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

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Little Waldingfield, Our Village History

This week I collected our copy of the recently published Little Waldingfield, Our village history from 1840 to 2014.  I have to say that it is one of the best produced books on local history that I have seen.

A sequel to Harry Clive’s book, Beyond Living Memory, which documents the history of the village up to 1840, the book is a fascinating collection of pictures, reminiscence and fact. Organised thematically, there are chapters, among many other topics, on Village Development, Crimes and Misdemeanours, Pubs and Clubs and Little Waldingfield at War.  Some of the photographs are truly stunning, all are interesting, and the book promises many happy hours for the historically inclined.

American Airmen outside the White Horse Pub in 1944
The publication is a real credit to the Little Waldingfield History Society, who received a grant from the Heritage Lottery fund towards the costs of production.  The money must have been important and a great help, but what is really impressive is the amount of work that was clearly put in by the five authors of the book.  They modestly hide their identities away on almost the very last page, but I feel that I should give them full credit here.  So congratulations to Susan Moore, Diana Langford, Andy Sheppard, Sue Sheppard and Dennis Duffy.

The Little Waldingfield History Society continues to go from strength to strength.  The next talk will be on the history of Great Yarmouth by Anthony Arbuthnot on the evening of 19th November.

Pumpkin season...ways to use them up.

Among the useful pieces of information in the inbox this evening is the helpful fact that up to 18,000 tons of pumpkin are thrown away every year in the UK. at around this time of year, often finding their way into landfill.

This is the same weight as 6000 Asian elephants (apparently,)

The Green Suffolk page here gives you some advice about how to avoid this wasteage, including recipes to help you to use up the pumpkins.  Unfortunately I think that pumpkin pie is pretty awful, and there is a limit to the amount of pumpkin soup you can eat.  There are other suggestions however, including roasting the seeds (a practice popular in Russia).

 Composting is of course an alternative if you can't face eating the orange mush.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Hope for a new start for the Angel in Lavenham

It is interesting to see in this morning’s Suffolk Free Press that Marco Pierre White has thrown in the towel at the Angel in Lavenham after only three years.

Nick and I received  early warning that things may not be what they used to be at the Angel  following the celebrity chef’s arrival.  Within weeks of his takeover of the Lavenham landmark inn we made the mistake of visiting another of his establishments in Maresfield in Sussex.  We stayed a couple of nights there, and it has to be said that the menu was miserably ill judged and the hotel facilities pretty dire.  We decided therefore to allow others to try out the charms of the Angel before doing so ourselves.

Following our Sussex experience we were not surprised to hear that members of a party from Little Waldingfield had been struck down with food poisoning following the consumption of a ‘cold in the middle’ fish pie on their first visit to the Angel following the change of ownership.  We have not set foot in the place since.

I do hope that the new owners take the Angel back to what it was under previous ownership….a friendly place for a chat, a drink and/or a good value tasty meal.  I suppose it is probably too much to hope that the previous tolerance for dogs in the bar area will also be reinstated.  We will certainly be returning very soon if so.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Care UK

Suffolk County Council is taking a zero tolerance approach with regard to shortcomings at the new Care UK care homes in Mildenhall and Ipswich.

The Leader of the Council, Mark Bee, called the management of Care UK into Endeavour House yesterday for a meeting at which the council's high expectations of our care home providers were reiterated.  We will not be sending any more people to the homes until we are happy that all is as it should be, and it is possible that future openings of homes might be delayed.

Officers from Adult and Community Services were very quick to get onto the case as soon as problems at the homes were detected by the Quality Care Commission.   The incident demonstrates how very important it is to make sure that when services are outsourced the local authority retains sufficient capacity to maintain an element of control at all times.   This is not 'keeping a dog and barking oneself', but good commissioning practice.

The contract with Care UK has meant that the council has been able to provide several new, state of the art, care homes for our residents.  We would never have been able to afford these out of our own resources.  Although inevitably we will be criticised by those who believe that public services should never be delivered by the private sector, I believe that despite the current problems (which will be short lived) this was the right long term decision for our most vulnerable residents.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

A visit to Cromer Museum

We have just enjoyed a very short break on the North Norfolk Coast.

