Raunchy athletics star, Soham miscreant, JP bottom but top, job descriptions for councillors and Lib Dem defection

THANKS to county councillor Tim Stone I can report that of 116 road verges across Cambridgeshire identified since 1985 as having high botanical interest “15 have simply been deselected and of those remaining, 27 have definitely decreased in interest over time.”

Cllr Stone says that by June this year that of 68 protected roadside verges left, two are in favourable condition, 15 are in part favourable and unfavourable condition, 38 are in unfavourable condition “though of those 38, two are considered to be recovering. The condition of 13 is unknown pending this year’s survey.

“Those statistics are not good”.

Cllr Stone is keen that the council does not allow any further verges to be deselected “and ensure that steps are taken to restore those verges recorded as being an unfavourable condition.”

Happily the man responsible for such things, Cllr Tony Orgee who heads a portfolio entitled community infrastructure, agrees “the figures are not good and we will look very, very carefully at the road verges.”

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Looking at verges is most therapeutic and I imagine Cllr Orgee will take a veritable posse of colleagues with him to consider them.

GOOGLE Kevin Wilkins and the first reference will show the Liberal Democrat county councillor for West Chesterton lives in Chesterton Road, Cambridge, but upon closer inspection you will find he’s moved to Market Street, Ely. Quite why I haven’t discovered but he is nothing if not prolific.

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“Can I ask whether he believes that the off bus ticket machines at the bus stops on the guided busway are value for money or not and why” was the question he fired at Councillor Ian Bates, head honcho for growth and planning at Cambs County Council.

I accompanied Cllr Bates on the inaugural guided bus journey but didn’t realise then that he was destined for a lifetime of free travel on it.

“Personally I pay the driver when I get on the bus but of course concessionary bus fares allow me the privilege not to pay anything at all so I’m happy to look into that particular matter,” was his rather bizarre response.

He added that he wasn’t “not quite sure precisely what you are getting to but if you would like to email me with your concerns on that matter I’ll happily look into it.”


DESPITE my best endeavour I was unable to find anything meaningful to report on a two day visit to Ely by the Low Pay Commission.

“Further to your enquiry three Low Pay Commissioners did indeed visit Cambridge and Ely on 18-19 July,” I was eventually told by a communications and admin manager. “They were there to speak to employers and workers affected by the National Minimum Wage as part of their annual visits programme.”

And no doubt to have lunch – but probably that too was covered by some form of official secrecy but I do hope the wine was to their satisfaction (or not in case they ate sandwiches by the river).

EXTRAORDINARY are the ways of politicians- and after four decades of reporting on them I still wonder at their ability to gush from parts of the anatomy best left to the imagination.

Take for example my old chum Nick Clarke, reportedly doing a handsome job as county council leader but if he has an Achilles heel it is his obsession with Lib Dems. Welcoming a defecting Lib Dem councillor Lynda Harford to the Tory fold he describes her gushingly as “experienced and able” and praises her move from a party “which doesn’t really stand for anything, nor have any values except trying to get elected.”

Which is fine except she told a reporter sent to interview her that she had “realised her Conservative ward colleagues had more influence because they were part of the ruling group.”

She added that “I just want to do the best for the people I represent” before mentioning that she felt she would have a better chance of re-election as a Conservative!

A REVEALING interview with March athlete Louise Hazell, competing in the heptathlon at the Olympics, in the local paper of her adopted city of Birmingham.

The 26 year old Commonwealth gold medallist told the Birmingham Mail she felt “completely and utterly free” posing near nude for a men’s mag. It was, she confessed, an “empowering experience” which is, truthfully, how most men must have felt too.

It seems the idea came after she split from her boyfriend and then read Lindsey Kelk’s novel The Single Girl’s To Do List.

She said: “I have always wondered what people who attend nudist beaches get out of it, so I thought, ‘OK, we’ll do this shoot for GQ.’ I understood by the end of it.

“You feel completely and utterly free and comfortable in your own skin. It is nice. It’s a real experience.”

Expect more on a top shelf near you soon.

AN interesting selection method was used by Cambridgeshire Conservatives to select their candidate for the upcoming police commissioner gig.

South Cambridgeshire Conservatives spilled the selection beans by revealing that “the candidate with the lowest number of votes being the winner”.

The result was:

John Pye – 1,360 votes

Sir Graham Bright – 1,508 votes

Shona Johnstone – 1,608 votes

The postal ballot did not opt for first past the post and instead adopted for something called The Borda count, a single winner election method, says Wikipedia, in which voters rank candidates in order of preference.

“The Borda count determines the winner of an election by giving each candidate a certain number of points corresponding to the position in which he or she is ranked by each voter,” says the explanation offered by the on line encyclopaedia.

“Once all votes have been counted the candidate with the most points is the winner.

“Because it sometimes elects broadly acceptable candidates, rather than those preferred by the majority, the Borda count is often described as a consensus-based electoral system rather than a majoritarian one.”

I do love the fact that Mr Pye’s first name is actually Alan but he prefers his middle name John so we can lovingly embrace him – as many already do- as JP.

POLICE arrested a 17 year-old for abusive comments on Twitter about Tom Daley which would likely to have caused alarm to a Soham youngster who offered inappropriate thoughts on the matter of Japan’s appeal in the team gymnastics event.

The teenager’s foul rant and inclusion of Hiroshima in his on line messages caused widespread consternation on Monday evening.

Luckily the boy’s family appreciated the seriousness of the issue and eventually contacted him and hours later not only had the tweets but also the twitter account removed.

Some senior politicians are questioning whether police are over reacting to Twitter but sending a malicious communication is an offence and carries a maximum �2,500 fine.

Earlier this year a student was jailed for 56 days for racially abusive tweets but brighter news for some was the accountant fined �1,000 for joking about blowing up an airport who has now had his conviction quashed.

WHITTLESEY councillor Alex Miscandlon spoke during a debate at Fenland Hall “expressed the opinion that he would not have stood as a councillor if there had been a job description.”

He was not alone. The proposition – by independent Victoria Bucknor- sent her colleagues into some form of collective meltdown as they “resolved that the motion not be supported.”

Councillor Jan French asked who would write the job descriptions whilst Councillor Florence Newell said she answered 40 phone calls a day and with emails and letter could do no more.

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