John Bone: Mike found building blocks for success

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I once worked in an office so small it could not accommodate all of us so the boss told us to clear off when we had no desk work to do. Most of us wasted this gift of spare time but my mate Mike used it to build the bungalow he still inhabits, brick and brick and beam by beam. I remembered his achievement when East Cambs unveiled their plan to help people like Mick exploit the Self Build Act 2015. This is an enlightened approach to the housing problem. If you want to know more about how it works, visit but don’t tell them I sent you as a way of cheating your employer.

Talk about currying favour with voters! Matthew Hancock MP is inviting us all to name the best Indian restaurants in Newmarket or elsewhere in his constituency so one can be entered for an award.

It is heart-warming to find a Government Minister able to concentrate on these serious issues and not be distracted by such trivia as the economy, Europe, the NHS and terrorism.

Asizeable 18,000 households have already signed up for West Suffolk’s paid-for garden waste collection service. This goes some way to vindicate ending the free service but we will know more when we see what effect, if any, the measure has had on the fly-dumping problem.

Curiously enough, even the beastly business of fly-dumping has its merits. Many of those cheery daffodil displays we see flourishing on verges on open country at this time of year must date from a dirty 
dumper’s shameful sins long ago.

It is no surprise that a Suffolk survey shows strong public opposition to cutting the fire service in the Newmarket area. Turkeys seldom vote for Christmas.

Of all our beleaguered public services, fire and rescue has the finest history of being based on local volunteers of professional standard. It is a tradition of community self-help that goes back centuries. If other aspects of public life had half this splendid foundation of local loyalty, they might not be in such a pickle. To throw away this proud heritage would be foolhardy and risky. Rather let us build on the retained fire services as a basis for other community needs. It is a sturdy structure and could do more rather than less.

Suffolk is said to have more miles of road per head of population than any other English county, so the news that Government money will be used to fill in 26,113 potholes is to be welcomed with caution. It is only the mercy of a mild winter that saved us from further surface erosion this season and the repair backlog could make that 26,113 look quite modest. What a pity that insurance and health and safety considerations, although entirely wise, now make it impossible to follow the ancient tradition of paying a local bloke with a shovel to cure the craters some of which are now big enough to feature on an OS map.

Still, it is good news for all of us except the car repair industry which must have made a fortune in recent years mending bust suspensions and bent rims. It’s an ill wind …

The need for Newmarket to diversify its industrial base becomes more pressing as a few companies pull out, but that does not mean we should gratefully grab 
anything that’s going. Why, for example, should Studlands residents be expected to tolerate a huge warehouse on their doorstep because it would be a economic asset for the town?

Quality of life does 
not rest on prosperity 

Not only upwards but sideways, too. Just as the Dubai Government unveils plans to go ever higher with a new world’s-tallest tower, the Prime Minister of that ambitious state spreads laterally in Suffolk. His Moulton Paddocks operation neighbours his newly acquired Warren Place which now comes under the enormous Godolphin umbrella which is itself only a fraction of Sheikh Mohammed’s empire.

How does a monarch with such diverse and colossal concerns manage to keep track of what’s going on everywhere? All I can say is that he does. Everyone with any claim to know this extraordinary man declares he has an acute eye for detail in his scattered stables and knows exactly what’s going on.

This is a comfort to all of us. Imagine our predicament if an undertaking so crucial to Newmarket was in the hands of a neglectful owner whose governed by whim and was careless of the consequences.