John Bone: Why was no-one told about trees?

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The single, greatest virtue of small authorities like Newmarket Town Council is that they have an intimate expertise on the minutiae of their areas. They know every soul, every brick and stitch within their little patch. This is our defence against the possible fumbles of their mighty masters at Forest Heath. That’s the theory. So why did Newmarket’s omniscient town council allow four precious memorial trees to be felled without having the courtesy to tell the people who had dedicated them to loved ones?

True, it was in a good cause, a statue of the Queen, which might have won their approval. But why not tell them? Could it be the council is not as well-informed as we might wish and were perhaps preoccupied with their own arcane internal wrangles? Little councils are there to protect little people. Not trample them down. Her Majesty, in whose name all this was done, would not be amused.

If you own a wonky old house that’s crumbling round your ears, take heart. David Clark has some interesting news for you. He is MD of an Ely firm of estate agents and he has detected a remarkable trend in local housing, particularly in East Cambs. “We’re finding people are snapping up old properties in the area which have major structural issues so that they can knock them down to build new houses.” So you never know: those tottering chimneys, that rising damp and falling roof could be your good fortune. If you want to be rich, woodworm and subsidence could be your friends.

I wish I could entirely share the confidence of my valued colleague Alison Hayes in declaring that “Newmarket’s racing industry is now head and shoulders above the often uncaring feudal dinosaur it once was.” She was responding to the ridiculously over-hyped bit of bile in a prize-winning essay by a young newcomer to the town. Newcomers often have something sensible to say and there were germs of truth in this ill-judged essay, but they are lost in the fury provoked. Many who love our town sprang to vociferous self-defence in a way that reminded me of the old saying “The louder he spoke of his honour, the faster we counted our spoons.”

A man is stoned and abused by young children in Newmarket. A middle-aged man is kicked and punched by laughing youths in Mildenhall. Where did we go wrong? Such things never happened when I was the age of these pitiless and perverted kids.

I hope things went well at Suffolk Constabulary’s recruitment evening for special constables in Mildenhall on Monday. Any likely candidate who missed the event could catch up at Haverhill in June. As a thrifty government eats ever further into police budgets, the specials become an increasingly important part of the county’s law and order. Long ago, “the specials” were not taken seriously by a public who reserved their respect for so-called “proper” police. “You can’t trust a special like the old time copper” sang Marie Lloyd a century ago. How wrong they were and how vital as well as how professional, our specials are now.

One of the best young golfers in Suffolk is called Iron. I suppose it’s too much to dream of but imagine what joy it would have given old idiots like me if Haverhill’s junior champion James Iron had a rival at, say, Newmarket called Wood. Think of the fun sports pages sub-editors could have with the words Iron, Wood, Club and Golf to play with. But, as I say ...

Sporadic attempts nationally to reduce the often wicked waste of all-night street lighting have had mixed effect thanks to ferocious opposition. So I found it encouraging that Burwell Parish Council has given the nod to a Cambridgeshire plan to dim or douse some local lights. Burwell councillors agreed the new darkness should not bother residents. I hope they are right. Too many of us are hooked on street lights like addicts are hooked on drugs.