A Fenlander's Diary

PUBLISHED: 12:12 03 March 2006 | UPDATED: 21:44 28 May 2010

A FORMER stammerer, who managed to cure himself after years of unsuccessful speech therapy, plans to hold a free open day in Wisbech for sufferers of the condition. Stephen Hill, 32, tells me he hopes to hold the event on Saturday, March 11 and is keen to

A FORMER stammerer, who managed to cure himself after years of unsuccessful speech therapy, plans to hold a free open day in Wisbech for sufferers of the condition.Stephen Hill, 32, tells me he hopes to hold the event on Saturday, March 11 and is keen to hear from stammerers and their families interested in attending."A stammer can literally ruin a person's life," he says. "It can stop them from reaching their potential at work, and restricts their social life, not to mention the ridicule which some stammerers suffer at the hands of unfeeling people."At the open day, he will show stammerers the key elements of his five-day individual tuition classes.He added: "The fluency techniques I use are eminently transferable to others, and the stammerers I have worked with have left the course a totally different person."- For information, ring Stephen on 0121 453 9208, e-mail steve.hill9@btinternet.comWHAT news, I hear you say, of my favourite Fenland property, the enchantingly named Apple Crumble Cottage in Parson Drive. You will recall, Brakespeare's love affair with this 180-year-old Grade II-listed building since owner Jeremy Askey proposed some modernisations. These included removal of a ground floor chimney breast in the bathroom area to accommodate a new shower. Poor old Jeremy has discovered you can't simply do what you fancy with a Grade II home and no less than a personage than John Braithwaite, BSc(Arch), BArch(Hons)RIBA, a Government planning inspector, has ruled against the improvements. Fenland planners rejected the plans and now Mr Braithwaite has supported their opposition on appeal. Loss of original features, removal of original fabric, insertion of steelwork creating a modern structural feature: all "incongruous in a building of historic interest" says Mr B. No crumble of comfort, either, for Mr A in Mr B's final sentence, which he states "the proposed works would adversely affect the character and architectural interest of Apple Crumble Cottage".CONCERN that their allowances might be slipping behind other local authorities has led Cambridgeshire County Councillors to award themselves an 8 per cent increase.It's all been done, of course, in the best possible taste with the recommendations coming from an independent review team.From April 1 it means the level of basic allowance paid to all councillors rises to £7,173 a year, which can be topped up by special responsibility allowances. It means, for example, the leader will now get £20,969 a year instead of £19,416.But be assured, the review panel warns, they have not lost sight of the matter of public service and its report states: "It has therefore not sought to ensure that councillors are properly paid but that they receive reasonable compensation for their efforts, at a time when changes in organisation and or structure are placing increasing burdens on members."THE answer to my question of a fortnight ago about whether the 12 votes won by Jess Hibbert in the Manea by-election might be some sort of record, has attracted a response - from Mr Hibbert himself .Mr H, ever the sportsman, admits to probably having "a vested interest in finding a lower poll than our effort in Manea".So it was natural the seasoned Labour candidate should set about finding it. Sure enough he discovered that in Luton, in 1996, a Green Party candidate polled just 10 votes.And according to Mr H this represented 0.4 per cent of the vote "as opposed to our whopping two per cent".He added: "As you can see without an election to fight, I am very much at a loose end."BRAKESPEARE'S slipping in his advancing years by failing to predict the narrowness in the battle to secure the deputy leadership of Fenland District Council.But he is delighted to congratulate the winner, Councillor Fred Yeulett of March, who topped the poll with 13 votes, one more than the runner up Councillor Kit Owen, also of March.The poll, conducted exclusively among the Tory group on the council, saw a notable eight votes for outsider, Wisbech's Councillor Simon King.

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