Monthly Archives: July, 2018
Wisbech Rock Festival 2018
One Year On
It’s a year since I was elected as the County Councillor for Wisbech West.
A year which has been filled with a lot – and I do mean a lot – of people upset about the state of the roads in and around Wisbech.
I have spent the year working my socks off, pressing for funding and services and urgent work, alongside my colleagues. And it’s been slowly paying off, with the work accumulating.
There are still too many potholes and poor roads and pathways. But it feels like we’re on the mend now. Lots of works are happening or are scheduled to happen very soon. Even the faded and missing lines that have upset many people are being repainted.
The worst area by far is Waterlees, where the roads have been so very neglected.
These roads did not get into this state magically overnight. They fell into that state under the previous County Councillor. Luckily, this is so patently obvious that even the opposition crew who would normally try and spin it another way would struggle to convince anybody that those roads supernaturally became pothole-ridden and crumbling last May.
The infrastructure was allowed to fall to pieces and the previous County Councillor seems to have done basically nothing about it. Nor did the Waterlees District Councillors seem to have any issue with this, or at least I never heard them criticising his performance or the awful state of the highways there? Perhaps I missed that. Perhaps, because the road they live on was resurfaced – an odd thing, since it was nowhere near as bad as many other roads in the area which were left to decline – this caused them not to notice the state of most of the other roads in the area? Who knows?
So I’ve had a lot to pick up on in my first year. Luckily I’ve had supportive Town Councillors who have communicated issues to me well, and local people who have helped by using the online reporting system or contacting myself or the Town Councillors. It is beginning to work and I think people can see that. But those four years of neglect are going to take a long time to catch up on. I will continue to push for decent roads and pathways and I hope that when my four year term comes to an end, I can hand a decent slate on to the new Councillor. I wouldn’t want to leave them, whoever they are, with the sort of situation I inherited.
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.
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)
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.