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, May 31, 2015

Up to London to visit the Queen!

 Last week we were lucky enough to attend a garden party at Buckingham Palace.

If you work for long enough as a councillor an invitation to one of these events eventually comes round and I have to admit that I grabbed the opportunity when it came.

We had a lovely afternoon, getting a good, if rather distant, view of the Queen (in Strawberry Pink) and her party emerging from the palace, and observing a few Dukes and so on working their way round the lawn.

We sat in the sunshine while the band played a selection from The Good the Bad and the Ugly, and had a nice tea.  We met some interesting people, including a firearms expert from the Metropolitan Police, a senior officer from Children's Services at Hammersmith and Fulham Council and a man who gives advice on tourism to the Royal Collection.  We also bumped into some friends from North Suffolk who we always seem to encounter in unexpected places.

It was good to have the opportunity to walk round the gardens, which are very attractive.  The Rhodedendrons were in full bloom and are really magnificent.  We resisted the temptation to take cuttings in the rose garden, but I understand that not all guests can restrain themselves!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Bus Route 112

I have had some information about the Bus Service 112 which makes a return journey every Tuesday and Thursday from Hadleigh, through Kersey, Semer, Bildeston, Chelsworth, Monks Eleigh, Brent Eleigh, Milden, Little Waldingfield, Great Waldingfield and finishing in Sudbury.  This is a service that is sponsored by Suffolk County Council.

Concerns had been expressed that this service was to be discontinued.  In response to a request for information the following comments have been recieved:
The 112 bus service which operates on Tuesday and Thursday was initially contracted for one year and I can confirm that we have recently extended the contract with Suffolk Norse for a further period securing the service until May 2016. Whilst the patronage has been variable the overall performance of the contract is such that we were happy to extend the contract. We do not plan to change the timetable or days of operation.

In addition the available budget allocated for passenger transport has remained virtually unchanged. Although this does mean that the department has to absorb any inflationary pressures the work being undertaken elsewhere in the county means that we are confident that (barring any major changes) no service reductions will be necessary.

This is good news, but one thing that residents should note is the comment that 'patronage has been variable'.  When considering a trip to Sudbury do think about taking the bus!  This could be a real use it or lose it situation bearing in mind the need to make continuing 'savings' from County Council budgets.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Mary's walk, update

Mary Evans, featured below on Saturday, completed her 100km walk up hill and down dale from London to Brighton in just under 32 hours.

I sounded pretty grim, with blisters, nausea and fatigue suffered by her team of four, plus rather high stiles to negotiate!

Mary was kept going through the grim small hours of Saturday night by texts from wellwishers.

She raised nearly £1400 for St Nicholas Hospice.  I am not sure if she will be mad enough to take a similar challenge on again!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Branchlines Quiz on June 5th

Branchlines, the Great Waldingfield Community Woodland, is holding one of its excellent quiz nights on Friday 5th June In Great Waldingfield Village Hall.

Tickets are £6 to include a light supper.  Please bring your own drink and glasses.

Proceedings start promptly at 7.30 and teams can contain up to six people.

Tickets are available from Faith Marsden on 01787 312002. 4 Chapel Close, Great Waldingfield.

The woodland is really flourishing,  with more work being done on the site by volunteers in recent months.  Do try to come to the quiz to support this great project.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Go Mary go!

Spare a thought today for my friend and fellow councillor Mary Evans, from Stansfield, who is undertaking the 100 kilometer London to Brighton Challenge. The walk is likely to take anything between 24 and 30 hours on a route of footpaths and trails. The event starts in Richmond this morning.

Mary is raising funds for St Nicholas Hospice and is undertaking the feat with a team of three others, pictured in training below.

The event is billed as The UK’s Greatest Endurance Challenge, and I think it is an amazing task to take on.  I know that Mary has been preparing for a little while, but, none the less I personally cannot contemplate how difficult the walk is likely to be.  A few years ago Nick and others walked from Ipswich to Sudbury to raise funds for Gainsborough’s House, and that was enough of an effort for all concerned.

Full information about the event can be found here.

Best of luck Mary!

If you wish to make a donation to speed Mary on her way, and to understand why she has taken the challenge click on this link.

Friday, May 22, 2015


Yesterday I stood down from my role as Cabinet member for Resource Management at the County Council.

I am sad not to be able to see my financial strategy through by carrying on in the role until the next County Council elections in 2017.  Bridging the budget gap at the council is very challenging, but with patience and hard work Mark Bee’s cabinet were getting to the point where a clear path was evolving. It has to be said however that some of the choices that needed, and still need, to be made are challenging politically.

