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The Big Picture - April 2011
Democracy is hard at work in Hethersett and there is a willingness for groups and organisations to work together for the general well being of others.
The coming district and parish council elections will be vitally important for shaping the village over the next few years. In many ways the future of Hethersett is uncertain with the latest figures for new development standing at 1,000 new homes. My guestimate is that this will increase by a few hundred thanks to infilling and smaller developments. Whatever the outcome Hethersett will see a considerable increase in its population. The development of course will come over a number of years, but it is vital that we plan now to improve the infrastructure so that if and when development takes place we are in good shape.
That means better facilities in health and education. It is vital that those elected at both parish and district level take stock of the situation and plan for the future now. A robust strategy for the village for the next five to 10 years is needed and we must look at the "bigger picture."
In general Hethersett has a wonderful community spirit and I hope this is reflected a little in this web site which is set up as a celebration of all that is good in the village. And there is so much to celebrate. That is why I am hugely optimistic about the future.
Already huge steps are being taken to bring together groups working in the sports, arts and environmental fields with the message simply of making recreation available to all irrespective of age or sex and encouraging fitness and well being. At the same time there is a tremendous amount of good work being undertaken to improve the environment through the work of the Hethersett Environmental Action Team (HEAT) which undertakes regular litter picks as well as organising an open garden day and a whole host of other events whilst also encouraging energy saving initiatives.
Hethersett and the Meltons Sports Association has been set up to encourage fitness and improve awareness of the benefits of walking, jogging and other pastimes. Alongside this the village has a thriving Olympic committee which will once again provide a full weekend of entertainment over the weekend of July 22nd to 24th including the hugely popular Come and Try It sports event on the Memorial Playing Field and the two mile Sunday fun run.
I know from personal experience that there are a number of tireless workers in our village who give their time and energy freely and free of charge. The plans, which are at the moment in an embryonic stage, to unite and have as many groups as possible working together provides an exciting backdrop for the "can do" brigade who will ensure that our village thrives and moves forward over the next decade.
In many ways these are worrying times for the village but they are also exciting times. If we get it right we will provide a lasting legacy in so many areas for our children and grandchildren.
New Development - September 2008
News that there is a possibility of 4,000 additional house in the Hethersett/Little Melton area has confirmed something I have long believed - that eventually there will be little or no green belt between Wymondham and Norwich.
North of the city this has already happened with a succession of built-up areas including Hellesdon, Drayton, Taverham and Thorpe Marriott. Many of us chose South Norfolk to avoid this urban sprawl, but now it looks a distinct possibility that Hethersett as we now know it will one day be subsumed into a large new town. Good news or bad - well of course as with any such situation there are arguments both for and against.
I suggest that the majority of people opposed to the development will be largely unaware of the facts and will be taking a "we don't want this" attitude whilst those in favour of it will in the main have a financial stake in a larger population through business interests.
My feeling, as always, is that public consultation will be a waste of time. Government and planners will make the decisions and comments made by local residents will be largely ignored - this is the kind of democracy we live in today.
There is a huge dilemma here, however. Whatever way you look at it there is no denying that rural services are being eroded, just look at the Post Office closures. Hethersett is already bursting at the seams when it comes to services such as education and health. At the present time the financial markets are in meltdown and whilst we suffer from the biggest recession to hit this country in decades we are being told that a massive influx of new people into the area is likely.
I know we won't always be in recession and, let's face it, with the pace that things change in modern society things could pick up at any time when the knee jerk reactions of the financial world settle down again.
We have seen builders start new developments and suddenly stop because it is no long economically viable for them to continue. So what are the chances of 1/ building 4,000 homes and 2/ finding people to live in them. At present not very high. But this will not always be the case.
Sadly we all have too much experience of large new developments coming without the infra-structure to support them - just look at the case of the Governments seeming unwillingness to complete the duelling of the A11. So just ask yourself if we get 4,000 new homes will we have sufficient doctors, dentists, schools, shops to serve the community - somehow I think not.
I for one came to Hethersett because it was a village with rural characteristics and a village heart. I have already seen it grow beyond all recognition. To set a new town in our midst would totally change the character of the area forever and bring along with it all the social problems of urban life. I'm not sure I am ready for that.
If you have views on this issue that you would like to see printed on this web site please e-mail them by clicking here. Please title your e-mail Hethersett development.
© Peter Steward 2008
Car Nuisance - February 2008
Wherever you go in the village it seems to be cluttered up with vehicles. That is a comment I have heard many times in the past few months and the problem certainly seems to be getting worse. It is ironic that steps are being taken to turn Hethersett into a green village - yet arguably the biggest carbon footprint is made by the over and unnecessary use of cars and other vehicles. Negotiating parked cars has become a nightmare.
There are two main problems - Vehicle owners who insist in parking their cars on roads despite the fact that they often have plenty of space in the driveways and people who insist on using cars rather than walking or cycling.
