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

Saturday, March 31, 2012

A concert for Compassion

Marianne Olyver will play for Compassion
Continuing my programme of meeting the key people involved in community safety in Babergh, yesterday I met Cathy Press, the Chairman of Compassion, an independent multi agency forum that works to raise awareness of domestic violence issues, and to support its victims.  Babergh District Council is a member of the forum.

Domestic Violence does not have a high profile when compared with other crimes because its effects are largely hidden.  However it is a fact that

1 in 4 women will experience violence and abuse during their lifetime
In the UK 2 to 3 women are murdered in a week, amounting to 112 per year.
Children are present or nearby in 90% of incidents
Male partners can also suffer abuse, as can partners in same sex relationships.

In addition to the above, the disturbing area of honour based killings and forced marriages is also becoming of increasing concern in the county.

Cathy and I had an interesting talk, and I will be learning more by undertaking a day of training on the subject later in the year.

The Forum is presenting a fundraising gala concert to support its work at Holy Trinity Church, Long Melford Church on 26 May.  The event features the well known violinist Marianne Olyver, a small orchestra and singers.  A sparkling evening is promised, which will appeal to all the family.  Tickets at £10 for an adult and £1 for a child are available from Landers Bookshop in Long Melford, Compact Music, Sudbury and on the door.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

More on sheep. and the best place to see them

 A blog reader sent the following comment with regard to my recent post about sheep improving the landscape:

'Take the train from Sudbury to Marks Tey in daylight (sheep are not very luminous). The delights of the Suffolk and Essex borders may be exploited best by riding the rails. At  Chappel and Wakes Colne railway station there is a view looking east where the sheep and lambs are quartered in a  “cricket bat “ willow plantation  - the morning mist with sunshine breaking through gives a positively delightful view and a good feel to the trip to London.'

Warning about bogus lottery letters

 I have received the press release below via Suffolk County Council and thought I should share it with you:

BOGUS Olympic lottery letters are being sent to unsuspecting Suffolk residents.

Suffolk Trading Standards is warning members of the public to look out for the scam letters which illegally use the Olympic and London 2012 logos and tell recipients they have won a prize of £525,000.

The letters claim that all recipients have to do is return a payment processing form, by fax, with their personal details to receive the full sum of money. However, these personal details are actually being forwarded to criminal gangs operating abroad.

Any information residents send to claim their non-existent prize is used to carry out identification theft. The letters use false names and addresses, usually of large office blocks, and ‘0207’ telephone numbers purchased to give the impression they are based in London. However, in reality, the person at the end of the phone could be anywhere in the world.

Suffolk Trading Standards is issuing the following advice and guidance:

·         It is unlikely that London 2012 will be asking individuals to pay for goods or services, whether directly to it or through agents, other than ticket sales and official London 2012 merchandise. Therefore such lottery letters are almost certainly going to be bogus
·         Bogus Olympic information will typically use poor quality reproductions of the Olympic logos
·         Trading Standards don’t know of any official lottery operators who ask for fees to collect winnings - any request for a fee payment is a good indication that someone is a fraud
·         Never respond to these lottery letters – this will only lead to further contact

County Councillor Colin Spence, Suffolk County Council’s Portfolio Holder for Public Protection said; “Sadly, in the next few months, it is very likely that Olympic related scams will be on the increase. With this in mind, it is vital that people remain extra vigilant around this time.

“Residents should not be afraid to discard of any suspicious letters. It is important to trust your instincts - if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.”

If in any doubt about a London 2012 offer, residents can contact the Olympic organisers at www.london2012.com. The website also has an updated list of the latest London 2012 scams and frauds. Scams can also be reported to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or locally to Consumer Direct on 08454 040506.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

A transport of delight?

A little while ago Little Waldingfield lost its regular bus service.  After a few weeks the situation was relieved to a small extent by the 112 service, which only goes on Saturdays, but which is better than nothing I suppose.

