Les highlight some of the disadvantages of village expansion
Reading Alan Whitford's recent letter in the Village Pump it made me think of life, not just in Stoke Ferry but also here in Methwold. To me there is very little difference between the two. I'm thinking here, not about the actual villages, but more importantly the people who live in them and basically we are all the same.
I have a feeling that if some people could use their magic wand in Stoke Ferry you would find when you woke up the next morning that Grampian Foods had been relocated to somewhere near the Wissington Sugar Beet Factory and some would also say thank goodness for that.
If that's the case you now have the space left by the departed Grampian Foods and sure enough you would find that space would quickly be filled up with houses and bungalows which, in turn, would be occupied by people - some of whom would be newcomers. So far so good as local shopkeepers rub their hands at the prospect of more people and hopefully more trade.
The question still arises, however, as to where this leaves Stoke Ferry or, if you wish Methwold, or any other village.
Most village people take little interest in the day to day running of village activities, as indeed is their prerogative. The result is it leaves the poor old Parish Council running around in circles trying to fill the odd vacancy. The local Vicar, who is used to a congregation of some four or five hardy souls, suddenly finds himself surrounded by some 50 or more people but that's only because Aunty Maud has decided to call it a day. Bur rest assured normal service will shortly be resumed.
Sooner or later it's the AGM of the WI, Football Club or the Village Newsletter, you name it, and the cry goes out for a chairman, secretary or editor and out come the spades as a desperate effort is made digging up the floor boards looking for one.
I have always been a staunch advocate of expansion and I often use Mundford and Feltwell as good examples. Both villages have expanded far beyond what they were when I was a lad. (Here we must pause for a few moments of violin playing) Take a look at the sports facilities available, the number of good quality shops in both villages; other local villages can't compare. And I say this comes about because of expansion.
An increase in population brings in newcomers and not just people who have moved say from Essex to Norfolk, welcomed as they may well be. But newcomers can so easily be young people who have moved in from neighbouring villages if the housing market encourages them to do so.
There is however little point in expanding your village if having done so you then proceed to ignore both newcomers and the older residents. If you want people to take an interest in you, or your club, church, chapel, whatever, then it seems reasonable that you take an interest in them.
Don't say you haven't the time, as a certain dear Lady once remarked, "they would say that wouldn't they".