Letters to the Lincolnshire Free Press editor – w/c December 7,2020
Of course history can be, and should be, rewritten
I am writing in response to Sir John Hayes’ comments regarding the sanitising and rewriting of history and wish to offer an alternative view.
History is dynamic and its recording alters depending on the bias or intention of the writer.
Much of the history of the past was written by someone to commemorate or congratulate, particularly when it comes to historical figures.
These versions of history, a highly sanitised form, were then passed down unquestioned from one generation to the next, but times have thankfully changed.
I absolutely disagree with the view that history cannot or should not be rewritten. When Flag Fen and Must Farm were discovered, our history of the Bronze and Iron Age was rewritten; when family history information became available, freely accessible people rewrote their family histories. We should acknowledge alternative, uncomfortable narratives of historical figures and question whether we should venerate people who have murdered, abused or repressed other people, or those who have been venerated for wartime victories when wars are not won by one person alone.
Sir John Hayes claimed he was speaking on behalf of the silent majority, but the silent majority has historically always been women.
Women are also the silenced majority underrepresented and misrepresented in history and I doubt that there are many, if any, women that he would consider great historical figures.
Local and national pride is something that can unite us all: our country’s history includes men and women, BAME and migrant people, each providing their own unique part of our local or national historical jigsaw.
Sir John would be better to pool his efforts into championing meritorious local historical figures, which would increase pride in his own constituents rather than encouraging us to continue venerating less relevant or divisive national figures.
Our local children need inspirational local figures to aspire to and motive them to be the best versions of themselves.
Figures such as Spalding-born Mary Deacon who bequeathed money for a school to be built in Fleet to educate poor children, the tenacious Victorian Lincolnshire District Nurses, champion ice skaters like Fred Ward and Frank Prigeon and jockey Mike Vergette who excelled in their sports thanks to our beautiful countryside, would surely instil a greater sense of pride than Nelson?
Previously venerated historical figures should not be removed from history and no historian would ever ask for that, but no one feels a sense of pride when they think of men like Edward Colston because we know of the huge number of deaths he directly caused. However, we can unite and find pride in local men like Peter Peckard and Thomas Clarkson who fought to stop the slave trade.
These are the types of historical figures that we should be teaching children about. We can all feel pride in people who cared about others, who helped the poor, who excelled specifically because they came from our area.
Historical greats need to be exactly that – great –but some of the previously venerated figures no longer fit the bill and changes need to happen.
It’s a terrible idea to close it to traffic
If asked my opinion on the proposed revitalisation of Holbeach Town Centre I would echo the words of Johnny Walkers in the Free Press of December 1 (pictured) and say that I agree entirely with him.
As to the earlier reported suggestion that the High Street might be closed to through traffic – what a terrible idea. There would still need to be negotiation of the town centre by local residents in their cars and none of the roads leading from either side of the length of the High Street are suitable for any increase in volume of traffic.
Unfortunately, there is no magic wand to wave to help the prosperity of our High Streets and town centres, however much cash there might be on offer.
More scrutiny is definitely required here
Regarding the story about Sutton Bridge marina in last week’s Free Press, more scrutiny is certainly needed, with responsibility placed where it should be for this misspend. The cost according to Lincolnshire County Council, who drove the project , was £966,678 at August 22,2018. The breakdown was: land cost £100,000; design fees £11,700; legal and professional charges £47,213 and inor disbursements £1,169. The balance of £806,596 was the basic construction cost.
Of the total cost, £265,000 came from our Sutton Bridge Section 106 money, mainly at the behest of Coun Chris Brewis.
There has been no benefit to the community from this money, as Coun Anne Scarlett was reported as saying. It has been misspent.
There was a practical alternative, a new sports pavilion. The ‘marina’, better described as a series of muddy moorings, is of benefit only to a few people rich enough to own a boat and willing to pay the quite hefty annual mooring fees (which go to Fenland District Council).
Coun Brewis draws an allowance of £14,741 from the County Council and £6,255 from South Holland District Council, payments like this having been made over many years.
The figures are published by the councils so that we, the tax payers, can decide if we are getting our money’s worth from our councillors.
In spite of sterling efforts by past council chairman Chris Brandon -King and past councillor Robert Middleton, the county council has refused any payment back to Sutton Bridge – just a 3% return on our money would produce about £8,000-a-year for
Neither Couns Brewis or Michael Booth have made any effective effort to get a benefit back for Sutton Bridge. Michael now says: “It is to our advantage to make it work.”Just how does he propose to do this ?
A serious problem over promoting the ‘marina’ is the appalling state of the Bridge Hotel.
Michael, his son Simon as chairman and Coun Brewis all opposed a parish council resolution ( which I put forward) to prepare a case for compulsory purchase of the site by the district council.
Chairman Simon Booth suggested that such a move might put off a prospective purchaser. The reverse would be the case.
The council also missed a trick to try and deal with the problem when the owners applied for planning permission for housing in the back area.
Can I please ask the leaders of Sutton Bridge Parish Council to pay more attention to the interests and needs of the parish which they are there to serve.