Wisbech Celebrates Scooping Gold


October 17, 2016

Wisbech celebrates scooping gold in Britain In Bloom

Wisbech is celebrating scooping a gold medal in the “large town” category at the Britain in Bloom UK awards ceremony.

It was hailed as “a fantastic achievement in the toughest group in the competition”.

Wisbech, which represented the Anglia region, was one of only 10 areas from across the UK chosen to compete in the large town category.

Brian Massingham, chairman of Wisbech in Bloom, and Bob Ollier, Fenland District Council’s parks and open spaces manager, were  presented with the award at the ceremony in Birmingham on Friday night.

Mr Massingham said: After all our hard work, to get such a fantastic result is absolutely incredible and it’s thanks to everyone. We all work together for the good of the town.

“Our volunteers have worked in partnership with the council to achieve this fantastic result but we could not do it without the support of local horticultural businesses, the town’s visitor attractions, other community organisations and the generosity of sponsors.

“For a growing market town with many social problems this is an achievement to celebrate and build upon.”

Wisbech In Bloom’s Penny Stocks added: “This is unbelievable – to be part of the elite in such a strong category is incredible.”

The Royal Horticultural Society, which runs the awards, said the gold medal, the highest available, confirmed Wisbech’s position as one of the greenest and most beautiful large towns in the country.

According to its judging criteria, a gold constitutes “an exceptionally high standard demonstrated throughout. A consistent approach that demonstrates best practice, continuing development and sustainable effort. Meets all of the judging criteria and scores very highly in every section of the marking sheet.”

Bob Ollier said: “This is brilliant, absolutely brilliant. I’ve waited eight years to bring a gold medal to Wisbech. The gold is extremely elusive. Even when Wisbech won the category in 2008, it was with a silver gilt.

“To win gold in the toughest group is a fantastic achievement. It shows an exceptionally high standard and reflects the terrific amount of work put in by everyone involved right up to the last minute.

“There are three pillars to the award: horticultural excellence, environmental responsibility and community participation. The key is consistency in all three.”

Councillor Peter Murphy, the council’s Cabinet member responsible for the environment, said: “Very many congratulations to all the individuals and groups who’ve played their part, large and small, in this year’s Wisbech In Bloom campaign. It’s an absolutely tremendous result. Once again the town has done Fenland proud.”

The awards ceremony celebrates the huge contribution made by the 300,000 Bloom volunteers whose hard work and dedication help transform what are often grey and unloved areas into greener, cleaner and more beautiful spaces for everyone to enjoy.

Roger Burnett, chairman of the UK judging panel, said: “This has been a truly outstanding year for Britain in Bloom, with local communities devoting tremendous amounts of time and effort into greening grey areas and sharing the many health and social benefits of horticulture.

“The judges were very impressed by the way communities refused to let the many challenges they faced hold them back. The finalists’ desire and determination to make their environment as green and pleasant as possible was truly humbling.

“We as judges are privileged to have a front row seat to see Britain in Bloom volunteers change the lives of thousands through their work. And it’s fitting that their efforts are recognised and celebrated.”

Britain In Bloom

Britain In Bloom

I joined the large paid and voluntary team responsible for our victory in the Britain In Bloom competition this morning.  We have taken Gold, and been very highly commended.  Rightly so, in my opinion, given how beautiful our Town has been this year thanks to the tireless work of paid and unpaid people from across the community.

As a local Ward Councillor and also a member of the “Friends of…” Committee that covers the area of St. Peters Church Gardens, I joined many others for a photo call and mini celebration.  Some hiccups earlier in the year resulted in a shaky start, but the team really pulled out all the stops to deliver in the end.

No doubt, despite yet another excellent result, there will be those with permanent upside-down smiles delivering their sermons of doom and gloom.  But this is great news for Wisbech and a well-deserved national accolade for a lovely place to live.

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Scare Kingdom 2016

Scare Kingdom 2016

This post is nothing to do with local events or politics and is, instead, a review – of sorts – of the place I just spent the weekend.

I’ve just spent the last couple of days with four friends at Scare kingdom.

Scare Kingdom is an attraction in Blackburn, near Manchester.  It is, essentially, five “haunted house” type buildings linked one after another, enabled by fantastic props, special effects and music and populated by real actors in ghoulish costumes and make-up.  If you like macabre and spooky stuff, and you enjoy being creeped out and made to jump out of your skin then it’s right up your street.  It certainly was ours.

Scare Kingdom is set on a very large working farm.  The owner, who also runs the farm, appears to have found a very unusual and effective way to supplement their income.  Long may they continue.  Arriving at Scare Kingdom you join the queue of excited and nervous people and wait your turn to be put with a group of about ten and fed into the cavalcade of fright and terror.

