Present: Sheila Friend-Smith (chairman), John Baker, Daniel Block, Nigel Clarke, Ted Coney, Philip Eden, Kevin Evans, Peter Hillman, Suzanne Lindsay, Angela Moody, Terry Overall, Simon Pittock, Liz Sayers, Ray Tinker.
Apologies were received from Heber Martin, Alan Mittins, Shirley Overall.
Kevin Evans, new chairman of Ely Society, was welcomed to the meeting. The Society's immediate past chairman, Yvonne Thresh, is to be asked if she wishes to continue to receive minutes of future Design & Marketing group meetings.
Simon Pittock and Daniel Block had researched the idea of staging a German-style Christmas market in Ely and were to meet the Dean and Chapter to discuss the possibility of using Cross Green beside the west door of the cathedral. Simon presented an impressive computer model of what the event might look like. There could be capacity on Cross Green for up to 80 stalls, a 'London Eye' style ride, an ice rink, a beer tent and performance area. Lincoln stages a German Christmas market - the nearest one to Ely - which runs for 16 days. Simon suggested an Ely event might run from a Thursday through to the following Sunday week (10 days). Ultimately the aim would be for stall rentals to cover costs. Simon and Daniel, business partners in Apex Web Works, were congratulated on progressing the idea. Philip Eden suggested they should prepare an outline budget proposal.
These were agreed.
The Steeple Row planning application is on its way to ECDC. Philip Eden had asked ECDC to allow the Perspective a parish council discount in order to reduce the £1190 fee for lodging the application. Philip and Sheila Friend-Smith had collaborated on a draft pre-application to the Heritage Lottery Fund for a grant of £310,000. The Dean and Chapter is contributing £8,000 for the archaeological dig and £20,000 has been set aside for the project by ECDC.
Terry Overall had been told that separate planning applications need to be made for these and he would have to set aside a couple of days to complete the necessary work. Despite repeated emails, there had been no response from the Jewish Free School so it was agreed not to progress with that plaque. Terry and Shirley Overall were thanked for all the work they had done on the project.
The planning application would now be considered by ECDC planning committee. The deadline for objections, originally 17 March, had been extended to 1 April. Philip Eden thought it unlikely the application would be considered until the June meeting of the planning committee, after the May local government elections.
Ted Coney had asked, under the Freedom of Information Act, for documentation of the sale of the Maltings to the people of Ely for the sum of £100. It had taken 20 days to obtain this and he had requested permission under the Re-use of Public Sector Information regulations to share the information. He thought any approval would take another 20 days. There was widespread concern that ECDC's plan includes removal of the fence and hedge to allow direct access from Maltings Cottage onto Jubilee Gardens. This could set a dangerous precedent and encourage others with properties bordering Jubilee Gardens to seek similar access.
The business plan had been obtained by Liz Wainwright under the Freedom of Information Act and she had permission to share this with Ely Perspective and Ely City Council. The Perspective considered the business plan seriously flawed. Income was considered far too optimistic and expenditure unrealistic, especially on maintenance and repairs for which only £400 p.a. had been budgeted. However, an unrealistic business plan was not grounds for refusal of planning permission.
Philip Eden and Sheila Friend-Smith represented the Perspective at the meeting which was attended by the Mayor, representatives of Ely Museum, CAB, ADeC, Ely Society, the courts service, JPs and other interested parties. Ely's is the only Listed court building on the disposal list. A conservation report on the building is being prepared and an assurance was given by the courts services that no furniture would be removed and the building will be kept in good condition - heated if necessary - so it does not deteriorate. SFS said the Localism Bill offers opportunities for groups to take over heritage buildings. There was to be another meeting of interested organisations and individuals at the beginning of April and the way forward might involve setting up a charity or not-for-profit company to take on the building. A number of uses had already been suggested, including an extension for Ely Museum.
The final sitting of Ely Magistrates Court will be on Thursday 24 March. The Perspective had been offered a seat and Suzanne Lindsay asked to take the place.
Signage, 'gateway' entrances to the city and improvements to the Perspective's website were agreed as objectives for the coming year.
The Minding the Gaps meeting planned for 10 March had been cancelled, mainly due to the forthcoming local government elections. The Perspective’s executive was to meet on 29 March when a new date would be agreed.
Cargo in the High Street and the pie shop in St Mary’s Street had both closed. A tattoo parlour was opening in Fore Hill and The Works, a discount stationery shop, was to open. It was generally agreed this was likely to be in the High Street premises vacated by Currys.
Ted Coney reported the fountain in Jubilee Gardens had not worked since November. SFS is to ask the Friends of Jubilee Gardens to raise this with ECDC.
Philip Eden was meeting with Simon Pittock and Daniel Block to discuss the Perspective's website which would benefit from the inclusion of a discussion forum and opportunity to include publicity releases. They would also discuss whether an Ely app, similar to that now in use in Thame, might benefit local businesses and boost tourism. Kevin Evans said the Ely Society had just launched a discussion forum on their website. It was agreed there should be links to and from both organisation's websites.
Liz Sayers agreed to put together information on the station garden re-vamp as the Perspective's entry in the Action for Market Towns award.
Terry Overall and Ted Coney had discussed setting up a railway heritage room in Ely Station's platform 1 waiting room.
1. Exhibition at The Lamb Hotel Friday and Saturday 18/19 March of planning application for 3,000 homes to the north of Ely.
2. Eel Day: 30 April plus a weekend of activities over 'Royal Wedding' weekend.
3.Mayor's service: Mayor's service to celebrate volunteering to be held at St Mary's Church on 27 March at 4.30pm. Suzanne Lindsay said many sports clubs run by volunteers had not received invitations. Anyone interested in attending should contact the City Council office.
Cuts to bus services: SFS is to write to Stagecoach expressing the Perspective's dismay at the 50% cuts to bus services running between Ely and Littleport/March.
Invitation: It was agreed Tracey Harding, ECDC team leader tourism and town centres, should be invited to a future meeting.