Bullseye world record attempt, queues outside Hippodrome and court short of magistrates

AN idea for the future of March’s public toilets, changes on the airwaves and an informal moment with Fenland District Council’s leader also feature in Samuel Brakespeare’s Diary this week.

It’s the trio grandees...

NOT wishing to cause any of my readers alarm or distress, but I was rather taken by this gloriously informal moment at March Market Place on Saturday morning.

My picture features the triumvirate of Fenland Council stalwarts, from left Peter Murphy, Alan Melton and Jan French.

Quite what Cllr Melton was doing relaxing astride a market stall in his shorts is anyone’s guess. Perhaps his colleagues were considering some sort of bring and buy stall, bric or brac or possibly even a ‘guess the weight of a pumpkin’ competition.

Better suggestions, of course, to the usual address. A suitable book from Brakespeare’s pile of complimentary review copies to any that catches my fancy.

It’s a flight of fancy...

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MANY darts players have tried but few have succeeded in beating the world record for the most number of bullseyes scored in 24 hours. But all that could change.

The venue for the latest world record attempt is the Monkfield Arms, at Cambourne, over the weekend of November 27-28 where emergency medical charity Magpas aims raise �3,000.

And how many bullseyes need to be scored for a world record?

The existing number of 526,750, scored by a team of eight at the George Inn, Morden, Surrey, was set in July 1994 and, one suspects, will take some beating.


SIGN of leaner times at the BBC where the new boss at Radio Cambridgeshire has decided three is the new two!

In practical terms, it’s meant the breakfast show now starting at 6am instead of 7am and the drive time programme being extended from two to three hours, finishing at 7pm instead of 6pm, and including one hour of sport.

It’s a trend now commonplace among local radio stations.

Public manifestation of the changes is the axing of early-morning presenter Andy Gall and drive time presenter Antonia Brickell, two of the unlucky broadcasters to be on contracts and, therefore, always likely to be among early casualties of cutbacks.

Andy once said: “I was conceived in Malta, born and bred in Lincoln, went to university in Canterbury and met my girlfriend at a speed dating evening when the idea was still very much in its conceptual phase.

“We now live in a graveyard in Cambridge ... sweet progress!”

Such a wag, and now, sadly, lost to early-morning listeners.

Court short

ALL rise may well be the traditional proclamation as magistrates enter for the day’s businesses but, on Tuesday, at Fenland Magistrates’ Court, it was a little delayed.

In fact, business didn’t get under way until 40 minutes after the normal time but not, I discovered, because the magistrates had failed to rise early enough themselves!

A mix-up over rotas left the Bench without a chairman but my dear chum from Tydd, Jane Melloy, came to the rescue and, after a phone call, hot-footed it to Wisbech to get proceedings back on track. Bless!

Koptured at last!

THE monthly crime bulletin issued by Central Division inspector Michael Branston offers a Keystone Kops moment as police went to arrest a suspected burglar.

“In September, staff at a shop had their purses stolen from their handbags in the staff room,” he says.

“CSI (Crime Scene Investigations) examination was carried out and the offender was identified forensically. As soon as this information came in, officers went to arrest the offender and found him immediately.”

So far, so good, but Insp Branston says when police went to arrest the man “he rode away on his bike, discarding bank cards as he went”.

The fleet-footed cops, however, gave chase, caught him, traced the cards to a car which had just been broken into and duly set out the charges which led to a 30-month prison sentence.

Minding your tease & queues

OUR ace photographer Brian Purdy’s penchant for office tidiness prompted the unearthing this week of this wondrous photo of a queue snaking round the corner at the Hippodrome, in March.

Brian can’t recall the occasion but says queues in March are so rare it was probably the reason his boss at the time would have dispatched him to take the photo.

Brakespeare is confident it wasn’t a �1,000 jackpot for bingo that might have prompted the queue, more likely a film since the club, at the time, offered both but on different nights.

The only clue is the photo was probably taken 30 years ago so perhaps you were there and can recall the occasion.

Since the club is closed and shortly to become a Wetherspoons pub, it is unlikely we shall see such scenes again.

Not very clair...

A POSTER advertising ‘An Evening of Clairvoyance’ popped across my desk this week and I immediately felt drawn to popping out to listen to what Shirley Willcox had to offer me.

Tickets, at �3.50, seemed reasonable and with proceeds to Age UK Day Centre it all sounded like a good night.

I shall now consult my crystal ball to find out where it’s being held!

Unfortunately, the poster omits that rather essential piece of information.

Loos change

HIGH-FLYING TV executive Tim Lince likes to drop Brakespeare the occasional note, maintaining our former work experience student from Doddington’s links with his Fenland roots.

“This news story about the phone box in Ely becoming an art gallery, after being bought by the council off BT for �1, is a nice story,” he writes. “It even made it to the national Entertainment section on BBC News.”

Tim then asks “what other unusual Cambridgeshire sites should be transformed into cultural icons? I nominate those dreadful public toilets next to Barclays bank on Broad Street, March, should become an art gallery of shock art”.

In fact, says Tim, the former bus stop next to those toilets “the one that has basically become a chav meeting place would be a really brilliant little gig venue.

“Set up a platform at the bus stop for a band to perform and it’ll be some nice music for the Saturday shoppers to listen to when they shop on the high street at Heron Foods”.

Splendid idea, Tim. Your e-mail has gone already to the town council.

Hostile climate

BRAKESPEARE is never quite sure who or what the Taxpayers Alliance is or who funds it, but since the BBC quite often quotes the organisation, I feel confident of passing on some of their latest findings.

Or do I?

Cambridgeshire County Council was very quick to describe as “misleading” the claim by the alliance that the local authority hired five climate change officers at a cost of �210,000.

The council says the report, which accuses them of wasting hundreds of thousands of pounds by employing staff in “non-jobs”, is misleading.

“The employees who have climate change in their title are performing many jobs which the alliance agree should not be counted in their survey and are much wider than just meeting legislation,” said a spokesman.

“Work done by these officers is helping the council, taxpayers, communities and businesses save hundreds of thousands of pounds, reduce congestion and pollution and improve efficiency.”

The alliance also claimed Fenland District Council employs two diversity officers and a climate change officer with a partial cost of �55,530. Since I can rarely understand the job titles or descriptions of most council workers, it seemed churlish to trouble them for a detailed response.

Besides, a recent Freedom of Information request to the council inquired which people occupied the posts of senior information risk owner, governance manager, information security officer/manager and information technology security officer/manager.

Back came the response that “all of the above responsibilities are held by Geoff Kent, Head of Income and ICT, Tel: 01354 622290, Fenland Hall, County Road, March, Cambs, PE15 8NQ.”

Multi-tasking? You bet.

Doctor boo

CHATTERIS councillor Florence Newell was in pain and distress on Tuesday morning ... and her mood was made all the worse because she could not get an appointment to see her doctor.

She said all her worst fears about changes in the system at the George Clare Surgery had been realised, having been told the first available appointment with her own doctor was not until today (Friday).

Under the old system, Cllr Newell could have turned up at the surgery first thing on Tuesday and waited until she had seen her doctor.

She said: “I work extremely hard for the community and I don’t make trouble where there is no need, but this is exactly what I was frightened of and I have been proved right.”

However, just a short while later, Cllr Newell was back in touch to say she had received a call from the surgery and an appointment had been made available for her later in the morning.

While it was just what the doctor ordered for Cllr Newell, Brakespeare is tempted to suggest that perhaps the surgery was less than happy to have further adverse publicity about the change in its appointment system.

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