Self-evident with ongoing opposition to the relocation of Crown post offices in many market towns, others have shown great ingenuity to retain services and, for example, keep hostelries open for business. Without this ‘get up and go’, areas would be even more bereft of the amenities which many took for granted before they started falling victim to centralisation, cost-cutting and changing needs of consumers.
And while this approach was integral to David Cameron’s ‘big society’ before this vision – very laudable at the time – was compromised by his subsequent austerity agenda, officialdom is still a barrier which needs to be overcome.
Rather than making it easier for community groups to take over treasured assets, national and local government appears intent on making this process as difficult as possible. And as the Campaign for Real Ale points out, the lack of clarity on the part of Communities Secretary James Brokenshire’s department means there is little, or no, consistency when local councils try to interpret the rules – whether it be for pubs or other assets.
This needs to change before public enthusiasm for such initiatives wanes even further. For, as this newspaper’s recent focus on high streets proved, people do care about their community – and they are prepared to support local ventures. It is time, therefore, for political leaders to assist with this endeavour before the next raft of cuts and consolidation are proposed. By then, it will be too late for many of the areas which do still value, and support, locally-run shops and services wherever possible.