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

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Leveson - press freedom must be preserved

I have lived in Russia, where freedom of the press is a luxury that its citizens did not enjoy in Soviet times, and only enjoy in a limited form today.  Perhaps it is because of this that I share David Cameron’s caution about agreeing to the statutory underpinning of an ‘independent’ press regulator as suggested by Lord Leveson today.

Once the State purports to control the media at any level, like it or not, the scope for the manipulation of the message immediately increases.  Of course, manipulating the message is not the exclusive preserve of the Left (although they are a lot better at it than the Right in my experience, certainly at a local level)

 It is interesting that it is the left wing parties today, and I include the Liberal Democrats in that description,  who do not seem to recognise the dangers to press freedom that even ‘light touch’ state control implies.  Perhaps is suits them not to do so.

There are already laws in place to ensure that journalists do not engage in criminal or libellous activity.  Perhaps these, and in particular the law of defamation, do need to be re-examined and brought up to date. Some of the principles were established in the 19th century and you need a deep pocket to challenge a newspaper in court.

I hope that all parties will set aside party politics and  get together now to discuss these vital issues in order to achieve a workable outcome.  Press freedom is one of the vital underpinnings of Democracy.

I am pleased to say that an old acquaintance of mine, Oliver Kamm, appears to be in agreement with my view.  He has also, inevitably put the case more elegantly.  Read his latest comment here!

On another topic which is closer to home, Leveson discounted the need to regulate the expression of opinion on the internet, because ‘no-one believes it’.  I, along with many other internet communicators,  find this somewhat insulting!!!

 I can’t say that I have never exaggerated somewhat on this site, but most of it is true!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Latest news, and christmas tree rental service, from Woodland B.A.T.S.

This news from Sudbury conservation group, Woodland B.A.T.S.  comes courtesy of the Chairman, Peter Clifford:

 'It's been a while since we since we contacted you and with the colder weather you would think we would be less busy - but not so!

Tree Delivery:

Firstly we received a delivery of over 400 trees from the Woodland Trust - only little whips, but they have gone in the ground in packets until we can plant them out properly early next year.

We are also steward for a similar delivery to Sudbury Town Council, including a couple of oaks that were grown from seed at the Queen's estate at Sandringham.

Most of the trees, 6 or 700 of them will go to replace the dead developer's stock in Abbots Close, the estate on the opposite side of the road from Tesco.  Depending on the weather, planting is planned for February and we want to involve the local community including children. So we will be needing your help too!

Ash Die Back Disease:

The really bad news is that the UK is likely to lose up to 90% of its Ash Trees to this horrible new fungus to Britain which has come in from the continent.

We have one large ash tree in the tree nursery that looks as though it is already dead and 3 or 4 smaller ones.  In some areas their loss will have a dramatic effect on the landscape.  There are 100s in parts of Ager Fen not far from Sudbury.

Not much we can do now, except look out for the ash trees that survive and collect their seed so we can start all over again. 

Fortunately, we don't generally cultivate them in the tree nursery because they are such prolific self-seeders.

The Green Taxi Company:

We were  contacted a couple of months back by the Sudbury Taxi Company who, keen to reduce their carbon footprint, had been in touch with our mentors Green Light Trust at Lawshall.

Green Light in turn put them  in touch with us and a enthusiastic bunch of around 6 young people connected with the company turned up to help with some planting and pruning work and to build up some carbon credits.

A few weeks later they turned up again with a group of young children from a youth group and again they all mucked in digging, weeding and re-planting at the tree nursery. Most of them seem to have thoroughly enjoyed it.

Sudbury Taxi Company to their own credit now run a fleet of eco dual fuel Toyota Prius, not only cutting their own fuel consumption but helping the planet too.  All power to them.

So if you need a eco taxi for journeys long or short give them a call on 01787 377366.

Rent a Christmas Tree:

If you have been to our tree nursery recently, you may have noticed that we have grown a few Christmas trees just for fun.

Some are still small but others have bloomed into 4 footers so we have decided to sell them or if you like even rent them! Pay a deposit and a rental fee, and after Christmas bring them back and we will plant them in the ground again.  But please take the decorations off first!

To acquire a tree, drop by our stall at the Sudbury Lights Switch On Christmas Market outside the Town Hall on Friday evening the 30th November and we can let you have one then - if we have any left!

If we don't see you in the immediate future, have a very enjoyable Christmas - and keep your boots handy for a spot of tree planting in the New Year.'

If you want to know more about Woodland B.A.T.S, and/or would like to help, information is available from Peter on 01787 371798

Monday, November 26, 2012

Little Waldingfield Community Engagement

Little Waldingfield held a very successful Community Engagement event on Friday evening and Saturday morning.  Around 50 members of the public came along and contributed comments about the village as it is today and how they would like to see it develop in the future.

The event was led by the Parish Council, for whom it is the first step in the creation of a Neighbourhood Plan, but I was able to persuade some of the participants to fill in the Babergh Community Engagement Feedback forms at the same time.  Many of the questions that were being asked by the Parish Council covered the same ground as our own survey.

The Parish Council will be issuing a report on its findings in due course, but I can reveal that there is a move to start a carpet bowls club in the village, and that there were also calls for a film club.

I am relieved to be able to report that many contributors were kind about the quality of their elected representatives, although there were one or two dissenters!
Parish Council Chairman, Brian Tora, explaining the process.

Coffee and Tea were available, and the event gave many villagers the opportunity to socialise with others and to meet neighbours old and new.

