Letter to the Editor: I am being forced to become a Manea parishioner when Manea is THREE miles away!
Your paper reported on the review by Fenland District Council to amend Chatteris and Manea parish boundaries to follow the new 2015 district ward boundary.
The greatest effect falls on those Chatteris residents that live in the current How Fen ward which stretches north and east of Chatteris from the bypass , through Horseway, partway along the 16 Foot and east to the Washes.
The proposal is that all these residents become part of a Manea parish ward. I do not believe a single one of the 114 people affected in any way consider themselves to be Manea residents and only a very few have any involvement with the village or any interest in that parish. I have lived all my six decades as a Chatteris resident, only 400 metres from Chatteris, but am now being forced to become a Manea parishioner when Manea is THREE miles away!
Your report quotes a spokesman saying the proposed changes are being ‘carried out to see what changes may be needed to ensure parish boundaries reflect the identities and interests of local people and are effective and convenient for them’. I maintain the changes neither reflect any of our interests, nor are in any way effective or convenient.
It also aims to strengthen local democracy and encourage more community engagement. It will have the opposite effect for How Fen Parish residents.
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At parish level I am interested in what happens in Chatteris. I once stood for election at parish level. I chair a Chatteris specific Charity, have taken part in Chatteris activities, have helped Chatteris Cricket Club on occasions and have always voted in Chatteris parish elections.
I have no affinity with Manea and have not been involved in any village activities over my lifetime. Needless to say I will not be voting in any Manea parish elections should the changes take place and I believe I will not be alone with this stance.
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So will the boundary change have done any good? No, it will simply alienate the How Fen residents from Chatteris and create more apathy towards this lower (but vital) end of community involvement.
The district boundary need not be identical to the parish boundaries as the roles of the two tiers are considerably different. Parish commitment is about local identity and a feeling of belonging. District levels are based on wider issues where close proximity to a town or village is not so important.
Well done Chatteris Parish Council for seeing the folly of the proposals and standing up for How Fen, with its mere 114 residents, to be retained as Chatteris parishioners. Now it’s up to us all to write in and protest before this madness is allowed to become fact. Sadly I fear whatever we say will be ignored to make the bigger picture look right!