The Friday five 13.05.22

Published on: 13 May 2022


Location: Walsall, West midlands
The job: “A fixed two-year position has arisen for a development monitoring officer to monitor and record progress of development and infrastructure delivery across the borough and to ensure monitoring and delivery of S106 agreements. Also to monitor progress of development across the borough to ensure compliance with planning conditions and planning obligations.

“The successful candidate must be able to demonstrate significant development management experience and have excellent communication and customer service skills. The role includes providing advice in respect of planning legislation, policy and guidance to customers, including members, and to maintain and update records of relevant planning approvals and progress of development sites from commencement of construction through to completion, including updating digital records. You will be required to prepare the annual infrastructure funding statement and other reports to various committees in respect of S106 obligations and development monitoring.

“Walsall is a regional town with a rich history and a bright future with potential to deliver significant development and investment projects and is working in collaboration with the West Midlands Combined Authority and other public partners to deliver regeneration projects.”

Jerome K Jerome [square]Fun fact: Jerome K Jerome, the English humourist who most famously wrote Three Men in a Boat, was born in Walsall in 1859. He was the fourth child of Marguerite Jones and Jerome Clapp (who later called himself Jerome Clapp Jerome), an ironmonger and lay preacher who apparently also did a bit of architecture.

The family moved from Walsall when he was young and ended up in London, where they fell into poverty because of poor investments. His father died when he was just 13, and the young Jerome turned to the world of work at 15. He tried a variety of professions – a coal collector on the railways (ie, collecting coal that had fallen from trains), an actor, a journalist, a school teacher, a packer and a solicitor’s clerk. 

He wrote throughout this and, in 1885, finally had a modicum of success with a comic memoir of his experiences as an actor. This was followed by the more popular Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow in 1886 and finally the big one – Three Men in a Boat (1888), loosely based on his honeymoon aboard a boat in the Thames (but with his wife rather unreasonably replaced in the book by his two best friends).

This was a huge success and enabled Jerome (now Jerome Klapka Jerome) to live as a full-time writer. Although he wrote a number of plays, novels and an autobiography, he never repeated the success of Three Men…, a tale that caught the popular imagination and has never been out of print. In its first 20 years alone it sold more than a million copies and has been turned into plays, TV shows, films, radio plays and even a musical, its comic style spawning many imitators to boot (not least our own dear prime minister).

Jerome died in 1927, suffering a cerebral haemorrhage while on a motoring tour from Devon to London.

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Location: Lancaster, Lancashire

The job: Persimmon Homes Lancashire has a vacancy for an RTPI planner or senior planner to join our successful land and planning team operating across the Lancashire and Cumbria area. This role will be based in our regional office in Lancaster. This is an exciting opportunity to work in an environment where your input can be seen on the ground.

“As a planner or senior planner with Persimmon Homes you will be part of a busy planning team, handling a varied range of planning applications, S106 agreements, re-plans, condition discharge and site promotion both on strategic and immediate sites of varying scales and complexity. 

“The role offers a broad area of responsibility for all areas of the development process, including planning policy and promotion work along with detailed development management and delivery. In addition, you will have the ability to work on and deal with new site tenders and land opportunities alongside more strategic land acquisitions developing your skill set and experience of the planning system from the house builder’s perspective.”

Ice close up [square]Fun fact:  Lancaster University claims that its Physics Building is the place where the coldest temperature ever recorded has been reached - a beyond freezing -273⁰C or 0.000006 Kelvin. To indicate just how cold that is, it’s impossible for anything to be colder than absolute zero Kelvin. The low temperature was reached in one of three cryostats (basically a big super-efficient fridge) in Room A521 in the University’s Physics Building.

But why bother? Basically because, as the University states “The colder a substance gets, the simpler it becomes to study; just as measuring a block of ice with a tape measure is easier than measuring a block of water.”

So? Well, at the moment the university is studying Helium-3 which, in a supercooled liquid state exhibits properties thought to be very similar to the “theorised structure of space time” – it enables scientists to begin to understand how the early universe evolved.

The process is also useful, apparently, in the development of nanotechnology. But, as the University says, “low-temperature physics is pushing at the boundaries of science as we know it. Humans have never investigated temperatures this low before, and we just don’t know what weird and wonderful phenomena we might discover”.

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Location: Leeds, West Yorkshire

The jobs: 

Principal planner x2
“We are recruiting experienced planners to help us deal with significant and high profile schemes, to help facilitate the ambitious growth planned for the city in the next decade. The successful candidates will need to be able to demonstrate they have the skills and experience from the outset to handle such applications confidently and successfully with minimum supervision. You will have authority to determine applications dealt with by colleagues and be involved in the supervision of team members.”

Planner (development management) x2 (12 month contract)
“You will gain experience of dealing with a range of planning applications and development proposals within a diverse local authority area. You will need to be able to demonstrate you have the necessary skills to work in a challenging and busy environment, dealing with schemes through the planning process and delivering timely, high quality outcomes.”

Elephant armour [square]Fun fact: The Royal Armouries in Leeds is home to the world’s largest animal armour – a 17th-century ‘suit’ of armour made for an elephant in India in the 18th century. ‘Acquired’ by Lady Clive, wife of the Governor of Madras, it was moved to Britain in 1801.

