Imagine waking up tomorrow in new normal Longparish. Look up and see the skylight dominated by a huge scrap gobbling fume generating incinerator. Breathe in the toxic fumes as you stroll to the village shop to post a card and pick up some supplies - it’s closed; shop and post office fell victim to circumstances, an unfortunate accident and a strange virus put paid to that! A few yards further, perhaps a pint? No pub, just a bottle recycling facility and a run-down Cricketer’s. No problem, there’s always the Plough to fall back on - no that closed down a few years ago and remains derelict, metal barriers remain as a painful reminder of the glory days. Enjoy the moment, Longparish remains beautiful if a touch tired and polluted these days. The view down Longparish Road remains colourful, enhanced by an extraordinary display of colourful estate agent FOR SALE and TO LET display boards. Carry on down towards Forton, pass the once vibrant school, the envy of neighbouring villages but now struggling to attract the next generation of pupils.
A bad dream? Perhaps, but cast your minds back a few weeks. Our amazing village was faced with a catastrophic incinerating abomination. House prices fell, house sales plummeted. The clouds loomed gloomily over Longparish. Our remaining pub closed it’s doors following the sale to a new property company masquerading as a pub co. An unfortunate accident to Anne, our friend, ultra-reliable and much admired Postmaster, resulted in the temporary closure of Post Office services. An unfortunate sequence of events, and then comes the sucker punch – Covid 19. National lockdown requiring shielding, isolation and the virtual closure of our village shop lifeline.
No dream – nothing virtual about this REALITY! The events above happened, and, all outside of our control. Unbelievably challenging events that threatened our community, our local environment and in some cases our homes.
What happened next? The community united, stood together under the threat from the powerful global Wheelabrator group and thwarted their outrageous plans. The community stood together and provided skills, imagination and manpower to keep the shop operational, introduced a delivery service, and in many instances kept our vulnerable neighbours safe and well nourished. A Matt in shining armour rode into the Cricketer’s, great pub food to takeaway, fresh cask beer from the cellar door and a ray of hope for when we can meet in the pub again.
It is surely no surprise to most of us that the Longparish community have risen to the challenge given our past record of obstinate determination to protect, develop and continually improve our village. Think school, think village hall, think social groups and societies, think how we respond to a challenge in the face of adversity and creatively develop our facilities.
Remember, the sequence of events highlighted were and are all outside our control. The outcome could easily have been far less positive no matter how much effort the community exerted. We cannot pin the future of our village on hope. We all need to stand together and support the village shop and the Cricketer’s. We need them, they deserve our support and we pledge they will get it. This does not mean we shouldn’t want more for our village or to secure and safeguard our assets for future generations.
We now have a once in a lifetime opportunity to bring The Plough, a beautiful imposing feature of our village and a huge part of our history, into our control. The Plough has served us well since 1750. It is a village asset worth fighting for and one that will reap great benefits and rewards for our community.
What we have witnessed, locally and globally, clearly demonstrate that having facilities and assets within our own control is more important now than ever before. To allow the opportunity to purchase and operate the Plough, for the benefit of our community to pass by would be a shameful neglect of our responsibilities to future generations.
Let’s support each other, the village shop, the Cricketer’s - today and tomorrow, and unite to buy the Plough to protect our future.