Author Archives: Eric Rayner

Council responds to claims of vote rigging


Peterborough City Council has responded to allegations that postal votes in the Westminster by-election were rigged.

The Brexit Party, which finished second in the poll behind Labour, made a number of claims after the poll that postal votes had swung the result and that a large number had come from Asian households within the city.

The Daily Mail followed up with a story headlined “Jailed vote-rigger’s role in Labour’s by-election victory” naming Tariq Mahmood as a man front and centre in mobilising Labour’s Muslim vote. The article also quoted Conservative Party concerns about his role.

This week, the city council – the body responsible for running all elections – hit back in a statement emphasising how strict the rules and checks are relating to postal votes. The statement said:

“Each postal-vote application must contain the elector’s date of birth and their signature. This information is then stored on the council’s electoral database and used to verify the validity of each postal vote returned.

“In order for a postal vote to be accepted, the elector must complete the postal voting statement by adding their date of birth and signature and return the completed pack to the Acting Returning Officer. The information given on this statement is then cross-checked against the elector’s original application. If the date of birth or signature do not match the original application then the postal vote is rejected and will not be included in the final counting of votes.

“This entire matching process was viewed at the Town Hall on a large screen TV that was linked to our electoral software in real time. Appointed postal vote agents from political parties and accredited observers from the Electoral Commission observed this process in full (all parties were invited to attend – the Conservative Party, Labour Party and Brexit Party attended) and were entitled to obtain the return and rejected figures on a daily basis. All those present were entitled to challenge the validity of each returned postal vote statement, and if any were challenged, the Acting Returning Officer would record this and pass this information on to the police for investigation.”

There were 13,682 postal votes issued for the by-election and 9,898 returned, of which 400 were rejected due to either the signature or date of birth (or both) not matching records. In the 2017 Parliamentary election, there were 14,293 postal votes issued, with 11,930 returned and 379 were rejected.

Two new quarries proposed in Thorney

Quarry 1

Two new quarries in Thorney are in the early stages of planning.

This is in addition to the three working quarries within the parish right now.

At this stage, the two new quarries are listed on Peterborough City Council’s Mineral and Waste planning documents and the council is now in the process of assessing the plans.

One of the new sites is at Little Towers Fen which is north of Bukehorn Road. This is a massive quarry with a site area of 230ha reaching almost to Crowland and running alongside the Crowland Road. The proposed opening date is 2030, by which time the reserves in other quarries in the area will have been exhausted.

The second site is at Haynes Farm to the south of the A47 and just beyond Pasture House farm Quarry, which opened for extraction this week and which has caused major disruption on the A47 as the junction with Willow Hall Lane has been altered. Only the part of this quarry east of the Cat’s Water is in Thorney Parish, the remainder is in Eye. The proposed opening date for this quarry is 2028.

It’s not currently clear where access would be, although Little Towers Fen would have to be reached either via Bukehorn Road or Crowland Road; while Haynes Farm quarry access would logically be from the A47.

The city council has asked for comments on these two additional quarries by July 10. Thorney Parish Council will discuss them at their next meeting on July 8 and members of the public are welcome to attend this meeting. They can otherwise make any comments they may have direct to the city council. These should be addressed to Chris Stanek at

Quarrying at Gores Farm, to the west of the Whittlesey Road and once the site of a proposed wind-farm, has been given the green light by the city council, but another proposed quarry at Middle West Farm, to the north of the A47 opposite the existing Pode Hole Farm Quarry was turned down. Thorney Parish Council had expressed concern about lorry traffic on the A47 in relation to this proposal.

The city council has sufficient quarries to meet demand up to 2036 and had not asked for additional sites to be put forward. It has a statutory duty to consider the merits of both Haynes Farm and Little Towers Fen, however.

Firefighters called to bonfire

Fire service

Thorney’s firefighters were called out just before midnight on Thursday to attend a bonfire behind houses on Wisbech Road.

On arrival, firefighters found a large bonfire unattended and extinguished it using a hose reel. They returned to their station by 12.40am.

A Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue spokesman said:

If having a bonfire:

  1. Build your bonfire well clear of buildings, garden sheds, fences and hedges
  2. Never use flammable liquids to start a bonfire, and never burn dangerous items such as aerosol cans, paint tins, foam furniture, or batteries
  3. Don’t leave bonfires unattended. An adult should supervise it until it has burnt out. If it has to be left, damp it down with plenty of water
  4. Always keep a bucket of water or a hosepipe nearby in case of fire
  5. Check the weather – avoid lighting bonfires in high winds.

Labour holds Peterborough with increased majority

Lisa Forbes

Labour held Peterborough by an increased majority of 683 in yesterday’s Parliamentary by election.

However, rather than beating the Conservative party into second place, this time it was the new Brexit party that made the greatest challenge.

Lisa Forbes (pictured with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn) was victorious, beating Brexit’s Mike Greene, with the Conservative candidate, Paul Bristow a poor third.

