These last few weeks have witnessed Mickley, Stocksfield, and Riding Mill coming together for some great events. There was the memorable Big Lunch picnic at Bywell Hall which, despite the chill weather, saw a great turn out of residents who all wanted to celebrate the Queen's diamond jubilee together. I was really impressed at both the turnout and the fact that it was a true community party. Nobody was fleeced by stalls charging over-the-odds prices for rubbish food (indeed, the catering was top notch and the prices were very reasonable), and the children got to wear themselves out on coconut shies, penalty shoot-outs, throwing wet sponges at victims in the stocks, and a fabulous climbing wall all free of charge. All in all a tremendous day.
Then at the weekend Stocksfield and Riding Mill got to line the streets and cheer as the olympic torch relay went by. Again, a great atmosphere (again despite the weather) and there was a real sense of community spirit.
However, a couple of good parties do not a vibrant and strong community make (though they are evidence of it). As Phil Butler (the Conservative candidate for the Police and Crime Commissioner) notes, every community needs people to do their part and for the legal justice system to do its part by supporting citizens to take a stand.
Whilst Mickley, Stocksfield, and Riding Mill are by many standards safe places to live, we still face our share of challenges. Some (such as the current debate over parking charges or littering) seem minor in the grand macro-economic scheme of things but contribute to affect our everyday experience (sometimes in the way that a slow drip of water will eventually erode away a large rock) whilst others sit right at the heart of how our community will grow or decay in the coming years (local jobs, affordable housing, etc.)
Some of these issues require the input of government, both national and local, but others can be addressed by people in the community taking action. We don't need a council to pick up that piece of litter we spy on the pavement. Anybody can call the council to report an overflowing bin.
What else would you like to see the community doing for itself?