Freely to breathe again!

Jenny Antill (a fellow blogger) posted this on Friday morning.
View from the window 160624View from the window. 24th June 2016 6.15 a.m.

Oh what joy, in the open air
Freely to breathe again!
Up here alone is life!
The dungeon is a grave.
We shall with all our faith
Trust in the help of God!
Hope whispers softly in my ears!
We shall be free, we shall find peace.
Oh Heaven! Salvation! Happiness!
Oh Freedom! Will you be given us?

CHOR DER GEFANGENEN (Prisoners Chorus, Fidelio)

Meanwhile on Planet Babergh – Angel Court

Angel CourtOn 30th April I wrote (in this blog) that Babergh District Council had purchased Angel Court and were exercising a black out on news as to why they had purchased the property and what they intended to do with it.
I duly lodged a Freedom of Information Request so that the disinfectant of transparency could dispel suspicions that the people of Hadleigh were to receive an unpleasant surprise.
Babergh have replied to my request advising that the acquisition is part of a wider joint strategy by both Babergh and Mid Suffolk to invest in our communities by acquiring redundant public sites and bring them back into use for housing. Proposals for a housing scheme are being drawn up and these will be subject to a public consultation through the usual planning processes.
So there we are. A positive bright idea from local government. I am happy and rejoice at the Council’s intentions.
Which of course brings us to the earlier question – if it was good news why the secrecy? Were they up to something and then changed their mind? Are they keeping their options open and may change their minds later? Or is it our old friend – business as usual?

Meanwhile on Planet Babergh – Angel Court

BureaucracyI recently had a call from a constituent asking what was happening to Angel Court in Hadleigh. Angel Court was formerly a residential care home and subsequently became a temporary housing unit and more recently Suffolk County Council sold it to Babergh District Council. My usual sources at Babergh tell me that they are unable to throw any light on the situation – so the question remains why and what do Babergh intend to do with the property? I have looked over the agendas and minutes of Babergh’s Strategy Committee and I can only surmise that the authority to acquire the property was contained in their meeting of  4th February. The minutes record that The Committee  noted the action taken by the Chief Executive in consultation with the Chairman of the Committee, as set out in Paper R95. Paper R95 was discussed without the public being present as it was  likely that there would be the disclosure of exempt information. Moreover the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighed  the public interest in disclosing the information.
So what are the options for the property?

  • Turn it into a hotel? (After all Babergh is accruing an investment fund of £25 million – Paper R83)
  • Turn it into housing – since there is a constant demand for commercial or social housing.
  • Turn it into a state of the art e-commerce entrepreneurial centre.
  • Turn it into a new set of offices, thereby vacating Corks Lane and possibly leading to the consolidation of yet more services into Mid Suffolk’s offices at Needham Market.

You can guess where my suspicions lie. If it was good news why the secrecy. Once again the disinfectant of transparency is needed to dispel suspicions that the people of Hadleigh are to receive an unpleasant surprise. Meanwhile I have lodged a Freedom of Information Request to see if we can get some light on the subject.

Small Successes – Benton Street

Every now and then, there is an alignment of ambition and actuality.
One recent example of this is the provision of a disabled parking place in Benton Street, which for some time has been on Benton Streetmy list of things to be achieved. The need for the place is based upon the changed (health) circumstances of  one of the residents.
When I was in Hadleigh recently I heard that a Town Councillor (who is also a resident of Benton Street) had commented that the resident was not that disabled as he exercises a dog! What claptrap! Pure politics of envy! The dog is small and walking the dog is doubtless recommended exercise for the resident, who has good days and not so good days – hence the need for a disabled parking place.

Setting the bar

Oreos 151231When it comes to ambition it is a mistake not to set the bar high enough. Yesterday I had a full 800 calories lunch and in the evening we went to Big Easydinner at the Big Easy (a Louisiana restaurant  – before going to a New Year’s Eve concert at the Meymandi  Concert Hall, part of the Duke Energy Centre for the Performing  Arts. Dinner of course was a tasty dish of shrimp and grits with a side of fries.
Roll on when I get on the scales and have a new bench mark to use for weight loss.
It could have been worse. The street was full of food trucks and two delicacies I eschewed were the deep fried Oreos and the deep fried Reese’s Pieces. Sometimes one can be just too virtuous.
Happy New Year to all my readers
Reeses Pieces 151231

A Woman Worth Celebrating

Grandmother LuckMy grandmother Alice  Luck was born in 1891 and died in 1978 and so managed to live over eighty five years through good times and bad. She had many aphorisms one of which was that you should always enjoy good times. When I asked why, I was told because good times come and good times go. When you are down you have something to look back on and more importantly something to look forward to. I suspect that she understood economic cycles better than many professionals – certainly she had prudence built into her bone marrow.
There were often back handed comments as to how we were all destined to go to the workhouse. This was strange as the workhouses were officially closed in 1930, but many persisted as the inmates had nowhere else to go. Of course I asked the obvious question were you or your family ever in the workhouse and the answer was a definite “No!”
So I was a tad surprised when following up an link to see my grandmother being entered on a school roll in 1898 as being sponsored by the Guardians of the Ratcliffe Union (who were part of the Stepney Poor Law Union). Further (incomplete) research shows that her workhouse experiences included the following:

Date Activity Comments
January 8th 1898 Admitted With two siblings
February 12th 1898 Discharged To her father
July 2nd 1898 Admitted With her mother and two siblings
September 14th 1898 Admitted With three siblings.
The youngest sibling Charles was only one year old and as he was admitted from Bromley it’s possible that he was referred to the workhouse Master by the hospital.
September 14th 1898 Discharged With three siblings. All to her mother

The causes of the admission and discharge on the same day are probably hidden in a dusty day book– but the whole year must have been traumatic for the family. My grandmother at this time was seven years old. I’m not sure why the family resorted to welfare but the scars resonated over the years. Grandmother went on to marry three times and have four children. She was first widowed at the age of 26 and then again at 34.
Together with her mother Katie O’Brien  and the support of other family members she kept her children together and in due time rose up the economic ladder and even managed to pay for her daughter Mary to have piano lessons and to have a formal dress wedding. Tragedies came and went.
My parents were killed during an air raid in 1944 and it is obvious from hindsight that there was going to be no way their two sons were going to be split up outside of family resources. Which is how my brother went to live with our late father’s sister (Mary) and how at the age of 52 my grandmother became my guardian and took me to live with her.
What a woman! Well worth celebrating and thinking of at this time of the year when we have so much to be thankful for.

Squirrel as an Economic Indicator

SquirrelMy UKIP friends in Suffolk talk about the Chihuahua of Doom (see previous blog on 22nd December 2013) but I’m indebted to columnist A.C. Snow of Raleigh’s News & Observer for the comment that he has a friend who assures him that the local economy is in good shape. The barometer of financial well being is the squirrel population.
Apparently during the bad patches people eat squirrel and they are not doing that now! According to chef Georgia Pellegrini squirrel hunting is more American than apple pie…. Few things are more intertwined with American history and tradition.
Squirrel is, in fact, one of the most popular game animals in the eastern United States. Squirrel also features in the 1931 book Joy of Cooking. Our edition dates from 1980 but the recipes are still there.
Please see:

Educating Homeless Children

Education Tourism 1897_Bogdanov-Belsky_At_School_Doors_varPolitics is said to be the art of the possible. In reality it is really about the use of resources and how best they can serve the community. Raleigh is a prosperous and growing city centred in Wake County, so it was with some surprise that I read in the News and Observer that there are some 2,736 homeless children attending schools or about 3% of the school population. These children face physical, emotional and developmental issues that make receiving an education even more difficult.
According to the Salvation Army of Wake County’s Project CATCH (Community Action Targeting Children Who Are Homeless) program “One in 30 children experiences homelessness. You can go into a Wake County classroom and one child will be homeless, statistically.
They have as many dreams as the child next to them, but they have a harder road.  Students need to have their basic needs met before they can learn.
The Wake County school system works to provide housing assistance to homeless families. The school system also tries to help provide clothing to homeless students in addition to bus service, free school meals, first aid and counseling. The district works with 168 community organizations.
One of these is the Haven House Services (   which has been providing comprehensive services to the youth and families of Wake County for over forty years. They came to my attention through my hairdresser’s who are having a food and supplies bank drive – see the needs list attached.
I find two things astonishing. First that we can have so many in need whilst we are in a land of plenty. Secondly that there are 168 community organizations working to alleviate this black spot on our county’s reputation.
This brings me back to resources and their usage. How do we protect and nurture these families and give them the hope of upward social mobility?
Haven House Services requirements.

To read more please go to:


Benton Street

Benton Street 1108301610Recently I attended a meeting organised by Hadleigh Town Council for the residents of Benton Street to discuss the possibilities of alleviating some of the traffic problems. Quite early in the evening it became obvious that the residents rejected the idea of single lane traffic enforced by a build out and wished for more long term solutions. The build out equipment will now be trialled elsewhere to solve similar problems and we can then see if it is effective and possibly suitable for a revisit in the context of a pilot scheme for Benton Street. Suffolk Highways will be looking at other suggested options but initially this will probably be a desk exercise based on anticipated costs, ease of implementation, likely timescales and expected availability of funding. There are no quick fixes. The Beccles by-pass on the A145 has taken twenty five years to get planning permission. The expected building date for the Beccles by-pass is sometime after 2020. Currently Suffolk County Council are investigating the A12 four village bypass in connection with the new Sizewell C power station. Suffolk has allocated ₤450,000 for studies to support the scheme which would enable the Council to advance its understanding of the scheme’s costs, benefits and development constraints and ultimately to put a business case together for Government funding. So at this stage the alternatives to the build out look to be quite expensive.
The funds allocated from my Community Budget for the build out will now be applied elsewhere in Hadleigh. Well done to the Town Council staff for organising the evening.