We stayed near Blakeney and, the weather being fine, we were able to walk along the sea wall and enjoy the birds and marshes.

One of the main reasons for the trip was to visit the museum in Cromer before the end of the month when it closes for the winter.  I wanted to see the photographs taken in the first half of the 20th century by local woman, Olive Edis.  Not long ago the museum paid £42,000 to secure a collection of her works taken between 1905 and 1955.  In addition to local scenes, Olive was well known for her portraits both of Norfolk subjects and, also, well known people including  King, George Vl , and Thomas Hardy the poet.  She was also the only female war photographer in World War l.

A Cromer Fisherman, autochrome by Olive Edis
The photographs were certainly worth seeing, although lack of space means that only a relatively small selection are available to view without an appointment.  I think the museum could really make more of this unique asset, but probably a capital project would be necessary to achieve this.   We also enjoyed the displays about the fossilised remains that have been found in the local cliffs, including the famous West Runton Elephant!

It is sad that the District Council has seen fit to halve their grant to the museum (of which it is the owner.)  This has meant that it has to close for the winter, rather undermining Cromer’s claim to be a ‘round the year’ resort.   I wonder how the council is spending its New Homes Bonus?

After admiring other exhibits, including a display about the West Runton Elephant, we went on the pier, which is well preserved and very attractive.  Perhaps that is where all the money has gone?

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Superfast broadband, the next 10 percent.

At the Cabinet meeting last week a further £10m of funding was committed by the County Council to extend the reach of super-fast broadband in the county from the 85% that is currently planned to 95%.  This money will be matched by the Government and the LEP, and work is expected to start when the current contract is completed at the end of 2015.

Furthermore, we heard about a couple of pilot projects, one of which is taking place in Aldham, where new technology is being tested to bring fibre cabling closer to the end user.

The current contract is going well, currently being a couple of months ahead of schedule.  It does not do to be complacent about this however, since bad winter weather could well slow progress.

The newly funded 2016 project will initially prioritise areas that were excluded by British Telecom from the original bid because they had planned to link these up themselves.  Once the contract was won however these plans were abandoned.  Rather annoyingly Newmans Green, where we live, is one such area.  At present we appear as a blank spot on the map, but now it seems there are prospects of becoming super-fast in the not too distant future!  Other areas that it might be possible to prioritise are places where clusters of remote rural businesses are struggling to operate.I really hope that this will happen.

The council is now turning its attention to the last 5% of the county that is too far from the network to benefit from the latest expansion plans.   It is probable that other forms of technology, based on wireless or satellite, may be necessary to achieve 100% coverage.  Additionally we are looking to see what can be done to improve wireless signals across Suffolk, a new and different challenge.

I will report any progress on these two later developments when it is available.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Whatfield, Suffolk Village of the year 2014

The cheque from Babergh

Whatfield recently won the Suffolk Village of the Year competition.  Yesterday evening I went along to Whatfield Village Hall for the awards ceremony and celebration in the village hall.

Well over 100 people crowded in to see representatives from Babergh District Council, The Suffolk Association of Local Councils, BBC Radio Suffolk and the East Anglian Daily Times commend the village for beating off strong competition from elsewhere to carry off the top prize. To qualify for the Suffolk finals Whatfield had also won the Babergh Village of the year award.  The picture above shows the cheque for £500 which was the prize for this competition, which was presented by Babergh Chairman, James Long.

The proposed affordable housing, the strength of the Amateur Dramatics and other village organisations, and the care taken over keeping the footpaths both functional and sustainable were all cited as reasons for why Whatfield had won the award. The strong links between the school and the village were also cited.  The community was praised for the fact that enthusiasm had not just been communicated by a few of the ‘usual people’, but that everyone the judging panel met had been keen to come out to express the fact that they believe that their village is a good place to live. The panel felt that Whatfield both has a keen sense of its own history, and also enthusiasm for where it is going in the future.

An excellent spread was laid out in the village hall, which is itself a cause for celebration since this year marks the 40th year of its existence. Whatfield Parish Council has always made me most welcome since I became its elected representative, and we have had some constructive discussion at Parish Council meetings.   It was good to see so many friendly faces at the event and also to meet some new residents.