Thursday, March 29, 2012

New tractor drives forward localism in Holme on Spalding Moor

In the severe weather of 2010/11 Holme on Spalding Moor Parish Council led the way in clearing snow and ice from the village footpaths and minor roads. Like a number of Howdenshire villages and using a grant through the East Riding of Yorkshire Council it hired machinery and bought salt and a band of volunteers worked for days to make the village facilities accessible to residents. This was a superb volunteer effort and I blogged about this at the time.

This is another great example of what the ‘Big Society’ and localism can achieve - volunteer efforts like this are not a one-off and HOSM Parish Council has been looking at ways of doing more for the community, including recently employing their own handyman.

This week the Parish Council took delivery of a tractor that can be fitted with a snow-blade and salt spreader after taking advantage of a further grant of £3000 from the East Riding of Yorkshire Council. A low interest loan has also been obtained and coupled with good financial management has meant the purchase of the tractor has been achieved without raising the council tax.

The tractor is now ready for future bad weather and will allow footpaths to be cleared using the snow blade and salt to be spread at the same time. The tractor also has a grass cutting facility plus a trailer, this will make the tractor multi-functional and the village handyman can now cut grass and collect litter etc

At a recent ceremony the tractor was received and seen admiring it are ERYC Councillor Peter Turner (seated on the tractor) portfolio holder for Localism, Parish Council Chairman Chris Worrall (right), Parish Council Vice-Chairman Peter Hastings (centre).

Peter Turner was very impressed with the tractor and was excited at the partnership between the ERYC and Parish Council enabling the Parish Council to help keep the parish ‘open to business’ in the event of further severe weather

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The problem with alcohol price fixing - sorry Mr Cameron but I can't agree with you on this....

I heard someone say recently, "Pubs are like churches - not used all the time but there when you need them and both sadly suffering from falling rolls".

Often we hear about the ‘drinking culture’ in this country – true perhaps, but we shouldn’t necessarily be ashamed of that. This week, I had the great pleasure of listening to Lee Le Clerq from the Beer and Pub Association, who got me thinking about this.

I, for one, think alcohol is OK. Pubs and drink bring enormous enjoyment and benefits to individuals, communities and society as a whole.

What is not OK is the bad behaviour that too frequently accompanies alcohol consumption, serving alcohol to children or drinking to the extent that it causes physical or mental damage.

Alcohol has a dark side and its impact on individual health, family stability and our streets are all too apparent. However, let’s not lose sight of the fact that around 90% of the adult population drinks alcohol and most of us do know how to behave ourselves. Most licensees don’t sell alcohol to kids and thankfully most of us will not be burdened by alcohol-related illness.

The decline of the Local Pub

The government’s 1989 Beer Orders were introduced to reduce the apparent monopoly big brewing companies exercised in the pub sector. Today, the largest pub companies own many more pubs than the biggest national brewery estates back in 1990 – so large monopolies have in fact been replaced with larger ones.

The vast majority of these premises are tenanted or leased so while the pub company will own the freehold, the licensee is often committed to certain supply agreements in return for a low cost entry to the trade; the pub is run as an independent small business with the licensee responsible for its operation.

We then saw the introduction of the smoking ban in pubs, something I have serious issues with. I would have much preferred air quality legislation to force pubs to install appropriate extraction and filtration to maintain acceptable standards.

In addition, I don’t think a year has passed since the Licensing Act came in when we have not seen yet more laws, and dozens of regulations and restrictions primarily aimed at the pub trade. So much legislation in fact, that the government has found it necessary to run three separate series of road shows touring the country to explain the powers within the legislation.

Would minimum pricing help the pub industry?

The issue of minimum pricing is something largely driven by the public health lobby. A modelling study, carried out by Sheffield University in 2008, claimed that a 50p per unit minimum price would bring about a 6.9% reduction in overall alcohol consumption. This would, they predicted, lead to 97,700 less hospital admissions per year and the saving of around 3000 lives.

