Hadleigh Year of the Sheep

Sheep Gambolling 2015Readers of my blog, will be aware that as a County Councillor I have a Locality Budget of ₤12,000 a year to disburse as I see fit on worthy projects and activities in my area. So far just under ₤36,000 has been disbursed ranging from helping Scouts and Guides to attend their world jamboree in Japan to funding Hadleigh’s Loyalty Cards. So my interest was tweaked when I was asked to see what I could do for Hadleigh’s Year of the Sheep (since Hadleigh was a wool/woolen town). I was happy to allocate ₤1,500 to assist in the costs involved in establishing, promoting and underwriting the activities of the Year of the Sheep, which aimed to put Hadleigh on the map as a busy, historic and vibrant wool town. The programme of activities and events aimed to~
attract visitors
promote business
engage the community.
This was a community engagement opportunity to get Hadleigh people to celebrate the town and its heritage, enable local charities and town groups to raise funds/awareness for their work and help businesses develop and attract different customers. The year concluded at the end of September and by all accounts was judged as a very successful community event.
There are a number of legacies from the year, but one I particularly like is the provision of new equipment for one of the public playgrounds in Hadleigh. (My budget also funded some the new equipment). But I just love the sheep which will serve as reminder for a good number of years that Hadleigh was and can be leader in economic adjustment and development.

Cock Up, Conspiracy or just Business as Usual?

EaCoxs Park 120915 rlier this month the enquiry into the status of Cox’s Park in Hadleigh was adjourned on its first day after additional evidence was submitted by Babergh District Council. Babergh wishes to build housing on the parkland and since 2013 residents have been trying to have the park designated as a town green.
The inspector quite rightly adjourned the enquiry for four weeks to allow the residents to inspect the 60 pages of new evidence presented by Babergh and this evening (Thursday 25th) there is a meeting of Hadleigh Town Council to review the situation. The meeting is open to the public.
This is all very well, but what were Babergh thinking of dumping over 60 pages of evidence on the enquiry on its first day. Did they think they could disrupt the decision process by denying the residents the chance to review the evidence? Did they think that such a manoeuvre would work in their favour?
No explanation has been made as to why this stratagem was adopted by Babergh. The quotation from Babergh’s Strategic Director (People) merely refers to their awareness “of the strength of local feeling for East House and the surrounding land.” This of course begs the question why did they use this tactic. Was it deliberate? Was it happenstance? Or is it an example of what they usually do –  blunder onwards? Is this Tesco all over again – blindly going forward when the evidence indicates that the well being of the town and the wishes of the people demand otherwise?

Hadleigh Town Council

My very Whiting Rgood friend Richard Whiting has been elected Mayor of Hadleigh for the next year. He is a very experienced Councillor and will bring an appropriate level of gravitas to the job. One of his tasks will be to represent the town at social functions. Judging by the experience of his predecessors he will be invited to over fifty such occasions and will thus become an expert on canapés and outside caterers!
Richard ran on a Lib-Dem ticket and I suspect that he will be the last Lib-Dem Mayor for a considerable time.
Hadleigh Town Council meets monthly and one of my functions is to give a report on my activities and matters affecting the town. As I am no longer a District Councillor I expect my reports to be shorter than heretofore and my report for May is attached. Please see HTC Report 150517


ImageSuffolk County Council  have approved their budget for 2014/2015. Whilst there are considerable savings being made, some reserves are being run down and the overall effect is a zero increase in the Council Tax. The vote was 45 to 20 with one abstention. The Conservatives had some support from the Liberal-Democrats and whole hearted support from UKIP. The Labour Party voted against claiming that the reserves should be run down further – forgetting the reason why reserves are needed. They are for planned future capital spending and for emergencies. We can no longer claim that they are for rainy days since in the current fiscal climate all days are rainy days.
Surprisingly, the approval was not unanimous, which suggests that there are still representatives of the public who think that all problems can be solved by throwing money at them.
Many years ago when studying the Theory & Practice of Foreign Exchange I learned that Money has three functions. It is unit of account, a medium of exchange and a store of value. Listening to my Labour colleagues at County I realised that money has a fourth function – it is there to be spent. Let’s all be afraid for the future because this is the thinking that got us into trouble in the first place!
Earlier this week the Police & Crime Commissioner (PCC) got his budget approved by Suffolk’s Police and Crime Panel. Again a zero increase. The PCC explained to the Panel his rationale for recommending that there be no increase in the precept, helping financially stretched citizens in the county, and receiving the government’s 1% freeze grant. There would be an underspend in the Constabulary budget this year in the region of £800k, an amount which equated to around 2% of the precept. Funding grants had been received very recently for implementing automatic number plate recognition and enterprise resource projects collaboratively with Norfolk. There were some specific areas within the Constabulary where efficiency savings could be made, and which the Chief Constable is looking to address. The PCC was not willing to put up the precept for citizens when there were still significant efficiency savings that could be realised.
At District level we are once again going for the zero increase option.
Meanwhile, my Town Council is balancing its budgets by outing up its precept. Which is a fancy way of saying that we shall be paying more for our very local services.