Public Private Partnerships for WCs

Public Private Partnerships for WCs

As is absolutely normal, the Wisbech Standard posted a ham-fisted, poor and ill-researched article online about my motion going to Town Council tomorrow.  And also, as is absolutely normal, it came along with the obligatory nasty quote from Virginia Bucknor, which was also incorrect in a number of ways.

The proposal going to Wisbech Town Council tomorrow is that the Town Council explore the idea of a partnership with local businesses to see if they will offer their WCs for public use.  There are a number of protections for the businesses built into the motion, and the scheme would be entirely voluntary.  Nor would it, in any way, mean that the Town Council would not continue to offer the facilities that it offers currently.

Mrs. Bucknors Comments and the factual responses to them:

“The suggestion that shopkeepers should offer their toilets is, as usual, not thought out ((LIBELOUS SECTION REMOVED BY NEWSPAPER, SO REMOVED FROM HERE ALSO)),” said Cllr Bucknor.

Putting aside the snide, nasty, libelous defamatory lies about my working career that were later removed after I wrote a legal complaint to the newspaper, of course I have thought the idea through.  I always think ideas through.  But the nature of ideas, is that sometimes you have to try them and see if they work.  And sometimes they do.  And sometimes they don’t.  But I’d rather try solutions than spend my time attacking people who have ideas I didn’t think of.

She urged the Mayor to go and speak with shopkeepers to get their views “before you come up with such ideas”.

Not only have I spoken to some shopkeepers but I already have five local businesses who have, in principle, said “yes.”  I have not spoken to “all of them” because the first thing to do is to make sure the Town Council support the idea – which, by  the way, is working successfully in other towns all over the country.  Had I just marched on and approached every business, my colleagues would have rightly asked why I had not consulted them, and Mrs Bucknor might well have been giving the obligatory comment in the Wisbech Standard saying: “I urge the Mayor to speak to his fellow Councillors before he forces through with such ideas.”

She offered to work with the mayor to persuade the management of the Horsefair shopping centre to re-open their toilets after they were closed because of vandalism.

Now, Ladies and Gentlemen, I try not to hold onto things too much.  I cut people some slack.  But why would I work with somebody who has literally (one sentence earlier) attacked my personal and professional reputation in such a nasty, vindictive and libelous way?  Town Council are already talking to the Horsefair Shopping Centre and I’ve also talked to them (although you wouldn’t know it from the newspaper article) but even if we can get the Horsefair to re-open them, that still wouldn’t stop this being a potentially good idea.

 

St Georges Day

St Georges Day

Today was the first of our Town Council -organised festivals.  This is the baby of the bunch, the family fun that is St. Georges day.  The weather didn’t let us down and was gorgeous.  The event went smoothly with no problems and the turnout, after a slow start, was really good.  Lots of families had great fun and the “Live Dragon Hunt” proved as popular as last year.  Whoever thought of that silly but hilarious game was a bright spark <ahem>.

Thanks must go to the team of Councillors and volunteers who organised, manned and delivered the whole thing.  The Market Place was busy and the event popular and enjoyed.  Not a single moan about any aspect of it so far, which must be a record! :)

We also used the opportunity to set up a public consultation booth for the Market Place Project, letting the public look at our ideas for the possible future of the Market Place and to suggest their own.  There was a lot of interest, and while different people had different views on some of the individual aspects – we did not encounter a single person who said “no” to the over plan, direction and scheme.  This is particularly of note for me because these people who came to the booth are the people who actually use the Market Place.  Some work will have to be done before proceeding with any part of the plans to make sure the Market Traders aren’t negatively affected.  All in all this project looks popular and innovative – well down to the team  of Councillors and members of the public who helped put the ideas together.

