With all the talk of referendums (and despite the protestations, it doesn’t look like there’s any sensible way out of the Brexit Mayhem without another one) some villagers have been left scratching their heads as polling cards for a totally different referendum, on January 10, drop through their doors.
They have been asking us: “What’s this all about?”, while one district councillor said some had even felt “scared” by the receipt of the card across Alvechurch parish.
When you’re used to keeping a watch on local news, it’s often a surprise to discover that something six years in the making has passed people by unnoticed.
So, it seems there is one last push needed to make sure the public referendum to approve the Alvechurch Parish Neighbourhood Plan sees a big turnout . . . in favour!
The neighbourhood plan steering group explains what it is all about in the centre of the January magazine, and we shall do our bit here.
It is not just Alvechurch, either. Others are not far behind, particularly in Lickey & Blackwell and Cofton parishes, which have reached the submission stage with a joint plan and hope to be holding their own referendum in the spring.
Barnt Green is hiring a consultant to help to prepare a plan for their parish, perhaps realising that if the surrounding parishes have marked out their wishes, they may be left exposed as the next phase of development is unleashed by Bromsgrove’s review of the Green Belt.
And that is the main point of a neighbourhood plan: it gives the people of the parish the chance to say what matters to them and where, if it has to happen, new housing might go and how it should fit in.
The document, if approved by the public referendum, becomes part of the statutory planning process and has to be referred to and complied with by would-be developers.
In other words: it is really worth having and we should be thankful to the volunteers across our areas who have put in so much time and effort to bring the plans this far.
The public referendum is the final seal of aproval. It will be decided in Alvechurch by a simple majority of those who vote. If three people vote and two vote “Yes”, it will pass.
But it deserves better than that. On January 10, the people of Alvechurch parish can send a strong message to the developers circling (quite literally) with their plans to build on our highly profitable green fields.
The more people who tick “Yes”, the better. Let’s send a loud and clear message to the developers that we are not easy pickings.