Integrity & Commitment? Don’t Think So.

Integrity & Commitment?  Don’t Think So.

Don’t know who produced this infographic that’s currently doing the rounds, but it’s interesting don’t you think?  Click on it to see it bigger and read it more clearly.

UKIP infographic

The Small Print (necessary at election time):
Promoted by Mrs D N Clark on behalf of Miss S J Clark both of Cromwell House, Wisbech Road, March, Cambs PE15 8EB.

Roman Bank Campaign 2014 – Day 1

Roman Bank Campaign 2014 – Day 1

Today was a beautiful day to begin the Roman Bank Campaign on behalf of Samantha Clark, who is the Conservative candidate in the by-election to be held on May 8th.  We had two teams out, one in Newton and the other in Tydd St Giles.  Our aim was to get a good start on the canvassing and try to deliver most of both those villages with the first leaflet.

This was the team I was with in Newton.  (With the exception of the photographer, Elliot Johnson.)

2014-04-15 10.43.40

We’ve been so pleased with the offers of help in this campaign.  To have twelve volunteers out during the day and midweek is a great start and it’s only a small portion of the help that has been offered throughout the month.  We expect to knock on every door, put out three pieces of literature and talk to as many local people as we can.

Sam Clark is a great candidate in so many ways.  She is born and bred in the Ward, lives in the Ward and is exceptionally well-known.  While walking around Newton today she seemed to know every person at every door on first-name terms.  People know that she has a track record of working for the villages and actually putting in the elbow grease to get things done.  They also know that she’s genuine, honest and compassionate.  These things go a long way.

One interesting development was when I knocked on the door of a Socialist i’ve encountered before.  Having canvassed this area many times I know this gentleman is a Labour voter, but I believe that every door should get a knock regardless of whether you know they are opposition.  Plus, he’s a nice chap and we always have some good banter.  So I was surprised when he told me that this time he intended to vote Conservative.  In fact, I was gobsmacked.  He explained: “I don’t like your party nationally at all, but I know Sam and I know she does a lot.  Also, I’m voting tactically to get rid of these UKIP kooks.”  Well, I think he said “kooks.”  He might have said: “Crooks.”  I can’t be sure.  Nevertheless, its the first time I’ve ever encountered a Labour supporter planning to cast a tactical vote for the Conservatives.  What a strange new world we live in.

It was, all in all, a delightful first day of campaigning.  There’s a lot to do and a long way to go – but I have every faith that our  strong local candidate can be victorious.  People have had a year of Cllr. Alan Lay at County Council and he doesn’t appear to have wowed anyone.  In fact, the most common responses on the doorstep are “Never seen him, don’t think he’s done anything.”  Obviously, I’m always keen to point out that he does write to the newspaper a lot and there have been petitions and stuff.  Nobody seems massively impressed.  I can’t think why.

Some folk think that proximity doesn’t matter.  But my experience is that it does matter to voters.  It’s only one of many things to be considered, and sometimes for the right candidate they’ll elect somebody who lives outside the area if they are impressed by other things about them.  But people do care that the Lib Dems are fielding a candidate from March, that Alan Lay lives in Wisbech and that the Independent candidate lives in Guyhirn.  A number of times on the doorstep today people said to me: “If they don’t live here, how can they know what our issues are?”  One lady went as far as to say she thought that standing candidates from elsewhere was disrespectful.  I’m not sure I’d go that far – I’ve stood for places I didn’t live in before myself.  But to think it isn’t an issue to people at all is to misunderstand the nature of the electorate.

Looking forward to more campaigning over the next few weeks!

vote sam clark

The Small Print (necessary at election time):
Promoted by Mrs D N Clark on behalf of Miss S J Clark both of Cromwell House, Wisbech Road, March, Cambs PE15 8EB.

The Police Response

The Police Response

I got the call back from Robin Sissons this morning, re: my previous blog post entitled “Police State?.”  So first let’s cover the things that Mr. Sissons says are inaccurate about the witness statements given to me.

Robin agrees with the number of vehicles and Police officers, but says that they were not “all in riot gear” – only the first couple of Officers to enter the building had protective clothing etc.  Fair enough, you can see how a group of people seeing large Police Officers enter in the gear, followed by another twenty or so uniforms, would perceive the arrival and remember the first couple of the group.

