Erle Havard Play Area Consultation

Erle Havard Play Area Consultation

Erle Havard Play Area ConsultationErle Havard Play Area Consultation

Colchester Borough Homes is planning to upgrade the Erle Havard Play Area this year and are consulting on  5 options.  You can see some simple illustrations of the five options on their website at and, on that same page, click on your preferred option.

The deadline for responses is 24th January so is looming; there is no constraint on who can vote so an opportunity to get the kids involved!

See the result here.


Christmas is Coming – Highlighted Events to Go To

Christmas is Coming

Since Christmas is coming, it’s now less than a month away (gulp), you might want to get up to date with some events (Castle, Zoo, Cressing & New Hall) and other Christmassy news (free park & ride).

Events at Colchester Castle

colchester-castle-grottoMeet Santa in his Grotto

Colchester Museums are offering a unique opportunity this festive season. Families will be able to meet Santa in the historic setting of Colchester Castle.

From Friday 9 to Sunday 11 December and from Friday 16 to Friday 23 December, the Castle’s ancient Lucas Vaults will be transformed into a magical grotto where families can visit Santa, take in the decorated surroundings and receive a gift from the man himself.

Prices vary from £5 – £8.50 depending on numbers and whether you simply visit Santa or also follow the Children’s Christmas trail.  More details online here.

Free Castle Entry for Special Christmas Open Evening

castle-christmas-open-eveningColchester Castle opens its doors for its annual Christmas Open Evening on Wednesday 14 December from 3pm – 8:30pm.

A seasonal treat as Colchester Castle opens its doors for FREE! Come and soak up the Christmas atmosphere with carols, mince pies, entertainment and an opportunity to meet Santa before his busy night.



Booking not required. Free  entry to the Castle, entry to Santa’s grotto £3.50 per child. Suitable for all ages.

christmas-reindeer-at-colchester-zooColchester Zoo

Magic of Christmas

Meet Santa’s beautiful reindeer in their stables and travel through the farmyard to meet Santa’s friends. You can join the elves and friends for a very merry Christmas party!  Or why not make Christmas crafts at the Elves’ Workshop.

More details online here.

Starlight Nights

Visit from 9.30am until 8.30pm on the 17th & 23rd December! As well as fantastic daytime events you will be able to stay after dark as the festivities continue into the evening beneath the Christmas lights!

The extended opening will give you even more time to see Santa’s beautiful reindeer and take part in The Santa Experience! PLUS from 5pm you can take a ride on the Christmas train and check out special evening encounters!

More details online here.  The Zoo is offering other Christmas activities as well so well worth visiting their website.

magical-christmas-cressingCressing Temple

Guided by a friendly elf, your group will explore Father Christmas’s busy Christmas base at Cressing Temple Barns. Learn the secrets of the wrapping machine, magic mailing systems and landing pad. After passing through these magical rooms, families go on the meet Father Christmas himself in his traditional Grotto with full size sleigh ready for photos.

Whisper your Christmas wish and then head onwards to the toy shop where an elf will help you choose the perfect Christmas gift to take away as a memento. Here your guided tour ends, but there is so much more to see! The site is accessible for wheelchairs and buggies, except for the Grotto itself which is on the second storey (although Santa will come down to visit those who can’t manage the stairs).

More details online here.

New Hall – Vineyard Winter Wonderland

Taking place on 3rd & 4th December from 10am – 5pm, at New Hall Vineyard, Purleigh, CM3 6PN.

A winter wonderland combining a great atmosphere, Santa’s Grotto (foc), children’s craft area and free refreshments including mince pies, sausage rolls, hot chestnuts and mulled wine. A great opportunity to taste wines and stock-up before Christmas. All wine is discounted and personalised labels can be printed for free while you wait.  All donations go to Maldon Carers.

Shop ’til you drop on Small Business Saturday

Heading into Chelmsford or Colchester for your Christmas shopping? Essex County Council are offering a helping hand by making Park and Ride travel free on Small Business Saturday.  Small Business Saturday should see many small businesses offering special deals in the spirit of Black Friday.  Take advantage of the free Park and Ride offer on Saturday 3rd December.



5 Es to Address Traffic Safety

5 Es to Address Traffic Safety

Illegally Parked Vehicle

Responding to concerns about traffic related safety issues in the village, the Parish Council has helped to form a group whose brief is to explore ways of addressing these concerns.  This group consists of Parish Councillors, Borough Councillors and residents who want to help bring about improvements; since September it has met three times.

As a starting point, the Village Safety Plan of 2012, which led to changes in New Church Road, has been revisited.  As then, no single measure will solve all our problems, and so an approach, which is termed the 5 Es, is being followed.

  1. Engage the community
  2. Encourage good driving and parking
  3. Educate all sections of the community
  4. Enforce the regulations
  5. Engineer revised road layouts

All need careful thought and cooperation to achieve, with 4E and 5E being most difficult and needing most time; however we have made a start.

On 25th February in the Orpen Hall a safety promotional event is being planned and will be advertised fully in the New Year, so please look out for details and make every effort to attend.

Reporting bad & illegal practices on Trygve
Reporting bad & illegal practices on Trygve


Following increased activity on Facebook about 30 residents have already downloaded an App called Trygve.  This gives you the chance to report incidents, with photographs if appropriate, and will:

  • give the authorities the means to identify persistent safety abusers, and
  • enable the group to collect evidence to support action at the most dangerous hotspots.

That being so, if you feel able, please sign up to join those already giving their support using this link.


The team are also establishing good communications with the School, hence parents, and there are plans to engage other key players such as the Coop.

If you have ideas to help, or would like more information, please contact the group through the Parish Clerk, Laura Walkinshaw, on 240772 or [antibot mailto=”[email protected]”].

