Monday, 31 December 2012

Shared space in streets

I campaign for streets in towns to be treated as 'places' rather than traffic conduits. Here is a talk, illustrated by video and slides that explains the concept.  It is delivered by a professional town planner and though its examples are from London it is relevant nationwide. It lasts fifty minutes and is a mine of ideas. I look forward to the time when our local town planners adopt some of them.
It is a bit fiddly to get it working. I found that I had the commentary but the picture wasn't changing to suit. After further investigation I discovered that the slide show was behind the introductory picture.
You can access the site here

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Here is something for the more adventurous of you to do. Your chairperson is an ordinary 'guerrilla gardener' but this tutorial is about how to be a pot-hole gardener. Why not try it out?
Click here

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

A Report on Enterprise

The cleaning of our streets:- A report on the performance of the contractor engaged to collect and dispose of rubbish and keep the streets clean-- Enterprise.

The report can be found here.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Town centre planning suggestions

I put a motion to the Central Area Community Forum a few years ago for a town-wide 20mph zone. The motion was passed unanimously by about fifty people attending a meeting in a Guildhall room.  Since that time no work has been done on the campaign.  However I suggest that as that the campaign should be revived. The idea could be presented under the umbrella term of  'shared space' with the explanation that a 'concerted effort should be made to improve the town's roads for the use of cycles and pedestrians at the expense of the motor car in residential streets, all in accordance with the latest thinking of urban planning. It should be possible to make big improvements at reasonable cost if the 'default' situation is taken to be a lower traffic speed and only the faster speed is signposted. This would take a bold initiative from the appropriate local authority department which would need the sanction of the DfT. The town should be determined to be in the forefront in new urban traffic approaches.

It should be accepted that given the finite space available there is no 'solution' to the parking problem in the town other than tinkering with the rights of access to parking of different groups of motorists. The situation for the users of other forms of transport should be improved.

The built environment is also crying out for attention. Paved areas are derelict and dangerous, the signposting for traffic has been provided with little thought to the visual impact.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Anticipating the Park

A beautiful sunny morning looking into the 'park' from Palmerston Road. Make sure you have the sound on when you watch it here.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

A 'sortie' to some pocket parks.

Three members went on an exciting trip on Saturday to several pocket parks in the county. The weather was perfect and some photos can be viewed here

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Here is a web-site that encourages local community action. Just what we need:-

It can be found here. The site is non-party political.

and starts---

Why Councils should use the Sustainable Communities Act

The Sustainable Communities Act presents a unique opportunity for councils.
Councils have a choice – they can use the Act’s new process or they can ignore it. The philosophy behind the Act is that there are too many centrally imposed duties on councils and so they it allows them to be free to choose whether or not to use this process and be accountable only to their electorate, not central government.
Here are some important reasons why choosing to use the Act will benefit councils:......

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Here's an item that connects with our plans for our churchyard 'Park',

you can read the whole article here

Not seeing the city for the trees is good for us, suggests new research: vegetation density is more important than park size

Eric Jaffe, writing in, describes a new piece of work from Finland.

Last month, he writes, we explained how parks can restore much of the mental fatigue imposed on our brains by the busy city. The psychological evidence for this concept, known as the "attention restoration theory," is quite clear. What would be great to know, as I noted at the end of that post, is precisely how many trees it takes to recover the cognitive strains of urban life.

Well sometimes the gods of semi-obscure-hybrid-behavior-nature-academic-publications listen to your calls. In an upcoming issue of the journal Landscape and Urban Planning, a group of Finnish researchers describe recent work that just so happens to address our exact curiosity.

They conclude that restoration reaches peak potential when every inch of the city — which they term the "urban matrix" — escapes our vision:

Our results showed that perceived restorativeness in urban forests was strongly affected by closure of view to the urban matrix through the forest vegetation. This means that perceived restorativeness was higher inside the forest with a closed (i.e. no) view to the urban matrix as compared to semi-closed and open views.

For the study, the researchers identified nine patches of boreal forest in greater Helsinki...

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Development update at 2-4 Edith Street

Today a number of residents, along with Councillors Stone and Strachan and planning case Officer Mr Geoff Wyatt and applicant Mr Keith Howard had a meeting to discuss the development of 2-4 Edith Street.

The plans as originally submitted were for 10 Studio flats and most present felt it was a gross over-development of the site and taking none of the existing residents and their needs for both parking and privacy into account.

Following a discussion of his plans by Mr Keith Howard, the residents and councillors put in their objections and a crucial visit into the garden of a neighbouring property made it clear immediately to both the officer and applicant that there were issues regarding the increase in height of the property at the back with it overshadowing neighbouring gardens.

