Melton Messenger – A Note from Alan – February 2020

Christmas and New Year are over and now for the long struggle through January where for many there is too much month left at the end of the money, although I get the feeling that people have not been spending as much as they did in the past. However you spent the festive season, I do hope you had a great time. For me, December is a month where I don’t have to write this article so now that January is upon us I had better get cracking.

Land Divestment
The news of the 21 pieces of land being divested by East Suffolk Council (ESC) has been well received by the people of Melton. I am now pleased to report that the proposals previously agreed by MPC have now been passed by ESC, subject to the formality of call in for scrutiny which is unlikely to be an issue in this case. The legal formalities will be able to start shortly. The Heads of Terms will come to Full Council in March. We do understand the huge increase in the responsibilities of MPC but we also see the opportunities they present. I mentioned in December’s Melton Messenger that Melton’s precept will rise next year because of our extra woodland maintenance costs. On the other hand, ESC’s costs will reduce by a similar amount and help to ease their council tax rate for 2020/21. Even with this increase, Melton’s new precept would remain significantly lower than most comparable councils.

Melton Primary School
Jane Reed (Interim chair of governors) at Melton Primary School wants to recruit new governors from the local community to strengthen its small but committed governing body. If you would like to know more please contact the head teacher; Alun Davies in the first instance. The school contact details are 01394 382506 and admin@melton.suffolk.sch.uk. Alun will be happy to meet you and show you around the school. While people with a variety of skills would be welcome they would be especially interested to hear from those with a financial background. Please offer your help if you can. The school is a central part of Melton life and after all is the future of our community.

On the 13th December I held a little gathering at the office for people who were involved in the fete. Melton Folk played some music and Alun Davies brought some talented children along to sing and play musical instruments. The event was topped off by a visit from Father Christmas with gifts for the children. I am so pleased that the office purchase has all worked out so well and we are back in Melton with a tenant upstairs.

With all the rain we have had since October I am very glad to report that the lower end of the recreation ground is still easy to walk on. If the drainage work had not been done the field would have been a quagmire by now.

Before the January Full Council meeting, our East Suffolk District Councillor Rachel Smith-Lyte held a Councillor Surgery at our office on 15 January, 2020 between 5:30 pm – 6:15 pm. This is the first time this has ever been done in Melton. Some people did come along, so if you would like to talk to her about things that involve issues at ESC level then pop in and see Rachel at her next session on the 18th March. The details will be on the MPC website.

I have been told that some people are not clearing up after their dogs, apparently The Street and Station Road are particularly bad. I must say the playing field hasn’t been too bad recently. Please clear up after your dog.

2020 is set to be yet another hectic year for Melton Parish Council. We have a meeting set with the Highways department to see about getting some crossing points installed along Melton Road. Of course all these things take time and although the speed of delivery often appears to be glacial, in the end things do get done.

I have already reported on the reintroduction of the solitary Orford – Ipswich Bus service 71, at least as far as Martlesham Park & Ride. From the same date (17th November), minor changes to services 70, 70A, 72 and 972 were made, presumably to release a bus for the 71. We continue to meet with First Bus to press for improvements to local services.

Our Parish Tree Warden, Lindsay, has been in post for almost two years and would like to hand over to someone else in the not-too-distant future. This voluntary post can be just as demanding or undemanding as the jobholder decides and could appeal to someone who enjoys fresh air and helping the environment. Lindsay would be pleased to talk to anyone interested and can be contacted via the Parish office.

We now have Recorders in Melton, they are Claire McBurney and Mary Burgess. Basically it involves keeping a record for posterity of notable things going on in Melton, of which there are quite a few! I think they will be writing a few words for the next Melton Messenger so we can look forward to that. I would like to thank them for taking on the role.

Sizewell
Just before Christmas, EDF published a summary of the public responses to its Stage 4 consultation on Sizewell C (SZC). The headline messages were:
• Most respondents didn’t express views of outright support or opposition to SZC;
• Concerns were again expressed about environmental issues and the adverse impact on tourism and communities;
• Transport strategy – There were concerns about traffic/congestion under each of the transport options and concerns about rail noise at night;
• There was general support for the 2-village bypass;
• Only 10% of respondents offered a view on the pylons;
• Jobs & Training – views were split on the value of the jobs generated by SZC and people were sceptical about how many jobs would be sourced locally.
EDF did not announce any plans to change their consultation proposals materially. That said, EDF has formed working groups with representatives from Wickham Market and Leiston to work on traffic and parking issues. EDF also said it may consider “minor re-alignment” of the 2-village bypass following the Stage 4 consultation responses.

EDF stated that its formal planning application is likely to be submitted by “mid-2020”. EDF reckons it is theoretically possible that the Secretary of State could make a decision on the planning application by late 2021.

