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:
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
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
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
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
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
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:
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.