The Maltings Is Back!

Ely’s riverside is going to be the place to be for the young and old now with the Maltings set to reopen this week.

The building will once again become the heart of the riverside as a place to have something to eat, see the latest film or stop for a cup of tea.

The reopening follows a complete renovation of the building from the kitchen to the conference rooms to a whole new roof. This took place while Leith’s – a renown expert in catering and hospitality working in such places as the Royal Albert Hall and Somerset House won the contract to run the building.

The doors will be opening on Thursday 26 March for the public to come in and test the facilities ahead of a launch event on 2 April.

Cllr Fred Brown, Leader of East Cambridgeshire District Council, said: “The Maltings is a key building for the regeneration of Ely’s riverside and we are glad to have it back. In these difficult economic times, going out for an evening meal, taking in a bit of culture or even a quick drink helps to make things a little better and can briefly take your mind off the state of the world. All the things that make the Maltings great will be coming back from the cinema, conference facilities and restaurant.

“The building will be open to the public from 26 March ahead of the official opening on the 2 April as Leith’s test all the new equipment and facilities to make sure they are all working well. So please come on down, have a cup of tea or a snack and let us know what you think of the place. We think you will like it so it can once again be the place to be on a Friday or Saturday night.”

For more information please contact the Maltings on 01353 662633.
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Council Tax Up 4.9% – Here’s The Council’s Excuse!

The repercussions of an appalling Government grant has forced East Cambridgeshire District Council to make difficult choices as it prepares to set council tax rates to fund vital services which people need in difficult economic times.

After receiving less than a one per cent increase in its Government grant for the next financial year – an increase of just 65p per person – the District Council is proposing to set a budget to deliver the wide range of essential services which the Council offers to residents.

The recession has also meant that the Council’s budget has been hit hard with falling interest rates and reductions in fees and charges taking almost £1 million pounds out of the Council’s coffers.

In order to cope with tiny financial settlement and provide core services such as recycling programmes, leisure services, and homelessness initiatives, the authority has found over £300,000 of efficiency savings to pay for them and statutory services and has agreed a further £350,000 of one-off budget reductions to get through the downturn.

Further measures to balance the budget have been proposed including an increase in council tax of 4.9 per cent. The average tax charge, if finally approved by Full Council in 2009, means in real terms an increase of £6.12 next year for a band D council taxpayer. This works out as less than 12p a week on a band D bill.

Councillor Fred Brown, Leader of East Cambridgeshire District Council, said: “Every year it becomes more and more difficult to set a budget for the year which will pay for all the services we have to provide. This was severely handicapped by our Government Grant settlement which was appalling – effectively forcing us to make stringent budget savings as well as passing on some of the costs to residents. With the recession now confirmed and with residents tightening their belts, the pressure is on us even more to provide the high quality services which people have the right to expect with real value for money.

“After finding £650,000 in efficiency savings, the District Council has decided to set a council tax increase of 4.9 per cent to balance our budget. In setting this figure, I promise you we have tightened our belts as much as we can. We know how difficult the next year could be and we have tried to reduce the financial burden on the rate payer.

“It should be remembered that the District Council‘s share of the overall council tax is only 10 per cent of the bill – a small portion compared with the other local public services such as the Police, Fire, and County Council. This leaves us with a relatively small budget but we are determined to give you the best possible services for the money which we get.”

No Lidl For Ely – Inspector Dismisses Appeal

A Planning Inspector has today dismissed an appeal by Lidl to open a new food store at Angel Drove in Ely.

The decision upholds the stance taken by the District Council to refuse the application on the grounds of its location, which would do little, if anything to strengthen the town centre.

In coming to his decision, the Inspector heard seven days of legal argument from the Council, Lidl’s legal team and other interested parties along with reading over hundreds of pages of evidence.

In summing up his decision, David Wildsmith said: “Further convenience retail development on the appeal site would simply serve to strengthen and increase the attraction of this out-of-centre location, and would do little if anything to strengthen the town centre.”

Lucie Turnell, Team Leader – Development Services at East Cambridgeshire District Council, said: “The decision to dismiss the appeal will significantly affect the location of future provision of retailing in Ely, stressing that consumer choice should be met in locations that strengthen and support the centre. The decision will also hopefully give confidence to Aldi, who have recently been given planning permission in Ely, to press ahead with their plans.

“These are difficult economic times and it is vital we do all we can to support existing traders who have made the city their home. We are constantly in discussion with developers who want to enhance our city and it is our job to make sure these plans and projects benefit us all no matter our income. This case was never about the specific retailer ie Lidl – despite claims to the otherwise – it was about where the store would have been located.”