Since 2008, overall alcohol consumption (without minimum pricing) has dropped by more than 6.9%. As a nation we are now drinking 13% less than the peak in 2004 and yet – according to the health lobby - we are not seeing any such savings in lives or hospital admissions. On the contrary, these continue to rise. Of course there is a link between price and consumption but the link between national consumption levels and health is not as simple and clear cut as the Sheffield model suggested. They are currently revisiting their studies at the request of the Scottish Parliament and it will be interesting to see what they have to say this time around.

So, would a 50p unit price suddenly make the pub a significantly more attractive option than drinking at home? I suggest not.

Let’s consider 80p a unit, favoured by some members of the Scottish Labour Party. A pint of beer in packaged form in a supermarket would cost £1.60, still considerably cheaper than the same quantity in a pub. However, the cheapest bottle of spirit on a supermarket shelf would be priced at £24. The implication here is that at this price why anyone would buy blended whisky, when for very little more one could buy a 10 or 15 year old single malt? This would almost certainly signal the end of the Scotch whisky industry as it exists today, as the ‘wee dram’ became an elite beverage, only for the wealthy.

We’re told that sensible, moderate drinkers would be unaffected by minimum pricing but the evidence does not appear to support this. Would this reduce the consumption by heavy or dependent drinkers? Perhaps they would just spend a greater proportion of their income on drink, and as for deterring under-age drinkers a great many rarely pay for the alcohol they consume anyway.

Indeed, minimum pricing could be counter-productive by leading to an increase in the production and consumption of ‘moonshine’. Illegally produced alcohol is incredibly dangerous, sometimes containing levels of methanol high enough to cause instant blindness. What will be the cost to the NHS when those who want to drink turn to illegally produced alcohol, because they do not have the means to buy it legally, either in pubs or from shops?

The EU may have something to say if the Scottish Parliament tries to bring in minimum pricing, as there are indications that it would be illegal under UK legislation, namely the 1998 Competition Act, and these are laws that are not devolved to Scotland for them to amend at will.

What would the Office of Fair Trading do as the body responsible for monitoring price fixing in the UK? Will it take action against the Scottish Parliament if it embarks on such a scheme, or would it ignore it? There is no minimum pricing on anything anywhere in the EU so why start with alcohol?

I have often voiced my concerns regarding the ‘Tescofication of the high street’ and some of the large supermarket pricing policies are cynical, and have a detrimental effect on the suppliers, particularly farmers. The Government has recently announced the ‘below cost’ minimum pricing option which simply takes into account excise duty plus VAT which should ensure that supermarkets cannot sell alcohol below this price. This is, I think a positive step and goes a long way to address the issue of alcohol being a ‘Loss Leader’ for the supermarkets - so perhaps a little good news for pubs here.

The dilemma ....

We’re all consumers and the overwhelming majority of us use supermarkets. Do we really want the government artificially increasing prices to protect us from ourselves when the overwhelming majority of ‘ourselves’ need no such protection? If an argument is made for minimum pricing, why should it stop with alcohol? The NHS spends three times as much on combating obesity as it does on dealing with alcohol abuse. Would the next target be McDonalds? How dare they sell a calorie laden burger for only £1.99! Then there’s the inestimable environmental damage caused by global aviation. What if those advocating minimum pricing decide that we should no longer allow hard-working families to holiday abroad at ridiculously affordable fares?

The industry knows that it is necessary for sale of alcohol to be licensed, regulated and monitored. Pubs understand their responsibilities. It’s important that everyone who retails alcohol understands the regulations and complies with them, and the vast majority of our pubs do so. There should be no state interference in fixing prices – especially when the consequences cause more harm than good.

Friday, March 23, 2012

The budget - the facts on pensions and tax

There has been much criticism of this week’s budget, especially from the Labour opposition and the press, particularly on the issue of the freezing pensioner personal allowances.

I think it is important to look at these changes in full and to take into account other measures announced by the Government in relation to pensioners.

1. We must remember that the freezing of the personal allowance has no impact on 5 million of the poorest pensioners. Of the 4.4 million pensioners above that there is absolutely no loss in cash terms to pensioners.

