I Feel Sorry For Roger Lord

I Feel Sorry For Roger Lord

I feel sorry for Roger Lord.  It’s not often I feel sorry for UKIP people, but I do feel sorry for him.  What has happened to him is beyond rotten.  It is a complete mystery to me how Nigel Farage is able to get away with it.  If it happened in my party there would be a civil war.  But it wouldn’t happen in the Conservatives because the Conservatives may have some practices which aren’t perfect, and may sometimes take their grass roots members a little too “for granted,” but they do understand the importance of local members selecting their candidates and of the candidacy then being closed, barring some dramatic turn like a criminal offence or death.

Roger Lord, for those who don’t know, is the poor guy who had been selected as the UKIP candidate for Clacton.  I don’t know UKIP’s precise procedures for selecting candidates, but I presume this was done in the proper way with a hustings and members attending and a vote at the end.  Apparently this fellow has been working and campaigning for UKIP for seventeen years – which is astonishing if you bear in mind that most people didn’t even know they existed before a few years ago.  Once he had been selected he should have been safe in the knowledge that this wasn’t going to change unless he resigned, went to prison, or was subject to some other unusual and debilitating turn of events.

Instead, Nigel Farage saw the opportunity to win over a Conservative and seems to have just said: “You can have this seat.  Don’t worry about what the Members or the sitting candidate say.  It’s yours.”  Didn’t even have the courtesy to tell the poor bloke, who apparently found out with everybody else when it hit the news.

If that happened to me I’d be absolutely raging furious.  Wouldn’t you?  If Farage had approached Roger Lord and politely asked if he would step aside that might have been a start.  But he didn’t.  And even then, Roger Lord didn’t select himself for the seat.  He was selected by the Members.  Apparently they don’t get a say when Nigel Farage is wielding his Rod Of Lordly Power.

I can see that this is a great opportunity for UKIP.  But there is a proper way of doing things.  In this case Farage should have first approached Roger Lord and appraised him of the situation, asking for his views.  He could then have asked him politely if he might be willing to step aside.  If Roger Lord was amenable, then Nigel Farage could have called an Extraordinary Meeting of the local UKIP Association (or whatever their equivalent is) and addressed all activists and Members explaining what was going on, explaining that Roger Lord was on board, and seeking their approval for his plan.  But that would have completely scuppered his chance to grab publicity with the element of surprise and get one over on David Cameron.  So with a choice to do the right thing, or the thing that got him the most publicity, he chose the latter.

But never mind – apparently there is an “adjacent constituency” that Roger Lord is going to be “given.”  Except, read the small print, he’s not being “given” it at all, but invited to apply as a candidate and if he does so to get “Nigel Farage’s full support.”  So either this means that Farage is so sure that he is The Law that his “full support” means certain victory, or his consolation prize for Roger Lord is to send him tumbling backwards to have a do-over of the parts he thought he’d already won.  I bet he’s thinking: “Yippee!  You’re so good to me.”

Maybe UKIP Members don’t care about this stuff?  Maybe Nigel Farage is allowed to just do whatever he fancies like some latter day Caesar, throwing yesterday’s candidates to the lions.  It seems pretty rotten to me.  I’m also amazed that Douglas Carswell would want to win selection in such a rum way.  Or maybe he didn’t realise?  In which case, welcome to UKIP Mr. Carswell.  This is how things are done.  Having fun yet?

Skewed Market Sunbed Selection

Skewed Market Sunbed Selection

Long time readers may remember I posted a piece about how the sunbed selection on last year’s Turkish holiday was pretty close to being a perfect example of a free market.

This year’s Tunisian vacation has given me the opportunity to update that a little, since the Sahara Beach Hotel practices a slightly different system which is a pretty good example of its own.

So the rules of the Market in Tunisia were broadly similar to those in Turkey, as were the times people were prepared to go hunting.  10.00 and you were stuck in some terrible location or on  the beach.  8.00 and you’d get a bed, but not in a popular location.  7.00 You were going to have a choice of about half the sunbeds, but none of the really good locations.  6.30 and you were in a small but dedicated number and would get beds in a good location.  5.45 and you were one of the elite dozen or so who would get the absolutely prime spots.

