Bandstand on the Rec
The Story of
in the 21st Century

Please click here to look back into Haverhill's history before the year 2001.
2001 In the new year the weather started frosty and these conditions continued. It remained cold and wet for weeks when the frosts ended.
February continued to be extremely wet all over the country and in some places which were flooded last year, the same floods came again and again. Suffolk had some localised house floods, but nothing as bad as elsewhere.

The country was really hit badly from a completely unexpected quarter, when a case of Foot and Mouth disease was recorded on February 24th. What followed was to become a nightmare for the rural economy. Cases were reported in Essex and from many widely scattered locations, but it was to become worst in Cumbria. Infected animals were culled and their carcasses burnt in giant pyres in the open fields.

During March, the Foot and Mouth outbreaks escalated alarmingly. Footpaths were closed across the country, and at first, the public were urged to stay out of the countryside. Rural areas lost their normal traffic and it soon became clear that other industries than farming were being hard hit, as well. Country Parks like East Town Park in Haverhill were shut down. It was feared that visiting wild deer would spread the disease. All the Nature Reserves of the Suffolk Wildlife Trust were shut. The National Trust shut all its rural sites. All farms and farm attractions closed.

The slaughter policy was extended to healthy animals which might have had contact with the disease and there was difficulty in keeping the disposal of the dead animals up with the culls.

To add to the country's troubles, the price of road fuel began to rise again, despite the Chancellor's cut of 2p a litre in fuel duty on Ultra Low Sulphur diesel oil.
The giant meat processing plant at Little Wratting went on to emergency measures as the ban on livestock movements came into force.

By now it was widely recognised that the rural economy was in deep trouble, and the government now had to sell the message that the countryside was open for business. Suffolk County Council allowed most of its footpath closures to lapse on midnight of 31st March, but re-imposed closure where there was a likely proximity to livestock. By Easter, many rural attractions had re-opened with government blessing, including all the St Edmundsbury parks except for West Stow, where there remained pigs and sheep which need to be kept isolated. Suffolk Wildlife Trust reserves stayed closed.

Some good news was very welcome when the Genzyme factory announced a massive new investment programme at its Haverhill plant, together with many new jobs.

2002 In 2002 the wet weather continued and local flooding almost became normal in the first few months of the year.

In May, the St Edmundsbury Borough Council brought in its modernised decision making structure following the Local Government Act of 2000. Decisions could no longer be taken by committees as had been the case for many years. The council now has to appoint an executive or Cabinet, to take decisions, which are then scrutinised by one or more Overview and Scrutiny committees.

At the first meeting under the new constitution, there was a surprise when the leader of the main opposition party was elected to be Leader of the Council. This was done by a coalition of 17 Labour, 2 Liberal Democrats, 2 Independents and 2 Independent Conservatives. Under the new constitution, the Leader then appointed his Cabinet with 6 other members from the coalition. The Conservative Party with 21 seats had no representation except for chairing the Overview and Scrutiny Committee and the Policy Development Committee.

On June 24th, following the tenants ballot in September 2001, all 5,949 council houses with garages and associated land, were transferred to the Havebury Housing Partnership, a Company set up by the council to own and run its houses. The company became a Registered Social Landlord, and was independent of the council, becoming also a Registered Charity. The aim was to raise private finance to bring the houses up to the fullest modern standards, while keeping the expenditure outside the Public Sector Borrowing Requirement.

Havebury Housing Partnership started up by taking over the top floor of the Council Offices in Lower Down Slade as its Haverhill office. Rents could still be paid to the Council cashiers, who passed the money to Havebury.

Just outside Long Melford a firm called Allen's had been in the flavourings business for over a century. In 1966 a merger of Allen's with two other companies making complementary products produced the new firm of "Bush Boake Allen". This company was bought out by IFF in 2000. The factory at Long Melford closed down in 2002, when International Flavours and Fragrances Ltd. moved all the Melford production to its site in Haverhill.

2003 In May, the four yearly elections to St Edmundsbury Borough Council took place. At the same time the Haverhill Town Council came up for election. This time there was a new party formed, known as Haverhill Representative Alliance, Owing to a technicality they could not field candidates for the Borough election, but they took control of Haverhill Town Council

By July, the Haverhill Representative Alliance had disbanded, and its members became Independents. Some of the Independents made an alliance with the Labour Party to form a controlling group on the Town Council.

