Archive for April, 2011

Foxearth & Liston History Society- Castle Camps Airfield.

For its meeting on 12th April members of the District Society were taken back some 60 years to the time of World War 2 and the creation and operation of the Castle Camps airfield. For all of his life Roy Brazier has lived close to the airfield and he recalled his earliest memories of hurricanes taking off and returning – often sadly in reduced numbers. He also described several near misses to his parents’ house during enemy bombing raids. Castle Camps is the highest land in Cambridgeshire – and , as the RAF personnel soon discovered, also just about the wettest and the windiest! The airstrip was operational from 1940 when 85 Squadron moved in. Officers were quartered in the Old Rectory and several other imposing Georgian buildings – including one built by Oliver Cromwell for one of his daughters – were used for various purposes. Unfortunately two of these houses were destroyed by fire. At first some of the lower ranks had to be accommodated in tents. For some time Group Captain Peter Townsend was the Commanding Officer. About a dozen squadrons were based there during the course of the war including New Zealand, Czech and Polish. Appropriately the last occupants were the 85 Squadron again.

Mr Brazier and his assistant Tony showed many slides of the airstrip and some of the notable fliers. There were numerous stories of survival and tragic accounts of those who didn’t make it.. A memorial to all units which served at the airfield was erected there and dedicated in September 1994. Mr Brazier was thanked by Chairman Alan Fitch for his obvious deep knowledge of and enthusiasm for his subject.

Next meeting Tuesday May 10th in Foxearth Village Hall at 8pm when Henry Ruse will talk about the history of the Family Butchers in Long Melford.

Ken Nice

Foxearth 100 Club, winners for April draw

1st Prize Malcolm Graham

2nd Prize Heather Whiffen

3rd Prize Gary Wardrop

4th Prize Jean Douglas-Hughes

Thank you all for your support.

Essex County Council Annual Parish Update 2010/11

Essex County Council
Annual Parish Update 2010/11

1. Council Tax
Essex County Council has set a new record low increase in Council Tax of 0%, made possible by the government’s grant, following last year’s record of 1.9%.

2. Pledges
The Leader’s Pledges set out an ambitious programme of work for the Council at the February Council meeting:
• put our customers first by increasing the volume and scope of customer transactions carried out on-line by more than 20%
• deliver value for money by saving £50M from back office and procurement processes in 2011/12
• support vulnerable adults by protecting the independence of people with dementia or their carers by increasing the uptake of personal budgets or use of technology by a minimum of 20%
• support vulnerable children by increasing the proportion of children in care who are supported in a family environment
• increase educational achievement and skills by working with and supporting schools to help them deliver sustainable improvements in English and Maths at all age ranges
• maintain and improve the highway network by investing £4M to fix potholes and other damage to restore our road network to its pre-2010/11 winter condition
• make communities safer by enabling them to reduce anti-social behaviour and fear of crime through 12 local community engagement schemes and projects
• promote stainable economic growth by investing at least £1m to help Essex firms create jobs and take advantage of new market opportunities, including supporting 250 new apprenticeships
• enhance the environment and reduce and recycle waste by holding 100 ‘Love where you live’ events with local communities to create a cleaner, greener Essex
• promote public health and wellbeing by providing 150 more sport and health related activities for 30,000 Young People in both schools and their local communities

The full ECC budget can be found online at http://bit.ly/eccbudget.

3. Transformation
As the public sector budget cuts start to bite with a 12% reduction in government funding this year, the council is well-placed through its proactive Transformation programme, already moving into its third year, to address the financial and demographic challenges we face in the coming months.

There are five main components to our Transformation programme:
1. Procurement – improving the value for money we get from external contracts, as well as managing demand and identifying new market opportunities.
2. New Ways of Working – A programme of radical cultural, technological and structural change, and making best use of our assets.
3. Productivity – Improving service efficiency and identifying areas to work more quickly or economically without affecting results.
4. Partnership and Service Redesign – Commissioning wok together with other partners, redesigning and modernising our services.
5. Sharing and Trading Services – Working with partners to share services, and trading with other organisations to generate income to the county.

The coming year, 2011-12, will see further reductions in our operating costs as the Council transforms. The New Ways of Working, in particular, has some exciting projects that will increasingly make a difference throughout the year:

• The website will get even better – visits are already up 19% – and will start to offer more ability to get things done direct, without having to ring anyone or send in long paper forms;
• Our contact centre will become more responsive in dealing with your queries;
• Adult social care will further personal choice through pre-paid payment cards;
• Our ability to assess referrals to children’s social care will be enhanced;
• Productivity will increase and property costs will progressively reduce, as staff increasingly work flexibly and from a variety of locations using innovative technology to enable secure remote access;
• Business process techniques throughout our services will improve effectiveness;
• Staff productivity will be increased through the adoption of a sector-leading performance-management approach;
• Corporate costs will be reduced in line with customers’ needs.

