Actually…

Actually…

If you are one of those people who finds political tit-for-tat “childish” or “annoying” please don’t  read any further.  The trouble, as ever, is that if I do not respond to the spin, falsehoods, deception and outright lies then they go unchallenged and people believe them.  Sure, people believe them anyway, particularly when they have the backing of the local newspaper.  I can’t fix all of this, I can only do my bit to tell the actual truth as best I know it.

Recently, in the aftermath of their pretty hefty defeat in a local by-election, the Usual Suspects (opposition, and generic haters of all sorts) have been in a real froth looking for something to hang their hat on.  As usual, I am a popular target.  The local Editor of the Bucknor Standard Wisbech Standard (sorry, easy mistake to make) is fully on-side with the attacks.  Lead attacker is, as is often the case, political activist David Prestidge, who has written a whole blog post about how terrible the by-election was and who he blames.  I’m going to analyse it piece by piece to show why its spin, deception, lies, or just plain wrong.

This article will be, by necessity, long.  Many will not read it, and that’s fine.  I will provide a summary at the end.  It wont change the minds of anybody who has already made up their minds, because those people hate who they hate and that wont change.  Nor, I expect, will it change the mind of any journalist who thinks that personal animosity matters more than actual facts.  Which sadly, seems to be quite a few of them.  But we live in hope.

Dave Prestidge’s blog can be found here: http://wisbechcommunityforum.blogspot.gr/
I’m sorry, but I can’t put a link to the specific post, since his blog doesn’t seem to be organised that way.  So if you read this in a few months time, the link will probably go to some other post he has written.  But i’ll quote the specific parts in full as we go for clarity.

TRULY, WISBECH IS A PIECE OF WORK. I am approaching the biblical allowance of threescore and ten. I have lived and worked all over Britain, and in France and Australia too. I don’t think I have ever been in a community where political malice and ill-will to all men has been so prevalent. We have just been through an excruciatingly bitter by-election. For the Town Council. Yes, that’s it – the Town Council. Last time I looked, Wisbech Town Council were responsible for some of the things that go on in the Market Place, public toilets, and ……well, that’s about it, really. Maybe I have forgotten allotments, or some other major issue. I will stand to be corrected if that is the case.

David Prestidge (henceforth DP for brevity) is entitled to his opinion.  But if he thinks the by-election we just had was “excruciatingly bitter” and that nowhere he has ever been can compete then he must have led a very sheltered life.  In fact, although it did get a bit nasty at times, it was pretty tame compared to very many places.  There are local politicians around the UK who would look at that claim and laugh their pants off.  But for the moment, let’s take his exaggeration at face value and presume its true.

BACK IN MAY Wisbech, like many other areas in the country, held local elections, for Town and District councils. Two Eastern European residents stood for election. Ms Irina Kumalane stood for Staithe Ward and was elected. Mr Aigars Balsevics also stood in a different ward, but was not elected. Shortly after assuming her duties as Town Councillor, Ms Kumalane resigned. Her reasons for resigning are not known, at least officially and publicly. So, a by election was called for Staithe Ward. The three candidates were Mr Balsevics (Con), Mrs Caroline Smith (UKIP), and Mr Reg Mee (Lab).

NOW BEAR IN MIND both Mr Balsevics and Mr Mee had both offered themselves as candidates in the May election. Both had failed. A Conservative party flyer soon condemned the Labour Party as “arrogant”, because the electorate had said “NO!” to Mr Mee in May. The electorate had also said “NO!” to Mr Balsevics in May, but that was not mentioned.

Why this is incorrect / spin:  DP is angry that the Conservatives pointed out that Reg did recently lose the election for the Ward that he had been the Councillor for during the last four years.   He contends that this was “the same” as the fact that Aigars recently lost an election too.  What he conveniently forgets and which is pertinent is that only Reg Mee lost an election with THIS electorate.  Aigars stood in Waterlees Ward, Reg Mee stood in Staithe Ward.  It is therefore perfectly accurate to say that for this by-election, in Staithe Ward, Reg Mee was recently rejected by the electorate by Aigars Balsevics was not.  I’m sorry if they don’t like it, but it is absolutely true.  I understand that one or two of them are unhappy because they say that you vote “for” somebody, you don’t “reject” somebody.  I put it to them that it is pretty standard parlance in political discussion to say that the loser was “rejected” by the electorate.  Many of them said the same about me, in years gone by, if I recall. :)  What goes around comes around, I guess.

