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, March 29, 2014

Turf turning ceremony in Great Waldingfield

John Steele turns the turf
On Thursday afternoon I went along to the turf turning ceremony at the site of the proposed Great Waldingfield Diamond Jubilee Garden.

The project has been sponsored and supported by the Parish Council.  Some time ago they launched a competition to design a garden on the playing field to commemorate the Queens’ Diamond Jubilee in 2013.  The contest was won by Linda Lutz who lives in the village.

Linda’s garden beds are planned to border a sweeping path which represents the life of the Queen.  Thus at the beginning of the path there will be a structure that represents Tree Tops in Kenya, where, of course Princess Elizabeth was staying when she heard of the death of her father, the King.  We will progress, passing trees, shrubs and plants that remind us of the Queen herself, or people she knew, such as Young Beth,  Mountbatten, Prince Charles, and also places such as Clarence House (a rose I understand).  Other plants such as Phormium, Bottle Brush and Acer will remind visitors of the countries of the Commonwealth.

The path will end at a monument that will be inscribed with the words spoken by the Queen on her Coronation Day:Thoughout my life and with all my heart I will strive to be worthy of your trust’.
Linda explains her plan of the garden with Chris Francis
 It is planned to have benches on which to sit to enjoy the fragrance of the plants, and to watch the bees and butterflies which should be encouraged by the planting.

The afternoon was a little chill and blustery, but  spirits were high and the whole school turned out to watch John Steele, the Chairman of the Parish Council, turn the first turf.  Three silver birch trees, (Silver Queen of course) were planted by some of the youngest and the oldest in the community.

I am very much looking forward to seeing the garden take shape over the coming months.

The Garden Plan

Suffolk Police offer a good service to victims of domestic abuse.

It is good to see that Suffolk Constabulary clearly outperformed other parts of the region, and generally came out well, from a recent countrywide inspection of police response to domestic violence and abuse carried out by HMIC (Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary).

We knew that the inspectors were ‘in’ because officers at the County Council, which co-ordinates the fight against domestic abuse across Suffolk, were invited in to be ‘interviewed’ about our relationship with the police.  As the current chairman of the Suffolk Domestic Abuse Partnership, (groups across the county, both statutory and voluntary, who are concerned with combatting violent and abusive behaviour in the home against both men and women) I am very aware of the constructive way that the police work with partners, and their strong support for the Partnership’s efforts.

The executive summary of the report leads with the encouraging message that

‘The public in Suffolk can generally have confidence that the police provide a good service to victims of domestic abuse and in doing so, help to keep them safe.’

Other forces in the region did not enjoy the same endorsement.

Suffolk police are not complacent though.  When I e-mailed CS David Cutler,  the lead for the police in this area, to congratulate him on the positive report,  he replied that there is ‘still a lot to do’.

click here if you want to read the full report.

If you are affected by domestic abuse or violence, it is always right to seek help.  A good place to start is here.

The Domestic Abuse Partnership is currently piloting its own website, which is primarily aimed at helping victims. It will be up and running shortly.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Have your say about the future of Suffolk's Housing

In the post today a questionnaire arrived asking us to comment on our future housing needs.

I hope to be carried out of our home in a box, although I suppose that a nice warm flat, rather than a fairly draughty cottage on many different levels, may seem more appealing in a few years time

These forms are being sent out at random to 25% of residents and is part of a Suffolk wide project to help to plan the housing of the future.

If you haven't received a form and would like to take part you can fill in the survey on line. There is a link on the Babergh website here.

If you have any questions about the survey you can call the Housing Survey Helpline: 01473 433381 or e mail

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Next event at Little Waldingfield History Society

A number of people have expressed disappointment that they missed the recent talk about wartime Lavenham.

I am flagging up the next event in good time:-

To book your seat contact Diana Langford on 01787 248298.

A chance to meet Tim Passmore, Police and Crime Commissioner.

The Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore, accompanied by the Chief Constable, Simon Paxton,  is once again holding a series of meetings around the County to seek views on the state of policing in Suffolk.

The South Suffolk event will be at East Bergholt High School, Heath Road, East Bergholt, CO7 6RJ on Wednesday 9th April between 6.30 and 8.30 p.m.

