Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Public Service Announcement

The blog entry entitled "Time to Go" has been taken down for review.

It is not the intention of this site to display any inaccurate material.

Cllr Martin Curtis's response has also now been removed.


Monday, 14 April 2008


A strange snippet appeared in the Cambridge Evening News on 22.03.08. Hidden in the middle of an article about Cambourne was the startling line:- "the proposed carbon neutral developments in Cambridgeshire are at Mepal, Mereham, Hanley Grange, Alconbury, Six Mile Bottom and Denny St Francis, near Waterbeach."

The Government has tasked every County Council to identify sites to build new 'carbon neutral' towns. When Cambs County Council proposed Mereham, the ensuing fuss was heard a long way around.

But when did Mepal get sneaked onto the list, and why was no-one told ?

Despite falling within the jurisdiction of the neighbouring District Council, Mepal is less than 5 miles from Chatteris and shares parish boundaries. A new town with a target population of 20,000 would certainly effect Chatteris, and the Town Council should be have been consulted before Mepal was ever added to the list.

It seems to me that the Chatteris Town Council should be taking an active interest in this matter, as should the County Councillors for Chatteris.


Note: When the Government finally published the shortlist, the only Cambridgeshire site selected was Hanley Grange.

Monday, 7 April 2008

Old Dogs ? New Tricks ?

I'm currently considering whether to take legal advice on suing the 'Cambs Times' for compensation for injuries suffered due to my falling off my chair laughing ! Posting the story "It's 'back to school' time for 40 councillors" on their web site without an accompanying health warning must surely be negligent ?

The steam rising from the collective heads of our worthy councillors on learning that they are going to be taught to be better councillors must be equivalent to the power output of your average Fenland windturbine !

Fenland is judged one of the very most deprived districts in the country, by almost every available social, economic or welfare indicator. It is clear to me that our district and county councillors "could and should do better" ! Many appear to fail to realise that it is both their job, and their duty, to fight for improvements. Being a district or county councillor shouldn't merely be a well paid sinecure.

I welcome any efforts at improvement, but wonder whether Fenland can be rescued by trying to re-educating its current crop of councillors. I tend to believe we would all be best served by sacking the lot and starting again with a new batch of younger, brighter, more energetic councillors, drawn from a wider range of life and experience.


Monday, 31 March 2008

Council of the Year ? No Chance !

A fortnight ago FDC failed to win the prestigious “Council of the Year award”. They were similarly thwarted in “Most Improved Council” category. One wonders if the judges perhaps visited Fenland to judge FDC’s real performance for themselves.

Over the last couple of years FDC have displayed an obsession with entering for any, and every, award going. In polite circles this is called ‘spin’. Wags have even asked if FDC will be lobbying for the creation of a prestigious ‘Council with the best anagram of their name’ award, in which they would surely be leading contenders, as ‘Fenland District Council’ rearranges itself nicely into ‘Conflict Ridden Lunatics’.

I ask myself if I really am fortunate to live somewhere blessed by the benevolent stewardship of a potential ‘ Council of the Year’ contender, when I consider FDC’s:-
* Inability to include satisfactory road safety measures within the Planning Process they administer,
* Whole hearted embrace of Wind Turbines, irrespective of suitability of location,
* Lack of endeavour to develop public access to our unique waterways,
* Failure to try to secure any of the huge pot of money available through SUSTRANS - which could have gone toward providing safe cycle routes in the District, for use by residents and tourists,
* Chronic failure for over a decade to ensure civic improvements to accompany new houses.

Chatteris must surely be the most deprived of the Fenland Towns with:-
* No Public leisure or fitness facilities,
* No Public Swimming Pool,
* Nowhere for kids to kick a ball around without getting muddy feet,
* No public tennis courts,
* No all-weather pitch for our children’s teams to practice and play on,
* Nowhere suitable for teenagers to informally meet,
* Little or no toddler play equipment within a convenient, toddler length walk of their home,
* No effort to promote and encourage the economic well being of the shopping centre,
* Insufficient accessible Public transport,
* Minimal interest in helping make roads safe for cyclists or pedestrians,
* Less public green space that the national average, or recommended minimum level, let alone a country park.

Chatteris appears to be the ‘lost world’ of the District. FDC seems happy to ‘flog off’ the Town’s assets’ but refuses to commit to reinvesting the money back into the town.
And for over 30 years Chatteris has been helping finance the leisure facilities in the other Fenland Towns which are inaccessible to Chatteris residents!