Robin says that he was aware of the raid but that it was not carried out by local Officers but by Officers from HQ – and suggests that this was in order to avoid a breakdown of relations between the local Bobbies and the local community.  I’m not sure that really worked as well as intended given what happened, but I can see that the intention was a good one.  I just think that for most people – the Police are the Police.  Regardless of whether the ones you see all the time are smashing down your doors, or some other Police from HQ, people tend to group them all as one.

Robin Sissons assures me that the operation was “intelligence-led” and that adequate information was in hand to merit a raid.   He says he will question those involved to find out if there is any truth to the accusations of rudeness, aggression and heavy-handed behaviour, though he feels the Police have “nothing to apologise for” at this point.  He also feels that for every person who is unhappy about these powers being used for this sort of raid, there would be others who would cheer about it.

He accepts that nobody was arrested or charged and that nothing was found or seized other than the CCTV, but does point out that the CCTV is “still being reviewed.”  The CCTV, he says, will be returned once it has been reviewed.

He says that the people who were searched and their phones confiscated were not “stop and searched” but were dealt with as part of the warrant – which allows anybody on the premises to be searched, including even innocent customers who were sitting having a pint and customers who arrived after the Police had got there.  He says that the warrant allows search of the vehicles – which is correct, but when I asked about the customers whose vehicles were parked in a completely different car park who were searched I didn’t get a response to that.  Surely a warrant does not cover vehicles owned by private individuals, parked in a completely different location to the premises on which the warrant was served?  I’ll wait for clarification on that one.

Robin Sissons also very strongly denies that the people in the pub were dealt with differently because the owner and most of the customers were foreign.  I very much hope he’s right.  But I wonder if the Police would really have tried the same operation in a pub full of English people?  I can imagine them demanding the car keys of a Wisbech man so they can search his vehicle parked elsewhere.  I can imagine them asking a young Wisbech lady: “Are you a prostitute?”  I can imagine them demanding the mobile phones of every innocent customer in, say, The Case or the old Muppet Inn (when it was the Muppet Inn.)  I can only speculate as to the result of them searching a young lady from Wisbech, down to her underwear and beyond – and the consequent response of her Family.  I don’t think any of it would have ended well.  Robin points out the good work the local Police do on behalf of the Eastern European community and to foster good relations with them – and that is absolutely true.  But I think this operation has set that work back a country mile.

So, to sum up, Robin Sissons says that there was enough intelligence for the raid, that it’s perfectly acceptable for the Police to arrive in these numbers and to search everybody in this way, that asking young ladies: “Are you a prostitute?” is fine, that confiscating mobile phones of everybody there is normal procedure – in case they leak to Social Media and affect the search of the crime scene.  That refusing to allow the staff to phone their boss and bring him to the premises to speak to the Police is no problem.  It sounds like, in the strictest sense of the law, he is probably right.  But I think I’d still have to question the manner and style of this operation and the logic of conducting it in this way.

I do not know if charges for something are forthcoming.  I’m not privy to the details of the investigation and perhaps the Police have something they are not yet revealing?  But my discussion with Robin Sissons did not suggest this was the case.  I said that I thought this was easily fixed.  That if there were not going to be any charges and if the Police accept their “intelligence” was wrong, that they could put this matter right by doing three simple things.

(a)  Issue an official apology to The Angel and its customers for their discomfort and inconvenience.
- No need to apologise for the actual operation, since I can see why the Police might be leery of that, but apologising for inconvenience caused doesn’t open any doors to law suits.

(b)  State clearly that raid on The Angel resulted in nothing and that the Police are satisfied that no crimes were committed there and that the establishment and it’s owners reputation are intact.
-  Given the damage done to the business and its reputation by this raid, it is the least the Police can do to clear the owner and premises of wrongdoing in an unequivocal way.

(c)  Repair the damage.
-  Two doors were broken down and some other minor damage caused.  The Police should pay for that to be repaired promptly.

Robin Sissons says he is perfectly happy to take an official complaint forwards, or for it to go through the Police & Crime Commissioner, which is commendable.  But why go through all that and make a big issue about it when a simply apology and recompense would put an end to the issue right now?  I don’t understand this reluctance to admit a mistake has been made.  It doesn’t represent a weakness by the Police – quite the opposite.  If the Police really have such sweeping and draconian powers when a pub is raided – and apparently they do – the best way to offset them is to be prepared to say: “Sorry about that, our intelligence is often right, but in this instance it was wrong.”   I’m sure people would feel better about it.  I know I would.

