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The Friday Five 23.02.24

Published on: 22 Feb 2024

It's The Friday Five, our weekly collection of five of the best jobs advertised on Planner Jobs – plus a selection of place-based facts. This week, opportunities in Worksop, Chester, Ashford, Oxford and Somerset. Plus stirring (??) tales of a tragic cycling hero, a tiny house, the Ashford FC confusion, a very ancient skeleton and Oxford’s history of violence.


Location: Worksop, Nottinghamshire

The job: "Bassetlaw is a district on the move, with the area set for a once-in-a-generation multi-billion-pound investment.To help take advantage of this opportunity we're looking for a dynamic head of service to have an influential role in the delivery of some groundbreaking projects and continuing the improvement journey for our essential services.

"Bassetlaw has been selected as the future home for the UKAEA's STEP prototype fusion energy plant, a globally significant project that will bring unprecedented levels of investment into the area. Added to this, we've secured Government investment of £62m to deliver regeneration projects.

"As the council’s chief planning officer, you'll be an adept communicator who commands professional confidence and a strategic thinker capable of developing effective, trusting relationships with partners and elected members, delivering on corporate priorities and leading the service in a collaborative way."

Tom Simpson memorial [square]Fun fact: In recent years we've become blasé about the success of British racing cyclists in the great races such as the Tour de France or Milan-San Remo and the like. But this is a surprisingly recent phenomenon – the UK's first winner of the Tour was Bradley Wiggins in 2012. The preceding decades were somewhat barren, to say the least – except perhaps for one or two notable pioneers.

The greatest, and ultimately tragic, of these was Tommy Simpson, the son of a coal miner living in the parish of Harworth in Bassetlaw. A prodigiously talented junior cyclist, he was one of the few Brits to take the plunge and try out racing in the much fiercer and more competitive environment of continental Europe. Unlike his predecessors and contemporaries, he was almost extravagantly successful.

From the signing of his first professional contract, he was winning races. Big races. Between 1961 and 1967, he won three of cycling’s big five ‘Monuments’ – the most prestigious of the one-day races in the calendar, as well as the world championship. But his mind was fixed on the Tour, his ambition to become the first British rider to win it. It was an ambition that was to prove fatal.

In 1967, on a blazing hot day, an exhausted Simpson began to weave and zigzag on the approach to the summit of Mont Ventoux, one of the tour’s biggest and toughest mountain climbs. He fell off his bike and resisted medical help, famously insisting: “Put me back on my bike”. And so they did. Within 500 metres he was unconscious, held up only by the crowd. He required mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. An air ambulance flew him to the nearest hospital. But he was dead on arrival. In the pocket of his cycling top were two empty ampoules of amphetamines.

Simpson's death was a watershed for sport and its attitude towards performance-enhancing drugs. But the following year, the Tour de France was drug testing participants, as was the Summer Olympics. And so began a decade-long game of cat and mouse between drug cheats and testing authorities that continues to this day.

As for Simpson – at the time of his death he was one of the most famous sportspeople in Britain. It was 40-odd years before another British cyclist would even begin to approach his level of success and he’s still remembered, and celebrated despite his flaws, but the British cycling community.

His funeral in Harworth was attended by 5,000 people. The epitaph on his grave reads: ‘His body ached, his legs grew tired, but still he would not give in.’ Sadly, if he had given in, he might have survived to ride another day. 

Find out more and apply


Location: Conwy (Town) or Chester

The job: "You'll work on a number of varied projects, so a proven ability to manage your own time, workload and problem solve is critical. Ideally, you'll also be able to demonstrate the skills needed to market and innovate as these are important elements of this role. You would be involved in a variety of projects to support the planning and development consultancy work and to advise clients with support from director and associate planner.

"Your workload will include:

  • Preparing planning applications and appeals
  • Planning appraisals
  • Planning strategies
  • Development plan representations.

You'll provide advice and guidance to a variety of clients including developers, housebuilders, tourism businesses, energy companies and private individuals as well as local planning authorities and other third sector organisations."

Quay House, Conwy [square]Fun fact: Every so often, the media has conniptions about the state of the rentals market and the fact that some unscrupulous landlords try to rent out cupboards as rooms to those desperate for a place to live in an overheated rental market.

