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Cllr. Bryn Hurren

July 2020. Box Vale Ward Council Report

We are miles away from being anywhere near back to normal yet and will not be so for a long time into the future. With this in mind, we should all remain more careful than ever before not to spread the virus and be responsible for severe illness and even death to others. While such muddled messages and failed predictions and targets continue to come from national government, I would urge all residents to observe strict distancing rules themselves and not to engage in any multiple gatherings which could spread the virus further. To date there has been 154 reported cases of Coronavirus across Babergh which is the lowest in Suffolk. While this is a testament to the hard work of our local Councils, alongside the many volunteers who we have engaged and encouraged to come forward and of course to all those that have remained apart from their families, friends and colleagues, it is still not the time to be complacent.

There has now been an announcement that the distance rules will be relaxed to one metre to help us come back to a more normal way of life and working and to support commerce and businesses. Please be very careful how to interpret those rules and respect those amongst us who still feel vulnerable. We are going to have even bigger challenges to fight in the coming months and years and every citizen of the U.K. will be needed to come together with common aims and ambitions for the challenges ahead. Stick with it Suffolk.

At the District Council we are now trying so hard to move to a recovery phase and I hope that all the local businesses that have been helped by the government money and furlough schemes will come back stronger and more determined than ever to succeed and that they will all be supported by those that need them. If this crisis has taught us anything it should be that local is best and although sometimes the cost is a little higher the benefit of being part of the community and the saving of fuel and time far outweighs this. Also, the environmental gain of less pollution in our air and skies is so important to our very survival on this little planet. Babergh council can also take a lead in these matters and although money is going to be so crucial we are determined to help and encourage in any way that we can, the fact that we are the only District Council in Suffolk that is not politically run gives us a huge advantage because all parties work together for a common aim which is for the benefit of our constituents.

As many of you will have now heard the speculative outline application for 64 houses at Sandhill has been passed by the Babergh planning committee despite total opposition from myself, the Parish Council and as far as I can see everybody else in the village. Despite the cynical press release from our office this development will not bring any benefits to the village or the good folks of Boxford. The 22 affordable homes will not be for locals but for general needs which could be anybody within most of the Anglian region, while I am a great supporter of local needs housing having now enabled over 50 dwellings for our own village inhabitants and young and older families alike, I do not think that bringing in families from other villages and away from their families and support system is a good thing at all. While the five acres of open space is to be welcomed it will have to be maintained and a good regime of maintenance put in place, also the much publicised piece of land for a community building could become a white elephant or just another house if the village cannot find a use for it or the monies to build it. The main reason I opposed this so strongly is our poor infrastructure with our highways and lack of development opportunities to help and enhance our primary school which was something that we were working on with the village plan which could have provided some space for a car park, an area for a school extension and a safe walkway down into the village. All these plans have rather been shot to pieces by our planners who seem to be looking at bowing down to national politics and not considering the long term future of Boxford at all. We will See.

This was my first experience of a virtual meeting and it was excruciating with very little thought to democracy and enabled the planning officers to be brought in to cancel out anything sensible said by the local speakers who know the village and its issues so well. I also have upcoming virtual meetings of financial and audit committees to attend which I will do from my own home. While preferring the face to face style of local government, I will have to learn to practice what I preach and embrace the digital age for the sake of the overall good of the environment and mankind in general. Also, now most of my parishes have plans for or have had a virtual meeting to progress budgets, highway and planning issues, the public in all cases can join these meetings remotely and will be given access upon contacting the clerk for their parish.

Please keep well everybody and keep happy and smiling. Despite what is going on we have so much to be grateful and thankful for. If most of us shared 10% of what we have with others less fortunate we would still have more than enough.

bryn.hurren@babergh.gov.uk Tel 01787 210854 Mob. 07771 508348

April 2020 Box Vale Ward Council Report

The circumstances that the Council and the general population are having to deal with at this present time are the most traumatic of all our lives so far with dramatic repercussions. While our brilliant, fearless N.H.S. and other medical teams are stepping up to deal and defend us against the ever increasing outbreaks of the awful Coronavirus it is sad to know that they have been so let down by the short supply of medicines, ventilators and the personal protection equipment that they so need for their own safety. It is an absolute disgrace that those who protect us are sent into battle so poorly equipped. If any lessons are to be learnt from this, it must be that our country deserves a properly funded National Health Service with taxpayers' money ringfenced to achieve just this. Also, just maybe our national politicians should be refused entry to our hospitals at election time for their photo opportunities to make yet more hollow promises and grinning buffoon-like pictures across our ghastly right-wing tabloids.

