Category Archives: Wisbech

Swing Wing 2018

Swing Wing 2018

Saturday night saw me having a wonderful time at the Swing Wing event – Thomas Clarkson Academy.

https://www.facebook.com/wisbechswingwingevent/

Celebrating 100 years of the R.A.F., this was an emotional and powerful musical tribute to their heroism, courage and honour.

I was welcoming people at the door, and then serving teas, coffees and soft drinks during the interval with the other volunteers. It was a lot of fun.

Credit must go to Jan Hutchinson? and Ray Hutchinson for organising the event and to all the volunteers who helped deliver it. And also to the Swing Wing band, who were amazing.

Church Terrace Toilets

Church Terrace Toilets

People were asking why the Church Terrace toilets are all closed.

This is the answer I have received from Officers at FDC:

“Just to update everyone, I have spoken to service engineer who was called to church terrace toilets wisbech regarding coin and door locking mechanism to one of the toilets, on his inspection all of the mechanism on the doors have been condemned with the doors not opening or not locking and a high chance of  persons  being locked in which is why engineer was called, to safe guard the public  I have made the decision to close the block  to eliminate any chance of anyone being locked in till this has been rectified.”

George Dunlop R.I.P.

George Dunlop R.I.P.

I was very sad to hear of the passing of George Dunlop.  I had the pleasure to work with George on many occasions at Town Festivals and community events.

I always found him to be just the more pleasant gentleman you could hope to meet.  Nothing was too much trouble and he was always ready to help at a moment’s notice with anything that would benefit the community.

My sincere condolences to his family.

Market Place Consultation

Wisbech Town Council have been looking at plans to refresh, rejuvenate and renew Wisbech Market Place for the last six months. This is our vision:

  • The first problem we wanted to resolve was that of poor or illegal parking. We propose to pedestrianise the majority of the Market Place using beautiful wrought metal gates to bar entry completely between10am and 4pm, however these times will be addressed as part of the consultation. Cars will be completely removed from the Market Place, including those of Market Traders (who will benefit from arranged parking elsewhere.) This will make the Market Place safer and look much more attractive. Although the High Street / Hill Street route will not be part of the pedestrianisation, it will feature bollards to prevent pavement and poor parking and the only parking allowed there will be disabled parking. There will be no reduction of the number of bays available for disabled use.
  • We wanted to introduce an open, light and enjoyable atmosphere to the area and we propose to do this in a number of ways: generous planters positioned around the market surrounding stylised seating, delightful water features and a redesign of the layout to give an airy and continental feel that can be enjoyed by shoppers and pedestrians.
  • We will also add a Tidal Clock, as a nod to our town’s historic nautical links and to the plans of designers years ago. This will be an attractive feature.
  • At one end of the Market Place we hope to introduce a small Children’s Play Area, nothing too grand, but fun for the youngsters and a chance for a break for busy parents with children in tow.
  • The statement piece of our proposed redesign is a high canopy which will cover nearly half of the Market Place. This will created a covered market where stall holders can trade without concern for bad weather, more comfortable and convenient for shoppers using their services.

The overall effect should be a car-free safe area, with a covered market and brightened by lush greenery, water features, a tidal clock and elegant seating. We hope it will look lovely.

This proposal has been the result of public consultation followed by a hard working task group of Councillors and members of the public. It has the support of the Wisbech Society, the Chamber of Commerce and the trustees of the Wisbech Museum.

Tha attached concepts (kindly provided by Peter Humphreys Associates) are now out for public consultation. We would welcome input and suggestions. You can make coments here, but there will be opportunities to meet and talk to councillors about the proposals – dates will be advertised.

Number 46

Number 46

In regards to the possible loss of important bus services in Wisbech:

Although this is a private company, its important that the County Council challenge and try and work through damaging proposals to get the best for local people.

County Council officers have been working hard since the worrying announcement to find a suitable resolution to the issue.

Although its not 100% decided, the news so far seems to be positive.

A tender to ascertain the cost of replacing the 46 service, that will be withdrawn by Stagecoach from 28 April, has been issued this week. County Council are tendering for three potential options.

The first is based on the existing timetable, which operates on an hourly basis. The second is on a revised 90 minute timetable which has the benefit of protecting the service and being more affordable as it reduces the vehicle requirement from two buses to one and should therefore be more economical to provide.

