Letters: Traffic calming, trade deals, Veganuary and a balloon race

Soham Village College students donating Christmas parcels to RBL veterans

As part of their BTEC vocational studies course, the Year 11 foundation learning tier of Soham Village College made 40 Christmas parcels for veterans of the Royal British Legion. The parcels included a piece of homemade Christmas cake, homemade shortbread and a Christmas card designed by the students. Representatives from the Royal British Legion came to the college for the handover of the packages. - Credit: RACHEL EARL, Soham Village College

Traffic calming

Chapeau! to Councillor Bill Hunt. His motion to county council will result, if approved (fingers crossed at time of writing), in a dramatic improvement for residents and businesses in the villages along the A1123.

I previously lived in Wilburton where I witnessed the first tractor crash into "Tractor Cottage" and I heard the second one some years later.

I now live in Haddenham where there is a chronic speeding issue on Station Road and the number of HGVs currently rumbling through the village is staggering.  

My whole house vibrates when they come past and there are visible cracks in the walls now.  

Downgrading the route to a “B” road will allow us parish councillors to explore further much-needed traffic calming measures to ensure our residents are safer, and it will surely result in less traffic overall.

Mick George has already (voluntarily) instructed his drivers not to come through these village unless delivering. Here is a local business that genuinely cares about the community.

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I understand this has also saved his company a substantial amount of money in fuel costs. Other companies should take note.

I have been critical of our central government recently, and I feel that is more than justified.

However, here we see the difference that a caring and passionate local councillor, regardless of party affiliation, can make. This will make an enormous positive difference to several people’s lives.

I would like to sincerely thank Bill Hunt for his efforts in this campaign and I hope that the county council see sense and make this change happen.


Festive fun on Zoom

Ukul-Ely Zoom sessions

Ukul-Ely ukulele group have been holding their sessions via Zoom during the Covid-19 lockdown. - Credit: ROSIE HOLLIDAY

Pictured is our Christmas soirée held on Zoom.

My husband Nick Dowdy runs the Ukul-Ely ukulele group.

We normally practice at Ely Bowls club, but since lockdown in March we have been holding zoom sessions every Wednesday.

Numbers attending have been fantastic so I just thought I’d share with you how people are coping in the lockdown and what fun we have!

Best wishes for hopefully a brighter New Year for us all


Balloon race fundraiser 

The Ely Hereward Rotary Club and the Rotary Club of Ely would like to thank everyone who bought balloons in our Virtual Balloon Race, raising just over £350 for the Ely foodbank.

To see where your balloon finished please visit www.balloonrace.com/rotaryclubsofely

We hope to contact all the prize winners before Christmas.

Again, many thanks for your generosity.


Relieved by trade deal 

We’re relieved that the UK and the EU have agreed a trade deal, but the truth is that this deal is nothing to celebrate. 

It avoids the catastrophe of a no-deal Brexit, but it is inferior in every respect to the deal the UK had as a member of the EU, and as a Brexit damage limitation exercise it is both inadequate and late. 

With this thin deal, Brexit will still be a drag on the UK’s economic growth for years to come, and will slow recovery from the Covid pandemic.

Customs barriers will still create new costs and cause delays for our exporters and importers, and the deal does little for the UK’s service sector, the largest part of our economy. 

IT consultants, musicians, engineers, legal advisors and many other highly skilled professionals will all find working in the EU much more expensive, due to the costs of carnets for their equipment, getting professional qualifications recognised, and other red tape that had been banished by our membership of the Single Market.  

These new costs will undermine the competitiveness of many dynamic small and medium-sized enterprises in our region, so negotiating a new trade deal for services must now be a priority. 

The Covid crisis has highlighted both the strength of UK science and the importance of its cooperative endeavours within the European research community.

The UK Government must commit to membership of the Horizon Europe research programme, which will help secure our place as a world-leader in scientific research. 

We welcome the level playing field commitments contained in this trade deal and the strong dispute resolution and enforcement mechanisms.

These will help protect environmental standards and workers’ rights here in the UK, as well as trade with our most important market. 

This deal will not preserve Freedom of Movement, so on December 31, UK citizens will have lost the right to live, study, and work in 31 European countries - a right which the overwhelming majority of young people in the UK support. Freedom of Movement is a right we should celebrate and seek to restore. 

