Newsletter & Surgery – Oct 2015

Newsletter & Surgery

My November newsletter has been going out this week.  If you live in Medworth and don’t have a copy by the weekend, please let me know!

This Saturday 21st is my monthly Councillor Surgery. 3PM – 5PM in the Angel Inn on Alexandra Road, in the downstairs room (suitable for families.)

Free tea/coffee/cake/biscuits for Medworth residents.

Come, chat, discuss, suggest and report problems. Or just share a ‘cuppa.

Hope to see you there!

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Operation Hunter Tackles Burglary

Operation Hunter Tackles Burglary

(press release from the Police.)

RESIDENTS are being urged to check their home security to help prevent a rise in burglaries over the winter months.

Dwindling hours of daylight and the Christmas period often combine to result in more break-ins at homes in the county.

The force is prioritising burglary as part of a new campaign called Operation Hunter and is using all tactics available to reduce the number of crimes through prevention work and catching and putting offenders before the courts.

However, as part of the operation, detectives are also urging members of the public to do their bit by taking precautions and making their homes unattractive to burglars.
In the three months from August to October last year, there were 569 dwelling burglaries in the county, compared to 628 during the following three months (November-January), a rise of more than 10 per cent.

Detective Chief Inspector Mike Branston said: “Burglary is a top priority for the force because it leaves victims feeling vulnerable and can have a massive impact on their lives.

A series of burglaries in a particular area can also leave communities feeling vulnerable so we are committed to tackling this type of crime from all angles.

We are relentlessly targeting offenders but we also need the public’s help to make it as hard for the crooks as possible.

Taking security steps at home and remembering to always leave your windows and doors locked is a great start but we would also ask people to keep their eyes and ears open and report any suspicious activity to police.

Information we receive from the public is crucial and people should never hesitate to report something that appears unusual or suspicious in their neighbourhood.”
Residents are urged to:

  • Always keep doors and windows closed and locked or in a ventilated but locked position, even when they are inside the house.  Always check and lock doors with a key – never assume that just pushing up an internal handle will lock the door.
  • Remove keys from window and door locks, but keep them in a familiar and safe place where all members of the family know where to find them in the event of an emergency.
  • Never leave items such as keys, bags, presents and money on show through a window.
  • Consider the position of key racks or shelves next to a door and ensure that they cannot be reached through the letter box.
  • Use timer switches to turn on lights and radios when you are going to be away from your house at dusk.
  • Consider the use of lights at the front and rear of your property that are activated when someone approaches.
  • Consider the use of bolts and padlocks on side gates. Place the bolts at the top, middle and bottom of the gate, as just a top bolt might be easy to reach and open.
  • A visible intruder alarm box can prove to be one of the biggest deterrents to an opportunist burglar, so consider installing a DIY or supplier installed system.

Anyone with information should contact police on 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111or online at



There might be a terrorist, or even a few, amongst the genuine refugees. There might be a terrorist, or even a few, almost anywhere. We could throw every Muslim out of the country, or put them in concentration camps, or surround ourselves with barbed wire and armed soldiers.

This is exact what they want. Terror. The purpose of their acts are to spread fear, to breed hate, to make decent people afraid of their shadows and turn on one another.

Like most other people I was horrified by what happened. I have no sympathy with ISIS, I will not weep when they are killed and I don’t believe the world will miss them. I will support any proportionate and viable response, military or otherwise.

But all this talk about “closing our borders”, this is the seed of terror they have deliberately sown. We will not make ourselves safe by responding this way. We will be shivering and hiding behind our walls, while they laugh and laugh and laugh.

Hating every Muslim for the action of the nutters means they win. Isolating ourselves from the world while we cringe in fear means they win. Turning on one another means they win.

Yes, let’s increase our security. Yes, lets stand side by side with France and our friends and neighbours. Yes, let’s be vigilant. Yes, let’s have a strategy to take the fight to them and show them what real battle is like. But let’s not them terrify us into shutting ourselves away or losing the things that make us different to them. That plays right into their hands.

Final Meeting WTC 2015 – Minute’s Silence

Final Meeting WTC 2015 – Minute’s Silence

Wisbech Town Council has a tradition in it’s final meeting of the year. During that meeting a list of all the notable people around the world who have died is read out. Then, a list of local people who have passed away is read out (if their friends and family have asked the Town Council to do so.) These names are committed to the Town’s permanent record and then the Council stands for a minute’s silence to remember those named.

