Category Archives: Wisbech Market

The House Of Shadows

The House Of Shadows

Town Centre Survey

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.

http://www.wisbechtowncouncil.gov.uk/wisbech-town-centre-survey.html

Horsefair Gets The Summer Holidays Started

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

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
Superdrug
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

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.

1

*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.

The Great Wisbech Christmas Lights Question

The Great Wisbech Christmas Lights Question

http://www.wisbechtowncouncil.org.uk/christmaslights.html

The Scheme
· To update current lights in High Street, Market Street, Union Street
· To light the trees on the Freedom Bridge Roundabout.
· To replace lighting displays at every street entrance to the Market Place.
· To add additional lighting to the central Christmas Tree in the Market Place.
· To light up all the “living trees” around the central Christmas Tree.
All new lighting to be used in the Market Area to be made primarily of a variety of whites, to create a tasteful effect in keeping with a traditional market square.

The Details
All the new lights to be purchased outright from the supplier and installed by our local contractor.
The price is a one-off payment totalling just over £19,000. There is no ongoing cost other than the usual annual installation fee that we pay anyway.

Afterwards
If the lights are approved by the Public, we will look to install them either this year (2014), or more likely next year (2015).
The funds come entirely from available Town Council financial reserves and do NOT deplete those reserves below Government recommended levels.
A fundraising campaign will be launched at this year’s Christmas Lights Switch-On to replace some/all of the money over the next few years and will then ideally continue to run to pay for ongoing upkeep and upgrades.

Other Details:
Festivals are part of the Town Council’s responsibilities and It is within the Town Council’s remit to spend this amount of money on Christmas Lights without a consultation. The Town Council felt, nevertheless, that in these tough times it wanted to ask the people of Wisbech if they broadly supported this level of spend on this item or not. We have therefore asked people to say “yes” or “no” and the Town Council as a body has no preference as to the outcome. If people say “Yes” then we’ll know it’s supported and get on trying to implement it either this year or next year. If people say “no” then we’ll shelve this plan and look to other ways to improve the Christmas Lights going forwards.

Why?
Because every single year, Councillors get complaints about the Christmas Light display. People comment that Wisbech is not as good as other nearby Market Towns and that the Town Council should “do something.” This proposal was an attempt to do something in the short term rather than the very long term, but it is just that. A proposal. If people say they’d rather we did not do it, we will not do it. How often do you get a local Council put the decision entirely in your hands? That’s what we are doing.

Who Can Vote?
You can vote if you live in an area with the postcode PE13 or PE14. However, when we “count” the votes we will separate those who live within the Wisbech Town Council area and those who live outside it – for information purposes. You can post your vote to Wisbech Town Council, Council Chambers, 1 North Brink, Wisbech, , PE13 1JR
or send it to E-Mail: info@wisbechtowncouncil.org.uk
You *must* include name, address and postcode as well as a clear “yes” or “no” for your vote to be counted. The deadline for votes will be Saturday 8th November 2014.

http://www.wisbechtowncouncil.org.uk/consultationweb14.docx

Chamber Of Commerce AGM

Chamber Of Commerce AGM

I attended the Wisbech Chamber of Commerce AGM last night and found the discussion very interesting indeed.

Good news – the much-missed Horsefair Toilets, we are told, will re-open after a refurbishment.  I’d like to think that public pressure from the people of Wisbech and the Town Council have helped in this decision, but in reality I expect the owners have just made a sensible decision for sensible reasons.  I wouldn’t expect them to re-open imminently, but the fact that they will at all is a great relief to me.  And will be an even greater relief to people getting off the bus after a long journey and busting for a pee! :)

There was some discussion about encouraging Fenland District Council to make a portion of the free car parks in Wisbech operate on a “limited time” basis.  The purpose being to discourage long-term parking in the spaces closest to the Market Place and thereby allow more flexibility for shoppers to park there.  I thought their reasons were sound, but I did inject a note of caution on their plans.  Convenience is King in retail, whether people like it or not, and anything which adds even a little additional complexity risks being counter-productive to the aims they want to achieve, which is increasing footfall in the main shopping areas.   (I do have some ideas for increasing footfall and improving the Market Place which I will share in the near future as a blog post all its own.)

Much complaining was done about the bridge closure and the damage it was doing to trade, though the business folk did appreciate the need for the important flood works.  They felt they were not being clearly communicated with.  They were also concerned about a lack of direct communication between the Town Council and the County Council with regards to the clashing of the Fair and the start of the roadworks.  Of course, I pointed out that providing “local knowledge” and helping with the communication is part of the job of the County Councillors, and part of the reason they are paid many thousands of pounds a year in “allowances.”  I pointed out that the County Councillors didn’t attend Town Council meetings, which is a shame because being in the same room regularly is a pretty good facilitator to communication.   I would have asked for input into that from one of the County Councillors themselves, but naturally they were not there – despite the fact that one of them lives on the other side of the road to where the meeting was held (Mendies).

