Sour Grapes

Sour Grapes

Cllr David Patrick, or “Sour Grapes” Patrick as I may now have to call him, has really gotten himself in a rage over comments on Facebook recently.  It all started with the obligatory Wisbech Standard article published on command.  This is the specific comment which has caused the Taxi Warrior to become so furious:

Its a pack of lies, but when you never ever do anything other than promote your business interests I suppose thats not surprising. Dave patrick approached me a few weeks ago and asked me to stop pointing out his bull on social media. I agreed to take it easy on him if he’d stop spinning yarns. Well Dave, the gloves are off.

He decided that this comment was the straw that broke the camel’s back and came back with the following:

 I shall make this one comment and one comment only with regards Steve Tierneys calling it all a pack of lies I am sure he has made all the enquiries to quantify this. I doubt it very mugh but then if he speaks to the town clerk and the Roddons officer. With regards promoting my business interests I do that in my own name and not through the media. So rather than just call me a liar regarding the letter I wrote qualify your statement as to how I am a liar. Gloves off ? You have never been any better than a boxing booth fighter always trying to hit below the belt when under pressure. It seems as though should you wish to criticise we cannot reply but what ever others outside your group do or so is met with by sordid response by you and your cohorts. Freedom of speech only seems to suit what you say and not others. With regards some of your comments I do not rate people who make things PERSONAL and outside of politics you remind me of a playground bully.

And then I said:

You can say what you like, mate David Patrick but I suggest you read what I wrote before you get your knickers in a twist. Happy to write an extensive blog post pulling apart your claims about Rob McLaren if you want me to? Alternatively, you can always try another Standard’s Board Complaint based on fanciful inventions, if you like? I’d have thought you might be a bit busy with your crusade against FACT though? What is it they do, again? Ferry people around? Merry Christmas indeed.

Now I know what you are thinking, dear reader.  It sounds like a lot of silly squabbling.  And yes, you’d be right.  Except that dug into these comments are some claims that really have to be refuted, or else they stand forever as though they are true.  So if you can’t bear these long squabbly posts then I recommend nipping off for a cuppa and coming back when it’s all over.  Otherwise, since Dave has asked me to ‘quantify’ my comments, I shall proceed to honour his request.

First, some clarifications.  You will notice that in his Facebook comment, Taxi Dave that I called something “ALL a pack of lies*.”  This is spin.  What happens is that in order to make something fit their desired rhetoric the spinner slips in a word or two that change the emphasis of the statement.  It’s subtle and you’ve got to look for it carefully, but it’s a common tactic.  In this instance the word Dave has slipped in is “ALL.”  In fact, I didn’t say “It is ALL a pack of lies.”  That is a small but substantial difference because it suggests that there are a number of deceptions, but not that everything is a deception.   This is because when somebody is crafting a piece of spin for the newspaper they always mix in some facts in the way a drug dealer might disguise their white powder with flour to deceive the forces of law and order.

So let’s have a look at the claims Dave Patrick made in the newspaper:

1. It was Paul Clapp, UKIP county councillor, who stood beside him gathering signatures for the Walsoken crossing petition. No Tory councillors supported it, In fact they spoke against the petition.

This is true, but it’s also only half of the truth, if you care about the whole picture.  Paul Clapp did indeed stand beside Rob McLaren just long enough to get some signatures and a picture in the newspaper.  Funny that.  However, he did not stand beside him at the key moment – when it came to preparing an LHI bid and submitting it in order that it might actually have some chance of being enacted.  Dave Patrick is also being creative with his phrasing when he says that “Tory Councillors” “spoke against” the petition.  Because we did not speak against the actual idea, as he well knows.  What we criticised was the way it had been gone about.  Because we knew full well the only way it was going to be possible was by an LHI bid.  Which is a fairly simply task.  You prepare the bid and submit it.  We offered to help them do so.  We also know that since those bids are run by County Council, Paul Clapp, a County Councillor, should also have known all this and been able to advise on it.  Instead, Paul Clapp appears to have led Rob McLaren about it in the longest and most publicity-seeking way possible, then deserted him when it came to actually preparing the bid and presenting it.  Instead, the UKIP Councillors who showed up supported an alternative bid, the 20 MPH Zone one favoured by the Bucknors.  Curious, huh?