With additional new development in the village I am afraid the situation is just going to get worse. Many people are being just plain irresponsible. Recently I was on my way back from Norwich and decided to call at the library. The library was fairly quiet but the car park was jam full. It was obvious that parents using one of the nearby schools were using the library car park for purposes other than what it is there for. There are few things more annoying than wanting to go somewhere but being unable to park due to other people's ignorance or bloody mindedness. The library car park is for users of the library and not a convenience parking place.
I have already made a resolution to walk whenever I need to shop or visit the centre of the village. It's high time others did the same if our village isn't to become gridlocked.
Going Green - February 2007
Why should we go green and isn't it just a load of hot air?
Well the answer to that is an unqualified No. Climate change is upon us. We can all see the results. Just look at the speed at which the Norfolk coastline is being eroded and you can see at first hand that something has to be done to slow this all down.
And the great thing is we can all do our bit without really trying.
Hethersett is attempting to become a green village. I was always amused when in the late 1960s and early 1970s neighbourhoods erected signs stating "This is a nuclear free zone" as if it would save them from destruction in the event of a nuclear war.
Going green is different. Putting up (metaphorically speaking of course) a sign stating "We are a green village) can have a profound effect on our own environment and send out a strong message to other towns and villages.
If we all do our bit we can reduce our "carbon footprints" and help the environment at the same time. After all the measures suggested by the new working party in the village are firstly common sense and secondly can save you a bob or two.
You can help by simply turning off lights when not needed, turning down the heating a degree or two, not boiling too much water, not leaving electronic devices on stand-by and not leaving the taps running when cleaning your teeth. Surely these are commonsense initiatives that we can all do.
Of course the one I like the most involves leaving the car at home and cycling or walking. Not only does this cut down on pollution, it also gets you fit and helps sort out the horrible traffic congestion in the village. I know that the ideas of Going Green are already embraced by the village schools. I hope that they use this initiative to once again urge parents and minders to only use their cars to pick children up when this is absolutely necessary.
Hethersett on the Web is very pleased to fully back the Go Green campaign and to feature it extensively on this site.
Celebrating the Heroes - August 2007
Hopefully you will be aware that Hethersett on the Web holds no allegiance to any particular political party. Our belief is that party politics should play no part in a village web site. We are happy to carry the views of any individuals or groups of whatever political persuasion they may be without favour.
Having said that we do applaud the latest initiative of the Government to reward local heroes making a difference in our communities. It is good to know that at last a good majority of national honours will go to these people rather than the famous fat cats.
On a cynical level it is likely that Prime Minister Gordon Brown has made this decision on the back of the bad publicity gained by his predecessor Tony Blair around the cash for honours scandal. Less cynical people will claim that this is just part of the new PM's plan to celebrate local communities and what goes on within them.
Whatever the reasons, it is a move that should be applauded. Hethersett, like every other town and village in the country, has a whole "army" of volunteers looking after clubs, groups and societies and making our village the place it is.
Without these people we would be very much poorer. They provide facilities and all those extras that can't be found from taxes. Often they are taken for granted and their work is overlooked. Indeed many people believe they receive payment - they never do. Now we can celebrate what they do and thank them for "making a difference."
It is hoped that Hethersett on the Web already celebrates the contribution of some of these people. We will continue to do so in the future. In the meantime why not nominate somebody yourself. It would be wonderful to have local people recognised for their efforts within the village.
An Inspiration to us All - June 2007
Hethersett soprano Elizabeth Watts has done us all proud.
Liz won a prestigious prize at the 2007 Cardiff Singer of the World competition, but above all captivated us with some stunning singing and had the whole village supporting her efforts.
The competition proved that Liz can and will shortly become one of the great opera sopranos in the world, which is quite something for a young lady brought up in our village.
Liz has very fond memories of her years growing up in Hethersett and during the competition numerous messages from Hethersett appeared on both her internet blog pages and also on the competition's official web site.
She also gained "rave reviews" from the likes of The Times, The Guardian and The Telegraph. The latter even suggested that she was denied the main prize simply because she had already taken a major prize with the Rosenblatt Song Award.
Liz, with typical modesty, said she "had a ball" and had proved herself during the week long competition. The final on BBC2 was watched by millions and Liz' career is now set to really take off.
The great thing is that Liz will never be spoilt by the obvious adulation that is about to come her way. "I don't do it for the fame or glamour. I do it because I love opera and want to communicate my music. I am only a vessel for the music," she said.
It is a remarkable statement from a supremely gifted artist in these days when everyone seems to be trying to grab their 15 minutes of fame before fading into the world of the has been.
Opera will never have the mass appeal of the pop world but the performances of all 25 of the supremely talented singers that took part in the finals of the singer of the world competition has made a mockery of appalling shows such as the X Factor and Big Brother where vacuous people enjoy their short time in the public limelight.
