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Thaxted Parish Council

Newsletter January 2021 Issue 28

A reminder of why we love Thaxted

MA Photography

A message from the Chairman We are sure that you are as concerned as this Council over the effects of global warming and want to see a substantial reduction in carbon emissions. There are many ways in which this can be achieved and electricity generated from a solar renewable source is one of them. Solar farms are being promoted as a means of producing clean energy but these necessitate vast areas of land being changed into an industrial landscape. The Council believe that there are better options whereby solar panels should be a planning requirement for all new commercial buildings. Planning permission was granted for an enormous solar energy plant at Terriers Farm just to the east of Thaxted which, with the adjoining Spriggs Farm solar site, will take approximately 200 acres of what is classified as ‘the best and most


Thaxted Parish Council Newsletter - January 2021 A message from the Chairman - continued versatile’ farmland out of arable production for 40 years (although it is highly unlikely that the land will ever be returned to agriculture). Not only is valuable land being taken out of food production, but important views of Thaxted are being destroyed and the formerly delightful ‘Turpin’s Trail’ footpath will be changed beyond recognition. Proposals are now emerging for another 150 acre solar farm at Cutlers’ Green to the west of the village, again with potentially dramatic consequences. We will soon be surrounded by an industrial landscape. A group of villagers have organised a petition to be presented to Uttlesford District Council asking that no more solar energy plants be permitted on productive farmland or where there is harm to the countryside. This petition has the full support of Thaxted Parish Council and we would urge you to sign it and encourage all of your friends and family to do likewise. It is an Uttlesford wide petition so please do spread the word in other towns and villages in the District. Yours faithfully, Chairman - Thaxted Parish Council n

Terry Frostick

A wonderful team of community volunteers As a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, you may be aware of, or even been a part of, the wonderful initiative developed by members of our Thaxted Community. The Parish Council has worked with the organisers to help create a very successful volunteer system in Thaxted. In fact, it’s considered unique throughout our district. As the wonderful team of volunteers grew and the group become responsible for an increasing number of community projects, the


Thaxted Parish Council Newsletter - January 2021 Parish Council began to function alongside the organisation. The PC, as a constituted body, held the key to unlocking some much needed financial backing necessary for its continued success. Since the start of this Pandemic, these frontline volunteers and workers have been dealing with our elderly and most vulnerable community members, day in and day out, and with very little respite. Alongside the practicalities, they have been supporting individuals through a very difficult period. These amazing individuals have walked dogs and delivered medicines and organised food parcels: listened to stories of family deaths, and job losses, and the collapse of businesses. They have stood at a distance and watched mothers who are struggling to feed their children cry


Thaxted Parish Council Newsletter - January 2021 tears of relief when a care package is delivered to their door. They have taken calls from countless members of the elderly community whose main relief has been they have not been forgotten.

As a community we have rallied round, we’ve found extra time and even extra money so those within our community in real need may feel the warmth of our support…. To all the wonderful volunteers…. Thank you. Here are just a few images highlighting the power of community cohesion. Many of our community members may not have survived this year without our volunteers, over 50 families including 48 children over the Christmas period were supported by this initiative, with the loving support of Elder Street Café and the care and dedication of the PTA of Thaxted Primary School. Should you wish to donate to help continue to support this worthwhile initiative by bank transfer, you can do so in to the following account, please make the reference ‘Covid-19’. Account number: 52722360 sort code: 30-94-47 Account name: Thaxted Parish Council. n

Thaxted Parish Council Newsletter - January 2021 Beautiful space and peace of mind Thaxted has beautiful open spaces which are free for you to use, like the Recreation Ground or Margaret Street Gardens and if you’re feeling a little more adventurous, Welly Boot Woods and Walnut-tree Meadow. Feel free to take full advantage of a social distance catch up with friends and family outdoors in any of these areas‌. and beyond. (please adhere to the latest government guidelines). Socialising and meeting friends are such important parts of our lives and is so good for our mental health and well being and we must couple that with keeping safe. During the Christmas period and at the beginning of the Tier 4 period Thaxted Parish Council had the opportunity to add a little extra piece of mind by way of the late-night patrols, when you were able to journey home from enjoying your evening in our beautiful pubs, bars and restaurants. The aim and initiative and part of the funds for this came from Uttlesford District Council, and as a consequence, Thaxted Parish Council hope that you all felt that little bit safer. n

