BOXFORD PARISH COUNCIL
ANNUAL PARISH MEETING 2021
The next annual parish meeting is scheduled for Tuesday 27th April 2021 at 8:30pm on Zoom.
If you would like a link to the Zoom meeting please email Debbie Hattrell, Parish Clerk on firstname.lastname@example.org
|Annual Meeting Tuesday 27th April 2021|
|AGENDA PDF, 64kb|
|Annual Meeting Tuesday 26th March 2019|
|MINUTES PDF, 51kb|
BOXFORD PARISH COUNCIL CHAIRMANS REPORT 27/04/21
BOXFORD PARISH COUNCIL FINANCIAL REPORT 27/04/2021
BOXFORD COMMUNITY COUNCIL
BOXFORD VILLAGE HALL
BOXFORD NEIGHBOURHOOD PLAN
THE BOXFORD SOCIETY
BOXFORD PLAYING FIELDS MANAGMENT COMMITTEE
TREE WARDENS REPORT
FOOTPATH WARDENS REPORT
COUNCILLOR BRYN HURREN REPORT
SUFFOLK COUNTY COUNCIL REPORT
BOXFORD PARISH COUNCIL CHAIRMANS REPORT 27/04/2021
It is hard to believe that it is two years since we held the last Annual Parish Meeting, last year, we were advised to cancel due to Covid.
During the last twelve months the pandemic has impacted everyone in some form, not least, like most villages, those people that have lost friends and family. I would ask that we have a minute's silence to remember Eddie kench and all those people that are no longer with us.
It is also right to thank Ward Baker, members of the Community Council and volunteers, who at short notice put their proposed village celebration plans on hold and set up the village hub. This has provided vital support to people in the village through the pandemic. We must also thankful the shops we have in the village, they have stayed open through the pandemic enabling people to shop locally and remain safe.
As well as the Hub, the Parish Council has also continued to provide support to other village organisations, including the Village Hall, Church and Playing Fields through various grants.
Planning has continued to consume a great deal of the Council's time, not least the application for houses on Sand Hill, which the developers named Weavers Green. Despite numerous representations from the village, Babergh, Suffolk County Council Highways and the Developers continued to support the application and ignore local concerns. Proposed changes in the centre of the village as part of the plan, would have seen an increase in parking issues for the centre of the village and every route in and out of the village become single track. In a cynical attempt to justify planning rules, the application made provision for yet another public building for the village to run that would have drained funds and potentially adversely affect the existing community buildings in the village.
Due to how the planning meeting was conducted and the subsequent agreement issued, the Council felt it had no choice but to take the case to the High Court and seek a Judicial Review, this was time and expense that could have been avoided if planning officials had taken the time to listen to our concerns properly. Whilst we have been successful in getting the judgement overturned on legal aspects of the decision, Babergh continued to ignore both our concerns and those of the independent report we commissioned regarding the traffic implications for the centre of the village. I am sure we will see both the application and associated issues return to the table soon. I would like to pass on my thanks to both Andrew Good and David Lamming for the invaluable support they gave throughout the whole process.
This does not mean the Council is against development, quite the opposite. We are aware of the need for local homes for local people, not housing for commercial gain or low cost housing where people who originate from the village would have to compete for housing with the remainder of Babergh's inhabitants. The Neighbourhood Planning Committee, led by David Burden and Hugh Philiips, are working very hard behind the scenes, looking at what is best outcome for the village and its residents. The work they had done was largely ignored by the Developers pushing Weavers Green, we can only hope that the developers and planning officials will listen better in the future.
Finally, it is time to thank my fellow councillors, many of whom are new to the role and have not had the opportunity to meet in person. There are still vacancies on the council if anyone is interested.
Debbie, who is kept very busy and without whom we would all really struggle. Bryn and James who do their best to help the village and don't get an easy time at the meetings but keep coming back for more!
BOXFORD PARISH COUNCIL FINANCIAL REPORT 27/04/2021
Last Financial Year brought with it the demands of the Pandemic and also our successful legal challenge to the Sand Hill proposals for 64 dwellings.
