Tory HQ victim of “peaceful” student protest

Students broke into the conservative headquarters yesterday afternoon as a national demonstration turned riotous.

 

                      

 

 Violence: the site of Tory HQ as riot police try to control the chaos

 

52,000 students were demonstrating against the government’s decision to raise caps on university fees.  What started off as a peaceful demonstration turned into chaos when a group of rebel protesters broke into the Conservative Headquarters near the final destination of the Tate Gallery.

The NUS president, Aaron Porter, told the morning’s student media press conference that he was confident that violence would not break out because otherwise it would be detrimental to the aim of the demonstration.

Chaos

However, a small group of rebels congregated around the Milbank building, before breaking in. The glass front of the Headquarters was torn down as the students broke in, before covering the walls in graffiti, smashing other windows further up the building and standing on the roof setting off fire extinguishers and throwing toilet rolls, banana skins and news papers into the crowds below.

“Tory Scum”: the geers of the crowds and the vandalism echoed across the inside of the Conservative headquarters

A fire continued to burn in the middle of the crowds while crowds chanted “Tory scum” and threw their placards onto it. Riot police were sent in to control the situation and barricade the front of the building to prevent others from entering.

When Porter heard the news that hundreds of protesters had congregated around the Milbank situated, Tory HQ, and vandalised the property, he was devastated and told us that he would now have to work extremely hard in order to gain back respect from the government,  and to rethink his strategy in tackling the controversial issue.

He wanted to make it clear that he was certain this was not the work of students, but other members of the public who had been caught up in the protest and just wanted to cause trouble.

The London college students who had climbed to the roof of the building said that they realised it may not have been the right thing to do but felt so strongly about the situation which is making them reconsider higher education.

The coalition government wants to raise the cap on university fees to as much as £9,000 in some institutions. The current charge sits at £3,225 and has already created a decrease in the number of people entering higher education since it was raised in 2006.

There are fears that this increase will deter people from considering higher education and in yesterday’s demonstration there was a strong agreement that it is unjustified to introduce such high fees for prospective students in when the government is struggling to rebuild our economy. The NUS president said that creating deterrence to young people from continuing education is not the way forward when we are reliant on the younger generations to continue our country and enter careers which will help economic stability and the country’s competition.

The national demonstration, which is thought to have been the largest protest since the Iraq War protests in 2003 and the biggest student demo in a generation, kicked off the national strategy that would continue throughout the constituencies in order to persuade the government against education cuts.

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A birthday to remember: How we found ourselves at the heart of student rioting

As I grow older my birthday becomes a little more mundane and I have to admit the excitement is lost compared to when I was under 20. So deciding to cover the national student protest for the day seemed like an exciting way to spend the day which I would probably otherwise only have been doing some sort of essay or coursework.

So zoom and camera in hand, Lucy and I headed to the UCU for the student media press conference with the NUS president and president of UCU, the institutions organising the demonstration.

Little did we expect the day to turn into such chaos let alone that we would unwittingly find ourselves at the very heart of all the action.

Peaceful start

After the press conference where Aaron Porter, the NUS president, reassured us that the demonstration would be the beginning to a national fight against the university fee increase and that violence would not occur we headed to the congregation point at Horse Guard Avenue.

I have never been to anything like this before and so I certainly had no idea what to expect. As we joined the already mile long group of protesters as they marched down the Horse Guards Avenue towards Millbank and the Tate Gallery we conducted a few vox pops, recorded a few chants and took some pictures to capture the moment.

Protesters

It started off quite exciting. The atmosphere created by the crowds fighting for something they all felt so passionate about was inspiring and it became difficult to remain professional and impartial as journalists. We often found ourselves tempted to join in their chanting and placard bearing.

I found myself even more inclined to join in when one MP completely ignored me when we tried to interview him. It’s not exactly the best impression to make for an MP to run away from a student journalist when the very thing people are fighting for is the rights of students. The least he could have done would have been to defend the government’s decision or let us know that he was on our side.

Fate

We soon realised that not much was happening so we made our way to the front of the demonstration next to the Houses of Parliament.

Heading to the front we had a fantastic view of the sheer extent of the amount of people involved. The queue was never ending as we looked down on thousands of placards and banners.

