Something is broken in Stradbroke but it isn't the website.....
|The emperor Nero famously "fiddled whilst|
Curiously the council has long maintained that it could do nothing about the decline and eventually closure of the village spar shop that took place earlier this year. This followed the closure of the post office the year before which again was something the council felt it could do nothing about. In both these cases the reason given was that these are "private businesses" and that the council should not "interfere".
When we first moved to Stradbroke some ten years ago now we quickly became involved in creating a village website. The site has since gone through various iterations and eventually it was funded from the revenue generated by the parish magazine adverts. Now this money passes through the Parish Council before it is paid to the hosts of the site (Ning) and this appears to make the council think that despite the fact this site really is owned by someone else (me) it is their business.
All of a sudden several members of the council appear to have become amateur website experts and meeting after meeting has discussed the supposed failings of the website. Now it is certainly true that the site could do with a lot more up to date content but given the platform it is run on allows anyone to add content the solution seems simple to me. Add content!
However several members of the council don't want to do this and would rather shout loudly that the site is out of date. Yesterday evening one councillor said:
We all know the site is broken and you know I have always said if something is broken you throw it away and get a new oneHowever the site isn't broken - take a look yourself it is at http://www.stradbroke.org.uk
Perhaps that councillor's PC is the thing that is broken? Or maybe worse still the thing that is really broken in Stradbroke isn't its website but its parish council.
Over the past year the council has failed completely to take effective action about the things that really matter in the village. It has sat and done nothing whilst the only general shop closed and into this vacuum a group of villagers have stepped who are thankfully trying to do something about this. Only they aren't telling anyone what they are up to and the village rumour mill is in complete overdrive.
Into this vacuum should come the parish council to provide some leadership. Even organising a public meeting for Spar the shop leaseholders to tell us their plans has been done by this group rather than the council.
Just as bad has been the councils complete failure to do anything about neighbourhood planning. The Government has changed the planning rules and without a neighbourhood plan it is almost a free for all now and the village would have little say if a large planning development was proposed (which incidentally is actually happening).
But several of the more vocal and long standing councillors haven't been keen on a neighbourhood plan citing every excuse under the sun not to have one. It's too expensive was the first excuse, then when funding was offered it was too much work for councillors....It was actually local County Councillor Guy McGregor's encouragement that seems to have got this back on the agenda but for reasons that are unclear some members of the council really don't seem at all keen on the idea.
At least the website is no longer a problem for the council. We won't be asking for any further funding from the council so hopefully there should be more time to discuss more important things at the next meeting.
And in 2015 the whole council comes up for "re-election". Lets hope that this time there will actually be an election and that a fresh council is elected that feels able to do something to stop the apparent decline of the village.