A Fenlander's diary

PUBLISHED: 11:28 03 February 2006 | UPDATED: 21:40 28 May 2010

MORE news arrives of the whereabouts of aspiring author and wannabe Labour MP ffinlo Costain, who enlivened the general election scene in Fenland last year. Domiciled in the Isle of Man, it seems he has just been appointed general secretary of the Manx N

MORE news arrives of the whereabouts of aspiring author and wannabe Labour MP ffinlo Costain, who enlivened the general election scene in Fenland last year. Domiciled in the Isle of Man, it seems he has just been appointed general secretary of the Manx National Farmers' Union "as in their chief adviser/negotiator and spokesperson", says ffinlo. " Bit of a shock really. The Isle of Man is undergoing the biggest and most important changes to their farming industry ever over the next five years - when they lose their protected status and have to open their meat industry to the free market (Jan 2011). With an independent government here and a complex relationship with the UK government and the EU and WTO policy-making process this should be a bloody interesting period."He adds: "The whole subsidy regime needs to be rebuilt and the whole relationship between farmers, retailers and consumers must be re-drafted. And I'm responsible."The world, as I frequently observe, never ceases to amaze.FAR be for this dog to bite another dog but I'm afraid the Cambridge Evening News (rather poor losers to one of our parent company's titles for Newspaper of the Year; enough of that, however) has excelled itself with its silliness.Intrigued by the headline ' pick up pint of milk and a chat with local bobby' I wondered what on earth they could be writing about. Closer scrutiny revealed this little gem: "Shoppers can drop into see their local bobby when they pop into pick up their milk and bread at the supermarket."Pc Katie Jackson will be in the One Stop Shop in March from 10am-2pm once a month, starting in February."Methinks, in fact me knows, they have lovingly confused Fenland District Council's enterprising contact centres with the retailing ambitions of Tesco et al and landed Pc Jackson in some late- night convenience store.My advice to colleagues in Cambridge is to get out a little more - possibly even as far as Fenland so their confusion may be brought to an end.IT must be seasonal, for the office seems to have been inflicted with a wealth of statistics about life and times in Fenland. One figure caught my eye - the number of youngsters under 18 in Fenland who smoke.According to latest figures, Cambridgeshire County Council - with some help from health chiefs - hopes to reduce to 9.3 per cent by next July the percentage of Fenland children in years eight and 10 who smoke. That's from a baseline of 10.8 per cent who recently answered the question of whether they smoke. More disturbingly, 7.4 per cent say they obtain cigarettes from shops, and again the aim is to reduce this. The council also wants to increase to 20 by next March the annual number of under 18s who successfully quit smoking. Only 14 do so at the moment. Fenland has the lowest male life expectancy of any part of Cambridgeshire. It's not too difficult to see where the problems start.SERIOUSLY unhappy councillors in Whittlesey have been berating the district council for the amount of litter left lying around. "Absolute disgust" was how Roy Curtis summed it up, while Ralph Butcher suggested the town council protest immediately to the district. Even Pam Potts got in on the act, describing the state of the street before the Straw Bear Festival as "terrible". She should be in a better position than most to resolve the issue. Her other incarnation is as chairman of Fenland Council, the very authority Whittlesey Town Council stumps up an extra £5,000 for to ensure the services of additional cleaning operativesA COLLEAGUE asked the Editor if he had any idea of when Millers the electrical shop in March closed."About five o'clock, if I remember correctly," came the reply.

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