We walked further down towards the end of Milbank. It was lunch time and it was clear nothing much was changing. It was the same old people chanting and walking, while stewards stopped and started them in order to control the rabble of people.

Lunchtime viewing

So, given it was my birthday we went into a nearby Pizza Express, thinking that we had enough time before the protesters would reach their final destination, probably about half a mile ahead.

What happened next was a complete surprise.

As we sat at the window seat, which we had requested in order to see the march as it passed, we opened a bottle of wine and began to make our order.

Within about 15 minutes a group of boys ran past the restaurant in the adjoining courtyard. We Were intrigued to find out what was going on as more and more people congregated in the space.

Students turn on Tories

Being a keen journo, I went onto Twitter to see if anything had been reported. To my delight (to hear about something “kicking off”) a reported had tweeted that “100 students had broken into Tory’s HQ and they are burning placards.”

It became clear from that, that the orange smoke we had seen above the heads of the crowds outside the window were from the placard burning. Keen to go to the heart of the reported riots we asked our waitress where the HQ was.

To our delight she gestured next door. That was it. We were right next to the riots. What were that chances that we just happened to have lunch right next to the Conservative Headquarters. We couldn’t believe our luck. We were considering heading on to the final meeting point at the Tate further down the road in which case we would have missed what was going on.

We hurriedly finished our meal, downed the wine (Lad!), paid and made a dash for it into the crowd outside.

Chaos

I literally couldn’t believe it. The whole courtyard was rammed with protesters and people were shaking the glass entrance and throwing things at it so that it would smash.

All around us people were chanting, cheering and shouting. A fire started in the centre of the crowds. It got pretty big as people began throwing their placards on it.

We sat, pride of place, on the railings which separated the raised area surrounding the courtyard. We had an overview of everything that was happening. Although, to our dismay, the crowd of people in front of us were inhibiting our view of the entrance of the building but we could see enough to know what was happening.

In true journo style we brought out the zoom and asked a few people around us what was going on. We also we fairly proud of ourselves in creating a war type correspondent package at the scene.

Playing with fire

I’m not going to lie. Or act hard core. I feared for my life when a flare was lit next to us and the crowd pushed back into us. I was only sitting on a very small rail and could see, any second, someone would push slightly too hard and I would go falling, head first, onto the concrete below and probably, while there, get trampled on by the protesters.

The riot police stormed through the crowds as a group peered over the edge of the roof of the building down at the crowds below. The people who had got into the building had stripped the glass windows off the front of the building. The walls were covered in derogatory graffiti, displaying obscenities towards the Conservative party.

Plants from inside the building were thrown out of windows and passed through the crowds. Fire extinguishers made it feel almost magical as they were set off from above and the foam came falling through the sky like snow. Rolls of toilet paper and old newspapers and banana skins were also thrown out of the windows.

The police barricaded the entrance to stop more people getting into the building as the helicopters above surrounded.

Let me tell you one thing about mobs. They do not like the police. I was shocked at the way the crowds jeered at them and shouted abuse when all they were trying to do was control the situation which looked like it was going to escalate.

And then suddenly, after a few minutes of mulling it over, we decided to make our way to the front of the crowds to where the proper press were. Right opposite the police wall.

As we pushed our way to the front placards and bottles were thrown over our head. When we reached the front a bottle skimmed past Lucy’s eye, and another hit my back. As one girl shoved a policeman with a wooden stick she slid on the glass on the floor and before we knew it both the police and other protesters seemed to congregate around her and almost attack her. We got pushed around and slide on the glass.

That was when I knew we had to get out. It was just becoming too dangerous. As the afternoon progressed people were finding new things to through and there was glass everywhere.

We headed to that back but just couldn’t quite drag ourselves away. So we ventured up a stairwell at the back of the courtyard. It was a fantastic place to overlook the mob below.

Riot at Milbank

A boy walked past to show his friend why they couldn’t get in and I soon realised people were trying to get in the building at this entrance as well but the police were protecting the door from the inside and so no one was getting in.

By this time we were all mobbed out. The scene was absolute chaos. I had never experienced anything like it. All i could think was, “best birthday ever!”

Technology fail

It was like the day had been guided for us because as we went back to the station away from the riot we bumped into, no other than, the NUS president himself!

Lucy and I looked at each other. “Oh my god, massive exclusive!” this could be our chance to get a face to face interview with the very man who orchestrated the day and believed that it would not succumb to violence.