Last year's Precept - £38869 which was an increase of 1.9% to residents
Burial Income was £1715, an increase of around 45% since last year
A Covid-19 grant of £10000 was received
A Neighbourhood Planning Grant of £5760 was received, of which £1175 was spent in the financial year. The final bill of the year from consultants came to £2014 and the surplus grant was returned amounting to £2571 in accordance with the terms. The Neighbourhood Planning Group are now applying for further funds for this financial year.
No income or expenditure occurred for fireworks for obvious reasons.
Under expenditure, the most notable increases were the costs of our successful legal challenge at £22095. A further bill of £2194 came in this month and also reimbursement of £13,000 from Babergh Council towards our legal costs, making an overall net cost of £11289. We had reserved considerably more than this at the outset and were also considering crowd funding and note that a similar planning application may come before the Planning Committee again, so we are mindful that further costs may be incurred.
Another increase in expenditure this year was in respect of grants to Village Organisations. This Council were thankful for the way the whole community responded to the pandemic. Grants were increased this year to support the excellent work underway. A grant of £2500 was paid to the Church towards insurance costs, £2000 was paid to the Village Hall, the Playing Field Management Committee were able to continue with the grass cutting contract throughout this time and the cost amounted to £1857 and £500 was paid directly to the Community Response to the pandemic via the Community Council. These grants came to nearly £7000.
The Cemetery maintenance costs nearly doubled from the previous year due to some necessary tree reduction, introducing regular treatments to the path as it was becoming slippery and the usual grass cutting and strimming took place throughout the season. Our sweeping contract costs went up by around 25% which was a planned increase in view of the scope of the new contract. Otherwise there were inflation increases but nothing significant to mention.
Regarding reserves, we continue to set monies aside in respect of future capital expenditure on land for Burials, Future renewal of Street Lighting and Neighbourhood Planning. However, these reserves will be reviewed again as soon as we are confident as to the extent of potential further legal costs. All expenditure is voted on by the Parish Council at Meetings. The Annual Budget in December enables funds to be available for that process.
Responsible Finance Officer
BOXFORD COMMUNITY COUNCIL 27/04/2021
Well, what an eighteen months we've had! Our last official function was the Quizgo evening on 7 th March 2020 in aid of the VE75 Street Party.
Six days later, on 13 th March, we decided to set up the Community Hub.
Throughout the previous eighteen months, with several volunteers' hard work, we were organising the VE75 Street Party, which subsequently had to be cancelled.
We were fortunate that financially, we only lost deposits for the planned events for VE75, and the Fireworks company waived any payment for the cancellation of Fireworks Night.
The Hub was formed very quickly and we are grateful for the donations from Babergh, The Parish Council and individuals in the Three Villages, which gave us the confidence to move forward in what we were able to offer to the community. To date, we have received and acted upon approximately 500 requests for assistance - in some cases, this is still ongoing. Thanks in particular must go to Mark Miller who has almost single-handedly distributed prescriptions 2 and 3 times a week to those in need throughout the villages. We have a list of over 100 volunteers, the majority of whom we haven't need to call on, but it is gratifying to know that people in our community are eager to help where necessary. Because we were able to mobilise so quickly and efficiently, we became the 'go to' Hub for other villages, even receiving calls from the Babergh Localities office for advice. Another success has been the Food Bank at the Church, run by Father Rob - another model which was copied by other communities in Suffolk. My thanks to the Strategic Team for all their help and contributions, particularly Evan Flockhart, who masterminded the logistics of managing such a huge team of volunteers. The Hub will continue for the time being, though our activities are being scaled back as restrictions ease.
All the funds for The Hub are in a separate bank account and will be used for Community Council projects as stated in the grant offer from Babergh District Council, once The Hub is no longer functioning.
Although many of us have lost loved ones and acquaintances over the last year, and we have been very fortunate in our three villages with the number of infections and severe cases, the loss of Eddie Kench has hit the village hard. He was a stalwart of the Community Council for many years and offered unstinting support through the BRN, which remains a vital organ of communication for the Benefice, now being expertly run by Trudi Wild. Eddie will be sorely missed.
Moving forward, there are still a great many uncertainties. The only event we are hoping and planning for at the moment, is the Fireworks on Saturday October 30 th , with the lantern making taking place in the week running up to that.
