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, September 14, 2015

Monks Eleigh reaches out to refugees

Residents of Monks Eleigh are spearheading an initiative to collect much needed supplies to ease the hardship and suffering that are being experienced by refugees from the war in Syria.

The community will be organising a central point for the collection of warm clothes, bedding, books, toys and any other items which displaced families sorely need.

Please contact Kathy Haddow (01449 741331) kathy_haddow@hotmail.com

or Sharon James (01449 744122) sharon_james1@hotmail.co.uk

Or please leave your contact details in the book available in the Monks Eleigh shop.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Busy Saturday in Lavenham and Kersey

On Saturday morning I went down to Lavenham Library to present  the certificates to the children who completed the 2015 Summer Reading Challenge.   As usual there was a warm welcome from Debbie Roots and her team, pictured above.  The library is looking forward to supporting the Lavenham Literary Festival on the weekend of 14th and 15th of November.

After an appointment in Sudbury,  I went on to Kersey where I was very honoured to be asked to present the prizes at the 51st  Annual Flower and Produce Show.  There was a large number of entries in a wide range of classes encompassing crafts and cake making as well as horticultural pursuits.

The array of silver cups and some of the exhibits are pictured above.   The first prize flower and fruit arrangement was particularly fine, looking a little like a Dutch painting!

A new approach to helping the vulnerable in and around Sudbury

A 'person centred' approach

Vulnerable people who live in and around Sudbury (including villages such as Lavenham, Long Melford, Chilton, Acton, the Waldingfields and Monks Eleigh) will be benefiting shortly from the introduction of ‘Local Area Co-ordination’.

It is hoped that the new scheme will create a much more joined up approach to helping people access the services that they need. The improved way of operating should both reduce demand for public services and provide a more ‘tailor made’ approach for individuals.

It is believed that at present people find accessing the services that they need complicated and confusing. To try to make life easier two local area coordinators are now being recruited to work with the elderly and other vulnerable people, together with their families, in finding the right service solutions for them.  The co-ordinators will help people to access the right information.  They will listen to their preferences and help them to choose the right options.  They will help to find new ways of doing things which may mean that public service provision is not actually necessary.  They will help people who feel isolated or lonely to build up social networks and community support systems.

This is a new way of doing things which has had significant success in other parts of the country. The new posts for the Sudbury area are being advertised currently here, and the job descriptions give a good idea of what is involved.

If you would like further information about this new way of doing things please contact me.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Chilton - the First 3000 Years

Local historian David Burnett has written a comprehensive history of the Parish of Chilton which has been published by the Sudbury Museum Trust. The book is edited by Valerie Herbert who used to live in Chilton Hall.

Chilton is a parish of much interest as anyone who has visited the church and contemplated the fine monuments, or walked past the wonderful moat at Chilton Hall. will have begun to understand.

The book is being launched next Saturday, 19th September, at Sudbury Library.  The author will be present to sign your copy!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Devo Suffolk

Suffolk took its first step towards seeking devolved powers from central government on 4th September when an 'expression of interest' was sent into Westminster.  I understand that not every council has risen to the challenge of seeking  devolved powers at this stage, but Suffolk wants to be in the vanguard.

The document, which can be downloaded here , will be discussed at the full council meeting next week.  It is not a very detailed paper, nor, it has to be said, a very user friendly one despite its colourful and cheerful appearance.  This probably has something to do with the fact that the process has been very 'Westminster driven'. Little guidance has been given from on high,  and the civil servants in charge have set tight and shifting deadlines for responses.  It seems that what DCGL (Department of Communities and Local Government) wants is something resembling a market in ideas that have been submitted to them by local authorities defining what, and how much, each would like to see devolved.  It is not surprising therefore that the Suffolk pitch is somewhat 'woolly', containing jargon aimed at bureaucrats rather than at the general public.

Whatever powers are devolved in the end (if any....many of us remain sceptical), it is clear that the structure of local government will change at the end of the process.  This is true not least because not only councils but also public bodies such as the Police and Crime Commissioner and the NHS are involved in the process. Additionally at the Local Government Association Conference this year, Michael Heseltine made it clear that no power would be devolved to what he described as 'old structures'.

