Wednesday, October 26, 2011

2011 Streak 288 (Tuesday Oct 18th): Fearful of drunkenness

2011 Streak 288 (Tuesday Oct 18th): Cycle 13 miles, Time 1hr 5min, Weather clear and bright

The day was beautiful and I went out for a spin. No specialist cycling gear (apart from shoes), just out for a nice relaxed pootle, breathing deeply and taking-in the fine autumn views. There are some days when it is a privilege just to be able to get out and enjoy these moments.
There is a pleasure in cycling this way - head up instead of down. The only concession I made to the concept of fitness was a hill but apart from that it was all about looking around, not sweat.
The photo is of a pub called Martins Pond, and to show it is appropriately named it is viewed from across the pond. It is in Potton End, a village close to Hemel, which has recently offered a wonderful example of how small scale local government works - or rather doesn't work. (As it is to do with public health and exercise it is relevant to this blog, so I can talk about it).
The parish council put in a bid for funding to buy equipment for an outside gym (newspaper report).
However the the council later withdrew their bid because councillors later discovered that not many villages wanted it and there were fears that it would be used by drunk people coming out of a nearby pub. In addition several councillors said they were unaware of the original application. (Report here)
It is the last bit that amuses me. The council applies for something and then councillors deny they knew anything about it. It is wonderful how consistent politics is from national down to microscopic local level. if something blows up and becomes unexpectedly contentious, then if you can't blame the last lot you say you weren't there and didn't know anything about it. Brilliant.
It actually has all the hall marks a good idea thwarted by by people playing on general fears of rowdiness and the misbehaviour of drunks. My guess is that the councillors who made the initial application did not see it as at all controversial (in fact thought it was rather a good idea) but people living close to the site thought they might be inconvenienced and took against..
It is wonderfully easy for everybody to agree that we need to  encourage more exercise for the population as a whole. I don't think there are any dissenters. But attempts to actually do something are fraught with difficulties as there are always conflicting interests. This is a small example. 
For me the biggest example is the reluctance to do much to make the roads safer for cyclists and walkers, so that more people can incorporate physical activity into their normal getting about. Getting people to exercise is always difficult if it requires special equipment. clothing and arrangements but if it is something that can be done as part of the day or casually there is a much bigger chance it will happen.

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