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, June 30, 2013

High speed folly

I have always had doubts about the HS2 scheme.   

The amount of passenger time that will be saved by the project is not that great, the economic benefits are uncertain,  and I feel that the money would be much better spent on improving the rail network as a whole.  I also sympathise with those who have homes near to the route and who will be affected by the unacceptable level of noise and disruption.

It has also become clear that the construction of the high speed line will do irrevocable damage to wildlife too.   According to the Wildlife Trust (of which our own Suffolk Wildlife Trust is a part):-

‘Four Wildlife Trust reserves, 10 Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs), more than 50 ancient woodlands and numerous local wildlife sites lie in the route of the proposed High Speed Rail HS2 route.

It will fragment populations of butterflies, bats and birds, and compromise the natural movements of large mammals such as badgers that cannot cross the concrete and steel barrier of railway infrastructure.

This comes at a time when the Making Space for Nature report called for integrated, connected landscapes to link up and extend habitats for rare and endangered species. The very last thing we should be doing is creating new linear barriers to the movement of wildlife.’

Concerned about the destruction of ancient woodlands, the Woodland Trust, a separate body, is also actively campaigning against the project.  They have pointed out the very high noise levels that will be generated by the railway, which will not just be damaging to wildlife but to human beings too!

What is becoming clear is that in their misplaced, and somewhat mystifying, enthusiasm to build this white elephant the Government is failing to mandate a sufficiently detailed environmental assessment (a familiar story that we are increasingly hearing with regard to other developments closer to home).

The Woodland Trust has launched a campaign to press for a proper environmental assessment to be carried out.  If you wish to participate in this click on this link.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Boning up on Health

One of the (too many) roles that I have taken on as a county councillor is working as assistant to Alan Murray, the portfolio holder for Health and Adult Social Care (ASC).

One aspect of this role involves chairing a policy panel to inform decision making in the area.   To be honest, I do not know a huge amount about Health or ASC, so on Thursday I started to educate myself. All local authorities have recently been given new responsibilities for health, so I am probably not alone in needing to learn more.

In the morning I went to Ipswich Hospital where I observed a meeting of the Management Board.  Many of the key people at the hospital are relatively new, and the main thrust of most of the agenda items seemed to be aimed at securing improvements in clinical practice.  We heard about a better protocol to enable staff to avoid pressure ulcers (bed sores to you and me), and a study aimed at improving communication between staff and patients.

I would have sort that this sort of thing was fairly basic stuff, but nonetheless was fascinating for someone like me coming from a position of almost total ignorance.  Looking at the performance statistics overall the hospital seems to be doing a good job, and the atmosphere at the meeting was positive and upbeat;  a far cry from some of the horror stories we read in the press.

 I was very warmly welcomed at the meeting and the new Chief Executive has offered me a tour of the hospital, in order to learn more, in due course.

In the afternoon I went to Bury St Edmunds to meet Ed Garrett, the Chief Operating Officer of the West Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group.  This is the newly formed body, run by GP’s, which since April has taken over the local commissioning of health care services for over 200,000 people in the West of the county.

The sort of thing the CCG is concerned with is providing planned and emergency hospital care, community health services, rehabilitation such as physiotherapy, and therapy for mental health patients.

I spent a very instructive hour with Mr Garrett, who explained how the CCG fits into the overall structure of the NHS. He also explained that a high level of engagement with the community and its representatives is key to ensuring that services are correctly configured and delivered.  I am looking forward to having more discussions with the CCG, and to attending some of their engagement events in the future.

If you are interested in finding out more about the local CCG the website can be found here

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Woodland BATS AGM 2013

Pond at Woodland BATS tree nursery

Woodland BATS (Biodiversity Around Town), which among other projects is supporting the round Sudbury biodiversity trail, is well known for the interest of its meetings and the warmth of its welcome to new members.

Chairman Peter Clifford writes:-

  This year the AGM is in the Pavilion Room, upstairs at the Bridge Project (back entrance off Christopher Lane next to the old Grammar School), Sudbury, on Thursday 4th July at 7.30pm.

Apart from as short a time as possible doing the business part, we have a presentation by Grenville and Elizabeth Clarke called "From Ancient Woodland to Primary Rainforest".

Grenville works for Green Light Trust and will talk about Frithy Wood at Lawshall and Elizabeth will share her experiences of twice going to the rainforests of Papua New Guinea.  Should be very interesting.  Wine and other refreshments provided

Sunday, June 23, 2013

West Babergh PCSO wins County award.

Many congratulations to our very own Babergh West Safer Neighbourhood Team PCSO Hannah Partington who has won the Sheepshanks Trophy for ‘outstanding accomplishment in respect of service to the community of Suffolk.’

Those of you who have attended the Safer Neighbourhood Priority Setting Meetings will know that Hannah is the PCSO responsible for Alpheton, Boxted, Glemsford, Hartest, Lawshall, Long Melford, Shimpling, Somerton and Stanstead.

Hannah has done wonderful work in addressing difficult issues in her area, and the award recognises this.

Well done Hannah! 

The next SNT Priority Setting Meeting for the Babergh West Area will be at 6 p.m. on 16 July at Little Waldingfield Parish Rooms. If you have concerns about any community safety issue in your area come along and have your say. Police representatives are always present, and sometimes officers from other agencies.

Babergh West covers a total of 35 villages in the ten electoral wards of Brett Vale, Boxford, Bures St Mary, Chadacre, Glemsford, Standstead, Lavenham, Leavenheath, Long Melford, North Cosford and Waldingfield.

More information about West Babergh Safer Neighbourhood Team can be found here.

Little Waldingfield History Society, Outing to Gestingthorpe.

Inside the Barn

A report from Andy Sheppard

On 18th June 12 society members visited the site of roman villa at Hill Farm in Gestingthorpe, the Home of Ashley Cooper and his father Harold

In 1947 Harold began deep ploughing the fields, during the course of which he began bringing up red tile, which, after approaching experts at Colchester, were discovered to be Roman. As this was 1945, there was little money around and nothing to spare on archaeological digs, so Mr Cooper was advised to go it alone. Thankfully he did, and so began an interest that continues to this day two lifetimes later, as Ashley also shares this interest.

After a comprehensive run through many of the Roman artefacts collected and now held in a small museum, we were led up the hill to the site of the villa, which is situated in a slight dip but with views across miles of wonderful open countryside – a truly evocative and special place indeed.

The outline of the villa is clearly marked by grassed areas to show the extent of the walls, and it was obviously pretty important given its size, which is roughly equivalent to that of St Peter’s church in Sudbury. With the aid of many pictures Ashley has commissioned over the years from a local artist, the extent of the settlement, including the artisan areas, became evident.

Ashley has a natural talent for explaining how the villa was built and occupied, and with the use of visitors standing in for the owners and servants during the Roman times, the various jobs needed to keep the whole setup running smoothly were made clearly understandable to all; apparently artisans made many items for sale at the side of the main Roman road running from Chelmsford north east to Bury and beyond.

We then went to the barn museum which has an amazing collection of old farm tools, implements and vehicles, following which tea and biscuits were served whilst we could all peruse and purchase from the many cards and books designed / written by Ashley at very reasonable prices.
Roman dog's paw print
 All in all, everyone agreed they had had a fantastic three hours, and the Society will most certainly be returning next year for a repeat visit.