DP also suggests that it was the Conservatives who began the “negative campaigning.”  Not true.  For those who don’t know, positive campaigning is where you stick to what you are going to do and how you are going to make a difference.  Negative campaigning is where you bash others as part of your literature.  Both have their uses but broadly we local Conservatives steer clear of negative campaigning at the outset and only ever use it sparingly, in response to something else.  Our first leaflet was a positive leaflet and made no mention of Reg Mee or Labour.  Then Labour brought out a leaflet with a whole side of damning claims (most of which I would suggest were wrong, though we’d obviously debate that.)  In response, we took off the gloves and ran a very small (by comparison to theirs) piece about UKIP and Labour which stuck to the facts.

I personally think its a bad idea to select the same candidate to fight an election for the same area they just lost – from a campaign point of view.  If you do so, the opposition will  invariably point out the fact.  It’s the same with selecting a candidate who lives outside the ward boundaries.  There are perfectly good arguments for why a good candidate from outside is better than a bad candidate from inside, but whether you like it or not people do like candidates to live in the area they will represent and if yours doesn’t, it will be used against you.  This happens up and down the country.  Though this latter was not the case this time since ALL the candidates lived outside the ward.

THEN CAME another Conservative party flyer extolling the virtues of Mr Balsevics, and making several claims. The first was that Wisbech Town Council has been instrumental in the restoration of the fire-damaged Constantine House. In fact, WTC has absolutely no part to play in the restoration of damaged buildings in the town. That responsibility lies with Fenland District Council. Perhaps the claim meant that the WTC councillors who were also FDC councillors had been fighting tooth and nail to get the building restored? With the exception of Mr and Mrs Bucknor, no WTC councillor had shewn the least interest in the Constantine House saga. In fact, one or two of those people had gone out of their way to mock the efforts of local people who were fed up with the derelict building. Suffice to say, the building is not yet fully restored and, despite an apparent deadline being imposed by FDC, the building remains open to the elements – and flying rats.

Why this is incorrect/spin:  Wisbech Town Council are a town/parish level Council and so their powers are limited, but one of their key roles is as a consultee to other Councils.  In regards to Constantine House and the wider restoration goals around Wisbech, Wisbech Town Council have had the issue on their agenda many times and have been supportive.  In fact, in regards to the lottery bid, a large sum of money was given from Wisbech Town Council.  DP names Mr and Mrs Bucknor because they are his friends who he always supports, but it simply is not true that they are the only ones who have “shown an interest” in Constantine House.  Indeed, I cannot think of a single Councillor of any party on Town Council who haven’t pushed and pressed for it to be done.  Trusting that the Council Officers are doing the right thing is not the same as “not showing an interest” and I would argue that the sort of sabre rattling and petitioning that the Bucknors are well-known for and which give them so many great photo opportunities aren’t actually helpful at all.  Just noisy.  But that is neither here nor there.  The key point is that the Labour Party also included Constantine House on their leaflets and talked about how Reg would make a big difference.  Now I like Reg Mee, but he was a Town Councillor for four years and I do not recall him ever speaking at a full council meeting about Constantine House.  He certainly has not been Last Action Hero on the subject.  And I notice that David Prestidge goes to great lengths to say that Constantine House is an FDC issue and not WTC, while failing to make that point about the pledges Reg Mee was making. Exactly the same sort of partial omission that he accuses others of.

NEXT ON THE LIST OF CLAIMS was the boast that Mr Balsevics was a responsible and public-minded landlord – of his three pubs. When someone pointed out that he had earlier lost his late licence at one of the pubs for serving drunks and inciting violence, this was seen as a gross slur on Mr B’s probity.

Why this is incorrect/spin:  Because it’s a lie.  Aigars Balsevics has not “lost a license.”  He had the terms of his license adjusted many years ago and this was NOT  “for serving drinks and inciting violence.”  In fact, checking the minutes of the licensing meeting where the issue was considered the Police went out of their way to say they did NOT hold Aigars Balsevics responsible.  I suspect that Prestidge (and UKIP) got this from an old Cambs Times article, which was also incorrect.

ANOTHER CLAIM was that Mr Balsevics was a member of Wisbech Rainbow Savers – part of the Credit Union movement – and a photo of him at the inception of this group was included in the election flyer. Now, for reasons that no-one seems clear of, it transpires that Mr B is not an active member of Wisbech Rainbow Savers.

Why this is incorrect/spin:  Because it’s incorrect in what it says.  Aigars Balsevics was an early volunteer with the Credit Union scheme and gave up many hours volunteering at the Oasis Centre.  Now where they are sneaky is that they must know all this, so the final sentence “Mr B is not an active member of Wisbech Rainbow Savers” is clearly aimed to  suggest something.  Except that they have even made a mistake here.  He IS still a member of Wisbech Rainbow Savers.  He may not volunteer the hours to sign up new accounts etc anymore, but he is still a Member of the scheme.