We believe that this trade deal marks the beginning of many years of hard work to rebuild the relationship between the UK and our friends in the EU, a relationship that has been so badly strained by the blustering arrogance, ineptitude and antagonism that characterises Boris Johnson’s government. 

Debate about the UK’s place in Europe did not end on December 31; it’s far too important for that.

Cambridge for Europe will continue to campaign for a closer and deeper relationship between the UK and the EU.

We hope that in the future the young people of the UK will bring us back into the EU.

PAUL BROWNE, Cambridge for Europe chairman 

Miserable failure 

The Brexit deal by Boris Johnson is a miserable failure after four long years of Conservative negotiations.    

It is better than the alternative of no deal at all – but securing the lesser of two evils is no cause for hope.   

This is the first trade deal in history with the express plan of making it harder to trade.

It does not deliver a deal on services, which make up 80 per cent of our economy, so will limit access for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough businesses to vital EU markets.      

We will be shut outside the customs union with more burdensome customs checks and red tape for our exporters and supply chains. We are outside the world’s largest Single Market.    

And I warn such a useless deal means we will be back at the negotiating table in no time at all, because no sane country would want to go on like this.    

ALEX MAYER, former East of England MEP  

Cruelly taken away 

After Boris Johnson's latest U-turn, millions had their Christmas plans shattered. Many of us know that new restrictions are needed.

But did Johnson stop to think of the hundreds of thousands who work on Christmas Day?  

Our nurses, our doctors and our carers who worked on Christmas Day had planned to have their Christmas get together with their families before or after Christmas within the five-day window previously announced by Johnson.   

That was cruelly taken away from them. After nine months putting their lives on the line during this COVID-19 crisis, this was heart-breaking for them and for their families.  

Johnson and his ministers were so eager to clap for our carers, an easy gesture that doesn’t cost anything or require thought.   

But they are incapable of acting with empathy towards the hundreds of thousands who have had their Christmases stolen from them or following through with promises of pay rises for healthcare workers.   

Surely, a little flexibility would have allowed them to take their “Christmas Day” on Christmas Eve say, or Boxing Day? After all they have given, it was the least they deserved.  

DR NIK JOHNSON, Labour mayoral candidate 

Shopworkers are people as well 

This year is likely to be even more stressful as a result of recent lockdowns and worries around Coronavirus. 

I want to gently remind your readers to remember that shopworkers are people as well. They will be working really hard to make your shopping experience as enjoyable as possible. 

Talking to our members who work in retail, I know that verbal abuse cuts deep. Many will go home after a shift upset about an unpleasant incident that took place at work that day and worried that it will happen to them again. 

During this appalling pandemic we have been shocked to find that incidents of violence, threats and abuse against shopworkers have doubled.

The main flashpoints are enforcing Covid rules, queueing and shortage of stock. None of these are the fault of shopworkers, but too often they end up on the wrong side of customers’ frustrations. 

That is why Usdaw, the shopworkers’ trade union, is asking customers to ‘Keep your Cool’. 

I would also like to ask your readers to support our members by signing the petition to protect shopworkers: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/328621

PADDY LILLIS, general secretary of the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (Usdaw) 


A few years ago my wife and I set up a local group on Facebook, called 'Ely and Fenland Vegans, Veggies and V-curious', which now has over 600 members. 

Exploring vegan food is something that more and more people are doing now as part of a balanced diet - whether or not they wish to become fully vegan.

There are now many vegan market traders who visit Ely on a regular basis and also the recently opened 'Beanies Vegan Coffee Hub'.

Their produce is enjoyed by increasing numbers of people!

In my view, vegan businesses can flourish alongside non-vegan businesses and help to provide a more diverse range of options for local people, whether or not they wish to ‘be vegan’ themselves.

Ely and the surrounding area is a great example of this. More and more pubs, restaurants and other venues are now including more vegan options on their menus, which provides an even greater range of tasty food for people to try!


RNLI says thank-you 

On behalf of our volunteer crews, I would like to say a massive thank you to all those wonderful people who contributed £597 to our funds by donation and purchasing of goods when we had a market stall at Ely.

It was absolutely amazing and we met a lot of lovely people including some who had been rescued over the years off the coast.

GEOFFREY HEATHCOCK, Cambridge & District RNLI chairman