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

Monday, May 26, 2014

Benefice celebrates with flowers in Monks Eleigh

2014 marks the 100th anniversary of the Diocese of St Edumundsbury and Ipswich.  The Benefice that comprises Monks Eleigh, Kettlebaston, Milden, Brent Eleigh and Chelsworth celebrated the occasion this weekend with a flower festival and exhibition in Monks Eleigh Church.

Coronation memorabilia
 The floral arrangements and other displays all reflected events from the last 100 years, including the Coronation and both World Wars.   Old photographs showed Monks Eleigh in the 1950's and nostalgic artefacts were employed to remind us of days gone by.
Arrangement with old bath tub
Commemorating WWll

All of the flower arrangements were lovely, and most original, and it has been very difficult to select which to show here.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Health and History events in Chilton

On Thursday evening Chilton will be holding its Annual Parish Meeting at Great Waldingfield Village Hall at 7.30 p.m.

Following the formal part of the meeting, Derek Mitchell from NHS Property Services will be describing the layout of the new Sudbury Community Health Centre which is due to be completed in September.  In addition, Anne Walker, the Business Manager for Siam GP Surgery that will be moving to the new centre in October will be present to share their hopes and aspirations for the new site.

On 14th June at 7 p.m. in St Mary's Church, Chilton,  David Burnett who is the Secretary of the Sudbury Museum and Vice Chairman of the Sudbury Society will be giving an illustrated talk on Chilton's extensive history.  I am told that topics to be covered include kidnap, murder, an air crash and the discovery of Saxon grave goods.  The Society will be publishing a book on the history of the parish later in the year, and although it is only a small place its history reflects that of East Anglia as a whole.  

The talk is free but donations towards the upkeep of the church will be welcome.

Tomatoes, births, marriages and deaths.

I have spent this week having 'briefings' with different officers at the County Council trying to get to grips with what is rather a wide portfolio of interests.

One piece of good news in the Waste area is that on Thursday Mid Suffolk District Council gave the go ahead for the development of two large greenhouses close to the new Waste to Energy incinerator at Great Blakenham.  Heat from the plant will be used to grow tomatoes on 111 acres*.  The venture will create almost 250 jobs, and, I hope, mean that we will be able to source more tomatoes locally.

Local residents did voice concern however about light and flooding.  I understand that an assessment is to be undertaken with regard to flooding.  The light from the plant may be more difficult to deal with, and I have to say would have been of concern to me had I been on the planning committee.  I hope that something can be done to mitigate the impact of light pollution on those living nearby.

Elsewhere, I have been surprised at the range of activities for which I find myself responsible!  It seems that one of my 'babies' is the Registrar's Department and also the Coroner's Office!  I am told that, unlike Waste, where there can often be controversy,  these areas are not generally particularly troublesome.

During the course of the briefing I was given the following facts, which I thought may be of interest to readers of the site:-

In 2013/14 year to end March, some 6665 births were registered in Suffolk, slightly more than the number of deaths which came in at 6554.  2392 marriages, naming and civil ceremonies were carried out and we held citizenship ceremonies for 110 people.

As far as the coroner was concerned  2807 cases were reported to the department, and some 1284 post mortems were carried out.  331 inquests were held.  This is rather more activity than I would have expected.

*111 acres was quoted in the EADT, but this does seem a lot. Perhaps it includes the incinerator site too?

Thursday, May 22, 2014

A quiet election day

Aldham Church, a polling station today.
Election days always seem to be rather quiet, unless one is a candidate of course.

Happily this year I am not, and so I have had a relatively quiet day, although did have a coffee this morning with some members of Lavenham Parish Council to catch up on some outstanding issues. I took a minute or two to try the new Co-op in the village, and was pleased to find a lot of local produce on sale, and some unusual things to buy.  I wish the venture well, but am concerned that the village may not have the capacity for a third grocery store.

I have not participated to any extent in the South Cosford by-election as I feel a little uneasy undertaking political activity in an area where I am a sitting councillor.  Once elected I aim to represent everyone regardless of their political views, so turning up on the doorstep with a blue rosette feels uncomfortable to me.

News from the battlefront this afternoon was that the turnout was depressingly low.  I suppose that one way of expressing dislike of the EU is simply not to vote.....and I know that there are people who are taking this view.

If you haven't yet voted....do consider popping out and doing so.  You know it makes sense.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Mayor making in Bury

On Thursday I was lucky enough to be invited to attend the mayor making ceremony in Bury St Edmunds.

