MORE than 400 people have signed a petition against plans for housing on the site of Royston’s historic cattle market saying it would be an “eyesore”.
Residents and shop owners had said they were “deeply troubled” by a proposal to build a convenience store and flats on the car park in Market Hill, as reported in the Weekly News last week.
But following a meeting of petition instigator Guy Snell and the Royston-based property developers Manhattan Corporation Ltd this week, the residents’ reaction have been called “exaggerated”.
Colin Blundell, whose company MC owns the site and submitted the application to North Hertfordshire District Council in early November, said: “I have lived in Royston all my life and I care about this town.
“I wanted to talk to Guy face to face about why he was upset so I went to the meeting he held on Monday.”
He added: “When I got there only around 12 people showed up so it seemed a bit exaggerated, I don’t think it would be an eyesore at all.”
Guy Snell, who lives in Market Hill, opposite the development if it goes ahead, organised the petition on Saturday in the town centre and told the Weekly News it would be “detrimental to the town centre”.
He added: “We found lots of people had strong feelings. It would be detrimental to the town centre and be an eyesore in the conservation area.”
The proposed convenience store and four two-bedroom flats built on the 19th century cattle market site, which was the subject of a Cambridge University archaeological survey in 2007, would employ 16 full-time staff and four part-time, and would be open every day from 7am to 11pm.
There would be a customer entrance on Market Hill, with a goods entrance off Fish Hill.
Some of the potential problems that worry residents include increased night time noise, loss of light and loss of town centre parking and traffic congestion which is already considered a significant issue.
Local shop owners also voiced concerns over whether a convenience store would take trade away from the existing market and small, independent shops.
In a statement supporting the application, developers say the new building will “positively contribute to the character, distinctiveness and significance of Royston town centre”.
The application states: “We believe that there is a distinct lack of convenience retail in Royston.
“This development will bring back trade and help revitalise the town centre.”
The application is currently in the consultation stage, and residents can have their say on the plans via the North Hertfordshire District Council’s website reference number 11/02744/1.
A Victorian detective who found himself in the dock over corruption charges is having the slate wiped clean by his great-great grandson.
Between 1864 and 1877 Metropolitan Police Chief Inspector George Clarke, known as ‘The Chieftain’, headed pioneering investigations into some of the most sensational murders in England as well as theft, burglary, arson, baby-farming and abortion.
But the former Therfield resident, who was a colleague of well-known Inspector Whicher, found himself on the wrong side of the law at the Old Bailey in London with three of his Scotland Yard colleagues awaiting the jury’s verdict on the infamous ‘Trial of the Detectives’.
The four men had been arrested following a horse-betting fraud case in which the principal witnesses claimed Clarke and his colleagues had been accepting bribes to let them walk free.
It was the first major Met Police corruption trial, leading to the creation of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID).
But despite Clarke’s eventual acquittal it left his career in tatters and he retired shortly afterwards.
More than 130 years later the story came to light when his great-great-grandson Chris Payne, a former research biologist, stumbled on a trunk of old family documents and press cuttings.
The 65-year-old spent five years investigating not only the case but Clarke’s entire career, and has written a book, The Chieftain – Victorian True Crime through the Eyes of a Scotland Yard Detective. Using digital newspaper archives and Clarke’s original reports, he hoped to honour the deep contribution his ancestor made to Victorian crime detection that lay hidden in the shadows cast by the trial.
The father-of-two told the News: “When I found out about the trial I thought ‘Blimey, that’s a dark family secret’, because no-one had said anything about it.
“So I started digging around and found there is no real in-depth work on Victorian policing, so I knew what I had to do.”
He said he’d left it up to the reader to draw their own conclusions about the case.
He said: “I love having a colourful relative like that – I couldn’t have asked for it in my best dreams – but what I am concerned about is bringing his great contribution to policing to light. If it wasn’t for Clarke, modern policing might not look the way it does now.”
George Clarke’s two younger brothers, Henry and John, also joined the Met and returned to Royston and Barkway after they retired, where both became butchers.