2. I fully supported the zebra crossing petition and drove Robert to Cambs County Council in order for him to present it.

I propose that this is untrue.  The reason it is untrue is because of Cllr Patrick’s use of the word “fully.”  Sure, he paid lip service to Rob’s plans when it came to driving to County Council to present the bid.  But that was a trip that never needed to happen and it achieved the sum total of the Committee there saying: “Go back to Town Council and submit an LHI bid” (or words to that effect) which is precisely what I had been suggesting all along.  However, if you want to claim that you have “fully” supported something, then I propose that you need to have supported it as much as you feasibly could.  That’s what “fully” means.  In  this instance, Dave Patrick admits he went to County Council to present the petition, so he must therefore have known that their advice was to put in an LHI bid.  Had he “fully” supported the bid then he would have helped Rob put the bid in, or put it in himself, or at the very least not tried to push the 20 MPH bid ahead of it.

3. All the Independent councillors fully supported the Walsoken zebra crossing bid at town council and could not understand why Robert allowed the Conservatives to present rather than himself. The Independents even encouraged this councillor to take the credit we felt he duly deserved.

The first part of this is untrue for the same reason as (2) above, the use of the word “fully” – and for all the same reasons.  However, I had to laugh at the later claim that they “could not understand why Robert allowed the Conservatives to present rather than himself.”  When they arrived at that meeting and Rob McLaren was sitting beside them, they knew that the Walsoken Crossing had not been submitted as a bid.  I suggest that this was because they wanted their preferred 20 MPH Zone to be this year’s bid and that they threw Rob McLaren’s idea under the traffic in favour of it, but that’s just my personal view.  Nevertheless, since they knew there was no bid coming from Rob McLaren how “surprised” could they have been that he didn’t present it?  Not very.  The surprise, if there was one, was that the Conservatives had actually bothered to prepare a bid that they had been big in promoting, but utterly failed to actually present.

4. Unfortunately Robert walked out of our regular Walsoken surgery rather than engage with residents, the Roddons staff and the Fenland District Council officer because he did not agree with the way the meeting was being conducted. Many of the problems raised at that meeting have been resolved including the Fenland road potholes.

He “walked out” did he?  “Rather than engage with residents?”  If you’re going to make an accusation like that then you need to provide some evidence.  If what you actually mean is that he left, because he thought you were running a sham surgery rather than actually dealing with issues, then that’s not the same as “walking out” is it?  Walking out, in the way you phrased it, carries the connotation of a fit of pique, particularly when paired with your further qualifications.   Would it be fairer to you both to say that you: “had a disagreement on the best way to help residents?”  I suspect it would.  One of your wanted to help them by getting in the newspaper a lot, whereas the other wanted to actually – you know – do stuff?  You tell me, I don’t know.

5. I continue to hold surgeries for residents with Roddons/Circle Anglia and Fenland Council officers. Robert fails to attend.

Well we know that Robert McLaren has attended surgeries previously, because Dave Patrick says so earlier in the article.  The blank statement “Robert fails to attend” could mean many things.  It could mean that Robert could not attend a date because of a family issue – in just the same way Dave Patrick has not always made meetings this year.  It could mean that Rob McLaren could not attend because of a diary clash.  Or it could just mean that Rob McLaren thinks some “surgeries” might be a waste of time because some other Councillor spends all his waking hours trying to do battle with a charity bus service that might trim a little bit off of his own profit margin.  I don’t know.  What I do know is that the statement is vague and potentially misleading.  It says “Robert fails to attend” – but only moments before Cllr Patrick had referred to “their regular surgeries” suggesting that on many occasions Rob McLaren had certainly attended.  Otherwise, why use the word “their” and not “my?”

6. Robert refused to support a 20mph speed limit in residential areas, yet he put up posters on bollards in Walsoken telling people to slow down.

Um, no.  Robert McLaren stood right alongside the Independents trying to push their 20MPH Zone.  I was there.  Alright, he didn’t claim to have “extensively canvassed his residents” in the way that both Patrick and the Bucknors did.  Probably because Rob had not extensively canvassed his residents and so didn’t want to tell lies about it.  Rob was a little more open to listening to the debate about it that they were – probably because he hadn’t decided exactly what the outcome would be in advance.  But Rob McLaren did support their bid – right up until the moment that it came into conflict with the Walsoken Crossing that he had petitioned for, presented to County Council, been in the newspapers with and promised to his constituents.  At that point, unlike some, Rob McLaren was unable to do something sneaky for political gain and just voted for the Walsoken crossing.  It was an unpleasant situation for him, but it was not one of his own making.  I propose, dear reader, that he had been royally stitched up.  But that’s for you to decide.

