Quote of the week

Life isn't about finding yourself, it is about creating yourself'

George Bernard Shaw
If you cannot mould yourself entirely as you would wish, how can you expect other people to be entirely to your liking?
Read more at: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/wish.html

Monday, May 31, 2010

First signs of freedom!

The new Lib-con Government is already making a difference to how we carry on at Babergh.

Firstly, we are going to be able to stop wasting time on the ‘Comprehensive Area Assessment’ process (CAA) and secondly we have been told by the Minister for Communities and Local Government, cuddly Eric Pickles pictured here) , to immediately take into account that he is abolishing Regional Strategies when making planning decisions.

What does this mean?

As far as the CAA abolition is concerned it means that we will no longer have to jump through a set of arbitrary hoops created by Central Government and enforced by the Audit Commission. Local accountability and transparency are what will matter in the future and thank goodness for that.

The abolition of Regional Strategies means that we will no longer have to respond to fulfilling top down housing targets set by relatively undemocratic remote bodies on a predict and provide basis. It has long been a plank of Conservative policy that decisions with regard to the amount of housing provided should remain with the Local Authority.

With more power will come more responsibility which I welcome. We will have to rely a little less on officers fulfilling the dictats of the Centre and do a little more thinking for ourselves.

Oh yes, and it should save money too!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Common sense prevails

I am really pleased to be able to report that the appeal lodged by 13 families in Acton against Suffolk County Council's proposal to charge for school transport has been successful. How even the most determined of bureaucrats can have thought that it was appropriate for young children, accompanied or not, should have to walk for almost three miles along a clearly unsafe route is beyond me.

Congratulations to all the parents concerned, particularly to Alan Sawyer, who made an excellent case to the Committee.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Police consult Chilton residents

I have been much engaged with Suffolk Constabulary this week.

Firstly at the Chilton Annual Parish Assembly on Tuesday evening, Inspector Paul Crick (pictured here with Babergh's Community Safety Manager, Paul Little) gave a brief talk about his role overseeing the Safer Neighbourhood Teams in Babergh. After this we experienced a realtime public consultation in which we were asked to vote on various matters regarding law and order in the District. The technology was quite advanced and we could see the results of our votes immediately. If you would like to see the replies I can forward a copy to anyone who can read an excel spreadsheet.

The results were interesting, but not altogether satisfactory, I suspect, from the police point of view! The message does seem to be getting through that, despite two murders in Sudbury recently, Suffolk is a relatively safe place to live. However, it was clear that the 22 or so people present did not believe that anti social behaviour had decreased over the past year, had not been aware of the presence in the community of Police Community Safety Officers, and are largely unaware of the responsibility of local councils such as Babergh to work with the police to reduce anti social behaviour.

I find this quite surprising given the increased emphasis on the Safer Neighbourhood Teams that has been seen in recent months, plus the excellent work that our own PCSO, Siobhan, has been undertaking in and around the Ward. However, unlike Acton or Great Waldingfield, Chilton does not have a ‘centre’ such as the School where Siobhan can be visible, and it does take time for initiatives to percolate into the public consciousness.

In this connection, on Thursday I chaired the monthly Babergh West Safer Neighbourhood Team priority setting meeting in Lavenham. This is a public meeting at which the public express their concerns about problems in the community and the police and other partners, such as Babergh’s community officers, report back on action taken to address issues raised at previous meetings.

A representative from Trading Standards at Suffolk County Council attended this time to discuss a problem that was raised in April concerning overweight lorries travelling illegally along Valley Road. Having visited the spot more than once the officer conceded that there is indeed a problem and further visits will be made and prosecutions pursued where appropriate.

Another issue raised, youthful drivers using the Homebase roundabout as a racetrack, was discussed. It was felt however that this was really an issue best dealt with by the Sudbury and Cornard Team, since the boy racers almost certainly come from the town and are generally known to the Sudbury police.

If you have concerns with regard to anti social behaviour or other related matters do consider coming along to the Priority Setting Meeting. You will find it interesting, meet other people with similar problems and almost certainly make some progress towards your problem’s resolution.

The next meeting will be in Boxford on June 17th at 7 p.m. All members of the public are welcome. The dates of further meetings can be found under Safer Neighbourhood Teams on the Suffolk Constabulary Website.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Now it's Acton's turn

Young people in Acton have noticed the wonderful new play equipment in Great Waldingfield and think it would now be nice to work together to upgrade the kit in Acton.

This is the message that our terrific PCSO Siobhan Hemmett heard loud and clear when going about her duties in the village recently. As a result she has been working with a group of children and taking the the first steps to make the aspiration a reality. Leaflets have been distributed around the village, information on funding obtained from Babergh and elsewhere, and advice is to be sought from Harry Taylor and others who created the Great Waldingfield play area.

