Monthly Archives: December, 2017

Nightmayor Winter Ale

Nightmayor Winter Ale

Just for fun I have commissioned a Mayoral Beer from Elgoods’.

This rather special ale should be available shortly in The Angel, the King’s Head and the Three Tuns. I’d like to thank these pubs for allowing me to run a charity beer for a month or so.

7.5% @ £2.50 a pint.

I have paid for the ale from my own pocket, not from any Council or Mayoral funds. (Before anybody gets uppity!) 

Profits going to the Mayor’s Charity Fund.

Please drink responsibly :)

20mph limit is more dangerous

20mph limit is more dangerous but too costly to reverse, council admits

Today, in the Daily Telegraph:

Reducing the speed limit to 20mph has caused a rise in death and serious injuries, a council has admitted, but is refusing to reverse the scheme because it will cost too much.

Bath and North East Somerset Council spent £871,000 bringing in the 13 new speed zones just 12 months ago.

But one year on, a report has found that the rate of people killed or seriously injured has gone up in seven out of the 13 new 20mph zones.

The review of the traffic control measures warns that this is a problem nationally, adding: “There is no simple explanation for this adverse trend but it could be that local people perceive the area to be safer due to the presence of the 20mph restrictions and thus are less diligent when walking and crossing roads, cycling or otherwise travelling.”

Despite the council’s own report concluding that there is “little in the way of persuasive argument for continuing the programme in the future”, deputy leader Patrick Anketell-Jones has admitted there simply isn’t the money available to reverse the 20mph zones.

The Conservative councillor said: “It has cost over £800,000 to roll out the 20mph zone and it would probably cost the same to reverse them.

“We just haven’t got the money. I’m pretty sure the 20mph zones will stay in place for the foreseeable future.”

It adds that the rise in casualty numbers and severity would “suggest against further expansion of area based schemes.”

In the 12 months since each 20mph zone was installed the rate of people killed or seriously injured has gone up in seven out of the 13 areas.

The reductions had been seen in central Bath whilst the worsening was largely in outlying rural areas.

The report added: “Casualty severity has worsened marginally in Bath and more so in outlying towns. Again, this is reflective of the national situation.”

This is not the first warning that 20mph areas are more dangerous. In 2010 the Department for Transport reviewed the scheme in Portsmouth, one of the first areas to adopt it, and found that number of people killed or seriously injured on affected roads actually went up, not down, after the limit was lowered.

Retired civil servant Simon Marshall, 58, from Lower Weston, called on Bath council to review the 20mph speed limits, calling them “unduly restrictive”.

And he said he was astonished to see the report and learn that the council couldn’t afford to reverse the zones, despite rising numbers of deaths and serious injuries.

He said: “The facts are that the numbers of people being killed and injured are going up since the zones were introduced.

“More people are being hurt because less people are taking care, and the council are saying that they can’t afford it.

“To my mind that’s saying that people are being seriously hurt but we are not prepared to stump up the cash to stop that happening.”

The Government’s current guidance remains that more traffic authorities should consider introducing the lower limits.

A nationwide review of 20mph limits published by the The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) last month concluded: “A large number of evaluation studies have demonstrated a link between the introduction of 20mph zones and a subsequent reduction in casualties. The size of the reductions and the consistency of results over a wide number of areas are further evidence for this link.”

However, their review pointed out that 20mph zones in which other traffic calming measures were introduced alongside the reduction in limit were much more effective.

In Bath and North East Somerset they brought in the changes with a speed reduction and signs to indicate it only.

The RoSPA report noted: “20mph limits without traffic calming also reduces traffic speed, although this effect is smaller than when they are introduced with traffic calming or other measures. Their lower cost means that wider areas can be covered.”

I believe this qualifies as a complete vindication of what I and others have been saying for the last few years. 20MPH zones, or “Twenty’s Plenty” not only don’t stack up, but actually make our communities more dangerous.

Saturday Fun

Saturday Fun

I started the day with the Very Merry Christmas Show, put on by the Nine Lives Theater Company at the Institute. I caught the morning show and what a brilliant way to start the day. My Wife and I thoroughly enjoyed the entertaining spectacle which featured dancing, singing and an amusing plot and characters. All performed absolutely flawlessly by the Nine Lives Team, who just seem to go from strength to strength.

