Thursday, 29 June 2017

Et in Arcadia ego… (part III)

INTRODUCTION
Over the past four years – commencing with the huge amount of research I carried out to produce the Sustainable Tysoe? briefing paper (against the proposed Gladman development on Oxhill Road) – I have collated a large (digital) stack of documents dealing with various aspects of planning (specifically, neighbourhood planning) and development (not only of buildings, but of communities, of individuals, of neighbourhood resources). I have also contributed to this pile with the articles I have posted on my blog – The Bard of Tysoe – at least fifteen of which are responses to (mostly direct; although some do, admittedly, take a rather sideways glance at…) our parish’s various attempts to produce something resembling a neighbourhood (development) plan (NDP).

Great planning does not mean either “most restrictive” or “most laissez-faire”. It means creating the conditions for growth and change while maintaining a vision of the common good. It balances competing interests. It includes a grasp of the cumulative effect of individual decisions…. It can protect long-term benefits against damage from short-term profit. It has the ability to spot problems before they become crises and find a way to address them. It can review alternative approaches to an issue, such as population growth, and promote the best ones. It has clarity and consistency, so everyone knows where they stand. It has the ability to review the results of its own decisions, and learn from them. It is informed by knowledge, not guesswork. It is the result of genuine and transparent public debate.
– Rowan Moore: Boris, we agree London is a great city…

In my latest post on the subject – as it finally looked like there might be a version of the NDP submitted for examination (although not without a large amount of revision, and late-night cramming…) – I simply linked to these previous writings: as they (sadly, in the case of the ones offering constructive criticism) are still vitally relevant and pertinent (even those written three years ago). However, having all been ignored or denounced – and then summarily removed from the trail of documentary evidence that is needed to explain the evolution of the ideas captured within the Plan (as well as those so discounted) – I feel now is the time to collate (and, where needs be, summarize) their ideas in one place: not just to demonstrate how my prescience has, sadly, come to pass; but to use the inherent research and reasoning to explain, more thoroughly:

  • why I think the latest version of the NDP only narrowly fits that sobriquet or description;
  • why I (therefore) oppose it; and
  • how – had my writings (and, I suspect, others’) been heeded – residents could have contributed effectively to something more wide-ranging, more nuanced, more relevant, more complete, more useful (rather than – as with so much of the content – being paid lip-service).

By trying (and hopefully managing) to combine, effectively, three strands – my research; my writings; and reasoned criticism of the contents of the latest NDP draft – I trust I can clearly demonstrate how the inhabitants of the three villages which constitute Tysoe could – had they truly been paid attention to – easily have produced something more befitting their situation, experience, and wisdom; something they deserved; and something which defines “development” in much broader terms. In other words, how – in utilizing all resources open to them; rather than capturing (and imposing) the opinions and certain conceits of a self-selecting few – a NDP could have been produced more fit for purpose (and probably in a much shorter time).

One of the problems… appears to be a misunderstanding – either deliberately; or because of a too-deep involvement in, or love of, the technicalities that seem to swamp the current version – of the document’s original aims and objectives. Instead of asking the residents – and of a place that, along with its housing, has “developed on a slow, small-scale, organic development basis” – what they want; the authors have, instead, turned the whole thing on its head, and said we can only have what they seem capable of producing.
– The Bard of Tysoe: Taking a stand (in the place where you live…)

My only concern is that – as with my previous thoughts on the matter – there is no way of knowing for sure how many (or if) others feel the same way; or are producing similar documents – as there is (or has not been until now, I pray…) no central, public repository for such. There have obviously been indications that we ‘peasants’ are starting to revolt – the recent promulgation of the Save Upper Tysoe campaign; personal communications; the discreet arrival of an envelope, packed with brightly-labelled maps and feedback forms… – but no solid evidence that I am not a lone voice proclaiming only to the desert which surrounds me; nor that my words (or those of my presumed – but not yet revealed – ‘co-conspirators’) could be used as the basis of some rallying cry.

We need vision and selflessness to succeed as a village; we need soul; we need reason, thought, and thoughtful, listening people: people who care. But, most of all, we all need to be in this together.
– The Bard of Tysoe: Taking a stand (in the place where you live…)

This, of course (and sadly), is the critical flaw with the way the NDP has been developed – by an exclusive, almost covert, few: making piecemeal and tokenistic efforts at collaboration and consultation – and why it cannot be considered “fit for purpose”. It has not sought out those more modest, more quiet, more peaceful (even than I!) – those whose understanding of the village is extremely well-developed, but also extremely self-contained. It is, in essence, a document by the few, thrust upon the many it believes it can be made to govern.

Considering, as well, that only thirteen other people (out of a parish of “about 1500 people”) appear to have commented on the first draft, then how (even though it has grow’d like Topsy) can this reflect “the thoughts and feelings of local people”?
– The Bard of Tysoe: NP-headed…

Has none of [the Plan’s authors] looked down on Tysoe from above – from the Epwell Road, from Old Lodge Farm, from the windmill… – and wondered how the place grew so gobsmackingly idyllic without any overall plan? Has no-one stepped back, and gained perspective, looked at the bigger picture, tried to understand the context? [Rather than dictate future growth (with, it appears, identikit buildings plonked down, regardless of situation, regardless of need, regardless of aesthetic), why not let Tysoe continue to evolve sporadically – as it has always done? Just because those that selected themselves (without the behest or backing of the majority) to make decisions they don’t appear to understand the ramifications of, have committed their thoughts to paper, opining that this is the only way forward, doesn’t mean that this is the only way. We seem to be so afraid of diversity and spontaneity, of not having control, that I wonder if we villagers are allowed to think for ourselves anymore. “If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – for ever,” wrote George Orwell in ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’. Big Brother loves us, and has spoken – whether we like it or not. There is no alternative. We are all conservative, now. “Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.”]
– The Bard of Tysoe: Et in Arcadia ego… (part I)

Hopefully, any examiner worth their salt will soon realize this for themselves: grasping the absence of a typical(?) wide range of views (especially those dissenting; or from a wider range of locations, as well as classes, categories and occupations). Hopefully, they will then become the overt and public conduit through which such folk can whisper their immensely valuable contributions. Hopefully, the result – in whatever form it must take (whether a formal Neighbourhood Plan, or some other “plan for Tysoe”) – will finally be something by the many, for the many.