Earlier in the year when this was all going on I blogged about it extensively.  I was a harsh critic of Rob McLaren because I thought he was going about things the wrong way.  But it was clear that what was really going on was that Rob McLaren was being used, like a pawn in a bitter game of chess.  He trusted people, because that’s in his nature, he is a good guy.  But once he realised what was going on he had enough of it.  And who can blame him?

Now, a few other remarks from the article which need a response:

With regard to Jasmine Park and the need for play equipment, I have had numerous meetings with the Fenland Council leader as well as the cabinet member with responsibility for open spaces and parks, and I continue to push for this funding for my ward.

Here’s an idea, Dave.  Instead of “pushing for” funding (whatever that means) how about doing some actual fundraising?  How about setting up a community group to champion the idea.  You could help them put bids to organisations that give grants.  How about that?

Although it can be frustrating, things do not happen overnight and no political party has a magic wand to wave that will grant you all your wishes.

I like this one.  I’m going to save it and quote it back to him the next time he or his allies demands a “quick fix” from the Magic Money Tree.

With regards Robert’s Christmas decoration competition in our ward – apart from cheap publicity – what will this actually achieve for the people of Walsoken?

What a mean thing to say.  And particularly galling coming from one of the masters of “cheap publicity.”  But let me answer the question.  It might make them feel a bit more festive.  It might brighten their mood.  It might encourage one or two to put up some more lights, also making people feel more festive and brighten to mood.  It might foster more community spirit.  It might remind people that they actually have a local Councillor who is interested in something other than Taxis.  Who knows?  But the entirety of Rob’s “cheap publicity” was a couple of messages on Facebook.  Which is a lot less exposure than Dave Patrick’s sour grapes rant in the Wisbech Standard, isn’t it?  Make of that what you will.

With regards the “Conservatives get things done” comment – the very state of our town suggests otherwise.

Why does it?  The “state of the town” (notice, Patrick doesn’t clarify what he means by that) is what precisely?  Whatever it is he is referring to I bet you that the Conservatives have been working to improve it – but that’s impossible to say since he leaves his statement open and vague.  Either way, Dave, although it can be frustrating, things do not happen overnight and no political party has a magic wand to wave that will grant you all your wishes.  Hmmm?

The town’s Christmas lights, whilst great for the few days they are there, were paid for by our residents’ council tax rather than a lights appeal carried out over the year – which was agreed at town council but not undertaken by the Tory councillor who said he would do it.

I presume Dave is referring to me.  I have done exactly what I said I would do, so this is a lie.  Unless he is not referring to me, in which case he should clarify which “Tory Councillor” has not done what they said they would do.  As Dave knows full well, we have never said that the Lights Appeal would take place before the work was quoted on because until it was quoted on the public could not be surveyed – and until they were surveyed we could not proceed.

The £30,000 set aside should not have been necessary. It does not add up much to actually improving the state of our town, particularly when Wisbech Foodbank is in such demand.

Whereas pointless dead end Standards Boards complaints, a load of unenforceable signs saying “20 MPH” and the closure of the much loved F.A.C.T. Community Bus service would be a wonderful addition to the “state of the town” and fill the bellies of the hungry?  Pull the other one, Dave, it’s got bells on.

I have no doubt that following the publication of this letter I will receive the usual tirade of abuse from some of Robert’s new best friends on social media – after all it is what some of them do best.

If you think the scrutiny and challenge you receive from me on this blog and elsewhere are “a tirade of abuse” then you must have led a sheltered life.  Perhaps, rather than just alluding to it, you could spell out what you qualify as a “tirade of abuse” otherwise this just looks like lies, doesn’t it?

I propose your problem, my friend, is that you don’t like challenge.  The reason you don’t like challenge is that you are singularly poor at making your case.  And the reason you are singularly poor at making your case is because you generally don’t have a case.  But that’s just my opinion.  I could be wrong.

Merry Christmas!

