Peter Clayton’s Civic Walk

Peter Clayton’s Civic Walk
This morning I joined the legendary Peter Clayton and guests for his Civic Walk around town.
 
Starting at the Octavia Hill Museum, we took in the Town Council Chambers and Corn Exchange building, the Wisbech Institute, the Market Place and the Rose & Crown Hotel, Wisbech Museum, Wisbech Castle, St Peters Church and Angles Theatre.
 
Although it poured with rain and we huddled under umbrellas, it was nevertheless an enjoyable, informative walk. Peter knows everything about everything, I think its fair to say, and his enthusiasm for our Town is second-to-none. His knowledge of history is deep and fascinating and he has a way of bringing to life the people and places that loom large in our past.
 
A very pleasant, if very wet, way to spend a couple of hours. Thank you to all involved.

Bucknor Resignation, revisited

Bucknor Resignation, revisited

I get so frustrated with the WIsbech Standard and the way it does the same thing, time and again: Which is to print any pack of lies and spin sent to it by Virginia Bucknor, uncritically and immediately.

The latest article about her resignation is just absolute nonsense. It seems to me that her and her husband had decided to resign in advance of the meeting and just wanted some political thing to “hang it on.”

She says in the article that the Council Leaders Plan “did not include Wisbech Garden Town until she asked for it to be added.” Sounds bad, right? Sounds like the Leader wasn’t bothered? The truth is that the Leader made some suggestions and asked for input from other Councillors – Mrs Bucknor made a suggestion and it was immediately included. But when you tell it *that* way it doesn’t stack up with the “nobody ever listens to us” argument she is trying to make, so the spin works better for her.

She is resigning because she wanted her Minor Highways bid to not have to face competition from other bids. She wanted to rig the vote in advance to guarantee her bid won, and is furious when we would not.

How could I vote for this? What would the residents of Colvile Road have thought about it? I have met with them and they are keen to have a Minor Highways bid to make their road safer. If I had said to them: “You know that meeting we all had? Well, I’ve decided ‘stuff you lot’ I’m dumping your needs and supporting Virginia Bucknor’s plan without any discussion” what would they have thought of that?

What about Wilberforce Road, or Queens Road, or Tinkers Drove, or any of the other parts of town where bids are forthcoming? What would the residents have felt to hear that we’d decided to ignore their bids months in advance, in favour of the Bucknors’ bid? Might they have said: “How DARE you?” Because I suspect that would have been EXACTLY how they felt.

The bidding process is there to allow different bids to be heard and evidence examined, in order that the best bid goes forward. Even if a bid fails, it can still be taken forwards independently by local Councillors.

The Bucknors wanted to “fix” the bid in their favour and against all the other bids in town, and when we would not agree to fix the bid and simply asked them to go through the correct procedure, they threw their toys out of the pram and began the usual sequence of blaming everybody else.

The sad thing is that the 20MPH scheme over which they claim to have resigned could have been implemented years ago if they’d just followed the advice they were given. The fact that they did not, and it was not, should make any fair-minded person wonder what the real agenda was.

Mr & Mrs Bucknor Resign

Mr & Mrs Bucknor Resign

This morning, Town Councillors received the following email from the two Independent Councillors, Mr & Mrs Bucknor:

This is to to give our formal resignations from Wisbech Town Council.

Following the refusal to support (again) our hundreds of residents requests to introduce 20mph for Waterlees, we believe anything we propose is just refused because we are not Conservatives. As I mentioned at the council meeting this evening, this same proposal was promised by Conservatives in their 2011 election leaflets!

May we respectfully suggest that the resignation timetable is linked with Cllr Lay’s resignation so that the three Waterlees by elections (if called) can be held at the same time. This would seem the most economical for the town.

We will still continue supporting our residents as Fenland District councillors.

I fully expect that this will be published, unquestioned, in the Wisbech Standard this week and that’s a shame because it’s simply not a fair description of what happened.

The Conservative candidates who stood in 2011 are no longer Councillors.  Current Councillors are not bound by the views of past Councillors who are no longer members of the Town Council.  Furthermore, those candidates lost that election, which doesn’t seem to add weight to the things they campaigned for?  But that’s neither here nor there.

Cllr Bucknor claims that anything they propose is refused “because they are not Conservatives.”  I don’t recall them proposing many things, but they have now twice tried to talk the Town Council into going along with their 20MPH Zone scheme.  The first time there was a healthy debate had and anybody who is interested can read my blog entries from that time – including a guest post from another Councillor – detailing our reservations and recommendations.  Even that first time we told them we would support the plan in their ward but advised that they should do it through the mechanism of a local group application.  We even advised them on ways this could be done, and at the time their County Councillor was Paul Clapp, who was supportive of their plans and should have been easily able to steer through such a small scheme as this.  It is a shame that Mrs Bucknor forgets the various things we agreed with her and supported her on even in that same meeting last night, including the importance of Town Council being involved in developments of the Garden Town plan.

Mrs. Bucknor says she and her husband are resigning because their motion failed to garner the support of the Town Council for her 20MPH scheme.  To understand why this is unfair it needs to be understood what she was asking for.  County Council have not yet even invited any bids for Minor Highways schemes yet, and when they do the Town Council can only put one forwards.  Mrs Bucknor sought to fix the competition so that her plan would be automatically selected and no other plans even got a look in.

How is this in any way reasonable?

