The idea of a Parish Plan was first discussed by Silsoe Parish Council during 2005, in consultation with Bedfordshire Rural Communities Charity (BRCC), and it was evident that the project would require immense help, hard work and the co-operation of volunteers, as well as support from the rest of the community.

A Parish Plan Committee was formed and, in the past three years, has been encouraged by the many well attended meetings and exhibitions, and the unusually high level of consultation responses. Although Parish Councillors have been involved from the outset, special thanks are due to the enthusiastic residents of Silsoe who have served on the Parish Plan Committee, and for the help received from Bedfordshire Rural Communities Charity, the Greensands Trust and other consultees. Preparation of the Plan not been an easy process because, over the same period, Silsoe has had to face the prospect of unprecedented growth and, where appropriate, enter into negotiations to secure additional community facilities and infrastructure improvements. The Committee should, however, be proud of this recently published Parish Plan which, we hope, will influence future policies in Mid (Central) Bedfordshire.

Although we all recognise that there are many positive aspects of the village that persuade families to relocate to Silsoe and take part in our community activities, it is extremely important to take stock and identify future aspirations. If we had unlimited funding resources, there are many facilities that could be added to what many consider to be a very attractive village. As with any questionnaire process that seeks a wide range of views, there will be a number of ideas on the ‘wish list’ that are financially unsustainable, and the Parish Council must be prudent in spending your money.

However, some excellent proposals have been included in the Parish Plan and, with the necessary financial resources, can be achieved within the Plan period. The sensible expectation of when they can be delivered will be discussed by all parties and stakeholders to ensure sustainability. To speed up these processes, villagers could get involved through voluntary fundraising or membership of a Working Party; and this should increase pride in ownership and ensure future viability.

These expansive projects will inevitably result in growing pains while we try to progress and, at the same time, maintain the character of the village, but we must welcome new residents into our community. There is a lot of untapped enthusiastic input that we can all offer to sustain our community for the future, rather than just use the village as an arrival and departure point.

Mike Jarrard

April, 2008.