*I should also point out that the comment “a pack of lies” carries no attribution.  At no time did I specify what was a pack of lies and any presumption that I was referring to Dave Patrick’s Wisbech Standard rant is just that, a presumption.  Nor did I specify who I was referring to who does nothing other than promote their own business.  This may seem tricksy, dear reader, but this is what we bloggers do in order to protect ourselves from the repeated attempts to silence us.  You’ll notice, if you look carefully at Dave Patrick’s article, that he performs a number of these same literate flourishes himself.  Though I suspect that may have been the helpful work of another.

From The Lair Of Dr. Earth

From The Lair Of Dr. Earth

Somewhere deep beneath the surface in his secret underground Enfield lair* the super-villain** Doctor Earth sits atop his throne of bones, roughly stroking his scrawny black cat Mephisto, and considering his plans for world domination.

“Mephisto, do you see what I am doing?  I am mastering social media in order to take control of that flat place in the East Of England.  Fanland, or Fenbrook, or something.  First North East Cambridgeshire, then tomorrow THE WORLD.  Bwah-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-haaaaa.”

“Meooowwww,” Said Mephisto, in his usual inscrutable fashion.

Dr Earth on the deficit

Dear Doctor Earth,

Please learn the difference between debt and deficit before you make yourself look like a bit of a buffoon.

Your Arch Nemesis,

The Human Shield***

 

dr earth 9

* The existence of an underground lair is a parody and a fiction created entirely for the purposes of whimsical and humorous comparisons which are in no way meant to represent reality. It is necessary to explain this, just in case anybody thinks there really is an underground lair. There may be, but the writer of this article has no knowledge of it’s location if so. That being the nature of mythical and secret underground bases.

** The super-villain Doctor Earth may share the nickname of a UKIP Candidate but that should not lead anybody to assume that there is any suggestion that they are one and the same, nor that the UKIP candidate is a Super-Villain. Super-Villains do not exist in the real world, to the best of my knowledge.

*** The Human Shield is also a fictional character. But you probably knew that.

Full Council FDC 18th December

Full Council FDC 18th December

A busy agenda at Fenland District Council’s final Full Council meeting of the year, but there were two key items on the agenda which dominated discussion and debate.

The first was the consultation on the future of Community House in Waterlees, Wisbech.  The Independent “Group” had brought along a selection of members of the public to speak out against the “closure” of the facility and each gave a passionate and eloquent speech regarding the importance of it in their lives.  Then, as you’d expect, the Usual Suspects took the opportunity to capitalise on the fear they had manufactured in order to say dramatic things about how “shocked” and “appalled” they were about stuff.

I’d had just about enough of it, to be honest.  I get bored to death with the people who claim to be “non-political” and are actually the most political people i’ve ever met in my life using situations cynically to their advantage.  So it may be that I was a little strong when I was finally called to speak, but I am unrepentant.  Sometimes these things need to be said.  My point was this:  everybody knows that local Councils are subject to huge cuts.  The easy places to take cuts from are gone, leaving mostly tough choices remaining.  Nobody wants their thing cut, as it were.  So everything has to be looked at.  But that doesn’t automatically mean everything is going to be closed!  It would be desperately unfair to ring-fence some things entirely from scrutiny and challenge, and a deeply flawed way of conducting Council business.  This is the purpose of consultations – to give an opportunity to listen to the views of local people, to examine the evidence, to do cost/benefit calculations.  We have a duty, hard though it may be, to be sure that the money the council spends is being used in the best way it can be.  Particularly if we want to avoid loading endless Council Tax rises upon hard-pressed taxpayers.  Which we do.

Of course the point is that the Bucknors and their allies had spotted the consultation and used the opportunity to scaremonger.  Their petition against the closure of Community House being delivered before any decision had been taken to do any such thing.  The obvious political benefit being that if the decision was to close they could be the Voice of The People who had battled valiantly against the evil establishment and if the decision was to remain open then of course it must have been them that saved it.  I mean, come on.  This is such classic spin that it beggars belief that anybody would be taken in.

My speech to Council highlighted how impressed I was by the speakers, and how I felt they had been done a disservice by those wannabe Community Organisers who have ramped up a perceived threat in order to have something that gets them in the newspapers again.  And again.  And again.

