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Revitalise our villages of old

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Many of the people who are staying behind have no way of earning a living, no qualifications, and are certainly unlikely to employ anybody

I PICKED up a copy of the British International Express newspaper the other day, shortly after watching our state president’s State of the Nation address on television.

The Express was filled with optimism and excitement about Brexit and the possibilities presented by a future not tied to the bureaucrats in Brussels.

Our president’s address, by contrast, was one long apology for the failures of his government, punctuated by occasional promises which nobody actually takes seriously and all of which mean more hardship for the taxpayers – you and me.

The British government, in contrast, is planning many steps to return Britain to the “green and pleasant land” people all over the world love.

One of the proposals which pleased me was the promise to restore the country’s high streets. All over their country, as in many other countries, Britain’s little family-run grocers’ shops, bookstores and village pubs have been swallowed up by commercial chain stores.

The chancellor, Sajid Javid, announced that the municipal rates on small high street businesses would be slashed by 50% to make it possible for them to stay in business.

I look at Main Road in my little village of Fish Hoek and remember the many little shops and cafés that used to be owned by local folk and are now just branches of big franchise groups.

You can get exactly the same meals, the same cheeses, the same electrical goods and imported clothing at the same prices in Claremont, Mowbray, Wynberg or Fish Hoek.

There can be no feeling of loyalty to a village when it’s the same as every other village.

Until recently we had the unique feature of being the only town which banned retail liquor sales.

People found it amusing, but it did give us a certain uniqueness. We no longer have even that.

Britain also has plans to re-open many of the little rural railway lines and country stations. Think of the tourism opportunities this would offer.

Take a day trip by train to Little Puddleton-on-Sea and enjoy home-baked scones and cream tea on the village green. That’s a step toward restoring the soul of the country.

Maybe our honourable leaders should be thinking of ways to make it easier for small businesses to survive in South Africa, instead of simply increasing taxes and raising politicians’ salaries.

Most of the people leaving South Africa to start new lives in other countries have the skills and qualifications to make a reasonable living elsewhere.

They could be doing that here – and employing people, and paying taxes – if it were made worth their while.

Many of the people who are staying behind have no way of earning a living, no qualifications, and are certainly unlikely to employ anybody.

They rely on grants and hand-outs, which cost the taxpayers billions. A government with real commitment could turn this scenario around.

Sadly, greed still rules here.

Last Laugh

The politician sat down after giving a long speech and said to the person sitting next to him: “What did you think of my speech?”

“I found it very refreshing,” came the reply.

“Really?” said the politician, pleased.

“Yes. When I woke up I felt really refreshed.”