Melton Messenger – A Note from Alan – July 2020

Tennis Court Vandalism
At the end of May we suffered a spate of vandalism on the tennis courts; the wire was cut in several places allowing people to gain access without a key. Maybe this was to play for free or to retrieve balls sent over from the other court. This has been a problem over the years but never at the current level. We have to buy rolls of wire netting and patch up the holes as best as we can.

Tennis court fence vandalism

Tennis court vandalism

In the future we are going to erect CCTV and therefore we may get some footage of any acts of vandalism. It is a shame we have to invest money in this way but we have to ensure the safety & integrity of the assets in the park. There has also been some anti-social behaviour in the evenings and reports of drug dealing which hopefully CCTV will deter.

Recreation Ground Gate
In recent weeks, we have been locking the recreation grounds car park gates at 8pm because we were having problems with people BBQing and having large social gatherings in the park and car park causing problems for local residents. We don’t want to be party poopers, but given the continuing need to social distance and the increased risk of fire because of the very dry grass at the moment, we felt it necessary. The side gates to the park remain open for walkers.

Woodbridge Swifts
To help with the decline in the population of swifts, Woodbridge Swifts are recording swift nests in Woodbridge, Melton and Bromeswell. If you have a swift nesting in a box or in your roof, they would like you to contact them at woodbridge.swifts@gmail.com. They also have nest boxes and CDs of swift callings for sale for those who might like to encourage the swifts to nest near you.

Planning Applications
At the moment we are confronted with three extensive planning applications which if they went ahead would have a very significant impact on Melton.

1. DC/20/1521/FUL
PROPOSAL: Care Village comprising an 80 bedroom care home together with 75 assisted care bungalows, cafe/club house, Bowling Green, car parking, open space provision with associated infrastructure and access. This is just off Yarmouth Road Melton IP12 1QH. MPC’s contention is that the access available for pedestrians etc. between the proposed site of the Care Village and amenities/transport links in Melton are inadequate, and made even more so by requirements for social distancing. We are opposing this application. SCC Highways are also in opposition.

2. DC/20/1831/OUT
Outline Application with Some Matters Reserved – Residential development of up to 55 dwellings, with access off St Andrew’s Place. This is the part of the land that forms a central part of our Neighbourhood Plan but does not cover the land owned by the Carter family. Not having direct access to Wilford Bridge Road would be a major problem. St Andrew’s Place is already highly congested and unsuitable for access. We at MPC are opposing the application with its proposed access via St Andrew’s.

3. DC/20/1636/OUT
Outline Application for up to 27 Self Build and Custom dwellings. Land West of Prow 21 Woods Lane Melton. This would just add more traffic pressure to an already very busy Woods Lane. There is already a lack of doctors, dentists and school places etc. We are opposing this application.

We just seem to becoming a bit of a target at the moment but rest assured that MPC are trying to represent the interests of current as well as future residents.

Melton Primary School during the lockdown
During the Covid-19 pandemic, Melton Primary School has remained open for vulnerable children and those whose parents are key workers. The Senior Leadership Team (SLT) put in a huge amount of planning to allow Reception and Years 1 and 6 to return as safely as possible in early June. This involved ensuring that the children could spend their time in bubbles of less than ten children, each with their own equipment. Each bubble has its own class room and outside space. You may have noticed that the playing field has been divided up with green fencing. At the moment, there are 6 bubbles; one each for Reception and Year 1 and two each for Year 6 and the vulnerable and key workers’ children. Currently, there are about forty children attending the school and all of the staff are working except those that are shielding. Days are very regulated with start times staggered and the three entrances carefully allocated and there are routines for hand-washing throughout the day. Plans are in place for frequent cleaning and there are procedures if anyone becomes sick. Other year groups and those children who have not returned to school continue to receive home learning guidance. The SLT and governors now have to put their minds to what might happen in September. In the meantime, we all hope that the children and staff stay safe and well and send everyone at the school our best wishes and thanks for their hard work for our community.

Full list of 148 priority cycle schemes unveiled for Suffolk
An article in the EADT stated that nearly 150 routes across Suffolk have been eyed as priorities for cycle improvements over the next five years, costing well in excess of £80 million. It came from work undertaken by a cross-party task force at Suffolk County Council on improving cycling routes, with a full list of 148 priority routes for the next five years. There is only one that would affect us in Melton and that is rather annoyingly under a Woodbridge heading. This is the route along the River Deben Path from Melton Station to Kyson point.

