Brantham News Archive

Anger At Underpass Closure

Thursday, October 11, 12.30

A Brantham councillor has branded a decision to close the Manningtree underpass at short notice as 'disgraceful' and 'dangerous'. 

Essex County Council Highways are shutting the small tunnel under the railway line by Manningtree station on Monday October 15 until until Friday 19, between 09.30-15.30 for essential roadworks. 

Alastair McCraw,  a Babergh District and Brantham Parish councillor is concerned at the huge impact the closure will have on villagers and angry they were not consulted beforehand.

People trying to get from Suffolk into Essex, and vice versa, and anyone trying to access Manningtree railway station will be affected.

"This is absolutely disgraceful," said Cllr McCraw. "We have had no warning before today that these roadworks and closure will be taking place.

"The impact on users from Brantham and beyond is going to be huge, with traffic chaos virtually guaranteed.

"There are clearly concerns for pedestrians, cyclists and the disabled, trying to use the ramp over the railway crossing. It is potentially very dangerous for users and we have not had any details how this may be mitigated."

Essex County Council Highways spokesman said  “The work will involve trial holes to see whether there is sufficient space and stability to put in traffic signals and the supporting cables which could regulate traffic under the bridge.

"The section of road under the bridge will be closed to allow safe working.

"Closure may extend from 8am -5pm but we hope to do the work during off-peak times between 9.30 and 3pm.”

*See what is happening elsewhere on the peninsula...

Brantham Speeders Hit Staggering Figures

Sunday, August 26, 09.00

More speeding drivers were caught in Brantham than anywhere else on the peninsula and beyond, with 136 caught speeding and one motorist caught doing 13mph over the 30mph limit.

More than 200 people have been caught speeding on the peninsula in the past six weeks, according to figures released by Suffolk's Safety Camera Team.

254 drivers were captured on film driving at excessive speed in just four of the peninsula's villages, since July 1 2018.

Tattingstone was the next highest with 89 offenders, with one driver caught doing 52mph in the 30mph limit.

Speeding motorists were snapped by enforcement cameras on the B1456 at Woolverstone, the A137 between Brantham and Tattingstone, and the B1080 at Sutton.

Brantham tops the peninsula table, and also the in the Hadleigh and west Ipswich safer neighbourhood team's area, with 136 offenders.

These figures do not include those compiled by community speed watch volunteers, operating in a number of villages or mobile police cars.

The Safety Camera Team operates a number of mobile enforcement vehicles, which are deployed across Suffolk.

Proactive speed enforcement only takes place in Suffolk at locations where there is an on-going risk of collisions, where a number of fatal or serious injury road traffic collisions have occurred or where there have been substantiated complaints from local people.

Locations where proactive speed enforcement takes place are reviewed regularly by senior officers.

Excess speed for the conditions, or the limit, is one of the main reasons for accidental deaths and injuries on our roads. Speed limits are there to protect road users warning them of the dangers of the road and if caught speeding you could instantly face a minimum of a £100 penalty and three points on your licence or attend court.

Suffolk has four operational fixed camera sites, including the Orwell Bridge where more than 500 drivers were caught exceeding the 60mph average speed limit in both directions in June 2018 alone.

Clarke At The Double As Brantham Win Away

George Clarke bagged a brace as Grantham got their Premier Division season off to a winning start with a 2-1 victory at Kirkley & Pakefield.

Athletic's Clarke hit a stunning first half opener before Harvey-Smith equalised for the hosts on the stroke of half-time.

The irrepressible Clarke fired home the winner, after K&P went down to 10 men when their centre half was red carded for throwing a punch.

The Blue Imps kick off their home fixtures on Tuesday when they entertain Hadleigh United at the Leisure Centre ground.

Key Chairman Role For Independent Councillor

Tuesday, May 22, 17.00

Brantham councillor Alastair McCraw has been elected chairman of Babergh District Council's overview and Scrutiny committee. 

The Alton ward councillor, who represents Brantham, Stutton and Tattingstone, as an Independent on the district council, was voted in unanimously at the annual meeting today.

Cllr McCraw was elected in 2015 and has subsequently served as a member or substitute on virtually all committees as part of his learning process.

In addition to being member of Regulatory and Licensing, Alastair has also been on Audit and Joint staff and was previously the Scrutiny vice-chairman.

"I originally stepped up to try and make Babergh work better for both the Alton Ward I live in and for the Babergh District itself," said Cllr McCraw. "This is a better chance to continue that work."