The first attraction is called Mallum


Mallum is not one of the five “mazes” (the colloquial term used by people who visit the growing phenomenon of scare attractions around the country) but is rather a single room experience to set the scene.  Frankly, it’s pretty cheesy.  Some music, some story, an actor, a jump scare.  And not a particularly good one.  But by this time you’ve been queuing and waiting to go in and you’re in the mood and its certainly fun, as a warm-up taster act.

At this point you exit the building and are walking through the dark farm, your way only occasionally and creepily lit so you need to tread carefully.  Following the path you encounter one of the roving actors who are scattered between some of the mazes, to add to the fun.  These guys will stop you and engage you in creepy conversation, partly to add to the atmosphere and partly (I suspect) to break the groups of people up so that they don’t all arrive at the next maze at the same time and cause too much of a queue.  It’s effective and enjoyably diverting.  The actors seem to be really enjoying themselves and you quickly get caught up in it all.

Then you reach the first real maze.  The Sickness.


There is a brief queue as you wait outside a large warehouse-type farm building.  You can hear scary music, sound and the occasional screams from within.  Once in a while, people burst from a side door – one of the groups ahead of you – chased, terrified and screaming from the exit.  Then it’s your turn.  Trying to avoid too many spoilers in this review, but this was an excellent maze.  The props, actors and effects were exceptionally good and there were several jump scares and at least two truly unnerving situations.  The story was fun and held together well.  It took five or ten minutes to get through.  Having claimed we would not, we burst from the exit door to the amusement and trepidation of the waiting queue just like those before us.  Brilliant!

A short walk and we reached ManorMortis, which is a static feature.  The other features change each year, but ManorMortis is there every year, I am told, and added to and improved all the time.  Again, it was a large farm-type warehouse inside, but once through the door you would certainly believe you were in a haunted house.


ManorMortis really was quite exceptional.  Crawl spaces and secret doors and all manner of twisted goings-on.  This one was more actor-driven and you were taken from area to area by ghoulish narrators to played their parts to a tee.  The final scene was very well done and unexpected.

Then, on to the one which was my personal favourite, The House of Gaunt.


Met in the entrance hall by an excellent actress who set the seen with a macabre poem, you quickly understand that this one is about puppets.  I’ve always found spooky puppets creepy so I was looking forward to this – and it did not let me down.  We had been taking it in turns to “be at the front” because that’s where the worst of the jump scares get you.  This was my turn.  One of the things I like in these type of attractions is having a good look at the props and scenery, which are often awesome.  Normally, the plot has you rushing through the mazes and you don’t get anywhere near as much time as you’d like to do so.  But The House of Gaunt let you set your own pace to some degree and I was at the front.  Add to this the fact that its often pitch black, with very narrow winding corridors and hanging curtains which block your way, often followed by a switchback, and I got a really good look at some of the monstrous decor.  I really, really loved this one.  It was creepy as all hell! :)

The next attraction was 666 Brimstone Place.   But to get to it you had to walk across a section of the farm where a back-and-forth corridor had been created using steel fencing.  As we threaded our way along it we saw a scary clown waiting blocking our way.  Another of the roving actors, this one was also an obstacle, coupled with the fact that he had a chainsaw.  It was an interesting predicament and one that required some, um, running. :)


Whilst it was not my favourite, Brimstone Place had a few really really outstanding moments. In fact, in my opinion the best “scene” in the whole attraction is in this maze.  The actors were very effective too, with the Nun actress managing to make me leap out of my skin about six times!  The music was very loud in here and if I had one criticism it’s there here, and in one or two other mazes, the music is too loud to hear some of the actor’s dialogue.  It’s not the end of the world, but I think its something they could work on.

We encountered one more roving actor and then on to the last, and the weakest (in my opinion) of the attractions.  This one is called Black Death.


The story and ideas are great.  But the surprise in this one is that as you queue to enter they tell you that you must pass through “sensory deprived” meaning that you put a hood over your head.  You then put your left hand on a guide rope at your side and your right hand on the shoulder of the person in front and shuffle on blindly through the maze.  So the scares are delivered by the music and sounds, by the actors, and by other sensations such as the change in the ground underfoot.  Trouble is, it didn’t really work.  Well not for me, anyway.  The lack of vision made it less scare for some reason, I was spending most of my time noticing how hot it was inside the hood and trying to work out which way I was going by following the rope.  The scares became very secondary and I just didn’t get anywhere near as invested in this one as I did all the others.  Don’t get me wrong, it was still perfectly good fun.  Just, by comparison with the rest of the attraction, this one didn’t really do it for me.

