As Cambs County Council Cabinet prepares to meet in Wisbech Melton says: ‘Let’s not forget what Fenland is doing’
SO what, say the critics, does Fenland District Council do for Wisbech? It conjures up the famous scene in Monty Python’s film, “Life of Brian”.
“What have the Romans ever done for us?” says Reg, one of the characters played by John Cleese. Back come the replies: aqueducts, sanitation, roads…
“All right,” exclaims Reg. “But apart from the sanitation, medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh water system and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?”
So let’s look at what FDC has done and is doing for Wisbech. First, consider the millions of pounds of investment into buildings and facilities within the town. Sometimes that investment comes solely from the council’s own resources. Often it’s a case of it working with partners and helping to attract extra funding from elsewhere.
A prime example is the Nene Waterfront Regeneration Project – a multi-million pound scheme, spearheaded and coordinated by FDC, with further funds secured from partners such as the East of England Development Agency, English Partnerships and the European Union.
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At its heart is the Boathouse, which serves not only as a base for a string of local firms but also as the venue for an ever-increasing number of business and community events.
Then there’s the recent provision of �1.5 million for the College of West Anglia (CoWA) to help fund a new technology building that will provide vital skills in engineering, manufacturing and product design – skills that are vital for the future economic and social wellbeing both of Wisbech and Fenland as a whole.
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There’s the �400,000 committed to the new “Performance Space” at Thomas Clarkson Community College, which will benefit not only the college but the community at large.
There’s the �1 million-plus that has gone into maintaining and improving the facilities at the Hudson Leisure Centre over the past few years.
There are the thousands of pounds spent on enhancing the CCTV operation in the town, including upgrading the cameras in Wisbech Park and installing four wireless cameras in particular “hotspots”.
There’s the �200,000 contribution to Octavia View to help provide accommodation and other facilities aimed not only at tackling the problem of single homelessness but also at providing a social “hub” for the whole community, with a shop, gallery, training facilities and cafe. Alongside that, the council has been instrumental in securing funding for the Migrant Night Shelter.
And there’s the Fenland @ your service shop, providing services and advice to thousands of customers each year.
Those are just a few examples of FDC’s direct financial investment. On top of that, there is all the work that has gone into promoting developments like Cromwell Park and the Partner Logistics plant to attract investment and jobs. Not to mention all the other forms of business support, such as the help given to Morrison’s recently in recruiting staff for its major new store.
There is also the continued backing, financial and otherwise, that the council gives to organisations such as the Citizens Advice Bureau and the Rosmini Centre, as well as to individuals and community groups responsible for events like the Rose Fair and Wisbech in Bloom.
And don’t forget the annual Christmas Market that attracts thousands of visitors into the town.
It is not just a question of money. It is also about supporting local people’s efforts to improve life in their own neighbourhoods.
People like the Bath Road Skate Park Group, young people from Waterlees who have come together to improve the skate park, initially by painting it themselves and now by seeking to raise funds for further improvements.
Or the North Wisbech Learning Community, which lays on activities to bring people of all backgrounds together and provides community and family learning opportunities.
Or the Street Pride group’s work to improve the environment.
Then there’s Community House, a place that’s open to everyone in Waterlees and provides a wide range of services and activities.
FDC supports them all. It is concerned with the welfare of everyone in the town – and that very much includes the Eastern European population, who are so often made the scapegoats for any problems but who play an indispensable part in Fenland’s life.
FDC is active in working with them and with the Traveller community both directly and through bodies such as the Diverse Community Forum.
All these are things that have made – and are making – a real difference to Wisbech and its people. They are things that as a council we are hugely proud to be involved with.
We will continue to do all we can to support the town. I am currently exploring some new and very exciting projects that will promote further investment and regeneration – including pursuing extra funding from the EU.”
So that’s what FDC has done and is doing for Wisbech. Let’s not forget it.