Author Archives: Eric Rayner

School needs more reading buddies

helping_child_read

The Duke of Bedford School is keen to recruit more reading buddies.

No teaching skills are required, just a willingness to spend a few hours each week listening to children reading. This reading aloud practice is a key element in improving reading skills.

Days and times are flexible, but you should be prepared to commit to attend on a regular basis. Volunteers of all ages are welcome.

If you are able to help or want more information, send your name, e-mail and contact number to Cathy Gibson, Assistant Headteacher at enquiries@dukeofbedford.peterborough.sch.uk.

Concern over traffic at quarry

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Two-hundred lorries per day will be used to bring in waste to fill a gravel quarry in Thorney.

Pode Hole quarry is now fully worked, but more gravel has been extracted than planned and soil set aside to fill in the earthworks is not sufficient.

The owners have applied to Peterborough City Council for permission to infill with waste (not household refuse) and return the land eventually to agricultural use.

The plan involves a six-year project, working from 7am to 6pm on weekdays and on Saturday mornings, where 19 lorries an hour will deliver waste to the site.

Thorney Parish Council considered proposals at its meeting on Monday and said it had major concerns about additional lorries and road safety on the A47.

Russ Bevington said that work would start soon on widening the entrance to Willowhall Road for the Pasture House Farm quarry and if that coincided with this work, then there could be traffic chaos.

The Parish Council will write to the city council expressing these concerns and also suggesting a lower speed limit along this section of the A47 for the duration of the work and that trucks delivering waste do not use roads through the village.

The Parish Council is also keen to see the cycle lane extended to reach Eye, so that people can safely cycle into Peterborough.

Land on the opposite side of the A47 to Pode Hole and Pasture House quarries has also been put forward for a new quarry, extending as far as Bukehorn Road. Planning permission has not yet been sought, but there was a suggestion that if this did go ahead, access would be from Bukehorn Road.

Dorothy Halfhide said she was strongly against that idea. She thought Bukehorn Road was totally unsuitable, it had dangerous junctions at either end and would be a safety risk.

Local taxes to rise from April

Thorney residents will have to pay an extra £12 per house on average to cover Parish Council spending.

At Monday night’s monthly meeting, the Parish Council voted unanimously to increase their precept to raise £77,000 from the village rather than £65,000 previously. This is an increase of 24 per cent.

There was some concern that such a large percentage increase would look bad, but it was pointed out that there had not been an increase for 10 years.

The precept is a local tax added by the Parish Council to City Council rate bills. The figure of £12 more is an average and higher band homes will pay more, those on a lower band less.

Campaign to reinstate half-hourly bus service

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A campaign is being launched to re-establish a half-hourly bus service in the village.

Two members of the public turned up at Thorney Parish Council’s monthly meeting on Monday to complain about the poor bus service.

Rita Young said it was crazy that two buses left for Peterborough within minutes of each other and then there was nothing for an hour.

Les Lazell blamed council cuts. He said bus subsidies had gone down from £1.2 million to £750,000 and were due to be cut to £600,000 next year. He said this was a political decision.

Parish councillor Dorothy Halfhide said she would take this up. She used the bus herself and had been canvassing opinion through the Thorney Post Community Forum Facebook page. She said it was clear that what might have seemed like a minor change was having a big effect on people who use the bus.

Ray Wood said the bus was only saving four minutes by not stopping in Thorney.

The Parish Council agreed it would write a letter in support of a campaign to reinstate the half-hourly service.

Thorney Parish Council snippets

Reports from Thorney Parish Council meeting on Monday, January 14.

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Allotment holders can’t reach their plots due to the muddy track across the field at the bottom of Gas Lane.

Helen Baker said her car, with two children on board had got stuck in the mud. She asked if the Parish Council could improve the surface of the track.

She was told the field was owned by Peterborough City Council and rented to a farmer who would object to a track being laid.

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Sheila Reeves has been co-opted onto Thorney Parish Council.

Sheila, who worked for Peterborough City Council before she retired, has lived in the village for 16 years.

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People outside the village living alongside the A47 are prisoners in their own homes, Les Lazell told Thorney Parish Council’s January meeting.

