Shropshire Star

Talking Telford: Sitting on fences while enjoying the little things that link us

A few weeks back I wrote about the latest shambolic developments in the New Works solar farm saga, in which the borough council’s opposition to plans for a huge new solar farm near Lawley was effectively ended because their application was served on the developer after the legal deadline, and attempts to extend that deadline had also been made late. Oops.

Fun postbox toppers have been part of the Halloween furniture in Lawley

I said at the time that I sympathised with the council because they have had to fight a running battle over this application which had previously been turned down, appealed, rejected again, all before the Government intervened and the lights suddenly turned green. I also see where the developer is coming from, and appreciate that their planners at least seem to be making an effort to preserve New Works for the walkers and horse riders who make use of it.

It is one of those issues where you feel you really should have a strong opinion either way – pro-green energy or pro-green belt – and I feel a slight shame that I can’t muster one up no matter how much I read or how much I speak to people who feel more strongly about it. Maybe it’s partly because I’m a settler in Lawley myself – I live in one of the infilled patches of asphalt and newbuilds where, as anyone who’s been here five minutes will tell you, “It was all fields there a few years ago!”. Having pitched up in Telford as a new resident, I could hardly suddenly start shouting loudly and presuming to know better than people who’ve lived here all their lives.

It’s also a complex issue where both sides have good points and there is no clear ‘good guy vs bad guy’ narrative to be drawn. In other words, it’s the kind of issue we face hundreds of every day, and we have to make our own peace with where we fall on them – or how many splinters we get from fence-sitting.

On the subject of issues people get very riled up about but which I don’t have an official position on, there was the annual debate this year about whether it’s acceptable for people my age to ‘celebrate’ Halloween. Trick-or-treating is beyond the pale for those of us in our late 20s, but what’s the harm in dressing up for a private party?

One part of Halloween I wholeheartedly endorse is the lovely handcrafted postbox toppers it now inspires in Lawley every year. In a community that’s been hewn from the land like ours, anonymous gestures as generous as this go a long way to build links between us.