We choose to produce a Plan for Tysoe and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.
– The Bard of Tysoe: Fly me to the moon…

Postscript
I mentioned Sustainable Tysoe? at the beginning of this introduction. This was an eighteen-page “briefing paper”, which was used to succinctly inform District Councillors of the issues at stake; and outline the residents of Tysoe’s objections with reference to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). There are two extremely relevant quotes highlighted on its cover page…

The purpose of planning is to help achieve sustainable development. Sustainable means ensuring that better lives for ourselves don’t mean worse lives for future generations…. Planning must be a creative exercise in finding ways to enhance and improve the places in which we live our lives. This should be a collective enterprise….
– National Planning Policy Framework: Ministerial foreword

The role that planning plays is to ensure that the three dimensions of economic, social and environmental detailed in the National Planning Policy Framework are in alignment when approving development applications – all three roles being mutually dependent: contributing to protecting and enhancing our natural, built and historic environment; and helping to improve biodiversity, use natural resources prudently, minimize waste and pollution, and mitigate and adapt to climate change by moving to a low-carbon economy.
– Dr Michael S Sanderson

…but the only reason I list them here is that I (with the help of a handful of others) put my heart and soul into producing that document (as well as several twenty-four-hour days in a row), in defence of the three Tysoes (especially Middle Tysoe): only now to find that a selection of its inhabitants is hell-bent on overthrowing every single principle embedded in it – especially with regards to sustainability – by concentrating on the economic, to the cost of the social and environmental {NPPF: paragraph 7}.

If there is only one reason for ‘failing’ the proposed NDP, it can be found in paragraph 8 of the NPPF (although the fact that nearly every site allocation contravenes the Plan’s own policies must rank pretty highly, too):

These roles should not be undertaken in isolation, because they are mutually dependent. Economic growth can secure higher social and environmental standards, and well-designed buildings and places can improve the lives of people and communities. Therefore, to achieve sustainable development, economic, social and environmental gains should be sought jointly and simultaneously through the planning system. The planning system should play an active role in guiding development to sustainable solutions.

To be blunt – although I have produced this document as if for the independent examination that must be carried out before any referendum – I cannot see how the Plan, as it stands, could make it that far; nor – to be deafeningly honest – would I want it to. (As well as being vague, contradictory, and driven by the desires of only the tiniest minority of villagers; it is palpably unfinished, as demonstrated – for example – by the poor and incomplete drafting {e.g. p17}.)


THE WIDE-ANGLED VIEW
There are, as I hint above, many things ‘wrong’ with the way the Plan has been developed: the lack of any real consultation being the most heinous. It is these “wrongs” I will attempt to address within this section.

Do we actually need a plan?
Ever since the idea of a (then) ‘neighbourhood plan’ for Tysoe was proposed – evolving from the extended defence against Gladman’s proposed development of an estate of eighty houses – I have wondered if such a plan is really necessary: especially as its claims to “protect” {II p55} Tysoe (although it is not clear from what) have been constantly over-egged; and the final(?) version only discusses “where and how new [housing] developments should take place” {p6}. Its claim that it meets “the aspirations of the village for the future” {p4} seem rather hyperbolized considering its extremely narrow scope.

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.
– The Bard of Tysoe: Other comments…

The anonymous comment appended to the above post strikes an even more liberating tone (the following is merely an excerpt):

On the other hand, it doesn’t have to be like that. It doesn’t even have to be the Neighbourhood Plan. It could simply be our plan. A plan for Tysoe.
     It could be a plan for the village as we want it to be; how we want to be in it; what we want to keep and what to change; how we would look after ourselves and each other; how we could adapt it to the world around us; how we could feel we belong to it; how we could make it a wonderful place to grow up, and grow old in; how it could look, and work for us.
     It could be a plan that could outlive the political and economic winds that blow around us. It could be sensitive to, but not dependent on others – on officials and policies and obscure irrelevant impractical things that might otherwise be imposed on us. It could be a plan for our village to enable it to survive and thrive even in troubled times.
     It could be a plan that we would all enjoy playing our part in creating. It could be a plan of which we are all proud. It could be a plan created by grownups and children alike, a game for the whole family to play. It could be a plan made by fully sentient human beings, with extraordinary capabilities, and loads of common sense. It could be a model of how people can work together for a common cause.

When, as the Plan itself states {p6}, “43 [houses; out of 70] have already been built (or have been given planning permission)” – many of which do not even begin to comply with the Village Design Statement {p43} (many of whose diktats are self-contradictory, show no understanding of architecture, and are almost certainly unenforceable (see below)) – it seems ludicrous that so much time and money (“1,000s of hours of work” {II p57}) have been spent on trying to govern the appearance and siting of a mere 27 houses (when the Housing Needs Survey only “identified a need for eleven new homes” {II p59}). It is also impossible to understand, or ascertain, why “66 new dwellings in Tysoe!” have been allocated – as a recent Hands off our conservation areas! flyer demonstrated – nor why the majority of sites are greenfield, and impact on the Cotswold AONB (especially as this latter reason was common to Stratford-on-Avon District Council (SDC) disallowing not only the forementioned Gladman development on Oxhill Road, but Steve Taylor’s on Tysoe/Shenington Road).

We do not need a shopping list of fields for developers to target. What we need is a Tysoe which develops – as much as it can: as much as any “precious stone set in the silver sea” – in a way that we all recognize and wish for; and which does not lead our children and grandchildren continually to curse us for bequeathing them a village that is sterile through repetitious housing developments; even more isolated than now, because we did not grasp the chance to become subsistent in non-fossil-fuel-based power and motivation; or that has crumbled into a hollow, unrecognizable ghost and an uncomfortable locale to inhabit… because all we cared about was now, was instant gratification, was ourselves.
     What we need is a Tysoe which belongs to us all; and where every resident has an important say and a strong hand in how it grows; and where everyone is happy listening to those voices; grateful for their words; and shakes those hands in friendship – joining them together in building a future that everyone believes in.
– The Bard of Tysoe: Time to stop and think…

The Plan claims that if it “does not identify such sites the District Council will identify them for us” {p6}. Even if that were the case – of which I remain unconvinced (no evidence of the claim being offered) – having blanketed the village with money-making site allocations that fill in every gap (no matter how small – see Site Reference 1 {map; II p20}), there is no way that SDC could be more greedy, land-grabbing, or demanding, if it tried! That this is then labelled as “the parish [retaining] an element of control over future development needs” would be hilarious… – were it not so desperately sad and demeaning.

