Cleared by the PCC, entranced by The Stig, bemused by a councillor, bewildered by a ‘bargain’ and concerned for the Bishop

I HAD to chuckle this week after a councillor told me of his colleague who complained at Monday’s meeting of March Town Council that the minutes did not record his apology for not attending a sub committee.

“I know I sent my apologies and it should have been recorded,” he boomed.

Unfortunately, town clerk Clive Lemmon pointed out, that wasn’t so.

“But I know I sent in my apologies,” retorted Councillor Mark Purser, only to have pointed out to him that his name was recorded amongst those ATTENDING the meeting.

He’d forgotten, apparently, he was there!


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SO who is The Stig? Well TV legend has it that’s he a world famous racing driver (possibly) or at the very least an expert in his field (probably) whose appearances on BBC’s Top Gear have made him a household name (most likely).

However the waters got a bit murky last week after a court battle over revealing the identity of The Stig in a forthcoming book as ex SAS man Ben Collins, who was then promptly dumped out of the role.

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Is there more than one Stig? Possibly yes, probably not seemed to be the response from Top Gear after the appearance of The Stig, or should it be ‘The Stig’, at Sunday’s show at Skylark at Manea.

A nice young lady from the BBC Top Gear office assures me our Fenland Stig couldn’t have been the ‘real’ one since “as everyone who watches the show know, The Stig doesn’t write”. Well he did at the weekend, signing autographs on both days.

Show organiser Paul Salter – who got a post show inquisitorial phone call from Top Gear- remains sanguine about the whole episode, referring to me a website ‘Rent a Stig.com’ where the great man channels his bookings.

Not that it worries Brakespeare one iota since he and his family thoroughly enjoyed the Fenland show as did many thousands of others who turned up on either of the two days.

And looking at some of the photos of spectators posing delightedly for pictures with Donald Duck, Micky Mouse, and, spectacularly Jack Sparrow from the Pirates of the Caribbean, one has to say the case against The Stig looks altogether less challenging.

AS part of their plans to cope with winter, Cambridgeshire County Council is looking to recruit farmers to help them.

Town and parish councils are being asked to provide a list of farmers “that might be able to offer help during times of adverse weather” says Louise Collier, head of network management for the council.

“This would need to be controlled and co-ordinate through the county team and payment for this work, if authorised would be developed using the Nix Farm Management Pocket Book (40th edition)”

Helpful stuff indeed, and worth getting hold of quite soon. If supplies are anything like last year’s supply of salt, expect a shortage any time soon!

DRIVING to Manea on Sunday I was, again, struck by the village sign which proudly notes I was entering the ‘best kept village 1984 and 1985”.

Since the competition has been run every year since, I couldn’t but help wonder if the village should either spruce itself up and re-enter the competition or, failing that, do the decent thing and remove it!

KNOWN for many things in Chatteris, but not necessarily as a fashion icon or even for his diplomacy, town councillor Chris Howes recounts the night he fancied a pint and set out for Chatteris Conservative Club.

The Lib Dem councillors tells me “I walked in and asked

‘Now we’re in coalition together, is there any chance of a pint?’ To which the resounding answer came back ‘No’!”

Chris added: “However Skeggsy (Richard Skeggs) has forgiven me the rude tie, so I went to Cross Keys,” a reference to a rather disturbing kipper tie he wore some years back which provoked, if I recall, a swift exit.

“On my only previous visit to Chatteris Con Club Geoff Brinton signed me in as a guest,” bemoans Chris. “But on this occasion the place was so deserted nobody could sign me in (do all Tories slink off to their expensive overseas properties in August?)”

A couple of Conservative councillors who he shared his plight with have suggested he join the party, an impractical suggestion says Chris unless the constitution is amended to read “to help and support the Conservatives and their coalition partners at election time.”

JOLLY decent of the Press Complaints Commission to tell my boss I had been cleared of an alleged breach of the newspapers’ code of conduct, particularly when I didn’t even know they were investigating me!

The commission decided I was entitled to express my opinion provided it is distinguished from fact and in this instance the commission was satisfied my comments were a “personal view on the subject”.

The commission conducted their inquiry, found no breach had occurred and explained this as the reason for not contacting us for a response.

Brakespeare thinks it would be unfair to go back over the issue and so will not be naming the complainant but I do resent the allegation I had tried to make this person out to be a ‘village idiot’.

And I’m not sure such a serious determination by the PCC should merit a personal response by the complainant, delivered in the post a few days later, which urged “somebody please sack Mr Brakespeare. Give the pompous old f—t a gong and tell him to scram”, particularly as the person concerned had earlier described me as “not exactly Pedigree Chum.”

Well really!

ONE of the joys of local government can be the questions put to Cabinet members of Cambridgeshire County Council by some of its members.

Hence we learn that at the last meeting Councillor Kevin Wilkins inquired of the Cabinet Member for Communities, Councillor Sir Peter Brown, if he could “ tell council what his understanding of the Big Society is and whether he is excited by it?”

Cllr Brown’s response involved such phrases as “ongoing”, it “not being a new idea” and more of us playing a role in society being “the way it is going to go and this is where David Cameron wants it to go”.

I couldn’t discover, however, if Cllr Brown was, as his questioner put it, “excited”. I do hope he was.

COUNTY councillors have also been debating whether to invest some of the many millions it controls on behalf of local government workers into the Cambridge Commercial Lending Company.

This, you may recall, is the new venture headed by Cambridge entrepreneur Nigel Brown which aims to become a leading player in business banking. Some serious people have been signed to help run the show including Peregrine Banbury, former head of private bank Coutts & Co, who has been appointed chief executive. I have no idea whether the investment was made: the committee voted to exclude the press from its deliberations.

ONE of the issues confronting the Bishop-elect of Ely, the Rev Rt Stephen Conway, is how to handle the thorny issue of the forthcoming marriage of a 64 year old clergyman, the Rev Colin Coward, to his 25 year old Nigerian boyfriend.

Since the Rev Conway will not be ‘taking over’ at Ely until the New Year, he will back in Wiltshire until then and honing his responses for the media as the marriage draws closer.

The Rev Conway, as the current Bishop of Rambsury, could, of course, ask the priest if he will remain celibate but the Rev Coward “has big doubts whether he will ask me that because it’s a very intrusive question. It’s a ridiculous situation and a mess”. The Rev Conway recently questioned “what will or perhaps should the Church of the 21st century look like?”

Perhaps he’s beginning to find out.

SPOT the bargain time. A colleague spent several minutes studying this ‘offer’ in Tesco but still couldn’t get it.

He asked if my readers could assist.

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