THERE HAS BEEN A PHOTOGRAPH doing the rounds on social media. It shows a  Transit-style van, parked with its wheels obstructing the pavement, on double yellow lines, a few metres short of The Angel pub – landlord Mr Aigars Balsevics. The van has Latvian plates. Clearly visible in the back windows are election posters exhorting us to vote for Aigars Balsevics and Brenda Barber. Both Conservative candidates in the May 2015 local elections.

Why this is incorrect/spin:  For a load of reasons.  Because it’s not illegal to park a van on double yellow lines for loading an unloading.  Because the van doesn’t belong to Aigars Balsevics and so he is not responsible for it.  And because this is the same picture that they tried to use back in May, which reappeared with the tacit suggestion that it was a new picture in August.  And most of the people who have tried to pretend this is Aigar’s vehicle know full well it is not, but keep on trying to smear his name anyway.  There is a name for these sort of people.  You know what it is.

At this point DP turns his attack on me.  No surprise there, it’s his usual tactic.  He says:

NOW, because the van is not UK registered, no-one can find out who is the owner of the vehicle. Or who drives it. All that can be inferred from the photograph is that the owner is a Conservative supporter who us, in some way, connected to The Angel inn. There was a certain amount of discussion over this photograph on social media, but no-one expected this bizarre response.

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SO, a fair number of Wisbech townsfolk were condemned as “scumbags”. By a town and district councillor. The crime? Commenting on a photograph on social media, and drawing a conclusion which didn’t fit the prevailing orthodoxy.

Why this is incorrect/spin:  I really enjoyed his “there was a certain amount of discussion.”  On his nasty little forum Aigars was accused of all sorts of things, including (repeatedly) illegal parking.  In a vehicle he DOES NOT OWN.  He was attacked by the same little group of people including political activists for both the opposition parties during an election campaign.  But apparently accusing an man of all manner of crimes he didn’t commit is fine, but my Facebook post is pure evil?  This is a position that was agreed by Wisbech Standard Editor John Elworthy, who also felt that my post above was some kind of dark act.  Well let’s look at that.

The post was published on my personal Facebook feed, not on any forum.  It featured my step by step guide on “how to spot a scumbag.”  It named NOBODY.  And it goes to some lengths to be quite specific about who I am calling a scumbag.  To whit: somebody who publishes a photo they know full well does not belong to an individual but who tries to suggest it does belong to that individual  during an election campaign to try and dirty their name.

DP goes on to say that I have called a “fair number of Wisbech townsfolk” scumbags.  This is a strange comment.  If he believes this is true then he must self-identify with the points I made.  He must accept that he knows full well that the van does not belong to Aigars Balsevics and that he has deliberately suggested it did for political gain during an election campaign. It’s not me saying this, it is him, if he is suggesting that I have called him a “scumbag.”  The definition of a scumbag could not have been clearer, could it?

Worse still, he then goes on to identify “a fair number of Wisbech townsfolk” in the same way. On his “Wisbech Political Scene” forum he suggested they were all called Scumbags (and he even performed a song about it.)  Again, since I named nobody and simply specified the criteria for a scumbag, I can only assume he is admitting to all the points I made on behalf of himself and many others?  Well, that’s him saying that, not me.  Though I don’t expect to see the Wisbech Standard feature a headline “UKIP and Independent Activist admits to lying about candidate for political advantage” any time soon, even though that would appear to be where his blog declaration leads.

WELL, THE ACTUAL ELECTION happened, but not before one of the High Priest’s acoylites burst onto Facebook announcing that the latest UKIP flyer was “vile” and that it had been reported to the police and the Electoral Commission. At the time of writing, no-one associated with that leaflet has been either arrested or sent to The Tower for sedition.

Notice the use of terms like “high priest” and “acolyte.”  This from the guy who claims everybody is nasty and spiteful.  This is the normal run of things.  The people who perpetrate try to accuse others of their tactics. It is a form of deflection.  Nevertheless, the UKIP leaflet broke Electoral Law in a number of key ways.  His laughing and joking about “The Tower” avoids the fact that breaching the Representation of the Peoples Act is an offence for a reason and the usual run of things is that Police will look into the issue after the electoral dust has settled.  I hope action is taken, as I BELIEVE the law has been broken and these guys need to learn that there are lines you can’t cross.  Lying about a candidate to damage their reputation and reduce their votes is one of them.  Luckily, the people of Staithe saw through it and elected him anyway.  But that doesn’t make it any less reprehensible.

THE ELECTION ITSELF? Well Mr Balsevics was duly elected, with more votes than his two opponents put together. I have no beef with him, and have never met him, but he sounds a pretty decent sort of bloke, but someone who clearly allows his election literature to be written by someone else.