All of this is on the proviso that there isn’t some ongoing case to answer.  As you might imagine I still don’t know the answer to that.  Perhaps the Police have discovered some evidence pointing to some dark crime and that this will vindicate them entirely.  Except, (a) I doubt it, and (b) Even were that the case I’m still not sure this would merit the way private individuals say they were treated.  But we’ll see.


This email was received from Robin Sissons, who would like me to pass it on.  So here it is.

I can confirm that a warrant was executed on Thursday evening by a number of uniform officers. They were not dressed in riot gear but normal uniform. The large numbers involved was proportionate considering the overall size of the premises (including the numbers of rooms upstairs) and the unknown numbers of staff / customers that would be there. I can also confirm that two rooms were locked within the premises which needed to be searched and so the officers had no other option but to force entry. Due to the fact that nothing was found in these rooms then it is normal practice for the Constabulary to make good any damage caused. I would therefore urge the owner to make contact with the Constabulary so that we can progress his claim.

This warrant was obtained after the police had gained several independent pieces of intelligence stating that there were illegal practices taking place (sexual exploitation, prostitution and drugs). The Constabulary makes every effort to ensure that these pieces of intelligence are verified and cross referenced so that we can be sure that there is some substance to the claims made. It is also important that we act on intelligence given to us so that the community knows that we are acting on their behalf. It is for this reason that this warrant was executed. On this occasion there wasn’t anything found.

The purpose of this warrant was not to upset the community or make them fear the police. Its purpose was to reassure the community that we will do all that we can to ensure that Wisbech is a safe place in which to live and socialise in.

Regards Robin

T. Chief Inspector 0359 Robin Sissons
District Commander Fenland
Wisbech Police Station, Nene Parade, Wisbech, Cambridgeshire.

UKIP – The APRIL Omnibus Edition

UKIP – The APRIL Omnibus Edition

Just in case you’ve missed any of the Monthly Frivolity provided by our ‘Kipper friends, here’s a collection of them.

Ukip Councillor Says Business Owners Should Be Able To Refuse Women And Gays

Benefit fraud UKIP councillor Peter Lagoda quits party

Ukip Cllr Roger Henson Fights ‘Illegal Scrap Yard’ Charge In Court

Independent assessment finds UKIP councillor’s remarks to firefighters “racist, derogatory and discriminatory in nature

Gorleston: UKIP Councillor In Court Over Election Fraud

Ukip candidate defends his anti-gay rant

Councillor labels plan to re-open Wisbech to March rail as ‘madness’

UKIP MEPs vote against tackling tax evasion

Police State?

Police State?

The following events are the result of my discussions with witnesses of an incident that took place last Thursday night in Wisbech.  Although I was not there and cannot verify them directly, multiple different people have related essentially the same story to me.  I have contacted Robin Sissons of The Police – or his answerphone anyway – and asked for a call back but have not had one, so I have not heard the Police side of the story.  But given what I know at the moment, I am extremely concerned about the heavy-handed behaviour of the Police and the nature of this “operation.”

On Thursday night at 7PM in the evening a swarm of police vehicles turned up outside The Angel pub in Wisbech.  An exact number on the cars is uncertain, but most reports have it at between five and ten.  From that procession some two dozen or so Police issued forth, dressed in what is reportedly riot gear.  Masks, stab vests, the works.  The Police stormed into The Angel and confronted the barman and half a dozen customers who were there at that time, mostly having a quiet drink after work or eating dinner at the tables.

The Police flashed their warrant to search the premises.  Every witness describes their manner as “threatening”, “rude” and one described it as “terrifying.”  A young couple were sitting at a table with their child eating dinner and, at some point during this sorry debacle, the child began to cry and then wet himself.  This is not an exaggeration, this is not drama, this is what happened.

The warrant detailed the purposes of the raid, which was to search for evidence of prostitution, drugs and people-trafficking.  The Warrant granted the Police the right to search the premises, including the sub-let bedrooms occupied by tenants upstairs and all the adjacent buildings and vehicles.  The Police set about doing this.

During the course of their search the Police smashed down two doors, including one upstairs that led to the rented room of an older lady who had just returned home from a long shift at work.

The Police also searched all the customers, as well as temporarily confiscating their mobile phones.  The mobile phones were later returned, although no explanation of what had been done to them or why was given to any of the terrified customers.  I am also told that they were given no piece of paper explaining that they had been “stopped and searched.”  There were a couple of young ladies in the pub.  I am told by two witnesses that the Police repeatedly asked them: “Are you a prostitute?”  They were not, of course.

