Chris Inchley, Labour councillor in Shepton Mallet has been getting to grips with his new role since his election last May and recently took to the country lanes of Somerset to reflect on the issues affecting the county.
Chris writes;- This weekend I did my sponsored bike ride in aid of Somerset Churches and Chapels and the Shepton Mallet Skate Park. I would like to thank for all the sponsorship that people gave this will add to the funds of the two groups.
I had the good fortune to ride with a group from Kilmerston, they are raising money for their church. I love looking at churches, they are awe inspiring buildings, the quality of the buildings and the features contained within them are magnificent. Although you do realise that the cost of maintenance is high and continuous.
The beauty of the landscape is breathtaking, with hills and fields, the reservoir with the boats and the magnificent houses in pretty villages, this a rural idyll.
Yet, is this picture box scene, lived in by those with deep pockets, large cars and the access to wealth to buy the services they need.?
Governments talk about a great deal about supporting rural Britain, yet the proposed sell off off of the Post Office is a classic anti rural community policy.
There is no doubt that the postal service within the urban areas is profitable and easy to provide, yet rural communities, little hamlets and villages in the middle of nowhere are more difficult and costly to provide for.
The universal service will be secured no doubt, but what kind a service; once or twice a week deliveries?
Services that make rural economies work
These services are not nicety’s they are services that make rural economies work, electronic media is fine, but how many rural communities have fibre fast telecommunications? So the cost will increase or the service will rationalise, either way not good for a rural community.
The loss of bus services again hinder rural communities, the notion that only profitable routes should be supported is anti to public service, in many places bus services can be called less than basic.
There is no doubt our rural settlements are increasingly becoming gentrified, with the wealthy buying their piece of paradise and where are the small housing schemes for the aspiring young who wish to stay in their own communities?
Under the beauty of our rural idyll, the hidden problems of urban Britain remain, maybe just a little better hidden.