Cllr. David Patrick gave me a wonderful opportunity to respond when he said how: “surprised he was that another year’s funding had been found” when he had thought it was a “foregone conclusion” that the place would close.  I said: “Of course you thought that, Cllr Patrick.  Of course you did.  Because that pure negativity is how you work.”  He was wrong of course, as he usually seems to be.   You’d think he’d learn from it, but he never seems to.

Cllr Michael Bucknor outdid Councillor Patrick though when he told Council: “The report about all this which was hidden on page 49 of a document was misleading, it didn’t even say that Community House was going to close!”  At which point I pointed out that no, it didn’t say it was going to close, yet they still went out to the public and used that report to claim it was going to close.  (And you can’t hide something that is clearly written in a report, by the way.  Unless somebody is too lazy to read the whole report.)  It was a perfect moment where Cllr. Bucknor appeared to have been hoisted on his own petard, having admitted that the report never said that Community House was going to close while simultaneously bringing a petition that claimed it was.  He “came back” immediately, though his comeback was just a stammering insistance that: “If Cllr Tierney thought I said that then I didn’t say what he thought I said.”  Nice try, but the whole room had heard exactly what he said about thirty seconds earlier.   Newspaper Editor John Elworthy was there also, so I thought I might see this blatant revelation of deliberate deception as a headline.  Perhaps he missed it?

The other main item of business was Estover.  Once again the opposition using an issue of public concern as a chance to cynically draw support.  Once again the issue was clarified that we have the Local Plan we have, the rules there can’t change, but there is no planning application at the moment to oppose.  Yep, worth repeating that.  There is NO planning application to oppose.  As I said in the meeting: “It is perfectly possible to stop bad plans using the normal planning process and Councillors will stand beside local people if future plans are deemed to be such.  But since there is no plan at the moment, what are we discussing?”

I had a nice chat with some of the Estover protesters afterwards.  They’re nice, they’re well-intentioned and I have a lot of sympathy for their cause.  But until there is something to protest against, we might as well be arguing about the existence of Santa Claus.  I wouldn’t do that, though, since I met Santa Claus in person the day after the Council Meeting at the New Vision Hudson Leisure Centre and he seemed a thoroughly nice chap.  Between you and me, I’m pretty certain he was a Conservative too. ;)

Rotten & Reckless

Rotten & Reckless

There’s a story on the Guido Fawkes blog today about the UKIP MP Mark Reckless being sued by his old Conservative Assocation.

http://order-order.com/2014/12/17/tories-to-sue-mark-reckless/

“The Rochester and Strood Constituency Conservative Association have lodged a claim against its former MP Mark Reckless to claw back thousands of pounds it spent on 2015 General Election campaigning literature before he defected to Ukip. Members of the association say Mr Reckless and his agent, Cllr Chris Irvine, who are both now Ukip members, were approving expenditure for campaign literature for next year’s general election, up to two days before Mr Reckless defected to Ukip Saturday, September 27. They say they had no alternative but to throw away the campaign leaflets.”

Good for them.

Whatever you think about Reckless’ decision to switch parties, it’s important to understand what his local association are, and what they do.  These aren’t head office bureaucrats or rich donors.  They are local people, who supported Reckless when he was elected the first time and who have worked to raise money to help him get elected again.

They will have done so with coffee mornings, and quizzes, and sausage suppers, and race nights, and by selling and buying raffle tickets.  They will have turned out for long meetings, volunteered as activists, delivered his paperwork, canvassed on the doorstep, argued in his favour, written to the local newspapers, put their name forwards as Chairmen and Vice-chairman and secretaries and treasurers.  Just ordinary people who wanted to help Reckless, as their Conservative candidate, to do his job well and be able to keep doing it.

Because Reckless was so keen to stab them all in the back and spring a surprise defection at a difficult time, there was no clue that he may be leaving.  Consequently, those decent loyal local supporters carried right on raising money for him and his office – and used that money to begin his re-election paperwork and literature.  When approving the wording and pictures, did Mr Reckless say: “Stop!  This is a waste of your time and and money because I’m going to split shortly!”  Did he heck.  He grinned, and said: “Thanks for all your help” while preparing to give them all a kicking and laugh while he did it.

Of COURSE he should bloody well pay them back the money they’ve spent on his election literature – which they raised for him with hard graft and dedication because they had put their faith and trust in him.  It is his right to change parties if he wishes, but to stiff his old loyal supporters is just plain rotten.  Any decent individual would put their hand in the pocket, shamefacedly apologise to the people he had betrayed and repay them the money he had caused to be wasted.  At least then he would have left as a gentleman.

