Christmas is coming! Whoo-hoo! It doesn’t matter how old I get, or how many people bah-humbug around me, I love Christmas as much now as I did when I was eight! Particularly, I now enjoy the wonder and excitement in my son’s eyes. I couldn’t wait to get decorations up, or pick presents, just to see the smile of joy on his face. So for any reader’s who share the same thrill at this time of year with me, seasons best and good will to all!
Full County Council Meeting
Anybody who has read earlier postings will know that in my preparation to stand as a county councillor next year I am visiting as many district and county council meetings and functions as I can (along with Parish Councils and other community gatherings.) On Tuesday this week I accompanied Simon King and another prospective councillor John Clark to the latest full Cambridgeshire County Council meeting. It was an interesting day involving several heated battles between the Conservatives and the Lib Dems, but the excessive heat in the chamber proved difficult to deal with (for me, anyway) as the long meeting progressed. I’m sure I can’t have been the only one that was gasping for air by the end. I was particularly impressed by my fellow prospective candidate who seemed both insightful and strong-willed. I’m glad he’s on my side!
After lunch there was a carol service with a quartet of talented musicans playing popular christmas songs. Most members of all political persuasions gathered in the grand hall and on the stairs and joined in with enthusiasm! I’m not given to sentimentalism generally, but I found something touching and inspirational about the huge group of councillors taking the time to celebrate the season and doing so in such fine voice.
By-Election: Parson Drove and Wisbech St. Mary’s
The By-Election held in this ward was won by the Conservatives. Robert Scrimshaw was the candidate and having met him several times now I feel that the people of the area have made a very intelligent and informed choice. He’s a genuine, decent, hard-working man. Local Conservatives (myself included) campaigned hard with him here and its such good news that all that hard work has paid off. What people need are local folk who know the area, care about the area and are going to work hard to deliver for the people who voted them in. I was so pleased when I heard the result!
Congratulations to Mr Scrimshaw! Now the real hard work begins!
Parson Drove and Wisbech St Mary’s, Fenland DC (North East Cambs) Con hold.
Con vote 51%
Lab 19% LD 21%, Green 10%.
The Great ‘Alexandra Road’ Licensing Debacle
Actually, its not as exciting as I make it sound. There have recently been plans to open a ‘theatre’ in Alexandra Road, which describes itself as hoping to be “art-house” in style, showing classic, black-and-white and foreign movies. The old Women’s Institute building had been purchased for this purpose. Local residents, initially supportive of the idea, were worried at the license being requested. 3AM alcohol and dancing, seven-nights-a-week seemed somewhat ‘extreme’ for a theatre. Many locals in this mostly-residential area worried that the place might become a ‘night spot’ with all the potential noise and trouble that might bring. Since the police also had reservations, a licensing meeting was called. Many locals (including myself) attended and spoke opposing (principally) the late hours being requested. Councillor Simon King also spoke, supporting residents as the area’s County Councillor. Councillor Jonathan Farmer was supportive of the theatre’s case, being one of the area’s District Councillors. In the end, the license was granted pretty much as requested, but with some small reduction of the times on weekdays.
I’m kind of torn about this one. Mr. Ibbott (whose plans have caused all the consternation) seems a nice enough guy and I really do believe he has no intention of letting his theatre become anything other than what it purports to be. But with the best will in the world, if the business isn’t immediately successful I worry about the temptation to ‘make ends meet’ by using the license he has been granted to plug financial gaps. An art-house theatre in Wisbech is a challenging idea on its own, even taken outside the current difficult economic climate! Still, the decision has been made and the residents lost the argument (at least as far as the licensing committee were concerned), so I’m just going to wish Mr. Ibbott all the best and hope his dream is realised. If it is, everybody will be more than happy to be wrong and congratulate him on his success. If it isn’t … well, that’s a worry for another day now.
Aside from the local issue, I do feel this raises some concerns about the state of licensing in this country. There are only a very few issues that can even be used to object to a license. And since none of them can contain ‘conjecture’ it really renders people powerless to object to anything! A place which has not yet got a license and so isn’t in business cannot, obviously, have any ‘evidence’ against it. So anything you say is always going to be ‘conjecture’. The upshot of this is that people who live and work in an area have no say whatsoever over what licenses are granted near them. They get to speak and voice their opinion, sure. But then an overpaid ‘agent’ discards all their objections with legal doublespeak, citing “no evidence that my client will allow this”. It’s not the fault of the licensing committee either. If they agreed with residents and refused the license it would only go to appeal, get through, and cost a whole lot more as a result. When did we so thoroughly remove power from the people who will have to live with the consequences? I find it a matter of some concern. Madagascar 2
I took my four-year-old Son Joe to the cinema today, Peterborough Showcase. We saw Madagascar 2 (which was interesting, since I didn’t ever see Madagascar 1). The place was literally packed to the walls with screaming kids. It was heaving, chaotic, incredibly noisy and frenetic in the extreme. It was also wonderful. I know this isn’t the most detailed entry I’ve ever written in my blog, but I just wanted to say that. Wonderful.