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

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A small revolution in planning policy


Babergh’s Core Strategy, which sets strategic parameters for planning policy throughout the District, took a further step forward yesterday.
At yesterday’s full Council Meeting at Babergh councillors voted that the document should be submitted for external examination. This is one of the last steps before it can be adopted as part of the Local Development Framework.

The Strategy is really quite revolutionary in that it seeks to permit some proportionate growth in housing in certain villages where previous Local Plans have vetoed most development.   This is a long overdue change.  Many settlements have shrunk in size in the past, and cannot maintain local services such as pubs and shops.  Transport links have also been affected since there are simply not enough people to make bus services viable.  Small parishes are, as a result, in danger of becoming the preserve of the wealthy elderly, with younger and less well-heeled people having little choice but to move to larger places, or to suffer isolation and deprivation.

Clive Arthey, long term member and former Chairman of the Development Committee, provided councillors with some fascinating statistics in this respect.  Looking at population figures from 100 years ago he showed how many settlements have shrunk dramatically in size.  Whereas Acton and Great Waldingfield for example have grown from 558 and 662 souls to 1720 and 1420 respectively, villages such as Little Waldingfield have fallen from 412 to 360, and Kersey has dropped from 604 to 330.  Most extreme is Little Wenham which has fallen from 95 to just 10!  Lavenham has much the same population count as it had a century ago, although of course the people are rather more widely distributed; demonstrating that the fall in the number of people per household has also been an important trend.

As far as rural businesses are concerned, I recently read a report which stated that before the War Bildeston supported as many businesses as Lavenham, but now where Lavenham  still has more than 40, in the main due to its attraction as a tourist destination, Bildeston’s local businesses now number less than 10.

Will Babergh’s change in approach to development reverse the decline being seen in rural areas?  Of course times have changed and the advent of car ownership for many means that it is unlikely that there will be a massive revival in village stores for example and it will be an ongoing challenge to make public transport viable.    The situation may be prevented from further deterioration however, and  if a better balance of people can be helped to live in country settlements this must be a good thing.

Let’s hope the Inspector who will now examine the plan , agrees with us!

Monday, October 29, 2012

A visit to Worcester

Edward Elgar

Nick and I have been in the Midlands this weekend to celebrate our old boss's 80th birthday.

His party was on Sunday, and on Saturday we went to Worcester and visited the wonderful Cathedral.  The Cathedral is a real beginners’ guide to mediaeval architecture, having parts that represent most of the main styles, from its Norman crypt to its Perpendicular cloister.  

There is a memorial window to Edward Elgar, who lived some four miles from Worcester, and whose statue also stands in the High Street.  Before the high altar stands the tomb of Bad King John of Magna Carta fame. (Unlike our Prime Minister I am sure that all readers of the blog know all about the Magna Carta).

Particularly impressive is the flamboyant Chantry Chapel built for Arthur, the older brother of Henry Vlll, who died at nearby Ludlow Castle five months after his betrothal to Catherine of Aragon.  I always wonder when I see his tomb what England would have been like if he had not died, there had been no break with Rome and no Dissolution of the Monasteries.  

Worcester Cathedral from the east.
 I was very moved by the 14th century tomb of John Beauchamp, an ill fated retainer of Richard II.  Both he and his wife rest their feet on a couple of fine long dogs, not unlike those that give us so much pleasure and affection today.

 Having admired the astonishing Norman Crypt, we went on the marvel at the beautiful porcelain in the Royal Worcester Porcelain Museum.  All in all it was a great day out in a lovely and interesting City.  

Norman arches in the crypt.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Caught napping.....

I should not have made the mistake of saying on this site that I was 'out and about delivering leaflets unrelated to the Police and Crime Commissioner elections on 15th November'.

I now find myself the proud owner of about 1000 flyers promoting the undeniable charms of the Conservative Candidate, Tim Passmore.

I will be scattering these about liberally over the next few weeks, but if anyone wants to be sure to receive one please let me know!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Last call for Lorry Watchers

Quite a few people have volunteered to join the Valley Road Lorry Watch Scheme.

I need to tell Suffolk County Council Trading Standards very shortly how many training packs to bring next Monday when we are holding a one hour training session in Great Waldingfield Village Hall at 6.30.

Please contact me (see contact tab above) if you wish to join in.

These schemes work!

For more details click here

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Calendar Girls

We spent a brilliant evening at the Quay Theatre yesterday evening where we saw Sudbury Dramatic Society’s production of Tim Firth’s Calendar Girls.  This play is based on the 2003 film that starred Helen Mirren and Julie Walters, and tells the true story of how members of a Women’s Institute in Yorkshire produced a calendar of nude images in order to raise funds for leukaemia research.

The play is more than simply a ‘northern romp’ featuring a collection of clich├ęd comic characters.  It is a complex work, and skill and sensitivity is required to convey how the characters of the women change and evolve during the course of the action. The SDS cast carried this off exceptionally well and, as a result, what could have been somewhat mawkish and sentimental was genuinely touching and affecting.  The comic scenes demanded a good level of pace and co-ordination in order to avoid the pitfalls of risking nudity on the live stage and the slickness of these scenes in particular were a credit to the direction of Sue Clark.

It seems unfair to pick out individuals from a collection of what were all good performances.  However special mention is due to Sue Bailey, who took the demanding role of Annie and made it convincing throughout, and also to Lucy Foster who made the most of the comic role of Ruth.  Cathy Press who played the important part of Chris, was making a return to the stage for the first time in 20 years, but her professional stage background certainly shone through, and Paul Press gave a convincingly pathetic performance as the dying John.  I was rather sorry that he died so early on in proceedings!