If you have a friend or relation who has passed away during 2015 who lived in Wisbech and would like their name included in the list and remembered in the minute’s silence please contact the Town Clerk with details. Please do consult other family and loved ones first, to be sure that they support the inclusion.

All Full Town Council meetings are public meetings and everybody is welcome to attend and remember those who have passed away with the Town Council.

Council goes ahead with Constantine House prosecution


Council goes ahead with Constantine House prosecution

Fenland District Council is pressing ahead with its prosecution of the owners of Constantine House in Wisbech.

They have been summonsed to appear at King’s Lynn Magistrates Court on December 2 after failing to comply with a Section 215 Notice requiring them to complete the necessary remedial works on the building by October 26.

Councillor David Oliver, the Cabinet member responsible for dilapidated buildings and enforcement, announced the decision to prosecute at the full Council meeting this afternoon (November 5).

He said: “As Members were informed last week, the owners of Constantine House in Wisbech have not complied with the Section 215 Notice requiring them to complete the necessary works by Monday, October 26, and they did not exercise their right to appeal the notice.

“Our legal team has subsequently reviewed the situation and I can now tell you that we are pressing ahead with a prosecution.

“A summons was sent to the owners on Tuesday this week [November 3], requiring them to attend court. The date for the first hearing has been set for Wednesday, December 2, at 10am at King’s Lynn Magistrates Court.

“We all recognise the significance of this building, which is in a key position in the town. It is important to remember that it is privately owned and that the full responsibility for the repairs rests with the owners.

“Over a long period we have done our utmost to work with the owners, as we do with all dilapidated buildings. All our efforts have been directed at finding the best and most effective way to get the required repairs completed.

“Despite an immense amount of hard work by council officers, we have not yet been able to get the owners to finish the essential works.

“We will now have to wait for the legal process to take its course. However, we continue to hope that the owners will comply with the requirements of the Notice.”

Cash on offer for groups to help service personnel


Cash on offer for groups to help service personnel

Local clubs or organisations whose work includes helping past or current members of the armed forces could be eligible for some extra funding.

They can find out more about what’s on  offer at a networking event later this month (November).

Grants of up to £20,000 are available through the Armed Forces Covenant to groups that support serving personnel, veterans and their families across a range of needs such as financial, housing, mental or physical health, employability and social support.

Other projects that could qualify include those that help to provide joined-up services to veterans who come into contact with the police, courts and prisons.

Fenland District Council and the Cambridge Council for Voluntary Service (CCVS) are holding a networking afternoon at Fenland Hall in March on Monday, November 30 (1-3pm), for groups interested in applying for this funding.

Councillor Simon King, FDC’s Cabinet member responsible for community partnerships, said: “This will be an opportunity to find out more about the funding and to share your organisation’s activities and funding needs. In particular, we want to explore ways in which groups might work together to improve their chances of success and to strengthen local services.

“Working in partnership with other groups could open up new opportunities for funding and make a real difference to members of the armed forces.”

Wisbech Christmas Fayre

Wisbech Christmas Fayre

November 2, 2015

Sunday and skating ‘firsts’ for Wisbech Christmas Fayre

For the first time, the annual Wisbech Christmas Fayre is taking place on a weekend – and all the preparations are well in hand.

Previously the fayre – one of Fenland District Council’s Four Seasons events – has been held on a weekday. But in a move designed to attract even bigger crowds than usual, this year’s will be on Sunday, December 13.

And in another “first”, the fair will feature a skating rink among its many attractions.

About 100 stalls will be spread across the whole town centre, including the Market Place, Horsefair, High Street and Church Terrace. Almost all of them have already been booked, offering all things festive.

There will be stacks of food and drink, including roasted chestnuts and speciality meats and cheeses, as well as handmade gifts and cards and Wisbech Castle will host a craft fair.

The Wisbech Rock Choir will be one of the groups providing musical entertainment, along with Chatteris singer-songwriter Holly Orridge, the Salvation Army Band, the Clarkson Singers and students from the Thomas Clarkson Academy.

Special attractions for children will include various rides, Santa’s sleigh, Elsa and Olaf from Frozen and live reindeer.

