As you can read in this month’s letters, the antics of politicians and other decision-makers sometimes leave those they represent hopping in eye-popping frustration.
So much so, they vent it in letters to us – and we are happy to print the printable parts because that is what we are here for, and have been for 16 years this year.
In that time we have seen indignation flow in waves, depending on what shenanigans are afoot; but putting houses on green fields is guaranteed to raise the swell.
The biggest wave in all our time was caused by the decision by St Laurence Church in Alvechurch to sell, for housing, a field it had been given to use as a graveyard extension (and to spend the cash on a grand church hall, now known as the Ark).
Before that, it was another “A-word” – ADRs. These “areas of development restraint” were fields in the Green Belt around our villages earmarked for future housing.
But the only “restraint” was time and that has now run out, with the biggest prize for developers, the fields behind the Barnt Green Inn, probably being churned by bulldozers this year.
A feature of the frustration created by these “decisions” was that there was nothing anyone could do about them because they were faits accomplis. The ensuing “public consultation” was double-speak for pulling the wool over villagers’ eyes and made little, if any, difference.
It’s no wonder people felt battered and perhaps lost some of their fight over the years. But we sense a change: more and louder voices asking “why?”; a willingness to question those who claim to be acting on our behalves.
We can thank technology; it is now possible to spread the word that you think Bromsgrove District Council has trousered into its central coffers £2 million in New Homes Bonuses – money that apparently should have gone to the communities affected by the building of those homes.
And at the same time you can ask people to sign an online petition that will force the district council to discuss the matter in public at one of its meetings.
We are yet to see how this pans out, but if public feeling can be harnessed this effectively across the district, expect to see many more petitions.
Could the online social networks that helped to bring a missing dog home to Alvechurch after six days on the run soon be bringing real, live democracy to our lives?
We live in hope.