The NHS – Safe In Conservative Hands

The NHS – Safe In Conservative Hands

The Conservative Party were the party who first proposed the NHS (and the Welfare State) and so it is fitting that the Government now commits the largest ever increase in its funding, £20.5 Billion.

Next time some Lefty tells you “The Conservatives want to sell off the NHS” laugh at them, remind them it  was Labour that sold off a hospital, and that only through good economic management can huge increases like the current one be possible.

 

Puzzled

Puzzled

Why is it that so often when people lose elections, it can’t just be because they weren’t the best candidate?  It can’t just be because they weren’t very good.  Increasingly it always has to be some grand conspiracy or other.  It’s always somebody else’s fault, or something happened that shouldn’t have happened.  Never the slightest chance that they lost, fair and square?

I am often surprised, amused and intrigued to hear pronouncements from sources which make the most outlandish claims.  Anybody with a little intelligence can simply do the math, apply a little logic and see that it simply cannot be what they say it is that caused them to lose.  The numbers don’t add up.  But they don’t want to do the math, because that would mean acknowledging and admitting the truth – that the loss that has so outraged them was entirely fair and reasonable and nobody’s fault but their own.

We see this in International Politics and we see it at a very local level too.  Don’t want to admit you were beaten?   Make some silly claims, stick your head in the sand and pretend it was in some way crooked.  Anything appears to be better than just graciously accepting you lost.

It particularly tickles me when an election result goes a different way to what some people think it should and they cry “foul” saying “democracy is broken.”  They might blame the Russians, or London, or the “Wisbech Mafia” or whatever, the truth remains the truth.  Democracy is only “broken” if the complainers get to revisit the result in order to have another crack at winning.  And sometimes even then, they lose again.

One of the things I’ve learnt, from personal experience too, is that things just don’t always go the way you would like.  It’s not the Illuminati at work, it’s just the way things go sometimes.  Get over it.

 

Good For You, Sam

Good For You, Sam

I saw the details of my friend and colleague Sam Hoy’s conduct complain reached the newspaper this week.

In my opinion (and the whole of this post is just my opinion,) Sam Hoy is the hero of the piece, and I know the local people who are affected by the situation in question agree with that.  Because it would be easy for a Councillor to bow out of a neighbour’s dispute, where one person is allegedly bullying their vulnerable neighbours.  It would be easy to think “this is too difficult,” or “this person might make my life difficult if I get involved.”  That’s what a poor or cowardly Councillor would do.

Sam Hoy doesn’t do any such thing.  When she is asked for help, she helps.  When the vulnerable need a defender, she defends them.

The Conduct Complaint system is occasionally abused by people.  Abused to lay false claims for political gain, to smear a Councillor’s name, or just for revenge by petty small-minded cowards who think its a great way to “get even.”  Most of the time, the system works well and throws such darkly motivated complaints out.  Although the Conduct Committee itself has very few significant sanctions, that’s not why the complaints are made.  They are made in the hope the press will pick them up and damage reputations.  And that does sometimes happen.

In this case, I think the report pretty fair.  I very much hope the conduct committee throw out the complaint as this is the sort of Councillor we should be cheering from the rafters.  One who isn’t afraid to do the job she was elected to do and doesn’t run away even when she is becoming the victim of pretty unpleasant abuse from the usual nasty spiteful suspects.

If the Haters who are using this opportunity to pour very personal abuse on the poor lady think they are scoring tawdry points, they are wrong.  She will emerge, rightly, as exactly what she is.  A fine Councillor who wont be bullied into silence.  Good for you, Sam.

Castle Of The Dead – Finished!

Castle Of The Dead – Finished!

After three huge, sold out nights of Castle of the Dead, the event is over.  Time to move on to the next thing!

Wisbech Castle team would like to thank Tony Reader for all his hard work with our lights and electrics. Pam and Roger Rawson for being briliant with guests who needed help recovering from the fear and Unknown Beauty (Nicole Handley) for her brilliant make-up work. https://www.facebook.com/UnknownBeautyOfficial Finally we must thank Nine Lives Theatre company https://www.facebook.com/ninelivestheatrecompany/ for their incredible performances. Also Ben Prest Photography https://www.benprest.co.uk/ and David and Jess Oliver for their First Aid support. We could not have run Castle Of The Dead without these people and all the other amazing volunteers.

