LETTER: ‘Independent businesses need your support as the world begins to embrace the new normal’


Here are some of the letters that have been sent to the Ely Standard this week.


mill - Credit: Archant

Please support independent businesses

This open letter was posted on the Ely Notice Board Facebook page by Steve Haslam, who runs three restaurants in Ely.

Undoubtedly, this has been a passage in time that many of us will wish to forget as the world starts to embrace the new normal.

As a local independent business the financial impact and indeed the personal impact of this period of time has been traumatic to say the least.

St. Andrew’s Church Witchford toilet and refreshment area building works completed. Picture: BRIAN P

St. Andrew’s Church Witchford toilet and refreshment area building works completed. Picture: BRIAN PAGE - Credit: Archant

This will be repeated and magnified across all sectors of the Ely business community.

So why such an open letter in such a public place.

Most Read

I’m acutely aware that some residents within Ely have felt by me opening RBK as a takeaway over the last six weeks has in some way caused concerns within the localised area.

Having worked closely from day one with all authorities we have at all times acted within all guidelines set out by both government and Public Health England.

St. Andrew’s Church Witchford toilet and refreshment area building works completed. Picture: BRIAN P

St. Andrew’s Church Witchford toilet and refreshment area building works completed. Picture: BRIAN PAGE - Credit: Archant

Unfortunately a small minority of visitors and not necessarily guests of RBK have cast a grey cloud for the many who adhered to social distancing and indeed impeccable behaviour.

For anyone who was affected in any way I truly apologise.

Most people will be aware that many pubs restaurants and other businesses will re open on July 4.

All of these businesses have a raft of legislation to come to terms with and indeed to comply with.

I implore at this time to understand and except that all these businesses are re opening into a whole new way of operating.

Your understanding but more so your support to these local independent businesses is vital.

Some may never re open and are lost forever, many will be lost over the coming months, so I plead and prey that each and everyone of you will try to support those independent businesses that have created this wonderful city we all love.

There’s is trepidation from each and every one of us and I’m sure similar feelings will be running through many residents as the economy grinds back into life.

As independent owners I’m sure we will all go that extra mile to protect you your families and indeed our staff who are our families.

Please please give the authorities the chance to assist each and every business in there pursuit to survive.

Hold off on those complaints and concerns that will keep these vital people at there desks as apposed to out there helping to support the rebirth of the Ely economy.

Ely was built over many years by small independent family run businesses many of those still remain and I implore you now to support them.

A little more expensive maybe but the service and the joy your custom will bring will be priceless.

Ely has been my second home for 15 years and we have invested millions into those businesses, paid millions in taxes and indeed millions has filtered into the local community.

This however is not about us but the wider family and this Is written for all those local family independent businesses waiting hoping and praying that your support will keep Ely safe well and indeed independent for years to come.

STEVE HASLAM, owner of The Cutter Inn, Riverside Bar & Kitchen and The Red Herring

And the cupboard was bare

Living on my own in Morley Drive in a one bedroom apartment I am right by a glorious running, walking and cycling area that attracts the dog walkers.

After last summer I made a hit of 435 dogs that came past and paused for a drink of water and I left out a tub of dog biscuits in the shape of bones flavoured of gravy or chicken.

Many dog owners were delighted with this idea and so were their dogs. The dogs even stopped to look for their biscuit before continuing with their walk.

I would watch on my CCTV everyday and get many waves of thank you. But this year its a little different. Sadly no biscuits.

Because of the Coroavirus I am unable to put out the tub of biscuits as the handling of the lid and biscuits from different people.

It’s such a real shame as I feel sorry for all the dogs I know that come by who like their treat are missing out.

But I have some special friends who come past and I put by a extra treat for them as they like to wonder in my flat as and when to say hello.

I’ve always loved dogs and will get one of my own one day. But don’t worry all dog owners, the biscuits will return next year just remember to tell your pooches!


Open letter to my MP

Re: our children, and their children

Madam, you are my M.P.

I realise that the Conservative Party is the party of old people but I do deplore its savagery towards the children of this country, again, by not sending them back to school.

Why do I say that?

Because most of the nation’s children, those not lucky enough to be children of “key workers”, have been imprisoned in their houses and flats for months even though we know Covid-19 is not fatal to them except in an incredibly small number of situations.

So few in number, those cases could be easily identified and those children given special protection.

They have suffered lack of personal contact with teachers and friends, which I think has been agreed by everyone is likely to be to their enduring detriment.

And now, now that we have the “science” (at least, a bit of “science”) proving it - 90% of the deaths have been of people over 65, Mr Hancock told us last week, so that obviously the risk in schools is minimal, they are having to suffer this deprivation for even longer. Possibly months longer.

This is stupidity of the highest order. We have needlessly saddled these children, and future generations, with a huge national debt to be repaid through their working lives, and now we are needlessly damaging their prospects of the best education they need to have in order to earn a good living.

