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Melford in Bloom community project faces unclear future due to coronavirus pandemic




The launch of a major community-driven project, aimed at rejuvenating the centre of Long Melford, could be in doubt as the village continues to grapple with the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

Long Melford Parish Council confirmed that the planned launch of Melford in Bloom, set to take place in May, is now under review, following the Government’s announcement of strict measures to curb public movements nationwide, so as to limit the spread of the virus.

Inspired by the success of similar schemes in Sudbury and Halstead, Melford in Bloom was first proposed last year, with the council allocating £10,000 towards its delivery in time for this spring.

Long Melford Parish Council and the Long Melford Business Association are collaborating on a series of projects to help increase footfall into the village...Pictured: John Nunn (Chairman of Parish Council and member of the village hall committee), Richard Delderfield (Chairman of the Village Hall Committee and Parish Councillor), Jonathan Ewbank (parish Councillor) and Jane Ebejer (Secretary for the Business Association and Village Hall)....PICTURE: Mecha Morton .... (21519627)
Long Melford Parish Council and the Long Melford Business Association are collaborating on a series of projects to help increase footfall into the village...Pictured: John Nunn (Chairman of Parish Council and member of the village hall committee), Richard Delderfield (Chairman of the Village Hall Committee and Parish Councillor), Jonathan Ewbank (parish Councillor) and Jane Ebejer (Secretary for the Business Association and Village Hall)....PICTURE: Mecha Morton .... (21519627)

However, the council has indicated that the normal public launch will not be able to go ahead.

Jonathan Ewbank, who is helping to co-ordinate Melford in Bloom, said equipment required for the project has been purchased and should last 25 years, so, regardless of what happens this year, they are treating the scheme as “a long-term investment” for the community.

He stated that volunteers are hopeful of proceeding with this year’s displays “if nothing else, as a dry run for future years” – but he added this will be dependent on how the situation develops.

“Long Melford Parish Council will be keeping the project, due in the village in May, under careful review, and will act in accordance with continuing government guidance and requirements in the months ahead,” he told the Free Press.

“Obviously, we hope that this brightening of our village centre coincides with a turn for the better with news on the virus, but, if that is not the case, and especially if government guidance changes, we will adapt accordingly.”

An event to mark the launch of Long Melford’s new circular walks, scheduled for Easter Monday, has also been postponed, while the release of pamphlets promoting the five new walks is on hold.

Lisa Tipper, co-ordinator for the walks scheme, said: “We need to adhere to government directives and, therefore, it wouldn’t be appropriate to be publicising new walks when people have been told not to have gatherings of more than two.”

It follows the formation of a Coronavirus Action Group, involving the council, the neighbourhood watch scheme, the good neighbours scheme, Holy Trinity Church, the primary school and the Melford Magazine, to co-ordinate the village’s response to the pandemic.

Leaflets have been produced, with support from Sudbury graphic design firm Indigo Ross, and delivered to all households in Long Melford, providing advice to residents, as well as helpline phone numbers for local organisations, including community volunteers.

Parish council chairman John Nunn said: “This has been possible thanks to the large response from people wishing to help the elderly and people in self-isolation in the village.

“Volunteers will be available to assist the elderly in self-isolation with shopping.

“Sadly, as with everywhere else in the country, Long Melford – usually a vibrant and busy village – has now seen the cancellation of many of its monthly and yearly events, due to the coronavirus pandemic.”