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

Thursday, July 28, 2016

CAB to run drop in sessions in Lavenham

Cally Boardman, our Local Area Co-ordinator has informed me that Sudbury and District Citizens Advice Bureau is to offer drop in sessions at Lavenham Village Hall between 9.30 and 12.30 on the second Wednesday of every month starting in August.

No appointment is needed.  The CAB can offer help on a wide range of issues including benefits and housing.

This will be particularly useful at present since due to moving from Belle Vue House, the Bureau has only restricted opening hours in Sudbury.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Water reaches Bildeston Church!

 I spent a wonderfully joyous, and relatively cool, afternoon in Bildeston yesterday at the remarkable 14th/15th century church of St Mary Magdalene, pictured above, which stands high on a hill a little way out of the village.

The annual patronal festival of St Mary Magdalene, July 23rd,  was chosen for a service of blessing and thanksgiving to mark the completion of fine kitchen and toilet facilities in the north west corner of the church.   For many years those wishing to hold events in the church were obliged to haul water in diverse containers up from the village, and without a proper water supply the provision of  permanent toilet facilities was impossible.   This proved a serious barrier to fundraising, which is so essential when it comes to maintaining a church of this size.

Parishioners had been working on a scheme to sink a bore hole, which would have been an expensive solution to the problem.  However, a change in ownership of adjacent land meant that a piped supply became a possibility. which was a relief in more ways than one.  Prayers had clearly been answered!

The Bishop of Dunwich came along to yesterday's service and preached an appropritately cheerful sermon, hymns chosen by Rev. Liz had a definitely uplifting and watery tone, and we were entertained by the newly formed Upbeat Contemporary Choir with a number of songs, including The Toilet Song , lyrics provided by the editor of the widely read and admired Bildeston Bugle.

The congregation enjoys singing from the Upbeat Contemporary Choir
After the service the refreshments were wonderful, and it was really good to catch up with so many people from the village, and also with a few who no longer live in Bildeston but who had returned for the occasion.

Very appropriately the Collection supported the Toilet Twinning scheme, which aims to provide toilets and clean water to the many people in the world who do not have them.  Details of this very worthwhile cause can be found HERE.

All in all it was a great way to spend the afternoon.
New kitchen facilities

Face to face, the current exhibition at Gainsborough's House

 This summer Gainsborough's House is the venue for an exhibition of outstanding portraits from the collection of art critic and writer Andrew Lambirth.

Reflecting Lambirth's interest in the Modern British period, paintings on show include works by Maggie Hambling. Walter Sickert, John Nash and Augustus John.  Many are self portraits, and all are fascinating in their own way.  There are examples of a wide range of different media, from oil paintings to prints and etchings.  I was particularly taken by a self portrait by the Ukrainian born artist Jacob Kramer, who spent most of his working life in Leeds.  His father, also an artist, was a pupil of the great Russian portaitist, Ilya Repin.

Another fascinating work, and one of particular relevance to The House,  is Martha Parsey's Gainsborough Girls ll, which although a self portrait takes the form of Gainsborough's  The Painter's Daughters chasing a Butterfly, which hangs in the National Gallery.

A visitor admires Martha Parsey's relfection on Gainsborough
Lambirth bought his first painting when he was studying art history at Nottingham University in the late 1970's.  He was the art critic of the Spectator from 2002 until 2014. and copies of his book A is a Critic, a collection of many of his best articles from that time, are on sale in the Gainsborough House Shop.  Also available are two limited edition prints, one by Maggie Hambling and another by Martha Parsey, which were specially produced to mark the exhibition.

Also on show in the gallery, and more or less visible in the photograph above, is Nicole Farhi's bust of Gainsborough, which she discussed recently when appearing on BBC's Desert Island Discs.

Face to Face, portraits from the Andrew Lambirth Collection, runs at Gainsborough's House until 16th October 2016.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Highways matters

Pothole prevention, learn all about it!
Whenever the public are asked to comment about services provided by the County Council it is always matters relating to roads and highways that comes out as the top priority.