I don’t speak for other parties, but Conservative candidates in our area are always part of the team designing their leaflets and they always approve the final copy even if somebody lays it out.  But leaflets tend to be written by the candidate and some helpers, then designed by somebody with design skills who lays the information out, then approved by the candidate, Campaign Manager, and Election Agent.

AS A DISPIRITING FOOTNOTE to a sorry couple of weeks, the Great High Priest still had another shot in his magazine. Clearly recognising that the Labour party campaign did not meet with his approval, he issued this statement. Bear in mind that the young man who had worked his socks off for the Labour campaign is a mere 17 years old, and has not had time to plumb the grisly depths of Wisbech politics, this was sent in his direction.

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DP’s view of my “motives” ( name-calling aside) are incorrect.  I did think and still do think that the local Labour party had a choice to take and took the wrong one.  By which I mean they could have steered clear of the Bucknor/Prestidge/Patrick gloomfest and done their own thing.  Reg Mee has never been like that and I would be very surprised if he was happy with the things said in his literature, or the things said by his supporters and activists.

Notice DP also suggests I “sent this in his direction” (meaning the Labour Party campaign manager.)  More spin.  In fact, I wrote it on my personal Facebook feed.  The fact somebody chose to forward it to him in one way or another was not my doing.  I didn’t “send it in his direction” at all.  Though I have no problem with him reading it.  He clearly chose not to listen to my advice, which is his prerogative.

DP focuses on one sentence in my piece, the one that says “get a better Campaign Manager” and ignores all the rest.  Now James Lowery – who was apparently their Campaign Manager – seems a bright guy.  I’m not sure what him being seventeen has to do with it.  I have no doubt there are excellent seventeen year old Campaign Managers, and terrible ones.  I’m sure he did work his socks off.  But my opinion, and I am entitled to an opinion, is that he ran a poor campaign which lost them votes.  Remember, Reg Mee WAS the Councillor for this ward up until three months ago and had been for four years.  This was a Labour Ward, previously.  I don’t think this is his fault, per se.  He simply doesn’t have the experience to run a full campaign.  Normally, you would put a keen newcomer into a support role under a more experienced person until they learnt all the skills.  Labour chose not to do so.  Up to them, I guess.  But to suggest that this one line in a paragraph was some awful attack is incorrect.

David Prestidge finishes up with this lovely conclusion:

UNBELIEVABLE. Beyond parody. Arrogant. So totally and unredeemably unaware that you have to doubt the man’s mental state. Hubris, patronising, smug, vain…? Words don’t usually fail me – they are my stock in trade – but on this occasion I will shrink into the corner and hope that someone out there can summon up the verbal energy to add words to this…

Unbelievable?  Beyond Parody?  Why?  Because I expressed a pretty simple view in the form of advice for Labour?  “So totally and unredeemably unaware that you have to doubt the man’s mental state?”  Really?  Then he “hopes somebody out there can summon up the verbal energy to add words to this…”  Well of course he does.  Because that is his intention.  The whole piece is just another attack, like all his attacks, aimed at encouraging his little band to continue their abuse.

Conclusion:

DP and his fellow travellers will often tell you Conservatives, particularly me, are so mean to them and their mates.  When you follow their tracks back and check you will invariably see that either (a) what was said is not what they say was said or (b) what was said is a response to something worse they have said.  It’s a clever game they play, but broadly it doesn’t work, because most people aren’t stupid enough to fall for it.  Sadly, the local newspaper is always right there with them and this gives their lies, spin and deception a credibility it does not deserve.

This year alone I have been sent several hate letters and a death threat.  I have been accused of being a criminal, of being corrupt, of being lazy, of being a liar.  I have been called a c*nt, a *fuc*ing wa*ker and an as*hole.  My wife has also been criticised, even though she has nothing to do with local politics at all.  Just this week I have (falsely) been accused of illegal parking by somebody who appears to spend half their time filming me and my property.  DP and his merry band have a Facebook Forum where more than half the content seems to be attacks on me in one form or another … they appear to be obsessed.  I have had the things I say misrepresented, spun, cherry picked and taken out of context.  I have been called a “bully”, “mentally ill” (several times), compared to serial killers and to mass murderers and to evil dictators.  I am accused of having some sort of “dominance” on Facebook,despite that fact that there are dozens of them and (most of the time) only one of me.  It is an ongoing coordinated campaign and has been for some time.  It has begun to affect my wider family because their tactic – tell enough lies and people will start to believe some of them – is effective.  But John Elworthy and the Wisbech Standard don’t give a stuff about any of that.

