Wednesday, 14 January 2009

A Nottingham I don't recognise

Saturday 10 January 2009 and skaters are still enjoying the temporary ice rink in the Market Square.
Also last Saturday. A tram pulls away from its Market Square stop and heads for its terminus at Station Street. A Nottingham tram with The Council House in the background tells a great deal about what the city is and aspires to be. It must be the best tram backdrop there is in England, apart from Blackpool Pier.

This blog was actually posted on www.parkviews.org last Saturday, but I had trouble with the web at the time and was unable to upload this version. We've been in London since then and just got back (more in next blog tomorrow):

Anyone who regularly reads my blog (and I apologise for the long gap since my last posting) will know that I don’t hold back when it comes to criticism, especially of those who like to control us, but, but, I have to say there is a world of a difference between carping on about how bad things seem in Lenton and Nottingham to complaining, then suggesting what can be done to address the problems or issues raised.

There is a blog called ‘Nottingham is crap’ and last week the General (discussion) Forum of the ‘Warseer.com’ website was full of emails from students saying what an awful place Lenton was to live. This morning someone gave me a copy of The Spectator from 6 December 2008, which devoted a whole page to saying what an awful place Nottingham was. Radford, St Ann’s, The Meadows, Bilborough, Basford and Broxtowe were described as ‘pockets of deprivation, crime, drug addiction and third-generation welfare dependency, where you can smell the stench of hopelessness (and) the city’s plight is exacerbated by the lack of imaginative regeneration’. The article was full of this kind of invective and created an image of Nottingham I do not recognise.

There are plenty of other English towns and cities I find far less appealing than Nottingham, which have had their centres isolated by dual-carriageways and new housing and shopping developments. We drove through one of them yesterday on the way to a friend’s funeral in Sheffield. It is called Chesterfield. Mansfield to the north of Nottingham is the same. So are Derby and Leicester. My list could go on. By any measure, Nottingham is a far better place to live. We have the best buses outside London and a tram line which should have been extended before even the one and only line opened. That this hasn’t happened is not the fault of Nottingham City Council.

Of course we have problems which need addressing and I hold some of the city’s councillors responsible. I also blame council officers and managers for the plight of many parts of the city. All too many of them show no respect or regard for the communities they serve — I have to look no further than Lenton for evidence of this fact and I have cited plenty of examples in this blog since I started nearly two years ago.

However, all these things are relative, for I would far rather be living in Lenton with the problems I see around me than living in any of the places I have named. My ideal city would be Nottingham and Lenton by Sea — a kind of Brighton and Hove in the Midlands, with a large inlet following the line of the Trent and cutting across to The Wash. A thousand years from now, maybe (if you’re around then, remember, you read it here first!).

It’s one thing for me to criticise Nottingham, its city council, and, yes, the Labour Party, but I take the view that I can — because I am part of them. When I have the time I will write about the good things, but not until the bad and annoying things have been sorted and put right!

Labour is fighting back in the battle of the blogs, with a new website to be launched this week aimed at sparking an online debate among what it calls "Labour-minded" people over thinking inside the movement. It forms part of Labour plans to "take the fight to the web", with ministers fielding questions in online forums.


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