The Boxford Bounty (a fund raising arm of the BCC) will re-start after the Bank Holiday weekend in May.
Ever since I joined the Community Council in 2012 (and for a lot longer), there has been a vagueness over the relationship between the Community Council and The Playing Fields Management. We are now in a position to formalise this relationship. The Community Council was originally set up in 1965 to raise funds to create the Playing Fields for the village. The Constitution has been open to interpretation but has now been clarified by The Charity Commission.
With immediate effect, the Playing Fields Management Committee will be a sub- committee of the Community Council. All decisions of the Management Committee will be subject to ratification by the board of the Community Council. The Chair, David Burden, and Vice Chair, Hugh Phillips, of the Management Committee will be de facto members of the Community Council Board. The Playing Field accounts will be held separately, but consolidated with the Community Council's for annual reporting to the Charity Commission.
Finally, I would like to thank all members of our committee for their support and hard work over the last two years, along with countless volunteers, Boxford, Edwardstone and Groton Parish Councils, Bryn Hurren, and Babergh District Council.
We are still a vibrant community and I hope before long we can return to seeing everyone again and celebrating together. As soon as is practicable, events such as the Senior Citizens' Outing (perhaps now more important than ever) and the Fun & Games Night will return.
We are here to help other clubs and organisations, both practically and financially. We want to help.
Chair Boxford Community Council
BOXFORD VILLAGE HALL
The village hall has served the community for getting on for a century, having stood on the Stone Street Road site since 1926. As you would expect, it is showing its age and needs constant TLC to keep it viable. In the last full year of opening, it cost just over £20,000 to keep it running. Without the support of the local regular groups, party-goers and weddings who hire it, we wouldn't be able to keep it going. So please use it or lose it as the saying goes.
The hall is managed by a committee of just 4 people who share all the jobs between them. This is not sustainable so when the remaining Covid restrictions are lifted, we will undertake a drive to recruit more committee members. We would like to thank Bill Blake, the secretary of our committee, who left Boxford to go Westward. If only one of the remaining band of 4 were to leave, the hall would have to close.
Covid has, as expected, had an enormous impact on the hall and its regular hirers. Fortunately, the village hall is classed as a business and pays business rates, so it has been able to claim local rate support grants from Babergh and this has enabled the hall to remain financially afloat.
As the Covid restrictions are gradually lifted, eligible groups are returning (or planning to return) to the hall and we are hugely grateful for their support and for maintaining the Covid-secure protocols that have been put in place. Thank you to them for their loyalty! We also have our first post-Covid party booking, so it looks like the green shoots of recovery are beginning to show.
Major work undertaken recently has included a new boiler (thanks to John Whitwell for getting us a trade deal with the boiler makers), a new committee room floor, substantial drainage works to resolve major damp issues, and constant attention to ancient plumbing. We are exploring the removal of two giant sycamore trees which are further threatening our drains and fragile roof.
The committee currently consists of:
Veronica Hobbs (chair, secretary and booking secretary)
Joe Barrett (Treasurer)
BOXFORD NEIGHBOURHOOD PLAN
Progress - A thank you and more to do
The steering group working on the Boxford Neighbourhood Plan has continued to make progress and we have now started stage 3 of the process with the production of a draft of the full plan document which is out for informal consultation with Babergh District Council. Looking further ahead, stage 4 which we hope to begin in September will see the preparation of the plan for formal submission to Babergh District Council and others whose scrutiny and examination will be the final stage 5 leading to a referendum which we are predicting for a year hence- February/March 2022.
This means that we have completed stages 1 and 2 and we wanted to thank all those we have talked to in the village and especially those who have responded to us as a result of reading the website, picking up the extracts on social media, being interviewed or simply offering views, invariably helpful and positive. It is very encouraging to sense the affection for Boxford, the pride and appreciation in its community spirit (how lucky are we to have it this last year) and the enthusiasm amongst all ages to look after its best characteristics but also to ensure its future.
