When villagers were asked for innovative ways to improve their community, it was hardly the anticipated answer but it was certainly clear: “No outsiders.”
It appears the people of Twyning, a picture-postcard community between the Avon and Severn in Gloucestershire, like their village just the way it is.
They insisted they were not bigoted nor over-parochial and said such strict control was the only way to protect their rural harmony from “problem families” and “whacking great housing developments”.
Twyning - pronounced "twinning" - can trace its history beyond 740AD and it was listed in the Domesday Book as Tveninge, when its population was “37 villagers and 10 slaves”.
Local historians believe its modern name comes from an Old English phrase meaning “the folk living in the land between the two rivers”.
And that is they way they said they wanted it to say when asked for ideas on how to improve housing across the local borough of Tewkesbury.
Parish councillors said only people with a “genuine connection” should be given council housing within the village boundaries.
They told the local authority: “We would welcome a change to the criteria for occupation of “affordable housing” within village environments.”
The council chairman, Jeremy Horsfall, said allowing an influx of outsiders would spoil the “atmosphere” of the village.
He said: “If the poor were in the village then I would be happy. We are not saying because they are poor they should not come here. It’s about having a connection to the village.
”[And] we don't want the village atmosphere to be changed by a whacking great housing development."
He added that local authorities might find it easier to persuade villages of the need for social housing if “they knew it would only be used for tenants with a genuine local connection and not for just anyone”.
The council’s views were well supported among the roughly 1,800 residents.
Dave Baker, 57, landlord of The Village Inn, said both his grown-up sons had been forced to move out as they could not afford to stay.
He said: “There’s no affordable housing for youngsters to get a foot on the ladder.”
If none was built in the future, “I should imagine youngsters will all move out and it will become a community of silver-haired people,” he said.
One villager, who did not want to be identified, said part of the reason was the villagers wanted to stop “problem families” moving in from elsewhere, especially the larger nearby towns in Gloucestershire and neighbouring Worcestershire.
“Sometimes villages have finished up with problem families and I think that's possibly the basis of it,” the source said.
The issue is an important one for the village – and for many across the country – particularly because, under the existing county-wide strategy, Tewkesbury borough was earmarked to see its population increase by 26,000 over the next two decades, or 35 per cent.
By contrast, Gloucestershire as a whole is only expected to see an 8.4 per cent increase.
A spokesman for Shelter, the housing charity, said the issue should not be about where a prospective tenant was from.
“Scarce affordable housing must go to those in the greatest need,” she said.
According to the Department for Communities and Local Government, it is up to local councils to decide who can occupy affordable housing.
A spokesman said: “Housing allocation policy is set by the local council and takes into account different priorities and those in the greatest need, which could include criteria on local connections.”