It may be half way through its big conversation, but there is no let up in the opportunities for residents, business and visitors to play their part in shaping the future of the Alde and Ore communities.
Last month saw three exciting documents published by the community-led Alde and Ore Futures project which set out a snapshot of the present and ideas for the future based on the input of local people.
“The Alde and Ore Futures project is a ground-breaking approach to tackling issues affecting life around the Alde and Ore Estuary, from Thorpeness to Shingle Street and inland as far as Blaxhall, and we want to hear from anyone with an interest in the future of those communities,” said Cllr Andy Smith, Chairman of the Suffolk Coast Futures Executive Group.
“The three documents address all the issues that affect daily life, including social, economic and environmental, and has involved all those affected by them.
“Our goal is to finalise an action plan that will map out a framework for the future of the Alde and Ore area for the next 20 years or so. But to do this successfully and effectively, we need as many as possible of those living or working in or visiting these communities to give us their thoughts and comments,” added Cllr Smith.
Over the last few weeks, the project has used the three documents to prompt a Big Conservation about the way forward, and a series of public events has given people the chance to find out more.
The themes of the three ‘Big Conversation’ documents are ‘Building the Local Economy’, ‘Managing the Coastal Environment’, and ‘Thriving and Viable Communities’.
Among the local issues directly addressed are affordable housing, broadband provision, farming, and the tourist trade, with the recognition that these are increasingly interlinked and cannot properly be considered in isolation – and all are potentially fundamentally affected by the vulnerability of many parts of the area to flooding from the sea.
The project was set up in 2009 to get people talking to each other – local people, landowners, national and local government – especially Town and Parish Councils, other national agencies and wildlife bodies. This intensive process of discussion involving the local community has never been carried out before in the UK.
The idea was to enable everyone affected by a decision to become part of how that decision is made. By getting local people and agencies working together, often for the first time, the Alde and Ore community is coming up with innovative solutions to problems that initially seemed insoluble.
People have until Friday, September 30 to give their views. All the documents and online questionnaires can be found on www.suffolkcoastfutures.org.uk or at local libraries, parish, town or district council offices.
“These three documents tell people what has been achieved so far. Taken together, they give a clear overview of what coastal communities need to do to secure their future; individually, they highlight particular problems facing our economy, communities and the environment, with some ideas for ways forward.
“Each document also includes examples of local action – like the community-based wireless broadband scheme around Shingle Street, or landowner-initiated improvements to the river wall at Butley. I would recommend that everyone interested should read them and give us their view about the issues raised,” added Cllr Smith.
Alde & Ore Futures is supported by Suffolk Coastal District Council, Suffolk County Council, the Environment Agency, Natural England, Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB Unit, the Estuary Planning Partnership for the Alde & Ore and Suffolk Coastal Local Strategic Partnership.
As well as going online, people can find out more about the documents at the Orford Flower Show Saturday, August 27 from 1.30pm and the Aldeburgh Food and Drink Festival September 24 and 25 from 10am to 5pm on the Saturday, and 4pm on the Sunday.
Copies of the conversation documents can also be seen at Aldeburgh Library, the Coastal Mobile Library, Suffolk Costal District Council offices in Woodbridge, Local Town and Parish Councils, and of course online at www.suffolkcoastfutures.org.uk