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