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

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Tim Yeo

Since there has been some mis-reporting in the press on this matter, I think it might be helpful if, as someone who was present at the meeting of the Executive Committee of South Suffolk Conservative Association yesterday evening,  I clarify the current situation with regard to Mr Yeo.

Tim Yeo has, as is normal for an MP at this stage of the Parliamentary Cycle, sought automatic re-adoption by the Association.   The process was somewhat delayed by the fact that it was agreed to wait for the outcome of the report from the Standards Committee to which he had referred himself.  The Committee rejected Mr Yeo's application.  This being the case Mr Yeo has three options.

1. He can appeal against the decision of the Executive by demanding a ballot of the entire Party membership of South Suffolk in the hope that they are more sympathetic to his cause.

2.  He can exercise his right to be automatically included in the short list that arises from any selection process.

Under the rules he can only exercise one of the two options above, or of course

3.  He can retire.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Care home in Haverhill recalls town's links with Anna of Cleves

On Monday I went to Haverhill to take part in the official start of construction of Cleves Place, the seventh of ten new care homes that are to be built by Care UK on behalf of Suffolk County Council.

Cleves Place will be built on the site of a former Middle School. It is a perfect spot, just minutes from the town centre, in a quiet elevated position with good views.  In addition to 60 beds, the Home will have a centre for day residents, a hairdressers and other innovative facilities.

The name was chosen from a number of suggestions submitted by residents of other homes.  It recalls Haverhill’s connections with Anna of Cleves, the fourth wife of Henry Vlll.  Their marriage did not last much beyond their first meeting, at which, disappointed in her looks, the King turned to Cromwell and said ‘I like her not’.

Divorce followed shortly, and, probably as part of the settlement, Anna received the parsonage in Haverhill, accompanying lands and right to appoint clergy in January 1541.  History does not relate if she actually ever visited the town, but she did live on in England in conditions of considerable comfort, long after Henry’s death in 1547.   In fact she was the last survivor of all Henry’s wives, Catherine Parr, the sixth wife, only outliving him by a year or so.  Anna attended the coronation of Mary l in a carriage with the future Elizabeth l and she died at Chelsea in 1557, a little over a year before Elizabeth's accession to the throne. She is buried in Westminster Abbey.

Reputedly a somewhat flattering painting of Anna of Cleves by Holbein.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Tudor Housing Revolution, and a forthcoming talk on Lavenham.

Baythorne Hall in 1791

 Our special correspondent Andy Sheppard writes:

Little Waldingfield History Society was recently most pleased to welcome John Walker, one of Suffolk’s leading architectural historians, to the Parish Room.

As previously promised, John showed us how dwellings evolved during this period and what present day medieval houses would have looked like in their original form, a feat he achieved by artfully altering numerous photos, adding or removing doors, windows, rooflines and sometimes whole ends of houses from their current layouts. It was also fascinating to discover that the developments that actually happened, somewhat belatedly by up to a hundred years in East Anglia, now make perfect sense after hearing an expert speak passionately about a subject he clearly loves.

Wood was expensive in Tudor times, so as little as possible was used, giving rise thinner timbers, changed beam layouts and half timbered houses with wattle & daub between the timbers. Fireplaces and chimneys also rapidly evolved, leading to upper floors, whilst larger windows with small panes became popular with the rich, giving rise to the many lovely houses seen in Lavenham, Hadleigh and elsewhere today.

Most interestingly to your writer, it appears there were many timber framed chimneys back then, though few survive to this day; apparently they were pretty good, though one suspects many must have burnt down over the years. Should any lucky reader have one in their house today, please try and preserve it for tomorrow and the day after!

We also learnt that many apparently Victorian brick built houses are actually medieval timber framed buildings with a brick outer skin, and after John's talk, the audience will be able to work this out by themselves; its all about looking at the basic layout of houses and the positions of doors, windows and chimneys – enthralling stuff.
Baythorne Hall today.

Our next talk is on December 11th, when we are absolutely delighted to invite Jane Gosling, an expert from the National trust, to talk on “Boom and Bust” in the Lavenham Wool Industry.
In the 16th century this picturesque village was the fourteenth wealthiest town in Britain – just think about this fact for a minute - paying more tax than populous cities such as York and Lincoln. This wealth derived from the quality of its renowned blue woollen cloth, which was in great demand, and all this from a population that never exceeded 2,000, a figure that is very similar to the present day (population in 1801 was 1,776, that in 2001 was 1,750).
However, by 1525 the bubble had burst. The demise of the cloth trade, for which Lavenham was rightly famed, meant that the merchants had left looking for their next new venture. The local population was unable to maintain the timber-framed buildings, which had previously been funded by the enormous wealth created by the trade, and the buildings began to crumble. By the 17th century there was a threat of mass demolition. The situation was so severe that the Lord of the Manor took his tenants to court to prevent the destruction. Thankfully, Lavenham has since recovered and its many glorious timber framed buildings and wonderful Guildhall remain today, making it probably the best preserved late medieval town in the country.
Come and hear an expert bring Lavenham’s history to life, and then take another wander round the town to savour your new found understanding and appreciation for the things that happened in our inherited past.

Monday, November 25, 2013

White Ribbon Campaign launched, despite faulty alarm clock.

It was somewhat inconvenient that it was this morning that my alarm clock failed to go off.

I had a date at 7a.m. with BBC Radio Suffolk to talk over the phone about the launch of the 2013 White Ribbon Campaign, and also had to get to Ipswich in time for a breakfast presentation on the same subject at 8.30 a.m.

