Article published by Laura E. Thomas on 05 October 2016.
Cornwall Council Corruption PART 4
FALLEN WOMAN REDEEMED BY THE CO-OP
I left hospital 48 hours after my first knee replacement in June 2015. Physios, friends and neighbours helped greatly.
Feeling the knee to be history, I toddled on the 27th October ’15 in the 5.15pm twilight down wet Pigmeadow Lane, Liskeard, leading from the main Barras Street shops to the Westbourne carpark at the rear of the Co-op.
There was a sickening lurch as my stick slipped on the grey curved paving blocks to the right, in front of the Liskeard Cycle shop. I fell forward, lying spreadeagled and unable to move with a dislocated right shoulder. Weeks later, my new right knee was still in tact but with stiffness and soft tissue damage.
I am grateful to Lorraine Grogan from the Co-op who called an ambulance and stayed with me and to the crowd who gathered, standing guard over me in the now dark lane.
Thank you to the 3 paramedics, 1 of whom pushed morphine into the back of my hand. Having always hated hypodermic syringes, I muttered, “Oh God ……”
The paramedic replied, “Laura, I’m not God, I’m Olly”. The crowd cheered and I groaned. Thanks Olly for the morphine and Entonox gas sucked awkwardly from a tube. Neither helped the pain much but all things are relative and just when I felt I couldn’t take anymore, a tiny voice inside me said, “You’ve been through much worse so shut up !” And I have, so I did.
A lady called Kay knelt and held her mobile near my now truculent gob as I tried to answer questions from a tiny voice in an Ambulance Centre. Kay answered all the questions as I was good for nothing. She then found my car keys and put a note inside my mobility car windscreen.
Grateful as I was, I told the pavement that my face was pushed into, that I’d feel happier if the crowd went home to a meal and comfort rather than stay in a grotty lane. But they insisted on staying. If I had fallen late at night, I could have lain there all night. After 7 yrs of fighting the higher echelons at Cornwall Council, the kindness of strangers moves me to tears. Cornwall Council has done the same but not in a nice way.
At 6.15pm an ambulance arrived. Being turned and lifted produced more groans, gasps and references to the Almighty Himself.
If I could have handed around trays of eats and beer, it would have been a party with booze, drugs, needles and a fallen woman waiting to be picked up by a strange man in a dingy dark lane.
Thank you Lorraine, Kay, Olly and everyone that night. I owe you.
KNOCKED OUT BY THE GASMAN
Derriford Hospital, Plymouth.
As in all the best dramas, my jumper was cut off me in the ambulance and we arrived at Derriford at 7pm.
I explained to the dark, wavy haired A&E anaesthetist that I am not a strong rugby player whose shoulder has to be relocated on the pitch and carries on playing. I am a wimp. Never been anything else. The gasman knew a wimp when he saw one and pumped armfuls of morphine into me. As I resurfaced a voice said, “Laura, we’ve put your shoulder back in. It was very difficult. It took the anaesthetist and a doctor to do it”.
SCRATCHED, PATCHED AND DISPATCHED
My very grateful thanks to Dr Fleming and all at the Clinical Decisions Unit where I stayed overnight. I felt and still feel guilty that I caused extra work for the staff. They were however adamant that it was “just one of those things” and I was discharged 6 pm that day, my arm in a sling.
Thank you to every one who sorted me out a few days later in the Fracture Clinic. Thank you also to Caroline Jones at Liskeard Community Hospital who is just about the best physio who has ever helped me. And I have been through a few physios since 1953.
Even though the NHS is at breaking point, exhausted staff are still saving lives and putting the rest of us back on our feet. I have always and will always bend my now lane damaged new right knee to the NHS.
KNICKERS TO THE COUNCIL
The following day, BBC Spotlight features a man who arrived too late to speak at a Cornwall Council meeting. He was shown being forcibly picked up and removed from the Council Chamber. I don’t know which was worse – Cornwall Council’s thuggish tendencies or the back of the man’s under pants being exposed.
A FIT MAN ON SKID ROW
The following day, a fine dry November 20th, I walk warily through Pigmeadow Lane to Barras Street. A workman, 30 ish in what looks like painting overalls passes me and wobbles and skids on the curved blocks alongside the wall towards Barras Street. He looks fit and agile.