We went up and asked him a few questions. The man looked deflated. He was devastated that because a few people had taken the march out of hand, months of his work had been ruined. We overheard him say he was considering to resign from president.

Wow. Massive scoop! Lucy sneakily edged the zoom towards him as he revealed to his friends just how much the events had destroyed his reputation.

Unfortunately, technology failed us. None of our war correspondent style audio could be heard on the playback and to our dismay our scoop was completely inaudible.

We couldn’t help but feel a little cheated by technology. I mean what are the chances! All of the things we had gathered had gone.

But I can’t complain. It was an amazing experience. If not a little scary at times. It was a shame that some people, who were clearly not students, had taken the whole demonstration out of hand and potentially ruined the validity of the very cause so many people came out to fight for.

The government’s decision to increase fees is completely ridiculous. All it is going to do is deter those from less privileged backgrounds from going to university. And these young people are the future of our country. I can only but hope that the occurrences of the day have not completely destroyed the fight and that the government will reconsider their proposal.

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A claustrophobic’s nightmare

Overcrowding on trains will get continually worse over the next four years, MP reports have found. When there are too many people on a train, travelling can become unbearable. I recently had a particually busy experience on the train which has made me dissapointed to hear this finding and angers me that little is being done to calm the situation.

Just a normal commute

Friday night, bonfire night. Lucy and I were on a train to a friend’s house in Clapham; thinking the journey across London on the tube wouldn’t be too unbearable.

We were already fairly late, but it didn’t even cross our minds that we would be travelling at peak commutor time.

It usually takes about 40 minutes to get to Clapham from Northwick Park. Fortunately we’ve been taught how to back track time (!) so with this in mind we were confident that we would have no trouble with gettting there in plenty of time to catch the fireworks.

Public Transport Melt Down

The whole day had been a little bizarre when it came to transport. For a start, leaving uni I noticed the BBC breaking news about a cement mixer which had fallen onto a train track by Oxshott station.

Chaos: Cement Mixer falls from road onto train in Oxshott

I can potentially go through Oxshott on my way back from London and I know a few people who live in that area, one of my best friends included. Luckily no one I knew was on the train.

I don’t know why, but it sent a bit of a shiver down my spine. I don’t know whether it was becasue it was an area that I had driven many a time before or becasue of the following events.

When I got to Lucy’s room, so we could get ready for the fireworks, we recieved a phone call from Jodi. She had been to meet her boyfriend around Oxford Circus. She was cut off the first time she rang us and sounded a little flustered on the phone.

Fire Alert: Passengers at Oxford Circus were evacuated

We eventually got through to her and she explained that Oxford Circus tube station had been evacuated due to a fire alert. We both kind of thought, “yeah right a fire, probably code for bomb.” And I know that sounds cynical but considering it was only days after a bomb was discoverd on a plane in the East Midlands and various other bomb plots nad scares had taken place while notifications to enhance security, it was understandable. Not to mention after Lucy said that one of her friends had said he had a strange feeling something bad was going to happen when they were out the night before.

It was all just a little worrying. And I know it may sound lame but, at the time, when things are going through your mind its hard not to think something bad is going to happen. But you can’t live in fear. It was just a few random events that had happened and there was no point in letting it ruin our night.

Sardines, or should I say sharks?

The journey started off fine. We managed to get a seat even though it was quite busy. And when we had to change at Bakerloo it was horrifyingly busy. It was like a normal commuting busy-ness.

We stood up, which was fine, becasue there were no seats left. Bearing in mind Lucy was carrying a plate full of brownies which she had made the night before for the evening, so if it got busier we knew she may have difficulty.

The extent of occupancy though, we did not predict. I think it was when we went through Westminster that it became worst.

We were seperated by a rabble of people although I was kept entertained by a group of boys in front of me who were laughing at a guy in the carriage behind us who looked like he was stoned.

When Westminster came, it literally felt like we were sardines. I think one of the boys even mooed becasue it reminded him of cattle.

What makes me really angry is that when a tube is clearly rammed, why would anyone bother trying to get on? You can’t be in that much of a hurry to get somewhere so that you have to, not only make your own journey unbearably uncomfortable but you also have to squish everyone else in your proximity into the confined space as well.

