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The slow death of my English village

Posted on 1st July, 2019

 

 

The following extracts are taken from “The slow death of my English Village", by Robin Page, as published in the Daily Mail Online, 29 June 2019, with BOB comments in [brackets].

“I've lived in the village of Barton, just outside Cambridge, all my life and first wrote about it 45 years ago in my book The Decline Of An English Village. Sadly, I've been unlucky enough to see Barton and the countryside around it changed ...” [Similar to villages like Bleadon, just outside of Weston-super-Mare, said to be one of the fastest growing towns in Europe!]
“But above all they have been decades of political betrayal, in which village and country life have taken second place and third place to the superficial gods of 'progress', 'efficiency' and 'development'. When I wrote the book 45 years ago, these threats posed were mere 'plans'. Now they have arrived in the countryside like a tsunami – houses, development and people on a scale never before seen.” [Bleadon's political and statutory representatives record of poor current and historic consultation; poor openness and transparency of decision making and policy changes; along with poor public communication of potential developments and their associated economic, social and environmental changes]
The village itself has 'growth' threatening it from many sides – a sea of houses plus the roads and street lamps that go with them is getting nearer, blighting the horizon, filling the area with traffic, the schools and the doctors' surgeries with people" [Bleadon’s associated development offers, increased commuting, light pollution, problems with access to hospital and doctors appointments, etc.]

“The toll on wildlife of all this traffic is enormous, but who counts and who cares? I've seen dead cats, birds, foxes, badgers and at least one otter on the road … One bright summer's day I was puzzled. Something was missing – a familiar part of my landscape was gone. And then it came to me, shocking, wounding me: I could not hear a lark. The anthem of an English summer had been silenced." [Is this what residents want for Bleadon?]

 

“I once believed in the decency of people, including politicians, and I had faith in our system of democracy that has so failed the countryside. I am told by those who want to improve me that my standard of living has increased, that I have the benefit of new roads, runways, street lights, wheelie-bins, health centres, houses and cars, as well as access to more gadgets and electronic wonders than apples on a tree. But as my 'standard of living' has increased, so the quality of my life has dramatically decreased."

 

"One of the few old villagers in the High Street bemoans the loss of simple neighbourliness … Over the years the post office-cum-village shop has migrated to the far end of the High Street … I played football for many years on the recreation ground ... But there is no village team now. ... the whole team and club disappeared to another village several miles away [skittle alleys] ... the structure of the village changed. Local people from ordinary backgrounds have been priced out … Much of the development is not based on 'rural planning' but on construction figures demanded by central Government … What, then, is the long-term future of the countryside? A countryside that has been ignored for years, whose people are ignored?" [What is planned for Bleadon's future in Bleadon Parish Council’s missing adopted Parish Plan and it's Neighbourhood Development Plan, North Somerset’s Local Plan, the regional Joint Spatial Plan and the many overriding (sometimes unlawful) government directives?]

 

If you are concerned about your community’s future please feel free to make a comment below, but to ensure your voice is heard by your official ‘representatives’ please also inform your Parish Councillors, North Somerset Council and your local MPs.  

 

See also NSC Statement of Community Involvement 

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