What our area has is a quiet hidden community spirit, everyone knows each other and wants to help each other. It is also very welcoming to outsiders - I come from the south and believe me this is no mean thing. We have lovely neighbours and a lovely town. It seems to me though that Cheadle and our surrounding villages have become the forgotten part of North Staffordshire. Gradually, because most people want to live a quiet life, we have lost many of our shops, we have just one bank, we have a police station that’s not manned, and we are ignored when it comes to basics like road maintenance and cleaning. And, from where I stand it seems that our parish and district councillors have no power to influence County Council decisions about our town. We are ‘the Gateway to the Churnet Valley’, home to Pugin’s Gem and the last stop before The Towers but we don’t even have a tourist information sign and, unlike Leek, Biddulph, Stafford, Newcastle etc we haven’t seen any new buildings in the town centre or any traffic management schemes.
A library in a town is something most of us have always taken for granted, but life has changed and a lot of us don’t use our library the way we used to because of e-books and online retailers, like Amazon, which certainly have their place. But a library is a still a magical place, it just needs to evolve to meet current needs.
I was really disappointed when I read the news that we might lose our only library but the more I think about it the more I think that this could be a real opportunity to turn the tide a little. Removing the restrictions placed on local authorities and involving local people in providing what local people want might help to bring back people to our library.
I’d like to see it become the community hub and a centre for small volunteer groups and lone ‘street champions’ who watch over their local area. Maybe volunteers with an understanding of specific disabilities could provide help to those with similar problems.
A place to meet with town councillors, as is done with the police surgery, starting a book club in the evenings or just chatting over coffee. We have many independent shops in the town that might want to showcase in the library.
If we can find a good pool of volunteers who knows what ideas they might bring.