A Church closure’s a loss to the wider community not just the congregation and that applies especially in rural communities. So, the announcement of further closures in East Lothian’s a sad moment. It’s understandable given the change in the population in many of these villages and the decline in church attendance but it’s still a loss.
They often have a history that reflects that of the village and whether that was agricultural or industrial. A school may well have been attached in olden days and the graveyards narrate families that lived there through centuries. Far more than a Church service was also provided whether in an attached hall or simply through groups that functioned from or in them. They were part of the fabric of the community and like the closure of a school it impacts.
The final service is a poignant moment and the sale or alternative use for the property can also be problematic. Of course, communities are trying to react to the modern world and groups exist through social media and as we saw during Covid can provide a remarkable link for all and especially the vulnerable.
But it’s still not the same as the physical presence. It’s why libraries or halls are vital for communities whether in rural villages or larger towns. Distances may have shrunk through cars but for those dependent on public transport and simply to provide a centre for activities we need to try and ensure that community facilities remain.
That won’t be easy as energy costs are crippling. In Parliament last week I asked the Prime Minister about the Pre-Payment meter (PPM) scandal. It’s bad enough that those requiring to use them face higher charges but now thousands more are being forcibly put onto them.
Warrants to force access to homes are being granted and smart meters installed but on a PPM tariff. That’s despicable and must cease. It forces disconnection albeit by the individual who simply can’t afford to buy the power.
New technology should liberate not impoverish. In energy rich Scotland and especially East Lothian this just shouldn’t be happening.