We’re getting a new Toucan crossing!

And the amazing thing is that the construction company building the crossing are going to give us a new ALDI store at the same time. Last month HDC gave permission for the work to start on the new store development opposite Morrisons where the old Chicory factory stood.
Aldi has described the design of the new store as ‘innovative and distinctive’ and of high quality and preliminary work will start over the summer. Aldi have promised to keep St Ives residents informed on progress and say that up to 40 new jobs will be created.
The new store plans show 126 car park spaces and they have ringfenced £172,000 to construct the Toucan crossing.

The Corn Exchange moves up a gear

St Ives is well known for its music scene with diverse genres and styles of music playing throughout the town from virtuoso performances in the Chapel Arts Season to Casa Vida at Floods, the town’s Music Festival, this weekend’s Picnic in the Park and of course the amazing Old Riverport Jazz & Blues Festival in September.

At the same time as we learn of potentially a new nightclub in town and the Corn Exchange too aims to stage high quality live music events that can compete with the best venues in Cambridgeshire. Last month saw the award winning heavy rock band ‘Powderhead’ storm the building with an amazing performance.

August will see the next presentation from local music promoters ‘3rd Rock’ who will bring the band ‘Strangers Knowmore’ with two great supporting bands.

Mayor’s Civic Parade

St Ives Mayor, Cllr Dan Rowe inspects the ‘troops’ last Sunday at the annual Civic Sunday Parade, following a service in the Parish Church. The RAF Wyton Area Voluntary Band led the parade.

The Riverporter was informed that the food served in the Corn Exchange after the parade to invited guest was excellent. Dan had ordered a Thai cuisine spread which seems to have got his diversity theme for the year off to a good start.

Summer season in full swing

This weekend you can enjoy the St Ives Regatta and Picnic in the Park – a sign that the summer season has started in earnest.
It’s what St Ives has become renowned for in recent years. With a lot going on, there is something happening every weekend until the end of August.

Timetable agreed for buses to Morrisons

The County Council have at last confirmed that buses will be serving the Morrisons store from July 8th a full 16 months after the store opened in March 2018.
Following comments from the Town Council the existing county supported services from Over (Route 15); Needingworth, Bluntisham (21); Fenstanton (1A); Hilton and Hemingfords (9) and Houghton (45A) will be extended and diverted to serve the store.

The new timetables are on the Cambs County Council website, apart from Stagecoach’s 22, the St Ives Town Summer season in full swing Service, the details of which will hopefully be available soon.

A good news story

Hi there everyone! Heidi here. As you can see I have been promoted to the front page with this tit-bit of a recent incident that we hope will raise your spirits.

The editor of this wonderful newspaper received a letter of concern from a Bridgefoot resident about our highly popular swan family with eight, yes eight, cygnets (see right).

Closely monitored from nesting and hatching on Holt Island the female now brings them back on to the main river each day when they delight many children, residents and visitors as they parade in line astern.

Disaster Strikes? However, disaster seemed to strike when a rowing club four ploughed into them at the town bridge. The editor (such a lovely man) asked Heidi to investigate.

Well, I’ve never been shy in that department. The Captain of the Rowing Club succumbed to my advances – he kindly explained that as the boat (steered by him) approached the bridge the cygnets in their brown juvenile plumage were in his blind spot and not visible against the water from his low position until the last second.

Navigating the main arch is in any case quite difficult as the bridge is not directly in line with the river. The two birds closest to the boat promptly dived and despite the concerns of onlookers no other cygnets were hit. Phew, close shave! And Heidi can confirm that the family was all intact and proudly parading again that evening. What a relief.

Our river is particularly busy with wildlife at this time of year. The Captain has confirmed that all rowers have been briefed to be especially vigilant. So there we have it – good news all round. Byeee! Heidi x A good news story

THE TENANT FEES ACT – ARE YOU READY?

Mike Ellis of Ellis Winters assesses the current housing market

The Tenant Fees Act 2019 comes into force on the 1 June banning all tenant fees charged by agents and landlords except those specifically permitted by the Act. The ‘permitted’ fees include rent, security deposits, holding deposits, early termination and some default fees. The ban applies to all residential ASTs in England entered into on or after 1 June, including existing tenancies that renew for a fixed term.

Tenancies continuing after 1 June on an existing fixed term or periodic basis will be bound by the terms in the current contract meaning agents and landlords will still be able to charge fees on these up to 31 May 2020. After this any fee taken will be classed as a ‘prohibited payment’. The other big change is the tenant’s security deposit which is capped at five weeks rent (or six weeks rent if the annual rent is £50,000 or more).

Letting agents are still required to display their fees schedule and client money protection in their offices and on their websites to make these as transparent as possible. The act will also enforce visibility on all additional advertising, whether this be rental pages like Rightmove or Zoopla, social media or magazines.

This undoubtedly will impact both landlords and lettings agents so it is very important to ensure that anyone considering letting a property is confident that the agent they use is accredited and knowledgeable about the current legislation.

If you would like some help or advice concerning the Tenant Fees Act, please contact any member of our experienced Lettings team on 01480 388 888.

