Monthly Archives: June, 2017

Great Rose Fair day

Great Rose Fair day today!

It started off with a walk around the stalls and then a meet-and-greet for the coaches of visitors that were arriving. The vicar, Matthew Bradbury, the Deputy Mayor Peter Human and I made sure we gave everybody a warm welcome to our town.

At 11AM I made my way to Trinity Methodist Church where the children of Peckover School had come to perform for us. Their choir, guitarists and orchestra/band all did wonderfully. All the children sounded lovely and it was a very pleasant way to spend an hour. The young man who played the guitar solo was a highlight, as was the excellent horn quartet that surprised everybody with their skill and ability. Very talented children, lovely singers, very impressed with them all.

Then it was back out to greet a couple more coaches and a minibus of residents from Rose Lodge.

A quick lunch and it was off to Alderman Payne Primary School in Parson Drove to celebrate the opening of their new Reading Bus. Yes, its a real double-decker bus that the staff there have sourced and then fundraised to turn into an exciting library in the school grounds, complete with a fun slide to ride from the upstairs part of the bus to the ground! I was accompanied by Cllr Sarah Bligh, District Councillor for the area, and we both enjoyed meeting the students and proud parents. They also made me slide down the slide, which was inelegant at best :) I am not the size or shape to be sliding, it must be said, but it was a lot of fun.

And Here They Go Again…

And Here They Go Again…

(*from Facebook discussion)

I had rather hoped that the small but nasty crowd had given up.

But of course not. :) John Elworthy (what a surprise) is sharing a link to a petition on Twitter which renews all the failed attacks in just about as nasty a way as they can manage.

Over the last year they have tried everything to slander my name. After a year of nasty memes, personal insults about myself and my family, regular outright lies, false and mean newspaper articles, a relentless campaign of harassment across social media which was 100% supported by the press, nasty rumours, a constructed “protest” in the Town Council Chambers, and even a political election campaign they have failed over and over again.  There is not a week that passes where some new strategy, or a revamp of an old strategy, is attempted.

Well, they will need to get this into their heads. This mean and vindictive little group, with their sidekick newspaper Editor, will not grind me down. Every time they attack, it makes me work harder. Every time they try another tactic to get at me,it makes me work harder. Every time they try and bring me down, it makes me work harder. So #bringiton you third rate playground#bullies. I left school a very long time ago, I’m not a delicate snowflake you can frighten or insult into submission, and the only effect your antics will have is to make me up my level of commitment and work to counter your nastiness.

Looking Good, Wisbech

Looking Good, Wisbech

On Track Education Centre

On Track Education Centre

This afternoon I visited the On Track Education Centre, a Wisbech school that specialises in working with young people with statements of Special Education Needs and Disability (SEND) (SEBD) and other barriers to learning including Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, Aspergers and Autism and ADHD.

I love this place. I first visited it as the Deputy Mayor last year and I was truly blown away by the work they do there. Some of the young people that go there start off in very difficult circumstances and the school has a way of nurturing them which helps them grow confident and brings out their natural talents.

The staff are some of the most dedicated I have ever come across. The care and attention they provide must be one of the key reasons why the young people in their care manage to achieve so much and come on so well.

While I was Deputy Mayor I was thrilled by the genuine and caring ethos of the place. Each year the school presents awards to the students to celebrate their achievements and I was there last year to present those awards. I was moved to give a donation towards a trip that the staff wanted to take the students on. It seemed a very worthwhile cause indeed.

Going back this year as the Mayor it was plain to see that the school continues to work wonders with the young people in its care. These students are engaging, funny, cheeky, cocky, sassy, upbeat, confident and bright – everything you want to see in teenagers. They have taken the challenges dealt them and with the help of the staff they have torn those challenges to shreds and come on in leaps and bounds.

I presented this year’s awards as the Mayor and it was an honour to do so. These youngsters deserve those awards, every last one of them. They all receive a beautiful folder when they leave, personally inscribed, which showcases their awards and achievements and provides a great C.V. to help them move into the world of work.

What this school does is SO important and it does it SO well, I cannot express. It is my great pleasure to support them again this year with another donation equal to the one I gave last time. It was also my great pleasure to meet and cheer these young people who are able to work hard and turn their education around.

Just when I thought that the last award had been given they surprised me and presented ME with an prize. A CD and Video of the trip that they went on last year and where they had such a fantastic time. I was quite choked up, to be honest. What a wonderful day.

Meet & Greet, Rose Fair

Meet & Greet, Rose Fair

One of the jobs of the Mayor is to greet the coaches as they arrive for Rose Fair. People come from all over the country to visit Wisbech and we try to give them a really warm welcome.

The Mayor and Macebearer board the coach as it arrives and welcome everybody to the town.

Then as the people disembark the Mayor, Deputy Mayor, Deputy Mayoress, Macebearer and the Vicar of St Peters Church speak to them and welcome them to the Town, giving them a map and a guide of the things to see. People really seem to enjoy it and many remark that they are surprised at such a warm welcome.

Talking to people who have come, many are on the fourth or fifth visit – returning year after year because they love Rose Fair so much. They are all full of praise for Wisbech, which is a place many express respect, delight and admiration for. Its very humbling. It’s easy to forget how fantastic our town is until you hear people who have paid to come and visit us, time after time, because they love our town so much.

Nine coachfuls arrived today, plus a coachful of children from Tydd St Giles. Even though it was absolutely bucketing it down, everybody was smiling and laughing. Many expressed the view that “we are British and this is weather is exactly what we expect” in very good humour.

One of the best things about being Mayor is getting to meet so many lovely people. After greeting the coaches the Macebearer and I did a walkaround, visiting Trinity Church, all the stalls in St Peters Church Gardens, the Methodist church, and talking to as many people as we could. Then we popped into Loafers for a spot of lunch and to try and get dry. :)

I’d really like to thank Peter Human and Janet Tanfield, the Deputy Mayor and his consort, for their help today catching the coaches that I missed while on other duties. They really were supportive and so good with the visitors, it was a godsend to have them pitching in.

We shall be out and about every day of Rose Fair and hope to see as many of the good folk of Wisbech there as we can. if you see us, please come and say: “Hello.”

Rose Fair Shop Window Competition

Rose Fair Shop Window Competition

This morning I was out with our town’s Macebearer, a journalist from the excellent Fenland Citizen newspaper, and a representative of the Chamber of Commerce, to judge the Rose Fair Shop Window competition.

This year the themes were “the Artists Pallet” and “Famous Books” (the overall Rose Fair theme) and there were some very creative and interesting entries.

We got absolutely drenched as it poured with rain the whole time and our umbrellas failed, one by one, to staunch the downpour. But we were all in good spirits and the town was beautiful even in the poor weather.

I’d like to thank all the wonderful shops that took part. Well done to the two shops that got commendations; Sense and Coakley Opticians, to “Pictures and Presents” which was one of my personal favourites, and to the excellent overall winner – The British Red Cross, whose window display was nothing short of amazing.

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.