LOOKING back on 30 years of being a district councillor, Studley’s Hazel Wright puts much of her success down to ‘using the side roads rather than the motorway’ in Stratford’s council chamber.
“Given that for much of the time we were in opposition you had to look at doing things in different ways and I learnt to use council processes to do that,” said the veteran Liberal Democrat, who stood down before last Thursday’s local elections.
However any sadness at leaving Stratford District Council has been more than tempered by a new generation of Lib Dems who battled to victory in her place, Neil Edden retaining her Studley with Sambourne ward and Peter Henscher-Serafin winning Studley with Mappleborough Green.
“I’m absolutely delighted – they are both community minded people who went down well on the doorstep and that’s half the battle, listening to people and understanding what their needs are,” said Hazel, a former nurse who went on to become a commissioning manager for childrens services.
First elected to the district council in 1987, but for two short breaks she has continually served the people of the village and neighbouring areas, balancing family life with husband Peter and as mother of one with two grandchildren.
“We have had many successes but there is still work to be done, particularly with regards to the Co-op site,” said Hazel.
“The problem is the Co-op have just been much craftier than the council; they want to sell it and get it off their hands but there’s been no movement on it. The problem is up in Manchester at the Co-op’s headquarters, that’s where the block is.”
She’s also disappointed at plans by Aldi to demolish two former needlemakers’ cottages to enlarge the store and its car park.
She warned of the congestion and pollution the store would bring when it was first approved, something that has proved prophetic as the air quality by the store now breaks national guidelines.
However she did manage to secure £10,000 from Aldi to put up a symbol of the village’s neeedle heritage.
“The needle industry is so important to Studley – it’s what made the village – which was why it was so important to me to have a memorial to it.”
She also helped secure a new village hall for Studley.
“Here I must pay tribute to Dennis Charlton who was the real driving force and he with myself and Paul Beaman pushed for a new village hall.
“Dennis did a lot of work; he decided to go for Lottery funding, Stratford gave us quite a lot and together we had 11 funders. Even then it took a long time.”
A campaign of ‘village homes for village people’ with Jefferson Housing Association and the Parish Council saw affordable homes built in Atcheson Close.
However she says there is still work to be done.
“I regret the decision by the Tories to take land out of the Green Belt at the Winyates Triangle. The result is the Redditch Eastern Gateway and I’m very concerned about the amount of traffic it will bring through Studley.
“It’s all very well saying we have a routing strategy for HGVs but what about the cars and vans? I know the people of Redditch feel the same.”
As to the profusion of takeaways in Studley she said: “In Birmingham they have produced a supplementary planning document to limit the number of takeaways and I would like to see something like introduced here.”
She also saluted the people of Sambourne, who she also represented at Stratford: “I enjoyed going to their meetings, I though we worked well together and I feel very lucky to have been there.”