Academy Excels

Once again our local secondary school, Bonhunt Academy, has produced an outstanding set of A level and GCSE results, confirming its status as one of the very best non selective state schools in the country.

Congratulations to everyone involved.


Cart before the horse?

The location of new housing development here in Chipping Bonhunt may still be up for discussion as formulation of a new draft local plan grinds on. However, that hasn’t stopped the County Council from pushing forward with new draconian restrictions preventing on-street parking on a number of local roads.

One of the “justifications” for their action is the need to accommodate the traffic generated by new housing, but if the locations for this have still to be finalised, why the need to remove the parking?

A Little Bit of History

My good friend Richard Fisher has finally published his latest edition of the Bonhunt Chronicles, covering the events that took place here in Chipping Bonhunt during the 2015 General Election.

If you want to read his novel you can find it here:


Home again

As all of those on the Town Council await decisions from our colleagues on the District about where new housing should be built, we discover that they  have failed to apply for funds that might help them examine options for a new settlement.

Was this just an oversight, or does it suggest that they are still determined to overstretch our existing towns and villages? After the fiasco of their last attempt to put together a Local Plan, the citizens of Chipping Bonhunt deserve better. I despair of us ever having a proper, open, debate about where much needed new homes will be located.

Hole in One?

Walking along Rowandon Road this morning I was encouraged to see that the many increasingly dangerous potholes have now been circled in red paint. Could this mean that Essex County Council are finally going to do something about them?

Chipping Bonhunt Town Council has been demanding action since before Christmas, but nothing seems to happen. Hopefully, if there’s going to be some pothole filling, the ones that have appeared in Finchwinter Road will be dealt with as well.

Buggins’ no more

A bit more controversy here at the Town Council.

When we get to this year’s mayor making on 14th May the councillor elected won’t be chosen on the historic principle of Buggins’ Turn. Political reality has finally caught up with us in Chipping Bonhunt and the residents’ group councillors have decided to elect one of their number instead.

It’s all a cue for much wailing and gnashing of teeth by some of their opponents. Time only will tell what the impact of this change will be.

Education, Education

At last there is some movement on school places in the town. It’s a subject that has been vexing our town councillors as the population grows and the capacity of our local schools hasn’t been keeping pace with the additional children now living in Chipping Bonhunt.

The good news is that the Bonhunt Academy Trust has submitted a proposal to establish a new primary school. It can’t happen too soon, so here’s hoping they’re successful.


Changing Gear

Setting our budget for 2016-17 is proving quite a challenge. If you’ve walked past Chipping Bonhunt’s beautiful Town Hall recently you cannot have failed to see the scaffolding which has been erected around it. Sorry if this is causing any inconvenience, but we need to progress some long overdue maintenance to the roof and other parts of the structure. This is just one of the additional expenses we face next financial year.

We also need to try and build up our reserves now that a number of services and buildings have been transferred from the District Council to the Town. Sadly, it all costs money.

The District Council might be heading for some problems as well. They’ve been relying on the premium they get from central government for all the new houses that are being built. Now the government is talking about taking this away from District Councils that have not adopted a Local Plan. Well, we all know the situation locally….. Some chickens seem to be coming home to roost.

Housing again!

The results of the District Council’s “call for sites” to meet housing needs have now been published, and there are some interesting (and is some cases worrying) proposals. This is a critical part of the District Plan process, now that the Council has had to start all over again.

In Chipping Bonhunt, there are proposals for around 1,200 more homes, which most of us realise would be too many. Particularly disappointing is the emergence of the Sandean Road proposals again, despite the fact that these were thrown out by the Planning Inspector earlier this year. However, some of the smaller sites make sense, and we have to accept there will be some development in the town.

Its good to see that the Greater Finchwinter scheme really has died a death (perhaps an unfortunate turn of phrase on my part given events in May). My good friend Richard Fisher tells me these will be explored further in his new book due to be published in February. Meanwhile, there are just 50 or so new homes proposed for the village.

The big news is Great Lionsbridge. Two sites here would result in over 6000 new homes. In reality, this would be a major new town. My initial reaction was to throw my hands up in horror, but on reflection I have started to wonder if this might not be a sensible way of coping with all the new housing. If the new settlement were designed carefully it could include all the required infrastructure and take the pressure off everywhere else.

During the Christmas break I will be looking at the sites in more detail and may post some further thoughts. In the meantime, I hope readers will make sure they share their views with the District Council.

Tobias Gibson, Town Clerk

The undiscovered jewel of North Essex