The final option is for an operator devised timetable, where they can make their own proposal built around their availability of vehicles and drivers.

The company are engaging with the County Council to try and find a way forwards that doesn’t let local people down and leave them without an important service.

So there’s no need to panic at this stage and County Council are doing their best to negotiate something which will prevent the problems of losing the service.

Your County Councillors have pushed hard and will continue to press as best we can for a deal which gets a good resolution for our Town. I hope this update is useful to you.

An Incinerator In Wisbech?

An Incinerator In Wisbech?

My personal feeling about the idea of putting an incinerator in Wisbech is that I will oppose any plan that comes forwards.

I do intend to ask the voters in Medworth, since that seems to be where they might want to site it. And if they all say “no problem” then I will need to have a rethink, as I am first and foremost an elected representative who must try and reflect the views of my constituents.

But my gut says that the majority of voters will take the same view I do – that it is something we don’t want, don’t need and should say “no” to as clearly as possible.

I will shortly be sending a letter to all the Medworth voters, asking for their views and I will report back once I have an idea of the majority position.

Gritting In North Ward / Waterlees

Gritting In North Ward / Waterlees

In response to the Councillor who, speaking about the North Ward / Waterlees yesterday, declared that “none of the primary routes had been done – at all.”

I thought this very likely to be untrue, and so I asked County Council officers to clarify. This is the response from yesterday:


Good afternoon Cllr,

I can confirm the following that primary routes in Wisbech were gritted as follows.

Friday 23rd 18:30
Saturday 24th 18:30
Sunday 25th 18:30
Monday 26th 03:00 and 18:00
Tuesday 27th 19:00
Wednesday 28th 03:00 and 13:00

I have attached a screen shot from one of the vehicles tracking devices that is fitted to every vehicle of the fleet. We can follow them live or investigate afterwards. The records are kept for twenty one years for insurance purposes. They show where the vehicle was what speed it was travelling and the spread rate of salt.

Any salt we do spread will need traffic to make it ”work” so you will typically see a white road then, black tram lines and eventually an all-black road.
Road surface temperatures have been very low all day not really rising above -2.0 c and this obviously slows the melting process.
I have spoken with the two drivers with the Skanska Operation Manager and they were giving good feedback on what they had done, for example upping the spread rate from 15 to 20 grams according to the road conditions.

I hope this is of use to you, if you need any further information please let me know.

 

As you can see, her claim was completely false. Now that could have been an accidental mistake, based on not having much of a clue what is going on. But if so, it might be an idea to avoid making people worried and angry, before you’ve taken the time to find out the actual facts.

Please everybody – drive carefully out there. Grit is great, but its not magic. Take it easy and be safe.

Wisbech Castle Project

Wisbech Castle Project

I have been asked by the Leader of Wisbech Town Council if I will Chair the new Castle Committee, whose job will be to handle the oversight of Wisbech Castle once the Town Council has it under its control.  Since my time as Mayor comes to an end in May, freeing up a lot of time, I have accepted the role.  Being the Chairman does not mean I am “in charge” of Wisbech Castle, it simply means I will be Chairman of the Committee and Working Party.  Running the Castle will be very much a team effort.  I’d like to talk a little about my initial ideas for the running structure of Wisbech Castle.  These are just ideas, subject to discussion and agreement of everybody else involved.

I think it appropriate for there to be three platforms to running the Castle.  The Castle Committee, the Castle Working Party and the Friends Of Wisbech Castle group.  The way the Committee and the Working Party will interact will run on a similar basis to the Town Council’s Festivals’ Committee and Working Party, which has proved to be a successful model over recent years.

The Castle Committee will be a constituted Committee of Wisbech Town Council, made up of seven Town Councillors, whose primary role will be to maintain the Council’s control of the project and scrutinise the spending on it and to oversee the work done by the Working Party.   I would guess the Castle Committee will meet three or four times a year.

The Castle Working Party – who will do most of the work and organisation of the day-to-day running of the Castle – will be a group made up of Councillors, representatives of interested local groups, and knowledgeable volunteers who bring skills to the table.  I hope that this Working Party will be a dynamic and imaginative bunch, with a mixture of skills and backgrounds, able to press on with multiple projects, income streams and public offers.  I would welcome communication from anybody who might like to be on the Castle Working Party.  But please bear in mind that members of the Working Party will be expected to put time and effort into the project on a voluntary basis, and so should be sure they are able to handle the commitment that something as important as this will take.  I would expect the Castle Working Party to have monthly meetings, and for members to touch base with each other and the Chairman and Vice-Chairman, often.

