Covid-19 Archive

Podcast script - Saturday, May 02, 2020

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Good Morning Chelveston, Caldecott and Chelston Rise. It’s Saturday 2nd May and this is Adrian Dale with the daily podcast.

Well thank you to all of you that joined in yesterday in wishing Chris Blom a Happy Birthday. He was hard at work with his tulips when Elaine played it to him. He was completely surprised as he had no idea it was coming. By then of course, lots of good wishes had been sent in too, which was doubly pleasing. I loved Ashley Fett’s comment. She’s a fan of the Chelsea Flower show and had no idea that Chelsea Royalty live amongst us. Well now you know.

I then had requests from Chelston Rise for Chris and Elaine to advise on what should be planted on the verges outside Chelston Rise to ensure they are blaze of colour next year. So watch this space.

Now yesterday was a really interesting and challenging day on the WhatsApp group. There were some strong differences of opinion, almost arguments. But interestingly when you look at what was said, everyone actually wanted the same result – a healthy and vibrant Village, building on the strong community spirit we have already achieved. The only differences of opinion were how to get there.

Pete Rawlins (or A6 recovery as some of you know him) kicked things off by suggesting a scarecrow competition. What a great idea! Loads of people loved it. Rosemary Wooding even suggested that she could win by just putting Melvyn in the front garden!

Then Sharen Hegarty suggested that the Parish Council Events Committee run by Carol Parsons could help organise it. If you remember they were behind our successful Easter Colouring Competition.

All looking good so far. Then Chris Pentland put up a couple of sensible questions about the logistics and how this would work under the current lock down laws. Is now exactly the right time, or should we wait a couple of weeks until the lock down conditions are lifted?

All this time, there was me mowing the grass on the Kimbolton Road, stopping every few minutes to read the messages pinging in my ear. I have only got 63 minutes of petrol in my tank and running out, short of the van, is a disaster as that mower can’t be pushed without petrol.

When I got back to the van, Carol had come back on line. In the space of just 1 hour, she’d held an impromptu “unofficial” meeting of several members of Council to check whether the Council could legally push the button on the Scarecrow competition. She was thrilled at the idea, as such a competition had been on their list of events for a while. They were just looking for the right timing to launch it. If the people of the Village wanted it, perhaps now was the time.

Then of course reality kicks in. We have 125 members of the WhatsApp group but this only covers 46% of the households in the Village. We need to find a way of reaching all the remaining households. When the Events Committee ran the pumpkin carving competition, they leafleted every household to make sure everyone got chance to participate.

So she thought “let’s just ask Adrian to do what he did for the Easter Competition.” He can just print a leaflet offering every family the chance to take part. And he can deliver them – no problem.

Ah well there is actually problem. Before the Easter Competition, the Council had already done its legal duty. The dreaded risk assessment. Was there any risk of any kind in asking households to submit colouring competition entries electronically? Did anyone need to leave their houses at all? Clearly no! The only person who moved around was me – delivering prizes. And the man in yellow in the Red Van has more PPE than you can shake a stick at. So no risk there then.

So yesterday the most rapid risk assessment in history had to be conducted. So what’s the best way of doing a Scarecrow competition in an absolute lockdown?

Step 1 – we need a theme. Well that was clear – let’s go key workers or red white and blue – easy.

Step 2 – every household gets the chance to participate. Hmmm now there’s a challenge, how to we let everyone know about the competition. How can we do that?

Step 3 – then we need a proper judging mechanism. Adrian had suggested he’d take photos of all entries but that wouldn’t account for whole garden displays which need to be seen properly in context to judge them.

Step 4 – how can all Villagers wander safely about the Village to view all the entries, surely that’s part of the fun? Social distancing wandering up the Raunds Road or through Caldecott would be hard to achieve.

Now risk assessments are difficult to do, and frankly no one wins doing them. Believe me, I was a Parish Councillor from 1996 to 2015. I chaired the Council for more years than I can remember. I know the drill, I’ve done it many times. I hate the drill, but I know the drill is the right drill. Our Parish Council, gets thousands of pounds worth of grants each year because they do the drill properly. One step out of line and the Council tax needs to double.

The Parish Council cannot, absolutely cannot, endorse any activity or spend any of your money, at all unless the risk assessment is green, green green. They have powers to spend your money and sponsor any community activities, but only within the strict confines of the law.

However, the Parish Council cannot tell you what to do, it does not have those powers. It represents you and your views and spends your money. However, it can finance and support any activities deemed legal and of benefit to the Community.

When lock down kicked in. Parish Councils were ordered to cease all community activity that could conceivably be of any risk. And risk was clearly defined as anything where any non-compliant individuals flouting the rules could place a community at risk.

For example, the Chelston Rise play area was ordered to close. Even though one family at a time observing social distancing rules could not possibly be a risk. It was ordered to close.

So the Parish Council was between a rock and a hard place yesterday. A Village Scarecrow competition is a brilliant idea. The idea of a Parish Scarecrow on the Green or the War Memorial site is a brilliant idea. We definitely need a new Spring time tradition, just like pumpkin carving has become the Autumn tradition.

I have photos in archive which I’ll publish today of Village children dancing round the May Pole on May Day in Duchy Close which was the tradition of yesteryear. But let’s face it, no-one is going to dance round a Maypole in this day and age. So an annual May Day scarecrow competition is something we could all enjoy.

We’ve obviously missed May Day this year as we need to stay locked down. However, things should change this week. On Thursday, the Government should publish its new lock down strategy, making it clear what Parish Councils can support and what we as residents can do without risk of fines. Sadly, it may involve face masks or respirators.

When our Children look at the photos of the future, they will be amazed by residents wandering the Village looking at scarecrows all wearing face masks. You can see the sociologists writing papers about the strange habits of the people of Chelson-cum-Cawcud.

So folks the bottom line is clear. The Parish Council and the Events Committee think that a Scarecrow Competition is a great idea. The idea of an official Parish Scarecrow somewhere in the Village is a brilliant idea. The Parish Council will put your money behind it to make the whole event a great success.

If the Government changes the law on Thursday next week, then we can push the button for a monster scarecrow competition for the Whistun Bank Holiday weekend.

And this will then become an annual event for the Parish.

So let’s keep our fingers cross for Thursday and we’ll have three weeks to build those scarecrows to give Melvyn a run for his money.

Thank you