2. Whereas there is an average ‘real terms’ (taking into account inflation) loss of £1.60 per week as a result of the freezing, the Government has just announced that the pension will rise by £5.30 per week. This is the biggest ever rise in the state pension and comes at a time when inflation is continuing to fall. This means spending on the basic state pension is over £1.2bn higher in 12/13 than if the Government had stuck to Labour's uprating policy – equating to £120 extra a year on a full basic state pension.

3. We must also take into account that for the Government has now frozen Council Tax in many areas across the country, this has been frozen in the East Riding of Yorkshire for two years running. This tax almost doubled under Labour but our freezes mean that for the past two years Council Tax has effectively been cut in real terms. Pensioners in particular benefit from this as they are generally on fixed incomes.

4. It must also be remembered that all pensioner benefits have been protected. Winter Fuel allowance, free TV licences, bus passes etc. The Government has of course raised cold weather payments which were recently paid to local residents in our area.

5. The poorest pensioners also benefit from the triple lock in 2012/13 through the decision to uprate the Pension Credit Guarantee Credit to match the cash rise in the basic state pension; and the Warm Homes Discount means more than 600,000 of the most vulnerable pensioners will also benefit from a £120 discount to their fuel bills.

6. In terms of other pressures such as utility bills and fuel bills the Government has acted. Fuel is now between 25-30p per gallon cheaper than it would have been had the previous Government’s plans continued. The Government cut fuel duty by 4.4p per gallon when the coalition we came in to power and we scrapped Labour’s fuel duty escalator and we also delayed there inflation rise. Despite protestations by many local MPs the inflation rise will go ahead in August but there will be no above inflation rises until oil drops to below £45 per barrel. The recent rises in fuel are because of international demand and uncertainties, issues the Government has little control over. In terms of heating bills the Government made controversial changes to feed-in tariffs to avoid rises been put on to domestic bills.

There have been a number of independent assessments of the budget. One which is worth reading is the respected Institute for Fiscal Affairs who yesterday pointed out that pensioner households for the financial year of April 2012 onwards will actually see their average incomes rise above inflation to the tune of about 0.5%. Their assessment concludes that even after all the future changes are applied, pensioner households are the least affected of any income group in the country. They also confirm that the richest in our country are the ones who will see the greatest loss of income.

Much mention has also been made of the 50p tax rate. There was a reason why Labour only introduced the 50p rate for their last 36 days in power. That being that it was recognised that it could kill investment and be hard to collect. This has now been confirmed by the independent Office of Budget Responsibility who concludes that it has not brought in what was expected. The changes to the rate cost the taxpayer £100 million but the Government has off set that by increasing other taxes on the rich that will raise an additional £500 million in return. We must have a tax system that makes those at the top pay the most but that does not deter investors. Just yesterday as a result of these changes a major employer, Glaxo Smithkline, has said that they will now create 1,000 new jobs in the UK as the budget has now made the UK a place worth investing in again.

The public finances remain in a mess. This wasn’t the Conservatives doing and the Government still has to make tough decisions to bring debt under control. The changes affecting pensioners are not targeting them and hopefully you can see from reading the above the Government has done much to shelter pensioners from the worst of the cuts.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Holme on Spalding Moor Heritage Project

On Saturday Holme on Spalding Moor Village Hall hosted a Consultation Workshop to kick start a new and innovative Heritage project, the brainchild of local residents Gordon Howcroft and Alec Wild, and the support of HOSM Parish Council.

The aims of the project is to draw the attention of the villagers to the beautiful countryside that makes up the parish and to show how well placed HOSM is to connect the extensive cycling/walking/heritage schemes that exist not only within the Parish but also the neighbouring parishes and towns. These include the big skies bike rides at Market Weighton, Pocklington and Newbald, the Wallingfen Way connecting Gilberdyke, Newport and North Cave, the Howden 20, and the Bubwith Rail Trail.

