“It was an early start on Thursday 12 May as Level 5 student, Michelle Harper of Danbury Parish Council had to leave for another engagement. Michelle is working on a major project involving the forthcoming transfer of a sports and social club to the Parish Council, thereby doubling its income, workload, and expenditure. We touched on her assignments and sorted out a practical approach to the module about community development, local democracy, and climate action.
I arrived in Witham just down the road sooner than expected but there was time for a tour around the handsome town hall with the clerk, Nikki Smith, and a stroll by the River Brain to view the Town Council’s riverside walk and duck pond. I was grateful to a member of staff and a neat little gadget that Nikki pulled out of her boot for pumping up my tyres – all of which were far too low!
The next stop was at Hatfield Peverel, less than 10 minutes away. Sarah Gaeta took me around the huge green space where community activities take place and a new community tennis court is planned. Finally, I made it around Colchester to find Jo Beighton-Emms (all three studying Level 4) at Wivenhoe. The council has drawn up new designs for their building, ending a lease currently held by the Royal Mail so that the council can take over the ground floor and become more accessible. I hadn’t realised that Wivenhoe is on the estuary of the River Colne. It was once the haunt of trading sailors whereas today it is a haven for fishermen and people who sail for leisure. Unusually, the Town Council owns a wet dock where silting is a significant problem.
My final visit for the week was on Friday morning when I called in to see Sonya French, a new student at Level 4, who is deputy clerk at Diss Town Council. The town was buzzing with market day (the Town Council’s market) and the sun was shining. We called in at the Corn Hall – a heritage and arts centre which was a major project for the council and now run by a charitable trust. We then walked to the mere – this lake is a popular feature with the town centre on one side and the park on the other. There is a boardwalk across the mere which, on a sunny day in spring, is an absolute delight.
I’m taking a breather at Hapton with my daughter and her family over the weekend just 8 miles south-west of Norwich. I was saddened to discover that the pylons we discussed at Writtle will be just one field away from her house almost totally obscuring the view to the west.”
By Elisabeth Skinner MBE. Follow her progress on Twitter – @lisabethski.