It was amusing how my morning journey also started off with a fairly chavy lady who got on the train and asked people to move down when there was clearly no room for anyone to move to. At Westminster, after the doors shut, they resorted to openning again and someone got on.

I couldn’t see but the fact that this man had got on appeared to make things even worse in the carriage as most people moaned about his attempts to catch the tube.

Luckily the next stop was Waterloo, and I thought most people would get out there. Unfortunately they didn’t so I had to squeeze my way out.

At this point I have never felt shorter in my life. I’m not exaclty the tallest girl, which I like, but when trapped surrounded by other people it often makes me feel as though I have somehow shrunk about half the size.

Before I knew it there was some sort of chaos happening in front of the boys. Little did I know it was the man who had pushed his way on at Wesminster.

And if I am using the sardine analogy to describe the carriage this man was definitely the shark. He pushed Lucy and they had a little argument. This triggered other people to also get involved, the boys shouted “Well you shouldnt have pushed your way on!” and there were a lot of “chill out!” comments to be heard.

Lucy grabbed my hand and we eventually got off before the train pulled away.

Packed

The chaos didn’t end there. As much as we would have liked it too the Northern line to Clapham was equally as bad. Despite not having an obnoxious little man with us on the train this time it was just as busy and there were delays too so it took twice as long.

Things were evidently made worse by a woman next to us complaining throughout the whole journey. F-ing and blinding at how bad the tubes were.

Lucily we made it. Probably in about twice the amount of time it should have taken but we got there. Alive and unscathed.

Overcrowding

Over crowding

This is just one example of a horrific tube journey. Every day commutors have to put up with this extent of overcrowding, and now we’re being told that it will continue to get worse over the next four years.

I think the worst is being stuck in the tube underground when it is so busy. Its bad enough on an overground train when you can get a seat but at least then you can sit on the floor. On the tube your trapped in the tunnels; theres very little escape. I wonder how there aren’t more people who have panic attacks or collapse. In the summer there was the added problem of the heat which made travelling stuffy and unbearable, in addition to the stench most passengers were giving off. I think they underestimated the amount they would sweat in the tunnels!

It has been reported that over the past 10 years there has been a 40% increase in passengers and this is expected to double over the next few decades aparently despite the nine billion pound attempt by the Department of Transport to improve railways.

Paying for drama

And the price of tickets is now astronomical. Transport operators seem to think that if they increase the prices by a small amound every now and again we won’t notice. But we do. I used to be able to get the bus home for one pound eighty, now I have to pay three pound fifty for a single trip that takes just twenty minutes across Guildford.

I just don’t understand where the money is going. Its clearly not going on pay, else the workers wouldn’t be constantly moaning and going on strike and it’s evidently not going on improving the space.

It’s ironic that I thought trains should have some sort of system that would identify the amount of passengers on a train and then use some sort of lock down mechanism to stop people coming on when the carriage reached its limit, something like a lift, when The Public Accounts Committee has recommended that the DfT introduce an automatic passenger counting device to show how many people are travelling  and when and a smart card system on tickets to help reduce inefficiencies of overcrowding in peak times and underused trains at other times.

Transort Secretary Phillip Hammond says “we currently have the most expensive railways in the world.”

Quite frankly, its not good enough, and if I’m paying more than other countries I am expecting something amazing, which at the moment, is not the case.

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The Pill: Promoting underage sex or preventing teen pregnancies?

Prevention: The Contraceptive Pill

There has always been a lot of controversy over the contraception and its availability to young girls. At the moment I am conducting research for a pitch for a feature as part of my course. At the time we were given the piece of work, the Isle of Wight announced that it would be conducting a pilot scheme allowing girls as young as 13 access to the contraceptive pill without having to go to their GP.

Age of consent

The age of consent varies between jurisdictions and the type of sexual act, the sex of the actors and other restrictions such as the abuses of positions of trust.

Traditionally, age of consent was a matter for the family to decide and more often than not coincided with puberty.

The first recorded age of consent was more than 800 years ago in 1275 when England made a law against rape. In the 12th Century, founder of Canon law in Europe, Gratian, accepted that the age of puberty for marriage should be between 12 and 14 but consent could be meaningful if the child was over seven years old.

