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In Full . . .

THE VILLAGE VIEW

Posted on August 30 2016 at 1:14:14

As we went to press, the road was closed again on the dangerous bends just south of Alvechurch village after yet another accident.

Perhaps the road was slippery as a downpour ended days of dry sunshine – but if cars are crashing with such regularity in the same place there must be a real problem there.

Will anything be done about it?  Probably not, despite pressure from residents who fear that one day it will be bodies they rush out to find.

The parish council is backing them, but the chances of some kind of safety measures remain low unless there is blood on the road – something that none of us wants to see.

We’ve been accused of being anti-car before, perhaps unsurprisingly because we see the car as being the one intrusion that spoils the idyll of village life.

Every time we suggest measures to reduce car use we get complaints from those who believe they have a God-given right to drive their kids a few hundred yards to school and back each day.

But we do, all of us, need to start to think of better ways to organise village life. 

About 17 years ago, the then editor of this magazine was at Alvechurch Village Hall as a member of something called the Village Centre Improvements Committee.

Its members, including a number with village centre businesses, were in agreement that “something should be done” about the amount of traffic.

In attendance was the then head of the Highways Partnership between Bromsgrove and Worcestershire councils.

To some surprise, he suggested it would be quite feasible to give Alvechurch village centre over to pedestrians in a continental-style scheme of raised road surfaces that quite clearly demonstrated motorists were intruders and unwelcome.

We carried a piece headlined “Piazza del Alvechurch!” and, naively, thought something might happen.

It didn’t, but it still could if ever the money were to be available, and we would of course welcome such a scheme.

But perhaps we should start to think even further out of the box and find ways to reduce vehicle movements, with the dream of one day becoming car-free villages (Google this and you will find those that do exist around the world are all described as “idyllic”).

We could start by tackling the conundrum that means children aren’t allowed to walk to school because of the danger of them being knocked down by the cars of all the parents taking the children to school so they don’t get knocked down.

Would a car-free zone, just around our village schools, for an hour in the morning and one in the afternoon be expensive or difficult to implement?

There would be complaints for sure from those who say we should just accept the world as it has become, that the idea of an idyllic village is as unattainable and unwelcome as the fantasy England of the Brexiteers’ dreams; but should we let that stop us dreaming?


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