Christmas Lights

Christmas Lights

A few people have moaned a bit about the Christmas Lights and I thought I’d put down the background and facts to help people understand where we are and how we got here.

A few years ago we really DID have terrible lights. Basically, we had the bulbs along the river and some more bulbs in the Market Place, and that’s it. The Christmas Light Switch On was a handful of Councillors and a few dozen people watching a switch get pressed and some bulbs light up. It wasn’t ideal.

Every year people complained bitterly about them, but Christmas lights are a lot of money and Town Council didn’t want to commit that sort of budget to improving them. When I became a Town Councillor I put in a motion to spend a huge chunk on lights and managed to get support for it.

But we wanted to be sure the people of the Town supported it to0, so we did a vote in the local papers. Here’s a blog post from 2014 about it:http://www.stevetierney.org/the-great-wisbech-christmas-li…/

A majority voted for the improvements, but even then there were still a fair few who thought it was a waste of money and shouldn’t be done.

With a majority vote and support on the Council we pressed on and implemented the new lights, which took six months of getting competitive quotes, designing schemes etc.

Myth Buster 1: We did not spend loads of money on designing a scheme, that was all included in the quotation as the companies sought to win our business.

Although it was quite close and we weren’t sure we’d get the improvements in time we did manage to get them installed for Christmas 2014. That year the Christmas Light Switch on event broke all records. It has continued to break them each year since.

Myth Buster 2: You can’t just buy any old lights and string them up. Government authorities must purchase suitable, safe, durable, commercial lighting from reputable companies.

£20,000 does not go as far as you might think. We managed to secure the central piece in the Market Place, the lights and glowing stars on the trees, the light fixtures that adorn most exits from the Market Place, and the long channel of lights than run along High Street. Also some improvements elsewhere.

We did not spend all the money the first year and we did not install all the lights we had purchased. We have added a little each year since: lights on Hill Street. Lights on the Town Council Chambers. In response to calls from people for lights on the Freedom Bridge Roundabout, we did those.

Myth Buster 3: March have lovely Christmas Lights. They were donated by a very wealthy benefactor in a will. March are very lucky to have had such a generous donation. Wisbech has not had any large donations but would certainly welcome any if you have some funds you can spare, or know somebody who does.

Although spending £20,000 may seem like a lot, people do not realise that it costs a huge amount for a contractor to install the lights and to remove them, and this cost repeats every year. Every time we increase the amount of lights we put up, we increase the large installation and removal costs too. So when new lights are purchased that is not a one-off cost, but must also consider the additional costs every year for installation, runtime and removal.

Myth Buster 4: Lights do sometimes break down. This is outside of our control. When they break down the Council does everything it can to get the contractor to put the problem right as soon as possible. Sometimes this can be done quickly, sometimes it cannot. The North Brink lights were down for a few days and have now been repaired. Some of the lights on the Christmas Tree aren’t presenting working and that will be remedied as soon as possible.

All of this – the Switch On Event, the organisation of the lights, the planning, is done by a tiny team of dedicated volunteers and a handful of Town Council staff and Councillors. Anybody can volunteer to be a part of the Festivals Working Party, which organises and runs almost all of our town festivals. Please do volunteer if you can spare the time. It’s hard work, but mostly rewarding. The only time it’s not rewarding is when somebody sits on their couch and tells those volunteers how much better everything should be. If you want it to be better, come be a part of making it better.

Myth Buster 5: What can be done in the Market Place is quite limited. To install Christmas Lights requires special permanent fixtures to attach the lights to and to get power to them. All the buildings around the Market Place are privately owned and you cannot attach things to those buildings without securing permission from the owner. Owners are not always easy to contact and do not always say “yes.”

Personally, I like our town lights and would not want to see them gaudier, or too over the top. I think they are tasteful and lovely. But what I think doesn’t matter. If enough of you want the Council to spend another huge sum of money on more lights and more annual installation costs then let me know and I will go and make the case all over again. But bear in mind that this will almost certainly require a Council Tax rise over and above the demands that Town Council save the Museum, save and run The Castle, and invest large sums renovating the Market Place. It’s a debate that’s well worth having, if you think we need to.

Merry Christmas!

Wisbech Christmas Fayre & More

Wisbech Christmas Fayre & More
Yesterday I arrived. before the start of the Wisbech Christmas Fayre to join representatives of the Chamber of Commerce to visit all the shops who had entered the Christmas Window competition and judge the winners. There were lots of great entries but we decided in the end to give commendations to the two runners up; Cats Pajamas and The Wool Shop, and award the Winner’s Trophy to Sarah’s Flowers on Market Street.
 
I officially opened the Fayre at 10.40AM and then stayed to enjoy the Carols from several local schools. With all the snow it was very festive – and very cold.
 
I spent some time visiting stalls and buying things and then at 11.45AM I joined the Churches Together team and their Walking Nativity. Touring the town on foot and dressed in nativity costumes they sang carols at several different stops along the way, including inside Poundland! It was a lot of fun.
 
