Circumstances are different

Letters from the Fenland Citizen, fenlandcitizen.co.uk, @FenlandCit on Twitter
Letters from the Fenland Citizen, fenlandcitizen.co.uk, @FenlandCit on Twitter

David Eldridge asks, in your letters column of August 19, for an explanation of “the difference between how the owners of Constantine House in Wisbech and the empty site where once stood Cook’s Butchers are being treated – when both are privately owned”?

First it needs to be made clear, with regard to Constantine House, Fenland District councillors’ claim that “We continue to make every effort to force the owner to comply fully with the Section 215 Notice” is slightly ingenuous.

A Section 215 Notice gives the local planning authority the power to require an owner to tidy up a building.

Numerous deadlines for the commencement of the work dating back I think to early last year, or earlier, have passed, been ignored by the owner and been extended.  

Note please that the deadlines were all for commencement of the work NOT THE COMPLETION!

The council have the power to take the owner to court under Section 215 of the Town and Country Planning Act of 1993.  

The council would then raise a charge on the building which would reimburse their costs, with interest, when the building is sold.  The council could even sell the building to recover their money.

Neighbouring authorities adopt a much more pro-active approach and frequently take offenders to court AND carry out remedial work.

Cook’s is very different.  There is a complicated legal tangle with this site.  FDC have taken the case all the way to the High Court to get a resolution.  

Unfortunately they were unsuccessful.  This means a Section 215 order cannot be made.

The Townscape Heritage Programme Lottery Grant is limited to £2million and has to be used to make a significant difference to an area.  

Spread the area too widely and the quality of the improvement would be less effective and the grant application less likely to succeed.  This is the reason the application is limited to the High Street.  

Further schemes could follow to improve other areas of the town.  It was considered that the High Street was the area most in need.  There is no hope of getting a grant unless Cook’s is tidied up.  

The plan is to turn a space, which is very downbeat, into an impressive upbeat space which will be used and is of a sufficiently impressive design to be talked about in town and further afield. 

A space that will draw attention to a forward-looking Wisbech.

As for the use of “public money”, this money has already been allocated for funding these grants so Wisbech should get its share – or would we all prefer it to go to some other town?

King’s Lynn has just completed a Townscape Heritage Programme which has refurbished both the Tuesday and Saturday Market Places.

Thank you for airing your disquiet and I hope this letter helps to allay your anxiety.

Please come to one of our exhibitions and learn more about what is going on. Details of our exhibitions are always published in the press.

John Smith,

Member of the High Street Project Consultative Group.

labour leadership

‘Welcome victory’

As John White explains (Letters, August 19) a Jeremy Corbyn victory in the Labour leadership elections would be very welcome. Jeremy will face immediate testing challenges, as he’ll be surrounded in Labour’s parliamentary party and HQ by hostile, pro-big business politicians.

They will put up strong opposition; a number of Labour MPs and leaders are already plotting how they could remove him from office.

It’s not impossible that the right-wing could decide to leave to form a new party and the Labour Party could then as a whole turn leftwards.

However, if the road to such a transformation is blocked by those in the party hierarchy, Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters should help build a new mass workers’ party outside of Labour.

Meanwhile Labour councillors will continue to implement Tory policies and the process of Labour being increasingly dismissed by working class people will continue.

Learning from the experiences and lessons of the new left formations in countries like Greece, Spain, Brazil and Germany, a new party in Britain could quickly take on flesh as a combative force acting in workers’ interests.

In whatever way the scenario inside Labour develops, great opportunities will open up in this country for the development of workers’ political representation.

John Smithee,

Wisbech.