I explain that I am there to meet Council Manager Jonathan Niblett to inspect the area where I fell. My request that he waits and confirms to Mr Niblett that he too lost his footing in this lane is politely refused because he is busy. I understand and he wishes me luck.
ROUGH DIAMOND ADMITS PICKING UP WOMEN IN LANE
Yes, Mr Niblett was very pleasant. As we took photos of the many loose and broken paving blocks in the lane, which are all laid on sand, the owner of the ‘Jewellers Workshop’, marched up to us and declared emphatically that he was “fed up with picking up old ladies who fall in the lane”.
His first floor corner workshop gives him a view of the lane from the Co-op and Well Being Centre past the Koffiji Cafe and Cycle shop to the mural opposite Liskeard Carpets. He tells us he has fallen twice in the lane damaging his new knee. Although very abrupt, this shop owner has lent support to my claim that Pigmeadow Lane is unsafe. Then he suddenly strides away.
THE COUNCIL COMPENSATION FARCE
I start a compensation claim and Jonathan Niblett’s photos along with mine are sent to the Council insurers and a TV firm of injury solicitors.
On 14th December Mr Mark Brewster at Cornwall Council, pleasantly agrees that the lane needs tarmacking and will ring in the new year. Goody gumdrops. We are getting somewhere.
On a fine dry, Friday 8th January at 11.50am, I find 2 Council workmen in the lane pushing sand in between loose paving blocks. Are these the repairs Mr Brewster agreed to last month ? We chat as the older, more experienced Council man says, “the whole area needs tarmacking.” I chirp, “That’s what I said !” He deflates me with, “There’s no money for it.”
A week later I receive paperwork from Mr Brewster that the lane was inspected by Inspector C. Stephens on 6th January ’15 and 16th and 27th April ’15 and by Inspector M. Robinson on 2nd September ’15. No defects were recorded. Just because an inspector deems the lane not to be defective, doesn’t mean the lane is safe. Pigmeadow Lane is safe and I am the Duchess of Cambridge.
On 15th January 2016, Major Tim Peake walked in space repairing his space capsule. We are all very proud of Major Tim who may have been safer in space than in Pigmeadow Lane.
DRAKE DUCKS RESPONSIBILITY
Emma and Kelly at Highways seem very understanding and sympathetic when I suggest paying for and putting up laminated signs in the lane warning :
GROUND DANGEROUS WHEN WET – CARE NEEDED
However, on 4th March I have a very upsetting phone call from Mr Adrian Drake at Highways. He is adamant that the lane is safe. End of. When I suggest my laminated signs, he says they would be removed as being illegal. I end the call fighting back the tears. I am not even allowed to warn pedestrians of the danger in this lane.
Mr Drake, blocks laid on sand will always move and pedestrians will always fall. What part of this do you find difficult to understand ?
LAURENCE REED, THE BBC AND ME
Later that day, I contact the King of the Cornish Airways, Laurence Reed, hoping to put my case on air.
A few days later BBC Spotlight reporter Christine Butler interviews me in the lane for Radio Cornwall. Thanks Chris for sending better photos than mine to the solicitors. She rings the Jewellers Workshop. The owner who very kindly attended to those old ladies in the lane refuses to speak to her and puts the phone down on her. How very helpful of him.
My edited piece was heard on air at 7am on 13th April. The owner of the Cycle Shop was heard saying that he called an ambulance for a man who fell in the lane and sustained a head injury.
A lady was heard recounting her fall in St Austell town centre saying she sustained a “serious facial injury” and was told by medics that “she was lucky not to have lost the sight of an eye”. Laurence Reed staff later said she sent them a photo of her badly bruised face. As the blocks in hilly St Austell town centre are cemented in and solid as a rock, why can’t the same be done in Pigmeadow Lane ?
Solicitor Tim Burnham at Coodes Solicitors in Falmouth did no one any favours when he spoke, perhaps because Coodes are known to work for the Council. That is why my appointment at Coodes in Launceston, late 2012 (CCC Part 1, The Bouncing Cheque) was such a waste of time. One lives and learns.
