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

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Gainsborough's House May Market

Gainsborough’s House is holding its annual May Market next Saturday, 4 May.

As usual there will be the chance to buy original works of art, crafts, books and many other items.  Entrance to the museum will be free and there is an opportunity to see the interesting current temporary exhibition.  Creative Forces, Jonathan Clarke and Colin Slee, displays the work of two artists working locally, one a sculptor, the other a painter.  Both have an interesting perspective on the local environment and some of the more striking exhibits spill out into the garden.

Saturday's market will see the launch of a book about the statue of Thomas Gainsborough on Market Hill. This is the first of several events marking the centenary of the unveiling of the statue of Thomas Gainsborough on Market Hill on June 10 1913.  The book, which has been edited and part written by Valerie Herbert, contains contributions from other people including a chapter on the history of Gainsborough’s House from me.

June 10 this year will see a Grand Re-enactment take place on the Market Hill at which people are being encouraged to come along in period costume.  For information about this and other related events go to:

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Babergh nominated for prestigious Achievement Award.

Babergh , together with Mid Suffolk District Council, has been shortlisted in the ‘Shared Service’ category of the MJ (Municipal Journal) tenth Anniversary Achievement Awards.

The entry in the glossy brochure that lists all the shortlisted local authorities describes our achievement as follows:-

‘In just over two years, Babergh DC and Mid Suffolk DC have created a single-delivery organisation serving both councils.  The scheme has already achieved annual revenue savings of 8% and reduced the management team by 50%.  The self-leadership remit of the new delivery teams also ensures resources support front line service and outcome delivery’.

The last sentence seems to me to be complete gobbledygook, written as it is in localauthorityspeak, but the rest is pretty clear.  In the face of unprecedented cuts in government funding, councillors and officers at Mid Suffolk and Babergh have not stood idly by waiting for the moment that we are forced to start to reduce services and cut back on community support.   We have proactively taken the initiative, and our path breaking activity, which is well in advance of similar initiatives by other bodies, has now been recognised by this nomination for a national award.

There are another four projects from all over the country in the frame for the award, and we will know whether we have won on June 20th

People are very quick to criticise Babergh , and, of course, it is not perfect in every respect.  However, it has for many years been a comparatively well run council that has kept council tax  low, and has elected members who are not afraid to recognise the realities of a changed external  environment and act accordingly.

The price of growth

Next door to you?

On the day that we have heard that the country is not, as yet,  declining into a third, historically unprecedented, recession, it is perhaps worth thinking about the Coalition Government’s attitude to growth.

I personally believe that it is very hard for government action alone to stimulate growth in the economy for anything but a short period.  However, given the current dire financial state of the nation’s finances, it is not a surprise that growth has become something of an obsession with ministers, and indeed is colouring much, perhaps too much, of their policy making.

Thus we read that a government advisor has stated today that it would be a good thing for stay-at-home mothers to go out to work because it would be ‘good for the economy’.   Additionally, the Government was, until it was forced into a welcome rethink, prepared to unleash mayhem between neighbours by allowing large extensions to be built without consultation or permission.  The aim we were told was to stimulate the building industry.

These policies reveal that the Government is setting too much store by economic growth, and giving too little thought to other factors.  Forcing babies into nurseries and allowing anti-social carbuncles to be appended to the rear of housing both have their own cost. 

Perhaps this is not something that can be measured in terms of GDP, but there is a social cost that needs to  be balanced against purely economic advantage.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Time Flyers, a talk by Jo Caruth

 A report from Andy Sheppard:

 Little Waldingfield History Society was most pleased to welcome Jo Caruth, a senior project officer from the Bury St Edmunds archaeology field team, to the Parish Room on April 10th for the last formal talk of our first year as a society, and what a successful first year its been!

Jo entertained us with many anecdotes and behind the scenes stories associated with the making of a TV archaeology programme, both from the air and on the ground, which was where her particular expertise came in handy – we will never look at such a programme again without recalling them and her!

As the title implies, Time Flyers took a fresh and original perspective on some of the most famous and important archeological sites of Britain to reveal Britain's history from above. Using aerial archaelogy combined with dig excavations on the ground, the Time Flyers team of three archeologists investigated many mysteries that had baffled researchers for decades.
Sites can often be seen better from the air.

As many readers will know, even where there are no longer any physical remains, outlines of what was once there can often be seen through crop marks and scars on the landscape, often changing throughout the year as weather conditions change through the seasons.

The unique aerial perspective from a helicopter is combined with a dig site on the ground, and with important and large-scale sites chosen, there was always much that was interesting. Most importantly, at the heart of each programme was a historical mystery that the Time Flyers team set out to solve, from the extraordinary Neolithic monuments around Stonehenge to the Roman Empire's very first frontier (in Scotland); from Offa's Dyke on the Welsh borders to a medieval village in Somerset that was finished off by the Black Death.

Imprinted on the wild mountains, coasts and moorlands is a rich history, visible not just in the buildings but in the shape of the landscape itself. From prehistoric monuments to the vast modern motorways which sweep across the land, Britain is marked indelibly by the works of man. Nowhere is this better seen than from the air, and nowhere better heard than from the lips from one who was there in person.