Labour secured 10,484 votes, well down on the 22,950 at the last general election, although turnout was down from 67 per cent to 48 per cent.

Becky Sellick of the Lib-Dems increased her vote from 1,597 to over 4,000 and the Green party also saw an increase.

Full results were:

BRISTOW Paul The Conservative Party Candidate 7,243
FORBES Lisa Labour Party 10,484 E
GOLDSPINK Stephen Kenneth Savill English Democrats -“Putting England First!” 153
GREENE Mike The Brexit Party 9,801
HOPE Howling Laud The Official Monster Raving Loony Party 112
KIRK Pierre Edmond UK European Union Party (UKEUP) 25
MOORE Andrew John 101
O` FLYNN Patrick James SDP Fighting for Brexit 135
RODGERS Dick Common Good: Remain In The EU 60
ROGERS Tom Christian Peoples Alliance 162
SELLICK Beki Liberal Democrats 4,159
SMITH Bobby Elmo 5
WARD Peter Mark Renew 45
WELLS Joseph Green Party 1,035
WHITBY John UK Independence Party 400


Steve Allen gets new council role

Steve Allen

Thorney councillor Steve Allen is the new Cabinet Member for Housing, Culture and Recreation on Peterborough City Council, following a reshuffle.

The Conservative group lost their slim majority on the city council in the elections this month, but stay in charge following a deal with the Werrington independent councillors.

A press statement said: “Homelessness and rough sleeping is an absolute priority of this administration, and so Steve’s portfolio has been expanded to give a focus to this.

“Cllr Allen also retains responsibility, for ensuring that arts, culture and recreation thrive in this city, which was part of his previous role as a Cabinet Advisor.”

We are against quarries – says Parish Council


An editorial comment in the Thorney Post came under fire at Monday’s Parish Council meeting.

The editorial, asking why there wasn’t a public outcry over the number of quarries being developed between the village and Peterborough, was criticised by Russ Bevington, who said the Parish Council has consistently objected to plans.

“We don’t want extra lorries in the village, we don’t want the congestion, but there is very little we can do,” he said.

“The Parish Council has objected on traffic grounds, but the Highways Agency will never say the A47 can’t cope, no matter how many extra lorries use the road.”

Other councillors asked if there was any benefit to the village from the quarries. They were told there’s a £1 per tonne tax which goes to a national fund and communities affected by quarrying can apply for grants. Thorney had applied in the past but had not been successful.


The Parish Council has said no to a skateboard park in the village.

Recently re-elected city councillor Steve Allen said four people had raised this with him when he was canvassing and he wondered if one might be built on public space at the new Park Farm housing development at the eastern end of the village.

Margaret Long said a skate park had figured quite low down the list when surveys were done to see what type of play equipment was wanted in the park.

Russ Bevington said planning rules would not allow a skate park to be built within 100 metres of homes, so finding somewhere suitable would be difficult.

Ray Wood said if one was built there would be no end of complaints.


The village’s fight against dog mess continues …

The Parish Council has obtained stencils which will allow them to paint warning signs on pavements where fouling is a particular problem. A bin for dog poo is to be installed on the green space at the corner of Chestnut Drive and Berberis Close.


Police are to conduct speed checks along Whittlesey Road in response to complaints about speeding in the extended 30mph limit.


John Bartlett has been re-elected chair of Thorney Parish Council. Margaret Long was re-elected as vice-chair.


The war memorial at the Bedford Hall is suffering from the effects of weathering and its lettering needs to be re-filled.

Ray Wood brought the issue to the attention of Thorney Parish Council, who said the memorial was the property of the Royal British Legion.

Sheila Reeve, who is a member of the legion, said she would raise it at their next meeting and Mr Wood said the council should be prepared to help with cost of repairs.


Bollards along The Causeway will not be removed.

Peterborough City Council has suggested their removal to declutter the road following its downgrade from trunk road status.

But the parish council wants them retained. There was concern that cars would be parked on the verge and that gipsies may also move in.

Members did agree the bollards were very dirty and said they should be washed.


A quote of just under £3,000 has been obtained for making new replica level-crossing gates for Kingsline Close.

Two further quotes are due this month and the council will then apply for grants from the wind-farm community fund.


Rotten village signs will cost around £250 each to be recast in metal.

Andy Bunyan reported figures to the parish council meeting on Monday. The signs would then have to be painted.

The current signs were erected in 1980 paid for by private donations and cost £1,500 for the four.

There had been a suggestion at a previous meeting that the four signs should be replaced by just one, sited on the grass verge at the crossroads.

Russ Bevington said he thought removing a sign from the far end of the village and erecting one at the crossroads would exacerbate the “us and them” feeling among some villagers.


A heritage-style streetlight for Abbey Place will cost the village £4,500, it was reported.

The light was missed when the City Council installed the new streetlights in the “heritage part” of the village as it was inaccurately listed as being in Wisbech Road.

Ray Wood said no-one seemed to have noticed and he didn’t think the parish council should pay any more.