After that I passed through town and noticed how exceptionally busy it was. Heaving, I think, is the correct term! Good to see.
Then it was on to Lyncroft Care Home on Clarkson Avenue where I opened their Christmas Fayre and then spent an hour with the staff, residents and guests. I picked up some good stocking fillers too, from the many varied stalls that were selling there.
This evening I had been invited to the Queen Mary Centre for the Vive La Voce show. This was a funded by Market Place and driven by the talented Linda Ekins, which has brought people who did not believe they could sing together. With just 12 weeks training these “non singers” have put on this show. Now I thought this stuff only happened in movies, but Linda has certainly proved that real life can be just as surprising because this group of singers sounded like they had been singing for years. Linda says that anybody can sing and her techniques give evidence to her claims because this was a fun night full of surprising and well-performed songs. Others will have their own favourites by I particularly liked Scarborough Fayre, which had just the right haunting medieval sound and harmonies. Well done all!

Manic Friday

Manic Friday

Today has been a mammoth day for Mayoral things.

I started at Clarkson Infant and Nursery School where I was pleased to be a guest at not one, but two Christmas Assemblies. It’s great to see another excellent local school where parents and teachers are so clearly working as a team to make such a positive learning environment for the children. I helped give out the awards for 100% attendance, and there were a LOT! The headteacher and staff are an incredibly impressive bunch and the parents and children are like a giant family.
After this I was on my way to the Cambian School, which specialises in children who, for one reason or another, could not manage in mainstream schools. I had never been to this school before and just WOW. What lovely teachers and well-behaved and bright children. Whatever hiccups have brought these kids to this place, it is clearly somewhere in which they are excelling. i was shown “the dungeons”, while the kids leapt out and tried to make me jump. We messed around on the keyboard in the music room. We played lego (no organised sets, just lump all the sets together and be super creative!) Loved it. And the children had made Gingerbread Christmas biscuits, which I then joined in decorating. What a fine way to spend an hour or two in the afternoon. Clearly I am a big kid at heart! :)
Next it was off to St Peters Church for the Grammar School Carol Service. Now I’ve been to a lot of carol services this Christmas, but this was something special. The schools young musicians and singers were absolutely top notch. Our town is so loaded with talented young people, we are literally bursting at the seams with potential. Everything about this service was classy, from the amazing single-voice solo from a balcony at the start to the rousing choirs throughout and I just loved every minute of it.
Over to North Brink to visit Conifer Lodge care home, which is a nursing care home that specialises in people with learning disabilities and mental health conditions. Conifer Lodge had a pantomime show and I was invited. The show was delivered by two young ladies who played all the different parts, with quick costume changes behind a small screen. it was hilarious, musical, engaging and fun throughout. The residents were joint stars of the show, often jumping up and dancing and singing with the actors. Such a lot of fun! I loved meeting everybody there and seeing them have such a brilliant time. I was made very welcome and even joined in some of the dancing. Brilliant, wonderful fun!
Then I picked up my Mum and my Stepdad, who came with me to the Mayor of March’s Christmas Carol Service in the Church of St Peter in March. I had been given a reading to do as part of the service. Mayor Kim French had put together an exceptional service with lovely singing from MADAOS and readings from all sorts of people. There were lots of other Mayors and Council Chairman there in various chains and adornments. After the lovely service we had mince pieces of refreshments in the church hall.
It’s been a long day with literally one Mayoral invite after another. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.

Manic Thursday

Manic Thursday

I was off this morning delivering leaflets across North Ward / Waterlees to remind residents of our Councillor’s Coffee Morning at the Oasis Center.  I was joined by most of the Conservative North Ward team and a bunch of residents with issues they’d like resolved, and ideas they’d like to share.  We drank quite a lot of coffee and it was a useful way to meet with residents and get their views and concerns.

Then, on with my “Mayor hat.”

This afternoon I visited the St. Augustines Day Care Centre for their Christmas Carols and Afternoon Tea. We were entertained by some excellent singers from the Walsoken Church and a very nice time was had. I always enjoy spending time with the St Augustine’s gang, lots of laughs and merriment.

I had to leave before the end in order to make the Magdalene House Christmas Service at St. Peters’, where the children were responsible for most of the singing and bible readings. Proud parents watched on and, I am sure, had just as lovely a time as I did.

There is always so much happening in Wisbech, but never more so than Christmas!

A quick drive to March followed, where I switched hats again and attended the last FDC Full Council meeting of the year.  A fairly straightforward agenda was cleared in short order and that’s it for FDC for 2017!  Since CCC had its last Full Council meeting on Tuesday that means we only have next Monday’s Town Council meeting to go and then it’s holiday time!  For a few days anyway.

Extra funding to support vulnerable residents



December 13, 2017

Extra funding to support vulnerable residents

More disabled people living in Fenland will be able to get help they need to continue living in their own homes thanks to almost £84,000 of additional Government funding.

