Martin’s makeover, jolly Jonathan, David tackles deprivation and then of course there’s Murphy’s Law!

SELF effacing new Mayor of Wisbech, Jonathan Farmer, describes himself on his Twitter site as “probably the greatest living Englishman. Politician, soldier, academic.”

I think we’re expected to take that with a pinch of salt although Cllr Farmer, back quite soon after a previous spell at the helm, speaks of celebrating GroundHog Day in Wisbech this year. You can work out the connection.

GroundHog Day, too, in March where Bernard Keane unexpectedly came up from the sidelines to once more be town mayor and a similar reluctance of others to step forward has seen Chatteris resolve to appoint Peter Murphy for a third successive year.

“What was the very first act of Chatteris’ brand new town council last night?” asks town councillor Chris Howes.

“It was to suspend Standing Orders and elect Peter Murphy Mayor for a record third consecutive term.


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“Out with the new, and in with the old!”

Whether he would have liked to have been mayor himself he doesn’t say, but most definitely he would have liked to become a district councillor.

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“An awful lot really,” he described Fenland Council to me recently. “From the top down.”

ANNOUNCING his new Cabinet appointments, Fenland Council Leader Alan Melton was pleased as punch to create a new portfolio for Wisbech Affairs.

Councillor David Oliver has taken on the role and in the words of Cllr Melton the town “is the area identified mostly in need of investment. Depravation and low skills issues still persist. David brings to the table a wealth of local experience, his advice will be invaluable.”

Some of the joy of the moment for Cllr Melton was taken from him when I queried whether he meant ‘deprivation’ and not ‘depravation.’

Blaming spell check on his computer he told me: “At least it shows that I do my own stuff, and do not rely on officers!” Quite.

FORMER Independent candidate Reg Kemp takes a philosophic view of failure to win a seat either on March Town Council or Fenland District Council. He’s not altogether impressed with those who did win.

“Being a councillor these days has become quite a nice sinecure for the retired, semi retired or just hard up!,” he says.

Come on then Reg, name names!

IT was always going to be problematic on the day the Guardian came to town for a feature on why its readers should consider a move to Wisbech (or not as the case may be).

On the positive side The Guardian “turned up expecting zilch” but discovered “what historian Nikolaus Pevsner called one of the most perfect Georgian streets of England.”

The author writes that “I find a star of costume dramas.

“I find a town that looks as if time stood still around 1925.”

Two hundred years ago the ‘bright young things’ of the day might have lived there but today, says the Guardian, “the place looks as if it’s wreathed in cobwebs. Time standing still has its advantages- avoidance of Arndale Centres and other 20th century ills, e.g. house prices.”

On the case against moving to Wisbech, the Guardian says the town remains “pretty isolated, with no railway, and not much to do but work in the potato/cat food processing plant. Seems as hard up as a church mouse. Just the Fens for company: glum or glorious, depending on your take.”

Guardian readers piled in with their comments, of course, with one noting that whilst you can buy a house for less than �80,000 “why bother?”

The reader claimed Wisbech has no jobs, there is little for families, the shops are a joke, the market place a death trap “and most of the town is ugly as well and for some reason people keep electing Tories. Really I wouldn’t bother.”

I note Labour’s Martin Field weighed in with the comment that what’s needed is “thousands of Guardian readers to move in to change the place for the better”

Another felt that Wisbech had its downsides and had “yet to unpick the meaning of diversity and the open mindedness of many residents isn’t a high note.”

That aside, however, the correspondent note that “if you’re tired of pretentiousness local people are certainly grounded. Whatever you do, don’t sell up your semi in London for a quasi mansion in Wisbech and expect to live like minor aristocracy- deference isn’t widespread in the Fens.”

IN Waterlees Alan Lay continues to get to the bottom of who should be held accountable for the Tory election candidates fly posting of telegraph poles and trees.

Mark Mathews, Fenland Council’s head of environmental services, tells him he has “spoken to the agents responsible for these candidates and they have not affixed campaign materials to trees or telegraph poles.

“They have no knowledge of others doing so on their behalf, and hence have no explanation as to how these materials arrived in the locations that you highlight.

“The posters were not evident upon a recent inspection of the area. No campaign materials were directly attached to any poling (sic) station.

“As a result, we have no evidence of who is responsible. This authority will not be taking any further action in this case.”

Mr Lay remains unimpressed with the reply and says he has told him “to use his common sense. “I am not convinced that he will pursue this complaint with natural vigour. I wait for his reply. “

QUITE why he felt in need of a ‘make over’ is anyone’s guess but Whittlesey town, district and county councillor Martin Curtis has gone and done it.

“I have always sort of wanted a caricature of myself,” he says. “I have mulled over using one on my website and in letterheads for a few years. My own view about a good caricature is that it says more about your personality than a photo ever can.

So I bit the bullet and got friend and fellow KISS fan (and talented spray paint artist) Nick Smith, to do one for me. I love it - I think it captures me really well, So, I am now thinking of doing a redesign of my website so it gets featured.

“A few friends of mine have seen it and have commented quite positively - including one who suggested the horns are missing!”

Cllr Curtis is the newly appointed Cabinet member for health and well being at Cambridgeshire County Council.

YOUR diarist was humbled to learn this week that a tune heavily associated with his upbringing had actually been composed by a man who once lived in Wisbech. Anglia TV’s ‘Mr Music’ Peter Fenn, who has died aged 80, lived briefly in Wisbech and later went onto compose the signature tune for the hugely popular Sale of the Century quiz show.

In 1981, the show, with host Nicholas Parsons attracted a then record audience for an Anglia TV programme of more than 21.2 million. A total of 374 programmes were broadcast for more than 11 years on the ITV network until November 1983

Born at Great Yarmouth on April 1, 1931, Peter Fenn was evacuated to Wisbech during the Second World War. At Wisbech Grammar School, he learned the piano.

Later in his career, and for more than 30 years, he was director of music at Anglia Television, composing theme tunes for some of its best known programmes, including About Anglia and Gambit.

He played on the second day of Anglia’s broadcasting on October 28, 1959 with the glamorous presenter, Susan Hampshire, then just 17. The Midday Show, which was transmitted at two minutes past one, also featured co-presenter Roger Gage and music from Peter Fenn and Betty Bass and the Bachelors.

“There was no pre-recording, not even of the songs . . . the small band and terrific pianist Peter Fenn never let us down,” she said.

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