Madonna – without the guitar

Chorlton parish has no village hall, so the Roadshow went to the Madonna Club at the Stableford caravan site on 8 December. Here the Roadshow had its youngest participant so far – a 14-year-old resident of Chapel Chorlton. Thank you for coming along to give the views of the younger generation! We look forward to your participation in the Youth Questionnaire in the new year.

Although the village of Chapel Chorlton, in the south-west corner of the Neighbourhood, is closer to a main road, in many ways it is just as isolated as Aston, in the north-east corner.

Each Roadshow has a different flavour and throws up its own set of issues. The chief issues discussed at the Madonna Club were younger people, plus the low-waged, the state of development in the urban area, and the rural communications infrastructure.

The young generation

A young person on minimum wage can’t afford to run a car, can’t afford the bus fares, can’t afford to rent the sort of accommodation that’s available in the rural area, and they all want to live near their friends in town, so why are we even talking about creating employment or housing for low- or semi-skilled workers?

We start to lose our young people at the age of 12, when they go to secondary school at Madeley or Market Drayton. When they leave school they want to leave the parental home, and where do they go? To the town, to be with their friends, where there are jobs, where things are happening and there are things to do in the evening, and where they can rent a small flat cheaply or a small house to share with friends.

What did our young participant think? What will she do when she finishes school. “There’s nothing employment-wise in Chapel Chorlton, so I’d go elsewhere where I can have a career.” Later on she might come back, but the only attraction would be to live in countryside. (But think back a bit … what about all the teenagers who were living in Chorlton parish 40 years ago? They all went away too, to Newcastle, Market Drayton and further afield. Later on, just a few of them returned.)

Low-waged workers

But we mustn’t forget that people in lower-waged occupations are needed in the rural area to fulfil roles in the social sector. Businesses and schools need cleaners, elderly and disabled people need carers. Where do our caring professions come from now? They come out from the town and drive long miles to visit their rural clients. Of course, they are not the school-leaving generation, and they have training and experience in their area of work.

Mightn’t there be a case for Neighbourhood Development Orders that would enable communities to build small pockets of housing for people in low-waged occupations? Otherwise, farmers will continue to have to provide housing on agricultural tenancies for their workers, and other low-waged people such as carers will continue to drive long miles from town to serve their clients.

Newcastle and the urban area

“We need to put pressure on Newcastle to develop better what it’s got.”

“There are brownfield sites and run-down areas in Newcastle that need to be redeveloped.”

Yes, and Newcastle used to be an attractive, bustling market town with good shops in the centre. Now, no one wants to go there because it has nothing to offer.

Come on Newcastle, pull up your socks!

Communications infrastructure

You can get 4G mobile at Chapel Chorlton, but internet access is abysmal. It’s not just home-run businesses that need high-speed broadband. It’s a social necessity too, now that services, broadcasting and entertainment have increasingly moved online.

Self-driving cars

Was the talk about autonomous cars at Maer last week bit too optimistic? Like everything else, the necessary infrastructure development will take place in urban areas first and it will be quite a bit longer before we see them in the countryside.