Category Archives: Gorefield

Gorefield Show, June 2017

Gorefield Show, June 2017

It was a lovely day for a visit to the Gorefield Show. My Wife and I had a very nice time. Marie was in her element since she loves both horses and classic cars.  There were plenty of both on display, as well as tractors and other huge and impressive farming machinery.

There was a fun band on, a Prosecco stand, candy floss and barbecue. The weather was perfect. Many groups and causes were there with stalls and games.  It was nice to be able to support such an excellent group of charities and funds including (but not limited to) the Playing Field Association, Gorefield Pre-School, Gorefield Junior School, the Sea Cadets and Save the Children.

We were welcome by the Gorefield team and had a great time with local people and those who had travelled from far and wide to enjoy the fun.

A well-organised and smashing event for all the family. What a pleasure to be able to attend as the Mayor and Mayoress of Wisbech, and so good to see many old friends from my time as County Councillor for the area.

So Long And Thanks For All The Fishies?

So Long And Thanks For All The Fishies?

Last Friday, parents and children of Gorefield School received the following message:

“Sadly, the school has not been able to find a way to make ‘ FISHY NEWS’ compatible with the current safeguarding requirements for schools and as a consequence fishy news will not be continuing. The decision, from the governors rather than from Annie Appleby, was a difficult but necessary one. I’m sure you would wish to join me in thanking Annie for her years of enthusiasm and energy. Her legacy is the joy and learning she has brought to so many children of the school over the last four years.”

Fishy News is a project that was the brainchild of local lady Annie Appleby who decided, four years ago, to give much of her free time and skills to establishing a school newspaper for the local Primary School, encouraging the kids to run it, write it and produce it.  For four years that is what she has done, enabling dozens of local children to express themselves, be creative, work as a team, build their confidence and develop a professional publication that was simultaneously useful and immense fun to read.

Just a few months ago I attended the Fishy News open day, where scores of local supporters and people visited the school and watched the kids who were involved in the production put on a show as the years changed and different kids took over the running of Fishy News.

In all the years I have been a Councillor, in all the schools i’ve visited and heard about, I don’t believe I have ever seen a project so perfectly put together, so loved and so clearly a labour of that love.  Really, and I do not say this lightly, the Fishy News Project in its entirety was wonderful.  Parents whose kids benefited from participation are unanimous, as far as I can tell, in their praise.  Even as recently as a few months ago the teachers were openly saying how great it was and “if only we could clone Annie Appleby.”  And they were right.  If we could clone Annie Appleby and her ability to enthuse, motivate and organise our brilliant kids, education would get a whole lot easier.

I do not know precisely what “safeguarding requirements” have meant that Fishy News must end – but whatever Safeguarding Requirements they may be, if they prevent something as exciting and effective and empowering as this from being able to continue, they are ill-considered indeed.  The Governors who made the decision no doubt had their reasons, but I wonder if they realise just what they’ve done?  Do they realise that these sort of projects do not come along every day?  That this is exactly the sort of thing that most schools seek but struggle to find?

I have been receiving calls and emails from parents about this.  I am no longer the County Councillor for their area and there’s little I can do except to write this blog and ask “Why?”  What sort of rules deprive kids of an opportunity like this to learn and grow?

I can’t believe I have seen the last silly, zany, off-the-wall brilliant Fishy News.  It seems such a bizarre outcome.  I wish there were something I could do.

Diary – 24th January 2015

Diary – 24th January 2015

This week has just flown by.

Monday I was at Overview and Scrutiny, where I was the only committee member to vote for a Council Tax freeze at Fenland District Council.  I noticed both Mrs. Bucknor voted quickly enough with her Independent allies to whack the sum up by 1.9%.  Yikes.  How come it is me left making the case for easing the burdens on hard-working tax-payers, while the Members for Waterlees happily vote for a hike that will surely be felt as hard in Waterlees as anywhere?  Disappointing but no need for panic – this stuff doesn’t get decided until Full Council and I’m confident that there’s a strong case for delivering a freeze so fingers crossed other Councillors agree.