Fenland District Council has received an extra £83,600 of Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG) funding to help people make adaptations to their homes and live independently for longer.

The funding tops up the district’s 2017/18 DFG allocation of £944,000 which has been spent making more than 100 households more accessible since April. The extra cash means other people will be able to get the support they need now rather than have to wait until next year when the 2018/19 funding becomes available.

The funding provides grants to disabled people and their families to help them make changes to their homes. Adaptations could include widening doors and installing ramps and handrails to improving access to rooms and facilities with a stair lift or downstairs bathroom. It could also adapt heating or light controls to make them easier to use.

Councillor Will Sutton, Fenland District Council’s Cabinet member responsible for building communities, said he was pleased the needs of Fenland’s more vulnerable residents were considered when the additional DFG funding was allocated.

Neighbouring authority Cambridge City Council was awarded £66,000 of extra funding, with South Cambs District Council receiving £61,000 and East Cambs District Council £51,000.

“This extra funding means we can help more residents get the help they need to live independently and safely in their own homes and also get help more quickly,” said Cllr Sutton. “Enabling people to stay in their own homes for as long as they want and are able to do so is not only better for them, but it also reduces the pressure on our healthcare services.”

Christmas Festivities

Christmas Festivities
I was lucky enough to be invited to two events this evening.
The first, at the Queen Mary Centre, was a Christmas Family Party organised by the Rima’s Ladies Lithuanian Community group that meet regularly at that venue. There was a festival atmosphere with all the children in costume and families having a lot of fun. Games, dances and music were shared and everybody was joining in. A Lithuanian Santa Claus made an appearance, complete with a very colourful Christmas Stave. It was quite a spectacle! The food that had been made by members of the group and donated by volunteers looked absolutely delicious, but I was unable to try and because I had to rush off to….
…. The 14th Scouts Christmas Carol Service at the Trinity Methodist Church. Which was also immense fun, with an unusual delivery full of action, drama and powerful messages. The Beavers, Cubs and Scouts all took part, including a lovely instrumental solo on the clarinet. The 14th Scouts raise money every year to buy a hamper for the Trafford Ward to bring a smile to people who have long-term illness and are in hospital over the Christmas period. This year, the staff of the Trafford ward returned the favour and brought selection packs for the children and young people who work so hard to raise money for them. It was very touching.
All in all a very nice evening. Thank you to all those involved for your hard work, and for inviting me to join you. Also thanks to Councillor Samantha Hoy for being my additional person to help look after the Mayoral chain.

Christmas Lights

Christmas Lights

A few people have moaned a bit about the Christmas Lights and I thought I’d put down the background and facts to help people understand where we are and how we got here.

A few years ago we really DID have terrible lights. Basically, we had the bulbs along the river and some more bulbs in the Market Place, and that’s it. The Christmas Light Switch On was a handful of Councillors and a few dozen people watching a switch get pressed and some bulbs light up. It wasn’t ideal.

Every year people complained bitterly about them, but Christmas lights are a lot of money and Town Council didn’t want to commit that sort of budget to improving them. When I became a Town Councillor I put in a motion to spend a huge chunk on lights and managed to get support for it.

But we wanted to be sure the people of the Town supported it to0, so we did a vote in the local papers. Here’s a blog post from 2014 about it:…/

A majority voted for the improvements, but even then there were still a fair few who thought it was a waste of money and shouldn’t be done.

With a majority vote and support on the Council we pressed on and implemented the new lights, which took six months of getting competitive quotes, designing schemes etc.

Myth Buster 1: We did not spend loads of money on designing a scheme, that was all included in the quotation as the companies sought to win our business.

Although it was quite close and we weren’t sure we’d get the improvements in time we did manage to get them installed for Christmas 2014. That year the Christmas Light Switch on event broke all records. It has continued to break them each year since.

Myth Buster 2: You can’t just buy any old lights and string them up. Government authorities must purchase suitable, safe, durable, commercial lighting from reputable companies.

£20,000 does not go as far as you might think. We managed to secure the central piece in the Market Place, the lights and glowing stars on the trees, the light fixtures that adorn most exits from the Market Place, and the long channel of lights than run along High Street. Also some improvements elsewhere.

We did not spend all the money the first year and we did not install all the lights we had purchased. We have added a little each year since: lights on Hill Street. Lights on the Town Council Chambers. In response to calls from people for lights on the Freedom Bridge Roundabout, we did those.

Myth Buster 3: March have lovely Christmas Lights. They were donated by a very wealthy benefactor in a will. March are very lucky to have had such a generous donation. Wisbech has not had any large donations but would certainly welcome any if you have some funds you can spare, or know somebody who does.

