Formula One 2015

The start of the new season is looming large with the first of the 3 winter tests starting this weekend. Last year I was out in Jerez, with my ‘Godspeed Jenson’ banner, to get an early look at the new cars. Given the lack of reliability at the test the teams did well to get so many to the end of the race in Australia.

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A season dominated by Mercedes to the extent that it made the driver championship a 2 horse race. Given that any of the 22 drivers on the grid would have finished in the top 2 if they had been in a Mercedes car, was it really a World Championship. To win a race of 2 hardly seems to justify the title of World Champion – a little like the ‘World Series’ baseball tournament, played only in North America.

Until they get each driver to drive each car then the claim to be World Champion is a little hollow. Wouldn’t it produce a closer and therefore more exciting championship if each driver got equal opportunity to be in the best car. The drivers, perhaps employed by the FIA, would be all paid the same basic and then so much a point. They could also arrange their own sponsorship but this approach would mean that the best drivers would compete not the best financially backed.

As a big JB (Jenson Button) supporter I’m hoping that Honda and McLaren have sorted the car out so that he has a chance at repeating his 2009 triumph. Obviously Fernando Alonso will have something to say about that but JB’s team mates often end up coming second best.

For those F1 fans that like to keep up with what is really going on in the sport, rather than much of the unsubstantiated gossip keep an eye on

which is the blog of Joe Saward a trusted journalist.



A Busy Week

pictore of chantry valeIt would appear that developments are like buses – you wait ages for one and then three turn up at once! So in the last week we have had presentations for Aldi; Chantry Vale and Belstead Meadows. If growth is your bag then you will be rubbing your hands in glee but – and its a big BUT – if traffic grinds to a halt as a result is that a price too high?

Parish meetings at Pinewood, Copdock & Washbrook and Chattisham & Washbrook all expressed serious doubts about the ability of the infrastructure to cope with these developments, especially as just getting minor ‘improvements’ done to the existing road network is nigh on impossible.

Logo - BeachOn Friday I tripped up to Lowestoft for a Help An East Coast Child meeting with DIAL. One of our money raising schemes is proving so successful that we are hoping to provide funds to DIAL who help us out with many of our grant requests.

Saturday morning found me sheltering (with a handful of Friends of Belstead Brook Park members) under the A14 waiting for the downpour to stop before we could get on and work to cut back trees and bramble from one of the paths on Belstead Meadows. I would love to have been able to read the minds of the dog walkers that passed us in the tunnel as we must have looked like a bunch of terrorists.

This week there is I.T. training; a Planning Committee at Babergh and a couple of tours of the Energy from Waste facility and hopefully a round of golf.

Excessive Development – Can We Cope?

Growth is a key strategic priority – encouraged by financial rewards from Central Government – but can the infrastructure cope? Our roads are already at bursting point, especially at rush hour. If you live in Pinewood there are limited exit points – the Holiday Inn junction and the roundabout at Tescos. In the morning it can take 20 to 30 minutes to get out of the Parish, so what will the impact be of planned new developments and should there be a point at which we say enough is enough?

After years of inactivity – Suffolk One was the last major development – we are now faced with a glut of applications:

> Chantry Vale (on land behind the Holiday Inn) – 350 houses and 70 businesses with exits opposite the Hadleigh Road traffic lights on the A1071;

> Belstead House and Meadows – 155 houses and a 65 bedroom care home;

> Belstead School – doubling in size;

> ‘Fred Olsen’ site – 200 to 300 office block;

> 24 hour veterinary unit;

> Aldi store next to Suffolk One;

> Sugar Beet site – possibly hundreds of houses and many businesses.

If all of these go ahead we could be looking at an additional 4,000 vehicle movements per day – mainly at the busy periods. Surely this is madness and we have to start saying no to some of those developments listed above. Is it right that the last one(s) to apply should be penalised? This could be a problem as the likely latest ones are already in our Strategic Plan. Surely we have to be more proactive than that but will we get the support for this approach from the Inspectors should any refused application be refused. You would like to think so but I just don’t think that we are good at seeing the bigger picture.

Watch the ever shrinking space!

Bodies Beautiful

DSCN0106It was a strange experience watching both men and women strut their stuff in various states of undress at the O2 the other weekend. Quite frankly after you’ve seen one body you’ve seen them all, but the event lasted for 5 hours. I was there to support my son, Dominic – pictured – who was competing in the Professional category of the European Fitness Model Championships. Having won in Iceland in 2012 he was hopeful of a win on home soil but the competition was ‘stiff’ with the runner-up from the World Champs in Las Vegas eventually taking the European crown. Dominic was a creditable third, though he was disappointed with this.

