Finally, ECDC See Sense With Ely Car Park Plan

Finally ECDC have seen sense and taken heed to the outcry caused by their aborted attemps to charge fo all parking in Ely. This week ECDC voted overwhemingly to provide funds of £900,00 for a 150-space pay-and-display car park in Angel Drove that would primarily serve the rail users whose cars currently clutter up the streets close to Ely Rail Station and hopefully ease traffic congestion and free spaces in the city centre car parks (as our illustration above shows, Ely can get congested!).

Some seven months ago Ely Online suggested that instead of charging for city centre parking the council would be better served introducing a park & ride scheme:
Why not have a Park & Ride Scheme built on the Angel Drove area of Ely expressly targeted to the commuters who use the Railway Station, people who work in Ely but need to drive in and of course daytrippers.
Not quite what we suggested but a positive move all the same, a point echoed by Ely Traders’ Association chairman, Elaine Griffin-Singh, who said: ‘We are extremely pleased that the council has listened to our suggestion to build a new car park for Ely as long as the rest of Ely remains free then everybody wins’.

As long as the rest of Ely remains free then everybody wins.

Charges are likely to be £2 a day with concessions for season ticket holders and at weekends shoppers to Ely will be able to benefit from long stay parking at a reduced rate to encourage shoppers outside the city to visit Ely.

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Mississippi’s Invisible Coast

Image: Thank You

I will be away for the next couple of weeks visiting my girlfriend in the Gulf Coast of America, primarily Ocean Springs. I am not sure what to expect from the area that was so devastated by Hurricane Katrina and will (if time permits) comment on my experiences visiting Biloxi, Waveland, Gautier and possibly New Orleans.

What happened along the coast of Mississippi will always be over-shadowed by the floods in New Orleans, but the destruction along the South Mississippi Coast was far greater. An editorial from Mississippi’s Sun Herald titled ‘Mississippi’s Invisible Coast’ sums up the South Coast’s feeling of isolation in the media:

Mississippi’s Invisible Coast

As Aug. 29 recedes into the conscious time of many Americans, the great storm that devastated 70 miles of Mississippi’s Coast, destroying the homes and lives of hundreds of thousands, fades into a black hole of media obscurity.

Never mind that, if taken alone, the destruction in Mississippi would represent the single greatest natural disaster in 229 years of American history. The telling of Katrina by national media has created the illusion of the hurricane’s impact on our Coast as something of a footnote.

The awful tragedy that befell New Orleans as a consequence of levee failures at the time of Katrina, likewise, taken by itself, also represents a monumental natural disaster. But, of course, the devastation there, and here, were not separate events, but one, wrought by the Aug. 29 storm.

There is no question that the New Orleans story, like ours, is a compelling, ongoing saga as its brave people seek to reclaim those parts of the city lost to the floods.

But it becomes more and more obvious that to national media, New Orleans is THE story – to the extent that if the Mississippi Coast is mentioned at all it is often in an add-on paragraph that mentions “and the Gulf Coast” or “and Mississippi and Alabama.”

The television trucks and satellite dishes that were seen here in the early days have all but disappeared.

While there has been no study to quantify the amount of coverage accorded to the plight of so many here or in New Orleans, it is obvious to any observer that the number of news stories on New Orleans is many times that of those focused on Mississippi.

So, why does that matter?

It matters first as it relates to journalism’s obligations to cover human beings whose conditions are as dire as those that exist here.

The depth of the suffering and the height of the courage of South Mississippians is an incredible story that the American people must know. But, in the shadows of the New Orleans story, the Mississippi Coast has become invisible and forgotten to most Americans.

Could it be possible that the ongoing story of an Alabama teenager missing in Aruba has received more coverage on some cable networks than all of the incredibly compelling stories of courage, loss and need of untold thousands of Mississippians? Maybe a lot more coverage?

The second reason that the coverage matters is in the realm of politics. If the American people and their elected representatives do not truly know the scope of the destruction here, and if they are not shown the ongoing conditions afflicting so many, then there are consequences which are playing out even this week in Washington, where Congress will act, or not act, to relieve the incredible pain that has reduced the condition of so many American citizens to Third World status or worse.

If the people do not know, they cannot care.

We believe if they are shown the extent of the devastation and the suffering, they and their representatives will respond.

So the coverage matters. A lot.

The problem, to some extent, is that you have to be here and see it for yourself to comprehend the utter destruction that is so much like Berlin or Tokyo after World War II.

We would like to invite our news colleagues from across the nation to come and view the Coast with us. It is impossible to comprehend this disaster from afar. A television can display only a single screen of the damage. When you have driven mile after mind-numbing mile and viewed the complete nothingness where cities and homes and businesses once stood, only then will you begin to understand what has happened here.

Then you will begin to wonder, where are all the people who used to live on this beautiful shore? What has happened to their families and all of those shattered lives? That is when you will understand that the story of Katrina in South Mississippi isn’t over, it has only begun.

On the third day after Katrina crushed us, this newspaper appealed to America: “Help us now,” the headline implored. America answered with an outpouring of love and help. That response saved us then.

Our plea to newspapers and television and radio and Web sites across the land is no less important today: Please, tell our story. Hear the voice of our people and tell it far and wide.

We are here. Do not forsake us.

We are no footnote.

