Former town council chairman sets up Action for Harleston to improve infrastructure
Losing the Apollo Club in Harleston was the final straw that prompted resident and former town council chairman Barry Woods to set up a lobby group.
Championing the motto of improving people’s lives, Action for Harleston aims to offer a platform to discuss issues, such as insufficient healthcare or school places, in light of the town’s future growth.
Mr Woods emphasised, however, that the group is in no way intended as a forum for attacking organisations or individuals.
“Houses keep being built and what we want is for the number of doctors, dentists and school places to be increased at the same rate in order to cope with the number of people we now have, plus any that we will have in the future,” said Mr Woods, a former police officer.
“Action for Harleston is not here to fight anybody, we are here to actually say: ‘please listen to us, we have a valid point of view and we want to work with you to see how we can improve matters’.”
The group was set up after the 70-year-old voiced his dismay on social media after seeing the retirement home plans for the site of the former social club Apollo.
“Losing the Apollo Club and the development planned for the site annoyed me,” said Mr Woods. “That area there is effectively going to be one massive housing estate. We have lost a community asset.
“I asked people on Facebook if it is only me or is anybody else getting fed up with the fact that we keep having all these houses, but no-one accepts responsibility for the infrastructure.”
After sparking quite a reaction, he decided to form Action for Harleston, which currently has 580 members.
Mr Woods, of Station Road, was waiting to reach 500 members before he planned to approach any organisation or authorities with suggestions.
“That is a credible voice. It’s 500 people saying ‘Oi, we think something should be done about this’,” said Mr Woods.
“We needed enough people to get on board so that the authorities, such as councils or the NHS, can’t ignore us.”