Instead he tweets: “Can’t they accept what the voters have decided?”  You, sir, are acting like a dirtbag.  The voters have decided to re-elect you as a ‘Kipper, but it is you who have decided to do the dirty on the very people who have supported you the most loyally for so long, and who seems to think it’s funny.  You should be ashamed of yourself.  Pay them and end your association cleanly, it’s the least you can do.

Problem, Cost, Consequences.

Problem, Cost, Consequences.

If the intention of your policy is to get some publicity and have something to say to the people who are demanding something must be done, then any policy will do.

But if the intention of your policy is actually to resolve or reduce a real issue then there are some necessary steps. I always try and think “PCC”; Problem, Cost, Consequences. (NOT Police and Crime Commissioner.)

(1) Know the problem
You need to be able to state exactly what problem you are trying to solve. If you can’t even get this starting point then any policy is extremely unlikely to work and quite likely to make things worse. This is not as easy as it appears. You may think you can state the problem you are trying to solve, but when you analyse it you will realise it is only part of the problem, or is a symptom of the problem.

(2) Know the cost
Will the cost of your proposed solution, both in money and other resources, actually be higher than the cost of the problem? If that is the case it might still be worth enacting the policy, but the source of funding should be clearly identified. Or it might be that the cost means a different solution would be more appropriate.

(3) Know the consequences
Consider what the consequences of your proposed solution will be. “Unforseen consequences” are less likely if a little time is taken to *try* and forsee them. Will the consequences be worse than the problem in some way?

There’s nothing “political” in this whatsoever. These simple precautions work for policy regardless of whether it is left- or right-wing. If only we’d spend a bit of honest time looking at new ideas for policy like this we’d make far fewer errors and many of our problems would be resolved or lessened.

The trouble is we seldom do. And the reason we seldom do is sometimes because we think we know the problem and don’t need to (incorrectly, in my opinion), sometimes because we don’t WANT to know the problem for various reasons we don’t like to admit to ourselves, and sometimes because a scary mob with pitchforks are urging less thought more action.

Christmas Diary Part 1

Christmas Diary Part 1

The first week of December marks the beginning of what, for many of us, is the most frantic month of the year.  Loads of Christmas things to do, but the normal day-to-day work doesn’t conveniently take a pause and so we often find ourselves overloaded.  I’m no different to most, so as the new Month rolled in I knew it was going to be hectic.

On Monday I was at work here in Wisbech, and in the evening I had a NECCA Officer’s Meeting to attend (something of an eye-opener, that one.)  Tuesday I was in Hertfordshire at my factory there, and in the evening I was at the Newton & Tydd Conservatives Christmas Meeting (and very pleasant it was too, as we have snacks and drinks alongside the regular business.)

On Wednesday I had several conflicting duties to attend and it was a challenge to decide which were more urgent than which.  The evening featured several visits to see constituents who had issues they needed help with in both Medworth and Peckover.

Thursday I had to travel to Kings Lynn for two meetings there as part of a project I’m working on (more about that in the New Year) but I did get the evening off to spend some time with the family and the only early night of the week.

Friday I spent the day working on the accounts of two of my businesses and chasing up debts, but had to rush off in the late afternoon to attend a meeting in March of the 20Twenty Productions group (with whom I am a trustee.)  I drove immediately from that to the Alexandra Road Conservative Club where I was the quizmaster for a Fundraising Christmas Quiz with supper and drinks.  That was a great evening and a big “Thank you!” to all the people who came along, participated, and made it such fun.  Commiserations to the Farmer Team – who almost always win quizzes but who were pipped at the post (literally on a tie breaker point) by the Brunton Collective.

On Saturday I had business as a DJ; first at a Child’s birthday party, then straight on to run the disco for the Newton Village Free Family Disco.  No rest for the wicked Tory because I was then straight on again to the King’s Head for my final gig there of the year – good turnouts at all the events and I enjoyed them though I was shattered by the time I finally got home.

