Changing the lightbulbs

Are Fareham’s communities thriving? And, if not, what can be done?

There are umpteen ways of gauging local communities. Do people want to live here? Is there work? Good schools? Full fibre? Are the natives friendly? Affordability? Clean air?

Positive answers to most of these questions are very much in the hands of the local council. How concerned are Councillors with Fareham’s 3000 households suffering fuel poverty or the families reliant on food banks to feed their children? What priority will they give to climate change actions?

It is far too easy to shift the blame for all our local woes onto central government – just as it was for them to shift the blame for their poor economic management onto ‘foreigners’. If you feel that your community is not thriving, it’s well worth asking why.

Within the patch managed by Fareham Borough Council we have many different communities and many different priorities – but how many of those standing for election next May really understand what’s going on?

Communities vary – some are tight-knit, cohesive and strictly law-abiding. Others might be looser, more individualistic and yearning for freedom. The balance between tight and loose will always be shifting. What matters more is how much support there is for stuff that really matters – our social foundations and the environment – and serious efforts to tackle our shortfalls.

But how much do we really know about our communities here in Fareham? Your Council has started to try and measure the air damage from its own operations but there is much more to discover – and no requirement (yet) for local businesses to do similar audits.

Similarly, we know a little about fuel poverty (affecting very nearly 3,000 local households) but we must surely focus on the details for all aspects of healthy living. It may be complex, but tools are available , and there is little excuse for ignoring deprivations.

Next May we will have no ordinary local election. Our Council seats come up for re-election every four years. But with the deferred elections from last May, half of all Council seats will need to be filled. Time to focus a spotlight on our communities’ priorities. How many Councillors do we need to change Fareham’s light bulb?

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