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In Full . . .

THE VILLAGE VIEW

Posted on December 28 2016 at 11:13:57

The end of an old year and start of a new one is normally a time of hope and optimism, but not this time.

A local clergyman told us the other day that people had a “certain trepidation” about how the world around us would unfold over the next year, referring mainly to the disarray caused by the UK’s anti-Europe result and the imminent arrival of a disruptive figure in the White House.

Trepidation, a “feeling of fear and agitation”, just about sums it up for many people viewing national and global events . . .  but looking locally, perhaps we can be more positive than usual and embrace change?

This time last year The Lounge community hub in Alvechurch was just about to discover that the trickle of financial help from Worcestershire and Bromsgrove councils had run dry – another casualty of the economic crisis created by the rescue of the profligate banking sector.

It came very close to curtains for a project that serves so many people, young and old, very well, but now its prospects are far brighter, thanks to the village volunteers who stepped forward with ideas, energy and commitment.

We have written a number of times over the past year of the increased activity of volunteers putting on events and making things happen across The Village area. Far from being beaten down by the withdrawal from community by central and local government, they have filled the void with their energy.

Perhaps 2017 can be the year we start to spread that same people-power into our local government. It already happens at parish council level, where councillors volunteer their time for no more than the satisfaction of helping their communities.

At district level, at Bromsgrove, local government is still infected by party politics – but there is a sense this is, ever so slightly, starting to diminish, thanks to the rise of independents, volunteers who care about the communities where they live.

Who would you rather have representing you? Charlie Hotham, independent district councillor for Barnt Green and Hopwood Ward, who lives in Barnt Green, is vice-chairman of the parish council and who can be seen out and about on his patch most days?

Or the Conservative Party councillor for Alvechurch Village Ward who lives in Catshill, who pledged before he was elected in May 2015 that he would come to parish council meetings and who has been seen so infrequently ever since that most people have forgotten his name?

Times, they are a-changing around the world, but with any luck they are also changing around here and at the next district elections we will be able to vote in a wave of independents whose only allegiance is to their communities. 

Happy New Year!


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