Our diarist offers some thoughts on the first visit to Wisbech of county council leader designate Nick Clarke

NOT quite a messianic procession but a fascinating first official visit nonetheless to Wisbech for Cambridgeshire County Council leader designate Nick Clarke.

His no nonsense, let’s get things sorted approach had a small gathering of Tory councillors and others in awe as he toured the new Waterlees adventure playground.

First lesson for the troops on the ground - accentuate the positive. Second lesson - stop giving publicity to the handful who oppose it. Third lesson – be grateful you’ve got in your ward a facility any other part of Cambridgeshire would die for.

And fourthly, when he had their full attention, consider lobbying for the fences to come down and for the park to be genuinely open to all the community and looked after by the community.

Mr Clarke, sporting a broken ankle - a product of a badly judged movement on the cricket field and something to do with fielding at silly mid somewhere or other - was clearly delighted to be about to assume the mantle of leadership.

“I didn’t go looking for it and only threw my hat into the ring after Jill Tuck announced, to mine and everyone else’s surprise, she was standing down,” he chirped.

Now that he’s got it, however, one suspects his business brain (which netted him some indeterminate millions when he sold up and retired early) will focus on the economics at Shire Hall.

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Already he’s set out a stall to create mini franchises for community transport (heaven help the officials tasked with this if they don’t get moving quickly) and en route to Wisbech he mentioned stopping off at Littleport to give direction on a Little Local Difficulty (something to do with the sale of a public loo – don’t do it, especially at election time, seems to have been the outcome of that one!).

Not that this was Mr Clarke’s first visit to Wisbech. He recalled coming here some years ago as a member of the police authority and to produce the report that, ultimately, paved the way for closing of the police cells.

“They were dangerous, not fit for purpose and something needed to be done,” he said.

What he also mentioned, however, were the assurances that closing the cells did not pre-empt any threat to the magistrates’ court. No sir, he was told, it was safe, but indeed, as we now know, it was not.

As leader he expects to have one advantage over his previous status: much harder to have the wool pulled over your eyes and woo betide, Brakespeare felt as he left, to the first who tried.

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