Fancy A Free Guided Tour Around Ely?

Visitors and residents of Ely can experience a free guided tour round Ely this Sunday as part of Open Heritage Weekend.

With tours departing from 11am outside Oliver Cromwell’s House in Ely, people can hear about the potted history of the city, the massive impact of the cathedral and how the Riverside has changed over time from commerce to leisure.

There is no booking necessary and the tour lasts approximately one and a half hours.

Tracey Harding, Tourism Team Leader at East Cambridgeshire District Council, said: “The Open Heritage Weekend is a great opportunity to learn about the history of the places on your very doorstep – for free. I speak to many people who have lived in Ely for years and who don’t really know the amazing history of this small but magnificent city. So this Sunday you have your chance to be taken round the ancient streets by one of our very best guides.
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Companies Tender To Run The Maltings

The first round of the process to find a new company to run the Maltings, the historic centre for conferences, exhibitions and banqueting in Ely, has been completed with seven companies short-listed for the next stage.

An independent external consultant vetted the 12 initial expressions of interest, looking at areas such as the ability to invest in the building and whether they would be capable of running a prestigious community venue.

The seven short listed companies, which were unanimously agreed by all parties at Policy and Resources Committee, will now have 50 days to submit their full tender ready for a final decision to be made so the building can reopen later this year.

The short listed companies are: Crown Group (UK) Ltd, Duchy Catering, Sedoxo Prestige, Digby Trout Restaurants (Elior), Alfresco, Yes Dining and Leiths (Compass).
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Ely Maltings Closed For 6 Months

The Maltings, the historic centre for conferences, exhibitions and banqueting in Ely has now closed for six months for essential repairs.

The Council informed the public last year that the building was coming up for a scheduled refit of it’s roof in May and the building would need to close to protect the public for a period of up to six months.

The repair work will coincide with the end of the District Council’s contract with Eliance who currently provide the catering and exhibition facilities at the Maltings. The Council is currently looking into the various options for the future of the building but has confirmed that it will continue to house a cinema when it reopens.

The Maltings, built in 1868 for the brewery of Ebenezer William Harlock, is a grade II listed building. The work which is set to begin next week will include reinstating an original pattern on the four slopes of the tower roof using a combination of traditional details.

Councillor John Humphreys, Chairman of Asset Management Committee, said: “We tried to give people as long a warning as possible about the closure of the Maltings in October last year as there are so many events which take place at the building. People have been very understanding about the need to get this work done and it will begin immediately to repair the roof.
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Babylon Gallery To Close! Ely Cinema Survives!

Back in October we wrote about the slashing of funds to ADeC. One of the theories we discussed was that the council wanted to sell Babylon Bridge House for development. Well, Babylon Gallery is to close at the end of it’s current program. It looks increasingly likely the building will be sold. We’ll have to wait and see whether thats to developers. Here is ECDC’s press release about saving Ely Cinema:

There will be a cinema at the core of the final arts solution for East Cambridgeshire, the two organisations responsible for arts delivery in the District have announced today.

East Cambridgeshire District Council and ADeC (Arts Development in East Cambridgeshire) have been holding a series of meetings to determine the future priorities for the District.

In the latest meeting, both organisations agreed a cinema was key to the future of arts in the District and would be a major priority in the new arts service for East Cambridgeshire.

Councillor Peter Cresswell, Chairman of the Community Services Committee, said: “Our meetings with ADeC have been very constructive over the last couple of months and we have come to agree on many points. We both realised we could do nothing without listening to what the residents of East Cambridgeshire wanted. They have told us loud and clear that they see a cinema as being vital to the arts in the District.
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The Boat Race Founders’ Ely Celebrations

Commemorating Charles Merivale (Dean of Ely 1869 – 1893) and Charles Wordsworth (Bishop of St. Andrews 1852 – 1892) who inspired and rowed in the first Oxford & Cambridge Boat Race in 1829

On 8th March we will celebrate Charles Merivale’s bicentenary and recognise the important part that he and his good friend, Charles Wordsworth, played in establishing the Oxford & Cambridge University Boat Race. The annual encounter is now watched by thousands of people from the banks of the River Thames and viewed by a television audience of many millions around the world.

As you can see from the timetable below, a full day of events is planned for everyone to come to, and I am particularly pleased to welcome those members of the Wordsworth and Merivale families who are able to be with us on this very special day.

Our corporate, civic and private sponsors, and the many event supporters, have enabled us to arrange an interesting programme for you, and on behalf of the society, I thank them all for their generosity.