Now there is news of a further service starting on April 16th. This, the 112 and 112A will run at very limited times on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.  The 112 goes from Hadleigh to Sudbury, taking in Great Waldingfield, Little Waldingfield, Brent Eleigh, Monks Eleigh and Semer, 112A starts in Chelsworth and travels through all the villages above, apart from Semer, to Sudbury.  I can provide a timetable if people wish, just send me an e mail to antillj@btinternet.com.  I am surprised that this has not been better publicised by the County Council, which is, I understand, running the service on a ‘pilot’ basis.

Closer examination of the timetable shows that the timings of the buses are far from perfect, and therefore it is a little questionable as to whether demand will prove to be high.  For a start the service only operates during the school term time.  Recently an Acton resident revealed that the school bus, and its driver, sits idly in Sudbury between school start and finishing times.  It is possible that this jolted the conscience of the powers that be at the County who have put on the service to meet this criticism.

At least one resident from Little Waldingfield is very unimpressed, calling the new service a waste of public money.  In addition to the fact there are no buses in school holidays, he points out that the timetable is such that some of the buses will get you to Sudbury but will not get you back again.  Also the time in Sudbury for shopping etc. is very limited, and making connections for buses further afield quite out of the question.  However, as far as spending time in Sudbury is concerned, I suppose that getting a taxi home from town is still cheaper than taking a taxi both ways.

Such a skeleton service clearly cannot replace the need for an on demand community transport service in the area.  In this connection Go Start, which is stepping up the level of its service shortly, does actually cover Little Waldingfield, but some of the other villages along the route fall outside its range.

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Gunfight at the OK Corral, law enforcement and politics in action

Wyatt Earp
What were the causes of the Gunfight at the OK Corral, which took place in Tombstone. Cochise County, Arizona,  on Wednesday October 26 1881?

It turns out that the answer at least in part was politics!

The story of the gunfight is an exciting one, but perhaps not quite as exciting as is portrayed in the several films that have featured it. 

Although the Wild West was, of course, pretty wild, Tombstone, a mining boom town, was actually a relatively respectable place,  and the gunning down in broad daylight of three ‘cowboys’ was an unusual occurrence.

Events were driven in part by the rivalry between the Sheriff of Cochise County, Johnny Behan, and Wyatt Earp, the brother of Virgil Earp, the Federal Marshall.  Having failed in the attempt once, Wyatt Earp aspired to win the lucrative role of Sheriff at an election due to be held the following year. 

The two candidates adopted different policies towards the cowboys who came into town from time to time and indulged in what we might call today anti-social behaviour. (Men were obliged to check in their guns when in town so their activities were largely confined to gambling, whoring and drinking).

Behan pursued a policy of appeasement towards the cowboys and used reason rather than force when they crossed him.  Earp, a less charismatic, but much more interesting man, was inclined to take a more robust approach, and indeed politically it suited him to do so.  

When the McClaury brothers and their associates refused to disarm during a visit to town, Behan tried to reason with them but failed and the ensuing gunfight between the Earp Brothers, Doc Holliday and the cowboys resulted in 30 bullets being fired and three cowboy corpses in the dust.

Earp never did become Sheriff of Cochise County, but he did undertake other official law enforcement roles later in his long life.

America has a long history of holding elections for its law enforcement officers, and it is interesting in this case to see how much politics had an impact on events.

As the different political parties start to select their candidates for the role of County Police Commissioner it is interesting to ponder on what might be the outcome of different policy approaches here in the UK.  As the Gunfight at the OK Corral shows introducing politics into law enforcement can make a difference!
Lord Prescott, The Sheriff of Humberside?

A good account of the shootout in Tombstone can be found in The Last Gunfight by Jeff Guinn, 2011 (Published in the UK by the Robson Press).

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Tourist Information Office moves

The new spot in the Library
Yesterday morning I went into Sudbury Library to see the new spot that has been found for the Sudbury Tourist Information Office.

The facility has been taken over by Sudbury Town Council and I think that its new situation is an improvement on its previous location behind the Town Hall.

When I visited the staff were busy trying to fit the office into a rather smaller space than they have enjoyed hitherto.  I think that this will be compensated for by accessibility, not least for local people, who will pass the office regularly and should be made more aware of all the marvellous sights that are available to us within a short distance.

