BRAKESPEARE: The Wisbech Pc sleeping in his van, Melton is ‘Philistine of the Year’ and a problem with blue badges

A SMOKING skateboarding Santa in Wisbech and The Money Shop’s “surprise” at planning rejection are also discussed by our diarist.

HE may have been a surprise appointment last year, but Councillor Steve Count from March seems determined to make waves as Cambridgeshire County Council Cabinet member for resources and performances.

Although the area he represents is considered the smoking capital of the county, that won’t stop him questioning whether county council pension funds should be invested in tobacco.

“I’ve asked the pensions committee to look into ethical investments, specifically with a view to tobacco companies,” he told colleagues before Christmas.

One councillor told him up to two per cent of pension money is going into tobacco companies and for public health reasons wanted the investment removed.

“We need an adult grown-up discussion on the subject,” says Cllr Count.

His colleagues are, as they say, counting the days when that will take place.

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ALWAYS a joy to see people out and about enjoying the fresh air ... and none more so than some carriage riders in March over Christmas and New Year.

With tourism chiefs at Fenland Hall looking for the next ‘big idea’ to woo visitors, surely someone might consider horse-drawn charabancs as a decent starter for 10?

FOR an alternative view of festive fun, allow me to present a splendid example on this page of Christmas capery as evidenced by photographer Steve Williams. The image of a cigarette-smoking, skateboarding Santa is one that will linger.

COUNTY councillors have been looking at a problem over blue badges and what happens when it comes to their renewal.

An oddity in the rules means you have to send away the blue badge to get it renewed, meaning for some it could be days, if not a week or so, when no badge is available.

Cabinet member for community engagement, Councillor Mac McGuire, says: “I wasn’t aware of these problems but I will look into them.”

NOT that he’s one to pass up on awards, but I decided it was best not to ask Fenland District Council leader Alan Melton if he was celebrating his ‘Philistine of the Year’ accolade from the satirical magazine Private Eye.

He won the ‘award’ for his oft-repeated quote that “Eric Pickles will be extremely proud of me”, uttered after his speech to the Fenland Building Design Awards in which he all but tore up archaeological conditions on development sites.

There was also an ‘award’ of sorts handed out to Tory Anthony Draper, of Lowestoft, who uttered the immortal phrase “Do you know I am a councillor?” shortly before kicking the police officer who was arresting him for drink-driving.

NOT that it matters much but I was intrigued to discover the Mayor of March, Councillor Bernard Keane, and a member of the planning committee of Fenland District Council never got to vote on whether �500,000 worth of improvements to public loos should be agreed.

Minutes of the last meeting note that both Cllr Keane and Councillor Martin Curtis “had left the meeting prior to the determination of these applications”.

Not that it troubles me greatly which way Bernard would have voted but given his predilections for the call of nature one assumes that, so far as loos are concerned, the more the merrier.

And less chance of needing a hedgerow?

BOSSES of The Money Shop, which opened in Wisbech without planning consent, are finding opposition to their plans hard to live with.

They’ve admitted the chorus of disapproval has “surprised us” and has been more vociferous than in many of their other 400 openings in recent years.

Not that they’ll take the subsequent refusal by Fenland District Council lying down since planning officers say there was no good reason to reject it and so, therefore, it almost assumes a verdict in the company’s favour on appeal.

The decision to reject has pleased Councillor Simon King, who waved a 123-signature petition to councillors opposed to the Money Shop and said its very presence in the town sends out the wrong signal.

Not that he was too explicit about what a right signal would be but said the shop deterred from the attractiveness of Wisbech.

PERHAPS the policeman from Wisbech who has spent five years camping in his car deserves an award but since he got ‘exposed’ by The Sun he’s gone to ground and is not returning calls.

Pc Mark Gatward took the accolade of ‘sleeping policeman 2011’ after it was revealed he could not afford the 170-mile-plus round trip from Wisbech to Harlow, so sleeps over instead in his van.

Essex police insist Mark was offered a transfer further into northern Essex but had refused, while his federation was keen to point out his “commendable” efforts in serving the people of Harlow.

Years ago, of course, if one took a job a ridiculous number of miles away from home the logic was to move home, too, but in 2012 am I missing something?