He was seeking their support to campaign for a walkway alongside the main road to the east of the village. He said there had been a footpath, but this was removed when the road was widened.

“The road is dangerous,” he said. “There’s an accident every five days. If someone was in a mobility scooter or using a pushchair, they’d have no choice but to go on the road. What happens if you break down?”

The Parish Council said this was a Highways Agency matter and Mr Lazell should write to his MP.

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The Parish Council is to purchase a notice board for £479. The board will be placed inside the bus stop in front of the Duke of Bedford School and will be big enough for four A4 sheets.

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A local tradesman will be asked if it’s possible to repair the level crossing gates by Kingsline Close.

The gates are rotten, but it was felt they could be repaired in-situ by using wood filler or splicing in new wood.

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One of Thorney’s village signs is to be taken down to obtain quotes from a specialist company to provide new signs in cast aluminium.

The signs are becoming rotten and replacing all four signs may cost £20,000.

Dorothy Halfhide suggested that the four signs might be replaced by one on The Green and there was an alternative suggestion that the grassed area next to the traffic lights would be a better location.

A decision will be made once alternative costs have been obtained.

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Thorney Parish Council is to give the church £1,300 to remove a dangerous tree in the graveyard and also cut back another. The total cost of the work is £1,800, but John Bartlett said the church had been given an anonymous donation of £500.

Some parish councillors thought the church ought to pay the entire amount, but a motion to that effect was defeated.

Ray Wood said if the tree was in his garden, the Parish wouldn’t pay.

Russ Bevington agreed that the diocese ought to pay but said they wouldn’t. “The tree is in a dangerous state and needs to come down quickly. The graveyard is a major village amenity, tourist attraction and is used by many people to walk through to the park.”

He said part of the order was for a replacement tree to be planted and he thought this should be an orchard-type tree that wouldn’t grow too tall.

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A new hedge along the field boundary of the cemetery is being planted on January 26. Any villagers willing to help are invited to come along.

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New LED street lighting will be installed along Northside in February,

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The extended 30mph speed limit on Whittlesey Road is not being obeyed, Dorothy Halfhide told the council. She said she’d been overtaken by two cars travelling very fast and there was nothing from the end of the village to tell drivers it was still a 30 limit.

The city council is being asked to paint 30-signs on the road.

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Ray Wood asked if the Parish Council could see the surveys on the state of Woburn Drive. He was concerned that the road had not been resurfaced following completion of the Thorney Meadows estate.

He also raised concerns about parents parking illegally when picking their children up from the Duke of Bedford School. “They take no notice of double yellow lines,” he said.

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Thorney Parish Council is to hold a closed meeting on January 24 to agree their policy towards Bedford Hall.

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The Parish Council will write to the police thanking them for their efforts when a man went missing in the village last week.

Russ Bevington said four vans, eight policemen and a helicopter with infra-red camera were deployed and a family-liaison officer had been with the family throughout. Along with numerous villagers who turned out to help after seeing an appeal on Facebook, a thorough search of the village had been done.

Dorothy Halfhide said the police had been surprised by the village’s response. Happily, the missing person was safe.

Roads may be repaired following cash boost

Thorney Dyke

Government cash earmarked for road repairs in the Budget could be used to fix a number of massive dips in local roads.

Peterborough City Council had been warning that serious subsidence affecting a number of roads was unlikely to be sorted out before next year.

The extreme cold of the so-called Beast from the East spring storm, followed by a very dry summer has been blamed for causing subsidence on fenland roads, and Thorney Parish Council has complained about two particularly bad cases – one on the Causeway as you enter the village by the old nursery and another on North Bank heading towards Whittlesey, just before Fouracres car dealership.

The city council has put up warning signs and had said there was no cash to repair the roads this financial year.

But now, the council has secured £1.5 million for urgent repairs and has said it will announce in December which roads are to be fixed.

Fenland roads, which are built on clay or peat foundations are highly prone to subsidence due to drought and the city council has already undertaken a huge programme of repairs on local fen roads this year.

