Fen Diary

INTRIGUING news on the right to buy from Fenland District Council, for irrespective of whether tenants vote to transfer to Roddons or not it seems the golden age has gone. New figures show that as recently as 2003/4, Fenland Council coffers were picking

INTRIGUING news on the 'right to buy' from Fenland District Council, for irrespective of whether tenants vote to transfer to Roddons or not it seems the golden age has gone.

New figures show that as recently as 2003/4, Fenland Council coffers were picking in the region of 105 sales a year to tenants exercising their rights to buy at a discount.

But that's all changed, and in 2005/6 only 27 homes were sold to tenants, mainly because of increased valuations and the 'cap' on discounts available of £34,000.

The Thatcher dream of buying your own council house might, it seem, be over for ever.

THE death of Councillor Ursula Cuffe, vice chairman of Fenland District Council, will not mean a by-election in her Whittlesey ward since it falls within the guidelines which allow her seat to remain vacant until next May's elections.

Brakespeare was saddened to learn of the 76 year-old councillor's death since her contemplative demeanour belied quite an astute academic mind.

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Cllr Cuffe liked to be known by her family as something of a "groovy gran" since four years ago she graduated from the Open University with a BA degree in English.

It took her six years to complete the degree, including two summer schools and news of her success was, as she recalled at the time, " the best Christmas present I could wish for".

At her family's behest, Fenland Council has been asked not to make any public pronouncements on her local government service nor, as had been suggested by some of her colleagues, to allow a flag to fly at half mast over Fenland Hall.

Her death has, however, pinpointed the lack of appropriate protocols for when a councillor dies in office, and Brakespeare is assured this matter will be looked into for the future.

THOSE correspondents intrigued as to the fate of the £25,000 report commissioned three to four years ago into the future of Fenland's car parks must continue to await its publication.

After rejecting two requests from this paper for the report to be published (my colleagues requested its publication under the Freedom of Information Act), the council's leader, Councillor Geoff Harper was about to throw in the towel and let us see what the consultants think.

However, second thoughts by the council mean the document will not be published yet. The reason is that discussions are still ongoing and the council fears publication might prejudice them.

Our inclination is to allow the Information Commissioner to pronounce on the matter. He's the new apparatchik who is the arbiter of all things open and closed - so over to him.

STILL on the subject of car parks - word reaches Brakespeare of a blip in the aspirations of community leaders in Wisbech to find the money for a £500,000 extension of the car park at the Oasis Village Community Centre.

County councillors, debating the issue on Monday, agreed that having sold the site of the old centre for housing, those responsible for the sale might have been best placed to insist on providing suitable car parking as part of the deal.

It wasn't, and with the tightening of belts now endemic at Shire Hall, those finding the present car park full will be faced, for the foreseeable future, of either parking elsewhere- or, heaven forbid, actually walking to the centre.

THIS Sunday's remembrance parade at Manea is likely to be the last.

I'm told it is becoming difficult for the veterans to march from the British Legion Club to the Parish Church. Many of the older village residents have over the last few years gone directly to the church and not joined the parade, so it's likely this will be the last time the parade is staged.

A special reason, then, perhaps for joining or watching this year's parade which forms at the Royal British Legion car park at 2.15pm, and at 2.30pm marches to St Nicolas' Church.

A service of remembrance will be held at 3pm, followed by wreath laying at the war memorial in the church grounds.

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