Julie’s new job, Lib Dems through gritted teeth and the curious case of a misspelt Fenland town

Brakespeare’s weekly look at life in Fenland includes news that retired Cambridgeshire chief constable Julie Spence has become a columnist for the Sunday Telegraph.

BARELY a few days after retiring as chief constable of Cambridgeshire and ditching police work for good, one is glad to see Julie Spence in gainful employment once more.

Oh how it all might have worked out differently had the Met or Northern Ireland police forces had come a calling but no matter- Ms Spence has become a fully fledged member of the Fourth Estate.

For Julie has become a columnist on the Sunday Telegraph following a long and noble tradition of public servants now doling out the advice where once they might have been on the receiving end of it.

“After 32 years in the police, serving in three forces and rising to become chief constable of one of them, I have acquired a bit of know-how about tackling crime,” she kicks off her first column ploughing into her musings on the forthcoming 25 per cent cuts in police expenditure and the war on anti social behaviour.


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“Anti-social behaviour is a complex concept but one often simplistically interpreted as young people being a nuisance,” she writes “ In reality, it includes a range of behaviours, from intimidation, harassment, verbal abuse and threats of violence to constant low-level irritating behaviour that is equally debilitating – noise, uncontrolled dogs, drinking to excess, parking in the wrong place and littering.”

Much easier now, of course, to tackle from the sidelines.

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HAD Julie had read another part of the Telegraph she might have been surprised by an article by the newspaper group’s head of technology (editorial) Shane Richmond commenting on the story in our paper last week about thieves targeting families who mentioned on Facebook they were on holiday.

Mr Richmond thinks we shouldn’t be too alarmed by what we say on Facebook, pointing out, curiously, that this has ever thus been so as he recalled thieves targeting homes where the answer phone kicked in with the home owner explaining they were on holiday and couldn’t come to the phone.

Pointing out the Wisbech case involved a family friend of one of the victims acting out of revenge, Mr Richmond defends Facebook and says people have always found ways of finding out if people are on holiday.

“In other words, the victims were betrayed by someone they knew,” says Mr Richmond. “Suppose for a minute that this had happened before online social networks. The daughter tells her friend that the family is going on holiday; the friend falls out with the family and decides to burgle them.

“Same circumstances no need whatsoever for scary Facebook.”

“The sad fact is that you’re still more likely to be burgled by someone who watches your house from the street and waits until they see you leave for work.”

ANYONE who has ever fallen victim of new technology will have some sympathy for the family of David Gray, the 70 year old Manea man who was given a fatal injection by the out of hours German locum Dr Daniel Ubani.

Mr Gray’s family requested a copy of the Wisbech inquest into his death to help support their case for action against Dr Ubani but unfortunately a “laptop malfunction” means the transcript has been destroyed.

The county council owns the recording equipment and have promised a review but this may be a few weeks away since “a number of staff is on annual leave and we want to talk to them before reaching any conclusions.”

Mr Gray’s son Stuart, himself a GP, said: “It is crucially important to have a recorded copy of the actual inquest for future reference purposes.”

But not in this instance it seems.

SHOULD Nick Clegg ever fancy a peace keeping mission, he could probably do no better than to pay a visit to Cambridgeshire.

Hardly a day goes by without his Cambridgeshire members finding unkind things to say about the Conservative controlled county council which prompts your diarist to wonder about where coalitions begin and where they end.

County Lib Dems described as “unbelievable” a suggestion that the county council will ignore Cambridge city this year for gritting “while at the same time continuing to treat Wisbech, Whittlesey and Chatteris town centres”.

Lib Dem councillor Kilian Bourke said: “This beggar’s belief. When things got bad last winter the city centre was inaccessible, but at least there was a token effort to grit its busiest streets. These proposals would leave the inner core to freeze over completely and stay frozen.”

Colleague Sarah Whitebread added: “This is extremely bad news for residents and local businesses. The city core is the most concentrated hub of activity in the county, and should be among the very last routes to go.

“It is incredible that at the same time, the Tories will continue to grit great swathes of Fenland. Why this great disparity?

“Last winter gritting across the county was a total fiasco. Now it seems the gritting review is going to create more problems than it solves.”

Last week it was “youngsters are penalised as Tories try to balance their books” and earlier this year my favourite: Lib Dem’s fury as Tories score cheap points on ‘most vulnerable’.

In fairness I should point out that last headline was written before the coalition came into being – you can tell of course!

AN oops moment in Shire Hall where celebrations for the latest edition of their autumn magazine ‘Your Cambridgeshire’ have temporarily ceased pending a stewards inquiry.

The 32 page magazine is delivered to every home in the county but this headline on page 26 – kindly pointed out to me by a colleague- has caused mild consternation within the council’s higher echelons.

“The council says its cost just 20p per household to send out all four editions a year,” remarked my colleague. “That may be so and may be good value but not being able to spell properly? Well really!”

My usual sources tell me a suitable ‘punishment’ is being considered for the miscreant responsible.

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