Category Archives: Wisbech Market
A Coyote Comes To Town
Christmas Light Switch-On 2017
It has been a fantastic day, taken up by one of the big events of the Wisbech calendar, the Christmas Light Switch-on.
Up early to help set the event up, then off to “rehearsal” for the part I was going to play later. Back again to help as a steward. Then a quick visit to the Institute as the Mayor, to open the Christmas with Cricket show, featuring the comedian and the awesome and wonderful Nine Lives Theatre Company.
Back to being a steward again for a couple of hours before joining the lovely folk of the Walsoken church for Carol Singing in the Horsefair. At this point I was joined by my Wife and Spiderman (who was acting as my super-bodyguard for the day.) :)
Then I went to meet Bob Dalek (yes, he is a real Dalek) and get him safely into the festivities.
With the big “switch on” fast approaching I made my way to the stage, where I met the other volunteers who were playing a part in the little surprise we had planned.
My friend and colleague, Garry Tibbs, who was last year’s Mayor, had previously battled Darth Vader and I just felt like adding a bit of action was a traditional we shouldn’t end.
So it was that the stage was invaded by the Batman villains; Two Face, The Riddler and the Joker, all intent on preventing the lights from being turned on. I was joined by Gru (from Despicable Me) and Spiderman. Of course, there was a battle. I hope people enjoyed it (because it took hours of practice to choreograph the fairly short scene) and the Good Guys won. Lights Switched on. Job done. :) My sincere thanks to Dave Topgood (Spiderman), Cllr Andy Maul (Gru), James geddis (the Joker), the super-talented Giles Maythan (Two Face and the choreographer/director/stage combat expert), Annie Larkin (The tiny Riddler) and Michele Larkin who took my crazy idea and brought her fantastic team to make it happen.
After the show the Festivals Team have to pack everything away, and it was getting really cold by then, but we still got done in record time.
I think it went very well and was a great day. Thanks to all the usual people who are behind most of our festivals. Cllr Sam Hoy, the Oliver Family, the rest of the Town Councillors and staff, the Town Clerk, Tinfish, Nine Lives Theatre Company (who helped us plan and deliver the supervillain fun), the sound guys, the various acts that performed, Wisbech Lions, the Angles Theatre, Brenda and Tony Barber, and all the friends, volunteers, stewards and helpers who work tirelessly behind the scenes to make days like this happen. It gets bigger and better every year.
The House Of Shadows
Town Centre Survey
Please take the time to fill in the survey concerning the Market Place and Town Centre in Wisbech.
Your responses are vital and will play a huge part in the changes and potential refurbishment and improvements to come.
The Horsefair Gets The Summer Holidays Started With Annual Summer Fun Day!
July 2017 – The annual Summer Fun Day will be taking place at the Horsefair Shopping Centre on Thursday 27th July from 10am to 2pm.
There will be a whole host of activities to keep the kids entertained, and to get the summer holidays kicked off with a bang! These include face painting, a fairground ride, and balloon modelling. There will also be a variety of other stalls and attractions available on the day.
New to the ever-popular event is the Horse Hunt Window Competition, which is sure to keep the children busy. Numbered horses will be placed in the windows of stores throughout the centre, with children having to complete a checklist to find them all. Some of the horses may even be placed inside the shops, so children will have quite a task on their hands trying to find them all! Every fully completed checklist will then be entered into a prize draw, which will be announced at 2pm.
Centre manager Dave King commented: “Our Summer Fun Day always proves to be very popular, it’s a great way to spend a few hours with lots of ways for people to get involved. All for free! I’m really looking forward to seeing how the children get on with the Horse Hunt Competition!”
At the event, children and their parents will also have the opportunity to sign up to Kids Club, a new initiative launched at the Horsefair which will provide lots of activities and events throughout the summer to make shopping trips happier and less stressful.
Shops In Wisbech Town Centre
This is a list of the shops in our Town Centre based on a quick survey as of 21st august 2015. I’m sorry if I miss anybody. If I did it was an accident as I was doing this quite quickly. By town Centre I refer to the collection of roads that make up the commercial center of town – the Old market, the High Street, the Horse Fair, Market Street, Norfolk Street and Hill Street plus surrounding lanes and ways. I apologise if I get any names wrong, or don’t quite list the services correctly, these are just quick impressions and should not be considered as anything more.
Goddards – Quality Clothing Shop
7th Heaven – Computer Games & Electronics
Evison – Drapers/Outfitters/Clothing
One Stop Shop – Fenland District Council advice and help
2 x Post Offices; one main, one sub-.
Etcetera – House/Kitchenware
Diamond Bytes – Computers
Loafers x 2; the big one and the sandwich bar.