You emerge from Black Death into a pretty neat little bar, packed with people who have also followed the path of terror to this point.  The atmosphere is great, the drinks are fine and you can even grab a burger or a hot dog from the barbecue.  It’s all over, but the party is just beginning.

Except that it’s not quite all over.  Because there is one more “attraction.”  This one is quite infamous, has been in the newspapers and on the news, and is billed as the “sickest attraction in the UK”.  It not part of the main Scare Kingdom offer.  It costs an extra fiver.  It is for Over 18s only.   You must sign a fairly serious “waiver” to be allowed to enter.  Instead of going through in a group, you go through alone. There is a “safe word if you can’t “handle it” during the experience.  It says very clearly on the door “You do NOT want to do this.”  It is called Snuffhouse Alone.


Three of the five of us, of which I was one, elected to take part.  Standing in the bar you can see people emerge from the exit.  They look very shaken.  But you think: “It must be hype.  How bad can it be?”  And then there’s the peer pressure and the competitiveness and the beers you’ve been drinking. :)  And before you know it you are in the queue and chuckling a little nervously, but still thinking: “Meh.  It’s just some actors and props.  This’ll be fine.”

It’s not fine.  It is bloody horrible.  I am not kidding.  You will think I am kidding, just like I thought the people who went in before me were kidding.  Or exaggerating.  One of the three of us used the safe word to leave the attraction early.  I got all the way through, but I don’t mind admitting that it was very very very hard to do so.  I am not going to put any spoilers here.  You, dear reader, may visit Scare Kingdom and you may also be foolish enough to ignore the warnings and give Snuffhouse Alone a try.  You should not.  But you may do so anyway.   Because after all, how bad can it be?

All I will do is to give you a few valuable pointers which I wish somebody had given me:

(1)  Take a full set of clean clothes and keep them in your vehicle.  A FULL set, including underwear and shoes.

(2)  Have deodorant and soap ready for when you leave.  You are going to want to wash.  A lot.

(3)  Do not joke or try and be cocky during the experience.  It will only make it worse.  Just play along.

(4)  Do not eat before going in.

And most importantly:-

(5)  Just don’t go in.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s an experience and I don’t have any issue with its existence.  I chose to go in of my own free will, as do many other people.  But it really is awful.  And I doubt I’d do it again, knowing what I know now.  You have been warned.  Not that you’ll listen. :)

All in all, Scare Kingdom was £20.00 and a drive to Blackburn well spent.  I think I’ll be heading back there again.  But not too soon.  For now, I’m as creeped out as anybody needs to be.  Moreso, maybe.  A fantastic weekend away with some very good friends, and some stories to tell for a lifetime.


How Clear Does It Need To Be?

How Clear Does It Need To Be?

I don’t know about you, dear reader, but I am bored with people saying “The British Public didn’t vote to leave the Single Market” and variations on that theme.  It’s a crock.  So I was pleased when Guido Fawkes released this video confirming that there really wasn’t any doubt:

Brexit Always Meant Leaving the Single Market


And what about the people who keep trying to claim that Government needs to ask Parliament for permission because it was never clear that the result would actually be implemented?

Here’s the actual paperwork that the Government sent out to everybody:


I mean come on!  How clear do you want it?  Stop whining, move on, remainiacs.  You lost. ;)


South Brink Speeding

South Brink Speeding

At the last Full Council meeting of Wisbech Town Council I proposed that the portion of South Brink which runs from Tesco up to the Malt Drive Estate would be a good place to benefit from this year’s Minor Highways bid.

One of the most common complaints I get as a Councillor is speeding and that section of South Brink is that part which causes the most concern in my Ward.  It is a “rat run” for people wanting to escape traffic along Cromwell Road and because it is long, quiet and very straight it seems to encourage fast and dangerous driving.  To compound the problem, this is an area which has an above average number of pedestrians and users of mobility scooters, many of whom feel threatened by the speed and carelessness they perceive in some drivers.

All year I have promised my constituents that I would try and get a Minor Highways Bid through to address this.  We took Speedwatch there on a few occasions and that helps a little, but what the road really needs are some speed reduction measures to discourage the temptation to race along there.

The County Councillor for the area, my friend and colleague Samantha Hoy, agreed with me and has seconded my proposal.  Town Council supported my proposal and it was put forwards to County Council as our official bid this year.

At this point I have kept it deliberately vague.  We have a meeting with the County Council Highways Officers on-site next week to look at what measures would be best and what can be afforded within the limits of the Minor Highways scheme.  But I am very pleased to be able to keep my promise and push this another stage towards resolution.

PMs Speech To Conference 2016

PMs Speech To Conference 2016

I was never a Cameroon, but I did grow to admire the previous PM’s statesmanship and strong Leadership and he was very very good at speeches.

