War Memorial Gary Trouton

Straight Talking

August 2007

Another piece of Straight Talking from our resident cynic

As I sit here on another miserable summer's day, not knowing whether my use of the internet is adding to global warming or wondering whether I am leaving a huge carbon footprint on the planet, I started to think about all the positive things about Stoke Ferry. Contrary to my previous articles the good things in Stoke Ferry outweigh the bad.

About four years ago there was a meeting at the community centre organised by the borough council. The purpose of this meeting, I believe, was to find out what the people of Stoke Ferry liked about the village, what they disliked about the village and how they saw the village developing in the future. We were all asked to join up in small groups and write down our thoughts to the questions that were put to us. I was pleasantly surprised with all the positives that were put forward.

Many people listed what they thought Stoke Ferry had to offer its residents; they told the Borough Council all the good points of the village. I listed the playing field as my focal point of the village, situated at the centre providing an area for children and adults to play and relax. For other people it was the River Wissey that meanders along the outskirts of the village that provides the relief they need from today's fast moving world. Many cited the common as an area that they have grown to love with its varied flora and fauna. Others mentioned our post office as a huge plus point for the village along with the Corner Shop. The educational centre of the village is of course the James Bradfield School which has been providing education to the village for over 180 years, which about 10 years ago was joined by a pre school group that caters for the next generation of villagers. We are blessed with not only a (recently refurbished) village hall but also a community centre and in the interests of remaining neutral I would also mention that we, the villagers, have use of the old church (I think!) as a meeting place. All of this makes Stoke Ferry a very desirable place to live. What ever your views on the Mill are, it is there and has been for a number of years. There are now two groups in the village that caters for our senior residents and for the younger residents there is a youth club that meets once a week. We may currently only have one pub but I am sure it wont be long before we have two pubs again to frequent.

A few years ago, after seeing some of the collection of postcards that the late John Stocking had amassed, I was inspired to walk around the village with my camera to try and capture the essence of what village life was all about, the new houses on Wretton Road had just been completed and the latest additions to the village had begun to move in. The wood yard was a bustling centre of commerce with customers coming from far and wide, the Mill was producing animal feed to its customers in the days before Foot and Mouth and Avian Bird Flu. Cars were blocking the road outside the Post Office, a clear indication of how essential this service was and still is. An equal amount of cars were outside the Corner Shop. I often look back on the photo's I have taken with a smile on my face (I'm not grumpy all the time). Anyone who wants to see exactly what Stoke Ferry looked like about six or seven years ago should go to Google Earth on the internet, as for some reason they have medium resolution images that were captured at around the turn of the millennium.

There are still some problems in the village and only the short sighted would disagree, but these problems can be overcome with the help of those that live here. I have given up all hope of any real assistance from outside agencies, such as the Police who seem to have given up attending the infrequent Parish Council meetings - and before the Clerk writes a reply stating that six weekly meetings are all that are required, ask the question as to whether meeting every six weeks is adequate? I place no reliance on either our Borough Council or our newly elected Borough Councillor, who does not even live in the Wissey Valley - how is someone from Downham Market going to understand the needs of the residents of Stoke Ferry? I have no time at all for Norfolk County Council who are happy to take our money and use it to paint their Park and Ride buses in different pastel colours so that the people of Norwich can identify which bus to get on - I would have thought that a number on the bus would have sufficed but hey its only money...our money. The only people who will make a real difference to this village is those that live here, those who were either born here or chose to make Stoke Ferry their home. These are the people who will make a difference.

So next time you see people ripping up the common on motorbikes, or see someone vandalising road signs or discarding litter without any care and consideration to others it is us, the residents of Stoke Ferry who pay the price, not only now but for generations to come.

Grumpy Old man

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