I did have the opportunity to continue in the finance role under the changed leadership, but know I would have not have been comfortable working with the new team.  I stood for the leadership myself because I have a very different approach to life and politics than some in the ‘other faction’ of the party.

It will be interesting to see how the new regime gets on.  Some among them were always quick to criticise, but strangely unwilling to come up with their own ideas with regards to how to make the necessary cuts without irrevocably damaging the council.

All clouds have a silver lining.  In addition to having just a little more time to myself,  I will be able to concentrate my efforts on what is, after all, the most important part of a councillor’s role, looking after my residents'  interests.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Summer fun in Preston

Following the great success last year, Preston St Mary is to hold another Mid Summer Street Fayre in aid of Church funds.

The event will be on Saturday 20th June and run from 10.30 a.m. until 5 p.m.

Attractions will include food, plant and craft stalls, live music, teas, cakes, morris dancers, a raffle, a display in the church, a bouncy castle and roundabout, bars, pimms and a barbecue.

There will also be the opportunity to have a drink in the newly refurbished Six Bells Inn, which is fast gaining a reputation for good food and hospitality.

Entry is free and there is plenty of parking (also free!)

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Getting wired; highspeed broadband and mobile news.

A 'not spot'?

During the week I stirred myself from post-election torpor to attend a meeting of the rather exclusive group of 10 Suffolk County Councillors who have the doubtful distinction of representing the most ‘remote’ areas when it comes to high speed broadband coverage.

Completion of the ‘first contract’, which will cover 85% of homes in Suffolk, is likely during the autumn.  Work will then start on scoping out the next 85% to 95% which will be built out between the beginning of 2016 and the end of 2017.  This will reach a much larger geographical area, but, because it is more dispersed, the cost will be much higher.  The ‘cost per house passed’ in the first contract is around £300, but the second will cost double that.  Fortunately funding has been secured from central government, although SCC has to match it pound for pound.

Much of the Waldingfield area is already connected, or will be soon, and according to the map here  a certain amount of Cosford is too.  All of the other villages (yes, including you Semer!) will be part of the second contract, and more information should be available about timing in the autumn.  It will be the case however that some far flung spots will not be covered, and the council is now working on finding solutions for the last 5%.

The council is not going back on its commitment to improve the connection for those homes that are unable to receive more than 2 mps at the end of the current year.  it is estimated that 17,000 homes across the county could be in this position.  However, rather than apply for a voucher to acquire a satellite facility, householders may prefer to wait for the cheaper and faster alternative of high speed broadband, depending on how soon this is expected.

It is important to remember that simply having the capability to receive high speed broadband does not mean that it will arrive automatically on your computer.  It is necessary to contact your provider and sign a new contract which may be a little more expensive that the current one.  Take up of high speed broadband  in Suffolk has so far been very good with some 22.19% of enabled households already signed up.

At the meeting we were also given an update on the Government’s Mobile Infrastructure Programme, which aims to improve wireless availability in rural areas by eliminating ‘not spots’.  Suffolk is, apparently, likely to do well out of this scheme over the next two years.  The position locally should be much improved by the installation of new masts at Edwardstone, Hitcham and Rattlesden.  Unfortunately at present the Hitcham mast is subject to delay due to a judicial review.

Musical evening at St Lawrence's Church

 We managed to put the election firmly behind us last weekend by attending a first rate musical evening at St Lawrence’s Church organised by the Little Waldingfield History Society.

An audience of around 120 people enjoyed a varied and eclectic programme of works from Bach, Morricone, Paganini. Vivaldi and Albeniz.  All pieces were attractive and played with a high level of professional polish.  The high spots of the evening were the two well-known Bach concertos, one for two violins and the other for oboe and violin.  These are pieces that take no prisoners and both were executed with precision and style.

The ensemble was brought together by Little Waldingfield resident and trustee of the LWHS Gillian Harritt.  She is an accomplished violinist who was a member of the orchestra of the Royal Opera House for many years.  Other members of the group, oboist Emma Jane Willan, guitarist Jad Azkoul, violinist Julian Azkoul , all first rate professionals, have close family connections with Gill.  Also  joining the ensemble was our favourite keyboard player from Chilton, the ever urbane and accomplished Patrick Friend, and the cellist Nick Parry.

It was remarkable to be able to hear music making of such a high professional standard so close to home.  Proceedings were helped along immeasurably by the excellent acoustic in the very beautiful St Lawrence’s Church, a venue that is remarkably free of the reverberations and echoes experienced elsewhere.  Concert promoters take note!

Proceeds from the event went towards the maintenance of this wonderful Grade 1 listed church, which dates from the 13th Century.  An appeal to raise funds to pay for extensive renovation works has recently been launched.
Gill Harritt with Jed Azkoul