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

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Greetings

A few days ago this jolly snowman appeared in a prominent position in Newmans Green.

I have a suspicion with regard to who created him, and I hope that they don't mind that I have borrowed his image for the blog.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish you and all of your loved ones a very Happy Christmas and an untroubled and prosperous New Year.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Babergh's settlement from Central Government

A few days ago Babergh received news about how much lower the Council's grant from Central Government would be in the next financial year.

I did receive an e mail from Barry Hunter, the Director of Finance, giving me the numbers, but I seem to have lost it in the ether. I had requested that all Members receive an e mail giving more detail but no news so far! Nothing has appeared on the website either, as far as I can see, so I assume that officers are hoping to keep Christmas cheer alive at least this side of the New Year, and who can blame them?

The actual numbers in any event are not that important for the purposes of this blog. Suffice it to say that the fall over two years will be in double digits. This is pretty drastic, and at least as bad as we had been expecting. I am certainly glad that we have already taken a number of early steps to mitigate the impact on front line services.

The local press suggested that Babergh's settlement is the meanest in Suffolk. This is not true. We are, apparently, somewhere in the middle of the pack. For some reason however rural councils have done worse than urban ones. When (and if) I discover why I will let you know.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Put out your bins...but they may not be emptied for a while.

Despite the fact that health and safety concerns have today caused a suspension of rubbish collection by Babergh, residents are being urged to continue to put out their bins as normal.

Updates with regard to the current situation are available on the Babergh website.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

This morning's snow

How lovely it was this morning walking the dog at around 8 a.m. when the snow was lying unspoilt on the ground and no-one was about.

I was amazed to see that a snow plough had been round overnight and so the lane down to Cuckoo Tye was quite walkable, although very icy. I think that it must have been one of the local farmers, who have been roped in to help on these occasions by the County Council. Thanks a lot to him or her for turning out!

I am rather frustrated because these pictures of our garden, taken this morning, would have been great for this year's Christmas Card. This featured a picture of the house, but since the photo was taken in November, as can be seen below it was completely snow free. The berries on the holly bush were plentiful and red though, and it seems that the old saying about a lot of berries meaning a cold winter has proved right this year.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Babergh flies the flag

Babergh’s Councillors voted on Monday to erect a flagpole at the Council’s offices in Corks Lane, Hadleigh.

The pole will be of high quality and situated in a prominent position, clearly visible from the road. It will fly the Union Flag and the Cross of St George on appropriate days.

The flagpole initiative was the work of Conservative councillor, Peter Holbrook. The move was almost unanimously supported by Members who will club together to defray the expense. No funds will come from the public purse. It was noted that both Hadleigh Town Council and Sudbury Town Council have their own flagpoles and it seems a strange anomaly that Babergh does not.

Mr Holbrook made the point that by flying the flags the Council will show pride in both England and the United Kingdom. It will strike a note of optimism in these difficult times. He did make a small error in his speech when he referred to the Union Flag as the Union Jack. As Councillor John Hinton pointed out, a Union Jack would only be appropriate if Babergh’s offices were to sail off down the river and out to sea, since, strictly speaking, the Union Jack is only flown by naval vessels!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Colin appointed to County Council Cabinet

Our County and District Councillor, Colin Spence, has been appointed to the prestigeous Cabinet Post for Public Protection at the County Council.

Colin is pictured here at a recent street event with the Chief Constable.

Colin, who is also Chair of Suffolk Police Authority, has deputised in the public protection area for some years and so is perfectly placed to make a success of the top job.

He is taking on the role at a particularly difficult period when budget constraints etc. are causing thoroughgoing reviews of services, so the job isn't going to be an easy one.

So congratulations to Colin and the best of luck!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Last chance to see 'Working the Land'

At the end of last week I went to the quarterly meeting of the Trustees of Gainsborough’s House in Sudbury.

Next year will be the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the gallery, and there are plans for some exciting exhibitions to mark the occasion. The details are embargoed at present, but suffice it to say that the exhibition in the summer will have a royal connection, and there will also be the chance to buy some of the very best examples of work from the increasingly well-known Gainsborough’s House Print Workshop.

The present show at the House has just ten days to run. It features the German born, East Anglian painter, draughtsman and printmaker, Harry Becker. As the Director of Gainsborough’s House writes in the latest Gainsborough Gazette, Becker’s ‘subject matter was rooted in country life.’ , and this can be seen from the example of his work shown here. The exhibition has attracted some very favourable reviews, most recently from the Spectator magazine, in which art critic Andrew Lambirth wrote about his exceptional talent and his ‘fresh and feisty’ style.

If you do decide to go to the exhibition don’t forget that the museum shop has some lovely Christmas cards for sale at present. All profits from shop sales go towards the work of the House.

'Working the Land Part II: Harry Becker' runs until 18th December at Gainsborough's House in Sudbury.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

An unexpected champion of biodiversity

As the wind blows in from the Urals, and there is suspicion of hanky panky with regard to the decided venue for the next World Cup, life is a bit hard at present for those of us who take a sympathetic interest in things Russian!

It is hard to find any positive news at all about Russia in the papers just now, and I was therefore gratified to read about Vladimir Putin’s concern to save the Siberian Tiger. He is not generally particularly interested in environmental matters, having in the past called environmental activists ‘no better than terrorists’.

I do hope that this concern for an endangered species is genuine, and not just a photo opportunity designed to show off his macho fearlessness in the face of a big cat!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

True Grit

As the big freeze tightens its grip there is an animated discussion continuing on a number of websites about the vexed question of gritting.

On Look East this lunchtime an ‘old aged pensioner’ (who looked nothing of the sort)complained that people in her road had been unable to drive to the supermarket due to the fact that there is a slight incline at the junction with the main road which has become so slippery and icy that forward propulsion by motor cars has become impossible.

The solution is of course to site a pile of grit close to said incline and recruit volunteers (yes, volunteers) to spread the grit over the ice.

Babergh this evening has been quick to point out that ‘Babergh are not a salting and snow clearing authority’. As a councillor, and looking out of the window, I have to say that my first response to this is ‘thank goodness for that! However, moving swiftly on...

The responsibility for gritting the roads lies with Suffolk County Council, who are of course the Highways Authority (wrongly in my view, but that is another question). Suffolk County Council will provide roadside grit heaps and bins on request from parish councils so that people can treat local trouble spots which would otherwise go untreated. It may be too late to meet problems created by the current situation, and most of Waldingfield and Acton, it has to be said, is pretty flat, but if you spot a trouble spot near you do get in touch with me, or with the parish council, before the next spell of arctic weather. We may be able to arrange for some grit to be provided!