Sunday, 20 June 2010

My letter to Churchmanor Estates

Mr H. K. White

The Churchmanor Estates Company plc

Montague House

11 Black Horse Lane

Ipswich IP1 2EF

8th June 2010

Dear Mr White,

St. Germain Street Gate

I was elected as Lib. Dem. District Councillor for Huntingdon East at the recent elections, having never before stood in an election of any kind. I have lived in the town since 1987, and seen many changes. Many of them, I am very pleased to say, for the better.

As a resident, I formerly used to use the passage which became closed off some years ago, by the so-called St. Germain Gate. This gate is notated as “controversial” not by me, but on – a website which can be found via a link from Churchmanor’s own website. Some years on, I was quite surprised, when asking residents of Huntingdon East ( I reckon on having canvassed over 1,800 this year ) what issues bothered them. Along with numerous topics, “that *****y gate” cropped up on many occasions.

It set me thinking, is there any reason, other than a pure commercial one of “forcing” footfall past some of the retail outlets redeveloped by Churchmanor, that the gate cannot be reopened, or better yet, removed? After all, most people who shop in town now are well aware of the shops such as Subway, Vision Express and Starbucks. Now, we hear the news that the Post Office is considering relocating from its present site, to “within WH Smiths”. Given that the opening hours may well be extended, that is good news. However, for those older folk who live in the area I represent, moving the Post Office to this proposed location will mean a walk of at least 800 yards or more, in addition to the distance they currently need to undertake. Unless of course, the gate is removed and they can enter the WH Smiths more readily.

I noted that one of your responses to past criticism of the gate was to cite that the area close to the passage constituted a “dangerous accident hotspot”. This might have led people to think that there had been a spate of accidents there. Was that ever the case? And is that area any more dangerous than the ring road, bus station, or any of the town centre car-parks? Surely the answer is to take measures to diminish the risk of accidents. Coupled with the publicity surrounding the re-opening of the gate, this could greatly enhance Churchmanor’s reputation in the town.

To quote from your website again “It is easy to rake over old coals on the rights and wrongs of any issue. However, to invest in a town centre that badly needs investment, decisions need to be taken which may not always be popular with some, but with future investment and planning they will lead to an improved town centre for all.” Forgive me if I am wrong, but I have found no mention anywhere on your website of Churchmanor’s position with regards the RESIDENTS of Huntingdon.

There are numerous web references to businesses, landowners, local authorities, institutions, but nowhere, the people without whom those organisations will thrive….council tax payers, customers…in short, the people of Huntingdon.

Churchmanor claims to "……care enough about Huntingdon to want to support local retail and to bring life back to this part of the town for future generations". But does Churchmanor care enough about the people who, if the Post Office is moved, will be inconvenienced?

The Post Office’s own consultation document talks of their possible relocation being 375 yards away. The buildings may be, but right now, the access, door to door, is NOT.

So, I write to you to ask for consideration, especially now the businesses that moved into the newly redeveloped area of Chequers Court have become well established, that the St Germain Gate is re-opened, as I believe it will demonstrate that Churchmanor does not just care about the stakeholders it is proud to service, but the people of this town.

I have been writing a blog which is available for open reading, and isn’t subject to the whim of an editor of any area of the media, editing or ignoring it. That said, the Hunts Post did publish a letter from me on this subject. I intend to wait a week or so before uploading this letter to my blog, and of course, I shall give Churchmanor access too, by uploading any reply you may send to me.

I hope you will give this consideration, and I look forward to hearing from you in due course.

Yours sincerely,

Cllr Ste Greenall

Huntingdon East

6 Snowy Way




PE29 1LQ

Thursday, 17 June 2010

The gate

Well, as I promised I would do in the build-up to the District Council elections, I am aiming to try (against a lot of odds, I have been told) to get Churchmanor Estates to remove, or at the very least RE-OPEN, the gate that they put across the passageway close to Wilkinsons, in St Germain Walk. Last Saturday, I took a stroll around to see for myself the possible impact of any arguments that Churchmanor might continue to put forwards.