But regular complaints from holidays makers about the need to get up early to reserve sunbeds had pushed the hotel into implementing a regulation on what would otherwise be a free market.  We were warned about this on the first day by staff who told us that it was “forbidden to reserve sunbeds before 7AM” and that staff would remove towels and other items left on sunbeds before that time and they would be taken to lost property.”

I found this fascinating, in the way that only a political and economics nerd could.  There are so many parallels.  Without any interruption we had here a perfect and utterly fair mechanism for allowing the distribution of sunbeds and “good” locations.  Those prepared to go to the most effort would get the best beds in the best spots.  Those who valued their sleep more than a sunbed could choose not to bother.  It was an utterly balanced competition where nobody had an unfair advantage in any serious way.

But those who couldn’t be bothered to participate and felt they “deserved” some portion of use of a limited resource demanded that rules be put in place to skew the market and favour their position.  This is what always happens, in one way or another.  And again, as always happens, the rules didn’t do what they set out to do.  Instead, they made the situation worse.  For everybody.

So this is what happened.  Traditionally you’d get up at the crack of dawn, dump your towers to save your place, then stumble back to bed with the grin of a modern day hunter-gatherer as you drifted back to sleep for another hour or two.  But now, those elite hunters couldn’t do this as they’d lose their towels.  Instead, they had to sit there, from whatever unearthly time they had gotten up until 7.00AM passed, guarding their towels from the unwelcome attentions of staff.  You see, a staff member cannot come and remove stuff from where you are sitting.

So what had been achieved?  The really determined sunbed hunters now had an even more irritating task on their hands.  It didn’t stop them, it just made them really grumpy and put a damper on their vacation.  It also made them surly and irritated with everybody else throughout the day.  Everybody else, on the other hand, were in exactly the same boat as they had been before the new regulation.  Nothing changed for them at all, despite promises that this new rule would free them from their sunbed woes.  In fact, some who foolishly believed the lies they were spun completely failed to get any decent bed for the first couple of days because they took the hotel at its word.  The regulation itself became something of a laughing stock because it was so ineffectual.

The situation was summed up by a French gentleman I was speaking to one morning who said, in perfect English: “We wanted to avoid this brief but tiresome task, but instead we must now sit here for hours. Thank you Sahara Beach.”

Another lady said to me: “I don’t know why they just don’t ban entry to the sunbed areas completely until 7AM – that would solve all of this.”  I didn’t have the heart to tell her that three years ago, in Benidorm, I stayed in a hotel called Magic Rock Gardens which practised exactly this system.  My wife still tells tales about what she calls “The Great Running Of The Bulls.”  Crowds of people, armed with towels and foul tempers, crammed into a tiny corridor waiting for the lock to be undone at the “opening time” so they could kick, punch, trample and race each other to the beds of their choice.  Not ideal at all.

I Won’t Lie About Douglas Carswell

I Won’t Lie About Douglas Carswell

There are a number of MPs I admire, including my own MP Steve Barclay.  But for many years my favourite MP has been Douglas Carswell.  I met him at Conference in 2009 and purchased a copy of the book he wrote with Dan Hannan MEP, “The Plan”, a book which I have read many times and which I still believe is a defining piece of political philosophy.  It’s worth noting that Dan Hannan is also my favourite MEP.  I have heard them both speak on numerous occasions and it is rare that I disagree with anything either of them say.  I do sometimes, but it’s rare.

It was Douglas Carswell’s blog which gave me the itch to start my own blog.  It was Douglas Carswell’s ideas on the relationship between the State and the Individual, the importance of localism, the vital role of politicians in being representatives of the voice of the electorate, which has influenced my own ideas.

Today there is the news that Douglas Carswell has defected to UKIP and is standing down to force a by-election in his seat, where he will stand as both the sitting MP and the UKIP candidate.  It’s not easy to express how depressed I feel about this.  One of my favourite journalists and writers, James Delingpole, went over to the dark side a year or two ago and I felt that was a tragedy.  But this, for me, is on a whole other scale.

Several times on this blog I have expressed the idea that the country seems to be going mad and that it was going to get worse before it got better.  I still think this is true.  There is a disconnect between elected individuals and the people they represent which has been simmering for years.  It is a recipe liberally spiced with the parliamentary expenses scandal, with the uncontrolled immigration levels made possible by our membership of the EU and encouraged by the previous Labour administration.  The pot is regularly stirred by a predatory, desperate and immoral media, many of whom seem to care nothing about the truth anymore, but only about the next colourful and exaggerated or misleading headline.