I sent in the completed forms to Babergh today, and I am pleased to say that the officers concerned with creating our new long term strategy are still accepting new submissions. Thus, although I have been rather slow in obtaining feedback from across Waldingfield Ward, none of it will go to waste.  The Council's new strategic priorities, which will we will share with Mid Suffolk District Council, will be finally formulated early in 2013.
The results!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The secrets of Orford Ness revealed

One of the pagodas

Thanks to Andy Sheppard from the Little Waldingfield History Society for the report below:-

Orford Ness is so secret a place that most people have never even heard of it. Yet, the role it played in inventing and testing weapons over the course of the twentieth century was far more significant and more sustained than that of Bletchley Park. 

Nestled on a remote part of the Suffolk coast, Orford Ness operated for over eighty years as a highly classified research and testing site for the British military, the Atomic Research Establishment and, at one point, even the US Department of Defence. The work conducted here by some of the greatest 'boffins' of past generations played a crucial role in winning the three great wars of the twentieth century - the First, Second and the Cold.

During a great presentation, Paddy shed some much needed light on the mysterious and most secret goings on at this haunting strip of marshland off the Suffolk coast, used by the army to test bombs and to spy on the Soviets, and on which enigmatic structures jut from the shingle: barracks, armories, listening stations, beacons, watchtowers, bunkers, and two huge blast-chambers nicknamed the pagodas, Nissen huts and a lollipop lighthouse.

In the Middle Ages Orford Ness was used for grazing, though the RAF drained it to make it suitable for their use; however, since purchasing it, the National Trust has now returned some of the land back to grazing.

During World War I the RAF station had some 600 personnel and operated two grass airfields, whilst from 1914 to 1993 it was used by the Ministry of Defence, originally as an airfield and later for weapons research.

After World War I, Orford Ness tested parachutes, armaments, bomb designs and aircraft bombing formations, though Paddy advised us that the parachutes "were not intended for aircrew" but simply for use in dropping flares to permit aerial photography - aircrew were not issued with parachutes until 1925!

In 1935 work began on radar design and development, which was subsequently moved to Bawdsey after proving at Orford Ness; Paddy noted that airborne radar was developed which was so successful that, to hide this success from the Germans, the RAF announced that pilots were eating carrots to improve their eyesight - it seems the Germans might even have bought this subterfuge!

During World War II captured enemy guns were fired at our aircraft to find out how their defences could be improved whilst captured aircraft were also shot at with our guns to determine what changes were needed to inflict the greatest damage upon them.
In the mid 1950’s a test range was constructed to test the Bluestreak missile, whose flight was monitored on cameras after firing in order to perfect the trajectory.

Many of the buildings standing today were built for the testing of atomic bomb triggering mechanisms. Paddy advised these tests were to perfect safety features and to guard against false detonation of the bombs, which came as some comfort to those old enough to remember going through the cold war; apparently such environmental testing included heating, freezing, vibrating, accelerating and decelerating to a high ‘G’ force in order to check that the firing mechanism did not malfunction. This testing finished in 1967.

The National Trust site is now open to visitors under the careful guidance of Paddy and other colleagues who ensure that potential dangers are avoided.

The next event in Little Waldingfield will be held on 5th December.  Watch this space for information next week.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Recycling, fly tipping and more.....

The Suffolk Recyling Consortium now has its own website. 

The  Consortium is a partnership of six councils, including Babergh, who have merged their recycling activities to provide huge volumes of recycleable waste for delivery to a central, commercially owned, recycling centre in Great Blakenham.  This  joint effort not only supports the economic viability of the commercial site,  it has also dramatically increased the volume of material that is recycled in Suffolk.

You can access the new site and learn more about the Consortium through the Waste and Recycling Page on the newly revamped Babergh website. 

This page is a very useful one to store in your bookmarks.   It contains a good deal of information about all sorts of subjects related to waste, from a calendar of bin collections in your area, to how to report an abandoned car.

 To access the site click on http://www.babergh.gov.uk/waste-and-recycling/

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Acton community engagement.

Some clear messages were sent to Babergh’s members and officers by participants in Monday evening’s community engagement event in Acton.

Even though the village is relatively close to Sudbury's facilities, concerns were expressed about the long term viability of village facilities, transport links etc. It was also felt that Babergh should look to tourism and related activities to bolster economic growth in the area, rather than hope that more manufacturing facilities would open up locally.  Given the distance of Acton and Sudbury from  decent transport infrastucture this seemed to be a more realistic way forward.

Particularly strong feelings were evident with regard to planning.  The view was expressed that the Council doesn’t sufficiently value the local knowledge displayed by the parish council when they are invited to comment on planning applications.  It was felt that suggestions about road layout for example, and other local factors, should be more actively used by Babergh planners when they come to consider the detail of the application and negotiate Section 106 agreements.  A higher level of engagement with the parish it was felt, would avoid some obvious mistakes and also some bad planning decisions.

I know from experience that Acton is not a NIMBY place, and on the whole the parish council makes constructive suggestions when responding to planning consultations.  There is little doubt that these are often ignored without explanation,  and this is obviously a source of frustration.

Interestingly, when the S106 scheme was introduced the accompanying guidelines made it clear that the Government expected that communities would be consulted when it came to seeking funds from developers, particularly in the case of large developments.   These guidelines were never adhered to as far as I can see, and interestingly were gradually watered down in subsequent versions.

I sense that at Babergh, under our new Director of Place Lindsay Barker, there is a move towards working more closely with communities on planning matters, particularly when it comes to larger developments and general ‘place shaping’.  The Steering Group that has been set up to look at aspects of the Chilton Woods Development is a case in point.

The next community engagement event is to be held on Friday evening (tomorrow) from 6 p.m. to 8.30, with another session on Saturday Morning from 9.30 a.m. until noon,  in Little Waldingfield Parish Rooms.  The Babergh consultation will be taking place at the same time as the village takes its first steps towards preparing a Neighbourhood Plan, a process supported by the 2011 Localism Act.  More information on this aspect of the legislation can be found here.