With Babergh last year adopting a cabinet model the role of the scrutiny committee has proved invaluable.

Cllr McCraw added: "We look to inform and to throw light on the council and issues for the benefit of people across the board. Scrutiny is there to help the Council make better decisions.

"We should be there not just to criticise, not be political, but practical and make it work."

Despite another two of its members leaving the group to become Unionists,  the Conservatives still have an administrative majority, and have adopted a more inclusive approach under recently appointed new leaderJohn Ward.

The cabinet now has one non-conservative among its portfolio holders, with Shotley peninsula's Berners ward member Derek Davis who is also an Independent, responsible for Organisational delivery.

Financial Help During Cold Weather Snap

Scores of families on the Shotley peninsula will be given an extra £25 a week after the Government triggered their Cold Weather  Payment for this area.

The payments, for people on certain benefits come into effect when average temperatures drop, or are forecast to drop, to zero degrees Celsius or below.

With the so-called Beast from the East moving in, South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge today confirmed those payments will be paid, starting from February 23, initially for one week.

People in postcode area IP9 and CO11 are among those that will be paid, with payments made automatically with 14 days.

With Universal Credit being rolled out in this area shortly, others who will get the winter weather payment are those who are on pension credit, income support, income-based job-seekers allowance, and employment and support allowance

The winter weather allowance is different, and separate, to winter fuel allowance.

Anger As Trees Cut In Beauty Spot

Concerned nature-lovers in Brantham have been told there is nothing they can do to halt the cutting down of trees on the public right  of way on the green field site, which is part of the Stour and Orwell Walk.

The trees are being felled as part of the permission granted to St Francis Group, developers of the 320 new homes being built at the former factory site.

Villagers, including dog-walkers were angered when they saw the amount of work being carried out and the devastation to an area of open space, traditionally used as a public footpath for many years.

However, they and the authorities are powerless to act as the work is being carried out legally.

Babergh District Councillor Alastair McCraw sympathised with concerned residents and understood the depth of feeling, but pointed out he had asked an expert to look in to the matter and the developer is acting within their rights. 

‘Feelings have been running high about these trees since the weekend,” said Cllr McCraw. “Last week I contacted SFG, the landowners who provided the permission and documentation promptly.

“I also asked the Babergh Planning Enforcement team to investigate to ensure that all work was being carried out correctly. Their prompt and complete report has confirmed that the work has permission, has been carried out safely and that no footpath has had to be closed.

“The work has to be carried out before nesting season from March. The footpath, which wasn’t actually an adopted footpath, will be replaced by the bridleway, which should have existed since the 1970’s but was somehow overlooked by SCC.

“In short it was all horrible to see, upsetting for most of us, but legal. This is the sort of thing that developers do, sometimes to fulfil their planning obligations and conditions, and I’m saddened too.”

Police Still Hunting For Assault Thug

Joe Harvey. Thursday, February 15, 14.00

The hunt for a thug that viciously assaulted a Brantham man trying to stop a theft from van continued today as police appealed for witnesses

The attack, which resulted in the good samaritan ending up with a broken jaw, took place  between 6.30pm and 7pm on Monday 12 February outside a house on Brooklands Road, near the primary school, which was closed..
The victim saw a man removing items from his van into another vehicle. Another offender was inside the van. While attempting to stop the offender the victim was punched several times. He also received a blow to his head which knocked him to the ground. The victim suffered a broken jaw in the attack.
The offenders fled in the vehicle, stealing power tools.
The attacker was dressed in all black. He was also wearing a black balaclava and black gloves.
Police are also investigating three other thefts from vans in tSuffolk on the same day, and believe some could be linked.
At around 8.50pm two offenders broke into a works van in Elm Way, Bacton, stealing power tools.
The first offender was wearing a white or grey hoody and a balaclava. The second offender was wearing all black clothing and a balaclava.
At around 9.05pm offender/s attempted to break into a van in Debenham Road, Mickfield. It is not known what, if anything was stolen.
At around 9.45pm two offenders wearing balaclavas attempted to break into a van in Dales Road, Ipswich. No entry was gained and nothing was stolen.
If you have any information regarding any of the incidents or saw any suspicious activity during the times stated you should contact Suffolk Police on 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously.

Van owners are also advised to register their tools for free at taking note of the serial numbers and models, and to use ultraviolet pen to (invisibly) mark their property, which increases the chances of having them returned to you in the event of being lost or stolen.