What consultation?
As someone who has tried to keep a keen eye on the progress of the Plan, I do not feel that I have been listened to (or even heard). My comments in response to the original questionnaire were, at one point, summarized (albeit badly; but at least with a hyperlink to the source material), and attached as proof that not everything in the Plan had emerged out of thin air (or the space between the steering group’s collective ears), or had been somehow ‘approved’. But such contributions have now evaporated – and it is almost impossible to see where most of the material in the Plan has originated; nor how residents feel about it. (An “Annex” of “Original Source Documents” is promised {p3} – but my suspicion is that this will not rebut my concerns.)

I believe, therefore, that the preliminary version, released online a few weeks ago, is unfit for purpose, because of its astounding brevity. And, if we are to take comfort from the final version; have confidence in it; and be convinced that we have been listened to (and understood), it is a prerequisite of such a significant publication that – rather than simply jumping straight to the answer – it shows (as many maths teachers have instructed) its ‘workings out’, line by line by line. This means that any future – and certainly the final – version of the Neighbourhood Plan, to gain validity, must be extended to include both the full quantitative results (i.e. the selections made against each question) and the full qualitative results (i.e. all the views expressed pertaining to specific questions; as well as those freeform ones under Other comments at the end of the survey). This is not a request – it is surely a democratic obligation.
– The Bard of Tysoe: I’ve tried walking sideways…

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… ensuring that the village’s strong community and identity survive, whatever happens elsewhere.
– The Bard of Tysoe: Other comments…

Token “public consultations” {II pp46–49; II pp60–61; II pp64–68} have attracted a small number of people (despite claims of being “well attended” {II p49}, 186 people make up only 15.5% of the population); and very little effort (if any) has been made to involve every single resident of the village (or even a majority of them) – not even once; never mind continually, as is obviously required of such a project. Had this been the case, then I doubt if the current Save Upper Tysoe campaign would have been started (just as the NDP project purportedly reaches completion): objecting to the disproportionate weighting of houses planned (in unsuitable locations) for this part of the parish.

I do think that one of the two most obvious problems with the Plan, as it stands, is that it only captures – as with most modern voting systems – the views of a minority of the parish’s residents; and it would be worthwhile, I think, therefore, to use the street champions in one of the rôles they were originally created for – that is, going door-to-door – to discern the views of people who didn’t respond to the survey; as well as perhaps ascertaining why they didn’t respond. This may also help to gain stronger ownership of, and investment in, the Plan (if that is what people want); and, subsequently, to deliver a more substantial and decisive vote in the referendum – scheduled for early next year – which decides whether or not villagers accept its recommendations, and allow it to come into force as a statutory instrument.
– The Bard of Tysoe: Further comments…

So the question I would ask is “What is Tysoe?”; and the only people who can answer this, fully, are those who live here – although it is also fundamental that this question be asked of our nearest and dearest: our neighbouring villages; the next layer up in this devolved form of government; those who we may work for; and the businesses that provide us with services, or are based within the parish.
     And there is only one way of discovering the reality, the truth – both objective and subjective (otherwise, we might as well just be lumped in with other similar locales) – and that is to go out and ask. You cannot expect people simply to come flocking to you, just because you have been given some form or remit of power – you have to govern collegiately, govern by walking around: actively asking; actively listening; bouncing ideas around, and letting others add to them, criticize them, praise them, ridicule them. After all, your constituents should be your greatest asset – you wouldn’t be there without them (or not for long, anyway).
– The Bard of Tysoe: Fly me to the moon…

For some reason, Lower Tysoe has been given much more say – in this version {II p72–75} – than any other area; and it is only once you delve into the “site assessments” that you begin to realize that most of these have been nominated either anonymously (suggesting that they have not been proposed by existing neighbours) or with a view to making money (e.g. Roses Farm, Upper Tysoe {II p23}: owned by Compton Estates; and with a “site capacity” of 15 – but with 19 houses proposed {p21}; even when the Plan itself states that “Any new housing will be small, ideally in-fill… with an appropriate density of houses” and “will respect the existing building lines” {p15}).

Why so limited?
In the Foreword {p4}, we are told that “The Neighbourhood Planning process offers the possibility of engaging and enthusing residents in determining the kind of village they want Tysoe to be in 14 years’ time” – so why on earth doesn’t our NDP do this? Later {p6}, it states that the Plan’s “objective is to ensure that Tysoe retains its character and continues to be a pleasant and stimulating place to live”; and that it “offers the potential for local people to be proactive” (without actually then doing any such thing – even though it admits that this requirement is necessary to fulfil its NPPF obligations) – …so why does it set neighbour against neighbour; whilst simultaneously laying down a plan more geared to the destruction of said “character”?

Locality’s Quick Guide to Neighbourhood Plans states that “Community engagement is necessary and important [as] it is a requirement of planning legislation”. It also suggests the many ways this can be achieved – most of which can in no way said to have been applied in Tysoe’s case… – and lists “Common Mistakes – What to avoid!” – most of which have been fallen into like Pooh into a heffalump trap. The core problem, though, is that the authors of the Plan have not sought to “engage and enthuse”; and, by concentrating on such a narrow remit – the allocation of sites for development {p4} – have actually removed any chance of doing so. There are no “Vision and Aims”, as detailed by Locality; nor a detailed list of “Community Proposals” – either of which would have been an easy vehicle for ensuring enthusiastic ownership of the Plan by the parish’s residents.

