BRAKESPEARE: Wisbech Yacht Harbour at night, quirky A47 road sign and military enthusiast’s turbines plan

SPIN at its finest courtesy of the Tories, meet BBC Radio Cambs’ new Drivetime presenter and why Nestle Purina didn’t hold consultations with “local statutory undertakers” for chimney plan.

• NOT that Wisbech hasn’t made an effort but even Gary Barlow from X-Factor couldn’t fix it for the town to win your diarist’s ‘best Christmas Lights in Fenland’ award.

So joint first to March and Chatteris and I’m off to Whittlesey this weekend and will hopefully find there a town awash with Christmas colour and cheer.

However, where Wisbech does score - and mightily - is in its revamped port area and this magnificent photo of the munificence of the river in Wisbech is not easily beaten.

Our photographer Brian Purdy deployed his inestimable skills to capture this quintessentially continental perspective of Wisbech Port by night.

With the Boathouse in the background, and trees looking for all the world as if they’ve been decorated for the festive season, it’s a testimony to how far the town has travelled in such a short space of time.


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• IT’S not only God who moves in a mysterious way: chronicling the affairs of the licensing department at Fenland Hall I’m tempted to suggest we might consider them as possible candidates.

Here we are, some months later after Nigel Marsh was arrested and frogmarched from The George in March, and some weeks now after being cleared of assaulting a police officer during that eventful afternoon he’s back in charge of the pub and a member of Pub Watch.

Nigel tells me trade at The George (or Georges as he prefers) is recovering and he’s well happy with progress. Certainly the Beer Around ‘Ere magazine of Camra, the campaign for real ale, offers encouragement to his endeavours.

Its latest magazine recalls Nigel’s “temporary departure” and says finds him an “affable” host who has battled an “alleged transgression with the whole sorry mess now subject to an internal police inquiry”.

Certainly the magazine is happy with Nigel’s current offer, praising his cider and real ale shed, his “stylish” coffee outlet and extolling the pub’s “massive potential”.

When I spoke to Nigel the only cloud on his horizon emanated from his first Pub Watch meeting when he claims Sgt Martin Monger had snubbed him.

“I offered my hand but he turned his back and walked away, saying it was ‘too soon’,” says Nigel.

There is, of course, no jury for Nigel to be fearful of but I suspect so far as Cambs Police is concerned the jury is most definitely still out and I would have been more surprised if Sgt Monger had shaken his hand.

• THE weaponry in his arsenal, so to speak, has been the stuff of legends for Richard Moore who’s premises in Creek Road, March, have bustled with tanks, trailers and all manner of European vehicles that sustain him in a healthy enterprise.

Now he’s come up with Plan B to deal with the economy and find something to “keep down the cost of running a business”. In his case he’s become a late adherent to wind power.

More precisely wind turbines - and Richard wants a couple of relatively small turbines to grace his premises.

“I am personally quite excited that there is a chance not to be in the grip of the mainstream power suppliers,” he says and claims businesses might also get a discounted supply.

He reckons the scale will mitigate such inconveniences as noise and wind flicker and he merrily showed off his plans to a public meeting at St John’s Church Hall.

• JOLLY nice to catch up the other day with Fenland District Council leader Alan Melton, brimming with bonhomie happily displaying many other affectations of the festive season.

Quite excited he was, too, having recently popped along to 10 Downing Street to enjoy the hospitality of Premier David Cameron at a reception to mark the Royal Assent of the Government’s Localism Act.

Apart from being “an honour to visit Downing Street” and a thorough discussion of “positive changes” brought about by the Coalition, Cllr Melton was in fine fettle about his evening.

“By giving councillors more freedom over decisions affecting the local area, much stronger powers on licensing and by cutting needless bureaucracy, this Government is showing its commitment to hand control back to local people and communities,” said Cllr Melton.

I know he feels that way since the words came courtesy of a Tory spokesman, no less, who also e-mailed this handsome photo of Alan “popping in” to Number 10.

And that might have been that except for, and by a curious chance, I happened upon other leaders who had attended the same reception.

Paul Bessant, from Hinckley and Bosworth, told his local paper, for instance, how “this Government is showing its commitment to hand control back” as did the leader of Teignbridge Council in Devon, the leader of Boston Borough Council, the leader of Rugby Borough Council, and many others too numerous to mention.

All had immersed themselves in the same linguistic operation and emerged saying precisely the same: an honour, positive changes, more freedom, cutting needless bureaucracy, commitment, etc, etc, etc.

Spin at its both its finest and dreariest.

• IF you’re a regular listener to BBC Radio Cambridgeshire you will have noticed a new and, dare I say, rather grand voice has been added to the team.

Step forward Chris Mann who has breathed new life and vitality into the 5pm Drivetime slot.

Broadcast devotees who wonder “where I had heard that name and voice” might need to travel back to the early 1990s when the same Mr Mann was an anchorman on Sky News Tonight.

The Guardian noted it was “not fondly remembered as one of the great current affairs programmes” of all times but a contretemps between Mr Mann and his fellow present Scott Chisholm most certainly did make it a memorable moment in broadcast history, the details of which you will have to discover for yourself.

• LOVED the report to Fenland District Council’s scrutiny committee on leisure centres charges that “recommended that prices should be maintained at the current levels with inflationary increases applied to those activities that are less price sensitive”.

Such discriminatory practices were rejected by the committee but what next? A penalty payment for every pound you’re overweight?

• LOVED the intervention by the Business Travel Officer of Cambridgeshire County Council who recommended a host of amendments are made to the travel to work plans for the authority’s new headquarters in Wisbech.

Happily the urgency to complete them has passed, concludes a report by the council this week, since the Business Travel Officer has since been made redundant.

His recommendations will be now “secured through planning conditions” which means later not sooner.

• LOVED the overall pomposity of Nestle Purina which wants another chimney added to its Wisbech factory and claims it’s been designed “to reflect the location of the proposal and the relationship/proximity of the adjacent chimneys. Hydrostatic cookers and plant area”.

It also claims, in its design and access statement to Fenland District Council, that “no prior consultations have taken place with any of the local statutory undertakers or local government dependants”.

No I didn’t make it up. Page 5 of the report compiled by their agents, Trundley Design Services.

• A SUBVERSIVE artist has been raising a few brows among commuters along the A47 by drawing a quirky road sign that tells them to “hang in there”.

The red triangle, complete with image of a rock climber, appeared on the westbound carriageway of the A47 on the Norwich side of the Brundall roundabout.

Motorist Daisy Kingham, who captured this photograph of the sign, said: “I saw it on my way to work this morning, and thought it was so brilliant that I stopped in a lay-by on the way back, crossed, safely, at the pedestrian crossing gap and took a pic.”

Readers of our sister title the EDP speculated as to its meaning.

“I thought it was an advert for the Norfolk High Altitude Rock-Climbing Society,” wrote one reader who claimed to be “affiliated to the Cambridgeshire Alpine Association”.

Another suggested that “anyone with access to a sign company could do this” as if, course, many of us do.

“The font is Helvetica Med. I’ve worked as a sign maker and this would take 10 minuets to knock up and you’re talking like it’s a great work of art.

“It’s just a very well executed joke.”