Riverporter not alone in being targeted

Since we compiled the above we learned that even elected councillors may have been subject to intimidation. Dr Nik Johnson, Labour’s candidate in the last Parliamentary elections and currently a St Neots District Councillor has made a formal complaint following a fierce attack on him by Councillors Ablewhite and Fuller.

The Riverporter’s editor witnessed this attack from the press desk and although he considered it an overtly aggressive attack on Cllr Johnson, thought of it as ‘handbags’ considering the issue revolved around an interview given by Dr Johnson to Anglia Television about refuse collection. Cllr Ablewhite claimed that Cllr Johnson had mislead the public, falsely stating that services would be cut. These claims were later made in a Conservative leaflet and included a quote from the Chair of the Council who had rebuked Cllr Johnson. Cllr Johnson’s complaint was that not only did Cllrs Ablewhite and Fuller misquote the interview given to the TV (a video of the interview seems to back up this opinion) but also that the Chair of the Council, Cllr Richard West, failed to remain impartial and the leaflet issued by the Conservatives reinforced this inaccurate account of the television interview. Now it seems that the issue has taken a turn for the worse The formal complaint was made 3 months after the incident and these are usually conducted by officers confidentially.

Within days of it being made Dr Johnson’s employers, North West Anglia Trust, received a letter from local Conservative Party Agent, Adam Roberts, challenging why the TV interview had taken place on NHS property. Cllr Johnson claims this was an attempt to get him in trouble with his employers and to prevent him and councillors from speaking about issues and that it raises concerns of a possible leak in the complaints process. Cllr Dr Nik Johnson told The Riverporter that he was grateful to his employers who were robust in their response to Hunts Conservative Association, confirming the TV interview had been held well within the local protocols for the Trust. Cllr Johnson is still awaiting the outcome of his complaint.

Interesting note: Adam Roberts used to compile the Quay News in St Ives, which heavily promoted conservative candidates during elections. Mr Roberts went on to be Communications Manager for the Police & Crime Commissioner Jason Ablewhite before becoming Agent for Huntingdon Conservative Association.

Is democracy under threat in Huntingdonshire?

The Riverporter regularly receive press releases from various organisations, which we read and decide if the information will interest our readers. Mostly they’re from local groups eager to inform us about what they are doing and several examples of that are in this edition. We have also received press releases from local authorities including Huntingdonshire District Council (HDC), until recently that is. We don’t usually print them verbatim because they can be long and repetitive and if we are unsure on a particular issue we ring up the HDC press office, or try to speak to the councillor quoted in the press release, for clarification. Often an answer is forthcoming so all is well, but sometimes this causes difficulties, as with the recent item about an improved scheme for the Market Traders (see Update on p2). The Riverporter also attends council meetings, the editor sitting at the press desk so that we can get the news quickly and speak directly to our politicians who run our town and keep our readers informed with the facts. Recently this scrutiny of councillors and the authorities has led to some unexpected consequences. Often our requests for information are totally ignored. More worrying is that reasonable requests for information has led to this email to the Editor.

Mr Souter I have been made aware of a number of incidents that have taken place in relation to certain District Councillors in St Ives. Whilst being a District Councillor does present a person as a public figure, there is a limit to what can reasonably be expected in terms of interaction with the public. Furthermore, I believe that you are not a resident of St Ives, and so I would not expect you to have any recourse to seek out the local councillors for the town. The manner of your engagement with them is prompting me to write to you to express my strong dissatisfaction with the manner in which you are frequently engaging and confronting certain councillors and I therefore request that you desist. Furthermore, your increasing contact with my officers asking a range of questions which could be answered by viewing the councils website and social media feeds is consuming too much of our time with little practical benefit for council tax payers in the district. Should you persist in this I will have little choice but to categorise your behaviour as vexatious and consider withdrawing access to certain services. As you may gather from the content of this message, I am asking you respectfully to modify your behaviour towards the District Council, its councillors and staff. Should you decline this request, then I will have no hesitation in considering further action. Yours faithfully Joanne Lancaster, Managing Director, HDC.

The Editor naturally replied, a rather lengthy one, the gist of which was that in the last 12 months, he had politely asked simple questions of three councillors, which hardly amounted to a number of ‘incidents’, and none of the information was available on the council website. It also said that Ms Lancaster’s comments were far from accurate, relied on hearsay from councillors and, in his opinion, were designed to intimidate and curtail his work as a journalist, his rights as a registered voter (he was resident in St Ives at the time) and said that the email had upset his wife, who was worried the bins would not get emptied. The Riverporter will let our readers decide if this is an attempt to stop us bringing you real news and whether or not the Council’s senior officer should be issuing threats to protect councillors from the most basic scrutiny.

Trashing our parkland

Local news services and social media this week are carrying a news item showing damage and mess left behind in the children’s play area in Hill Rise Park. The story reports that our St Ives school kids have set about burning books in the area causing damage to the equipment and leaving ash and mess for others to clean up . . .

But along to save the day came Batman and Superman Yes, you read that right! Two unnamed primary school students took up the challenge to clear up after their older but seemingly less caring counterparts. Well done lads!

Local residents published some rather harsh words on Facebook about the culprits.