Category Archives: Wisbech
John Elworthy has suggested in his misleading news article that I had “hinted I would resign.”
I’m sorry if I gave that impression. It was not intentional.
I was elected by the people of Medworth to represent them, and represent them I shall until they tell me they don’t want me anymore.
No political stitch up or hate-driven campaign by the Usual Suspects will change that. Only the people of Medworth can change that. They will be asked in two years time if they would like somebody else and if they choose to replace or upgrade me then that will be up to them.
I was elected by Full Council as the Deputy Mayor in 2016 and I have performed the role to the best of my ability. The Conservative Group have elected me as the Conservative Candidate to be Mayor this year – which is what traditionally happens after you have been Deputy Mayor – and I will proudly stand as their candidate. If Full Council elects me then I will perform the job of Mayor diligently, proudly and to the best of my ability.
Again, no staged political drama will bully me into running away. They may think they can upset me – and in that they are correct. But they cannot and will not bully me into running away, no matter how many newspaper Editors they have supporting them.
I’d like to thank the 200+ people who have sent me messages, texts, Facebook messages and emails supporting me against last night’s attack. Many of whose comments can be read on the previous blog post. It has been very touching to receive such overwhelming support in the face of some rank unpleasantness.
If I will make two changes it is this – I will not be blogging opinion pieces during the next couple of months or in my time as Mayor (if I am elected as Mayor.) And I will double down on my communication – I have always tried to combine scrutiny and fair and objective comment with honesty and professionalism. It has been possible for opponents to misuse cherry-picked bits of my blog for their own ends, out of context. This will not be possible in future.
I will continue to do what I have always done. I will work hard for my Ward and for my Town. I will try to do so honestly and transparently (as per this blog), rather than in secret groups and private chat rooms. I will continue to put my time, energy, money and skills (such as they are) where my mouth is to help make Wisbech a better and safer place. And I will trust and have faith that the truth will shine through.
.. And So It Begins…
So apparently, the intention of the collected opposition is to try and “brand me” with a new unpleasant nickname :)
A fairly standard tactic of cheap opposition is this “isolate and target” of one individual. It serves three purposes. To try and make them feel isolated. To try and demoralise them. And to try and repeat a name often enough that people not involved “believe” it.
This is not the first time they have tried this. In the past, I just “owned” the stuff they were saying.
So, if you live locally, expect to see the Usual Suspects using the same (broadly false) phrases in letters to the newspaper (which will be immediately and uncritically printed, of course), in social media and in person.
I don’t know if its just me that has the honour of being the target, or if they will try the same thing with others. Either way, it’s going to be a … um … colourful few months.
“Mr Nasty” (apparently) :)
St Peters Car Park : Update
I said earlier that I would publish the written response I got from the Officer at FDC regarding St. Peter’s Car Park. I have now received it and I am publishing it (below). I have removed some bits for confidentiality and made some minor changes for clarity, but this is otherwise exactly what I received.
It was good to speak with you earlier and I apologise for not contacting you in regards to the work in advance of it taking place.
The changes within Church Terrace Car Park are being undertaken in part as routine maintenance and in part as minor improvement works to remove some of the kerbed island obstructions that have prevented the car park layout from being reconfigured into the intended layout that was designed
back in 2002 and to which the then new street lights were positioned.
Additionally there are a couple of trees that have already been removed or are planned to be removed which were identified as either diseased or non thriving from a recent Picus survey.
The kerbed islands and some small areas containing shrubs and bedding plants which were funded by FDC for the In Bloom scheme are being removed so that we can facilitate the 2002 layout. Ultimately this will improve the operational flow and safety
of the car park whilst creating some additional parking bays.
Not all the works will be undertaken this year as we do not have any Capital funding for the scheme and as such we intend to only carry out small aspects of the works over the next two years. What we are aspiring to do this year is remove the small central islands, undertake patching repair works and then reline the main body of the car park.
The planting areas and perimeter trees will all remain as will the large tree island opposite St Rapheal’s Club along with the island opposite the FDC toilets.
The large island in the middle with the temp informal footpath will remain but will need to have some kerb line amendments undertaken to make the island more square in shape.
Once the car park has been reconfigured there will be some triangular areas which will not be suitable for parking. These can be looked at with a view to reinstating some raised planted or bedding areas.
I hope this provides you with a sufficient overview, however should you need any further information, please contact me or feel free to pop into our offices.
In regards to St Peters Car Park
I had no idea the work was happening as the Ward Councillor. Nor did any other Town Councillor to the best of my knowledge. I was as surprised as everybody else.
This morning I have phoned the Officer in charge of the work and spent much time on phone to him getting the information as to what is going on.
