Saturday, July 24, 2021

Creeting St Peter: a few words from the Chair…

One of the joys of leading a Parish Council is drafting my column for the Parish Newsletter…

If I had thought for one moment that chairing the Parish Council was going to be easy, recent events have demonstrated that there is no such thing as “too quiet”. So, time for a quick run-through of what’s happened over the past few months…

We’ve got a new County Councillor in Keith Welham, who won the Stowmarket North and Stowupland division by 139 votes over outgoing Cllr Gary Green. Keith is familiar with our issues here, having served as our District Councillor between 2015 and 2019, and has hit the ground running. We look forward to working with him in the years ahead.

We’ve also got a new Parish Councillor in Lynne Jardine, who was co-opted at our Annual Parish Council meeting in May. She has already set to work on issues relating to Poundfield and the local footpaths on the western side of the Parish, and we’re pleased to have her onboard.

No news from Gateway 14. Despite the initial expectations that the planning application would be heard by Mid Suffolk District Council at the beginning of the year, there is still no sign of a date for its hearing. Both the Residents Campaign Group and the Parish Council have made full submissions, as have many of you as individuals, although the remaining delays seem to revolve around highways, with Highways England having sought a delay until mid-September whilst their concerns are addressed.

Mid Suffolk District Council says no to extended hours for PoundfieldAfter more than eighteen months of uncertainty, the application was rejected – the company failed to supply the required noise and light reports required. The Parish Council will now focus our attention on seeking enforcement of the existing operation hours restrictions, and welcome reports of working outside those hours

The conditions are as follows;

No machinery shall be operated, no process shall be carried out and no deliveries taken at or despatched from the site outside of the following times;

8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Friday and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays with no working on Sundays or on Bank Holidays.

Please send your reports to our Parish Clerk.

An appeal for the “Meadows” site. Residents of the surrounding properties will be aware that an appeal has been made to the Secretary of State regarding the second refusal of planning permission to demolish the property and build four new ones in its place. The Planning Inspector will consider all of the evidence already submitted, and Mid Suffolk District Council are expected to actively defend their position given the potential impact on the Local Plan. We have no timeline for any announcement.

New street lightsResidents of the core village will know that our ten street lights are not in good condition, and some of them have been out of order for some time. They’re expensive to maintain and increasingly obsolete. Suffolk County Council have announced a programme of replacing some 43,000 street lights with modern LED versions, and there is a possibility that we might be able to piggyback on that. We’ll keep you updated on that.

An e-newsletter for Creeting St Peter? One of the key lessons from the pandemic is finding better ways to keep residents informed. Producing newsletters and delivering them by hand is slow and expensive, whereas if we could e-mail them to most residents, it would cut costs, allow us to issue newsletters more frequently, and improve our reporting back. We need to make sure that we’re GDPR compliant though, and that those who don’t, or can’t, use the Internet aren’t excluded. However, we’ll be looking to seek your agreement to this over the coming months so, if one of us knocks on your door, don’t be too surprised.


Finally, life is slowly returning to something more familiar as normal. However, there are still those amongst us who need support, and I know that many of you are looking out for friends and neighbours. Thank you to everyone who has gone out of their way to help, and whilst the path out of the pandemic is still a bit fuzzy, I’m hopeful that this will continue as long as it is needed.

Monday, July 19, 2021

I'd like to make myself believe that Planet Creeting turns slowly...

It's been an evening of two meetings here in the Gipping Valley - one that I chair, one that I don't.

First up was Federal International Relations Committee (I don't chair that!). Fortified by a (if I say so myself) decent risotto prepared by my own fair hands, I threw myself into what became a somewhat unsatisfying meeting. Now I wouldn't blame anyone for that - it's the problem when you know that you aren't going to be there see the whole thing through - but we probably allowed ourselves to get bogged down in the mechanism of how to do things rather than just making quick decisions and allocating the work to committee members.

I still feel slightly out of place amidst a group of people with seemingly more practical experience than I have, and I have to fight a persistent urge to use the Standing Orders as an offensive weapon, but there is some really interesting stuff being done. It might reasonably be said that the Committee shows dangerous signs of living up to my hopes for it when it first took on its current form five years ago. Perhaps I should have been more patient.

And yes, I still think that there's scope for improvement, but a relatively new Chair and a new Secretary (and thank you, Adrian, for volunteering) should be given the opportunity to make their mark, so again, I ought to demonstrate that I can "do patient".

But time and Parish Councils wait for no bureaucrat, and I had to sign off from Zoom in order to see real people up close (well, closeish, as we're still attempting to maintain reasonable social distancing here in the Gipping Valley).

I do find chairing my Parish Council vaguely reassuring. The debate is measured and pragmatic, I'm encouraged to move things along briskly, and there's seldom much in the way of stress or opposition.

In some ways, we're in the lull before the storm, with Gateway 14 still awaiting planning consent, and the concrete products factory now refused permission to extend its operating hours (somewhat to our pleasant surprise, it must be said).

There are some issues of concern - the work going on next to Flint Hall (are they seriously planning a dirt bike track?), traffic speeds on Mill Lane, the state of local footpaths - but we're a persistent group, and we'll keeping writing letters in the hope that Mid Suffolk District and Suffolk County Councils will do their jobs.

We were done in fifty-two minutes though, and I was almost tempted to log back into FIRC to see if they were still going. Almost, but not actually...