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In Full . . .

THE VILLAGE VIEW

Posted on March 20 2010 at 2:46:23

So, the green shoots of the grass roots have been condemned as too exotic a growth in these straitened times and the brief lives of our neighbourhood groups in Alvechurch and Rubery are over. What a shame.

It was only in February 2007 that The Village reported how “a team of high-level councillors, officers and other authorities is aiming to bypass all the usual obstacles to make a difference for the people”.

The initiative recognised that most good ideas are lost amid a sea of officialdom, poor communication and ineptitude. It sounded like a good idea, and it worked.

Right now, the renovated car park at the social club in Alvechurch is being marked out ready for another 15 years of use by villagers and a club for teenagers is about to hold its first meeting with dedicated youth workers.

Such projects were made possible by the ability of villagers, via the neighbourhood group, to get their ideas straight to those who make decisions and come up with the money.

But now Bromsgrove District Council hasn’t got enough cash to introduce similar groups across the district, so the only “fair” thing to do is to shut them down. At the same time, the district and county councils are also withdrawing officer support from another grassroots forum, Partners and Communities Together (PACT).

This interacted closely with the neighbourhood group in Alvechurch and problems raised at PACT were often taken up by the neighbourhood group members. Now one is likely to be significantly diluted while the other has gone.

So who will nurture the grass roots now?

Well, here’s an idea: Alvechurch Parish Council could shrug off its archaic mantle and become a new, modern forum, one which will attract large numbers of villagers to its meetings where they will be encouraged to take part.

The humdrum administration of the parish, such as sorting out lamp posts, could be done in committees or more decision-making power could be given to the clerk.

This would clear the decks for a monthly meeting with an agenda generated by genuine concerns and hopes of villagers rather than signing off cheques and pondering whether the council’s standing orders are in order.

The current chairman of the council looks like he’d welcome the 21st century into his meetings and if villagers want a short cut to someone with some power, the leader of the district council is an Alvechurch parish councillor and usually at the monthly meeting.

Coincidentally,  there is a new recommended standing order the parish could introduce which would turn the meetings into a public forum.

And if it works in Alvechurch, the idea could soon spread to other parishes – perhaps even Lickey End where the people could find their dormant parish council is something valuable that they should make use of.


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