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John Bone with an irreverent look at Newmarket's week




Tom Kerby is one of the good guys but he was wrong to stomp off in exasperation from Newmarket Town Council. We need people like him to put it right.

In its brief life, our local attempt at grassroots democracy has been a disappointment.

Why is it that whenever I hear the words 'Newmarket Town Council' I hear the tiddle-um-tum-tum-twiddle-um-tum-tum of the Toytown March in the background?

Tom Kerby, who quit as deputy mayor of Newmarket
Tom Kerby, who quit as deputy mayor of Newmarket

So many tiffs. So many huffs. So many odd goings-on. So many risible quarrels. And all so far from what the town had hoped for and still needs.

Mr Kerby has always seemed a fine fellow. The reason he has swept out is that he found the council too political. Forgive me but that seems a little like complaining that bathwater is too wet. Any local council is bound to be political. Politics is not evil. It is an inevitable and useful structure in society. 'Independents' in councils are seldom that independent.

When central government policies on housing, education and transport are so clear and close to everyday life they must dominate local government and bring Westminster politics to the town hall.

So we are stuck with politics at local level. But that does not mean Westminster rules OK. It can be tempered by intelligent interpretation or sheer contrary stubbornness. Maybe that’s what Newmarket has lacked.

Certainly Tom Kerby has, in his valedictory remarks, drawn our attention to how following the party line has led Newmarket to lose out in many ways, beaten to the money bags by Mildenhall and Haverhill.

It is this sort of analysis that makes councillors like Mr Kerby so valuable. He is a Tory who makes up his own mind about what’s best for his town. He should have fought on.

We can only hope that at some time in the near future he will stand again and win support from all sides. Our area is in a tumult of change and growth. We need representatives who think for themselves and see the local picture against the national generalities.

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The most compelling claim in Buster Mappledoram’s attack on Newmarket BID is that most shopkeepers like himself don’t know what it is for.

This belligerent barber has hit the nail on the head. So many new-fangled public organisations fall for fancy names and logos that give little clue to their purpose. At least, for all its failings, you know what Newmarket Town Council is. What is an innocent to make of 'Love Newmarket Business Improvement District'?

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What a macabre glimpse of how lives are lived now was given by the inquest on a West Row man whose flatmate played a games console for almost three hours before noticing his friend was dead. It is foolish and futile to draw too much from such a story but it could have been written in the 19th century by Dickens or Gogol.

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Park Lane residents who successfully forced the removal of district council street cameras were convinced the only real purpose of this intrusion of technology was not to check crime generally but to protect the council’s own parking signs.

Why am I reminded of that mystified walker on a remote moor who trudged a mile to find out why a public notice had been put up in the middle of nowhere? When he got there he found a sheet of paper that read: “It is an offence to deface this notice.”

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I grant you the weird collection of old car batteries installed at Mildenhall’s splendid new hub look a bit cranky. Modern sculpture? Some sort of salvage scheme? Neither. Don’t laugh but this heap of garbage is to be taken seriously. It is meant to gather and store surplus electricity generated by rooftop solar panels.

Make to mistake. This is no joke. It is the future.

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I support the town council’s continued resistance to plans for a new McDonald's fast food outlet in Wille Snaith Road not for the reason given by other opponents but because I find the picture of stacked Big Mac burgers in current McDonald's TV commercials so nauseating that I have to shut my eyes before I dash for a bucket. But, then, I feel much the same about pate de fois gras and caviar.

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