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

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Pylons do have fans.

The pylons across Suffolk saga rumbles on, and although the danger has probably receded for Waldingfield Ward, others in the South of the District continue to argue for a more sensitive and holistic approach from National Grid.

In this connection, I thought that the Pylon Appreciation Society, which is lead by the rather suspiciously named Flash Bristow, was a practical joke and didn’t actually exist in reality, but it seems that I am wrong.

On the Today programme yesterday morning Ms Bristow, from the Society, was invited to debate the pylon issue with Tessa Munt, the Liberal Democrat MP, who is fighting the march of these monsters across her Somerset constituency.

I notice from the Pylon Appreciation Society’s website that Ms Bristow lives in Leytonstone, but spends her time out and about photographing pylons while extolling their aesthetic and practical benefits.  I suppose that if you live in Leytonstone you are not too bothered about the adverse impact that these eyesores represent for the minority who live in rural areas.  The National Grid invariably buries pylons in urban areas.  It irritated me to hear Ms Bristow repeat the oft repeated claim from National Grid that it is 12 to 17 times more expensive to ‘underground’ transmission cables.  We all know now that this is a misleading exaggeration.

More blots on the landscape.

Recently, according to the Times, Dr Liam Fox, the Defence Secretary, wrote to Chris Huhne arguing that it is in fact cheaper to bury power lines underground, or to reroute lines under the sea.  He claims that National Grid in making its back of envelope calculations has neither taken into account the lower cost of maintenance for buried cables, and also the fact that far less power is lost in transmission.  Over forty years, taking these factors into account, pylons due to be built in Somerset would cost £1.1m, whereas a buried line would cost only half this amount.

“If we are to have credible green credentials then the decision needs to be taken on more than short-term economics ignoring the environmental impact in the longer term,” Dr Fox wrote in his letter.

This seems right to me, and it also seems a good principle to adopt when looking at planning issues in general.  I wonder if the Government will extrapolate from Dr Fox's principles when it comes to reviewing their planning guidance?  I am afraid that I have my doubts.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Angel Delight

Some new friends from Cambridge, whom we met on our recent holiday, came to Sudbury yesterday to see the exhibition at Gainsborough's House.   They were suitably impressed by the show (which is to be reviewed in Country Life shortly).

After this cultural excursion we decided to try the Angel in Friars Street.  I suppose that you would now call this a gastropub, since there is no longer a bar and the emphasis is on dining.  Open in its current guise for almost two years, I have to say that we were all impressed by the comfort, service and fresh, good value food.  There is a pleasant courtyard at the back, but unfortunately the rain kept us indoors.

We stuck to the very reasonable two courses for £10 option.  There were three choices of starter and main course on the set menu,  and if you wanted a pudding, instead of a starter, you could choose anything from the main menu.  I had a most delicious fennel and garlic soup. Creamy, freshly made and flavourful, it was an unusual combination which worked really well.  The others enjoyed a very fresh tasting squid salad, without a trace of rubbery texture.  We all chose coq au vin for our main courses, and very good it was too. Served with fresh vegetables, the chicken was well cooked in a good sauce.  The wine list was reasonable value by today's standard.

All in all excellent value, excellent cooking all served with a smile and at reasonable speed.  We will be returning to the Angel in the future.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

New health facility supported with reservations.

Artist's impression of the new Centre
Yesterday evening Chilton Parish Council voted to recommend that Babergh approve plans for a new Health Centre for Sudbury off Church Field Road, Chilton.  Councillors did however express reservations with regard to a number of aspects of the scheme.

Peter Clifford, Parish Council Chairman, who has been closely involved in the development of the scheme from an early stage, gave a presentation which gave a good idea of the design and lay out of the new building.

On the whole the meeting, which was attended by several members of the public, appeared to find the design of the innovative new multi-million pound facility very attractive.  It certainly includes many environmentally friendly features, including green turf roofs and solar panels to supplement internal energy sources.

The facility will include a Doctor’s surgery (the Siam Surgery is to move from central Sudbury), a Dentist, outpatient facilities such as X ray and chiropody, and consulting and counselling rooms.  It is hoped that there will also be a pharmacy and an out of hours medical service.  No beds are to be provided, but 12 beds have been commissioned by the NHS from private facilities elsewhere in the town to compensate for those lost from Walnuttree.

Councillors, while welcoming the scheme, recognising that it might be Sudbury’s last chance to establish such a  facility, did have some reservations.  They were concerned that there was insufficient and contradictory information about lighting and noise for example.  These concerns, which could affect residents of nearby houses, are to be communicated to Babergh’s planners.