My good friend Robert Everitt, pictured above with his deputy, Patrick Chung, has been elected Mayor of the Borough for the current year.  Nick and I enjoyed making our way to the Apex to watch the ceremony.  It was a fine and sunny afternoon and the dignified procession and grand regalia reflected the historical importance of this ancient town.  We were reminded that next year will be the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta,  The town of Bury had a pivotal role in this,  hosting what we would today call a 'pre-meeting' in 1214 at which barons vowed to enforce the charter on bad King John. The original Lincoln copy of the Charter is currently on display in the Cathedral.

In his speech Robert told a story about how he had recently visited a local school.  The children had been told that the  'Mayor of Bury'  elect would be visiting them.  The level of excitement was very high apparently, which Robert found hard to fathom.  It turned out however that the children had been expecting a visit from the celebrity TV chef Mary Berry, rather than a middle aged man in a suit!

I wish Robert the best of luck during his mayoral year.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Robin Hood comes to Suffolk in June

On the afternoon of 15th June there is a chance for the whole family to enjoy an afternoon of drama and entertainment in the stunning setting of Cobbolds Mill in Monks Eleigh.
The prestigious professional touring company, Illyria, who have been described in the press as ‘a much loved staple of the al fresco theatre scene’, will be presenting their popular summer production of Robin Hood.

A show suitable for the whole family, Robin Hood which is based on the earliest ballads about the eponymous hero,  introduces all the traditional characters.  It tells the tale of how Robin became an outlaw on his wedding day and fled to Sherwood Forest where he was soon joined by his band of Merry Men.   Tears and laughter are promised, as is an interactive archery competition!

You will need to be prepared to take your own seating, and, prior to the show,  there will be opportunities for picnicking in the beautiful riverside grounds.  Teas will be available and there is parking on site.

All proceeds will go to Kettlebaston Church.

Gates open at 12.30 a/m. and the performance starts at 3 p.m.

To buy tickets, and for further information, please call 01449 741429.  Tickets are priced at £15 for adults, £8 for children, and £40 for a family ticket for 4.

Alternatively send a sae with a cheque made out to Kettlebaston P.C.C.to Louise Stott, Cobbolds Mill, Monks Eleigh, Suffolk. IP7 7JB.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Prolog Judicial Review....latest.

Coming to blight historic buildings near you?
At the weekend we heard the news that the High Court has given permission for judicial review of Babergh's decision to allow the construction by logistics company, Prolog, of two giant warehouses close to Grade 1 listed Chilton Church and Grade  2* moated Chilton Hall.

Permission for review has been given on all 9 grounds of challenge by a High Court Judge

As of yesterday morning no officer at Babergh had, it seemed, informed any of the Members of the news, which adds to the growing list of tricky issues now facing the Planning Department.

The full grounds of challenge are now included in the Prolog tab above, together with further details.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Rules on spending S 106 funding relaxed (at last)

Recreational facilities, more options for Towns and Parishes

At Babergh's Strategy Committee this week a decision was made that should inject significant additional funding for recreational facilities into the District.

A few years ago I watched with frustration while Acton Parish Council tried to spend funds provided for this purpose by developers under agreements attached to planning consents (Section 106 agreements).   The spending criteria set by Babergh had been drawn so tightly however that this proved impossible, and as a result today our parish has over £13,000 allocated to it that in the past it may well have found difficult to spend.

This pattern has been replicated across the whole Babergh area, and the astonishing fact is that as a result of what might be seen as over-zealous interpretation of the rules, out of some £800,000 paid out by developers, around £500,000 remains unspent!

Despite repeated calls from parishes, and some District Councillors, for the rules to be relaxed, little sign of movement has been seen since the inception of the scheme in 2008.   There was some small tinkering at the edges a few years ago, but this did little to improve the situation.

Recently however Babergh noticed that our best friends, Mid Suffolk District Council, had less restrictive rules in this area.

Moreover, in addition to wishing to walk in step with our partners to the North, the powers that be may have been spurred on by a renewed sense of enthusiasm for economic growth, as spelt out in the recently adopted Core Strategy.  The prospect of increased funding for communities might, it is hoped, soften the blow for those tempted to resist unwanted or inappropriate housing development.  It is amazing how that New Homes Bonus, payable to the council on every new property built,  has once again managed to move the conscience of the most hardened stickler for the letter, rather than the spirit, of bureaucratic regulation.