Fancy Fayre – Jewellery / gifts
QS – Clothes
All About You – Hair & Beauty
Bon Marche – Women’s Clothes
Hearing Centre – hearing aids etc.
Drake Pearson – Solicitors
Shoe Zone – Shoes
Rose & Crown – Hotel and restaurant
Fashion Centre – Clothes
99p Store – Discount Goods
ECIG Zoo – Ecigarettes
Savers – Toiletries etc.
The Flavour Pit – Cafe
The Gallery – Restaurant / Cafe
Cats Pajamas – All sorts of wonderful stuff
Wool Shop – Wool etc
Royal Blue Meat – Butchers
The Answer – Mortgage Advice
Lustre Lingerie – Lingerie
Entertainment Centre – Games, DVDs, etc.
Clothes For All The Family – Clothes
Wisbech Music Center – Musical Instruments etc.
Bit of A Do – Party Shop
Country Fayre – Gift Shop
Prams & Toys – Toys and Kids Stuff
Picturesque Framing – picture framing & gallery
Swinton Insurance – insurance
Addiction Tattoos – Tattoos
The Floral Centre – florist
Brewers – Fruit & Veg
Card Factory – Cards & Gifts
Boots – Pharmacy etc.
New Look – Clothes
Burger King – Fast Food
Peacocks – Clothes
Wisbech Angling – angling supplies
Holland & Barrett – health store
Greggs the Baker
Argos – catalogue shop
Co-Op – Supermarket
Kiosk – Gifts
Trespess – Outfitters & Outdoor clothes
H.Samuel – Jewellers
Cardzone – Cards & Gifts
Poundland – discount goods
Costa – Coffee Cafe
The Money Shop – short term loans
WH Smith – Newsagent, stationery, books etc.
QD – All sorts
Deaveson – Jewellers
Music Box – Vinyl Records and musical collectibles
McIntosh’s – Outdoor Wear
Bhangal Spice – Indian Restaurant
Survival – Dress Agency
Willowfield – Beauticians
Oasis – Christian Book Store
The Outlet – Catalogue shop
Terry’s – restaurant / cafe
Lebara – Newsagent
Foxes Cards – cards
Cashino Gaming – slot machines etc.
Hughes Electrical – Buy & Rent Household Appliances
Beales – Department Store
Cox – Electrical Goods
Bygones – restaurant / cafe
AJs Jeans – Clothes
Bolton – Fish & Chips
Brittania – restaurant / cafe
Acme Cabs – Cabs
2nd Time Around – Second Hand Bargains
Bedtime Beds – beds
CAB – Citizen’s Advice Bureau
New Image – tattoos
Fairbrothers – chemist
Anglia Locksmiths – locksmiths
Kodak Express – photographic services
Discount Cycles – Cycles etc.
Osbornes – furniture
Bumps, babies & Beyond – Baby and kids clothes etc.
Click – Computers and electrical
Some types of shop there are multiples of, so rather than list them all individually I’ve grouped them for simplicity. This is no reflection on their quality – I have no doubt they are all absolutely brilliant. Just strapped for time today smile emoticon
Other Fast Food x 10
Nail Technicians x 3
Recruitment Agencies x 2
Betting Shops x 5
Sundry Grocers/Delicatessens x 14
Estate Agents x 5
Opticians x 3
Hairdressers x 16
Letting Agencies x 4
Empty Shops x 12
Derelict Shops x 4
Empty UKIP Shop x 1
Banks/Building Societies x 5
Tanning Studio x 2
Mobile Phone Shops x 5
Charity x 7
Pubs x 5
In total there are approx. 200 shops in the wider area that can be considered Wisbech Town Centre.
As APPROX. rounded up percentages:-
4% of the shops are charity shops
3% of the shops are betting shops
7% of the shops are run by Eastern Europeans
Hair & Beauty is the largest percentage making up 11% of the shops
6% of the shops are empty
2% of the shops are derelict
On Being Chained To A Tree
The latest local issue to have lit up Facebook is a Wisbech Standard exclusive, that the Town Council may intend to dig up some trees. I know, it’s not the stuff of a Daily Mail headline, but it has nevertheless got some people into a royal rage.
On the thread, John Elworthy, who lit the fuse in the first place, asks why “other Councillors” haven’t commented. He means Samantha Hoy and I, of course, since we are the only ones who frequent that particular site. I don’t mind though, because the whole thing lets me blog about the two issues that really bug the hell out of me. In fact, these issues are framed beautifully by the tree story.