Chris Butler gave me some very interesting compensation claim figures for injuries on Cornwall Council ground.
Out of 76 claims in 2012-13, 5 were settled.
Out of 83 claims in 2013-14, 6 were settled.
Out of 47 claims in 2014-15, none were settled.
I will leave you to make of that what you will.
MRS SHERYLL MURRAY MP ON SHAKY GROUND
I write about the lane to MP Mrs Sheryll Murray whose office in The Parade is 30-40 yards from the lane. Mrs Murray replies with 5 separate letters, 2 identical letters referring me to a Mr Nigel Blackler, the following 3 advising I complain to the Ombudsman, then the Council and finally a copy of a letter to her from Emma at Customer Relations saying “the lane is not considered to be in a dangerous condition at the present time.” Mrs Murray, all that paper work got us nowhere and you may have been too embarrassed to read Cornwall Council Corruption Parts 1, 2, and 3.
I must add that the paving stones from the lane up to her office are in a worse state than the lane. The ground outside the Post Office is not too jolly either. Take care not to fall, Mrs Murray. However, your office staff are excellent and a credit to you.
DAD IN ROOF TOP PROTEST
Just when I think I have finished with Mrs Murray, on the 18th of April Spotlight shows a ‘Fathers for Justice’ Dad spending 9 hours on Mrs Murray’s Office roof in the Parade. I hope he took a thermos and food and the office gave him the use of the loo.
If I had known about this beforehand I would have paid someone to take a meal and folding chair up the ladder for him.
This gentleman, who like Major Tim up there, was safer than on the ground, was not happy with Mrs Murray’s efforts as an MP. I don’t want to fall out with you, Mrs Murray, and I know you’re very busy but neither am I.
On Sat 25th June the UK awoke to find we had voted ourselves out of the EU.
METAL GIANT SCARES CORNWALL
On 26th July, a coal fired, metal, hinge jointed giant known as Mechanical Man lurched from Liskeard up the B3254, past Carnedon and up the lane (no, not that lane) to Minions.
I am all for the arts but surely the money could have been better spent ?
BB, CC AND LET
In July I ring Mr Bert Biscoe who is the Portfolio Holder for Roads and a Cornwall Council Cabinet Member.
He is very pleasant about the lane saying he will send an inspector down there. Bert, don’t bother – it’s all been done before.
I mention my problems with Housing Director, Peter Jarman detailed in CCC PART 1, TOP BANANA INVITED TO LUNCH. Mr Jarman insisted that “8-9 people in the village were spoken to” having made complaints about me. He never divulged their names and some of us believe they never existed. Defamation of my character.
Mr Biscoe suggests I contact Mrs Joyce Duffin, Portfolio Holder for Housing and a Cabinet Member. Asking what Mrs Duffin actually does, the reply is “She directs the Director of Housing. I find this very interesting.
HUFFIN AND PUFFIN BUT NUFFIN FROM DUFFIN
I speak to the very pleasant and decent sounding Mrs Duffin on the 4th August. She doesn’t seem to understand about Simon Mansell and his lack of qualifications as a Principal Legal Officer but admits to directing the Director of Housing.
When asked how she justifies Mr Jarman refusing to name the Upton Cross 8 or 9 she replies that she cannot comment on staff policies.
I ask how she feels that a tenant, any tenant, can be treated in this manner. I can feel her embarrassment and discomfort seeping down the phone as she thinks hard before replying, “It’s not nice. It’s sad.”
I ask if it is her policy to allow Peter Jarman to defame a tenant’s character in this way. She sounds cornered and hesitant and frankly, I feel sorry for her. I say I will mention her in CCC4 and let her go.
A lovely lady who may not understand the corruption around her or may have difficulties dealing with it. Maybe Mrs Duffin couldn’t care less but I doubt it. Mrs D, you are a pretty dolphin. Swimming with sharks.
PLEASE, NO MORE SOLICITORS !
A second firm of solicitors gives up my compensation claim as Cornwall Council simply denies liability. The people who deal with these matters aren’t solicitors. They are very young sounding with no legal qualifications and call themselves “Claims Executives”. All a huge waste of my time and effort. May the next claimant have better luck than I did.