The mail-and-plate armour is near-complete and consists of some 5,840 plates weighing in at a rather weighty 118kg. If the two missing body panels were added, it would weigh in the region of 160kg.

The armour is thought to have been made in Mughal era India in the 17th century. It’s in a style that is normally associated with Muslim northern and central India, but it contains peacock, lotus flower and fish motifs that imply Hindu beliefs. The fact that it was acquired in Madras also suggests an association with southern India.

Elephants were used in warfare in southern Asia from at least the first millennium BCE and for a further 2,000 years to the 19th century. From at least the 11th century CE, armies in India protected their elephants with padded fabric, leather mail and metal plates. The suit in the Royal Armouries is both the largest and most complete example remaining.

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Location: Hinckley, Leicestershire

The job: “An opportunity has become available for a dynamic and ambitious person looking to further their career and join a highly motivated professional team committed to delivering quality development outcomes and excellent customer service.

“You will be given the opportunity to have a caseload of our more complex planning applications and appeal casework. You’ll be involved in a broad range of planning and regeneration projects. In turn, you’ll quickly become an important and highly valued member of our management team, managing a team of planners with delegated authority to determine planning applications.
“We will look to you for ideas to make our service better and help you capitalise on your interest to work with our local communities and other stakeholders to deliver the council’s priorities.

“Situated at the very heart of England on the border of the East and West Midlands, Hinckley is well connected by major transport links to the cities of Leicester, Coventry and Birmingham.”

Top hat [square]Fun fact:  Back to one of our regular spots, place-name etymology corner. Hinckley, like many Anglo Saxon settlements, is named after a person (the landowner) and some aspect of the landscape. In this case ‘Hinck’ is the name and ‘ley’ is a meadow: Hinck’s meadow.

That’s pretty dull, isn’t it? What’s far more interesting – and peculiar – is the long-standing colloquial name for the town – ‘tin hat’ or ‘tin ‘at’. This is marked by, for example, a metal top hat featured on the town sign and a pub called The Tin Hat.

Apparently, the tin hat nomenclature dates back to the town’s bare-knuckle boxing associations in the late 19th century. The sport took place illegally at the Harrow Inn on Watling Street, just next to the Warwickshire-Leicestershire border (which provided a convenient escape from the law for punters).

After a day of watching fights, spectators would often retire to The Crown Hotel, a coaching inn in Hinckley. The story goes that on one occasion, a drunken reveller leaving the inn spotted the metal cover that was placed over the water pump opposite (to protect it from frost) and remarked, “I see they put tin hats on the pumps in Hinckley” or some such.

Thereafter, Hickley began to become jokily known as ‘tin hat’. The association was reinforced when The Crown’s landlord set up a drinking booth at Leicester Racecourse and, to draw attention, mounted a tin hat on a 30ft pole with the sign ‘Hinckley – Tin Hat’. The hat in question was a top hat made by a local tinker named Jennings and it can hold 34.5 pints of ale.

Thereafter, the hat itself was bought and sold several times and moved around the Midlands. It was eventually bought in 1972 by the local newspaper and is now on semi-permanent loan at the district museum.

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Location: Edinburgh

The job: “As a senior conservation planner working within our friendly, committed and supportive team of professional planners in our wider policy and advocacy department, your professional planning advice will be invaluable in helping RSPB Scotland save and restore nature.

“You will have the opportunity to coordinate RSPB Scotland's engagement with some of the country's highest profile planning cases and our responses to national and local planning policies, all to ensure planning decisions benefit nature. You will also implement, and help create new, organisational policies within RSPB Scotland and across the RSPB. Our ability to engage at a professional level with development planning and management is a key strength that helps us influence decision-making and seek positive outcomes for nature and people.

“The role will see you build relationships with your colleagues across the RSPB, including with other planners, conservation scientists, policy officers and those from our communications and media teams. You’ll be a good communicator and be able to draw in their knowledge and experience and apply it to our engagement in everything from ports and harbour development and renewables projects right through to campaigning and developing innovative policy measures to help tackle the nature and climate emergency.”

Crossbill [square]Fun fact: The Scottish Crossbill, a brightly coloured (male, red; female, green) thickset finch is the UK’s only endemic bird species. That is, it’s the only bird that is found in the UK alone and nowhere else.

It’s confined to a relatively small area of the northern Highlands, where it lives among the Scots pines in the ancient Caledonian forest and more modern commercial plantations.

The Scottish Crossbill is difficult to distinguish from the regular crossbill and was only confirmed as a unique species in 2006, on account of its distinctive song – in effect, it has a ‘Scottish’ accent. Its population is thought to be around 20,000 birds and it’s on the Amber conservation list.

Its genus name Loxia scotica comes from the Ancient Greek loxos, meaning crosswise and the Latin scotia meaning, well, Scottish. The Scots Gaelic name for the bird, Cam-ghob, unsurprisingly means ‘crooked beak’ – or crossbill. It’s a pretty distinctive feature, after all.

In fact, the crossed bill has evolved in tandem with the bird’s reliance on conifers. It is perfectly adapted to enable the crossbill to insert its beak between the conifer cone scales and extract the seed at the bottom of the scale with its tongue. Nature’s amazing, right?

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Photo credits | Oleg Golovnev, Shutterstock; Serg Zastavkin, Shutterstock;  Roy Hinchliffe, Shutterstock; iStock; J.M.Abarca, Shutterstock