Fen Blow - Fenland's future is uncertain

PUBLISHED: 12:14 03 March 2006 | UPDATED: 21:44 28 May 2010

It could be the end of Fenland. I don't mean the whole area will be wiped off the map. Mind you, that could easily happen if the idiots who persist in using gas-guzzling, four-wheel-drive monsters continue to destroy the ozone level and increase sea level

It could be the end of Fenland. I don't mean the whole area will be wiped off the map. Mind you, that could easily happen if the idiots who persist in using gas-guzzling, four-wheel-drive monsters continue to destroy the ozone level and increase sea levels.No. What is now on the cards is that the year 2009 could well be the end for Fenland District Council. Some will immediately shout hurrah; others will weep for their lost jobs, expense accounts and an end to supposed local democracy.Last month the Labour Government began talks with council leaders about combining county and district councils in rural areas. Some say this is a plot by Tony Blair to avoid local elections in 2007 which could result in a humiliating defeat just before he resigns.The Minister for Communities, David Milliband, says this is "absolute rubbish". So it may well be true.It's already happened in Peterborough. Peterborough was once a city within the county of Northamptonshire. Later it was a separate'Soke'.Then it became part of Cambridgeshire. Now it's not in any county. It's a 'unitary authority'.So what might happen to Fenland if rural England were to be divided up into unitary authorities - as the current talks imply? Whittlesey could easily be given away to become part of Greater Peterborough. Then it wouldn't be viable for the rest of Fenland to remain independent.It could become a small part of a mighty Cambridgeshire authority. But there is another possibility. Fenland could join up with Ely and become a unitary authority in its own right. A good name for it would be the Isle of Ely.Yes, all good ideas come round again. That's how this area used to be known. And although the Isle of Ely was then technically part of Cambridgeshire, it was effectively a distinct county in its own right.Besides a pet-food-advertising MP (Clement Freud), it had its own sheriff, magistrates and police.There's no hope for an independent police force in the future but there could be a worse future than freedom from the bureaucracy of Shire Hall in Cambridge.Then again, we might face a nightmarish future if local councillors got their hands on the education service, social services and libraries.

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