Meanwhile, it’s absolutely fine to accuse Aigars Balsevics of crimes he is nothing to do with, to attack his reputation (falsely) and to suggest that he is using violence of aggression to make people vote?  And that’s without even touching on the lies that have been spread quietly from May onwards about Aigars, of which I have had residents phone me up and tell me what was said.  These people are despicable, relentless and just plain bad.  But the local press are with them one hundred percent anyway.

Frankly, I am not going anywhere.  You can tell lies about me, make nasty cartoons of me, call me whatever you like, get your mates in the press to run nasty headlines about me.  But I’ll still be right here, doing what I can for  the Town and the People in it.  And yes, for my political party too, where appropriate.  And in time, one by one, all your lies will be exposed.

something bad

“Long is the way and hard, that out of Hell leads up to light.”
? John Milton, Paradise Lost

 

 

Error In Judgement

Error In Judgement

It is incredibly common for the opposition folks in Wisbech local politics to play the victim.  They tell you Conservatives have been mean to them and called them names and stuff.  I’ve often pointed out that, while I am no angel, most of the worst stuff originates on their side.  Still, the local media will often pitch in for them, while completely ignoring anything they say or do.  We have a new instance today which perfectly highlights what they do.

A few hours ago, UKIP Parish Councillor Dave Patrick published the following on Facebook:

Patrick attacks Kings head Windows

The text is:

This is a picture today of the Kings Head Wisbech. The pub that lost its late night licence because of of violence and serving drunks. The pub quote by the Conservatives run by a responsible landlord. Obviously been some trouble in the last day or two. Maybe election campaign manager Mr Steve Tierney or member of staff Cllr Sam Hoy could enlighten us as to what happened to cause such damage to the windows.

So Dave Patrick’s assumption is that there has “obviously” been some trouble.  Then he demands that Sam or I respond to him to “explain” the damage.

Now, putting aside the fact that what a private business is doing with its windows is none of his business – it must be pretty embarrassing for him to have gotten it so dramatically wrong.  You see the windows are feature stained glass and they have been taken away by Elgoods, the company who owns the pub, for refurbishment.  No violence.  No damage.  No crime.  These are the same people who have tried to accuse the landlord of the pub of illegal parking (in a vehicle he doesn’t own), and have published the same picture twice while suggesting the second one is “new” (but forgetting that the posters in the back window are good guidance for the date of the posting.)

Dave Patrick’s motivation to say there has “obviously” been some trouble is clearly to muddy the name of the landlord, because the landlord is a current candidate in a by-election.  But this time I reckon he’s made a mistake.  His comments and completely inaccurate misreading of events can clearly be seen to cause direct damage to the reputation of the landlord and his business.  Even were he just a member of the public this could get him into trouble.  As a Councillor?  A bad error of judgement, I think.

After they realised they had made a mistake, the contributors of the site desperately tried to backpeddle.  Some of it is a bit sad.  Some quite funny.  Some unbelievable.

I like this one, from Sharon Horne, after an Admin had pointed out that maybe a mistake had been made:

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Sharon appears to think that “free speech” means the right to cast aspersions on other people’s businesses and reputations, without any evidence to back it up.  Sharon is a UKIP activist and was an organiser of the infamous “anti-immigration” rally and the Wisbech Immigration Issues Facebook site, just for context.

Here’s Jason Hatcher, suggesting that there were no incorrect facts.
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Clearly the term “(there has) obviously been some trouble” is viewed by him as “speculation” rather than a statement.  I wonder if he would feel the same way if somebody “speculated” about him by using the term “he is obviously….” and then some sort of criminal activity?

At this point Sam Hoy pops onto the forum and tells Dave Patrick he should apologise, that he has got it wrong and that he has gone too far.  He responds with characteristic charm:
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“What are you going to do, report me to your conduct committee?” he asks.  The suggestion that he doesn’t value the Conduct Committee hasn’t stopped him reporting other people to it in the past though, has it?  Somebody should remind him that he signs the Councillor Code Of Conduct when he becomes a Councillor.  Or perhaps giving his word doesn’t mean very much?  Who knows?

Apparently not following the “wriggle pattern” set by others, Sharon Horne continues:
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Come on guys.  Make your minds up.  One minute its “speculation” then he “states what happened?”  This grand “threat” to which she was referring was when Sam Hoy said he was incorrect, advised he apologise, and said he had gone too far.  To suggest this was a “threat” is to play the victim into the realms of fantasy.

Then, the Wisbech Standard reports the actual facts.  And suddenly they fly into a panic, realising they’ve got it completely wrong.
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So Jason Hatcher thinks that its the admins fault that Dave Patrick made a nasty guess that was completely wrong.  Apparently it is the admins job to provide them with a live feed of information, just in case they might get something completely and utterly wrong and make no effort to check their facts before spouting off about it?  And Dave Patrick thinks it is Sam Hoy’s job to feed him information, to save him from making a complete fool of himself.  The funny thing is, she did!  She said he had got it wrong and should apologise.  Apparently, it’s also her job to be his personal news service just in case he is about to attack a business and an individual based on false assumptions.  How about a little personal responsibility Dave?  You make the same mistake every time.  You cock up and then, instead of just holding your hands up and saying: “Sorry, my bad,” you keep digging and digging.