Anybody who has been in The Angel will know its a pub made up of a couple of very small bar areas.  There were so many Police they couldn’t even nearly fit them all in.  The customers were outnumbered more than two-to-one.  Many of the customers spoke limited English, though there were a couple of English folk in there at the time also.  All the ones I’ve spoken to tell the same story.

The Police found nothing at all.  I have seen the paperwork they left behind and initially they have scrawled across the “seized goods” page “Nothing Seized.”  But apparently they later changed their mind and took the CCTV equipment.

There are so many things wrong with this I don’t know where to start.  The tactics used here might be merited if the Police were raiding the warehouse of a drug baron, or somewhere they expected a violent and dangerous response.  Instead, they’ve used vast Police resources to scare the living crap out of half-a-dozen people having a pint and a little kid eating his chicken bloody nuggets.  They’ve smashed down a few doors, giving the fright of her life to an elderly lady who just wanted a nap after a hard day’s work, and they’ve damaged the reputation and trade of a successful business in a town which really needs all the successful businesses it can get.

I have not managed to get any answers from the Police yet, but I have had several complaints from residents – both English and otherwise – and while I may only be a Town Councillor I will see that we get some answers for this.

We need to know what evidence the Police had which merited this sort of response.  Indeed, what evidence would convince a judge to give them a warrant for this.  We particularly need this because they appear to have found nothing at all.  For an operation of this magnitude. which is this damaging to the business’ reputation and this frightening and intrusive to the customers there had better be a smoking gun, don’t you think?  Except, since the Police went away and there were no arrests or charges, it rather looks like they’ve made a pretty serious mistake.

We also need to know why the Police searched the private customers of the pub and confiscated their phones.  This is what the Government guidance on their search powers says:-

Stop and search: police powers

A police officer has powers to stop and search you if they have ‘reasonable grounds’ to suspect you’re carrying:

  • illegal drugs
  • a weapon
  • stolen property
  • something which could be used to commit a crime, eg a crowbar

You can only be stopped and searched without reasonable grounds if it has been approved by a senior police officer. This can happen if it is suspected that:

  • serious violence could take place
  • you’re carrying a weapon or have used one
  • you’re in a specific location or area

Before you’re searched

Before you’re searched the police officer must tell you:

  • their name and police station

  • what they expect to find, eg drugs

  • the reason they want to search you, eg it looks like you’re hiding something

  • why they are legally allowed to search you

  • that you can have a record of the search and if this isn’t possible at the time, how you can get a copy

So what “reasonable grounds” can the Police have possibly had to suspect that customers in a bar had a weapon, drugs, stolen property etc?  These weren’t staff of the pub or anybody related to the pub, just people who’d come in from the street for a drink.  The Police didn’t know them from Adam, didn’t know they’d be there and so could surely not have had any reasonable grounds to suspect they were committing a crime.  Unless you count just doing it because they looked a bit foreign?  I would be very interested to know whether the Police went through the full series of actions they are required by law to undertake.  Because the reports I have is that they did not tell each customer their name and Police station, or what they expected to find, or any of that.  In fact, the customers were left completely befuddled and confused and frightened by the whole thing.

The confiscation of the CCTV was significant too, since the Police initially signed the form saying they were confiscating nothing.  Then changed their minds and took the CCTV.   Maybe at this point they were thinking – this looks pretty bad, all this activity and we’ve found nothing.  We’d better take the CCTV and hope there’s something on there of note.  Or maybe they just know, as they would of course know, that The Angel’s license precludes it opening to the public without CCTV and that by confiscating it they were therefore preventing the pub doing business on Thursday / Friday / Saturday – the busiest nights of the week?

I am not given to think ill of the Police.  I believe in Law & Order and I value the work our Police do.  But as we’ve seen elsewhere in the country, it’s also entirely possible for the Police to abuse their power and authority, to operate in ways that are questionable and to think – if you’ll excuse the pun – that they are a law unto themselves. Since I have yet to get a response from the Police I have not yet heard their side of all this and maybe, just maybe, they have some valid argument or some piece of evidence that explains it all?  But given that there have been no arrests, no charges and no seizures other than some CCTV I don’t think it’s presently looking good for them.  And whatever the case turns out to be – what justifies scaring a child so badly it wets itself, accusing innocent patrons of prostitution, and smashing down the doors of innocent tenants?

This is not some third world Police State.  This is Wisbech, in Cambridgeshire, in the United Kingdom.  There had better be some darn good answers forthcoming.