One issue I have said over and over again, to my colleagues, on this blog and to anybody who will listen is that all of our local Councils suffer from the same core problem. That core problem is communication. Regular readers will have heard me mention it in recent blog posts. Over and over and over again we find ourselves amidst a media, or a social media, storm. When this happens the opposition clap their hands with glee and immediately start concocting some load of old guff to make best use of the chaos. Petitions, dramatic photo shoots, declarations of “incompetence” and “corruption” and all the other “go to” buzzwords to put a hate on the local Council. And it is so damn easy to avoid. That’s what irritates me.
Communication fails at every level. Officers don’t properly brief Councillors. Lead Members don’t properly brief their group and the wider Council. Cabinet don’t properly talk to backbenchers*. People get into positions of special responsibility and seem to immediately lose any knowledge of when and how to communicate what they are doing. So when stories come out, it is quite often in some colourful piece in the local newspaper, which immediately gets shared around two dozen social media groups. Before you know it everybody has an opinion, people begin spouting “facts” that have no bearing on reality, other people take those facts and have an opinion on them. And so on, like some twisted Council version of Chinese Whispers.
Social Media is the reason for all of this. The world has moved on, people communicate instantly, ideas are shared, stories are told, actions and reactions reverberate outwards in every direction. Meanwhile our local Councils, and many Councillors, are still sitting by their old telephone and thinking “well, it’s not ringing, so everything must be fine.” All of our Councils, and most of our Governmental institutions around the country, are hopelessly out of date. By the time some of them have learnt to Tweet, Twitter will be in the history books and we’ll be Whooping, or Snarking, or whatever the new thing is. Yes, of course, many people don’t use Twitter, Facebook and the like. But a solid thirty or forty percent do and that’s growing every day – and even the ones who don’t will often be talking to somebody who does.
This is a big problem for local Councils and the tree issue is a good example. Now I am not on the Markets Committee who have authority over this stuff and I don’t know the full scope of the plans for the Market, but Cllr David Oliver is a clever guy who often has good ideas and it may well be that the trees have to come down due to structural damage, or because they are sickly. But at the moment the story reads: “Evil Council chopping trees to make concrete wasteland.” That’s probably abject nonsense, but if nobody is responding to questions being asked then the story grows and grows out of all connection to reality. Before you know it, you have what we have today, which is what should have been a positive story about the Town Council doing exactly what people always ask for and improving the Market Place into people threatening to chain themselves to trees. All because of a complete lack of proper communication.
Which brings me on to the second thing that irritates me, and the reason I have recently taken some time out of Facebook. You see, I am sick to the back teeth of being the visible face of every ill-thought, poorly judged or just badly communicated story. The only Wisbech Councillors you regularly see on Facebook are Samantha Hoy and I. So every time anything happens, regardless of whether I am anything to do with it, often even if I don’t support it, I am the person who gets all the questions, the name-calling and the abuse. I don’t mind a bit of abuse, but what I resent is being the punchball for other people’s failure to communicate.
The reason for this is that so many Councillors think Social Media doesn’t matter. They stay off of it, usually saying they “don’t understand it” or “aren’t interested.” I think they wish it did not exist. That’s all very well, but wishing something doesn’t exist does not stop it from doing so. It is there, people are on it, if you don’t come up with some way to address that then you will always be playing “catch up” on every issue, every story, even media fanfare. Which doesn’t work, because by the time you’ve gotten involved, most people have already made up their minds and moved on. This is what happened with Estover, with the Hudson name change, with many other issues. But we never seem to learn.
So I was asked what I thought about the possible plan to cut down the trees as part of the market place redesign. I don’t know, I haven’t seen all the details. The idea to streamline the market for future events isn’t terrible. I love the idea of a bandstand or performing area in the middle and in order to do that some stuff probably does need to go. Sometimes, if trees are growing and doing damage to structures around them they do need to be cut down. But to be completely honest, I’ve not been involved. This is Cllr David Oliver’s baby, which has not yet come to full Council. So David Oliver should be the one on Facebook and elsewhere answering questions about it.
If there are no answers forthcoming, or if the answers aren’t good ones, then I will ask my Medworth constituents what they think. And if what they think is that we shouldn’t cut those trees down then maybe I’ll be right there alongside Pam “Greywitch” Thompson chained to a tree. Which will be a new experience, if nothing else.
*And before anybody says: “Oh what you need is the Committee System” – no it is not. The Committee System is equally susceptible to poor communication, as can be seen by the broken authority that was Cambridgeshire County Council. The Committee System would take all of this and add more bad things to the mixing pot. What is needed is for people to properly consult and communicate, in advance of taking decisions that will bug the hell out of everybody involved. And for them to be sufficiently foresighted to recognise what those issues are.