Van drivers should also consider the following measures to reduce the risk of being a victim of crime:
• Always lock all doors and shut windows, physically checking van doors are locked.
• Park in a garage or secure area where possible.
• Park with the doors against a wall.
• If you park on your driveway consider installing motion activated CCTV.
• Be particularly aware when unloading.
• Remove tools from the van if possible.
• To increase the security of tools, you can bolt either a cage or box to the base of the van which should be secured with a sturdy close shackle padlock to reduce and deter further incidents.
• Setting an alarm or immobiliser will make it more difficult for the offender.
• Consider upgrading locks/fitting additional protection.
• Information on Police approved products can be found at 

Sister Act, Brantham Style

Brantham Amateur Theatrical Society Present - Sister Act

Review By Alastair McCraw

This could never have been a harsh review. I know some of these people. They may know where I live. BUT, Gosh or Gee, I really enjoyed myself at the first night.

It’s an astonishingly ambitious idea to try to recreate a feature film that’s so well known. To do that in a village hall with an amateur company (even one as experienced as this) is an ‘act’ of inspired insanity. BATS (Brantham Amateur Theatrical Society) filled the stage and, at times, gave us a spectacle.

The lead part, Deloris, saw Jaquie Lewis completely overcome any image you may have had of Whoopi Goldberg by the middle of Act One. Her voice and feeling for the part gained strength throughout, culminating in a beautifully judged title song in Act Two. This was my personal favourite.

Just as the character gained in understanding, so did the rest of the cast. This is all about strong female roles, for example Geneva Downes as the Mother Superior. With probably more lines than anybody else and a great intro song for convent life, she anchors the story. She gives us the links and the other half of the doubts and fears. But it’s a Philly upbeat piece and it really takes off as the nuns come into the work.

Their original sound (pre-Deloris) might be the most deliberately awful singing I have ever heard. I winced. I was supposed to. Sound balance issues aside in ‘It’s Good To Be A Nun’, by the end of Act One that gospel influenced mix was coming out loud. The strength of this show is the choir of nuns giving it the full ‘Glory Glory’ welly. The end of Act One gives you all of that and a real lift to boot.                                                                                                             

It would be a huge mistake to overlook some of the individual nuns (all called Mary something). The outrageous moves of Angie Heath, the enthusiasm of Jessica Ford and the emerging voice of Rebecca Hoskyns as postulant Sister Mary Robert are real crowd pleasers.

‘The Life I Never Lead’ was a mark of a gifted performance by the last. Fiona Morris and Lisa Butler (the visionary one) also made the most of their opportunities. What was lovely was that most of the members of the Nuns chorus had their moments and their pieces of characterisation, but they all combined so well throughout. There were some sublime chords in ‘Bless Our Show’ and a fantastic start to Act Two with ‘Sunday Morning Fever’ from the company.

 I feel a bit sorry for the men in this musical. It’s about Sisterhood and they get a bit of the rough end of the deal because of it.

Eddie the cop knows he’s not that tough, but struggles on nobly. He does get his disco strut on and Arjan Van Heuveln carried off a minor wardrobe malfunction with great aplomb. Geoff Hewitson as Monsignor O’Hara, the male authority figure, increasingly found his Irish roots to great effect.

We were also all repeatedly blessed as he made his way down the aisle, so that was nice. (All pictures John Simpson)                             The villain of the piece Curtis, played by David Chilton, was disturbingly creepy and got the traditional British hiss at curtain, which he clearly relished. Here I must pay tribute to a trio of hoods, Alex Terry, Mark Hinson and Jesse Hawkins, for reproducing the macho dance floor moves that I genuinely haven’t seen, or performed, since 1978 itself.

Brilliant comic timing there.

John Hoskyns directed a very tight four-piece band from the keyboards, the set was well designed to make use of limited space (very limited space) and scene changes were exceptionally well done. Amanda Powell’s choreography made excellent use of that space providing some period moves while Tina Burns choices for Costume design did exactly the right thing, providing the increasingly glitzy Hollywood look for the nuns as the show went on. At the end you had the feeling of a film spectacular filling the stage and that was a huge part of this success.

If you put all this together, you have to say thanks to Director Pippa Revell, Producer Tina Burns and BATS itself for a great evening. The whole show and the comic chase scenes (Particularly the one in Act Two) used the stage, the auditorium, an energetic Kids Chorus and a cast that were clearly enjoying themselves to great effect.