Most of all thanks to our incredible actors and volunteers, too many to list, who made such a fun show possible.

 

Castle of the Dead – Day One

Castle of the Dead – Day One

I’ve been going to scare attractions with friends for a few years now and I’ve often wondered if we could put one on.  I’m a game designer by trade and occasionally a writer and I’ve mulled over lots of ideas over the years.  But the first time I was able to play with them was Halloween 2017, where the Town Council brought in a haunted house fairground attraction and we upped the ante by opting to put live actors and a “story” into the mix.

Luckily, there are a fair few talented Councillors and friends of the Town Council because otherwise the idea simply wouldn’t have progressed.  But we were able to make the event work and Sorrow House was born – the story of a group of escaped lunatics who had holed in up a HMO and really didn’t want to leave. :)  One of the characters, “Big Baby”, was played by Sam Hoy who was far and away the most terrifying actor.  So much so that when we bring the same haunted house back this weekend, the plot is a sequel called “Sorrow House 2, the Revenge of Big Baby” centering on that characters continuing spooky story.

But Sorrow House is just a bit of fun.  The real opportunity to get our scare on came this year via the Wisbech Castle.  I’ve been thinking how great a scare attraction had the potential to be and working on the plot and script for some time.  What really made this possible was simply having such a lot of dedicated volunteers with a wealth of talent.  I genuinely thought we could make this a special event and provide not just great entertainment for the town but also be a cool fundraiser.

And so Castle of the Dead was born.

Preparations for Castle of the Dead have taken over a month.  Volunteers putting in their energy, skills and imagination to help develop the plot, the props, the property.  It’s been quite a journey, made no less difficult by the fact that we had to simultaneously do all the normal work around the Castle, and open it for its public tours, and open the new Cafe.  But somehow, thanks to a tireless group of very dedicated people, the project took shape.

It appears that the Town was hungry for something like this because by the time the week of the show came we had all but sold out of every timeslot.  We had space for a handful of walk-ins but otherwise there were no more tickets available.

Tonight the Castle of the Dead open its doors for its first evening (of three) and the guests – or should I call them “official observers” – began to arrive.

Our team is as varied group from teenagers to pensioners, from every walk of life.  Three members of the team are autistic in one form or another.  Two are disabled.  Yes we do also have a few more experienced actors, but many of our volunteers have never ever done anything like this before.  In fact quite a few never imagined they WOULD do anything like this.  And yet – wow.  They just knocked the ball out of the park tonight.  The opening night could not have gone better.  It really couldn’t.  You could hear the screams for miles – but when the survivors of the Zombie Onslaught emerged from their final encounter with Wisepenny the Clown and moved into the Castle for hot chocolate and cake, it was all laughter and smiles.

I am so proud of the team.  You can feel when something just goes well – the buzz, the click, the feeling that there’s an energy to what you are doing.  Yes, we were scaring people – in the best possible way.  But it was a whole lot of fun and everybody said so.  Tonight the Wisbech Castle Working Party, volunteers and Friends Of the Castle put on an incredible, sold out, blockbuster of a first event.  Not a penny of public money was spent, rather we have raised a considerable sum for Wisbech Castle.

Not only that, but I feel we may have a new annual event on our hands.  Because when you have this much fun doing something the first thing you begin to think about it “how can we make it better next year…”

We still have Thursday and Fridays shows to get through.  I can’t wait.

Wisbech Bowls Club

Wisbech Bowls Club

There are some problems with the current situation regarding Wisbech Bowls Club and the recent newspaper article in the Wisbech Standard highlights them.

For me, what this boils down to is what a Council-run Leisure Centre is actually for, and how the decision was taken that got us to where we are.

