Improvements to Ely market place will be a priority ... once ownership issue is resolved

PUBLISHED: 14:58 13 November 2014 | UPDATED: 14:58 13 November 2014

I think that most Ely residents would agree with Gary Gardner's view that priority must be given to Ely market place and the ambitions of James Billings to "knock down the eyesore". (Letters, October 30)

There have been discussions for many years about the 60s building and I believe the current owner is keen to improve the fascia of the building but it is difficult to achieve the desired improvement, satisfy planning requirements and balance the books.

There is also a group of councillors and stakeholders who have been discussing improvements to the market place.

The first hurdle to overcome was that it is not clear who owns the market place, although Cambridgeshire County Council is responsible for its maintenance.

East Cambridgeshire District Council is trying to establish legal ownership and once that is achieved we can hope to see great improvements.

However, life is not that simple and I remember the City of Ely Council’s struggle to get permission for its proposals to improve the market place as part of the Millennium celebrations.

These included a row of trees and seating in front of the new building, a beautiful fountain and a building similar to a traditional butter market.

All these ideas had to be rejected because the structures would interfere with a vast network of underground cabling.

The city council finally chose to commission a “human” sundial that has beautifully carved stones, sadly but inevitably hidden on market days. I had the pleasure of “launching” the sundial when I was mayor in 2001.

There was whole-hearted public support for enhancements to the market place in 2000 and it still seems to be a priority today so I am sure we are all looking forward to what can be achieved once legal ownership is established.

CLLR SHEILA FRIEND-SMITH

District councillor, Ely West

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