There was some clever stuff hidden in there, including Pippa’s own cameo as the voice from the gallery. We look forward to more.

This was a first night and just as the story tells about love, growth and increasing confidence so did the performance. I expect the rest of the week to be even better. I had a ball, in case you couldn’t tell. If you can get a ticket (7.30pm start at Brantham Village Hall or from Bakes and Blossoms till Saturday 17th February) it’s more than worth the £9.

Boundary Review Results Delayed

Monday, February 12 - 06.00

The Local Government Boundary Commission for England has delayed the publication of its final recommendations for the Babergh review.

The commission is currently examining the electorate data and forecasts, which underpin all the recommendations and is expected to be able to make a further announcement about the completion of both reviews following its next meeting on 20 February.

The Shotley peninsula currently has three wards, Alton, which covers Tattingstone, Stutton and Brantham with Independent Alastair McCraw and Harriet Steer, a Conservative, the district councillors. David Rose, an Independent, is councillor for Holbrook, Lower Holbrook and Harkstead, while another Independent councillor, Derek Davis covers Shotley, Erwarton, Chelmondiston, Woolverstone and Freston, along with Peter Patrick, a Conservative that lives in Polstead.

The new ward boundaries under review would see Shotley, Erwarton and Harkstead become a single member ward, while Bentley would join with Chelmondiston, Woolverstone and Freston but stay a two-member ward, while Holbrook would go in with the current Alton ward.

It was expected that the Boundary Commission review would have been completed now, but issues with Mid--Suffolk figures have set things back. The current administration of both councils want to dissolved Babergh and Mid-Suffolk and became one Heart of Suffolk council, although Conservative leader John Ward had promised a referendum would be held in Babergh, after  previous poll resulted in 61 per cent of resident that voted going against the proposal in 2011.

Talks To Save Rail Yard Plan Collapse

Thursday, February 8. 16.55

Hopes that plans by Greater Anglia to build a rail maintenance yard at Brantham have been dashed.

Rumour surfaced two week ago that the development to house, clean and maintain part of a new fleet of trains was in jeopardy, following concerns over the nearby rail crossing and a deal with the landowners couldn't be finalised, but talks were still ongoing and it was hoped a solution could be found.

But in a letter to Brantham Parish Council South Suffolk MP Jame Cartildge admitted defeat, mainly due to issues with the rail crossing at Manningtree, and in reaching an agreement with the the St Francis Group.

Mr Cartlidge wrote: I have been recently informed that the Greater Anglain development is in great peril."

Mr Cartlidge met with Transport Secretary Chris Grayling who had promised to investigate further and the local MP went on to confirm he had already been in talks with Babergh District Council, Essex County Council, Network Rail and Tendring District Council in an attempt to resolves matters.

Mr Cartlidge admitted: "I don't say this to be pessimistic but rather to be honest and realistic.

"We are now looking at the short-term possibility of the site as a solution for a wheel lathe location, or a full depot for the next franchise."

An estimated 30 jobs would have been created at the site, which is in desperate need of industrial development to go alongside permission to build homes in an adjoining area.

Alastair McCraw, Babergh District and Brantham parish councillor, said: "If this is the final result, it's a waste of a wonderful opportunity.

"Brantham Parish Council, Babergh District Council, the MP James Cartlidge and most importantly Brantham itself have been wholly supportive. If there have been failings in due diligence, they do not rest with those parties."

Greater Anglia today insisted the deal had not yet fallen through.

A spokeswoman from Abelio Greater Anglia today (Thursday) sent this statement to SPNF.

"There are a number of issues to be resolved in order to progress with our proposed new depot at Brantham. These include preparation of the site, train access to the site and the fact that we have yet to agree commercial terms with the landowner involved.

"A potential further complication relates to the impact of additional train movements on the level crossing at Manningtree and we have been working with Network Rail about this.

"We are also looking at alternative options for the maintenance and cleaning that is due to be undertaken at Brantham, in case we need to alter our plans. We expect to be able to confirm the next steps, either with Brantham, or if necessary, a new plan within the next three months – as yet no decision has been made."

One possible alternative location would be Parkeston Quay, near Harwich.Others include Ilford, Norwich and Clacton.

By Joe Harvey (Tuesday, February 6, 06.00 )

Householders on the Shotley Peninsula are being asked to use their spare bedroom to take in single lodgers.

Solo Housing have linked up with Babergh Distrct Council to try and help singeltons struggling to find suitable accommodation.