The Health Authority listened when the community expressed the view that previously proposed buildings on the site were too tall.   It is to be hoped that they, and the planners, continue to respond to residents’ reasonable concerns as the project moves on.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Only a month to see 'girls disporting themselves' at Gainsborough's House

There is a little under a month left to see the really marvellous exhibition that is currently on display at Gainsborough's House in Sudbury.

I have written about the show before, so readers will know that the museum has been lucky enough to have borrowed an astonishing late painting from HM the Queen.  This shows a mythological scene from Ovid in which the goddess Diana, observed bathing by a huntsman, Actaeon, is outraged and takes rather extreme revenge (see image from a Grecian vase below, which is not on show, but which gives the general idea).  Being a Gainsborough, the event takes place in what looks like a Suffolk woodland glade.  Gainsborough painted no other mythological or historical paintings of this type, and it is interesting to speculate why he did so in the later years of his life.
Diane and Achtaeon, Ancient Greek illustration of the myth

Other pictures and works are on display, which either share Gainsborough's mythological theme, or show ladies bathing.  Turner, Cezanne, Renoir and others are represented.

The exhibition has been well reviewed in the press.  In The Spectator this week Andrew Lambirth says that '..the variety and range of interest makes this an informative display as well as a delightful exhibition of naked girls disporting themselves'.

So there you have it.

The museum is free on Tuesday afternoons, but please do leave a small donation if you can!  The last day of the exhibition  is Saturday September 17th.

A trip to Sussex

The site of the Battle of Hastings

We are having some building done at home and have rather restricted kitchen facilities at present.

This has meant that we have been keener than usual to spend some time away and last week we rented a cottage near Lewes in Sussex.  In addition to being able to feed ourselves, we were able to take in some cultural activities and also to go for some very good walks so all members of the family were satisfied.

On Tuesday we visited Battle Abbey and were able to walk round the site of the Battle of Hastings (which as most people know is some miles inland inland from the seaside town).  The audio guides provided really brought the site to life, offering some very realistic shouts, groans and the clanging of swords etc.  The site is owned by English Heritage, who, unlike the National Trust in the area, is very dog friendly.  This meant that Rendle was also able to walk the battlefield.

William took on Harold on a rather disadvantageous site.   He had to fight for the kingdom up a very steep hill, an impression of which can be gleaned from the picture above.  In the end however a wily Norman trick meant that William won the day, proving yet again I suppose that using one’s brain can compensate for all sorts of disadvantage as long as one seizes the opportunity.

It was interesting to speculate what would have happened if William had not turned out to be ‘The Conqueror’.   One thing is certain, our language would have been less rich and strange without the Norman French/Anglo Saxon fusion that resulted.

Rendle with the Seven Sisters in the background

Thursday, August 18, 2011

New Core Development Strategy, good in parts.

I am writing this in East Sussex so will not be attending today’s Strategy Committee Meeting.
This is a pity because on the agenda is an item regarding the Draft of the Babergh Development Framework Core Strategy Document, which sets out the strategic parameters for planning in the District between now and 2031.

At present the committee is simply deciding whether the document is fit to go out to consultation.  However, having read it, I can see that the latest version varies quite considerably from the document that we looked at last year.

In theory at least we are no longer bound by ‘top down’ government set targets in respect of housing, and it is good to see that what is now being suggested is growth that is more or less in line with that  seen in the past ten years or so.  This seems much more sensible than some of the higher numbers suggested last time.
The distribution of housing growth has also altered.  Although ‘town edge’ sites, it is suggested,  should continue to take the largest part of development, there is less emphasis on making any village that happens to have facilities larger as a matter of course.  Instead a complex mapping exercise has been undertaken which shows which villages are used as service centres by others.  These are now called ‘core villages’, and others ‘hinterland villages’.  Under this new categorisation Great Waldingfield and Acton are no longer regarded as ‘core’, since although they do have some facilities (a shop, a school) they are not generally used as centres by people coming from elsewhere.

Our nearest core villages are Lavenham and Long Melford, and, as far as I understand it they will be subject to fewer restrictions on development.

Because development will be more widely spread around the villages than previously envisaged, Acton and Great Waldingfield could be asked to take rather less than under the previous plan, and Little Waldingfield a little more.  I hope that this outcome is at least in part due to the meeting held last year to discuss the last proposals, where residents expressed the view that future growth in the villages should be proportionate.

