Technical issue with on-line petition angers Community House campaigners

Community House. Wisbech. Picture: Steve Williams.

Community House. Wisbech. Picture: Steve Williams. - Credit: Archant

Campaigners fighting to save the axe-threatened Wisbech Community House are furious after technical issues meant an on-line petition failed to appear on Fenland District Council’s website for several days.

Ward councillors Mike and Virginia Bucknor were asked to post an e-petition after locals were unable to get it on-line. The councillors managed to get the council’s ICT department to help but were then told it could take up to five days for it to actually appear.

However, this morning (Wednesday) the petition was showing on-line, but a technical problem was still being blamed for it not appearing properly so people can sign in support of keeping the Community House open.

A council spokesman said: “There is a technical issue and I have no idea when its going to be corrected. Our IT department are trying to fix it.”

Meanwhile the Bucknors are angry because Fenland’s two responsible cabinet members are not planning to attend a Waterlees Forum meeting next Thursday (October 16) when residents will have an opportunity to raise their concerns and ask questions about the proposed closure.


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Mrs Bucknor has written to Fenland’s Chief Executive Paul Medd to complain about the lack of proper consultation stating: “Six questions on a questionnaire (whose answers FDC should already have) surely is not the sum of a consultation? If no one with any knowledge of how this proposal has come before the cabinet is prepared to come and speak to the local residents it will be seen as a contemptuous act.”

She said Mike Cornwell has been invited to the meeting at the Oasis Centre but is unsure he can attend because he’s busy and there is a council by-election on the same day. Ralph Butcher the other cabinet member has said he is unavailable.

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The Bucknors are urging residents to ‘let your voice be heard’ as they fear Fenland’s consultation process has been rigged and it the closure, which is part of council cost-cutting, is a “done deal”.

They want to force a full council debate on the issue and need 500 people to sign the petition to make that happen. They have also re-drafted their version of the council’s on-line questionnaire as they claim it is biased and fails to ask the right questions.

Mrs Bucknor pointed out Waterlees is the most deprived area in Cambridgeshire and is now in the top six per cent for child deprivation in the country.

“Things are getting worse, but instead of trying to help the situation Fenland Council has earmarked the Community House for closure and Cambridgeshire County Council has announced it will be withdrawing funding for the Adventure Play Area in the next two years. The services provided at Community House are vital for the people of this area. The council has talked about transferring services to the Oasis Centre, but they don’t appear to have carried out proper consultation as I understand there isn’t the space at the Oasis Centre,” said Mrs Bucknor.

Visit the Wisbech Have Your Say Community House Facebook page to sign the e-petition and the council’s questionnaire is on various Wisbech sites.

The petition is also in shops around the Waterlees area and on October 18 the Bucknors and other councillors will be collecting signatures on Wisbech Market Place from 10am.

A spokesman for Fenland Council refused to comment on claims the authority had failed to consult with the Oasis Centre on whether or not it could accommodate the Community House services.

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