Lee Moor diary June 2010
World Environment Day
June the 5th was and is each year World Environment Day, and thus it was great to go to the Discovery Museum, just off St James's Boulevard in Newcastle, to look at Climate Change, and for Lee Moor Business Park & Farm to be one of the case studies used in the workshops. The statistics on climate change are just as frightening as ever, but the public has decided that it is less believing... the cold winter has a lot to answer for!!
Farm Open Sunday
This year's Open Sunday was a huge success, with 420 farms receiving 150,000 visitors across the country, and adverts for companies such as McDonald's and Morrisons, to name but two, using children on the farm to show trust in the food chain. As farmers we must work with the public to explain why local, sustainable food is the best and also how farms such as Lee Moor can be educational centres in relation to so many curriculum areas. We are involved with Nature's Senses here on the farm, so we will be getting increasingly involved with groups who are differently abled and who value visits which are designed to let them get the full experience of the countryside. All of us would benefit from slowing down and taking a closer look at the wonders of plants and animals around us! I have stepped down as a LEAF demonstration farm but am always happy to take groups around to show them what we have done.
Behind the scenes
As some of you know, my pension is invested in the Six catering franchise in the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art. As such I have always been aware that the building looks fantastic but is less than practical... 'form following function' is a big phrase at the minute when it comes to the 'managed retreat' of the public sector. Some buildings are designed to 'wow', but the mechanical and electrical design have to come second. Thus it was fantastic to see behind the scenes at The Baltic and see the heating and cooling systems... recently we have also had cause to curse the efficacy of the fire sprinkler systems, but that is another story. Thanks to the team for showing us around it was part of a set of tours looking at the city.
They have a plan... 1 Plan
I loved Human Geography at school, so I really enjoyed hearing about the master-planning of Newcastle and Gateshead as one economic area following on from what the OECD boffins concluded a few years ago. With public money tight we must see the private sector dig deep and invest to make this happen. The north east is about to become an energy powerhouse again, and it is in this geography that the new renewables millionaires will want to 'work, rest and play'. I am backing it with my pension, so I hope others will risk a bit of 'skin' as well.
Who teaches our kids about tax?
For nearly a decade I have been helping Young Enterprise here in the north east. Now my latest foray into the classroom has been with with Elligngham 1st School, a fantastic village Church of England school with a dedicated teaching staff. I have been giving 5 one-hour modules on 'The Community', teaching 8-year-olds about tax and who works for themselves and who works for the state. You then give them some monopoly-type money and take a third of it away from them; their little faces are a picture, but in that moment they get the concept. I'm sure all of us adults remember our first pay packet, and the feeling of distress when you have to get your head around the missing money and the tax codes! Of course we all need to pay tax, and I pay tribute to those whose job it is to collect the revenue that keeps the country running... no sarcasm here, now move along!
Sewage, or watch England play in the World Cup?
For me these are real choices. On 23rd June 2010 I decided that a visit to Esholt sewage treatment works with the Environment Agency took priority to being a guest of an architect's firm where football, pies and beer were on offer... 'proper food for proper football fans', it said on the invitation! Fair point, the visit finished just before the kick off, but I took the chance of quiet roads to drive up from Bradford.
Anaerobic digestion and hydro-power were good to see, also composting. The £75million assets deal with commercial and domestic sewage and surface water for half a million people. Very interesting visit with loads of sounds, sights and smells that excite children but which adults find slightly less appealing!! Thanks to Yorkshire Water for showing us around.
I had the pleasure of meeting the Institute of Directors' Director General, Miles Templeton, at Seaham as a guest of Colling Construction Ltd. The meeting was held at Business Enterprise North East (BENE), which, given all of the changes happening in the world of business support, was opportune. The coalition Government intends to alter the way businesses in the UK get help, and we await that important decision. For ONEnortheast it looks like March 2012 is the legal end date and I expect to be asked to stay on until that date to wind operations down and transfer activities and assets to other 'safe pairs of hands'.
Who is setting the agenda? Well, I have the joy of being invited to most events in this regard, but I am keen to see more private sector representatives present at these events. Otherwise as the state shrinks there will be no expansion by the private and third sectors. The future of the economy is predicated on this, so let's get involved now!
Bong... reaching for the Sky... twice
So a trip to Kielder with the Forestry Commission to see Skyspace and the Observatory was on at the end of June... Now, star gazers will realise that even in England's darkest corner a cloudy midnight in June is not dark enough, but it was very interesting, with the sorts of facts about the universe that don't half make an Indigo child like me think about the world in a different way. A fantastic visit, and great to hear numbers that make the national debt seem small... I kid you not, let's hope for life on other planets, they can lend us some dosh!
Highest regards and enjoy the summer!
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