Haverhill's Spirit of Enterprise
2004 In November 2004, Haverhill made a claim for a world first, becoming the only known town to feature a laser-lit sculpture on a roundabout. The 11-metre (36 ft) high steel sculpture, called the Spirit of Enterprise (or by locals as "The bin", or "The toilet roll"), is situated on the main gateway roundabout on the west side of town, and was mostly funded by local businesses.

The installation was opened by Charlotte Rampling on November 10th, 2004 and was designed by London sculptor Rob Olins, and is lit by blue sodium lights in addition to the laser. Rob Olins, who designed the sculpture, praised the input that he had received from the students at Samuel Ward and Castle Manor Sixth Forms, as well as the co-operation forthcoming from the town's businesses. "My brief was to ensure that the people and businesses in Haverhill had an input into what was being created" said Rob "so we held both workshops and exhibitions in the town to invite comment."

Charlotte Rampling was born in Haverhill and after her early film success moved to France. She was awarded the OBE three years ago, and was until recently married to Jean Michel Jarre, whose music formed part of the laser show.

The £100,000 project has been financed mainly by businesses operating in the town, who have contributed over £60,000 in cash and in kind, and the project received a £22,500 grant from the Arts & Business East New Partners Scheme. St Edmundsbury Borough Council were responsible for all the groundwork infrastructure of the roundabout.

2005 By 2005 the Government have said that 100% of public services should be available electronically.
2006 The Centre for Computing History was established at Haverhill in 2006. By 2012 the Centre would be aiming to relocate to Cambridge.

Cineworld Haverhill
2008 In the town centre, new developments have seen a Cineworld cinema and food outlets Frankie & Benny's, Prezzo, Subway and KFC all opened in the later part of 2008. Cineworld's new 5-screen multiplex cinema complex was opened in October 2008 at Ehringshausen Way, Haverhill.

Tesco's in old Station Yard
2009 Tesco opened a new supermarket on the land of the old railway station, just off the town centre in the Autumn of 2009. By September 28th the new store was ready to open, transforming the old station yard into a modern store with car parking for ??? cars and 260 job vacancies. As well as a new road layout in front of the store, contractors are creating an improved pedestrian link to Queen Street, including a new bridge over a stream. That there were 3,000 job applicants reflected the depressed economic state of the whole country at this time.

Unfortunately, Wisdom Toothbrushes was in the process of closing down its manufacturing operations at the Haverhill factory. The company maintains its Headquarters here at the Old Silk Mill in Haverhill.

At Little Wratting, a major employer of Haverhill labour, VION, was undergoing a restructure that would see the abattoir close and the plant specialising in cooked meats. Dutch-owned Vion announced in January 2009, that 470 jobs will be lost at its Haverhill site in Suffolk, 200 at Malton in North Yorkshire and 150 at Cambuslang in Scotland.

The Cambuslang job cuts follow the loss of business supplying food products to supermarket giant Marks & Spencer, while the other losses are as a result of plans to restructure the firm's abattoir and sliced cooked meats operations.

Vion said it planned to close its abattoir, butchery and parts of its retail operations at Haverhill and transfer them to Malton. At the same time, all cooked meat production will move from Malton to Haverhill.

More jobs go at VION
2010 In February, 2010, VION Haverhill announced proposals to re-organise operations of its cooked meats business at Little Wratting with the aim of improving operational efficiencies. Last year, VION instigated plans to focus resources in order to create “centres of excellence” that would be able to satisfy the demands from the marketplace. These proposals alongside ongoing capital investment for the site form a further part of this site development programme.

As a consequence, all personnel at the plant were informed of the proposed plans to re-organise operations and told that this would result in approximately 180 further job losses across the site, affecting both salaried and hourly paid roles.

2012 For some time the Centre for Computing History had aimed to move to Cambridge from Haverhill. A statement on their website stated, "Whilst the museum has been extremely succesful in external displays and exhibitions, the current location has proved inadequate both in terms of size and visitor potential. "

VION Foods, the Dutch owners of the large meat processing factory at Little Wratting, announced plans to sell all of their British operations, and return all production to the continent.

Please help to write the story of Haverhill in the Twenty First century, and the Third Millenium. If you have spotted any mistakes or notable omissions, why not let us Know? Or if you know the date that your church, school, club or organisation has been built or founded, or has had any important happenings which you feel should be included in this history, please email us. Also let us know of any big events which are coming in the next few years.
Send your information to
The Haverhill History Compiler by clicking here.

Compiled by David Addy for the St Edmundsbury Website
with your help and the help of
the Haverhill and District Local History Group (HDLHG)
May 2001-July 2003

Haverhill Chronicle Home Page Last Updated 1st December 2012 Go to Home Page