The scheme works by matching a suitable single person, referred by the district council or other agencies, with potential landlords on the penisula, that have been vetted by Solo Housing.

Solo Housing will ensure the landlords’ criteria and accommodation suit the scheme, and will also assess potential lodgers’  circumstances and needs.

It could be the landlords are looking for help with bills, or would like the security and company of another person in their home.

The single people tend to be those either homeless, or close to becoming homelss. They may be on low inclomes, or suffering a break up of a relationship.

Solo Housing chief executive Carolyn Howell said: ‘It’s a very simple and successful model, Solo provides practical help and advice to anyone who has a spare room in their house that they would like to rent out.

“At the same time, we will use our assessment criteria to match suitable people to available rooms, providing advice and support to single people who may like to take up a lodging offer.

“The service aims to provide a simple solution for those who would like to rent out a room, perhaps to help them pay their bills, or for companionship, and at the same time provides a housing solution for a single person who may not be able to access other suitable affordable accommodation on their own.”

One of the first landladies to sign up for the Solo Housing Lodging Scheme was a lady called Joan, who lives in the Babergh District.

She said: “As an elderly female, who lives independently, I didn’t want to be alone, especially at night, so taking in a lodger that met with my requirements was very helpful. 

“Solo met with the prospective lodger to make sure they were suitable for my circumstances and helped me with the paperwork.  It all seemed very thorough.

I really appreciate the company and social interaction and my current lodger helps with small jobs around the home.”

‘This is just such a good idea," said Alton ward district councillor Alastair McCraw, who represents Brantham, Stutton and Tattingstone. "Matching people who can help each other. There have always been informal arrangements of this type, but the Solo Housing Lodging Scheme should both provide safeguards and help prevent homelessness. Simples!’

Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils’ Homelessness Team took 227 homeless applications in 2016/17. 

In addition to this, they prevented homelessness in more than 450 cases and are hoping this scheme will help to settle more people at risk of becoming homeless into permanent accommodation.

If you have a room available, or a single person looking for suitable lodgings, contact 0800 652 0155.

Youngsters Wanted For Voice Audition

Potential pop stars from the peninsula are being offered the chance to audition the The Voice Kids. 

Superstar coaches Emma Willis,, McFly's Danny Jones and Pixie Lott will be looking to spin their chairs at the blind audition this weekend.

Highly talented young singers, aged between seven and 14 are invited to attend the show 

Even as an audience member who could witness a star being born.

Click here to book your place or get free audience tickets this Saturday or Sunday.

Rail Depot Project Can Be Saved

By Joe Harvey

A cautious air of optimism has been raised that jobs and prosperity will still arrive on time at the proposed Brantham Rail Maintenance Yard

Concerns have been raised that plans to build a new rail maintenance yard at a derelict site in Brantham may be scrapped after Greater Anglia struggled to move forward with the project.  

Greater Anglia had hoped to create 30 new jobs for the area by building a depot for stabling and maintaining around 20 brand new trains being commissioned in time to join their fleet next year, with work at the yard completed by the end of 2018.

Design work and construction planning for the new depot was due to start this month, with the site due to be cleared in March and building beginning in the summer.

However, issues with the landowner St Francis Group, and logistical concerns have led Greater Anglia to look at alternative sites, including Norwich and Ilford.

Despite those concerns, the scheme is still being backed and work is continuing to make the scheme work.

Greater Anglia's Franchise and Programmes Director Mike Kean, told Rail Magazine: “I am conscious that there have been several rumours about the future of this site which can be damaging. I wanted to give an honest update on where we are.

“We have been working hard on it for over a year but still have issues with the landowner selling the land, delivery of the connection and achieving acceptance of how it will operate.

"Due to this we are looking at alternative stabling sites to accommodate the new trains as well as other locations for a wheel lathe.

"We are continuing to develop Brantham, but if we cannot solve the land issues we will need a plan B - this is well under way. A further review of Brantham will happen in Q1 of this year.”

Alastair McCraw, Babergh's District Councillor for the Brantham area, is confident a solution can be found.

He said: "There is keen interest and support throughout Brantham for this Regeneration project.

"It would be a tragedy if after planning, groundworks and with this goodwill, the opportunity was wasted.

"Talks are being held between the various parties involved to find practical solutions. For the moment, I think it’s best to let those discussions take place without further comment

"I believe this can be solved."  

© Copyright Shotley Peninsula News and Features