Monthly Archives: April, 2018
Breckland Council Civic Service
Today I travelled to Dereham to join the Chairman of Breckland Council for her Civic Service & Afternoon Tea.
It was an enjoyable and well-organised event and it was also a nice chance to meet other members of the “Chain Gang”, Mayors, Chairman and civil dignitaries – most of whom, like me, are coming to the end of their terms in office.
Dereham is a nice place to visit and I always enjoy going there. Like Wisbech, it is full of friendly down-to-Earth people and it was an absolute pleasure to be a part of their Civic Service.
Thank you, as ever, to Mr Dave Topgood who assisted me throughout the event.
This afternoon my Wife and I joined the congregation of the United Reform Church on Castle Square, for their Bicentennial 1818-2018 celebratory service.
Its a church I always like to visit, a wonderful building and lovely people. We enjoyed the service very much and the refreshments afterwards were very, uh, refreshing. :)
Thank you for the invite!
Kirkgate Campaign 27-4-18
Although we were campaigning yesterday, it was mostly envelope stuffing. Today was the real official start of our campaign for the Town Council By-Election.
Introducing our new local Conservative candidate and getting out on the doorstep talking to people was, as ever, a lot of fun. I always enjoy campaigning but it is even more fun with such a strong team. Everybody we met was very nice and conversations were broadly positive. What was helpful is that the issues that were raised are all things that are being tackled through current policies so there was solid answers to give. Better still, residents seemed informed about what was going on and so our conversations were useful and fruitful.
Roll on June 7th.
Public Private Partnerships for WCs
As is absolutely normal, the Wisbech Standard posted a ham-fisted, poor and ill-researched article online about my motion going to Town Council tomorrow. And also, as is absolutely normal, it came along with the obligatory nasty quote from Virginia Bucknor, which was also incorrect in a number of ways.
The proposal going to Wisbech Town Council tomorrow is that the Town Council explore the idea of a partnership with local businesses to see if they will offer their WCs for public use. There are a number of protections for the businesses built into the motion, and the scheme would be entirely voluntary. Nor would it, in any way, mean that the Town Council would not continue to offer the facilities that it offers currently.
Mrs. Bucknors Comments and the factual responses to them:
“The suggestion that shopkeepers should offer their toilets is, as usual, not thought out ((LIBELOUS SECTION REMOVED BY NEWSPAPER, SO REMOVED FROM HERE ALSO)),” said Cllr Bucknor.
Putting aside the snide, nasty, libelous defamatory lies about my working career that were later removed after I wrote a legal complaint to the newspaper, of course I have thought the idea through. I always think ideas through. But the nature of ideas, is that sometimes you have to try them and see if they work. And sometimes they do. And sometimes they don’t. But I’d rather try solutions than spend my time attacking people who have ideas I didn’t think of.
She urged the Mayor to go and speak with shopkeepers to get their views “before you come up with such ideas”.
Not only have I spoken to some shopkeepers but I already have five local businesses who have, in principle, said “yes.” I have not spoken to “all of them” because the first thing to do is to make sure the Town Council support the idea – which, by the way, is working successfully in other towns all over the country. Had I just marched on and approached every business, my colleagues would have rightly asked why I had not consulted them, and Mrs Bucknor might well have been giving the obligatory comment in the Wisbech Standard saying: “I urge the Mayor to speak to his fellow Councillors before he forces through with such ideas.”
She offered to work with the mayor to persuade the management of the Horsefair shopping centre to re-open their toilets after they were closed because of vandalism.
Now, Ladies and Gentlemen, I try not to hold onto things too much. I cut people some slack. But why would I work with somebody who has literally (one sentence earlier) attacked my personal and professional reputation in such a nasty, vindictive and libelous way? Town Council are already talking to the Horsefair Shopping Centre and I’ve also talked to them (although you wouldn’t know it from the newspaper article) but even if we can get the Horsefair to re-open them, that still wouldn’t stop this being a potentially good idea.
St Georges Day
Today was the first of our Town Council -organised festivals. This is the baby of the bunch, the family fun that is St. Georges day. The weather didn’t let us down and was gorgeous. The event went smoothly with no problems and the turnout, after a slow start, was really good. Lots of families had great fun and the “Live Dragon Hunt” proved as popular as last year. Whoever thought of that silly but hilarious game was a bright spark <ahem>.
