STANDING UP FOR COMMUNITIES
Article

ARTICLE FOR THE WORCESTER NEWS OCTOBER 2009
One of the best things about my job is helping to give people a voice. Often, by expressing the concerns of people who felt no one was on their side, you can change things for them.

Working with local people and campaigning groups, I have helped dance and drama students, and left-handed pupils. I have played my part in getting the Wyre Piddle by-pass built and the Cotswold rail line redoubled.

But the campaign that surprised me – it was never meant to be a campaign – was one 15 years ago on teenage magazines. I thought they had become irresponsible in what they said to young girls.

I introduced a ten minute rule bill – a device to draw attention to an issue in Parliament – and all hell broke loose! I had touched a nerve – and with a huge groundswell of public opinion behind me, achieved real progress with the establishment of an effective self-regulatory code for the magazines.

Now 15 years later, it might be happening again. For only the second time I am introducing a ten minute rule bill, this time limiting how close wind turbines can be to someone’s house.

I am doing it because I visited constituents in the Lenches and saw just how close Scottish Power intends to put turbines to their homes. I knew I wouldn’t want that to happen to me, so I had to do something about it. And once again, all hell has broken loose as I am deluged in emails of support from around the country.

Of course I hope again to persuade an industry to act – to understand that if we are to succeed in meeting the targets for renewable energy that I think we need to combat climate change, we must find sites that won’t blight peoples’ lives. I am not against onshore wind – but I am against in the wrong place.

It’s the same with affordable housing – we need it, but in the right place. The people of Droitwich and the communities around Worcester feel aggrieved because they are painted as NIMBies when all they are doing is urging a degree of balance. They want to make their voice heard to a central bureaucracy, “them”, that seems not to care.

However awkward it may be, we must respect and stand up for the views of communities – that’s what democracy is all about.


ENDS


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