In a rapidly evolving digital age, Farnham and its surrounding villages are witnessing a significant shift in the way residents interact and engage with one another, and tackle local issues.
The traditional ‘residents associations’, which once served as the backbone of local communication, are gradually being replaced by online platforms such as Facebook, NextDoor and WhatsApp.
And the Covid-19 pandemic has sped up many associations’ demise – with a new generation of locals now preferring to debate and address issues virtually, rather than in face-to-face meetings.
One such group to suffer the consequences of the rise of social media is The Bourne Residents’ Association, which has closed with immediate effect after more than 60 years’ battling for its tight-knit community south of Farnham.
The Bourne Residents’ Association was formed in 1962 to protect and enhance the amenities and semi-rural character of the area, to maintain footpaths and – by committee – to comment upon planning issues, changes to public rights of way and more.
It has been a voluntary, entirely non-political organisation throughout this period. But since the pandemic, the group has found it increasingly difficult to recruit new committee members.
Val Nye, chairman, said: “With today’s social media – Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, NextDoor Bourne etcetera – the methods of communication are rapidly changing. Many residents choose this small-group method to discuss issues affecting Farnham rather than being a member of a larger Residents’ Association.
“There are now many smaller groups forming in which local information is shared. It is an effective way for people to share information and make their views known.
“The demographic in The Bourne has changed and younger families today are understandably extremely busy people. Before Covid we were finding it increasingly difficult to recruit new committee members. The association has been winding down for a number of years but it became very apparent we could not continue in our present form. The decision has therefore been taken to close with immediate effect.”
Val added Bourne Residents’ Association’s footpath maintenance programme is now operating with Farnham Ramblers working in co-operation with the county council Countryside Access team.
She continued: “I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the past committee members who have supported me over past years and the many, many people from other organisations who have helped over the same period.”
Any monies remaining in The Bourne Residents’ Association account are to be split between two local Bourne organisations – The Bourne Conservation Group and The Great Bourne Community.
“Both of whom strive to maintain and make The Bourne such a wonderful place in which to live,” said Val.