I will try and explain what is happening as per what I have been told. I am as frustrated by it as everybody else.
What I have been told:
I am told that this work dates back to a 2002 plan which was agreed and then could not continue because the funding dried up. The Officer have been doing bits and pieces of the work ever since whenever some funding became available.
I am told that this was was considered basically routine maintenance and that is why they did not notify Town Council or any of the Councillors in Town. They did, however, notify the In Bloom volunteers, they say. I am also told that the flowers/plants planted by Street Pride were funding by the office doing the work originally, that all the plants with some worth have been safely removed and can be replanted. Trees that are being removed have been identified by a professional survey as requiring removal as they are sick, or “not thriving.”
I am told that the removal of the bays has been on the cards since 2002 and that it is part of a complete redesign of the layout and markings which will improve the car park and make many more spaces available as the space and layout is currently not optimal. The work also includes relining and resurfacing sections of the car park as part of this.
I am also told that the Officers are very surprised that there has been an outcry over this as they considered it routine work and that they felt that had let the In Bloom team know in good time and also explained to them that the plants would be removed and replanted.
Finally, I am told that the intention is to make new flower bed areas once the work is finished – putting them in the places where the cars cannot park in the new layout.
What I have said:
I have explained that I am very unhappy about not having been notified of this work as the local Ward Councillor and I am sure my other Councillor colleagues feel the same. Had we known in advance we could have warned that they had misunderstood the feelings of local people. We could also have helped them negotiate a plan that would not upset our local volunteers who have spent so much time working on making the car park look nicer.
I have asked the Officer to put everything he has said to me in writing, and when I receive that I will share it with you all.
I did write to the Officers last night asking them to hold off any work until we had time to look at what was going on. Unfortunately, most of the work was done very quickly and those islands are already flattened and bare – ready for their completely removal. The Officer has informed me that none of the larger islands around the edge of the Car Park are being removed, although a piece is to be “cut off” of the edge of the one in the middle which splits the car park in two.
It is very frustrating that this has happened without me being given any notice whatsoever. At a bare minimum I should have been notified long in advance, and in my opinion so should the rest of Town Council. We were not. I cannot turn back the clock, but I will be making it very clear that this is unacceptable and must never, ever happen again. I will write to the Cabinet Member at FDC in the strongest terms, and also raise this as an issue at Wisbech Town Council.
I feel very sorry for the hard-working volunteers who have spent so much time trying to make the car park look nicer. They are true champions of the town and it is, in my opinion, unfair that this has happened in this way. But it appears to boil down to a misunderstanding by Officers as to the level of upset it would cause – one which I have endeavoured to put them straight about.
I am as unhappy as anybody – I live near the car park and use it every day. I liked the islands of green too. But the Car Park *does* need relining and surface work. I just wish they’d considered the possible consequences of the action rather than relying on an old plan without any consultation.
In Regards To Wisbech Castle
Some people are talking about Wisbech Castle and its future. I’m not involved with the team making the Business Plan on behalf of the Town Council, but since some people are putting around misinformation, this is my position:
At the moment this is a County Council issue and it is County Council who are making these calls. I am not a County Councillor. So right now, I have little say in it. At some point a proposal will be made and I may need to vote.
If the suggestion is that Wisbech Town Council take the Castle on then I’d be looking for a very convincing business plan to cover how it would be paid for and what it would be used for.
If that plan involved a high level of subsidy by the taxpayer then id want to ask the people of the town for their approval.. as we did with the Christmas Lights and keeping the street lights switched on.
I dont think this is an unreasonable position and would support any sensible costed plan.
I have every faith in the people looking at a possible business plan. If a viable one can be found, they will find it. If it cannot, there are still other options.
Helping Wisbech Museum
There’s been a lot of talk about the financial woes of our Town Museum of late and I thought it might be interesting to just “spitball” some ideas. These are not a “business plan” or anything other than some things that sprung to my mind while writing this blog post. I am sure that other people could come up with millions more things.
1/ You know these things where you give a fiver a week to a charity, the ones with the heart-wrenching adverts on TV? Well what if there was a scheme like that for the Museum? If people were asked to give £5.00 a month to them? If just 500 people did that they’d have an extra £30,000 a year. The Museum could offer free entry for those people (while charging a small fee to everybody else) and maybe a charity event once a year to thank them (with raffle etc to pay for it).
2/ Charging a small fee for entry. It’s nice that its free, but also unsustainable. Also, sometimes there is a perception of value created by a price. If you give something away for free forever, you make it seem less valuable.
3/ Gifts and Souvenirs. There could be loads more of these, all at a “point of sale” location. When you have excited people with a visit, it is easy to sell them something to remember it.
4/ Refreshments. Obviously.
