Postbag: Setting the record straight about what was really said

PUBLISHED: 14:37 02 March 2006 | UPDATED: 13:17 04 May 2010

I WOULD like to take the opportunity to set the record straight regarding my supposed comments to The Daily Mail last week and to correct any misconceptions that the Ely Traders Association is in any way negative about Ely. The Daily Mail contacted me by

I WOULD like to take the opportunity to set the record straight regarding my supposed comments to The Daily Mail last week and to correct any misconceptions that the Ely Traders' Association is in any way negative about Ely.

The Daily Mail contacted me by telephone to make comments in connection with a feature they were doing, regarding the effect large superstores had on small towns.

I had a long conversation with the reporter and at no time stated that Ely has nothing to offer and, in fact, stated quite clearly that Ely has more independently-owned shops than most other small towns and a thriving market two days a week. I do not know why the empty shop in Market Street was cited in that report as an unwanted business premises, as that is certainly not the case, and the photograph was most definitely NOT supplied by myself or anyone connected to the Ely Traders' Association.

I was asked if there were any charity shops in Ely to which I simply replied that there were five or six. Clearly The Daily Mail had its own agenda.

The forming of a new Chamber of Commerce in Ely seemed to kick off some form of tabloid frenzy last week with three local radio stations and most local newspapers reporting it even though there was a long-established Chamber of Trade here for many years.

I would also like to set the record straight regarding the relationship that the Ely Traders' Association has with our local council. Certainly in the early days of the car parking charges debate we had to attack the proposals and fight for our beliefs to stand a chance of being heard, but we also had to justify our argument. We had the backing, let us not forget, of more than 11,000 people and I still receive encouragement from residents of Ely every day.

The situation today is that the Ely Traders' Association is now working closely with our council to solve the parking problem without the introduction of parking charges and we are very nearly there. This week Cllr Ashton, following our suggestions, has brought before the committee of the general council a proposal to use the Tesco 106 money to purchase land in the Angel Drove to provide a car park for commuters. The ETA has always maintained that if a car park was provided for commuters our city centre car parks would be freed up for shoppers and tourists, and residents overnight. We consider there would be no need for charges or the introduction of the very complicated residential street scheme, obviously, councillors now agree.

The ETA has also been working with the council to reorganise our existing car parks to maximise their capacity. Through our new association with the Chamber of Commerce we have been able to find a company who can organise this restructuring for as little as £500. We are also in consultation with the team leader for the city centre from the council whose purpose is to promote Ely and its activities.

How could anyone believe that I have any negativity about the city my family has been living in since at least 1856? I have thrown my belief in Ely and the small shops, not by having one but investing heavily in two in our city when all the world was stating that the sole trader is dead.

It was my belief in Ely, and the need to preserve and improve it, that led me to start the opposition to the parking charge, which does not have to be inevitable if the council can be convinced and helped to see a way past it, even though it sometimes felt like a lonely battle.

I hope Mr McCurdy was one resident who took 'collective ownership of these solutions' by marching with us through our High Street last summer to make a stand and who will, no doubt, be very pleased when the problem is solved for the good of all - resident, trader and tourist alike.

ELAINE GRIFFITH-SINGH

Ely Traders' Association

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