In a disposable world where today's heroes are tomorrow's cast-offs, genuinely talented people like Liz Watts will go about their business, delighting audiences around the world during what is certain to be a long and distinguished career. It is sad that people like Liz with genuine talent will never be recognised fully for their skills and ability.
At the same time it is heart warming to know that they will never sell out to tacky commercialism and theirs is an art-form that will endure long after the here today and gone tomorrow shows have bitten the dust. We will follow your career Liz with great interest and affection.
Another Service to Go - January 2007
As the village continues to grow, services to it seem to be diminishing. I'm not sure that this is what the economics of supply and demand is all about!
The latest threat is to the village bus service - yet we are constantly urged to use public transport.
Once again the theory and reality are vastly wide apart. As the village grows it needs more services and amenities - not less.
First Buses are threatening to withdraw the evening service to and from the village from the middle of February.
Once again it all boils down to the fact that economics and making that "fast buck" are more important than genuinely providing a service. It annoys me intensely that the marketeers can continually tell us of how brilliant their particular product is when we all know that the opposite is the case.
By withdrawing bus services, our village is being cut off in the evenings for those without their own transport. For those who use the buses despite having their own cars - well they will just use their own vehicles. The next thing we know Norfolk County Council and Norwich City Council will be whingeing on about congestion in the city centre. Maybe it's time for them to do something about it rather than sit around pontificating and making empty promises.
Mobile Phones - January 2007
On two occasions whilst driving in the village recently I have had to take evasive action against stupid motorists.
I say stupid because on both occasions they were speaking into a mobile phone whilst trying to negotiate parked cars or, in one case, turn a corner.
I have long believed that one of the most dangerous things you can do whilst driving a vehicle is use a mobile phone. Apart from the fact that you cannot be in control whilst speaking into a handset and using one hand to drive, speaking into a mobile takes the concentration that should go into the driving.
On one particular occasion I was turning left into Queen's Road. A van coming the other way seemed to be wrestling with negotiating the line of parked cars. Then I saw that the driver was smiling whilst having a conversation into the mobile. Suddenly he had to make a big effort to keep the van on course.
So I was glad to read in the press that answering a mobile telephone without a hands free kit whilst driving will now be punishable by three penalty points as well as an increased fine. Let's hope it makes our village roads a safer place.
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A few people have asked me why it is free to advertise and promote coming events on this web site. It's quite simple. The web site is entirely free. I firmly believe that too many people charge too much for services. I am able and willing to provide this web site service without charge and if that makes it different then all the better. There is no intention to charge any fees for any information on this site which I see as a village amenity.
Car Parking - December 2006
IF I need to go into the village I try as much as possible to walk for a number of reasons.
Firstly there's the exercise factor, secondly it cuts down on the energy waste and thirdly driving through the village is becoming something of a nightmare.
Sometimes when time is tight there is no alternative to taking the car, but I have been dismayed recently by the pile up of traffic throughout the day.
Morning and afternoon school runs were usually the times to avoid, but now virtually any time of day brings its problems.
Vehicles seem to be parked willy-nilly and crossing the road anywhere near the shops is becoming increasingly tiresome. Some drivers seem to have very little awareness of what is going on around them and I believe it will only be a matter of time before there is an accident in the centre of the village.
Finding an answer to the problem is a difficult matter, however. We live in a culture where people insist on using vehicles at all times. There is very limited parking space in the village and it is likely that matters will continue to deteriorate.
All I can say is if more people walked both they and the village would benefit.
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It's good to read in a survey that South Norfolk is thought to be one of the safest places to live in East Anglia with only 12% of people concerned about the threat of "yobbish behaviour." There is still vandalism in our village, however, and until a zero tolerance policy is adopted I believe sporadic acts of vandalism are likely to continue.
If you feel strongly about these issues or any other please send me an e-mail by clicking here or leaving a message on the noticeboard.
Fighting for Local Services - September 2006
HETHERSETT on the Web is fighting to maintain local services. It has come to our notice that the subsidy paid to keep rural post offices open is due to stop in March 2008. Without the £110million subsidy the rural post office network will make a substantial loss.
The fear is that the Department of Trade and Industry will take a decision on the future of the Rural Post Office Network after 2008 purely from a commercial basis without consideration of the excellent services and convenience provided by having a post office in villages like Hethersett.
A few years ago we had the closure of the Hethersett branch of Barclays Bank and there seems to be a distinct move away from providing local services despite the fact that our village is ever increasing in size.
Without the subsidy Norfolk is facing the closure of numerous small post offices. Members of our community rely on the local post office for pensions, benefits and banking services, along with the support that local post offices provide to the community.
If you feel strongly about this issue please send me an e-mail by clicking here or leaving a message on the noticeboard. I will pass the comments on to the relevant authorities. Please title your e-mails "postal services."