Stoke Ferry – Post Mill

The Stoke ferry Parish Council EGM called early November 2018 revealed a significant turning point in the story of this village. 2Agriculture under its sister group Amber holdings, revealed a plan to redevelop their two existing sites in the Village with 100 houses. The central factory proposal site includes two vacant green fields situated between the factory and the playing field which will be subject to this suburbanising project. The cottages and main hall that front the High Street and Wretton Road, are not included in the application. Therefore, the final total of properties will be higher once these enter “the market’.
The EGM held at Stoke Ferry village Hall had an air of shock, resignation and frustration in the room. The agenda’s first and only premise was “maximising returns on investment”. The reason given that cost of relocation being very expensive. A plausible reason if one ignores the billions that 2Sisters are worth. This insidious logic paves the way for an ethics free zone, where the company has no obligation for those who’ve worked and lived by an enterprise that has for better or worse dominated the heart of Stoke Ferry for the past fifty years. In short, we were being told that 2Ag’s obligations are not to the people in the room, with all their different stories and relationships to the mill, nor to a community that has to live with the impact of such an enterprise. But instead to people who are not here, people whose only concern is a number, a share value..
We the undersigned, urge others to join us and challenge these assumptions.
The planning authorities and developers want an easy ride, no embarrassing noise or inconvenient disagreements. 2Agriculture/Amber Holdings will move as fast as they can, and Stoke Ferry will be left with something neither side of the “Mill divide” wanted. Suburban mediocrity . A commute dormitory status offering little opportunity for work and livelihood in the village. Little opportunity for folk young and old to create affordable manageable homes and the loss of an opportunity for us to create a living breathing heart to our community with the 2 fields and the old housing on the square.
Some may say “that’s business”. It is, but that’s not the only rubric by which our lives and communities have to be shaped. We are entitled to voice our needs and concerns. Amber holdings are seeking planning PERMISSION. It’s the Borough Council who on OUR behalf are empowered to give this. A second “consultation” event was staged in the Village Hall on December 12th. It became quite clear the consultancy firm Pegasus were only interested in supportive statements offered and countered any criticisms with their own inbuilt logic underpinned by the “profit maximising” prerogative. Thus, the term “consultation” is rendered meaningless other than to tick a box in the planning process.
Let us not forget for the past fifty years the Mill in all its guises and phases has enriched a small few owners, CEO’s and shareholders. In exchange for modest wages for those employed by the Mill, as well as the impacts of noise, dust, dirt and health on many more who’ve lived here, the mill has been a highly profitable enterprise. When one looks at the heart of Stoke Ferry’s decaying post-industrial façade, the wealth which has been created is far from evident. The money made has gone elsewhere. The Mill has made enough, more than enough.
This proposed development which offers staff a precarious future and the community nothing but a suburban dormitory town status, comes as a slap in the face. Voicing our concerns and sharing our visions offers an antidote to cynicism and powerlessness. Finding common ground will create an alternative plan(s) to the one on offer. We can create a space for negotiation and taking responsibility.
Stoke Ferry would so benefit from the two fields becoming a village green/orchard/market garden/nut grove space, planted and opened-up from all sides of the village for the community to come together. The loss of livelihood with the departure of the mill needs to be met with small workshop spaces so skilled artisans, engineers, crafts and small food producers can develop a diverse economic life in the village. Consider small scale locally owned energy generation. There is also a need for work/live spaces where folk can work from home living above secure workshops. reducing needs for commutes, security and extra rent bills. There is a need for cooperative housing owned and managed by residents as a model for bypassing the rental economy that squeezes so many struggling to earn a living and who may find housing associations inflexible, unhelpful and remote. There are, we are sure many wishes others would like to add and we encourage them.
The current “business as usual” economic models make such visions seem remote, yet many of us know and have experienced how current mainstream economic business interests are failing us. Planning objectives have been driven by unrealistic objectives of a failing economic arrangement, with no foresight towards real crises’ for which our communities need to prepare. Climate disruption and Energy/resource decline requires that we reimagine how our communities, land and built environment function and can be less dependent on fossil fuels.
If positive change is going to be made it must be down to us.
We say ‘No’, to the two fields development and ‘Yes’, to livelihood, community, and ecology in Stoke Ferry. How about you?

