Still Time To Express Views on Jubilee Gardens Street Trading

FIRST I must declare an interest: I am extremely fond of Ely s Jubilee Gardens; am horrified by the prospect of it being commercialised; was one of many people who wrote to the district council expressing my concern for its future; and attended, together

FIRST I must declare an interest: I am extremely fond of Ely's Jubilee Gardens; am horrified by the prospect of it being commercialised; was one of many people who wrote to the district council expressing my concern for its future; and attended, together with numerous other residents, the Licensing Committee meeting held on June 11.

In a press release dated June 17, the council attempted to reassure the public that its decision to approve street trading in Jubilee Gardens would not mean an influx of food stalls. The council tells us that they intend to put in place very strict rules about who can trade, when and where in Jubilee Gardens. But, be warned, this is the same council that permitted trading last summer because they failed to appreciate the rules then in effect!

Further, the officer with responsibility for such oversight admitted at the June 11 meeting that vigilance against rogue traders could not extend to weekends as council employees worked only between Monday and Friday.

Councillor Tony Parramint (Conservative), chairman of the Licensing Committee, claimed that they had come to their decision after listening to local people; amongst these voices are 38 who wrote to the council, none of them in favour of street trading in Jubilee Gardens, and 71 who signed a petition against the application.


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Having read the press release and the interview with councillor Tony Parramint in last week's Ely Standard, I began to wonder if he and I were at the same meeting. Councillor Parramint is quoted as saying that "everybody at the meeting was in ... agreement ... that ... [street trading] should go ahead." This is simply not true. A number of Licensing Committee members expressed serious reservations about the proposals, and voting was neither unanimously against trading in Annesdale nor unanimously for the commercialisation of Jubilee Gardens.

A number of residents made excellent short formal presentations. At the end of one such presentation, the person concerned was asked a question by a member of the Licensing Committee. During the course of her answer, councillor Parramint informed the lady that she could not proceed as he considered she was adding to her original points. At one stage, councillor Parramint announced that members of the public would have an opportunity to raise questions, but he then attempted (unsuccessfully!) to renege on that.

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Members of the public will again have an opportunity to express their views at the next Licensing Meeting on Wednesday July 9 at 9am in the council offices, when the Licensing Committee will start to formulate a policy to ensure that Jubilee Gardens are protected for the future. The press release contains the supposedly reassuring statement that the council will consult with members of the public when making this policy and that no street trading would be considered until the policy had been agreed.

However, the Licensing Committee's Decision List (June 11) includes the following statement: 'That Environmental Services be directed to compile a Consent Street Trading Policy for approval at the next Licensing Committee meeting [July 9].' This reads like a fait accompli to me, rather than democracy at work.

Your readers may be interested to learn that a considerable number of thoroughfares in Ely are designated 'prohibited streets' so far as street trading is concerned (save for civic or charity events); perhaps we should determine to get Jubilee Gardens added to that list.

I encourage as many people as possible to attend the July 9 meeting. Yes, I know 9am is inconvenient or impossible for the working man and woman, but, it seems, that councillors find it easier to get time off work.

DR PETER HOARE

Victoria Street

Ely

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