The two completed stages saw us establish an evidence base and the project plan, developing a vision and objectives and then consulting and seeking input on these early ideas. That input has been invaluable in the areas of housing, education, transport, village businesses, buildings and scenic beauty, green spaces and village infrastructure. We have exchanged and shared views on some of the most important and challenging subjects, affordable housing for the younger, future residents, and the village car parking and safe pedestrian access being top of many people's list. Thanks again to all those who have commented. I also take this opportunity to thank my fellow steering group members, Hugh Phillips (co-chairman), Andrew Good and Roger Loose for bringing their considerable skills to bear on the work thus far. We are guided by a very knowledgeable professional consultant Andrea Long.
There is much to do but we have taken the bold step of booking the village hall for Thursday 8 th July in the early evening and all day on Friday 9 th July. We are looking to stage an exhibition of the principal components of the draft plan on those two days to seek comments and feedback from the village community. We will then amend or confirm the plan and move on to Stage 4, the formal submission to Babergh District Council. Please put the dates in your diary, hoping like us that current restrictions will have been sufficiently lifted to allow us to stage the event. Who knows, the bar might be open!
In the meantime, please follow any updates in the Box River News, on the website or social media and please continue to respond to our requests for information, comment and assistance. It's a plan being written for you.
David Burden- Co-chairman, Hugh Phillips - Co-Chairman, Roger Loose & Andrew Good
THE BOXFORD SOCIETY
The Boxford Society was formed nearly 40 years ago to preserve the character and natural landscape of the Village and its historic and architectural heritage. We want to try to ensure that new development is in keeping with the character of the Village. We are affiliated to the Suffolk Preservation Society and are members of the CPRE - the Campaign to Protect Rural England.
Over the years we have undertaken many successful projects from litter picking, tree planting, establishing a Village garden and a lot more, and have constantly monitored planning applications - objecting where we feel the outcome would be detrimental to the Village but supporting if appropriate. We are not 'Nimbys'.
We have created an archive of all the listed buildings in the Village, all the commercial activities over hundreds of years, and contributions from Village residents who recall their lives and changes in the Village in their own voice - a fascinating read.
Roger Loose, a past Treasurer of the Society, has recently completed a New History of Boxford which will be published later this year - an excellent read for anyone interested in Boxford and this wonderful part of Suffolk in which we live.
This last year has been particularly difficult as we have been unable to meet in person although the Committee has continued to meet via Zoom. We have, however, continued to monitor planning applications and responded as we saw fit. We welcome the recent Judicial Review quashing of a planning application for 64 houses on land to the east of Sand Hill which we believe is detrimental to the Village and will continue to oppose this when it is reconsidered by the Babergh Planning Committee later this year.
We hope that with the lifting of Covid restrictions we will be able to hold the public meetings and outings we had planned for 2020.
Chair, Boxford Society
BOXFORD PLAYING FIELDS MANAGEMENT COMMITTEE, 27/04/21
Like all other organisations reporting, the backdrop in the last year was that of unprecedented restrictions and challenges. The result is that the Playing Fields saw no major events and sporting activity was restricted. However as a green space, close at hand and available, the land that the foresight of the Community Council, fifty three years ago, bequeathed the village, has been a godsend. Within the Covid19 rules, families, household and individuals have put it in good use for recreation and fresh air. Sadly, vandalism has also flourished; my experience is that this waxes and wanes as year groups grow into and out of the early teenage temptation to take pleasure from causing damage. Currently the vandalism has reached such a repetitive level that a report to the Police was necessary. Any information or witnessing of acts of vandalism can be reported by calling 101 and quoting CRN 37/18922/21
Prior to the Pandemic, the partial refurbishment had been completed. Hugh Phillips, the Treasurer and now Deputy Chairman, had project managed the work to replace the cladding, windows and rainwater gear, internal redecoration (completed by the Committee) and the creation of a third changing room. New external windows were fitted facing the field and the security, weather proofing and visual attraction of the front benefitted from shutters, bespoke made by Bryn Hurren. Subsequently, the approach path to the side doors was re-laid and concreted. In a few weeks, the floor in the main room will be re-surfaced, enhancing the attraction of the building as avenue to hire. The current building has stood since 1995 and I believe is now in a really good basic condition to take it through another 25 years without major expenditure, given good care and maintenance.
