Category Archives: Walsoken

The Cat Came Back

The Cat Came Back

Here is a good news story you might like 

Recently, a stray cat turned up in the grounds of Wisbech Castle. The fella looked a little under the weather and sorry for itself, “nesting” under the bushes and extremely nervous and skittish.

Volunteers could not get close enough to check for injury, but did begin leaving out food, which the cat ate.

While Dave Topgood kept the cat fed, Brenda Barber suggested Facebook as an option, as she seemed to remember somebody had lost a cat like it some time ago.

Cut a long story short – the missing cat that was advertised by worried owners back in early December turns out to be the same cat, which has somehow made its way from Walsoken to inside the walls of Wisbech Castle.

Which just goes to show – even after weeks and weeks sometimes things just all work out in the end.

Today, one very happy family was reunited with their missing cat.

Kirkgate Campaign 27-4-18

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.

Walsoken, Re-Revisited.

Walsoken, Re-Revisited.

On Facebook  Robert Mclaren says that I “keep slagging him off on my soapbox”

I’m not sure that’s true, actually. I don’t believe I’ve “slagged him off” anywhere. I haven’t called him any names. I haven’t attacked him falsely. All I’ve done is identify some facts. I know facts aren’t always comfortable in the face of spin, but that’s hardly my fault.

Rob, you are a nice guy and I have no issue with you. But you are also a local politician and if you are going to attack my group or my party, or just generically “the local Councils” then you should expect to be challenged. Particularly if the things you are saying don’t appear to stand up to scrutiny.

My latest two blog posts have focused on (1) Your claim to have been “completely ignored” for years in your fight for Highways work in Walsoken. and (2) Your Petition with UKIP Councillor Paul Clapp to get public support for that work

Has anything I said in either of those blogs not been true? Because if I’ve got any facts wrong I will be absolutely happen to amend them. I really don’t want to be unfair to you. But you haven’t so far challenged any of the facts I’ve presented, you’ve just moaned about being named. Which seems to suggest you accept those facts as accurate?

I do now have the results of my enquiry about contacts from both yourself and Paul Clapp to County Highways, re: Walsoken, in the last year. So if there’s any further detail you’d like to talk about, I’m happy to discuss it publicly. Just ask.

Walsoken, Revisited.

Walsoken, Revisited.

I find myself torn by the desire to expose some difficult facts and not wanting to disillusion a group of very  dedicated people in Walsoken.  It’s tricky.

I asked their lead campaigner what he felt they needed and though he admitted to a long and ambitious shopping list he was able to put two key items at the top.  These were; a new crossing and pathway resurfacing near the Walsoken shops.

The sad thing is that the crossing or the pavements could have been covered with money from the Local Highways Improvements Scheme.  This pot of money is controlled by County Council and it was implemented a few years ago in order to allow for precisely this – local groups, Councillors and Councils to apply local knowledge and bid for something their area needed.

The Local Highways Improvements Scheme is great – one of my favourite new things introduced in the last few years.  I have used it myself as a Councillor for exactly this sort of work.  In Newton I encouraged the Parish Council to successfully bid for new pavements.  In Leverington I worked with the Parish Council for speed control measures and yellow lines on Church Lane.  In Peckover last year a successful bid will deliver a new Crossing later this year.  Virtually every Town and Village has had useful successful bids.  So as you can see this is exactly the sort of thing the scheme was designed for and schemes regularly get quick approval.

The Town Council is one body that can bid for such schemes.  We have to “match fund” them so there is a limit to what can be done.  Last year we were approached by residents about a crossing in Peckover and – in the absence of any other schemes being proposed – we bid for that and were successful.

Paul Clapp must have known about the fund as it is a County Council initiative and I can’t imagine Wisbech has elected a County Councillor who wouldn’t even take the time to find out what funding his Council is responsible for.  Can you? I’m not sure which worries me more.  The idea that he knew about it and didn’t use it.  Or the idea that he didn’t even know it existed.  They’re both pretty damning, in my view.

The Town Council meeting where this was discussed was in November.  Independent Councillor Rob McLaren was at the meeting.

Minutes of the meeting are here WTC Minutes 11th Nov 2013.  This would have been the perfect time to bid for a scheme for Walsoken.  It would have been easy to garner support for it and as you can see from the successful Peckover bid it was probably quite likely to be get funded too.  No alternative bids were put in.  Any Councillor could have suggested something, but they did not.  Rob McLaren did not speak to the item at all.