I am less happy with the high economic growth aspirations of the paper.  I do not believe that economic growth should be the primary driver for change, over and above social and environmental factors.  I would prefer to see all three given equal weight, particularly in what remains, by and large, a rural area, with low unemployment, served by two market towns.   Be ‘open for business’ by all means, but an all out dash for the provision of ‘local jobs’ over and above other considerations, and the infrastructure that this would imply, is more likely to impoverish the area than to improve it.
You will have the chance to comment on the plans.  Look out for notices of consultation

Friday, August 12, 2011

Travellers move on.

The group of travellers who have been on Chilton Airfield for several weeks have now moved on.

A court order for eviction was, as expected, obtained on Tuesday and they left yesterday evening.  Suffolk County Council officers and the Cabinet Member responsible for minority groups pushed the process through with determination, ultimately with a some support from the police.

Suffolk County Council is taking some steps to try to prevent future encroachments on the land.

I understand that the travellers have gone to land near the village hall in Newton, so not very far away.

So the merry go round starts again.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

New Hall takes shape

On a brighter note, before attending Great Waldingfield Parish Council meeting last night, I was able to admire the newly restored village hall, which is now close to completion.

It really does look very good indeed.  It has retained its character but at the same time does look completely renewed.

The wonderfully ecological heating system can be seen in operation by looking at a panel on the wall which shows how much electricity is being generated by the underground heat pumps.

It is all a great credit to John Steele, Chairman of the Parish Council, and his committee, who have overseen the project and found the money for the restoration.

The first events in the hall will take place in September.

Update on the travellers

There will be a court hearing today to seek to evict the travellers who have been camping illegally on County Council land in Great Waldingfield.

In the past travellers have generally chosen to voluntarily move on at or around this stage in the proceedings. It remains to be seen whether this will be the case this time.

If not, I have been assured by the Council’s Gypsy and Traveller Liaison officer that the next step is forcible removal.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Bossing on!

I can’t help but be amused that while parts of London burn and stockmarkets meltdown there are those among us who continue to concentrate on telling everyone else how to live their lives.

Firstly I read in my latest copy of the riveting journal, Local Government News, that some councils are moving towards stopping people from smoking in parks and streets.  Indeed, I assume that if these officials have their way, citizens will only be able to smoke in their own back gardens, and probably only then if there are no children present.

This proposed encroachment on the lawful activity of others reminds me that the first time I opened my mouth in a council debate was to condemn a report that prevented the residents of Stour House in Sudbury from smoking in their own back garden.  It seemed deeply illiberal to me (who has incidentally never been a smoker) to stop people who were having real problems in their lives, from doing what is after all perfectly lawful.   This was my first hands on experience of the propensity of those in public life to tell the rest of us how to live our lives, and I was immediately revolted by it.

In this connection ,Radio 4 are still banging on today about the child rearing ‘experts’ who want to introduce, with government support,  a new ‘5 a day code’ for parents.  The code dictates, inter alia,  reading to their children daily, praising them and, oh yes, feeding them too!  This sort of bossy dictat reveals a deeply patronising and insulting attitude towards the vast majority of parents, and is yet another example of meddling officialdom.

Am I the only person who is infuriated by this sort of thing?

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The best beach in Suffolk?

The beach at Sizewell

Walking by the sea close to a nuclear power station may not be everyone's ideal excursion,  but I do think that Sizewell Beach is a candidate for the best beach in Suffolk

It is never very crowded, parking the car is cheap and easy, and there are some wonderful walks in the area.

You can either go south along the beach to Thorpeness, or, alternatively, north towards Dunwich and Minsmere.  If go north and then turn inland just before the bird sanctuary, a pleasant walk along a dyke and brook takes you to the village of Eastbridge, and the Eels Foot pub, which is dog friendly and which has good bar snacks.  After lunch you can meander back through the woods, although you do need to be a good map reader to find the quickest route home!

Sitting in the dunes drinking a cup of tea from the Beach Cafe (home made cakes) among the dunes is a great way of finishing off the expedition.  

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Watch your step!

I have had an e mail from a Great Waldingfield resident who recently had an alarming encounter with a car on the new zebra crossing outside the shop.  A car coming from his left stopped to let him cross, but one coming along on the other side of the road at speed nearly mowed him down!

Apparently it is quite common for motorists not to notice new zebra crossings and incidents of this type are quite common in the early months after their installation.

So do watch out when using the new crossing!