Whatever the reasons behind the move, the decision of the Strategy Committee significantly to relax the rules must be seen as a victory for common sense.  Leaving the money in the bank, or being obliged to return them unspent to developers,  cannot be preferable to providing much needed community facilities.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Higher school funding levels....not a magic bullet.

What can be done to combat the low level of educational achievement in Suffolk schools?

Matters are improving; our exam results are rising faster than the national average. However, change needs to be more rapid and the Conservative Group is seeking to understand what more can be done to move Suffolk children up the national league tables.

Yesterday we had a session about schools funding, which was very instructive, and may offer some answers, although the message was that money alone does not hold the key to high achievement.

In part due to history and in part due to politically motivated ‘transfers’ under the last Government, Suffolk’s schools are among the worse funded in England.  A child in Hackney will receive some £3500 more than a child in an average Suffolk School.  It is tempting to blame this disparity for our problems, but to do so would be to oversimplify the problem.

Although it is true to say that some of the worst performing areas also receive the lowest level of per capita funding, there are local authorities, Gloucestershire for example, that manage to deliver above average educational outcomes despite the fact that funding levels are low.

The current government is looking at the question and it is very likely that in future the imbalance in funding will be to some extent addressed. Indeed some limited extra funding for those with the meanest settlements has already been announced.

It is clear however that while more money is likely to help somewhat, this alone will not solve the problem.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Naughton May Fayre

Nick, Rendle the Lurcher and I enjoyed our visit to Naughton May Fayre this afternoon.There was a good deal going on, including some lively entertainment, and it was interesting to see the display of old steam and other engines arrayed around the field.

We were particularly taken with the line of old motorcycles, all lovingly restored and gleaming in the May sunshine.

The event had a wonderful traditional atmosphere and, as the fairground organ played, it was good to bump into a number of friends from nearby villages,  along with some well behaved and cheerful dogs.

After looking round the stalls we took the opportunity to take to the local footpaths for a leisurely walk, looking in on the Church and enjoying some of the stunning views from this relatively elevated part of Suffolk.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

An exciting project for Sudbury.

Gainsborough Chambers
At the end of last week I went to see the Director of Gainsborough's House, Mark Bills, to take a look at early stage plans for the planned extension to the Museum.

For those who didn't see the article in the Free Press this week, Babergh District Council has purchased Gainsborough Chambers, an empty office building with car park in Weavers Lane, which lies immediately behind the garden of Gainsborough's House.  The Council will  hold the property on behalf of the museum while funds are raised to create a major extension to the museum.

View of Gainsborough's House from the Window of the acquired building
This is really going to be a fantastic project which will, when complete, create a world class destination celebrating the art and life of Thomas Gainsborough, plus a regional centre for printmaking and artistic endeavour generally.  Think Suffolk's own Shakespeare's Birthplace Trust, and all the knock on benefits that that has brought to Stratford over the years.

The project will bring many more visitors to the Town, thus helping the local shops and economy, and will also create a fantastic community asset for local people.

The amount of additional space that the building brings to the museum is considerable, and there is scope to do a great deal.  Improved office space, a better temporary gallery for exhibitions, more space for the shop and the cafe, a dedicated gallery for the print workshop, a dedicated 'wet room' for children, are all possibilities.

The interior of the building is light and airy, although how much of the existing structure will ultimately be used is still being considered.

Inside the building

Friday, May 2, 2014

International women's cycle tour coming to a village near you!

Marianna Vos

There is growing excitement because the first international stage race for women world class cyclists is coming, not just through Suffolk, but through parts of the Cosford Division on Sunday May 11th, as part of the Harwich to Bury St Edmunds Stage (47 miles).

I understand that many of the big names of ladies distance cycling, including Holland's gold medal winner Marianna Vos, will be taking part.  It is hoped that as many people as possible will get out along the route to cheer the participants on.  Details of the route, along with a lot of other information about the cycle tour can be found here.

Astonishingly an article in the EADT today stated that the organisers were surprised by the good state of the roads!  They cannot have looked very closely at some of the corners around Brettenham and Preston! 

Inevitably there will be traffic disruption during the event, and also parking restrictions in places such as Hadleigh and Lavenham .  These will be lifted once the race has gone through.

A number of villages, including Hitcham, are holding special events to coincide with the race.  These can be found on the Babergh Website here.