Let me say, though, that I have written to one of the Directors, Howard White, to ask the company to reconsider their position, especially now that there is a strong possibility of the Post Office being relocated. In case you didn't know, the Post Office, currently next door to Sainsbury's, is looking to move into the WH Smith store in the High Street. This, in my view, changes "the goalposts" and lessens the argument for the gate being there. I wrote also that I intended to publish the letter I have sent, on this blog page, along with any reply I might receive, which is totally transparent, andf people can judge for themselves what they think.

Going back to when the gate was put up, one of the arguments was that with the number of delivery lorries turning, close to where the passageway runs, there was an accident waiting to happen. My argument in my letter was that that the chances of an accident caused between a behicle and a pedestrian is far greater on the Sainsbury's car-park, or even Huntingdon bus-station. If we are to worry about every vehicle on the road causing an accident, we had better all stay at home!

At the time of writing, I have not yet had a reply from Churchmanor, and it isn't quite a week since I sent my letter to Mr White, so I will hang on a few more days before I publish what I sent on this blog page. If Churchmanor reply, I shall publish what they say. If they don't then I shall say so.

I will leave it for the people of Huntingdon to draw their conclusions.

One thing I would say is that I spoke to two couples who were parking their car on the disabled car-park in town, which, if you want to visit Sainsbury's or the Post Office, is BEHIND the gate, thus requiring someone less able to get around, to make a long detour.

I can't promise that things will change, but I can promise to keep the pressure on. Because despite what Churchmanor would like it to be the case, many HUNTINGDON RESIDENTS are still unhappy about that gate.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Lib Dems - winning again in Huntingdon East!!!

It's getting to be a winning smile that Lib Dem leader in Huntingdonshire, Peter Downes, wears these days. Here he is, pictured below, immediately after the result was announced.

The votes were cast as follows:-

Ann Beevor (Labour) 221

Andrew Bish (Tory) 662

Bill Hemsley (Tory) 519

Patrick Kadawere (Labour) 155

Debbie Scales (Lib Dem ) 890

Kevin Sumner (Lib Dem) 860

So Peter made a "thank you speech", watched by Returning Officer David Monks, CEO of Huntingdonshire District Council.

In percentage terms, I make that Labour - 11.4% / Tory - 35.7% / Liberal Democrats - 52.9%!!

Us over 50%

Tories below 40!

Compared with the Hunts East District election at the same time as the General and where the Greens got 4%, we are up 7%, Labour is up 1%, and the Tories are down 4%.

At the time of the 2005 General Election Lib Dems had never won a seat in Huntingdon.

Now we have 5 Town Cllrs,

3 District Cllrs

1 County Cllr

.....and it is all because we have a class team that delivers the goods when it matters, which is both between elections and during them.

Thursday's Town Council by-election

On Thursday last week there was a Town Council election in Huntingdon, and it proved a fantastic night to be a Liberal Democrat. It is the rule that a maximum of two elections be held on the same day, and so with the General Election and District Council elections being held on May 6th, the Town Council election was delayed until 27th.

Following on so quickly from the General Election, there was a fear that the turnout would be poor, but in the end it was 24.8% - very respectable given the circumstances. The outcome might prove a further barometer for Lib Dem support in Huntingdon East, so after a quick-fire campaign, voting began at 7.00 a.m.

By 7.45 p.m., things were still fairly quiet, as the picture below shows. Left of the photo is Lizzie Shrapnel, telling for the Lib Dems, and Conservative Town Councillor, Susan Mulcahy.

By 8.00 p.m. it got a little busier, so with Chris Jordan operating as a "runner", the telling returns were fed back to Lib Dem HQ, which on this occasion was the MS Support Centre, near the Olympic Gym. But as the picture below shows, there was no queue on this occasion!

The result was expected around 11.00 p.m., once the boxes were al collected in, and count would Hartford Village Hall.

So time for a pint at the Barley Mow before the count began!