New town debate has two sides

PUBLISHED: 10:49 08 November 2007 | UPDATED: 13:01 04 May 2010

WHILST I hesitate to add more words to those already contributed in the Mereham debate, it does seem necessary to add a different voice. The feeling within Haddenham and Wilburton, at least, is not as monochrome as many of the contributors to your newspap

WHILST I hesitate to add more words to those already contributed in the Mereham debate, it does seem necessary to add a different voice.

The feeling within Haddenham and Wilburton, at least, is not as monochrome as many of the contributors to your newspaper suppose. Scratch the surface, and you will soon discover people who are unwilling to speak up in favour of the project, and yet want to offer it some degree of support. This may well be for fear of disturbing the balance of long-held friendships, or a sense of intimidation from the weight of the campaign against the development.

Some of this support for Mereham, or a similar new town in the immediate area, comes out of a desire to see homes for children or grandchildren who want to stay in this area, but can't afford the prices of homes here.

However, it's not all about 'looking after our own'. Affordable housing in this area is desperately needed for those in lower income professions, which often involve serving and caring for others.

I want to be part of a society that encourages and rewards service and care. We may have hesitations about the developers, but we can use the system to ensure that they deliver what has been promised.

No one can dispute that Mereham will change the nature of our villages. Our villages are already changing almost beyond recognition. New crops of houses spring up regularly, adding to the demands on the infrastructure, with no additional support given to the area. Might it not be possible that, with the development of the new town, the old villages will be able to slow down their own growth, if that is what is wanted?

With imagination and determination, it might even be possible to solve the problem of the daily bottlenecks at Stretham roundabout and the Twentypence Road. Should the inquiry find in favour of Mereham, it is going to be imperative that we work together with the developers to build the best possible communities and infrastructure for the inhabitants of Mereham and at the same time the inhabitants of the surrounding villages.

Finally may I plead for hospitality? Too often, people make assumptions about those who hold differing views on this issue. Too often, people make assumptions about those who might eventually live in Mereham. True hospitality is about welcoming the other, listening to them, without prejudging them, and receiving them, for in doing so we may entertain angels. We're certainly going to need some angels by the time this inquiry is over, whatever the outcome.

FIONA BRAMPTON (Rev)

Vicar of Holy Trinity, Haddenham and St Peter's, Wilburton

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