Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Erewash Canal walk part 2: Sandiacre to Long Eaton

Walking along the Erewash canal from Sandiacre to Long Eaton (on Saturday 1 December 2012) was quite different to my walk a couple of weeks ago along the canal from Sandiacre to Trowell. There were more buildings for a start and the A52 was much nosier than the M1. I barely noticed the latter, whereas I heard the A52 before I saw it and it remained with me long after it had disappeared from view. This could, of course, be all down to atmospherics. On another day, the A52 may have been as quiet as a church mouse. The walk took me sixty minutes at a leisurely pace.

The red line on the map shows the section of towpath I followed from north to south.

A view of the Erewash Canal basin at Sandiacre looking south.

The bridge in the distance is the A52 dual carriageway. On the west side, the canal is lined with houses fronted by a small road.

Dockholme Lock and cottage. A group of walkers were taking a drinks break when I was passing by.

This plaque can be seen on the cottage wall overlooking the lock.

At the south end of the lock, there is a small bridge and beyond it a small race which carries excess water around the lock.

Just beyond the lock, to the south on the west side, is a large allotment, with a good few homemade poly-tunnels.

On my side of the Erewash Canal (the east side) was a field full of young heffers, two of whom were resting together.

Running not one hundred yards away in places, from the towpath on the east side of the Erewash Canal is the River Erewash. At this point there is a footbridge across the river. To the right is the Toton railway sidings, yet this pic would have you believe that you are in the middle of idyllic English countryside.

A little further down, I came across this drifting narrowboat blocking the canal. There was no on on it.

Then a little further down I came upon this canal maintenance boat, with its 'watchman'. There was no work going on.

The boat was being used as a base by workmen and volunteers rebuilding a section of the canal bank.

Just beyonh, I came upon two swans, one of which was on the wrong side of the netting separating the towpath from the canal bank. By going very slowly, I got around the swan, which did not move. The other swan hissed at me a couple of times.

The whole length of my walk there were gaps in the canal fencing like this, where folk had broken through to make their own short cuts. I have long been of the view that fencing off canals (and railways) protects no one. In fact, such fences encourage vandalism and trepass and, when there is an emergency, make access difficult if you do not know how someone got on the towpath (or railway) in the first place.

The Erewash Canal has plenty of good information boards like this.

Along one section, there is a raised public footpath between the river and the canal.

At this point, a path heads off towards Long Eaton and a large supermarket. Again, it looks deceptively rural.

Close by the footpath between the canal and river was this tree full of hanging trainers. In city areas it is siad that they mark 'gang' boundaries. Out here, I have no idea as to waht so many trainers could mean.

This old factory chimney has been given a new lease of life as a telecommunications mast. I suppose it is better than knocking it down.

As you approach Long Eaton from Sandiacre. you come across houses where the occupants have created canalside patios, where they can relax.

There is also acres of empty industrial sites like this one. A man walking two greyhounds told me that planning permission had been given for eighty houses on this site.

Closer to Long Eaton, there was this 'apartments' development. It is a pity that the planners did not insist on better landscaping beside the canal. If I had been the developer I would have wanted to maximise the potential of flats with canalside views.

On my side of the Erewash canal, there were several streets like this, all coming to a dead end where they met the towpath.

Many of the older houses in Long Eaton backing onto the canal had doors punched through their back wall, none quite as posh as this one, which had not seen paint inyears. What intrigued me more though was the brickwork at ground level to the left of the doorway. It is a curved brick arch reminiscent of a window. I cannot believe that there was (or is) a basement at this level.

Amazing, almost in the centre of Long Eaton, this abandoned mill has gone undeveloped. In Sandiacre, a similar mill has been turned into plush apartments (see my first Erewash canal posting before this blog entry).

This view of the mill's canalside elevation shows quite clearly that it os a building of elegant proportions, well worthy of a new lease of life.