The devolution 'prize' for places that are in the vanguard will, we are told, be 'significant'.  The only problem is that no one at present is very clear what this actually means

Nightmare in Elmsett

Clear as mud

I have been having discussions with Elmsett and Aldham Parish councils and other parties, aiming to instill some sanity into the way that the diversions due to numerous road closures in the area are signposted by the various agencies involved (including I am afraid SCC Highways).

It seems we still have some way to go.......

Monday, September 7, 2015

Little Waldingfield Flower Festival

The floral displays at the flower festival held in St Lawrence's church, Little Waldingfield over the weekend were up to the usual high standard.

The theme this year was childhood games.  Pictures recording the event can be seen below.
Porch arrangement by Audrey Ewen

'Water play' display in the font

Many cups of tea etc. were served over the two day event.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Art at All Saint's, Acton

Once again Acton Church is holding its annual Art Exhibition and Sale in the Parish Church.  The exhibition runs for two weeks, and closes next Sunday, 13th September.

I went along this morning and much enjoyed the pictures on show.  An original work of art is always raffled at the event, and this year there is the opportunity to win a fine watercolour of Sennen Cove by the accomplished local artist Kevin Franks.  Other works by Kevin are on show, including a very fine picture of the harbour in Copenhagen.

Another artist who caught my eye was Mandy Dearsley, whose attractive highly stylised watercolours of animals in the wild were very original.  The two giclee prints by Mark Freeman, Breaking the Silence and Paradise Lost: thence up he flew, made a strong statement, and,  for those who like literally to see the writing on the wall, the compositions based on letters and calligraphy by Ruth Steel would certainly fit the bill.

Suffolk scenes are available in abundance.  I particularly liked Chris Baylie's Shingle Street, and Vivien Freeman's picture of the thames barge Betula at Pin Mill.

In addition to over 150 framed works on display around the church, ranged along the pews there are a number of unframed pictures on offer which would reward closer examination.  There is also a good selection of unique greetings cards on sale.

The exhibition is open Monday to Saturday of next week between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. and on Sundays from 12 noon to 5 p.m.

District reports

From time to time District Councillors write written reports for Parish Councils.

With their permission in future I will be publishing these under the tab above.

I have just posted a recent report from Will Shropshire, who is the District Councillor for Lavenham.

Please address any queries to him!  His contact details are on the Babergh website.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Bargains in Clare on 12th September

The High Street in Clare
Even if you were not caught up in the diversion around the town, many of you will have seen the warning signs about the five week closure of the A1092 through Clare. This was caused by the need to replace the gas main through the town.

The work has now been completed and this has come as a great relief to local traders who are holding a celebratory ‘Special offers day’ on Saturday 12th September.

Clare has a plethora of independent shops ranging from an art gallery to a bookshop and antique dealers to a treasure trove of vintage clothes.  There is also a bridal store, and ironmonger, a butcher and a specialist in spring bulbs.  Many of the shops will be offering deals and discounts to customers.

In addition to the shops other events are also taking place in the town that day.  There is an auction in the town hall, a fire charity car wash and a cider festival at the social club. So there will be plenty to do and lots to eat and drink!

Do go along to this historic Suffolk town and see if you can grab a bargain!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Take a closer look George!

It is discouraging to read today that George Osborne thinks that councils can resolve their budgetary problems by dipping into their reserves. 

His suggestion is in direct contradiction to the advice that councils recently received from the highly respected organisation CIPFA, the association of council chief financial officers,  which strongly warned against digging into such free reserves that remain in order to fund shortfalls in expenditure.

The size of councils' reserves at £21bn, look quite high, but much of this represents money that has been set aside to meet known future obligations.  In many cases reserves that are genuinely free to spend are a lot lower than this.

We know that George Osborne actually has no clue as to whether councils can actually afford to dip into reserves as he suggests.  The National Audit office in a critical report last year demonstrated that central government has no idea about the financial strength of individual councils, or their ability to bear increased costs and further cuts.

Much of the pain has been caused by the activities and expectations of central government itself.  If local government is seen as a series of donkeys, then some are already  buckling at the knees.  It will not take much more in the way of additional burden to cause a total collapse.

In addition it seems that Osborne has threatened to cap the amount of reserves that councils can hold.  If he looks closer at the implications of such a suggestion I doubt if he would really wish to go ahead with it, and if he did he would have to set the cap at a fairly high level.   His tendency to immediately reach for a blanket restriction of this sort is deeply depressing.  Above all it leads one to question yet again government's sincerity when it speaks of the devolution of power.