PEOPLE power is usually heralded as a positive thing with its promise that if enough people unite under the same cause their voices will be heard change can be instigated.

That is certainly what the residents of Newby Wiske are hoping for in their co-ordinated protest against PGL’s plans to create an activity centre in the heart of the historic village.

It is a story that has been repeated in countless communities across the land – although the word ‘activity centre’ is interchangeable with ‘housing development’ or ‘new bypass’ or ‘shopping centre’ and so on.

Usually the problem in such cases is not just the particular development in question, but the way that the company or developer behind it operates.

There is often a suspicion that ‘public consultations’ are merely tick box exercises to complete before a development gets rubber-stamped.

That public exhibitions of plans are merely a PR exercise that in reality will not change the outcome of the development, save perhaps for the most minor of modifications.

That is certainly the way that many Newby Wiske residents feel about the activity centre proposals.

One on the one hand you could argue that there are worse things to live next door to than an activity centre housing hundreds of children.

But if you choose to live in peaceful rural solitude - and pay a high price for the privilege - then feelings of animosity towards anything that threatens to alter it are surely understandable and PGL would do well to show some empathy toward the residents’ views.