The Rt Hon Caroline Spelman MP and the Mayor of Solihull Cllr Irene Chamberlain cut the ribbon at the official opening of the Parish Council rooms last Friday, with the ribbon held by William Holt and Carter Hewitt, year 7 pupils at Alderbrook School.
Also at the packed event, Windsor Herald, from the College of Arms, who designed the coat of arms for the parish, formally presented the coat of arms to Richard Holt, Chairman of the Parish Council.
In his speech, Richard Holt talked about the growing sense of community in Dickens Heath, the importance of listening to residents and acting on what they say – and the commitment of the parish council to making a real difference to the Dickens Heath community: “
“Dickens Heath residents have put up with the disruption a new development causes, but we are now beginning to see a village settlement which is more than a developers collection of houses, I hope we will see a community with heart and a sense of community that this parish council will play its part in encouraging.
“The original planning concept for Dickens Heath was that it should have the characteristics of an established community, a village hall, library, doctors surgery and village shops, self-contained so that you did not have to leave the village and could walk around without the car dominating, creating a sense of community and well-being, these are classic characteristics of an historic English village but forged for a new millennium.
“This historic reference is invaluable as a source from which to draw faith and confidence in the future. Many of the characteristics of this new parish council, such as our elected members, our chamber for decision-making, the importance we accord to committees with our commitment in particular to the proposed youth committee and activities for senior residents; these forum enable a voice for local people to feel that they are being listened to, but importantly that action is taken. Actions speak louder than words.”
“A recent example of local democracy was a visit from three year 7 pupils from Alderbrook School. They arrived unannounced and spoke to the clerk to the council; they were polite and respectful and stated in clear terms that they felt there was not enough for them to do in Dickens Heath and they asked if we could build them a skate board ramp. We need to find a way of filling that gap and I am confident with our colleagues from Solihull Borough Council we can ensure the completion of the development provides quickly these facilities for which I understand £40,000 of money is already available within the consortium of developers funds. We need to find a home for it.
“We are keen to establish social meetings for our senior residents to bring together our community as a whole and at our last meeting heard a presentation from Jason Ward of SMBC concerning poverty, especially in our senior population here in Dickens Heath. Yes – yes poverty is not geographical, here in Solihull it can be anywhere. In particular the often misguided (in my opinion) sense of stigma attached to claiming means tested benefits – the pension credit. We hope to address this by establishing a senior’s social meeting – perhaps the first meeting can be “Bingo and Benefits”.
“This council is a modern reaffirmation of the ancient bond that has linked crown, parliament and people for hundreds of years. The days when Dickens Heath was limited to being a part of Hockley Heath Parish Council and lacked its own civic identity are now over. Today, across a whole range of important issues, this Council is carving out a distinctly Dickens Heath position.”
“I commend my colleague councillors, in particular, for their commitment to work in partnership with local residents and the establishment and refurbishment of these premises. At a time where there is disengagement from politics, we are the most local and tangible outpost of local government and can contribute and play our part in supporting our residents petitions, from the regular meetings of our committees, from our engagement with both our senior residents and young people (in particular the establishment of a youth council) and from our determination to employ the latest technology to reach out to the electorate.
“These new Parish Rooms are rooted here in the middle of Dickens Heath. Our coat of arms granted and designed by Windsor Herald of the College of Arms with the Motto “In Rure Floreo” translated “In the country we flourish” link the purpose of this Council with our residents to enable us to support our residents in their pursuit of happiness and social development, I hope and pray that this council will never lose sight of the fact that we must be close to the people we serve and be seen as a bold statement of Dickens Heath’s standing in the civic society of Solihull.”