One of the main issues on which Tim wants to know your views is whether or not to combine the Suffolk Police Control Room with that of Norfolk. 

Tim, a great supporter of the county of Suffolk, is thought not to be too keen on the idea, which was proposed by both Chief Constables, and is supported by the Norfolk PCC.

There is quite a lot of scepticism about the shared control room proposal across a number of Suffolk organisations.  Apart from the fear of jobs leaving the county,  a principal objection appears to be that the officers taking calls from the combined control room would 'not know the area'.  In my opinion as things stand this might already be seen as a danger.  A call taker at the Suffolk facility in Martlesham, I suspect, has little knowledge of the area around Newmarket, and indeed probably places closer to home as well.   What really matters surely is that the police in different localities know their patches inside out and that the call centre has robust procedures that ensure that the right local policing team is contacted.  With satellite and computer driven aids this should not be rocket science.  Or have I missed something?

If you have views about this issue, in addition to attending the meeting in April, you can participate in an online consultation by clicking here.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Libraries in Suffolk bucking the national trend.

Sudbury Library, in the former Corn Exchange, a building saved from demolition by John Betjeman.

Suffolk Libraries are in good shape.  This is the strong message that emerged when last week's Audit Committee looked at how our libraries are currently faring.

In contrast to other cities and counties in the UK , where about 60 libraries a year are being closed, in Suffolk every library has survived, and paid staff have been retained.  Furthermore, anecdotal evidence demonstrates that our libraries are even better places than they were before.

As part of the wholesale review of council activities undertaken over recent years, the future of the libraries was discussed by the Council in 2011.  From the beginning of 2012 the library service was transferred to an independent social enterprise known as an industrial and provident society or IPS.

There have been two main benefits from this.  Firstly the council has saved money, some £1.9m to date.  The other major benefit has been the development of community involvement and governance in libraries.  Volunteers were always used in libraries, but the number of volunteers has increased, Friends Groups have  been formed and local people have become involved in library management.   The Friends Groups have already undertaken fundraising to introduce wi-fi into the library, for example, to purchase equipment, undertake small repairs and redecoration and support events and activities.

Lavenham library, which is used by many not just in Lavenham but in the surrounding villages too, has an active Friends Group.  If you want to get involved details are available at the library.  Several improvements have been made at the library, including the provision of coffee!

Lavenham Library, situated on the ground floor of the village hall

If you want further information about how Suffolk Libraries are doing you can read the Audit Committee Paper on the County Council Website.  (Audit Committee, 18th March, Agenda Item 9).

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Waitrose by any other name....

I had a meeting today with a very nice officer at the County Council called John Lewis.  Being a great enthusiast for the Oxford Street store of the same name, I find John’s name very easy to remember. Sadly this is not the case with all of the officers I meet from day to day.

It then occurred to me that in addition to John Lewis, the Community Safety Manager at Babergh and Mid Suffolk is called Peta Jones….reminiscent of another branch of the same group.

I happened to mention this recently to another council employee.   He told me that ‘John Lewis’ also happens to be the nickname of one of his colleagues (whose real name, under the circumstances, had better remain a secret).

On enquiring why I was told that the officer in question is ‘never knowingly understood!’

Sunday, March 16, 2014

A view of Yalta

A view of Yalta

We went to Crimea a few years ago, and very much enjoyed our time there. 

Speaking to our guides, and to other locals, it was obvious even then that many of the people living there wished to go back to being part of Russia. Many had already obtained Russian passports.  They resented having been  'given' to Ukraine (then part of the USSR of course) by Nikita Khruschev, himself a Ukrainian, who was thought to have been drunk at the time, or possibly suffering from a feeling of guilt in those post Stalinist days.

The area was secured for Russia on behalf of Catherine the Great in the mid 18th Century by her lover Potemkin, although Peter the Great had almost got there some 70 years earlier.  To this day it has great strategic importance, giving the Russian fleet access to water that remains unfrozen all the year round.

