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Shropshire Star comment: Concentrate on issues other than Brexit

Opinions | Published:

Amusing stories surface from time to time when politicians are asked to guess the price of a pint of milk, a loaf of bread or a daily newspaper.

Routinely, they guess wrong. Pints of beer are assumed to be £2 or less, milk is thought to be 30p a pint and loaves priced at 50p.

It’s the same when politicians are asked to consider the real-life struggles of their constituents.

Many, but not all, are too inured from the day-to-day struggle of post-austerity, pre-Brexit Britain to understand the worries and fears of the people.

Too often, politicians make decisions from the safety of their Westminster bubble without really knowing how the theory will play out in practice. Thus, we have seen the rise of food banks as people struggle to find the absolute basics. There are other issues where there seems to be a disconnect between politicians and those who elected them.

The issue of our disappearing banks and ATMs is one, the unavailability of high-quality broadband in our communities is another. Both issues touch at the heart of a wider problem – the lack of facilities in our rural communities.

As banks and pubs and shops disappear, as politicians fail to invest in our infrastructure, it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain social cohesion in our communities. Lest we forget, rural people are the custodians of our countryside. We accept it costs more to provide services for them than it does in our towns, for they do not benefit from the economies of scale available to city dwellers, but their contribution to society is equally valid.

It is imperative politicians engage more directly with the needs of their communities. Given Parliament is presently closed, they should be away from their well-connected cocoon and spending time with those who live and work locally. Communities losing their ATMs are frequently the ones who need them most, particularly people who live in poorer areas or isolated rural villages.

Likewise, the world class broadband available in London is but a pipedream for people who live in the sticks.

These are issues that can be resolved with greater political will and engagement. It is time for our politicians to step up to the plate, stop obsessing about Brexit and get on with helping those who put them into power.

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