Now if a Council-run Leisure centre is exactly the same as any other private Leisure Centre, to deliver sports and leisure services that will make money and be popular, then its quite hard to argue against the current plan to remove the Bowls’ Hall from the club that has used it successfully.  After all, the claim is that this change will not only get an additional half-million pounds in investment, but will save the Council £140,000.  There are about 140 members of the Bowls’ Club, I am told, so the cost of “keeping” the Bowls Club is £1000 a head.  In a time of budget difficulties, that is not easy to ignore.

The problem is, I don’t think that a council Leisure Centre DOES have the same role as a private one.

After all – if you want to do exercise, spinning or whatever else the new investment is buying, there are already private institutions in the Town where these sort of activities are available.  Is it really the Council’s job to compete with private enterprise in this way?

I think that the job of a Council Leisure Centre is to fill in the gaps.  To provide exercise and activity for people whose needs are not likely to be met by the private sector.  If you are looking at running a club purely on a financial basis then you’d probably do away with the swimming club too.  Probably also the swimming pool, actually.  But we wouldn’t want to do those things because we value a local place for our kids to learn to swim and a pool for everybody to enjoy.  We see a public good which has value above and beyond the immediate commercial gains of a private institution.

Now Bowls is a sport for all ages, but I don’t think its a great secret that the demographic that is more common in the sport is older than the one which indulges in some other sports and activities.  The place offers light exercise for people who might not otherwise get enough light exercise, a place to meet friends and have fun.  Given the regular importance placed on keeping fit and combating loneliness and social isolation, the hugely successful bowls club is an example of a service whose value is far greater than the price tag might suggest.  Things like the gym are a useful way to subsidise the less profitable activities and I support them fully, but should not become the sole focus.

When the Council makes the claim that it will “ensure the club survive” that’s all well and good.  But if they are taking away their hall, what does that promise actually mean?  To the best of my knowledge there isn’t another local indoor bowl’s facility anywhere nearby, so what’s the plan?  Try and relocate them to some distant town?  Build a new Bowls Hall (and thereby make the current “savings” pointless?)  No answers are given, leaving us all a little unsure what is meant.

And how did it come to this anyway?

When the Council broadly supported investigating if a private firm could run a leisure centre more cost-effectively for us, nobody ever said “but it’ll mean closing the Bowls Club.”  Of course they didn’t, because on that basis it would never have been supported.  This stuff was all discussed around the same time as the Bowls’ Club was saved previously, so there would have been an enormous kickback against such a proposal.

Some of the other comments in the newspaper article are sad to see, also.  Don’t get me wrong, I know that you can’t trust what you read in the press and some of this story could be misleading or wrong.  But on the subject alone I was sorry to see the silly comment about how “it’s always Wisbech Wisbech Wisbech.”  This kind of attempt to pit one town against another is childish game-playing and should be avoided.  All Councillors do their best to highlight the areas they were elected to represent.  Why wouldn’t we?  Of course it is not always “Wisbech Wisbech Wisbech.”  Which is why other towns and villages have had investment, new facilities and endless discussion about the streetlights and other local issues.  To try and deflect from a damaging policy decision by making the discussion parochial is unhelpful and incorrect.  This is not something new that Wisbech seeks to secure from FDC funds, but something existing and valuable that FDC’s decision will remove from the town.  We are not all different countries, we are close Fenland neighbours and friends.  This is not a competition.  A little perspective?

I fully accept we have to save money and I fully accept that we all have a responsibility to help meet our difficult budget demands.  But if this matter had been through the political groups and through the council as a whole, and the issues of the Bowls Club discussed earlier, it may have been possible to seek a different “deal” with the private provider.  Those who have made the decision will of course say: “We investigated all avenues” or “this is the best deal we could get.”  Maybe so.  Maybe not.  But since the rest of us weren’t involved, we can’t ever know, can we?

Last I heard the deal had not been signed.  My advice would be to go back to Freedom Leisure and say: “Let’s have another look at this and see what we can do” and then involve the whole Council and all the elected Councillors in the discussion.  This is how you avoid a massive and unnecessary ding-dong with a lot of finger-pointing and wagging.  It’s not too late to have a rethink, even at the 11th hour.