Surely the well being of the District is the ultimate measure of a council’s performance ? Some might argue that this is a more important criteria than, for example, a complaint system which invariably clears FDC of ever making a mistake, and unfailingly boosts their own customer satisfaction rating surveys.


Thursday, 27 March 2008


Only a couple of hours after it was first posted, a Cambs Times poll asking “do you believe enough is done to promote road safety in Fenland ?” showed 20% voting “YES” and 80% thinking that the County Council’s record was simply not up to scratch

Hardly a ringing endorsement of Shire Hall, but I wonder who the 20% are who appear unconcerned about people dying, but none the less have taken the trouble to reply to a newspaper poll.

I’ve discussed Fenland Road safety (or lack of) with literally hundreds of people in the last few years. There are certainly a handfull (mainly councillors) who have said to me “people have always driven into the dikes, so why change it now ?”. But in my straw poll they have never amounted to anything likely to be even approaching 20% of a public opinion poll.

Last week Graham Chappell’s eloquent letter to the Cambs Times suggested the breathtakingly engaging idea of legal action against the Authorities for “Corporate Manslaughter” !

When I read the letter, I wondered if this suggestion of long overdue legal action for manslaughter might finally concentrate County Council’s attention on preventing unnecessary deaths on our roads.

Are the early results of the Cambs Times poll truly representative of the broad swage of Fenland opinion ? Or was the polling population largely constituted of the County Council and its Members scurrying in a panic to their computers ?


Here’s looking at you...

I’d like to join Chris Howes, 'Dame' Christine Colbert and Friends, in extending to Ed Bryce our very best wishes for success in his new job and happiness in his new home in Cambridge.
('Seeing as' we understand you will be working in Vision Express - we'll clearly be seeing you in future!)
Chatteris'll miss you.
All the best
Walt, C & C et al

Friday, 21 March 2008


Cambridge News 12 March 2008 "More than £8 million is to be spent to make St Neots cleaner and safer."

Have you every asked yourself why nothing seems to be spent on Fenland?

Visit most Cambridgeshire towns and it's clear that lots of public money is spent on things that are needed. However meanwhile, Fenland is left year after year with poor and frequently dangerous roads, a lack of adequate public leisure facilities and town centres that would clearly benefit from investment.

Why does Fenland continually fail to attract investment?

It seems that St Neots is about to receive huge amounts of public money due to its town centre problems from vehicle exhausts. Plans are for a whopping £8 million to be spent co-ordinating traffic lights to improve the flow of vehicles and on improvements to pedestrian and cycling facilities.

What could we do with £8million in Fenland ?

For a start we could do something about the 40ft road. A couple of years ago County Council said that it would cost £750,000 to sheet-pile the bank. A similar amount to make the 16 foot road safer would amount to £1.5 million.

And how about pedestrian safety in Fenland ? Or any kind of cycling facilities at all ? It would obviously be very nice if residents could cycle to work or the shops in safety, and we were all able to let our children out on their bikes for leisure or to cycle to school without worrying if they might come to grief. Fenland is also a natural haven for cyclists and it would be a delight to be able to cycle from one community to another, or just cycle for pleasure. Think of all that enjoyable exercise and the natural beauty of the Fens to enjoy, and think about the potential for fewer cars on the roads.

A few million would go a long way to providing cycleways,.

And there are many places in Fenland where safe road crossing places are desperately needed. Many residents of Chatteris drive into town from Doddington Road rather than run the gauntlet of the A141/A142 roundabout. And any morning, or after school, you can see numbers of youngsters or mothers with pushchairs and toddlers teetering on the kerb waiting for a gap in the roaring traffic, so they can get into town, or home again.
This situation is intollerable! The recently built Fordham by pass has a pedestrian and cycle fly over link to Soham, and the new Thorney by-pass has a similar link which seems to be little used at all. But in Chatteris, where two major roads converge, there is a complete absence of attention to public safety. You have to ask yourself why?

Fenlanders, just as much as any other residents of Cambridgeshire, deserve money to be spent on them!

We need safety on roads and the ability to walk or cycle about in safety and with pleasure, just as much as anyone else!

Could the problem by any chance be down to the fact that all of Fenland is represented exclusively by Tory County Councillors? Tory Councillors who are ineffectual and apparently don't wish to upset their ruling Tory colleagues at County Hall by asking for any money to be spent in Fenland!

Let's face it, the sitting Tory Councillors haven't even been able to persuade their colleagues to stick to their promise for a roundabout at the Goosetree junction.
What ARE the local Tories doing for you?