Having said that I can honestly say that my own Babergh Council have risen to the challenge and I am truly proud of our officers and staff who are on duty seven days a week, we are still doing most of our day job and keeping up with our refuse collections apart from the Brown Bin collection which will be resumed as soon as staff and lorries become available. We have also made some super-human efforts to get all our homeless and displaced residents into permanent accommodation and out of danger for themselves and others. Housing does and will remain a priority for the council into the future and hopefully after this is all in the past and along with my wish for proper and adequate funding for the NHS there will also be a return to proper funding for our local District Councils who are best placed to deal with the sort of situation that we are in now.

Adversity certainly brings out different reactions from across our region with the best and worst traits being on display, in the main it has all been very positive, with groups across our villages being set up to look after people who are alone or self-isolating, the Boxford Community Hub has been quite amazing and so effective in bringing much needed supplies, help and comfort to so many. They have spread their wings a little further than at first intended and have helped people from further afield than our core area, also even the smaller villages of Milden and Brent Eleigh have organised themselves very quickly with lists of those who might be more vulnerable and a network of others who can organise and deliver help.

I should also like to give a massive shout out to those who are manning our local shops and food stores who are working so hard to see that we are all kept supplied with provisions. Special thanks and Three Cheers must go to the staff and proprietors of Assington Farm shop, Boxford Post office and Stores and the Community Shop in Monks Eleigh who are all delivering food supplies into our villages with a small army of dedicated volunteers. Please remember that our lovely local shops and businesses are here for us all year round not just for pandemics.

I will continue to post updates of Babergh Council and other activities on all the relevant Facebook Noticeboards across my ward and god willing will remain active and well to answer any personal requests that you might have. Bryn.hurren@babergh.gov.uk or just Tel 01787 210854. Mob. 07771 508348.

Stay well and Safe for the Future.

March 2020 Report from Councillor Bryn Hurren

Firstly, great news that the Neighbourhood Plan group are making good strides in Boxford to write, and have adopted in planning law, a plan that will help set and seal the future development of the village. This plan once adopted by public vote will help steer the future of Boxford for a generation and maybe even longer. This project has taken on greater urgency than ever because as more and more villages adopt their own local plans for the future of their villages, it means that developers, especially those who achieve permissions for clients and then move on, tend to focus on villages who do not have the benefit of plans deciding their own future. Because our plan will last so far into the future it will need to take into account a different way of living, more environmentally friendly I hope, and have provision for homes for sheltered and disabled living as well as more schooling and provision for vehicles (electric) and parking. It will also need proper safe footways and walking areas away from vehicles of all kinds along with infrastructure and business's to cater for our everyday needs and recreation. Our village will look entirely different in 50 years time and we should leave a legacy for those people to live happily as we have done in the time we have lived here.

Bus services are high on my agenda again, after the debacle of the ludicrous changes to the school transport provision, the fallout from which is still going on, we now have the continuing cuts to our rural transport services, mainly buses that serve our outlying villages and get residents to work, medical appointments and keep rural communities connected. It is ironic that with Mental Health so high on the agenda at the moment we are all being driven to despair at how hard live is becoming for those less able to thrive and cope with modern day living and contribute in a meaningful way. Even the fantastic C.A.B. who help with so many of these issues have had their funding scythed by the County Council so that they are less able to deal with the after effects of that same councils decisions.

Across my ward most other things are going well with the normal raft of planning applications being well dealt with by the relevant Parish Councils and financial budgets being put in place for the new financial year starting in early April. All Council tax rates are going to rise around 3% across the whole of Suffolk which is very bad news for all of us, although I have to say that I think that the District Council at least is still good value for money for the services it provides. If you do not feel that, then please come to your local parish meetings and tell me why you disagree and I will try to justify my opinion or do something about it, if I feel you have a justified complaint.

All Best Wishes for the spring and believe me I am trying to keep all our roads swept although it may not look like it after Ceira and Dennis have passed through.