The tale that wagged the dog

Our regular readers will know that, from time to time, we are asked to help find missing pets. The other day I had a distraught dog owner phone me saying that he had lost his brown Labrador.

I asked if he had tried asking people in the neighbourhood or anything else. He replied “Yes, and I have posted notices around the village with his picture.”

I inquired what he had written on his appeal. “Here, boy.” he replied.

Wolfson House Development

Wolfson House Site Plan Telereal Trillium 2016

I was recently given a book about the place where I was born – it was unrecognizable as the place of my childhood. Recent residents focused on imagined improvements that will ensure that they will inhabit a chocolate box fantasy world. As the southeast is destined, it seems, for increased housing development the wish to fantasize appears to increase in proportion to the amount of concrete. Here in Wye we have suffered serious challenges to our perception of our place. It has been summarized by some as ‘Wye is a dormitory village’, a sentiment that may seem justified if you are around the station waiting to commute or looking at the road damage caused by 4X4s along the back roads. But, is this melancholy outlook justified?

Wye was, despite the many agricultural students, an aging rural village. Twenty years ago the primary school had very few children born in the village and had a very wide catchment area. Today we see streams of children and their parents dissipating into the houses – new and old. There is, at present, a dearth of enthusiasm for ‘community projects’ but that will surely change as the children become teenagers and parents engage along with their children.

However, there are issues that should concern us about the local developments. This has been recently drawn to attention by the objections raised to the Telereal Trillium plans to develop the Wolfson House site. Parishioners will remember that this building was a student residence built through the charitable donation of the Wolfson Trust. The abject failure of Imperial College to revive the fortunes of Wye College led to the sale of the College real estate that included the Wolfson House site. The Telereal Trillium proposals are for modest sized houses, squeezed onto the available land (see the site plan above). The reports which they  commissioned  lack any sincere sensitivity to either the village or the original site and its educational purpose, giving the impression of a developer’s ‘quick fix’. Nevertheless, in the real-politik of today something has to be done to the derelict sites left by the former owners. One hopes that these houses will still be affordable as well as sympathetic to young local people who will need to be housed as they commit themselves to the area and the community.

WwHPC call for support
Surface water and sewage – always a problem for old villages

Finally, although the site has a higher elevation than most of the village, the sewerage system has frequently revealed its antiquity and incapacity to carry the increased volume of foul-water already issuing from the modernized village. The optimism or should we say disregard of the commissioned reports does not auger well for the village’s residents nearer then river, or indeed, the rest of the village!

The deficiencies in the reports may be exemplified in, for example, the foul-water assessment which states:

“Soakage testing

“Soakage testing has not been carried out at the site. Surface water runoff from the existing site is assumed to be discharged to soakaways. Soakaways and other concentrated infiltration devices need to be positioned at least 5m from buildings or roads in accordance with the requirements of the Building Regulations. There is space available for soakaways either side of the development….”

“Sewer Records
“A 150mm diameter public foul water sewer runs from north to south along Upper Bridge Street to its junction with Cherry Garden Lane. From here a 225mm diameter foul sewer runs east to west along Upper Bridge Street, Figure 5.
The existing buildings are connected to the public foul sewer. There are no surface water sewers in the immediate vicinity of the site.
“The existing development provided student accommodation with 24 single rooms. The proposed development is for six, 2-bedroom houses an equivalent population of 18 people. The proposed development will therefore reduce foul water flows when compared to the previous use.”
We, on the other hand note that in general student residents were visitors who were not in occupation for the whole year!

The Funeral of Mr Alexander Jones

The dark days of winter may be nearly gone but there is still plenty of winter sadness for the village. We are are sorry to announce that the funeral of Mr Alexander Jones will take place at Wye Church at 2:00pm on Wednesday, February 22nd.

Mr. Jones was the last of three siblings and was until very recently to be seen jauntily smiling his way through the village. He was a small man with a very big smile and a great sense of humour, although it may be true to say that not everybody appreciated it. It was rather like having a living copy of Private Eye pronounce on current goings-on. Mr Jones was over ninety (I believe in excess of ninety-four years) and was very proud of the fact that he could get around without a stick or a mobility scooter. Mr Jones we shall miss you.

 

 

 

UK should produce more of its own food to protect prices, report says – BBC News

For years we have been promoting the support for British farming and the better employment of British land. What a pity the decline of Wye College and its dissolution by Imperial College was the consequence of short-sight and a quick buck! https://wyeweb.org/living-in-wye

Only 52% of food eaten in the UK is produced by British farmers, according to new research.

