Members of Newmarket Town Council speak their mind
Town council politics, the rail crossing inquiry and the proposed Sunnica solar farm were all raised in letters this week.
THANKS TO ALL FOR INQUIRY SUPPORT
So the inquiry into the public right of way over our railway crossing has ended.
Before events slip into the dim and distant past, may I, as the applicant in this case, thank Newmarket Town Council for stepping forward to finance the fight against Networks Rail’s objection to the order, which recognised a right of way. This was after Suffolk County Council decided to adopt a neutral position having approved the order in the first place; I leave it to the reader to pass judgement on this decision. In contrast, I would like to praise the work of Dr Wood and Ms Emrys-Roberts, our experts, for their time and dedication in researching and preparing Newmarket case and facing the searching questioning of Mr Lopez, Network Rail’s legal representative; and all those residents who put pen to paper to record their experiences of using the crossing or who provided support in other ways.
Last, but not least, a big thank you to Ms Golden, Newmarket’s legal representative, for marshalling the facts and strands of evidence into a coherent case and for tenaciously challenging Network Rail’s experts. Win or lose, thank you to one and all.
Michael Smy, Wood Ditton Road, Newmarket
PCSOS HELP TO KEEP PEACE ON OUR STREETS
I was surprised that the Newmarket Journal did not feature Monday’s successful town council vote to retain the police community support officer (PCSO) quite as prominently as the previous week’s front-page headline reporting that the PCSO was being scrapped, saving the town council £34,000 per annum. Add John Bone’s sarcastic comment and you wonder whether the Journal is now run by the BBC?
Imagine that you are that PCSO and the first time you learn of your imminent job loss is on the front page of the town’s newspaper? The mayor didn’t even think to inform the police that a vote was on the agenda and that the PCSO post was at risk. This is sheer incompetence at the highest level and readers may now begin to understand why in May 2019 I sought to exclude these Labour and West Suffolk Independent Party councillors from committees because they are not competent and cannot be trusted to act in the best interests of our residents.
Mid pandemic, Christmas on our doorstep, and the prospect of unemployment for the PCSO on the immediate horizon. Full marks for ineptitude of which there are more examples, such as the mayor (Cllr Jefferys) and his supporters doubling town council staff pensions and handing out gratuitous pay rises in the middle of the pandemic when unemployment is exploding and our economy is in the worst state for arguably 300 years. At the full town council meeting, a police sergeant explained exactly what the PCSOs do and what they have done over the last couple of years since we at the town council voted to adopt them. The sergeant was not there at the behest of the mayor but because Cllr Hood and I had asked for a police representative to attend the meeting and explain their case.
PCSOs are community police. They work with the Safer Neighbourhood Team. They are non-confrontational (take that to mean friendly and approachable) so they do not carry handcuffs or truncheons. They have many powers over civilians to enable them to keep the peace on our streets, they are connected into police HQ by radio and can summon the heavier hand of the law when necessary. They can’t be everywhere but they could be anywhere. I hope that you feel safer on the streets knowing that they are around.
The Labour/West Suffolk Independent Party coalition has now been defeated. Only councillors Anderson and Borda were needed to win the vote and I was pretty confident I knew their intentions. I would like to thank them both most sincerely for their support.
Some councillors on the town council try to pretend that it is not political, but at the last election every single councillor stood for a political party and the Conservatives were the only party that stood united on the retention of the PCSO.
Cllr Andy Drummond, Newmarket
COUNCIL DOES NOT HAVE TO BE POLITICAL
As a town councillor and this year’s deputy mayor, it disappoints me that, yet again, at the council meeting held on November 23, Cllr Drummond tried to create a political discord between council members.
We have already witnessed this in 2019 with his insistence that only Conservative councillors be elected to serve on the town council committees. There was some reservation among the newly elected Conservative members but Cllr Drummond, supported by Cllr Hood, informed us that those other members could not be trusted to run the council. It has come to pass that those other council members have not been seen, or strike a political stance, while at present working in a cohesive and well represented council. In essence this third tier of government really does not have to be political with elected members ably serving the community of Newmarket whilst keeping the town at heart.
If Cllr Drummond wishes to continue with his political division, I’m not sure it’s best served on the town council. Maybe he should use hiss political voice on the West Suffolk and Suffolk County Councils to forcibly represent Newmarket.
This leads me to the old chestnut of should Newmarket fall within Suffolk or Cambridgeshire ?, Personally I believe Newmarket would benefit from being aligned with Cambridgeshire as I don’t feel West Suffolk or Suffolk County Councils have this historic town as a priority.
Cllr Tom Kerby, Deputy mayor, Newmarket Town Council
PLANNED SOLAR FARM’S SIZE IS MONSTROUS
Re Sunnica solar farm plans. We are a rural agricultural area populated by small villages and market towns. So to have a solar farm of this size, scale, and the environmental impact it will have on our lives gives obvious cause for concern.
We all agree green energy is the future if we are to achieve the target of zero carbon emissions, but the scale of this Sunnica solar farm is monstrous. It equals 2,032 football fields or 2.4 million 8ftx4ft solar panels. Sunnica says this farm has to be scaled this size to make a profit on its investment but I dispute this. Our local countryside has already lost farmland (1,463 acres) to solar. Twelve local villages have projects that are producing 341mw and all at a profit. For Sunnica to take another 2,661 acres that will be producing 500mw has to be detrimental to the local farming industry.
If the Government is so pro-solar as a green energy source why doesn’t it back it up with legislation. All new build houses must contain solar panels. All government-owned buildings must have solar panels installed. All councils supported in the cost to install solar on their owned industrial units. In Germany, public car parks have canopies that have panels located on them.
Sunnica will be the only financial winner. If the Government backs solar energy, then it should not be buying energy from Sunnica it should own the project. As for the public consultation, Sunnica presents that is simply a tick box exercise as part of getting approval. Questions and concerns have not been met in a professional engaging manner.
MP Matt Hancock joined residents to hear their concerns so let’s hope he has influence to get this project scaled down to something acceptable with village populations.Our rural farming existence is firmly in the hands of the Secretary of State.
Cllr Andy Neal, West Suffolk District Council
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