Chelmsley Wood Baptist Church faith//hope//love

  • It's happening again....

    We used to joke that the regen people build the buildings and then the community get to choose the colour of the door. This has been proved, except we don’t even get much choice in the colour. There has been a large group of people involved in building some pride and respect for our area, and a lot of this has been through working on the history and heritage of the area. This includes over 400 people who came to last year’s Chelmund’s Day.

    The regen people are demolishing the shops by us, attractively named Craig Croft, and said they want to rename the area. A lot of people actually thought this would be good (Look! We agreed!). It’s a new start for the community, the area will be completely different, the shops moved onto Chester Road, everything different. Craig Croft does not have a reputation for being a good place, which is not completely undeserved. It is (literally in places) falling down, the scene of a murder, a favourite for ASB (although the police are getting somewhere with this, well done!), cracked concrete and permanently roller shuttered shops. So, when you say ‘Craig Croft’ the immediate thought is not of Touchwood shopping centre.

    Anyway, not to get into too much detail about the journey we have been on, a number of people from the community have been working with them to try and get it right. We all want a centre that works, that is attractive and that makes a statement to the wider world that Chelmsley Wood is a good place to be. We were asked for suggestions for the new village centre. After all, who is Craig? What’s a Croft? It was a chance for the people who live here to actually have input, rather than someone randomly choose a theme to name the area after (Look! We welcomed the invitation to be involved!). A number of people suggested a name that links back to Chelmund, the saxon name that gives rise to ‘Chelmsley’ (the place is in the Domesday Book as Ceolmundsheia, which means Ceolmund’s Enclosure.). Originally this place was settled by a Saxon called Ceolmund (with the modern spelling and pronunciation you get Chelmund), and he established a field or enclosure here. Fabulous! The next step was to gather all the suggestions and arrange a public vote. (Look! We’re still with them! This is a Good Idea!)

    Except, they didn’t really like it. The suggestions were taken to the town council to be shortlisted, and this would be the list that the community then vote on (Careful. Getting a bit wary now). Unfortunately the town council weren’t keen either, and they held a closed meeting (Alarm bells). The new names they thought would be really good for a brand new shopping parade with shops and offices, that mark a new gateway into our area with a major junction off a busy road, are (brace yourself):

    Craig Croft

    Craig Park

    Dunster Croft (Dunster being the road next to Craig Croft)

    Now, I wouldn’t score this highly on originality, but they could at least have thrown in a curved ball, given people the chance to do things differently. But it just goes to show, the less it changes, the more it stays the same. Part of the problem is that the town council have not held an election for well over 20 years. As long as no-one else stands, you get back in automatically, and if you leave, then you invite a mate on. I know this because I was on the council myself for one term. I can count on one finger the number of times I have seen councillors at meetings to do with the village centre. Some councillors have never (yes, never) attended a community meeting. But they have taken a decision, ostensibly as ‘democratically elected representatives’, on something none of them have been involved with. Don’t get me wrong, there are a few committed and involved councillors and I have a lot of respect for them. Whether they feel the same way about me after this blog remains to be seen. Also, some will take this as a personal attack on them or the council. It isn’t, it is a simple statement of the facts.

    There is a core of people who have worked with the regen since day one, through good times and bad, we’ve stormed, formed, stormed and formed again and were beginning to norm. But this has just illustrated how we area viewed. “Whatever you think, it has no real value and we’re taking the grown up decision away from you.” What has been the point of all those hours of meetings, if when it comes down to it, we’re not given any real choice. In the early days there were 40 or 50 people at the regen meetings, over the years this has dwindled and I regularly get people laughing at me for attending meetings, saying ‘what’s the point’.

    A good and valid question at any time.

    I despair of the process.

    It seems a bit trivial to get so worked up over the issue of a name, but it is symptomatic of how things have been, and also, if they won’t even allow a resident’s group to put a name to the public vote, what hope is there of us being heard over issues of planning, building use, management or the appearance of the area.

    I did throw my rattle out of the pram at the meeting over this the other day. I’m not sure I’ll bother picking it up again.




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Welcome to the blog

Neil (the minister) occasionally gets round to blogging so welcome to the trivia and ramblings of an erratic stream of consciousness.

Because we try to be properly Baptist, these views aren't necessarily the views of everyone who is part of the church family here.

We're not even sure they're Neil's.

Either way, we try not to fall out over it.

You can also follow Neil's personal and irrelevant twitter.

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