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, May 29, 2013

Suffolk Broadband unveiled at Suffolk Show

We are not going to the Suffolk Show this year.

We are still rather miffed at the decision by the organisers two years ago to ban dogs.  To my mind such an event stops being a true County show and becomes just another suburban extravaganza once you take this sort of measure. This is particularly the case in a rural county like Suffolk.  Rendle the Lurcher used to really enjoy the event, and was particularly keen on the show jumping which he watched with rapt attention!

However, at the show a new website will be unveiled that will keep the public up to date with the gradual introduction of improved broadband across the county.

Local residents and business owners will be able to go online to learn more about the latest plans, and learn and when they can expect to receive faster speeds in their local area.

 The website, jointly-created by Suffolk County Council and BT, provides:
 *   An interactive map of Suffolk showing visitors the latest information on the Better Broadband for Suffolk programme. Regular updates from the programme will be posted online and as new coverage areas become ready to be built, the map will be updated.

 *   A line checker so that people can find out the current status of the exchanges near them and when it is likely to be upgraded for fibre-based broadband.

 *   An information hub for the Better Broadband for Suffolk programme, including news, answers to frequently asked questions, videos and case studies.

The new website can be found by clicking:

Councillor Mark Bee, Suffolk County Council’s leader and chair of the Better Broadband for Suffolk programme will say (I'm told!):

“Initial planning and survey work is well underway and we’re now heading into the delivery phase of the Better Broadband for Suffolk programme. So I’m delighted to be able to share with people more details about when and where faster broadband will be rolled out.

“By the end of 2015, Suffolk County Council is committed to ensuring that every property in Suffolk will have access to broadband speeds of at least 2Mbps and 85% of homes and businesses will be able to get speeds of 24 Mbps or above. That’s something we are incredibly proud to be making happen.'

Monday, May 27, 2013

Bees find a home

A year or so ago we bought this bee home and hung it on the side of the new kitchen.  The wooden tube aims to attract solitary, non swarming bees, such a mason bees,  which these days find it harder to find places to live.  Apparently they are great pollinators!

The home faces east because the bees like to enjoy the warmth of the morning sun.

Nothing much happened last year, and we rather gave up hope.

However, now that the sun has come out, and we are spending more time outside, we have noticed that mason bees have now colonised the home and are flying in and out quite happily.  Nick is busy ordering another tube as I write.

Friday, May 24, 2013

First County Council Meeting

Yesterday was the first meeting of the newly elected  Suffolk County Council in Ipswich.  The photo to the left was kindly taken by the Member for Felixstowe North, John Goodwin, just after I took my seat.

Much of the agenda was taken up by administrative matters, such as voting for the chairmen and composition of committees and sorting out nominations to outside bodies.

The Leader, Mark Bee, made a speech in which he stated that the main priority of the Cabinet in this Council would the improvement of educational standards in Suffolk.  Other commitments in the manifesto were also confirmed, such as the promise to freeze council tax over the next four years and to roll out better Broadband across the County.

The Leaders of other Groups also spoke.  I think that we were all interested to hear what UKIP had to say, since the party has elected members at the County for the first time. In the event comments from their leader were quite brief and relatively unremarkable.  They are apparently going to take a 'common sense' approach to council business.  We shall see.

The leader of the Greens made a comment about the recent report in which the desperate state of UK wildlife was revealed.  Long term readers of this site will know that this is an issue that is also close to my heart so I was pleased to hear the matter raised.

Before the meeting started we had a session teaching new councillors how to use the voting equipment.  No raising of hands like at Babergh.  The problem is that once you have voted you can't change your mind, so with a majority of only three I will need to be alert and make sure I keep my glasses on!

Voting machine!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Lavenham public consultation event

Lavenham Parish Council held a consultation event on Sunday to bring four separate matters to the attendion of residents.

Opinions were being sought on two sets of plans. One related to the new housing development on the former Armorex site at the north end of the village.  The other concerned two alternative schemes drawn up by Suffolk County Council to try to prevent heavy lorries from damaging the jetties of mediaeval houses in Water Street.

