It’s not often that New Year predictions come to pass, but this year we can claim some success.
After worrying briefly last January about the global and national state of affairs, we turned to local government, lamenting Bromsgrove District Council’s “infection” by party politics.
The Tory district councillor for Alvechurch Village Ward had hardly been seen in the village since his election in May 2015 while, in stark contrast, a group of volunteers had helped to bring The Lounge youth project in Alvechurch back from the brink of closure.
“Perhaps 2017 can be the year we start to spread that same people-power into our local government,” we suggested.
Charlie Hotham, standing as an Independent, had already snatched the Barnt Green and Hopwood Ward from the Tories and we wondered if other villagers would be keen to vote in a “wave of Independents whose only allegiance is to their communities”.
We should have put some money on it!
In May, Coun Hotham decided to take on the long-standing Conservative councillor June Griffiths in the election for the Alvechurch Division of Worcestershire County Council – and won.
Then the near-anonymous Tory district councillor for Alvechurch Village (mentioned above) decided to step down, sparking a by-election in June.
Again an Independent candidate, Kate Van Der Plank, decided to throw her hat into the ring – and beat the Tories’ candidate by 893 to 583 votes.
Since then, Alvechurch Parish Council has enjoyed welcoming both its county councillor and its Independent district councillors to monthly meetings, an appearance that for many years was as likely as a turkey casting its vote in favour of Christmas.
As this year rolls on, minds will be turning to the next full round of district elections in 2019, by which time even more villagers may be ready to vote in someone representing their community rather than just some national party.
And our prediction for 2018?
Brexit reality will topple the current Government, the country will vote for the party offering a fresh referendum, which will reverse last year’s narrow result by a large majority . . . and then we can all get back to normal.