It was agreed therefore that these initial plans would be immediately be withdrawn and a further decision would be made for a future application by the applicant Mr Keith Howard.

I would like to thank all present for their assistance with this and this is an instant victory for the local residents. It is clear that the site will have development in the future and this is not the issue, but it has got to be a sensible development and not detriment to the surrounding area.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

St Edmunds Residents Association Meeting.
Including speakers and a discussion on Housing and tenancy issues in St Edmunds.

Agenda for the fifth meeting of the Association,

7.00 to 8.00pm Monday 3rd September 2012. Victoria Road Church Rooms, Cyril Street.
  1. Apologies
  2. Introduction of two speakers on housing. The question will be the rights and duties of tenants and landlords. This will be followed by questions and a discussion.
  3. The churchyard, progress on the 'Park'.
  4. The MUGA. (Multiple use games area.)
  5. Minutes of the last meeting.
  6. Matters arising.
  7. Any other business.
  8. Date of next meeting
  9. 8.00pm, meeting closes.
If you know of anyone who might be interested in the Residents Association please let us know and let them know about the meeting. Email addresses (where possible) make it much easier to contact people and distribute agendas and minutes.
Suggestions are welcome for speaker or main subject for future meetings.
We have a group on Facebook called St Edmunds Residents Association
Jim Wishart, secretary
17th August, 2012.
St Edmunds Churchyard- project to convert this churchyard to a public park.

Our association has voted to try to open the churchyard to the public as a park. The list of 'things to do' is long and to a degree a bit indeterminate as there is more than one possible type of park that the area could become.
In the meantime we have made an application for design aid under a scheme promoted by the Design Council. There are limited resources available, in fact only ten projects will be helped across the whole country but we have worked on the basis of 'nothing ventured nothing gained'.

The Design Council web page can be found here

I have filled in the application form and sent it off, it includes the following:-
Part 3: About your project
1. What is the name of your project?
        St Edmunds Churchyard Park.
2. Please describe your project – why is it needed and what do you want to do?
        The cemetery is closed to the public at the present time. The St Edmunds Church was demolished in the early ‘70s. The land is a very tranquil spot behind a five foot high stone wall. There are not many gravestones so there is a large area of grassland and trees which would make an ideal place for relaxation or a pleasant diversion on a walk for the local people.
We need to open up the churchyard by the provision of new entrances, a reduction of the height of the wall, some attention to the existing gravestones, construction of paths maybe crossing the area, consideration of street lighting, litter bins and seats.
We need a landscape architect’s advice and work to design a scheme and to price it.
All we have to do now is wait for a result.

Friday, 18 May 2012

"What A Load Of Rubbish" - Tony Clarke's Blog

Interesting piece by Councillor Tony Clarke on his Independent Blog. Specific interest to members of the association is the part titled "WHAT A LOAD OF OLD RUBBISH", commenting on Enterprise as represented at Monday's meeting.

Some of us told Mr Keiron King (Enterprise representative) that some of what they were doing wasn't working on Monday, but of course he told us otherwise.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Government Grant Meeting 16th May 2012

Details regarding a meeting concerning a Government grant potential.

"As you are probably aware, the old/NCC St. Crispin's Ward has been awarded approximately £85,000 (over four years) in government funding to support community action towards improving the area as a place to live.  
A provisional Panel has been set up to plan a process for deciding how to spend this money.  The Panel are now planning a public event, running from 6 p.m. till about 9 p.m. on Wednesday 16 May at the Open Door Centre on Kettering Road.  Food will be provided.  I hope that you will be able to attend: please put this date in your diary now!  The event will be open to all residents of St. Crispin's Ward so feel free to pass this information to anyone living in the area."
email from the Borough Council.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Meeting Agenda for 14th May 2012

This Monday sees the next meeting for the association, with our main guest Enterprise. The following is the agenda for the meeting.

  1. Update by Peter Strachen (Borough) on the Action Plan resulting from the Consultation exercise.
  2. New Treasurer, Audrey Russell.
  3. Enterprise, (contractors), presentation and questions.
  4. Report on policing by Kevin Halfpenny.
  5. The churchyard, progress on the 'Park'.
  6. Minutes of the last meetings and matters arising.
  7. Any other business.
  8. Date of next meeting
  9. 8.00pm, meeting closes.
If you know of anyone who might be interested in the Residents Association please let us know, name address and email.

Suggestions welcome for speaker or main subject of the next meeting.

