Re-examining our beliefs

I just had a lovely phone call to thank me for all the work I’d done on West Way. The caller was surprised at the committee outcome, but observed that all the councillors at the committee meeting were attentive and wanting to make the right decision. (Except for one who seemed to be falling asleep. But that one did raise the hand to say, ‘Against’, so never mind.)

Lots of people seem very surprised at this result.

Lots have people have expressed their beliefs about this West Way scenario. Here are some things I’ve heard or read in the past weeks and months:

  • Vale will ensure planning permission goes through
  • It’s a done deal
  • I don’t trust any elected councillors
  • Vale must be corrupt, to decide on an application where they benefit financially
  • Vale are about to lose Botley to Oxford City so they have to get their money out of it
  • There’s a conspiracy between the Vale and Doric
  • All councillors are crooked
  • Money in it for the councillors
  • Party politics decide everything
  • No democracy in the Vale

Did you think any of these things, or perhaps others I haven’t mentioned? If you did, what do you think now?

I think a surprise result in life can be an opportunity to examine your beliefs. What exactly were you suprised at? Please take a look at that. Why were you surprised? What belief did you hold that was shown to be mistaken? Where were you wrong? Is there anyone you need to apologise to? Is there anyone you need to forgive? Is there anyone you need to thank?

Hey. I don’t mean to lecture you. I mean to share with you what I do in the face of a surprise. Things that have surprised me around this include:

  • Doric turning in sloppy designs and data. Even the slide they left up for most of the planning meeting had “Botley Distrct Centre” [sic]. They did finally update their drawings to change “Burger’s” to “Signage”. If these minor matters caught my eye, the major goofs were caught by objectors.
  • Doric lying about me and refusing to make it right. I consider myself a pretty square shooter; I expect to be met the same way. That was surprising, disappointing and made me angry.
  • Doric failing to realise how offensive they were being. Their reference to Botley as a ‘brownfield’, needing ‘regeneration’. Calling it an exciting plan. Saying universities were excited, residents were excited, businesses were excited. That surprised me. I expected more of a realistic, pragmatic approach instead of a deep-pocket PR machine.
  • Cllr Batts continuing to support Doric in spite of such huge opposition from the community he was elected to represent. I still don’t get that. And why he used his time at the committee meeting to give us a history of West Way. A surprise, and a puzzle.
  • That all the supermarkets said they weren’t interested, and Doric maintained until the end that they had one on board.
  • Matthew Barber refused to consider that he had made a bad mistake in choosing this deal and this developer, and to look for viable exit strategies.

Other things disappointed me. But that has more to do with me having unrealistic expectations of others. I can learn from that too. But that’s more than compensated for by the thousands of ways my expectations were exceeded. What a great community to be a part of!

I wasn’t surprised at the final result. I did a lot of talking to a lot of people and felt fairly sure the committee would do the right thing. Botley is a lot like Grove (v near Wantage) in size and purpose; we are the two Local Service Centres of the Vale. And those committee members who were unfamilar with Botley first hand, were defo familliar with Grove.

I didn’t feel confident to come out and say I was optimistic on the night (OMG, what if I was wrong?). But I DID say to those around me, “I am hopeful.”

What have you learnt about yourself or your world from this experience? I’d like to hear if you’d like to share.