Sunday, February 27, 2011
The Parish Council will receive a timetable shortly.
Saturday, February 26, 2011
Yesterday evening Nick and I attended the AGM of Little Waldingfield Conservative Branch. In addition to adopting two candidates for Waldingfield Ward for the Local Government Elections in May, we reviewed the activities of last year and planned our events for 2011.
We are a tiny branch so were pleased to have managed to fulfil our financial ‘quota’ for the Association last year. It seems that we have plenty of supporters who attend our events, even if joining political parties is no longer considered fashionable. Last summer’s Prohibition Evening proved very popular, despite the fact that, according to the Treasurer, the number of bottles of wine that were drunk did not seem to tally with the bar receipts. The dog fight was also a bit unfortunate. We were very lucky with the weather and also with the band which played some appropriately transatlantic music.
Aiming to repeat our success in 2011 we are planning a Spring Quiz on May 21st in the Parish Rooms. In the Autumn we hope to hold a supper with a Suffolk Heritage theme. Tickets for the Quiz are already on sale at £9.50 to include a two course meal, and are likely to sell out fast, so let me know if you are interested in coming.
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Your County Councillor Colin Spence has now been able to discover the background behind the withdrawal of the 112 bus service through Little Waldingfield. He has also found out what is being done by the County Council to soften the blow for those left without transportation.
Firstly, it has to be said that the service was under scrutiny already due to the fact that it really is not very much used. I know that this is of little comfort to those who DO rely on the service however. I will not bore you with the calculations (I do have them if anyone would like more details) but the bottom line is that an average of 4.4 passengers travel on each bus journey, of which over 55% are concessionary pass holders. It had been hoped to preserve at least the peak hours service for people going to work, but this has been stymied by another related development.
This is the fact that part of the route, but not that portion that includes Little Waldingfield, has been taken up ‘on a commercial footing’ (i.e. without public subsidy) by one of the local bus companies. This means that the 112 cannot be seen as viable in any event since the area served uniquely by the service would be very limited. Also Government legislation does not allow for a public subsidy on any bus route which crosses over a commercially run route.
However, residents will not be left without transport, and the proposed solution, a Demand Responsive Transport service, could well be a better option for most travellers and is likely to offer improved flexibility.
A similar service runs in Polstead, which like Little Waldingfield has repeatedly lost and regained a regular bus service over the years. I spoke to the Babergh member for Polstead, Sue Wigglesworth, about it, and she said that many prefer the on demand service since it is more reliable and flexible.
The proposed service, Suffolk Links Cosford, operates from 07.00 to 19.00 Mondays to Saturdays and the bus will take you to any village within the area that it serves, and connections can be made for onward travel to places further afield such as Sudbury, Bury St Edmunds etc. Journeys are booked in advance, and bus passes and other concessions are accepted by the service.
Council officers are investigating as to whether the service can help those needing to travel at peak times for work etc.
More information can be found by clicking on the link below:
Who is best placed to look after public conveniences?
This was the question that most vexed Babergh District Councillors in the course of the discussions about the Budget that took place in Hadleigh yesterday.
In an attempt to cut £1.7m from our not very large budget we are looking at all sorts of different ways of saving costs. So we are looking to cut £50,000 from the ‘public loo provision’ budget of around £250,000 by asking Parish Councils where the facilities are sited to take some of the management responsibility on themselves. Solutions are also being sought by approaching local businesses who benefit from the proximity of the facility. Some funding will still be available from the District. Experience with Sudbury Town Council, who manage their own loos, has shown that this can be done successfully. Indeed it is arguable that the job can be done more cheaply and effectively by those who are on the spot.
By way of background it should be noted that the District Council does not have a statutory duty to provide public toilets. Mid Suffolk District Council for example closed theirs some time ago. In Babergh however we do have a number of beauty spots, such as Lavenham and Long Melford, where public conveniences are really needed for the coachloads of visitors that arrive in the summer months.
Not surprisingly perhaps is was mainly the Members who enjoy the presence of public loos in their wards who were dubious about the proposals. I think officers managed to reassure most Members that, at present at least, there are no plans to shut the facilities, and that all that is being sought is a better way of managing them.
A loo with a view
Sunday, February 20, 2011
Colin is clearly something of an expert on the subject having made a practice of photographing what can only be described as exceptional examples over time.
Thursday, February 17, 2011
Yesterday morning I was a substitute for another councillor on the Development Committee. This is the first time that I have been asked to do this since the Conservative led coalition government took power in May, and in one respect a real difference has been felt already.
This is in the area of ‘garden grabbing’. The last government decided in their wisdom to redesignate gardens as ‘brown field land’ for redevelopment purposes. This meant that it was open to developers to make a quick buck from building anywhere that enjoyed the benefit of a large garden. ‘Garden grabbing’, combined with completely inappropriate national density regulations, resulted in some pretty terrible planning decisions in both rural and urban areas. (Examples of some of these can be seen a stone's throw from our home in Newmans Green.)
In Babergh we avoided the worst excesses of the policy, but some suburban areas of London and other cities have been drastically changed for the worst as lovely old homes were demolished and replaced with soulless blocks of flats which in the event did not prove very popular with the public.
What a difference in atmosphere today! The committee was asked to approve the demolition of a house in East Bergholt on a really large plot of land. The proposal was to replace this with three detatched houses, which admittedly were a little closer together than other houses in the road, but which would have probably elicited little criticism before May. I found myself in the strange position of actually defending the proposals against accusations of ‘overdevelopment of the site’.
Statistics from the Daily Mail in 2008.
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
For most of the time that we have lived here in Newmans Green (more than 25 years now!)there has been a patch of unused land on the other side of the once green triangle at the bottom of our garden. Owned by the County Council, the land occasionally had a pony or some sheep on it, but was never put to much use.
A couple of years ago it was taken in hand by someone who has made a very nice vegetable plot there, and it is a great improvement. The spot reminds me of the many little plots of all shapes and sizes that were scattered round the village in which I grew up near Stratford upon Avon. Being in the Vale of Evesham no patch of ground was left uncultivated, and the produce often included the delicious mounds and delicate fronds of what in Warwickshire was called ‘sparrow-grass’. Conversation often revolved around vegetable growing, with issues such as whether picking Brussels sprouts makes your hands soft, causing endless debate among the elders of the village and doyens of the annual flower show.
Now a flock of six Black Rock chickens have made an appearance on the land across the triangle. I understand that these birds are particularly appropriate for this sort of open site, laying as many as 240 eggs a year, and, according to one website ‘laying well into their dotage’. I am very pleased to say that the chickens are the property of my friend and neighbour Ann Sagan, who received them as a Christmas gift from her family.