Despite a good turnout at the Town Meeting on March 2nd it seems that many in the audience were left unconvinced by councillors efforts to address the issues raised. The Town Council must receive praise for making the Town Meeting more interesting with the introduction of a ‘Question Time’. For the second year running a good turnout saw residents raising issues ranging from anti-social behaviour to drainage and parking. This year there was the added advantage of putting some of these questions direct to those involved in dealing with the issues, as representatives from Cambridgeshire CC, Huntingdonshire DC and the Police attended Dissappointment It became clear during the meeting that the same old questions were being asked once again. Several members of the audience stated that there seemed to have been little progress on many of the issues raised last year and the promises of action given 12 months ago had not been kept.
The Panel consisted of Police Sergeant Alice Draper, Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Jason Ablewhite, County Councillor and Fire Authority Chairman Kevin Reynolds, M.C. Martin Collier, Town Mayor Tim Drye, District Councillor Ryan Fuller and Managing Director of Hunts District Council Jo Lancaster. Some of the issues raised included complaints from residents of price rises by community housing landlord, Luminus; badly maintained pavements; speeding vehicles; antisocial and drunken behaviour; cyclists and cars crossing the bridge; parking arrangements during the planning process and general parking chaos in the town centre. Several panelists mentioned that it was difficult to deal with some issues raised due to the lack of funding. It was said that parking problems are not a priority for the Police and that HDC cannot afford to decriminalise parking. It wasn’t all doom though as the County Council were praised for a quick response to blocked drains on Houghton Rd. Residents also learned that National Planning Policies do not allow planning applications to be refused on lack of parking places. Ed Goodman asked panelists to state what personal achievement they are proudest of this year.
Answers included: Cllr Fuller – securing the land for the Country Park; Jo Lancaster – convincing the Combined Authority Mayor to release money for market towns including St Ives; Cllr Reynolds – Morrisons coming to town; Mr Ablewhite – ensuring a town speedwatch and increasing police numbers. Town Mayor, Tim Drye mentioned his involvement in making St Ives a CALM town, the Campaign Against Living Miserably dealing with mental health issues for young men and saying thank you to all the vounteers who work for St Ives. Whilst answering a question about signage and parking, Cllr Reynolds said that Bridge Street will soon be having a facelift – so we will look forward to seeing that. Mr Ablewhite was asked a question about the role of the PCC and replied: ‘The fact that the Police and Crime Commissioner is now cheaper to run than the former Police Authority, then you save that money in your pocket or I get that to give to the Chief Constable for more cops.’ The Riverporter thought this claim was somewhat optimistic so we looked into the facts which we detail on page 2.