Present: Sheila Friend-Smith (chairman), Daniel Block, Caroline Cawley, Ted Coney, Peter Hillman, Shirley Overall, Terry Overall, Simon Pittock, Frank Readhead, Ray Tinker, John Yates
Philip Eden, Kevin Evans, Liz Sayers, John Simmons.
These were agreed, with the addition of Peter Hillman to list of Members Present.
John Yates proposed discussion at a future meeting for the role of the Perspective group, with specific reference to overlapping interests between the Riverside Group and the Design & Marketing Group.
Veronica Poultney was welcomed to the group and she introduced herself and gave the group some background information.
Ted Coney asked whether the Maltings restaurant should remain open during the winter, and he commented that the management had previously lost customers through an attempt to position the restaurant as a 'high class' venue and ignoring families in their menu. It was acknowledged that improvements have been made since then (including particular mention of the excellent wedding reception experience) but many local residents were still unaware of these changes. Veronica said that it would be good if the Maltings could open during the winter, but it would need to be financially viable – the group put forward the suggestion that even opening later than September, if not throughout the winter, would be welcome. It was commented by the group that mistakes had possibly been made when the contract was given for the management of The Maltings in that market research had missed what local residents and tourists liked about the restaurant.
There followed some general discussion of wider problems in attracting more business footfall in Ely and the very quiet nightlife, and how the City Centre Forum is currently focusing on these issues. Veronica was thanked for her input to the discussion and for attending the meeting.
John Yates reported that there has been a delay to proceedings due to difficulty in locating the deeds to the cottage. However, it was confirmed that any profits generated from any commercial presence at the cottage would be fed back for use at the Waterside, and that funds are in place for any building or renovation costs involved in making the cottage good for future use.
Terry and Shirley Overall reported that Philip Eden has offered to help with paperwork needed to finalise details so that the plaques can be ordered. It was suggested that QR codes could be added to the plaques to link to further related historical information, but it was felt that this would pose problems in the 'printing' of the plaques and that perhaps this information could be presented separately.
Simon Pittock reported that the first Raspberry Pi device had finally been delivered and it was shown to the group. He also talked about a potential agreement with a local project called Wireless Eye. This is a project by a local businessman who hopes to base a wireless network in the tower of Ely Cathedral for broadcast to outlying villages. The agreement would be for Ely Perspective to have free access to this system for the provision of limited free wireless access across Ely to the Ely App and associated websites (including the Cathedral website, Tourist Office etc…). It was agreed that letters of support for this project should be sent to the Cathedral on behalf of the group to make the Cathedral aware of the importance of the Wireless Eye project in enabling our Ely App to go ahead without the need to create a separate and costly wireless network. Simon Pittock was thanked for his hard work on this.
Daniel Block reported that the visit to Thame had taken place and had been useful in terms of learning from local residents and business owners what had gone well, and not so well with the launch and ongoing operation of their iPhone app. A report summarising the findings of the trip is to be submitted to Action for Market Towns in order to secure the funding allocated for this project.
Due to delays in arranging sponsorship for an ice rink and group members focusing on other projects, it was confirmed that an ice rink would not happen this Christmas, but instead renewed efforts for a larger scale event for Christmas 2013 would go ahead.
Sheila Friend-Smith reported that she had been informed that the tree officer had raised issues with the designs. Conditions are to be worked into the application to deal with these issues. Frank Readhead was thanked for his work on an architect’s plan for the bin-store.
• Starbucks has now closed.
• W Rayment & Son butcher has found someone to takeover, rather than close.
• The antiques shop on the corner of St Mary’s Street (opposite The Lamb) has closed and is now a pop-up sweetshop.
• Coffee Speed in High St has closed.
• A new art display is currently in the empty shop space on the corner of Market St.
A few issues were raised about problems spotted around the City Centre:
• The empty USA Chicken shop on Fore Hill still has wooden boards across the front, which looks unsightly.
• A protruding stump is still present on the Market Square and poses an obstruction.
• The light in the Cloisters underpass is still not working.
• Business owned bins are being left in the Cloisters underpass, causing an obstruction.
• A business bin is still being left out next to a bench in Buttermarket.
Events at the Babylon Gallery this month:
• Best In Show – an exhibition for dog lovers. October 13th – November 18th
Ely Station Gateway Workshop – a workshop looking at future development options for the Station Gateway area in Ely coincided with this meeting. The Perspective was represented by Frank Readhead (who left our meeting early) and by Kevin Evans. There will be feedback to the Design and Marketing Group from this (and any further) meeting next month.
Christmas Lights - Shirley Overall reported that problems of new bureaucracy meant that changes had to be made to how Christmas Lights will be displayed on lampposts in Ely City centre this Christmas. These new regulations will also have an impact on Ely-in-Bloom.
Christmas 'Do' – Ted Coney proposed that Jar Jar’s on Fore Hill might be a good venue for a Christmas get together for the Perspective, to show our support for a local business. However it was felt that this might not be convenient, particularly if the venue had to open specially. The new upstairs restaurant at Café Carringtons and the Maltings restaurant were also suggested as options. Veronica is to provide us with further details. The date of Tuesday 11th December was chosen as the most likely date for a Christmas meal, with the previous Tuesday (4th) as an alternative.
6.30pm Tuesday 20th November 2012 at St Peter's House, Broad Street, Ely