I was up early this morning to get some household chores done and try and finish my December Councillor’s newsletter – which I hope to put out next week.  This afternoon I was invited to attend a Carol Service at St. Augustine’s Church on Lynn Road.  It was a lovely event, well attended and supported.  It has a beautiful atmosphere in that particular church, even more so on a dark December afternoon with dozens of Christmas Trees all around (they have a Christmas Tree Festival ongoing) and glitting Christmas Lights.  I enjoyed it very much and would like to thank Julie Mills who invited me.

This evening I have a meeting with a Town Councillor who shall not be named.  Yet.  The meeting is to finalise some paperwork.  There may be a surprise coming.  :)

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Light Extravaganza

Christmas Light Extravaganza

The Christmas Light Extravaganza had a lot of hype to live up to.  From the soundings on the street and on Facebook it did just that.  A truly phenomenal event, latest estimates have the crowd at three thousand strong – by far the largest ever for a Wisbech Christmas Lights event.  The atmosphere was really very special – older people and younger people, English people and Eastern Europeans, families and couples and individuals in a sea of excitement, good will and merriment.  If you weren’t there, then I’m sorry for you – because it was Wisbech at its truly finest.

We should remember that none of this happens on it’s own.  It takes a team of amazing volunteers and dedicated local people who put in many hours of very hard work.  It’s impossible to name them all but we must not forget Cllr Samantha Hoy (Chairman of the Festivals Committee), Cllr David Oliver, Cllr Jessica Oliver and Barbara Oliver (the Oliver Family are priceless and are behind the scenes on so much good that happens in town), Jonathan and Susanah Farmer, Angie from Tinfish who volunteered so much of her own time, money and resources (the Town has no greater supporter), Cllr Sam Clark who was around all day to help, the amazing team of stewards who sold tickets enthusiastically and handed out mince pies cheerily and helped lost children find their parents throughout the afternoon.  The Frozen Princesses and their entourage, who were like rock stars today.  The entire Tanfield family.  Aigars Balsevics (Landlord of The Angel, the Kings Head and The Three Tuns) and his team of Eastern European muscle men, who lifted and moved and leapt to help any time anything needed doing as though energy were something they had bottomless resources of.   David Gutteridge (aka The Viking) who single-handedly sold nearly 200 draw tickets before the event even began and who worked like a trooper all day.  Terry Jordan (Town Clerk) who provided such boundless good spirit and enthusiasm from dawn ’til dusk.   Cllr Stevo Brunton – who is always there to nurse wounds and treat injuries, should they occur.  The Lions who provided help, organisation and – Santa!  The Globe, Costa Coffee, Loafers and the other businesses who extended their opening hours and who decorated to add their own cheer to the town.  Particularly to Cats Pajamas and the lovely ladies who run it – who were part of the Festivals Committee and gave selflessly of their time and resources to help the event succeed.  I’m sure i’ve forgotten some people, but it wasn’t deliberate.  There are just so many great people.  The Mayor and Mayoress who brought joy to the Festival, the wonderful performers who shone on the stage, the pantomime people, Cllr Reg Mee and his excellent band, the sound and light crew, the electricians who installed all the light fixtures in such a short space of time, and the many Town Councillors who turned out to work with us today.  This town has such a great team.

But, as ever, the real thanks go to the people of Wisbech and district.  Who may occasionally be grumpy and may occasionally be demanding and are quite often cynical – but who never miss a chance like this to provide energy, enthusiasm and spirits bright enough to light up the dark Fen landscape, long may they continue to do so.  This is why this town is so very awesome.  Thank you all.  Merry Christmas!

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View of the stage.

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Another one.

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The Christmas tree.  Cool, huh? :)

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Massive Crowds.

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More massive crowds.

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The funfair area.

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A legendary mythical creature.  The Jamie Edwards.

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The Viking and Cllr Stephen Brunton

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Tanfields and friends.

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More Tanfields.  Cllr Michelle and Richard.

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Cllr Sam Hoy and Cllr Sam Clark.

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Aigars Balsevics, purveyor of mulled wine and strong volunteers.

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Happy people.

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Cllr Sam Hoy and Angie from Tinfish.

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More Happy People.

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Even More Happy People.

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Even More Happy People.

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Even More Happy People.

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Even More Happy People.

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Even More Happy People.

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Even More Happy People.

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Cllr Sam Clark, the Mayor and Mayoress, the wonderful Sandra Skinner.

