Good day to you,  the end of another month and of course coming to the end of the year.  I’ve heard it said that 2020 was ‘a year like no other’ but I feel that’s lazy talk; surely each year is unique?  As we look back to this time last year would we have believed some of the events we have experienced in 2020?  New words like lockdown, furlough, social distancing, etc. have enriched our vocabulary and new ways of communicating have come to the fore.  There have been some dark times, but some brighter moments too; and we are still here to tell the tale!

I must pass on seasons’ greetings to all from David Tarbun; he continued with his plan not to send Christmas cards and to give the money saved to charity, but he does want to wish all a happy and healthy new year.  The wishes are reciprocated, David thank you for all your support.

Our December Community Litter Pick, scheduled for 27/12, couldn’t be held for obvious reasons although some of the team did go out for daily exercise, litter sticks and bags to hand.  It is hoped that the January event – booked for Sunday 31st January – will go ahead; meet at 10.30 in Sainsbury’s car park.  If Tier 4 rules are still in place then please don’t come to meet but if you are able then there will be litter to collect I’m sure!  Your daily exercise on your own or in ‘bubble’ groups (another of ‘those’ words!) will be great and pick your own spot to clear.
The Keep Britain Tidy Group is soon to launch their appeal to help turn the tide on the plastic pollution that’s choking our planet.  The appeal can be heard on BBC Radio 4 on January 3rd – look for the Charity Appeal on Radio 4 website or published programme details.

Another charity appeal is Freemarket Radicals looking to promote new cultural and heritage activities to support Halstead’s economy.  They say that markets and fairs used to bring people to local areas and visitors would then spend money in local shops and hospitality venues and they want to explore the possibilities of bringing this back.  The project is supported by the National Lottery Emerging Futures Fund and feedback from residents is requested to gauge what can be done, and what is required/needed.  There is information at and a survey form at

You will have seen in the local press that there is a move by Braintree DC with Halstead TC to make some improvements in our High Street.  It is reported that lighting will be improved and street furniture renewed.  HiB will be asking if any new plant containers can be of the water retaining type to help with maintenance.  The containers favoured by HiB are made from recycled plastic and have been found to be robust and long lasting.  It will be great if any new benches can be replaced with those made of recycled materials, we will put forward our suggestions to the consulting team if requested.

Halstead TC has made progress with the Riverside footbridge but work has been hampered by a lack of building materials and latterly by the high water levels.  Hopefully matters will be resolved and the Bridge can be opened soon to enable good trade for local businesses when the current restrictions (another of those phrases!!) are lifted.

On the subject of the river: with the recent heavy rains it has been reassuring to see that the flood defence at Box Mill worked and kept Halstead from disastrous floods.  The high water level and current restrictions has meant that not much can be done by volunteers to keep the channel clean, but it is obvious that there will be some debris to clear when waters subside.  Environment Agency made it known that some money has been set aside for planting on the stretch of river between Town Bridge and The Mill in the Spring and discussions are taking place between the Halstead River Improvement Group (HRIG) Environment Agency, Essex Wildlife Trust and HiB as to what might be suitable.  It is hoped that some grants may be available to carry out further sympathetic tree trimming work while maintaining shade for aquatic life – of the horse chestnut trees alongside Weavers’ Court in particular – and any ideas you may have on how to ‘disguise’ the sewer pipe would be welcomed.  Planting to soften the hard concrete/metal banks would be desirable, all plants used will be native to the area to help with conservation and give habitats for wildlife.   Further information on plans for the above will be posted on HRIG Facebook page.

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) is promoting a scheme ‘Roots of Remembrance’ urging us to plant a tree in memory of those lost to the current pandemic.  Free trees are available from the Woodland Trust – applications must be made by 5th January – and the RHS ask that they are mentioned in any application so that a map of remembrance trees can be made and published.  Details can be seen on the RHS website –
As I said last month there will be no Britain in Bloom campaign this year, but the RHS will be launching a campaign with applications invited from the regional In Bloom teams (Anglia in Bloom in our case) for five entries from each region.  There will be no physical judging; it will be on photos, text, video, etc. and in specific areas.  The scheme is called Community Champions and I think that details are still yet to be refined.  We don’t know, as yet, if Halstead will be put forward by Anglia in Bloom and we don’t know full details of the campaign – watch this space!

Anglia in Bloom hasn’t yet declared any parameters for the 2021 campaign, but I guess that there won’t be any physical judging – or at best there will only be limited contact by judges.  This will mean that there will be another ‘virtual campaign’ but I don’t have any details at the moment.  If you have any suggestions I can put forward, please do let me know.

It is very difficult at the moment to make any plans – personal or for the HiB group – but I can say that the summer bedding plants have been ordered, and it looks now as if there will be no trade barriers to us receiving them.  I think there may be some more paperwork to contend with and we will assist in any way that we can with this.  We hope to collect the plants from growers at the end of May ready for planting on 30th/ 31st May and onwards. 
You may have noticed that one of the troughs on Town Bridge is missing at the moment – last weekend someone obviously decided that it would look better in the river.  Fortunately it fell on the only piece of riverbank still visible above the water and it has been rescued and will be replaced as soon as the brackets have been straightened out and repaired.  The plants, too, were rescued and are a bit bruised but seem to be recovering; they will be replanted.

We do still have a few calendars 2021 for sale at £4 each.  They comprise 13 months so are relevant until 2022!  We also still have about 20 face shields in stock.  If you require any of these items please speak to one of the team or use the contacts below.

I think that’s all the news for now.  The HiB trustees wish you a happy, peaceful and above all a healthy New Year.    The team and HALSTEAD will be Blooming in 2021!!

Please, if you have any questions, suggestions or comments don’t hesitate to contact us – details below.          
All the best, stay safe and keep well.alsteaH Hal

 Halstead River

Chairman: Margaret Eskins- 01787 269443. Plants/Planting: Joan Gibson 01787 473070. Trustee Annie Rees.  Secretary: Julia Smith 01787 461806/email

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