Wonderful as the play was, what is even more exciting is that, appropriately, the production and its stars, are being used as an excuse for local fundraising.  A SDS Calendar for 2013 has been produced featuring tastefully posed photographs of members of the cast in a number of picturesque settings around the Sudbury area.  These are being sold to raise money for the St. Nicholas Hospice and are available in Tesco’s and Waitrose for £9.99.  
Cathy and Paul Press plus calendar after the show.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

What Police Commissioner?

Tim Passmore
I have to say that the amount of interest shown in the media and elsewhere about the election of a Police and Crime Commissioner for Suffolk (and of course elsewhere in the UK) has been very disappointing.

I have been out and about in Lavenham in recent days delivering some leaflets unrelated to the PCC and only one person that I have met has asked me about the forthcoming election on November 15.

Many don't know the names of the candidates, let alone what parties they stand for!

For their benefit, the three candidates for the role are Tim Passmore (pictured above) for the Conservatives link here, and Jane Basham for Labour info here . There is also an Independent called David Cocks click here and I understand that UKIP have also thrown their hat into the ring (at the eleventh hour as usual).

Does the role matter?  Well I certainly think so because the person elected will control police funding. Depending on his or her priorities, it will be their decision how much resource is allocated to the different strands of policing.  Among other things he or she will determine how much money (if any) goes to the three Suffolk Community Safety Partnerships.  I am Vice Chairman of the West Suffolk Parnership, and we really do not want to have to cut back our very cost effective initiatives in areas such as combatting anti-social behaviour, town pastor programmes and projects aimed at reducing domestic violence.

Whoever is elected on November 15,  the Chairman of the West Suffolk CSP and I have already requested an early meeting to make sure that he or she understands the merits of our case.  The things we do are not as high profile or exciting as seeking out terrorists or solving murders, but they certainly do affect the day to day lives of people in the community.

The media are finally waking up to the elections.  Radio  Suffolk is holding a live debate in Ipswich on Thursday 25th October, and I assume that this will be broadcast on the radio.  If you want to attend in person you should telephone 01299 829299 as soon as possible.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

A good year for funghi

This year I have been surprised at the wide variety of funghi flourishing in the garden.

I suppose it must be something to do with the damp weather and the relatively mild temperatures that we are having at present.

Here are two quite spectacular examples that I photographed under the ash tree.

On the subject of ash trees, I was alarmed to read recently about 'ash die back', a fungal disease that has devastated ash trees on the continent.  A nursery in Britain was found to have imported some infected trees, but the Government's Food and Environmental Research Agency moved swiftly to quarentine these and believe that this batch does not pose a danger to British trees.  There is the possibility however that other imported diseased trees have not been spotted.

Symptoms of the disease include black spots on the bark that turn into cankers, and branches turning black before they drop off.   Ashes tend to shed branches fairly regularly so it should be possible to keep an eye out for the problem.   However at present it seems there is no cause for immediate alarm, but it is to be hoped that the disease does not manage to take a hold here.

To read more about this click here

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Great Waldingfield Community Engagement event

What is community engagement?

Have you ever taken part in a quiz or done an exam when you have felt that the person setting the questions was a bit further ahead in the textbook than you?

I suspect that there were times when the participants in the community engagement event in Great Waldingfield on Monday evening felt a little bit like that! (For more information on this process click on the Community Engagement 2012 tab above.)

Once we got beyond the first questions about what the community liked and disliked about the village, things got a bit more difficult.   I had been concerned that many people really don’t know much about what councils do on their behalf, whether at the Parish, District or County level.  This view proved to be correct.  Usually the activities of the council only become a matter of concern when things go wrong, and I have to say you can’t blame people for this. Dustbins and planning, housing and environmental health, aren’t really that entertaining.

However, it is clear that some would like to know more,  and councillors and officers present  learned from the session that we need to get better at communication.  This means going further than reaching out to people in the old fashioned ways (parish magazines, noticeboards etc.)  We have to make more use of websites and e mails.  I couldn’t help thinking also that it IS a pity that we no longer send out Babergh Matters, which at least gave people the opportunity to read about the activities of the council round the District.  Some councillors felt that it was a waste of money, but, following this exercise,  I am not so sure.

The event was by no means a disaster.  Despite the handicap of some lack of knowledge, members of Great Waldingfield Parish council, the public, and officers and elected representatives from the County and District Councils, managed to have a lively conversation from which all of us learned something, and which will send some useful messages back to Babergh .  These opinions, taken with others from around the District, should assist us in setting a strategic direction for the Council in the years to come.

The next community event will be held by Chilton Parish Council at the Christopher Centre in Sudbury at 7.30p.m. this coming Monday, 15 October.  An event for Acton will be held on the evening of 19 November and we are still arranging something for Little Waldingfield.

I have prepared some information for people who would like to know more about the council’s activities prior to these meetings.  Please e mail me if you would like a copy.  Parish Councillors will receive the papers whether they want them or not!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

News on Acton telephone problems

 Thanks to Acton correspondent Margaret Maybury for the following information:

'I have just spoken with the engineers working on the major telephone fault in Acton.

The fault is on the Sudbury Road between the entrance opposite THE CROWN INN and a bend in the Sudbury Road.  Simon, the engineer, informs me that the main underground cable has a fault and needs replacing.  However, due to the fibre optics there is not enough room to add another cable so the engineers at either end of the cable, talking by radio link, are putting in a new overland cable lying at the edge of the road so we hopefully will have telephone by tonight.  The old underground cable will be removed and a new one put in.  The engineers will be working all day and all night (I did warn them about cable theft) to rectify the situation and full telephone service will hopefully be in two days time.'