Memorandum by Mike Dixon (GRI 03)
I write as Chair of Shilbottle Village Forum,
Priest in Charge of the Local Church, and a Board Member of ENERGI
(East Northumberland Regeneration Initiative).
The Village Forum has just had a NOF Healthy
Living Bid rejected.
The Forum's agenda originated from a "Planning
for Real" exercise and many Community Consultations.
The needs of the community were identified.
The form was filled in and a business plan was
This process has highlighted a tension in the
regenerative process; namely the demand by Government for community
led/based schemes but alongside this is a demand for well developed
plans and funding profiles. Community led projects are produced
by people (a limited number) who have other jobs, limited funds
and limited time. The assessment panels seem to be unaware of
the real nature of life on the ground, and expect limitless time,
money and expertise.
To complete the bid the Forum managed to raise
£2,000 which was used for a consultant and architect, but
this was a massive sum to be raised by coffee mornings and charitable
events; also it is not easy to ask people to donate hard-earned
cash for speculative plans.
The successful bidders would seem to be organisations
(such as South Tyneside Health Authority) which have easy access
to funding and full time grant seekers.
Shilbottle is an ex-pit village with all the
problems of such a historyhealth and well-being being primary
concerns for this community. Health is one area where it is difficult
to have a meaningful dialogue with the providers (Doctors) who
seem to be a law unto themselves, and will provide health and
well-being according to when and where they think fit, not where
the need is. This community is aggrieved about the lack of Primary
Health Care in the Village as compared to smaller wealthier communities
in the neighbourhood. This reflects the other major problem: some
communities seem to have easier access to levers of change and
regeneration (usually because they have people well versed in
accessing such power points); there needs to be a bias of help
and support to those communities which can be identified as somehow
lagging behind others in terms of social provision.
Chair of Shilbottle Village Forum