Theresa May is not as good at speeches, but she still delivered it today in a confident and compelling way.  Judging by the commentary I am hearing and reading, the speech was well-received and cleverly politically-positioned.  She is pitching for the broad middle ground and the populist common ground in a way that has hints of Tony Blair and hints of Nigel Farage.  I think she believes it too, so we will probably see policy follow to match the rhetoric.

I was uncomfortable at her comments about “foreign workers” and very uncomfortable about this odd idea of forcing companies to produce “lists” of the national origins of their staff.  I have no problem with encouraging companies to look first to home ground, nor with legislating to prevent unfair discrimination, but creating “lists” and trying to use them to shame companies based on geographical birthplace locations?  Gave me a cold chill, that one.

I’m not a statist, or an authoritarian.  I believe in free markets as the best tool for social mobility and overall good the world has ever seen. I believe that state intervention is often ill-judged, harmful and counter-productive.  So her speech wasn’t pitched at me.  It was pitched at all the: “what is the world coming to?” people out there, who believe that the world is going down the sewer.  She talked a lot about the people who feel “left out” of “Globalism” and set out her stall as a “Woman Of The People.”  Which people she was referring to was a little vague, but it certainly wasn’t rich people.

She took big steps onto Labour territory – before Labour become a hard-left militant personality cult.  And she took big steps onto UKIP territory, before UKIP swung to the Left to try and hoover up Labour’s disaffected Northern vote.  She clearly appealed to that One Nation, “let the state put its  arms around you and keep you safe”, Big Government branch of the Conservatives.  There are lots of them.

But people who think she is another Margaret Thatcher profoundly misunderstand Thatcherism and were clearly not listening to the content of her speech.  In some ways she seems more like Heath than Thatcher.  But even that would be wrong.  She is a whole new thing.  I’m trying to maintain an open mind.  I hope that all the (many) good things she said are actioned and the Statist and Illiberal stuff was just words.  Time will tell, I guess.  But whatever I, or anybody else, thinks – she has certainly thrown down a political gauntlet.  It will be interesting to see what happens next.

Forty-Eight Today


On September 30th 1968, I was born.

The number one pop song was “Hey Jude” by The Beatles.  #sigh

The #1 Movie was Night Of The Living Dead  #hurrah

A Gallon of Petrol cost about 20p.  #ooh

The Boeing 747 was first shown to the public.  #excellent

My “Tarot Card Personality” is “The Hermit”  #whateverthatmeans

I’m a Libra.  #ifyoubelieveinthatstuff

I share my birthday / year with Lithuanian basketball player Gintaras Einikis  #sothere’sthat

I have been alive for 1,514,773,256 seconds.  Which is 17,532 days.  Or 337 dog years.  0.04803 milleniums, if you prefer.

If I had a calendar from the year in which I was born, I could use it again in 2024.  Both years being exactly the same!

There have been 594 full moons since I was born.  The amount of times I have changed into a werewolf is presently zero.  Maybe October 16th’s full moon will change that?

In the Chinese zodiac I was born in the year of the Monkey.  #whatever

People born on 30th September are most likely to be intelligent, sexy and sophisticated.  And liars. :)



From Waterlees To Peckover

From Waterlees To Peckover

Quite a busy day today.  First thing was a Finance Meeting at the Oasis Centre in Waterlees, working with the Oasis Trust to try and make sure things stay on an even keel.  I am appointed to the Trust as the District Council representative.  I rather enjoy the role as the Centre’s staff and the Board Members are all great to work with.  As with all community bodies that I know of, these are challenging times, but when people work together good outcomes can be achieved.

Rushing home from the meeting and changing into my full Deputy Mayor regalia, my Wife and I headed to Edina Court care community in Peckover Ward, which is celebrating its Pearl Anniversary this year.  I enjoyed lunch with the residents and managers, who were most welcoming and hospitable.

This evening I have two more meetings to attend and I don’t expect to be home until quite late.



If you are a reader of this page who is not a Conservative supporter, please ignore this message. Thanks!

This year, local Conservative Members numbers have skyrocketed. After BREXit and with a new Prime Minister in place we have seen a huge influx of new members.

It is an exciting time both Nationally and locally and there are many plans to keep up the good work improving Wisbech and the wider Fenland area.

Why not come and join us?

Whether you want to be more active on the local political scene, or even if you just want to make a few new friends or generally show your support, we would welcome you aboard.

Help us choose our Council candidates, or maybe you think you might like to stand for election as a Councillor yourself?

Whatever your interest, you will be welcomed, helped and supported every step of the way.

You can choose how involved you want to be. How much time you spend is entirely up to you and there is no minimum (or maximum) commitment.

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