Thursday, 30 September 2010

Mr Ben Gibbs (of Ely) is clearly cock-a-hoop!

An odd piece has appeared in the Cambridge New (yesterday) and the Ely Weekly News (today).

I say odd because I don't understand which 'Government' - the last one or the present one - is responsible for Mr Ben Gibbs (of Ely) being so cock-a-hoop.

Anyway, for what is worth, here (above right) is Mr Gibbs and here (below) is the piece (in italics). Further below is what I feel about Mr Gibbs and some of his supporterss, who appear to include Mr John Cowan, the disgraced Labour candidate for South East Cambridgeshire at this year's General Election. Mr Cowan is also pictured (below left). He was canvassing in what he called 'BAALSHAM' when I ran across him.

"Project to expand fen gains backing

Jordan Day

Controversial plans to expand Wicken Fen have been backed by the Government.

An online petition calling on the Prime Minister to back the Wicken Fen Vision, a 100-year-long project to create a nature reserve covering around 53 square kilometres between Cambridge and Wicken Fen, was launched by Ely resident Ben Gibbs last autumn.

It was signed by 867 people and now the Government has confirmed it is behind the £2 million project. It said in a statement: “The Environment Agency and Natural England both support the National Trust’s vision.

“The Environment Agency supports the Wicken Vision because it has similar objectives to its corporate strategy; to create a better place.

“The vision will help the agency deliver outcomes related to climate change, habitat creation, biodiversity, fisheries, recreation, water framework directive, flood risk, water quality and sustainable places.

“As well as a rich wildlife habitat, Natural England believes that the area can function as a flood storage area, store carbon dioxide and also provide a vast area for public access for leisure, relaxation, exercise and education.”

But some residents are against transforming prime agricultural land into a “jungle”. Geoffrey Woollard launched a Save our Fens petition last year in a bid to stop the project.

But Mr Gibbs said the response to his own petition showed the public’s support for the plans.

He said: “I was delighted with the public’s response to my petition, which clearly demonstrates the level of public support for the trust’s 100-year plan, in this region and beyond.

“I am now also delighted that the Government has clarified its position on the National Trust’s far-sighted plan for Wicken Fen.

“It would seem that there is now a widespread recognition that we need to protect certain habitats and manage larger areas of land for public use, and that this does not in itself threaten our ability to feed ourselves.

“I would very much like to thank all those in Ely and the surrounding areas who signed my online petition.”"

Mr Ben Gibbs is clearly cock-a-hoop regarding his E-Petition in support of the National Trust's so-called 'Wicken Vision.'

When the previous government was in power, I, also, had an E-Petition on the 10 Downing Street website in opposition to the 'Wicken Vision.' The number of people signing Mr Gibbs's E-Petition was a bit bigger than the number signing mine.

However, aside from a few well-known Liberal Democrat councillors, the disgraced Labour candidate for South East Cambridgeshire (yes, even he signed up with Mr Gibbs, and a fat lot of good it did him) and some National Trust employees, I recognised the names of few of those signing Mr Gibbs's E-Petition whereas many if not most of the people signing mine were and are local to the area affected by the 'Wicken Vision.'

I assert, therefore, that many of Mr Gibbs's supporters are local Liberal Democrat politicians with a political axe to grind or people who are not local to the area.

I respectfully suggest that Mr Gibbs being cock-a-hoop should be taken for what it is: a campaigner making the best of a bad job, a little like the national Liberal Democrats being involved in government with their worst enemies, the Tories. That is a really bad job for all of us!

Monday, 20 September 2010

Nick Clegg's speech: it's beyond my comprehension

It's beyond my comprehension.

Nick Clegg spent much of his time today attacking Labour and praising David Cameron (presumably this was all cleared with Number 10).

But how are his people going to fight the Tories at local elections and at the next general election? They'll be laughed to electoral oblivion.

Mr Nick Boles’s ideas are gaining ground: I reckon we’re in for an ever ongoing coalition run by the boy wonder bosom buddies.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

"They will be greatly missed and their sacrifice will not be forgotten. We will remember them." We will, I hope

From the BBC: "Afghanistan blast kills two British soldiers. Two British soldiers have been killed in an explosion in Afghanistan, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has said.One of the soldiers was from the Queen's Royal Lancers and the other was from the Royal Engineers. Their next of kin have been informed. Task Force Helmand spokesman Lt Col James Carr-Smith said the two, who died on Saturday, would be "greatly missed". The deaths took the number of British military personnel killed in operations in Afghanistan since 2001 to 337. Lt Col Carr-Smith added: "It is with great sadness I must inform you that a soldier from the Queen's Royal Lancers and a soldier from the Royal Engineers were killed this afternoon west of Lashkar Gah." They were attached to the 1st Battalion Scots Guards Battlegroup. The soldiers were part of a ground domination patrol when they were struck by an explosion. "They will be greatly missed and their sacrifice will not be forgotten. We will remember them." An MoD spokesman said the deaths were not a result of insurgent activity aiming to disrupt the Afghan parliamentary elections."

Thursday, 16 September 2010

New Reach Lode Bridge opened - hang the expense!

The new bridge over Reach Lode has been opened. Pictures have appeared in the local papers. Here is one I took earlier.