Yalta, pictured above, has been much valued by Russians as a holiday destination since the 19th Century. One of Anton Checkhov's greatest short stories, The Lady with the Little Dog, is set there and the great writer lived in the town towards the end of his life.  Today it is a rather tawdry seaside resort, but the surrounding countryside is lovely and in former days it must have been stunning.

The photograph is taken from the balcony of the Tsar's appartments in the Livadia Palace, where the Yalta Conference was held in 1945 at the end of World War 2.

Finally, for those interested in the politics of linguistics, there is an interesting article about the Ukrainian situation in the Moscow Times,here.

Gentlemen from Hell..a lecture about wartime Lavenham

It is great to see the Little Waldingfield History Society going from strength to strength.  I am, as always, indebted to Andy Shepperd for the report of their most recent meeting below.

The History Society was incredibly fortunate and delighted to welcome another band of truly committed USAAF enthusiasts to the Parish Room, lead by John Cashmore and Dennis Duffy, who were ably supported by John Broughton, Malcolm Osborn (who gave a memorable pictorial presentation of the 486th last year), and Roger Lane (who displayed his fantastic art for our members in January).

The presentation covered all aspects of the 487th’s transfer to Lavenham, including building the airfield, flying the planes to England during wartime, base life and of course the famous mission 760 of Christmas Eve 1944. We were also treated to a fantastic display of USAAF uniforms, which included boots, helmets, caps, gloves, flying equipment, various small tools and (we were assured) a dummy 500 lb bomb; we also learnt many fascinating facts during the presentation:

Lavenham airfield was built during 1943, with technical and administrative buildings on the southern side of the airfield, along with most of the dispersed temporary buildings that provided accommodation for 2,900 personnel. It seems the concrete for the three runways and 3.5 miles of perimeter track totalled some 190,000 cubic yards, whilst the roads and buildings accounted for a further 52,000 cubic yards – quite astonishing quantities. Some 4,500,000 bricks were used in construction, with total site excavations amounting to 679,000 cubic yards; it was not however stated where all this mountain of stuff was dumped!

A dummy bomb and other exhibits
The 487th was activated by the US Second Air Force on 22 September 1943 at Bruning in Nebraska, moving to Alamogordo New Mexico in December that year. Ground units departed in March 1944 for Camp Kilmer, New Jersey and arrived in Gourock on 3 April 1944. The aircraft flew overseas on 23 March 1944, taking the (very long) southern ferry route via Fortaleza Brazil to Dakar, and on to Valley Wales, Scotland before flying to Lavenham in early April 1944. The unit's first commander was Lieutenant Colonel Beirne Lay, Jr, a prominent Hollywood screen-writer, until he was shot down over enemy territory on 11 May 1944 in one of the group's earliest actions. He evaded capture and returned to duty; after the war, he wrote the screenplay for Twelve O'Clock High, a famous 1949 film about aircrews in the US Army’s Eight Air Force.

The group flew B-24 Liberators and later B-17 Flying Fortresses to bomb airfields in France ahead of the Normandy invasion, part of the Eighth Air Force's strategic bombing campaign. Coastal defences, road junctions, bridges and locomotives were also targeted in aid of Normandy ground forces on D-Day 6 June 1944. The 487th flew 185 combat missions, the last being on 21st April 1945. It also led the largest Eighth Air Force mission of the war on 24 December 1944, when some 1,400 bombers escorted by 726 fighters bombed eleven German airfields east of the Rhine, with another 634 heavy bombers attacking communication centres west of the Rhine. The mission was a “maximum effort” raid; Brigadier General Frederick Castle in the lead “Pathfinder” aircraft was shot down, as were a further 55 aircraft lost that day. The general was posthumously awarded the (Congressional) Medal of Honor for his actions during the mission; his portrait today hangs in the Lavenham Swan Hotel, one of his wartime haunts.

Amazingly, more than 90 minutes of absorbing presentation flashed by in an instant, with all present enthralled from start to finish. We are most grateful to John and Dennis for their generosity in freely giving their time, expertise, humour and passion to a subject of such great interest to so many people; this was visibly demonstrated by the record turnout of 60 that came very very close to exceeding our capacity. A great time was indeed had by all.

The expectant crowd in the Parish Rooms