And one more thing…

Thank you. To every out-of-state volunteer, to every friend and family member who has sent supplies or prayers, we sincerely thank you.

And we ask that you do one more thing: Call your senators and your congressional representative and ask them to support additional aid for South Mississippi’s recovery.

We couldn’t have gotten off our knees without you. But we can’t get back on our feet without federal help.

Katrina’s toll in Mississippi

  • $125 billion: Estimated $ cost of damage caused by Katrina
  • 231: Identified dead statewide
  • 5: Unidentified dead
  • 67: Missing
  • 65,380: Houses in South Mississippi destroyed
  • 383,700: Mississippi insurance claims filed (Katrina and Rita)
  • $5 billion: Claims paid (as of Nov. 21)
  • 141,000: Insurance claims filed in South Mississippi
  • $1.3 billion: Claims paid in South Mississippi
  • 44 million: Estimated cubic yards of debris in South Mississippi
  • 21.8 million: Cubic yards removed as of Dec. 5
  • 20,447: Red Cross staff and volunteers in Mississippi
  • 5,543,006: Red Cross meals served
  • 42,768: People sheltered by Red Cross
  • 229: Red Cross shelters opened
  • $185 million: Red Cross money spent in South Mississippi as of Nov. 30

Biloxi Post-Katrina Slideshow

Click the photograph below to see a slide show of all our photographs!

Image: South Mississippi's Hurricane Katrina

Some Drive-By Video

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Hat’s Off To Ely’s Hereward Pub

Image: Betty Wilbraham

As I am currently in Mississippi I am a little late running this article that once again puts Ely’s newest pub, the Hereward in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. The story was brought to my attention by the sheer number of comments I received relating to articles (1st article, 2nd article) Ely Online published about the Hereward Pub.

As security risks go it would be hard to imagine what risk an 82 year old poses. But that’s exactly what they labelled retired school teacher and Woman’s Institute member Betty Wilbraham when she ran foul of the Hereward Pub’s rule that bans any person from wearing any type of headwear. The rule was introduced primarily to twart potential young trouble makers from hiding their face from the pubs invasive 13 camera CCTV system.

Outraged Betty had entered the pub for a lunchtime meal after a busy morning shopping and had just ordered her meal when a member of the bar staff said to Betty: ‘Would you mind taking your hat off as this is a hatless pub’. A clearly bemused Betty said: ‘On the other occasions I shared a table with two ladies who were wearing hats and there was no problem.’

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Hollywood Movie Stars To Visit Ely

Image: Cate Blanchett

Ely will once again pay host to some of Hollywood’s latest A list movie stars this May. Cate Blanchett, Geoffrey Rush and Clive Owen will visit Ely (and Cambridge) to start principal photography for a new period drama, Golden Age, the follow-up to Working Title’s 1998 award-winning film Elizabeth which follows the early years of Elizabeth I’s life and reign.
Golden Age, an historical thriller set against the backdrop of the religious fanaticism of the late 16th century, picks up the story 15 years on from the events of Elizabeth and visits the ‘Virgin Queen’ in the middle years of her reign.

Crews are set to use Ely Cathedral and an as yet unnamed Cambridge University college to double as buildings from Elizabeth’s reign, from 1558-1603, with studio filming taking place at the famous Shepperton Studios in Middlesex.

In the past Ely has been a popular location for film studios. In 1985 Ely saw Al Pacino and Donald Sutherland on location in Cherry Hill Park, the Palace Green and Silver Street for the box office flop ‘Revolution‘, 1987 saw David Jason and Ian Richardson on location for the TV series ‘Porterhouse Blue‘.

Ely Online In South Mississippi

Image: Crocodile in Ocean Springs

I once again find myself sitting on a plane on my way back from a magical time with my girlfriend, Nena and feeling a bit sad. For the past 2 weeks I have been in Ocean Springs, South Mississippi. I was apprehensive about visiting the region after such destruction 6 months earlier by Hurricane Katrina but being in the arms of my girlfriend negated any hesitance on my part.

So what did we do? Well yes, we done that! I caught the ‘Katrina Cough’! We visited the carnage the tidal surge inflicted along the many miles of coast in South Mississippi – in particular Gulfport-Biloxi. We visited an eerie post-Katrina New Orleans with 800,000 people still to return. Hell, I even saw a crocodile that wasn’t in captivity! But most of all Nena and myself spent precious time together.

They say the best way to get over the blues of a holiday being over is to start planning the next one. So only 6 months to go until the next! In the mean time here is a roundup of notable moments from the trip I took from Saturday March 4th through Saturday March 18th.

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Council Snatch Squads, Ransom Demanded

Image: Cambridge County Council

Tuesday saw the East Highways Division of Cambridgeshire County Council sanction a snatch squad to enter the City Centre and forcibly remove, without warning, the street advertising boards of Ely’s independent traders and then demand a ransom of £20 per board for their safe return, it is believed the boards are being held somewhere in Witchford.

One trader who wished to remain anonymous, for fear of reprisal said: ‘I have had so many people coming into my shop saying they wouldn’t have known it was here unless they had seen the advertising board’

The CCC defended the move saying it gave traders plenty of warning and is meeting a Government directive given to every local authority across the country to destroy any hope independent traders have of making their business a success.

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