We have a group on--- Facebook at
Jim Wishart, secretary

Monday, 9 April 2012

Follow-up to Q&A Meeting: Secretary comments

SERA, news from the front.
The first meeting was well attended and it seemed obvious through the energetic contributions that there is a need to have an outlet for local opinions. There was a deliberate decision at this first meeting to avoid a formal structure and although the process may have seemed somewhat uncontrolled, most people got heard. In future there will be the more mundane duties on the agenda such as 'approval of the minutes of the last meeting' and 'matters arising'.

Although it might seem that not much has happened since our last meeting there has been progress behind the scenes.
The Reverend Mike Hills has asked to be kept informed on progress on the Churchyard Park. He offered a meeting place at his church, St Michaels. We have another volunteer to serve on the steering committee. I hope that a first meeting will be held shortly.
The minutes of the meeting have been started but they were delayed by family circumstances. We plan to post them on the blog site soon. We have a volunteer to help with the Minutes in future.
Peter Strachan has produced a summary of the Consultation exercise which is very useful and which I hope to add to the minutes of the last meeting.
The street gardens need weeding and the chairperson will be out there doing that today (she said).
Get your questions ready for the 14th May meeting when Enterprise, the contractor doing our street cleaning and waste disposal, will attend.
Jim Wishart


A new calendar has been added to the very bottom of the blog. This will contain the dates for all future meeting for the association.

To view this scroll to the bottom past all current blog posts.

Monday, 2 April 2012

Q&A Meeting

Tonight sees the Q&A meeting at Victoria Road Church Rooms (entrance off Cyril Street).

In attendance are:
Cllr. Winston Strachan - County & Borough Councils
Cllr. Danielle Stone - Borough Council
PCSO Kev Halfpenny - Northamptonshire Police
Andy Langton - Neighbourhood Warden
Lucy Lilburn - Housing Officer
Peter Strachan - Neighbourhood Co-Ordinator

The meeting begin at 6.30pm.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

We are all concerned about litter. This idea might make it more fun to dispose of:-


Thursday, 8 March 2012

This 'Contact your politician' site is excellent. Worth a visit just to see what is available

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

An article about an American evolutionary biologist. What's that to do with St Edmunds you might ask? You will find that there is a lot here that involves community action and even includes a competition to design the best public park.
You will find it here

Thursday, 9 February 2012

As part of our objective of making St Edmunds a safe, attractive place, I recommend that we support the Times campaign for safer cycling which can be found here:-
The Times - Cities fit for cycling
There is also an interesting article here on Dutch practice. They have a system called 'woonerfs' where the priority on 'streets' in towns is reversed so that the hierarchy is pedestrian/cycle/car.

Jim Wishart

Friday, 3 February 2012

Improving the street environment.

One way to improve the area is to make the streets more like 'places' than 'traffic routes'. This is a change that is already going on in the country but which will take some time to take root. A good exposition on what this means is here Living Streets. Maybe a long-term aim but worth adding to the list of things for this Association to do. Jim Wishart, Secretary

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Fix My Street website

If you wish to report problems like graffiti, fly tipping, broken paving slabs, or street lighting issues the website Fix My Street is your answer.
Fix My Street
An example of the possible reports that can be provided include an issue of fly-tipping recently reported by SERA secretary James Wishart. This was located on Woodford Street between Palmerston Road and Ethel Street.
Woodford Street Fly-tipping report
This issue has since been successfully resolved .If you have issues you would like addressing, feel free to file the report at the site above.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Food waste collection. New.
The Borough are starting a new weekly food waste collection service to help you recycle more and to reduce the amount of waste being sent to landfill.
It will start between January and March. Outdoor food bins and indoor 'caddies' will be delivered.
The food waste will  be collected at the same time as your other recyclable materials every week. It will be taken to a facility that turns it into electricity. By recycling your food waste, you will reduce the amount sent to landfill. Food in landfill produces methane gas which contributes to climate change.

St. Edmunds Residents Association coverage

Below is a map representing the area that the association covers in a more detailed form via Google Maps:

View Larger Map

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

What are we planning to do?

Issues that are likely to figure prominently are:-
parking, graffiti, litter, potholes and pavement quality, fly tipping,
projects that could be promoted are:-
the use of St Edmunds Churchyard by the public, the clutter of road signs and moderation of the speed of traffic in some roads


Welcome to the blog for the St. Edmunds Residents Association (sera).

We are a group of residents for the area which we have named "St Edmunds" It stretches from York Road to Palmerston Road and from Wellingborough Road to Billing Road, Northampton.

We had our first meeting in December when a dozen people met at the Victoria Road Church rooms and chose a steering committee of three.

We plan to have another meeting at the beginning of April when we will have a 'Question and Answer' session at Victoria Church.

We hope to work in improve the area and foster a sense of community to the benefit of all.

Please join in and help make the venture a success.