Thursday 17 December 2009

Planning Committee - Whittlesey Supermarket

As many of you will already be aware, the Planning Committee at Fenland have approved plans for  a supermarket at the Benwick Road site.  For various reasons I was not able to be part of the debate, however, it was one of the longest debates I can recall at planning committee and I totally respect the outcome.

My personal preference would have been to consider both of the applications at the same time.  There is a history of planning applications for supermarkets being ultimately decided in court.  Considering both together may have minimised the risk of this happening and could have helped to ensure a local decision.

However, even a decision made at a meeting where both were considered could have ended up in court - or be decided by the Secretary of State.  People need to be aware that the decision made yesterday may not be the end of this and there is a possibility of court action or that the Secretary of State will have something to say.

Just to make my point, these links are for supermarket applications that have court involvement and are fairly current:



Friday 11 December 2009

Xmas Extravaganza

It's when I have been to the extravaganza in Whittlesey that I start to realise that Xmas is just around the corner.  I had a day delivering leaflets today, got home a bit tired, but was soon re-energised by the extravaganza - especially seeing children smile when they are given a bag of sweets from the Town Council, it is a great thing for the Town Council to do, and I love being a part of it.  It is great to see the market square full of life and fun, it was also great to catch up with a few people and give a few pounds to some local charities in return for not winning raffles and tombolas.

As ever, the Xmas tree festival made me smile in so many ways.  I always love seeing the efforts of the schools and pre-school groups - probably because of my involvement in Children's Services.  But there were some great efforts from some of our voluntary groups as well.

I also managed to take a detour on the way home and have a pint in the Brickies (and it really was only a pint).

Thursday 10 December 2009

Sir Harry Smith School Pantomime

Sir Harry has a reputation for doing good performances.  Tonight I went to see the school pantomime and had great fun.

There was a really good mix of students and teachers involved and quite a lot of great humour.  Everyone involved should be proud of what they put on and that they helped make people like me have a bit of a laugh.

As for me, I am a proud dad.  I watched my daughter in a chicken costume lay a golden egg.

UPDATE:   Someone has pointed out that the above comment is a bit ambiguous.  My daughter was wearing the chicken costume not me.

Wednesday 9 December 2009

Fenland District Council Leadership

I have no comment to make about the goings on at Fenland tonight.

However, the major aspect of this is a leak to the media by someone associated with Fenland, something that happens too often.  It only serves to destabilise and means that the people of Fenland suffer because an individual chooses to feed information to the press, mainly because of some sort of selfish personal motive.

That sort of behaviour is potentially harmful to the people I serve; it takes focus away from service delivery while we deal with the issues the leaks create, thankfully officers and members at Fenland have the nouse to carry on in spite of such events.

I think it is time that the Cambs Times examined its conscience.  I have a great deal of time for them; John Elworthy is an excellent journalist and, whilst I am occasionally critical, I recognise that we are lucky to have a local paper that does its job in the way it does.   But at the heart of good journalism, must be, I believe, a strong element of public service.   It is time for the Cambs Times to examine its conscience, to recognise that it is in the public good to name the individual responsible for the leaks we have suffered.

I'm sure they won't, they will love it because leaks sell papers.  But some things are more important than that - and this particular leak has harmed people who have served Fenland for years.

What is a big shame is this is the story that should be grabbing the headlines.

Comprehensive Area Assessment

Comprehensive Area Assessments are published today.  These are assessments made by the Audit Commission pulling together reports and information about local authorities in order to make a judgement about their performance.

I am trying to link to the report, but the site is apparently overwhelmed so I can't get to it.  I will provide the links later.

Within the report the CAA uses red and green flags to highlight areas of concern or excellent practice.  Cambridgeshire has been allocated a Green Flag for its work in Waste Partnerships and no red flags.

I am pleased to say that the OFSTED judgement for Children's Services that fed into this report has Cambridgeshire "performing well.", which is our overall judgement too.

Fenland has also been graded as performing well.

UPDATE:  Cambridgeshire here.   Fenland here.