Could such cramped accommodation compare with the alleged smallest house in Britain, found on the quayside in Conwy, a walled market town on the north coast of Wales? It’s a tough call. Built in the 16th century, Quay House has a footprint of just 3.05x1.8m , albeit there are two floors.

The ground floor is a living area with an open fire and a water tap tucked behind the stairs. The upstairs is the bedroom, with a small storage area. Note – there is no privy, though this would have been pretty normal for a 16th-century home.

The house, remarkably, was occupied until 1900, at which time the tenant was a fisherman called Robert Jones, who apparently stood at a statuesque 6ft 3in. Obviously, the room’s ceilings were too low for him to be able to fully stand up in the house and he was eventually forced to move out when the local council declared the home unfit for human habitation. 

The tiny house, painted a bright red, is now a tourist attraction. Visitors to Conwy can pay £1.50 to have a ‘tour’ of the house led by a guide in traditional dress. The tour includes only the downstairs room since the building is structurally unsound and upstairs is off limits. 

See how easy it is to make money out of a tiny dwelling?

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Location: Ashford, Kent

The job:  "We are an ambitious local authority, strategically located between London and the Channel Tunnel / Dover with established high-speed train links to London. We're the largest borough in Kent with two towns, numerous villages, 43 conservation areas, over 3,000 listed buildings and two large areas of outstanding natural beauty.

"We aim to ensure that these attractive qualities are protected from inappropriate development, and that the community has confidence in the planning system as they experience it. The planning enforcement team covers the entire borough. The team reviews planning records, investigates matters on-site according to their priority against our adopted Local Enforcement Plan, seeks to understand local community sensitivities and concerns, prepares reports and recommendations setting out the most effective action to remedy breaches of control, monitors compliance with agreed actions and, if formal enforcement is unavoidable, works with legal colleagues to take forward action.

"This role would suit someone already with some experience of operating within a legal framework and knowledge of the planning system."

Football [square]Fun fact: Ashfords, Ashfords everywhere. Ashford in Devon; Ashford Hill in Hampshire; Ashford Carbonell in Shropshire; even Ashford-in-the-Water in Derbyshire.

Then, of course, by far the biggest and closest Ashfords: the one in Kent, to which this job pertains; and the one just 80 miles to its west in Surrey.

Both Kent and Surrey’s Ashfords have football clubs. Ashford United FC (formerly Ashford Town FC) play in Kent, while Ashford Town (Middlesex) FC play in Surrey.

Some years ago, Ashford Town FC (the one in Surrey) renamed themselves Ashford Town (Middlesex) FC to make sure people knew they weren’t actually the Ashford Town FC in Kent. (Fans used to confuse the two, turning up in error at one or the other.) For their part, Ashford Town FC in Kent have since undergone a merger, rebranding as Ashford United.

Hang on, though, if Ashford Town (Middlesex) play in Ashford, Surrey, then why those bloody annoying brackets, you ask? And why ‘Middlesex’? You’re so confused.

Turns out that Ashford only became part of Surrey when God’s own county of Middlesex was eradicated during the creation of Greater London in 1965. Not unreasonably, Ashford Town (Middlesex) remains proud of its Middlesex heritage and thus retains it in its name.

You might then rightly wonder if Ashford Town (Middlesex) FC is the only club in world football to have brackets in its name, but apparently Bradford (Park Avenue) FC did the same thing.

Oh, your head’s hurting now? Well, why not get out of London for some fresh air? Maybe go for this job in Ashford (Kent).

Find out more and apply


Location: Oxford

The job: "Oxford City Council is looking for an enthusiastic, flexible individual and a team player to play a key role as a planner in the development management service – is this you?

"You'll be able to negotiate effectively whilst delivering excellent customer service and be pragmatic with a can-do and solution-focused attitude to support us becoming the ‘Best in Class’. We can develop your skills and knowledge with the chance to participate in our career grade scheme. This will enhance your expertise on your journey to be a senior officer / lead officer with your own caseload, presenting cases to committee. You'll also be required to assist with supporting and mentoring staff and signing out decisions.

"We're on an improvement journey and we have high ambitions. If you want to be part of this exciting journey and help to develop an exemplary planning service in a world class city then we’d like to meet you."