Despite the fact that I had to move at double the normal speed, all went well.   There was a good turnout at the breakfast meeting, with a guest appearance from Tim Passmore, the Police and Crime Commissioner.

The White Ribbon Campaign, which always runs between 25th November and 10th December, is an international event aimed at raising awareness of, and combatting, domestic abuse.  The movement was started in Canada by a group of men who wanted to openly express their commitment to the eradication of violence against women.  White Ribbon events now take place in around 60 countries worldwide.

In Suffolk, like everywhere else, people, both male and female, suffer from domestic abuse.   Over the past year over 7000 incidents were reported to the police.  Through the Domestic Violence Forum of which I am currently the Chairman,  the County Council, the Police and other partner organisations, many from the voluntary sector, support a wide range of initiatives across the county.

Research tells us that one in four women will be affected by domestic abuse sometime in their lives. If you know anyone who has concerns about this problem it is important to encourage them to get help.

Local telephone numbers for those seeking support can be found here.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Budget proposals scrutinised today

Today the Scrutiny Committee will be considering proposals for the County Council Budget for the 2014/15 financial year.

The plan is to save £38m, out of the £156m 'budget gap'  that must be closed over the next four. Over 20 different recommendations have been made.  The main areas where savings might be made include benefits from the new Energy from Waste Plant at Great Blakenham (£9m); savings from Adult and Community Services (£5.4m); termination of the Council’s agreement with BT in the areas of IT, HR, finance and public access (£6.4m); cutting capital spending (£4m); reviewing Supporting People services (£2m) and reviewing the operation of Children’s Centres (£1.5m).

To understand fully the detailed situation with regard to the County Council’s financial position you can click on:-
and follow the link to the papers for the Scrutiny Committee for 23rd October.  This 36 page evidence report gives a very lucid exposition of the challenge faced by the Council.  Further details about the savings plans for next year can be found under Scrutiny Committee papers for today,  Thursday 21st November.

With many of the 'easier' options exhausted, making the savings next year will be difficult.  Rising to the challenge of saving a lot more in later years will be impossible without either causing significant damage to front line services or adopting a strategically based approach to the problem.  This is what lies behind the announcement yesterday that more is to be done to co-operate to share services with Norfolk County Council.  More details on this will be available in due course.

Questions of standards.

I have spent the last two days on training courses related to the work that I do on the Audit Committee at the County Council.

This is not perhaps perceived as the most exciting part of my role, and, indeed, the courses did have their moments of tedium.

However, someone has to try to make sure that the trains run on time and that the boxes get ticked and it is not as dull as it sounds.  There is often the opportunity to suggest improvements, and it is a good way to understand some of the nuts and bolts of the finances and system of governance.

On Tuesday afternoon the course was on the subject of the new ‘lighter touch’ Standards regime that has been introduced by this Government. Standards issues used to be handled by a separate Standards Committee, but now come under the remit of Audit.  It was felt that the previous system encouraged too many frivolous complaints about councillors and took up too much time.  The problem now however is that, if a councillor chooses not to co-operate with the inquiry, there is little that can be done unless he or she has actually committed a criminal offence.  Perhaps this is right, but there are times when an incident falls short of criminality, but still brings the council into disrepute.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Bee and Butterfly conservation in Great Waldingfield

The not so Common Blue
Yesterday evening I went to the launch of the Great Waldingfield bee and butterfly conservation project.

Mindful of the loss of appropriate habitat for wildlife caused by the indiscriminate mowing of almost all amenity grassland, the Parish Council has decided to support a pilot scheme to create a managed bee and butterfly strip on a currently closely mown area opposite the Bowls Club off Ten Trees Road.  The site will no longer be mown and further management will be in accordance with Butterfly Conservation recommendations.  The development of the site will require the introduction of native food and nectar plants.  All are welcome to help on a voluntary basis with the initial planting and subsequent management.

Under the guidance of local conservation expert, George Millins, it is hoped that space can ultimately be found in the village to create a whole range of habitats for all our local wildlife.  It is understood that the new headmistress of the Primary School is keen to engage her pupils in these projects, and it is hoped that many residents will participate in this urgent conservation work.

Last winter was long and cold, meaning that butterflies have been in short supply this summer.  It is hoped that this scheme will be a small step to redress the balance.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Egg-citement in Long Melford

The options for Suffolk foodies have recently been further expanded by the arrival in Long Melford of a new delicatessen, Deli-licious.

The existence of the new shop was brought to my attention when I was lucky enough to be given a selection of their goods.  They have indeed so far proved to be delicious.

Just opposite Mr Ruse, the Butcher, and next door to the Crown Inn, the emporium. which has been open for about three weeks, has all sorts of interesting foods on offer, both for the store cupboard and for immediate consumption.

When I went in to take a closer look yesterday morning I was particularly impressed by the wide choice of well-kept cheeses on offer, and astonished by the collection of scotch eggs (one of my favourite things even in their more common bright orange, rubbery egg guise).  Deli-licious stocks about 7 or 8 different varieties, including one called the ‘Old Stager’ which comprises a pickled egg wrapped with pork and rolled in sea salt and black pepper crisps.

The deli’s proprietor told me that she has difficulty selecting which scotch eggs to stock from the list of almost forty available from the supplier, The Handmade Scotch Egg Company of Bishops Frome in Herefordshire.  If the selection in Long Melford is not broad enough for you take a look at the company’s website here. .

Anyone for the 'Aztec', an egg encased in free range pork, chilli and chocolate, or the ‘Black Watch’ described as 'the infamous black pudding scotch egg’?