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, February 28, 2012

Stay Safe Scheme launched in Sudbury

Yesterday morning I went along to the Bridge Project to attend the launch of the Sudbury Stay Safe Scheme.

Stay Safe schemes were the brainchild of the VoiceAbility Adult and Youth Parliaments (forums for people with learning difficulties).

Following a successful pilot scheme in Felixstowe, Suffolk County Council has decided to extend a Stay Safe scheme across the county.  The idea is that vulnerable people can acquire a card to use if they feel they need help when they are out and about.  A number of businesses in Sudbury including Boots and Waitrose have signed up for the scheme and are training their staff to help any person that turns to them for help.  Although primarily designed for those with learning difficulties, there is no reason why anyone who feels vulnerable cannot carry a card.  Community Safety Officers from Babergh Safer Neighbourhood Teams have been involved in introducing the scheme, which they will support, along with Trading Standards.

Recently the organisers of the Suffolk scheme heard that they had been shortlisted for a High Sheriff's award.  They will hear whether they have received one on March 8th.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Top Girls

Off to the lovely New Wolsey Theatre in Ipswich yesterday evening to see Top Girls by Caryl Churchill.

Nick and I last saw the work quite a long time ago, but the play, which was written in the 1980's, has maintained its freshness and relevance.  It is a meditation on the condition of women in society, prompted when written by the phenomenon of Britain's first female Prime Minister, and also by the increasing number of women who were making it into highly paid jobs. 

The problem with Mrs T, as many saw it was that she may have been a woman, but she was not really a 'sister'.  Despite having little truck with feminism herself, she actually was a worked example of a woman who got to the top while coping with predjudice and also the demands of home and family.  None the less, and not altogether suprisingly,  she was not appreciated by the many women who were deeply affected by the changes in society that she promoted.

The high point of the play is the perfectly choreographed first act in which a late 20th century high flying female headhunter entertains controversial 'Top Girls' from the past to dinner in a restaurant (pictured above).  Pope Joan, Patient Griselda, Lady Nijo, the explorer Izabella Bird and Dull Gret reveal their individual difficulties and the price that they have paid for their fame,  over several bottles of wine. Their conversation brilliantly expresses, in an admittedly rather extreme form, the pecularities and problems of being a woman that the more mundane protagonists of the second two acts play out in a twentieth century context.  The play makes clear that it is not possible to 'have it all', as was suggested by the Superwomen of the late 20th century.

Beautifully played by an all female cast, it was good to see a modern play that has stood the test of time and gave us a lot to think about.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Folly Road Frogs

Saved this time!
Mind your speed when travelling along Folly Road!

It is the time of year when frogs migrate across Folly Road in Great Waldingfield to reach the pond on the other side.  Anything that you can do to help them survive this dangerous journey would be much appreciated both by the frogs and by those generous souls who spend their evenings helping them.

The picture above is from a Canadian website, and illustrates the plight of the rare Red Leg Frog which is being driven towards extinction by man's insatiable need to concrete over everything.   The writers of the site point out that frogs are sensitive indicators of environmental degradation, and their fall in numbers globally is a clear indication of habitat loss.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

A message from Branchlines

See below a message from Dr. David Taylor, the Chairman of Branchlines.  It is good to see that Brian and Shirley's hard work over the years in helping to create and to maintain the wood is being recognised.



Volunteers are invited to join us again in planting at our village wood.
We hope to plant another 40 metres of hedge along the top bank.
This amounts to 200 saplings at 5 per metre.
They will be easy to plant in well prepared soil.
Each will be protected with a spiral shelter and a cane support.
Please bring gardening gloves and a small/border spade if possible.

As a tribute to all the work Brian and Shirley Rose have done for the wood, we have decided to name the top bank 'Rose Bank' and we will be including a number of wild roses in the hedge on the day.

Maintenance work has continued over the winter, replacing a few stakes, shelters and dead trees. We are all hoping that the lizards will reappear from their hibernaculum as the days lenghthen and warm.

Look out later for details of our popular annual quiz and a jubilee event, when we hope to plant a 'Royal Oak'. 

David Taylor, chair of Branchlines

Setting matters (almost) straight.

I was pleased to see that the Suffolk Free Press has published a correction to its front page story of February 9th (‘You have to got to be Joking!’). 

You had to look hard to find the correction, lost among the small news items on page 5, but at least it was there in black and white.

It turns out that a Chilton resident did not, as stated, ‘suffer at the hands of parking wardens’ in North Street car park on the previous weekend.  In fact no ticket at all was issued to her on the Sunday in question.

I can see how the misunderstanding came about, but I do think that before trumpeting a story across the front page of a newspaper, it might be worth going to the trouble of checking the facts.  The resident in question is not ‘ex directory’ and a quick phone call would have made it clear that the ticket was not issued ‘on Sunday’ as stated, but sometime in 2011 when the car park was ice free.

