Council responds to unflattering comments

Saffron Walden

Saffron Walden town centre - Credit: Archant

Saffron Walden Town Council has responded to comments made in a national newspaper that painted an unflattering picture of residents' attitudes.

In an Independent article entitled Why the pretty 12th-century market town of Saffron Walden still rubs me up the wrong way, journalist Cathy Adams described it as a "little too pleased with itself" as well as "nimbyist" over new housing developments.

Her comments came after she returned to her family home in November while her London house was being refurbished. 

In the article, she highlighted positives such as Audley End House, The Miniature Railway, Bridge End Garden, the market, cafes and restaurants in the town centre.

However, it bemoaned that Saffron Walden's nearest train station is Audley End, three miles away.

In response, Saffron Walden town clerk Lisa Courtney said: "It does seem to come from a position of being jaded, by her own admission, by the perfect storm of having building works done at her London home, a young baby, and, like all of us, her life turned upside down by the Covid pandemic.

"Who doesn’t understand the feeling of being trapped at the moment, but we are perhaps a little better adjusted to the historic fact that the Beeching cuts saw the closure of our train station almost 60 years ago despite a very spirited local fight to prevent it."

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With regards to the issue of housing, Ms Courtney said Saffron Walden has challenges in common with other towns, but there is always "debate, consultation and creativity."

She added: "This is a town which has a list as long of your arm of community groups who support, enable and provide for the community; this never more so prevalent than during the current pandemic.

"There are numerous examples of incredible courage, strength and tenacity of both individuals, groups and organisations - this is not borne out of smugness but from a genuine desire, drive and willingness to be a part of a caring community."

Responding, Cathy Adams said: "I think everyone has a complex relationship with their hometown, and mine is no different; I can never quite shake the feeling of being a grumpy teenager whenever I return.

"I always enjoy the time I spend in Saffron Walden, particularly hanging out with my family. I'm glad my writing has sparked a conversation, as all good journalism should."