We do many other things of course, including looking after vulnerable adults and children, supporting education, the fire service etc. etc.  These services are of course vital, particularly for those being supported, but it is the state of the roads that always attracts the most attention, and is the place that most people want us to put our efforts and our resources.

There is a huge amount of information on the Suffolk County Council website about highways matters, and, in addition, a newsletter 'Highways Matters' is sent out regularly.  These newsletters can be accessed via the website HERE.

A new edition has just come out, and it highlights the problems related to pothole prevention. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

More good news for Great Waldingfield School.

The school year at Great Waldingfield Primary School is finishing on a high.

After a well deserved 'Good' rating from OFSTED earlier in the term, the school has now received the news that year 6 children have done much better than the national average in recent SATS tests.

These tests have caused particular problems for some schools this year because they were set on a new basis, and teachers across the country found themselves in some difficulty understanding what standard they were teaching to.

It seems that there were not too many problems at Great Waldingfield.  Nationally some 53% of children reached the 'accepted standard' in writing, reading and arithmetic, but at Great Waldingfield the number was 67%.  In Maths and writing the almost 90% of children achieved the accepted standard, compared with national averages in the 70's.

Congratulations to Head, Tina Hosford, Deputy Head, David Sandford, class teacher for years 5 and 6, and the rest of the team.

For more information about Great Waldingfield Church of England Primary School the website can be found HERE.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Lavenham Neighbourhood Plan, the last lap.

Lavenham, a village worth a vote.
Many communities set out to create a Neighbourhood Plan, but very few reach the final hurdle.

There are many reasons for this, but the most important is that it takes a huge amount of work from all concerned.  This is because, unlike many formal collective expressions of community opinion in the world of planning,  when a Neighbourhood Plan is actually adopted it becomes an official legal reference document.  Therefore it must be taken into account by the local planning authority, and also by any planning inspector in the case of an appeal.

The process of producing a plan is so cumbersome and time consuming that some have expressed the opinion that neither the Government nor the planning authority really want communities to succeed.  Whatever the truth in this, and I believe that there is some, producing a Neighbourhood Plan is not a task for those without commitment and energy.

Residents of Lavenham and the Parish Council are therefore to be congratulated on reaching the final phase of the process which commenced some 4 years ago.  They have produced a Plan which has attracted high praise from the independent examiner who had to approve it.  He said that it was 'an extremely well written neighbourhood development plan' and that it would 'provide a strong practical framework against which decisions on development can be made'.

 On Thursday 8th September registered voters in the village will have the opportunity to go to the Village Hall to vote Yes or No to the following question:

'Do you want Babergh District Council to use the Neighbourhood Plan for Lavenham to help it decide planning applications in the neighbourhood area?'

If more that 50% of registered voters vote YES then Babergh District Council must bring the plan into force.  It is vital therefore that Lavenham Residents understand the plan and, if they approve of it give their assent.

The organisers of the scheme have, I know, done their best to consult deeply and widely on the issues contained in the plan.  I hope that their assiduous work will be rewarded by an adequate turn out of voters and a YES vote on 8th September.

Leaflets giving details of the referendum are being distributed around the village.  If you do not receive one, a link to the plan, and also information about a series of open events in the village to present the plan, can be found HERE.

A response to the devolution consultation

My husband, Nick, yesterday attempted to respond to the questions being posed by the Government with regard to the public's opinion of the proposed devolution deal for Norfolk and Suffolk.

He found that he was unable to respond sensibly to the questions as framed due to the fact that no answer that he could have given to them would have adequately expressed his views.  This is due to the fact that the questions are heavily, and carefully, loaded.

I can do no better than to post here his full response which he made by e mail. (You are invited to respond to the consultation in this way if you prefer.)