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New Cycle Path Proposed For Ely

Keen cyclists in Ely could be set to benefit from a new section of cycle path if it receives approval from Council Chiefs next week.

The upgraded footpath/cycleway linking Lynn Road to High Barns, if funding is approved will mean a safer journey for cyclists and pedestrians who use the existing path. New lighting and surfacing will make the link way more attractive, especially for parents taking their children to Spring Meadow Infant School and St Mary’s Junior School.

The scheme is a joint initiative between East Cambridgeshire District Council and Cambridgeshire County Council who will match fund the expected £100,000 required for the project.

Councillors will be asked to approve funding for the scheme at next week’s Environment and Transport Committee before going before the East Cambridgeshire Traffic Management Area Joint Committee on 28th January. If funding is approved work will begin later this year.
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Work in Ely and need to park all day?

District Council officers are appealing to businesses in Ely for information as they seek to determine whether a permit-parking scheme for employees is viable in the city.

With new car parking regulations due to come into force on 10th December, there will be early morning restrictions on all city centre long stay public car parks, allowing vehicles to park for 90 minutes between 8:00 am and 10:00 am.

In essence this will mean that if vehicles park at 8:30am they will be able to remain in the car park for the remainder of the day unrestricted. However if they park earlier than 8:00am they will have to leave the car park by 9:30am and will be unable to return for two hours.

The District Council has written to businesses in the city to find out whether a special permit scheme for companies in Ely is required and wanted, and what the level of demand could potentially be.

Councillor John Seaman MBE, Chairman of the Environment & Transport Committee, said: “The new car parking regime which is to start in December is designed to meet the needs of shoppers, visitors and commuters. However, we do not want to inconvenience those who work in the city.

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Farmers Market 7th Birthday

This Saturday (14th July), Ely’s Farmers’ Market is celebrating it’s seventh birthday and ‘MP’s support their markets Month’ with a visit from James Paice, MP for Cambridgeshire South East and Councillor Fred Brown, Chairman of East Cambridgeshire District Council.

As part of the birthday celebrations a face painter will be on hand to decorate accompanied children, there will be information on how the Farmers Market can reduce carbon footprints and competitions will also be held during the morning.

To complete the celebrations, there will be a birthday cake supplied by Tom’s Cakes, one of the Farmers Market traders for market shoppers to try.

Councillor Fred Brown, Chairman of East Cambridgeshire District Council, said: “Farmers markets are a modern interpretation of an age-old idea, that local farmers and food producers have a place in which to sell their wares locally to local people. At a time when many markets are in decline, Ely Markets remain well supported and have continued to evolve to ensure they meet the needs of our growing population. Our success in achieving a highly commended in the National Market Awards earlier this year shows the achievements of Ely Markets.
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You Are Lawful But We Dislike You!

Planners at East Cambridgeshire District Council have received an application for a Certificate of Lawfulness from the developer who owns Roswell Pits.

The application covers a range of uses and works that the owner considers do not require planning permission. It includes the use of the Pits for boats, temporary moorings, maintenance works and temporary works.

Developers make applications for Certificates of Lawfulness in order to establish whether activities or works can go ahead without planning permission.

The Council will take legal advice before determining the application. The onus is on the applicant to supply significant supporting documentary evidence. The decision on such applications is taken purely on this factual information, without any regard to ‘suitability’ considerations or reference to local planning policies. Under Planning legislation these applications are not advertised or sent out for consultation with public because it is a legal determination rather than a debate about the acceptability of the proposals.
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No Butts About It – Ely Is Smokefree

From Sunday 1st July, the Health Act 2006 becomes law. This means smoking in all workplaces and public places will be banned.

Image: Ely Is Smoke Free

As East Cambridgeshire gears up to go smoke free this weekend, officers from ECDC are giving out final reminders about what the new laws will mean.

The smoke free legislation means shops, pubs, offices should be places free of smokers lighting up and any second hand cigarette smoke. If any public or work places do not comply with law, they may face fixed penalty notices or fines.

Liz Knox, Head of Environmental Services & Housing, said: “Basically the legislation means that any place of work or enclosed public space should be smoke free. This includes places like restaurants, shops, museums and more significantly work places which means an end to smoking rooms in the office. Landlords will also have to ensure that common parts of shared houses comply with the legislation.

“There has been a tremendous amount of advertising and publicity regarding the new legislation so there will be no excuse for pleading ignorance especially with fines in the region of £50 – £200 for non compliance. My team will be about from Sunday to enforce the legislation but the feedback we have had leads us to believe the new laws will be self enforcing with everyone taking time to enjoy their new environment.”