The Walking Nativity then joined the Salvation Army band and, altogether, we sang from the stage area to an audience at the Christmas Fayre.
 
Then onto the Sense shop, where I had been asked to draw the winning raffle together for their big draw, and to make the telephone call to the lucky winner.
 
At this point there was 20 minutes to snatch a cuppa, before rushing on to Rose Lodge Care Home where I joined residents and staff for their Christmas Party.
 
After that, I grabbed my DJ gear and rushed to Newton, where I was the DJ at their annual Christmas Party.
 
And that was just the daytime. :)
 
Busy day, very festive and wonderful to see the people of Wisbech and the surrounding villages enjoying themselves.

St Augustine’s, Knit & Natter, Christmas Trees Everywhere!

St Augustine’s, Knit & Natter, Christmas Trees Everywhere!
I went along to St Augustine’s Church today to see their wonderful Christmas Tree Display, to enjoy the Warblers’ Carol Singing Carolaoke, and to meet the ladies from Knit & Natter who have been working on a Mayoral Christmas Jumper and a Christmas hanging display for the Town Council Chambers.
 
If you could catch the atmosphere of Christmas and bottle it, you’d have an idea of what St Augustine’s is like at this time of year. The display of Christmas Trees by different people and organisations is lovely, and everybody you meet is merry and full of joy.
 
I was bowled over by my spectacular Christmas knitted jumper and I will be returning in the New Year to meet the lady who actually did most of the knitting. The hanging decoration I commissioned as a present to the Town Council from the Mayor looks amazing too. I could not have asked for more from these talented ladies and I am so very pleased with these items.
 
I enjoyed the carols too, trying my best to keep up with the Warblers, whose jolly singing was a pleasure to hear.
 
Thank you all and a very Merry Christmas to you!
Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, close-up

A Coyote Comes To Town

A Coyote Comes To Town

One of the things I most enjoy doing as Mayor is opening new businesses.
 
It is great to see new ideas, new investment, new jobs and new choice introduced into our fantastic Town.
 
So it was an enormous pleasure today to cut the ribbon and open the new Coyote Bar & Grill, which sits in the previous location of “The Gallery” just outside of the Market Place.
 
The inside looks brilliant, entirely refurbished with a mix of American themes, a Wild West Saloon Bar look and creative pieces of art and flourishes.
 
The menu is very American indeed, with some fine burgers, ribs and other tasty meals. I thought the Mixed Grill look like a meal for a Norse God, rather than for a normal person, but then I know there are some who would see that as a challenge. And yes, I am one of them :)
 
I cannot recommend highly enough that you get yourself down there and try it out, whether just for a few drinks (it’s an Elgoods Brewery venture) or a fantastic belly-busting dinner. The prices look very reasonable to me. They even have their own branded beer!
 
I’d like to thank the excited staff at the Coyote for inviting me to cut the ribbon. It was a pleasure. I wish you every success going forwards.

Orchard’s Nativity

Orchard’s Nativity
Early this afternoon I was invited to watch the Orchards School Reception Year’s dress rehearsal of their nativity play.
 
I was joined by residents of Rose Lodge residential care home and the children of two local nursery schools as the “test audience”.
 
We were all wowed by the delightful, colourful and musical show. The young children spoke, sung and acted well and we were all transported to Bethlethem, to see Joseph and Mary take their important journey.
 
Parents get to see the full show this Thursday. I don’t think it will be too much of a spoiler to say there’s a happy ending, but trust me on this, you will all be very pleased and very proud of what your children have accomplished. A fine show by Orchard’s Reception Year children. Well done!

Wisbech rogue trader sentenced

News from Cambridgeshire County Council

Wisbech rogue trader sentenced

Christopher Ferreria, 42, of Poppy Mews, Wisbech, Cambridgeshire was given a financial penalty today (Wednesday 29 November) at Peterborough Magistrates Court.

Ferreria pleaded guilty to three charges under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations following an investigation by Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Trading Standards.

He repeatedly failed to attend the work, failed to complete the work, he took payment for work which was not delivered in the timescales agreed and failed to repay his victims for some or any of the deposit paid for the work with reasonable promptness.

Ferreria, as CB Property Maintenance, took £3,350 from three victims for home improvement work he promised. One victim was a single parent and wanted to make a small improvement to the family home by dividing a room with double doors, another cashed in their work pension for some sewer work and the final victim wanted to make improvements to their utility room.

During the hearing the magistrates took into account the compelling victims statements and felt Ferreria became ‘dishonest over a period of time’. He was ordered to pay £1,100 of compensation and £700 costs. The rest of the money has been promised to be paid back to the victims by Ferreria through outstanding civil court actions.

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough’s Head of Trading Standards Peter Gell said: “In all of these cases the victims wanted to make home improvements and were lied to by Ferreria.

“The victims have had to find new traders not only to complete the work, but correct some of the work done and this has caused much embarrassment to them. In one case, the victims missed out on seeing their grandchildren in Cornwall as they didn’t have the money to get the work done and go on holiday.