A meeting is to be held on 27th May at 5 p.m. at Acton Primary School for all interested parties. Do go along if you think you can help.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Island in the sum

The blog has been quiet over the past two weeks because Nick and I have been dodging volcanic ash on our way to and from the beautiful island of Antigua.
It was our second visit and once again we found a lovely island with exceptionally cheerful and friendly people.
I was very impressed at the efforts that the Government of Antigua is making to protect the island’s environment. Not only are the roadsides a lot cleaner than those we have here in Babergh,(although there is still some fly-tipping!), but also a good deal of legislation has been put in place to ensure that development is sustainable and that precious areas of vegetation are protected. One hotelier we spoke to told us of the difficulties he had whenever he wanted to build anything at all, and he said that he was unable to cut back areas of mangrove around his lagoon because of the threat to wildlife. Would that our planning laws paid more attention to conservation!
Antigua is the home of Viv Richards and cricket remains a passion with the locals. As a result it was difficult to avoid the progress of the 20/20 Championships. We enjoyed a hair-raising return to the airport because our driver was very ‘tuned in’ to the semi final between Pakistan and Australia. The closing moments, when Australia won by a very few runs, took place when we were about 10 minutes from our destination!
Despite the charms of the Caribbean, like Robert Browning, I realise that there is nothing in the world like an English spring. Our apple tree looks simply stunning at present. However, it was lovely to see the bougainvillea in bloom, to buy local pineapples from a roadside stall and to get some real warmth into our bones after what has seemed a very long and cold winter.

Monday, May 3, 2010

A conservation piece from George Millins

We are now well into Spring after the coldest winter for three decades, but please do not assume the birds are no longer in need of help with food and water. In fact, consumption from my garden feeders and the bird bath has at least doubled, as it always does when young birds are in the nest. It seems that Goldfinches - one of our smallest finches - have suffered losses over the long, cold winter, it is therefore important to provide for them to reduce losses from the new generation and help to rebuild their population numbers. The intensely arable nature of our countryside and the constant mowing of most grassland creates a state of famine for this specialist seed eater especially at this time in the year. I find sunflower hearts (de-husked sunflower seed) the best all round food, add a peanut feeder and if you have NOT got a cat problem, mixed seed and serial fed on the ground will attract a wide variety of species.

I cannot stress enough the importance of hygiene on bird baths, feeders and tables, birds can contract salmonella etc. from dirty feeding stations and ground feeding locations should be changed - if space allows - and swept clean from time to time. Feeders need washing, in dry weather about once a month, in damp weather fortnightly or even weekly. Keep a watchful eye on your feeders, if the contents at the bottom of the feeder changes colour, or mould is apparent remove it immediately, discard remaining contents and replace with a clean feeder and fresh contents. For these reasons choose plastic or metal feeders rather than wood, as the latter is so difficult to keep clean, An ornamental wood bird table is an attractive feature in the garden but for the sake of the birds you are trying to help, use the table for water placed in a washable bowl and hang feeders from the bird table. You may have noticed the absence of greenfinches over the winter period, this species has also suffered considerable losses resulting from a contagious disease affecting their throat and preventing them from swallowing I'm told. I am as yet unaware of the cause or origin of this disease but it seems to be confined to greenfinches thus far.

Now that our species has more or less emerged from hibernation many will once again be battling with nature, cutting and slashing with power tools. Please be aware of nesting birds and amphibians sheltering under ground covering foliage which may also be a refuge for the poor hedgehog, now so sadly depleted in numbers, and a B.A.P.species. Also remember robins will sometimes nest on or very close to the ground, so a careful search before cutting, please.

If you would like to help wildlife I have a range of fact sheets and can arrange an advisory visit on a voluntary basis - just call one of the numbers listed below.

George Millins

01787 374874 mobile 07534 263629

Sunday, May 2, 2010

An election ditty

I will not be posting any more election related material ahead of Thursday. I did however very much like the poem below that I found on the Politics Home website. The author is the well known blogger ‘The Cat in the Hat’.

Who will be the winner and who is coming last?
The time to win more votes has well and truly passed.
Four or five more days for the nation to decide
Who deserves to lose and who’ll be filled with pride.
The race begins to reach its final gruesome straight.
David, Gord and Nick are soon to know their fate.
But Gordon’s getting tired and Nick has lost the way.
Whilst Dave has found new energy to see him through the day.
The post, is getting nearer And every effort’s made
To accelerate much further and win the accolade.
Will there be a winner? Or will there be a draw?
No! Not another election! I cannot cope anymore!

Art matters.

The corner of Gainsborough Street and Weavers Lane in Sudbury is becoming quite a little Bohemia!

In addition to Gainsborough’s House, a new art venue, Gallery 47, has opened above the Niche Cafe and its first show started yesterday. The Gallery, which can be hired, is an excellent space with lots of natural light and with a lovely view into the garden at Gainsborough’s House. Well known artist, Belinda King, is among the four painters displaying their works in the first exhibition and it is well worth a look. The Gallery is shown to the left. It would be great if Sudbury could build on this development and become even more of a centre for art. It would mean more visitors to the town and more prosperity for the town centre shops.

The opening of Gallery 47 coincided with the annual May Fair at Gainsborough’s House which was as good as ever. I managed to get rid of more second hand books than I purchased (just!), and also found a lovely present for a friend on a stall selling beautiful hand blown glass. The walled garden kept out the rather chill wind that was blowing yesterday, and I managed to find a very unusual auricula on the plant stall with genuinely brown petals. I am looking forward to adding it to my growing collection of primulas of unusual colour.

Gainsborough look-alikes were much in evidence. Pictured below is Nick Winch, who is the House’s Fund raising officer.

The current exhibition at the house of photographs of agricultural scenes by Justin Partyka is well worth a visit. Don’t forget that entry to the House is free on Tuesday afternoons