COMMENT: Westwell of Ely by Rosemary Westwell

Monkfield Nutrition Insect and Reptile Farm

Monkfield Nutrition Insect and Reptile Farm - Credit: Archant

What East Cambridgeshire District Council are up to now A glance at the website and it seems councillors are inviting members of the public to have a say on a new local plan for East Cambridgeshire.

Brilliant! At last they are consulting the public, so maybe they will no longer snatch land that had been given to the community and sell it, or close amenities that we public sorely need.

However, it seems that folk who do not have a computer or a university degree - and there are still many of them out there - have no chance, for the information is presented in a fine, PhD – type of treatise that even those of us who have a few degrees to our name find it difficult to understand.

I mean, how does this grab you: 25 pages of the “Proposed methodology for assessment of potential development sites”?

Glancing through the document, I remain confused. It seems the council would like us to choose one of four options for where to put more houses: proportionately throughout the district, where the infrastructure (whatever that means) is good, make all big settlements larger, or just put the houses around Ely.

Fine so far. Then after discovering there is no ‘search’ facility to its 81 pages of information, I churn through the book to find that it appears that Witchford, for one, is to have two pitches for gypsies at Grunty Fen.

Well if this has already been decided, how can we have a say? If we opt for proportionate allocation, why aren’t these sites spread out to include more areas? Finally, I had to smile when the first heading for ‘Have your say’ says n/a (I assume means ‘not available’).

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May I humbly suggest the council follows Churchill’s idea that if you want someone to read your information put it on one page?

Now we know what our strategic planners are up to – sitting in cosy offices producing fine looking pages of information, while we poor underlings are freezing in a poor excuse of a bus shelter in Market Street or crossing our legs because the loo is too far away.

I suppose we should be pleased that they are obviously working hard at something, but what’s wrong with pounding the streets, asking those people who don’t have computers and who really need this new housing what they think?

Don’t make them fill in specially allocated forms, just ask them. Besides, what’s wrong with a very obvious display in the front office of the council with a suggestions box? These, we understand.

Watch out for snakes and insects

So, a new insect and reptile farm is to be established in Mepal. You realise of course that under the heading of ‘reptiles’ come snakes and crocodiles for a start.

Let’s hope that nothing escapes. However, if the odd lethal snake wanders your way, speaking from experience, all you have to do is drop whatever you have in your hand so that the snake looks at it, while you snatch the nearest heavy stick and break its backbone.

Don’t grab what you think is the dead body, sling it round your neck, take it home and put it in the fridge, which one bright spark once did in Tasmania.

The family might come home and, as happened in this case, open the fridge to find the lethal snake sitting up bearing its fangs.

So, your voice can be your password?

Some banks these days are offering to let us use our voices as our passwords. It sounds easy enough. They say they have covered any problems that might occur, for example, if you develop a cold.

I wonder if they’ve covered those people who have had to have operations on their voice boxes, or wouldn’t it be simple to play a recording of someone else’s voice so that you can access their accounts?

I am sure they have that covered these, but the pin will be good enough for me (if only I could remember it). Even then, some visitors who were very computer literate very easily accessed a website that revealed my password for the computer when I forgot it. It makes you wonder, doesn’t it?