Football and Cricket
It is not for me to report on the main sports activity but it is good to see youth football resume and preparations well underway for what will hopefully be a full season. I do want to pay tribute to the two committee members representing Boxford Rovers and Edwardstone and Boxford CC. Footballers and their parents should be grateful to Melvyn Eke for the large amount of work he puts in to organise, stage and coach junior football. He is not a villager but he is certainly a friend of the village! Ray Gibbons has cared for the cricket square and the affairs of the cricket club in his usual single-minded way. In the wake of removing the damaged artificial surface on the east side of the square a few years ago, thanks to a Babergh District Council grant, Ray has improved the square to a point that must make it the envy of many clubs in the area. I umpire frequently on some of the best cricket grounds in the North London area, some of which host Middlesex County Cricket League clubs, and the Boxford Square measures up to them in its visual quality.
Some work has been done by Hugh Phillips and John Weiland to clear the overhanging foliage south of the tennis courts. This has helped to provide more light and reduce the build-up of moss. Plans are being made to renew some of the decayed fencing and to straighten the stanchions holding the nets. The mid-week ladies tennis mornings continue to be well run and contributions are made to the funds. Similarly an evening male group pay for their tennis. We suspect that others play for free, choosing not to put money in the box provided on Homefield. If ever sufficient interest were to develop and a coordinator came forward then a small tennis group or club could be formed to take a close and involved interest in the courts. This remains an aspiration.
A working party completed the clearance of the track around the allotments to facilitate vehicle access which helps with heavy loads. The downside of this is that the recent closure of the route across the field from Butchers Lane has meant that the temptation to use vehicles simply for personal transport to the allotments is in danger of creating a vehicle width track across the playing field from the car park. We do not want to restrict vehicle access but to minimise unnecessary use. This summer it is hoped that all rented plots will be tended. It is disappointing to those on the waiting list to see overgrown plots.
The vandalism mentioned above and the deteriorating state of the fencing surround has caused the consideration of options to renew the fence. The aspiration is to install a metal fence surround with a single double gate, purchasing the iron work and using a weekend local working party, once again under Hugh Phillips's committed and extremely able project management. In the last couple of years we have kept the area tidy thanks, in the main, to John Weiland's grass cutting, woodworking skills and maintenance of the apparatus for which he completed a short course arranged through Phil Wallis. Hugh and John, assisted by Michael Waspe of the Community Council and a volunteer party may hope to install the new fence in the first part of the summer.
As if the Pavilion and the playground were not enough, plans are afoot to resurface the car park and extend it and yet again Hugh is in the forefront of planning this. This work will improve and extend what is a whole village asset which often is provided by municipal funds in other places. We would hope that some public money from District and Parish funds could be provided to share the funding of this project; details to be taken forward soon. In the meantime, expressions of support towards solving the match day parking problem in and around Homefield would be welcomed.
I pay fulsome tribute to the hard working committee. I hope this annual report in April 2021 as the most severe Covid restrictions ease reveals how much is being done by its members who, in addition to the running of the facilities on a totally voluntary basis, also litter pick, paint, cut grass, clear foliage and care for this much loved village green space . They all have my thanks and appreciation:
Hugh Phillips -Treasurer/ Deputy Chairman
Ward Baker- Chairman of our parent Community Council whose invariable attendance and support is always welcome and is vital.
A new member or two would be very welcome, some of the above having served for many years. New minds and younger limbs will eventually become a necessity!
Chairman Boxford Playing Fields Management Committee
The trees planted in January 2020 on the new area of the Woodland Trust ground have generally survived the hot dry year. A small amount of attention has been given to a few in need. The litter has been minimal with much of it blowing across from the A1071. Fouling by dogs with carefree owners has increased again on the routes leading to the bridge. The official boundary path from Dakin Avenue around the perimeter of the Goodlands meadow has been reopened and a team of 4, the Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group, have made it passable again. However, great use is still made of the routes across the field adjacent to it.
The route from the second meadow and beyond the Memorial Black Poplar tree and its seat has been difficult to traverse due to a Spring emerging across the path as a result of a high water table. The stream it creates crosses the path on its route to the River Box.