From the beginning, the Neighbourhood Plan group…, seems to have defined ‘consultation’ purely as telling us what they are doing, and telling us what to do. As I have said far too many times in my life: communication is a two-way process – as well as giving out information, you have to ensure that people listen and respond; are involved in the process; and understand – and merely sending out one survey, setting up a poorly-designed and -visited website, emailing a few residents, distributing infrequent leaflets, and holding a couple of ill-attended meetings, does not remotely fulfil such a definition. It does not “engage”.…
     Trying to get my head around the real reason for the emerging emergency, I came across this document: which – as well as documenting the “Common Mistakes” the group has unwittingly fallen into making (“Only weak leaders think they need to instruct and to ignore the opinions of others”) – contains some pithy advice….
– The Bard of Tysoe: Don’t leave me this way…

The Marketing and Publicity section {II pp54–63} (without exception, one-way communication: i.e. all outward-facing, with no effort put into garnering meaningful responses) also makes many spurious claims as to what the villagers and the Plan can accomplish:

We are…

  • instructed to “Support Tysoe’s Neighbourhood Plan” and have our “say” (the large banner these words were printed on not actually telling us how) {II p55; II p60};
  • told to “Get involved!” {II p56} – as if it is up to the mountain to come to Muhammad (again there is no contact point given); and asked “how would you like to see Tysoe develop in the future?” and “What is important to you and what you think makes Tysoe a special place to live?” – none of which informs a NDP solely concerning itself with house-building; and
  • encouraged to “take control of our own destiny” {II p58} and “look after the Tysoe we love” – the former I doubt Harry Potter could grant us (especially as we say we need 11 homes {II p59}; but SDC insists on us having many, many more {II p61}); the latter I thought we already were doing; but neither of which the Plan can achieve.

The Plan…

  • will “Protect Tysoe” {II p56} – er, what…?!
  • “sets out a vision for how Tysoe as a village develops in the future… so that we can preserve the unique character of Tysoe” – the former part of which surely falls foul of the Trades Descriptions Act 1968; the latter showing a deep miscomprehension as to how and why Tysoe is “unique” (e.g. because it has just grown organically, sheltered by the Edge Hills; rather than being micro-managed by a tiny proportion of its temporary residents);
  • “reflects the views and aspirations of Tysoe residents” {II p58} – but which residents; and what are their “views and aspirations” (it certainly doesn’t contain any of mine…)?
  • “manage change” {II p61} – which is an outrageous ontological claim!
  • “helps protect the character of the village” {II p62} – how? (I nearly wrote that I didn’t know I needed such protection!?!) – and “Stops developers taking advantage of relaxed planning laws” {II p62} (even though it helps them select sites which we cannot then say we do not want building on, as we have kindly itemized the where and the how…) – what “relaxed planning laws” they do not say (it appears simply to be yet another vacuous claim); and
  • sells itself on wanting “to ensure our village stays vibrant and sustainable, so it remains a special place to live” {II p62} – which is hard to envisage with at least 109 new houses crammed in, even before we demolish Herbert’s Farm {map}. (At least Gladman were going to develop a playground and a pond, and space between their houses; not just drop them willy-nilly in unsuitable places.)

What is its power/legal standing?
The Locality guide referenced above is very clear that “Planning applications will be determined in accordance with the Neighbourhood Plan’s policies unless material considerations indicate otherwise.” However, from reading the Plan as it stands (see previous section), you would believe it was the most perfect planning panacea: halting all and any development we, as residents, didn’t take a fancy to.

It seems to me, with those forty-three houses having already been built or given planning permission, that not even a row of villagers lying in the bulldozer’s tracks, Arthur Dent-style, can halt development. Yes, we stopped eighty houses being built in one place at one time (because it was simply too much in one go; and was proposed with little intelligence – and a fool’s assumption that it would be fought with the same…); but what this Plan proposes is actually far worse – and actually seems to be implying that such development is, now, A Good Thing. I honestly do not believe that the residents of Tysoe – no matter what documents we produce – can ever outfox those with money and power. The development currently being built next to Church Farm Court has ‘gone through’ planning so many times (a process managed by a local resident, natch), it seems that Chinese water torture can be applied if all else fails – especially when local councils’ planning departments have suffered huge cuts in the push for unneeded and unnatural austerity, and there are therefore fewer knowledgeable and qualified people attempting to deal with an avalanche of – to be honest (especially if a large proportion is social) – much-needed house-building proposals: meaning that quantity over quality will prevail.

Under the Housing objectives (page 12), I do not see any mention of affordable housing (although it appears, in passing, under Environment & Sustainability, on page 13; and again on page 19) – either as defined by law, or – preferably – as defined by local salaries. Prioritizing “1, 2 and 3 bedroom dwellings to encourage younger households to locate in Tysoe” is all well and good – but our local house prices are well above average for the region; and certainly not truly affordable to young people who would wish to stay here. (I know that the previous, superseded, Housing Needs Survey showed that there wasn’t much demand: but that is, I believe – from talking to residents with older children – only because they are conscious of the fact that “affordable” is a label, and does not reflect their, or their children’s, financial reality.) Do we not want to encourage local families to stay together? Surely the Town Trust could set an example, here…?
– The Bard of Tysoe: Further comments…

[Of course, it does not help that some of our richest residents – some of whom are also involved in local government – are involved in (and control) the property market. But that is probably also true of many such beautiful locations with large, historic, and listed homes, with large parcels of land. The main problems are – in such a Conservative-dominated area – that money is all; greed is still good; and lip-service is paid to the disadvantaged, the “just about managings”, and those in social, political and racial minorities. Not only that – and this is the real reason I raise such matters – but the “ribbon development” which seemingly “occurred” all on its own {p9} is damned with such faint praise: even though it provides some of the finest social housing I have ever had the joy to contemplate. (The Plan’s About Tysoe section {p9} then discusses our agrarian economy – “There are few villages in the country which have working farms at their heart” – but explains neither why this is important, nor how it has informed the Plan – apart from identifying the destruction of a working farm in the centre of the village if more (than an already ridiculous number of) houses are needed. The only thing that seems to be important is that your name features prominently on the churchyard graves. I wonder if the same names will appear on the title deeds for the selected land parcels?)]

Strangely, the Plan also fails to mention all the stages it needs to pass through before it is ‘made’ – including the independent examination this document has been produced for. It simply states that “Approval of the final version will be by public referendum” {p4}. At the time of writing, most villagers seem to believe that the “Pre-Submission Regulation 14 Consultation” is their final chance of commenting – the Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group having strongly implied this on the many banners currently littering the village. It will be interesting to see if the subsequent Consultation Statement finally admits to there being a large number of residents who not only have voices; but are either unsure, or are outright opposed to the Plan – and in how few words…! Likewise: will we ever be informed that “The local community may withdraw the plan if it is unhappy…”?