I spent most of the morning as DJ.  St George is an odd one since it is the Deputy Mayor who has the big role to play.  That of The Dragon.  Cllr Andew Lynn donned his St George outfit to lead a horde of childen and parents to hunt the dragon, beat it into submission with foam swords, and bring it back to the DJ booth to apologise for trying to eat sections of Wisbech.  First they saved Medworth Ward. Then they saved Walsoken.  Then those might children saved North Ward (aka Waterlees, but seldom) and the people of those fine areas could sleep soundly in their beds knowing they weren’t going to be a tasty snack for a hungry monster.  All in all, a fine days work in Wisbech, the finest town on Earth ™.

Dylan – Dragon Slayer supreme

No idea who this strange woman is or why she is riding an elephant

Peter Human and Andrew Lynn, George & the Dragon

Wisbech Castle Working Party Visit

Wisbech Castle Working Party Visit

Volunteers from the Wisbech Castle Working Party joined Councillors and a few special guests for a thorough exploration of Wisbech Castle, its grounds and its vault, today.

I had previously predicted that they would all fall in love with the place once they got a good look around it, and from the smiles and incredible flow of ideas, I believe most of them did!

It was nice to be able to show that, despite rumours to the contrary, the place is broadly in good nick – of course some work needs to be done but the vast majority of it is superficial, involving some elbow grease and some tender loving care.

I’ve also begun work on the Castle website, although that has a ways to go since I don’t presently have much content.  It will grow though, for sure.

The team are really a wonderful bunch, with all different skills and expertise.  People were suggesting things left, right and centre, and most of us are really keen to pitch in and get started.

We cannot do this until 4th May, for legal reasons, but we are really looking forward to getting on with the job and turning the Castle back into the powerful, vital and exciting asset that it should always have been.

Thank you to the various folks who took these photos, including Alan Wheeldon, Tony Bennett and Roger Rawson.  The photos are (c) those guys.

Swing Wing 2018

Swing Wing 2018

Saturday night saw me having a wonderful time at the Swing Wing event – Thomas Clarkson Academy.

https://www.facebook.com/wisbechswingwingevent/

Celebrating 100 years of the R.A.F., this was an emotional and powerful musical tribute to their heroism, courage and honour.

I was welcoming people at the door, and then serving teas, coffees and soft drinks during the interval with the other volunteers. It was a lot of fun.

Credit must go to Jan Hutchinson? and Ray Hutchinson for organising the event and to all the volunteers who helped deliver it. And also to the Swing Wing band, who were amazing.

Wax On, Wax Off

Wax On, Wax Off

Tesco had organised a fundraiser for Cancer Research this morning and I had (stupidly) agreed to have my legs waxed, along with four other gentlemen from the Tesco staff.

Not sure how much we raised in total, but with donations and pledges I managed £400 so was pleased with that.

Fun morning all in all, though I will not pretend the waxing did not hurt. ‘Coz it did.  But all in a good cause.




     

My “Mayors At Home.”

My “Mayors At Home.”

I was both humbled and touched by the amazing turnout at my Mayor’s At Home event today.  I certainly did not expect such a huge turnout, both from Mayors and Council leaders far and wide but also from all over Wisbech.  I suppose no matter how hard you hope you have worked, you don’t really know if you’ve had a successful year as Mayor until you put on your last event and see who shows up.  Thank you, everybody, for being there.

I’d like to thank the local talented youngsters who provided the entertainment for the guests including the incredible Amy Palmer, the Fenland Gymnastic Academy and the Nine Lives Theatre Company.  In turn each wowed the audience and were a spectacular example of the incredible talent that Wisbech has to offer.

I’d like to thank the Armed Forces youth groups who were so professional and looked so smart including the Wisbech Scouts, Air Cadets, the Army Cadets and the GVC.  You were all as excellent as ever.

I’d also like to thank the Town Councillors who worked so hard to make the event a success and the many other volunteers who pitched in setting up, running the event and then clearing it all away.

I must not forget to thank my Mum and my Stepdad, who catered the entire event with good humour, professionalism and damn fine food.  They worked their socks off and delivered an incredible spread which received nothing but compliments from the guests.