Barbed wire has been strung across a stile on a public footpath linking Whittlesey Road with Toneham. The wire was put up when cows were turned out into the field. It has been reported to the City Council.


Allotment holders should contribute to the cost of an access road, it was agreed by the Parish Council.

The current road was been churned up over winter, making it inaccessible for all but 4x4s.

The parish wants to lay heavy-duty mesh which will prevent the ground being churned up and allow grass to grow through, but the cost might be £6,000.

Andy Bunyan said he thought the City Council should pay as it was their land. Steve Allen suggested the best way forward was to put rents up so that the allotment holders made a contribution, helping pay for the access road over a number of years. He thought the City and Parish Councils could also contribute.

An accurate quote is being sought.


Costs are being obtained to buy privet hedge plants to cover ugly railings at the crossroads.

Free hawthorn hedge plants are available, but Thorney Parish Council wants evergreen privet to hide the railings and match the hedges at the house opposite and the Rose & Crown.

Fifteen to contest Peterborough by-election


Fifteen candidates will contest the Peterborough by-election on June 6.

That compares to just four people who stood for the seat in the 2017 general election.

Betting sites make the Brexit Party candidate Mike Greene narrow early favourite to win from Lisa Forbes (Labour). The Conservatives, who held the seat until 2017, are a long way behind in third at 20-1.

The candidates are (in alphabetical order):

Paul Bristow (Conservative)

Lisa Forbes (Labour)

Stephen Goldspink (English Democrats)

Mike Greene (Brexit Party)

Howling Lord Hope (The Official Monster Raving Loony Party)

Pierre Kirk (UKEUP)

Andrew Moore (Independent)

Patrick O’Flynn (SDP – Fighting for Brexit)

Dick Rodgers (Common Good)

Tom Rogers (Christian People’s Alliance)

Beki Sellick (Liberal Democrats)

Bobby Smith (Independent)

Peter Ward (Renew)

Joseph Wells (Green Party)

John Whitby (UKIP)

Conservatives hold Thorney, lose city

Steve Allen

Steve Allen, Conservative councillor for Eye, Thorney and Newborough, comfortably held his seat in yesterday’s City Council poll.

The results were (in alphabetical order):

Michael Alexander (Green Party) 172

Steve Allen (Conservative Party) 1254

Mary Herdman (Social Democratic Party) 187

Wendy Smith (Labour) 325

Christopher Stowe (Liberal Democrats) 84

Nigel Walls (UKIP) 351

However, across the city, the Conservatives now hold 28 seats compared to 32 seats for other parties and so have lost overall control of Peterborough City Council.

They may yet retain power if they can do a deal with the Werrington First group, which has three seats.


Mother witnesses drug deal in her back garden


A Thorney mother has been left shocked after witnessing two men use her back garden for a drug deal.

The woman, who doesn’t want to be identified for fear of reprisals, told Thorney Post that she was staggered by what she saw.

“Two teenage lads walked along the back of my house and did a drug deal – passing the money and drugs in broad daylight,” she said.

“The guy then pushed the drug packet down the front of his shorts and walked away. Drugs are not welcome in this village and certainly not outside my house where I have young children living.”

High-tech app helps rescue cow

Cow rescue Thorney 14 April 2019

Firefighters rescued a cow from the River Nene in Thorney on Sunday, using a new mobile phone app to locate the farmer and the stranded animal.

The ‘app’ called what3words is accurate to three metres and still works in areas where there isn’t a reliable data signal.

To help crews get to the right location along the river near Old Knarr Fen Drove, Fire Control used the location app to pinpoint the caller and the calf. The location was relayed to crews to ensure they arrived in the correct location as quickly as possible.

Crews from Dogsthorpe, Stanground and Wisbech arrived to find a calf stuck on the riverbank. Working alongside the farmer, firefighters wearing in-water gear, secured the calf using strops, a winch and teleporter.

The calf was released and left in the care on the farmer and a vet.

The app is free to download and works with both iOS and Android phones and Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue is keen for more people to use it.

Station Commander (Control) Clare Smith commented, “Our emergency call handlers are now able to respond to calls where a three-word address is used.

“The new way of identifying precise locations complements the systems we already have in place and can save time when mobilising crews to incidents, where every second counts.

“What3words is a great app and is definitely worth having on your devices, should you ever need it in an emergency.

“Emergencies can happen anywhere, from a road collision in the middle of the countryside, to someone in trouble in a river, to an incident outside a shopping centre, which could have a number of different entrances. In these situations, identifying precisely where help is needed is critical – and this can be near impossible if you are in an area with no address or if that address isn’t good enough to describe exactly where you are.

“Even in a well-addressed town or city, if a caller is in distress they may not be familiar with their surroundings, or able to share a location with accuracy – for example, the description “near Cambridge” will not help emergency services to get to the right place.

“It’s free, it’s simple to use, and one day it might make sure you get the help you need, when you need it.”

1 2 3 27