Guided bus ‘comeback’ councillor, a new sex shop, the ‘turnip taliban’ recalled and impoverished Lib Dems

Croquet hot potato

AFTER her battle to secure nomination as the Tory candidate for South West Norfolk at the last election (remember the ‘turnip Taliban’ jibes? Oh never mind) it’s good to see Lynn Truss settling into country ways.

“On way fun day after part two of Truss v Truss croquet tournament,” she ‘tweeted’ on Sunday just as I was getting to grips with her secretary’s faux pas over a constituent’s employment issue.

Thomas Ryan, 28, seemingly his lost job as a care home leader after an alleged whistle blowing incident and contacted his MP’s office for an appointment to discuss it.

Instead of getting the response he hoped for, Mr Ryan got the email from the MP’s secretary that was intended for Ms Truss.


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“This is the chap who keeps going on about the care home... call him beforehand just to see what he is like,” wrote secretary Fiona Walker.

“If he is unhinged you don’t want him kicking off in Waitrose.”

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Whilst Ms Truss has reprimanded her employee for making comments that were “completely unacceptable”, Mr Ryan can now expect a proper meeting to air his grievances- which I hasten to add have been strenuously denied by his former employers.

THE oft quoted �116 million cost of the 16 mile guided bus will turn out to be nothing like that but how much the final bill will be and who pays it is yet to be decided.

One man forced to view it all from the sidelines for the past 16 months or so has been former county councillor Matt Bradney who, as the then Cabinet member at Cambridgeshire County Council for growth and infrastructure, was one of those responsible for its implementation.

Whether the electors gave him a bloody nose in the May 2009 elections because of it can only be speculated upon but it’s fascinating to see Mr Bradney reviving his political ambitions as a candidate in an upcoming by election.

“Leading on the guided bus was not easy at all, but I do still think once it is finished it will be well used,” says Mr Bradney.

“I know it has an awfully long way to go to prove to people that it is a benefit, but I think it will get there in the end.”

David Jenkins, leader of the Lib Dem group on the council at the time, noted that “in the case of Matt Bradney, I don’t think the guided bus was irrelevant in what happened. There is still a lot of resentment about the scheme.”

I smiled when I read another of his messages to his constituents.

“During my time as a county councillor I believe my track record was very good,” he said, arguably a statement that might have been improved by the omission of the word ‘track’!

THINKING of a Christmas present already? Your diarist was drawn to the advertisement which offered, for �245, a tandem skydive over Cambridgeshire.

“It is the safest and quickest way to experience the exhilaration of free-fall,” proclaims the ad. “After a short pre-flight briefing, you will be securely attached to the front of an experienced instructor who wears a parachute built for two!

“You will normally be flown up to between 9,000 and 12,000 feet at which point you will exist (sic) the aircraft and enter up to 55 seconds of freefall, reaching speeds as high as 120mph.”

That’s the parents sorted, now for the grand parents!

COALITION Government ministers may have signalled its demise and NE Cambs MP Stephen Barclay has so far declined an invitation to meet with its member but the work of Fenland District Council Standards Committee goes on.

And even, as I discovered, on a warm August afternoon when, as the minutes of the August 2 meeting reveal, when they had nothing much to discuss other than a “proposal to introduce a standard complaint form”.

Minutes of the 40 minutes offer a fascinating insight into the mindset of those who made it to the meeting (two councillors were among those to send their apologies).

Modelling a new complaint form on that produced by the parent body, the Standards Board for England exercised the considerable minds of members.

Officers advised the new form does not need full council approval, must reach out “and help people have an input” and requires putting into Plain English.

“The fact that the Standards for England have a model form has justified the need for a form, which needs to be ‘Fenlandised’” the committee concluded.

And once it’s also been “equality impact assessed” expect its introduction anytime soon.

SOUTHWELL Road, Wisbech, doesn’t, immediately, strike me as the likeliest first choice of a UFO to show itself but a Miss Almond is adamant that is precisely what she saw at 10.10pm on August 23.

She’s provided a graphic 800 word account of her ‘sighting’ on an international website that chronicles such events and using her 30X20 SP magnification binoculars noted it was a ‘white dome shaped craft which changes shape to a full circle craft and even to other strange.

‘The alarming thing about this craft is that it has a big black hole in the centre like an observational EYE and it rotates 360 degrees observing EVERYTHING north, south, east and west in its path.

‘I am convinced it is a UFO observing us and that its occupants are intelligent telepathic beings because a few days before I previously observed those two yellow UFOs in my rear and neighbouring gardens/over my shed.

“I said to this UFO star in my mind ‘please show me some proof that you are not a star because I know stars don’t move several feet across the sky like you do’ - hence its appearance close up in my rear garden a few days later with a smaller one.

‘It is an observational craft but there is no sound from it so whose is it? Why are we being observed and why is it only observing us at night when it is dark?

Miss Almond says unexplained happenings- such as both hers and her neighbour’s cats coming into their homes when all her windows and doors were locked- add to the mystery.

She also explains that since her sighting of the UFO on August 14, her two bedside lamps had mysteriously switched themselves on and off without making a sound ‘like Morse code except that I did not have a pen to write down the flashes to translate it.’

She’s now painting her recollections, is appealing to other witnesses, and questioning if the USAF at Lakenheath can help with an explanation.

Perhaps, as they say, the truth is out there somewhere.

YOU can’t but help get the feeling that the Lib Dems in NE Cambs are, to put it mildly, on their uppers.

Lorna Spenceley says that with Tony Blair reportedly paying cash for a one million pound town house and Tory bosses collecting huge donations from hedge funds “there’s clearly a lot of money to be found in some parts of the political sphere”.

Not, though in the constituency she fought at the last election and where a barbecue at her home over the weekend raised just enough money “to help pay the bills for a couple more months.’

Ms Spenceley says it’s all “quite hard work, and relies on the generosity of comparatively few people, who do their duty by buying tickets and donating raffle prizes.

‘One guest yesterday won a bottle of wine smaller than the one he’d brought as a donation, while another effectively paid a fiver to win back his own bottle!

‘All the coverage of super-rich individual politicians and mega-donations by the exceptionally well-heeled - not to mention the continuing farrago of tales about MPs and their expenses - gives the impression that politics is awash with money.

‘For some of us, however, it’s a hard slog to raise the small sums of cash needed just to keep the show on the road.’

DAVID Eldridge tells me his local Shell mini-market has a section marked Cards and Stationary which he says is “(professionally produced signage”.

He also noted his local Chinese takeaway now does “deliveries from Tuseday-sataday” which, he adds, is just as well since “I’m very partial to a nice satay… any day.”

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