Welcome to Issue 47
This month I was invited to speak to the thriving Age UK East Riding ‘Seagulls’ Club at the Town Hall. I took the opportunity to ask about people’s current concerns and wishes for the future of the town. Perhaps unsurprisingly the issues surrounding the loss of services, particularly the banks, dominated the discussion with people expressing their disgruntlement and foreboding, until a lady at the back piped up to tell us that she had recently moved to Hornsea and thinks it is a wonderful place to live.
I have lost count of the number of newcomers to the town who have expressed similar feelings. (I’ve also observed that the immigrant population are more likely to be public spirited and engage in community activities than the indigenous population.) So are we failing to recognise and appreciate our good fortune in living here? To a certain extent I think we are all sometimes guilty of focusing on the problems and limitations of our town (as well as our lives) and forgetting all the good things about it.
Personally, I have to constantly remind myself how lucky I am to have the sea, a beautiful lake and parks virtually on my doorstep with no major highways to cross to reach them and where I can enjoy the fresh clean air and the beauty of nature. I also live in a town where the grotesque extremes of poverty and wealth and the consequent social issues that arise elsewhere, are relatively inconspicuous. Despite the difficulties that the High Street has faced in recent times, our town has managed to retain most if its character and we haven’t become a clone town full of chain stores. Our town still retains its charm and the feel of a ‘sleepy seaside town’ at a time when so many other towns have become a mass of urban sprawl dominated by highways, traffic and people living in the fast lane. Finally, there is, of course, the fantastic community spirit and wealth of activities to choose from, as evidenced in this paper every month. I would wager that there are few other places in the country, indeed around the world, which can boast all of these characteristics, which is why I believe so many newcomers are happy that they made the decision to come here. Although we should celebrate and be grateful for what we have, this doesn’t mean we can rest on our laurels. Most of the benefits I have mentioned are under threat from rapid developments on a national and global level. With the new housing developments and those planned for the future, urban sprawl is now a feature. The number of cars on our roads is constantly increasing and with the erosion of our services the need to travel becomes even greater, bringing with it more stress, air and noise pollution and pressure on our natural spaces (the latest loss of green space being the unsolicited car park on the South Prom). The independent traders on our high street are having ever more difficulties in making ends meet and we are now almost totally dependent for everything we need on goods from around the world.
Some will argue that these are the necessary consequences of progress and that we should embrace change, while others will look nostalgically to the past. The question is, whether we like these changes or not, can we do anything about them? It seems that, as far as these issues are concerned, we are at the mercy of ‘market forces’ (read ‘big business’) and the whims of regional or national governments. However, there are two recent examples of how, when the community feels strongly enough about something, it is capable of reacting strongly and successfully. The first is the rescue and transformation of the Floral Hall and the second is the response to cuts to services at our Cottage Hospital which has resulted in the Community First Aid Centre. Perhaps with more struggles such as these we can eventually wrestle back some autonomy and have a greater say in our destiny. The strength of our community spirit may be a saving grace in the times to come.
As ever I would love to hear and publish your views on these and any other topics of concern.