Everyone had a fantastic evening hearing some of the more humorous ways of aerial archeologists, including what they got up to off air, and we now look forward to a couple of outings we are putting on for members:
  •  14th May        An afternoon visit to Little Hall in Lavenham, which should be fascinating; &
  • 18th June         An afternoon visit to Guestingthorpe Roman Villa, to include viewing an ancient barn full of farming memorabilia; I am really looking forward to this.

Our next talk is on September 13th, kicking off our second season. We are absolutely delighted to invite Pip Wright back again, to talk on “For the rest of your natural life”, which will tell the stories of Suffolk convicts transported to Australia between1787 and 1867.

Pip enthralled us all earlier in the year with his talk on “Suffolk Witches in and around Suffolk”, and this topic is sure to be equally captivating, as Pip is such a great story teller. I hope to see many friends in the evening at the LW Parish Room (7.30), both old and new.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Work starts on Health Centre

Peter Clifford, the Chairman of Chilton Parish Council, has sent an e mail today confirming that work on the new health centre in Church Field Road has now started.

Large concrete tubes for drainage have arrived for the water and sewerage systems.

The Parish Council has been asked to be kept informed of progress.
Artist's impression of the new centre

Updates on Travellers

These will now appear on the Travellers' News Page which is reached by clicking on the tab above.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Travellers Return

I have just heard that a group of travellers, currently quite small,  has returned to Chilton Airfield.

More news will be posted when available.  I do not believe that they are parked close to any dwellings, but residents should be aware.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Primrose Day

When I was out and about yesterday it was pointed out to me that 19th April is  Primrose Day.  Here in Suffolk the primroses have now emerged right on cue after the cold weather and are looking wonderful.

Primrose Day marks the anniversary of the death in 1881 of the great Conservative, Benjamin Disraeli, First Earl of  Beaconsfield.

Primroses were his favourite flower.  He often received posies of them from Queen Victoria and on this day it is customary to place them on his grave and on his statue in Parliament Square.

So let's pause for a moment and remember the man who never let political ideology get in the way of common sense.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Acton Annual Parish Meeting

Safe from encroachment?

 The Annual Parish Meeting at Acton, held on Wednesday evening  was attended by a relatively small, but very engaged group of residents.

The Chairman of the Parish Council, Lyn Bloomfield, commented that the year had been a relatively quiet one for the village, but that community spirit is alive and well in Acton.  The highlight of the year was the planting of the Jubilee Oak and burial of a time capsule marking the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee last summer.  Lyn noted the continued work that is taking place on the Barrow Hill Wildlife area, and said that volunteers are always needed to help at the site, which has been described as the only refuge in Acton for a wide range of wildlife. Information here.

Questions were asked about signage at the school, and also about the poor quality of lighting along the High Street.  It was noted that the High Street is in fact the worst lit area in the village!  Personally I am not that keen on too much street lighting.  We do after all live in the countryside.  In any event it was explained that although the Parish Council aims to continually improve the quality of the lighting this is not that easy due to expense, and also due to uncertainty with regard to the whereabouts of the electricity source.

Time was devoted to a discussion of the Chilton Woods Development.  At last year’s Annual Meeting residents had been upset by new proposals that the development should extend to the North of the original site, taking up land within Acton and encroaching on the settlement of Newmans Green.   
Those present at the meeting werer pleased to hear that, due to efforts made after the meeting, the plans had been changed and the footprint of the development is now back where it used to be.  However, given the recent withdrawal of the developer, Redrow, doubts were expressed as to whether the plans, as envisaged, would ever be realised.

A concern remains that if Babergh Development Plan is held up for too long as a result of doubts about the viability of the site, any part of the area could be up for grabs. This is due to the fact that if Babergh fails to adopt the plan quickly, the National Planning Framework, and the associated free for all for developers that this offers, comes into play by default.

A very positive report was given by the Chairman of the Village Hall Committee.  The Hall is now used by a wide range of organisations throughout the week and the financial situation has improved such that it is now possible to purchase new items before the old ones break rather than afterwards.   

The AGM of the Village Hall Committee will be at 7.30 on April 30th.

The Annual Fete will be held on Saturday 6th July this year and the Hall Committee would be pleased to hear from anyone who is interested in getting involved with the organisation or who has ideas for activities and stalls.

County Councillor Colin Spence and I both gave brief reports on our respective organisations. Mine will be posted up on this site once the last Annual Meeting has happened towards the end of May.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Lavenham Library, Friends' Group formed.

Last week I attended a meeting to discuss setting up a Friends Group for Lavenham Library.

The need for such a group has arisen as a result of Suffolk County Council’s decision in August 2012 to divest the Library Service to a charitable organisation, IPS.  This was part of its general strategy to cope with government cuts to council funding.  Similar initiatives are being encouraged at libraries across the County with varying degrees of success.   Perhaps the arrangement may not be seen by many as ideal, but it has meant that no library in Suffolk has closed its doors.

Although core aspects of the running of the library will be funded by SCC, additional equipment such as new computers and other articles will have to be paid for by fundraising and subscriptions to the Friends.  Books for loan will continue to be paid for by Suffolk Libraries.  The first year’s fundraising target amounts to £1600 or so, but it is hoped that some of this may be met by a grant from the Parish council.

The first meeting was a success with a Chairman, Treasurer and Secretary being appointed and several committee members identified.
It was notable that some people at the meeting came from outside Lavenham, reflecting the fact that the library is not just a resource for people in the village but also for those living in parishes nearby.