Thanks must go to the team of Councillors and volunteers who organised, manned and delivered the whole thing. The Market Place was busy and the event popular and enjoyed. Not a single moan about any aspect of it so far, which must be a record! :)
We also used the opportunity to set up a public consultation booth for the Market Place Project, letting the public look at our ideas for the possible future of the Market Place and to suggest their own. There was a lot of interest, and while different people had different views on some of the individual aspects – we did not encounter a single person who said “no” to the over plan, direction and scheme. This is particularly of note for me because these people who came to the booth are the people who actually use the Market Place. Some work will have to be done before proceeding with any part of the plans to make sure the Market Traders aren’t negatively affected. All in all this project looks popular and innovative – well down to the team of Councillors and members of the public who helped put the ideas together.
I spent most of the morning as DJ. St George is an odd one since it is the Deputy Mayor who has the big role to play. That of The Dragon. Cllr Andew Lynn donned his St George outfit to lead a horde of childen and parents to hunt the dragon, beat it into submission with foam swords, and bring it back to the DJ booth to apologise for trying to eat sections of Wisbech. First they saved Medworth Ward. Then they saved Walsoken. Then those might children saved North Ward (aka Waterlees, but seldom) and the people of those fine areas could sleep soundly in their beds knowing they weren’t going to be a tasty snack for a hungry monster. All in all, a fine days work in Wisbech, the finest town on Earth ™.
Wisbech Castle Working Party Visit
Volunteers from the Wisbech Castle Working Party joined Councillors and a few special guests for a thorough exploration of Wisbech Castle, its grounds and its vault, today.
I had previously predicted that they would all fall in love with the place once they got a good look around it, and from the smiles and incredible flow of ideas, I believe most of them did!
It was nice to be able to show that, despite rumours to the contrary, the place is broadly in good nick – of course some work needs to be done but the vast majority of it is superficial, involving some elbow grease and some tender loving care.
I’ve also begun work on the Castle website, although that has a ways to go since I don’t presently have much content. It will grow though, for sure.
The team are really a wonderful bunch, with all different skills and expertise. People were suggesting things left, right and centre, and most of us are really keen to pitch in and get started.
We cannot do this until 4th May, for legal reasons, but we are really looking forward to getting on with the job and turning the Castle back into the powerful, vital and exciting asset that it should always have been.
Thank you to the various folks who took these photos, including Alan Wheeldon, Tony Bennett and Roger Rawson. The photos are (c) those guys.
Swing Wing 2018
Saturday night saw me having a wonderful time at the Swing Wing event – Thomas Clarkson Academy.
Celebrating 100 years of the R.A.F., this was an emotional and powerful musical tribute to their heroism, courage and honour.
I was welcoming people at the door, and then serving teas, coffees and soft drinks during the interval with the other volunteers. It was a lot of fun.
Credit must go to Jan Hutchinson? and Ray Hutchinson for organising the event and to all the volunteers who helped deliver it. And also to the Swing Wing band, who were amazing.
Wax On, Wax Off
Tesco had organised a fundraiser for Cancer Research this morning and I had (stupidly) agreed to have my legs waxed, along with four other gentlemen from the Tesco staff.
Not sure how much we raised in total, but with donations and pledges I managed £400 so was pleased with that.
Fun morning all in all, though I will not pretend the waxing did not hurt. ‘Coz it did. :) But all in a good cause.
My “Mayors At Home.”
I was both humbled and touched by the amazing turnout at my Mayor’s At Home event today. I certainly did not expect such a huge turnout, both from Mayors and Council leaders far and wide but also from all over Wisbech. I suppose no matter how hard you hope you have worked, you don’t really know if you’ve had a successful year as Mayor until you put on your last event and see who shows up. Thank you, everybody, for being there.
I’d like to thank the local talented youngsters who provided the entertainment for the guests including the incredible Amy Palmer, the Fenland Gymnastic Academy and the Nine Lives Theatre Company. In turn each wowed the audience and were a spectacular example of the incredible talent that Wisbech has to offer.
I’d like to thank the Armed Forces youth groups who were so professional and looked so smart including the Wisbech Scouts, Air Cadets, the Army Cadets and the GVC. You were all as excellent as ever.