Overnight lane closures on Soke Parkway

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There are likely to be overnight lane closures on the Soke Parkway (A47) this week as work starts to clear trees and vegetation around the Rhubarb Bridge (A15) flyover.

Clearance works around Junction 18 of the A47/A15 will start on Monday 19 and last until Sunday.

The work is being carried out by Amey on behalf of Peterborough City Council and will take place between 8pm and 5am each day, with lane closures put in place.

Work is taking place as part of preparations for major repairs to Rhubarb Bridge and improvements to the junction which will start in January.

This will see structural works to the bridges which will help maintain them for the next 10 years, as well as the construction of new pedestrian crossings.

The project will increase capacity and improve traffic flow at the junction.

Councillor Peter Hiller, Peterborough City Council’s cabinet member for growth and economic development, said: “As motorists will be aware, this is one of the city’s busiest road junctions and it has been in need of improvement for some time.

“We are not expecting this preparation work to cause any lengthy disruption, however we want to make drivers aware of what is happening so they can plan their journeys accordingly.”

Where will our library go?

Thorney Library

Thorney looks likely to lose its current library in January when the building is put up for auction.

Thorney Parish Council heard on Monday evening that Peterborough City Council is hoping to sell the building, along with the former community centre in Church Street, for £300,000.

Both the old community centre and the library were the village’s infants’ and girls’ schools until 1940, when the Duke of Bedford School opened.

Parish councillor Russ Bevington, responding to a question from Doris Pacey, a member of the public, said the village would not lose its library, but he couldn’t say whether there would be a break in service or what the new provision would be.

He said there had been talk of a mobile library or putting up a temporary building next to the Bedford Hall.

The future of the library seems tied up with the future of the Bedford Hall, the village community centre. There is a proposal to house the library in space at the back of the hall, but cost was estimated at £110,000.

A suggestion to accommodate it at the school was rejected by school governors.

Mr Bevington said the city council had promised the money from the sale of the Church Street premises would stay in the village and that some of it would be used to help fund a new pavilion in the park.

Anti-social behaviour problems

Residents of Park Close attended the meeting to complain about anti-social behaviour that was making their lives a misery.

It was claimed there had been fights, threats against other residents, drinking and drug taking. There had been three police raids, including one by armed police.

City councillors agreed to take up the issues with Cross Keys Housing Association to see if something could be done.

Parish Council chairman, John Bartlett, said the problems stemmed from when Peterborough City Council changed its letting policy, which resulted in families being housed in properties that were intended as old people’s bungalows.

Council vacancy

There have been two applications for the vacancy on Thorney Parish Council. Councillors will interview candidates at next month’s meeting.

Heritage street signs

The “heritage” streets signs for Church Street and Abbey Place are due to be delivered this week and should be installed soon.

LED street lights

Installation of LED street lights in the village is almost complete. A number of old lights with concrete lamp-posts remain to be converted and the heritage street lights for Church Street and Abbey Place have not been installed.

The parish council had been concerned about the cost of these rising from £10,000 to £20,000 and had still not received an explanation from Peterborough City Council.

£300 for Tommies

The Parish Council is to pay £300 towards the cost of the Tommy silhouettes that were used for the commemoration of the centenary of the end of the First World War.

Village signs are rotten

It might cost up to £15,000 to replace Thorney’s four village signs, which are now rotten.

The quote was for replica signs in aluminium, which would have a lifespan of up to 25 years. The Parish Council thought this was too much and are seeking quotes from other companies.

Nathan Potts said he’d had quotes from a local craftsman who could carve the signs in oak at a cost of £11,000.

It was suggested the current signs would need to be changed as the abbey was much too short and squat. New signs should get the scale right. Another suggestion was for a silhouette design, which might be substantially cheaper.

A decision was deferred until December to get more quotes.

Flower power …

If you’re out and about in the village this week, you may see small bouquets of flowers left in random places.

It’s the work of Thorney Plus Women’s Institute members who have made the bouquets and left them around the village.

President Jane Crossland says the idea is to spread a little happiness. Members hope people will pick them up and give them to someone who deserves a bunch of flowers or who might need cheering up.

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