Councillor Scott Patient: Festive spirit brings communities together

Festive spirit brings communities together
Festive spirit brings communities together

Coun Scott Patient (Labour, Luddenden Foot) looks back at the Christmas lights switch on events across the region and praises the community spirit for helping to make it all happen.

What a fantastic weekend for the Upper Valley we’ve just had. The wonderful Lamplighter Festival in Todmorden, the Christmas lights switch on in Hebden Bridge, not forgetting the Christmas market and lights switch on in Mytholmroyd (in my ward).

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Many thanks to the Royd Regeneration team for making this year’s event better than ever – these events take a lot of time, effort and volunteers to organise, so much respect to them.

Brexit mismanagement aside, we live in tough times, money is indeed too tight to mention. Despite the Conservatives claiming that austerity is “over”, families and individuals are continuing to feel the pinch in all sorts of ways thanks to lack of funds to our public services, universal credit woes, cuts to our schools and more.

It’s exactly because of this that community events like these are so important to us all – indeed, now more than ever. The opportunity for people to let their hair down and spend time with loved ones, friends and neighbours is proof positive of the human need to feel a part of a community, and to have time away from the often difficult day to day problems life can throw at us.

Local businesses too have the chance to boost their profile (and takings) from those who attend, and that’s especially welcome in Mytholmroyd at the moment given the problems the village has been living through following the flood.

I’ve been told that numbers for all three events were up this year. Record numbers certainly were there in Mytholmroyd to enjoy all the activities, including live ice carving, entertainment, gift stalls and wonderful street food (plus Santa of course).

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Labour’s message is one of hope and for a decent future for our children. Seeing communities rally together in times of need will help to shape young minds, so that young people in turn want to contribute to the vitality of their towns and villages. Local schools were involved over the weekend as were many other local groups.

I’m delighted that Calderdale Council and the local town councils recognise the importance of supporting the volunteers who plan these events, and this year grant funding for the Mytholmroyd event also came from Hebden Bridge and Mytholmroyd Town Development Board (itself funded by Calderdale). I know myself the value of these grants, as one of the group who organised this year’s “new” Mytholmroyd Gala.

We are in a time of change here in the Upper Valley with all the flood works going on – incredibly noisy and intrusive (but very much needed), and I should know because much of the work is going on right outside my house. We have to be patient, I know, but can I make a suggestion? Once the Environment Agency pack up and leave Mytholmroyd, let’s have a huge party to celebrate and to say “We are Open”.

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