Local politics, Politics, South Cosford

Results of the Babergh Council election

Babergh count at Trinity Park

Party          May 2014       May 2015

Con               330           684

Green (me)    346           646

Labour            72            72

UKIP               219         not contesting

Turnout            55%          78%

I increased my vote in the South Cosford ward of Babergh Council from 346 in the by-election last year (when I won by 16 votes) to 646. Sadly this was not enough, the Conservative collected 684 votes. Labour got 72 – the  same amount – and presumably the same people – as last time. So I have lost my seat in South Cosford. The lone Green presence on Babergh is no more. Thank you to all who helped in the crucial run up with leaflets, with door knocking, with manning the polling stations and at the count. And to all those in the ward who put their party loyalty aside to vote for me. Many longstanding LibDem, independents and a Labour councillor in Babergh have lost or nearly their seats, mirroring the national swing to Conservatives.

I have been touched by the warmth of people’s condolencies, including people who ordinarily are supporters or members of rival political parties.  Someone in my – now former – ward said to me “you will be missed already”. Now I need a break from electoral politics for a while – luckily I’ve been handed one! The past four years have been nearly continuous attempts to win elections – 2011 – Babergh Council – lost by six votes, 2013 Suffolk County Council, lost by  10%, 2014 Babergh council by-election, won by six votes, 2015 Babergh council elections – lost by 38 votes. It’s all meant year round leafleting and door knocking and yet I only held office for one year.

One year in office is not long enough to ensure your re-election as a representative of a minority party, a party with virtually zero TV coverage, and such coverage as there is being patronising and negative.

However, I hope that I was able to inject some fresh thinking and ideas into Babergh Council in my short time.

Below is a link to some of the results, still awaiting Sudbury South.


South Cosford

Congratulations to the four community heroes in Kersey and Whatfield!

I’m proud and delighted that no fewer than four people from my ward of South Cosford – one from Kersey, and three from Whatfield – have been nominated and selected as winners of Babergh’s Community Achievement Awards.
They are Linda Newbigging from Williams Green, Kersey, Helen Landon from Whatfield and Ray and Liz Parker from Whatfield.
Linda was nominated and won for her involvement in a host of village activities including Kersey Church Council, a local toddler group, the community playground and helping a neighbour who had suffered injuries in an accident.
Helen won an award for her work delivering Whatfield’s playground and the village’s award of Suffolk village of the year.
Ray and Liz won for their tireless work running the successful village bar every Friday in Whatfield village hall for eight years.  I have myself had a drink at the village bar and can thoroughly recommend it as a great way to meet the neighbours for anyone from Whatfield who hasn’t yet visited.
Here are the full citations, taken from Babergh’s press release:
Linda has been active in Kersey for many years. She has served on Kersey Parochial Church Council for over 10 years, helped to establish and run the local toddler group for 12 years and also been a member of the Kersey Community Playground Committee for 17 years.
She is also a school governor and has been a volunteer school helper for 10 years.
Linda has been instrumental and supportive of everything that happens in Kersey, from helping with the Queens Diamond and Golden celebrations and also finding time to be involved with the parish plan in 2006.
Linda is also one of the first people to offer support to individuals within the village who may be in need, Linda supported a local resident on a daily basis for over a year and a half who had suffered injuries following a car accident.
People like Linda are what make living in a village so special.
Nominated by: Ian Fidell
  • HELEN LANDON, Whatfield
Helen, a new member of the Whatfield Parish Council, volunteered to take the lead role to provide a new playground for the village. Helen worked tirelessly to secure £46,000 of funding from Suffolk County Council, Biffa, Britvic and Babergh District Council.
During the project, Helen also worked with parents, grandparents and villagers to assist with a fun day to help raise funds and awareness of the playground project. Helen also helped with fundraising when she was sponsored to carry the Olympic torch through Aldeburgh in 2012.
Helen brought all sections of the community together, keeping the project on track through to its delivery in the summer of 2012. It has become a popular attraction for children of all ages in Whatfield.
Helen showed the same level of drive and commitment by organising Whatfields’ submission for the 2014 Suffolk Village of the Year competition. Whatfield won the Babergh District award and then went on to win the county section too.
Nominated by: Paul MacKenzie
Ray and Liz have tirelessly run the 5th Horseshoe bar in the Whatfield Village Hall every Friday night
for the last eight years. The bar provides the community with a meeting place to gather after the
local pub, the Four Horseshoes, closed in 1999.
Without their planning and management of the nights, the community would be much less vibrant.
There does not seem to be a major village event that Liz and Ray are not a part of. Furthermore, Liz
can always be found in the kitchen cooking the Christmas meals for the school and over 60’s parties,
as well as running a village oil syndicate, managing the George Scott Charity and recently becoming a
school governor.
Ray and Liz as a team make a magnificent and significant contribution to the life of Whatfield village.
Their activities have greatly contributed to raising funds for the village hall refurbishment and
upkeep, community projects and also for the Church.
Nominated by: Paul MacKenzie
Nature, South Cosford