Tuesday I was off to Hertfordshire to work in one of the businesses that Taxi Dave keeps telling me have “failed.”  Luckily enough, the staff remain quite busy and customers well-looked after.  But it’s hardly the first time the Cabinet Member for Taxis has gotten his facts completely wrong and I doubt it will be the last.  Clearly, my scrutiny of his activities is unwelcome so he’s turned to the personal attacks.  No doubt he’ll be telling the local paper how he is a “victim” shortly, while dishing out his bile.  I’m sure he thinks all this Machiavellian spin is some kind of Master Plan but I really don’t think anybody is fooled by it.  Like some kind of twisted Wizard Of Oz he continues to work his levers and trigger his smoke and mirrors without realising that the screen is down and his actions are plain to see.  Even the unconditional assistance of the Wisbech Standard is no longer sufficient cover, really.  Like I always say, the truth is out there.

On Wednesday I spent the day working in my other business that Dave Patrick keeps declaring “failed.”  It’s lucky he’s wrong, because gawd knows how I’d pay my bills otherwise. :)  Wednesday evening I was at the Area Conservatives A.G.M. where I have just completed my year as Deputy Chairman Membership.  I decided to step down, since I’m presently consolidating my work in my own District Ward.  I took many of these roles on before I won the Medworth election, so it’s useful now to free my time up again in order to be able to give more time and energy here at home.

On Thursday I spent the early part of the day catching up on paperwork and accounts and some Councillor casework.  Once that was clear I paid a visit to the gym and then went on to the Conservative Group Meeting at Fenland Hall in March.  I don’t think it’s any great secret that there have been a few disagreements over the last few months, but it was great to see the Conservative team back on track, working together and with a solid and positive plan for the future.  Every group is challenged from time to time – but the mark of a strong team is how they put differences aside under strong leadership and with respect for one another.

I had meetings with constituents in the morning on Friday, followed by a light lunch with colleagues.  This afternoon I was working on some campaign leaflets and other literature and then this evening I was the volunteer Quizmaster for a Fenrats Fundraising Quiz in Gorefield.  The quiz was well attended and I thoroughly enjoyed the company.

It’s That Time Again

It’s That Time Again

I’ve not blogged for a few days because it’s been one of those crazy busy weeks.  I’m busy on almost all fronts.  Work is hectic, my new enterprises are also quite demanding at the moment, I’ve got lots of Councillor casework to get my teeth into and this is the time of year when there are lots of events to attend also.

This week I’ve been all over the place what with a trip to London and another to Hertfordshire, helping Steve Barclay deliver surveys to my District Ward and trying to resolve some tricky problems in both Medworth and Peckover.

On Friday night I was in my old stomping grounds, Roman Bank, Gorefield to be specific – as the quizmaster for a fundraising quiz in support of the Fenrats.  It was nice to see all my old friends again and we had a giggle.  On Saturday evening I was at another fundraiser – also in Roman Bank – this time Newton.  A different bunch of old pals but just as enjoyable a time.

Of course tomorrow is the “big day” since it’s the Christmas Light Switch On in Wisbech.  I’ll be out from dawn ’til dusk, lugging stuff around, being a steward, putting stuff away, and helping make sure the event runs smoothly and hopefully successfully.  I’m excited about the new lights, which I haven’t seen “on” yet but which look promising in their “off” state.  Given that this is only Phase 1, it still looks like we’re going to get a significantly improved show.  It feels a little like a “legacy” – mostly because the opposition and their friends in the local press tried so hard to stop it happening but the people of Wisbech absolutely did not agree with them.  In the end, the vote was clear, the policy rushed forwards and goodness I hope it all works out well!  No doubt there will still be some folk who aren’t happy – there always is.  But we listened, to asked and we actioned.  What more can you do?

Christmas is just about here.  Have a very very merry one!  It’s that time again. :)

 

Gorefield Public Meeting

Gorefield Public Meeting

Just over a week ago I was asked to organise a Public Meeting and Campaign Session for all seven of the Conservative MEP candidates for our region – and I had to do it (a) within a week and (b) on a Bank Holiday Monday!  Cue lots of pulling out hair and general panic on my part.  Particularly since I was doing this in the middle of a by-election campaign in the same area and that our MP, Steve Barclay, was also going to attend.