Parking
Councils in Suffolk are ramping up activity in order to take on responsibility for local parking management from 6 April 2020. Parking patrols in Suffolk will soon be managed by district and borough councils, in a bid to improve parking locally and drive down nuisance and unlawful parking in towns and villages across Suffolk. Traditionally, roadside parking offences were a matter for the Police. However, parking has become a lower priority for them, so Suffolk County Council is transferring this responsibility to local district and borough councils under a process known as civil parking enforcement, or CPE. Moving the responsibility from the Police to local councils requires that statutory legislation is passed by the UK government. The parliamentary order should be made on 30th January. This legislation was previously held up by Brexit.

The upshot of this is that East Suffolk Council will employ parking enforcement officers (Traffic Wardens) who will be able to issue tickets. This is most likely to be taken on by NORSE. So from the 6th April be very careful where you park as this will no doubt prove to be a nice little earner for ESC that I predicted some while ago.

Refresh of our 2 year old Neighbourhood Plan (NP)
We are holding two Open Consultation Events at our office on Friday 7th February 6-9pm and Sat 8th Feb 9-12pm for Melton residents to give their views on updates to our Neighbourhood Plan, which is now 2 years old. For it to be effective it needs to be refreshed every couple of years. There will be more information on the NP website www.meltonneighbourhoodplan.co.uk but please do come along to one of these sessions to give your feedback. We will also be giving further opportunities for residents to give their views online and by filling in forms, through a survey and at future open events.

These sessions will also be seeking resident’s views on how we intend to spend our Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) income. We have a number of large projects in mind and we need to ensure they meet local needs and aspirations. This is very important, please try and come along.

Cllr Alan Porter
Chairman – Melton Parish Council

Melton Messenger – A Note from Alan – December 2019

On Remembrance Day, the Book Behind the Name was finally published. Thanks to all involved and I hope everyone has had a chance to see the results. There is one in Woodbridge Library available for public reference. This is a very impressive tome covering the whole village and its production demonstrates how Melton punches above its weight!

More good news, after a joint town & parishes bus meeting on 29th Oct I’m pleased to say that our request for a way forward for the 71 bus service was listened to and taken seriously and a new service will start on Monday 18th November. All credit to First Bus and SCC for making this happen. Please note that the new service will operate differently to its predecessor, see the First Bus website for details.

It is almost Christmas; so it is a time to discuss gifts, well this month I am going to talk about land that East Suffolk Council (ESC) intend to give to Melton Parish Council (MPC). Clearly they are doing this to save money but also because we have been asking them to divest certain pieces of land for ages for the benefit of the village.

They have come back to us with an offer of 21 pieces of land. It is a take all or none scenario, we were not given a chance to pick and choose. So what’s involved? Well as you can imagine, quite a lot. Ownership of the land would be transferred in two batches in 2020 & 2021. ESC will give us a grant of £5000 towards the conveyancing and legal costs. We will have to cover the rest. The ownership of the land will be properly registered at UK land registry so it should be a simple process.

There are two main advantages with MPC taking on these parcels of land, firstly they will be protected from unwanted development and secondly we can use Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) funds & other funds to improve these green spaces, which have been rather neglected till now. For example we might be able to fit some play equipment at Hall Farm and make the area around Winifred Fison House a landscaped space available for car parking – both of which are things we aimed to do through the Neighbourhood Plan. This would also provide extra car park spaces near McColls which is always a problem area for short term parking. MPC can’t do any of this unless we own the area.

The 21 parcels of land that would become the property of the village are:-

1. Fayrefield Road Area of land between railway line and river.
2. Open space in Riverview Melton
3. Land adjacent to 5 St Friars Court
4. Land adjacent to 20 Friars Court
5. Sports Ground, Hall Farm Road
6. Public Open Space Hall Farm Road
7. Public Open Space in Winifred Fison Close
8. Public open space in Saxon Way
9. Public open space between 1&3 Coppice Close
10. Public open spaces Area 1 Love Lane
11. Public open spaces Area 2 Love Lane
12. Land to rear of Saxon Way
13. Land corner Coppice & Saxon Way
14. Public Open space in Beresford Drive North
15. Land Area 3 to South Beresford Drive
16. Land Area 1 to South Beresford Drive
17. Public Open Space adjacent 31 Bury Hill
18. Public Open Space adjacent 19 Bury Hill
19. Public Open Space between 19, 21, 31 & 33 Bury Hill
20. Public Open Space between 25, 29, 37 & 43 Bury Hill
21. Land north of Bury Hill

We have completed a land survey and have confirmed that there will be a need to fund ongoing maintenance from cutting grass to sorting out old trees in all areas, plus some areas will need additional works to make them safe. The costs of developing parking outside Fison House will also be costly, but we believe this is the right thing to do to improve and protect the facilities within Melton and these days it is now down to the Parish Council to do these things because no-one else will fund it.