The project also aims to establish a Heritage/History Group to look to best preserve the wide variety of heritage held within Holme on Spalding Moor, by asking villagers to offer documents and photographs of interest for scanning into a digital archive, and by encouraging volunteers to converse with older villagers who have personal experiences of living and working in the community - to record these stories for posterity.

It is acknowledged that HOSM does not exist in isolation, therefore it is also hoped to forge links with the neighbouring parishes to create a broader project for the benefit of the wider community.

The organisations that took part in the workshop event were:

Blackburn archive
76 Squadron
Cityscape maps
Pocklington Canal Amenity Society
Pocklington Gateway Partnership
Market Weighton Bradley Way
Howden Civic Society
Wallingfen Way Project
Sam Marriage, Conservation Farming
Meadow Foods
HOSM School
Hull University, Valley of the First Iron Masters
Yorkshire Museum of Farming

The workshop was only the beginning and further plans include:

To bring together volunteers and source training as required
To prepare a funding bid for Heritage Lottery Funding
To progress the scanning of pledged documents
To continue recording personal histories, some of which has already begun
To purchase the required computer equipment and software to carry out the recording of data, documents and interviews.
To design and print high quality maps, interpretation boards and way markers that will form the basis of the self-guided walks and cycle trails.

Holme on Spalding Moor School children were asked to enter a competition to design a logo for the project which was judged by those people attending, local MEP Godfrey Bloom presented the winning logo at the end of the workshop.

“Projects such as this are essential in many ways – Pictures and photographs are long lasting but memories are lost with the passing of time, preserving the local history for our descendants to view and listen to in the future gives us all an opportunity to be the custodians of the past.

As someone who spends a great deal of time mountain biking I can confirm the benefits, to see more people walking and cycling has obvious implications for better health, and this is made easier if they are able to follow established paths and trails. The more people that use the paths and trails the more they are looked after. There are untold opportunities for local communities to benefit from increased tourism, be they local pubs, cafes and shops, or the local farmer’s wife living alongside the paths or waterways selling cups of tea and scones from her kitchen. The beautiful Howdenshire area is rich in history and tradition and the people are warm and friendly, let’s take the opportunity this project offers to consolidate our past and ensure a sustainable future for our children”.

(pictured with Godfrey Bloom MEP and Gordon Howcroft)

Monday, March 19, 2012

Goole College & Hospital to share site

I recently attended a really positive meeting of the Goole College Consultative Forum along with Andrew Percy MP, local ward members, representatives of local business/employers, College staff and others. The topic was the proposed partnership between Hull College and Northern Lincolnshire and Goole Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust which could see the College open a campus in underused parts of the Goole and District Hospital site, and eventually relocate completely.

The partnership could see the utilisation of unused areas of the Goole Hospital site as a base for Goole College, (part of the Hull College Group). This exciting development would enable the College to develop a new range of education and training programmes to complement the existing offer available. The partnership would also help Goole Hospital maximise the use of their estate for the best public value.

The potential development - which still requires the formal support of the Board of the hospital Trust and the College - will be consulted upon with staff, users and local residents over the coming months, and the Consultative Forum was just the first opportunity.

The proposals include the development of provision in two phases; the first beginning this September 2012, which would see an increase in courses in health and social care, employability skills and higher level professional qualifications. The second phase, in September 2013 would see the College moving out of its existing buildings on Boothferry Road and transferring all provision to the Goole Hospital site. This would enhance growth in both further and higher education provision. This two-phase approach is designed to provide the opportunity for community feedback and partnership development to be fully considered.

It is important to recognise this is NOT about closing hospital wards, NOT about cutting services and NOT about reducing the courses offered by the College. It is about fully developing underused and under-utilised areas of the hospital estate.

There will be no impact on bed numbers as a result of any agreement that is reached between the partners. It is planned that any development will be self-contained, with separate entrances and exits between the hospital and the college areas.

The proposed partnership potentially provides a wealth of opportunities for young people and adults within Goole and surrounding areas. The planned Goole College offer will include a ‘ladder of progression’ from level one to higher education degree courses. The College will also be able to offer a number of shorter courses in response to community need.

