During November, the Society has been busy – both in public and working on a variety of issues.

Our second major public event of the year was our Annual Lunch on 14 November. We had a record number of attendees; 87 in total. The Rugby Club Pavilion proved again to be a good venue and it was pleasing to be able to include more members and guests. As well as an enjoyable lunch (from Café 51) and networking, our guest speaker, Paul Heiney was excellent. The heart of his speech was the future of the Suffolk estuaries and that of Southwold Harbour and the Blyth Estuary in particular. He suggested that the history of our river showed that nature will always have its way, despite all human efforts to control the shape of the river and its facilities. Perhaps we have to plan in the longer term for an estuary of mud flats, with the advantages and disadvantages this would bring?

Coincidentally, one focus of our work this month has been on the Harbour and estuary. We have written to Waveney District Council, who we are told are rethinking their governance proposals for the harbour, again urging them to revert to the establishment of a charitable trust to run the Harbour Lands and also to maintain their 2014 promise that the income from the harbour lands (including from the caravan site) will be ring-fenced for use in the harbour and estuary. This would support the work of the Blyth Estuary Partnership which has held a series of stakeholder meetings to discuss the best strategy for maintaining the estuary and harbour for the next 50 years. No-one at these meetings has argued for a DO NOTHING option but only time will tell if an agreed strategy can be developed and funded to try to keep things much as they are. If not, Paul Heiney’s words will become the order of the day!

Two important consultations also took place in mid November in Southwold. One was a very well researched presentation by the Town Council on the parking issues facing the town and their thinking on what could be done with the parking controlled by them and the Southwold Common Trust to help address current problems. Whilst there was some support for charging for parking in these areas and allocating spaces for those working in the town, there was considerable feeling that a more comprehensive strategy is needed which will require work by Reydon Parish Council as well as Southwold and, crucially, by Suffolk County Council which controls street parking.

The second was a drop-in event by Hastoe Housing on their plans to develop the former police and fire service sites in Station Road for a mix of market and affordable housing. There were varied views expressed about the proposed design and concerns raised about the use of parking at the adjacent Millennium Foundation car park – which the Foundation plan to increase and make all-year round. We will watch both issues carefully as these plans develop.

                                      Philip O’Hear, Secretary