The Retreat

The Retreat

I went to FDC Planning Committee today to speak in support of The Retreat, a local business that wants to protect itself from vandalism with railing on its windows and wants to keep the uPVC Windows that were installed a few years ago (by a company who had assured them the proper permissions have been obtained.)

I wanted to support The Retreat because they are a great local business.  Real community supports, local employers, doing their best to bring a great service to our town.

I also wanted to support them because we should support entrepreneurs and businesses in our area.  As a Conservative, I believe in supporting local business.  I think we should be removing obstacles, not putting them in the way.

I also also wanted to support them because the rules are just plain stupid.  They serve nobody.  They are a paradise for bureaucrats, penpushers and over-promoted box tickers.  They are supposed to protect our “heritage” but they don’t even do that.  They are so woefully out-of-date and poorly-structured, that they are little more than a joke.

And so we have it that this business, sandwiched between two nightclubs, a vandalised public toilet and a car wash, is considered to be in a zone of such beauty that it requires protection.  The form this “protection” takes is to load it with such archaic conditions and rules and associated costs that it is crippled.  Oh well done, FDC.  Slow clap for you.

I pointed out to the committee that the vast majority of the public support The Retreat.  It’s not that we don’t love our heritage – we do!  It’s that we recognise the common sense observation that some very nice uPVC windows are better than a burnt-out old ruin or a crumbling structure that nobody can afford to repair.

I pointed out that Wisbech Town Council almost-unanimously supported a motion to support The Retreat on this issue.  They didn’t give a stuff. They don’t care what the local Councillors think about it, or what the local people think about it.

How does this look to the people of Wisbech?  Everybody I’ve spoken to wants the Retreat to be able to get on with their business.  They support the right of local businesses to protect themselves from vandalism.  They think this crazy uPVC / Conservation Zone rule can be considered on a case-by-case basis so that it can be applied on areas of real interest, but not used to scupper and harm small traders who are just trying to improve the town and make ends meet.

I’ve long thought that being a Councillor for too long leads to people “going native.”  They become unable to think outside the box, they look only to the guidance of officers, who in turn can only make decisions to the precise letter of the law.  Common sense is the sacrifice to the altar of the petty bureaucrat.

All in all I am left very disappointed.  I am disappointed with a Planning Committee that has been shaky for a number of years in my opinion, but seems to have now entirely lose its heart and soul.  I am disappointed at a committee of people claiming to know what is best for Wisbech, none of whom are from Wisbech.  Most of all I am disappointed that the views of the people, the business owners, the Town Council, and the Mayor of Wisbech were essentially sneered at.

I hope The Retreat will get through this and go on to prosper.  I am very sorry for the decision which was taken, which I believe was utterly and profoundly the wrong decision.

Go Now.

Go Now.

It is often said amongst Conservative circles that “blue on blue” is a fight we should never have.

I don’t agree with that, but I do try and always make sure my criticisms are logical and valid.

I would just like to make a plea to Prime Minister Theresa May.

Yes, I know, she doesn’t read my little blog and never will.  But sometimes it takes many small voices to get one big voice to listen.

Mrs May.  Please make way for a new Leader.

I am sure you have done your best.  I am sure you believed in what you were doing.  I am sure you meant well.

But you led us into a disastrous early election, you ran the worst campaign many of us have ever seen.

And now you are reneging on our commitment to a proper Brexit.

Inside the Westminster bubble it must seem as though things are going okay.

Things are not going okay.

Your present path leads the Conservative Party to disaster and the country into dark waters.

We voted for Brexit.  You said you would deliver it.  This sham you are trying to push through is not real Brexit.

Please.  Go now.  Make way for a Leader who has the ability, courage and desire to deliver on the democratic will of the British people.

It is nearly too late, but not quite.  Yet.  Do the right thing for Party and Country.  Please.

You may think it will be messy, and you are right.  But not nearly as messy and damaging as if you hold on.


