Sunday, 2 May 2010

What about the Community?

One thing that has not seen much attention during the election campaign is 'the community' and what makes the places we live and work safe, secure, enjoyable and happy places to be in.

Ultimately the community is everyones immediate environment, it is what is most important to them. When the community is working well it gives people certainty, continuity and security. The Conservative and Lib Dems have bashed Labour over bankers, the economic crisis and selling british gold cheap but what the government have done to our communities has gone largely unmentioned. Think back ten years ago to the community that perhaps you live in. How many Post Offices, shops and pubs have closed. What has happened to the bus services that have served those communities? Are they as regular or frequent as they were? Do they still exist? Was there a local Housing Office or Library? Is it still there or under threat with public spending cuts?

Of course the economy is important but it is the impact of government policy on the places we live that matters to people in the most immediate way, because it affects all of us in our everyday lives.

We have to turn this around and government and Kirklees policy should be directed more at supporting and protecting locally owned shops and businesses and public services in our comunities not big deals with big supermarkets that threaten those local businesses survival.

Ultimately the 'big idea' is not the big deal with a supermarket chain, such as the Kirklees deal with Tescos, but one which places the importance of locally owned and managed shops and services at the forefront. Thinking at the smallest level gives us the biggest gains as a society and as such the strength of our communities should be at the centre of government policy not an afterthought.

(Picture - Green Valley Grocer - Slaithwaite)


  1. An interesting post but attempting to delineate 'the community' in a spatial sense is problematic. Just what do you mean by 'community' or by 'local'? Do you mean the nearest shops and community centre, a neighbourhood, a Council ward, the whole town?

    I agree with your point about certainty, continuity and security. These are the foundations to the sense of 'attachment' we have to a place. But at what spatial level is this provided? There are only two studies that I am aware of that have compared the attachment that people have to places at different spatial levels. Both found that residents felt more attached to their own homes and their city than they did to their neighbourhood (I will forward on the PDF's if you are interested).

    Also, is there any independent, reliable evidence that would suggest that the residents of Huddersfield feel less security and certainty in their community now than they did at the beginning of New Labour's term in office?

    Gareth, Newsome

  2. Fair point Gareth, Neighbourhood would probably have made more sense.

    The points about attachment are really the way I see it and what people say to me around the Huddersfield area. They will have an attachment to their neighbourhood, Newsome, Taylor Hill etc and this is reinforced by the local shop, pub where they have opportunities to talk to their neighbours in a neutral place as well as simply having services on hand. I'd be interested. Be interested in the PDFs.

    There's lots at play in communities except just facilities and I think the work of the Newsome Community Forum and its sub groups is a useful counter to the negative impact of loss of facilities. So any empirical evidence on peoples security and certainty in their community should ask why they feel the way they do.

    All the best. Leaflets to deliver.