The Mayors At Home was also the event where we got to hand out the remainder of the money my Wife and I have raised during our Mayoral term.  Totally almost £9000.00 it is been a record-breaking year.

 

I’d like to give my most heartfelt thanks to all the individuals businesses and organisations which have helped us raise money throughout the year.   In particular, I would like to thank Mr Dain Jensen, whose exceptionally generous donation at the Nightmayor’s Big Bash last year allowed us to do some important work early on in my Mayoral term.

Although we had a fair amount of cash to distribute today, we had already spent several thousands of pounds over the course of the year on other causes.  We had already made donations to local causes including Cat Haven, Sharman’s Dog Legacy, the Lois Smith Fund, the Wisbech Grammar School Rugby Fundraiser, On Track Education.  We were very pleased to be able to fund the delightful Bedazzle group last year, to offer assistance to the Corps of Drums, and to work with the St Augustines Knit & Natter group with two Mayoral Commissions.

We had said we would like to purchase a Defibrillator Unit for Wisbech and we were able to do that last year, allowing the Town Council to have a mobile unit for use at festivals and activities around the town.   Training has taken place and that defib unit is now making people safer in and around our town.

We had already purchased a gazebo for McMillans which I have seen them making very good use of at events around the town.  The Breathe Easy team have a nice new PA system which we purchased for them to help with their important work.   We even paid for the scary Ghost House that delighted and scared people at the Halloween fun day last year in Wisbech Market Place.

One of my favourite local teams, Boogie Tots, who deliver friendly and fun dance classes for very young children, and a nice opportunity to chat and get out for their parents, were supported last year to enable their class to continue offering the help and support that it does.

But today we had to hand out the cash to the charities which my Wife and I chose nearly a year ago – ably assisted by the advice and suggestions of the people of Wisbech via the Wisbech Discussion Forum on Facebook.

And so it was a great pleasure to help Community House in the North Ward with some funds to carry on the great work they do.  They had already been helped by the Mayors Fund in 2017 but they are such an important asset for the town that I wanted to be sure to show my ongoing support.

For the organisation that encourages children from our area to read, and which continue to do much work to share the joy of reading and foster is early, I was pleased to be able to give some money to the Wisbech Reads organisation.

We also had funds for the Wisbech Stroke Club and the Wisbech Cubs and Scouts organisation.

Although Cat Haven weren’t able to make it to the event, we didn’t forget them and were able to give them a donation.

One of the fantastic organisations for young people in Wisbech is the Fenland Gymnastics Academy, which is raising funds to move to a larger location because it simply does not have enough space to meet the huge local demand.  The Mayor donation isn’t going to buy a new premises, I know, but I hope what we were able to give them demonstrates the high regard in which we hold them and the fine young people they train.

I had invited Boogie Tots to the event but I didn’t tell them that I had a surprise for them.  I knew they were looking for a source of funding to allow their activities to continue for the next six months.  I had not told that that we would be able to assist with that, and it was fun to spring the good news on them.

Finally, our key local cause.  My Wife and I continue to consider this such an important organisation.  These ladies do such fantastic work in our town.  They are a never-ending source of enthusiasm, compassion and care.  I have enjoyed working with them throughout my Mayoral year and it was a great pleasure to be able to make a significant donation to help them carry on doing what they do so well.  I know that the support we were able to give the St Augustine’s Day Centre will be put to fantastic use and will help some of the most vulnerable people of Wisbech to live brighter, happier and more fulfilled lives.

I could not have asked for the event to go any better than it did.  It was packed with people, they all seemed to have a really nice time, and we got to reward some really wonderful local causes and charities.  Thank you, everybody.

Area Champion Update

Area Champion Update

After some careful consideration, I have taken the decision to step down as Area Champion for Fenland and have emailed the decision to the relevant people this afternoon.

I will continue to do everything I can to be a champion and a Councillor for the areas I represent, just as I always do.