I won’t lie about Douglas Carswell.  I am gutted.  I won’t be following him, in case anybody thinks that is where I’m going with this blog post.  I feel UKIP are a racist and truly evil party whose rise in UK politics is a blot on our proud nation.  But the other parties are partly to blame for all this.  We all sowed the seeds for this shadow to fall upon us.  All the parties ignored the warnings, sneered at the concerns, pretended there was no such thing as social damage.  Any damage the rise of UKIP does weighs equally heavy on the shoulders of all national politicians.

The loss of Douglas Carswell is, I feel, significant.  This is a fiercely bright, philosophical and original thinker, a man of integrity and honour.  Losing him is a huge blow to the Conservatives and a massive gain for UKIP.  David Cameron and his team should hang their heads in shame for letting it come to this.  I believe Douglas Carswell will come to regret his decision.  But any thinking Conservative should already be regretting it, in my opinion.  It is a bleak day for us.


Observations On A Vacation

Observations On A Vacation

Having just returned from my Summer Hols I am filled with ideas for blog posts that will no doubt trickle out over the next couple of weeks and be greeted by enthusiastic disinterest that always tends to happen whenever I write about things that aren’t spicy local politics. :)  But for now there are these simple observations, based on things I’ve noticed while I’ve been away.

  • East Midlands Airport has become a victim of its own success and lost its mojo.
  • Anybody who thinks that “smoking is on its way out” is deluded.  As soon as the artificial barriers are removed, it seems almost everybody smokes.  Hate to break it to you Public Health, your dreams of a smoke-free nation are just that.  Dreams.  In a 3000-population resort it seems about half the residents were keen regular smokers whether they be from France, Germany, Italy, Tunisia, Belgium, Holland or England.  Sorry.  Maybe opposing E-Cigarettes wasn’t such a bright idea?
  • Jellyfish stings are not funny.
  • You can spend whole days in Tunisian cities and towns, wandering about the back streets gawking at amazing things, and still nobody tries to behead you.  I know this is contrary to popular opinion, but everybody you meet is pretty nice most of the time.
  • A conversation with an interesting Tunisian man revealed this rather pertinent gem: “You Westerners think we want Democracy?  Most people don’t care about what you call democracy, because we know it means a new group of people who will immediately do away with democracy.  What we want is less corruption and lower taxes.  The man who started what you call the Arab Spring when he set himself on fire was not protesting the lack of democracy.  He was protesting because the taxes on his business had been increased and too much of his earnings were being taken from him.  We want to keep what we earn so we can feed our families.”
  • Tunisian people have an astonishing work ethic which would put most Westerners to shame.
  • Vegetarians will probably not enjoy Tunisian butcher’s shops.  I mean, even more than they don’t enjoy British Butcher’s shops.
  • Purist Libertarians who think there should be no planning laws should visit Tunisia and see what happens when you allow anybody to build anything on anywhere as long as they can afford the government taxation and fees.
  • Teaching your Son to do a backwards dive is actually even more satisfying when he is immediately doing it more elegantly than you ever have.
  • Leather waistcoats rule.  You do not have to be in the Village People to sport one, as will shortly be seen. :)
  • Doing the “Ice Bucket Challenge” in Tunisia will not earn you any indigenous fans.
  • British people seem to be the only European or African nation that truly understands queueing.  However, we are so good at it that our enthusiasm is infectious.

Making Better Policy

Making Better Policy
(This article featured first on Facebook, on the Wisbech Discussion Forum.)

A couple of months ago I was talking to a local Councillor, who I will not name because it was a comment made privately in confidence. But what that Councillor said is such a perfect example of where I believe we go wrong in Wisbech that I wanted to relay it.

We were talking about a policy which I didn’t think was a good idea and this Councillor said to me: “Well it probably won’t work. But people raise this issue with us all the time and we have to be seen to be doing something or people lose faith.”

I should add that this Councillor said this in an absolutely straight manner and I genuinely have no doubt that it was meant with good intentions. But I just think this is so wrong. When people raise an important serious issue, you cannot just implement a policy in order to be “seen” to be doing something.