Health and social care students would be able to gain access to the expertise and knowledge of professional medical staff, whilst developing skills through work experience within a specialist hospital environment.

Depending upon the outcome of the consultation Goole College would work closely with partners to consider the best potential outcome for the current site to meet local community need. Official consultation on the plans will open shortly for individual response on the Goole College website – see http://www.goole-college,

I certainly welcome the idea of collaborative working between Goole College and the Hospital, if there is an underused modern building available at the hospital site with scope and space for significant further development, it would be economically beneficial and savings could certainly be made if the College was to relocate from its present old building with its high running and maintenance costs.

The improvement of the learning facilities in an attractive environment, and to increase the courses provided in health and social care can only be a positive, not only for Goole but the wider area, including Howdenshire. The positive response from the business representatives and employers at the Forum meeting was reassurring, as they recognised it would mean courses more reflective of their training needs, thus ensuring that students have the necessary skills to respond to employers and also take advantage of the new and exciting prospects coming to our region.

The teaching element offered by the College could certainly benefit the hospital and the patients through direct links with its courses including catering, hair dressing, preparation for child care, and maintenance studies.

I would certainly hope to see the College providing bespoke teaching and training, and it may be that a training ward could be established to benefit the wider area. I would urge the College and the NHS to be radical in their thinking as to how by working together in partnership, just with each other but with other public service organisations too, they can create a great example of how to save costs and collectively deliver the same or better for less.

I just hope that traditionalism in Goole doesn’t get in the way of this exciting opportunity for the Town and the surrounding area. This is a chance for Goole and Howdenshire to state absolutley that it's open for business!

Andrew Percy MP says, "I’ve previously discussed the plans with the Hull College Group and the Hospital Trust.

The partnership would be the first in the country and has the potential to be incredibly positive for Goole’s young people. It would also see an extension of further and higher education courses in the town.

Clearly, there is more to be worked out in the finer details and there will be snags along the way but this is a really exciting development.
see more at

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Change of access to proposed Spaldington wind farm denied

This week the East Riding of Yorkshire Council's Planning Committee, voted against the officers recommendation, supported the local opposition and refused planning consent for an alternative access route for the construction of the proposed Falck Renewables 5 turbine Spaldington Airfield wind farm.

Both Spaldington resident Alison Taylor and I spoke at the meeting to support the community’s objection, and needless to say the Committee members shared our concerns, saw the application for what it was and threw it out, stating the unacceptable impact of the amenity of the area as the reason.

The frustration with this application was that the company already has an adequate access approved by the planning inspector at appeal – and I could see no reason whatsoever why this agreed access couldn’t be used, and now after the refusal by the Committee the company will have to use this route. Ok, it may inconvenience the landowner a little – but he’s going to make a pretty packet out of this wind farm so this is a small price to pay.

The audacity of the applicant to try and pass on the problems of ‘potential traffic HGV movements conflicting with other businesses located on the Airfield site’ to Mr & Mrs Taylor’s business, located just 150m from the proposed new access road was jaw dropping. Not to mention the extra 200 HGVs of aggregate required to construct this proposed access. I thought it rather telling that Mr & Mrs Taylor had not been consulted by Falck Renewables on this proposal, even though the change of access was to be so close to their home and business.

I can’t envisage for a minute the applicant appealing the Planning Committee decision – One can only imagine the conversation with the Planning Inspector – “Erm, errr sorry but we supplied you with duff information at the appeal, we’d not thought it through, and we’ve now changed our minds”. I’m sure they would get short shrift from the Inspector.

I described it as a ‘dog’s dinner’ of an application and this is exactly what it was. Falck Renewables have put the village of Spaldington through the mill with the original wind farm application – and still they continue. In the opinion of many, this application was to minimise the disruption to the landowner on whose land the wind turbines are to be built – nothing more and nothing less.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Meeting Blog Readers

At a meeting in Holme on Spalding Moor this morning three people approached me and introduced themselves as readers of my blog. It was great to meet Gareth Jenkins, Simon Hazlewood and Beth Jenkins, I thank them for their warm words of support and for them saying that I should never allow the system to stop me from blogging.