The paper has rightly apologised to the person concerned, but I feel that a similar expression of regret is due to Babergh.  I particularly sympathise with our hard pressed parking wardens, who, as a result of the article, suffered abuse from the public.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Some thoughts on Police Commissioners

I was interested to hear the debate on the Today programme this morning about the proposed new police commissioners.  In the red corner was John Prescott, who is aiming to fill the post in Humberside.  In the blue was an ex-police chief, who clearly did not think much of the idea.   The police, he claimed, were accountable enough already and change, particularly if it involved political intervention, was unnecessary.

Coincidentally, I recently spoke to a person who is contemplating seeking a nomination for the Suffolk Police Commissioner Post.  He was interested in my opinion due to the work I have been doing with the Babergh Community Safety Partnership. 

As we spoke about the potential for the role, I realised that I do believe the Police Commissioner idea is a good one.  People that I meet seem to feel that the police as an organisation are not particularly ‘citizen friendly’ (although this attitude often changes when they meet individual officers or PCSO’s). The culture of the police as a uniformed organisation with a strict and somewhat inflexible hierarchy is sometimes hard to mould to the requirements of a community that has raised expectations that its views will be listened to. 

My personal relationships with the police in Sudbury have not suffered from too much rigidity, and, by and large, my suggestions and comments have been met with pragmatism.  However, I have been in something of a special position, and have found the Sudbury team very user friendly on the whole.   However, even in these benign circumstances, there have been times that I have felt that there is something of a gulf between the police’s view of the world and everyone else’s.

If the Police Commissioner can become the people’s voice in this sphere this can really only be a good thing.  He will hold the purse strings, and be able to decide where the balance between prevention of crime and response after the event should lie.

I am convinced that many of the projects undertaken by Community Safety Partnerships, often using very limited resources, do make a real difference with regard to the prevention of crime.  I am also convinced of the value of the community engagement events supported by the Safer Neighbourhood Teams.  I just hope that whoever becomes the Police Commissioner in Suffolk understands the importance of these initiatives and gives them appropriate emphasis.  If he does, I believe that he will be a genuine representative of the people.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Recording the 'sport of kings',

Yesterday at Gainsborough’s House I spent some time sorting out the final arrangements for a series of six Spring Talks that start on Tuesday February 28 at 11 a.m. in the Hills Room.

The first will be by Chris Garibaldi who is the Director of the National Horseracing Museum in Newmarket.  Chris has spoken at the museum before and I know that he is a very entertaining speaker.

In addition to discussing how the Horseracing Museum’s collection illustrates the ‘sport of kings’, his talk will focus on the history and proposed  redevelopment of Charles II’s Palace House to which the Museum is scheduled to move in the next few years.

Tickets are £6, and also cover entrance to the Museum, which is a good bargain.  They are available at Reception or by calling 01787 372958

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Park with confidence!

I am sure many of you saw the front page of the Suffolk Free Press this week.

Having read the article you may be concerned that you could receive a ticket for parking 'untidily' over white lines, even if you cannot see them due to the snow.

Please rest assured that this is not the case.  No tickets will be, or have been, issued under these circumstances.  In normal weather conditions the parking wardens take a photograph of your car so that if you do not believe them you can challenge their decision.

I do not wish to pre-empt any discussions that are currently taking place between the editors of the Free Press and Babergh's Communications Department about the front page article, but I expect clarification with regard to what actually happened to our resident in the North Street Car Park to be forthcoming in due course.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Come on you gritters!

Although the snow in our driveway is so deep that we had to dig ourselves out yesterday, as can be seen from my photos, the lanes around Newmans Green are,astonishingly, completely clear!   A kind farmer in his tractor apparently came round and did a fantastic job. This is definitely a first.  Usually when the snow arrives we skate and skid along in the car until we reach the Acton-Sudbury Road in one direction or the Long Melford By-Pass in the other. Last year one of our neighbours ended up in the ditch.

It is clear that Suffolk County Council has done a very good job of clearing the roads this year.   On Radio Suffolk this morning a motorist phoned in to say that there was a noticeable difference between the state of the roads in Suffolk compared with Norfolk!   (Suffolk good, Norfolk bad.)

So come on you gritters, keep the pressure on..  Let's win this particular local derby!

On the way to Long Melford

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Cold in Suffolk? Try Moscow.

Thousands of Russians braved temperatures below -20 degrees today in Moscow to protest against unfair election practices and to suggest that Putin's time at the top is up.

The quality of slogan was particularly high this time.  I reproduce three of the best below.  Others, plus a commentary on the demonstrations can be seen here

Winter cold, Botox doesn't help (Putin is suspected of using botox)

Changing one letter alters the word 'elections' to 'you thief'

No translation necessary!