Then I was at the end of the section I planned to walk and I climbed these steps to the main road which runs between Long Eaton and Derby and…

…this is where I finished my walk, five minutes away in Long Eaton's Saturday market, befire catch a Trent-Barton indiGO bus back home to Lenton. Altogether, an enjoyable three hours.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Nottingham City Council from the Erewash

The River Erewash. To the left (west) is Derbyshire and Long Eaton. To the right (east) is Toton railway sidings and Nottinghamshire. At this point I am standing on a footbridge barely fifty  yards from the Erewash Canal. This county border / boundary line has endured for hundreds of years, yet much of the area to the west is very much part of the greater Nottingham conurbation. Surrounded by industry, railways and housing is this idyllic spot. A great place for thinking and walking.

Yesterday I walked the Erewash Canal from Sandiacre to Long Eaton. Quite different from my last walk from Sandiacre to Trowell. I took some pics and will be posting these shortly, but first some thoughts about the future of Nottingham City Council. I'm half-way through updating information about the number of voters there are per electoral ward in the city. I first did this exercise back in 2000 when I was compiling proposals for new wards in Nottingham. I recently read that Nottingham's population has risen from 282,900 in 1999 to 306,700 in 2012 and that the Census totals for 2001 and 2011 are unreliable because, according the City Council's website, 'a considerable number of pople were missed by the Census, particularly young men'.

This prompted me to look at information about the size of the electorate in Nottingham during the same period. It makes interesting reading:

1999 city election: 207,085 voters
2003 city election: 195,409 voters
2007 city election: 192,607 voters
2011 city election: 200,533 voters
2012 (28 Nov)      : 207,718 voters

So. whilst the City's population has risen by 8.4%, the number of voters has risen by only 0.3% and this is before the Coalition has introduced individual voter registration instead of the present system of household registration. In other words, Labour has a poor record when it comes to voter registration in Nottingham. Clearly, 2007 was a low point and things have improved a little since then. My own ward, Dunkirk and Lenton, had 22.1% fewer voters in November 2012 than it did in May 1999. The neighbouring ward of Radford and Park, on the other hand, saw the number of registered voters increase by 16.4% during the same period.

Dunkirk and Lenton ward has a very high percentage of adults in full-time education (ie. students) and we will see how many when more detailed numbers relating to the 2011 Census are published in the near future, but by the City Council's own admission, the real total will actually be higher. However, Radford and Park ward also has a large student population, so why have more voters registered there than in Dunkirk and Lenton?  I don't know the answer, but it is a question I have asked the City Council.

I have also been looking at voting trends across Nottingham's present wards during the three City Council elections they have been used for (2003, 2007 and 2011). During the first two Labour was in power nationally and in 2011 the Coalition had been in power for a year and these things are clearly a factor in how people vote in local elections. Come May 2015, it is very likely that we will have City Council elections and the General Election on the same day, which will push up voter turnout.

Over the next few weeks I plan to spend some time compiling some summaries of the electoral information I have collated. Taking on the Labour Party in Nottingham is a challenge and a half by any measure. The Party is well organised and resourced. It is by any measure, a formidable election machine and has to be admired for this fact.

For the past twenty years, the Conservatives and Liberals have been dismal and ineffective. The Liberals at their peak split into two factions within weeks and the Conservatives have never ventured far from their own 'comfort zones'. Personally, I would trust neither with power anywhere. I have never voted for them and never will.

But my own dissatisfaction with Labour means that I am seeking a radical alternative which might be able to mount a serious challenge in 2015. It can be done, but with limited resources, especially money, it will not be easy and any challenge will have to be in all twenty wards. No political group which contests only a few seats ever deserves to be taken seriously, except in exceptional circumstances (usually relating to a local issue, specific to the ward in question). Such a group needs to have a manifesto which sets it apart from other political groups.  I have some ideas which I plan to elaborate over the next few months.

All these things and more were in my head yesterday and I walked along the Erewash Canal. I'll be back with the pics over the next couple of days.