Chairmans Letter April 2018
I want to start this letter by referring to your Committee. Over the past two years we have made considerable progress in persuading many younger members on to the Committee. Not just to bring in new ideas for developing and taking the Association forward, but to ensure that it will enable the Association to have added appeal and purpose for a wider and younger audience. It is important that we do what we can to attract a much wider cross-section of members. In addition to the list of Committee members in last year’s magazine, we have also co-opted Emma Stewart-Smith and Christie Simson. Emma has kindly agreed to take on the website and Christy to become Editor of the Magazine. We should be very grateful for the new Committee members in agreeing to take on the running of the
Having looked again at our constitution, it was clear that it required modernising, particularly the administrative provisions. Members will be asked to approve the proposed new constitution,
printed in this magazine, at the AGM. If anyone has any observations to make, do please contact me before the meeting and do not leave it until the day, so that if there have to be any further modifications they can be made before the meeting. I should make it clear, however, that our objects and area of interest remain unchanged.
Still hanging over us is the status of the District and Borough Councils draft new Local Plans affecting our area. Partly because of increased housing requirements from Central Government, these Plans had to be revised and are yet to be adopted. Emma and I attended two days of the Inspector’s public consultation into stage 1 of Colchester and Braintree’s new Plans, principally dealing with the proposed vast New Garden Communities at Wivenhoe, West Tey and Andrews Airfield, West of Braintree. It is not possible to say what the Inspector will decide; which schemes will go ahead and with what changes.
CAUSE certainly made a forceful impression, particularly in attacking the lack of required infrastructure and the financial unsustainability of the West Tey scheme. As well as objections from CAUSE, and others, there was also objection from the Monks Wood Consortium, pushing for an alternative development over the Holfield Estate, which as I have said before, would ruin this lovely part of rural Essex. Braintree are against it. The Monks Wood consortium’s barrister made a forceful attack, at the consultation, on Braintree’s alleged failure to consider his client’s proposal adequately. Where this will end up I cannot say. The debate over these New Garden Communities raises difficult issues for the Association. If such a large number of houses have to be built, where are they to go? Whilst supporting CAUSE, we equally do not want to see our rural villages having to absorb this level of additional housing. Meanwhile, without an adopted Local Plan, if our Local Authorities cannot demonstrate that they can meet the Government’s required building numbers for the next five years (and I believe neither Braintree or Babergh yet can) it is an almost “free for all” for developers.
Although there may well be other planning issues affecting your area which I have failed to mention, I should refer to proposals (yet to be fully formed) by Sudbury and Babergh for a Western bypass round Sudbury, which if allowed could have a damaging effect on the water meadows through to Long Melford. It is unclear how far such a route might alleviate congestion in the Town. Lying behind the proposal appears to be a plan to get the A131 from Braintree upgraded, which in turn could allow for a major housing development in the Ballingdon, Middleton, and Henny area. This could also be highly damaging to the AONB extension. Although many years off, and not apparently supported by Essex County Council, or Braintree, we must all be ready to support those gearing up to stop this.
I still have nothing further to report on the Stafford Park application, so strongly opposed by Liston, and neighbouring villages. I will be asking Robert Erith, if he can attend the AGM, to update us on where we are, by then, with the AONB extension.
As an Association we are faced with the new overburdensome General Data Protection Regulation. We maintain members’ details to enable us to communicate with you, and process subscriptions when members pay online. We do not consider it reasonable, or practical, for an Association such as ours to have to obtain further express written consent from every member to continue to hold this information, particularly when members supplied this information to us in the first place in order to be able to be sent the magazine and annual invitations. Rather, we have set out our policy in the magazine and made it clear that the information will only be used to communicate with members and will not be provided to any third party. When the working of the GDPR becomes clearer, we may have to contact members again over this. We have, however, decided to remove the names of members appearing at the back of the magazine and also the list, with telephone numbers, of Area Representatives. Our current system of Area Representatives has not really worked. The Committee will be looking at this afresh.
You may have seen that the website has been completely revamped. Due to complications with signing up to GoCardless and PayPal, it took much longer than it should have done, as it was ready to go live in July, but took until December for this to happen. The Committee are very grateful for the work of the ever
patient Mike Flowers in completing this. Mark wishes to retire from responsibility for the website and as Editor of the Magazine. We cannot thank him enough. The Magazine is quite superb and seems to get better year on year. A tough challenge for Emma and Christy to follow; but I am sure they will be up
Christopher Robinson and Georgie Hunter Gordon both wish to retire from the Committee. In Christopher’s case he has been a Committee member, and our Vice Chairman, for as long as most
of us can remember; and also has kindly provided the use of Ferrier’s Barn for our AGM. Thank you both.
The speaker at the Annual General Meeting this year, on the 3rd May, will be Andrew Clarke, who will be speaking to us on a specialist subject of his, “The Borley Rectory affair”. Do please try and come.
Jane and Michael Lambert have very kindly agreed to host our Summer Party at Over Hall on the 28th June. For those of you who haven’t been to see their lovely garden, this should be an occasion not to be missed.
2018 - Read about Hedingham Castle, a new National Centre for Gainsborough in Sudbury, award-winning new Gins from Adnams, aspects of our Industrial Heritage, the Theatre Royal in Bury St Edmunds, the Dedham Vale AONB and Stour Valley Project, and take a look at the proposed new Constitution for CSCA..
2016 - Interesting articles on medieval graffiti, farming in the Stour Valley, exploring our AONB, early settlers from the Stour Valley to America, the archaeology of a local farm, a wonderful catalogue of British birds, celebrating a Suffolk joinery business, the weather from a South African winery.