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Opinion: With plans for March Fountain up in the air reporter Sarah Cliss asks ‘do they ever really want to know our views?’

So plans to relocate March Fountain are up in the air after councillors agreed to revisit the proposed new site of the landmark.

The change of heart follows a petition signed by well over 3,500 people and a sustained campaign by local businesses including Mallets the jewellers.

It’s great that Fenland councillors are not afraid to put their hands up and say they may have made a mistake when deciding to move the Fountain from its current spot at the top of Broad Street to just outside the jewellers.

Councillors are having another look at where to place March Fountain when it is moved as part of the Broad Street works.
Councillors are having another look at where to place March Fountain when it is moved as part of the Broad Street works.

But any changes could have serious consequences for the planned Broad Street rejuvenation scheme, on which work is in fact already underway.

Any change of siting the Fountain could lead to extra costs, a renewed planning application and could even see the loss of some funding.

Part of the problem, and why we are now in this precarious situation, is the poor public consultation that was undertaken before the scheme was approved.

Barbie looks like fantastic fun.
Barbie looks like fantastic fun.

A lot of it was carried out online, and during the pandemic, which probably meant not a huge number of people actually realised it was going on.

By the fact they only had 102 responses to their consultation while 3,587 people took the time to sign a petition, demonstrates just how flawed the council’s bid to get public opinion was.

But let’s be fair most public consultation is pretty ropey. We are given at best a couple of options to choose from, or in the case of the Broad Street scheme just the outline of what’s planned and a “what do you think” kind of questionnaire.

In these days of social media it really isn’t hard to garner public opinion on most things. As soon as the proposal for the Fountain and the overall scheme for Broad Street hit Facebook there was a huge number of people commenting.

So I suppose it comes down to just how much does a council or any other public body really want our opinion. Do they really want our views, or as I would suggest are they largely just paying lip service to the idea of asking what we think?

Most of the time the poor qualilty of public consultation goes unremarked upon, but in the case of the Fountain and March Broad Street, the, as one councillor described it, “far from robust” consultation, has come home to roost.

Let’s hope Fenland can come up with a more acceptable scheme for the Fountain, that doesn’t delay the project too much or even cost it altogether.

Hopefully officers will have a long hard look at the way they ask people what they think in future, so we are not faced with the kind of public dissent we have seen recently in March…

Inflation figures out this week surprised pundits as it was lower than expected.

Of course the fact it rose at a less than expected rate is good news.

One headline I read when the news was announced said “inflation rose just 0.2% in June, less than expected as consumers get a break from price increases”.

Really, a break from price increases? Someone needs to tell the supermarkets because as families will testify items are still rising at a dizzying speed.

Why, if costs are slightly down, are items increasing on an almost weekly basis and not just by a penny or two either, is hard for ordinary people, myself included, to understand.

People are suffering, and while prices continue to go up, mortgages and rents are rising and inflation is increasing (albeit) at a slower rate, that is not going to end any time soon and all this while companies continue to enjoy huge profits.

And that to me is very wrong. Profit is OK, but the kind of increased profits some firms are seeing in a time of hardship for so many is quite simply indecent…

“I’m a Barbie girl in a Barbie world. Life in plastic, it’s fantastic” – so sang the band Aqua – and at the moment that seems to be true.

Social media is just filled with images from the new Barbie film which hit our cinema screens on Thursday. Read our review of Barbie here.

Seeing Margot Robbie at one of the seemingly endless promotional junkets rocking some outfit the iconic doll would wear has indeed been fantastic.

There can be few excuses to wear some of the outfits she’s been pictured in and I hope Margot is having as much fun doing it as it is for us to watch – I just wish I could look as good dressed in a shorter than short bright pink lurex dress...

Finally on a personal note, I went to my grandson’s graduation on Tuesday. No he hasn’t finished university, it was his graduation from pre-school as he is set to start ‘big’ school in September.

It was quite emotional watching all the cute four-year-olds dressed in gowns and mitre board hats receiving their certificates and singing songs about moving on.

And I’m sure the emotion was felt by all the other parents and grandparents present, and those attending similar ceremonies across the country.

Starting ‘big’ school is a big milestone not just for the children involved but for their families who are faced with the realisation that their child’s baby days are well and truly over...

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