The riverside route has already caused a bit of friction between walkers & cyclists and a few altercations have been reported recently. Cyclists and walkers should get on with each other, after all they are often the same people. During the lockdown I have seen both joggers and cyclists who think they have the right of way and would stop for nothing, they seem to think they are exempt from social distancing.

I do worry about the research into these sort of ideas, why end it at Kyson point? Surely extending it so it emerges into the Martlesham end of Sandy Lane would be the thing to do. That way we would have a route that avoids the Sandy Lane hill which is quite a steep ride after a day at work and I speak from experience. We will see what happens if the past is an indicator then probably nothing will happen for a long time.
The full article is at https://www.eadt.co.uk/news/suffolk-five-year-cycling-plan-unveiled-1-6692734

Pardon the weeds
Suffolk Norse are responsible for maintaining the grassy areas owned by East Suffolk Council. Since lockdown, they have only cut areas that presented a health and safety issue, making sure that road junctions were cut to ensure visibility and access to residents’ properties. Now that restrictions have started to ease and with some significant growth of grass, they have taken the opportunity to manage some areas of open space differently with a focus on biodiversity. This is particularly the case in those areas where longer grass is beneficial to wildlife; they have seen some areas that have become havens for invertebrates and pollinators, and would like to preserve these where possible.

They have identified 41 ‘conservation areas’, where they will aim to manage the land differently, and not cut until the end of the season. These include the verges in the area from the A12 down Woods Lane/Bredfield Road and at Bury Hill. These areas have been chosen on the basis that this change is likely to be uncontroversial for local residents, that it presents no safety issues, and that the space is at a scale that will provide an environmental benefit to wildlife.

The trial of managing grass more sustainably in certain churchyards has also been well received and they will move to do this permanently.

They are asking if we, the community, could monitor these areas, removing litter and making sure invasive plant species do not dominate the grasslands.

Some of the land that is being transferred from East Suffolk Council to Melton Parish Council could be treated in the same way.

They are providing the logo below which will help identify the areas and let people know why the grass is being allowed to grow, so look out for it.

Pardon the weeds logo

Pardon the weeds logo

MPC Councillor Vacancy
Following the resignation of one of our councillors we now have a vacancy for a councillor at MPC. Please consider joining us and let us know by emailing myself or the clerk – clerk@melton-suffolk-pc.gov.uk. We are now able to co-opt a volunteer as from 16th June.

St Audrys Social Club
The club has now been declared an asset of community value. Good news, let’s hope for a good outcome.

So I shall sign off with the words as predicted in the video clip of Michael McIntyre sees a fortune teller in June 2019. A fellow councillor said “The video cheered me up no end!” It could cheer you up too.

Stay Safe!

Alan Porter

Chairman – Melton Parish Council

Melton Messenger – A Note from Alan – June 2020

Playpark Maintenance
As the playpark has been closed due to the restrictions, we have taken the opportunity to give some of the equipment a fresh coat of paint and it looks really great now.

Play park equipment

Painted play equipment

Transport Safety & Social Distancing
Suffolk County Council has received a few queries from Parish Councils and individuals about the possibility of increased provision of safe space for walking and cycling during the current Covid-19 crisis. As we return to a ‘new normal’, our transport strategy will support people to make journeys by foot, bike or public transport while continuing to observe social distancing.

The Government has very recently provided guidance in relation to funding for emergency walking and cycling measures. Following the success of the temporary road closure to vehicles along Ipswich Waterfront, Suffolk County Council is already making plans to change road layouts and put in measures to give more space to cyclists and pedestrians. This will include closing off sections of roads to motorised vehicles, widening existing footpaths and cycle lanes, providing temporary footpaths and cycle lanes and changing traffic signal timings to reduce waiting times for pedestrians and cyclists. I am yet sure how this will affect Melton but it will certainly affect us as we travel around Suffolk and eventually as we travel further afield.

Local History Recorders documenting the Covid-19 pandemic
Our Local History Recorders; Mary Burgess and Claire McBurney, have been asked to document information about their locality during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Melton old village is always very friendly but exchanges now often include offers of help and the wish that everyone should “stay safe”. Once the lockdown started, residents quickly began to reclaim the streets. Although families are sometimes seen cycling through Melton village, the children are usually confident, competent riders. Now younger, less experienced riders are out cycling with adults as the village streets are almost traffic free. There are a lot of people walking, sometimes with backpacks for shopping. The local footpaths are much busier than usual, mainly with walkers. At first, families tried cycling along the footpaths and taking children in pushchairs but this proved very difficult. There is a hopscotch court chalked on the pavement in The Street.