Source: UK should produce more of its own food to protect prices, report says – BBC News

What do you think of Russia when You see This?

We are pleased that we get visits, not only from Wye or even Kent, from across the world. This visit from the Russian Federation is slightly perplexing but, when we looked at the images of the place, it is a strange mixture of poverty and modernity. Look in the background at the Soviet-style building , the neat bungalows and then the shanty-town structures.

Who Pays The Ferryman?

Child Migrants Arriving in UK

 

The government has come in for considerable criticism about its decision to abandon the Dub’s amendment on the number of children refugees/migrants. The consequence of this decision has been a large number of protests across the country and not only in centres with a high density of ethnic minorities. Although we have not seen street demonstrations in Wye conversations have revealed some passionate opinions on the matter. One of the arguments that has been raised is that each child/teenager will cost in the region of £5000 per year to provide for the living costs alone. There are, of course, other costs such as the time taken to protect, nurture, integrate and generally care for these children. Wye residents have pointed out the ways that migrants have contributed to our society by taking up the opportunities for education and training. Indeed, these same residents have long collected shoes and clothing for the refugee camp in Calais. Surely they could go that extra mile and open up their homes, pay for an extra mouth and expend that milk of human kindness?

Perhaps one sort of solution is that those who feel so strongly about homing the children might set up a fund among themselves to ensure that monies are available beyond the Treasury. Indeed, it appears that a number of charities are already prepared to find homes and foster parents for these children. Such an act of personal sacrifice and generosity would be in keeping with the long-standing attitude of individuals in this country. When the government has to continually make decisions on its expenditures – on behalf of the whole nation – surely the freedom to act in resonance with one’s own values is the  greatest testimony to that freedom?

Is the Government’s Housing White Paper Right?

Difficult to set the right direction sometimes – no wonder!

The local housing situation in Wye has been dire for a considerable time. In particular, it has meant that our children can no longer expect to live in the village; that would be too much to ask, wouldn’t it? Mobility is the essential characteristic of economic globalization – summed up by Norman Tebbit in his famous advice to job-hunters ‘get on yer bike’. When Jack Woodford was our Parish Councillor, he and his notebook were always seeking solutions for young and old with housing needs in the village. Of course, Imperial College and the subsequent developers will argue that this supports their case for building in places such as WYE 3 but, instead of saving the current housing stock which they have left to degrade, they propose new houses and flats that will be well beyond the pockets of our young people.

In Wye there are no restrictions placed on who may or may not purchase dwellings, that seems to be alright in the Channel Islands where incomers may only purchase a house after they have been resident for TEN YEARS living in rented accommodation. Similarly in St. Ives second-home ownership has become so contentious that any new homes that are built may only house local people. So far the second-home ownership  is concerned, in Wye there are relatively few (though there have been more cases in the last decade) but we have an issue of vastly exaggerated house prices that puts even a modest home out of reach for children raised and wishing to live in the village.

So, in the ‘conversations’ about housing needs that are supposed to be generated by the recent Government White Paper we may ask will Wye be another victim of a minister who will over-rule a neighbourhood plan and a local parish council too timid to protect the interests of its own children?

On the other hand….

Good Job It Wasn’t The Neighbourhood Plan!

Tony was leaving his office in the bank headquarters late one evening when he found himself facing the CEO standing with a piece of paper in his hand in front of the shredder.
Eager to make a good impression, Tony introduced himself and asked if he could be of any help.
“Why yes,” said the CEO, holding up the piece of paper. “This is a very sensitive and important document, and my secretary has gone for the night. Can you make this thing work?”
“Certainly,” said Tony, happy for a chance to help his boss.
So Tony turned the machine on, inserted the paper, and pressed the start button.
“Excellent. Excellent!” said the CEO as his paper disappeared inside the machine. “I’ll need two copies.”

“Can I Help, Sir?”

“Watch out for those potholes – they’re no joke”

Kerry was driving down the road the other day, with his wife, Marie and his mother-in-law together in the car. Every couple of hundred yards, the two women would take turns to tell him what he was doing wrong .

“Slow down!”

“Watch the other car!”

“Don’t drive so close to the middle!”

“Look out there’s a sharp bend up ahead!”

After a while Kerry was starting to get really annoyed with this. He slammed on the brakes and pulled the car onto the shoulder of the road. Turning to Marie, he said, “Look, just who is driving this car?  You or your Mother?”