A year that appeared to be passing by quite uneventfully has ended in 3 crushing blows to our local community.
The decision of the government to back the Clinical Commissioning Group’s decision to close our Minor Injuries Unit comes as little surprise to most of us. This is just one of many ‘casualties’ in our health and other services as a result of the continued austerity measures adopted since the recession of 2008. The battle isn’t quite over yet as the Secretary of State has added the caveat that the decision must be approved by the local community before the unit can be closed. Perhaps if the opposition is strong enough there is still time for a last minute change of heart?
Some residents also foresaw the closure of our two remaining high street banks- Lloyds and the Nat West, which are scheduled for June of 2018. The transition to internet banking has meant that branches in small towns such as ours have become surplus to requirements for our major banks since their profits are greater without them. The fact that many people who prefer to have a human face with which to conduct their financial transactions or who can’t afford or manage the internet will be left high and dry is obviously of little concern to our friends from the city.
Just to rub salt into the wounds we find ourselves without our main Post Office for most of the Christmas period, the busiest time of the year, with virtually no prior warning. The reason we are given is that the business is changing hands.
Nails in the Coffin?
With these latest developments it feels as though the powers that be are determined to oblige us to travel elsewhere to conduct our affairs. The needs of the elderly, the most vulnerable, and those without their own transport are being ignored but these measures are likely to have negative impacts on all of us. Any one of us could suffer an accident for which we are in need of urgent medical attention. One can only hope that the time taken and stress of travelling through to Beverley will not prove fatal to anyone. Our local high street traders already have to contend with fierce competition from the all powerful Tescos which is able to offer free parking whilst the town centre struggles with traffic congestion and competition for parking spaces. The loss of the banks will leave even less incentive for people to visit the town centre as well as the inconvenience of having to find somewhere else to bank shop takings. This Post Office closure is the latest in a series of disruptions since the closure of the main Post Office on Newbegin and since the service became a ‘business’ just like more or less everything else, with the privatisation of our state assets.
Erosion of Community
Taking a step back we can see that these latest developments are part of a decade’s long global process which has led to the erosion of community and the supremacy of individualism. The reliance of successive governments on the free market to solve all of our problems and the emphasis on growth and profit have coincided with the rise to dominance of the automobile and the staggering advances in technology which allow many of us to travel almost anywhere we wish and to become virtually independent of our local communities.
Many of us are aware, however, that the obvious benefits of this new found freedom have to be measured against the severely negative impacts on aspects of our lives such as sense of belonging, mutual support, mental health and well-being, security and the environment, which the loss of community has entailed.
This publication exists to help our community thrive and believes passionately that it is worth fighting for. From talking to people around the town one can sense similar feelings of anger and frustration to those which were generated by the threatened closure of our beloved Floral Hall. We never tire of highlighting the Floral as a shining example of what can happen when a community feels strongly enough about something and resolves to do something about it.
It is for this reason that we are proposing to launch a campaign entitled ‘Save Our Community’. Are there any groups or individuals who would be prepared to spearhead or become part of a working party to tackle these issues? Could we start our own Community Bank or Credit Union perhaps to double up as a Post Office? Can we still prevent the closure of the Minor Injuries Unit or, failing that, find the finances to run it ourselves or develop an alternative? Can we do anything to support our high street traders? Perhaps separate working groups can be formed to look into and develop each of these ideas.
We have two options in response to these latest events and the steady but relentless assault on our community. We can take the easy option of having a good moan about it and apportioning blame whilst doing nothing and passively accepting our fate. Or we can come together to pool our ingenuity, imagination, skills and experience and to take control of our destiny. Together we can reclaim our autonomy, build resilience and, who knows, just like the Floral Hall we could end up with something even better than what was there before.
Please send in your suggestions and let us know if you would be prepared to take part in a ‘Save our Community’ campaign..