Surrey Heath Borough Council commits to tackling single use plastics

Surrey Heath Borough Council yesterday announced,

Surrey Heath Borough Council has formalised its commitment to reducing single use plastics (SUP) by signing an agreement alongside Surrey County Council and 10 Surrey boroughs and districts.

Recognising the importance of the environmental challenge posed by SUP, a multi-authority task group was set up under the Surrey Waste Partnership to focus on tackling the problem in Surrey.

The task group identified shared strategic objectives for minimising and working towards zero avoidable SUP across all 12 partner authorities, in line with government’s target of achieving zero avoidable plastic waste by the end of 2042. SHBC’s Executive has resolved to endorse these strategic objectives for tackling the use of SUP in Surrey.

The objectives cover five key areas:

  • ‘Get our own house in order’ by ending the sale and provision of SUP products to phase out their use across our estates and operations wherever possible.
  • Work with our suppliers and contractors to minimise and work towards zero avoidable SUP use (wherever possible) in their service provision.
  • Support greater awareness and action from our suppliers and contractors in finding sustainable SUP replacements wherever appropriate and encourage higher recycling rates across our estates.
  • Help raise awareness across Surrey.
  • Enable and encourage people in Surrey to take action to reduce their SUP use.

This commitment builds on work that the Council had already undertaken to reduce the use of SUP in Council-owned buildings and services.

Camberley Theatre has been plastic-free since last year. Theatre Manager Andy Edmeads said: “Last summer, Camberley Theatre replaced all plastic disposables such as cups, beakers and straws with compostable alternatives. All of these items look and feel like their plastic counterparts but are fully compostable leaving no impact on the environment.

We have received plenty of positive comments from our customers on introducing these alternative disposables and their look and feel. These products are also a comparable cost to businesses so no cost has been passed to our customers.”

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Andrew Roberts biography of Churchill is a revelation

It’s taken me a while to read Andrew Roberts biography of Churchill, Walking With Destiny. One reason is that will all the appendices and index it’s over 1100 pages in length.

We all, I’m sure, know something of the life of Winston Churchill. Few will know more than a fraction of the actions and personality of Churchill revealed in Robert’s magnificent biography.

The conclusion I draw about Churchill, from reading Roberts book, is that he was imperfect in many ways, which should be countered with the fact that he was a truly great man, justly called the greatest man of the 20th century.

A quotation from Field Marshall Sir Alan Brooke sums up Churchill perfectly. Brooke was Chief of the Imperial General Staff during WWII, who shared the wartime strategic planning, and with whom he had many battles,

“I thank god I was given such an opportunity of working alongside such a man, and of having my eyes opened to the fact that occasionally such supermen exist on this earth.”

I’ll be returning the book to the library today. Do borrow it. It will reward your reading.

Hedgerow maintenance reveals dog walkers shameful habit

I’m a regular walker along the heathland tracks in Brentmoor Heath and by Bisley and Pirbright Ranges. The hedgerow alongside the Bisley and Pirbright Ranges from Lightwater to Deepcut is actively managed to maintain a firebreak from a fire on the ranges to adjacent housing, especially on the Maultway.

The most recent hedgerow pruning has revealed unattractive and antisocial habits of dog walkers; that of collecting dog poo in small plastic bags, and then depositing those bags in the hedgerow.

Here’s a photo – I have more if that’s wanted, which I suspect is not – of what I saw a few days ago. It wasn’t just these two cases, as I counted a couple of dozen such dog poo bags.

The 43rd series of Industrial Archaeology Lectures concluded this week

I might have mentioned that I’ve been attending the Surrey Industrial History Group’s 43rd series of Industrial Archaeology Lectures – see HERE and HERE for a couple of reports.

There have been eleven fortnightly lectures, held in the Science Park in Guildford, of which I’ve attended eight. Some of the lectures have been on obscure topics, but all knowledge, as they say, is valuable.

The final lecture in this 43rd series by David Waller, author and former Financial Times journalist was entitled, Iron Men: 19th century Engineer Henry Maudslay and his circle. Drawing from his book Iron Men.

Working for engineering companies in the West Midlands in my early years, I saw my region as one of the main areas of the industrial revolution, along with Manchester, of course. I hadn’t considered London as being part of it, that is until David Waller described the inventions of Henry Maudslay and his factories in London, just off Oxford Street and later at Lambeth.

Maudslay is credited with developing the first industrially practical screw-cutting lathe in 1800, and later with the bench micrometer.

Thoughts on a rail journey between Reading and Birmingham

We recently travelled to Birmingham by rail for a family get together. Coming from different places, meeting at Birmingham New Street Station was a convenient for us all.

We travelled from Reading on Cross Country Rail. The train was just four carriages, and this was a train from Paddington to Manchester, via Reading and Oxford. Just four carriages, and so the train was crowded.There must be a reason for such a small train, though I fail to think what it might be.

Enough of the train. Here are some thoughts on the journey.

  • Apart from the places the train stopped at, Didcot, Oxford, Banbury, Leamington Spa, and Coventry there was vast amounts of open countryside. Just a few small villages and hamlets passed in Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire, with variety of church spires.
  • The countryside was almost entirely arable. No cattle, or pigs, just one farm with sheep. Oh, and a house with a solitary chocolate-brown llama.
  • Arriving at Birmingham New Street, we were immensely impressed with the station concourse see photo.
  • While waiting for our relatives to arrive I noted that almost 50% of the people in the station were wearing trainers.
  • The crowds passing through, meeting one another, or chatting to friends, I never heard the word Brexit mentioned once.

The Battle of Britain Bunker in Uxbridge deserves a visit

We made our way to the Battle of Britain Bunker in Uxbridge last week, with friends from Camberley and District Probus Club.

I’m sure many of you will know about this, once secret, bunker, which housed RAF Fighter Command’s No.11 Group Operations Room throughout the Second World War. How many, though have visited it? Not many I suspect.

The London Borough of Hillingdon Council invested some £5-6 million on renovating the Battle of Britain Bunker, and creating a visitor centre. The complex opended to visitors in 2018.

It’s a museum to be proud of. Not only is the visitor center of laudable quality, the exhibition and museum exhibits present the story of the RAF Fighter Command, radar, and the Dowding system are as good.

The highlight is the visit to the Operations Rooms in the bunker. The website says,

The Operations Room was where most of the RAF’s side of the Battle of Britain was co-ordinated. Key decisions that would decide the fate of the nation were taken in the bunker throughout 1940 and it was thanks to the tireless work of the plotters and controllers that the RAF’s fighter pilots managed to keep the Luftwaffe at bay.

The Operations Room, in reality, a series of rooms on two levels some 60 feet (18 metres) underground, is reached via 76 steps. The plotting room with its large map table, squadron display boards, balloon and weather states, is exactly how it was when Winston Churchill visited on 15 September 1940.

The star of the visit is the story told by a guide of the Battle of Britain, and how the Command Center worked. Unquestionably, this is a great place to visit. Not too easy to find, but a good cafe provides refreshements on arrival. Here are my photos of our visit.