Semer bore hole fails

Semer water worksnedging water tower

Tucked away off the Bildeston-Hadleigh Road, at Semer on the side towards the Brett River, down a little private drive is the mini pumping station and water treatment works that conceals a bore hole that since 1992 has been providing all the water for the villages from Hitcham, Bildeston, down to Kersey in the south west and Hintlesham in the East. It’s pumped up to Nedging water tower (pictured) and a mini reservoir that sits alongside the water tower and from there supplies 3,500 homes. But it’s now failed.

Anglian Water have put in a pipeline to the nearest working borehole at Watson’s Corner as an emergency measure but apparently this will not be enough once spring and drier weather arrives. Anglian Water are therefore going to drill a new bore hole close to the existing building at Semer site. This will need planning permission. Babergh planning officers met Anglian Water on site and say the works described appear “acceptable”. Anglian Water predict they will to start the works in March and will have to apply retrospectively.  AW have decided to consult directly with the affected parishes. I’ve spoken to the planning officer and he tells me that he believes the bore hole failure is technical rather than the aquifer running dry.

Just a few metres south of the water works – further towards Hadleigh on that side of the road – there is a lovely fenny, flooded area amongst trees and when I cycle past I often see a heron perched in the water there, presumably waiting patiently for a fish to move. I have not yet been able to get a photo of it.

Local History, Nature, South Cosford

Elmsett and Aldham Village Hall coffee morning – Gainsborough’s oak pollard

Elmsett church, oak pollard   (c) The Bowes Museum; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

I thought it was about time I visited one of Elmsett and Aldham’s fundraising coffee mornings. I bought myself a “Buckle’s Wood” hessian bag from the people running the community woodland in Elmsett. The village hall has had a refurb with new roof insulation and a gas boiler. The committee tell me they could do with more people getting involved, likewise with the Buckles Wood volunteers and the parish council. The problem seems to be that many people now work far away from the village and by the time they have done the commute they are too tired to go out and socialise. Seems a shame.

Anyway, the point of my two pictures. I try to cycle to all my parish council meetings and the ride to Elmsett is magnificent, particularly coming down Manor Road from Nedging direction, you can see the church tower looming up magisterially on the hill ahead. The last time I went it was dusk and as I reached the valley bottom past the bridge, a huge white barn owl flapped silently out of the bones of a withered dead oak tree in the hedge to the left of me and fluttered across the field to my right. There was something quite imposing about that oak.

Then I hear from my colleague, County Councillor Jenny Antill, who went to the coffee morning a few months back, that Elmsett church was once painted by Gainsborough. In the foreground of his painting is a strangely familiar tree. It looks like an ancient oak pollard, just coming into leaf. Well it may not be the same one, 200 years on and now housing a barn owl. But I’d like to think so. (There’s a young pheasant sitting in it in my photo).