Saturday, 24 November 2007

Priory Park re-opens

Visitors from Stoke-on-Trent spot an Old Lenton 'tree rat'.

Priory Park dressed for autumn.

The Boat Inn public house on Priory Street.

At long last Priory Park has re-opened and looks much better than it has for ages. The clearing away and cutting back of much of the shrubbery has given this little park a more open appearance and makes it easier for would-be visitors to view the park from Abbey Street and Gregory Street before they enter. Given that it had become a daytime hide-away for druggies and alcoholics these improvements are a good thing.

The area of the old pigeon loft has finally been cleared, but still needs some remedial work. Instead of rubble we now have a mix of dirt and the remains of a concrete floor, but no one is likely to break an ankle any longer. With a little planning and for a small amount of money, this area could make an attractive 'gateway' into the adjoining Priory 'churchyard park'. I'm also glad that the large pieces of dressed stone dotted around the park have been left in situ.

Hopefully, the next issue of News From The Forum (the quarterly newsletter published by the Dunkirk and Lenton Partnership Forum) can contain a news story about this modest makeover for Priory Park and appeal for local residents, who live nearby, to take an interest in its future wellbeing by forming a Priory Park Supporters Group. It would be great if a medium to long-term plan for its future could be put in place which takes advantage of the coming of the Tram (assuming it gets eventual planning permission) and links it in with the churchyard park so that Old Lenton has a new focal point across from the White Hart public house. Otherwise this corner of Old Lenton is in danger of becoming a urban wilderness devoid of reference points other than tram tracks and a much enlarged road junction.

I still think the problems with Priory Park have been badly managed and could have been sorted out much sooner. I don't know if Nottingham City Council used its own staff to do the work or whether it brought in contract labour. I intend to find out. Council officials say that contract labour is cheaper and often better, but are the costs of preparing briefs and tenders, together with management and admin time factored into these costs? I know from my work as head of a housing management team before I retired that internal overheads when added to outside maintenance contracts made them far less attractive. As they say, there are lies, damn lies and statistics.

Finally, the bottom picture captures some of the detail on the front of the Boat Inn public house on Priory Street. I must go there for a lunchtime sandwich soon to see if it is as pleasing on the inside as it is from the outside.

Twenty-four Britons among 154 passengers rescued after cruise ship is holed in waters off South Shetland.

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