McColls put social distancing measures in place very quickly and remained open. There is often a short queue outside the shop but any boredom is alleviated by the opportunity to watch the sparrows that nest under the tiles flying back and forth with their beaks full of nesting materials and insects to feed the young. The swifts returned increasing the bird watching opportunities. Our other local businesses, such as the podiatrists and hairdressers have, sadly, needed to close for the time being. The Little Free Pantry closed temporarily but has recently reopened. Also the fish and chip shop has just reopened with a well-planned strategy (pre-ordering) and social distancing markings.

One very significant difference is the marked improvement in air quality. This is often the subject of brief, appropriately socially distanced exchanges in the streets. People are feeling better and enjoying the smell of blossom and spring flowers.

Many houses have “Rainbow” tributes to show appreciation of NHS and key workers. The Thursday clapping for everyone helping during the pandemic is enthusiastically observed. Quite a few musical instruments have been heard playing tunes like Somewhere Over the Rainbow.

Many residents have benefited from the work of the GNS volunteers. Let’s hope some of the positive bits of this crisis stays with us after it is over, this won’t happen on its own, we will have to work at it.

Meetings during the Pandemic
An Interim Management Committee has been meeting monthly by telephone conference call. This is a good method as you don’t suffer the issues with speech lost due to internet data packet buffering. We have tried Zoom meetings but not all of us have Broadband speeds that allow it to work. Our meeting on the 27th May will allow members of the public to listen in to the discussion. Full details are posted on the website. We have had no security problems but Woodbridge Town Council had an intrusion of a graphic of a sexual nature. This caused a deal of embarrassment, this is what can happen when you use remote access technology as a means of public participation.

Melton Trust helps out
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Melton Trust very much for their speedy response to an appeal for a grant for one of our parishioner’s referred to the Melton Good Neighbour Scheme. The resident was suddenly unemployed due to the Covid-19 lockdown and is having to wait 5 weeks for universal credit to be paid. The Melton Good Neighbours Scheme arranged for a food parcel to be delivered by the Salvation Army food bank and to provide a ready cooked meal.

The Melton Good Neighbours Scheme was able to help to fill out an application form for a grant to help through this period before the universal credit starts and within 24 hours had provided a grant for the individual to pay for essential bills and personal needs.

It goes to show that there is help from the Melton Trust, MPC, Melton Good Neighbour Scheme, ESC and Community Action Suffolk for our more needy folks in the Melton Community.

Gatherings in the park
I have been asked to remind people that large gatherings shouldn’t be taking place in the park, please not to have BBQs and clear up after afterwards etc. There seems to be a minority that don’t follow the social distancing rules no matter what we say. No doubt the offenders don’t read the Melton Messenger online so this is probably a waste of time ranting about it. Recently there was a lot rubbish left and spilt BBQ coals had burned the grass. It is such a shame. Despite this; our new green space contractor is doing a great job and the park looks better than ever this year.

Tennis courts
The tennis courts are open once more following the guidance from the government. Keys are disinfected by the Spar staff between uses. There is a possibility that a tennis trainer may block book the courts for a couple of hours on weekdays. I don’t think this will upset regular users who play later on in the day. Also the Spar will be closing at its regular time of 9pm so tennis can be played a bit longer in these lighter evenings.

MPC activities
The main focus of our recent meetings has been to ensure that our finances, budgets and documentation are all sorted ready for our annual audits. This is something that I am very proud of at MPC as we have improved our financial management by leaps and bounds over the years I have been a Councillor.

The main concern at the moment for us all is that if we drop our guard then the virus could peak once more. Stay safe!

Cllr Alan Porter
Chairman – Melton Parish Council

Melton Messenger – A note from Alan – May 2020

The Covid-19 Lockdown
I must admit I have been a bit slow in starting this month’s Melton Messenger article, time has been passing in a most strange way for us all in these unprecedented times.  Each day feels almost the same as the last.

I must firstly thank our local shops such as the Premier Store in Warwick Avenue, Melton Produce (Springside), the Spar shop at the garage and McColls in particular that are doing a terrific job in supplying the community with food and to the locals for keeping to the guidelines.

Also I must mention the exceptional work being done by the Melton Good Neighbour scheme and Melton Primary School.  In these difficult days, there has been a huge village effort to pull together and keep us safe.

So far Suffolk has seemed to have fewer cases than many other places but we must not drop our guard and let complacency creep in.  Let’s hope that things will return to normal in the next few months without taking undue risks.  I think the whole country is doing its bit so let’s hope that much of the good stuff will continue long after this dreadful phase is over.