Victoria Tea Party (Aftermath)

Victoria Tea Party (Aftermath)

I’m sorry I didn’t write up the Tea Party last night, but (like all the other volunteers) I was shattered. The long, busy day and hot Sun took its toll.

Pretty much everything went off without hitch, we sold completely out of cake, hundreds of people enjoyed the gardens, the house and the vaults in the glorious sunshine.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the team of volunteers who helped deliver such a successful “first event” for the Castle under new management.

The amazing work that has been undertaken in such a short space of time and so far under budget was plain to all and the complete turnaround of the site was appreciated and much-commented on.

Wisbech Castle is reclaiming its position as the much-loved heart of the town. The brilliant volunteers are the reason why this has been made possible. Thank you so much, keep up the good work!

*Photos as published on Facebook by Tony Bennett and others.

Ten Pieces Of Advice For Candidates

Ten Pieces Of Advice For Candidates

In my usual helpful way I thought I’d run through some tips I’ve picked up over many years of volunteering in and running election campaigns.  These are just my anecdotes and are targeted at nobody and nothing specific.

(1)  It’s a good idea if you live in the area you are standing for
You can stand somewhere you don’t live, for sure, but you will have to do extra work to cover the natural disadvantage this brings.  If you are well-known, popular, or live very close by, you may be okay.  If you have very strong ties to the area, you may be okay.  But if you are an unpopular character with an uncertain history – you are going to find it an uphill struggle.

(2)  Stop whining
People hate whiny candidates.  It makes for a terrible campaign.  If all you do is whine and whine some more, your campaign will never gain steam.

(3)  Don’t get stuck in your bubble
If you have a small group of friends who all keeping telling you that you are definitely going to win, its easy to believe them.  If they tell you they are going to vote for you, this is only of use if they do actually live in the area you want to be elected in.  Otherwise, their promises of support will simply end in an embarrassing trip to a polling station they can’t vote at.  in politics, we call this a “bubble.”  It is a self-sustaining miniature community of the like-minded.  It may feel comforting, but it’s false comfort.  If you just keep losing and losing, over and over again, it may be because you think your bubble is representative of the real world, when it really isn’t.

(4)  Stop attacking your opponents
You may think that spending most of your time running down your opponents is a powerful tactic because you heard once that “negative campaign works.”  But the people giving you that advice were only telling you half the story.  First of all, for negative campaigning to work, it helps if it is actually true.  You also need to be very clean yourself to pull it off or you’ll just look like a hypocrite or worse.  Just making up some negative attack lines will play well to the audience in your bubble (see (3) above) but will fall flat outside that.  You are much better to talk about the positive things you would like to achieve – be somebody with ideas and energy, not just a skinful of bile and regret.

(5)  Saying “I wont attack my opponents” and then going on to attack your opponents is a disastrous strategy.
People aren’t stupid.  If you treat them like they are stupid, they will not thank you for it.

(6)  Beware the Guru
Running an election campaign is like managing a football team – everybody has an opinion on it, and everybody thinks they can do it.  There are no prizes for second place (usually) and listening to bad advice is often worse than not taking any advice at all.

(7)  Stop blaming everybody else
When you lose, you lose.  It’s not the fault of the other candidates.  They ran their campaigns, you ran yours, you lost.  It’s certainly not the fault of the electorate – and moaning endlessly about them is a sure way to make sure you lose next time too.  Voters get irritated by you telling them how they “should have” voted.

(8)  Beware your endorsements
If you are going to be endorsed by somebody, make it somebody with some standing in the community.  Not somebody who has failed the community.

(9)  Don’t underestimate your opponents
You may think you are the big fish in the pond but election night is a harsh reality check and  you may find yourself gaping in surprise and horror as the votes stack up against you.

(10)  Have fun!
If your team are a miserable, moody, sullen, resentful bunch that will rub off on your campaign.  And you’ll probably lose.

I hope this is helpful.  But remember, it’s just one opinion.  There are almost certainly others.