I already have three community groups who would like a plan put forwards.  One on Colvile Road who I have met with twice in recent weeks and are keen to get measures in to slow traffic down and make their road safer.  One on Wilberforce Road who seek to use a minor highways bid to discourage incorrect travel on a one-way road.  And residents of Tinkers Drove, who would like to get some speed reduction measures (physical measures, not some signs) to slow traffic down there.  That’s just me.  I am sure other Councillors have their own plans and demands from residents.  Why would Town Council decide, long in advance, to go with the Bucknors’ scheme over all of those other schemes?  Why are the Bucknors of more value than the residents of Colvile Road, or Wilberforce Road, or Tinkers Drove, or anywhere else that may have a bid to submit?  The Bucknors’ motion was clear that they sought to “get agreement now” so that they would not “have to be in competition with all the other bids.”  How on Earth is that in any way fair or reasonable?

Frankly, if that’s the reason for their resignation then I’m afraid it just does not stack up.  Had they put their bid in alongside all the others they could have made their case at the proper time, and Town Council would have chosen their favourite bid of those available.  I am sure that Mr & Mrs Bucknor would say they had “no chance” because they are “not Conservatives.”  I don’t think that’s true at all, Billy Rackley is a Town Councillor for Waterlees and I am the County Councillor for Waterlees and we would both be keen to hear ideas and see bids that would help the areas that we also represent.  I also think that all the other Town Councillors would give a fair ear to the plans, but I think the real problem here is that the Bucknors lost the argument last time and have no new arguments to make, so they feel they wouldn’t get support.

But even that falls down as a reason to resign.  Last night I told Mrs Bucknor that if the 20MPH Zone bid did not win in the fair competition, then I would support her in putting it forwards as a local community group bid instead.  She even asked for my comments to be specifically minuted.

So Mr & Mrs Bucknor have resigned because they would not be given special status over the other areas of Wisbech, would not get a preferential treatment for their personal bid for a fund that is not even available yet, and could not implement their 20MPH Zone – even though they could have implemented it years ago very easily and could have done so this year as a private bid which I offered full support and assistance for.  Seems strange to me.

Nevertheless, I’d like to thank Mr & Mrs Bucknor for their work at Town Council and wish them all the best for the future.

Bourne Civic Service

Bourne Civic Service
Today was my first visit to Bourne, a lovely little market town in Lincolnshire.
 
I was there for the Mayor of Bourne’s Civic Service, which was a well-organised and interesting one. For once, I knew ALL of the hymns! (Never happens, usually.)
 
All in all a pleasant morning spent with nice people in a charming place I had never visited before.

Peterborough Mayor’s Open Day

Peterborough Mayor’s Open Day
I’ve been in Peterborough today, at the Mayor’s Open Day event.
 
It was a chance to visit their spectacular City Council building and meet other Mayors and Mayoresses and their consorts from far and wide.
 
We were well looked after and I even won a prize in the raffle that was run to raise funds for the Mayor’s Charities there.

Cupcakes!

Cupcakes!

This morning I had the pleasure of joining the good folks at the Robert Hall Centre for their Cupcake Day festivities.

Multiple generations of the talented and wonderful Shippey family entertained us all with singalongs, show tunes and old songs that were much enjoyed.

Despite the heat, the hall was cool and an enjoyable morning was had. Well done to all the organisers!

Armed Forces Day, Wisbech 2017

Armed Forces Day, Wisbech 2017

The Mayoress and I attended Wisbech Armed Forces day today.

It was a privilige to meet heroes, past, present and future, upon whose dedication, bravery and honour the safety and security of our country relies.

I gave a speech thanking them for their service and sacrifice, and was asked to inspect the parade, which was truly an honour.

Visiting the stalls I enjoyed the displays and various fundraising games. My Wife and I talked to lots of nice people and I even managed to get some on-the-spot first aid instruction, as well as checking out the size of different ammunition rounds.

Well done to Mr and Mrs Hutchinson and their team, who organise this important event so well. I was proud to play a small part in it.

I’d also like to thank the volunteers from Wisbech Citizens’ Patrol who escorted the Mayoress and I around during the event.

 

The Wisbech Society Civic Open Day

The Wisbech Society Civic Open Day

The Mayoress and I spent a very warm and very enjoyable afternoon with the Wisbech Society and guests at the Civic Open Day, which was being held at the Wisbech Borough Cemetery.

This beautiful and secluded little corner of Wisbech is utterly peaceful. The tranquility giving such a strong sense of rest and calm that you naturally find yourself speaking in a hushed voice as you walk around.

Given how close it is to the hustle and bustle of Asda and Leverington Road you’d be excused for thinking you’d slipped into another world, but I cannot recommend highly enough a quiet and contemplative walk around here as an antidote to a occasional chaos of the outside world.

The reason for the open day was to celebrate that the Wisbech Society had secured a large grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to help them reinstate the old cemetery building. This is such good news and once complete it will be another gem in our Town’s quiet crown.

My hat is off to the folk of the Wisbech Society for the amazing work they do to promote and preserve the heritage of our town. I have joined as a member today to be sure to give these local heroes my full support.

 

NSPCC Quiz at the Walton Highway Club.

NSPCC Quiz at the Walton Highway Club.
On Friday evening I was asked to join in with a fundraising quiz for the NSPCC, being held at the Walton Highway Club.
 
It was good to see such a large crowd attracted to the event, which is raising money for such an important cause.
 
I moved around the tables trying to “help” each team, though I’m not sure I wasn’t more of a hinderance given how bad I am at quizzes – but everybody was very gracious. :)
 
Thank you to the organisers, including Belinda Francis and other lovely people, for inviting me.

Rose Lodge Open Day

Rose Lodge Open Day

This afternoon I visited Rose Lodge which was having an Open Day.

I met the residents and joined them for a natter, a cup of tea and a singalong of classic songs.

It was a great deal of fun and it was lovely to meet so many residents, who regaled me with stories of what Wisbech used to be like.

The staff were exemplary, working very hard to make sure everybody was comfortable and enjoyed the event.