Turn Detective To Uncover Ely’s Secrets

This weekend, detectives are needed to uncover clues throughout the historic city of Ely to be used in the ultimate showdown at the Oliver Cromwell House.

East Cambridgeshire District Council and ‘Live the City’ are teaming up on Sunday 27th May to offer visitors to Ely the chance to take part in a fascinating self-guided walking tour of city to gather answers that can be then used in a big screen interactive quiz.

The event will be the first time the new interactive treasure hunt quiz has come to East Cambridgeshire and is a revolutionary way of introducing visitors to an area as well as being a new way to approach team building.

Tracey Harding, Tourism Team Leader for East Cambridgeshire District Council, said: “Visiting a place for the first time can be a fairly daunting experience especially as there is always the fear that you might miss something. This is why we have teamed up with ‘Live the City’ to offer visitors and residents alike the chance to discover Ely in a whole new way.
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Monster Eel Spotted In Ely

Reports of a thirty-foot eel slithering down the High Street in Ely would normally cause mass panic but not last weekend.

For ‘Eddie the eel’ was part of celebrations to mark Eel Day, where hundreds of visitors turned out to take part in the procession through the city accompanied by Ely’s very own samba band and 12 town criers from around the country.

Image: Eel Day

‘Eddie’, made by Barns Young People Forum and carnival artist John Lyons, led the revellers all the way down to Jubilee Gardens, where thousands more took part in a whole host of eel related events. There were musical performances, children’s theatre and historical re-enactments but the highlights were the Town Crier contest and Eel throwing competition.

Tracey Harding, Tourism and Events Officer for East Cambridgeshire District Council said: “We could not have asked for a better day. There was beautiful weather, a massive turn out and some incredible events for everyone to experience. The eel throwing competition was a record defying event with some truly spectacular performances and distances thrown.
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Come And Have An Eely Good Day

Ely is set to be inundated by all types of eels on Saturday 28th April for the city’s fourth Annual Eel Day.

The day will encompass a whole range of events to celebrate Ely’s heritage and historic association with the humble eel.

Image: Ellie The Eel

Starting at noon, a carnival like procession led by ‘Ellie the Eel’, Ely’s Samba Band and 12 Town Criers will start from Cross Green next to the Cathedral and head along part of the City’s Eel Trail Heritage Walk, down to the Waterside. The procession will end in the Jubilee Gardens where a whole host of eel related activities are planned.

Anyone is welcome to join in the parade which will include members of Ely’s Lantern Studios and children from Ely Barns Group. They have spent their Easter holidays working with local artist John Lyons to help make the event’s mascot: ‘Ellie the Eel’.

Tracey Harding, Tourism and Events Officer for East Cambridgeshire District Council said: “The Annual Eel Day is all about celebrating Ely’s culture and traditions as well as encouraging awareness of the Eel Trail. On the day, there will be the chance to experience life in years gone past with a living encampment showing the trades and wares of the time while for the more adventurous there will be the chance to taste smoked and jellied eels.
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Ever Thought About Running For Office?

Have you ever thought about running for office? Do you think you could help improve your local community and parish? Do you want to get involved in how the district is run?

If so nominations are still open for anyone who wants to stand for election on the 3rd May to become a District and/or a Parish Councillor in East Cambridgeshire.

All 39 seats for the District Council are up for election with a deadline of noon on the 4th April for nominations to be submitted.

John Hill, Chief Executive and Returning Officer at East Cambridgeshire District Council, said: “Becoming a District Councillor can be a demanding but very rewarding role. You have the opportunity to represent your community and parish to influence some of the critical decisions which need to be made on East Cambridgeshire’s future.
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Swimming Sessions A Success For The Disabled

After a successful trial, swimming sessions especially for people with disabilities and their families has had over 170 users since they began in the winter.

The session which runs on Sundays from 1.30 – 2.30pm at the Paradise Pool, Ely is open to all people with disabilities. The sessions provide the opportunity for whole families to spend some recreational time together in a fun and relaxing environment.

The move is a joint initiative between Disport East Cambs and the Paradise Pool is designed to meet the needs of people with disabilities and their families.

Jenny Lowe, Sports Development Officer, East Cambridgeshire District Council said: “Over 170 disabled people and their families have taken advantage of the swimming session at the Paradise Pool. As a great way to get fit, swimming is an activity available to everyone and we are really pleased so many have been coming to the session.
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The Ely Cookery Lectures By Alison Sloane

Image: Alison Sloane

Food throughout history has had a huge effect on the culture and development of nations from the Irish potato famine to the success of conquering armies to the introduction of spices from the East.

