Covid-19 Archive

Podcast script - Monday, June 08, 2020

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Good Morning Chelveston, Caldecott and Chelston Rise itís Monday 8th June and this is Adrian Dale with the daily podcast.

Firstly can I thank everyone for their positive messages yesterday? You know I hate that sort of stuff, but it was good to see that the hard work has been appreciated around the Village. Remember though, it wasnít just me, many others have contributed during these last 3 months. Iíll give the shout outs in the final podcast of the emergency.

Then I must apologise for dropping that bombshell podcast on you yesterday. Iíd had the podcast planned for a while as I could see some worrying signs beginning to emerge in the Governmentís behaviour. It was clear that things would crumble quickly, with a rush of lock down relaxations.

Iíd already asked the Parish Council to plan an exit strategy for the emergency, which is why it was on the Agenda for tonightís meeting.

Iíd also asked Michelle and the team to think about the exit strategy for the Church. As I mentioned on Saturday, the Church team met for a detailed discussion on Friday and has a site visit planned for next Friday to discuss detailed logistics for re-opening.

My working assumption was that the weekend of 4th July would be the next major shift in lock down.

But as ever, this Government surprised me with its shocking incompetence. I simply wasnít expecting such a rapid collapse in its resolve to manage the epidemic.

When I woke at 5am yesterday morning to see an announcement that Churches would re-open for private prayer in just over a weekís time, I was just flabbergasted. Less than 18 hours earlier, I had met with Michelle and she hadnít mentioned this. When I searched the Church of England press releases, I found a hastily released statement from the Bishop of London, released on Saturday morning at 10:45.

When I sent this to Michelle yesterday, she was completely non-plussed. Chris her husband, is the Dean of Peterborough Cathedral, and even he had not been informed of this momentous change in policy. Bishop Donald was none the wiser. The same has happened here as with the Chief Executives of the NHS. A policy change has been announced without consultation with the people who have to make it happen.

However, I am delighted to announce that Michelle has taken a very clear stance. The safety of this Parish is paramount in her thinking and she will not be rushed.

The churches in Chelveston-cum-Caldecott and Higham Ferrers will open only when she and her team judges that it is safe to do so. No Government pressure will change this. Well done Michelle! At last someone standing up for their convictions, and not being swayed by the news cycle.

When our Churches re-open, you can be assured that they will be safe churches.

So letís consider the feedback on my questions from yesterday. Some of this feedback was aired publicly, some privately to me and other messages directly to Mark.

On the question of the Village Hall, everyone was happy that it be stood down as a command and reception centre. Some people expressed surprise and satisfaction that the Village had already had this provision in place. Thatís exactly what an emergency plan is for folks. We set up the emergency plan in 2013 just for this eventuality.

On the question of support to isolating households, residents agreed that we should ensure that they were all properly supported before the emergency provision was closed down.

On the question of daily podcasts and daily newsletters, everyone agreed that daily communications should come to an end but several people argued for weekly podcasts during the remainder of the national emergency and monthly podcasts thereafter. There was a strong feeling that someone commentating on life in the Village was valuable and easier to engage with than the written word.

On the question of the website becoming a permanent archive of everything that happened in the emergency, no one disagreed.

However, the question of the WhatsApp group kept my phone buzzing all day.

There was a clear consensus that a real time forum for Village activity was immensely valuable. Many residents liked the ability to share information in real time, whether it was lost dogs, escaped sheep, fly tipping, things to sell and swap. Residents liked the way in which our three settlements have pitched in and shared things and supported each other during the emergency.

Let me make my view clear here. I agree!

However, the logistics of getting this sorted are a challenge. We had lots of debates yesterday over the question of free speech vs personal responsibility. We had suggestions that we should elect moderators for the Village WhatsApp group.

The challenge is that technically it is not possible to moderate a WhatsApp Group. Not even an administrator can delete a post that might be considered offensive.

So I am going to stick my neck out here and give my opinion. But I have to do this very carefully indeed.

Hereís the background. I am a raving introvert but I love our community and I love the mix of people in it. I used to be a regular at the pub, several times a week, because I was able to enjoy the conviviality and characters that went there.

If youíve listened to the podcasts for the last three months, youíll know these characters already. Thereís Aitch (of course) and Cuffy, Andy Horn and Chris Blom. But there are many others that make up this rich and vibrant community. And now weíve got a new bloke on the block who is equally out there on the front line, Pete the Worzle Rawlins. By his own admission he types before he thinks, and this can annoy people. Cathy you have my sympathies, but he has a heart of gold, always ready to help anyone.

The thing about all these folks is that they get on sometimes, they fall out on others. But they are united in their love of a place and a community. There are no rights and no wrongs, just people muddling along and living life to the full. They may say things that you wince at. But so what? Some of the jokes that these folks send me could make your hair curl (yes Aitch I am talking about you!) but I know that these people at their heart are quite literally the salt of the earth. If I was in trouble I would call them, and they would help.

To my great regret, I had to pull back from the pub life when my Village duties conflicted with my personal life. I couldnít go into the pub without being challenged with the latest Village problem. My role as Chair of the Parish Council and Clerk to the Educational Foundation conflicted with my life of Adrian Dale who wanted a quiet pint and a good argument down the pub.

So here are my thoughts. I think we do need a Village WhatsApp Group. It is our virtual pub, full of useful tidbits, some stuff that makes you wince, photos that you wish hadnít been taken, offers of help from someone that will get you out of a bind, things to swap. If you get too loud and offend too many people, you may get barred, so watch out! There may even be a swear box for good causes if you get too offensive.

Someone needs to let people in and throw people out. And weíve had years of experience of two strong women, Andrea and Naomi, completely in charge. One sharp word from either of them and most gobby blokes would behave properly or get barred. But I guess that statement would go down as sexist today. Oops I am probably barred already.

So my position is that we have worked hard to build a strong community throughout this emergency, I would hate to see it lost now, but I am retreating into the quiet shadows. The Parish Council cannot run the WhatsApp group. The law doesnít permit it. But it needs to continue. Two or three people need to take on the admin and members need to observe the basic rules of politeness. If you get offended, have a private word or leave. If you get too loud, expect a reprimand from the boss lady.

So over to you to sort out the details.

Thank you