One of Henry’s sons, Robert H Clark, set up a photography business in Royston, which still operates today.
To buy The Chieftain, visit www.thehistorypress.
A GRATEFUL couple want to “give something back” to hospital staff who cared for their premature baby.
Jenny and Andy Kulina, of Melbourn, are hosting a charity ball to raise £10,000 for the Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) at the Rosie in Cambridge.
Jenny, 38, gave birth to Olivia Kulina on November 25 last year, five weeks premature due to complications during the pregnancy.
She weighed just 4lb 4oz (2kg) and had digestion problems which meant she struggled to feed properly.
Jenny, a physiotherapist at the hospital, said: “Babies who have these problems usually need surgery but luckily Olivia didn’t.
“They starved the stomach and fed her straight into her blood stream.
“Then they started feeding her again.
“She came home on her due date, December 28, 2010.”
Olivia, who has just turned 1, is now a healthy weight at 25lb (11kg) and is a “very happy, giggly baby”.
Jenny said: “When we were in SCBU the atmosphere was so happy you didn’t feel like you were in hospital. The staff put you at ease.”
Andy, 46, director of Cambridge Loyalty, said: “We are just very grateful and thankful we want to give something back.”
The couple have organised the fundraising ball, called SCBU DOO and it will be held in the Grand Ballroom of the University Arms Hotel in Cambridge on Saturday, February 18.
Tickets cost £75 and include a three-course meal with wine and raffle tickets.
There will also be an auction with a variety of prizes including a range of Olympic tickets and ‘VIP for a day’ prizes.
Local band Charlie and the Funk Factory, who played at the couple’s wedding, have offered to perform free and be auctioned off to play any event of the winning bidder’s choice in 2012.
Keltic Ties has commissioned a special edition silk bow tie for the event, which is available on the website www.scbudoo.com.
To donate auction prizes, call Andy on 07776 230736.
n The News’ Rosie Campaign is calling on readers to help raise £500,000 towards the cost of a new extension for the hospital, to provide much needed state-of-the-art facilities for women and their babies.
If you are holding a fundraising event, let the News know by calling (01223) 434424.
Firefighters continued to fight a huge blaze in a recycling centre this morning after it went up in flames yesterday evening.
A fire crew from Royston were called to reports of the fire just off the A505 in Flint Cross at 7.10pm.
They arrived to find a recycling unit and 1,000 tonnes of wood chippings well alight.
Assistance was called for and provided by crews from Cambridge, Linton, Swaffham, Papworth, Sawston and further appliances from Royston.
A fire spokeswoman said: “Crews were dealing with the blaze and remained at the scene throughout the night.”
Four fire engines and a water carrier remained on the site this morning.
Police were also in attendance and warned motorists using the A505 to reduce their speed as they pass through smoke in the area.
Fire service officers said they expect to be at the location for at least the next three days.
The future of Melbourn village will be discussed at a council meeting this weekend.
The village’s plan will be examined and discussed and the public will be given the chance to raise concerns and questions.
The village plan steering committee will host the event on Saturday, December 3 in All Saints Community Hall at 2.30pm.
Fire crews had to release a small dog from a reclining chair after it got its head stuck in the mechanism.
Firefighters from Royston were called to a home in Meldreth at 11.37pm on Friday.
They freed the animal and returned to their station at 12.19am.
A train operator is to halve daily car parking charges at one South Cambridgeshire station – and abolish charges at another.
First Capital Connect said it will implement a 50 per cent reduction at Meldreth, and bring in free parking at Shepreth. Daily parking at either costs £3.
The decision comes after consultations between the train company and residents, in which people from Meldreth, Shepreth and Foxton volunteered to make improvements to the stations, including creating a community garden.
Susan van de Ven, chairwoman of Meldreth Rail User Group, said she was “bowled over” by the news. She said: “I would like to thank First Capital Connect for truly listening to our case. This will make a huge practical difference to rail commuters who are on a tight budget.”