I regularly look at the blog statistics including readership numbers, page hits and referrals, and so far during the first the first two months of 2012 readership has risen to the highest levels ever and new reader numbers have also increased. Many thanks to all readers – it makes it all worthwhile, and please be assurred that I will continue.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Gilberdyke / Newport Tip woes continue

Last evenings meeting of the Tip Liaison Committee was very frustrating, not only because no representative from the Environment Agency turned up – but descended further when it was confirmed that work had been carried out on the site last Saturday afternoon and all day Sunday which was outside the permitted hours of operation. This created an horrendous stink and spoiled the otherwise sunny weekend for a number of residents.

This working is only permitted if approved by the Council and the Agency – needless to say an email exchange between City Plant and the Agency clearly states that it was planned to ‘doze waste into the void over the weekend’. There is no evidence that the East Riding of Yorkshire Council approved the work.

To move clay or restoration materials over a weekend when people are at home is one thing, but to deliberately move stinking waste around the site is something totally different, and in my opinion totally unacceptable, and says a lot about City Plant Ltd.

The only conciliation is that the City Plant Ltd have apologised to Roy Hunt and I as the Community Representatives for not letting us know about the planned work, and confirmed that there will be no further weekend working in the foreseeable future.

I have received the following update form the Agency regarding the problematic landfill site.

Current situation as of 15th March 2012

City Plant Ltd have now begun to move waste from the overtipped areas of the site to other areas of the landfill.

* The deadline for this to be complete is the end of May 2012
* Waste will continue to be brought into the site during this process


We are aware there have been odour issues with the site in the past and despite considerable efforts to address these the problem has not been fully resolved.

As with any landfill site, there will always be some odour while fresh waste is being brought onto the site. However, much of the odour is also caused by landfill gas (produced as the waste decomposes). The existing system for extracting and burning gas at the site was upgraded in late 2011 and further improvements have been made this year, although there is still work to be done.

Unfortunately, moving the waste is likely to make the odour worse in the short term as the waste being moved may have been at the site for up to 6 months. While measures to limit the odour will be taken it is not possible to stop all odours from the excavation and movement of waste.

However, while moving the waste will have a short term negative impact, it does mean that by the end of May the majority of the site will be in a condition where it can be sealed with a cap and covered with soils for the planting scheme to commence. This also means that the site's gas extraction system can be expanded to collect and burn most of the landfill gas produced by the waste.

We will expect the operator to cap and restore the site and install additional gas extraction as soon possible after the waste has been moved within the site. We will update you on the timescale for this work as soon as we can.

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Big Society is alive and kicking in Eastrington

I was proud to be part of the East Riding of Yorkshire Council Corporate Communities Overview and Scrutiny Sub-Committee that looked into ‘Promoting the Big Society’, I had suggested that the Pretty Up Eastrington (PUE) Group was a great example of the Big Society in action and Jane Irisa (pictured) from the Group attended to give a very interesting and inspirational presentation.

The PUE project ticked all the boxes when it came to what the Big Society is all about – a society where individuals and communities have more power and responsibility, and use it to create better neighbourhoods and local services. It aims to create a climate that empowers local people and communities, building a big society that will take power away from politicians and give it to people.

To develop the ‘Big Society’, cultural change is needed so that individuals take social responsibility, and an increase in community activity is supported.

But this concept is far from new, in my grandparents era it was quite normal for a community to ‘muck in’ to help one another, this is not radical in that we can learn from the past – what is radical is that politicians must devolve more power, decision making and spending to local communities and we must roll back the ‘Nanny State’.

Communication is the key to the ‘Big Society’ - in today’s times people can through the internet readily access information and examples of good practice which they can put to good use in their communities, this we saw during the heavy snow last year which coupled with the Councils winter payments grant acting as the catalyst, empowered many to take responsibility for snow clearing. Just as in the pre ‘Nanny State’ era.