The artificial wood-like seating stands up very well to the passing of time and needs no upkeep.
TREE WARDENS REPORT April 2021
My name is Trevor Smith and I am currently the Tree Warden for Leavenheath as well as a member of the Tree Council and the Suffolk Tree Warden Network. Having noted Boxford had no Tree Warden I offered my services and I have recently taken up the role of Tree Warden for Boxford.
So What Do Tree Wardens Do?
Tree Wardens plant, protect and promote their local trees.
Champion their local trees and woods
Plant and care for trees
Carry out woodland management
Set up tree nurseries using seeds collected locally
Provide early warning of threats, disease, decay or vandalism
Tree Wardens are organised into local groups. Each group is managed by a co- ordinator and is autonomous, meeting regularly to decide what they would like to focus on.
Some of the projects Tree Warden groups have done include:
- Arranging local tree planting days
- Pruning, watering and giving vital aftercare to local trees after planting
- Working with local authorities to plant and care for our precious street trees
- Rejuvenating local woodlands in need of management
- Going into schools to talk to young people about the value of trees.
Tree Wardens work with Parish Councils, local authorities and conservation bodies
who are key to the scheme's success.
I look forward to working in the parish this year and planting some trees and hedge rows to enhance the village and local area.
FOOTPATH WARDENS REPORT 27/04/2021
I continue to raise awareness of Footpaths. The maps were adapted to appear more professional in accord with what I think is a very good village web site. I consulted with Chair of Playing Field Committee regarding feasibility of using Sports field car park as an alternative park for walkers. This was agreed. I could also indicate on the map that on match days participants and associated visitors have priority on the car park.
The Covid epidemic requirements resulted in me not being so active in walking the footpaths.
In the interests of transparency and enablement (and noting the Polstead Wardens inclusion of Suffolk CC email addresses to facilitate reporting of issues) I created a map of all footpaths within the Parish Boundary. The intention of this map is to enable individuals to plan their walks and report any problems they encounter on the footpaths. Although my walks and the two Parish maps do not have a membership they do have followers. Since creating the maps, earlier this year, across all the pages there have been approx. 2,000 individual viewings. The Parish maps have had over 350 each and the individual walks range between 110 and 220. Of course, the count does not record repeat viewings or duration of each visit so it is of limited value. However, at no cost, the pages may have attracted individuals to your Parish website and encouraged visitors to the area.
During the winter months I reported to the Council a fallen tree obstructing Path B10. I was pleased to learn that a local resident cleared the tree. I thanked him on behalf of the Parish Council.
At Bryn Hurren's request I met and discussed with the owner of the Permissive Path running beside Stone Street. We had a positive discussion and I have recently been informed that the path fence that deteriorated over recent months has been restored. The owner did say that he would attend to the path in due course.
Regarding the proposed three Parishes leaflet little to no activity has taken place. After Bryn had intervened three representatives came forward and I began the process by circulating three suggested example routes which each rejected. All chose to produce their own. Amidst the Covid restrictions I decided to take a more relaxed approach and wait for the representatives to contact me.
Councillors may be aware of a National campaign to find and restore lost footpaths. Boxford is lucky to have retained the vast majority of its footpaths and the best way to maintain them is to encourage their use. There are, however, some missing paths which have been identified and the Parish has an opportunity to attempt to get them restored. The window is closing and a decision needs to be made. To aid the process I can find, record and inform you where they are.
I have already noticed that an informal path has been created running along the valley bottom linking Stone Street to Path B1, paralleling a lost path which crosses the centre of the field from Brick Kiln Hill to Path B5. Informal creation and use, I think, is a good indicator of the value of a path to the community and is, therefore, worthy of consideration of reinstatement.
N S Bristow
COUNCILLOR BRYN HURREN REPORT 21/04/21
This year for most of us has been a year like no other for all the wrong reasons. Having said that it has also been a year where Babergh as a small local District Council has shown a distinct willingness to support their electorate and businesses to the very best of it's ability. We have made sure that all who were entitled to business interruption grants and rate relief have received the best and the most that we were able to give them. Also, as landlord to close on 4,000 tenants the Baberghmidsuffolk housing teams have been there to advise and help those that have been shielding, alone, short of supplies and in debt to make ends meet at crucial times, while always trying to see that bills were paid both for rent and other critical utilities before due deadlines.
