Brakespeare judges scarecrows in Tydd, considers policing in Ely, wonders who is out for the Count and takes stock of a beagle

A COURT report spun across the desk and although the particularly nasty attack on an Ely man caught my eye first, it was the reference to four passing “on duty” police officers they caused an eyebrow to rise.

Four police officers? All together and on duty in Ely?

Come this is almost pre historic Dixon of Dock Green days.

RECUPERATIVE time in my Margate beach hut over, it was time on Sunday to get back to the sort of work your diarist loves best- scuttling around a Fenland village judging a scarecrow competition.

Tydd St Giles has fond memories for Brakespeare and a long association has seen me officially open the toilets at the parish church some years ago (happily working still) and frequently to visit the summer show, garden fete, and the pub.


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The scarecrows were particularly challenging based, as they were, on nursery rhymes but I felt the Humpty Dumpty figure adjacent to a Union Jack was a worth winner.

Of course that’s not to minimise the efforts or the impact of the others and I passed on my warmest commendations as I reluctantly left a village that seemed abuzz with visitors enjoying a flower festival in the church and an open gardens weekend too.

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AMONG those I bumped into at the weekend was my old friend Jean Pink, still merrily editing The Bridge, the parish magazine of Newton and Tydd St Giles. It may not be in the same commercial bracket as this newspaper but Jean and I chatted for some time about the economic recession and the down turn in advertising volumes.

Happily she, like me, is confident of print and her 36 page monthly magazine looks to be in fine form.

“We editors must stick together,” she chirped as she handed a complimentary copy of the July/August edition.

Also on my radar was Jane Melloy, the former chair of Fenland magistrates (she had to retire at 70 but looks not a day over 60) who still volunteers to help out with witness service.

Rightly so she’s still indignant that the magistrates’ court house at Wisbech closed but, ever hopeful, remains chair of a group of friends who will open it for a day later this year as part of a historic weekend.

One day she thinks the Government will return to its senses and return justice to the Fens, a view shared by many.

QUITE a debate on Twitter I noticed after it was suggested at a recent town council meeting in Wisbech that the homeless were availing themselves of Fenland Council’s new super loos to bed down in for the night. Entrance fee 20p and not be to be disturbed till morning.

Councillor Samantha Hoy doesn’t think this is so, however, since she has checked and discovered the loos are closed at night.

She tweeted that council director Gary Garford “was asked if it was true and he said ‘no as they are locked at night’ and he is supposed to be the man in the know.”

Unless of course, dear readers, you know different.

LAST week’s town council meeting at Wisbech was enlivened by the presence of Cambridge blogger Richard Taylor who’s one man crusade to lift the curtain on public bodies saw his crusading like appearance in the town for much of the day.

Richard’s astutely woven summary of his day is available on line and well worth the hunt, particularly as he recounts his ‘battle’ with the Mayor, Councillor Vivien MacRae, who ordered him to turn off his mobile phone from which he was tweeting.

Richard recounts that “after the meeting I invited her to speak to me on camera and explain her mobile phone, and therefore twitter, ban.

“She at first accepted, but said just not there and then I offered at any time of her choosing but then she declined completely. She explained she didn’t like people using phones ‘during conversations and said she didn’t tweet herself (revealing she knew exactly what she was stopping when she made the ruling requiring phones to be turned off). Mayor, Cllr Mrs Viv MacRae stated that using a mobile phone amounted to a disturbance to the meeting.”

Richard did pose what he felt was the rhetorical question of “I wonder how long she will remain as mayor” but an understanding of our Fenland ways would easily have ascertained for him that she’s there for a year.

RICHARD added a wonderful vignette about the ‘apologies’ which preceded the meeting and said he “wondered if sometimes they don’t accept an apology and what happens then – do they send out the beagle to round up the wayward councillor(s)”?

Only later and once his article had been published did someone drop him a note to explain that Wisbech Town Council employed a Beadle, not a beagle!

RED faces at Fenland Hall, March, after a colleague pointed out to them that papers and reports for a key council meeting had not been published in time for the public to see them.

Council Leader Alan Melton agreed that “that this not good enough” after it was pointed out that scrutiny committee reports did not get published on line until Tuesday, a full day after the meeting.

The law, helpfully explained on the Government’s own website, says that “every council must publish in advance when key decisions will be taken and publish meeting papers at least five working days beforehand.”

Ironically the main report delayed was the annual report of the overview and scrutiny committee itself- so one assumes the committee will now be charged with scrutinising why their scrutiny report didn’t make it in time.

“Will deal with and report back,” committee chairman Councillor Pop Jolley assures me.

NEXT week I shall be able to offer an unbiased opinion on the revamped Rose and Crown hotel in Wisbech since I intend popping in for lunch during Rose Fair.

One clearly disgruntled customer has been pressing your diarist to consider some latest postings on Tripadvisor which hosts reviews, good, bad or indifferent.

“I had a look at the Tripadvisor site and saw Jim the owner is attracting very positive reviews from friends and relatives,” spews forth my correspondent. “His old golfing mate Mark Watling, some of manager Claire’s hockey team including her sister have found the place superb, fantastic and excellent.”

To which I can only reply that their money is as good as the rest of ours and why shouldn’t they spend it, and support, friends or families too.

HAPPILY concluded on Monday was the ‘little local difficulty’ enjoyed by the Mayor of March, Councillor Jan French, who had been reported to Fenland Council’s new conduct committee over some minor procurement issue.

Fellow councillors Kit Owen and Andrew Pugh had been totally exonerated whilst Cllr French was required to offer colleagues an apology, which she did at the beginning of the meeting. Case closed.

Well not quite for the councillor who reported her, Steve Count, was late for the meeting and missed the moment when Cllr French wound her lips round the apology.

And Cllr Count, enjoying the high life in Shire Hall as Cabinet member for resources, may find life less agreeable in the future as he approaches the problematic issue of re-selection.

“We de-selected him for the district and we can do so again for the county,” was the view of one Tory association member this week.

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