BRAKESPEARE: Shona’s new career, EACH benefits from James Arthur’s debut single and MP Barclay on Starbucks

OUR diarist also asks what year this photograph of Prime Minister David Cameron was taken and shares how one man turned to Twitter to tell cops that his stepson was smoking weed.

Friendly fire

I PROMISE this to be the last appearance in this diary (well, for 2012, anyway) of County Councillor Shona Johnstone, who has opted for a career outside of politics.

The former council leader has, it is fair to concede, fallen far out of favour with new leader Nick Clarke.

Indeed, it’s easy to imagine both standing at Cambridge station waiting for a London train ... and rather than travel together in the same direction one opts to go to Newcastle for the day instead.

That bad, eh?

Of Cllr Clarke she says that “it’s not a question of whether I do or don’t support him – he’s the leader and I support decisions of the group”.

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Of Cllr Johnstone he says: “The county council is working for the people of Cambridgeshire, not for individual political ambition.”


It’s a photo (glossy) finish

‘DNA Database Dave visits Cambridge to splash the cash’ was the headline on a piece on The New Listener, the website which publishes transcripts of BBC Radio Cambridgeshire interviews.

The interview was fascinating but the accompanying photograph more so – prompting this week’s competition to guess from which year’s scrapbook of PM photos it came.

Here’s a clue: Not recent.

He said what?

THE �205,000-a-year chief executive of Norfolk County Council is to step down and walk away with, by recent standards, a modest �35,000 redundancy cheque.

David White said whoever replaced him would need a “level of commercial skill and experience not required from my current post and that I simply do not have”.

A local government boss admitting he’s not up to the job? One of those cut-it-out quick, will-never-happen-again-in-my-lifetime moments.

Better latte than ...

BEST not to ask NE Cambs MP Steve Barclay which coffee shop he prefers – although, to be fair, it’s most unlikely he will say Starbucks.

The MP is a fast-growing fixture on the political circuit in Westminster for his grilling of all and sundry on the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee.

He was obviously pleased then that Starbucks has made a gesture towards rectifying their tax affairs, i.e. paying a bit more in Britain!

He’s not altogether convinced the matter is settled since he believes “this payment is more to do with corporate reputation than Corporation Tax.

“Companies have a duty to shareholders to maximise their profits, so it is difficult for Starbucks to argue that they are making this payment on tax grounds, rather than to protect their brand identity.”

Double lattes then, all round. But maybe not quite yet.

Tweet justice

I WOULD love to know what happened to the Walpole Highway man who tweeted King’s Lynn police to advise of what his stepson was up to! “He is smoking weed, please test him, address will follow if requested,” the stepfather tweeted. A response has not yet been published.

Another photo finish

A COLLEAGUE ordered some photographic material from Tesco for his parents. He smiled to discover the delivery company was called Harrier. Seemingly not the same Harrier immersed in the little local difficulty of delivering Tesco stores in Chatteris and Whittlesey.

Empty feeling

THE search is still on for an independent person to sit on a committee hearing complaints against members of Fenland District Council.

The first round of advertising – on a council website – has been fruitless and there have been no applications for the job, which has a �1,000 allowance, or for the deputy IP with an allowance of �500.

Chairman of the conduct committee, Councillor Fred Yeulett, pictured, suggested that all complaints due to be considered on Wednesday should be deferred until an independent person is found.

He told officers: “There is a strong steer from members to get an independent person in place as soon as possible, so we can process issues before us.

“We are dealing with people’s reputations and it is most important to move this along.”

Alan Pain, corporate director and monitoring officer of FDC, said the search for an independent person would be widened, including adverts in the local press, and a new advert is currently being prepared.

However, clearly Mr Pain forgot to read the minutes of a previous meeting of the conduct committee in July which had promised something altogether different.

“A potential pack for recruitment, which was circulated to members, has been produced with the aim to recruit two people who have an independent view, but can assimilate information, have good judgement skills and an understanding of analytical reasoning,” said the minutes.

“The posts will be advertised in the local paper and the interview process can either be with the whole committee or delegated to the chairman, an officer and one other.

“The appointment of the independent person needs to be ratified by full council.”

Clearly then, the officers didn’t follow their own decision and I’m told the advertisement for an independent person didn’t go on the council’s website until last month.

Perhaps one for the conduct committee?

Old pals axe

NICE stock of one-liners from Sir Graham Bright, the newly-elected police commissioner for Cambridgeshire, ensures he is the Christmas gift that keeps on giving.

Asked to defend his choice of Brian Ashton of Ely as his �28,000-a-year part-time deputy, he insisted that “we are not old pals.

“We are more Christmas card friends. I have never been to dinner with him and we have never been on holiday together.”

Glad he’s made that clear.

Xciting times

OFFICIALS from East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices – including those from Cambridgeshire – were keeping their fingers crossed for the most unlikely of reasons on Sunday.

And it was all due to the X Factor.

For the popularity of the winner will be influencing the money the hospices can expect from the proceeds of the sales of the X Factor single.

Happily, James Arthur, right, is proving a bonus since download sales have already hit 200,000 and that’s before the CD is released.

Syco, the company run by Simon Cowell and Sony Music, has pledged to donate 100 per cent of the profits from the sale of every CD and download of James Arthur’s song Impossible to Together for Short Lives, a national charity which supports 50 children’s hospices, including EACH.

Melanie Chew, director of fund-raising at EACH, said she was “delighted” by the X Factor support for the charity.

“A share of the proceeds from James Arthur’s winner’s single will come to EACH to help us support the children and families we work with,” she said.