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John Bone takes an irreverent look at Newmarket's week

Never mind its merits what irks me about the new policy enabling poorer people to buy homes is the way Michael Gove presents it.

For all I know, letting people on benefits get mortgages may work but it is something the Secretary of State for Housing said about it that set my teeth on edge. His scheme, he said, would enable the people to ‘become part of the community, put down roots’.

You would have thought his own troubled early years would have given him a better understanding of such matters.

John Bone, the columnist who gets Newmarket talking.
John Bone, the columnist who gets Newmarket talking.

Is he implying that people who do not own their own home are not part of the community?

Is he seriously suggesting that the ordinary people of, say, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire, whose families have lived in rented or tied houses for a thousand years have not put down roots?

My objection to his words is not a matter of party politics, of left versus right, but of town versus country.

Politicians who talk in towns seldom understand what goes on beyond the city limits. As Mr Gove must surely see, if he thinks about it, is that it is often the very people living in villages as tenants who have the deepest roots there. Newcomers who can afford to buy their way in are splendid assets but they tend to come and go.


It has taken Anglian Water five months to stop a leak on Exning Road in Newmarket. Meanwhile, flowing with even stronger force on regional TV, are commercials boasting the water suppliers’ splendid achievements.

Would it not have been wiser to stop sinning before boasting about your virtue?


A few scandalous cases have drawn police everywhere into general public doubt and disapproval.

One of the less nasty names they are called is plods. That is to say Pc Plods, dim, slow and easily fooled.

We who live in this corner of the country have specially good reason never to stoop to such silly abuse because we are seeing the very opposite sort of policing in action.

There was nothing plodding about the terrier-like refusal of our police to let go of the still mysterious vanishing of airman Corrie McKeague and now Essex police have been equally resolute in search for the killers of Mildenhall’s Simon Dobbin.

And when the cops err they say so. Consider how they came clean over their lapse in the Clare Nash murder.

We must wait for the outcome of the Dobbin arrests but the cases already show that the ‘plods’ are hard to shake off.


Bishops came and went but Mike Rouse seemed to go on for ever as the embodiment of the spirit of the City of Ely. But now he has gone at what nowadays is the relatively early age of 82.

But those years were well spent in a hundred useful ways, not least as mayor and how imposing he looked in his city regalia.

Despite his many interests and achievements what I shall remember him most for is his humour. That humour and his love for Ely and its area came together in his quietly comical book, How to Speak Fen. To be able to laugh at what you love is a very special talent.


If one day’s statistics are to be believed, our roads are scarier than we ever supposed.

A special squad of police officers and other agencies spent a day checking vehicles and drivers for faults. Only 11 of the 100 vehicles and drivers checked were found free of any offence. All the rest had a whole range of offences from using mobile phones while driving to being drugged or drunk .

A surprising 32 had illegal number plates.

If this is an accurate snapshot of life on our roads then we would all be wise to treat every other road user as a threat. Quite apart from the drink, drug and other offenders, no fewer than 11 had insecure loads. That makes me feel even more insecure.


Small wonder local campaigners against the Sunnica solar farm scheme are crying ‘foul’.

The firm’s sudden attempt to change its plans look very like a crafty dodge to throw the opposition and put opponents to extra expense. This latest manoeuvre throws a smokescreen over the battleground. Handy for some.


What would saintly Queen Etheldreda, a thousand years ago think if she knew that Ely Cathedral now has a doubtless equally saintly lady bearing the title of ‘director of communications and commerce’?