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

Friday, January 27, 2017

Town Council election, a good fight, but a pity about the turnout.

Sudbury Town Hall
I was very pleased to read the article about my election to Sudbury Town Council in the Suffolk Free Press.  The journalist, Ian Parker, managed to extract the main points from my disconnected ramblings very well.  I was delighted to be elected, and have already had a constructive meeting with Jacqui Howells, the efficient Town Clerk.  There is a lot to do, it is good to keep a toe in the 'local government' water,  and I think the next two years will be interesting ones both for me and for the town.

Despite the fact that Christmas intervened with the timetable, and the weather was very cold, the election felt like the ‘real thing’.  The competition from other parties was quite fierce and it was good that almost all of them took the time to get round the town to try to engage residents.  It is sad that the turn-out was so low.  The lack of polling cards and the time of year has been blamed. Additionally, maybe it is optimistic to hope that working people will take the time to go out to vote on a cold winter evening.   However, even a good proportion of those receiving postal votes did not fill them in.  I do wonder why this is.  Is it just a feeling that politicians aren’t worth voting for?  Or is it the sign of a deeper malaise?

I share the view of the young councillor from Great Cornard, who was featured on the front page of the newspaper this week.   We really must do more to encourage people to engage in the democratic process.  It is not a perfect system but it is certainly the best one that there is.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

What did your Grandfather do in the War? LWHS Members' evening

The Little Waldingfield History Society enjoyed a first class 'members only' evening earlier in January when David Empson came to the village to talk about the history of medals.  A report  by our correspondent Andy Sheppard, of what was by all accounts a fascinating evening can be found by clicking on the tab 'David Empson Talk' above.

For the Society's next event, on 15th February, former Chairman of the Sudbury Society, David Burnett, will give a talk about Chilton Through the Ages.  For a small place Chilton has a long and fascinating history  and I am sure that David's comments, which will include details of Saxon Treasure and riotous behaviour by parishioners, will prove to be very absorbing.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Three days remaining to support our Police and Crime Commissioner

Tim Passmore, our PCC

Cuts that have been made to funding of the Police Service in recent times have had an obvious and damaging effect,   Time was when Parish Councils recieved the assurance of a visit from their local PCSO at parish council meetings, for example, but this is no longer the case.   I understand that these very valuable officers only now work during the daytime.  There also seems to have been an exponential increase in house burglaries in rural areas, and many routine road traffic offences such as speeding and HGV weight restrictions are rarely enforced.

Our Police and Crime Commissioner, Tim Passmore, is asking for public support in his attempt to obtain a fairer funding deal for Suffolk from central Government, and there is just 3 days to take action.
I set out his e mail to all interested parties below. Do take action if you can!

Tim writes:-
 As your Police and Crime Commissioner it’s my job to ensure you as a Suffolk taxpayer gets the very best value for money for policing in the county. At the moment I don’t believe we get a reasonable share of funding so I am launching this campaign to get public support to make a case to Government for a fairer settlement.
 I welcome a fundamental review of the funding formula by the Policing Minister, Brandon Lewis, as it provides me with this opportunity to lobby for a formula which is readily understandable, transparent and provides a fairer funding settlement for Suffolk.
 But I need your help, I’d like you, to go to www.suffolk-pcc.gov.uk to read my assessment and, if you agree, to show your support by emailing  fairshareforsuffolk@suffolk.pnn.police.uk  by Friday 20th January . Any additional comments that anyone wishes to make can be added to this email.  I  will use these public responses as evidence to lobby the Minister for a fairer deal for Suffolk.
I think Suffolk should get a more equitable settlement, which reflects the challenges the county faces.  Whilst I recognise that fairness should take account of specific factors that will be common across all policing areas, I think the rural nature of Suffolk should be given proper weighting and the challenge of policing individual communities over a large geographic expanse should be considered when levels of funding are agreed.
 Suffolk is home to one of the largest container ports in Europe, has a coast line of over 60 miles, we have five military establishments including two American airbases, the county is home to a nuclear power station and the A14 is a major route of national importance – my concern is that the Government does not recognise the significance of these crucial strategic national assets and the impact it has on our police service.
 If we compare ourselves to one of our closest neighbours, we would receive around £3m more Home Office grant funding every year if it was funded to the same level as Norfolk (using unweighted population as the basis of the calculation).  This is just not fair; £3million is a huge disparity between two quite similar counties.
 Suffolk has a reputation of being a very prosperous county, and while there some very affluent areas, over 83,000 people in the county live in income deprivation at the most minimal standard provided by welfare benefits, that’s over 10% of the population.   The recently published ‘Hidden Needs’ research makes pretty sober reading; the first report was written five years ago and sadly deprivation levels have increased right across the county since then. Sadly, where there are higher levels of economic and social deprivation, communities suffer from increased levels of crime, anti-social behaviour, addiction and abuse, which provides resourcing challenges for the Constabulary which are not considered in the current formula.
To support my call for a fairer share for Suffolk please go to www.suffolk-pcc.gov.uk to read my assessment and then e-mail fairshareforsuffolk@suffolk.pnn.police.uk  by Friday 20th January.
Kind regards