“We will continue to work with our partners to keep the people of Cambridgeshire safe and we won’t tolerate rogue trading in our county.”

Energy saving improvements

Energy saving improvements make a splash at Fenland leisure centres

Fenland’s leisure centres have been given an energy efficiency makeover as part of Fenland District Council’s work to cut energy use, reduce carbon emissions, and tackle climate change.

New energy systems and energy saving measures have been rolled-out across the district’s four leisure centres to save energy and cut energy costs in order to protect leisure services and reduce the Council’s carbon footprint.

The £800,000 upgrade will reduce the leisure centres’ carbon emissions by 281 tonnes a year, a reduction of 21% across the four sites, and cut the Council’s annual leisure energy costs by a third – around £100,000 a year – on top of significant operational maintenance savings.

With popular facilities including three large swimming pools, and early to late opening seven days a week, the leisure centres represent the Council’s largest energy consumer by some margin. And with some plant equipment reaching the end of its life, a different approach to managing maintenance costs, as well as their energy consumption, was needed.

Research identified the RE:FIT framework, an award-winning initiative championed by Cambridgeshire County Council and other partners which supports public sector organisations with energy conservation.

Working closely with appointed delivery partner Bouygues E&S FM UK Ltd, a retrofit scheme was developed to reduce carbon emissions, cut energy costs and upgrade the leisure centres’ facilities through a combination of low-cost energy saving measures, renewable energy measures and new energy efficient systems.

The new systems, including combined heat and power, plant equipment and energy management systems, will improve service reliability for users who may also notice the addition of solar panels on the roofs of the buildings and new LED lighting within the centres.

The works have taken place over the last nine months and been completed on time and in budget.

Councillor Michelle Tanfield, Fenland District Council’s Portfolio Holder for Leisure, said: “The RE:FIT programme is the largest energy conservation project ever to be undertaken by the Council, demonstrating our commitment to the environment and signalling a new approach to reducing both our energy use and energy bills.

“The retrofit will help protect us against rising energy costs, reduce maintenance costs and improve our energy efficiency rating while also ensuring our residents can enjoy efficient, reliable leisure services on their doorstep.”

“The project is a great example of what is possible when several bodies from the public sector work together with a key supplier from the private sector.”

Miles Messenger, Energy Engineering Manager at Bouygues, said: “We are really pleased to work with Fenland District Council in delivering their strategic goals to reduce carbon, save money and improve their leisure centre assets. This ambitious project combined low-carbon and renewable energy generation with energy efficiency technology to deliver a significant improvement in energy performance.”

New street drinking rules start to take action

New street drinking rules start to take action

Alcohol has been seized 14 times in the first five weeks of new powers being launched to tackle street drinking issues in Wisbech.

The amount of alcohol-related litter in the town’s St Peter’s Church Gardens has also been halved ever since Fenland District Council introduced the new Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) on October 20.

The figures come as an initial period of education to make people aware of the new rules comes to an end, and enforcement begins. Anyone caught breaching the PSPO from Monday, December 4, could be issued with a £75 Fixed Penalty Notice.

The order restricts alcohol consumption in three street drinking hotspots – Tillery Fields, St Peter’s Church Gardens and the memorial garden in The Crescent – and enables authorised police and council officers to address alcohol-related antisocial behaviour across a wider area covering Wisbech town centre.

Officers have been carrying out extra patrols and engaging with individuals to warn them about the new powers, and also signpost dependent drinkers and vulnerable residents to support and help available to them through the Wisbech Alcohol Partnership.

In the first five weeks of the order coming into force, officers confiscated and disposed of alcohol from the three locations on 14 occasions.

Early observations from the Council’s environmental services staff also indicated a significant reduction in the amount of alcohol-related litter collected from St Peter’s Church gardens, estimated to be around 50%.

Councillor David Oliver, Fenland District Council’s Cabinet member for community safety, said: “We had an initial period of education to let people know that the PSPO had been implemented, and how it would impact on their behaviour, and we are really pleased with the effect of the new powers so far.

“From Monday, December 4, we will begin enforcing the order; with officers having the option of issuing a Fixed Penalty Notice to anyone caught breaching the new rules.

“We will continue to offer help and support via a number of agencies to those who need it, however, we will take action against the small minority who continue to behave in an anti-social manner. We will also monitor the order to ensure the problem is not dispersed elsewhere. It’s a great start though and shows what we can do when we all work together.”

Mayor’s Christmas Carols

Mayor’s Christmas Carols

Please join the Mayor, Mayoress and special guests for some Christmas Carols, Mince Pies, light refreshments and Christmas Cheer.

Sun, 03 Dec 2017

Wisbech Mayor’s Carols 2pm – 4pm

Please join the Mayor, Mayoress and special guests for some Christmas Carols, Mince Pies, light refreshments and Christmas Cheer.

Venue:
Wisbech Council Chambers, 1 North Brink Wisbech PE13 1JQ
Contact:
Wisbech Town Council 01945 461333

No automatic alt text available.