LANAs – the blind leading the blind?


I went to the second of three LANA (Local Area and Neighbourhood Arrangement) consultation meetings last night. LANAs are the latest initiative which shows that our government is “listening”, which in effect means the blind are leading the blind. The evenings show that people are not blind to the problems faced in Blakenhall but blind to the solutions.

Here’s how it has worked so far: Various representatives from Blakenhall were invited to attend three meetings of three hours each to prioritise the needs of the area. Amanda went to the first meeting where lists of concerns were drawn up by groups at various tables using a system something like speed-dating (10 minutes at each table) under the following headers:

  1. Vision
  2. Health
  3. Crime and Community Safety
  4. Education

Last night we did more speed dating to pick the top three priorities from the lists of over fifty. Here’s a representative list of the options from the first meeting:

Vision
Less petty crimes against property & cars
No tower blocks
More youth facilities
Community Cohesion
Policing to stop drinking on the streets

Health
Healthy eating – veggie / vegan
Drug, smoking and drinking eduction
Too many school pupils taking lunch at chippy (stop kids leaving school)
‘Life skills’ – respect agenda

Crime and Community Safety
Reduce burglaries, muggings
Young people not occupied
Get tough on crime

Education
Encourage respect
Deal with under achievement
Encourage productivity
Extra help at early stage
Role models (mums)

We were asked what we thought of the evening and I said “the meeting was optimistic but without any real sense of how issues of behaviour and community might be addressed”. On my feedback form I was asked three questions:

Q1. What has been the greatest improvement to your area in the past year?
A. Better street furniture and pavements

Q2. What has been most damaging to your area in the past year?
A. Disruption to community caused by repossessions and transient population

Q3. If you could see one thing happen in your area to improve things what would it be?
A. For people to love God with all their heart and love their neighbour as they love themselves (all the law is summarised in these two commands).

As the church in our nation has failed to reveal God in such a way that people will love him, fear him, listen to him and obey him, the government is trying to pick up the pieces by “listening” to the people who suffer the fallout. People know what’s wrong with our neighbourhood but without God in the picture the overwhelming sense I was left with last night is that the blind have been left to lead the blind. The educational programs set up with our tax money will fail to address the issues of the heart which lead to anti-social behaviour and cause general misery in Blakenhall.

I can’t make the last of the three meetings and I’m not sure of the value of my being there. I do have increased confidence that there is a will here to sort out the mess created by sin and that by persevering with the gospel the local church will make God known so that people will hate their sin, love God and their neighbours.

We have a gospel to proclaim
Good news for men in all the earth;
The gospel of a Saviour’s name:
We sing His glory, tell His worth.

Tell of His birth at Bethlehem,
Not in a royal house or hall
But in a stable dark and dim:
The Word made flesh, a light for all.

Tell of His death at Calvary,
Hated by those He came to save;
In lonely suffering on the cross
For all He loved His life He gave.

Tell of that glorious Easter morn:
Empty the tomb, for He was free.
He broke the power of death and hell
That we might share His victory.

Tell of His reign at God’s right hand,
By all creation glorified;
He sends His Spirit on His Church
To live for Him, the Lamb who died.

Now we rejoice to name Him King:
Jesus is Lord of all the earth.
This gospel message we proclaim:
We sing His glory, tell His worth.

Music: William Gardiner (1770 – 1853)
Words: Edward Burns (b. 1938 )

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