Tim Passmore 
Suffolk Police & Crime Commissioner
Police Headquarters
Martlesham Heath
Tel: 01473 613614
Mob: 07725 085604

Saturday, January 14, 2017

A Clerk of Oxford: St Anselm and the Hare

Cope Embroidered fragments from a cope with The Tree of Jesse England 1295-1315 Silver-gilt, silver thread and silk embroidery on silk twill 

During 2016 I engaged a good deal with much that was mediaeval.  Firstly I visited (twice!)  the exhibition of Mediaeval manuscripts at the Fitzwilliam Museum.  This revelatory show led me to buy the wonderful book by Christopher de Hamel 'Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts' which is a must for anyone interested in knowing more about the study of these windows into the mediaeval world.

Over Christmas I went to the astonishing exhibition of Mediaeval Embroidery at the Victoria and Albert Museum and saw many of the images that occur on parchment realised on fabric by English craftsmen and women.  For  a period English work was renowned throughout Europe and was unsurpassed by anything available elsewhere.  Interestingly some of the craftsmen came from Suffolk, including one from Haverhill and a woman called Mabel from Bury St Edmunds.  Unsurprisingly many English saints, including our own St Edmund, were depicted on the vestments, altar cloths and other items that have been preserved.

There is a lot on the internet about manuscripts in particular, and I recommend the British Library website for anyone who wants to be able to examine them in depth.  I have also come across the website below, and very much enjoyed the story of St Anselm and the Hare.  To read about it click on the link below.
A Clerk of Oxford: St Anselm and the Hare

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Don't forget the need for green spaces

Still under potential threat, Grade 1 listed Chilton Church and adjacent country walks and ancient parkland

As the population increases towns and villages have to grow, and some economic growth is desirable to satisfy our aspirations for progress and a ‘better life’. However, a headlong dash for economic growth at all costs, ignoring the environment, both built and natural, is a very ill advised approach to planning the future. 

Too often the Government and local planning authorities (who in their current cash strapped position are tempted by financial incentives to deliver growth at all costs) concentrate all their efforts on bricks and concrete to the exclusion of everything else. But with good planning there need to be no conflict between the demands of growth and maintenance of a diverse environment.

We have to see humans as part of a larger natural ecological system, which is necessarily interdependent.  It is very short sighted, and potentially fatal, to simply populate the earth and concrete over green spaces without taking seriously the need to protect other species.  Moreover we need green spaces to exercise and to relax.  We do not want to end up like battery chickens in our little cages aggressively taking out our frustrations on one another, lacking the green spaces that we need to metaphorically ‘scratch about’.

This is why it is good to see that a group is being formed to protect the green fields around Sudbury.  I have posted further details about this on the Suffolk Wildlife Tab above.  The co-ordinator is Nick Miller who lives in Bures.  This initiative is particularly timely due to the fact that the Babergh Local Plan will shortly be up for review.

Nick also produces a useful newsletter on ecological matters and events in the area which is well worth reading and which he will forward to you if you e mail him on nm431010@gmail.com
Could this be us?

Primary School application deadline just one week away!

Parents of children who were born between 1st September 2012 and 31st August 2018 have just a week to apply for a primary school place for the 2107/18 School year.

It really is important to get the application to the council in time to give a child the best chance of attending their first choice of school.  An online application is recommended, and 82% of parents and guardians use this facility.  The great advantage of the online route is that parents receive immediate acknowledgement that the application has been received.

 Any applications that reach the County Council after the deadline will be considered after all the others have been processed. This could mean there are no places left at a preferred or nearby school which can cause real inconvenience and distress to parents and children alike. An application must be made, even if the child already has a place in a nursery class, pre-school or children’s centre.

Last year Suffolk County Council received 7920 on-time applications from parents for the reception year outlining which school they would prefer their children to be educated at from September 2016. Of those, 90.7% of applicants received offers for their first preference and 97.5% of applicants received an offer from one of their three preferences.

 Any parents or carers who have not yet applied for a school place should apply online or download an application form at: www.suffolk.gov.uk/admissions or contact Suffolk County Council immediately on 0345 600 0981.