At this point Dave goes into “play the victim” mode.
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I’m not sure how many more times he can play the victim card, while being the one doing the attacking, and get away with it.  In fact, I think he stopped getting away with it a while ago.

Jason Hatcher, my hat goes off to him for this most expert and wily wriggle:
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No joke, I really did enjoy that bit of wordplay.  Very clever.

But at this point members of the forum are leaving because they don’t like what is going on.  And there is a backlash:

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At time of writing this blog post, Dave Patrick has not answered the question of where he got the photo, or why it is the same as the newspaper’s photo but he claims not to have seen the newspaper’s story.  Now there could be a perfectly innocent explanation for it, of course.  Unlike Dave, I’m not going to “presume” guilt, I’ll wait for his response.

Shops In Wisbech Town Centre

Shops In Wisbech Town Centre

This is a list of the shops in our Town Centre based on a quick survey as of 21st august 2015. I’m sorry if I miss anybody. If I did it was an accident as I was doing this quite quickly. By town Centre I refer to the collection of roads that make up the commercial center of town – the Old market, the High Street, the Horse Fair, Market Street, Norfolk Street and Hill Street plus surrounding lanes and ways. I apologise if I get any names wrong, or don’t quite list the services correctly, these are just quick impressions and should not be considered as anything more.

Goddards – Quality Clothing Shop
7th Heaven – Computer Games & Electronics
Evison – Drapers/Outfitters/Clothing
One Stop Shop – Fenland District Council advice and help
2 x Post Offices; one main, one sub-.
Etcetera – House/Kitchenware
Diamond Bytes – Computers
Loafers x 2; the big one and the sandwich bar.
Fancy Fayre – Jewellery / gifts
QS – Clothes
All About You – Hair & Beauty
Bon Marche – Women’s Clothes
Hearing Centre – hearing aids etc.
Drake Pearson – Solicitors
Shoe Zone – Shoes
Rose & Crown – Hotel and restaurant
Fashion Centre – Clothes
99p Store – Discount Goods
ECIG Zoo – Ecigarettes
Savers – Toiletries etc.
The Flavour Pit – Cafe
The Gallery – Restaurant / Cafe
Cats Pajamas – All sorts of wonderful stuff
Wool Shop – Wool etc
Royal Blue Meat – Butchers
The Answer – Mortgage Advice
Lustre Lingerie – Lingerie
Entertainment Centre – Games, DVDs, etc.
Clothes For All The Family – Clothes
Wisbech Music Center – Musical Instruments etc.
Bit of A Do – Party Shop
Country Fayre – Gift Shop
Prams & Toys – Toys and Kids Stuff
Picturesque Framing – picture framing & gallery
Swinton Insurance – insurance
Addiction Tattoos – Tattoos
The Floral Centre – florist
Brewers – Fruit & Veg
Card Factory – Cards & Gifts
Boots – Pharmacy etc.
New Look – Clothes
Burger King – Fast Food
Peacocks – Clothes
Wisbech Angling – angling supplies
Holland & Barrett – health store
Superdrug
Greggs the Baker
Argos – catalogue shop
Co-Op – Supermarket
Kiosk – Gifts
Trespess – Outfitters & Outdoor clothes
H.Samuel – Jewellers
Cardzone – Cards & Gifts
Poundland – discount goods
Costa – Coffee Cafe
The Money Shop – short term loans
WH Smith – Newsagent, stationery, books etc.
QD – All sorts
Deaveson – Jewellers
Music Box – Vinyl Records and musical collectibles
McIntosh’s – Outdoor Wear
Bhangal Spice – Indian Restaurant
Survival – Dress Agency
Willowfield – Beauticians
Oasis – Christian Book Store
The Outlet – Catalogue shop
Terry’s – restaurant / cafe
Lebara – Newsagent
Foxes Cards – cards
Cashino Gaming – slot machines etc.
Hughes Electrical – Buy & Rent Household Appliances
Beales – Department Store
Cox – Electrical Goods
Bygones – restaurant / cafe
AJs Jeans – Clothes
Bolton – Fish & Chips
Brittania – restaurant / cafe
Acme Cabs – Cabs
2nd Time Around – Second Hand Bargains
Bedtime Beds – beds
CAB – Citizen’s Advice Bureau
New Image – tattoos
Fairbrothers – chemist
Anglia Locksmiths – locksmiths
Kodak Express – photographic services
Discount Cycles – Cycles etc.
Osbornes – furniture
Bumps, babies & Beyond – Baby and kids clothes etc.
Click – Computers and electrical