THE MACRO LENS VIEW
Although this has taken up far too much of my time, I am conscious of the way three documents – amounting to a total of 120 pages – will be received by most people: especially as the few paper copies are only available in central, public locations – most of which do not lend themselves to an air of deep and repetitious study over a protracted period. I can imagine older people – like my mother and father, in their late eighties (who do not live in the area), who may not be as computer-literate as some – struggling even to discover what a ‘PDF’ is; not knowing how to ‘download’ it (maybe even not knowing what that means); and feeling overwhelmed by the sheer size and purported complexity of what then lies before them, should they achieve their first objective. I can all too easily see – from my many years as a communication consultant (acting as the interface between employers and employees; trying to make such processes easier for both: especially in making communication truly the two-way exercise it should be) – how most people – once realizing the enormity of such a task as reviewing something that they probably do not feel involved in, and have not contributed to – will also fall at the first hurdle. (However, I do not blame them for doing so – this is a natural response; and one that should have been designed for.) No matter the reason for not giving the complete NDP a thorough read and critique (which has itself to be documented and delivered), I am worried that the outcome will be abstention rather than assent or dissension – especially given the poor turnouts for other such political referenda.

So… (deep breath…) although this has taken up far too much of my time – and, at one point, a line-up of four screens in a semicircle on the dining table in front of me (an iPad mini, showing a page of the NDP; an iPad, for viewing my previous research and writings; an iPhone, for reference and additional research; and another iPad, for writing on) – I have reviewed every single page: feeling beholden to those many residents who work long hours, etc. and simply do not have the time; and feeling that it is my duty (although accepting that despite my disability appears to give me the time others may not have, its impact on my abilities are considerable) – especially as someone who understands exactly what I am dealing with; and has the expertise (albeit rusty) to record (reasonably) objective responses (and at length).

Although I have tried to minimize repetition, the analysis of such lengthy (and poorly-constructed) paperwork is difficult to compress. However, I have often let one example stand as representative of the many others of its type.

Strategic objectives and policies
Once you begin to get into the pith of this version of the Plan, it becomes clear (inasmuch as any of the Plan can be) that although many claims are made for its power (see “Green crap”, below), much of its content is either aspirational or recommendatory – rather than laid down as statutory instruments of law. There is no indication of how the policies will be enforced; what the punishments will be if they aren’t followed; and why aspiring developers cannot continue to game the planning system. It does not help that they are all based on the flaws outlined above, of course.

Sadly, much of the language that conveys this (when it is conveying anything) would fail a Plain English test. (Having worked for two large management consultancies, I immediately recognize the style of wording that looks important, but which is no more than “a tale Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing”; and which relies on technical terms begged, borrowed, or stolen from other such important-sounding – and occasionally proper legal – verbiage.) Continual referral to the Core Strategy, Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessments, the NPPF, etc. – which no-one-else in the parish (apart from a mug like Yours Truly) will have even looked at… – do nothing but obfuscate (well, apart from laying the blame for anything we might not actually like at others’ doors).

What would have made things much easier to understand is a table of all of the policies and how they interrelate – as well as their basis in (and reasoning by) the previous text. Instead, they seem to appear out of nowhere; arrive all at once (like an assemblage of Accrington buses) – but with no formal justification of their relevance to the 1,200 people we are told live here. I simply cannot see how they can be applied to the messy reality which is modern Tysoe; nor why anyone would want to shape, or even erase, that wonderful, gorgeous, immensely attractive “messiness” in the hope of running the parish as a sterile hierarchy, governed by those who obviously believe they know so much (and so much better) than the rest – even though their dreams (as outlined here) appear to be built on (and of) so much quicksand.

The Employment policies, in particular, are totally impracticable – especially as they show little understanding of the gig economy; no mention of Brexit; or the realities of work as experienced by those saddled with huge student debts. Admittedly, it would be good for the planet if everyone worked at home – but, in a service economy such as the UK’s, this seems increasingly unlikely.

Affordability?
With a one-bedroom cottage in the centre of Tysoe recently selling (STC) for around £225,000, it is nearly impossible to consider that anything in Tysoe can ever be realistically ‘affordable’ again. (And with ‘affordable rents’ being set “at up to 80% of private market rents“, becoming a tenant is no easier.) However, under the heading Younger generation {p13} (which somehow manages to sound patronizing and caring simultaneously, and in just two words), in this version of the Plan, we finally have the mention of “affordable housing” that I so longed for, above:

The increasing cost of rural housing means young adults who grew up in the village are finding it difficult, if not impossible, to live and start their own families in Tysoe because of the lack of affordable housing…. Young people are essential to the vibrancy and sustainability of the community. Yet those doing low paid but essential work, as carers or farm labourers (for example), find it hard to afford a new home. We need to take action to encourage this sector of the community to stay in the village.

So…? Well, nothing more of value is said until Policy H4 – Rural Exception Housing {p23} – although this statement {p15} makes me wonder if the Plan’s authors have actually deigned to talk with those constituents so affected:

The vision includes a small development, sponsored by the parish, offering well designed affordable housing and housing designed specifically for the elderly and following the lines of existing successful projects elsewhere [where it doesn’t say]. Such a scheme would be as near as possible to the services of the village centre.

And yet the actual policy says that “Affordable housing development will be supported on small sites beyond, but reasonably adjacent to, the Village Boundaries”. So, pray tell, where is it really going to be sited? And why is building outside the boundary suddenly acceptable? Is it because we don’t want the poor and old (like me) to be visible? (Or should we still be seen… – just never heard from?)

The answer to this quandary is hidden in brackets in Policy H2 – Site Allocation {p21} – which sneakily provides Roses Farm (see above) “for approximately 19 dwellings (of which 35% will be affordable)” – which equates to 6.65 properties! That this location is about as far from the centre of Tysoe as can be goes without saying – it certainly not “being with an acceptable walking distance of the village services (assumes an ‘average’ person to be able to walk 500m in ten minutes)” {p19}. Not only is it outside the existing village boundary; it is on the site of a public footpath (as mentioned above); and hidden behind the WOT2Grow Community Orchard {p11} on one side, and a long row of existing houses (of all ages; and whose inhabitants, I presume, are behind the Save Upper Tysoe campaign): with no obvious access to either Epwell Road or Tysoe/Shenington Road (regardless of what it says in the Plan).

