Hospitality at Fenland Hall, weight limits on bridges, supermarket complaints and Steve Fallon- an eclectic offering

I WILL never know what prompted me to scan dozens of pages on Fenland Council’s website detailing hospitality received by councillors and officers in recent years.

But Brakespeare is most glad he did.

I learn, for instance, that as far back as October 2009 the Conservative agent for NE Cambs, Debbie Clark, was in ultra generous mood, donating a �10 box of chocolates to the elections team at Fenland Hall. This would have followed, of course, the by election which saw Steve Count hold the Tory seat of March West, albeit by a reduced majority.

More recently I was intrigued to learn that Carole Cracknell, a senior official of the benefits team, and Nigel Adams from the council’s enforcement team, were given a meal (probably lunch) by Constant and Co, bailiffs, at the Plate and Porter in March. They each recorded �20 worth of hospitality.

There are several other recorded lunches by Carole, Newlyns PLC being the generous hosts.

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Carole had also been on the receiving end of gifts from another firm of bailiffs last Christmas, recording an M&S cake and promotional calendars whilst debt collecting agency Newlyns dropped off a box of biscuits, six mince pies, a box of chocolates, diaries and notepads- all of which she shared with colleagues.

Council Leader Alan Melton has also made some declarations, not least a bound book of graphic script of ancient China given to him by ‘consultants of the People’s Government of Quzhou, China.”

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And former chief executive Sandra Claxton was once given 24 muffins which, she noted at the time, she happily shared.

WHEN you see what you have said in the cold light of day that can be a most illuminating moment.

So I’m grateful to the BBC’s transcript department at Peterborough (The New Listener) for re producing the interview with Cabinet member Councillor Kit Owen of Fenland Council.

Kit was asked about transport poverty in Fenland and told breakfast host Paul Stainton that “we have a plan. We have a strategy. We haven’t got any money.

“Because unless you’ve got a plan, you can’t say to people we want money for a b c x and y and z.

“If you’ve got a plan, you can make sure the money is directed at specifics. We are looking at and we’re looking very closely at Manea, trying to improve the facilities there.”

Well that’s the plan.

ODDEST quote of the week was surely that of Rupert Moss-Eccardt, newly appointed Lib Dem candidate for police commissioner for Cambridgeshire.

He tweeted on Monday that “I am surprised to find Tesco has run out of red wine.”

A CORRESPONDENT, not usually wrong but then again not often right, claims Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton was one of a number of A listers from the world of motor racing who arrived at Elme Hall the weekend before last.

“I saw the helicopter arrive at dusk on Friday night and leave again early Saturday morning,” says my man.

“I found out it travelled with its famous passengers down to Goodwood for the “Goodwood Revival” and back again Saturday night again at dusk.

“Sunday morning we were in the hotel grounds looking at the helicopter which had been parked overnight in the grounds when we saw Lewis and others climb aboard and take off.

“I found out from the pilot over breakfast that they were heading for Silverstone. But hotel staff would not confirm their famous guest or who else attended the Saturday evening party at the Hotel, but I notice there are photos of the departing helicopter on the Elme Hall Facebook page.”

Quite curious detail and at the time of going to press the hotel was not responding to my queries.

However looking at Hamilton’s twitter feed for the weekend suggests he was at the O2 for a show on the Saturday before heading off the next day to India.

A colleague also points out the unlikelihood of him heading to Silverstone which that weekend was having a Ferrari race day, not Mr Hamilton’s cup of tea at all!

AMUSING set of words strung together in a headline award goes to those lovely folk at Cambs Police press office.

They sent out a release this week headed “dealer hid crack in pants.”

Which as we discovered was of a drug dealer caught with crack cocaine in his underwear but for a moment we did wonder….

DOMINO’S Pizza tell me their Hills Road, Cambridge, store is to become 24/7 meaning they will be able to deliver to you anytime of day whether it be breakfast, lunch, dinner or as a midnight snack.

Some would consider that progress.

SUCCESS of sorts for Soham Town Rangers manager Steve Fallon who is to have a stand named after him at his old club Histon.

Steve, responsible for four promotions at Histon over an 11 year period including beating Leeds in the FA Cup, left after issues with the board of directors.

A new board is now in place and feels the need to honour Steve’s services to the club and will be inviting him back for a special ceremony.

My chum Jason Collen, who provides sterling support for Soham in many ways, says the Rangers “should do something like this and name the part behind the goal after a great player we had”.

His suggestion? “ Stephen Bell....we could then have a Bell End”.


FAR be for me to doubt the words, wisdom and, occasional, wit of the Mayor of March Councillor Jan French but here goes.

The issue is the bridge over the Nene in March – affectionately known as the town bridge and which has, by common consent, always had a weight restriction.

“The road over the bridge is OK it is the footpath that has the restriction on,” wrote the mayor on a Facebook page devoted to affairs of March.

“Have checked with Cambs County Council. The road over the bridge is OK it is the footpath that has the restriction on. So 7.5 ton lorries can cross the bridge as long as they do not drive on the footpath. Bammy law.”

But a spokesman for the council told me, and quite definitively, that this was not necessarily so.

“The situation with the weight restrictions on the town bridge

Is that the original bridge is capable of taking loads of up to 40 tons, but is subject to a 7.5 ton environmental weight restriction imposed many years ago as a way of keeping heavy goods vehicles out of the town centre.

“That 7.5 ton limit can be lifted on a temporary basis, for instance by the police in the event of an accident on roads surrounding the town centre to allow traffic to use it as a bypass route.

“However the later footway addition on the east side of the bridge is subject to a weight restriction because of its construction - the footway is separated from the roadway by metal posts to prevent vehicles from putting a wheel onto the footway.”

Clear and crystal as…..mud.

WHITTLESEY councillor Martin Curtis pointed out this week that Fenland Council would normally receive three complaints a week but in a couple of days they had already receive 15 complaints about the supermarket row in the town. He is encouraging more.

Quite why the planning committee changed its mind is not clear but Cllr Curtis is clearly prepared for the flack.

“The sceptic in me is expecting the backlash,” he tweeted on Tuesday night after returning from a briefing on the supermarket debacle from council leader Alan Melton.

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