Some of the things going on are:-

  • Melton WI keeping in touch with all our members – my wife Maggie is keeping them all amused and updated with amusing emails
  • Tributes to all the NHS and care workers who live in Melton- applause for you all at 8pm every Thursday
  • Thanks to all those key workers keeping essential services going (including Melton Councillor who is working flat out – Phil Groom)
  • Melton MPC website is a useful source of information
  • Paul Hambling for on-line Melton Messenger and his work carried on over Easter despite the church being closed
  • Thanks to all our residents for sticking to the guidelines with courtesy and cheerfulness and neighbourliness
  • Chance to enjoy the spring sunshine, the weather has been kind to us etc.
  • Walkers out exploring and discovering new footpaths around the village
  • More composting as the green bin collection has been suspended by ESC

MPC Councillor Vacancy
Following the resignation of one of our councillors we now have a vacancy for a councillor at MPC.  Please consider joining us and let us know by emailing myself or the clerk – clerk@melton-suffolk-pc.gov.uk.

MPC Interim Management Committee
Obviously we have been unable to have meetings on a face to face basis and won’t for a good while to come.  A new committee has been formed from the Chairs and Vice Chairs of the council and the committees.  We hold a telephone conference call every 3 weeks so that the business of the council can continue as far as we can in these difficult times.  The agendas and minutes are on our website.

Annual Parish Meeting
The Annual Parish Meeting scheduled for 29th April was obviously cancelled.  I have put the report on the council website, just search for Annual Parish Report and you can find it. Maybe we can have a gathering later in the year if it is safe to do so.

Pavilion Roof
I was walking in the field a few weeks ago and was amazed to see the felt missing from the pavilion roof. I first thought it was vandalism until I saw the felt wrapped around the play equipment.  Our village maintenance officer has done a great job in patching it up temporarily.  In the long run we hope to demolish and replace it but at the moment that is obviously on hold.

St Audrys Bowling Green and The Sports & Social Club

Hopkins Homes appealed the decision to make the former bowls green as asset of community value.  After a review that decision was upheld by the appeal.  We shall see what happens next.  Meanwhile St Audrys Sports & Social Club are also looking to apply for Asset of Community Status.

New Dog Poo Bins
Two new dog poo bins have recently been installed in Melton, one at Wilford Bridge and the other at Old Malting Approach/New Quay Lane. We are aware that someone cut through the metal straps attaching the bin at Old Malting Approach when it was first installed but it has now been reinstalled!

MPC Precept Comparison
Our financial wizards Cllr Bill Banks and Pip Alder have been looking at the precepts of comparable local towns and parishes as we thought it would be of interest, bearing in mind the larger than usual increase this year.  We still remain one of the cheapest around.  There are some notes below and the table of comparison follows that.

  1. To make the 2020/21 Precept/Band D comparison more relevant for Melton, the comparator group has been drawn from all medium to large parish and town councils in East Suffolk (the 2019 comparator group was limited to the Suffolk Coastal area and included some very small parishes).
  2. A “medium to large” sized council is defined as being one that has a precept of more than £60k.
  3. Melton is most akin, in spending terms, to councils that have a precept/net budget of around £100k.  This is because, although Melton’s precept is only £87k, its budgeted spend is about £15k higher.
  4. The comparator table shows that for 2020/21 Melton has the second lowest Precept/Band D rates in East Suffolk.  Beccles has the lowest Precept/Band D rate by a wide margin.  Examination of the Beccles budget shows that it benefits from historic property ownership/rights, resulting in zero office costs (apart from business rates) and property rental income of £70k+.  Its low precept is, therefore, down to exceptional circumstances rather than it being hugely more efficient (or lower spending) than other councils.
  5.  So to compare with Woodbridge Melton’s Precept per Band D is less than half of Woodbridge’s; in fact  Melton’s is only 45.83% of Woodbridge’s precept.  Less than half.