This may, in the short term, renew some faith in a Council. But when the Policy doesn’t work, or isn’t enforced, or turns out to have unforseen consequences which are worse than what you had before, ultimately MORE damage is done to the reputation of local government.

We often accuse Councillors of chasing headlines and sometimes that is true. Sometimes it’s even *necessary* – because how else do you counter the common election time lament: “We only ever see you when you want our vote.” But I think that often it may be a case of people just hearing similar complaints and being so frustrated at not being able to help that they’ll grab at ANY straw to avoid the accusations of impotence.

This is just a personal view and many will disagree. But I think we’re all to blame. Local people for often choosing to believe the worst, local Councillors for taking what appears to be an “easy option” but turns out to be anything but, and local opponents for being quick to score points on one another.

What I don’t understand is why it’s so hard to think through a policy logically and, having balanced the facts in a sensible way, say “on balance will this makes things better, or worse?” Instead of just putting up a shield when somebody makes an honest criticism of your idea. I think we’d make much better policy that way.

Based On A True Story

Based On A True Story

I enjoyed this article from the Wisbech Standard.  http://www.wisbechstandard.co.uk/news/zebra_crossing_takes_step_closer_for_lethal_location_1_3724760   Get it from a library near you soon, possibly erroneously filed in the Epic Fantasy section, or maybe “based on a true story.”   :)

I particularly liked:

But it was the zebra crossing scheme, pushed by Councillors Paul Clapp and Robert MacLaren, which won the council’s backing.”

It’s funny because never once during all this “pushing” at the Town Council Meeting did they even mention the bid until I raised the issue.  Instead they seemed to be “pushing” the 20MPH Zone bid which people had previously been told (by Cllrs Bucknor & Bucknor) was never going to be an LHI bid.  I must be getting confused as I get older, I guess.  Perhaps “pushing” has a wider meaning now?  Maybe whispering with your colleagues from the Independent “Group” while looking panicky counts as “pushing?”  Who knows?

I stood up and said: “How can you possibly be backing this 20MPH Zone bid when you’ve taken the Kirkgate issue to County Council, and been published (twice) in the newspaper for doing so?  Didn’t all that mean anything at all?  I am going to support the Kirkgate bid and so should you, since you collected signatures for it for goodness sake!”  They had the decency to look a little chagrined.

Then later, Cllr Paul Clapp (UKIP) who has recently joined Twitter (user name mintyfresh, or something) tweeted:


@woodlandsandrew ok thanks for that good to c u too we forced the blue people to put a crossing in walsoken they passed it tonight

So it appears that Cllr Paul Clapp has played a Vulcan Mind Trick on me and made me his unwitting pawn.  By not putting a bid in, not mentioning a bid and not raising the bid in his words to Town Council he has “pushed me” into doing his bidding.  I had no idea he had this level of subtle manipulative power.  He’s missed his vocation as a stage hypnotist.  I just wish next time they wanted to “force” something they’d actually file the paperwork for it, rather than leaving me to do it.  That’d certainly save me some time.

He also tweeted:

the walsoken crossing was voted unanimously by wisbech tc as the scheme that they would like to succeed well done Rob and Will.

I’m guessing the “Rob” he refers to is Rob McLaren.  The only “Will” I think he could mean is Will Lewis, the local gentleman who originally asked for the crossing and who worked with Cllr. McLaren and Cllr. Clapp on the petition and appeared in the photo with them in the newspaper.  I’m sure Will Lewis is very appreciative of their efforts.  But notice the newspaper didn’t seek a comment from him?  The lead member of the public who called for the whole project.  Do you think that’s odd?  Why wouldn’t they want a comment from a member of the public who led on the issue now that the project has been green lit?  Curious, huh?

In some ways this is a good thing.  Let them take over the bidding process now, since they claim it was their bid.  It’ll be nice to see them do some work.  But I hope they get it done soon, because any amendments must be in very shortly and if they mess it up, it won’t go any further.

Twenty Is Running On Empty

Twenty Is Running On Empty

I thought I’d give a quick rundown on events regarding the Independent “Group” / UKIP’s  “Twenty Is Plenty” Campaign that finally got debated at Wisbech Town Council last night.  For those who have no idea what all this about, you’ll probably struggle to follow this post.  Sorry, but it’s gotten kinda complicated.  The issue had been postponed twice, both times as a result of requests from the Independent “Group.”  But, as it turned out, it had to be discussed tonight because the deadline of the Minor Highways Fund is fast approaching.