Never mind, we got there.  The candidates wanted to come to Roman Bank so I booked the village hall in Gorefield and then set about delivering hundreds of flyers to let people know it was on.  I had no idea what to expect – it’s not easy to get people to come to a political campaign meeting at the best of times, let alone on a Bank Holiday and let alone when it’s lovely and sunny!

In fact the hall was nearly full.  We had 67 attendees, plus the candidates.  The format was a short presentation by each candidate followed by a question and answer session with the audience.  A number of interesting questions were asked and the MEPs were well received by an interested and intelligent audience.

After this, the Candidates joined local Conservative candidate Samantha Clark on a mass canvass through Gorefield.  We were joined by two dozen Conservative activists and this meant we were able to roll effectively through the entire main area of the village taking in the High Road, Back Road, St Marks Road, Churchill Road and the Oxfield Drive Estate before we ran out of time.  Of course, we’ve already canvassed all these roads several times, but it’s nice to revisit houses where you didn’t catch anybody home and try and talk to the ones you missed last time.

After this we all decamped to Wetherspoons in Wisbech for a very pleasant lunch.  Then the team moved to the Market Square to talk to pedestrians and shoppers and generally to mingle.  I think some folk were surprised to see their MP, all seven of the Eastern Conservative MEP candidates and so many activists, but the reactions were friendly and engaged.

I then left the MEP team to get on with their road show and headed back into Roman Bank; specifically Newton and the long difficult Sutton Road stretch.  Only a few days to go until the By-Election and every second counts.  I’ll be glad, come the small hours of Friday morning, when this latest one is over and I can have a rest.  And hopefully, good people of Roman Bank be willing, a celebratory drink.  Fingers crossed.

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Campaign team outside Wisbech Market Place.

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Local Conservatives & Friends

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Steve Barclay listening to resident

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Chatting as the meeting hall begins to fill.

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Steve Barclay MP, prospective Councillor Samantha Clark,
David Campbell-Bannerman MEP

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Samantha Clark, thrown in the deep end! :) :)
MEP Candidates, Steve Barclay MP and Samantha Clark.

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Steve Barclay MP with some of the MEP candidates.

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You can’t have a meeting without tea!

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Steve Barclay MP and Vicki Ford MEP – involved in some debate!

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Cllr Garry Tibbs

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Cllr Samantha Hoy & James Barker

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An “action shot” – :) :)  Canvassing in Gorefield High Street

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The Conservative cohort and Friends outside the hall.

Roman Bank Campaign 2014 – Gorefield And Leverington

Roman Bank Campaign 2014 – Gorefield And Leverington

Something strange happened to our campaign team today.  It started out quite small, just Samantha Clark, Stevie, Elliot and I.  But then throughout the day people kept appearing and joining us until, by the end, we were eleven strong!

We spent the morning in Gorefield, working our way down the High Street and many of the roads that lead from it.  Then we grabbed what was meant to be a quick lunch – but took nearly an hour due to the Bank Holiday business – and ducked across the A1101 to the bit of Leverington that is closest to Wisbech.  At the same time we had volunteers along Sutton Road and also in the main area of Leverington, completing the leaflet delivering to some of the roads we hadn’t reached yet.

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Signed, sealed, delivered.  She’s your Conservative Candidate.

We were lucky with the weather.  Beautiful and sunny, making the walking a pleasure.  We are close to our first complete circuit now.  All we have left to do is to get to some of the country roads that are very long with few houses on them – these get left because they require a team with a car to realistically do them.  Plus a few roads that have missed our routes so far.  But not many.  We’ll get to those before the end of the week.

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Brenda, Tony, Sam, Steve, Stevie.  In Leverington.