All Change at FDC

All Change at FDC

The leader of Fenland District Council, Cllr. Alan Melton, has resigned his post.  His time as leader has been marked by an interesting series of ups and downs and I think he should be proud of his time in the post and of the good things the Council has achieved while he was at the helm.  It is easy to knock your local Council and everybody likes to do it, but it shouldn’t be ignored that in a time when other Councils are being forced to take pretty scary decisions Fenland District Council have maintained quality services effectively.

I think there comes a time when a Leader’s tenure is over.  It needn’t be something they’ve done, in fact they may be doing an excellent job, but different elements align in such a way that it becomes inescapable.  I think Alan Melton’s decision to step down from the post was the right one.  He has been a local political “big beast” for a long, long time and he has always been astute in his timing.  I think, probably, his timing was right this time too.

Just recently there have been some surprising and difficult decision made by Fenland District Council’s Cabinet.  With this change a new leader will be able to start with a clean slate and take the Council forwards without the shadow of those past events hanging over them.

It has been suggested that there will be a lot of change in the FDC Cabinet.  I think this very much depends on who the new leader is, but I would expect that it is broadly true.  Some faces may remain, but a new leader will want to pick the best people for the jobs and I suspect they will have a very different idea of who those people are.

As for who the new leader might be, a whole host of names have been rumoured.  John Clark, Jan French, David Connor, Sam Hoy, Chris Seaton, Michael Humphreys, David Oliver, Martin Curtis and one or two other less likely candidates.  But they would all need proposers and seconders and would need some realistic chance of getting some votes in order to stand.  Some of the rumours are ill-founded.   Some of them just plain aren’t interested in doing the job preferring their work as backbench Councillors.  Some just won’t get the support that is needed.  I expect the competition will condense, as the dust begins to settle, to just three or so candidates.  Whoever takes over the leadership is going to face some hefty challenges and will be swimming in the deep end of quite a tumultuous pool.

Nevertheless, I think if the right leader is picked then we could be moving into a great time for Fenland District Council.  It was overdue some changes and some fresh air.  No offense to Alan Melton or any of his Cabinet who I have the utmost respect for and who I think have served Fenland well for quite some time, but sometimes a change is just what the doctor ordered.

Roman Bank By-Election

Roman Bank By-Election

The deadline for nominations is closed and the candidates for the Roman Bank By-Election have been announced.

For Labour we have Barry Diggle – who has stood as a Labour hopeful in many elections and is a familiar face on the campaign trail.

For UKIP we have Alan Lay, who apparently wishes to become a “double hatter.”  Alan doesn’t live in the ward, he lives in Wisbech.  When he stood for county this wasn’t important because the County seat is a bit bigger – it is Roman Bank & Peckover, and Peckover is part of Wisbech.  But the District Seat is just Roman Bank – the villages alone.  I think Mr. Lay might be surprised by the subtle difference this makes.

For the Lib Dems we have Stephen Court.  This is the Stephen Court who lives in March.   Yep, the Lib Dems really are that desperate.  They can’t find a single candidate in the whole of the Ward, nor even in the whole of Wisbech, it seems.   When Mr. Court stands in March he gets regularly confused with the Conservative Steve Count.  I doubt anybody will be confused about him in Roman Bank though.  They’ll know exactly what he is.  A paper candidate.

And then there’s Erbie Murat as an Independent.  This is the same Erbie Murat who used to be the Clerk to Wisbech Town Council.  Who also doesn’t live in the ward.  He lives in Guyhirn.

It’s a sad state of affairs when only two of the five candidates live in the place they want to represent.  Whether that matters or not will be down to the voters, of course.  Maybe they’ll decide that Stephen Court from March, Alan Lay from Wisbech or Erbie Murat from Guyhirn are a better candidate than somebody who lives where they live and is a friendly face and one of their neighbours?   But I doubt it.

Finally, the Conservative candidate is Cllr. Sam Clark, a Parish Councillor from Newton.  She does live in the ward and has done all her life.  She’s well-known, well-liked and well-respected.  I’ve encountered her many times in and around Roman Bank.  She organises activities for the kids.  She helps with free events for older people.  She will be found anywhere that volunteers are called for, mucking in and working with her neighbours.  She’s always out and about and she’s always helping people.

On a number of occasions over recent years, and indeed in this year, I have helped out with fundraisers or local activities in the area.  Almost every time, when I’ve arrived to pitch in, Sam Clark is already there and already in the thick of the work to be done.  I’ve seen Barry Diggle once too, I think.  I’ve never seen Alan Lay, Stephen Court or Erbie Murat at anything.

vote sam clark

Don’t Let UKIP Stop Our Rail Link!