I expect those who have been following this sorry tale will now be asking: “Minor Highways?  But what has that got to do with it?  Didn’t those Independents say quite a few times that it wasn’t going to be a Minor Highways bid?”  And well you might ask.  Because as I pointed out six months ago, and three months ago, and before they did their petition, and after they did their petition – the Minor Highways Fund was the only game in town.  It had to come from there and talk of “other funds” was just a dream within a dream.

There are a few simple facts and put together they are collectively known as “the truth.”  Those who actually care about The Truth have been pointing this out, patiently, for some time.  Others have attempted to mislead, obfuscate and befuddle.  But the thing about The Truth is that is does always come out in the end.  And come out it has.

So, the Independent Group declared that the 20′s Plenty Campaign would be a Minor Highways Bid just like it obviously always was going to be despite denials.  At which point, since Wisbech Town Council can only put in one bid, it was in direct conflict with the bid for a pedestrian crossing in Walsoken.  This is the same pedestrian crossing that was previously the subject of a petition by Cllr Rob McLaren IND and Cllr Paul Clapp UKIP, that was presented to the Highways Committee at County Council (who also suggested it should go through Minor Highways) and was the subject of photo opportunities for all and sundry Independents and Allies in their local pet publication.

I should point out that even at this stage the Walsoken bid had not been put in.  Despite promises and petitions and grandiose statements – nobody had bothered to fill in the paperwork and submit the bid.  So Cllr Garry Tibbs and I did so and invited Cllr. McLaren to join us in proposing it.  No doubt we will be accused of doing this for “political gain.”  We did not.  We did it because so many of the public don’t have a clue about which party is which, or which council is which and it’s disgusting to continually raise their hopes for action and change only to fail to deliver anything.  I would have honestly liked to be proved wrong and find the proposal ready for submission at the meeting, but I prepared one myself just in case.  Luckily so, it would seem.

So what a conundrum for the Independent Group!  It seemed they were ready to make a stand on their “Twenty Is Plenty” bid and UKIP were there supporting them in the public area when suddenly they find themselves having to choose between two different proposals which their “group” had put forwards.  First Cllr Michael Bucknor suggested we put both bids through – thereby passing the decision to the hands of Councillors who may not even live in the area and avoiding taking a position.  But when the Clerk pointed out that only one bid can be assessed that was scuppered  So then they wanted to vote on “one bid at a time”, naturally with the “20s Plenty” one first.   The logic here was obvious – try and salvage their tattered plans by framing the Conservatives as “the people who voted against 20′s plenty” and avoid the situation they had created.  But more importantly to avoid having to vote against the Kirkgate bid and reveal that they had deliberately pushed another bid rather than support the one some of them had garnered much publicity for.  I pointed out that this was duplicitous.  The choice here was quite simply one bid or the other and that was what we should vote on – one bid or the other.  But they pushed for single votes.  No big deal to me, since I’ve been opposed to their scheme since the outset and publicly so – but a little unfair to those Members who felt 20′s Plenty had some merit but that it was wrong to put it before the well-supported Walsoken bid.

The end result was that 20′s Plenty was voted out and the Walksoken Crossing Bid was put through as the Town’s Minor Highways proposal for 2014.  It was eventually proposed by Cllr Garry Tibbs and seconded (to his credit) by Cllr Rob McLaren.  I did point out that the Bucknors and their fellow travellers could put the bid in themselves for 2o’s Plenty simply by forming a “community group” and raising some cash.  They still have a few weeks – it’s entirely possible to do it.  And it should be easy if they are telling the truth about their “consultations” – they informed Town Council they had extensively canvassed Waterlees and Cllr Patrick said he had extensively canvassed Kirkgate and that in both cases they had “overwhelming support” for the proposal.  They also said that people who didn’t think there was “overwhelming” support were “living in a bubble.”

Anyway, I doubt that if this appears in the local newspapers there’ll be much in the way of actual facts included.  The previous error-strewn article, apparently published with no fact-checking exactly as received from the opposition.  But The Truth is The Truth and it does eventually come out, no matter how powerful or deceptive some sources are to try and avoid that happening.  A very brief check of the history of this will quickly reveal where the consistent truth has come from and from whence the smoke and mirrors.