By next week we hope to begin circuit #2.  This means going back to all the areas we’ve already visited, canvassing people who weren’t in the first time and delivering our second leaflet.  That will then take us to the final stages of the campaign where we may or may not put out a third piece of literature, depending on whether we need to respond to anything the opposition are doing.  Frankly, they don’t appear to be doing much.  UKIP have two leaflets out, the one which just goes on about how Alan Lay “always tells the truth” and a generic “29 Million Europeans Want To Steal Your Job” type thingy.  Actually, we bumped into Alan Lay briefly today.  In the absence of custard pies and water pistols, we said: “Hello!” instead. ;)

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Peatlings Lane with local friends Alina and Bob.

I have not yet encountered anybody who says they are going to vote Independent.  In fact, the only comment I’ve heard is: “What has Wisbech Town Council got to do with our village?”  It’s a fair point.  Labour and the Lib Dems don’t appear to have put out any leaflet at all yet, nor canvassed anywhere.

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You’ve got to be in it, to win it.  

Still enjoying the campaign immensely.  It’s a great team, with a great candidate.  And these are villages I love.  What’s not to like?

Roman Bank Campaign 2014 – Tydd St. Giles

Roman Bank Campaign 2014 – Tydd St. Giles

We made inroads into Tydd & Gorefield today.  A smaller team than previously, probably due to it being Easter and all, but still a very good day.

We started in Tydd St Giles, canvassing all the central area of the village.  Tydd St. Giles is probably the village where I know the most people and so I always enjoy walking around there and saying “Hi” to old friends.  Usually, I know more people than anybody on a campaign team, having worked in the area for so many years.  But not anymore.  Literally, Sam Clark seems to know everybody.  Awash with energy, she zig-zags from one side of the street to another, greeting people by their first name, introducing us to one of her relations, regaling us with tales of how she knows this person and that person.  It’s a lot of fun!

We enjoyed refreshments in Gorefield and then moved on for a couple of hours there – but this wasn’t primarily a Gorefield day.  Those are coming next week.  So we stuck mainly to a few key areas where we know our support is strong.  We’ll be back for a more thorough canvass shortly.

Nobody appears to have seen hide nor hair of the Lib Dems or Labour.  Perhaps they are keeping their powder dry until the campaign has progressed a little?  UKIP have been around somewhat, though I’m not picking up news of much activity and people’s enthusiasm for them appears to have waned.  As one gentleman said to me today: “Every week there’s some new crazy thing they’ve said or done.”  Quite.  But they do maintain some die-hards, as you might imagine.  One man told me he was: “Voting UKIP because there was going to be a mosque in Wisbech.”  It’s rare that I’m stumped for words on the campaign trail, but that was a puzzler.  How do you respond to that?  I mean, as far as I know, Wisbech isn’t inundated with devout Muslims, but I could be wrong.  Maybe they are hiding?  Maybe they’ve got some secret plan to conquer us all.  There is that big empty old Court House after all…. ;)

The Independent Candidate, Erbie Murat, has been seen here and there.  A lady told me a very funny story about his visit to her, but since I have no way of confirming the truth of it, it would be improper for me to relate it.  It did make me chuckle though.

We didn’t quite get a full day in because Sam had a function to attend and I needed to get back to the office and collate the data from the previous week.  Also, my feet were sore.  I’m out of shape!  But by the end of this campaign I’ll be back to normal.  Walking (what seems like) hundreds of miles has a way of sorting out your condition.  Funny how nobody has thought of political campaigning as a new exercise regime.  I think there’s something to be said for it.

There still a lot to do, but I’m pleased with the campaign so far.  People seem very supportive of Sam as the local candidate.  The fact that she is so well-known and -liked is a big help.  People know that with Sam Clark they will be voting for a genuine, caring and compassionate local lady.

10 Day Diary

10 Day Diary

A whole buncha stuff going on over the next 10 days means that my usual semi-regular Diary entry needs to be stretched a little, just in case I don’t find time to blog again.  Of course, I do almost always find time to blog again.  But you never know, right?  “Be prepared,” as my Scout Master used to say.

Tomorrow, Friday, I have an emergency meeting in the morning to handle some new Conservative members who wish to join the approved list of possible candidates for forthcoming elections of one type or another.  I don’t want to bog you, dear reader, down in party procedure – but all candidates have several hurdles to jump before they can carry the Conservative badge into the public arena and stand for election under our banner.  The first is an Approvals Committee, which I am proud to serve on.  Interestingly, we’ve got another UKIP defection come over to us amongst the new folk.  It’s great when people realise they’ve taken a dark path and find their way back home.

