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Letters to the Fenland Citizen editor – December 2, 2020

An excellent vet who cared deeply

I read your article about Elaine Stuttard in a recent edition of the Fenland Citizen.

I was very sorry to hear that she had passed away at a relatively young age and that her husband Chris had died two years ago.

I first met Elaine in 1974 when she was Elaine Barlow and came for interview as an

assistant veterinary surgeon in our practice (Noble, Jackson & Lyon) at Upwell Road, March shortly after she had qualified.

Her husband to be came with her. My partners and I were immediately very impressed with Elaine but we wondered what our farmer clients would say to a lady vet.

In those distant days some 90% of the profession were male – now 90% are ladies. We had never had a lady vet before in the practice.

We needn’t have worried because Elaine was a great success and our farmers looked after her carefully when she visited an animal on their farm.

They opened gates which we had been left to climb over and then carried her veterinary bag for her between cases.

One farmer said he was quite happy to see me but he would also be very happy to see our very nice lady vet at any time.

Unfortunately, I had to leave the practice on health grounds in 1976 but I was very pleased to leave my part of the practice at Chatteris in her capable and caring hands.

The legacy of Amical is a tribute to her great ability.

I remember Elaine with great affection as an excellent and competent veterinary surgeon who cared deeply for her clients and their animals.

Dr Peter Jackson

via email

Phillipa Jane Wielgos, of West Walton, took this lovely picture of two ponies on River Road in the village. (43307340)
Phillipa Jane Wielgos, of West Walton, took this lovely picture of two ponies on River Road in the village. (43307340)

So much more than a kids’ poet

The article by Sarah Cliss on November 18 implied that John Lyons was solely a children’s poet. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

But Trinidad-born John Lyons is a poet, artist and multi media illustrator, educator and curator, now living in the Fens.

It is true he gained a prestigious award for his children’s poetry anthology entitled Dancing in the Rain.

But clearly his life’s work in poetry and his domicile in the Fens was relevant to his being chosen by the organiser as judge of the Fenland Poet Laureate Award for 2020.

Hilary Parry


His cartoons always make me smile

I would like to say how much I enjoy John Elson’s cartoons in the Citizen every week – they always make me smile.

I think last week’s cartoon was so appropriate, relating to the news that a pet dog that had been stolen was reunited with her owners.

Kate Cook


These four regulars write a lot of sense

It was agreeable to see Readers Views taken up by four regular letter writers last week.

Ashley Smith, John White and Mark Burton usually contribute a lot of common sense to the page.

In fact, everything they said in their letters last week I think we’ll all agree with. They have set down what most of us think.

The problem is that people like those three don’t get to make any decisions. It is left to the elites of the civil service, Parliament and Quangos to make all the decisions... and how many wrong ones they make.

The sheer waste of money, our money, is mind boggling. Our civil service seems to have won out yet again by seeing off Dominic Cummings who promised reform, but whether he would ever have delivered is another matter.

I get so cross when these useless people negotiate a contract that does not benefit the country but only benefits the companies and corporations they award contracts to.

Perhaps the reason is because there are jobs waiting when civil servants come off the revolving door of their gravy train.

This brings me nicely to John Smithee’s letter which harks on his favourite theme.

On balance I agree that a socialist state that provides full dignified work for everyone with a decent living wage plus something on top, a welfare state that really looks after all those in need and exercises control over rampant capitalism is worth a punt.

I cite here the example of the AA which all of us regard as a useful and decent company but which fell into the hands of a private equity company who loaded it with a couple of billions of debt while the Equity company had what value they could take from the AA assets.

The major flaw in John’s argument is not socialism but socialists. The very people who brought dishonour to the Labour Party recently are the ones who will join his workers’ party, and remember like cream, scum also rises to the top, and they will soon be running things.

You only have to look at Corbyn and his acolytes while he was leader of the Labour Party, to see that socialism to them means something entirely different to that understood by a decent person like John.

They see it as a two tier system. The people at the top set the rules but don’t have to abide by them and because they are at the top they believe they deserve mega remuneration. This scenario was played out under Corbyn. Large, undeserved salaries all round for the advisors and close supporters, and two of these at least had purchased ex-council properties and were renting them out to the underserving comfortably off and even through Airbnb.

And to make it worse under Corbyn was the nod and a wink given to racists and fascist-like behaviour.

I come now to my hobby horse of the week.

The EU, we are told, wants a level playing field for a Brexit deal.

In one particular case their level playing field means us downgrading our standards to their sorry level.

I was surprised to discover recently that Denmark has seventeen million little furry minks kept in small cages to be killed for their fur (they’ve just slaughtered them all because of a cross-contagion fear).

I knew that, unlike here, you don’t see pigs outdoors in Denmark. But just go up the road into Norfolk and see all the fields with pig shelters and pigs roaming from early Spring until late Autumn and yet somehow, some way, we are huge purchasers of Danish bacon!

If there is no deal I’d like to see us all buying from British farmers and the Government re-introducing the deficit payments system to farmers – the antithesis of the corrupt CAP.

Oh, and Danish fishing trawlers have been busy with industrial fishing, stripping the sea beds of sand eels in our waters before Brexit, when they might not have access again, and with no concern for the effect on the other wildlife off the Scottish coast that depend on these eels for their food.

This is the playing field that the EU wants us to be level with and I hope that our government does not sell out.

David Silver

via email

Are we moving to dictatorial governing?

On rare occasions, nervous chancellors leave Number 11 Downing Street gripping their documents and deliver news to the country that resets the dial.

The pandemic has already cost jobs and created hardships, but there can now be no doubt that the economic aftermath of the disease, the predictions of job losses, record levels of borrowing and debt are all huge headlines in themselves.

In the last few months, with almost no dissent, the Government has scrambled to expand the state to help cope with coronavirus. Chancellor Rishi Sunak needs to find ways to protect public finances after borrowing large amounts to fight COVID-19.

He declined to say if he would consider freezing public pay but added that it had to be considered in “the context of the overall economic climate”.

Think Tank The Centre for Policy Studies has suggested a three-year pay freeze across the public sector could save up to £23bn.

Frances O’Grady – head of the Trades Union Congress – also expressed concern: “We saw ministers join millions of us clapping firefighters, refuse collectors, social care workers – I don’t think this would be the time to reward them with a real pay cut.”

Mr Sunak said he would not comment on public pay before the spending review but added that it was reasonable to consider the subject in “the context of the overall economic climate”.

He insisted that the spending review would not signal a return to austerity, arguing that government spending on public services was increasing.

Government borrowing has increased massively as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and a recent estimate by the Office for Budget Responsibility says the Government would have to borrow £372bn for the current financial year – that compares to the £55bn it had expected to borrow pre-pandemic.

“The British people shouldn’t have to pay the price for a government that doesn’t know the value of public money, splurging it on outsourced contracts to firms that don’t deliver.” “This is not smart politics, it is morally obscene, and it is bad economics, too.” “We need to see what is going on with wages, jobs, and hours across the economy. Freezing the pay of firefighters, hospital porters and teaching assistants will make them worried about making ends meet ahead of Christmas – that means they’ll cut back on spending and our economy won’t recover as quickly.”

Are we moving to dictatorial governing?

John White


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