An Introduction to the Southwold and Reydon Society

Who Are We?

The Southwold and Reydon Society is a voluntary organisation with close to 400 members from our community. Our mission is to protect the character and amenities of our area. For us, this means working with, and sometimes pressurising, others to ensure that the environment, facilities and services enjoyed by our community are maintained and improved.

We also part-fund a free dog waste bag scheme in the area and, throughout the year, give small donations of up to £200 to local good causes, using donations given by members in addition to the annual subscription. In 2016/17, we also raised funds and completed a project to install "You Are Here" Maps at key locations in Southwold and contributed to the Town Council's project to install finger posts.

Our main work is undertaken by a committee of around twelve members, either elected at our AGM or coopted for particular expertise in a key issue.

What Do We Provide For Members?

Members receive frequent email communication, including a monthly newsletter which is also published in local magazines. Members regularly raise issues with the Committee and these are always followed up and pressure applied where appropriate. The voice and number of our members is the key to the influence we have on local affairs.

We hold two annual events for members, both including guest speakers who are either national figures or people with particular expertise on a local issue. At our AGM, we also present our Excellence Awards to individuals or groups who make an outstanding contribution to the community. Our Annual Lunch is more of a sociable occasion but always a sell-out event as members enjoy networking and hearing what our speaker has to say.

What Are Our Key Issues for 2019?

2019 is likely to prove as busy for Southwold and Reydon as 2018 and 2017 were and, clearly the more members the Society has, the more your say can be heard.

The current issues which we are pursuing include:

- the management and maintenance of the harbour and estuary. We continue to press for an effective overall strategy to keep the estuary in its current shape and able to deal with storm surges and to maintain a working harbour with a mix of leisure and commercial users with strong and independent local governance.

- the operation and capacity of the sewage treatment plant. We are in touch with Anglian Water about their actions to resolve the odour problems and we are asking longer term for a system able to cope with demand both now and in the future as more homes are built locally.

- the so-called Wangford gravel pit extension. We have asked for rejection of the plan for a new gravel pit in Reydon, east of Mardle Road and close to the Hen Reedbeds. This proposal is part of a draft mineral strategy developed by Suffolk County Council and is the only new quarry proposed in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. We have continued to object when the plan reappeared in the next draft of the strategy. We have asked to present our case to the Planning Inspector when the mineral strategy is examined in public.

- health care organisational issues which have changed the management of our local Out of Hospital Team and link our Sole Bay GP practice with that of Bungay. We continue to engage with our doctors and the Clinical Commissioning Group and East Coast Community Health who are the major provider of non-GP Community services locally to monitor these changes and press hard for solutions where there are any gaps in outcomes for patients.

- St Felix development which we continue to oppose as a major development in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. If it goes ahead, which now seems very likely, we will campaign to limit the damage to the last undeveloped parts of Reydon Common and characteristic features of Suffolk estuary valleys.

- the High Street where we are working with the traders and continue to push for fair rents and rates to help maintain the independent character of shopping in Southwold.

- We monitor all planning applications and ask for change or rejection of those which fail to preserve or improve the amenity of our community. We also support those which represent improvements such as the Southwold Hospital scheme or the new affordable housing in Green Lane, Reydon. We have responded at every stage to the consultations on the development of a new Local plan for Waveney. This will see major development in Reydon - of 220 houses west of Copperwheat Avenue. On balance, we can accept this scheme but will work hard with both planners and developers to ensure that it fits in as well as possible with its surrounding countryside. Several of our Committee are heavily involved in the work to create a Neighbourhood plan for Reydon which will strengthen the local voice in shaping future development.

- We are tracking the plans for new wind farms off the coast of Southwold. Whilst we support green energy, we want to limit any loss of open sea views which are part of the town's attraction. We recognize, too, that the proposed new nuclear plant at Sizewell C can reduce national dependence on fossil fuels but are concerned that the plans to reduce the negative impacts of the transport of materials and other effects of the construction phase are not adequate. We will press for this to change.

- We also think the "parking monster" will rear its head this year as plans emerge from the various local authorities responsible. We will press for adequate parking for residents and workers in our community and also for shoppers using the High Street.

How Can You Become Involved?

The Society will continue working on these and any other issues which arise. We speak currently for some 400 members of our community but we would welcome more to make our voice even stronger. You can join for £2 a year by clicking here.