Talk Is Cheap

Talk Is Cheap

I received a tweet from local newspaper editor John Elworthy yesterday taking me to task for a couple of lines in my blog post about the Rock Festival.  This was the part he was angry about:

We all rolled up at the crack of dawn – or some unearthly time on a Sunday that felt like the crack of dawn – ready to set up the Rock Festival.  And when I say “we all” I obviously am not referring to any lazy, inept or just plain bone idle “never shows” whose idea of being a Councillor is getting their face in the paper quite often.

And this is what he said about it:

It just strikes me as spiteful and unnecessary that’s all to resort to such language. Your choice of course.

There are several things I find a little odd about this conversation.  The first is that it is unclear who he is aggrieved on behalf of?  My blog post doesn’t name anybody as lazy, inept or plain bone idle but simply suggests that there are some Councillors who might fit that bill somewhere.  I doubt many people would disagree with that.  Clearly, from my description, he thinks he recognises someone, which I thought was interesting, but when I asked him who he recognises he declined to say.  So I remain unclear quite who the victim of this apparent “unnecessary spite” is.

The second thing is that for a newspaper which, time and again, seems to publish whatever certain members of the local opposition say without seeming to do even a cursory investigation of the actual facts, it’s a bit cheeky to start pointing fingers.  Further, that on many occasions that same newspaper has published things about others which I and others would call “unnecessarily spiteful.”  Quite often with me as the target, though I’ve long since given up expecting any integrity or professionalism in that respect.

Frankly, I don’t think it is either unnecessary or “spiteful” to point out that there are folks out there who don’t have the faintest interest in doing the job they were elected to do.  Folk who accuse others of “being political” when they are in fact the most “political” people I’ve ever met.  Folks whose every move, every judgement call, every decision seems based on one thing and one thing only – getting publicity to help their re-election.  Spiteful?  Too strong?  I don’t think it’s anywhere near strong enough.  This is everything that is wrong with politics.  Spin spin spin, in cooperation with a pliant and biased media, delivering nothing more than hot air and bad photographs.

Wisbech Rock Festival 2014

Wisbech Rock Festival 2014

We all rolled up at the crack of dawn – or some unearthly time on a Sunday that felt like the crack of dawn – ready to set up the Rock Festival.  And when I say “we all” I obviously am not referring to any lazy, inept or just plain bone idle “never shows” whose idea of being a Councillor is getting their face in the paper quite often.  No, I am referring to the people who turn out, time after time, without fail, in any weather.  Sam Hoy, Garry Tibbs, David Oliver and his whole Family, Michelle Tanfield, Reg Mee, Stephen Brunton, Jonathan & Susannah Farmer, Hannah Campagna, Aigers Balsevics and his Eastern European Volunteer Team.

But disaster struck.  The rain was pounding down, the skies were black, we were all drenched and everybody was hoping that maybe, just maybe, all those dire weather forecasts were wrong and it might brighten up.  We set up the stage, the barriers, the PA guys were hard at work wiring the sound system.

Come Eleven-Thirty the rain had been joined by a powerful wind.  Most of the stalls hadn’t shown up and the fairground guys – who provide the power for us all – were concerned they were going to get stranded in the mud.  It wasn’t looking good and then the death knell sounded when the safety team advised that it was now too dangerous to proceed.  Although the P.A. was fairly waterproof, the band’s equipment would not be.  The wind was blowing the rain straight onto the stage leading to risks of electrocution and slippery surfaces.  Drenched and tired already, we had to face the fact that we could not proceed and would have to cancel.

A brief discussion led by Sam Hoy resulted in our deciding to try and move to an inside venue.  It was incredibly short notice and there were thousands of pounds worth of kit to be moved.  But cancelling meant losing the investment in the entire event and letting the music lovers of Wisbech down.  A number of major venues were complete wash-outs, no pun intended, their bureaucracy or risk aversion meaning we couldn’t move there.  (Their loss, I feel.)  We got a generous offer from The Woodmans, in Gorefield, who deserve praise for saying: “Bring it all here, we’ll make it happen.”  And we would have done, but it was a little far out to be sure the public would all get there.  Luckily, the Queen Mary Centre stepped up and offered their venue even at this incredible short notice.

