***WARNING!! ARTICLE CONTAINS DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF A COUNCIL MEETING. IF OPERATING HEAVY MACHINERY OR DRIVING, PLEASE FORWARD TO THE FLUFFIER EASIER TO READ BITS AT THE BOTTOM***
When we started planning The Beestonian, we tried to decide what it should be. One thing swiftly ruled out was a newspaper. Apart from there already being enough quality papers reporting on Beeston-based shenanigans, it’s also damn near impossible to be bringing fresh stories to an issue when you have no idea when all the editorial is ready; when the printer will have it ready and when I can face the long hilly walk to the other side of Beeston to collect it.It’s called NEWs and not SOMETHINGTHATHAPPENEDAWHILEAGOs.
So when we published a story about Beeston getting a bridge due to the A453 widening, rushing traffic from Clifton’s Crusader Island across the Trent, on stilts above the Rylands weir field and through to Lenton, we didn’t expect it to be not only news, but downright prescient. Five weeks after publication, it’s become a hot-topic in the Broxtowe Borough Council Chamber. We make the zeitgeist look like a has-been.
A quick run through the story ( though OBVIOUSLY you all have every issue of The Beestonian committed to memory like the heroes of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451). The A453 duelling is now looking pretty certain with Chancellor Osborne giving it the thumbs up in the recent Autumn Statement. Several potential routes were drawn up, each addressing a different problem. The Green Route aimed to avoid congestion building towards Clifton Bridge, by whisking traffic away over the Trent and through the Rylands, hence the bridge. We took an editorial line that this was a bad idea, ruining the peace of the Trent valley and bringing no benefit to Beeston directly: traffic would pass through, not park up, pop out and go and spend loads of cash in town.
We were not the only ones to be concerned, as a visit to the Broxtowe Borough Council full-council on Wednesday proved. It was a fluke I got to the meeting at all: I forgot all about it until a drunken encounter with Cllr. Eric Kerry in the Hop Pole while out celebrating my birthday at the weekend. I remembered that, luckily, and more fortuitously forgot anything else I might have said to Cllr. Kerry.
The meeting was initially good-natured compared to the last couple of fractious encounters. The spirit of Christmas was often evoked, and seemed to be ready to appear again when Cllr. Barber put forward his two-part motion, which I’ve c+p’d straight from the Council Agenda:
1) Recognises the need to dual the rural part of the A453 as part of an integrated transport strategy along that corridor.
2) Opposes construction of a road bridge across the Trent from the Rylands as discussed as possible options at both public inquiries held into this project (the Green Route).
Should be straight forward, non? Nothing that controversial, and Cllr. Richard Jackson seemed to be pretty happy with it, stating the economic benefits of the A453 widening (apparently for every pound spent on it, seven and half flow back). The bridge, he assured all present, was never a serious proposition and even it was, the County Council would vigorously oppose it. Thus ‘I fully support the motion…it is Christmas after all’
And for a moment it seemed to really feel that politics could be put aside for a while, and red, blue and yellow could be as one, away in a manger, jingle bells, jingle bells. But before the mince pies and mulled wine could be distributed, politics decided it didn’t want to be left out, and came barging back in with sharpened elbows knocking away any bonhomie that may have developed.
The Lib Dems decided that they weren’t happy with the second part of the motion, and were joined by the whip-free Cllr. Carr, on his first appearance at Full Council since splitting from the Lib Dems. Suddenly, a crack could be seen in the Lib/Lab partnership, and the Conservatives didn’t hesitate to rip it wider. The aforementioned Cllr. Kerry launched into a rather bizarre and confusing, but rather compelling analogy based around Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing: I’d try and explain exactly how this applied but despite being ok at English Lit when at school, I’m also the only person to ever go to Stratford as an adult, and when asked by the barman in the pub what Shakespeare stuff I’d done that day, innocently answer ‘Shakespeare? He was from round here?’.
Cllr. Watts suggested amending the motion to erase the second part regarding the bridge, for the sake of unanimity. At this point, the council witnessed what will probably go down as the fastest u-turn in politics since Eric Pickles noticed Greggs had a half-price sale on moments after driving by one.
Cllr. Jackson, moments before happy to go along with the motion in full, suddenly decided he didn’t like the second part after all, and suggested an amendment to scrub this: it was duly voted through; and unanimity followed when the motion vote was taken.
Now, compare this to the recent debate on housing in Toton. Again, the idea to build on the fields there were just that; an idea, but all parties were mad keen to be seen as championing retaining it as green belt. Soubry has even used it, rather churlishly, to relaunch herself as ‘Protector of the Green Belt’ , a position that I’ll show reeks of hypocrisy in a future article. So why the refusal to also protect the Rylands and The Trent Valley? It too is just a proposal, it too could be seen as not worth fighting against as it was ‘just a plan’. No one wants a bridge, so why not oppose it in principle?
I chatted to Cllr. Jackson after the meeting and asked why the volte- face. He explained the Green Route would ‘never be taken seriously anyhow’. I asked if it did get mooted, what would the County Council do ‘We’d oppose it, of course’.
Lets hope it never comes to that. But if, in a year or so, the Department for Transport start trying to heavy-handily impose a bridge over Beeston, please remember that the Council’s attitude towards this threat was ‘We’ll cross it when we come to it’.
On a much lighter note, we got on ITV’s Loose Women! Yep, the multi-headed hydra of ignorance and utter bilge that pollutes the daytime schedules like a dodgy drain in a clap-clinic; bigged up Beeston. More than one Beestonian alerted me to this – I of course never watch such tat, unerring from my ultra high-brow daytime diet of BBC4 documentaries involving Croatian composers,or a ten part history series on engraved ceramic garlic-presses.
Turns out that Sherrie Hewson, who appeared in Corrie and the revived Crossroads before deciding to join in with the setting back of feminism 40 years via the medium of babbling about arsebollocks to gin soaked depressed housewives, is a Beestonian! Heavens! Who knew?
I’ve been told that she was actually quite nice about her home town on the show, so maybe I should be a bit nicer. Then I google her picture and her resemblance to a certain non-Beestonian convince me otherwise.