable utility driver to low carbon economic development.
• FTTHcan help nations, regions, municipalities, operators to meet their carbon reduction objective.”

Cybermoor to Fibremoor – Communications Workshop Illuminates

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On February 9th, I was kindly transported to and from a very nicely organised, well attended and highly illuminating event at Alston Moor’s Town Hall.

Fortified by coffee and biscuits from the local bakery we were treated to comprehensive coverage of the the Cybermoor Community Communications project.
Please see their site for more details and video links when they are ready.

I think that Daniel Heery and his Cybermoor team came across as very professional and polished, but it was clear from their presentations that they’ve done a lot of learning the hard way as pathfinders! 10 yrs ago was clearly a tough time to try and set up a Community Communications network. They may well be poised to reap rewards for their perseverance and years of accumulated experience, I think. They can manage and deliver community communications networks and maintain them with a convenient-looking electronic management system.
Thanks to the focus that Rory Stewart, MP for Penrith and the Border has brought to bear upon the subject through his Rheged Broadband conference and the continued efforts now reinforced by the Big Society paradigm shift – 2011 is a more favourable time for communities to upgrade to future-proof internet – I expect that Fibremoor will expand it’s customer base rapidly soon!

Alston Moor’s website strikes me as a very good example of a Community microsite, and they’ve got their act together with community transport too.

They shared detailed knowledge with us and encouraged us not to be discouraged!

This event has definitely confirmed in my mind that though wireless has its place, Fibre To The Premises is the way to go if we can.

LLBG Community Broadband Gains Public Support In Morland Meeting

Lance Greenhalgh explaining our options. Catherine Anderson Photo

Lance Greenhalgh explaining our options. Catherine Anderson Photo

About 100 people attended an event at Morland Village Hall on Wednesday evening that was both educational and interactive. Through some informative speeches and a clear, concise slide presentation there emerged a clearer understanding of the issues and of residents’ options on the matter, and also a clear mandate for the group to investigate the establishment of a Community owned broadband project.

Freddy Markham, Chair of the LLBG introduced the meeting with some essential general background information about the need to connect the final third (our rural communities) through a community driven project because the large providers are preoccupied with the cities and the rural areas would be too expensive to connect without spirited cooperation of the community and the granting of free wayleaves by landowners. He introduced Louis Mosely, aide to Rory Stewart MP for Penrith and The Border.

Louis introduced the idea of the Eden Declaration as an important statement of desired service and talked about the possibility of long-term low interest loans from the Big Society Bank.

Tom Lowther, our Cumbria County Councilor then explained Cumbria County Council’s desire to get the best value for money for Cumbria as a whole and said CCC was working with Mike Kiely of Broadband Development UK to seek the best way of serving a great number of people and organisations, he admitted that though the FTTC approach with BT didn’t match the specifications demanded by Champions through the Eden declaration, it could happen with the assistance of public funding from Broadband Development UK and by going through thorough public procurement procedures.

Lance Greenhalgh then delivered a concise and comprehensive slide presentation offering an overview of technological options for digital services – he emphasised that there was more to this subject than broadband itself .

He didn’t rule out satellite, wireless and fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) as each service may suit certain circumstances, but reinforced the position that Fibre to the home/premises (FTTH/P) was the best value future-proof solution available to us at this time. (NB because it’s future proof we can proceed with confident belief that it isn’t: likely to become obsolete / likely to be superseded anytime soon).

The Great Asby Group advised the retention of at least one normal phone line with plain ordinary telephone per village for emergency use in power outages. Lance mentioned the Femtocell solution for getting mobile signals into our homes via broadband and the usefulness of wireless service for Caravan parks and for remote outliers. He briefly covered who might deliver our services and finished off with a speedy overview of the considerable anticipated benefits of fast broadband.

Questions from the floor followed: how would video on demand TV work over FTTH? Extra equipment would be necessary : A YouView set-top box could be connected via ethernet cable and thence to a TV.

There was a question about whether way-leaves had been agreed yet. Mr. Markham answered that he had contacted, and was awaiting responses from, various parties.

There was a question about the sort of structure necessary to provide the Community service, Community Interest Company or Industrial Provident Society, but this was agreed to be a subject that would be better explored after establishing the extent of demand.

Our collective response to various questions, using Cumbria County Council’s electronic voting system brought the event to a conclusion. The voting system allows public opinion to be expressed collectively with anonymity.

For more on the subject please see the results and associated commentary at  www.broadbandcumbria.com and www.Leith-Lyvennet.broadbandcumbria.com