Peckover House will be staging a Christmas Celebration and St Peter’s Church will be the venue for Fenland District Council’s annual carol concert.

Free parking will be available at St Peter’s, Somers Road, Chapel Road and in the Horsefair.

Buildings Seminar

Buildings Seminar

I’m pleased that FDC have agreed to my Seminar proposal on Dilapidated Buildings and Enforcement, which is to take place next week.

This will give Councillors a chance to ask questions about the actual physical work required, rather than to rely on vague statements in high-level documents.

It will give Officers a chance to answer criticisms that members of the public and some Councillors have made.

With a bit of luck we should get the truth about the process revealed so that it can’t be used as an eternal football to kick around by people with an agenda. Or maybe what will be revealed is that not enough is being done.

Whichever, at least we should know where we are and Councillors will be able to challenge inappropriate rhetoric where it arises.

Retro UKIP Post

Retro UKIP Post

I don’t write a lot about UKIP these days.  They aren’t really very relevant most of the time now and people seem to have broadly lost interest.  But they did narrowly win a by-election last week, and so a friend of mine said: “You should do a UKIP post, for old time’s sake.”  So here it is.

Back in May, just after the General Election, Nigel Farage wrote a piece for the Spectator Magazine.  Part of it’s first paragraph said this:

I had promised to stand down if I did not win in South Thanet, and confirmed this a few minutes after the result.  My huge consolation prize was that UKIP took control of South Thanet District Council with a working majority of ten.  I am enormously proud of them, and expect them to be a beacon of good governance.  However, the level of scrutiny they will be under as the first UKIP-controlled local authority will of course be enormous, as the establishment will be willing them to fail.

Here’s a piece in the Guardian about UKIP’s big win.

A Ukip spokesman said the party was “bloody delighted” and it planned to use the victory to show it was a “grown-up” party “worthy of people’s trust” with budgets and local services.

“We are well aware that there will be a surprising amount of focus on this council, probably more than any other,” he said. “There will be many who will be waiting for this group of guys and women to fail. I don’t think that will be the case and, of course, we will be on our mettle.”

So there they are.  The first ever UKIP-controlled local authority Council.  Nigel is proud of them, wishes them well and expects them to be a beacon of good governance.  By their own words they “weren’t going to fail” despite the eyes of the nation being upon them.  They were resolute about it.

In the Local Government Chronicle the leader-elect of the first Ukip-controlled council said they intended to run “the most boring district council”.  By which they appeared to mean – devoid of the usual UKIP colourful behaviour and antics.

So, how’d all that work out then?

Pretty much what anybody would have predicted, really.  They began to bicker and argue, disagreeing over “direction” and “policy”.  Proud of the fact that they don’t have a party whip and all their members can vote as they choose, they still seemed to fall into pretty vicious fighting in short order.  How strange, huh?  Then they began to resign from the party.  In a bitter battle which was apparently over whether or not to compulsorily purchase an airport, members quit the group which resulted in their Leader, Chris Wells, saying he was ‘relieved’ to hear they’d left the party.  Nice attitude, huh?  Finally, in a battle about (surprise, surprise) discrimination against the blind (recognise a pattern, at all, Wisbech people?) they were down from a majority of ten to a majority of just one.  Did it stop there?  Did it heck. :)

A week ago, it all came tumbling down.

Ukip has lost overall control of Thanet council after a fifth member resigned from the party.

The council became the first-ever Ukip-controlled authority in the UK after taking the most seats at the election in May.

But now, Cllr Jeff Elenor has defected to the Democratic Independent Group joining Beverly Martin, Helen Smith, Ash Ashbee and Konnor Collins.

It took them five months.  Just five months to go from being Farage’s “huge consolation prize” to losing control of the only Local Authority Council they’ve ever had control of.  And it was nothing to do with the scrutiny of the media, or their enemies “wishing them to fail.”  They brought it all on themselves.

The last one to quit (so far), Cllr Jeff Elenor, said:

“Unfortunately this Manston business became an issue because we promised the electorate that we would deliver on Manston and we haven’t managed it.”

It’s easy to promise the world in opposition – to tell everybody you will do everything they want.  But when you get into a position where you control a Council and have to actually do the things you claimed were simple?  Scary times, huh?

A beacon of good governance?  A “grown up party worthy of people’s trust?”  Not for me to say.  That’s up to the good folk of South Thanet to decide.