Don’t Let UKIP Stop Our Rail Link!

The good news for the potential re-opening of a Wisbech Rail Link just keeps coming.  Today, Wisbech Standard report more from our MP, Steve Barclay.

The case is now conclusively made.  A line is not only viable, but scores very highly.  There is every chance that we can get this and the work could start in the next few years.  The only fly in the ointment?  UKIP.

Yeah, those guys our town elected to represent us at County Council in what is increasingly appearing to be a moment of madness.  UKIP, who abstained on the vote at County Council to support the re-opening of the Rail Link.  UKIP, one of whose County Councillors was on the front page of our local paper in the last couple of weeks sneering at the idea of a Rail Link for the town.

You may think that UKIP don’t matter, but they certainly do.  These fellows; Clapp, Lay, Lagoda (ish) and Gillick are our representatives at the highest level below Parliament itself.  When they oppose something in such a direct way – as they appear to be doing in regards to the Rail Link – they can do real harm to our chances.

The government doesn’t just throws hundreds of millions of pounds around for fun.  If we want to have any chance of getting this we need to all stand united.  The Really Independent Party ™ seem supportive.  Labour definitely are.  There aren’t really any Lib Dems anymore, but they would be if they were still here.  Only UKIP appear to think a Rail Link for Wisbech should be opposed.

Don’t let them ruin it for the rest of us!  Write them, email them, phone them, knock on their door if you can.  Tell them to Shut Up! before they mess the whole thing up.  Maybe they could go organise a petition demanding a warmer Summer or something?  Anything, to keep them out of the way while the rest of us work our hardest to make this happen for our town!

Please see also:

Chamber Of Commerce AGM

Chamber Of Commerce AGM

I attended the Wisbech Chamber of Commerce AGM last night and found the discussion very interesting indeed.

Good news – the much-missed Horsefair Toilets, we are told, will re-open after a refurbishment.  I’d like to think that public pressure from the people of Wisbech and the Town Council have helped in this decision, but in reality I expect the owners have just made a sensible decision for sensible reasons.  I wouldn’t expect them to re-open imminently, but the fact that they will at all is a great relief to me.  And will be an even greater relief to people getting off the bus after a long journey and busting for a pee! :)

There was some discussion about encouraging Fenland District Council to make a portion of the free car parks in Wisbech operate on a “limited time” basis.  The purpose being to discourage long-term parking in the spaces closest to the Market Place and thereby allow more flexibility for shoppers to park there.  I thought their reasons were sound, but I did inject a note of caution on their plans.  Convenience is King in retail, whether people like it or not, and anything which adds even a little additional complexity risks being counter-productive to the aims they want to achieve, which is increasing footfall in the main shopping areas.   (I do have some ideas for increasing footfall and improving the Market Place which I will share in the near future as a blog post all its own.)

Much complaining was done about the bridge closure and the damage it was doing to trade, though the business folk did appreciate the need for the important flood works.  They felt they were not being clearly communicated with.  They were also concerned about a lack of direct communication between the Town Council and the County Council with regards to the clashing of the Fair and the start of the roadworks.  Of course, I pointed out that providing “local knowledge” and helping with the communication is part of the job of the County Councillors, and part of the reason they are paid many thousands of pounds a year in “allowances.”  I pointed out that the County Councillors didn’t attend Town Council meetings, which is a shame because being in the same room regularly is a pretty good facilitator to communication.   I would have asked for input into that from one of the County Councillors themselves, but naturally they were not there – despite the fact that one of them lives on the other side of the road to where the meeting was held (Mendies).

After the meeting, Cllr. Samantha Hoy, Cllr. Garry Tibbs and I went for a late dinner to the newly-opened Frankie & Bennys* restaurant on Cromwell Road.  The Mayor had been invited to attend and we were accompanying her (the Mayor must be accompanied by other Councillors if she is wearing the chain.)  The food was great and the service was second-to-none.  Our excellent waiter even found time to demonstrate a card trick – which neither Garry Tibbs nor I could work out how it was done despite both being quite keen at “cracking” magic tricks.  The new restaurant will be successful, I am sure – and it’s providing 50+ jobs in the area too!  Win, win.

sam garry

* For the cynical who presume Councillors get loads of free stuff – yes, Frankie & Bennys did offer not to charge us for the meal.  First time I have *ever* been offered anything for free as a Councillor, actually.  It was a kind offer, which of course we declined.