The Armorex proposals are likely to come before the Planning Committee at Babergh within a few weeks, so this could be the last chance for residents to have their say about the proposals.

In addition the attention of residents was drawn to two local initiatives.

The first of these is the scheme, now well under way,  to develop a neighbourhood plan for Lavenham.  Established by the 2012 Localism Bill, the creation of a neighbourhood plan is a narrower exercise than the parish plans that were produced by several villages locally some years ago.  It is thought however that, since they principally relate to planning,  neighbourhood plans will carry more weight when it comes to considering planning applications in the future.

In the words of the Department of Local Government:

'A neighbourhood development plan can establish general planning policies for the development and use of land in a neighbourhood, like:

  • where new homes and commercial property should be built
  • what they should look like
The plan can be detailed or general, depending what local people want.
Neighbourhood plans allow local people to get the right type of development for their community, but the plans must still meet the needs of the wider area. In most cases we expect this will mean that neighbourhood plans will have to take into account the local council’s assessment of housing and other development needs in the area.'

Last but not least it is hoped to set up a Good Neighbour Scheme in the village.  I have written about such initiatives in the past,and where they get off the ground, they certainly seem to improve the lives both of those who use the services on offer and those who volunteer to help others with special skills etc.

One of the most important tasks undertaken by volunteers is the offer of lifts to those without transport to hospital appointments, the dentist, etc.  A contribution to cover petrol and car running costs is made, and volunteers have the satisfaction of knowing that they are offering essential help to their neighbours.

I understand that a good number of volunteers have already signed up, but more are always needed.
Homes in Lavenham vulnerable to lorry damage

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Bee drama at Babergh resolved

Land in front of Babergh's offices

There was much excitement among Staff and Members alike in Corks Lane last week when a colony of feral bees was discovered while work was being carried out to a damaged poplar tree in front of Babergh’s offices.

We were all much reassured by the message that we received on Friday from David Pizzey, the Tree Officer:-

‘You’ll be pleased to know that the colony of honeybees in the fallen tree at front of the office were successfully moved last night. With the bees docile in the evening a piece of foam was used to block the entrance to the nest. A 10ft section of the tree was then carefully cut and lowered by crane on to a truck which then took them on a slow ride to a site in Lavenham. The bees are now free to remain in their current home or move on to other local hives. The whole operation was managed with great skill by a team from Suffolk Tree Services; all this whilst wearing bee suits over protective chainsaw clothing – not easy!’

Thursday, May 16, 2013

HLF All Our Stories Project

Little Waldingfield

The History Society in Little Waldingfield has been awarded a Heritage Lottery Fund ‘All our Stories’ grant to research the history of the village and its people from the early 1800’s to date.

The project is now well underway but anyone who would like to be involved in this exciting community venture is still more than welcome. Progress to date includes:
  • Recruitment of a number of volunteers to assist with the underlying research;
  • Local training sessions on the skills necessary to conduct research and interview willing volunteers;
  • Attendance at relevant training workshops staged by our HLF partner university UEA
  • Detailed recorded interviews with transcription - in progress;
  • Completion of research of the Parish Council records maintained at Bury Records Office (BRO);
  • Commencement of detailed research of other records held at the BRO; and
  • Completion of detailed research of the village records held by the Local History Recorder.
LWHS continues to look for other sources of information, with residents already providing photographs and other memorabilia from their own family archives.

If any reader has anything that might be of interest (documents, maps, photos etc) or artefacts pertaining to Little Waldingfield or its residents during the past 200 years, the LWHS would love to borrow them for our research – all such documents would be copied carefully and returned promptly.

 Please refer to the blog pages or the website for more information on this exciting project.

Contact details:
Andy Sheppard (sheppard-andy@sky.com or 01787 247980)                                          
Diana Langford (mianddi@btopenworld.com or 01787 248298)

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A day in the life of a new County Councillor

On Monday I spent my first day really working as a County Councillor, and although I started early and finished at around 10 p.m. I did enjoy myself.