Harry Stone
(Vice Chair of Parish Council)

Action for Children

Action for Children Coffee Morning

The Methodist Church is holding a special Coffee Morning on Saturday July 2 from 10.00 to 12.00 in the Methodist Church Hall.  They are raising funds with coffee, cake, books & stalls, for the Methodist Church children’s’ charity, Action for Children, which runs a wide range of activities and projects to support families and children in the UK. Continue reading “Action for Children”

Neighbourhood Plan Makes Progress

NP Contents Page show how the group forges aheadNeighbourhood Plan Makes Progress

The Neighbourhood Plan meeting that took place earlier this month resulted in much progress with an almost completed first draft plan.  The picture on the right shows the Contents page to give some idea of what to expect when the final report is published (click on it for larger picture).

You will notice that a lot of the the section headings have blank ‘App Buttons’ and, since the plan will impact the children’s future, the NP group are running a competition for the pupils at Heathlands to design what the blanks should be filled in with.

There are 8 categories and these are listed below, there will be a winner and a prize selected for each App Button.  The Categories are:

Example of what the 'App Button' could look like for Housing & Planning
Example of what the ‘App Button’ could look like for Housing & Planning
  • Housing and Planning
  • Business and Commerce
  • Village Social and Community
  • Environment
  • Transport
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Community Safety
  • Communications

Download the entry form:


Summer Events at Beth Chatto Gardens

Summer Events at Beth Chatto Gardens

The Beth Chatto Gardens have recently been in touch with a summer offer:

Beth Chatto Water Garden
The Beth Chatto Water Garden

We’ve come to realise that a lot of the local community have never visited the Beth Chatto Gardens before and so we’re offering free entry to the garden for children under 14, throughout the summer holidays (3 children per paying adult at £6.95), and we’d also like to invite you to a FREE evening of music and art on the 20th September.

It would be lovely to welcome members of your parish to the gardens and if you’d like to sign up for the events newsletter, please do here:

More events are listed on their website at:

Beth Chatto Gardens are based on the ecological and creative principles of their founder. They aim to provide an inspirational and sustainable, quality experience for all visitors. Education and enjoyment underpin the gardens’ philosophy.  They are located at:

Elmstead Market
Nr Colchester
Essex CO7 7DB

Contacts & links are:


Reach new heights with the EACH Colchester Abseil

Abseil Colchester town hallReach new heights with the EACH Colchester Abseil

On the 22nd March 2015, the East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH) are holding their fourth Colchester Abseil at The Town Hall.

The abseil will be an exhilarating 100ft descent and will give participants a birds eye view of the high street.  The abseil is being managed by Creation Climbing Centre and there are up to 60 places are available.

Last year over 50 adults took to the challenge raising a fantastic £6,500 for EACH!  The money raised helps care for children and young people with life-threatening conditions and supports their families.  Last year, EACH helped 572 families, many of whom live in Essex.

  • Minimum age to take part is 12 years.
  • Registration and sponsorship:
    • £15 registration for adults 17 yrs and over – minimum sponsorship £85.
    • £15 registration for children 16 yrs and under – minimum sponsorship £30.

To find out more about this fantastic event and to sign up, go to or call 01206 848450.

More about EACHEACH - abseil in support of them

From babies to young people up to the age of 18, EACH supports families, children and young people living with life-threatening conditions across Cambridgeshire, Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk from diagnosis to end-of-life and throughout bereavement. They do this through a range of services delivered where the family wish – in their own home, at hospital, in the community or at one of their three hospices in Milton, Ipswich and Quidenham.

Care at end of life isn’t the only service EACH provides though; many children and young people who use their services are extremely active but need additional support and care.  A child might receive the support of a play specialist to give them access to appropriate play activities helping them grow in confidence and aid their physical and mental wellbeing, enjoy sensory rooms at the hospices, have music therapy sessions to offer the opportunity to interact, communicate and express themselves or sessions in the therapeutic hydrotherapy pool.

Their support stretches further than the young person to include families, they know the stresses and strains living with a life-threatening illness can place on all the family. EACH runs special family events where families can meet others in similar situations to them, sibling days always full of smiles and laughter and spiritual care.

Outstanding Bluebells Pre-School

That was the conclusion of Ofsted recently when they made their first inspection visit of the ‘Early Years’ provider.  Ofsted awarded the highest accolade of “outstanding” quoting “the quality of teaching is exemplary”,  “the practitioners use their expertise to provide children with an educational programme that is extremely challenging, exciting and worthy of disseminating to others”.   One excerpt from the report tells a story all of itself:

Clip art spiderPractitioners are exceptionally skilful at following children’s interests and use well-considered questions to extend children’s thinking.  For example, children see a spider crawling across the pre-school floor.  They draw a practitioner’s attention to the spider, who quickly and efficiently uses this spontaneous incident as a learning aide.  She confidently finds a small pot to contain the spider and asks a child if they would like to find a magnifying glass to explore the spider in more detail.  The child quickly returns with a magnifying glass.  The practitioner enables the now, larger group of children who have come to see what is happening to view the spider in more detail.  This creates a lively discussion about how many legs the spider has, what colour it is and where children think it might live.  The discussion concludes with children telling the practitioner that they think the spider should be taken outside and placed on a tree so that it won’t be trodden on.  The practitioner helps children take it outside and settles it into its new environment.  Children excitedly rush back into the room to find the plastic spider living in one of the story/rhyme sacks. They each take it in turns to look at the plastic one and break out into songs about spiders.  Throughout this activity, the practitioner’s input superbly guides children’s thoughts and challenges their thinking, while allowing them ample time to consider their own knowledge.

Well done to Jackie Leach & all her team.  Details of Bluebells, and other Education Providers supporting West Bergholt, are available on this website.

Click this link to download the full Ofsted report which is in PDF format.