Griggs's Town: What I learnt at the listening day’

THAT S THE WAY THE MONEY GOES There were some interesting characters lurking outside Budgens the other Saturday by all accounts. Apparently our East Cambs councillors were holding a listening day to find out what was on our minds. Unfortunately, I miss



There were some interesting characters lurking outside Budgens the other Saturday by all accounts. Apparently our East Cambs councillors were holding a "listening day" to find out what was on our minds. Unfortunately, I missed it as I hadn't seen any publicity for it, and I tend to read the local papers pretty closely, but a friend has passed on a survey that was available on the day. It makes for some fairly interesting reading. In an attempt to explain where our Council Tax is spent, totals are given under various headings.

Over a quarter of what you pay goes on rubbish collection, recycling and street cleaning. 11 per cent is spent on councillors, committees and the administration of the council. At least you can see the benefits of rubbish collection and (especially in Soham) street cleaning.

If you have a job at the council it would seem, from these figures, it would be a good idea to hang on to it. More is spent by ECDC on training and health and safety than community safety, they also spend more on early retirement than helping pensioners with bus fares. So if you still work in The Grange you are probably safer and can afford to travel.

Pop goes the council!

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Anyone approaching town from the south over the past weeks must think that Soham is a dull place. It certainly is as far as the lights around Downfields roundabout are concerned. It has been a very dark, gloomy place for a while since they ceased to function. For anyone approaching on a bicycle and wishing to use the bridge it must be quite scary with no lighting at all.

As the streetlights are controlled by the council, and, according to the map at the grocer's shop in Ely, Soham doesn't exist; it really shouldn't surprise us that our lights don't exist, either. Or are they following South Cambs' example and switching off lights to save money? Perhaps street lights are part of community safety which doesn't cost ECDC a great deal.


Street lights or not, there were some really bright stars out the other week in Soham. The Viva Youth Theatre did their stuff as only they can, again with an all singing, all dancing version of Barnum. I can't praise individuals as, by the time we arrived, all the programmes had been sold, but we recognised the faces of most of the leads. What was good to see was the contributions to the production of some of the younger members of the organisation who jumped, danced, sang, clowned and, most importantly, smiled throughout the whole evening.

Contrary to popular rumour (wonderful things, rumours) the Viva shop isn't closing down. The front of the old chapel is being brought back to how it was in years gone by, and while the work is going on, the shop is retreating a bit. Ideally they would like to move for a week or two if anyone has a suitable venue, but normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.


There was an item about Soham on the local television the other day. (You know local telly, where they say things like "closer to home" and talk about Northampton.) It concerned the new town off The Shade and was high-lighting the fact that there will be homes for key workers such as nurses, teachers and police officers. We used to have homes for police officers in Soham, they were called the police houses and they were near the police station, but things appear to have changed.

The chap on the television who was either from one of the developers or a housing association said that about a third of the homes would be affordable. Which, if my understanding of English is correct, means that two thirds of the homes will be unaffordable. So who will live in unaffordable homes? Not people from Soham, probably, the young people from Soham will have to move into some other community to find affordable homes as their home town is full of unaffordable dwellings. When the music stops the whole game might even make sense.


Our neighbours in Forest Heath have given us all a special Valentine gift. As of February 13 everyone has got to pay to park in Newmarket. Almost everyone was against it but apparently there was no alternative and, as things have turned out, this appears to be the case. The "no alternative" argument was usually used by blokes in uniform with big armies behind them. I suppose an army of traffic wardens counts. We'll see how it pans out. Newmarket isn't a shopping destination, it's more nip in, nip out, and if you've got to pay while you are nipping, then we'll probably go somewhere else. (That is until the "no alternative" philosophy hits Ely.)

Apparently the Royal Mail has been losing loads of items and is being fined for it. That explains what has happened to all my Valentine cards over the years!