One thing that soon became apparent was that the much-criticized universal credit system was not suitable for quick fixes and parachute payments as it is cumbersome and slow to administer and bring help, and at times it seemed it was designed to be just that. As a long-time serving Councillor it has been good to see staff at all levels continue in their posts even when distant from colleagues and other team members but there has been a toll I feel on some of the younger members of staff who have lacked guidance and the mentoring that normally would come from an office environment. For myself I have put in all the effort that I have been able to summon in pursuit of my elected duties and as joint chair of the Audit and Standards Committee it has fallen to myself to see that monies allocated has gone in the direction and cause that it should. The death rate from Coronavirus in Babergh has been amongst the lowest in the whole country but still tragic to know that close to 250 souls in the Babergh District have lost their lives to this virus. I was especially saddened to lose a close friend in Eddie Kench who has always been a support and a source of comfort to me especially when writing items for the BRN. If you feel it, write it, was his constant advice and the more controversial the better. I spent time in his house fitting and fixing ramps and steps so that he could push Janet around in the new wheelchair just before I heard that he had become ill and still wish that I had spent more time with him before rushing away to do the next job.
Thankfully at the last district election the public voted to have a council of No Political control which has made it essential that we all work together and for the minority groups to contribute and get on with the work we were elected to do, without a ruling political group going off on vanity trips and political white elephants or even blue ones. Although planning and heritage issues are still our achillies heel I do feel that all other departments and functions have performed well. With the huge environmental challenges that we all face being tackled despite not really much leadership from the government we have implemented our own climate emergency and have used CIL monies to start a program of converting our fleet of vehicles to bio diesel fuel and a move to electric rechargeable vehicles for fleet cars. We will also make a start on tree planting and biodiversity on land that we own or on host land for those willing to take part.
We also try to keep people safe with our food inspections for hygiene and safe working methods and the score on the door system of grading has served us well for restaurants, shops and eateries of all sorts. While one recent case has hit the headlines, it should be remembered that thousands of inspections take place every year to keep us all safe.
Plans are also in place to enact a decision to take back our public realm function in house, this hopefully will mean better control of work and hopefully more work carried out with less taxpayers money. I hope that we will then have access to a scraper for our road cleaning duties which will mean that we will no longer have to wait for County Highways to get the mud off the roads before we can effectively sweep them. Hopefully this will mean we do not have a repeat of the stand-off that occurred this past winter.
Locally I have done my very best to be here for you whenever needed and have always tried to throw my weight behind you when needed which it certainly has been on a few occasions this past year. I hope to be able to report some good news on the latest planning at Goodlands when we meet on Tuesday evening.
Thank you to our clerk and all Councillors who have helped me this year, especially to the new recruits who have fitted in so well.
I look forward to continuing to work together for the next two years.
SUFFOLK COUNTY COUNCIL SUMMARY ANNUAL REPORT 2020/21
The Year of COVID 19
The year has been dominated for all of us at National and local level by pulling together to overcome the unprecedented incident of Coronavirus throughout the year. The County Council with the Suffolk fire Service reacted from the very beginning back in March 2020 in many ways to the National guidance given by the Ministry of Health and the NHS. These are just some examples of actions taken by the Council: -
- Immediate response supplying the elderly and vulnerable with food packs so that they were well fed and nobody suffered because of the 1st lock down and were unable to visit the shops.
- The collection and dissemination of local data and advice to guide the local policy for best practice control.
- The organisation of Home Schooling with the local authority in maintained schools
- The introduction of "Home but not Alone" free phone line for the lonely.
- Support Lines for those with Financial Worries.
- The follow up to Test and Trace and now recently totally co-ordinated at the local level since March 2021.
- Local co-ordination of the Vaccination programme with Clinical Commissioning Groups via the Director of Public Health - Stuart Keeble.
There will be lots of lessons learnt for this last year and no doubt our future modus operandi both in work
and leisure will be different in the future.