Status of Land This site is a complex mixture of greenfield (some of which is within the AONB) and old farm buildings.
Highway Safety Access onto the Epwell Road within the 30 mph zone. This road is very narrow at the point it becomes a T-junction with the Shipston Road.
Impact on Landscape Setting This site is in TY07 with high/medium sensitivity. The proximity of the AONB however would suggest that any new development needs to address visual impact on the AONB with great care. {II p6}

Accessibility to Local Services The main services are in the centre of the village. There are streetlights but no tarmac pavement on the Epwell Road. It is 15 minutes’ walk from the point on the Epwell Road to the main services. It is a further 2 minutes to the school. The net effect is that this site will lead to vehicle journeys being chosen as the mode of transport.
Impact on Natural Heritage Part of the site is used for pasture and the hedges around the site are degraded.
Impact on Heritage Assets The site has elements of pronounced ridge and furrow. The northern part also displays earthworks of a different nature. Roman material has been discovered in fields to the north-east. The site lies inside a Conservation Area and is partly in the AONB. There are old stone walls along part of the site in a poor condition. {II p7}

How can this (yet more modern housing hiding our heritage, and greeting visitors – cf the new Church Farm Court development) be labelled as anything other than ‘tokenistic’, ‘damaging’, and ‘demeaning’? Compton Estates’ involvement should shame everyone-else involved, too – as they have a terrible reputation of simply building where they want (with no regard for heritage or setting {II p23}); regularly increasing rents (beyond inflation); and I cannot believe this pathetic gesture (which contravenes so many of the Plan’s own policies) is anything other than aimed squarely at fulfilling quotas and meeting planning demands… – as well as making a decent-sized pot of cash for the land’s owner out of both grant-awarding bodies and future residents. Out of way, out of mind… – or sending to Coventry? Never have I seen a more blatant stitch-up. [Joseph Ashby (see below) would be fuming… – as indeed am I.]

[By the way, the Plan states that “The average household size in Tysoe was 2.38 persons” {p24} – but it is not clear at what date this applies; nor where the data originated. If it is the 2011 census, then why does it differ from the number I was given by SDC: 2.24? Nor is it clear why the Plan’s authors do not understand that our data is skewed, compared to the whole of the SDC area, because we are rural; our housing is (and will remain) unaffordable to many local youngsters; and we are immensely attractive, as a location, to those successful, older couples wanting (and having the money) to retire somewhere charming (but with services).]

“Green crap”
“The Plan also allows us to encourage Tysoe to become a ‘greener’ Parish”, claim its authors {p7}. “Both existing and new development will take advantage of low carbon initiatives where feasible” {p15} (which I think may be just a guess – rather than the ‘prediction’ I was going to label it). But I am struggling to see how. (I am rapidly learning that such statements are mere puffery; and that looking for a how; a why; a when; a who; or a where… in answer is usually a fool’s errand. It makes many such grandiose claims; but seems unable to deliver… – although I am extremely concerned in its implications for the Parish Council: which fall not far short of sending it to “sleep with the fishes”.)

I also find it astonishing that the draft states that “Wind turbine generators that require planning permission will not be permitted unless it is possible to demonstrate minimal impact on the amenities of the village of Tysoe” (repeated on page 22). Why so draconian and narrow-minded? What are the reasons for this: when it has been proven that onshore wind power is one of the cheapest and most sustainable forms of energy; does not impact nearby house prices; and can be used to create meaningful UK-based employment? How are we “to ensure that developments which include affordable homes do not contribute to future fuel poverty; given Tysoe has no mains gas…” if we do not consider all forms of power? When we are supposed to be drastically reducing our dependence on fossil fuels, this seems extremely short-sighted and prescriptive. I presume, under these rules, that Tysoe’s most famous landmark – evidence that wind power is also quite reliable in this area – would never have been allowed? We are no longer living in the 17th century… – but perhaps the authors will change their tune when we suffer from frequent and regular power cuts. (Wind power could also provide the village with great financial returns, as well as cheap electricity, were we to invest in modern equivalents to the windmill – as I have previously written.) This, to me, smacks of politics and authoritarianism, rather than aesthetics or common sense; and is in direct contravention of the draft Plan’s own “Objective ES2: Encourage energy efficient and sustainable development”.
– The Bard of Tysoe: Further comments…

We cannot continue our lazy ways of driving our children to school; or arriving at village meetings by car; or nipping down to Bart’s for a loaf of bread in our 4x4s, when all of our local amenities are central, and easily accessible on foot even to those, like me, who walk in pain, and with a stick; and when the three hamlets – from Tysoe Manor to Lane End Farm – are less than two miles from end-to-end (and that’s using the roads; not cutting corners with our frequent footpaths, or as the numerous crows fly…). It is often, therefore, refreshing – and one of the advantages of being at the bottom of the Edge Hills – to see so many villagers cycling to and fro: even though our local roads are not the most accommodating for those on two wheels; and it is easy to feel trapped between rushing motorists, the larger-than-apparently-needed local bus, and our many (and often deep) potholes and ragged, infrequently-maintained road edges.
– The Bard of Tysoe: Power to the people…

Under the heading The natural environment {p16}, we are told that “The Plan will be used to preserve our natural environment and protect the rural context of the village”; kindly informing us that this means “views, wildlife, plants, windmill and Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty” – and yet many of the allocated sites are greenfield in nature (if you’ll pardon the pun); and the Roses Farm site (detailed above) contravenes paragraph 75 of the NPPF in building over a popular public right of way (as well as the Plan’s own Policy NE1 – The Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty – an organization which is more than capable of policing its own rules {p28}).

[By the way, there seems to be a great deal of confusion around which Ashby lived and worked where and when. Yes, Joseph Ashby – a socialist and agricultural trade unionist (so probably not very popular in these ’ere parts, were he still around) – lived in Tysoe between the dates mentioned (1859–1919) {p28}, and wrote the occasional article for the local press; but his daughter and biographer (1961) Kathleen’s greatest book (1974) documents The Changing English Village in Bledington, Gloucestershire, from 1066–1914. (Following on from her dad, she was only an avowed Marxist!) If we cannot document our local history correctly; then what chance have we of holding onto it – and its important ramifications – for those who follow? (The real point I am trying to make here is that research needs to be carried out correctly for it to have meaning. This slapdash concatenation is, though, sadly, just one of the roughly-hewn assumptions that is dressed up as fact; leading me – especially in light of everything else I have noted – to wonder what else there is in the Plan which is also incorrect, but that I have not spotted: which is then used to justify something else of possible importance…?)]

