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John Bone takes an irreverent look at Newmarket's week



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Even as our wise district councillors were talking about relaxing the rules on local taxi drivers a new law was grinding its way through Parliament.

There will be some logic to the new laws given the nod by the Lords last Friday but why is it that so many of those in power keep picking on taxi operators to boss about?

It has been going on for years, long before that one monstrous case of the ‘Black Cab Rapist’ John Worboys.

Taxi rank in Newmarket High Street
Taxi rank in Newmarket High Street

At one time Newmarket taxi drivers were even told what to wear.

Why this obsession with taxis, their drivers and owners? Why are there no rules making sure no foot fetishists lurk in shoe shops? Why are butchers not checked for mad axemen? Or chemists for poisoners?

But the taxi service, without which there would be many more drink-drivers and many more pensioners marooned in their homes, is ceaselessly chivvied, checked, curbed, confined and corrected.

Well done West Suffolk councillors for seeing sense on the rules governing wheelchair accessibility. Taken together, all these local and national laws plus the staggering insurance premium and vehicle costs are killing the trade.

In the Lords debate, many noble peers deplored the way some taxi drivers under some circumstances refuse to accept some customers. May I suggest their lordships’ time would be better spent investigating why some dentists refuse to treat patients in pain?

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As you well know, the Journal is never wrong. But I am just a little surprised to find the scenery we see in the Vera TV detective series with the superb Brenda Blethyn is being used to tempt tourists to book a coach trip to Northumberland sponsored by this splendid newspaper.

The itinerary is indeed tempting but you’d never know that region was a joy if you followed Vera on her dreary trudging over bleak moors, rainswept coast and muddy lanes. It’s nothing like that, honestly.

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The Ukraine war is causing a world energy crisis. Against this background our area is strongly resisting attempts like the Sunnica scheme to enable us to make our own.

Much as I have come to share the views of Sunnica’s opponents, we cannot simply wash our hands of such schemes finding a home here. Where is our energy to come from? Firewood and candles?

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It’s little wonder the Newmarket people represented by town councillor Julian Ferries are exasperated by the mysteriously long-drawn-out roadworks on Fordham Road.

Whatever the explanation, this sort of conduct is typical of all authorities engaged on major or minor roadworks. Seldom if ever do they have the courtesy to explain to passers-by what they are up to. They spend millions of our money but rarely bother to put up some sort of signs with a brief explanation.

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We have been so het up about the supposed dangers in new ways to generate electricity that we may have neglected a risk in the way we move power about.

Old-fashioned pylons and power lines are deadly to some wildlife, especially geese and swans. So all power to UK Power Networks which has taken a lot of trouble to instal fluorescent diverter discs high over open land at Mildenhall and elsewhere in our region.

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Since some Newmarket streets could be seen as wholly-owned subsidiaries of the bookies, the latest news on the punting front is conflicting.

All those devoted to the betting business will have been horrified to learn that poor Denise Coates, richest woman in England and proprietrix of, among others, Bet365, has suffered a £170 million pay cut. Her salary last year was down to a paltry £249.6 million.

However, since she owns half the business, she collected £49 million in dividends. What you lose on the roundabouts . . .

Better news from the Ladbrokes and Coral chains which have decided to hang on to the £50 million of public money handed out by the Government to save jobs during the pandemic.

I am sure all their customers will be deeply touched by this gesture of gratitude. It would, after all, be totally against their nature to give us our money back.

So, strangely, William Hill has returned the £24.5 million we handed out to tide them over in 2020. Ta ever so.

I hope these figures help punters pick their bookie better.