Today, such a young age is shocking, because of the way society has moved on in the past hundreds of years. In their early teens, children are still in education and preparing for later life. In the past, children were sent to work earlier and married at a much younger age. Things were different, people lived for a shorter time and things were done a lot quicker in terms of marriage, and work.

Today there is less of a rush for these sorts of things.

The Pill

The pill was discovered after the 1930’s when scientists found out that certain levels of hormones could prevent ovulation, and what first started out as a cure for menstrual problems, was soon authorised as a contraceptive measure in 1961. Since then, its popularity has grown and it is currently used by over 100 million women worldwide; including 3.5 million users in the UK alone.  

In 2007, as part of the government’s aim to reduce unwanted pregnancies, leading surgeon and health minister of the time, Lord Darzi, recommended access to the Pill over the counter without needing consent from a parent or GP. He said that it would prevent unwanted pregnancies and would allow girls to be assessed by a health professional, who was not their GP, but who could grant them the contraceptive pill. This scheme was piloted in Lambeth and Southwark, the areas with the largest percentages of teenage pregnancies.

In 2008, 96 girls under the age of 18 were fell pregnant on the Isle of Wight and so authorities felt that there was something that had to be done.

Controversy

Understandably, the pilot scheme has come under fire mainly because of the age of the girls who will be able to access the Pill.

But if there are so many girls under the age of consent who are clearly going out and having sex, regardless of what the law says and becoming pregnant unintentionally then shouldn’t we be helping them make up their own mind and protecting them against unwanted pregnancies.

To go to the pharmacist and ask for the morning after pill in the first place is already pretty scary for most girls, especially if they are under 18. But a move which promotes safe sex for girls as young as 13 should inevitably make it a less daunting experience.

And what’s the alternative? We all like to think that if a child is under 16 they won’t be having sex until they are much older and more mature, but in reality there’s no way to stop young teenagers having sex altogether, they will inevitably do it regardless of laws preventing it. So something must be done to protect them from getting pregnant. And I think that this is a responsible way for girls to tackle the risks.

In 2008, the Office of National Statistics revealed that 61.6% of pregnancies from girls under 16 were aborted out of the 7.8 per 1000 conceptions that took place under 16. Quite frankly, they shouldn’t be pregnant in the first place at that age, I mean they are still children themselves, so doing something to stop it is a good plan.

STIs

The only major concern which I have found is that, although the Pill is pretty much 100% effective, it does not protect you against STIs. Something shocking I found in my research was that half of the 2,557 people surveyed in the UK by the Office for National Statistics said TV programmes and adverts had informed them about STIs.

I think if girls are turning to the pill for effective contraception they need to realise that the Pill is only to prevent pregnancy, it will not protect you against STIs.

Another important point is that girls must also be aware that the Pill can be affected by some medication and it is important that they know about this. So if they are accessing the Pill from somewhere other than their GP and then go to their GP for something else and are prescribed medication, the GP may not know the girl is on the Pill and therefore will not warn the patient that their Pill could be affected.

Only time will tell if this scheme is effective or not in reducing the number of teen pregnancies but in the mean time, regardless of people having concerns about children as young as 13 having sex, there is clearly little that can be done to stop them and so all we can do is protect children against the repercussions of sex.

(N.B. Quick statistic

Just a random statistic for anyone interested: According to the netdoctor, if taken as prescribed, the Pill’s effectiveness is almost 100% effective. In comparison to the condom, if 100 women were to use the Pill as prescribed for a year they would not get pregnant, but if 100 women were to rely on condoms for a year, between two and five would fall pregnant, and if none used contraception then at least twenty would be likely to become pregnant. )

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Building Plans for Shopping Centre Revealed

A multi-million pound plan to reposition The Friary Shopping Centre in Guildford was revealed on Tuesday.

 

Joint owners’, Westfield and Hermes Real Estate, plans include reconfiguring space to introduce five new large stores which will give the opportunity for multinational retailers to secure a space within the centre.

So far, Topshop has committed to an extension while Primark has recently opened its first Guildford store, part of a deal to take over ten BHS stores.

There are also plans for a new food court. This will become part of Westfield’s Eat Central Brand and has already been introduced in other stores across the UK.

Ben Tolhurst, asset manager at Hermes says: “By carrying out these works we are opening up the opportunity for leading UK retailers to take modern space within Guildford where they are currently not represented due to the space restrictions of the town centre.”