The Friends Of Wisbech Castle  will be a completely free voluntary organisation made up of anybody who values Wisbech Castle and want to join.  People who become “friends” will receive regular direct updates, early notifications of plans and events and possibly special opportunities and offers to enjoy all that I hope Wisbech Castle will come to offer.  Once this launches, I hope we will get hundreds, or even thousands, of people join in and become a part of the future of Wisbech Castle.

Aims
I see the aims of the project to be threefold.  First, to maintain Wisbech Castle as a public resource and asset, regularly accessible to the people of Wisbech and its guests to enjoy and make use of.  Second, to maintain and preserve the historic building in good order for current and future generations.  Third, to work towards making sure the building is not an undue burden on taxpayers of the Town and to aim towards cost neutrality, or profitability as early as feasibly possible.  I should add that cooperation and partnership with other Wisbech features like Wisbech Museum and Peckover House will not only be desirable, but crucial.

First Things First
What we can do in the very short term is limited by the work needing to be done in the building.  First priority will be to get urgent repairs done so that the building is in a fit state to be used.  To clean up the gardens and get the whole site ready for further use.  If this is planned well and the work goes without too many issues, then the Castle should be usable for at least some activities in the next few months.  After that we can pick and choose what to renovate and work on as the Committees decide on what the various uses will be, so that we can roll out activities and ideas in phases.

Ideas
There are so many ideas for what the Castle could be used for and how its access and usefulness could grow.  Both for things that have gone before like school visits and weddings, heritage open days, fetes, art fairs and garden tours – to many brand new ideas for the future.  While I am Chairman I will encourage creativity, imagination and fresh thinking.  The door will be open to anybody with a great suggestion or proposal.  If everything goes according to plan, Wisbech Castle will take its rightful place as a centre-piece and an incredible community asset for now and for the future.

Communication
All Committee Meetings will be open to the public.  Discussions, ideas and decisions will be published transparently.  I hope that Wisbech Castle will have a Facebook Page and a Twitter Feed.  I hope to have a website for Wisbech Castle set up.  These things will all be free and operated by volunteers.  It will be my aim to encourage engagement, support and volunteering throughout the Wisbech Castle Project – to welcome anybody who loves the Castle and the Town to be a part of it and to contribute to it.  I would welcome participation, even from critics of the project, as long as those critics come to the table with an open mind and a desire to help.  I would hope that people who have something to say will come and be a part of the project and say it on record so that it can be thought about and addressed, rather than just snipe from afar on social media or elsewhere.

And Finally…
Once again, these are just my initial ideas.  They are all subject to discussion, to debate and to challenge by those people who are part of the Project.  I wanted to put my ideas down so that people could see where I’m coming from, but that should not be taken to mean the whole thing isn’t open to the great ideas and suggestions of everybody else.  In fact I know that several of my Town Council colleagues are overflowing with ideas, as are members of local organisations and also many individuals.  There is nothing easy about this project and I will not claim there is.  It’s a real challenge and also carries some risk.  No doubt about it.  But is it worth trying?  Is it worth doing?  I believe so.  Wisbech Castle is part of the fibre of the Town, built into its DNA, a long-standing historic monument both in its current form and for what has gone before.

A Committee of Councillors can’t do this alone.  Wisbech Town Council can’t do this alone.  But together, I really believe we have a great opportunity here to deliver something absolutely incredible for Wisbech and everybody who lives here.  If you are excited about Wisbech Castle, if you think you have something to offer or can help – please get in touch. 

20mph limit is more dangerous

20mph limit is more dangerous but too costly to reverse, council admits

Today, in the Daily Telegraph:

Reducing the speed limit to 20mph has caused a rise in death and serious injuries, a council has admitted, but is refusing to reverse the scheme because it will cost too much.

Bath and North East Somerset Council spent £871,000 bringing in the 13 new speed zones just 12 months ago.

But one year on, a report has found that the rate of people killed or seriously injured has gone up in seven out of the 13 new 20mph zones.

