Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Kiwis are Coming to Darlo!

Some great news today that the Darlington Arena (the home of Darlington Mowden Park RFC) has been selected as a home base of one of the 2015 Rugby World Cup teams. And not just any old side - probably one of the most iconic teams in world sport - reigning World Champions the All Blacks!

This is a huge coup for the rugby club and the Borough. Having the All Blacks in town will give a real boost to the local economy, and raise profile nationally and internationally. I'm most excited about the endless possibilities we will have to encourage more people, young and old, into sport as the Kiwis roll in.

It says a great deal for the ambition and vision of Darlington Mowden Park that they have been successful in attracting one of the Blue Riband teams in world sport. It's a remarkable achievement for the club, which is the only grass-roots side in the country to be hosting one of the top flight teams.

I went along to the press conference today, and was told that when the scouts came from New Zealand, they took one look at the facilities on offer and were certain this is where they wanted to be.

It was telling that Debbie Jevons, the CEO of England Rugby 2015 was at the press conference to make the announcement. She even brought along the Webb Ellis Trophy, which you can see above.

It's also a tribute to Mike Crawshaw, Marion Ogle and the team at DBC who supported the club in making the bid. The Council will be working intensively between now and October 2015 to ensure that we fully realise the potential of the All Blacks' visit as a community.

Already, there's heady talk of having a crack in South Park at the Guinness Book of Records' "largest Haka', which was set in Ngaaruawaahia, Waikato, New Zealand in 2008 - 3,264 participants. Surely we can do better than that Darlo?!

Back in the Saddle

After the best part of 4 years away, I've decided to give this blog another spin round the block.

I reluctantly stopped in 2010 after a major rethink on priorities. Blogging was great fun, and led to lots of lively debates in the comments, as well as generating some news stories both local and national.

I wasn't clear however that I was getting 'bangs for my bucks' in terms of the time I was investing in Darlington Councillor. Specifically, it didn't get good readership amongst the people I was representing in Haughton West, which is after all why I'm in local politics in the first place. I decided to put all my efforts into my e-newsletter, which is now delivered to over 400 households in the ward.

Now feels a good time to give blogging another go, however. We're less than 9 months from 'meaning of life' local and national elections, whilst local government faces an existential crisis with further massive cuts on the cards if the Coalition is re-elected.

I intend to keep the blog unmoderated, so please play nicely! I expect a higher class of comment from you all than I read in the Echo story comments most days.

I will have to have a good clear-out of links to blogs that are no more too. As far as I'm aware, there's a dearth now of political bloggers in the North East, but if you know of any (from whichever party - I try to be ecumenical) do let me know. With Facebook and Twitter, is there any role now for blogging? I guess I'll just have to wait and see.