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John Bone takes an irreverent look at Newmarket's week

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I am pleased to report that HM Government is coming round to my way of thinking. In the matter of footpaths, anyway.

Had the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs not changed its mind we could have lost thousands of miles of public footpaths. An absurd deadline of 2026 had been set for formally registering all rights of way.

After that the long but humble history of where we walk would have hit an insuperable barrier of law. No additional paths could have been accepted. They would have been left off the list for ever even if they had been used since Cromwell’s army camped on Newmarket Heath or Queen Boudicca took on the Romans.

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

This sensible flexibility is a measure of public feeling. It is not just famous cases like our embattled Weatherby Crossing that are at issue. It is the dense network of ancient paths that link our communities offering access and recreation.

Wisely, the politicians have seen how the confinements of Covid have opened more eyes to the need for the safe exercise which is our birthright. The railways, the motorways, even the bumpy B-roads are late arrivals in the business of moving people and things. Most parishes have long since taken sensible steps to get their paths protected by law but even so it might be wise to take another look, just in case. Powerful and well-financed forces are always poised to pinch a few feet from under our feet.

Give them an inch . . .


I was glad to see Newmarket trainers are to play cricket with Newmarket CC again next season but, as I’ve said before, it would be much more fun if the town cricketers rode a race against the trainers. Polo would be an acceptable compromise.


There are times when sporting terminology can be a bit baffling. Take our report last week headed ‘Running’ which involved joggers’ standings. As for the international competitive hairdressing and housework they call curling . . .


Glad to hear Cllr Michael Jefferys will oppose a 20-metre mobile phone mast for Exning Road.

I know we have become dependant on these magic messengers but the providers need to be forced to find better ways to move our messages about. What has happened to the satellite solution? I suspect the phone firms are dragging their feet to save money and our skyline suffers.


After 80 years the excellent Newmarket History Society has put up a plaque to honour the dead killed here by bombs. It should have been unveiled last year but Covid intervened. Now, with that task completed, perhaps the society would consider putting up a Covid memorial plaque some time in the next 80 years?


I see the defunct Animal Health Trust HQ site at Kentford is for sale. Had we not been in sight of getting back a passable version of Newmarket Hospital, I would have suggested the Kentford site could have been a new jewel in the NHS crown. But it would have been presumptuous to expect mere humans to be as well-housed as the holy horses.


What is it about old, dark, unpleasant places that attracts teenagers?

It has always been the same. Provide a warm, well-lit, well-equipped youth centre and you will still find them huddled in some bleak, leaky bus shelter.

The plan to pull down the Icewell Hill garages, which are a popular spot for anti-social behaviour, and replace them with a car park leaves us with the question of which hideous hell-hole will our gilded youth haunt next? We must strive to see it from their viewpoint.


I have some sympathy for the West Suffolk traffic warden who slapped a parking fine on an on-call midwife whose windscreen sticker ‘did not look genuine’.

It is so hard to tell fakes from the real thing these days. Take the current £5 notes. They look so flash and spurious that I find it hard to take them seriously. Especially when there’s that bit you can see through.


The plan to build a shop from old shipping containers clad in black timber so it looks like somewhere in America and plonk it down in the Suffolk countryside is so daft it is almost certain to get planning permission.

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