With Guildford household incomes set at a third above the UK national average, Tolhurst hopes that the centre will continue to attract the affluent shoppers from the Surrey catchment area.

The Friary shopping centre currently consists of three levels with over 60 retailers.

Planning applications have already been submitted and Westfield and Hermes are working with Guildford Borough Council to make improvements quickly.

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Love: Who Needs It?

Overpowering: reminder of the need to feel loved

Recently there has been a lot of talk about relationships and the dating game, not just in class but the BBC today had a feature on how the single life costs a lot more than if you’re in a couple (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-10892142).

Yes, we can all mope around when we’re single and be on top of the world when we’re in a relationship but there are other things in life.

There’s so much media pressure for us to be in love. In films, soaps and even television adverts or perfume promotions, we are subjected to a world of love and romance. But how much is this really the case?

What annoys me the most is when girls spend all of their time with their boyfriends and ditch their friends. And perhaps this is without meaning to but it shouldn’t be reality.

Boys over Friends

In my first year of university my housemate was really good friends with this one girl. They were completely different and looking back on it now my I’m pretty sure my housemate wonders how and why exactly they had been so close within the first few weeks of fresher’s. But soon, maybe a month or so in, the girl started going out with a boy in her corridor.

To say they were a disgusting couple is pretty much an understatement. They used to sit in bed all day, he stunk of BO and to be honest she just looked dirty. And their public displays of affection were utterly sickening. I mean come on people, get room!!!  I won’t go into it because I don’t want to sicken you but let me tell you it was not nice (think Amsterdam sex show). If you found yourself sitting in between them it was high time you knew you should get yourself out as soon as possible, because someone in between them did not stop them eating each other’s faces!

As time went on they were literally joined at the hip. She started bunking off lectures: I’m not sure what he did, probably avoided showering! It’s all pretty vague in my mind now but towards the end of term she didn’t even come out with us anymore.

One night she did come out with us and just sat there moping about him not being there, even though they had had an argument before. We thought it would be a good way for us to all reconnect and take her mind off things. She left early to go home and see him…

The thing was, because she had ditched her friends so abruptly it became difficult for us to be there when things got rough. I distanced myself because, in all fairness, I hadn’t known her for very long, and although she was a lot of fun in the beginning, I felt like I didn’t really care what was going on in her relationship because she didn’t make time for us.

Long story short, they both dropped out of university and she became pregnant. I think they are still together. Although, she definitely deleted me on Facebook so I can’t be entirely sure.

And good for them if they are together but it made me realise that what she had gone through at university over that first year in terms of friendships can’t have been worth it. She had wasted all of those new friendships in favour of being with one person.

Friends First

People always say friends over boys. (It brings a particular One Tree Hill story line to mind, Brooke creates the clothes line ‘Clothes Over Bro’s’ as she puts all of her energy into fashion designing after she has had her heart broke. And she becomes a massive success! Maybe a tip for all you lonely hearts out there?)

Fun: Have friends you can rely on and have fun with

It is so important to keep time for your friends and surround yourself with as many friends as possible, and people who care for you. No matter how much you think that your boy friend is “the one” and can provide you with everything, you need to have time with other people. I don’t think it’s healthy to concentrate all of your energy on one person.

And it doesn’t just have to be sacrificing a little bit of loving for girl time. It can be guy friends as well. Just so long as you know that there is someone there when things go wrong.

And I’m not saying things always go wrong. But when you’re in a relationship things usually start straight away. More often than not they aren’t long term friends before, the relationship starts off in a romantic way. There’s obviously going to be some sort of “more than friends” attraction for something to progress from the first meeting. Meaning that when you do break up, you’re left with very little if you have pushed your friends away.

But when things do go wrong, and you have spent the past year with that one person, perhaps not lost touch of your friends but are definitely less close, where do you go? Who do you turn to? Because chances are if you have rejected your friends to such a level that you need to rebuild your friendship, how easy will it be to turn to them?

Other things in life

Either way, your friends will always be there for you. It’s just a warning not to become too engrossed in one person.

Being in a relationship is not everything. And I think people need to realise that. You can have as much love (well maybe not as much love, if you get what I mean), from your friends as you can from a boyfriend.