Founded and inspired in 2008 by Jill Cole, Pretty Up Eastrington (PUE) began as a small group of local enthusiasts in the local pub, who had lots of ideas and examples of good practice from other communities. With help and advice from East Riding Voluntary Action Services (ERVAS) the group was able to formalise its structure with a constitution in order to manage fund raising properly.

The group has developed its own website; a facebook page, a photomontage on YouTube, and regularly communicates with the community through traditional means with regular articles and updates in the Parish magazine and has also been featured frequently in local newspapers.

PUE work closely with other village groups as well as Eastrington Parish Council, East Riding of Yorkshire Councillors and national charities like the Big Tidy Up campaign. The Group values its links with other groups and individuals in the village who are also working to make Eastrington a great place in which to live. The Group enjoys great support from Eastrington Parish Council, local Councillors, the Eastrington Golf Society and a number of local farmers and businesses.

The Group’s core mission is to work with, and for the benefit of the whole village and everything they do is based on making their village tidy, pretty and a nice place to live. Their activities help to create a better community spirit, encourage cooperation and communication especially between old and young, and newcomers and established residents of the village. It’s about local people taking responsibility for their own environment.

The Group have also organised the first ever Eastrington Open Gardens Weekend, and an Easter Family Fun Day as well as having a stall at Eastrington Show, and supporting other village activities and fund-raising events including the village open days, the school Gardening Club and the Church’s scarecrow festival.

By fostering good neighbourliness and encouraging creativity, and by learning skills from one another, they have been able to achieve a great amount including the planting flowerbeds around the village, providing hanging baskets, tubs and wall baskets, painting the church gates and railings, helping with village snow clearance efforts and harvesting and sharing fruit. The Group is constantly looking to develop friendships with all ages, seeing neighbours getting to know their neighbours, celebrating their community and playing an active role in society, and having some fun in the process.

The Groups fundraising activities have provided lasting community assets including welcome signs on all four approaches to the village, (I provided the bricks!), litter bins, a village notice board and a school greenhouse. The school greenhouse acts as a focus for the gardening club, fostering a love of nature and an interest in the environment among young children. A knitting and craft club was established to produce items for sale in aid of the Groups projects, lots of tips were picked up from experts including veteran village gardeners and fundraisers, which has enabled the Group to now produce such things as Christmas welcome wreaths, wine (not for sale I may add), juice, jams, pickles and chutneys - details of which can be found here.

Monthly litter picks on the approach roads into Eastrington are organised, and a great many bulbs have been planted in the verges, together creating a pleasant sense of welcome and a spectacular display when driving into the village during spring. This theme is continued in the village with raised beds, tubs, hanging baskets and wall baskets. Much work has also been done at the village pond and the railway station.

There are future plans to develop an allotment and a community orchard.

The group meets regularly at the local pub in Eastrington or the village hall.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Great to give time to Marie Curie Cancer Care

(pictured with Alison Taylor, Pauline Hornsey and Cathy Screeton)

This week saw the start of the Marie Curie Great Daffodil Appeal. It was a pleasure to again donate two hours of my time on Friday morning to sell daffodil pins in support of this very worthwhile cause. Two of the local Marie Curie volunteers (or the ‘ladies who do lunch’) Alison Taylor, Kathy Screeton and I donned the trademark bright yellow tabards and funny tall hats to stand in Howden with our boxes of daffodils and collection boxes, whilst the charming volunteer Chairman Pauline Hornsey, ably assisted by her mother Dorothy and Cynthia Radcliffe manned the tombola stall in the Shire Hall.

Although the East Riding of Yorkshire Council undertaking major works on the footpaths in the Town’s Market Place is very welcome, it did mean that the area was not as busy as usual because of the lack of parking, but we still managed to raise almost £300 in next to no time.

Many thanks to all those who gave a donation and it was great to see so many people walking around the Town wearing their daffodils – including at least one of the Council workmen!

During March there are 95 collection boxes left in many Goole and Howdenshire shops, super markets, garages etc. where daffodil pins can be purchased for the price of a donation.

Please wear your daffodil pin this March and help Marie Curie continue to care for people with terminal cancer and other illnesses.