Suddenly we were all rushing around, breaking down the equipment we’d already set up, loading things into cars and lorries and anything with wheels and an engine.  How on Earth we managed to shift everything from the Town Park to the QMC in an hour I will never know.  Unbelievable awesome volunteers, I think, were the solution – alongside the most professional, helpful and reasonable sound system guys it has ever been my pleasure to meet and work with.

Social Media came to life – with Facebook lighting up with news of the move.  All the forums and discussion boards were helpful, particularly “Wisbech Oh Dear” and the Wisbech Discussion Forum.   John Elworthy got the move publicised on the Wisbech Standard’s website which was excellent.  Twitter crackled and buzzed with the news.

And at about 2PM the opening power chords of Kamikaze Hotshots boomed from the mighty speakers through a busy and excited hall at the Queen Mary Centre.  It was time to rock.

*All pictures supplied by Cllr Garry Tibbs

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I don’t think I have ever experienced quite such a positive vibe at a Wisbech event as was evident throughout the day.  The bands were really varied, from the slick rock n’ rollers of Gifford to the country folk rock of Rattleshack.  From the smooth delivery of The Merlins to the “in your face” rebel rock of Death Radio.  On the internet, the buzz was excellent with attendees saying how much they were enjoying the day.  The only sour note was a tiny handful of moaners – most of whom were not in attendance – the same people who can always be counted on to moan about everything everywhere.  Their grumpy grumbling was broadly drowned out, which I think is a good thing.  There are some folks who are just not happy until others are unhappy.

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The free face-painting was much enjoyed by the young and older alike.  I even had my own face painted with a bolt of lightning over my eye and some letters and words that tickled me at the time.


The Mayor, Michael Hill, and his lovely wife Jane, both stayed for the entire day.  They were such good sports and later in the event both could be seen wearing the Wisbech Rock Festival T-Shirts with their chains over the top.  When the compère pointed this out they got a massive cheer from the audience.  Some other towns may have Mayors who wouldn’t be seen having fun at an event like this – but Wisbech has always been pretty good at finding Mayors who aren’t afraid to have a bit of fun with the people who live here.

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That delightful pink dome with the rabbit painted on it is none other than the town beadle.  What a dude! :)


Cllr Sam Hoy with a tiger face.  You’d not realise she had been working her butt off for the entire day, but she had!

Suzannah Farmer, Cllr David Oliver and Jess Oliver.  Love these guys.  Champions one and all.

Cllr Stephen Brunton, our St. John’s Ambulance First Aider, who gives up his free time to keep people safe and well and can always be counted on to help at town events.  On this day he helped a young lady who was taken suddenly ill, several other minor abrasions – and a Staffy dog which ran in from the thunder after having apparently bolted in the storm.  (Dog was successfully returned to his owner after being calmed down and given a bowl of water.)

Drew Cameron, Compère extraordinaire.

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Hannah Campagna with Drew Cameron.  Hannah, a newcomer to the Festivals Committee, handled the P.A. and sound people as well as so much more.  Her knowledge, experience and commitment to the town are second-to-none.


It is a shame I do not have a picture of Aigers Balsevics – proprietor of The Angel, the King’s Head and the Three Tuns.  Because he deserves to be recognised for doing so much to make the day a success.  Unfortunately, since he never stops moving and working long enough, nobody has a lens fast enough to catch him.  But trust me when I tell you that this man and his never-ending team of Eastern European volunteers are quite simply awesome.  We could not have made this happen without them.

What happened on this miserably wet Sunday was out of our hands.  We were already soaked and would have been happy to press on for whatever crowd braved the weather in wellies and macs but once the safety people said “no” that was that.  Except that from the ashes of potential disaster rose an off-the-cuff, last minute, scrabbled and rushed and thrown together replacement.  It wasn’t ideal, but we made the best of what we had and my goodness if it didn’t all work out rather well.  The day was a triumph and it was an absolutely thrill and a pleasure to have played some small part in it.  My hat goes off to all those wonderful volunteers who just would not give up, and to the organisers who rolled with the punches and came up swinging.  To the bands who played so well and entertained us so thoroughly.  And to the fine people of Wisbech who turned up, danced, sang and made merry until night fell.  More power to you!