LAURA LUCKY NOT TO FALL IN LAUNCESTON
In September I take a trip, it’s not funny, to Launceston where I am lucky not to fall on a large patch of broken and upstanding paving blocks at the junction of Broad Street and Westgate Street near the White Heart Parade sign. This area is worse and in a more dangerous state than Pigmeadow Lane, Liskeard.
It is surprising that Cornwall Council Board Member and Launceston Town Councillor Mr John Harris mentioned in CCC1, THE INVESTIGATION, has not brought some influence to bear over this matter. After all, this is Mr Harris’s manor. Mr Harris, please step on it ! No, don’t – you might fall and I would be very sorry if that happened.
I wonder that if Mr Harris injured himself on unrepaired Council ground, would his compensation claim be rejected.
Get out there please Mr Harris and do the business. And who paid for the lovely flowers around the clock tower when there is no money for paving stone repairs ? There are many who can write reams on pot holes these days. The penny has dropped that the money is there but it is not being spent on basics. Laura, shut up and accept it.
THE PLANE TRUTH
THE DEAD PLANE TRUTH
Recently Spotlight ran the story of Cornwall Council buying 29 plane trees from Italy at a cost of £1,100 each. With my discalculia, this works out at £31,900. Add in transport and planting costs and the cost is nearer £35,000. However, former Councillor Dave Biggs estimates the cost at being in excess of £100,000, a figure also confirmed by the BBC.
Planted along Tolvaddon Road in Poole to create a boulevard effect, they may have enhanced the area if they had lived. But they died – All 29 of them.
The pertinent question is : Who spent all that money on plane trees, dead plane trees, when there is said to be no money for basics like roads ? Cornwall Council, you seem to have a strange sense of accountancy. And that is the dead plane truth of it.
ANTI SOCIAL BEHAVIOUR ENFORCEMENT OFFICER
MR ADAM FITZPATRICK. OH DEAR……..
On 8th November Spotlight shows Mr Adam Fitzpatrick telling us he is concerned about the effects of 24 years of a Cornwall family’s anti social behaviour on neighbours.
Mr Fitzpatrick has scrubbed up beautifully in a very smart shirt and tie with a hair cut.
Mr F, you certainly didn’t look like this when you arrived at my property at my request in 2014. It’s amazing what a TV camera will do for sartorial elegance. And why did the neighbours have to suffer this anti social behaviour for 24 years before you stepped in ? Single women on their own are always easier to bully than big burly men. And that goes for you, too Christopher heavy Weight who KO’s nice ordinary bantamweights, hopeless etiquette, arrogant defamation.
HOODLUM HOWLERS, SMOTHERED SMILES
Recently, I witnessed 2 burly male Carnedon tenants, one with his wife, viciously verbally attacking a new frail, single disabled woman tenant over parking.
The wife snarled, “You do not want to mess with this family !
Are they gangsters ? Will we see lace tied pairs of boots hanging over telegraph wires ? Will we find horses’ heads in our beds ? And will we have to pay them protection money not to be duffed up ?
2 Police cars arrived. The Police spoke. The single male tenant apologised. The other one didn’t. An air of armed neutrality has now settled over Carnedon.
And the protection money ? The 3 of you can drop it round, Friday !
It has been necessary to wait nearly a year after my Pigmeadow Lane fall to thank people as my failed attempts to secure proper repairs to the lane have taken all this time. Perhaps I should ask the Gypsies to tarmac the lane at night to avoid disruptions. Bert, et al, it will be my treat.
And finally, my right shoulder is better but not 100% and my right knee still hurts.
I have injected humour into Part 4 in an attempt to take the sting out of what I feel are justified and necessary criticisms of the higher echelons at Cornwall Council.
Part 5, An Open Letter To Simon JR Mansell MBE, contains no humour whatsoever.
Laura E. Thomas,
Further reading :
CORNWALL COUNCIL CORRUPTION PART 1
CORNWALL COUNCIL CORRUPTION PART 2
CORNWALL COUNCIL KERRUPTION PART 3