Many of you will have heard the tragic news that last weekend a lady was murdered in one of the Bracknell underpasses, very close to both the Kerith Centre and my home. My thoughts and prayers go out for her friends and family who must be devastated by her death, for the individuals and the emergency services dealing with the trauma of what they must have witnessed, and for the police that the killer will soon be brought to justice.
It's shocking when something like this happens, but I was also saddened reading the the online version of one of the national newspapers, where the comments section was dominated by people, claiming to be Bracknell residents, saying what a terrible place Bracknell is to live in, and how this is typical of the town.
I just wanted to take a moment to counter those (mostly anonymous) commenters, to say that I love living in Bracknell. I've been here for about 16 years now, and I personally think it's a great place to live. I love the quality of the primary and secondary schools and colleges. I love the green open spaces, mostly for me the Elms, Lily Hill Park and the Look Out. I love the huge variety of leisure facilities, with a dry ski slope, ice skating, a cinema, ten pin bowling, a leisure pool, Go Ape and good sports facilities. I love that despite what happened at the weekend it generally feels so safe - I regularly walk through the subways on my way to and from church at all times of the day and night and have never felt threatened. I love the strong community identity we have, with different areas of the town each having their own identity and feel. I love the fact that crime rates overall are falling. I love that it's a great area for both small businesses and multinationals to be located. I could go on and on, but hopefully you get the message!
Of course Bracknell isn't perfect by any means. The biggest issue is the town centre redevelopment which seems to be taking forever. Moving it next to the sea and to the North East of England would both be improvements in my opinion. There are also undoubtedly social issues which need addressing, schools which are doing less well than others and all manner of other things which could be better. But overall I love living here, I love the people here, and I want to counter any idea that it's a place in terminal decline or a bad place to be. So there!