I wish my replacement, whoever they may be, all the best in the Area Champion role.

Wisbech Castle Project – From the Fenland Citizen

Wisbech Castle Project – From the Fenland Citizen

https://www.fenlandcitizen.co.uk/news/21-are-for-turning-wisbech-castle-into-a-must-see-attraction-and-a-great-community-asset-1-8448805

Two years of ‘hard graft’, a lot of imagination and a dedicated band of supporters will see Wisbech Castle transformed into a community asset the whole town can enjoy. That was the promise made at the first meeting of the Wisbech Castle Working Party Group on Tuesday night.

Twenty-one volunteers keen to get stuck into the project to breathe new life into the Georgian building took on an assortment of tasks with the aim of getting at least part of the Castle ready for use over the Rose Fair weekend in July. Mayor Steve Tierney chaired the meeting and outlined the task ahead which includes clearing rooms of clutter and debris, redecorating as well as building work to repair water damage.

He said Cambridgeshire County Council, who have given the Castle to the town council to manage for the next 34 years, have already been out to carry out urgent repair work to guttering and in particular to a down-pipe which was causing water damage to one wall. Coun Tierney also promised the team would become even more excited with the project once they have an opportunity to go round the building later this month and start seeing potential uses for the various rooms – from the vaults to the second floor office areas. “It really excites me to see the potential every time I go round the building – this is a real opportunity to create something special for the town and for the area as a whole. I want the Castle to be a reason for people to visit Wisbech – a must see attraction,” he said.

Working groups were set up to tackle individual schemes from tidying the extensive gardens to clearing rooms and redecorating. Local planning consultant Peter Humphrey was among the 21 to attend the meeting in Wisbech Town Council Chamber. Other volunteers included a professional gardener, an architect and people with business and social media skills as well as councillors. A tour of the building is being organised for the working party to enable them to see the task ahead for themselves and to allow an opportunity to start brainstorming ideas for the various rooms.

Suggestions already include making it an ideal wedding venue, introducing an escape room experience, opening up to local schools with rooms set out telling not only the building’s history but also that of the town. It was agreed to try to involve the College of West Anglia in the various aspects of the project such as potentially creating displays, possibly even helping with building work utilising construction students giving them hands-on experience, and also encouraging the college to use it as a venue for exhibitions. Another suggestion involves turning the Old Pump House into an old fashioned tea rooms, and using the gardens for corporate events.

Coun Tierney said: “This is an exciting project, it is going to take two years of hard graft and a lot of imagination, but it will be worth it. I just can’t wait to get properly started.” He added the working party will be the engine room for the project, doing the actual physical work, and for those keen to support but do not want to commit to working on the scheme a ‘friends of’ group is being set up, which will enable people to help in more flexible ways.

Read more at: https://www.fenlandcitizen.co.uk/news/21-are-for-turning-wisbech-castle-into-a-must-see-attraction-and-a-great-community-asset-1-8448805

Twenty-one people volunteer for the Wisbech Castle Working Party group taking on tasks from gardening to decorating and general maintenance.

Church Terrace Toilets

Church Terrace Toilets

People were asking why the Church Terrace toilets are all closed.

This is the answer I have received from Officers at FDC:

“Just to update everyone, I have spoken to service engineer who was called to church terrace toilets wisbech regarding coin and door locking mechanism to one of the toilets, on his inspection all of the mechanism on the doors have been condemned with the doors not opening or not locking and a high chance of  persons  being locked in which is why engineer was called, to safe guard the public  I have made the decision to close the block  to eliminate any chance of anyone being locked in till this has been rectified.”

George Dunlop R.I.P.

George Dunlop R.I.P.

I was very sad to hear of the passing of George Dunlop.  I had the pleasure to work with George on many occasions at Town Festivals and community events.

I always found him to be just the more pleasant gentleman you could hope to meet.  Nothing was too much trouble and he was always ready to help at a moment’s notice with anything that would benefit the community.

My sincere condolences to his family.