The day started with a drive to Ipswich.  On the way I dropped into the Monks Eleigh Community Shop to get hold of a copy of the village magazine.  I hope to persuade the editor to include my e mail and phone number so that residents know how to contact me.  I also checked on the exact whereabouts of the school for a meeting later that day.

Then onto Endeavour House;   my new pass got me into the car park and I climbed higher and higher to finally find a space on the roof.  Seagulls were whirling and shrieking overhead. It was a reminder that Ipswich really isn’t very far from the sea, a fact I often forget.   

I needed to see one of the officers about a request for funding that I have already received and I am happy to say that the scheme falls within the guidelines to quality for a County Councillor’s locality budget.  Immediate success meant that the meeting was shorter than I had expected and so, with time to spare, I decided to have a go at accessing my e mails on one of the computers in the Members’ Area.

I sat down at the computer, and to my distress I realised that I had completely forgotten how to turn on a desktop!  I have, since leaving work, always used a laptop computer and I was completely foxed. I tried to think back fourteen years to my last job in Cork Street, working for Putnam Investments, but in the end had to seek assistance.  What an embarrassment!

I then had a meeting with the Leader of the Council,  Mark Bee at which I learned about various opportunities for further work that might be open to me in the next four years….I will write more about this in due course.

After lunch I had a meeting in Monks Eleigh concerning the village hall, which is now barely fit for purpose having been built at the time of the Coronation.

Then it was time to drive through the pouring rain to three separate Parish Council meetings, at Bildeston, Kersey and Great Waldingfield.  I was welcomed very politely by the parish councillors at both of the new villages, and it was nice to finish the evening with some old friends, who didn’t seem to mind me turning up when their meeting was virtually over and were happy to stay and chat for a while.

I think that the next four years will be quite active!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Not to be missed event!

All Saints’ Church, Acton
Sunday, 19th May
3 o’clock

Acton - its Musical Connections
and Historical Corrections
but mainly
Brendan O’Brien Brackenburey
(Associate of The London College of Music)
on the organ and keyboard
Interval refreshments

No admission charge
Retiring Collection
in aid of Church Organ Fund
and Parkinson’s UK Research

Friday, May 10, 2013

An Inspector Calls

The next West Babergh Safer Neighbourhood Team Meeting is to be held on Tuesday 21st May at Cockfield Village Hall at 6 p.m.  If you have any concerns about safety issues in your community this is a good opportunity to come and air them.   The police are always present at these meetings, and sometimes other partners, such as Highways or BDC, attend too.

I recently wrote to the new Police and Crime Commissioner, Tim Passmore, about the future of SNT meetings. Concern had been expressed by a number of people both about attendance levels and the degree to which the meetings would continue to receive support under the new arrangements.   The Commissioner himself has instigated local forums, called District Panels,  at which he meets the public, and there was uncertainly with regard to how the SNT meetings would fit in with these.  Furthermore no mention was made of SNT meetings in his recently published Policing Plan.

I am pleased to say that I have had an encouraging response from Tim.  SNT Meetings, it seems, are to remain at the heart of community policing, and renewed efforts are to be made to improve participation. 

The Commissioner’s own events are not intended to be a substitute for the SNT meetings.  He writes:-
The District Panel meetings…… are being introduced to give an opportunity for local people to meet and ask questions of both myself and local Police Commanders. The intention is that local people will gain a better idea of how the PCC will implement change in the Constabulary, as well as an overview of police initiatives to tackle crime, and current crime levels.

In addition to my correspondence with the PCC, I met our local police inspector, Paul Crick today, to discuss a number of community safety related issues.  I raised one or two difficulties that the local SNT meetings have been experiencing, in particular expressing the opinion that the numbers attending would be improved in the winter months if the timing of the meetings between September and March returned to 11 a.m. rather than 6 p.m.   Cold winter evenings do not encourage people to show up, and numbers at the morning sessions that we held previously were generally much better than the evening ones.  

I hope that this change can be made by the Autumn.

Inspector Paul Crick