The review of the traffic control measures warns that this is a problem nationally, adding: “There is no simple explanation for this adverse trend but it could be that local people perceive the area to be safer due to the presence of the 20mph restrictions and thus are less diligent when walking and crossing roads, cycling or otherwise travelling.”

Despite the council’s own report concluding that there is “little in the way of persuasive argument for continuing the programme in the future”, deputy leader Patrick Anketell-Jones has admitted there simply isn’t the money available to reverse the 20mph zones.

The Conservative councillor said: “It has cost over £800,000 to roll out the 20mph zone and it would probably cost the same to reverse them.

“We just haven’t got the money. I’m pretty sure the 20mph zones will stay in place for the foreseeable future.”

It adds that the rise in casualty numbers and severity would “suggest against further expansion of area based schemes.”

In the 12 months since each 20mph zone was installed the rate of people killed or seriously injured has gone up in seven out of the 13 areas.

The reductions had been seen in central Bath whilst the worsening was largely in outlying rural areas.

The report added: “Casualty severity has worsened marginally in Bath and more so in outlying towns. Again, this is reflective of the national situation.”

This is not the first warning that 20mph areas are more dangerous. In 2010 the Department for Transport reviewed the scheme in Portsmouth, one of the first areas to adopt it, and found that number of people killed or seriously injured on affected roads actually went up, not down, after the limit was lowered.

Retired civil servant Simon Marshall, 58, from Lower Weston, called on Bath council to review the 20mph speed limits, calling them “unduly restrictive”.

And he said he was astonished to see the report and learn that the council couldn’t afford to reverse the zones, despite rising numbers of deaths and serious injuries.

He said: “The facts are that the numbers of people being killed and injured are going up since the zones were introduced.

“More people are being hurt because less people are taking care, and the council are saying that they can’t afford it.

“To my mind that’s saying that people are being seriously hurt but we are not prepared to stump up the cash to stop that happening.”

The Government’s current guidance remains that more traffic authorities should consider introducing the lower limits.

A nationwide review of 20mph limits published by the The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) last month concluded: “A large number of evaluation studies have demonstrated a link between the introduction of 20mph zones and a subsequent reduction in casualties. The size of the reductions and the consistency of results over a wide number of areas are further evidence for this link.”

However, their review pointed out that 20mph zones in which other traffic calming measures were introduced alongside the reduction in limit were much more effective.

In Bath and North East Somerset they brought in the changes with a speed reduction and signs to indicate it only.

The RoSPA report noted: “20mph limits without traffic calming also reduces traffic speed, although this effect is smaller than when they are introduced with traffic calming or other measures. Their lower cost means that wider areas can be covered.”

I believe this qualifies as a complete vindication of what I and others have been saying for the last few years. 20MPH zones, or “Twenty’s Plenty” not only don’t stack up, but actually make our communities more dangerous.

Wisbech Christmas Fayre & More

Wisbech Christmas Fayre & More
Yesterday I arrived. before the start of the Wisbech Christmas Fayre to join representatives of the Chamber of Commerce to visit all the shops who had entered the Christmas Window competition and judge the winners. There were lots of great entries but we decided in the end to give commendations to the two runners up; Cats Pajamas and The Wool Shop, and award the Winner’s Trophy to Sarah’s Flowers on Market Street.
 
I officially opened the Fayre at 10.40AM and then stayed to enjoy the Carols from several local schools. With all the snow it was very festive – and very cold.
 
I spent some time visiting stalls and buying things and then at 11.45AM I joined the Churches Together team and their Walking Nativity. Touring the town on foot and dressed in nativity costumes they sang carols at several different stops along the way, including inside Poundland! It was a lot of fun.
 
The Walking Nativity then joined the Salvation Army band and, altogether, we sang from the stage area to an audience at the Christmas Fayre.
 
Then onto the Sense shop, where I had been asked to draw the winning raffle together for their big draw, and to make the telephone call to the lucky winner.
 
At this point there was 20 minutes to snatch a cuppa, before rushing on to Rose Lodge Care Home where I joined residents and staff for their Christmas Party.
 
After that, I grabbed my DJ gear and rushed to Newton, where I was the DJ at their annual Christmas Party.
 
And that was just the daytime. :)
 
Busy day, very festive and wonderful to see the people of Wisbech and the surrounding villages enjoying themselves.