Although spending £20,000 may seem like a lot, people do not realise that it costs a huge amount for a contractor to install the lights and to remove them, and this cost repeats every year. Every time we increase the amount of lights we put up, we increase the large installation and removal costs too. So when new lights are purchased that is not a one-off cost, but must also consider the additional costs every year for installation, runtime and removal.

Myth Buster 4: Lights do sometimes break down. This is outside of our control. When they break down the Council does everything it can to get the contractor to put the problem right as soon as possible. Sometimes this can be done quickly, sometimes it cannot. The North Brink lights were down for a few days and have now been repaired. Some of the lights on the Christmas Tree aren’t presenting working and that will be remedied as soon as possible.

All of this – the Switch On Event, the organisation of the lights, the planning, is done by a tiny team of dedicated volunteers and a handful of Town Council staff and Councillors. Anybody can volunteer to be a part of the Festivals Working Party, which organises and runs almost all of our town festivals. Please do volunteer if you can spare the time. It’s hard work, but mostly rewarding. The only time it’s not rewarding is when somebody sits on their couch and tells those volunteers how much better everything should be. If you want it to be better, come be a part of making it better.

Myth Buster 5: What can be done in the Market Place is quite limited. To install Christmas Lights requires special permanent fixtures to attach the lights to and to get power to them. All the buildings around the Market Place are privately owned and you cannot attach things to those buildings without securing permission from the owner. Owners are not always easy to contact and do not always say “yes.”

Personally, I like our town lights and would not want to see them gaudier, or too over the top. I think they are tasteful and lovely. But what I think doesn’t matter. If enough of you want the Council to spend another huge sum of money on more lights and more annual installation costs then let me know and I will go and make the case all over again. But bear in mind that this will almost certainly require a Council Tax rise over and above the demands that Town Council save the Museum, save and run The Castle, and invest large sums renovating the Market Place. It’s a debate that’s well worth having, if you think we need to.

Merry Christmas!

Wisbech Christmas Fayre & More

Wisbech Christmas Fayre & More
Yesterday I arrived. before the start of the Wisbech Christmas Fayre to join representatives of the Chamber of Commerce to visit all the shops who had entered the Christmas Window competition and judge the winners. There were lots of great entries but we decided in the end to give commendations to the two runners up; Cats Pajamas and The Wool Shop, and award the Winner’s Trophy to Sarah’s Flowers on Market Street.
I officially opened the Fayre at 10.40AM and then stayed to enjoy the Carols from several local schools. With all the snow it was very festive – and very cold.
I spent some time visiting stalls and buying things and then at 11.45AM I joined the Churches Together team and their Walking Nativity. Touring the town on foot and dressed in nativity costumes they sang carols at several different stops along the way, including inside Poundland! It was a lot of fun.
The Walking Nativity then joined the Salvation Army band and, altogether, we sang from the stage area to an audience at the Christmas Fayre.
Then onto the Sense shop, where I had been asked to draw the winning raffle together for their big draw, and to make the telephone call to the lucky winner.
At this point there was 20 minutes to snatch a cuppa, before rushing on to Rose Lodge Care Home where I joined residents and staff for their Christmas Party.
After that, I grabbed my DJ gear and rushed to Newton, where I was the DJ at their annual Christmas Party.
And that was just the daytime. :)
Busy day, very festive and wonderful to see the people of Wisbech and the surrounding villages enjoying themselves.

St Augustine’s, Knit & Natter, Christmas Trees Everywhere!

St Augustine’s, Knit & Natter, Christmas Trees Everywhere!
I went along to St Augustine’s Church today to see their wonderful Christmas Tree Display, to enjoy the Warblers’ Carol Singing Carolaoke, and to meet the ladies from Knit & Natter who have been working on a Mayoral Christmas Jumper and a Christmas hanging display for the Town Council Chambers.
If you could catch the atmosphere of Christmas and bottle it, you’d have an idea of what St Augustine’s is like at this time of year. The display of Christmas Trees by different people and organisations is lovely, and everybody you meet is merry and full of joy.
I was bowled over by my spectacular Christmas knitted jumper and I will be returning in the New Year to meet the lady who actually did most of the knitting. The hanging decoration I commissioned as a present to the Town Council from the Mayor looks amazing too. I could not have asked for more from these talented ladies and I am so very pleased with these items.
I enjoyed the carols too, trying my best to keep up with the Warblers, whose jolly singing was a pleasure to hear.
Thank you all and a very Merry Christmas to you!
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