At the conclusion of last month’s article, I hinted that considerable financial investment would be made in Whittlesey in the coming months. In this issue of your magazine I would like to share some of those plans with you all.
Firstly, as we all now realise, the long-awaited construction work at Kings Dyke Crossing to build a bridge over the railway line that traverses the A605 has commenced. This work has begun some four months ahead of schedule and, allowing for inevitable delays due to weather and other considerations, will end in the autumn of 2021. There will, of course, be substantial delays whilst this work is undertaken, which is inevitable when you consider that the A605 is the major route for many to and from Peterborough and beyond. I would ask you all to be patient in the meantime and, wherever possible, to stagger your work times or seek alternative routes.
Whilst Cambridgeshire County Council has been instrumental in delivering this scheme, it cannot be denied that the crucial financial investment from the Peterborough and Cambridgeshire Combined Authority under the leadership of the elected mayor, James Palmer, has been the telling factor.
Similarly, other financial interventions from the Combined Authority are now in the pipeline, aimed at enhancing the economy of Whittlesey and bringing greater prosperity through increased employment and trade within our town.
Early in 2018, in my capacity as the then Economic Development Member of the Fenland District Council Cabinet, I became involved in the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Independent Economic Review (CPIER). This organisation, sponsored by regional business sources, was headed by Dames Kate Barker and Carol Black and sought advice from Metro Dynamics (Consultants), the chief executive and leader of Fenland District Council, and myself. The concluding report recognised the great potential for economic development in the Fenland area, in particular its four market towns of March, Whittlesey, Chatteris and Wisbech. It also acknowledged that considerable financial investment would be required to realise the mental and physical requirements of each community, and a scheme known as ‘Growing Fenland’ was born to further those ambitions.
My task was to set up committees in each town to examine the requirements of each community, and I was delighted that my present deputy mayor, Cllr Mrs Dee Laws, took on the chair of a committee in Whittlesey that initially included former Cllr Martin Curtis, Stephen Hodson from the local business forum, and two sixth form students from Sir Harry Smith Community College, William Green and Chloe Sperryn, working in conjunction with the consultants, Metro Dynamics.
By the early part of this year, and after a tremendous amount of research and discussion, a final report was produced. This report provided an eight-point proposal for Whittlesey:
- Enhancing the Whittlesey Market
- Making greater use of the Buttercross for new events
- Creation of a Heritage Centre
- Revamping of a Heritage Walk
- New Town Website
- Improvements to Education
- A Skills Taskforce
- Transport Improvement Package
As a result of this initiative, the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority has agreed to initially fund the proposals for Whittlesey to the tune of £1.1 million.
My thanks go to all members of the committee who have contributed to this project, and I am personally delighted that the need for a Heritage Centre has been acknowledged, as I have personally worked on this project since 2017, along with Cllrs Alex Miscandlon and Eamonn Dorling from Whittlesey Town Council.
But more of that next time…
Cllr David K M Mason
Mayor & Leader – Whittlesey Town Council