Some say they feel lost without a boyfriend/girlfriend. But how rude is that being to your friends. And I know your friends know what you mean, but a little more subtlety wouldn’t go a miss. There are plenty of other singletons out there who feel the same but, although it’s such a cliché, things always come along when you least expect it.

No Regrets

So girls, don’t go looking for love. If it comes along fantastic. But if it doesn’t, who cares. Don’t get yourself down by watching soppy romantic films where the guy always gets the girl. That’s not the way things happen. And surely we should realise this because within five minutes of seeing the couple arguing at the start of the movie, we know they are going to end up in love. (And so quickly as well I might add. Seriously, how do people in films and soaps fall in love within about a week?!)

I’ve never been in love. So this is a completely open view. And maybe I’ll be criticised for commenting on something I don’t know about. But when you’re feeling down don’t feel like you’re lost because you’re not in a relationship. And when you’re in a relationship don’t reject your friends. They will be there when you need them the most but it’s not fair on them for you to expect them to be there if you reject them for however long. And when a relationship ends, pick yourself up. Stop mopping around. It obviously wasn’t meant to be and why sit there thinking about what could have been or contemplating some vindictive way of getting them back.

We spend far too much time regretting the past or thinking about things that have happened. And before you know it, life just passes you by and you realise you’ve done nothing but mope around or follow contentious plans.

My main point is this: if you have good enough friends you shouldn’t need to feel like you’re missing out on a relationship. I know it’s nice to have someone there but in the mean time, build on your friendships. Make them solid so that you can be sure they will always be there for you; and you for them. And if you are lucky enough to find “the one”, fantastic. But don’t waste your time on searching or regretting past losses. There are bigger things in life. More important things that will happen. And when something truly bad happens, everything will be put into perspective. You don’t need a relationship. You want one. There’s a difference. So make the most of your time single; surround yourself with fantastic friends; live in the moment; and never look back in anger.

Posted in Daisy Bambridge, Life experiences, Personal, Reflection | Leave a comment

Parents dispute over local school places

PARENTS may take their fight to the government after decisions to give children places at a local school to those further afield over those who live round the corner.

 

 

       

 

Far: Ripley almost 20 minutes from George Abbott School

 

Burpham and Merrow residents hoping to send their children to local George Abbott School were outraged after learning that the Office of Schools Adjudicator changed application criteria a week before the October 22 deadline.

This comes from a plea by Ripley parents’ three-year campaign to secure places at the school despite there being other secondary schools nearby.

Although the OSA has said this is their final decision and appeal is not an option, parents are taking their fight to a parliamentary ombudsman.

Because taking the OSA to court would involve spending hundreds of thousands of pounds, the parents are preparing to challenge how the decision was made as it failed to follow the proper procedures for the verdict. And if the parliamentary ombudsman thinks that they have a strong enough argument they will be able to order another adjudication.

Matt Furniss, Guildford Borough Councilor for Christchurch, the parents may have a case since: “There was no counter argument”: the OSA only consulted parents from Ripley and a single council officer without notifying other schools or Guildford parents.

Contradiction

Graham Ellwood, Surrey County Councilor for Guildford East, reassured parents that it would still be likely that they would be able to secure places at George Abbott, but reiterated that the decision cannot be reversed this year.

Ellwood is sure that there is a dispute between the decision and county council policy that children living nearer the school should get priority.

He said: “I’m fairly sure that none of the primary schools in my ward will be affected. Both the government, and the OSA as a government body, say that parents must be given a choice,”

He added that when a secondary school in Send closed in 1972, the county council agreed that children from Ripley could go to George Abbot, but this decision was cancelled in 2006.

Support

So far, the petitioners have received 160 signatures from parents at Boxgrove School alone.

After a meeting with concerned parents, Guildford MP Anne Milton has written to the OSA and education secretary Michael Gove on behalf of the parents from Burpham and Merrow to support their campaign.

She wrote: “I am concerned that applications have been made in the past to change the policy in favour of pupils from Ripley but, with no apparent change to circumstance, a different decision has been made on the objection made this year.

“I would be grateful if you could clarify what has changed in comparison to previous years. Local people are very upset; not only about the decision itself but also about the way it was taken. There appears to have been no chance for local parents to make their views known.”

Posted in Daisy Bambridge, News | Leave a comment