5/ Partnership with other local attractions. Offer “free entry” on the same day as Peckover House or Octavia Hill Museum is visited (and vice versa). This only works if you are charging something. Gain revenue from these free visits via a donations box, souvenirs and refreshments.
6/ Harvest contact details. No visitor should ever pass the door without being asked politely to fill out a contact form. Form is then used to invite people back for special events, exhibitions and celebrations.
7/ Special Events, Exhibitions and Celebrations. Any attraction must constantly renew itself. It must be thinking all about how it can create a new and exciting offer within its existing brand. Since the Museum has so many exhibits, creating “themes” and special exhibitions should not be too difficult. With a team of knowledgeable volunteers it should be possible to have something special happen almost every month. By all means tie these in with calendar events, if there is a way to do so: Halloween, Christmas, Rose Fair etc.
8/ Social Media and the Internet. The Museum is absolutely crying out for a social media revolution. With such a wealth of information between its walls there is an endless supply of “content” for exciting websites, facebook pages, twitter feeds. A volunteer could post a small but interesting post about something in the museum every day, on Facebook, Twitter and its website. Comments and discussion would be welcomed and then people would be invited to see “this and so much more” at the Museum. Perhaps with a discount entrance fee that week mentioning the Social Media promotion code?
9/ Actors. Okay, this is a bit “out there.” But there are talented local actors and performers who might be willing to add a “live touch” to a museum visit. As you are walking and looking at things they approach, in costume, and deliver some roleplayed lines to add to the atmosphere. Young volunteers could earn time credits and possibly get a commendation for their C.V.?
10/ Partner up with local schools (more.) Okay, schools already visit the Museum and that’s great. But perhaps each school could have a teacher and a student as “staff and student” ambassadors. Whose job is to share what the Museum is doing with the school and encourage the school to ask questions and visit?
I could go on and on and on. The Museum has, I believe, fallen into a bit of a rut. The withdrawal of some funding is unfortunate, but may be exactly the tonic that is needed to breath fresh life into it. This is no criticism of the current board and volunteers who I know are passionate and dedicated. In a way this is a wake-up call to us all. The Museum needs our support, ideas, volunteers, time and visits. Use it or lose it!
Please feel free to add your own ideas to this blog post as replies!
The “Ruling” “Elite”
Momentum and Local Labour Party crusader, Sue Marshall, pops up every few days now on social media with some new brand of spin. She is trying, I must admit.
One of her common manipulative phrases is to refer to the Conservatives on Wisbech Town Council as “the ruling Elite.” By which, of course, she means the volunteers on Town Council who were elected by the people of Wisbech. Clearly the term “elite” is meant to portray a view of champagne-swilling, oyster eating, privileged rich individuals who have gained their position through no merit.
This made me smile. As I sit here in my ragged Batman T-Shirt, with my Jack Russell by my side and clutching my can of Diet Coke I mused on the nature of “ruling elites.”
I thought about Rob McLaren. A member of the “ruling elite” who has (until recently) worked in a local factory and who gives £50 from his pocket most years to the best Christmas lights display in Walsoken.
I thought about Garry Tibbs, Mayor of Wisbech and clearly senior member of the “ruling Elite” who also works in a local factory and who took his entire annual holiday leave in occasional days to allow him to fulfill his Mayoral duties.
I considered Viv McRae, a member of the “ruling elite” if ever there was one, who works as a carer for the mentally ill.
I thought about David Oliver, who runs a family photography business from his home, and can usually be seen at the crack of dawn, volunteering to help whenever anything is going on in Town.
Or David’s daughter Jess Oliver, who is a Teaching Assistant at a local school and is a volunteer leader of the Girls Venture Corps.
Then I thought of publican and Eastern European community leader Aigars Balsevics. Real “ruling elite” material right there. I’m sure he feels “elite” with every frothy pint he pulls for a thirsty patron. :)
Perhaps the ruling elite is Samantha Hoy? Who lives in a bourgeois estate frequented only by the rich and the famous. (Copperfields.) No doubt when she’s helping somebody find a place to live, or putting in long hours organising the next Town Festival she is thoroughly enjoying her eliteness.
I certainly hope that Sue Marshall is referring to me. I don’t know what I “rule”, unless its the Kingdom of Litter Picking or the Empire of Speedwatch. And I don’t know in what way I am elite, unless I’m just a really elite eater of Jelly Bellys and crabsticks.
I would encourage anybody who lives in Wisbech to occasionally attend a Wisbech Town Council meeting and see the “ruling elite” at work looking at planning proposals for a garden extension, or considering the budget implications of a new litter bin. It’s an eye-opener. :)
WCP and the Wisbech Christmas Market