In order to maintain the extra land assets we have had to look at the parish council budget accordingly. Melton receives a proportion of the council tax, known as the precept, each year. Melton’s precept is extremely low when compared with surrounding town & parish councils such as Woodbridge, Martlesham and Rendlesham. For example, based on a band D property, Melton residents pay £44.71 per year which is less less than half of what you would pay if you lived in Woodbridge and less than a third if you lived in Rendlesham.
We can fund capital expenditure on the new land from CIL or other funds we can tap into but we will have to pay increased maintenance costs each year As a result, we are considering putting up our share of the precept by the rate of CPI inflation (estimated at 1.7% but subject to change when the CPI rate is confirmed) plus an additional amount to cover some of the increased maintenance costs. We think that an increase of £3.00 per year for a band D property would be enough to mitigate some of the extra maintenance costs in 2020/2021. This is an increase to £47.70 per year, or 25p per calendar month or 30p per month if you pay in 10 monthly instalments per property. The overall charge would still remain significantly lower than Woodbridge, Martlesham or Rendlesham. Melton would still be 13th in the list of local towns & villages. The table below show the 2019/2020 Band D precept comparisons.

No Name Precept per Band D Comparison with Melton
1 Leiston £166.83 3.73
2 Rendlesham £145.38 3.25
5 Framlingham £103.72 2.32
6 Woodbridge £99.97 2.24
7 Wickham Market £73.67 1.65
10 Martlesham £62.41 1.40
13 Melton £44.71 1.00
19 Grundisburgh £30.09 0.67

The increase would be used to pay for the extra work that would be needed to manage our green spaces and we hope that residents will support us in our plans to secure these public open spaces for the future. We have in the past always been very careful not to raise the precept by more than the minimum necessary, but we believe this small increase will reap big benefits for all residents and so for once we feel it is worth it. It is also worth mentioning that while Melton’s maintenance costs will increase, ESC’s revenue costs will reduce by a similar amount and help to ease their council tax rate for 2020/21. So in theory it is a transfer of cost from ESC to MPC.

Further details of the current precepts charged by towns and villages can be found on our website accompanied with the reports on the state of the land we are proposing to take on. If you have any questions or want to comment, please either write or email to the Parish Council using the contact details available on our website

Karl Savill; the manager at Thurlow Nunn Standen in the Street are sponsors of the Melton fete. They are having an open evening on Thursday 5th December 3pm-7pm. Come along to meet the team & see their vast range of products. There will be special offers on the day, as well as prize draws and refreshments. There is plenty of free parking on site and everyone is welcome.

We are receiving Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) money from the building work that is ongoing in Melton. We intend to consult more widely next year on other projects but I thought I would get the ball rolling. The idea is to build a pedestrian crossing or a refuge in Melton Road. Somewhere between the Coach & Horses and the entrance to the Recreation Ground. We estimate the cost to be around £50,000. This work would normally be Suffolk County Council responsibility but they have no funds for this work. The level of traffic makes it very difficult to cross the road easily and safely.
If you agree that this is a good use of our CIL funds then please tell us by email or letter to me or to our office. I know we have to get Suffolk CC Highways on board but the sooner we start the sooner we can get things done. At this stage I just wish to gauge the level of support for such a project.

Lastly, I have to tell you that John West; who was a former MPC Councillor and Vice Chairman passed away on 12th November. We intend to mark his time with us by planting a tree with a plaque somewhere suitable in the village, we will also plant one for Jim Bidwell I think it is an enduring way of commemorating people who have made a significant contribution to life in Melton. These two gentlemen will be sorely missed by all those who knew and worked with them on behalf of Melton and its people.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish everybody a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Cllr Alan Porter
Chairman – Melton Parish Council

Melton Messenger – A Note from Alan – November 2019

The Melton Messenger editorial team were mortified that they had failed to spot the words “oops late again” that had been printed at the top of my article last month. It certainly was not typed by me and nor was I late. I don’t know how they got there, in fact when my MM arrived I never even spotted the words. I am sure it referred to something else. The Melton Messenger is put together by volunteers who work really hard to make the content interesting and varied. It is another jewel in the crown of Melton, long may it continue. If you see an appeal for volunteers in the future then please consider getting involved.