At Gainsborough's House we know that, apart from our Friends who tend to be local, most of our visitors come from some distance away.  We would very much like to attract more local visitors, and, as I often point out, people do not have to pay to visit the shop or have a cup of tea or coffee in the lovely garden.

Our ongoing series of talks about local attractions has been going very well.  The next one which is about Melford Hall and other, smaller properties of the National Trust, is at 11 a.m. on  Tuesday 27th March.  There are three further talks between now and early May.  Tickets have sold well, but there are still a few places left, so if you are interested do visit the reception in Weavers Lane, where more information is available. Alternatively you can call the House on 01787 372958.

A ticket for each talk costs £6, and includes admission to the Museum on that day.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Signs of life at Chilton Woods

Things do seem to finally be stirring with regard to the Chilton Woods Development, due to deliver hundreds of new houses on green fields to the north of Sudbury.

A number of drilling rigs have started to drill holes in the earth around the site, and Babergh is holding a meeting for Parish Councils and other interested parties next week.

So far no sight has been seen of any executives from the developers, Redrow.  Up to now the company has preferred to approach the community through a specialist consultancy firm rather than by direct contact.  I suppose that they would argue that this enables them to get on with what they do best (i.e. building), while leaving the consultation to ‘experts’.  However their lack of personal engagement to date is rather worrying to me, and to one or two others, and is in marked contrast to the approach taken by their ill-fated predecessors, Ashwell Homes. Ashwell’s managers and directors took a really keen interest in engaging with local organisations, councils etc.  Unfortunately despite a long period of consultation that stretched over several years, they never actually managed to put in for planning permission let alone build anything!

Watching Redrow’s presentation for investment analysts on their website was quite instructive.  Recently things have been pointing in the right direction for the company. Their profitability has been improving after some years when they made a loss, but their borrowings have risen due to a marked increase in land purchase.  I note that under 10% of their recently built homes fall within the ‘social housing’ category.  The Chilton Woods development could change this a little since some 30% of homes to be build there should, according to Babergh’s rules, be ‘affordable’.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Burning safety issues

Yesterday I joined representatives from the police, fire service, NHS and the Suffolk Drug and Alcohol Action Team, along with community safety officers and CSP Members from St Edmundsbury BC and Mid Suffolk District Council, to talk about the future direction of the West Suffolk Community Safety Partnership.

Strategic priorities for the coming year were outlined, and the status of the Partnership in the future was discussed.   The election of the Police Commissioner in November next year was a hot topic because once elected he will control our budget  and we need to convince him that the work we do to make the community a safer place is worthwhile and worth paying for.

The event, which was generally considered a success, got off to a potentially incendiary start however, when, following the Chairman’s usual comments about fire drills etc. one of the representatives from the fire service made the observation that it might be a good thing to remove some gently steaming papers from a spot close to the lens of the projector!

The headline ‘Local Safety Partnership torches community centre’ might have rather undermined the body’s credibility with our new funder.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Sheep should safely graze..

This weekend we went up to Warwickshire and then on to Worcestershire to see friends and to attend a Diamond Wedding celebration.

As someone brought up in the Warwickshire countryside in the 1950’s, living in Suffolk, I really miss seeing cows and sheep in the fields.  We don’t have too many animals amongst the acres of wheat and barley.  As you travel away from East Anglia however, the number increases and somehow this makes the countryside feel more like the real thing!

I was pleased to learn therefore that one of our local farmers in Acton is trying to build up a commercial flock of sheep on his land.   At the same time, it was depressing to hear that he has been having trouble with people who allow their dogs to run freely near to his animals.

Keeping dogs under close control when near cattle and sheep is important.  Not doing so is to show ignorance of the rules and customs of country life.  Allowing dogs to harass sheep is cruel and unnecessary.  Farmers need to make a living, and keeping livestock means a lot of hard work, often for a rather modest return.

As the farmer in question writes ‘’to allow dogs not on a lead to roam freely is the height of selfishness…’

Yes, indeed it is!  We are very lucky to be able freely to enjoy the green spaces of the Suffolk Countryside, but we really should have consideration for those for whom the countryside is a place of work, not pleasure.

