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Chatteris Quaker house: 'You wouldn't demolish a church'

Despite respecting the wishes of those for demolition of the Quakers Meeting House in Chatteris, I don’t see St Peter’s church, or any other old chapels, up for demolition around town – like the empty derelict one in London Road that formerly housed a lighting firm, or the one in Park Street that is now a vet’s.

As regards the building being ugly (Citizen, February 5) – that means simple, plain and austere, which conforms to their beliefs, as Quakers are more humble in nature and virtue.

The building is not derelict as it still has a roof and windows in it. It is merely empty and vacated. Presumably the white walls are a later addition, or stand for purity.

As regards much-needed houses, Fenland District Council could reverse all these refusals to build 106 housing that have become an epidemic across Cambridgeshire!

If there are any buildings that need demolishing it’s that derelict ‘Arkwright’s shop’. The row of old cottages minus their roofs in Bridge Street? Are they structurally unsound – I believe it’s called Whaleys Yard?

And the derelict boarded-up house with pebble dash that stands opposite it?

Then we have the car showroom at the Empress swimming pool. And the shop on the corner/junction of King Edward Road that possibly still has no wooden floor in it.

It’s a damned good job after all those years of dereliction they never demolished the Wesleyan Chapel opposite Bridge House takeaway, in Bridge Street. It really made some lovely flats and apartments for first-timers getting on the property ladder.

In fact Wisbech has a history of Quakers and in any case I don’t suppose they will be demolishing Peckover House any time soon, either.

As it stands the Quakers Meeting House in Chatteris is of national historic importance, let alone just a Grade II.

Maybe it could be turned into a Quaker museum for visitors? But no building is beyond repair. Did they demolish the church at Westry, March, after the fire – or rebuild it?

If you replace a single storey building you must replace it with a single storey building – the only excuse is a chalet bungalow with a mezzanine floor and windows in the roof.

If the hall was structurally unsound instead of derelict, then you could demolish it and make an application for two storey houses as replacements. That’s my understanding of planning regulations.

You may also find out if you convert it into a bungalow you cannot put new doorways in the Ash Grove side of the building!

Mr Levic,


council tax

Paying more for less

Council taxpayers in England face near universal rises on top of increased fees and charges to pay for what in many cases will be reduced levels of local services, according to a survey of local authorities.

It reveals that 97% of local authorities will put council tax up in April to cope with a growing financial crisis. The same proportion will raise charges for services like parking, garden waste disposal and some social care.

More than a fifth of councils said the cuts to frontline services they would be forced to make in 2020-21 were of a scale and impact that would be noticeable to the general public.

One-in-10 said shrinking resources meant they were in danger of being unable to meet their legal obligation to deliver statutory services.

Three-quarters of councils had no confidence that local government finance arrangements were sustainable, while only 3% were confident that the government would act to halt the council funding crisis, despite increasing pressures on child protection, adult social care and homelessness services.

The chief executive of the Local Government Information Unit, a thinktank that carried out the annual survey, said: “It is simply unacceptable the government has let things get to this point. The fact is years of neglect have created this crisis. We need to see urgent action.”

Many councils are considering alternative income streams, with 75% reporting they have borrowed to invest in commercial property schemes, i.e. housing schemes.

Two-thirds of councils said the current 3% cap on council tax increases – which councils can breach only if they get residents to agree to the rise via a local referendum – should be scrapped to enable them to raise more cash to fund local services.

Sticking plasters will not solve this. Our social care system is no longer on the edge, it’s fallen off the cliff. Our children’s services are not at breaking point, they’re broken. These issues cannot wait another year to be solved.

J. White,


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