Thaxted Parish Council Newsletter - January 2021

Thaxted under Threat from another Massive Solar Energy Plant Last year, Uttlesford’s planning committee granted permission for a major solar farm to the east of Thaxted, meaning that some 200 acres of the best farmland will have been taken out of food production and some of the most beautiful landscape around the village destroyed. This was in spite of government guidance indicating a presumption against solar farms being built on the best agricultural land and in contravention of UDC’s own planning policies. The same developer, obviously believing that Uttlesford, and Thaxted specifically, is a soft touch, now has plans for a similar scheme at Cutlers’ Green to the west of Thaxted. This again uses what is classified as the ‘best and most versatile’ agricultural land. The consequences would be devastating. The landscape would be dominated by at least 150 acres of glass panels, new buildings, security

Thaxted Parish Council Newsletter - January 2021 fencing, floodlighting and CCTV cameras. The character of ancient footpaths would be changed out of all recognition and there would be serious concerns for local wildlife with bird deaths, a particular issue, because they believe the glass to be water. Also, what will happen to the land when the PV panels become obsolete? Will it ever be returned to agriculture or to a natural state? It will in fact, be a ‘brown field’ site with all the potential that that offers! A petition is being organised to stop Thaxted being surrounded by an industrial landscape. We would like you to sign it. Details are set out below in relation to the petition and the other ways in which you can help with the campaign.

How you can Help 1. Sign the petition. Go to https://uttlesford.moderngov.co.uk/mgEPetitionLogon.aspx?Id=13&RPID =3408393 and add your name to the list. 2. Respond to the current Local Plan consultation. Preparation of a new Local Plan is under way. The consultation is being carried out under a series of themes. The third theme is Climate Change and you can give you views on solar farms on Uttlesford’s website. Go to: http://www.uttlesford.gov. uk/consultation-and-the-community-stakeholder-forum. 3. Then scroll down to Theme 3 and click where it says ‘here’. You will see the last question deals with Renewable Energy where it specifically asks if you would support solar farms even if it means harm to the landscape. If you could answer that it would help to get appropriate policies into the new Local Plan. It is easiest just to download the Word document, fill in your response and e-mail it back. 4. The developer of the proposed solar farm will shortly be carrying out a public consultation exercise. Don’t hesitate to respond saying what you think! 5. Ultimately a planning application will be made and we will be in touch again then to let you know how you can express your views to UDC. n

Thaxted Parish Council Newsletter - January 2021 Is there a Doctor in the house‌ A brief message from our District Councillor Mike Taylor. The most important positive development re- Covid-19 is of course the rollout of the vaccination, which started before Christmas at the Lord Butler leisure centre, organised by the Primary Care Network (for us, North Uttlesford) and individual surgeries. The first injections were given on Saturday 12th December, with the second dose for those initial recipients being given on Saturday 9th Jan. It has been a Thaxted Surgery decision, for practical reasons, to continue with this second dose, so completing immunisation for those who are most vulnerable due to age, and for front line health care workers. Thaxted surgery is responsible for immunising its own patients (except for those who have been given the vaccine in hospital), so that means the vast majority of Thaxted residents. Up to the 5th of January, 43% of the patients aged over 80 had been vaccinated by the Surgery (thus exceeding the national percentage). n

Shopping in Thaxted In these difficult times there has been the consistent contribution to our lives made by ALL our shops. While the various levels of restrictions have been continually changing, our shops have found way to keep us safe, but still be able to serve us. We in turn have supported them when possible. Our two minimarkets have been a life line for anyone who was worried about visiting the big supermarkets. Where would we be without the market? It may not be big, but totally reliable keeping us supplied with fresh food. Thanks to Alan, the market manager, for ensuring the traders are happy. We have been kept going by Gifted using Click and Collect; Lowes never being phased by always having that one thing you need; Vintage Style Living finding imaginative ways to keep trading; Wayletts keeping the news flowing and Post Office service there for us; finally the Pharmacy and Thaxted Bakery and Butchers always open for us. n

Thaxted Parish Council Newsletter - January 2021 Wild Life Projects in 2020 Here in Thaxted we've been tree planting in our beautiful area of Cutlers Green. We have ordered two tree variety packs from the Woodland Trust with over 250 trees, including rowan, hawthorn, oak, blackthorn, guelder rose, bird cherry and hazel. The Chairman of the Open Spaces committee, Cllr Alison Howells, has been busy arranging this initiative with the grounds maintenance team in a bid to re-establish native trees to the area and encourage wildlife species. We also have an active volunteer group known as 'Wild Thaxted'. We have been able to secure for them some barn owl boxes which have been put in Cutlers Green. We are incredibly blessed to be able to work with volunteers who have key knowledge and a team of people who show such a keen interest in what they do. Another project is the planting of 1000 new bulbs in our newly acquired meadow situated behind Mosscotts. Funnily enough we call this 'Mosscotts Meadow'! We did try to reach out for a micro grant. This was, initially, a community engagement project in early spring, but like many other events this had to be cancelled. On the plus side the bulbs were all planted, largely by one incredibly supple volunteer. In our Clarance House Community Garden we have been busy plug planting with over 125 plants, also re-planting a newly created bed in Margaret Street gardens with a variety of herbaceous plants and shrubs. So whilst this year has been socially difficult for us human beings, our plants and nature areas have been flourishing. n