I’d also like to thank the Town Councillors who worked so hard to make the event a success and the many other volunteers who pitched in setting up, running the event and then clearing it all away.
I must not forget to thank my Mum and my Stepdad, who catered the entire event with good humour, professionalism and damn fine food. They worked their socks off and delivered an incredible spread which received nothing but compliments from the guests.
The Mayors At Home was also the event where we got to hand out the remainder of the money my Wife and I have raised during our Mayoral term. Totally almost £9000.00 it is been a record-breaking year.
I’d like to give my most heartfelt thanks to all the individuals businesses and organisations which have helped us raise money throughout the year. In particular, I would like to thank Mr Dain Jensen, whose exceptionally generous donation at the Nightmayor’s Big Bash last year allowed us to do some important work early on in my Mayoral term.
Although we had a fair amount of cash to distribute today, we had already spent several thousands of pounds over the course of the year on other causes. We had already made donations to local causes including Cat Haven, Sharman’s Dog Legacy, the Lois Smith Fund, the Wisbech Grammar School Rugby Fundraiser, On Track Education. We were very pleased to be able to fund the delightful Bedazzle group last year, to offer assistance to the Corps of Drums, and to work with the St Augustines Knit & Natter group with two Mayoral Commissions.
We had said we would like to purchase a Defibrillator Unit for Wisbech and we were able to do that last year, allowing the Town Council to have a mobile unit for use at festivals and activities around the town. Training has taken place and that defib unit is now making people safer in and around our town.
We had already purchased a gazebo for McMillans which I have seen them making very good use of at events around the town. The Breathe Easy team have a nice new PA system which we purchased for them to help with their important work. We even paid for the scary Ghost House that delighted and scared people at the Halloween fun day last year in Wisbech Market Place.
One of my favourite local teams, Boogie Tots, who deliver friendly and fun dance classes for very young children, and a nice opportunity to chat and get out for their parents, were supported last year to enable their class to continue offering the help and support that it does.
But today we had to hand out the cash to the charities which my Wife and I chose nearly a year ago – ably assisted by the advice and suggestions of the people of Wisbech via the Wisbech Discussion Forum on Facebook.
And so it was a great pleasure to help Community House in the North Ward with some funds to carry on the great work they do. They had already been helped by the Mayors Fund in 2017 but they are such an important asset for the town that I wanted to be sure to show my ongoing support.
For the organisation that encourages children from our area to read, and which continue to do much work to share the joy of reading and foster is early, I was pleased to be able to give some money to the Wisbech Reads organisation.
We also had funds for the Wisbech Stroke Club and the Wisbech Cubs and Scouts organisation.
Although Cat Haven weren’t able to make it to the event, we didn’t forget them and were able to give them a donation.
One of the fantastic organisations for young people in Wisbech is the Fenland Gymnastics Academy, which is raising funds to move to a larger location because it simply does not have enough space to meet the huge local demand. The Mayor donation isn’t going to buy a new premises, I know, but I hope what we were able to give them demonstrates the high regard in which we hold them and the fine young people they train.
I had invited Boogie Tots to the event but I didn’t tell them that I had a surprise for them. I knew they were looking for a source of funding to allow their activities to continue for the next six months. I had not told that that we would be able to assist with that, and it was fun to spring the good news on them.
Finally, our key local cause. My Wife and I continue to consider this such an important organisation. These ladies do such fantastic work in our town. They are a never-ending source of enthusiasm, compassion and care. I have enjoyed working with them throughout my Mayoral year and it was a great pleasure to be able to make a significant donation to help them carry on doing what they do so well. I know that the support we were able to give the St Augustine’s Day Centre will be put to fantastic use and will help some of the most vulnerable people of Wisbech to live brighter, happier and more fulfilled lives.
I could not have asked for the event to go any better than it did. It was packed with people, they all seemed to have a really nice time, and we got to reward some really wonderful local causes and charities. Thank you, everybody.
Area Champion Update
After some careful consideration, I have taken the decision to step down as Area Champion for Fenland and have emailed the decision to the relevant people this afternoon.
I will continue to do everything I can to be a champion and a Councillor for the areas I represent, just as I always do.
I wish my replacement, whoever they may be, all the best in the Area Champion role.