Ignoring the people’s will

AT the Mayor Making ceremony at The Free Church, St Ives, citizens of the town gathered waving placards protesting against St Ives Town Council s decision to sell the Corn Exchange. The outgoing Mayor, Councillor Doug Dew, and his wife Julie called us chi

AT the Mayor Making ceremony at The Free Church, St Ives, citizens of the town gathered waving placards protesting against St Ives Town Council's decision to sell the Corn Exchange.

The outgoing Mayor, Councillor Doug Dew, and his wife Julie called us childish, although I guess our average age was mid-50s. As baby boomers we are from the generation of banner-waving rebels of the 60s and 70s, and it says a lot about us that we are still the ones most concerned about preserving our heritage for future generations of St Ivians.

Perhaps we have not acquired the cynical belief, often rife among younger people, that there is nothing we can do and that the people we elected into power will do what they want with our money, whether we like it or not.

We baby boomers can remember the actions of people like Richard Beeching, the chairman of the British Railways Board who closed much of our railway network in the 1960s, against the wishes of the majority - an action that could never be undone, much to the country's disadvantage.

The erosion of community spirit can be directly attributed to the lack of community spaces in town centres throughout this country. The Corn Exchange is an important venue in the town and its chief asset is that it is in the town centre.

I read on the St Ives Town Guide that the rather magnificent mayor's chain was bought by the town in 1874. I wonder whether the new incumbent would consider selling it for something of community use. I suspect not, but it would fetch quite a bit more than 30 pieces of silver and would benefit more than just one citizen at a time.

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SANDRA SOUTER, The Green, Wood Walton

* I ATTENDED the meeting of the St Ives Town Council on Wednesday, May 2, at which they were meant to be considering the proposals by the Action for the Corn Exchange group.

I could have wept. I had expected a proper debate but instead we had a few minor points of detail raised as criticism of the ACE proposals and it was quite obvious that the majority of the councillors had come having already decided how to vote. This was clear from the moment the discussion began and the mayor made his views known at some length.

The council's consultant pointed out the risks involved in taking up ACE's proposals; but he did not advise against them. So the decision the council needed to take was whether, now that they knew there was a keen and capable group willing to work hard towards the reopening of the Corn Exchange, they were willing to have the vision to co-operate with ACE. Instead I had the impression that co-operation was not something they were willing to do.

This is the tragedy of the Corn Exchange story. St Ives, a town full of energetic and capable people, has a council lacking in vision and unwilling to work with the community it should be serving.

BRIDGET SMITH, Hemingford Road, Hemingford Grey

* THERE will inevitably be some who will support the sentiments of your Comment (Hunts Post, May 9) regarding the future of the St Ives Corn Exchange. However, I do feel that more regard should be given to the views of those people who have not expressed their support for the retention of this building and, believe me, there are some.

No "super-sized chain pub" has ever been considered by the town council and I have heard of that possibility being referred to only in the context of the questions put to potential petitioners on the streets.

In all the comments made about the council's decision, the simple fact seems to have been forgotten that the council, having taken the best possible financial and other advice available, concluded that the ACE proposals simply would not work. Would you advocate that the council should ignore such specialist advice (among the best in the country) in favour of conclusions reached by those apparently less qualified to comment?

Were the council to have adopted the ACE scheme and were it all to have failed, for any one of numerous reasons, might not the electorate of St Ives then have proper cause to criticise the council for ignoring such warnings and for risking so much of the taxpayers' money?

It should also be noted that St Ives Town Council acts as a corporate body and therefore the decisions taken in the last six years are not attributable to Cllr Dew alone - in fact he has been an advocate for looking to find a workable solution to the problems faced by the council in relation to the Corn Exchange.

No one ever said this decision was going to be easy. No one ever says that being a councillor is easy (or, at least, no-one who has ever had the courage to try it), and it ill behoves those without sufficient knowledge of the facts to adopt such a disparaging and critical attitude of the council's decision. Had there ever been any easy alternative available, do you not think the council would have adopted it?

Your assistance in helping to present a reasonable and at least balanced view on this matter, is surely not too much to ask.

You should also be made aware that the council wholly deplores the insinuated threat of "remember what happened to the staff at Huntingdon Life Sciences", which was made after the last council meeting to a member of the Town Clerk's staff by a close and prominent supporter of ACE.

Councillor DEBORAH REYNOLDS, Town Mayor, Saint Ives Town Council,

Editor's Note: The Hunts Post will continue to reflect the views of its readers and the support using the Corn Exchange for the community.