Guelder rose

Thaxted Parish Council Newsletter - January 2021 An interview with a councillor…. Our newest recruit on the 11 strong Parish Council is Cllr. Colin Michael. He joined us during the Full Council Meeting on the 1st October 2020. He has kindly agreed to take part in this short interview. Dena: What do you want people to know about you? Colin: Absolutely nothing! No I’m kidding! What do I say? Well I suppose I’ve been so fortunate with my job roles in the past but my main area of expertise is in IT and renewable energy. Dena: Does this mean that you’re the ‘Go To’ councillor in connection to the Solar Farm proposal? Colin: ‘Oh no… honestly? Dena: Yes, definitely, the people will want to know! Colin: Ok, here goes. There is no positive to this town whatsoever. It’s a tough one. Its lucrative as far as what the government wants and the only benefits I can envisage, if they exist at all, might be employment related, however, they employ all their own contractors so I fear this too will be a missed opportunity, and in the current climate something local residents can do without. There’s a real need for employment right now. Also bear in mind they’ll have to cut across the whole of Thaxted in order to connect this project to the Grid. At some point I would expect them to seek Highways approval to cut across roads which will be a tremendous upheaval. I also have a number of other concerns in connection to this. Dena: How did you begin working with renewable energy? Colin: Well it’s a long story… I used to live in Norfolk and was offered a sales position and the company


Thaxted Parish Council Newsletter - January 2021 became super successful and as a result I became one of the company directors. Dena: Are you bragging .. Was their success down to you? Colin: (laughs out loud) ‘I wish’ .. No… it was more a case of right place right time. At the time the government was offering a grant scheme to home owners. In a short period of time I became involved in more of the marketing side of solar. Later the scheme was scrapped, so shortly after this I moved. Dena: What do you do now? Colin: I’m a full time photographer, specialising in commercial photography, working with a variety of brands such as Adidas, Next, Asos and freelancing for many others. As a hobby my keen photographic interests are along the lines of street photography and portraits. Whilst also studying for a Masters. (Dena remarks ‘so not that busy then’) Dena: Didn’t you become a courier elf for the community just before Christmas? Colin: (laughs out loud) Yes, in truth all I wanted was my parcel and they wouldn’t give it to me! I wouldn’t mind but it wasn’t even my parcel, it was my wife’s! I ended up calling them (Hermes) and then paid them a visit at their centre in Braintree. Initially I’d just gone with the intent to go pick up my wife’s parcel for a bit of peace and quiet! But then I saw the pure magnitude of the problem. What caught my eye was a whole host of Disney packages and I just felt so bad realising that so many children would be disappointed on Christmas morning. Clearly they saw my vulnerability and struck while I was off guard by offering me the job, and for some bizarre reason I said yes! Dena: Well the courier elf did a grand job of helping bring some Christmas spirit to the community of Thaxted at a much needed time. Thank you. n Kemi Badenoch MP holds regular advice surgeries offering help and support for local residents. If you would like to contact Kemi, you can email kemi.badenoch.mp@parliament.uk or call 0207 219 1943

Parish Clerk: Dena Ludford CIC 7 Town Street, Thaxted, Dunmow, Essex CM6 2LD Tel: 01371 831952. Email: clerk@thaxted.co.uk Website: www.thaxted.co.uk

Parish Councillors To contact any of the Parish Councillors please, in the first instance, contact the Parish Clerk’s office. Your enquiry can then be dealt with in the most appropriate way. Cllr. Terry Frostick (Chairman) Cllr. Andrew Frater (Vice-Chairman) Cllr. Ralph Barrington Cllr. Alison Howells Cllr. Victoria Knight

Cllr. Colin Michael Cllr. David Morgan Cllr Jon Spencer Cllr. Antoinette Wattebot Cllr. Ray Williams

MA Photography The Thaxted Parish Council Newsletter Published periodically. It is delivered to as many homes as possible. Copies will also be available from the Community Information Centre and the text is on the website. Assembled by Mike Collins, Deputy Parish Clerk.

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January 2021 newsletter