Inspector Morse stamp [square]Fun fact: Oxford: university city, literary hub; home of the world’s last remaining dodo specimen. Its reputation nowadays is pretty rarefied, but it hasn’t always been so tranquil. In fact, if we take a look at its history, the City of Dreaming Spires might well be having nightmares…

Take the St Scholastica Day’s riot, in 1355: some students complained about the quality of wine served to them in the Swindlestock Tavern. This developed into a brawl, which escalated into a full-scale town vs gown melee, leaving 30 townspeople and 65 members of the university dead. 

Indeed, Oxford’s great rival, The University of Cambridge, owes its existence to the town’s violent past: Cambridge was established in 1209 by scholars who left Oxford following the lynching of two students by townspeople.

The Martyr’s Memorial commemorates the bishops Ridley, Latimer and Cramner, who were burned at the stake in Oxford during the reign of Mary I for their Protestant beliefs.

Oxford Castle and prison has a pretty bloody history, as you might expect. It hosted the county’s assizes until 1577, when the Black Assize of Oxford took place; at least 300 people, including the chief baron and sheriff died after an outbreak of the plague. 

No wonder Inspector Morse was kept so busy…

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Location: Somerset

The job: "Our client, a local authority in the South West, is seeking a principal planning officer to join its team for a six-month assignment. In this role, you'll play a crucial part in advancing a variety of minor and/or small major planning applications.

"Key responsibilities:

  • Progress a variety of minor and/or small major planning applications within the designated timeframe
  • Conduct thorough assessments and evaluations of planning applications to ensure compliance with relevant regulations and policies
  • Provide expert advice and guidance to applicants, stakeholders, and colleagues on planning matters
  • Liaise with internal and external stakeholders to coordinate the planning process effectively
  • Prepare reports, recommendations, and presentations for planning committees and other decision-making bodies
  • Ensure all planning applications are processed efficiently and in accordance with statutory requirements
  • Contribute to the continuous improvement of the planning process and service delivery."

Old skull [square]Fun fact: Somerset is something of a foodie’s paradise. Cider has long been a big industry there, as it is home to more than 400 varieties of cider apples. But the county is probably most noted for Cheddar, its world-famous cheese, created in the 12th century and named after Cheddar Gorge, where there are caves in which cheese is still stored to this day. 

However, someone who wouldn’t have been able to enjoy this dairy delight – even if it had existed during his lifetime (around 10,000 years ago in the Mesolithic age) – was Cheddar Man, the oldest almost complete skeleton of our species, Homo sapiens, ever found in Britain. 

Dubbed ‘Mesolithic Britain's blue-eyed boy’ by the British Museum, where his remains now reside, his skeleton was discovered in 1903 at Gough's Cave in Cheddar Gorge and research into ancient DNA extracted from the bones has helped scientists in 2018 to piece together his life in Mesolithic Britain. 

Like all humans across Europe at the time, he was lactose-intolerant and unable to digest milk as an adult. Britain was attached to continental Europe and the landscape was becoming densely forested. He belonged to a tribe who were mainly hunter-gatherers (fully modern human) with dark skin and blue eyes. He was about 166 centimetres tall and died in his twenties. Along with seeds and nuts, his diet would have consisted of red deer, aurochs (large wild cattle) and freshwater fish.

The main surprise that emerged during this research, perhaps, is that some of the earliest modern human inhabitants of Britain did not look the way we might expect. “Until recently it was always assumed that humans quickly adapted to have paler skin after entering Europe about 45,000 years ago,” said Dr Tom Booth, a postdoctoral researcher at the museum. “Pale skin is better at absorbing UV light and helps humans avoid vitamin D deficiency in climates with less sunlight.”

But Cheddar Man has the genetic markers of skin pigmentation usually associated with sub-Saharan Africa. This discovery is consistent with other Mesolithic human remains discovered throughout Europe, said Booth. “It seems that pale eyes entered Europe long before pale skin or blond hair, which didn’t come along until after the arrival of farming. He reminds us that you can’t make assumptions about what people looked like in the past based on what people look like in the present and that the pairings of features we are used to seeing today aren’t something that’s fixed.”

Find out more and apply

Photo credits | Roger Mechan, Shutterstock; Click-Images, Shutterstock; Gelnar Tivada, Shutterstock; Sergey Goryachev, Shutterstock; Piotr Sawejko, Shutterstock