Under the heading The built environment – which doesn’t obviously include the windmill(?!); but does cover “Tysoe’s ridge and furrow fields”, we are told that these “will be protected for future generations to enjoy”. But how? They cannot be… – as local historian John Hunter explained in Sustainable Tysoe?

Ridge-and-furrow is a landscape feature, not an individual monument. It does not fall within the definition that would enable it to become a Scheduled Ancient Monument (1979 Act) – the usual designation for monuments of “national importance”. There is no ridge-and-furrow field in the entire country that has this statutory protection.

Notably, the Summary of Policies {p18}, only promises that “the Plan will… work to protect”, rather than simply protecting; “hold and update information relating to the local environment”, rather than making use of it; “promote the use of alternative energy sources [and] sustainable drainage systems”, as it obviously believes it cannot enforce them; “aspire to support”; and “encourage”. (The penultimate of these details the CPRE’s “dark skies policy” – Policy NE2 – Tranquility & Dark Skies {p29} – and yet a previous attempt to comply with this was met with great resistance – even though I seem to be the only person walking throughand beyond – the village during the hours specified!)

Having said all that – and having walked around Tysoe many times during the dark hours mooted by the Parish Council, and never met another soul, and encountered next to no traffic – I believe that (disregarding any other reasons) there isn’t actually any need or demand for street lighting then (if at all…): especially, where lamps generally are left on, by other authorities, it is principally to safeguard the interaction of large amounts of traffic and pedestrians.
– The Bard of Tysoe: The stars are the street lights of eternity…

Finally, although I understand (and strongly support) the need to have a Protected Strategic Gap {p35} between Lower and Middle Tysoe; in the light of current development (marked in photographs taken from Old Lodge Farm, and other parts of the AONB, by a bright yellow container), I struggle to see how this can be enforced.

Oh, and whatever happened to the “extensive work” mapping “all the fields in the parish” {II p62}? Surely this should become part of a library of research surrounding the Plan; forming part of a living library of the parish’s history?

Village Design Statement {p43} and “Local Character” {p37}
Even back in September 2014, I was railing against the fetish for building badly-designed houses out of ironstone (as if the use of such material magically improved its architect’s abilities and vision):

Why should we pretend that our vibrant village stopped evolving (i.e. died) at some arbitrary fixed – but almost certainly indefinable – point in time? What is wrong with what I previously called “Architecture with heart and brains” – designs that are led jointly by their environmental as well as visual impact; that use modern materials, or ancient materials in a modern way? If we build, say, eighteenth-century style homes; will they have eighteenth-century facilities (and eighteenth-century draughts) – hiding our non-eighteenth-century horseless carriages bolted behind faux stable-doors?
     As I wrote a few days ago, “we live in… a beautiful place… – the random conglomeration of different building styles bringing variety and harmony, rather than discord”. Our village’s beauty is intensified, not diminished, by the assortment of different building materials, as well… – “Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale Her infinite variety.”
– The Bard of Tysoe: Living in glass houses…

That four people (0.33% of the population) agreed with the statement that houses shouldn’t “discount innovative design” {II p64}, and six (0.50%) disagreed, is not a surprise in a village that is both little- and big-c conservative. But without such innovation, the village will begin to appear as most housing estates do: just thinly coated in uniformly-coloured stone instead of uniformly-coloured brick.

The Plan goes so far as to claim the three villages have a single “vernacular architecture” {p15} – but, with housing having developed over a thousand years or so, any student of the subject will tell you that such would be impossible to define. There are many: and all are equally valid.

The Evidence?
The first time I saw the cover of this, I fondly imagined that I would find inside all my previous comments, neatly labelled and cross-referenced with the final list of policies they have contributed to (or opposed). However…

Doublespeak banners proclaiming “Get involved! Help protect the character of Tysoe”, when a Neighbourhood Development Plan does nothing of the sort – especially not this one: with its emphasis on site availability; and a second volume of evidence, which is also “nothing of the sort” – concentrating on explanations of why developers should clutch the shopping list that has been provided to their very bosoms. Even if the NDP could be used to defend against such targeting – which it cannot (it is simply another stratum in the geologic pile of documents for planning committees to consider/ignore) – it will be difficult to fight back with a document that ostensibly encourages the thing that it is then being used to oppose.
     And where is the actual evidence? Explicit and intelligent comments from those in the village that understand what an NPD really is have – (like mine) as I have already stated – been summarized to death. Only those in Lower Tysoe – understandably reluctant to be lumped in with the growing (sub)urbanization of the two conjoined other ‘villages’ – are given voice. You would – were you either naïve or simply unaware (which must cover a large proportion of our population, considering the ineffective penetration of that nothing-of-the-sort Publicity and Marketing (most of which had passed me by…)) – think that the inhabitants of The Three Tysoes were uniformly in favour of the proposed desecration(s). (I wonder if there are similar, simultaneous Save Lower Tysoe and Save Middle Tysoe campaigns being born, as I write?!)
– The Bard of Tysoe: Et in Arcadia ego… (part I)

…you must remember that one of the original meanings of “fond” is “credulous or foolishly hopeful”. As I – and others – have pointed out, this is mainly just a repository for the expanded and duplicated “shopping list” – not so much “evidence” as post hoc justification. It does nothing to assuage concerns over land ownership and profiteering; all it does is give potential developers yet more information on where to target. [Site 23 {II pp18–19} – one of only three sites not to contravene the Plan’s own policies {II pp6–19} – has no reference elsewhere, as far as I can see; and simply appears to be a figment of the authors’ imagination (or what passes for it… – which seems a suitable note to end on).]



5 comments:

  1. If you want to get constructive go and look at the application for lower grounds in tysoe. After variations in the application the houses are being in built in fortecrete (concrete with a bit of stone dust in it). They are contrary to SDC design statements and no local consultation as in policy CS 9 of the Core Strategy occurred. The planner in charge left SDC shortly after the materials planning condition was approved.One of the rationales for a neighbourhood plan is to stop this sort of stuff happening. But hey who knows, maybe you like fortecrete!