Tomorrow afternoon I begin a long weekend of music.  I’ve put three days aside to work with my band (well, there’s two us, so band is probably too grand a title) and I’m really looking forwards to spending the time making music and being creative.  I seldom get the opportunity these days for such a relaxing pursuit.

On Monday I have an important Town Council Staff Committee due to take up the whole day, possibly.  In the evening I have an early meeting, then (possibly) an important Town Council meeting later in the evening.

On Tuesday I’m working in London, 5AM through ’till late.

On Wednesday I’ll be in my shop in the daytime and in the evening I’m meeting with colleagues from the Newton Village Hall Committee to assist the new Staff Sub Committee in putting together Job Description and Contract for a potential new staff member.

On Thursday I have a number of meetings and business appointments, including a meeting of the Leverington Village Hall Committee in the afternoon to finalise details of the Free Family Xmas Disco I’ll be running next month (amongst other things.)  On Friday I’m meeting a local group in Gorefield who are starting a new local project, then later i’m back in Wisbech to meet with some local businesspeople who want advise on a business they hope to start.

On Saturday night I hope to be able to make the Newton Family Quiz Night and on Sunday I’m in Newton again to help with the hanging of Christmas decorations.

I get around, as you can see. : )

busy

Rambling

Rambling

It’s been a lovely weekend.  A packed quiz night in Gorefield on Friday followed by a packed fundraising event with the Sherringham Shantymen on Saturday in Tydd St. Giles were great fun.  Not just because the village folk are such nice company, but also because of the celebratory atmosphere now that we’ve beaten the windfarm proposal that threatened to blight our local area simply to enrich a handful of Greenies and landowners at the expense of the taxpayer and the beautiful Fenland landscape.

Meanwhile, at Fenland District Council, leader Alan Melton sees off the difficulties he has been facing there.  I don’t know about the details of that one and my preference is to stay away from it, but it’s good to see the back of it.  What with a local opposition still looking to insert poisonous barbed tails into any obvious areas of weakness, local Conservatives need to be concentrating on what is best for Fenland rather than fractious internal disputes.  Hopefully, both sides will now put away their sabres, put aside their differences and work together once more.

The opposition may not all agree on what name to call themselves this week, but there’s one thing that unites them – Anti-Conservative feeling.  You will see this as elections draw closer, much like we did last time when the “Lib Dems” (now Independent, surprise surprise) stood aside for the “Independent” in Wisbech North.  Expect much more of this in forthcoming elections.

Nor should you consider Fenland UKIP outside of the electoral “deals and double-dealing” – those colourful characters all have interesting political histories (look ’em up!)  You may consider their loyalties about as solid as their party memberships and with this in mind who would be surprised if these supposed “right wing nationalists” didn’t do some squalid deal with some “hard left socialists?”  I don’t suppose anybody would.

My advice to my colleagues is not to underestimate the power of their relentless opportunism and cynical negativity.  The sad thing is that it does sometimes work for a while.  And they can do a lot of damage, even in a short time, if they manage to grasp even the most remote levers of power.  This never becomes apparent until it is too late.  People seldom notice any of the many good works local councils and organisations are doing until they are not doing them anymore.  Take a look around at the people who are actually doing anything other than a lot of talking, or shouting, and think to yourself: “Is getting a lot of biased press coverage the same as actually working for the community?”  It isn’t.

Leverington / Gorefield Quiz

Leverington / Gorefield Quiz

A successful night in Gorefield, where the quiz was well-attended and everybody seemed to have a great time!  Leverington Conservatives branch held the event in the next-door village and were welcomed warmly by their neighbours.

Nice to see new and old faces – as well as new party members (or imminent ones.)

People say that membership and participation of political parties are in decline, but that doesn’t hold true in the Roman Bank ward, not in the Wisbech wards.

Particular thanks to Brenda, Tony & Dan for the food and service and to everybody who came out to make the evening such a success!