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

William “Bill” Miller 1927-2019

Boughton Church was full on Jan 30 for a memorial service to a long time village resident Bill Miller. The service was led by Rev Ken Waters, whilst the eulogy was given by Bill’s son David, who spoke of his father’s early career in the Royal Navy, before the family move from Ten Mile Bank to Boughton in 1947, to start a life in farming. We were reminded that over the years his father had seen a huge change in farming methods, from horse drawn to mechanisation. David told the congregation of his parents’ affection for Boughton: he recalled that they had had to curtail one holiday and return home as Mum was so homesick. Finally retiring, his father had undergone major heart surgery at Papworth, before becoming a full time carer for his beloved wife Joan, who had suffered a stroke in 1999. His father, he said, with his military background (he always wore his RN veterans hat with pride) had been moved to fund restoration of the village War Memorial, even employing a forensics expert to decipher the inscriptions which time had rendered virtually illegible. The work was done so well that the Memorial is now listed.
Following Joan’s death, after 61 years of happy marriage, failing health in turn meant that Bill had finally to leave Boughton in 2016, for residential care in Ripon, close to his son.
The service over, everyone was able to mingle and share memories, whilst enjoying a nip of sherry and some delicious refreshments. A retiring collection raised, with Gift Aid, £185 each for the funds of the Church and Boughton Cricket Club, both which Bill had supported, in addition to Papworth Hospital and the Canaries – Norwich City Football Club.