Dear Sir/Madam,

Devolution means transfer of powers down from central government to local government but that is not what is on offer. What is on offer is the creation of an additional tier of government, at the regional level, with very limited additional powers of taxation, a trivially small annual increase in central funding, and significantly lower levels of accountability than currently apply to District or County Councils. The concentration of power on a single person, the mayor, and the proposed electoral structure whereby each authority has one vote on a new assembly, would reduce or eliminate the ability of minority parties to hold the party of power, whichever it might be, to account.

The European Union operates through the prism of regional administration, but as we are now leaving it that should no longer weigh as a factor in deciding whether or how to restructure local government in England.

What is proposed is not devolution. It is local government reform of a centralising and anti-democratic nature, and it should be rejected.

Incidentally, I feel that your questionnaire cannot elicit appropriate responses. Questions like ‘Do you approve of the devolution of more power to local authorities and a mayor?’ have two problems. The first is that devolution of more powers to local government is not what is on offer. The second is that it confuses two questions – devolution and concentration of powers on a mayor. So the whole consultation process is hopelessly flawed.

Yours faithfully,

Nicholas Antill (resident of Babergh District Council in Suffolk)

Friday, July 8, 2016

Have your say on Devolution

The public consultation on the Norfolk and Suffolk Devolution deal is now open for comment.

You can participate by clicking HERE.

I expressed my views about all this on this site back in June, and you can read my comments HERE.

Nothing that I heard in the debate at the County Council on 30th June has altered my opinion.

Local Government reorganisation (with a small amount of funding attached ...around £1bn over 30 years on a present value basis) may be a good thing for Suffolk, but I would be more positive towards the idea if it were presented honestly and not dressed up as some sort of devolution of power.

Anyway, now you can read the documentation, make up your own mind, and have your say!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Sudbury CAB on the move

Belle Vue House
After over 30 years in Belle Vue House in Sudbury, Citizens' Advice, where I was involved for some years, is on the move.

The anticipated redevelopment of the Belle Vue site is probably to blame, and it seems that the Bureau has not been able to find a permanent home as yet.

With help from Babergh District Council (which always guaranteed to accommodate the Bureau in the event of changes at Belle Vue) the organisation is to move into temporary offices from 18th July.

The bureau advises clients as follows:

'During this interim period, our Chief Officer Colleen Sweeney, her staff and team of volunteers will all be working to achieve as full a service as possible, though inevitably there will be disruptions and a regrettable cessation of the drop-in service that we currently offer.  To reduce the impact of this, greater use will be made of our telephone support service.
We are asking people to telephone for advice or to arrange appointments on 01787 374671 between 10.00 am and 2.00 pm Monday to Friday
The temporary arrangements for appointments are as follows:
Monday and Friday each week from 10.00 am to 2.00 pm at the Job Centre Plus in Borehamgate. 
Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 10.00 am to 2.00pm at South Suffolk Business Centre, Alexandra Road, Sudbury, CO10 2ZX. This will also be our temporary venue for Money Advice appointments on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
Administration will be from offices in Sandringham Court, Sudbury.
Our telephone number 01787 374671 will remain the same, and details of our services will be regularly updated on our website www.sudburycab.org.uk.  The outreach service to Hadleigh will be unaffected'.

For emergency advice, the national AdviceLine should be called on 0300 330 1151.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Suffolk schools improve

Suffolk County Council really is improving educational standards for children across the County.  I am pleased about this because 'a decent education for all' was one of the issues that I said mattered to me when I stood for election three years ago.

For some time now I have served on the School Improvement Board at the County Council which meets on a monthly basis to monitor progress and activity in this area.  I have also been very pleased recently to become a co-opted Governor at Great Waldingfield Primary School, which was last month confirmed as a GOOD school by OFSTED,

A new short animation presents the significant progress that has been made improving education across Suffolk.

Click on the link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LR5X43HQMaw to see how Suffolk County Council have Raised the Bar.

If you would like to find out more, contact raisingthebar@suffolk.gov.uk