Don’t you realise, the teachers are having to be over-”cautious” because they fear being charged with taking risks with children’s lives, to their professional detriment.

There is no sense in this continuing savagery to a whole generation , unless it’s a deliberate attempt to give special advantages to the children of key workers.

Angry. Of course we should be angry. Especially those of us who spend a lot of our free time educating the children in one way or another.

The Brexit Party would never have done this.


Church improvements

After 17 years of fundraising and grant applications, St. Andrew’s Church, Witchford has a disabled toilet, tea and coffee point with serving hatch, vestry, new internal plaster repairs and working drains.

After unexpected delays of fire, pestilence and ‘plague’, the work has finally finished. At first the supply of wood was destroyed in a warehouse fire, a bees’ nest had to be removed and work was stopped momentarily, when the Covid -19 lockdown was first announced.

The project involved working with ancient bricks and stones to provide a firm floor, using the correct materials to repair part of the wall of the 12th century tower and the 14th century church, moving a large 12th century font and crafting specially-sourced European oak to provide panelling in fitting with the qualities of this grade 11*-listed building.

The workmen had to cope with the difficulties of putting modern appliances for the toilet and servery into an ancient building.

Instead of an unsteady ladder leading up to the bell tower, there is now an elegant pine stair and a more secure bell tower platform.

The church had also suffered structural movement in a buttress on the south-east corner of the nave because of poor drainage.

A new gully and soak-away were installed and the buttress re-pointed in lime mortar. Impervious cement plaster internally was also removed and replaced with lime plaster.

These new facilities will open the church to new opportunities for the community.

It will be able to become a busy hub in the centre of the village for all parishioners, both young and old.

At this time, with the difficulties that Covid 19 has created, these facilities will provide ideal support for a much-bruised community to slowly come together as it heals along with the rest of the county and indeed the world in general. ROSEMARY WESTWELL, Witchford

Rotary update

Rotary is still active during this difficult period. What a blessing Zoom is!

Robert Barnes has been inducted in as the new president for 2020/2021 and the club is looking forward to working under him this coming year.

They have been aware of local causes during this time, especially the foodbank, which it is under even greater pressure.

Despite the pandemic there are plans for the future, and this will include the Christmas collections and next year’s Aquafest, which we will make even better than ever, so get your rafters ready! As a town we need to come together and put our pandemic separation behind us.

Rotary will continue to raise money for local charities as well as international needs. This includes the almost-eradication of Polio around the world.

It has taken a long time, supported by Bill and Melinda Gates and the World Health Organisation to achieve this. But we are nearly there.

As usual, Rotary would like to thank you for all your support, and look forward to continue to work with you when this awful plague is over.


Thought for the week

Oliver Cromwell would certainly have liked the Church of England edict sent recently to small parish churches ordering that until further notice no candles may be lit.

Pews are out of bounds, no kneelers or prayer books maybe used and the place must be sanitised like some municipal toilet.

The Archbishop of Canterbury is also now talking of removing statues and memorials in churches of anybody with links to slavery and questions the portrayal of Jesus, which is reminiscent of the 16th century Reformation .

Surely the ethos of Christianity is based on forgiveness not judgement, everyone is a sinner, nobody is unblemished.

Dubious money has prevailed throughout the ages and at this rate we will only have memorials left in churches to Jesus and some will still possibly be unhappy with the colour of his skin. Where will this end?

Many feel that the Church of England should focus on things spiritual and if it wishes to exercise it’s social conscience focus on the modern day slavery that is still in our midst and the persecution of Christians in the world (eg the Yazidis and Christians in Iraq /Pakistan etc).

Thought for the week


Big brew

Residents of The Chase and Hamilton Close helped raise nearly £100 for SSAFA’s (the Armed Forces charity, the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association) Big Brew.

The residents baked cakes and enjoyed a socially distanced get together to raise funds during Armed Forces week.

I would like to pass on my thanks to all who attended or donated.

DAVID MARTIN, chairman of the City of Ely branch of the Royal British Legion

Mill memories

I am a member of Viva Arts & Community Group. We are converting an old mill in Soham into a theatre and community centre.

We are hoping to create a historical record of the Mill’s previous life for a permanent exhibition but we are struggling to find out any information about it at all.

Does anyone have any stories, photographs, or even vague memories of names that might help us track down some material for our exhibition?

ALISON O’CONNOR, Viva Arts and Community Group stage manager

Speeding concerns

Kings Avenue in Ely would be another place I would recommend as the amount of speeding down that stretch of road is frightening which is made all the more hazardous due to the residents having to use the road for parking because of the poor design of the estate.


The strip of road in Littleport from the Gil Gales to to the traffic lights is treated like a race track.


Queen Adelaide - even the rail way crossing don’t slow them down. And as for the 30 sign coming up over the railway bridge from Ely, it’s a waste of money - very few take notice of it.


New river bank from the Mildenhall Road roundabout to the bridge at the swan on the river.


Soham High Street is a race track.