Suffolk Local Access Forum from Margaret Hancock
I was particularly interested to read John Norman's comments on cycling in the last Newsletter. I'm a keen commuting and touring cyclist myself and would echo most of his comments. As a member of Suffolk Local Access Forum (SLAF) I was very encouraged to learn about SCC's plans to encourage more children to cycle to school. I'm sure John is aware of the Safe Routes to School (SRTS) programme, a national initiative to improve the health and well-being of children by examining conditions around schools and conducting projects and activities that work to improve safety and accessibility, and reduce traffic and air pollution in the vicinity of schools. As a result, this programme aims to make bicycling and walking to school safer with more appealing transportation choices thus encouraging a healthy and active lifestyle from an early age.
It is good to know that in Suffolk, Claire Parker, Green Access Manager is working alongside SCC Passenger Transport to identify ways in which Public Rights of Way might contribute to these efforts and a number of footpaths and bridleways have been identified as being potential options for a safer route to school. For SRTS to be delivered successfully will require collaboration between authorities' schools, passenger transport, highways, PRoW teams and local politicians. A lot of this is budget driven now and as much work will need to be put into promoting healthy and sustainable travel to school amongst parents and children as ensuring off road routes are properly maintained and safe to use. The programme is complex and in some circumstances contentious and political but it's good to know that many of the issues raised by John in his article are at least on the agenda.
More details about SLAF, can be found at http://publicrightsofway.onesuffolk.net/suffolk-local-access-forum/ and the full report (LAF16/04) entitled “Green Access Development Update” is available by clicking on SLAF meeting 28-01-16. The report summarises development projects that the Green Access Manager is either leading, scoping or involved with, and I think would make interesting reading for anyone keen to see an improvement in facilities for walkers and cyclists across the County.
Fore Street memories from Stuart Cooper
I particularly enjoy Letters to the Editor for the memories they evoke. The April Newsletter (Issue 203) contained just such a contribution from William Thompson, now living in Norwich. He mentioned his employment at Smyth Bros which reminded me of a story that links to the Society's celebration last year of the Fore Street Facelift of 1961.
I remember my father, who was friendly with Cyril Lee - a director of Smyth Bros - telling me of a very animated Mr Lee (those that knew him will understand) who had received the building colour scheme proposal just weeks after redecorating the Fore Street premises. Nevertheless, just as other owners wholeheartedly embraced the scheme, Smyths was re-painted, this time in the proposed colour.
Mr Thompson also refers to the Old Neptune Inn which was owned by George Scott. I had a great liking and respect for George and as a very young man I served for many years on the Fore Street Association Committee. The Committee was made up of some distinguished members of the business community: Neville Sneezum, Ray Atkinson of Martin & Newby,
Mr Jackson of EA Wire Company and yet when any subject was discussed George would particularly invite my views.
George Bodley Scott was a very able man being Chairman of W.S. Cowell Ltd, often quoted as the finest colour printers in the world, and he was also exceptionally gifted in manual tasks, particularly carpentry. When he took over the Old Neptune in 1950s it had been used as a builder's store and was in poor condition. The sitting room contained rotting oak linenfold panelling dating from 16th century and George carved complete replacement matching panels in his workshop. Some of the original panels are displayed in the Tudor Room in Christchurch Mansion.
Mr Thompson correctly records summer evening parties held at the Old Neptune. Each year a function was held for the management team at W.S. Cowell and another for members of the Fore Street Association which I attended on several occasions. I also remember, one year a party was held for the benefit of the Red Cross. My wife, Gina, has particularly fond memories of one special party with a Caribbean steel band playing in the courtyard.
[Many thanks to Margaret and Stuart for their contributions; we, too, enjoy the ‘Letters to the Editor' column so, readers, do please keep sending in correspondence.]