To celebrate this impact, Oliver Cromwell’s House in Ely is running a series of cookery themed lectures throughout the year from local food historian, chef, lecturer and writer, Alison Sloan.

Alison will be spending two hours with her audience; this will include a talk, cookery demonstration and then the chance to eat what has been made during the refreshment break. Recipe cards are also provided to recreate the dishes at home.

Image: Oliver Cromwell House

The first lecture will be on Tuesday 24th April between 2.00–4pm and will discuss ‘The History of Afternoon Tea’. Visitors will hear about the history of afternoon tea and then see a selection of mouth-watering cakes and savouries made.

Tracey Harding, Tourism and Events Officer at East Cambridgeshire District Council, said: ”The course of human history has been affected by many things such as religion and commerce but food has also made a significant impact. Wars have been won and lost on the supply of sustenance as recognised by Napoleon when he said ‘An army marches on its stomach.’ The lectures at Oliver Cromwell’s House may not be that life or death but they will certainly make you think.
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Relax, Enjoy, Recycle In Jubilee Gardens

Visitors,who come to the Jubilee Gardens in Ely to relax, read a newspaper and drink a bottle of water, now have somewhere to recycle their items when they have finished.

The new Mini On-Street Recycling Bin is the first in any of East Cambridgeshire’s parks and open spaces and accepts the following items:

  1. Plastic bottles (without lids and squashed)
  2. Glass Bottles
  3. Drink Cans
  4. Paper (newspaper, magazines)

Keith Stronach, Principal Facilities Officer at ECDC, said: “We know there are lots of people who come to the opens spaces in the district to relax, read a magazine or have a picnic. A number of these people got in touch with us to ask whether we could provide some recycling facilities so they weren’t just throwing away their papers and food containers. Members of the Parks and Open Spaces teams also had the same idea so we have set the bin up in the Jubilee Gardens as a trial.

Image: The new Mini On-Street Recycling Bin

“The Mini On-Street Recycling Bin will accept paper, glass, plastic bottles and cans – so will be useful for visitors or boat owners who have moored by the riverside. In the week that it has been in position, we have already emptied it four times which proves it is being used.
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The Car Parking Controversy & Ely Cathedral

Image: Ely Cathedral

The Dean & Chapter of Ely Cathedral have released a statement to deny claims that Ely Cathedral are currently negotiating with ECDC to lease the small piece of land next to the Broad Street car park with a view to extending the car park. Here is the full statement from the Ely Cathedral website.

As a result of the recent correspondence and coverage in both the national & local media, the Dean & Chapter of Ely Cathedral feel it necessary to make an official statement regarding the East Cambridgeshire District Council’s plans to use an area of Cathedral land to extend the Broad Street car park.

The ECDC (East Cambs. District Council) approached the Cathedral in January 2006 about leasing the small piece of land next to the Broad Street car park with a view to extending the car park to create approximately 59 new spaces. As with any request of this nature the Dean & Chapter would not be in a position to make any decision without input from two legally established independent bodies; firstly the Cathedral’s Fabric Advisory Committee (FAC) and secondly the Cathedral Fabric Commission for England (CFCE) which is based in London and has executive authority over both the FAC and the Dean & Chapter on all matters regarding the Cathedral fabric, buildings and land.
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Thousands Visit Ely’s Eel Day

Image: Ellie The Eel

People came in their thousands on Saturday to celebrate what is fast becoming one of Ely’s most successful events. Many joined the eel like procession, snaking its way from the town into Jubilee Gardens. Led by Star 107’s Promo Car and Ely Samba’s Band, the procession stretched from the bottom of Forehill to the very top. Once in the gardens, the magnificent 3-metre high galvanized steel Eel was unveiled by Anglia TV weather girl Wendy Hurrell. A gift from the Rotary Club of Ely to the people of Ely and District, it was accepted on behalf of the community by Councillor Jeremy Friend-Smith, Chairman of East Cambridgeshire District Council.

Rotary President, Keith Butterworth, explained that the members of his Club had decided to mark the centenary of Rotary International by commissioning the Eel from Peter Baker, a well-known artist in steel who lives in Pymoor. £7000 had been raised in ‘cash and kind’ to enable the project to be brought to completion. Much of the money had come from Rotarians’ own pockets, but the local companies and corporate bodies who had also generously donated were acknowledged in a commemorative pamphlet which was given.
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