Drug mules hit our community bench

Dear Sir, — I was beginning to think that we were getting through winter quite well but I will have to change my mind. The rain earlier in the week was dramatic, and the forecast meant we might need to batten down the hatches as the threat of storm Brendan headed our way.
The year seems to be starting well in Government, and at councils county, district and town, with election promises starting to become reality, as it should be with the Conservatives now having a clear majority.
Staffordshire is apparently the “bluest” in the country, thanks to all the people who were totally fed up with the deadlock in Westminster, which prevented any type of reasonable progress, and made their votes count.
How good to see that after some three years without a functioning Government, the Northern Ireland Assembly has re-established an executive and appointed ministers after a long stalemate. This now enables action to be taken on the key reforms needed on schools and hospitals among others, and this must come as a great relief to the people of Northern Ireland.
There is bad news, sadly. The bush fires in Australia continue to lead tragic scenes, as people’s lives, homes and animals are lost to the flames. Then we had the news of the shooting down of a Ukrainian aircraft after it took off from Teheran airport with the loss of 176 innocent lives, caused by human error. The investigation goes on as I write.
The arrest of the UK’s ambassador to Iran, Robert Macaire, came as a shock, particularly as this was an illegal act. To witness the mass demonstrations taking place against the ruling regime in Iran is amazing; one can’t help but wonder what the future holds for Iran and for the Middle East in general, and indeed for the rest of the world. All that we can hope is that common sense will prevail. 
I cannot comment on the situation with the royal family, other than to say I am heartily sorry to see our dear queen going through so many traumas at this stage of her life after so many years of total dedication to the people she has served so well.
Back in Staffordshire, I attended a county council meeting last week on training on guardianship and mental awareness, both current and interesting topics. 
At this moment there are only two county guardians, of which I am one, a post I have held for over 10 years. With just two people requiring a guardian in to-day’s society, it is interesting that the training of some 40 councillors in this role continues apace, so that there should certainly be no shortage of guardians if needed.
I also went to the Biddulph Valley North Community Association meeting at Biddulph Bowling Club. The meeting was addressed by the community police forum, represented by Sgt Baddeley, who, in a very informative talk, gave us two pieces of welcome news. 
The first was that the two people suspected of breaking into parked cars, causing damage, had been apprehended during a joint operation with Congleton police, and arrested. 
The second was that the villain who broke into the Biddulph Grange tearooms had been arrested. He is apparently well known to the police and is now serving a prison sentence.
At this meeting our own Coun Hilda Sheldon MBE was present, and gave an interesting talk on the whys and hows Biddulph In Bloom was started. Back in the day, it was rather small, and now has won an impressive amount of gold. Maybe it could be compared to the amount of gold that Gordon Brown sold off so cheaply while Chancellor (joking, of course). 
Hilda informed us that the seat bought for the residents of Brown Lees had been hit by a car, which drove off without reporting the incident. The police found the abandoned car, but the driver had fled; it seems the vehicle was being used to deliver drugs around the area, so with no insurance available an amount of £850 has to be found to replace this well-used seat. 
I have contacted the community fund officers at county level and this coming May the residents may get a grant to replace the seat — fingers crossed.
A late addition to the meeting was Rodger Deane, who has taken up the idea of forming Friends of Biddulph Valley Way, with a committee to be organised to clear the pathway in the Biddulph Valley area. A rather complicated venture as it has a few different owners, but as a listed pathway one would think any help in clearing it would be welcomed with open arms. Rodger has called for a meeting to take place at the town hall today, 16th January.
I often say what a valuable asset the community associations are to our town, and it would be really good if some of those that have folded were to be brought back to life somehow. I was surprised when I checked back on the associations we once had, to find there were 11 listed; no doubt, like many readers, I can remember the days when the associations were a focal point for residents, and so much good was done. 
I appreciate those who organised and ran these groups were of an age, but maybe some younger people in Biddulph have the wish to see their surroundings benefit by folk working together to help the whole community.
I know Hilda Sheldon and her Biddulph Bloomers always welcome extra help, if only for a few hours a week, and I am told the tasks they do are a great way of keeping fit. The reward is seeing in spring, summer and autumn, our fair garden town of Staffordshire decked out with beautiful floral displays and plants, and generally litter-free. I can guarantee they are a very friendly group of lovely people who have no qualms about being out and about in all weathers doing their great work. Worth considering? 
Finally a busy time at my drop in session with much talk of future plans and one or two problems brought to the fore, but generally nothing major to report on. As always, if you know of any vulnerable person who could be in need of help and you can offer some TLC, that’s great, but if you think I, or your local councillors can be of assistance you know where to find us.
Have a very good week. — Yours faithfully,
IAN LAWSON
Tel: 01782 522 614. 
Mobile:: 07553 293 343.
ian.lawson@staffordshire.gov.uk