103. Cambridgeshire County Council.
a) Local Highway Improvement Initiative
On the Proposal of Cllr Brunton, Seconded by Cllr Ms Tanfield, it was Agreed that the proposal that
a pedestrian crossing be put on Chapel Road, between the car park and North Brink Practice be

To be completely fair, there is nowhere near enough money from a Local Highways Initiative grant to do all the work.  So I cannot claim all of Walsoken’s problems would have been solved by this.  But it would have been a start wouldn’t it?  A crossing, or some fixed pavements, or some speed controls.  Or something.

So that’s the facts.  A perfectly good funding route which could have been imminently delivering improvements in Walsoken.  If local Councillors had seen fit to organise or encourage a bid.  Which they did not.  Maybe next year we could hold a petition to encourage them to do so?

Curiouser & Curiouser

Curiouser & Curiouser

For a few weeks now Cllr Rob Mclaren (used to be a Lib Dem, now he’s part of the Independent Party or something) has been telling the world on Twitter how hard he has tried to get the roads sorted out and prevent dangerous driving in Walsoken, Wisbech.  I like Rob – when he’s not under the sway of the Dark Queen Of Propaganda* he’s a pretty reasonable genuine guy.  The trouble is, some of the things he’s alleging are – if true – quite shocking.  And since the public are listening and taking it all in I felt obliged to just probe his claims a little bit.  I tried to do so in a helpful way, suggesting to the campaigners some of the avenues they could take to push for the sort of changes they want.  God knows it can be hard to get stuff done as I know myself, but I was interested to know what work was behind this.

So the discussion began with a local gentleman and road safety campaigner Will Lewis asking this:-

@Susan Carson, @Robert Mclaren
Can you please progress Chase this,?? Work was allegedly supposed to start in April,.,…. Thank you,

I should clarify at this point that Susan Carson is the partner of UKIP County Councillor Paul Clapp, so Will was asking the UKIP and Independent Councillors for an update on the work that he thought was imminent – which was correct as both are Councillors who represent the area.  This was the next bit of the conversation:-

Susan Carson:
Work is supposed to be starting this month. Still waiting for them to get back with the wording on the petition otherwise they will ignore it, but they agree that something is definitely needed by the post office

Will Lewis
Time we got the papers involved mate, shouldn’t need a petition for a health & safety issue,… if someone gets killed, .., they will all be running for cover,…

Robert Mclaren
seems to be the only way these days,petitions and media,cause no one ever listens!

So Susan Carson, presumably in communication with Cllr. Paul Clapp, says that “work was supposed to be starting this month” but then suggests they are going to do a petition anyway.  I can’t say I’m incredibly surprised.  I think Paul Clapp would have a petition about what to have for breakfast sometimes, but it seems odd to go straight from “work is about to start” to “let’s have a petition.”  Still, more on that in a later blog.  In this instance it’s Rob McLaren’s comments that caught my eye.  Since he was saying that as a Town Councillor nobody ever listens to him – a type of comment he’s made before and which he has been unable to back up when I’ve challenged him – I wanted to just explore that statement a little.  So I asked:-

Steve Tierney:
I’m a little puzzled. Rob says nobody ever listens – who have you asked Rob? Let’s name names and chase them up if they are ignoring your communications. Susan says there will be a petition – who are you presenting the petition TO? This is a County Council issue, are you planning to present a petition to Paul Clapp? Why not just ask him to talk to Highways? He can determine what the current scoring for the area is and see if there’s an argument for reevaluating – that just takes a quick meeting at Shire Hall. Then you could apply for a Minor Highways grant for some work on the pavements (like they did in Newton last year) or some signage, or some parking restrictions, or even some speed enforcement.

I thought that was broadly quite helpful.  I gave a number of suggestions as to how the Campaign could proceed using the proper channels while simply asking him if he could name all the people he’d contacted regarding these serious issues and who had then ignored him.  Will Lewis, I should point out, is just a great local guy who wants to keep his neighbourhood safe and will take any help from anyone that might lead there.  He says:-

Will Lewis:
Susan Carson, can you get Paul to start shouting about this @ CCC,. We seem to be going backwards,.?????

He never does get an answer from Susan Carson about that on the thread.  But she’s probably busy working on “the wording” for the petition.  It has to be just right, you know, or “they will just ignore it.”  But Rob McLaren responds thus:

even before i lived in Walsoken,and lived on Waterlees speeding has been a problem,use to stand at the kebab van outside the Blackbear and watch cars absolutely fly down kirkgate street.Steve why do you act like it is a recent event?This has been going on for years,recently it has started to get bad again so something has to be done!

