It could well be that someone reading these words knows who attacked Connie Halford in her home or at least has a clue to how such a dreadful deed was done. Until they help police track down the 89-year-old Lakenheath pensioner’s vicious assailants, other old people will fear they may be next, thus magnifying the distress. Call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 and strike a gentle blow for civilisation.
The dismay of Isleham parents who find they have gained a social centre but lost a children’s playground is easy to understand. But is it fair to condemn the parish council alone? It is facile to accuse councillors of “not engaging more with the community” ? How closely did parents engage with the council? How many parents attended council meetings? How many read council minutes? How many spoke to a councillor at an earlier stage? It takes two to engage.
At the moment it is no more than a wispy smoke signal on the far horizon but we should take it very seriously. Our American neighbours are just thinking about pulling out of Lakenheath and even Mildenhall. Generations have come and gone, in war and peace, since the USAF first colonised that bleak heath. Now, for thrift’s sake, they may be saying “So long.” We would miss their courteous company but we would also miss their money. They are part of the woof and web not only of our society but of our economy. So much so that it is certainly not too soon for councils and planners at every level to start devising strategic schemes. Perhaps they already have. Every major investment either public or private in this huge corner of the county must henceforth allow for the contingency. Plans for roads, public services, industrial areas need to bear a pull-out in mind. And what would the RAF do with such sites if they reverted to British use? With the present popularity of garden cities, do I see a glint in Government eyes? Is someone somewhere already drawing up plans for Lakenheath Garden City? Meanwhile, the newly unstable security situation in Europe suggests our Americans may linger here a long time yet.
I loved that quote from plumber Raef Ashby who garnered £12,000 from a £7.44 bet: “My wife Jen does not like me betting but she told me she was glad I had a bet today. She shed a tear or two.” Sounds like one of those vegetarians who succumb to the smell of frying bacon.
It might surprise or shock the founders of Exning Methodist Chapel to hear their little church compared with a pub, but there is a sad sort of link. Just as so many of our towns and villages are losing their pubs, so, on a somewhat smaller scale, the chapels are going, too. Both have been important places in community structure. We seem poorer for their loss. And when they go we cannot fail to think of those people to whom chapels meant as much or a great deal more than the pubs. For a start, local people built them. I never see a dead chapel without thinking of the piety, pride and penny-pinching thrift that brought it into being. All those baptisms, weddings and funerals, all those hallelujahs and harvest festivals fading from memory and into history. We must hope a way can be found to keep the Exning chapel serving its community in some way.
Led by former Archbishop Rowan Williams, this area shows great generosity in providing basic groceries for needy families. Dr Williams sees the need continuing for some time. In other words, we must get used to the idea of rich and poor living cheek by jowl and do our duty towards those on the breadline. Dead right, Dr Williams, but let us also do our higher duty of correcting a system which allows such preposterous disparities in a rich land.