If you cannot keep your dog on a lead near livestock, I suggest that you take it for a walk in the park!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

High Speed Broadband approaches....

Frank Lawrenson writes:

Fibre Optic High Speed Broadband is scheduled to be rolled out on the 31st March in this area!!

The main Sudbury East BT exchange is due to go live on the 31st March. Apparently, this exchange covers most of the Waldingfield area. Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you will able to get the high-speed broadband. For this to happen, BT also has to upgrade your nearest “cabinet”. These are the old green telephone exchange boxes that you can see in the street. BT have told me that the new Fibre Optic enabled boxes are taller than the old ones and rather than swapping them out, may be located beside or a short distance away from the old cabinets.

The long and short of it is that if you have one of these in your street, then you will probably be getting access to the new high speed broadband fairly soon.

If you haven’t then it appears to be a wait-and-see game. However, one way in which you can try and push for it quicker is to register your interest on their site… http://www.superfast-openreach.co.uk/expression-gen.aspx.

Bearing in mind that the exchange is going live, if you and your neighbours all register your interest, then you are much more likely to see something happen sooner.

Friday, March 9, 2012

What a choice!

Down to Waitrose this morning and what a shock!  I find not only the Gainsborough's House Museum Club among the shop's charities of the month, but also Acton village hall!

Which one to choose!?!

I could resort to trying to obtain two green tokens by stealth and putting one in each bin...but is that really appropriate action for a District Councillor?

Can anyone resolve ths moral dilemma?

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Babergh's Community Oscars

Yesterday' evening I attended the Babergh Community Awards ceremony at Stoke by Nayland Hotel and Golf Club.  It was a really sparkling event, hosted by BBC Radio Suffolk's Mark Murphy.

I was present, along with Colin Spence,  because we had supported the nomination for an award of John Steele, the Chairman of Great Waldingfield Parish Council  John is pictured here with the Chairman of Babergh, David Wood and Robert Audley, the Chairman of Prolog, who sponsor the event.

The programme for the evening gave details of each recipient's achievements.   In John's case the story centred around his hard work in raising over £160,000 for the refurbishment of Great Waldingfield Village Hall from seven separate funders, and also his management of the whole project.  Tribute was paid to the energy efficient nature of the scheme, and also to John's foresight in making provision for internet access at the hall.  An extract from one of the many letters written in John's support was included, and read  'John has made a substantial contribution towards making Great Waldingfield a more pleasant place to live for its residents, and this deserves recognition'.

It was mentioned that some years ago John was involved with the judging of the nominations.  In this, the 20th year of the inception of the awards, it was particularly fitting therefore that he should be at the receiving end!

Some 25 awards were given in all.  I was pleased to see that in the Under 18 category, two Gainsborough's House volunteers were among the recipients.  Both Izabela Pawlic and Emma Bloys were singled out as community minded sixth formers from Sudbury Upper School who have connections with the House. Izabela has worked with the Art Smart Scheme, and Emma is a regular volunteer.  They are pictured below.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Making the most of local assets

Rumour has it that the White Horse in Great Waldingfield has been purchased by a company that wishes to retain it as a pub.  The future of Bob’s Stores in Acton is less certain, although I would have guessed that a new owner will easily be found to make sure that this excellent  shop continues as a going concern.

However all over the country similar local amenities are being threatened with closure or change of use in rural and urban areas alike.  Sometimes a local community group has been able to take over; the village shops in Monks Eleigh and Polstead come to mind.  Often however, a sale takes place quickly and the opportunity to preserve an amenity for the community is lost.

Last week I went to a Local Government Association Seminar about new opportunities and powers that the Government is giving community groups and parish and town councils in the Localism Bill 2011.  Babergh will be among the authorities that will be obliged to maintain a list of ‘assets of community value’.  If a place is on such a list any community organisation will have the right to ask for a delay in the sale on the open market to allow them to prepare a bid.

I will be drawing these new provisions to the attention of parish councils in the next month or so when I attend their meetings.  There are one or two assets that I can think of in the Ward that would meet the criteria and could usefully be registered.