What we've done

Much of the recent work of the Parish Council has involved implementing the recommendations of the Parish Plan, and the Parish Plan Update.

Of the 32 actions detailed in the original Parish Plan, all but two have been completed. A further 24 actions were included in the Update Report; the Parish Council is leading on most of these, but many require input from either Braintree District Council or ECC Highways. With the current uncertainty about funding, progress is likely to be slower than we would like.

Tables summarising what we have done, and what we need to do, are available in the Parish Plan Update Report here.

We have already begun work on implementing many of the recommendations in that Report, but meanwhile here are some examples of the problems we have been working on. Some are success stories. Others indicate just how difficult it can be to solve superficially simple problems.

Road Safety

The demand for tighter speed controls were met by the introduction of a 30mph speed limit in the centre of the village, and an extension of the previous 40mph restrictions in Camps Road and Haverhill Road. These were broadly welcomed, but concerns have been expressed about the accompanying signage, which many consider to be overdone and inappropriate for a rural setting.

Gritting of the roads in winter has long been of great concern. We recognise that Highways cannot possibly grit all the minor roads in the county. Probably the only advantage our edge-of-county position gives us is that the gritters turn around here to head back to base, sometimes gritting Haverhill Road and Steeple Bumpstead Road in the process. But the two most dangerous roads in the village, Sages End Road and Water Lane, were never gritted.

The Parish Council had found a solution to this problem, but for years were not allowed to implement it. We proposed purchasing a small salt-spreader, which could be fitted to the back of a truck, and which could then be used to grit these small lanes as necessary. But Highways refused to supply the salt, stating that mechanised gritting is solely their responsibility.

This is not a logical approach. But eventually Highways attitude softened, and with the help of some grant funding from Braintree District Council's Mi Community fund, the Council were able to purchase the gritter. We know that it has made our roads much safer for all during the winter months.

Village Green Project

In winter 2004 the Village Green was in a sorry state. The two benches were disintegrating and covered in brambles, and the shrubs and trees were choked with weeds. We applied for a grant from the Government's Living Spaces fund, and were successful in obtaining the funds to renew the Green.

view image galleryA year later in summer 2005, and the work was almost complete, the weeds had been cleared (several times!), huge amounts of horse manure had been dug in, a splendid brick path suitable for wheelchairs laid, and three donated benches fixed in place. A planting scheme had been completed, retaining as many of the old trees and shrubs as possible. About 20 volunteers were involved in weeding, planting and keeping the plants going through the July heat.

Finally, in September 2005, our local M.P. Sir Alan Haselhurst wielded a shiny spade to plant an English Oak on the Green. Volunteers have continued to turn out from time to time, as the plants establish, to weed and mulch as necessary. During the summer of 2006, the foxgloves were magnificent! We hope the Green will now be well used, both by villagers and visiting cyclists from far and wide.

Memorial Plaque

The Recreation Ground behind the Village Hall was purchased by public subscription in 1920 as a permanent memorial to the young men of the village who fell in the First World War. Their names are recorded in St Andrew's Church. Many newcomers to the village are unaware of this history, and it was decided that a small plaque should be erected at the entrance to the Recreation Ground to record it.

The land is held by the Parish Property Trustees on behalf of the Village, but they had no capital to cover the cost. Neither did the Parish Council. Grants are available for restoring existing War Memorials, but not for creating new ones.

After several years of searching for funding, the Parish Council is very grateful to ECC's Making the Links team for contributing towards this project. The memorial is simple, surrounded by grass and early-flowering narcissi, and shaded by a multi-stemmed birch tree. Generations to come will now know the provenance of their Recreation Ground.