APRIL 2018

When I became Chairman, we reviewed the critical issues in our community given our limited resources and the fact that not everything weighs a pound. We agreed four priorities:

- The harbour and estuary  
- The threat to the High Street from the huge business rates increases
- The local health service
- Planning applications that threaten the beautiful nature of our area.

The harbour and estuary - We are glad Waveney District Council has presented a plan for the harbour. While we have reservations, it is a step in the right direction. We will focus on asking for all the financial plans and the structure of the board that will manage the enterprise. But this must be broadened to embrace the whole estuary – otherwise there will be no harbour and Southwold will become an island.

The High Street – Short term relief on business rates has drastically reduced the threatened cost hikes. But this is time-limited so this issue has not gone away. As the solution involves central government this makes it more complex. We will work with local businesses to press for a permanent solution.

The local health service – We were concerned about possible fallout from the closure of Southwold Hospital but it turned out we had a “gold standard” service delivered by the Sole Bay Health Centre, at least up to now. Great Yarmouth and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has decided to blend our Out of Hospital team with the rest of South Waveney. While it is good that our excellent standards should help others, our service must not be compromised, and we have already heard of some initial problems. If this leads to “bed blocking” at James Paget then the new “Shape of the System” will be failing. However, the re-shaped team will not be fully staffed until April and we plan follow up meetings with CCG.

Planning – The Society scrutinises all applications. We dig in where developments are proposed on AONB land or where the proposal clashes with the local vernacular. We responded in detail to the first draft of the Local Plan for Waveney to control development until 2036. We will continue to argue for modest and well-controlled future development in our community.

Of course, there are other issues where we must express our voice e.g. the proposed new wind farm off Sole Bay with huge 300-metre-high turbines, the mooted gravel pit development near the Hen Reed Beds and the questionable performance of the sewerage plant.

Lastly, we congratulate Laurence Vulliamy and Jessica Jeans for their superb leadership of the Save Our Southwold campaign. Their community company has just exchanged contracts with NHS Property to purchase the old Southwold hospital site to develop for housing and community uses. There were many roadblocks along the way and without their stoicism it would not have succeeded.

Our Annual General Meeting, which includes the presentation of our popular Excellence Awards for those making an outstanding contribution to the community, takes place at 7pm on Wednesday 18th April in Reydon Village Hall. Non members are welcome to attend and even more welcome to join!

Dexter Kirk
Southwold & Reydon Society