..... (on a wet and windy night) to hear our six speakers, each presenting a five-minute brief overview of their area, alongside me and Sonia (our Chair) talking about our hopes for the future, for the actual implementation of the Plan. Among those there were Hellen Aitken from ACT and Sally Helmsley from Eden District Council, who had supported the development of the Plan with funding for expenses, and Shane Harris from the North Pennines AONB Partnership, who was speaking but also ensuring that the AONB team know all about what’s happening (and they have helped with parts of the Plan production, keeping me on track with wording on particular issues).
It was great to hear Hazel Hanley talking about all the Community Transport group are doing, from Shane Harris about our wonderful dark skies, from Tim Haldon on the potential of renewable energy on Alston Moor, Lissie Sharp on youth work and what is needed for the future, Lynn Barnes on the possibilities for vegetable and fruit growing (on which she’s been doing a feasibility study for the Alston Moor Greenprint), and Liz Walton explaining the farming year and often-unrealised impact of farming on our landscape. Many people spoke to the speakers in the half hour allotted for ‘milling around and talking’.
To paraphrase what I said towards the end of the meeting: if we all work separately and together, we really could have a flourishing and sustainable local economy in five to ten years, with new people living here and running businesses, more children in all three schools, and a financial boost from UK and international visitors. I have a vision of our becoming a shining example of an inclusive community, where older people and those with all forms of disability and disadvantage can flourish. We can make Alston Moor a well-known and important place, in a proudly rural 21st century way.
Whether you came to the meeting or not, I hope you’ll be inspired to support the work of the steering group which Sonia is co-ordinating (with AMP, parish council and AMBA reps). The group will consider a Regeneration Strategy and grant-funded major projects as well as advising groups who want to further the aims of the Plan in knowing where to go for grant support, and supporting all those individual and group volunteers working towards the same aims.
I’m just so happy that things went well last night and all the work that’s gone into the Plan is now going to become action. This is the hard part!! Please get involved wherever and whenever you can.
Alice Bondi: May 2019
(Thanks to Simon Danby for the photographs of the event)