Letters

PUBLISHED: 12:48 23 February 2006 | UPDATED: 11:33 04 May 2010

Keeping the grim reaper out of Ely ELY Traders Association exhorts us to use it or lose it and unite against the incessant march of the chain store behemoths. Hah! Is this the same Elaine Griffiths-Singh that seems happy to state in the national press (

Keeping the grim reaper out of Ely

ELY Traders' Association exhorts us to use it or lose it and unite against the incessant march of the chain store behemoths. Hah! Is this the same Elaine Griffiths-Singh that seems happy to state in the national press (see Ghost Towns' The Daily Mail February 15, page 22, and my email retort below) that Ely has nothing to offer and "we no longer have anything different to anywhere else".

This from an antiques dealer who must surely rely on promotion of local and tourist trade and claims to be the reasoned voice of local retailing - astounding. The grim reaper appears already upon us and within!

Ely has lots to offer - I know, I choose to live here. Rather than fighting each other and trying to give the council a bloody nose over exploration of options such as car parking, all those with a genuine interest in securing the ongoing well-being and future success of our superb city should welcome diversity of opinion and approach. Start working together for a common cause, taking some collective ownership of solutions rather than apportioning blame for the problems. If we do not, then we are indeed dead already!

NIGEL McCURDY

Proud Ely City resident

Chamber will not be the first

I AM sure that I will not be the only past member of the late City of Ely Chamber of Trade and Industry to take exception to your front page implication that ETA's proposed affiliation with a Chamber of Commerce will be a first for Ely's traders. Although true in the sense that it was not a Chamber of Commerce, the Chamber of Trade flourished for many years drawing support from local independent traders and national companies alike.

The Chamber of Trade set out to encourage business in Ely at a time when the centre of shopping in the city displayed the names of the long-established family businesses and they could rely on their representatives to back the hard-working committee. For the good of all, the chamber introduced and developed the Christmas street lighting schemes; organised an annual window dressing competition, with huge public participation; held for many years a sell-out annual Ball and pursued involvement and influence in local issues affecting the business community.

Under the guidance of members such as Sidney Theobald of the Family Drapers; Tony Rayment from the dynasty of Master Butchers; David Hughes of Alfred Wood and Co.; Messrs Ashton, Evans and Baker, the innovators from the Broad Street industrial estate; the architect Dennis Adams, arriving too late to save the corn exchange, but closely involved in the regeneration of The Maltings and the general street scene; Mr C J Moore and Peter Randall of the mutually competitive traditional ironmongers Pecks and Cutlacks; and many others, the chamber remained influential in business and public matters.

Sadly the pressure of the archetypal High Street saw dramatic changes in the shopping facades of most of the country, and Ely was no exception. Happily the spirit of entrepreneurship prevails and the courage of new local businesses and ETA's own Elaine Griffin-Singh, have seized their opportunity to meet a perceived demand.

I wish ETA well, but I hope that the good they can achieve together will not be stifled by their obsession to oppose, at all costs, payment for parking. The adoption of parking charges is inevitable; ETA should concentrate on co-operating with the authorities to solve the issue.

CHRISTOPHER BENT

Broad Street

Ely

Nobody benefits from Hunting Act

FEBRUARY 18 was the anniversary of the Hunting Act coming into force.

Hundreds of hunts around the country have been going out to hunt within the law since the law came into force. One year on, the Hunting Act has been shown up as a deeply flawed and prejudiced piece of legislation.

Hunts around the country continue to go out, intending to hunt within the law, as they have been all season. Using a variety of exemptions in the Hunting Act, as well as trail-hunting or hound exercising, they will carry out activities which to an outsider will look and sound just like hunting did before February 18, 2005.

Animal rights extremists have made it their duty to place an unwarranted burden on the police and prosecution services by making endless unfounded allegations of illegal hunting. The police have better things to do with their time, and rural communities would rather they tackled ever-increasing rates of rural crime.

The issue isn't about hunting - it hasn't been for some time - it is about a bad law, which has undermined democracy in this country, and has attacked a minority way of life at the whim of a few Labour backbenchers and animal rights extremists with no benefit to anyone.

All sides of the debate acknowledge that the Hunting Act isn't working, and there is little, if any, public appetite for this undemocratic law.

According to the most recent MORI poll, support is at an all-time low, and there is no majority support for the Hunting Act. This law does nothing to protect British wildlife and its environment, it is detrimental to the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of hard-working individuals, and it is a blot in British legislative history. It is the produce of a weak Government appeasing its backbenchers and its animal rights paymasters. As such it is bad law and cannot stand the test of time.

We will continue our campaign to see it replaced with sensible, evidence-based solution which protects our wildlife and our environment.

LIZ MORT

Eastern regional director

Countryside Alliance

Tel: 01787 211555

Liberal Democrats misled the public

THE letter in the Ely Standard of February 16 from Cllr Bell and the Liberal Democrats demonstrates yet again how they attempt to mislead the public on a particular issue.

Referring to consultants the Liberal Democrats know very well that the figure of £11.7 million included a number of other services as well as the strict interpretation of consultants. £4.9 million was spent on the strict interpretation of consultants whilst the remaining £6.8 million was spent on things like agency staff, social partnerships, human resourcing and other contracted services some of which produce an income for us.

The Liberal Democrats have made a great deal of this issue in the press, no doubt for party political purposes, but what have they actually done within the county council to address their so-called concerns? The answer to that question is little or nothing, it was not even mentioned at the county council meeting on February 21. The county council held a series of budget challenge group meetings in October 2005 and to the best of my knowledge the Liberal Democrats did not raise the subject of the use of consultants. The same applies to the Budget Scrutiny Panels held this month. The same applies to the Audit and Accounts Committee held this month when our auditors and the Audit Commission were present.