We should all thank each other for the collaboration that has been achieved. My belief is that there is
"always good that comes out of bad".
Resurfacing of 25% of the Suffolk Highway
On 5th August it was announced that Suffolk Highways completed its 1000th resurfaced mile following the Council's commitment to relay new road surfaces on a quarter of Suffolk's road network. In 2017 Suffolk County Council's Cabinet committed to resurfacing 1,000 miles of road across Suffolk over a four- year period in a bid to improve the quality of roads and reduce the number of potholes. There is still more to do.
Electric Vehicle Charging Points
In September it was announced that 100 fast charging points for electric vehicles were to be built in rural parts of the county. The council have reached out to interested parish and town councils and non-profit organisations to put in fast chargers where there are currently none. The funding will cover the installation and set-up costs, meaning very little expense for the hosts and possibly creating a source of income for them. The up take has been good.
Fostering and Adopting in Suffolk
In October the Council launched Adopt East, a regional adoption agency which has been established to recruit adopters across the East of England. Adopt East will work across local authorities to find families for children who are waiting to find their forever home. The target has also been doubled for increasing number of new foster parents from 30 to 60 for 2021/22 as a result of the predicted extra numbers required following the Pandemic.
Choice of Schools for September 2021
On National Offer Day 98.57% of Suffolk children were offered a place at one of the schools preferred by their parents. Suffolk County Council received 7,602 applications from parents indicating which primary school they would prefer their child to join in September 2020. Some 7,116 children received offers for their first preference school and 7,493 children received an offer for one of their three preferred schools.
Suffolk' Response to the Climate Emergency
In response to its declaration of a climate emergency, SCC aims to lead the way with an unparalleled range of activities and policy changes to support its ambition of being a 'net zero' authority by 2030. The council's cabinet reviewed and agreed an extensive programme of recommendations to achieve this ambition including dozens of changes and new ways of working. Being 'net zero' means the council will remove its carbon emissions where it can; if it is unable to do so, it will compensate for those emissions
Investment in Suffolk's Natural Environment
The County Council will be investing in tree-planting, restoring hedgerows, and improving roadside verges for wildlife. £228,000 from the Suffolk 2020 Fund will enable Suffolk County Council to enhance its work to protect and encourage biodiversity in the county. The authority will do this through a number of new schemes, as well as building on existing work.
Suffolk Archives New Home "The Hold" Welcomes First visitors in 2020
Monday 28 September saw the public able to access The Hold, Suffolk's flagship new heritage facility on Ipswich Waterfront. This versatile new building will be the permanent home of the Suffolk Archives Ipswich branch and is shared with the University of Suffolk, who have dedicated teaching spaces within the building. The creation of The Hold, and its associated countywide programme of events and activities, has been made possible thanks to a grant of £10.3m from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, and further funding support from other national organisations and local Suffolk heritage groups.
Better Broadband for Suffolk reaches 100,000th customer as the 3rd phase contract is agreed with the UK Government.
By June 3, more than 100,000 households across Suffolk were using faster broadband, thanks to the council-led Better Broadband for Suffolk programme. The partnership - between Suffolk County Council, Openreach, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (NALEP) and local councils - has made faster broadband available to around 150,000 premises so far, since being launched in 2010. It means the current total superfast broadband coverage in Suffolk now stands at more than 98 per cent coverage. The team has plans to go even further, after today announcing an additional phase of work, to provide connectivity to approximately 5,000 more premises, including over 550 businesses, in some of the most rural parts of Suffolk under Phase 3.
Suffolk County Council secures £3.1M for building decarbonisation initiative.
Suffolk County Council (SCC), working in conjunction with property specialists Concertus, has secured £3+M of funding from The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to promote capital energy efficiency and heat decarbonisation projects within buildings used to provide frontline public services. Working with Concertus, the council has been preparing a range of packages to support the decarbonising of various buildings in the Council's estate including applications for the council's headquarters at Endeavour House in Ipswich, four rural fire stations, Beacon House, Waterloo Centre and Leiston Children's Centre. All this is to help reduce the County Council's running costs for the future.
County Councillor for The Stour Valley Division