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Routine platitudes don’t wash

I tried. I really did. I went to the Chilton Woods development drop-in exhibition at the Masonic Hall on Friday and, as I walked up from the car park, I told myself to keep an open mind.

But when I looked at the first display board, and saw the word “village” applied to 1,250 houses, I’m afraid my good intentions went the same way as Thursday’s snow.

And while I did feel a slight twinge of sympathy for the man from the project team who was trying to justify the development – I wasn’t the only unhappy visitor gathered around him – that vanished the moment I heard the customary platitudes used to justify intrusive developments.

Dumping large numbers of houses on the edge of any town or village has profound effects. It exacerbates any problems that already exist, and needs much more careful thinking than seems to have been applied here.

The fear of many of us centred on the inadequate road structure in and around Sudbury.

We were assured that improvements to a few roundabouts will take care of that.

But, given that 1,250 houses equates at the very least to the same number of cars (or possibly twice as many), perhaps we can be forgiven for having doubts.

If that number of houses is to be built – and it will be, because that’s the plan and the public will not be getting a vote on it – then there has to be a quid pro quo.

The existing infrastructure in and around the town has to be vastly improved, and I don’t feel that beefing up a few roundabouts really answers that concern.

Of course, communities should not be set in aspic, but the planners need to show a little more awareness of the social impact of this plan, and future proposals.

A town, a village, is not just an area on a map. It’s people. And we shouldn’t forget that.

My father-in-law, who was a printer, and a lovely man, told me many years ago, when I first entered the profession, that journalists cannot spell.

I fear that hasn’t really changed, and I would plead guilty to the occasional error over the years.

But now it’s not just spelling that has me shaking my head at the odd newspaper article, it’s the fact that finding the right word proves beyond some, especially when it’s one of those words which sounds exactly like another.

We recently had a report of a car hitting a “curb” before it ploughed into a house, while an article about the 5:2 diet contained the glorious sentence: “As a food lover, I hate the idea of restricting what I eat, or kerbing the social activity that is dining out with friends.”

English. A fiendishly difficult language.

For occasional light relief, it’s worth switching on television subtitles.

Not previously recorded programmes as the subtitles on those are perfect. But live programmes are something else.

This month’s gem came on an item about India’s prime minister Narendra Modi, who hails from Gujarat. Or “good giraffe” as BBC News 24 had it.

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