On the Sunday he took us to a so-called must place to go for breakfast – The Breakfast Club near Liverpool Street Station (though there are others). Now I’m not the best at queueing and having to wait outside the restaurant for an hour for my breakfast wasn’t something I would normally stand for but “it will be worth it”! Based on an American diner, the place was packed. The food was great too but having been up for 5 hours I would have eaten anything – still it delayed Christmas shopping on Oxford Street!



Local Politics For the 21st Century

Time for a change? I believe so. Would someone please tell me what the benefits are of keeping politics in local government? Oh yes I know it helps to group people behind a decision but do we really want sheep leading us? If a decision or strategy is best for the people then won’t independent minds come to that conclusion without being ‘whipped’? Isn’t it more important to represent your constituents rather than comply with a group view? But how would people know who to vote for, I hear you ask? Do they now, or is that all  important cross placed in a box largely based on the political  party next to it? Does anyone know the difference in policies of the local parties? Many questions but what are the answers? Lets start with a clean sheet of paper.

Those standing would each produce a CV outlining their experience and qualities – this would need to be underwritten by a couple of guarantors. The other side of the A5 sheet would outline their aims and objectives (policies) for the district / county. Each candidates paper would be sent to every elector by the electoral body along with the voting card. On the ballot sheet everyone would just be listed by name, but a political allegiance could be stated in the CV if the candidate felt it important.

The leader of the council would be selected by the members who would then be selected to posts within the council, by the leader, presumably reflecting the members’ background, aims and objectives. More important than the political persuasion is the geographical split and groups could be formed around this – so for county their would be groups based on district. It would then make more sense if these county councillors were also the members on the district. This would work towards a more ‘joined up’ approach and save a heap of money. It must be better than the confusion that exists in the public’s mind now. To me it makes a sensible step towards a single tier local government. But what do you think?picture of suffolk


Predictable – when you promise one of your siblings a box of presents all of the others want to know what they are going to get. Its even trickled down to the nieces and nephews i.e the regions and counties. Of course what everyone conveniently overlooks is that, as the box of financial toys is fixed, for every winner there has to be a loser. Can power be passed down without money to go with it?

Despite recent cutbacks we are still spending far too much on the public sector. It is too stodgy and unresponsive – transformation programmes taking years and only delivering efficiency savings at best or a reduced service at worst. Is the unitary option the only logical way to go? Certainly from Joe Public’s point of view, the ‘Council’ is singular, but how do you divi up the area so that you can achieve maximum efficiency savings without losing touch with the parishes?

Can we learn from business where they periodically go through the centralise / decentralise cycle? Each change brings early benefits but are they sustainable – presumably not or the cycle would be broken at some point. Businesses have target customers and can design a delivery model to suit their demographic but councils have to reach everyone and each service we provide should be considered independently – education, health, adult care, housing, highways, businesses, etc.

Personally I think we should be seen as ‘the sail beneath the wings’, enabling communities to thrive and be largely self-sufficient but we are being driven by a ‘growth’ agenda from Central Government which is at odds with what many communities want or can cope with. Highway infrastructure has been inherited from a bygone age, narrow single carriageways, no cycle paths and a public transport system that allows massive over competition on certain lucrative routes and ignores others. I love Suffolk for what it is but are we in danger of morphing into an extension of Essex or losing our identity altogether?

So how would you vote – single unitary based on Suffolk as a whole; 2 or 3 unitaries (west, north, south-east) or to stay as we are and pull up the drawbridge?

picture - spaghetti junction

Scotland – Yes or No?

picture - union flag

Is this the look of the future? For 300 years the Union Jack flag has flown proudly all over the World.  It could be that some lucky flag makers are about to hit the jackpot. It appears as though the polls are no longer poles apart. The success of the Commonwealth Games has buoyed the Scots and the more the mistrusted politicians from Westminster shout ‘NO’ the braver their hearts become. Is it me, or are the ‘NO’ supporters beginning to sound a bit desperate? Surely a better strategy would be to stay calm, don’t rush up there and just say ‘I don’t think you have really thought this through but if you really want to commit economic suicide then go ahead – just don’t say we didn’t warn you’.

In a perverse way, the chaos that will follow a ‘YES’ vote will give those pushing for Britain to exit Europe a taste of what life might be like if we do. Though to be honest is there anyone out there with a guaranteed crystal ball. Who knows what will happen, but in either case you get the feeling that, like most divorces, it’s going to be messy and one partner is going to feel let down – I just don’t think it will be the rest of Britain that suffers, so Scots ………………………. say ‘NO’.