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    1. I don’t think you have understood (or possibly read) one single word of my post; nor understand the minute amount of power that a Neighbourhood Development Plan actually would have (assuming this one ever gets past either the village or the independent examiner – which I doubt…).

      Oh… and thanks for criticizing my Fortecrete-like seventies semi… – as a lover (and student) of architecture, I actually rather like it (or I would not live in it). At least it’s honest about what it is; and so much better designed than some of the pretentious modern ironstone pastiche monstrosities littering the village like the failed three-dimensional scribblings of an inebriated toddler.

      Once upon a time, by the way, we had the makings of a real “plan for Tysoe” – …what a shame it got taken over by the property developers and turned into an almighty, greedy, desperate and shameful land- and power-grab. That the current steering group hid behind an ex-Stratford-on-Avon District Council employee, now earning a pretty decent crust from similar rudderless villages (no doubt at some horrendously hourly fee), at ‘consultation’ meetings that were nothing of the sort is utterly shameful (and not a tad despicable). If you need a supposed ‘expert’ to answer the questions for you, then why have a steering group which shows no signs of holding any relevant or requisite knowledge… – nor, come to think of it, humanity, compassion, or trust? Pointless, just like the expensive digital bum-fodder it has excreted; and which it seems to think we should worship like some mighty idol.

      More to come, soon. Please do feel free to completely misinterpret it; as well as your own role, I presume, in it. That’s the joy of democracy. But don’t pretend that you are superior in any way to any other human being, and can lecture them on being “constructive”, when the current NDP is the exact opposite – “destructive” of village spirit, character, evolution, identity and green fields.

      Oh, and finally, the fact that you don’t appear to realize your little (lack of morality) tale (which I was well aware of, thank you… – and which had caused a mighty outburst of mirth in what you probably see as a building blighting your stale, repetitive idea of mythic architecture…) – like so much of what happens in government at all levels – is the fault of the failed economic policies of almost fascistic austerity, is very sad (and typically blinkered Tory) indeed. If the NDP could solve that; house the rural homeless in eco-neutral homes; set out ways of ‘greening’ the village – whilst involving every single resident – then I would welcome it with open arms. But, of course, whilst its aims remain only to convert land to cash (and not for those who really need it), the NDP will achieve nothing. Sight of the big picture has been lost; there has been a complete failure to communicate; as well as to understand what the village and its residents need. You have also been found out… – and by many, many more than you could ever have imagined. Oh dear… – what a sobbing shame!

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    2. I have no idea what your house is made of. Neither am I trying to defend the np process. I am pointing out where an np can help. SDC have not delivered what people read on the packet whether you like fortecrete or not. Do you really have to do the personal insults?

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    3. Your initial comment implied (strongly, and precisely – even if that was not your intent) that the dozens of hours (and concomitant increase in my already high levels of ‘background’ pain…) I spent analyzing and critiquing the latest version of the NDP were not “constructive” – but that merely looking at a planning application somehow was. That to me, appeared (and felt) both personal and insulting – as if my hard exercise (and deeply-considered perspectives) counted for naught.

      Additionally, you implied that Fortecrete (and its exemplars) is a substandard facing/building material when compared to the not-now-quite-so-local ironstone… – an idea that the NDP (and the draft NPs before it) has also explicitly promulgated. [I was once asked by a concerned resident of a modern(ish) house what was so wrong with it that the Neighbourhood Plan so decried its existence; that anything not made of ironstone, or ‘designed’ to look like some imagined past version of Tysoe, was, by implication, inferior, third-class even. He was sincerely (and tearfully) upset by such – as am I (although more for him than myself) – and felt that those who believed they had power in/over the village looked down on him for not being rich enough; or for having the supposedly ‘correct’ aesthetic taste. It affected him deeply – as, of course, it would. (Me? I can almost get away with pretending that such comments don’t insult me and my family. But, no, I am not really that thick-skinned… – although I am used to being non-U; and not a typical representative of those who care to lay down random rules about appearance (even when blocking views from the AONB; urbanizing the village approaches; and not giving a toss about those views current villagers may have from their uPVC windows…).)]

      So – maybe having descended from your extra-tall equine, and limped a few steps in my shoes, and aided by my walking stick – now, I hope, you see why what you said felt so painfully personal; an ad hominem attack; and why I replied in kind. Although, any criticism of a steering group that has set itself up as some sort of authority, and then failed miserably, must be fair game (or else, what is democracy supposed to be good for?!?): especially when their supporters seem to think that plonking down sixty houses in Middle or Upper Tysoe (as long as they are not visible from the Lower Tysoe enclave) is the answer to a crisis in primary education (incidentally – and ironically – managed by one of those “supporters”)!

      You may not be aware (and this is not a criticism; just a supposition) that there is a very strong feeling of ‘them and us’ in the village (which is why I wrote about ‘othering’ in a previous NDP-related post). I was tempted to revisit – and modernize – the wonderful John Cleese and Two Ronnies sketch re “knowing my place”, as it seems so sharply apposite, to illustrate my carefully-sharpened point. Sadly, although those of us who (are, leastways, supposed to) look up know exactly where we stand in others’ estimations; those looking down don’t seem to have noticed we are there, or don’t care, or just seem to hate us for existing (as beautifully expressed, recently, in The Seven Acts of Mercy at the RSC). When a political (meaning ‘of the people’) divide is that strong, don’t be surprised when the peasants start to revolt (and with newly-keened pitchforks at the ready). Their masses of values, experiences, opinions, etc. are as worthy as anyone-else’s. However, they have to shout many, many times louder (as I am trying to do) to be heard. (You can treat that as an ‘excuse’ for my vituperation, should you wish; but it truly is what compels me.)

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    4. PS: Nothing will ever convince me that the NDP (especially in its current “shopping list” format) will ever “help” anything or anyone – especially not Tysoe. As I have said before, Cameron’s games of ‘localism’ and the ‘big society’ were mere distractions to keep us plebs occupied (and give us the illusion of control over our futures…). I really do wish all those tens of thousands of pounds that have been wasted had been used for a second bus-stop; to protect the village green, etc., etc., etc.. But nuff sed. I am starting to repeat myself (giving my forehead a nasty dent in the process).

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