With Christmas now only hours away, it’s time for a dose of good cheer and optimism – something that has been in pretty short supply this year.

Next year will have its own real challenges – an ongoing war in Afghanistan, a difficult economic situation for many families, really tough public spending decisions, the consequences of a failed climate change conference, a general election and so on – but amongst the gloom there’s real reason for hope.

I’ve been impressed again this year not only by the hard work of the legions of volunteers and fundraisers for local good causes, but also by the determination of so many communities around Worcestershire to stand up for the things they believe in.

Sometimes those communities have resisted things being imposed on them from outside – massive housing developments around Worcester and in Droitwich, a huge waste-to-energy incinerator at Hartlebury and an insensitively sited wind farm between Bishampton and Church Lench are just three examples from my own constituency.

But communities are also fighting for things as well as against them. The work being done by local people in the Save Our Brine Baths (SOBBS) campaign in Droitwich is a good example. That work will help Wychavon district council find a solution to the problems caused by the shameful decision of the previous operators to close these unique baths.

And in Droitwich too, look at the way the tireless work of the volunteers in the Droitwich Canals Trust is now getting its reward. Next year will see most of the canals re-open, confounding all the sceptics. There is one last snag to iron out which will slightly delay full re-opening, but it is all now going to happen, bringing huge benefits to the town and the wider area – including to Worcester.

In Evesham, the wonderful enthusiasm of local people, working alongside the Wiper family, the new owners of the Regal Cinema, really does look as if it’s going to lead to the successful re-opening of a vital community facility.

It has been my privilege to work with all these groups, doing what I can to help and encourage them. To see the power of communities striving to achieve great things in the face of what can be huge obstacles is inspiring.

A happy Christmas to all of them – and to all of you! And here’s to a better 2010, made better by the power of people and communities.


Back to Articles