I wasn’t sure why he was suggesting I thought it was a “recent event” as I hadn’t said anything like that.  He also didn’t appear to have answered me, so I tried again.

Steve Tierney
@Rob – What are you talking about? I’m not acting like anything is a recent event. I’m just suggesting things people can actually *do*. All I asked you to do was to tell us all who you have spoken to. You said everybody was ignoring you. If that’s the case then it’s dreadful! If people are ignoring the local Councillor then we need to challenge them! it’s not acceptable. So I asked you WHO you had spoken to, so we could take them to task and find out why they are ignoring you. So, who?

Rob ignored my question and said:-

Robert Mclaren:
There will be a speed campaign again shortly ,and yes hopefully a petition to county.

Robert Mclaren:
please no political games on this!!!!!!

Well a Speed Campaign was a start, so good for him.  It appeared he was joining the UKIP fellow in this petition and he didn’t want any “political games.”  I wasn’t aware I was playing any political games.  He had said he had been ignored and I’d simply asked him to say by whom.  I didn’t think that was unreasonable.  If you are going to make a fairly damaging claim, while simultaneously saying how hard you’ve worked, I don’t think it’s that shocking when somebody asks for a little detail  about it.  But Rob McLaren still refused to answer the question, instead saying:-

Robert Mclaren:
Am fed up with all the cop out behavior from,County,District and the Police ,I WILL GET TO THE BOTTOM OF IT!!!!!!

Which was, I thought, very strong and commanding!  I liked it.  But it still didn’t seem to answer my question.  So I asked some more:-

Steve Tierney:
@Robert Mclaren – You GET TO THE BOTTOM OF IT! But first, could you answer the question and tell us WHO you have spoken to who has copped out? You’ve now accused the Police, County and District Councils of copping out and/or ignoring you as the local Councillor. Could we have some names please, so we know who these bad guys are that you’ve approached and have been snubbed by?

Steve Tierney:
If Officers are deliberately ignoring Councillors so that they can cop out of doing important work, we need to know who they are! It’s a serious claim that needs investigating!

Finally.  I sort of get an answer:-

Robert Mclaren:
The Police have been invited to the last two monthly wednesday meetings at Walsoken village hall ,and not turned,no appologies or anything,

Not being a Walsoken Councillor, I wasn’t sure what Wednesday meeting he was referring to.  But even though a Police rep failing to turn up, twice, to a meeting – and not giving apologies – is unhelpful, I wasn’t sure it added up to the catalogue of “ignoring”, “copping out” and other disreputable behaviour Rob was suggesting he had suffered at the hands of the various authorities.  Particularly since the beginning of the thread had talked about a forthcoming Speedwatch – which would have had to be organised with the Police.  The same Police who are apparently non-communicative.  I asked:

Steve Tierney:
@Robert Mclaren I thought you’d organised a Speed Watch with them?

Steve Tierney:
@Robert Mclaren You can always call them and arrange an appointment with them, you know. You’re more likely to get somebody with some decision-making ability that way too.

And then I tried again:-

Steve Tierney:
But more importantly @Robert Mclaren – who are the Officers at District and County who have snubbed and ignored you? We can report them, if they aren’t doing their jobs properly. Get something done. Just need the names…

Unfortunately, that was the last response from Rob McLaren I had.  So I never did get to find out the names of the ne’er-do-wells who have snubbed him over recent years.  I don’t doubt the veracity of his comments.  I’m sure Rob has been chasing road and pavement repairs, a pedestrian crossing, speed limiting measures and all the other things the petitioners will be demanding on Saturday ever since the first day he was elected.  I’m sure he has tried all the traditional avenues, spoken to officers at both the District and County Councils, harangued the Police and been ignored by every one of them.  He says it is true and I have no reason to doubt him.  I just wish he’d provide the names of all those contacts so we could call an enquiry into the dreadful incompetence on display.  I’d like to go to each and every Officer and say: “Why have you ignored all these communications from the hard-working Councillor, Rob McLaren?”  And see what they have to say for themselves.

In the meantime, there’s a petition you can support this Saturday.  I’m sure Will and his Campaign Team would appreciate the support!


*The Dark Queen Of Propaganda is a mythical creature believed to live somewhere in the depths of Wisbech.  Legend has it that she lurks on the fringes of things, stirring trouble and telling malicious half-truths to snare the unwary and the gullible.  It’s just an urban legend that honest folk tell their kids to stop them misbehaving.  “If you aren’t good, the Dark Queen Of Propaganda will demand an enquiry into you.”  No truth to it at all, I’m sure.