Home Page New discovery reveals how 1970s policy was formulated 19/12/14

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Hart of the Matter

In a week which sees the retirement of Castle Manorís longest-serving teacher, after 40 years, it is a curious coincidence that documents from exactly that era have recently come to light.

When the council were refurbishing the offices in Lower Downs Slade, preparatory to housing borough and county council officers as well as other agencies, they knocked out a chimney and in it found one of the last letters composed on behalf of Haverhill Urban District Council before it was terminated, and St Edmundsbury Borough Council created, in the local government re-organisation of 1974.

The letter, headed on HUDC paper, although the exact officer or councillor responsible is not identified, reads as follows:

Dear Santa,

When you come along on Christmas Eve this year, you may be surprised to discover that Haverhill Urban District Council no longer exists. Hopefully, all the presents which you have been creating for the good of the town will be delivered to the successor authority, St Edmunsbury Borough Council, to be passed on to Haverhill people for the good of the town.

In future years, this baby borough council will grow into responsibility for its much wider area, but will carry out its duties in a fair and balanced manner, so that anything in the future which you intend for the benefit of Haverhill people, may safely be entrusted into its care for re-delivery.

This trustworthy infant will, we hope, become a grateful and generous recipient of good things for Haverhill, but before we pass into history, we would like to make recommendations for future gifts for you to consider.

First, the completion of the recently established Master Plan for Haverhill, which your good elf, Sir Frederick Gibberd worked so hard on in the last years of the 1960s. In order for this to be delivered, St Edmundsbury will need to direct all the resources which you will continue to deliver to this address, under the denomination of Rate Support Grant, and any of its successors which may come into being at the behest of successive Governments in the future.

Second, the determination to conclude the long-running saga of town centre pedestrianisation. You may remember that this was first intimated from your office more than ten years ago now, so it is to be hoped that your elves have not forgotten it.

Third, the continuation of the excellent services provided within the town centre to shoppers through a variety of independent retailers, supported by the careful addition of major superstores, and out-of-town facilities.

The latter should only be present in your gift sack along with policies assisting the current independents who have served our town so well down the years, such as rate support and rental controls, full rear servicing access, free car parking and attractive environmental improvements.

Please ensure little St Edmundsbury appreciates its responsibilities as a landowner and landlord within the town centre to assist in this regard in any way possible. Please also ensure that another new kid on the block, Suffolk County Council, which you will note has succeeded to West Suffolk County Council, receives a similar intimation from your office that failure to fulfil these responsibilities will result in withdrawal of your annual visits.

Fourth, the provision of necessary infrastructure before development. You may note that your elf Sir Frederick, within his Masterplan has indicated large swathes of further development within Haverhill, aimed at reaching a population of 30,000 by 1981.

This laudable ambition should also include provision of jobs and services for the new population. Perhaps some of your elves could be deputed to visit employers and encourage them to relocate to Haverhill. If not, resources should be directed towards St Edmundsbury to enable it to carry out this work.

The last thing we would want to see would be a situation where business people within the town were forced to get together to provide the sort of effective promotion which the local authority should be providing.

While on the subject of infrastructure, please find within your gift sack resources for Cambridgeshire County Council to upgrade the winding A604. In the future, maybe your elves could restore the old railway line axed in 1967, but in the meantime, make sure people can actually get to and from Haverhill easily if they so wish.

Fifth, if ever any sort of Haverhill council were to be reconstituted to represent residents in our place, please make sure it gets as much help as possible from St Edmundsbury and Suffolk.

We are sorry to miss your visits from now on, but confident that the new recipient will be just as appreciative and fair-minded as, we hope, we have been over the past 80 years.

Wishing you all the best for Christmas, and a productive 1975,

Haverhill Urban District Council.

The discovery of this letter led to great amusement in the offices of St Edmundsbury and Suffolk councils. However, it has since emerged that, beside this yellowing sheet of council paper, a neat little red envelope was discovered, dated December 24, 2012.

It contained a short note in beautiful calligraphy, with illustrations of reindeer and polar bears in each corner.

This read simply:

Dear Haverhill,

Iíve done my best over the last 38 years to attend to the wishes which you kindly left for me in 1974, but the situation really is impossible.

Every time I give the little b******s any presents for you, they keep them themselves. From the beginning they took all the resources I gave them for you and spent them in Bury St Edmunds or Ipswich.

About ten years ago, I told them if they used it all up on the Apex and still didnít pass anything it on to you I wouldnít be calling again, so they dished out several million in a panic on the first thing that came into their heads Ė not very effectively, I must say. Iíve watched five films in that cinema so far and thereís never been anyone else there to catch a sight of me.

Iím pleased to say that Cambridgeshire, whoís a mature and responsible lad, has shown some signs of making an effort on your behalf, but the rest of them have gone right back to their old ways again.

So, now Iím cutting their funding by a whole lot more over the next few years to make their eyes water. Probably wonít do you any good. Sorry.


Merry Christmas!

David Hart
David Hart revives his personal take on the week in Haverhill, covering everything from major town developments to what we do with our rubbish.
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