Driver James Burnham sped through a red light – at one of the county’s most dangerous railway crossings.
Burnham went across Foxton rail crossing despite the amber, and then red, lights showing for seven seconds before he arrived, indicating a train was on its way.
CCTV cameras at the notorious crossing, where numerous reckless drivers have risked their lives and those of train passengers by ignoring warning lights, caught the 27-year-old as he drove to work.
Simon Becker, mitigating, told Cambridge magistrates that Burnham, of Myrtle Drive, Burwell, thought he would be too close to the lights to stop safely.
But presiding magistrate Derek Manning said there was “absolutely no excuse. We all know it is an extremely dangerous crossing. We cannot believe that you took a chance like that.”
Mr Manning said he would not disqualify Burnham from driving because he needed to use his car to drive to work in Luton every day.
Burnham was fined £500, must pay £30 costs and a £15 victim surcharge and received three points on his licence.
Residents are “deeply troubled” by a proposal to build a convenience store and flats on the car park in Market Hill.
The planning application, which would see a convenience store and four two-bedroom flats built on the old cattle market site, is set to face stiff opposition from residents.
The application has been put forward by Royston-based property developers Manhattan Corporation.
The new store would employ 16 full-time staff and four part-time, and would be open every day from 7am to 11pm.
There would be a customer entrance on Market Hill, with a goods entrance off Fish Hill.
Guy Snell, who lives in Market Hill, said: “We know something has to be done with this car park as it is in an untidy state but we’re deeply troubled by the proposed development.
“Quite apart from the direct impact on our property of night time noise, loss of light and increased overlooking, our view is Royston as a whole will lose.
“We think the problem of town centre parking, which is already a significant issue, will be exacerbated by the proposal. We also think a large convenience store might take trade away from the existing market and small shops already struggling to survive in the town centre.
“Overall we believe the site, which is in a prominent town centre position, represents a big opportunity to enhance the appeal of Royston and think the developer’s proposal falls a long way short in this respect.
“Therefore, we are objecting and plan to organise a group with the aim of ensuring this application is rejected and the old cattle market is appropriately developed.”
In a statement supporting the application, developers say the new building will “positively contribute to the character, distinctiveness and significance of Royston town centre.”
The application states: “We believe that there is a distinct lack of convenience retail in Royston. This development will bring back trade and help revitalise the town centre.”
The application is currently in the consultation stage, and residents can have their say on the plans via the North Hertfordshire County Council’s website.
The trials and tribulations of the Harry Potter series have more than a passing reference to the Bible, according to a Barkway church minister.
So much so the Reverend Sonia Falaschi-Ray, 54, of Church Lane, has penned the book Harry Potter: A Christian Chronicle to illustrate how much the major themes of the boy wizard books and the religious text have in common.
A non-stipendiary minister at the benefice of Barkway, Buckland and Reed with Barley, she said: “The reason I started to write this was I was concerned some conservative Christian children weren’t allowed to read Harry Potter because of the witchcraft elements.
“I thought this was crazy as in fact it’s a highly moralistic story and Rowling taps into a lot of moral and biblical ideas.”
A fan of JK Rowling’s books, it was after a particular busy service period she decided to get away from it all and read the eight books back to back and compounded her belief the messaging was similar.
The book also includes a study guide, allowing readers to delve deeper into the Christian parallels and symbolism contained in Harry Potter, helping them deepen their own knowledge of the Bible.
She added: “This book is for Harry Potter fans, whether or not they are Christians and for Christians whether or not they are Harry Potter fans – yet. I really hope this will inspire people to read the novels and see the remarkable depth of understanding J K Rowling has of the human condition.”
Published by the Book Guild, Harry Potter: A Christian Chronicle is available on www.amazon.co.uk and other online booksellers, priced at £9.99.
It is being launched tomorrow at The Reading Room, 12 High Street, Barkway, from 6.30pm 8.30pm.
Sonia will talk about the book over wine and nibbles and writer and broadcaster Christina Rees, who has written an introduction to the book, will also be present.