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Some colourful characters, with me.  :)

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Sam Hoy & the Frozen Princesses.  Dreams can come true. :)

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More happy people, of which I am one.

It’s That Time Again

It’s That Time Again

I’ve not blogged for a few days because it’s been one of those crazy busy weeks.  I’m busy on almost all fronts.  Work is hectic, my new enterprises are also quite demanding at the moment, I’ve got lots of Councillor casework to get my teeth into and this is the time of year when there are lots of events to attend also.

This week I’ve been all over the place what with a trip to London and another to Hertfordshire, helping Steve Barclay deliver surveys to my District Ward and trying to resolve some tricky problems in both Medworth and Peckover.

On Friday night I was in my old stomping grounds, Roman Bank, Gorefield to be specific – as the quizmaster for a fundraising quiz in support of the Fenrats.  It was nice to see all my old friends again and we had a giggle.  On Saturday evening I was at another fundraiser – also in Roman Bank – this time Newton.  A different bunch of old pals but just as enjoyable a time.

Of course tomorrow is the “big day” since it’s the Christmas Light Switch On in Wisbech.  I’ll be out from dawn ’til dusk, lugging stuff around, being a steward, putting stuff away, and helping make sure the event runs smoothly and hopefully successfully.  I’m excited about the new lights, which I haven’t seen “on” yet but which look promising in their “off” state.  Given that this is only Phase 1, it still looks like we’re going to get a significantly improved show.  It feels a little like a “legacy” – mostly because the opposition and their friends in the local press tried so hard to stop it happening but the people of Wisbech absolutely did not agree with them.  In the end, the vote was clear, the policy rushed forwards and goodness I hope it all works out well!  No doubt there will still be some folk who aren’t happy – there always is.  But we listened, to asked and we actioned.  What more can you do?

Christmas is just about here.  Have a very very merry one!  It’s that time again. :)

xmas

Something Of A Convenience

Something Of A Convenience

Normally, if you see two shifty blokes hanging around outside a public toilet you might be suspicious as to their motives.  But Dear Reader, there is no need for you to be concerned.  Sometimes, it is simply two local UKIP Councillors officially marking the opening of a public convenience.  Okay, it had already been officially opened some hours earlier and so the only way they were going to really be able to “open” it would be if they had handy access to a DeLorean and a Flux Capacitor, but you know what they say.  It’s the thought that counts.

But there is something terribly sad about a pair of Councillors, after apparently not being invited to the actual opening ceremony, mocking up a fake “opening ceremony” for a public toilet.  Apparently, both of them had “done a lot” to get it re-opened.  So the Wisbech Standard says and I have no reason to believe it is not true.  Some might suggest that all they did was write a letter to the ‘paper and claim to write a letter to the Health Secretary.  Some might even point out that the Horsefair had already said it had every intention of re-opening the toilets.  But it’s good news the loos are open again and if photo ops are your thing, what better place than outside the Gents on a sunny afternoon?

I hope they washed their hands.


Image Copyright Wisbech Standard, original article here.

Trojan Horse

Trojan Horse

In history, the Trojan Horse is a tale of trickery in which the Greeks managed to enter the city of Troy and win the war against their enemies.  After a long and fruitless siege they finally succeeded by constructing a huge wooden horse, in which they hid a select force of men.  The Greeks then pretended to leave and the residents of Troy haplessly wheeled the horse inside, thinking it was a parting gift or something from their defeated enemies.  That evening the force crept out of the horse and opened the gates for the rest of the Greek army and bob’s ‘yer uncle.

I’ve always thought it a pretty unlikely story.  You’d have to be pretty stupid to fall for it really.  But as a metaphor, it’s interesting.

The metaphor is that a Trojan Horse represents a trick or plan which managed to move an agent of one force into the territory of another, thereby allowing said agent to undermine and inflict damage upon the opponents.

The computer world adopted the same term to refer to a malicious piece of computer code which tricks a computer user into running it – whereupon it sets about opening a virtual door so that other software can come in and do damage.

In every respect though, the Trojan Horse is a ploy which can only work with the willing (if foolish) cooperation of the “enemy” or target.  Like the legend of the traditional Vampire, it can’t hurt you if you don’t invite it in.  But once you do invite it in, who knows what it might do?

reckless and carswell
Hat tip and (c) The Times for this image.
Original article can be viewed here.