This (blank) has (blank) as its highest priority, and (blank…..).
No, this is not a newspaper headline from ‘Have I got news for you?’ but it is a phrase frequently used by organisations whose directors have been caught out and want to avoid having to answer any questions or speak to the media. Instead, they trot out a press release, which starts with this sort of sentence. It could be: “This government department”; “This company”, or even “This charity”, and it will declare its priority to be the security / safety of its data / staff / customers, even though it’s just been found sorely lacking. You will see or hear this phrase – for instance when customer data is hacked, a mobile phone operator stops working or an accident happens on an operation that’s meant to be fullproof. Usually, its real priority is profit; and this feeble statement is an insult. Those issuing such rubbish should be ashamed.
Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB)
The Braughing litter pickers will testify that there are too many who just don’t care about throwing bottles, cans, wrappers and bags out of their car and van windows: it’s just too much effort to empty their vehicles when they get home. Even worse, there are plenty of cans and plastic bottles on the verges that could have been recycled. Like those who fly tip, leave dog mess, and park on pavements forcing wheelchair and pushchair users to move into the road to get past them, these are the ‘ASB generation’ that do what they want. If anyone challenges them, they’re told to “xxxx off”. There ought to be some anti-ASB group that can set hidden cameras at frequently used dumping sites and who can then pass on the evidence and registration numbers to the local council. Of course, that only works if there’s a serious intent, money, and staff etc. to trace drivers and exercise sanctions – like emptying dog bins or clearing litter at weekends – as well as paying heavy fines to cover the cost of the cameras. Unfortunately, it’s too widespread, and there is insufficient enthusiasm for this.
Everyone complains about speeding through Braughing – but at the April PC meeting it was sad to note that only nine people care enough to volunteer to join the village speed camera team. This is an opportunity to make a difference in Braughing. Can we get a couple more to make it viable?
Social media comes in for a lot of criticism; mainly because it offers an easy opportunity for people to vent their prejudices and extreme views. However, through the pandemic, humour and generosity of spirit has shown through. Starting in early March before the ‘lockdown’ people were encouraged to work from home if possible. On Twitter, one contributor described an interesting story line in ‘Doctors’ (midday tv), and then “on a different note, working from home is going really well”. Another said, “Now realising my marriage has lasted as long as it has (25 years) because both of us have spent the vast majority of it at work.” Another: “My wife has just suggested that if we are quarantined for 14 days we will be able to do the painting. Can anyone please confirm quickly that panic buying has sadly cleared out paint supplies in the UK?” Then, a week after schools closed: “I have expelled my son from home school. It had to happen, and it did”. With the emphasis on fitness, another contribution was “I took the long route into work and ran all the way to the lounge”.
On a national scale, social media was responsible for the overwhelmingly successful public response to the ‘Clap for Carers’, repeated for front-line workers on subsequent Thursdays. It is heart-warming to see the best of the nation shine through.
Counting our blessings
It is all too easy these days to have a moan (especially as we get older) but hearing so many neighbours helping or offering to help collect prescriptions and do shopping does give cause for reflection and optimism. When the village won the Village of the Year award in 2012, it was in recognition of the thriving and caring community – with a variety of sporting and other clubs and associations to give residents a wide choice of activities and talks. The strong sense of community was apparent when so many residents joined the fight against the Gladman development, and more recently during the pandemic, but it’s also evident in the breadth of Braughing organisations. From bridge to book clubs; from walks to the WI; from teas to tennis; from horticulture to history; and from Braughing Sing to Scouts and Guides, I welcome and celebrate the diversity of choice made available for our enjoyment. In addition to those that run and contribute to all the activities, unsung heroes serve the community by giving lifts, watching out for neighbours, running the website, and helping run the Church and halls.Bell-ringers give us the delightful Church bells on Sunday mornings, at weddings, and on New Year’s Eve. When the mobile library service ended the Saturday Library started. Last year St. Mary’s opened an extension. Our unpaid Parish Councillors deal with all manner of things, many of which they are not responsible for. I’ve seen councillors cleaning the War Memorial, collecting litter, spraying dog mess, and relocating a bridge across the Bone when it got swept downstream during flooding. In the last two years, the Parish Council has obtained a Christmas tree, erected it and arranged refreshments and carol singing round it. Tuesday coffee mornings were introduced last November – with real coffee and biscuits (and usually delicious cake too), and the new Braughing LIFE magazine has been launched to tell us about all these things that have been organised for us. These don’t just happen; they need people to give their time.