Ordered by Precept Band D

Precept (£)

Precept per Band D (£)

Population *

Beccles

116,852.00

36.44

10,357

Melton

86,948.17

47.71

3,965

Rushmere St Andrew

123,000.00

47.79

6,278

Martlesham

140,497.00

61.18

5,793

Kesgrave

302,000.00

63.07

14,823

Oulton Broad

213,981.00

65.83

9,616

Halesworth

116,641.15

67.83

4,942

Felixstowe

600,570.00

70.87

24,590

Bungay

124,997.00

76.61

5,122

Kessingland

119,688.57

83.82

4,332

Wickham Market

73,000.00

89.23

2,319

Woodbridge

325,828.00

103.45

7,863

Framlingham

157,196.00

105.31

3,705

Southwold

120,000.00

109.59

937

Aldeburgh

215,000.00

114.14

2,423

Saxmundham

224,500.00

143.28

4,483

Lowestoft

1,837,731.00

144.91

48,782

Rendlesham

146,637.00

156.09

3,312

Leiston

305,000.00

171.63

5,743

*2018 estimate taken from Suffolk Observatory

Melton Messenger – A Note from Alan – April 2020

Coronavirus/Covid-19
Current government advice is for everyone to try and stop unnecessary contact with other people – ‘social distancing’. We have decided to cancel all meetings that are currently scheduled. We will use technology to agree decisions. The office is closed to the public until further notice. We will keep our website up to date as far as MPC meetings are concerned.

Melton Primary School – governor needed
I recently mentioned that Melton Primary School was hoping to recruit some new governors. Unfortunately, no-one from Melton came forward. The school is a very important part of our community and it would be a shame if we could not provide it with a local governor.  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. If you would like to know more please contact the head teacher Alun Davies in the first instance. The school contact details are Telephone: 01394 382506  Email: admin@melton.suffolk.sch.uk

Annual Parish Meeting
The Annual Parish Meeting (APM) scheduled for 29th April has been cancelled along with all the other meetings. At that meeting I usually make a presentation to somebody in Melton who has made a contribution to the local community. It is simply called The Melton Annual Award so look out for the next issue of the Melton Messenger to find out who the 2020 winner is.

Road Chaos
The first bit of chaos stemmed from the dangerous chimney on a house in The Street that resulted in a road closure lasting some days to be then replaced by traffic lights. There were some unpleasant incidents, thoughtless drivers and of course the effect on local business like McColls.

The confusion then spread to Melton Road where signs proclaimed a 5 day closure from the 9th March. Our staff chased up SCC Highways department and Triio who knew nothing of the proposed closure. It turned out the signs should have been put in Turnpike Lane and they were eventually moved.

The building work is progressing opposite the garage in Melton Road, it is due to be completed by Easter. I think they have done a good job in trying to keep the vans parked on the other side of the road. It’s just amazing how many people are involved.

Springside shop
I have heard that the much loved Springside shop is to reopen which is good news. We must try and use it where possible. This keeps local people employed and reduces car miles.

Latest on the divestment plots of land
The divestment of the first tranche of the land is now in hand with both sets of solicitors, but will not be completed by the 1st April as originally planned. I am sure it will be sorted out soon.

St Audrys Club
The St Audrys Sports and Social club would like more members. A lot of good work is done by the cricket and football clubs that are both thriving in Melton.

17 Riduna Park
Part of the plan to justify the purchase of the office at Riduna Park was receiving an income by letting out the upstairs office, as we have bought a duplex unit. I am pleased to report the signed tenancy agreement has now been completed. The tenancy finally completes the business case for the acquisition of Riduna, a matter which was doubted by some members of our community. The interest we pay is fixed for the life of the loan so we know exactly what the repayments will be as we proceed.

Crime Reporting
Melton is a comparatively safe area but if crimes are not reported then sometimes a pattern of low level crime can’t be established. You can report a number of non-urgent crimes including theft, retail theft, criminal damage, hate crime, anti-social behaviour, and traffic collisions through the Suffolk Constabulary website: www.suffolk.police.uk/contact-us/report-something or report incidents when they happen to the Police through calling 999 if it is an emergency.

Tree Warden Report
A planting opportunity was identified at the Burness Rooms and Transition Woodbridge were notified, who keenly took it up as part of their ‘Scattered Orchards’ programme. 60 small trees have been requested (free of charge) from the Woodland Trust for delivery in November 2020. These will be useful if the hedge alongside Turnpike Lane fails to recover from the builders’ works this spring. One Saturday last month, 6 volunteers turned out to do maintenance on the surviving (90 out of 105) saplings alongside the ditch in the recreation ground and to fit further green tubes which we have managed to acquire. Hopefully they will have established good roots by now and will prosper this year! One of the tree warden’s volunteers has expressed interest in becoming the Tree Warden in 12 months’ time. In the meantime Lindsay Dann is happy to carry on.

Melton Fete
It is with regret that the 2020 Melton Fete scheduled for Saturday 18th July has been cancelled due to the ongoing issues with the Coronavirus and other circumstances outside our control. We are sorry for the disappointment this will cause. A lot of local groups rely on the funds raised at the fete to keep themselves going. There is a possibility a smaller event maybe staged later in the year.