Letter: Mixed reaction to Wetherspoons refusal

View of St Mary’s in 1925 with site in foreground

View of St Mary’s in 1925 with site in foreground - Credit: ARCHANT

Reaction to Wetherspoons refusal

JD Wetherspoon has been refused permission to convert a Grade II listed house in Ely into one of its pubs. The following comments have been taken from social media.

Good job! It would have killed off some of our existing pubs and restaurants.

There are more than enough pubs that will need more support than ever when the pandemic ends. Why give them more competition to contend with?

I don’t think it will encourage ‘spoons to sell. They have been building up a property portfolio for some time now. 
They could easily turn it into a boutique hotel or restaurant or just let it sit there.
Selling the property in the first place was another misstep by Kings.

I think that's a shame. Spoons is a lovely place for all ages. Decent food at reasonable prices. A good meeting place.

Shame, I like Wetherspoons, decent food, and would give people more of a choice where to drink.
I think Ely could do with a bit of a shake up than just make do with what we got.
It's a case of do-gooders sticking thier noses in again.

Our local pubs will breathe a sigh of relief. Not only have they lost out on so much custom this year, this would have crippled them.

I expect ‘spoons will launch an appeal. It won’t be the first time they have had a planning application refused and they may well have anticipated it’s refusal. They will have a plan. I just hope any appeal is also rejected.
I do however think that planners have a responsibility to see the bigger picture and, by that, I mean to look at the consequences of any decision on the wider business environment. 
I’m sure most if not all the riverside places would be relatively unaffected as would one or two other real local spots like the Albert or West End. 
The issue would be the ones in the middle. Like the Lamb or the Hereward and some of the eating places in the centre. 
Entirely conceivable that you end up with a “doughnut” ie places around the outer edge are ok but the ones in the centre get hollowed out, leaving still more city centre properties empty. 
Oh and, as someone new to Ely, and having had to stay in pretty much every hotel and guest house in the city before our house was ready, there is certainly a need for one or two to up their game or they deserve to go under.

Probably the right decision... many people saying it should be a hotel. 
I agree, as it would bring people into the town. There’s not a lot of choice hotel wise in or around Ely.

That’s a shame. Very shortsighted. Perhaps they could rent it to a charity to run as a shop. 
That would continue the general trend on Ely High Street.

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More Nimbyism as usual. Would have provided jobs and income whilst utilising an otherwise empty building.
The entire hospitality market is in turmoil but hindering competition because we don't like a certain business model will only lead to further decline. 
Businesses need to evolve and be allowed to grow, not be stifled and protected by a small minority who don't like change.

I've lived in Ely for 45 of the 47 years I've been alive. I've seen it change enormously over that time. 
There's always been an element of closed trade. Far back in the history of the Ely chamber of trade, there used to be elements who opposed big chain stores coming into Ely, fearing for the future of independent retailers and businesses in the city.
Imagine what Ely would have been like now if they'd carried on in that vein...
We'd have had lots of small, independent retailers, no big chain stores, and a city free for small businesses to grow without having to fight big chain stores. 
Sadly it's the growth in large chains which has partly been responsible for the loss of smaller businesses and independents. 
In the business world, unfortunately, there's no substitute for "cheap".

Spoons is a lovely place to socialise. The one in Bury St Edmunds is in the Corn Exchange - you would not know from the outside it was a pub/ restaurant.
It's a very popular place to meet your friends and the food is very reasonable and always cooked nicely. 
I think we have enough houses being built you soon won’t know one village or town from another as all will be linked.

That's a shame. Would have actually meant the building got used and would have been great for the social aspect and mental health. 
Since it was a listed building, spoons wouldn't have been allowed to change it structurally so I don't really see what the problem was.

Good. Plenty of pubs in Ely already and they’re all going to be struggling when they’re finally allowed to open. 

Arts Society 

The Arts Society Ely is now entering its new membership year and would like to tell  readers about our upcoming lectures which are being presented online.

Our next lecture is on March 18 and will be given by Ian Keable on ‘The art of trickery: how magicians have appeared in art throughout the centuries'.

This talk will cover how magicians have been shown in paintings, prints and cartoons.

Lectures start at 7.30 on zoom. Visitors are welcome at £5 per lecture. Alternatively, why not join us at all our lectures for £45.

For further details see our Facebook page, website -www.theartssocietyely.org.uk or email smholgate@outlook.com for details for how to pay and for joining details.


Flying the flag

Cambridgeshire County Council celebrated Commonwealth Day this year by raising the flag outside Shire Hall in Cambridge. 

Monday March 8 was Commonwealth Day and this year’s theme was ‘Delivering a Common Future’. 

This theme celebrates how the 54 Commonwealth countries are innovating, connecting and transforming to achieve some important goals, such as fighting climate change. 

It is really important that we take this opportunity to celebrate the 54 Commonwealth countries and our shared values of peace, democracy, equality and diversity. Like so many events over the past 12 months, we are marking the day in line with Covid-19 restrictions.  

Whilst as individuals we celebrate at a distance and listen to celebrations online, this year’s theme is a reminder that we are in this together. 

On this same day, we celebrated International Women's Day 2021 which gives us an opportunity to thank those women in our communities who have provided great leadership throughout the pandemic.  

Covid-19 has challenged us all, but our shared values have enabled us to emerge from this crisis stronger than ever. Together we seek to build a brighter future for our communities at home in Cambridgeshire and across the nation. 

I’m proud that for the eighth year running, Cambridgeshire joined other local authorities and civic dignitaries, community groups and charities throughout the British Isles to raise a flag. 

MAC McGUIRE (Cllr), chairman of the county council 

Face mask donations

Age UK Cambridgeshire and Peterborough (AUKCAP) is pleased to announce that its face mask appeal has been a huge success with over 3,100 reusable sewn masks, most made by hand, donated by volunteers.

In May 2020 AUKCAP set its target at 1,500 masks which was quickly met, resulting in the target extending to 3,000 masks and it is delighted to have exceeded that goal and is now closing the appeal.

The face masks have been gratefully received by the service users in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, including those who are currently unable to use the charity’s services as they are suspended, such as members of our day services and friendship clubs. 

We would like to thank everyone involved for their time, support and commitment, in making these much-needed reusable face masks and face coverings.

We have been overwhelmed by the support of individuals and businesses in our local community and from much farther afield, ranging from individuals in Australia and even the NFL (National Football League), home of American Football in the UK, heard of the appeal and sent us masks

Every mask donated counts.  Every mask will help a vulnerable person in our community and we are truly grateful for all the support.”

If you would like to continue supporting AUKCAP, please take a look at our BIG KNIT and SLIP INTO SLIPPERS campaigns.

Also take a look at our GET INVOLVED page, or contact us by email to donate@ageukcap.org.uk.

MELANIE WICKLEN, Age UK Cambridgeshire and Peterborough chief executive