4, The Year Ahead
Essex continues to lead the way in forming a new kind of public service: one based on community empowerment, reductions in cost and bureaucracy through partnerships with other public sector agencies, targeted support for the most vulnerable, and value for money in all our activities. Last year we were nationally recognised for our Banking on Essex and Post Office initiatives in responding to the recession. This coming year there are some exciting developments:

The Big Society – Good for Essex prospectus was released in March, detailing how we will build social capital, transform services, and empower communities. There is an enormous array of activity going on in each of these areas up and down the county. Find out more at http://bit.ly/goodforessex.

Essex is taking part in a number of pilots aimed at trialling new and innovative approaches to local government.

• We are undertaking a community budgeting project in Braintree that will bring funding streams from different agencies together around families with complex needs.
• Tendring has become a national pilot for the Big Society, with £500,000 to give to community groups and charities to fund community projects or projects that will improve council services.
• Essex is working on a community asset transfer pilot with the Cabinet Office, the Department for Communities and Local Government, and the Young Foundation. This will explore how communities can benefit by managing key assets.
• We are working with the Young Foundation and Social Finance to pioneer the use of Social Impact Bonds to prevent children going into the care system.
• We are trialling a participatory budgeting programme in Castle Point. This will raise awareness of opportunities to improve services in South Essex, as the local community selects the project that will best benefit them.

5. The Year Past
The last year has been a busy one for Essex County Council, with a new government, a challenging budget announcement, an ongoing transformation programme throughout every area setting the scene to some significant achievements. Some of the highlights are below.

Finances
• Essex’s Finance team won the Eco Enterprise Award from Oracle for saving 24 cars’ worth of CO2 and 7 tonnes of paper each year by using less computing power.
• The new Essex County Council website – Essex.gov.uk – was launched. Online traffic is up by 19% since the change.
• Simple improvements in postage practices made substantial savings.
• Essex County Council became the first public sector organisation to gain the Quality in Credit Management (QiCM) accreditation for our £235m, 165,000-invoice per year service.

Adults, Health and Community Wellbeing
• Free wifi has been extended to all our fixed libraries.
• Unlike many councils, all Essex’s libraries are staying open through the budget cuts.
• Essex’s libraries service gained national recognition as an example of how libraries can connect to other local services and the public.
• Essex won a groundbreaking contract to deliver Slough’s library service.
• Essex’s Adult Community Learning service was awarded national Beacon status for outstanding service and professionalism.
• Essex’s Adult Social Care service was awarded the top rating of ‘excellent’ by the Care Quality Commission.
• EssexCares, a traded company designed to improve how we deliver adult social care, was launched and has continued to achieve considerable success, reducing sickness absence by 75% and gaining ‘Investor in People’ accreditation.

Schools, Children and Families
• Essex’s safeguarding and looked-after children’s services made significant progress, as judged by Ofsted in August.
• Essex’s initial teacher training was judged ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted.

Transport
• A12 patrols helped reduce injuries by 14% and improve journey times; they were protected with a £100,000 pledge from the County Council.
• The new A12 junction for North Colchester was completed and is now improving access and relieving congestion.
• The numbers of killed and seriously injured on Essex roads reduced considerably.

The Economy
• Countywide Apprentices, launched last year, proved extremely popular and increased from 1,000 places to 1,750.
• Following our allocation of £2m last year to a fund under the ‘Essex Community Foundation’ to promote the third sector, we created a £1.4m Big Society Fund to build capacity within civil society. Find out more at http://bit.lybigsocfund.
• Essex won a record £8.5m from Government and Europe for innovation and skills work, including a £375k grant to create female apprenticeships.
• Essex formed part of the country’s largest new Local Enterprise Partnership along with Kent and East Sussex. This will address the key strategic needs and opportunities for the region, including transport, regeneration and sustainable energy.
• Essex’s tourism figures increased 4.3% on last year, supporting the local economy.
• Essex’s Buy With Confidence scheme continued to identify reliable traders and businesses in the county, approving its 200th member during the year.

Community Leadership
• Village agents, local people who help put others in contact with local services and provide information and advice, went from strength to strength and celebrated their 1200th referral.
• Essex is the only host county for the Olympic Games, with the Mountain Biking event to take place in Hadleigh.
• Essex’s Trading Standards Team offered elderly residents free electrical testing for domestic appliances, with more than 200 items tested so far.

Cllr David M Finch
Member for Hedingham
April 2011

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