Melton Parish Council has been in contact with the Suffolk County Council Passenger Transport Team and revised timetables have been procured and have been installed in the various bus timetable cases on bus stops and on the Parish notice boards as well. There will be a link to the timetables on our new Melton Parish Council website which is now in service. We are doing all we can to help local bus users to access bus information despite the fact it is not really our job. We have even put laminated timetables on the bus stops that don’t even have a timetable case.
Woodbridge Town Council is trying to rally support from the other parish councils to try to get some improvements in the bus service that has been cut so dramatically since September 1st with more cuts to follow on 2nd November. At least it’s a great effort to get parishes working together and is something that has not been tried for a long time. I went to the meeting today (15/10/19) and there is a great spirit of co-operation not seen before. We will meet again on the 29th October when First Bus managers will also be there.

I was too late for a stop press with the October edition to say that at the last minute the planning application for the St Audry’s bowls green was withdrawn. This now makes three controversial planning applications that have been withdrawn: the bowls green, the Carter site near St Andrew’s and the former SCDC offices site (cheese wedges). I suppose some or all may well be resurrected so we will have to keep a lookout for them. On the 22nd October the former SCDC site planning application came up again at East Suffolk Council. The officers recommended approval and indeed it was by all of the committee with only one vote against despite all the objections. Those people at the meeting are askance at the decision despite so many well-reasoned arguments by many eloquent objectors. I wonder what will happen next, I am sure this saga has more twists to deliver.

One of our potential bigger projects is the Pavilion at the playing field. It’s not good enough to repair and something must be done about it. We want to replace it with a nice modern building that will be durable, vandal resistant and low maintenance. If you have any thoughts or ideas on what facilities you would like to see incorporated in any new building on the site contact the Parish Council by emailing finance@melton-suffolk-pc.gov.uk.

Melton Parish Council were invited along to Melton Primary School to meet the Puffins and Parrots classes which is years 1 & 2. They are finding out a lot of things about ‘My Melton’ and our visit was a part of that learning experience. For such a young group they were very attentive, well behaved and full of interesting questions which Councillor Katy Martin and I did our best to answer. Miss Charlotte Jones, one of their teachers, took some photos in the hope they would get published in the Melton Messenger. How could I refuse! The children are a real credit to the school which has improved greatly during the years I have been involved with the council. If these youngsters are the future of Melton then I think we are in safe hands. They really are a delightful bunch to be with and I came away very impressed with their level of interest on what could have been a dry subject.

There was a good turnout at the Melton Local History Society October meeting. A talk was given by Robert Blake about the history of St Audry’s. One of our councillors who lives there spoke about what it is like now- timely in view of the threat of development, as I have mentioned elsewhere in my article. What a pity the Local History Society is closing down after 3 active years. Their programmes were well supported and the committee have done a great job, but nobody has come forward to take it on for the next three years! Come on Melton, surely there is someone interested in continuing the work of the Society. Save our History Society!

The book Behind the Name: Melton in the Great War has been researched over the last five years, by three members of the Melton WW1 Heritage Group and is now at the printers. It does not just remember the men on the War Memorial but also those men that returned and the women who volunteered as nurses. It is quite a large book at 420 pages of print, photos and drawings by a Melton artist of some of the houses as they are now.

It has been decided that there will be a limited number of copies of the book printed, so it will be available on a first come first served basis. The book is to be launched over the 9th and 10th November at St Andrew’s Church, Melton. Quite a few people have already pre-ordered their copies and they can be collected either on the Saturday between 10:00 to 16:00 or on Sunday after the Remembrance Day service from the church. Anyone wishing to obtain a copy will be able to by donating £15 towards the printing costs. If anyone is unable to attend and wants to reserve a copy they should e-mail meltonww1@gmail.com.

Last month I mentioned the Deben Café on HMS Vale, I incorrectly said that the café would only be open at weekends once late autumn comes In fact it will be open for long weekends; Friday to Monday.

The first volunteering drop-in session took place at the beginning of October and we had a number of people express an interest in getting involved with volunteering at the school and the Good Neighbour Scheme. The second session was planned for the end of October and hopefully that will also have been a success. If you couldn’t make it to one of the sessions but are interested in getting involved please email Pip Alder at finance@melton-suffolk-pc.gov.uk

As usual, I will attend the Remembrance Sunday service at St Andrew’s Church on November 10th and I will lay a wreath on behalf of MPC.

We have decided to move the notice board on Melton Road to just inside the gate by the car park in the playing field. We believe the new location will attract a wider audience.

Every year we receive applications for small grants. This year we received applications from the Burness Parish Rooms, The Village Produce Association (VPA) and the WW1 Heritage Group for funds towards the book “Behind the Name”. The finance committee are recommending a share of the £1000budget to all three organisations and this will be ratified at the next Full Council meeting.

One of our councillors resigned recently due to international work commitments, already I have a new volunteer wishing to join us & that should happen at the Full Council meeting in November. It is most gratifying that people see we are making a difference and wish to join in.

Cllr Alan Porter
Chairman – Melton Parish Council