In fact, as far as our accounts for 2004/2005 are concerned we were given "an unqualified report", our council taxpayers "get value for money spent" and they added that our budget "was very well managed". The Liberal Democrats claim, when referring to our budget, that we have "lost the plot" and are "guilty of financial mismanagement". I specifically asked the Audit Commission and the auditors if they found any evidence of "financial mismanagement?" They confirmed that they had found "no evidence of any financial mismanagement". As far as the use of consultants is concerned, it is not a matter of which authority spends the most or least on consultants, it is not a matter of whether you are comparing like-for-like, it is all about whether you get the job done or whether you get value for the council taxpayer's money. On both counts the Conservative-controlled county council scores well.

CLLR JOHN POWLEY

Cabinet Member for corporate services, Cambridgeshire County Council,

Councillor for Soham and Fordham.

Drug story right

AS the parent of an ex-King's School pupil I was surprised to read Mr Achisson's letter criticising the coverage given to the drug abuse story at the school by the Ely Standard. I have never noticed the paper to be less than even-handed in its coverage of achievements and activities in all the city's schools, and to imply that wealth and privilege should protect King's School pupils from publicity when they behave unacceptably is quite extraordinary.

We have had pictures of errant nine year-olds from severely underprivileged backgrounds splashed across the front page on more than one occasion to my knowledge. No doubt the King's School kids can look forward to a healthy wad of GCSE's in the not too distant future, rather than a collection of ASBOs to get them through life. Remember that the people supplying the 'mild narcotics' to which Mr Achisson refers are also the ones who deal in crack cocaine and heroin. He is mistaken if he thinks an expensive education will protect his children from them.

JACKIE PETTS

Lark Bank

Prickwillow

Get your entries in!

PLEASE may we remind readers that the Clydesdale Bank Young People of the Year contest closes to entries on Tuesday, February 28.

This contest is aimed at showing the positive side to young people today by revealing, recognising and rewarding young unsung heroes in the community.

We have had an excellent response from young people and their supporters in Cambridge, St Ives, Ely, Soham, Haverhill and Saffron Walden, but we are sure there are more fantastic young people out there doing things for others.

As a quick reminder here are just some of the categories for which Clydesdale Bank has put up £2,000 in prize money to be shared between winning young people and their supporting organisations:

Caring for family members who may be ill, disabled or have a problem; raising money for charity and other good causes; helping run a club or other organisation; working with disabled, ill or elderly people; looking after abandoned or neglected animals; mentoring or supporting someone through a difficult time; doing volunteer work on a project at home or abroad; showing a spirit in adversity that is an example to others.

Nominations can be made online at www.yopey.org http://www.yopey.org just click on the Cambridge Yopey logo or write to Young People of the Year, PO Box 103, Hare Street, Ware SG9 0XD for a paper form.

MARTIN GUILDFORD

Clydesdale Bank

Hills Road, Cambridge

Don't trust developers

LIKE many thousands of local residents, East Cambs District Council, Cambridgeshire County Council and 10 local parish councils, I am totally opposed to this scheme which proposes 5,000 new homes between Stretham and Wilburton (with a provision for a further 3,000), dwarfing Ely and swallowing up the neighbouring villages.

Even those who do not object to the scheme itself, might change their opinion if they knew more about the development company - building giant Multiplex/Stannifer.

Although ECDC voted against its planning application in January, Multiplex have said they will contest this decision at appeal. The development is set to take 20 years to complete. Do we really want this sort of company in our neighbourhood for that amount of time?

Many readers will have heard about the farcical goings on during the development of the new Wembley Stadium... the company building the stadium was Multiplex, of course.

There have been numerous problems with this project, delays, sackings, strikes and disputes among contractors which has led to a doubling of the total bill (£160 million has come from the public purse) and has threatened the financial viability of Multiplex. The current bill for Wembley stands at £757 million compared to the £300 million for Stadium Australia (also a Multiplex project).

If Multiplex were to get ECDC's decision overturned by the office of the deputy prime minister, what are the chances they will honour their promises of new schools and a health centre? Will they ensure these facilities are appropriately staffed? Unlikely, given their performance with the Wembley Stadium, and even if they do, it is likely that these will be built towards the end of this 20-year development, and in the mean time our local schools and surgeries will have to cope with the influx of new residents.

Even if you believe Multiplex's claims that they can improve the traffic flow on the A10 to cope with the additional traffic generated by the project, do we really want to put up with the building chaos, delays, ever-changing project end dates?

If Multiplex are not good enough to build our national sporting venues, they are not good enough to be trusted with our local area.

ANNA BAILEY

Cambridge Road

Ely

Skate park will deteriorate

THE skate park on the Paradise field was first opened in May 1999; it is now a stinking eyesore.

The city council who are responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of all recreation equipment have let this skate park fall into its present sorry state in less than seven years. Is this what the residents of in and around St John's Road will have to look forward to in the same time span.

The council are prepared to spend £80,000 on the new facilities at St John's Road, if the same controls exist, and going by the council's past record of maintaining the present facility, they will have wasted in excess of £11,000 a year.

The mayor Cllr Bryant Watson has said that he wants to turn the St John's Road playing field into the "best in the district", but how can we believe that?

Unsupervised outdoor skate parks are no magic bullets against bad behaviour and vandalism, as many local types of council throughout the country have discovered to their cost and embarrassment.

The city council together with the youth council have taken outdated and dinosaur views of the whole project and should be looking towards the future if they really want to help the young of this city.

They should put their heads together and campaign for a purpose-built versatile multi-use indoor facility with adjustable, portable ramps to cater for all skill levels. When not in use the facility could be used for other activities.

JOHN NICHOLAS by email.

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