After the meeting, Cllr. Samantha Hoy, Cllr. Garry Tibbs and I went for a late dinner to the newly-opened Frankie & Bennys* restaurant on Cromwell Road.  The Mayor had been invited to attend and we were accompanying her (the Mayor must be accompanied by other Councillors if she is wearing the chain.)  The food was great and the service was second-to-none.  Our excellent waiter even found time to demonstrate a card trick – which neither Garry Tibbs nor I could work out how it was done despite both being quite keen at “cracking” magic tricks.  The new restaurant will be successful, I am sure – and it’s providing 50+ jobs in the area too!  Win, win.

sam garry

* For the cynical who presume Councillors get loads of free stuff – yes, Frankie & Bennys did offer not to charge us for the meal.  First time I have *ever* been offered anything for free as a Councillor, actually.  It was a kind offer, which of course we declined.

Wisbech Market & Leverington Calendar

Wisbech Market & Leverington Calendar

I’ve just returned from a meeting of the Leverington Village Hall Committee, whose purpose was to “brainstorm” for events to hold throughout 2014.  The purpose is to give the local community more events to enjoy, to help and support sections of the community who are isolated or in need and to raise money towards a refurbishment or rebuild of the Village Hall in the future.  (It’s over 100 years old and I think few people would argue that it needs some tender loving care if it’s to last many more years.)

It was a great meeting and we now have all sorts of events planned throughout the year.  Events for kids and events for teenagers and events for adults.  Stuff to do for the young and for the old.  It’s going to be an exciting year with wall-to-wall activities.  Wherever possible these are free, or reasonably priced – making them as accessible to the whole community as is feasible.

The Village Hall always needs helpers to run events and even join the committee. If you can give some time, please do let us know!

Early today I was at the Wisbech Christmas Market.  I saw the Mayor and her Consort with the Beadle, doing their thing.  I know I am biased because the Mayor is a good friend of mine, but you’d be hard-pressed to find somebody who hasn’t come around to thinking (sometimes grudgingly) that she’s done a fine job so far in the role.  What I like about Sam is that she manages to combine the gravity of being the Mayor with a upbeat and uplifting presence that people can’t help but respond to.  Her Consort (partner) James always looks smart and attentive with her.  The pair have done our town proud this year.

I bumped into all sorts of other people too.  The Lions were there with their stall, bringing good cheer as ever.  As were the lovely Cat Haven folk.  I saw various Councillors and political friends.  Newton folk and Tydd folk and Gorefield folk.  It felt like I knew about half of the crowd, which was a very pleasant atmosphere to enjoy a festival occasion in.

The Market itself was great.  I always love it and today was no exception.  Carols.  People in Olde Times Fancy Dress.  Stalls and charities.  Hot chestnuts.  Turkey baps.  Hot chocolate with brandy.  What’s not to like?  It was rammed and the crowds didn’t disappear even when the rain began to pour.  Of course they didn’t.  This is Wisbech.  The people here are made of sterner stuff.  Rain? Pah.  It’s not Christmas without a bit of rain. :)

xmas

Wisbech Market Committee & PCC

Wisbech Market Committee

I attended my first meeting of the Wisbech Town Market Committee tonight.  Local folk might remember there was a (very brief) storm in a teacup due to some confusion as Wisbech Town Council took control of the marketplace from Fenland District Council.  At the time I suggested a market committee and gave some ideas as to the shape it should take which I’m pleased to say were taken up almost precisely as per my original idea.

The committee features several town councillors (including opposition councillors) and four members of the public (two market representatives and two shop representatives.)  There is a 15-minute “public speaking time” at the beginning so that anybody can have their say regardless of if they are the chosen reps or not.  The committee will be chaired by council leader Cllr David Oliver and I’m the vice-chair (thank you, members of the committee and market traders who elected me to the post! )

I felt the first official meeting went very well indeed. There was a positive, collegiate atmosphere.  Traders and council alike acted like a team, which is great since that’s precisely what we are.  A team aimed at making sure the town market is the best it can be and offers a useful and usable service to local and visiting shoppers.

It’s very early days and there will, no doubt, be some disagreement on the committee over time.  Not least because times are tough for retail right now and budgets must be balanced.  But this really is the right way to start and a sensible way to consider direction and policy.  I feel very positive about it.

PCC

As previously discussed, there will be a hustings for the new Conservative candidate for Police & Crime Commissioner this Friday.  It’s a member-only affair where conservatives from across the county can choose the candidate that they think will be the best person to stand for the job representing our party.

The last time there was a hustings it was a muted affair.  Conservatives kept themselves to themselves, politely avoiding external discussion about the party’s internal affairs and generally not specifying if they had a preferred or favourite candidate (with a couple of exceptions.)  I suspect as the week moves on we might see a bit less of that this time.  I’m thinking of publicly announcing who I’d prefer this time – not that anybody much cares what I think but simply because I was unhappy with what happened last time and feel that maybe this new hustings calls for a different kind of approach.

I haven’t decided yet for sure.  But maybe it would be a good idea for this hustings to have a more colourful lead-up.  Conservatives, by our  nature, are (small ‘c’) conservative and often play our cards close to our chest, unlike the outspoken and dramatic styles of our opposition parties.  But I have a feeling this one could be the exception to the rule.  We’ll see.