Some types of shop there are multiples of, so rather than list them all individually I’ve grouped them for simplicity. This is no reflection on their quality – I have no doubt they are all absolutely brilliant. Just strapped for time today smile emoticon

Other Fast Food x 10
Nail Technicians x 3
Recruitment Agencies x 2
Betting Shops x 5
Sundry Grocers/Delicatessens x 14
Estate Agents x 5
Opticians x 3
Hairdressers x 16
Letting Agencies x 4
Empty Shops x 12
Derelict Shops x 4
Empty UKIP Shop x 1
Banks/Building Societies x 5
Tanning Studio x 2
Mobile Phone Shops x 5
Charity x 7
Pubs x 5

In total there are approx. 200 shops in the wider area that can be considered Wisbech Town Centre.
As APPROX. rounded up percentages:-

4% of the shops are charity shops
3% of the shops are betting shops
7% of the shops are run by Eastern Europeans
Hair & Beauty is the largest percentage making up 11% of the shops
6% of the shops are empty
2% of the shops are derelict

Staithe UKIP Leaflet

Staithe UKIP Leaflet

I haven’t talked much about the forthcoming By-Election for the Staithe Ward on Wisbech Town Council.  There are some pretty dirty tricks being played, but I don’t think local people are paying them much attention so there’s no point highlighting them as they don’t seem to have much traction.

But I did catch the UKIP leaflet.  I thought this bit (below) was amusing.

UKIP snippet

“I will tell you what others fail to tell you – the truth.”
“Caroline Rosalie Smith, a local mother who lives in Staithe Ward.”

Here is the legal document, the Statement Of Persons Nominated.

UKIP 2 snippet

Caroline Rosalie Smith has stated her address as 2 Wilberforce Road, Wisbech PE13 2PU.

So what’s the problem?

Well, Caroline’s stated “home address” is in Wilberforce Road,  And Wilberforce Road isn’t in Staithe Ward.
It’s in Clarkson Ward.

Oh yes, Caroline.  You do always tell the truth.  No doubt about it.

Normally, election literature is approved by the candidate, but the legal responsibility for it lies with the Election Agent.  In this case the Election Agent appears to be Cllr. Alan Lay.  The same guy who then endorses Caroline Smith on the same page.

UKIP 3 snippet

You couldn’t make it up. :)

*And by the way, Alan Lay is not the County Councillor for Staithe, either.  Though I suppose he is a local County Councillor, so that’s just a little misleading rather than false.  I guess that’s because the actual local County Councillor is Samantha Hoy, and she’d be pretty unlikely to endorse Caroline Smith.

The Small Print for Election Purposes:
Printed and promoted by Steve Tierney of 6 Alexandra Road, Wisbech PE13 1HQ on behalf of Aigars Balsevics both of Cromwell House, Wisbech Road, March, PE15 8EB.

Consultation On Streetlighting

Consultation On Streetlighting

Cambridgeshire County Council wishes to achieve financial savings of approximately £272,000 by switching off street lights across Cambridgeshire between midnight and 6.00 am each day.

Under this proposal a total of 1,449 street lights would be affected in Wisbech; and Wisbech Town Council has been asked whether it would be prepared to contribute financially towards the cost of retaining streetlighting during those hours, on particular roads within the town, with effect from the financial year 2016/17.

The cost of retaining full operation of the 1,449 street lights would be £12 per light per annum (increasing by inflation and fuel costs each year), plus an annual administrative charge of £65. The total cost for 2016/17 would be £17,403.00.

In order for Wisbech Town Council to decide whether to meet this cost, they wish to know what the residents of Wisbech think about the proposal.
If the decision is made to fund full illumination, this would become part of the Wisbech Town Council budget proposals for 2016/2017. If an increase in the annual Parish Precept was required, this would be an increase of 8.4%

Please see the Council website for the figures for what this would cost your Band of household. http://www.wisbechtowncouncil.org.uk/streetlightssurvey.html

If you are a Wisbech Parish Council Tax payer you can make your views known by completing the survey below. For your vote to be counted, you must include your name, address and postcode – details will only be used to verify residency in Wisbech Parish.

The deadline for your views is 5pm on Friday 25 September.
The majority view will be a strong guide to the council’s decision, and the results of the survey will be published in the Minutes.

Save The Night Shelter

Save The Night Shelter

Press Release from Church Together, put here for public information

The Night Shelter division of The Ferry Project is once again in urgent need of funding in order to stay open. It regularly supports numerous people in desperate circumstances and provides a much needed service in our community.