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Stoke Ferry Eel Screens

We are currently planning to install brand new eel screens at our Stoke Ferry site as part of significant programme of works across the region designed to make a difference to the endangered species. As part of Anglian Water’s Water Industry National Environment Programme (WINEP), the scheme is a £1.5million investment into new eel screens which will be installed on the Cut-Off Channel and the River Wissey.
Why are we doing this?
The European eel is now classed as critically endangered after a 95 per cent decline in population over the last 25 years.
Eels spend their early years in rivers across Europe before migrating to the Sargasso Sea in the North Atlantic to spawn. The spawn is then thought to use the Gulf Stream to return to our rivers, by which time they have developed into very small glass eels.
One of the reasons why the eel population is thought to have declined so rapidly in recent years, is because structures in our rivers, like weirs, locks and other machinery prevents the species from completing their migration cycle in order to reproduce.
The new screens at Stoke Ferry will stop eels from entering the abstraction intake, but the size of the mesh on the screens also means they will protect fish and other organisms from being drawn into the machinery too.
Anglian Water

Ron’s Rambles – Mrch

Regular readers will know that this is an area that greatly concerns me, they will not be surprised that I was very pleased to hear Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, proposing to introduce rent controls. I was not surprised, however, to hear a conservative MP arguing strongly against the proposal, he believed that these matters should be left to a free market and the free market will solve the housing problem. Perhaps the market will solve the problem, but how long will it take? In the last twenty years and more it has not done so, in fact the problem has got worse. How can you have a free market in a commodity when there is a national shortage and it has not been possible to eliminate the shortage, houses are not the sort of commodity that you can import, true one might import prefabs, but that is only part of the solution, land and services are the crucial factors.
How long have people got to suffer exploitation by landlords? At the very least rent controls will put an end to this ever-increasing spiral in rents and, by fixing the returns on rented property, it will help to stop the spiralling of house prices.
The governments of the last thirty years have failed miserably to tackle this most important aspect of modern life in the UK. The situation is so serious that drastic measures are required but, even now, there is no evidence that politicians are even contemplating drastic measures. Congratulations to Sadiq, I sincerely hope he brings controls into this sector in London at least.

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March Gardening.

March is the beginning of the busy gardening season. It can be a challenging month too, with unpredictable wind and frosts. Now is also the time to turn your thoughts to summer and your summer planting schemes as many seeds and bulbs should be planted now.
Over the past couple of months my inbox and social media pages have been full of the same question “what can I do to repair my lawn following last summers drought?”. Now that the soil is warming up its time to start tackling these issues (if you didn’t last autumn).
As the grass perished, weeds quickly took hold in the bare soil. If lawn weeds are not controlled they can quickly establish into large patches and choke out the grass, leaving the lawn looking untidy and neglected. There are two main methods of controlling weeds, by hand or with the use of chemicals. Selective lawn weed killers are available in two types, a liquid or all-in-one granular product. If you only have a few weeds then a granular all in one product will also control moss and fertilise the lawn. Where weeds are more prevalent for small areas a ready to use spray weed killer is suitable, or for larger areas a concentrated liquid which can be diluted is preferred. Selective lawn weed killers work better when the weeds are growing rapidly. If you choose to use a liquid weed killer make sure to use one that’s suitable for lawns and NOT a total weed killer which will kill the grass too. Once you’ve applied a weed killer its time to move onto the following steps:
• Cut lawn edges with a half-moon edging iron to ensure they look neat and well shaped.
• Scarify with a spring-tine rake to remove dead grass, thatch and other debris that will otherwise prevent healthy grass growth.
• Aerate the lawn with a garden fork or hollow-tined aerator to improve drainage and help reduce waterlogging problems and so make the grass grow better.
• After aerating, brush a dressing of top soil onto the lawn to further improve drainage and ensure healthy grass growth.
• Apply a spring lawn fertiliser (if you didn’t use an all-in-one product in step one)
The final step is overseeding. This should ideally follow the moss control, scarifying, aeration and feeding as part of the spring lawn care program. The scarification and aeration operations will leave a nice seed bed, which will encourage both germination and establishment. If you have used a weed or moss killer ensure that you follow the manufactures guidelines before overseeding.
All of the above will promote a healthy lawn, which will help prevent, not only weeds but many other common lawn care problems. However it is important to remember that if the lawn is not maintained properly, lawn weeds and moss are likely to keep returning.
Top Tips for March:
1. Plant out chitted early seed potatoes, shallots & onions.
2. Protect newly emerging shoots from slugs and snails
3. Keep on top of weeds, as they will complete with garden plants for water and nutrients.
4. Sprinkle a general purpose fertiliser in borders around shrubs and perennials.
5. Prune winter flowering shrubs such as mahonia, heathers, and winter jasmine as soon as flowering has ended.
6. As the flowers from daffodil and narcissus bulbs fade, carefully remove the flower head to prevent seed setting, leave the leaves to die down naturally.
Whatever March brings, I hope you are all able to enjoy some time outside in your garden.
Rachel Sobiechowski BSc (Hons) P&R Garden Supplies, Fengate Drove, Brandon 01842 814800