Tysoe has evolved steadily over the years – in the last century growing by just over three houses per year, on average – and, although we currently have to defend ourselves from “rapacious developers”, it would be foolish to swing too far the other way, and go all out to try and master such evolution. Yes, we have to put a stop to huge, unsuitable and unsustainable housing developments of buildings “made of ticky-tacky”; but that doesn’t have to mean being utterly restrictive in what we allow, or not, to be built; what facilities we decide can become (or remain) part of the village; or that a very small – and apparently élite – group of people should be in control.
Like most things that happen in most villages, residents will poke their heads above the parapet and show interest for a few moments, whilst something different, something new and exciting (or threatening), takes place; but then disappear to get on with what is most important to them: their daily lives; the struggle, in many cases, to endure with enough money and health that their existence is – by their own definitions – made meaningful, at most; and just about manageable, at least. (This is not apathy, by the way, nor selfishness: it is just the survival instinct cutting in. Take away people’s involvement in the decision-making process that rules them, and they will turn inward to the places where they do have power, however little….)
Their involvement is fundamental, though, in – if not deciding on whether planning permission should be granted to Mr Goggins’ twelve-storey extension on his two-bedroom semi-detached (I hope, here, that commonsense would prevail!) – ensuring that the village’s strong community and identity survive, whatever happens elsewhere. Although the Neighbourhood Plan is a very good starting point for this, it is a mere encapsulation of one of those “moments” in time; and, sadly, could be wiped out with a change of national administration, or overruled by the whims of a government minister.
I am not convinced that the current structures the parish has in place are resilient enough – or, dare I say, modern enough (or even savvy enough) – to cope with such extraneous pressures and influences; and – although I do believe that the village, in some ways, possesses a robust genius loci, which, Gaia-like, is at the heart of its evolution – I hope that the one thing that emerges from all this is a greater involvement in Tysoe’s future of all those who live here: not just greater than it is now; but greater than those who live beyond its boundaries, and therefore care little what becomes of it.
How we secure such participation – in the process; the strategy, and not just the individual tactics – I’m not that sure. (Nationally, there is a parallel growing dissatisfaction with, and disenfranchisement from, the Establishment: which, so far, no-one has shown any likelihood of addressing successfully.) Like alert meerkats, a huge proportion of villagers rose to defend the initial threat from Gladman – and, perhaps, it is only such a large peril that can achieve this.
However, I would hope that, within us, there is some way of – someone capable of – communicating (i.e. making people hear and understand) the fact that ensuring our village evolves as we would like – and that this relates directly to the minutiae of the meaning and manageability of our daily lives – requires us all to (re)act, and contribute our thoughts and actions continually – not just momentarily. (The Neighbourhood Plan survey is just one early stop – albeit an important one – on a long and arduous journey.) Otherwise, we will wake up one day to find a village that we no longer recognize, love, or wish to live in – its spirit of place eradicated.