Last month (July 2015), the Night Shelter supported many people including 32 who were direct victims of crime including several who had been kidnapped and trafficked into the area. The Ferry Project say that the numbers of human trafficking victims they are coming across in Wisbech and the surrounding area is increasing as they continue to work to bring freedom and help to these vulnerable people and the lack of funding to the Night Shelter is seriously threatening this valuable work.
As a result, the Ferry Project are hosting a fund raising event – a 1940s themed dinner dance (Click Here for Poster) on 19th September. Please can you circulate the details of this important event amongst your contacts and congregations?
Even if people are unable to come to the dinner dance, they can still donate to the Ferry Project directly.
Churches Together in Wisbech were instrumental in helping to start the Ferry Project in 1998 and have maintained close links with it ever since.
 nightshelter

Wisbech Rock Festival 2015

Wisbech Rock Festival 2015

… and we’re done for another year!

As usual, I feel like I could sleep for a thousand years.  But the Rock Festival grew again – both in terms of scope of the show and in attendance.  We think that at the high point, in both stage areas, we may have had between 1500 and 2000 people in attendance.  We are also aware that through the eight hour set a very great many people arrived, left and switched around.  So full attendance is hard to guess, but we believe there were between 3000 and 4000 people at the Rock Festival throughout the day.

Everybody seemed to have an amazing time.  It helped that the weather was so great and the bands so entertaining, but the people of Wisbech were ready to Rock and Roll and that’s what they did.

Despite the large numbers and frenetic activity, the event was managed smoothly and there was no significant problems or trouble.  Even though, for the first time, we had a beer tent on site.

Anyway, very tired.  Amazing work from David Oliver, Jess Oliver, Sam Hoy, Gary Read and all the many people involved.  Great to see so many Councillors there this year.  I have promised I wont mention those that didn’t turn up and so I shall not (because nobody is surprised.)

Rock on 2016.

Democracy Is Not A Toy

Democracy Is Not A Toy

It’s been a real wheeze for some Conservatives to briefly pay £3.00, join the Labour party, and vote for Jeremy Corbyn to become the new Labour leader.  Hilarious, I am sure.  You see, conventional wisdom is that Jeremy Corbyn is “unelectable” and that if he becomes leader of the Labour party that will mean political wilderness for them for many years to come.

This is a painfully stupid idea.

In the first instance, playing games with democracy is never a good idea.  Democracy is not a toy.  It is the method by which we elect the leaders of nations.  The people who can decide what activities will result in being sent to prison, how much money is taken from your wages before you even see it, when to go to war and when not to.  Fooling around with it for your amusement, or for cynical reasons, will never end well.

Worse still, Jeremy Corbyn is an extremely dangerous man.  He is dangerous because of a combination of factors.  He is clearly passionate, charismatic and strong.  He is a man who believes, in every sense of the word, in the politics he preaches.  He’s not some moulded media puppet, scared of his own shadow and terrified to say something wrong.  He says it and be damned, and when he says it you can tell he means it.  But wait, that’s a good thing, right?  That’s what everybody says they want politicians to be like.  Well yes, but this is coupled with an ideology that is decades out of date and insidiously destructive.

Jeremy Corbyn is an old-school Socialist.  In fact, he’s probably more than that, but we’ll see the extremes more clearly if he wins the battle and is safe in his new position.  Like all Old School Socialists I have ever heard he espouses policies of high tax and statist controls, suggesting that they can make everybody equal and solve all the woes of the world.  In truth, were he ever given the position to enact those policies we would see prosperity disappear, national debt skyrocket, personal responsibility evaporate, businesses flee, poverty and inequality grow and misery ensue.  Worse than that, each time their policies fail, Old School Socialists never learn from them.  Instead, they “double down” and try and fix one bad policy with a worse one.

This man should not be a figure of “fun” for anybody.  This man is terrifying.  You may laugh now at getting an “unelectable leader” into the frontline position in the Labour Party.  But you won’t laugh in 2020 if he is elected as Prime Minister.  There will be no laughing then for five long years while he sets about dismantling our traditions, smiling for mugshots with our enemies, taxing our businesses and wealth-creators out of the country and plunging us back into the Seventies, or worse.

You underestimate the British people if you think Jeremy Corbyn could never win a national election for Labour.  We have short memories and big hearts.  Despite people who claim they “hate all politicians” and have no interest in politics, we are suckers for a National Saint preaching that poverty, disability and inequality can be eradicated if only the top rate of tax was a bit more, or banks were nationalised, or unions were given control of companies, or price controls were imposed on whatever the cause of the day was.  Because he believes what he is saying, it lends his words a gravity they do not deserve.  He could win here, and if he did, we would be in deep trouble.