The pictures in the papers have appeared as has a letter that I wrote, as follows:

"Dear Editor,

I missed the 'community picnic' organised by the National Trust to mark the opening of the new bridge over Reach Lode. Whilst I have no objection to increased access to our fine food-growing Fens, I can't see why it was necessary to construct such a huge and expensive span just to bring people from Anglesey Abbey to Wicken Fen. The job could have been done differently and at considerably less cost.

But what is money to the National Trust? It falls off Government trees every time some is demanded.

The Trust has recently been granted permission to 're-wet' (that's a fancy word for flooding) 200 more acres of Grade 1 farm land at Burwell. A Trust officer has admitted that the area of our Fens to be 're-wetted' or flooded in the name of the so-called 'Wicken Vision' is 3,000 to 4,000 acres. This, of course, is the lower-lying land which happens also to be the very best and most peat-rich.

The Trust seems to be good at growing ragwort, stinging nettles and thistles on land that it already controls. Farming matters in the Fens. I also assert that with our population growing exponentially, our best food-growing land ought not to be lost, either to water or to weeds.

Yours sincerely,

Geoffrey Woollard."

Sunday, 12 September 2010

200 more farming acres 're-wetted' and 're-wilded'

Just days after the National Trust received permission to 're-wet' (that's flooding in my book) and to 're-wild' about 200 more acres of Grade 1 farm land at Burwell, there are numerous reports in the press of food price inflation and more food shortages in various parts of the world. One of the reports is in the Daily Telegraph at -

I have responded to some of the reports along the following lines:

"Using public money, the National Trust is busily buying up thousands of acres of the finest Fen farm land in my area (South East Cambridgeshire) in order to take it out of arable production and to 're-wet' and to 're-wild' it. We have a population of over 61 millions (those are the ones willing to be counted) and we haven't a hope in hell of feeding them without massive food imports which may not always be available. Our best Fen land should be used for what it does best - growing crops of food. I wish I could attach pictures to this contribution. They would show magnificent wheat and fields of superb vegetables as only our Fen farming can produce. All this alongside unique wildlife which our Fen farmers cherish and love."

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Peter Brookes, the favourite cartoonist of Sue and I, is back in The Times today - he needs no explanation!

Well done, Farmers Weekly, for having this poll!

Farmers Weekly, the best-known magazine for the farming community, is having a poll on its website as to whether the ban on fox hunting, hare coursing and stag hunting should be repealed.

I have voted 'No'!

To do the same, I urge my readers to go the Farmers Weekly website at -

- where I have also left the following comment:

"Well done, Farmers Weekly, for having this poll. The ban rightly received all-party support. Most of the Labour members wanted it, most of the Lib Dems wanted it, and some of the Conservatives wanted it. The persistence of Ann Widdecombe and Tony Banks in its pursuit was heroic. But, most importantly, public opinion, both urban and rural, was ready for it. Like the bear baiting and cock fighting of old, fox hunting, hare coursing, stag hunting, etc., had all come to the end of their days of acceptability. These so-called 'sports' were known and seen to be incompatible with our British approach to wild animals. There is plenty of suffering in nature already: it doesn't have to be made worse by those who are out for 'fun.' Incidentally, I write this as a former shooting man, as a farmer and as a born-and-bred countryman. The Hunting Act 2004 was a fine and honourable piece of progress and, rather than repeal, which the likes of Hague, Herbert and Hart want, it should be strengthened."

Post Script (added 8/9/2010 from the Farmers Weekly website):


Should the coalition lift the hunting ban? ( Poll Closed )

Yes 50.65% (11,175 votes)

No 49.35% (10,888 votes)

Total Votes: 22,063

Let it never, ever be said again that country and/or farming opinion is firmly behind the chorus of Tories - Messrs. Hague, Herbert, Hart, & Co. - regarding repealing the Hunting Act 2004 that banned fox hunting, hare coursing, stag hunting, etc. As is shown by the poll run by the Farmers Weekly, it is 100% clear that very large numbers of voters would prefer the ban to stay. I am of that view, too.

Monday, 6 September 2010

We British have lost 334 lives in or from Afghanistan

We British have lost 334 of our soldiers' lives in or from the Afghan adventure. I am sickened by the pointlessness, the uselessness and the waste. Does nobody care any more?

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

The Prince of Wales, wasn't he going to emigrate?

It will come as no surprise to Tony Blair's diminishing band of admirers, of which I am still one, that the former Prime Minister 'struggled' with the fox hunting ban. However, it is disappointing to hear that his struggles were conducted in conversations with the Prince of Wales, a friend of plants but no friend of foxes. Mr Blair may rest assured in his retirement that the ban on fox hunting, hare coursing, stag hunting, etc., was brought in with all-party support and the overwhelming support of townspeople and millions born and bred in the countryside, of which I am also one, and that, if anything, those millions wish for the ban on these so-called 'sports' to be strengthened and not repealed. The ban came in during a Labour government and during Tony Blair's premiership. Those of us who are grateful for it know that we don't have the whole Labour party or Mr Blair to thank for it. We would also advise present Prime Minister Cameron and his ConDem government that we are still here.

As to the Prince of Wales, wasn't he going to emigrate if a ban came in?