Freedom dawns again for a small corner of England

Arthur Hill lives in Rutland. He is proud to be a Rutlander. Indeed, in his 89 years he has only ever travelled as far from it as Skegness.

Under a special feature on Mr Hill, one of the county's "truly grand old characters", the Rutland Times says he will greet independence "with a pride and patriotism only born Rutlanders can truly feel".

To the multicultural, shifting communities of cities across the rest of the country, Mr Hill's passion for his home - and his newspaper's passion for Mr Hill - might seem somewhat curious. But as 1 April returns Rutland to county status, many of its citizens are bringing a similar patriotism for this tiny sector of the Midlands to the fore.

Twenty-three years ago the 18-by-15 mile county was abolished and it became part of Leicestershire. Many Rutlanders continued to refer to it as a county, even using their old postcode. Their feelings were such that even an encyclopaedic reference to Rutland notes: "There is local indignation whenever it is suggested that Rutland should lose its separate identity".

Now, after fierce lobbying by Rutland's council, it again becomes a county today - an event that will be commemorated with a huge display of fireworks, a ball, and no small rejoicing among many of the county's inhabitants, not least traders. There is a commemorative magazine, poster, car sticker, polo shirt, first-day cover, egg cup and even a commemorative Rutland Independent mortgage.

Sylvia Darby, proprietor of the Lord Nelson's House Hotel in Oakham, says the change is not just symbolic. "We really feel it may put tourism on the map. When we first came here tourism was a bit of a dirty word - it's very much Rutland for the Rutlanders - but the tradespeople particularly feel it may bring more business in."

Locals were hoping the Prince of Wales would attend the ceremony, as he rides with a local hunt, the Quorn, but she and her family would be attending a celebratory ball regardless. "We'll be eating off commemorative plates, and afterwards we get to take them home. Suitably washed, I might add."

The sense of satisfaction in the area came from the fact that local people had fought "tooth and nail" for the boundary change, Mrs Darby said.

"They never changed their postcode, they would never allow the signs on entering to be taken down either, and they never accepted being part of Leicestershire."

But not everyone is happy about the change. County status, it appears, comes at a price, and many feel the area is simply too small to support itself. The county will have to "buy in" many services from nieghbouring counties, and, days before independence, many negotiations had not been completed, including social services, highways and archive services. A council spokesman said that in some cases neighbouring counties wanted to tie Rutland to 10-year contracts, or had withheld contracts altogether.

Jacqui Morrissey, a housewife from Market Overton, said the county was "simply not going to be able to afford its independence". Council tax was going up at an alarming rate, even with transitional relief, and many people believed services were going to go down. "We simply don't have enough industry. How are they going to pay for university grants? They're already cutting back on education. Policing is already at a stretch and public transport is almost non-existent. Rutland is just too small on its own."

She believed that many people who had been pro-independence would change their minds when they discovered its true cost. "I take several old ladies to sewing classes every week and they're worried. Their pensions aren't going to cover it." Her daughter Caroline, 22, said Plymouth, where she was at university, felt like a cosmopolitan paradise in comparison. If you were young in Rutland, there were organised groups like the Venture Scouts, but that was it. "That's why there's such a problem with under- age drinking."

Mrs Morrissey, who would not be attending the fireworks, believed the decision to become independent again had been "purely political".

"It was pushed and pushed. We were always given the good side."

Rutlanders, she said, thought that by regaining their independence they would somehow get back the Rutland of 30 years ago. "They think they'll get the public services they used to have, but it's not the case."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm today
News
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
Sport
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
News
Billie Whitelaw was best known for her close collaboration with playwright Samuel Beckett, here performing in a Beckett Trilogy at The Riverside Studios, Hammersmith
people'Omen' star was best known for stage work with Samuel Beckett
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Telesales & Customer Service Executives - Outbound & Inbound

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Recruitment Genius: National Account Manager / Key Account Sales

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment Consultant

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have an excellent role for a...

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'