26th February 2021

Good day to you.  Hope that you are still keeping well.  It is a year ago – 27/2/20 – that we had our last Halstead in Bloom team meeting.  In my diary for 26/02/20 I noted that there were ‘concerns about the new Coronavirus that seems to be spreading in UK.  If we had known then……….. 
At our meeting we were planning various events for the year with no idea that most of them wouldn’t happen.  Derek Holmes (from Daniel Robinson & Sons) joined us to pledge to provide transport for Anglia in Bloom and RHS Britain in Bloom judging; there was to be a seminar about Climate Emergency Water Crisis in April that Graham was interested in attending; we planned our AGM in March, VE celebrations, Halstead Marathon, Halstead Flower Festival, Children’s’ Competition ’20 and a Quiz and none of them could take place.  We did visit Gestingthorpe church and museum on 17th March and that visit was interesting and informative, and we did manage to get some summer bedding in place – bit of a scramble, but we got there!  We had attended a Britain in Bloom seminar in Birmingham and came back with lots of ideas – we can hold them over until 2022!  What else did we discuss?  Well, it was reported that Graham had repaired the Bluebridge cart but concerns were raised about the seed drill on Sudbury Road.  Bellway Homes were contacted and they rose to the challenge – the drill now looks great.  Damage to the drinking fountain on Mount Hill was reported – thankfully this was not too difficult to repair and the water has been flowing freely.  The very bad state of pavements in Colchester Road had been reported to ECC, and these have been repaired in the past 12 months.  A letter had been received from the GP Surgery thanking the HiB team for work done in their courtyard garden – unfortunately there has been no possibility of maintenance and the bamboo has enjoyed the lack of attention!    But let’s not dwell on what didn’t happen, but look forward to a better 12 months coming.

Community Litter Pick should be happening this Sunday but won’t take place as an organised event this month.   Please do feel free to combine some collecting with your permitted daily exercise safely at all times please.  The next event should be on Sunday 28th March, just one day before the planned ‘rule of 6 will apply’ so similar plans for then, please.  Hopefully by the last Sunday in April it will be possible to have a ‘proper’ community litter pick.

River Colne.  Work to repair the Riverside footbridge has been completed and Halstead TC minutes say that when painting is completed the footbridge can be opened to the public.  With regard to the stretch between Town Bridge and the Mill the planning application has been lodged (can be viewed on the BDC web site – look for Old Surgery, Weavers’ Court) to trim trees on that side of the river and if no objections are received by 1st April we will be free to organise the work.  Cllr Jo Beavis, ECC, has arranged for a grant of £1000 to be made to HiB so the cost of work will be covered.

Vandalism You may have read in the local press that there has been a spree of vandalism recently.  Two of the troughs at the Fountain on Market Hill were pulled off and were damaged.  Linda and Carol cleared up the mess and put the troughs back together as best they could.  The plants seemed to survive and are brightening up the area.  It was prudent, however, to purchase new troughs that will be put in situ for the summer bedding – money from the ECC grant will be used for the replacements and the surviving troughs will be used elsewhere.

Re-vamp of the High Street A post appeared on Facebook (but was quickly taken down) saying that HiB has received £400K to revamp the High Street while businesses are struggling.  This, of course, is not true but we did wonder if this ignited the spate of vandalism.  HiB has been asked and has agreed to be a consultee on plans.  Some of the planters in High Street – especially those near to W H Smith – have rusted through and badly need to be replaced.  We will be asking if water retaining containers can be purchased; they are robust and will assist with maintenance.  A meeting between Halstead TC and Braintree DC will take place soon and HiB will attend.

Plant Stall After much discussion, fingers in the wind and eyes on the news we decided that we would go ahead with purchase of some bedding plugs and hope that we can have a plant stall in early May.  Some of the team are growing on various cuttings from their gardens as well as these plugs and with the recent published ‘route map’ it looks as if the stall can go ahead.

Summer Bedding has been ordered and we will be planting up the town at the end of May/beginning of June under whatever restrictions are in force at the time.

 RHS Britain in Bloom and Anglia in Bloom  Britain in Bloom this year will be aimed at  Community Champions and Halstead in Bloom told the Chairman for  Anglia in Bloom that we would be prepared to stand aside for 2021 and let others have a chance of entry.  The 5 chosen entrants from Anglia are Brandon, Chatteris, Dunstable, Gosfield and Huntingdon.  We are sure that they will bring some great entries forward, and of course HiB will be pleased to assist them if we can.
Anglia in Bloom has also decided that for the safety of all entrants and judges the 2021 campaign will be virtual.  There are 10 categories for entry, and I attach a list and terms of entry.  Please note that up to 5 photos of each entry can be submitted, and up to 3 entries in each category except the Its Your Neighbourhood category where there is no limit.  All this for a £10 entry fee!!  We must be able to put forward a strong entry from Halstead, please have your cameras primed!

 Calendars 2021 We have, once again, to thank Phil the Egg Man for his great assistance in selling when we could not.  We now have most of the money in from sales and I’m pleased to say that most of them were sold – none were recycled by us. 
We will be producing a calendar for 2022, so please send any photos of Halstead or surrounding area to me so that we have as wide a choice as possible.  Maybe think of some areas that we haven’t featured before, and ‘bright and beautiful’ will be the order of the day.
We do still have some face shields left, and I guess that we will all be need to wear some sort of face covering for weeks/months to come.  They cost £2.50 each and will be available at our plant stall or ask one of the team and we will get one to you.

Banners at entry to the Town you may have noticed that the banners on the muck spreader, near the seed drill and at Halstead Public Gardens proclaim Halstead’s successes in 2019.  While we don’t mind shouting that the Town is a Gold Award Winner we aren’t keen on out of date posters.  Team has decided, therefore, to remove those posters, but some others noting successes will be hung.

I think that’s all the current news, so stay optimistic and keep safe and well.

Please, if you have any questions, suggestions or comments don’t hesitate to contact us .          
Chairman: Margaret Eskins- 01787 269443. Plants/Planting: Joan Gibson 01787 473070. Trustee Annie Rees.  Secretary: Julia Smith 01787 461806/email
Facebook: Halsteadinbl