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The View From New Barns

Friday 16 September 2011, 19:28
By Anita Nash-Smith

John Baxter: Anita Nash-Smith is a nurse who trained in Sheffield and worked for five years on a specialist Spinal Injuries unit. She now lives on New Barns with her two children (a boy aged two and a girl of four) and describes how painful it is for new residents to be picked on for decisions taken by planners and politicians over which they have had no control. Now they are here she explains how keen they are to be accepted as part of our community:

Anita Nash-Smith and her two your old son

In response to the many negative articles being printed in the media about the New Barns Farm Estate in Wincanton, I feel that the other side of the story needs to be told.

I, like many others living on the Estate, are fed up with being pre-judged, criticised, blamed and stereotyped by those who have for one reason or another decided that those who have moved onto the Estate are apparently the root of all evil! "Local" people were opposed to the Estate being built in the first place. It was not, by the way, the decision of those who have moved here.

Am I from Wincanton originally? No. However I do have strong ties to Somerset and my family live nearby. I moved here to be closer to them, to provide a safe and better upbringing for my own family, and I hope to make a positive contribution to Wincanton. I am a single mother of two children, I have worked all my life, apart from Maternity leave, and now run my own Fair Trade business. Having taken the time to meet the majority of my neighbours, I am astonished to read in articles in the Wincanton Window that assumptions have been made about high levels of unemployed people living on the Estate. I would place a bet (not something I would usually do), on there being a higher number of employed families living here.

I was in the first wave of families to move in, and found that everyone was not only friendly but also looking forward to our future and prospects not only on the Estate but also in Wincanton. Some of those families were already from Wincanton, so it was great to gain more local knowledge of the area. I wish I could say that things have remained so positive for us. I have been very lucky; being a Christian, I was able to go to the Community Church and make a wide range of friends relatively quickly. I can't say the same for my neighbours, who have been met with open hostility from people who live in the town.

Of course, as more families moved in, it became harder to know who everyone was, but we are doing our best to find a comfortable way to learn to live together. Not surprisingly, there have been a few instances where there have been some issues. A couple of parties, some anti-social behaviour, but nothing major and certainly nothing that warrants the accusations and rumours which fly around the town. These incidents were dealt with quickly, and as far as I am aware, there have been no further issues within recent months. I would like to set the record straight about the vandalism caused in the town in August. The police arrested youths from the town. No one from New Barns Farm was involved.

The hardest thing for most of us living here has actually been the attitude of those who presume to know either where we are from, what we do or don't do, and the use of the Estate and its residents as a political tool to try and gain popularity, largely helped by the local press and media. Also there is hard feeling about what percentage of Wincanton residents were allocated housing on the Estate. I was bidding on these particular properties for three weeks, and in that time I can say that most of them had no bids on at all.

If people from Wincanton wanted to live in them, then presumably they would have bid to do so. So instead of putting all the blame on the lettings policy, perhaps some of the finger pointing should go to those who didn't bid on them in the first place.

Whether people like it or not New Barns Farm Estate will continue to be developed, whether or not it includes a new primary school, playing fields, access from the top or bottom. Who chooses to live here is not a thing the residents here have much say over; however I firmly believe that for the majority of us, we want to settle here, make it our home and feel a part of Wincanton. We are setting up a Residents Association and Neighbourhood Watch Scheme to ensure a safe place to live, but also to build a sense of community and belonging.

What we would appreciate is an acceptance from those who have lived here a long time, and to be made to feel a part of Wincanton. I am pleased to say that having gone to the Western Gazette, myself and those setting up the Residents Association and Neighbourhood Watch have been offered some support from local people which is greatly appreciated. I just hope the rest of the town can follow suit and put their preconceived ideas about us to one side, and work together with us to make a vibrant, successful town.




Comments

Nick Colbert
Posts: 1
Comment
The View from New Barns
Reply #1 on : Fri September 16, 2011, 23:40:37
I for one would like to welcome Anita and everyone like her to Wincanton.

When my father-in-law, Jim Firth moved to Wincanton, at the behest of myself and his daughter Janet, he could not believe how friendly all the local people were. In fact he was staggered by the welcome and help he recieved.

New Barns was imposed on us but we should not blame the people who live there (unless they do not respect the nature of our town, in which case they should go) because the creation of New Barns is not their fault.

If they are prepared to join the neighbourhood watch scheme, to sort out any undesirables, and help with a residents association to improve their area I am sure they will be welcomed by most local people.

I think after living here for some 35 years, Wincanton will be welcoming to anyone who wants to understand our laid back, tolerant way of life, including welcoming newcomers (as I and my wife were welcomed after moving here from Bath some 35 years ago) to the town as long as they respect what and who they have the privilege of joining.

All power to Anita and her friends who want to live here and fit in, please welcome them to Wincanton, but to anyone who couldn't care less about us I would have to say:

Please leave soon, you will not be happy here.
Last Edit: September 16, 2011, 23:45:24 by Nick Colbert  
countryhousekeeper
Posts: 1
Comment
Fellow new Barns resident
Reply #2 on : Mon April 30, 2012, 17:11:45
I hadn't seen this article before so I decided to add a comment now that I have. I too live on the new estate and met Anita when she went house to house meeting other residents. My husband and I applied for social housing because we could not afford the inflated private rents and we could not afford to buy. We have both worked for over 20 years (allowing for maternity leave in my case. We pay about 75% of the market ren tand we pay our rent each month, no benefits, as we work and are self sufficient. I have felt very welcome in Wincanton and I love the town. I only moved from Gillingham and have lots of family in and around the area. I agree with Anita, don't judge what you do not know, there are trouble makers in all areas, from all walks of life so problems with crime will not occur soley on the New Barns Farm development. I will say however that I wish the housing association had given it a different name. The Poplars or The Pines has a far nicer ring about it!

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